The Distracting Raccoon

Behold the curmudgeon. Sometimes it’s hard to get excited about the latest entertainment development. I’m not a fan of 3D. I get fed up with the endless amount of pointless bilge fed to us by television networks and just because I can have it “on demand” doesn’t make it any better. I long for fewer films to be be released just so I can keep up. I hadn’t heard of 80% of the films reviewed in most magazine. All of my dream projects have been done: Freddy vs Jason, Prometheus and most mainstream superheroes, hell even Doctor Who is back better than ever. Most have been disappointing. But don’t get me started on Guardians of the Galaxy. A super-powered Raccoon! I kid you not, go look it up, no link provided. Have Marvel lost the plot? There are some people out there genuinely excited by this news. Has it come to this? Is this all we have left? A superhero team featuring a Raccoon. If I could think of a more pointless animal I’d make a joke about it, it could take some time.

So I’m free-styling. Don’t judge me, you’re the one that started reading. It’s always difficult to know what you want. I try and mix it up a bit, going over loads of stuff, sometimes focus a little more on something specific and sometimes challenge popular thought. That thought nowadays believes we are on the road to nirvana. That knowledge is power and the immediacy of that knowledge and content will be our salvation.

But what if it isn’t? What if we are all getting far too cocky for our own good?

I’m not generally known as a profit of doom, in fact I’m pretty happy-go-lucky most of the time, but I am convinced there will be an end-of-days. Not fire, brimstone and eternal damnation but simply the end of the oil reserves. The green revolution simply isn’t where it should be and the monopoly of energy companies mean that our sustainable energy investment won’t be enough until it’s too late. The death of the electric car being a prime example, cue trailer for an outstanding documentary. Stick with me.

Trailer for Who Killed The Electric Car?

Conservative estimates think empty-tank-day will be in around 50 years, unless the oil companies are allowed to rape the rest of the planet in order to buy us an extra 10 or 15 years. Not long. Expect much panic-technology and an onus on self sufficiency. By this point wind turbine and solar panels should have evolved that most homes should have access to them. This will ensure that the technology driven home will continue. Computers tablets, games consoles – anything using power wont’ become obsolete. Long distance travel, on the other hand, could become a problem. Will the amount of energy needed to propel us across countries and the world be available from sustainable resources? Let’s look on the bright side and hope it isn’t. Can a return to a feudal system really be that bad? Digitally enhanced manorialism would mean that whilst your methods of communication are left open you would be beholden to your local economy for food, work, health and education, although 3 of these could be supplemented digitally.

What of entertainment? I’m not sure where to start. TV ratings are dropping, the fascination film distributors have with blockbusters continue and content appears to become more and more extreme in order to attract ratings or viewers. As for video-games, I gave up several years ago. Whilst I admire the graphics the whole total immersion is just a bit too much. You’ll find me outside taking in the real world reminiscing about the Sinclair Spectrum, Atari ST and the Playstation One. We are easier to control and much easier to monitor; our digital footprints are so large and detailed it feels like advertisers are selling us stuff before we know we want the next big thing. All things considered, and even with multiplexes, electronic books and multiple channels, we are left with less choice and generally intellectually limited content.

So how does our new society deal with with entertainment? Like any revolution creativity and ideas will lead the way. The rules have been torn down and we can start again with renewed renaissance. Pioneers will tell stories and create art that have never been told or created before in a medium that will surprise us all. The advantage we will have is technology, an enabled society starting again. What we won’t see is Michael Bay blowing up giant robots just for the hell of it. Thank God. Not because he won’t wont have the budget or that it’s one of the most mind-blowing dull ideas ever to be imagined on screen but because his ideas won’t get past his own localised society. Jaws and Star Wars both started on a limited number of localised screens and the films grew by word of mouth into 2 of the best and most popular films ever conceived. Their popularity snowballed and continue to do so. The reason Transformers makes money is because of marketing. If it relied on the word of people coming out of screenings it would tank. Natural selection.

Localised industry along with creative talent would rule. The talentless and the individuals constantly spoon-fed to us as something special would be left at the side of the road. Nicole Scherzinger I’m looking at you. Without wanting to sound too Star Trek TNG everyone in society would have a part to play and to truly succeed you have to be good at what you do. Just look back at writers past generations have produced: Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Asimov, Kafka, Milton, Dante, Homer and Austin. The current best seller, an erotic novel, Shades of Grey is generally considered to be one of the worst written books in decades but it sells…no quality control, we follow like sheep to Amazon and swallow the happy pill. The only way to save ourselves is to de-construct this mess we have created.

Even as I write I’m wondering if I’m simply rallying against something because it’s popular, in turn trying to make myself popular with my unpopular views. It’s easy to do. The backlash against reality TV belies the fact that ratings are generally very good and I suspect some of the most vociferous voices are closet viewers. I don’t see the point in TOWIE or Jersey Shores but people enjoy it and who am I to argue or tell them they are wrong. What I object to is the lack of choice I get for. Perhaps there just aren’t enough of me out there to warrant pseudo-intellectual science-fiction? Firefly and Battlestar Galactica would suggest otherwise but these are the exception to the rules.

Then you have the hatred. Much more than hate and far more damaging. Generally purveyed by so-called trolls who appear to have a licence to say what they want from behind the safety of their keyboard, generally unpleasant creatures who clearly have social problems. They are given anonymity and for much of the time ignored or allowed to get away with their behaviour. But simply suggest that the internet is regulated and users are asked to use licences and the full force of public opinion comes down on you like you are the one who has committed a crime. A licensed internet will go some way to stop trolls, pirating, paedophiles, illegal activity and bullying. What’s not to love? An intrusion on human rights? What, to commit crime? What a strange argument.

So we create our new society like a new Eden, where love and respect rule. Where we are all entertained as one and appreciate how lucky we actually are. History has taught us that this will last for all of 5 minutes before the wheels of evolution start to turn. Tastes and personalities divide and choice become king. My pseudo-intellectual haven will soon become mainstream bullshit and some cocky writer will pull the entire process apart citing end-of-days. A bleak dystopian outlook if ever you saw one, and it all started with a Raccoon.

Rocket Raccoon

Cover for the Rocket Raccoon comic.


Tolkien’s 10 Tips for Writers

I simply had to share this blog, a brilliant piece of work from one of the masters of words…

Tolkien’s 10 Tips for Writers.

Back to being unfunny

Great news that Newsjack on BBC Radio 4 is back. So I submitted a handful of one liners and it turns out I am still completely unfunny.

There have been so many withdrawals from the Government’s work experience programme the Catholic Church has officially endorsed it.

Donald Trump gives £10m to anti-wind farm campaigners. He has also given £5m to fart for freedom.

David Cameron, clearly influenced by Oscar success and popularity is looking to become an altogether different type of Artist.

Ironic that the historic third win for both Margaret Thatcher and Meryl Streep in their chosen professions were both met with utter ambivalence.

Bring on next week. If at first you suck at this, fail, fail and fail again 🙂

More Digital Jazz articles from Starburst Magazine

I’m still writing my regular Digital Jazz column for Starburst Magazine. However exciting developments! The magazine has returned in a printed format and an iPad edition. Digital Jazz is moving to the iPad as exclusive copy and I’ll be writing some features and interviews in the print edition. You will also catch me online submitting news to the main website.

I’ve posted links to my 2 final pieces for the old website and if you want to carry on reading please subscribe to the iPad.

Social Media Gremlins (November 11) – Click here
I started off with a bit of a rant on the minority of social media users being rude and abusing other people. Moving on to the Jamie Benning Star Wars documentary-commentaries, the Robert R. McCammon ebooks and finally the DVD of Silent Running.

SF Gateway and Encyclopedia Interviews (December 11) – Click here 
Simply put interviews with Graham Sleight for SF Encyclopedia and Darren Nash from SF Gateway. 

Hope you enjoy.


Yellows on Twitter

Darren Huckerby does it because he wants to, “interact with people you normally wouldn’t and read some funny stuff from folks.”

Darel Russel, “joined to keep up with pals and realised that I was not so anonymous. Lol. Love the banter and keeping up-to-date with social side of things.”

Gary Holt, “joined for a laugh really, always nice to get help to questions and advice about things like books and films.”

And Leon McKenzie has personal reasons, “I joined for my music reasons really, banter, my views and opinions. I like to be heard. Love me or hate me, I’m me. Haha!”

I’ve always fancied keeping a diary and it’s good for networking.

Yes this is the world of Twitter. It’s the place you can speak directly with your favourite author, film star, sportsman, as long as they deem your tweet worthy of response. For the record I tweeted all 36 of the people below and had just 4 responses so don’t get your hopes up. However for some of us just knowing what your favourite player or Norwich legend has been doing in their spare time is enough: travel plans, reflections of a game, charity work, inappropriate comments. Ooops yes it’s normally these comments that bring the headlines and the fury of managers.

QPR boss Neil Warnock on Anton Ferdinand, “I think he’s a twit for using Twitter. I don’t agree with it, but I suppose if you’re into that you have to take the rough with the smooth. I’ve already told him to come off Twitter”. Alex McLeish on transfer rumours, “It is utter nonsense. It is a phenomenon of the modern world – Twitter and Facebook – and it is not my world”.
You can understand why some managers would prefer their players to keep their comments and private lives under wraps and it’s understood Paul Lambert isn’t a huge fan of his players using Twitter. But this doesn’t stop them. Thankfully our boys appear to be pretty well behaved.

So this is less of a guide to using Twitter, you can find those all over the Internet. This is a directory of current and former players who talk the talk, walk the walk and tweet the tweet.

Former Players

Dean Ashton

Ian Butterworth

Lee Croft

Ian Crook

Paul Dalglish

Dion Dublin

Darren Eadie

Robert Earnshaw

Dickson Etuhu

Craig Fleming

Jeremy Goss

Bryan Gunn

John Hartson

Gary Holt

Darren Huckerby

Malky Mackay

Leon McKenzie

Anthony McNamee

Paul McVeigh

Mike Milligan

Michael Nelson

Jon Otsemobor

Daniel Pacheco

Iwan Roberts

Carl Robinson

Darel Russell

Mathias Svensson

Owain Tudur Jones

Steve Walsh

Active Players

Elliott Bennett

Ryan Bennett

Richard Brindley

Josh Dawkin

Adam Drury

David Fox

Georgie Francomb

Grant Holt

Wes Hoolahan

Simeon Jackson

Bradley Johnson

Kyle Naughton

Anthony Pilkington

John Ruddy

Jed Steer

James Vaughan

Zak Whitbread

NCFC Related Twitter Links

Norwich City FC

Pink Un

Norwich City Ladies FC

Stephen Fry

David McNally

Joe Ferrari

If I’ve missed any or you can confirm that any of these are fake please let me know and I’ll amend the list.

(I cannot guarantee the authenticity of these Twitter accounts.)

Why I love Norwich City FC

An article, recently written, for the now defunct Norwich City fanzine Kick It Off.

Once upon a time there was a goalkeeper who played for Manchester United called Gary Bailey and he was magnificent. My 9-year-old self was completely obsessed with this footballing God and to a certain extent the team he played for. It helped that be bore an uncanny resemblance to Charlie “The Cat” Carter who played for Melchester Rovers. I was an avid Roy of the Rovers fan and Charlie was their star man between the sticks. You could say I was slightly obsessed with goalkeepers.

As you would expect I had no connection to the Manchester area whatsoever and being 1985 this was way before Man Utd Inc. No, my love of the club was down to their magical number one. I collected Panini stickers and always ensured the United team was completed first. I watched them on TV and I was bought Manchester United gloves and hat for Christmas, primarily to keep me warm. It is still fair to say my commitment to the Red Devils was greater than the majority of their supporters.

I’d just started the new Panini album which covered the 1985/86 season with big stickers and excellent shinies. Not like the poor excuse for a sticker album they produce nowadays. No this was a man-sized album and I remember taking it to school in a separate bag, not the only one I might add. Playtime become a battleground of swapping; poker face on, “got, got, got, got, got, need, neeeeed”. Then trying to convince a fellow 9-year-old that three Peter Shreeves were easily worth a Norman Whiteside. Just why were there so many Peter Shreeves?

This was a golden time when transfer activity could happen at any moment, no more countdown or inflated prices. “Big” Ron Atkinson could do his business whenever he liked and transfer rumours trickled into the playground, quite unlike the current tidal wave of football news. I can’t remember who told me, perhaps they didn’t, perhaps I dreamt it, perhaps I’d read that Gary Bailey was born in Ipswich (which he was) and got confused. But Gary Bailey was being signed by Norwich. If I’d have had a clue I would have simply dismissed this as untrue. Bailey was being recognised by England and with a World Cup coming up why would he move to Division 2 Norwich? My 9-year-old brain didn’t care, if Bailey was off to Norwich then so was I, or was it Ipswich? They were both in the same division and sounded so similar. Thankfully my Granddad spent a very long weekend putting me straight, yes I was that close to being a binner. So Norwich it was.

The first place to start was my sticker album, sadly all division 2 clubs were afforded back then was a team shot and a half-size shiny club badge. I remember spending hours pouring over the team shot looking for familiar players, there were none. I read the club info over and over again worrying about the ground capacity which was under review and I belatedly celebrated the Milk Cup win the previous year, gloriously relegated at the same time. I revered Ken Brown for bringing my idol to Norwich and felt rather smug that I was the only Norwich supporter in Worcestershire as far as I knew. No turning back now.

It soon occurred to me that Gary Bailey was still playing for Manchester United. This was not part of the plan. It was too late. I was hooked on the Canaries much to the disdain of my Dad who knew at some point he was going to have to trek across the country with me to the promised land. I partly blame him. If he’d have encouraged me to support Blackpool like him this would have never happened. Sure I’d still be supporting a perennial underachiever but at least when people asked me why I supported Blackpool I didn’t give them the most embarrassing reason in World football. Why do I support Norwich? Because I loved Gary Bailey.

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Writing for Starburst Magazine

To date I’ve written 6 editions of my Digital Jazz column for Starburst Magazine, I’m hoping to collate them all into an ebook next year. It’s been a great opportunity and I enjoy crafting the words every month, I know it has helped me improve as a writer. The editorial team running the digital relaunch of Starburst have really got the formula right and in the New Year I think we’ll all see some really exciting developments. In the meantime please take a look, the focus is horror, science fiction and fantasy genres and it’s all tied together with a digital theme, so Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, eBooks, you get the idea. Enjoy.

Starbursting Social Media (May 11)Click here
The first one. Just starting to cover the basics: Gollancz, Game of Thrones, Attack The Block, Wonder Woman, Ain’t It Cool and Blockbuster movies. Finding my feet a little on this one.

Digital Who (June 11)Click here
Covering Doctor Who and how it has embraced the digital revolution: Doctor Who Magazine, forums, books, authors, podcasts and conventions. A plethora of Twitter users to follow.

Voices (July 11)Click here
Focus mainly on the spoiler debate and open criticism online. Covering Guido Fawkes, Perez Hilton, The Drudge Report, tmz, Gawker, Holy Moly, Mashable, Roger Ebert, Mark Kermode and many other film critics. Finishing by looking at how responsible a critical reception is for the failure or success of a film using Disney Pixar Cars 2 and Kevin Smith as examples.

Reverse The Polarity of the eBook Flow (August 11)Click here
The main focus this month was eBooks and death of printed matter. Covering Amazon Kindle, authors Adam Christopher, Peter James and Jamie Livingston, Angry Robot and Asimov’s Science Fiction. Also detailing the Science Fiction Archive, Doctor Who reconstructions and Doctor Stew!

Digital Fiction and Leicester Zombies (September 11)Click here
Detailing the art of storytelling and the boom in emagazine fiction in genre publishing. Reviewing some of the best emagazine on the market including: Zombie Times, Clarkesworld Magazine, Spinetinglers, Lightspeed, Fantasy Magazine and Apex Magazine.

The Hitchhiker’s App To Starburst (October 11)Click here
This month was a bit of a mixed bag, grabbing news and opinion on Google+, SF Encyclopedia, The new Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe, funny Twitter accounts and a breakdown of digital comics.

New content is added to the Starburst website on the 14th of every month. Please drop by and feel free to comment here or there.