Author Archives: Brian G Ross

What I’ve Done This Week #15…

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I had been brainstorming ideas for some new Jack & Patrick adventures. Seasonally inaccurate, I know, but one of those ideas is a Christmas story.

I started putting it together this week and got into it a little deeper than I had expected, so I now have a good chunk of the dialogue to work with. Although I do have other Jack & Patrick pieces in development, this will likely end up being the next – the eighth one – in the series.

I plan to send my novel Slipwater off to a few more agencies this week, because I’ve had a couple come back lately with a negative. Disheartening, sure, but writers are more familiar with rejection than most, and there’s always a contingency plan.

Besides, it’s their loss, because that story is money for the editor who is able to spot its potential.

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I Can’t Weight…

The Girlfriend© and I have finally found a holiday destination for later this year. In September, as suggested in a previous post, we are heading for Croatia. It’s booked, so that gives me five months to lose some weight.

Impending holidays are often the motivation some people need to shed a few pounds, and I’m going to use the same (fairly) arbitrary tactic to lose a few of my own. Whatever makes it happen, eh?

They say that happiness can expand the waistline, so I guess with every pro there’s a con… but they also say that depression can do the same. Of course, this all makes it seem that the people who say these things are just covering their bases. Suffice to say, I’ll throw myself into the former camp, and blame The Girlfriend© for making me happy.

But seriously… I’m tired of my shirts being a little too tight, and I don’t enjoy not knowing if my jeans are going to fit me before I take them off the hanger. I’m tired of making excuses.

Most of us could stand to drop down a dress size or two, and this is my pledge to do just that.

So… five months, five stone? Probably not, but there’s no point aiming for the fence when you know you want to knock the ball clean out of the stadium.

Console Memories: Sega Mega Drive…

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After the many hours of enjoyment I had squeezed from the Master System as a console virgin, I upgraded to Sega’s follow-up machine, the Mega Drive, in 1991. The Mega Drive was more powerful than its predecessor, and looked a whole lot better under the living room television as well.

It was the 16-bit era, at the height of the console wars being fought between Sega and Nintendo, and I was ready for something that would blow me away. I had started getting into monthly video game magazines at this time as well, and everything I read told me the Mega Drive was going to revolutionise the world. Granted, I was buying official Sega magazines, but you know…

Phantasy_Star_IIBy this time I was earning my own money delivering papers before and after school, so being able to buy games without having to rely on my parents was a major bonus. I bought Phantasy Star II in 1992 for the hefty sum of £54.99 – expensive even by today’s money – but with inflation that amazingly comes in at just under £112. I can safely say that is the most expensive game I have ever purchased.

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Sonic the Hedgehog was a massive hit for the system, and was the thrust of the machine’s early advertising campaign as it attempted to compete with Nintendo. I played that game to death, and all these years later the soundtrack is still bouncing around in my head.

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My only memory of my dad playing a video game with me is Landstalker – an isometric role-playing game. I have a photo of us together, huddled in front of the TV, along with a vague recollection of moving boxes in the game, but I can’t remember any more than that. Perhaps there is a deep-seated psychological or paternal bonding reason for my fondness for the system that goes beyond just the enjoyment I found with the games themselves.

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But without question, my favourite game from this era was Shining in the Darkness – a role-playing dungeon-crawler that stole a lot of my teenage time. It was crudely drawn, poorly animated, and it didn’t have a great story, but I loved it just the same. It was probably the title that got me interested in that video game genre, because I played a lot of similar games in subsequent years.

Other favourites of that era include the Michael Jackson endorsed platformer, Moonwalker; strategy game, Mega-Lo-Mania; and Sword of Vermilion, another role-playing game, that – like Phantasy Star II – also came with a massive one hundred page-plus hint book.

This wasn’t my final Sega console, but it was the one I enjoyed the most, and probably the one I had the longest.

Potted Film Review: The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018)

Starring: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Gillian Anderson

What’s it all about?
After Audrey (Kunis) is dumped by her boyfriend – and he is subsequently killed – she finds out that instead of being the deadbeat that she thinks he was, he was actually a spy working for the CIA. Along with her best friend Morgan (McKinnon) the two of them then travel to Austria in order to deliver a secret package.

It’s been done many times before – two characters thrust into a world of espionage and explosions, who don’t really know what they’re doing but manage to stumble their way to the end credits anyway and manage to save the day.

There’s some great stunt work in here, and the action is well done, but I think all that should be in a better movie than this. To their credit, the girls do seem to be enjoying themselves, but they may be the only ones. They have good comic timing and are fun to watch, but this movie is not. And at a few minutes shy of two hours, it’s about twenty minutes too long.

Watching it with the kids…
There’s a lot of blood spilled, and some fairly grisly moments that are not suitable for the little ones. Language is quite ripe throughout as well, and although there is no sex, there is a cock and a pair of swinging balls that you may want to be aware of if you check this out.

Verdict…
Both of the two female leads deserve a better script than this. It’s billed as a comedy, but it isn’t all that funny. McKinnon’s character is called Morgan Freeman, which I guess is meant to make me laugh. To be honest, the movie is far too violent far too often, and as a result, I don’t know how I am expected to react in any given scene. The Spy Who Dumped Me may have succeeded if it was a standard buddy flick, but unfortunately the tone is all over the place, and I was just left waiting for it to be over.

Not Recommended ↓

Still Just a Young Thing…

According to the notification I got from WordPress this morning, today is my seventh anniversary of using the service. I didn’t realise it had been so long. Before I started on here I ran a blog with Blogger for several years – a service which is still going today, but one that I felt I had outgrown. Looking back, I guess I don’t do anything here that I wasn’t doing over there, but the functionality of WordPress suits my needs a little better.

In seven years I have made 356 posts, which is an average of about one a week. I have had over 19,000 views, which is made up of 6,500 different visitors. And I have (at the time of writing this) 134 followers. Now, how many of those actually check this place out when I post something is unknown, but it’s nice to have an audience of any size.

The numbers are not a lot by any measure, except perhaps the measure of someone who hasn’t been paying too much attention to that kind of thing. The narcissist in me would like more traffic on these pages, but at the same time I understand that only happens if I post things that others are interested in reading. That part is on me.

Anyway, happy seventh birthday to me. Here’s to making this next year a great one.

What’s So Good About Friday?…

Today is Good Friday, although I’m not really sure why it’s called that. Are Christians actually marking the day that Jesus was murdered? This is the guy who their entire marketing and advertising campaign revolves around. He’s the one who brings people in. Without him, there is no Christianity. They should be a little more respectful and mourning his passing as a god in their field.

Oh, wait…

But not only do they mark the day every year; it’s treated as a celebration. It’s Good Friday. It’s right there in the name. It’s not called Memorial Friday or Remembrance Friday, which would make sense, because if the day is being noted to remember Jesus, and to denounce his premature death (which it surely is), shouldn’t it be a sombre affair?

I know religion can be confusing, but I am missing the logic. Is it supposed to be ironic – as in, we know it’s actually a really shit Friday, but that doesn’t look good on a calendar? I doubt it: the church is not known for its self-deprecating sense of humour.

If you follow the script, Jesus was going about his business when he was captured by the Romans and summarily executed. Sounds like a pretty rubbish day to me. And whilst nailing me to a cross and watching me bleed out may be some people’s idea of a good time, I would like to think that most of those who care about me (yes, there are a few) would be saddened by the grisly nature of my denouement.

The same should be the case for Jesus, whose only real crime was his David Blaine style trick of turning water into wine without considering the social implications of any minors in the crowd drinking the alcohol that he had provided. Next thing Jesus knows, he’s been nabbed by one of Pilate’s guys and there’s a halo of thorns on his head. Now, if he had spent time mastering a good escape trick, rather than messing around with the loaves and the fishes, perhaps he would have been all right.

The kids are off school on Good Friday, and it’s a weekend of chocolate eggs and cute little bunnies for them, so they probably think it’s quite a good day, but I doubt that the Christian Church was thinking of that when the day was given holiday status.

Likewise, I’m sure supermarket managers and corner store owners love it too, because as they have correctly pointed out; Jesus not only died for our sins, but also so that we could spend far too much money on sweet treats.

All right, rant over. Now get back to that terrible Easter weekend television.