Saturday, 30 April 2011

Dawn of the Dead

I watched the remake of Dawn of the Dead last night.

I have to say that I hate remakes, I've seen a lot (including the Omen), and I hated them all. They lacked guts, and I don't mean the type spilling on the floor, I mean that they seem to have no spirit, they are just copies, and as the makers try to copy the original, they fail.

However, this version was brilliant. The characters were realistic, it was funny, but also you could feel the terror. I watched the director's cut, and have no idea how that matches up to the cinema version, but it was a satisfying film all the same.

From what I remember of the original, and it was a long time ago I watched that one (we do have a copy, but the boyfriend is refusing to watch it as it's in 4:3 format and he apparently didn't buy a widescreen TV to watch it in that format!), the new version is simpler plot-wise, they get to the shopping mall faster, and there are no mad bikers...perhaps leading to a slightly more 'realistic' film. OK, so zombies attacking isn't exactly ever going to be in reality...I also like the idea of them playing 'shoot the celebrity zombie' game with the guy on the building, and their attempts to save him later.

Although there are the usual slimy characters and love-struck teenagers, the film really made you care about their plight.

And the gore is good too. Not so much that you have to puke, but enough to cheer to. The effects seemed pretty flawless.

And the credits are very well done. Especially the cooler and the head...


Now available at Amazon:

*Hangman: An unflinching look at what happens when suicide invades people's lives, and the damage it does.
*Loser's Club: A novel about cats, murder, love and not love, envy, hate, and above all, losers.
*Tube Life: Join Angel as she tries to navigate life, love and the London Underground.
*Writer: Explore the dark recesses of a writer's mind, where horror is never far from reality.

GeorgeEBirch.com
dragoncity publishing

Friday, 29 April 2011

Congrats, pet

Dear Willie and Kate,
            Thank you so much for the wonderful day off. My boyfriend and I will enjoy sitting in coffee shops drinking lattes rather than stuck behind a desk all day next to people we can barely tolerate.
            However, I do wish you'd given the date a little more thought, and moved it on to, say, mid-November. Although we are grateful, it does mean a lot of bank holidays at once, whereas there aren't any in November.
            I realise that this is a one-off, but assuming you make it to a big anniversary, we could see this situation arising again! Perhaps we you get to the crown you could look into it, say moving one of the other excellent days off to a little later in the year.
            I do have to thank you though for having the wedding on a Friday, if it had been a Saturday then no bank holiday! Phew! Although I do realise this was probably a financial decision, venues are so much cheaper on a weekday!
            I do hope you have a lovely day, but I won't be watching, sorry. Despite a vague interest in what your beloved will be wearing (in the hopes it won't be the horror Diana had to wear, poor thing looked lost in that dress!), I would rather spend the day doing something different. No offense- I'm just not a wedding hag type. I personally plan to get married in Vegas with an Elvis impersonator!
            Hugs and kisses,
            George E.

P.s. I really hope you guys are happy. Just try not to be in the tabloids to much, please? I can't' stand to see those guys drool.



Writer: buy now on Amazon
dragoncity publishing

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Wedding Hell? No!

The whole wedding industry thing baffles me. Ok, so perhaps I'm not girlie enough or something, but it all seems a little overblown to me.

It seems that we all have expectations as to what we should get from a wedding, a huge party, big dress, lots of presents, and we actually forget about one thing, that we are there to get married.

Care and attention is taken with every step. People bankrupt themselves trying to make sure they have the perfect day, that every little detail down to the napkins not only co-ordinates, but works towards making the day special. And we forget about our guests.

I was invited to a friend's wedding recently that appalled me. Not only was she pressuring me to go, even thought at the time I couldn't afford it, but the invitation...seems that there was a wedding with a coffee reception. Then an inexplicable break of five hours, and an evening do with 'snacks'. Oh, and they wanted cash as they had everything they needed.

So let me get this straight, what are you doing during the five hour break? Having a reception perhaps for close family and friends? So what does that make me? Filling to make your wedding pictures look good? This isn't acceptable!

And asking for cash, tacky. That's assuming I am giving a gift, which should never be the point of an invitation. As it happened I had bought her a small gift of a glass bowl, but decided that I would rather keep it myself, and not attend.

I also attended another wedding where there was the ceremony and a meal, then an evening reception. Most people were invited to the evening reception only , which made me wince. Invite 'em all, or not. If you can't afford a large wedding, don't pretend you had one! The bride was also endlessly updating me on the gifts they got, which was embarrassing for me. I didn't want to hear that Uncle Bob gave a hundred quid.

Try to plan a wedding, and you soon find out just why they are expensive, say wedding, and the price triples. But it's all the little gewgaws we add, table decorations, flowers, favours, etc that don't make the day special, they make it expensive.

But hell, if you want to spend a healthy deposit for a house on your special day, go for it. My boyfriend and I have decided to go as tacky as we can for our wedding, a nice Elvis wedding in Vegas. Short and sweet. I just have to persuade him that asking for cash as presents is not a good idea...



Now available at Amazon:

*Hangman: An unflinching look at what happens when suicide invades people's lives, and the damage it does.
*Loser's Club: A novel about cats, murder, love and not love, envy, hate, and above all, losers.
*Tube Life: Join Angel as she tries to navigate life, love and the London Underground.
*Writer: Explore the dark recesses of a writer's mind, where horror is never far from reality.

GeorgeEBirch.com
dragoncity publishing

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Car trouble

Why is it always me?
I see ratty old cars driving around the streets with a wad of sellotape holding them together, and yet my perfectly maintained car can't drive down a road without making a great thumping noise.

Today is try 4 at the garage, I drove it up there as it was making this mystery noise, and as they can't find the problem perhaps hearing it would help. I heard a new, disturbing noise as I was approaching. What was this new madness?

Turns out one of the still good tires was flat. Flat enough to ruin them. So that's another £60 down the fracking drain.

I hate cars. If I didn't have to work...

Writer: buy now on Amazon
dragoncity publishing

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Horrific Easter

We watched another horror movie over the weekend, The Midnight Meat Train. Which wasn't quite right, the Two-o-five Meat Train perhaps not having quite the right ring to it?

It was based on a short story by Clive Barker, Books of Blood I believe. I read them about 20 years ago and didn't remember the tale, but then again that's not surprising as the transition to screen rarely means that the book is preserved.

Overall it was a good yarn, and very gory, just what you want for an Easter Sunday! The effects were good, although my boyfriend advised me the CGI was a bit cheap. There was one moment with an eyeball that wasn't quite as good as it could have been, to be honest it was a shot that added little to the film, wouldn't have been possible in the latex days, and did nothing except scream 'hey, cheap CGI!'. As SAW 5 is a contemporary, it's clear that they just didn't have the budget to go better. Ah well, it was actually a nice shot, just didn't quite work.

I had worked out the ending practically at the beginning, so if there was supposed to be a twist in it, it didn't do too much for me. I suppose I've just seen too much Barker to be phased by it (and I'm trying to not give anything away). So a good movie, just perhaps not as innovative as it could be.


Writer: buy now on Amazon
dragoncity publishing

Monday, 25 April 2011

Bonk Holidays

Ok, I admit, this post isn't about sex. I just couldn't resist a cheap joke...I won't do it again, I promise! Although I guess as we are talking horror, bonk isn't such a bad word...

We watched Friday the 13th part 6 over the long weekend. It's amazing watching these movies again, I honestly don't remember it the first time around, but now I can see just how much the makers wanted you to root for Jason!

The other characters are so amazingly shallow and the kids are seriously slappable. Where as Jason has a certain...ok, hulking, menacing presence. A certain humor as well, his stiff, mechanical movements give the character his personality.

What was as entertaining were the fashions. Did any real teenage actually wear cut off t-shirts that bagged out so much? And that was just the boys! I was in that era, and I can honestly say we looked like total tools. Which is why it's so distressing to see it now!

The strange thing is the version we watched was a 15, and there was gore, but a lot of the really gruesome bits were out of shot. I notice that the IMDB refers to it as an 18, so either we watched a lame version, or it got reclassified, and horror has seriously changed over the last 20 years...

Oooo. 25 years. Urg.

Writer: buy now on Amazon
dragoncity publishing

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Happy chocolate day!

Easter! Where the Easter Bunny was eaten for our sins.

Behold! As we doth eat from his flesh and revel in his gooey-center.

Gasp! As we gut the cardboard coffin doth so he must be resurrected again in the form of a large, garishly foil covered chocolate egg.

Worship! Our aching bellies as we try later in the week to expel several pounds of chocolate that have become intertwined with our guts.

Revel! In the bargains that are doth for sale at the supermarket.

Horror! As we realise eating all that chocolate means we can no longer get into that skirt we loved.


Writer: buy now on Amazon
dragoncity publishing

Friday, 22 April 2011

CAAAAKKKKKKEEEE!!!!!!

Hmmm, Easter is nearly here, which means CHOCOLATE.
It also means that clash of the titans, the parents from both sides meet for the first time.

To pacify them I have baked a cake.


Hmmm. Trouble is the smell of chocolate cake wafts through the kitchen and boyfriend and I are having trouble controlling ourselves...

First time I have managed to ice a cake successfully with a palette knife, patience and waiting until it was cool enough was the key...

Writer: buy now on Amazon
dragoncity publishing

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Itty-bitty scratchy kitty

Grrrr, just got a paw-full of claws, and a matching set of scratches down my arms.

Cats really struggle when you try to get them into the cooking pot...

Writer: buy now on Amazon
dragoncity publishing

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Pop goes the weasel

I was quite astonished at the recent fuss over a certain Rebecca Black's song Friday. Yes, it was terrible. But to be honest, I genuinely couldn't understand why people were getting so worked up about it, because to me it sounded just like the rest of the pap out there, catchy, bright, but ultimately bland.

Take Lady Gaga for example, venerated, yes, but how often do you hear about her in relation to her music? I admit, I stand at the edges of all of this, I catch the odd snippet, but it seems to me that she is about fashion, or shock, rather than the music. Nothing new there, shock is a mainstay of musicians, and let's face it, would Madonna have been so successful if she hadn't have been so concerned with image?

I stay away from mainstream music simply because it doesn't feed my soul. This is a purely personal reason, naturally, as each person gains insight from different things, but I want my music to intrigue me, to draw me in time and time again, to make me ask questions of myself, and others, and ultimately, to change me.

So what makes a good band then?

No idea. For me, I like complex music, powerful, but also delicate.  And a lot of people could dismiss it as pompous crap. I guess I also like the prestige that comes when someone doesn't know the band you like. So I am a music snob, and I do take music seriously. But only because I love it so much, I hate to see it as a throw-away thing.

The bands I love then are (in sort of alphabetical order):


Beatles (the)
Burt Jansch
Cooper Temple Clause (the)
Crippled Black Phoenix
Cradle of Filth
Earthtone9
Gary Numan
Jethro Tull
Marillion
Marilyn Manson (mid-period)
Mark Lanegan
Martin Grech
Mastadon
Monster Magnet
Muse (early period only)
Nine Inch Nails (early and some older)
Paradise Lost
Pigface
Pitchshifter
Portishead
Queen
Queens of the Stone Age
Radiohead
Rammstein
Sisters of Mercy
Slayer
Slough Feg
Soulsavers
System of a Down
Tweaker
Twilight Singers
Weh




Writer: buy now on Amazon
dragoncity publishing

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

A little Kindle

I've recently bought an Amazon Kindle, and I wanted to share my experiences.

To begin with, I was very unsure about buying a bit of electronics to read from, after all some of the experience of reading a book surely comes from the actual book. I just couldn't see how holding some kind of electronic thing that constantly needed charging and would give me eye strain would possibly help.

Then I got a look at the one my dad has. Now, it wasn't a Kindle, but I was instantly amazed at the screen. The text was clearly visible, and didn't reflect back at me. As it happened, I was going to Egypt in a couple of weeks, and it was my birthday, so I placed an order, in the hope that it would arrive in time. As it happens just after I ordered the Kindle I got made redundant for the second time that year...ah well.

The Kindle arrived very quickly. I didn't go for Amazon's cover for it, I went with the Duragadget. I have to admit I regretted pushing the Kindle into the holder, without it the Kindle is so smooth, light and tactile, but with it I knew the Kindle would have a chance of survival in my bag!

So first job was to find some books to upload. As I was unemployed but going on holiday, I spent a little bit of time Wishlisting books so I could decide the best ones to take with me, and pick the cheapest. Of course I realised only later that you can't see the price of Kindle books in a Wish List. Naughty Amazon! No problem, I just had to open each in a different tab. Laborious, tedious? Yes, but eventually I had a selection.

Now I went cheap on the Kindle and went for WiFi. No problem, I bought the books I wanted, and within moments they were on the Kindle ready to read. I can't honestly see why you would need anything but WiFi, unless perhaps you were abroad? As I've bought now about 50 books and still have barely started on the storage space, I'm not sure why you'd need to.

So I started reading. I confess at first I couldn't get into it, it felt unnatural holding the screen up, clicking rather than flipping pages, but after about a third of the book I realised it had become natural, and I was into the book as much as I would have been a paper copy.

I took the book to Egypt with me. Of course this meant I didn't have to pack at least six books into the suitcase, and didn't have to get the thickest for the journey out, I had them all with me in my hand luggage. No problem at airport security, and the x-rays didn't bother it at all.

We had gone on a Nile Cruise, so most of the reading was either in the cabin, or on deck. Despite the intense sun, and it was 40 degrees plus out there, I had to angle the Kindle once to avoid glare, and it wasn't laptop glare either, when my boyfriend couldn't use his DS, I could read easily. It was literally a stripe of sun across the digital paper, I’m sure I would have had to angle a traditional book!

There were disadvantages from the paperback through, security. No-one in their right mind is going to steal a paperback, but a Kindle? Perhaps. So I had to make sure it was in the safe every time we left without it. Also, naturally I had to make sure it didn't get wet, and sun-creamed hands were a bit of an issue. Although the cover I bought had a built-in stand which was very useful.

The battery lasted right through the holiday, and I even used it for a while after that. I can't say how long the battery does last, but it's certainly getting a lot of use from me, and I don't have to charge too often. You can charge the Kindle using your laptop too, so if you have it with you, you don't have to worry about losing charge (assuming you can plug the laptop in...).

I also uploaded the PC versions of the Kindle reader, and all my books were instantly available. Thanks Amazon!


However, there are not so good points, books are just as expensive, so don't expect to save cash that way, and they are taxed. Although there are often cheap and even free books, so a real bonus! The security issues, plus also it won't like the damp. And don't expect the Kindle to survive being dumped in the bottom of a handbag, take care of it.

Also there are a few publishers out there who haven't been too careful when they adapted the books. Quite a few I've seen have the wrong formatting, bad characters, spacing all wrong, on indents and so on. Is it really that much effort to check each book on a Kindle or the emulators? I think not...one particularly bad example I now own is a Dummies book that has text that goes off the page, bullet points that restrict the text to half the screen, references to sidebars that exist in the book, but have been thrown into the main text. Although it's not unreadable, it's not great, and it's not professional. I can appreciate that the back catalog will take time to reformat, but...oh, and images and diagrams can be rubbish. Too small, not enough clarity and so on. So try to get a sample before you buy...

Hmmm...it sounds pretty darn disgusting when I put it like that....

Writer: buy now on Amazon (and the Kindle!)
dragoncity publishing

Monday, 18 April 2011

Saxon-tastic and Gig talk

Went to see Saxon last night, that was a great gig! It's amazing that the band was formed in the mid-1970's, yet they still managed to play for nearly two hours without a break. The singer has an amazing voice, and sang nearly the whole time, I think there were a couple of minor breaks for longer guitar segments.

There was a surprising amount of yooth there as well, and I don't just mean late teens, I mean pre-teens. Lovely to see them, I hate to think that the yooth of today are being corrupted by the anti-rock, Justin Beiber, or other such pop-tastic 'groups'. I'd rather that they got a mix of styles so they can hopefully choose what they like, and not just what's popular.

There was also a guy seriously getting into the music who was a little, well, mature. He literally danced up and down the strip in front of my boyfriend and I for most of the time Saxon were up, and although it was great to see (I love it when people get into the music), we both had to duck to avoid flailing elbows!

It's just a shame I didn't know the band a little better, my boyfriend is the Saxon fan, trouble is that my boyfriend is a fan of a lot of bands, he has the largest collection of music I've ever seen! It's also very wide-ranging, although it has to be said that most of it settles in the region of rock. From light rock right up to the big guns of doom metal. Some of it is well beyong me...but I enjoy it all.

I do have a couple of complaints though, and these seem to be endemic throughout gigs these days. First, strobe lights. I'm talking about the bright, flashing bastards that scream at you throughout the gig, very distracting, and so bright I'm often squinting in pain.

But the worst, the false encore. I saw this happen a few years ago, the band don't play the biggest song, they say goodnight and sod off, but the house lights don't come on. The crowd shouts for them to come back, they return, few more songs, off.

Ok in the past, when it was genuine. But now we all expect it. Because everyone does it. And the worst of it is that I have been in gigs when the crowd don't yell, so the band come onto stage to near silence, I've seen crowds boo the band, and I've seen the bands take so long to return the audience are getting nasty...the worst was Guns and Roses a few years ago, when they came on stage for the last encore, and most people were leaving. Even me and my friend (who loves GnR, I don't). We looked up at the stage, and left. That was the worst gig I have ever been to...never seen people sit down in the middle of a set before...

And of course we all know when the set will end, as by law they have to stop at 11. So we know that's when they will stop.

So what's the point? We lose a couple of song times so what, they can kill the vibe and get an additional ego boost?



Writer: buy now on Amazon
dragoncity publishing

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Sundays and inspiration

Sunday, I love Sundays, buying the huge paper that must be at least a tree or two, and going to a local coffee shop to read and relax with a mocha and a bacon bagel. And try not to feel guilty that I didn't bring the laptop, and I'm not writing. That's a difficult thing to do, as it's very difficult to find time to write, with a full-time job and boyfriend to look after...sometimes I'm not sure which is more work...ok, they boyfriend!

I try to cram writing in where I can, although, if I'm honest I'm writing all the time, it just doesn't make it onto the page. Writer, for example, was inspired by seeing a huge truck on a local narrow road. It was ablaze with lights, and I thought it looked like a dragon. From that nondescript start a book was born, worked backwards if you like. It started with a homeless man...

And for those of you wondering, the book ideas in  Writer are all mine. Lame? Oh yeah. The dates on it are real, though, so you can see just how long ago it was!


Writer: buy now on Amazon
dragoncity publishing

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Day of the Dead

Just re-watched Day of the Dead. I haven't seen it since the late 80's when I was... well, not quite old enough to be watching Day of the Dead!

It was, and still is, the only horror movie to give me nightmares. Well, one to be exact. Although The Shining gave me the major willies (I watched it on my own at midnight when I was 17), I still didn't get nightmares from it, although The Grudge did give me a waking nightmare (and it wasn't about the weight of Sarah Michelle Geller!).

I honestly wasn't expecting that much from a 26 year old film, but I found it astonishing. Ok, so perhaps the acting is a little limited, but the sense of horror, that they are the last humans left is still there. I also enjoyed the battle between the military and the scientists (plus the poor techies stuck on the edge), and trying to decide who was more insane, Logan or Rhodes (I think it was Logon in the end, but only by a hair).

But what I enjoyed most, and was surprised by the most was the special effects. Crude by today's CGI standards, I should imagine they involved a lot of latex, fake blood, and perhaps pig guts. But they are seamless, the only exception being the attack on Miguel at the end, a large screen and high def made the latex overlays very visible.

The evisceration of the undead in Logan's lab, stunningly gruesome, some parts made me actually wince away slightly, the last scene to do that in a modern horror was Saw when there was the needle pit...me no like needles.

All in all, it was a stunning movie, and not showing it's age too badly.

Trouble is, I now have to go back in time and watch the first two. I had to watch that one again, though, because of Bub. You see, he was the nightmare.

I dreamt I looked out of my bedroom window late at night. Everything was still, the street light that invaded my room night after night was casting its sickly glow over the figure stood in the street. Bub. He stood there, headphones on, and looked up at me. slowly. His mouth gaped open as our gazes locked.

I woke up sweating, not because the dream had a violent element to it, but because it was so real. So vivid. I looked straight out at the street, almost afraid, but it was empty. but I can still recall that dream, every moment of it.



Writer: buy now on Amazon
dragoncity publishing

Friday, 15 April 2011

Crippled Black Phoenix

Just a quick one, listening to Crippled Black Phoenix. They are amazing. Go listen, now!


PDSXC7T7ZNNB
Writer: buy now on Amazon
dragoncity publishing

Writing Most Darkly

I'm currently reading Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett. It's not too bad, the think I like most about Pratchett's work is that he tries to use the clich├ęs that crop up in writing and stories, and pervert them, although I think even he will stop at killing the two innocent kiddies in the tale...although who knows?

Nothing is sacred, which is something all writers should remember, the more in love we are with a character, the more difficult it is to be objective about their fate. How many tales have 'rescued' a character from oblivion just because the writer couldn't let go? Would we as a culture be richer if sometimes we lost in our tales?

Who knows? Writing has go darker, although I think Pratchett just tells the truth at times...


Writer: buy now on Amazon
dragoncity publishing

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Films and TV

At the moment I'm watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD. I have to admit that I never fancied it, but it's actually really well scripted, and highly addictive. And it's fun tyring to guess how much weight Buffy has lost each series...

I also went to see Source code in the cinema. It was supposed to be another inception, but I found it really quite predictable, and had worked most of it out pretty quickly. However, for all that it was a pretty good watch.

Writer: buy now on Amazon
dragoncity publishing

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

A little about me

I  currently live in Yorkshire, with my boyfriend. In fact, I've lived in each of the Yorkshires at some time in my life, but now I'm back where I consider home.

I have to work to earn a crust, which is never a pretty thing, who wants to work? I guess I don't see writing as work because I can do it any where, and when I want, I'm not tied to a desk, and I can stop and go do something different if I get stuck. At 'work' when I get stuck all I can do is make a cup of tea, which means I make lots of cups of tea.

But that isn't an extraordinary story, most of you reading this will also be thinking, 'hmmm, I hate work too?! why should she be special?'

And that's just it, I'm not, I'm just trying to wriggle out of this trap in any way I can. I suggest you try too.

You don't have to give up working, just try something new to help you get out of it. If you fail, well, you tried.

Writer: buy now on Amazon
dragoncity publishing

Monday, 11 April 2011

First post

Ok, so here we go.

A little about me...I've been writing since I was very small. Actually, I've been dreaming about it since before I could write, every moment of my life was a fantasy, and in a way it sill is. I can't even bake a cake
(and I'm an awesome baker!) without turning it into something else...

I'm constantly thinking plots and characters, constantly trying to get those voices out of my head that want to live, that want to be heard, and get them onto paper in a way that honours them.

I'd better stop because I'm starting to sound insane, although I'm really not sure if there is much difference between insanity and writing. Not the way the book can take on a life of their own, and take over yours.

Writer: buy now on Amazon
dragoncity publishing