Preparations Under Way

Next week Lady M undergoes a version point release upgrade. On Tuesday we will see Jo 4.0 and celebrate the ongoing joy of her weirdness. So, I’ve spent today running around securing supplies for the first of her celebrations due to take place over the coming week.

The plan is to have a gentle gathering tomorrow, with another on Tuesday, and a grander Event next Saturday. How gentle those gatherings will be is, of course, open to debate but that’s half the fun. We’ll be catching up with friends and family around the country, and spending some overdue quality time with Lady P too. I’m looking forward to it all, even if Lady M is looking a little bemused at the moment.

So let’s see what adventures we get up to this week.

Halo 5 First Impressions

Oh, Halo 5, you’re very pretty, I’ve almost forgiven you the rank stupidity of being a digital download only. Almost, even if it did take nearly four days to install you. You’d have thought that buying the Limited Collector’s Edition might possibly have given you physical media from which to install. I wouldn’t have minded multiple discs, or even a USB stick – because downloading roughly 60Gb to install a game when you don’t have blistering fibre connections (thank you BT) is a fecking pain in the proverbial.

But you’re working now, and all those tricks they’ve engineered to keep things running at 60 frames per second are so far making this a glorious experience. Now, I haven’t touched the multiplayer side of things yet as I’m an old fashioned soul who prefers to play the single player campaign through first. I’d love to co-op play it with Lady M, but the lack of split-screen still rankles. Previous incarnations of the XBox, and Halo in particular, won my loyalty for enabling side by side couch gameplay with friends and family. It’s departure is keenly noticed and still irritates the hell out of me.

So, I’m in the third mission now (hey, I do have to work too, even if I was playing it this morning before going to open up the library), and I’m happy to report that so far it does actually feel and play like Halo, even with the new features. What is very interesting is how the UI differences give the impression of the age difference between Spartan Locke’s system and Master Chief’s system. They actually play pretty much the same, but Locke feels like the newer production model compared to The Chief.

The game seems so far to be full of little signifiers like this. The newer Spartans seem more mobile and speedier in how they engage the enemy, compared to the more solid and deliberate movements of the older ‘classic’ Spartans. There’s some good dialogue and banter between characters too in the cut-scenes, building on the foundations laid in the Spartan Missions from Halo 4 as well as the rest of the main game series.

Is it a deep and diverting game? No, it’s Halo, not Tolstoy, but it’s so far hitting all the right notes. Now, if the multiplayer side delivers when I get to it – and the Beta suggests it will – then I’m going to continue to be a happy bunny. Just sort out that split screen 343!

Now Who’s My Wife Banging?

Another Tuesday, another night of mayhem. In this instance, after a lovely fly-by visit from Lady P, we wandered down to The Plough and settled in. It was a lot busier than usual, with several groups of people who had stopped in for meals, and so the number of people who had not encountered the live music there before was correspondingly higher. This always leads to fun and games.

One young lady, much the worse for wear after several glasses of wine, decided to join the musicians at their table to try and chat them up/make requests/sway in a seat, and not take any hints that she was getting in the way or unplugging trailing cables.

With Lady G’s beau trapped in the middle of the musicians with an increasingly bemused expression, we of course took it upon ourselves to take the mickey through the medium of interpretive dance behind her.

So, when the finale arrived: the traditional rendition of ‘Two Packs of Lager and A Packet of Crisps’ – I mean, Duelling Banjos, we were all invited closer. A spirited if less than coordinated bit of flailing around later, with Lady M and Lady G bumping hips regularly, a silence fell.

As the drunken young lady flounced off, Lady M’s voice rang across the room: “If I’ve got bruises in the morning, remind me I’ve been banging Kate.”

As you can imagine, conversations become even more ribald at that point, and we’ve never been ones to back down from innuendo and silliness.

Happy days…

MCM London October 2015

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We’re collapsed on the sofa right now, aching and tired from a long day at MCM London ComicCon. Like any convention, there have been frustrations and unexpected joys, but over all it has been a joy. We went in costume again, just like last year, but we didn’t have a unified theme this time. Highlights included some time playing Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, Lady M getting extremely fangirly over Jack from Rooster Teeth, and Charleesi finding the only other Mortal Instruments cosplayers at the Convention.

We used the day as a dry run for the costumes in which we’ll be celebrating Lady M’s birthday. My Clark Kent costume proved comfortable and practical, while Lady M’s Ursula costume struck a great balance between style and whimsy that hardly ever got in the way despite the tentacles. I have no idea what Lady P is planning, but given her ever-expanding stable of alter-egos I’m sure it will be spectacular.

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The Charleesi’s costume was elegantly simple, inspired by the Mortal Instruments books. She grabbed a Sharpie and began drawing Shadow hunter runes on her arm. The pictures of these on social media last night led to bemused queries from her mother, hoping they weren’t permanent. I forsee interesting conversations should Charleesi decide she wants tattoos any time in the near future.

So, to bed, back to the relatively real world, and some planning possibly required for the next one to try and not go round in quite so many circles. A six mile walk round one Convention Centre shouldn’t be leaving me quite so sore, so I’d better get back in practice.

Costume Hunting

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We hadn’t originally planned to go in costume to MCM this year, but now I’ve let Lady M know she needs a costume for the birthday celebrations. My costume is pretty simple; but inspired by Lady P’s example, Lady M has been throwing out concepts at a rate of knots over the last few days.

This afternoon, we’ve been out and about, and have narrowed down the various options. The final three options under development by Lady M are Ariel (the Little Mermaid), Ursula (the Sea Witch), and the Angel Islington (who may be familiar to those who know of Neverwhere).

So, who will be accompanying Clark Kent around MCM as a test run next weekend? You’ll have to wait and see…

Still Confuzzled

I’m still struggling to get to grips with the new library hours, especially on long weeks like this. My body is only grudgingly remembering that Wednesday is no longer a day off, which is why I left the house on Wednesday morning thinking I had half an hour to meander the ten minutes or so to work to open up.

That’s when I remembered that I have to be there half an hour before opening time to get everything set up – ie that as I was walking out of the house was precisely the time I should have been letting myself into the library.

Most of the rest of this week has felt like that, unhelped by broken sleep and the gloom of the season. Still, I have all the elements gathered now for Halloween/Birthday shenangians now, and tomorrow I take Lady M in search of her costume…

It’s A Tuesday

Yes, I know it’s actually Wednesday today, but that’s the rallying cry we’ve developed on our Tuesday nights down at the local for all the peculiarities, snark, and boisterousness that inevitably develops through the course of an evening.

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Whether it’s a vigorous re-enactment of Lumiere’s dancing in ‘Be Our Guest’, the addition of farmyard animal noises to accompany a blues song being played by the band, or the teasing of newcomers by trying to explain who everyone is and how they all know each other, we generally use Tuesday nights to blow off steam and let our hair down. Most of the regulars have got used to us, and the landlord hardly flinched when Lady M accidentally knocked a full pint of iced Diet Coke into the ex-Lady M’s lap recently.

To be fair, the usual spiel directed at people asking who we are: “This is my wife, this is my ex-wife, that’s our concubine in chief, and this lass is hanging around because we used to play D&D together and is now dating one of the guys in the band” usually sees people’s jaws dropping, much to everyone’s amusement. There’s a certain air of Saturnalia that can descend on the night, and it makes for wonderful quotes that can be endlessly taken out of context.

I’ve come to cherish these nights out – largely because I’m an antisocial sod at heart who would often rather be curled up with a book, or writing one, or playing on the XBox, or watching Netflix – or various combinations of all of these – than being out and about, but I also recognise that it is a good safety valve, and keeps me from going into some sort of hermit mode which will do my underlying mental health no good at all.

If nothing else, the people watching is good, and the number of dialogue lines and scene kernels I’ve picked up can’t be counted. Now, if I can just resurrect my laptop to retrieve the most recent draft of the book I’ll be well away…

Guest Blogging

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I don’t think I’ve guest blogged for anyone before. I have written some opinion pieces for money before now, and a few of them have even been under my own name, but it isn’t quite the same. Being asked to contribute to someone else’s journey has a certain glow to it that is both flattering and a little bit scary, so of course I’ve leapt at the chance; wouldn’t you?

I know, a guest writing slot on my wife’s new blog is hardly a journalistic apotheosis, but I’ll tell you why this is such a big deal. The TWITT project is something that is very dear to Lady M’s heart. I haven’t seen her so simultaneously excited and daunted before, and her pride in getting this project started means that she is being very careful with her brand. My being asked to contribute speaks volumes about her expectations for the piece, and I can only hope that I can do as good a job as her previous guest writer.

So, there’s an item due for publication over on Lady M’s TWITT blog tomorrow that may amuse you. In it, I chew the fat about gender norms, as you do. I hope it fits the general tone of what she’s trying to do and sparks a few knowing nods if not a measure of debate. If nothing else it’ll pass a few minutes pleasantly for you, but I’ll be interested to hear what people think.

Of course there may just be resounding indifference, that’s always an option. I hope not, for my ego’s sake, but then I’m British, and we always like to start each sentence with an apology.

Who Needs Normality

It takes days like World Mental Health Day to remind me that many people are scared witless of people who are ill, or healing from trauma. We’d hope that people wouldn’t expect someone who had broken their leg to just walk it off, and yet that same attitude seems applied without any sense of irony to so many of us when it comes to mental health. If not dismissive, the reaction is often one of fear, fuelled by media imagery and folklore. We can’t win.

Grrr, and indeed, arghhh.

My disconnect comes from being aware of so many people in my life, between partners and friends, who struggle every day, and yet I still stumble across people who seem shockingly misinformed on a regular basis. It’s not as if the information isn’t out there, and the people getting it wrong are often intelligent individuals – so there sadly continues to be a need for days like today.

Go, read widely, starting with MIND, and listen and talk and engage with the people around you. A huge number people suffer from some form of mental illness at some point in their lives – at least as many who suffer some form of more easily visible physical illness – but because it is invisible, it is often downplayed.

I’d feel upset, if I wasn’t already mad.

Costume Bemusement

There are three things upcoming that demand costumes, so I’m in the process of looking around at the Halloween costumes and props to see what I can use.

The first event will be the MCM London Convention, for which we’ve decided at almost the last minute to get tickets. That decision has been equal parts a desire to support Lady P as she gets her confidence back, and fond memories of last year’s convention.

Our Death Eater costumes last year seemed to intimidate an awful lot of people, so our original plan was just to go in casual attire. Then temptation struck to do something simple, just because.

The second event will be a combination of Halloween and a family-friendly birthday gathering for Lady M. I’m inviting people to dress with a literary, or at least popular culture, theme.

The third event will be the more raucous main celebration for Lady M’s birthday (well, why not make a week of it?). The same rules of engagement apply for that, so my costume needs to be simple and reasonably hard wearing.

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So, to that end I’m creating a Clark Kent costume. I’ve found a good T-shirt with a design based on the recent film, and will be wearing that beneath a wrenched aside shirt, tie and glasses. I was thinking of going with just my usual black jeans, but I suspect I’ll end up wearing a suit with them. As the current comic book depiction of Clark Kent is crop headed, my currently freshly clipped hair should be a good match, and I’ve already shaved the goatee back off to get my skin used to seeing daylight again.

That said, I did see a very nice mask in Tesco that, with only a little modifying, will make a very nice Death Eater mask…