Not enough time to say all that I’ve done in the last couple of weeks, without boring so… impressionistic summary coming up – realists duck n’ cover!

New game in London town – trying to spot plainclothes officers. Personally, I tend to go for any largish man or chubby woman either walking in circles or standing still. Symbols of a burgeoning police state – how do you spot yours?
Meanwhile, the game called Planescape Torment has filled my life. I hunger for it, for the outlandish discoveries in it; the street that gives birth, the angel trapped in a seven-circled pit, the insane and immortals wandering through marketplaces. I keep seeing stuff in the big city that reminds me totally of it – hawkers on street corners screaming apocalyptic shite, weirdly attired groups of small people (Chinese, admittedly), and just a whole collection of seemingly innocuous outsiders – you want to grab the nearest plainclothes and shout “look, them, they’re aliens, demons!” but they’d probably turn out to be a clinical health worker or something.
Despite Ealing’s reputation as a nice place, I had cause to ring the police. Fighting in the street. Two middle-aged men, one fat, shaven-headed, black-clad like a snooker-player, trying to do kung-fu on a fleeing drunken offender. Like all of London, the streets here switch from posh to rundown at a metronome beat.
Met old childlike uni friend Priya et pals at Regent’s park festival sponsored by expensive fruit mush. Was “token white guy”. Lovely buncha people, terribly expensive overmarketed drink for kids.
Sometime’s everythings new for me. I regard the world as a staring child, fascinated by all things, slow to grow, quick to communicate. Every book I read has emotional annotations – was reading Isaac Bashevis Singer’s short story collection “Seance”, and there’s a character in there, a slovenly man (all Singer’s characters are jewish, before you take note) whose only love is his pet parrot and who murders his wife when she lets it go; the blank-eyed equanimity with which he relays that reminds me of certain clinical psychopaths I know. I ring them, but they’re out…
Went to Jeff Minter’s place in Wales (Pengawr, near Camrthen I think). He keeps llamas, pygmy goats, mountain sheep and Jacob’s sheep. There is no record of Jacob loaning him said sheep. He lives on vindaloo and said farm with Giles, his Italian partner (in work and love, I think) both of whom sport manly hair, beards. We played Neon, went for curry, played Robotron, I went home. I never mentioned my extreme allergy to hairy animals (not sure if Jeff and Giles included) so almost died of coughing, sneezing and wheezing on way back.

More to come…

Literary Baton

Books owned: Four bin bags and three man-sized trunks full. Which I guess probably comes to a good few hundred. Notably, I’ve read the great majority of them.
Last book purchased: The Séance by Isaac Bashevis Singer from the Oxfam book shop in my new home town of Ealing Broadway. Exceptionally good Ashkenazi (Eastern European Jewish) literature, full of dybbuks and moyels, but also extending as far Ashkenazi in New York. Half my fiction comes from charity shops, the rest at full price from Amazon or Waterstones.
Book reading right now: Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon. As described earlier in the blog.
Books that mean a lot to me:
A Cauldron of Spells by McEachren. Given me by my dad, this is a book of quotations great for reading out. Some of them are astounding pieces of classical poetry, some are just doggerel. I always remember “Come to our well-run desert, Where anguish arrives by cable, And the deadly sins, May be bought in tins, With instructions on the label”. Apparently, I’ve just found out it was by Auden; my respect for him increases daily. The first verse, which I’d never read before tonight is “Come to our bracing desert, Where eternity is eventful, For the weather-glass Is set at Alas, The thermometer at Resentful” from ‘For the Time Being, WH Auden’
Germinal by Emile Zola. A very slow, very clever book that looks at the horrors of capitalism through the prism of a mining community, its owners and the market, whilst interesting you in the characters as well. Nobody is outright evil, just constrained by their expectations of what the system should bring and the utter desolation and poverty for all concerned that any attempts to change the system result in. The film with Gerard Depardieu isn’t half bad either.
Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson. Fantastic, well-written piece of high-modern theatre that showed a generation how a person with a charisma and brain can get away with just about anything, and make some money on the side too. Or at least that’s one lesson you could learn from it. Mmm, I appear to love sociopaths and social hounds. Curiouser and Curiouser.
Difficult Loves by Italo Calvino. I could have picked any of Calvino’s books, I love nearly all of them. Mr Palomar is perfectly introverted, If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler is perfectly intimate, Invisible Cities is a great flourish of his imagination… but Difficult Loves is dear to my heart because of the absolute empathy Calvino generates with spare, unflourished language for his protagonists, ranging from the short-sighted lover to the lady who loses her bikini bottoms while swimming. Touching mouthfuls of romanticism.

Five people to whom I’m passing the baton:
Lil Grill
No Longer Mad Iain.

Oh, and on a non-literary note: whoever’s got my copies of the following, could they please, pretty-please, return them?
A Confederacy of Dunces
Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S.
A Canticle for Leibowitz – Walter M Miller Jr.
Labyrinths (Borges)
All of my Calvino.
All of those Sci-Fi masterworks – there’s big holes on my shelf.

Musical Baton

Total volume of music files on my computer: My computer tells me that I’ve got 34GB, which is about 13,000 files (including all the crap that Windows XP deposits on it.) The RIAA will be breaking down my door in the next couple of hours…

The last CD I bought: I can’t remember buying a CD for years… Possibly bought one from Fopp in Bath – oh, yes, we won a cover prize in HMV vouchers and I bought The Best of Ralph McTell – I listen to it over and over.

Song playing right now:
California uber Alles by the Dead Kennedys. At work, on my speakers, loud. Sometimes I forget how good this job is.

Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me:
The War of the Worlds / Jeff Wayne (Yes, the whole damn album – and if whoever’s ‘borrowed’ it could give it me back, I’d appreciate it…
Dirty Old Town / Euan McColl
Always look on the bright side of life – Monty Python’s Life of Brian Soundtrack. (Sad, but true.)
The Big Light – Elvis Costello. (It was my “wake-up-from-hangover” song at university.)
The Intro & The Outro – Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. (Fantastic tune, which I perversely remember kissing my first proper girlfriend in time to.)

Five people to whom I’m passing the baton:
Lil Grill
No Longer Mad Iain.
Ben Talbot

(Cos they all need the hits.)

Useless factoid #11724,9925

Some of those dolls that didn’t quite make it:

The Fag dolls
The Raggie Dolls
The tail that Wags the Dolls
The Living Dolls

I actually met all the U.K. frag dolls (a promotional gaming clan formed by Ubisoft) at a Ubisoft preview event out in the sticks a couple of weeks ago, and they all seemed genuinely interested in games (the first surprise) as well as being mostly friendly, open people (the second surprise) and cute as hell (not at all surprising.) I think the tall one called Eleanor was the sweetest, though I was impressed intellectually by the bottle-redhead Kate’s knowledge of obscure Sci-Fi authors…

(EDIT) This is my 600th post! How cool/lonely am I?!

The Onion | Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New ‘Intelligent Falling’ Theory:

“KANSAS CITY, KS—As the debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools continues, a new controversy over the science curriculum arose Monday in this embattled Midwestern state. Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held ‘theory of gravity’ is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling.

‘Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, ‘God’ if you will, is pushing them down,’ said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.”