Tag Archives: J K Rowling

Researching hate

1 Nov

For just the tiniest smidgen of my novel, I needed an idea of how racist rallies work. I’ve never been to a protest of any kind (although I walked near one once; there were about five people waving placards in Southampton city centre – I think they were protesting the Iraq war) so I didn’t/don’t know how they really work. My character is hearing the protests from a distance, so that didn’t matter too much.

What I did need to know was what sort of slogan would be chanted at a protest with a racist objective. So I delved into the dark places of the internet. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I did find a strong urge to vomit. I found a blog with horrible jokes about Muslim people, dehumanising and disgusting, and further posts from the same blog explaining why Muslims weren’t as good as other people and violence against them was totally justified.

Then I stopped researching for the day and went to take a shower.

It absolutely horrified me that in 2014 there are people who think some people are better than other people just because of the colour of their skin or the god(s) they worship or don’t worship. For a milder example, I would probably not get to be president of the United States because I am an atheist.

Also because I am English (and female, but I think we’re getting there on that one. Slowly).

Eventually I gave up, and it’s not something I want to research again. Sometimes it would be easier to bury my head in the sand completely.

It's a threeway! ...tie for gaming victory

Kjarl and I are quite the detectives

 

Currently reading:

Harry Potter y la Cámara Secreta by J K Rowling

Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

The Magic in the Weaving by Tamora Pierce

The Story of the Jews  by Simon Schama*

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen*

Sagittarius Whorl by Julian May

A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris

Completed since 12/3/2014 (62)

Snuff by Terry Pratchett*
Persuasion by Jane Austen*
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett*
By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie*
Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Animorphs: The Invasion by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Visitor by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Encounter by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Message by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Predator by K A Applegate
For the Win by Cory Doctorow*
The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett*
Animorphs: The Capture by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Stranger by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Alien by K A Applegate
Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal by J K Rowling
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Avengers Prime: Volume One by Brian Michael Bendis and Alan Davis*
I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
A Dance with Dragons I: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin*
Catacombs by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough*
Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan*
Justice League of America: The Lightning Saga by Brad Meltzer and Geoff Johns*
Pawn by Aimée Carter*
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen*
Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce
Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter
Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan*
A Dance With Dragons Part 2: After the Feast by George R R Martin*
Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter
Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan*
Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan*
Mort by Terry Pratchett
Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian by Rick Riordan*
Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter
Hounded by Kevin Hearne*
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Shirley by Charlotte Brontë*
Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
Hexed by Kevin Hearne*
Hammered by Kevin Hearne*
Tricked by Kevin Hearne*
The Great Cat Massacre: A History of Britain in 100 Mistakes by Gareth Rubin*
Bridget Jones’s Diary: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding*
United We Spy by Ally Carter
The Vanishing Point by Val McDermid*
Trapped by Kevin Hearne*
Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë*
Mastiff by Tamora Pierce
Sourcery by Terry Pratchett
Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
Perseus Spur by Julian May
Hunted by Kevin Hearne*
Sisters by Barbara Mortimer*
The Martian by Andy Weir*
“I tested the brackets by hitting them with rocks. This kind of sophistication is what we interplanetary scientists are known for.”

Orion Arm by Julian May
The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch*
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë*

*First read

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Hoping and choosing hope

25 Sep

I had an interview yesterday. I’ve lost count of how many I’ve had since I lost my job 10 months ago, but I think it’s in the 30s now. Still, I choose to believe that I will get called back for a second interview for this one. I was totally in the zone yesterday – I didn’t even stutter and have to go ‘Bleurgh – Oops, I seem to have forgotten how to talk’, which is quite common for me! It gives me an opportunity to reset my words. If you’ve ever watched Ally Macbeal, one of the characters had a stutter and he would reset himself by saying ‘Poughkepsie’, which is a city in New York state.

Anyway, in the interview I didn’t go into any roundabout speeches like that one up there.

I’ve also just started my marketing course – I’ll be stopping writing in a moment to go to the second webinar. I’m really excited – I will learn things that I can actually use for my chosen vocation! I feel all fancy.

On the subject of choosing hope, and totally separate to everything I do on this blog usually, I’d like to draw attention to the fact that it is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Mary Tyler Mom, who lost her four year old daughter to a brain tumour a few years ago, is curating a series where every day in September, somebody tells their story of childhood cancer. I really recommend giving it a read.

(This post began being written on Tuesday and finished up on Thursday. Not my speediest!)

Currently reading:

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce

Sourcery by Terry Pratchett

Sisters by Barbara Mortimer*

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
“‘Now, if you find yourself in trouble wherever you go, you can say, “You have no idea who you’re fucking with. I’m under the protection of the lady who gave me this object of her favour.”‘
‘And that’s supposed to make them stop?’
‘Shit no, that’s just to confuse them. Then you can kill them while they’re standing there looking at you funny.'”

Harry Potter y la Cámara Secreta by J K Rowling

Perseus Spur by Julian May

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Hunted by Kevin Hearne

The Martian by Andy Weir

Completed since 12/3/2014 (50)

Snuff by Terry Pratchett*
Persuasion by Jane Austen*
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett*
By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie*
Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Animorphs: The Invasion by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Visitor by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Encounter by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Message by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Predator by K A Applegate
For the Win by Cory Doctorow*
The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett*
Animorphs: The Capture by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Stranger by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Alien by K A Applegate
Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal by J K Rowling
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Avengers Prime: Volume One by Brian Michael Bendis and Alan Davis*
I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
A Dance with Dragons I: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin*
Catacombs by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough*
Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan*
Justice League of America: The Lightning Saga by Brad Meltzer and Geoff Johns*
Pawn by Aimée Carter*
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen*
Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce
Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter
Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan*
A Dance With Dragons Part 2: After the Feast by George R R Martin*
Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter
Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan*
Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan*
Mort by Terry Pratchett
Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian by Rick Riordan*
Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter
Hounded by Kevin Hearne*
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Shirley by Charlotte Brontë*
Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
Hexed by Kevin Hearne*
Hammered by Kevin Hearne*
Tricked by Kevin Hearne*
The Great Cat Massacre: A History of Britain in 100 Mistakes by Gareth Rubin*
Bridget Jones’s Diary: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding*
United We Spy by Ally Carter
“Our dads are politicians, Preston. Of course we grew up thinking they might be evil.”

The Vanishing Point by Val McDermid*
Trapped by Kevin Hearne*
Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë*

*First read

Off on Holiday

7 Jun

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, six people and a dog shall set sail for the exotic climate of the Isle of Wight, which is approximately 15 miles away from where we live. I’ll be gone for a week, and have nothing much to say right now, but if I don’t update for more than a week WordPress sends me cranky notices about posting targets, so I thought I’d let it know.

Have a great week, gentle readers!

Currently reading

A Dance with Dragons I: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin
‘”A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies,” said Jojen. “The man who never reads lives only one.”‘

Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal by J K Rowling

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Catacombs by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

Completed since 12/3/2014

Snuff by Terry Pratchett
Persuasion by Jane Austen
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie
Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Animorphs: The Invasion by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Visitor by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Encounter by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Message by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Predator by K A Applegate
For the Win by Cory Doctorow
The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
‘”I don’t get about much,” said the tree.
“Fairly boring life, I imagine,” said Rincewind.
“I wouldn’t know. I’ve never been anything else,” said the tree.’

Animorphs: The Capture by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Stranger by K A Applegate
“I have gym next period. At any moment I might suddenly be swooped away to another planet, but in the meantime I have to go play volleyball.”

Animorphs: The Alien by K A Applegate
‘“Where are we going? Ing? Ing-ahng-ing. That is a very satisfying sound.”
“Yeah, everybody loves a good ‘ing.’”‘

Review – ‘For the Win’ by Cory Doctorow

29 May

Wow, I finally finished it.

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

As you can see from my reading summary at the bottom of my posts, I’ve been reading For the Win since back in March, just before I started blogging again. It’s been quite a ride.

For the Win is different from any other book I’ve ever read. It has a large cast of main characters, many of whom are people of different nationalities and races, and the story slowly draws them together to form a movement.

Right away, Doctorow introduces the concept of gold farmers, people (usually teenage boys in developing countries) who gather gold in MMORPG* videogames and sell it on to rich people who want to level up fast and have lots of in-game wealth.

Because there’s a market, there’s a supply, and so sweatshops form in India and China and other countries where bosses work the gold farmers into the ground for limited pay. There’s also people hired by the game companies to combat the gold farmers. In response, a character named Big Sister Nor and her friends start organising a union.

In theory, it’s a young adult novel, but I don’t think I could have stuck with it as a kid – there’s a lot of economics talk in there, which would have probably caused young adult me to zone out completely. However, as a somewhat-older-adult, I learned more about economics from this book than I have in the rest of my life.

The book focuses largely on the intersection between economics and labour rights, and Doctorow has taken a bold step in setting large amounts of the novel in Asia, with most of the book written from the Asian characters’ perspective. He paints vivid pictures of Dharavi, a poor area of Mumbai that is one of the largest slums in the world, as well as life in urban China. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of research that went into this story, written by a Canadian-British man.

Doctorow writes from the perspective of a Muslim girl, poor Chinese boys, a Jewish American boy who wishes he was Chinese, and all have their clear voices and all are believable and sympathetic. Oddly, the character I struggled most to relate to was the one main guy who was actually an American adult man. Though probably not that odd actually, since I’m a British woman.

I’m struggling to word this review in the same way I struggled at first to get into this book – it’s kind of too big for me. Read it. And Little Brother, too. Cory Doctorow has lots of worthwhile things to say.

*For those not in the know, an MMORPG is a massive multiplayer online roleplaying game such as World of Warcraft.

Currently reading

A Dance with Dragons I: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin

Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal by J K Rowling

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Catacombs by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce

Animorphs: The Stranger by K A Applegate

Completed since 12/3/2014

Snuff by Terry Pratchett
Persuasion by Jane Austen
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie
Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Animorphs: The Invasion by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Visitor by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Encounter by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Message by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Predator by K A Applegate
For the Win by Cory Doctorow
The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
Animorphs: The Capture by K A Applegate

Timetabled Writing

19 May

In the last couple of weeks, my friend Nemmie has been coming round on Wednesday afternoons for a scheduled writing session. It’s actually been really productive for me – the first week I wrote the entire first draft of the story from my last post, and the second week I wrote the second and final thousand words for A Grave Situation, the story I wrote about in ‘Bitten by the Writing Bug’. Nemmie is becoming better at producing more words as well.

Hopefully we’ll be able to keep it up. It’s my fiance’s birthday this Wednesday, so rather than writing with Nemmie I shall be entertaining said fiance’s parents while lamenting not having the money to buy him a present or take him out somewhere nice.

Not to worry though, because in two weeks, courtesy of our amazing friends, we’re off to the Isle of Wight on holiday. This is very exciting, and I’m sure I shall chronicle the adventures of Six People and a Dog when I come back.

In the meantime, however, I’m working on the second draft of A Grave Situation, which is taking shape quite nicely as I transfer it from my notebook to my laptop. This is usually the stage where I try and add some detail, cut out the adverbs, and laugh at the spelling mistakes spawned by not paying attention.

For today though, I must focus on preparing for yet another job interview tomorrow.

Currently reading

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

A Dance with Dragons I: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin

Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal by J K Rowling

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Catacombs by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce

Animorphs: The Capture by K A Applegate

Completed since 12/3/2014

Snuff by Terry Pratchett
Persuasion by Jane Austen
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie
Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Animorphs: The Invasion by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Visitor by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Encounter by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Message by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Predator by K A Applegate

Lazy Farmers

8 May Carcasonne

Sunday saw another gathering of my friends for the purpose of playing games. It started out as a plan to play tennis on Monday and somehow became a plan to play board games on Sunday. We made plans with just over an hour to spare, so commenced a spree of showering and getting dressed. My friends are like-minded, hence three of us being in pajamas at 1.30 in the afternoon.

We kicked the afternoon off with cookies, crisps, and a game of Shadows Over Camelot. Shadows is a nifty game because you play together against the game itself. This was only our second game, so we’re still taking it pretty easy on ourselves – we tell each other what cards we’ve got, and we haven’t introduced a traitor into the mix yet.

It took us maybe 20 minutes to go back over the rules. The first time we played it took about 45 minutes to read the rules, and we were still a little confused, so make sure you leave plenty of time the first time you play.

It’s an excellent game – we found the Holy Grail, retrieved Excalibur from Avalon, did…something with Lancelot’s armour, got defeated by the Black Knight, and kicked some Pict butt, all the while fighting the siege engines gathering around the walls of Camelot.

Shadows Over Camelot

Shadows Over Camelot

We then moved on to playing Carcassonne, which is a game where you build the board as you play. On your turn you place a tile, and then use little wooden people, called ‘Meeple’ to collect points.

Knights stand on cities, robbers stand on roads, and Meeple become farmers by lying down in fields. Because that’s what farmers do.

To quote Kjarl, after one of his Meeple fell down: “Can’t stand! Too lazy! Must…become…farmer!”

There’s an odd sort of psychology to how people keep their playing pieces when not in use:

meeple

 

Carcasonne

A very tidy game of Carcasonne

Our first game resulted in a very tidy map, and I won! It was very exciting. I like to win. A little more than I’m proud of.

Pride comes before a fall, as they say, and my fall was in our second game of Carcasonne, where I dramatically came last. Fairlake took the lead by one or two spaces, with Kjarl and Orphen right behind, and Fairy and I way, way back.

We moved onto playing Settlers of Catan, and the game was pretty even most of the way through, then all of a sudden Fairy had a bunch of cities. We carried on battling for some time, but then Fairy built a road, took the longest road card, gained two victory points, and won.

The thing is, she wasn’t actually just trying for the longest road. In her own words: “I want to make it long but also have something come out of it.”

There may have been some giggling. Some very mature giggling.

So, here are the scores on the doors:

Kjarl needs to up his game

Kjarl needs to up his game

The next time I post will be a short story I’ve written with a picture prompt; I’ll link back and stuff at the bottom.

Currently reading

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

A Dance with Dragons I: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin

Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal by J K Rowling

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Catacombs by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Animorphs: The Encounter by K A Applegate

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce

Completed since 12/3/2014

Snuff by Terry Pratchett
Persuasion by Jane Austen
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie
Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Animorphs: The Invasion by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Visitor by K A Applegate

Information Overload

3 May

The past few weeks, as I barrel towards six months of being unemployed, have been very difficult, as I’ve been hit by a spot of depression and weird sleeping habits. We also interred the ashes of my sister in law a week ago, which was very difficult for my fiance and his family and me.

As searching for work has become painfully routine, I’ve found that my head constantly wants to be learning new things. This week I’ve memorised the locations of all 50 US states and made a start on learning the locations of all the European countries. I’ve also got times tables memorised up to about 12 x 24.

I’ve been working on social media marketing for my mum’s jewellery, and the combination of this and the memorising stuff sort of lead to a HEADSPLOSION that really stopped me from sleeping earlier this week.

I’ve managed to knock out another few hundred words of my short story, and have made a start on my copywriting portfolio. I attended an interview in Bournemouth on Monday, which seemed to go okay, although I was a little spacey.

Basically, so many things floating around in my head that my head is not in a happy place.

I have made progress on reading things though!

Currently reading

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

A Dance with Dragons I: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin

Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal by J K Rowling

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Catacombs by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Animorphs: The Encounter by K A Applegate

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
‘Rincewind had been generally reckoned by his tutors to be a natural wizard in the same way that fish are natural mountaineers’ 

Completed since 12/3/2014

Snuff by Terry Pratchett
Persuasion by Jane Austen
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie
Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Animorphs: The Invasion by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Visitor by K A Applegate
‘Love is pretty important. It’s like wearing a suit of armor. It makes you strong.’

Bitten by the Writing Bug

24 Apr
Greyfriars Bobby by Kirsty Hall on Flickr

My new short story revolves around a grave. Not actually Greyfriars Bobby’s grave though. My dead person is human.

For the last few weeks I’ve been struggling to get myself to even try to go to sleep. I’ve had a pretty set routine since I lost my job back in November, and on week nights I go to bed at 10 and turn the lights out at 11. But at the moment I’m struggling to get myself to turn the light out before midnight, and twice this week I’ve been awake after 2 am. It’s not ideal, as the structured bedtime allows me to get up at a reasonable time and get lots of stuff done.

Last night I meant to go to sleep at 11 but since I only went up to bed at 11.15 that plan was scuppered. So I read Castle fanfiction for a bit (shut up) and then tried to persuade myself to turn the light out, failed, and carried on reading. At about 12.15 I was almost ready to go to sleep, but suddenly got hit with a burst of inspiration for a short story.

I was conflicted. I did want to sleep, but would the story wait? I put a little note on my phone, but I didn’t think I could capture everything in my head from a one sentence note. After about two minutes staring at my phone and dithering, I got up, grabbed my writing notebook from downstairs, and took it to bed with me.

So I ended up writing 800 words, and deducting it from my ‘working’ time today so I could have a lie in. I’m pretty sure I can finish and polish it pretty quickly, so I need to be on the lookout for the right place to publish it when I’m done.

It’s kind of a murder mystery. I’m not sure who the killer is yet. I’m sure I’ll be surprised when I figure it out.

Sometimes I wonder if mystery writers always know who the killer is when they start, or do they let the characters speak for themselves in the first draft and add in the foreshadowing and things later?

In my novel, I’m not entirely sure what the bad guys are and how the good guys are going to win, or even if they are. I have my whole world laid out and my characters are real people in my head, but I just have no idea how it’s going to end. I have no idea if this is a normal creative process or not. Anyone have any thoughts?

Currently reading

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

A Dance with Dragons I: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin

Terrier by Tamora Pierce

Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal by J K Rowling

Animorphs: The Invasion by K A Applegate

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Catacombs by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Completed since 12/3/2014

Snuff by Terry Pratchett

Persuasion by Jane Austen

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie

The Catan Munchkin Wars

16 Apr

Last Saturday (the 5th) was International Tabletop Day, a movement spearheaded by the folks at Geek and Sundry to get people to play more table top/board games.

My friends apparently didn’t need an excuse, as without thinking about it we organised a dinner and games session on the Sunday. Then we retconned it so it was for Tabletop Day.

It was nice to see other people on my Facebook timeline playing games as well. I really want to give Cards Against Humanity a try sometime. It sounds…wrong. But in a good way.

First, I have decided to start a table! Because I am exciting like that.

Let me introduce the players:Me

Me! It’s pretty clear from this blog who I am, so I’ll just show you my nice image and move on.

 

fairy
Fairy
likes a lot of things, including me and sci-fi/fantasy books and TV shows. She is convinced that dice hate her, and over our many years of friendship I’ve seen little to disprove this.

ORPHEN

 

Orphen is Fairy’s husband. He likes gaming of all sorts, and is my regular Risk opponent as well as the person I am most likely to play video games with.

fairlake

 

Fairlake is my biggest TV show geeksquee companion, and we have spent many a happy hour talking about TV shows such as Buffy, Firefly, and Doctor Who in high pitched voices.

Kjarl

 

Kjarl is Fairlake’s boyfriend and is very smart, which is annoying of him. He too likes many things, some of which are penguins, hence his penguin picture.

We kicked our evening off with a round of Munchkin, which is a card based roleplaying game that’s a parody of more traditional RPGs. You’re prowling through a dungeon, fighting wacky monsters and stealing their treasure. You want to be the first one to reach level 10, which usually involves a lot of being really unkind to your friends until somebody wins because everybody’s used up their helpful cards.

Our first game of Munchkin was weird, in that nothing very interesting happened. I made the foolish mistake of picking up a duck (never pick up a duck in a dungeon) and dropped two levels early on, which effectively took me out of the running. Fairy dramatically failed to draw a monster to fight most of the way through the game, apart from a Level 20 Plutonium Dragon that she had no chance against so tamed it and made it into her steed. This meant that she didn’t level up very much, but since she was riding a dragon she looked way cooler.

The final battle came down to Fairlake, Orphen and Kjarl, and when it came for Fairlake to fight a monster for the victory, nobody had a single helpful card to beat her. This was actually pretty handy because dinner was ready.

After a delicious vegetable curry made by Fairy, we played another game of Munchkin as we hadn’t fulfilled our backstabbing quotient for the evening. This one was more traditional and lasted longer, and while I didn’t do very well for myself, I was able to set two level 20 wandering monsters on Fairy and stop her from winning. I am the best best friend ever.

In Munchkin you have cards that you can use as armour and weapons to boost your basic fight score. In both games I had Bear Feet, which gave me +2 to combat, and any time I drew a curse card trying to take my footwear away I could point down and say ‘But I have bear feet!’ and keep them. This made me happy both times I got to say it. In the end Orphen took the second game.

Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan – I was red, Fairlake orange, Fairy green, Orphen brown, Kjarl blue

Next we went to play Settlers of Catan, and we rolled to see who would go first.

Fairlake rolled 4.
I rolled 4.
Orphen rolled 4.
Fairy rolled 4.
Kjarl rolled 4.
Fairlake rolled 4 again.
I rolled 4 again.

We all stared suspiciously at the die. Orphen rolled again, and it came up 5. We still eyed the die. Seven times in a row? Really?

It showed no sign of favouring 4 throughout the actual game, so we just hit some crazy odds.

In the game, Fairlake and Fairy got into The Battle of the Massive Winding Roads, as the longest road is worth 2 victory points. They got in everybody’s way, including each other’s. I did something mean to everybody at the start of the game (not sure what) which meant I got a plentiful supply of bad things for the rest of the game.

I built five settlements to secure my best yet score in Catan, and was very pleased with myself. People kept rolling 7, which means the robber moves and steals stuff. In the words of Wil Wheaton, the robber is a dick.

At the last moment, Fairy wrestled the title of Longest Road from Fairlake, and with it won the game. Even though there were dice involved. It could just be because she didn’t necessarily have to roll the dice herself to get things. Or maybe the dice felt sorry for her this time. Or maybe it was skill. Who knows?

table

I demonstrated my confusion with the world by calling Orphen both my fiance’s and my dog’s names during the course of the evening.

But the other day my Mum called me ‘Bella – No, William!’ which is her cat and my brother, so clearly it’s hereditary.

Currently reading

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

A Dance with Dragons I: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin

Terrier by Tamora Pierce

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal by J K Rowling

Animorphs: The Invasion by K A Applegate

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Completed since 12/3/2014

Snuff by Terry Pratchett

Persuasion by Jane Austen

By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie

Come and see the violence inherent in the system

1 Apr
Halo 4 hero Master Chief

Master Chief, the main character of the Halo games (except Reach)

Yes, that’s a Monty Python and the Holy Grail quote. If you recognised it you can pat yourself on the back.

The system I’m actually talking about is my Xbox 360, so not exactly Albion, but I was going for a sort of sideways connection because of the violence.

I’ve been playing a fair bit of Halo 4 in the last week or so, because when you’re feeling stressed and frustrated there are few things quite as cathartic as mercilessly slaying your fellow Spartans in multiplayer mode.

I don’t play a lot of video games, largely because I can’t afford to buy them, but Halo has been one of my favourites for about six years now. My friends and I have spent many a happy hour killing each other, other people, and various Covenant and Promethean forces.

If you don’t know much about Halo, it’s a first-person shooter (where you play as one person, and, well, shoot people) set in the future, and you usually play as a Spartan, who are like super soldiers in funky armour. To be honest, I haven’t played much of Halo 1-3, although I do own Reach, which is a prequel of sorts.

The storyline is pretty easy to pick up, and the controls are now instinctive to me. It is extremely entertaining to play on easy with a parent. I shall provide a snippet of conversation typical of playing with my mother:

“Where are you?! I can’t see you!”
“I’m over here. See? I’m bouncing up and down.”
“All I can see is grass.”
“Okay, you’re looking at the floor. Move the little joystick under your right thumb up. No, your right thumb. The other right. Oops, too far, that’s the sky. Bring it back down. Theeere you are. Now follow me.”
“I can’t see you again.”
“That’s because you’re running into a wall. You need to turn around. No, you just turned all the way round and now you’re facing the wall again. Oops, here’s some bad guys. I’ll kill them all while you try and face the right way.”

One of my friends has had much the same experience playing Halo with her dad, so from this massive sample of two I conclude it to be universal. That’s SCIENCE, y’all.

Waiting for Multiplayer Matchmaking to happen takes some time, so I’ve been able to get some reading in too.

Currently reading

For the Win by Cory Doctorow
“Organizing is a kind of tax on human activity. For every minute you spend doing stuff, you have to spend a few seconds making sure that you’re not getting ahead or behind or to one side of the other people you’re doing stuff with.”

A Dance with Dragons I: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin

Terrier by Tamora Pierce

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie

Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal by J K Rowling (This is the Chamber of Secrets in Spanish – it creates moments of marvelous misunderstanding such as when I thought it was saying Vernon Dursley was an immense bigot but actually it was just saying he had a huge moustache)

Completed since 12/3/2014

Snuff by Terry Pratchett

Persuasion by Jane Austen

“‘I could bring you fifty quotations in a moment on my side the argument, and I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman’s inconsistancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman’s fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men.’

‘Perhaps I shall. – Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. education has been theirs in so much high a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove any thing.'”

Captain Harville and Anne Elliot in Persuasion. This was published in 1817, people. Still so relevant, and relevant across less privileged groups such as disabled people and different races as well.