Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Beating myself up for the end of the year

The beginning of a new year is fast approaching and it's time for me to start looking back over this one. There's no need for me to look back over this blog to see what I did or didn't do, I just have to look around me.
A few things were begun but very few of them amounted to anything. The sketch book has laid untouched for a couple of months, the idea of painting didn't get any further than two barely started picture, drawing in general was a wash out. As far as 2004 goes art wise I can't look back on it with pride.
I had hoped to have my own website up and running but after laying it out on paper I got distracted by other things and it ended up being forgotten.
One of my interests of the past six or seven years has been keeping fit and this year saw me at my worst. The main reason for this was a torn muscle which it seems will be a constant source of irritation and occassional pain for a long time. But a fair chunk of the blame rests on my ever weakening shoulders. I'm not in terrible shape at the moment but I've flucuated quite a bit during 04, putting on and losing weight every couple of months. One problem was that once I stopped exercising I stopped eating carefully, when I give up I like to give up all the way.
Saving money has not gone well, some things needed to be bought, a lot of the stuff I could have done without.
Being fairly untidy and scruffy I had hoped I could smarten up a little, only now and again it seems.
Talking too much is a bit of vice too, once I start I can ramble on for ages without ever coming close to saying anything worthwhile. It's not just quantity it's quality, what I lack in one I overcompensate with the other. That's not improved.
That was the bad, but what about the good. Well, there was some.
Good was that even though I got more out of shape I had the sense to keep it under control.
Drawing may not have gone well but I completed my outside responsibilities even when it wasn't in my best interests. I also did manage to keep a sketchbook for a while, something which I've never really done before and not only did I enjoy it but I thought I did some good work.
For all the unfinished and never started projects I did manage to complete the one big one, Simian Smith the first draft, got done and I'm already working my way through the second draft. This one was a real struggle but in doing it I learned a lot.
Balancing it all up I don't think I did great this year, there's more in the minus column than the plus, but the plus column does have one big tick whereas the minuses are mainly small crosses. A lot of my resolutions will be repeats of last years but that was the same as the year before and the one before that, that may sound bad, like I've failed every year, but the truth is that each year has seen me improve a little and in some cases a lot and you can't say fairer than that.

Sunday, November 28, 2004


At just short of 16,000 words the first draft of Simian Smith is complete.
There were times I thought I'd never get to this point and no I'm here I can't tell you how chuffed I am. Whether it ends up being published or not I don't care, I'm happy.

Friday, November 26, 2004

more opinions

I haven't check but I'm guessing there's a lot of folk in computer land who've been having their say about The Incredibles, well I want my say too. It's brilliant. Beautifully designed with more than a nod to 50's and early 60's design. The superheroing aspect is surprisingly, and smartly, kept to a minimum, oh there's fighting and big outrageous peril and flying and so on, but a lot of the action reminded me of spy movies, the kind that have big sets, the early Bond and Flint, even the music seemed to reflect that. CGI is my least favourite animation and I'd like to see less CGI in films in general but the better CG films seem to emulate claymation instead of desperately trying to look 'real' (Polar Express being the latest example of this pointless endeavour), a move that seems to work very well. It's not how it's animated that makes a film great though, it's the script (in animation the scripts have to be in place to a much greater degree than in live action so it's rock solid by the time 'camera's roll' - the lack of respect Hollywood seems to afford the scriptwriter is unbelievable) and it's here that The Incredibles really shines. Pixar create films of wit, inteligence and the creators clearly love what they do. I get the impression that that the people in Pixar are a bunch of smart geeks who can't believe their good luck in getting to do exactly what they want. More me it was the little details that elevate The Incredibles but I won't tell you what they are, go see for yourself.
Sadly the whole thing was nearly spoilt by the trailer for The Magic Roundabout movie. The inclusion of Robbie Williams was enough to break my heart but it looks awful, the makers clearly want to poke my childhood with sharp sticks and permanently tarnish the memory of the original. Shame on them.
My own work has beening coming on very well, the first draft of Simian Smith is almost finished, in fact it's only a couple of thousand words away. With the end so close my big concerns have finally come to the fore. I'm pretty much happy with the story, it needs work but it's all in place and I like it, but the truth is it's going to be a hard sell, a very hard sell. Pick up a kid's book and there's more than a fair chance that it'll have a kid in it, there might only be one child character in it, but s/he'll be there. The only exception occurring in books where the cast are all animals. There isn't a single kid in my story. As well as it being an obvious homage/pastiche/rip off of old hard boiled crime books it's got a talking ape with no reason given to why he can talk or how he came to exist, he's also the character the reader's got to identify with and he's not a kid. I'm not sure a prospective agent or publisher will get past the synopsis. But I wrote this for me and I honestly believe that kids will like it so what the hell, here's hoping I can change the industry! Failing that I could always try and write some thing about a child magician, wizardor witch, you can't have to many kid's fantasy books.

Monday, November 22, 2004

My pen shines bright as I write my shite

There's a competition to submit a short story that I'm thinking about entering. Obviously the story would be the one I'm working on at the moment as it's my latest one and pressumably when it's all finished up it'll be my best because of it's newness. I've not entered a writing competition before but for reason's not worth going into I've decided this one might be worth a go. Perfect Christmas Present still needs a loot of work but the submition deadline isn't until mid January so it's not a problem. As I'm on a bit of a roll with Simian Smith at the moment (you heard right, the ape is back) it's slowed Pefect Present down but I still think the 1st draft will be done by this week. So as well as putting a story online for criticism I'll actually be send it 'out there', two very good reasons to work hard polishing it up in the 2nd or even 3rd draft.
Christmas at work is beginning to tire me out even more and the job hunting has stalled slightly simply because it's not the best time of year to leave an old job and start a new one.
Rebecca is once again entertaining thoughts of buying a house and has even seen a couple of fairly nice looking ones in our price range, but she's failed to take into consideration my lack of desire to stay where in Nottingham. So out thoughts go back to trying to move ASAP. Anyone who knows us or has been faithfully reading this blog (a number some where in the thousands I would imagine) will know that we have to stay for two years because of my wife's course and job. To move sooner we'll have to pay off the course fees ourselves, it'll mean we can leave a year early but it might cost a bit. Confusion and no easy answers reign again.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Just beautiful

Outside it's snowing, big white flakes of snow are floating past my lounge window illuminated by the streetlamp. Snow is lying on the grass in the garden and on the trees and bushes and the rooftops. It's cold and beautiful, I love it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

An oh so special treat!

Seeing as the original point of this blog was to be about my atempts at writing and drawing and as I teased with the news that Simian was briefly posted here I thought I'd post a short story I'm working on.
Reader beware! This is not only unfinished it is also a first draft so don't judge it too harshly just yet, rather read it and wait until the next update. Hopefully it'll prove interesting seeing how a story changes from first to second draft, you never know, what seems duff now might prove to be slightly better later.

The Perfect Christmas Present
Paul Harrison-Davies

With nowhere else to go and very little to do Raymond Gaines circumstances allowed him ample opportunity to think. Naturally enough Gaines thoughts turned towards his son. The irony was neither appreciated by Gaines nor was it noticed, the truth was that up until recently he had never really thought about his son; if he had perhaps he would not be in his current predicament.
Thoughts of his son led Gaines back to the previous week, to the start of his story.
It was Christmas Eve and Raymond Gaines was cursing loudly in the safety of his car at a young woman trying to vacate her parking space. Slowly slowly the woman tried to manoeuvre her car out of the tight space. It never occurred to Gaines that it was the close proximity of his car to the woman’s car that was makings things so difficult, just as it never occurred to him to move. Impatient and demanding to a fault Gaines saw no reason to move car back out of the way thereby, in his mind, relinquishing his claim on the vacant spot to be.
Scowling in reply to the young woman’s apologetic and embarrassed smile as she finally escaped from her parking prison Gaines pressed firmly down on the accelerator and his car lurched forward into the parking place with an angry growl from the engine and an angry scream from the car bumper.
Taking no responsibility for damaging his own car Gaines stormed away from the car park regretting that he had not had time to get the registration number of the young woman who made him bash his car bumper.
Last minute shoppers filled the city centre to a surprising degree and Gaines marvelled that people could leave their Christmas shopping so late. Of course Gaines himself was doing his own last minute shopping and had no call to criticise the shopping habits of anyone else. Raymond Gaines was the head of a successful business, a business that he had taken over from his father when it was left to him. This was not the case of a spoilt child inheriting an easy ride, this was the case of a spoilt child inheriting a small dying business. Hard work, and an ability to crush anyone in his path with the ease of the truly amoral had seen the business grow into a big business and had seen not grow as a person at all. Normally a member of staff, an elderly woman who had been in his employ as a personal assistant for more years than Gaines could remember, would buy presents for Gaines’ wife, mother or son, unfortunately he had fired the member of staff in question two weeks previous and had neglected to check that the Christmas shopping had been done. Earlier on Christmas Eve Gaines had realised that he had no presents to give his family.
Buying present for his wife and mother was relatively easy, Gaines simply went into the first clothes shop he saw and bought several items of their most expensive clothes guessing the sizes (being careful to err on the small size imagining that if the clothes did not fit then at least it was a flattering mistake) He had no idea if they were good choices but felt sure that if they were not then his wife or Mother would simply exchange the clothes feeling flattered by the size and happy about the price.
Looking at his watch Gaines began to feel frustration, time was short and his son’s present would have to be a little more thoughtful than the purchases he had made for his wife and mother. Gaines had no idea what kind of gift he should get his son because he knew very little about about nine year old boys in general and his son in particular. That the chosen gift had to be the right gift was of great importance, and it was here that Gaines was stabbed with a slight pang of regret at his hasty firing of the old woman. With a mental shrug the pang regret was cast aside, the woman was far to old and her recent bout of ill health made it necessary to get rid of her, simple nostalgia was no reason to keep the failing assistant in his employ and if the fabrication of missing reports and files had to used to allow him to legally fire her then he felt no guilt in fabricating them. No guilt at all. But the problem was that the woman, who clearly had no son of her own, had paid particular attention to the presents bought for Gaines' young boy. Every Christmas and every birthday the boy unwrapped a present that gave great joy and delight, at the time it had been greatly appreciated by Gaines as the boy was normally sullen and uncommunicative, although this behaviour was only in evidence to his father, everyone else found the boy to be bright attentive and just a little melancholy, as benefits one who is in need of fatherly support but who receives nothing but cold disinterest. Gaines’ son hung on to the hope that his father did indeed love him as evidenced by the gifts he sometimes received, for the gifts were not just expensive they were thoughtful and interesting. That these gifts seemed to undo the damage, however briefly, that Gaines was thoughtlessly causing was apparent even to Gaines himself.
Shoppers did there best to walk past Gaines as he stood in the middle of the pavement waiting for inspiration, inevitably the would bump into him and he would curse loudly at them. Some apologised, most ignored the man and a select few surprised themselves by not hitting him, something about Gaines high handed arrogant manner seemed to cause even the most aggressive man to shrink back. raymond Gaines had long been a master of intimidation.
Time was running out so Gaines fell back upon one of his usual techniques, the exploitation of others. A brisk walk further up the street and over a zebra crossing led him into one of the city’s shopping centres. Grey and ugly with scant regard for aesthetic pleasure the centre looked like any other. Inside the shopping centre was a large department store it was here that Gaines hoped to find some sort of acceptable gift for his son.
Moving swiftly through the several floors of clothing, kitchen utensils and appliances, televisions, stereos, garden furniture and equipment, household furniture and ornaments,stationary, jewellery and perfumes Gaines finally found an area given over to children’s toys.
Alarmingly short of customers Gaines knew time was short and the store would soon be closing, he needed to find a shop assistant someone who he could transfer the responsibility of choosing his son’s present onto. Seeing the red polo shirted uniform of the store assistant Gaines made haste.
“You there,” bellowed Gaines unnecessarily, “I need assistance.”
The short hunched figure turned round revealing himself to be a man well past middle age with a full head of hair which had grown thin and wispy so that in it’s length it floated in the slightest breeze undulating as if it was some strange exotic underwater plant swaying with the ebb and flow of the sea. Beneath the almost hypnotic hair shone a pair of eyes that held Gaines with a piercing clarity that they gave him the impression that he was being appraised in such a complete and total manner that he felt a dread wave of nausea and a weakening of the knees. Shaking off the alien and invasive feeling Gaines once again attempted to gain the upper hand.
“I am short of time and must have a suitable gift for my son.”
“Of course Sir,” replied the elderly assistant, “and what can you tell me of your son?”
It was an simple question, and given the circumstances more than appropriate, it was also spoken with polite courtesy yet it seemed to Gaines that the man was mocking him, it seemed that implicit with every carefully chosen word the man was slapping Gaines whom he saw as so much dirt to be scraped from his shoe.
‘I.... He is, is a normal average young boy of nine.”
Once again the frank stare of the old man seemed to appraising Gaines’ words and once again it seem that as the man spoke he was judging Gaines and that once again that judgement was damning.
“An average normal boy?”

......and there we take our leave of this 'macabre' tale, if you want to find out how it ends keep dropping by.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Blink and you missed it

If you happened to be looking at my blog last night or ealy this morning you would have been able to see the first draft of the unfinished Simian Smith story. My Ibook is proving a bit difficult in terms of setting up a new email account and reacieving emails so as I can get online with it I posted up my story online and then copied it onto the Mac. Not exactly the most secure way of doing things but it was quick easy and I doubt anyopne was looking anyway.
Blogging's becoming a bit tiresome as I struggle to do other things as well as struggle to have an interesting life or at least an interesting take on life. I still like the idea of blogging and will continue to do it but the entries will be more, like the title suggests, infrequent and random.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Retail therapy

Bought an IBook today with new printer and I'm quite chuffed. Not really being able to afford it takes the shine off things but what the hell.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

A couple of things

Over the past couple of days I've seen some truly interesting TV which is quite a novelty as rarely watch it.
The first was a documentary on John Peel. Many people felt he was a one off, he had a deep love of music that allowed him to listen to a broad range of music and appreciate it on it's own merits and to not be swayed by popular opinion. They talked about his honesty, his lack of ego and good mannered desire to not let people, whether they were listeners or musicians, down. And they talked again about how he was a one off. I'm not so sure. Certainly I have a lot of respect for John Peel, the way he behaved and what he did, but one off? It just didn't seem right somehow, and then it struck me, in the industry John Peel worked he probably was a one off. In the short time I've been alive I have met some pretty horrible people as well as those who were sometimes nice sometimes not so nice, I've also met some honest genuine people with firm ideals that they've stood by. In rightly mourning the passing of John Peel it seems the entertainment industry has admitted that it's heavily populated by the kind of people I wouldn't want to know.
Tonight on TV I saw Men Who Stare at Goats, a documentary by Jon Ronson who also did Them, both available as books. It seems that members of the US military believe that man can walk through walls, kill with a look and control the minds of other men. Like Louis Theroux (where are you Louis?) Ronson lets the subject talk and rarely undermines them, the theory presumably being to either get them to open up and talk more honestly rather than making them close up in the face of skepticism, it also gives them enough rope to hang themselves. Seeing as I have a slight interest in things unusual but no great belief in them I am reasonably open minded to the oddness that the people on documentary came out with. In the end what was so bizarre was that these strange ideas were coming from the minds of men who are seen to be incredibly rational by the general public. Because of the military mindset it seemed that these people, once they had accepted the possibility of supernatural powers, were intent on pursuing it with an astonishing lack of skepticism and sanity. I think I'll have to buy the book.
Not all was enjoyable in the land of popular entertainment. Last night my wife and I saw Bad Santa, and though I can recommend the film (hard viewing in places and rather upsetting, the inspired choice of director turned what could have been a schmaltzy corny 'gross out comedy' into a dark and surprisingly human bitter comedy) I was appalled by the trailer for 'taxi' due to it's reliance on stick thin women in very little clothing doing their best to look like low class prostitutes. It's not just women, men in the entertainment industry don't need much convincing to get undressed or to appeal to the more base aspects of the audience and frankly it's not only dull but it's not even arousing, let's face it there's nothing genuine about the cynical displays of flesh adorning the average 'lads' mag, music video or film. It's pathetic and I hate it.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Well done America

The world's a scarier depressing place today, thanks.

Monday, November 01, 2004

back from my travels

After a nice little holiday in Amsterdam I'm back again. Amsterdam was lovely and even if you are hopelessly square like I am there's still plenty to see that doesn't involve sex and drugs. The hotel we stayed had internet access but I only went online once to delete the dozens of spam emails I knew were waiting for me and to quickly see what Danny and Paul, my blogging buddies, were up to. Apart from that I kept away as I spend too much time online anyway and I just didn't feel like blogging.
As well as no blogging there's been no writing and no drawing, and no guilt about it either. It was nice to not bother doing any of the usual things I do, that's what holidays are about aren't they?
All good things come to an end though and it's been a fairly long break and I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about writing and drawing all the time I wasn't doing it.
Christmas is coming and already I feel the tightening around my chest that comes with the thought, 'What presents shall I buy?' The question 'What do you want?' also brings about the same stressful grip. I really do like Christmas, it's dulled slightly by decorations being put up too early, shops forcing it down my throat since September, and so on. I don't believe it's a time when mankind puts aside it's differences and joins hands for one great big sing song either. But I do like being outside at night and feeling the crisp almost electric charge in the air that makes my skin tingle and reminds me how I felt when I was a little kid and knew utterly that Christmas was a magical time, the best time.