Upstart Photographer: Old Tree

I was driving on a country road a few weeks back and came across an amazing tree (I love photographing trees).

I was so happy with these shots I wrote a poem to accompany them (so what’s new lol).

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Old Tree. A poem.

Old tree, gnarled and
twisted beyond reproach.
What dark days and
sundered years have you
borne witness to?

Out here on the sullen veldt,
where an asphalt artery
keeps you company,
squirming for reassurance
in the afternoon glare.

Your rings are tired and
worn, wasting like the
wintry spume that lingers
on a breeze of pretence
and happenstance.

Old tree, wise and wizened,
faulty and faultless,
crooked and dumbfounded.
Here you stand until tomorrow,
while the world passes by
without a wave or tear.

Stephen Thompson 2018

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Angry Tweet. A poem.

Sweat on brow and lip,
fit to flood your world
with salt-flavoured angst
and sticky date dues.
Heart pounding like the
proverbial train that lost
itself somewhere down
the overwrought tracks.
Time to swat the flies
of decision and derision
and bring it all back to
earth, just in time for a
Twitter-fired response.

I write a lot of poems, some from my head, some from my heart. Many don’t appear on this website. For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book, available at most online book sellers.
Click here to find out how to purchase a copy

Your Road. A poem.

Before me is asphalt,
an active metaphor.
My journey’s just begun,
never ending or undone,
upon this path I’ll drive,
forever sanctified.
On the eternal road of life
Your cross will be my guide.

I write a lot of poems, some from my head, some from my heart. Many don’t appear on this website. For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book, available at most online book sellers.
Click here to find out how to purchase a copy

In the Oasis. A poem.

I shivered in the cold snap,
persevering
until I found the warmth
I’d been missing
in the safety of your lap.

I drank from your lips,
an oasis
to placate my needs,
to fuel these desires
with every sip.

The rain falls constantly,
an environment
of conscious trust
and anxious ambiguity
in which to breed.

No hurt to flourish here
amongst roses,
where bitterness is
cast aside and
could never feed.

I write a lot of poetry, some of which comes from my head, some from my heart. For more poems, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers.
Click here to find out how to purchase a copy

Haiku Friday: Spectrum. A haiku.

Spectrum

This tincture of light,
these pigments that colour you
the spectrum of love.

Just in case you weren’t sure, Haiku is a Japanese poetic form with a strict 5/7/5 syllable/line structure.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

I write a lot of poetry, some of which comes from my head, some from my heart. For more poems, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers.
Click here to find out how to purchase a copy to treasure forever, or at least until some other e-book takes your fancy 😉

Wilderness. A poem.

I

   No

        Longer

                    Wander

                                  Alone

                   Now

    You’ve

               Joined

                          Me

                                In

                                   This

             Wilderness

With

        All

             The

                   Other

                             Lost

                   And

    Lonely

                Souls

 

I write a lot of poetry, some of which comes from my head, some from my heart. Many don’t appear on this website. For more poems, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers.
Click here to find out how to purchase a copy

Thoughts. A poem.

I thought the flow of tears would end,
the self-hate, internal rage would mend.
I thought my path was bright and clear,
a new and ever-present destiny.
I thought a kiss would heal my mind,
exorcise the demons stored through time.
I thought a touch would raise my hope,
a helping hand out of this hole.
I thought I’d bid black dog farewell,
but he smiles and snarls here at me still.
So many thoughts that rest in me,
this head and heart longs for reprieve.

I write a lot of poetry, some of which comes from my head, some from my heart, and some from my a$&@. Many of my poems don’t appear on this website. For more, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book, available at most online book sellers.
Click here to find out how to purchase a copy to treasure forever, or at least until some other e-book takes your fancy 😉

New Movie Trailers!

I’m a movie fan. More than that, I’m a HUGE superhero and monster fan, and a number of the announcements coming out of the San Diego Comic Con had me nerdgasming. Aquaman, Shazam! and Glass are superhero movies I’m really looking forward to next year. The next Harry Potter universe Fantastic Beasts movie premiered a new trailer, as well as Godzilla: King of the Monsters, sequel to the popular Godzilla movie from a few years back and set in the same universe as the Kong: Skull Island movie.

Here are the newest trailers to geek out to:

I can’t wait to see these films! In the meantime, enjoy!

Cheers

Steve 🙂

You and Me. A poem.

This touch fuelling
DESIRE
wanton and wastrel
ECSTASY
diamond moments of
PLEASURE
placating needs in
FIRE
that scorches earth
THIRST
no longer barren
CARNAL
swollen contempt
SATED
eventually
and now just
YOU and ME

I write a lot of poetry, some of which comes from my head, some from my heart, and some from my a$&@. Many don’t appear on this website. For more poems, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers.
Click here to find out how to purchase a copy to treasure forever, or at least until some other e-book takes your fancy 😉

Eternal Grace. A poem.

Upon the cross, through time inured
You gave Your life, so pure and true.
For mankind’s untold sins and strife,
You left this world when time was nigh.
Beyond the pale of man’s disgrace,
bequeathed the world eternal grace.


I write a lot of poetry, some of which comes from my head, some from my heart. Many don’t appear on this website. For more poems, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers.
Click here to find out how to purchase a copy to treasure forever, or at least until some other e-book takes your fancy 😉

The Pool. A poem.

Whence does this darkness dwell?
This foetid blight that weighs
down consciousness and soul.
The ebon pool that hampers thought
and confounds me to my core,
that pounds upon my limpid door
until my head is filled to burst
with brittle ambiguity
and stranger things unsought.
Unto the well, this pool it flows,
within the well, this darkness fell.
Perhaps one day I’ll walk alone
beyond the pool where darkness dwells.

I write a lot of poetry, some of which comes from my head, some from my heart, and some from my a$&@. Many don’t appear on this website. For more poems, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers.
Click here to find out how to purchase a copy to treasure forever, or at least until some other e-book takes your fancy 😉

Finding My Voice

“In truth, I never consider the audience for whom I’m writing. I just write what I want to write.”

J.K Rowling.

“You have to follow your own voice. You have to be yourself when you write. In effect, you have to announce, ‘This is me, this is what I stand for, this is what you get when you read me. I’m doing the best I can—buy me or not—but this is who I am as a writer.’”

David Morrell

These quotes resonate with me because they sum up how I feel. I can only be honest with my writing: I can’t write what other people want to read, only what I want to.

At the moment I’m writing lots of poetry, Anvil, my semi-regular, unplanned science fiction series and a book of D&D one-page adventures, to be published at the end of the year. I have a novel underway, which has stalled—not due to writer’s block, but disinterest. I intend to start something else that will hold my abysmally short attention span for longer.

I’ve learned a lot about writing techniques over the last two years and this has helped me stylistically, but the feel of my writing is still mine. I may never make a decent living from prose, but I’m still enjoying myself.

And I seem to have found my voice, somewhere along the way.

Cheers

Steve 😊

Morning Glory. A poem.

The street cars and sweepers,
bird twitters, sidewalk seekers,
beyond my pane and pain are
my riotous alarm call,
a doctor’s silicone grip
bidding me to womb’s exit
to face gelidity again.
Trees shading the low-cut sun,
her rays breaking humdrum,
reborn and only just begun.
Distant voices natter
like roaches in my walls,
matching voices in my head
too soon before the fall.
And this first time do I pause,
take stock and then be damned
to despise the blessed thing I am,
until the day can take from me
all my pain, regret and lucidity.

I write a lot of poetry, some of which doesn’t appear on this website. For more poems, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers.
Click here to buy a copy!

Anvil. Part 17.

Kanji sprawls in her hovering portachair, its suspensors struggling under her weight. Her spiked durasteel right arm dwarfs the other, whose musculature is networked with ridged veins. “So, boss”, she says. “How long until Chao gets here?”

Johnston stands at the transteel viewport, arms folded, staring out into space. The dark planet below passes in and out of frame every few seconds as the cylindrical station rotates to create artificial gravity. “That’s Lady Chao to you,” he says with a glare. Kanji hunches like a scolded child. “I received word she’s about to dock,” he says.

Jayle, noting Kanji’s submission, winks and sneers. She caresses the hilt of Jimmy’s antique .357 Magnum in its holster, a finger tracing one of the many battle scars ornamenting her face. She glances at Violet, who sits silently chewing the ear of her teddy. “I don’t know why we’re needed for this job. This kid never does anything except hold on tight to that bear.”

Johnston turns to face his crew. “That kid is the biggest meal ticket in the solar system. Didn’t you pay attention to the transbrief?”

Jayle winks. “Bester is her dad, but by all accounts,  he hardly spends any time with her. Who’s to say she’s worth much at all?”

Sarain’s arm compartments are open, her ion taser and plasma net launcher extended. She runs a fine cotton cloth over the taser, polishing it until it gleams in the glow of her neural fibre hair. “That’s the thing about rich guys, baby—they’re very possessive.” She admires her handiwork and retracts the taser, sets to work polishing the launcher. “It’s all about ownership; love don’t have nothing to do with it.”

Kanji glowers. “Bester’s mercenary fleet took out Chao’s—I mean, Lady Chao’s tower. Bester wants his little girl, all right. He may send his fleet up here if he finds out where she is.”

Johnston scowls as he listens to a transmission on his ear piece. “Looks like he just did. So much for that transluminal containment field—they must have tracked her another way. Time to earn your keep, ladies.”

The team smirks and fist bumps. “It’s about time this babysitting mission got more interesting,” says Jayle with a wink.

* * *

The Anvil starts awake as the interceptor lurches to a stop in the hangar at Flotsam’s axis. Chun calms her as the armature flails in the zero gravity. “Of course, It’s okay. You took quite a beating. You’ve been under for hours, repairing.” Chun checks the nearby monitor, starts removing the various feeds and drips that snake from the Anvil’s torso to the machine.

“Where are we?” says the armature, holding her brow groggily. Curled foetus-like, she floats in the centre of the cabin between its occupants as Chun gently extracts more cables. The lines feed slowly back to the wall-mounted revitaliser, concealing themselves within its curved silvery skin.

“Of course, we’ve just arrived at one of the triad’s space stations,” replies Chun. “Lady Chao has said she will help us.”

Lady Chao smiles briefly at the armature, her face a blank slate as she turns back to the viewport. Alida shrugs apologetically. “I’m Alida, Lady Chao’s assistant,” she says, holding out a trembling hand.

The Anvil grips the proffered hand softly. “I’m Angelique.” Her deep male voice still seems unfamiliar.

“I’m sorry, I mistook you for a man,” Alida says, eyeing the muscular body.

“I get that a lot.”

Jimmy shifts uncomfortably in his belts. “Now that you’re awake, I want to discuss our arrangement.” His dark skin is a little pale—space travel doesn’t agree with him. “The deal was to deliver you to the launch tower; not get my boat destroyed, get captured, lose my favourite gun and get sent into space with some crime boss.”

Lady Chao raises an eyebrow. “I would say ‘saved’ by some crime boss, wouldn’t you agree?”

Big Jimmy scowls. “Okay, saved. I think my compensation needs to be renegotiated.”

Granny Chun rolls her eyes. “Of course, you think this could wait, Jimmy? She’s just recovered from major trauma.”

“All the more reason to confirm my money now,” says Jimmy. “I don’t know how much longer robot man-girl here is going to be around.” He eyes the synthi-flesh nub where the armature’s left arm used to be.

The Anvil’s eyes dull for a moment. “I’ve doubled your fee and transferred it to your account; you can check your palmchip to confirm.”

Jimmy glances at the hologram momentarily generated by his palmchip, smiles appreciatively. “Well, that’s more like it. Now, how do I go about getting off this tin can?”

Lady Chao unclicks her restraints as the side door slides open. Beyond the hatch, a number of men in protective suits float, waving the interceptor’s occupants out. “You may want to put a hold on that for a moment, little man,” she says, gliding effortlessly through the door. Alida follows close behind.

Jimmy glowers at Chao’s back as he removes his belts. “So, now I’m a man with money but nowhere to go, stuck in a tin can in space in the middle of a war between the world’s richest man and the waveruin triads. Fantastic.” He clumsily floats to the exit. “And I’m not that small.”

Olsin completes systems shutdown and glides from the pilot’s chair to the open door. She glances back at the Anvil. “Speaking of deals, sugar, I want my cut, too.”

The Anvil looks wearily at Chun, who shrugs. “Of course, we can discuss my remuneration later.”

* * *

Hansen confirms the coordinates and turns to Shi-Cho. “We’ve confirmed their location, sir,” he says. “A station called Flotsam, over on dark side. It’s possible the girl’s there as well.”

Shi-Cho grins. “A triad station, no doubt. Lots of external defences. Probably spaceborne fighters, plasma missiles, fission torps. Maybe a defensive shield. No better place to hold a valuable hostage.” He strides back to a private cabin just off the cockpit of the troop carrier. “Ready the fleet, I have to make a call.”

* * *

Bester’s holographic face is fuming. “I didn’t want war with the triads, Shi-Cho. I was explicit in my instructions.”

Shi-Cho is untroubled. “You paid me to do a job. Sometimes that involves thinking outside the box.”

“Outside the box? The triads and I have a strong business relationship which may now be jeopardised by your attacks on their holdings.”

“I believe your daughter is on Flotsam station.”

“Believe? Is it a gut feeling, or you definitely know she’s there?”

“Only one way to find out.”

Bester’s eyes narrow. “If she’s not there, it’ll take more than a flashy piece of prototype armature armour to stop me from removing all your remaining human parts and feeding them bit by bit to my clone raptors.”

Shi-Cho smiles. “Mr Bester, if your daughter’s not there I will gladly volunteer for any sadistic little exercise you choose.”

Bester reclines, his features darkening. “I’ll be joining you in my cruiser for the assault.”

“As long as I retain command, I don’t care if you book ringside seats for your entire entourage.”

* * *

Lady Koga’s interceptor streaks skyward. She’s cushioned in her acceleration couch, wavering ripples on her skin betraying the g-forces at play. A spherical, limbless black droid is strapped into the couch beside her. “Mission?” it says in a metallic monotone.

“Education,” says Koga. “Today, we teach someone a valuable life lesson.”

 

To be continued…

Missed earlier instalments? Click here.

What is ANVIL?

ANVIL is a deliberately unplanned, multi-part short story I’m creating week-by-week to challenge myself as a writer (I’ve done this before with The Sale – check it out by clicking here). My intention is to write an episode as often as possible, generally (but not always) ending with a cliff hanger, then work out how to solve the dilemma and continue the story. I have no idea how the story will progress, no idea what it’s about until I get there.

Only you can tell me if it’s successful, or not. I hope you enjoy my continuing experiment.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

New beat. A poem.

Time to
move
to the
beat
of a
new
rhythm,
oscillating
to the
pounding
of hearts
and minds,
lost in
thought
and
wandering
at the
significance
of it all.
This, the
new drum
of existence:
the tempo,
cadence,
meter;
the measure
of each
new
breath
and dance.

I write a lot of poetry, some of which doesn’t appear on this website. For more poems, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers.
Click here to buy a copy!

Skyscraper. A movie review.

No spoilers!

Dwayne Johnson’s new movie is a cross between Die Hard and Towering Inferno. Despite the derivative premise it manages to be a successful homage to those movies and once again shows why Johnson is the world’s leading action star.

‘The Pearl’ is the world’s tallest and most technologically advanced skyscraper, built in Hong Kong by a super-rich computer tycoon. Johnson was an ex-marine and FBI agent who retired after an explosion took his leg. Now he’s an amputee who runs a security consultancy, brought in to inspect the Pearl’s safety features for the world’s biggest insurance underwriting. His wife (Neve Campbell) and kids have travelled with him and are staying in the as yet unopened residential level. Some bad guys from the tycoon’s past set the building on fire, with nefarious intentions (other than burning the building down, that is). Time for big Dwayne to step up. Along with a whole lot of duct tape.

I’m not sure if it’s possible to dislike Dwayne Johnson. Offscreen he seems like a genuine and affable guy. Onscreen he generally plays to type. What’s different this time around is Johnson plays a disabled man, making him a viable protagonist. Let’s face it, the guy’s so big it’s hard to believe the villains will give him a hard time, but having one leg evens the odds a bit and allows him to play up his disability in a number of scenes.

As a movie Skyscraper is a bit dumb, but it succeeds because it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. It’s a full-on action-come-disaster flick, ready-made for the burgeoning Chinese market, with lots of lovely views of Hong Kong and a peppering of Chinese co-stars. Neve Campbell (remember her from the Scream movies and Party of Five?) gets to kick some ass as well, keeping happy that portion of the audience tiring of guns and testosterone-fuelled blokes. Who am I kidding? They won’t go to this film.

In the end it’s all about the Rock hurting himself and others as he takes on the building and the crooks, Bruce Willis-style, but without the jokes. Yep, this is pretty serious, but hey, he’s saving his family so the tone feels right. There are plenty of tense scenes to keep you on the edge of your seat and Johnson displays just enough machismo combined with fear to pull them off.

Skyscraper is the kind of exciting and entertaining romp that you’ll secretly enjoy even if you hate action movies.

Rating: C+

Diver Down. A poem.

Standing on this scarp’s edge,
a precipice, keen and lofty.
Stare down with me
at unknowing depths,
where new enigmas await,
an insinuating breeze.

Dive with me, together;
let the blossoming currents,
those flowers of fate,
guide our way blindly
through the consuming dark
into the great unknown, beyond.

I write a lot of poetry, some of which doesn’t appear on this website. For more poems, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers.
Click here to buy a copy!

Ant-Man and the Wasp. A movie review.

No spoilers!

Marvel pumps out another enjoyable superhero sequel. Amusing but non-essential viewing.

Paul Rudd (Scott Lang/Ant-man) and Evangeline Lilly (Hope van Dyne/Wasp) reprise their roles from Ant-man, along with Michael Douglas (Hank Pym) and motor-mouthed Michael Peña (Luis). Along for the ride this time are Michelle Pfeiffer and Laurence Fishburne.

Scott Lang has nearly completed two years of house arrest after the Civil War incident. He has a vision of Hank Pym’s wife, who was trapped in the subatomic quantum universe many years ago. Hank wants to bring his wife back but villainess the Ghost is slowly wasting away and wants Pym’s tech to save herself. So do some other bad guys. Time to save the day.

Ant-man and the Wasp is pretty funny, with Rudd and Peña assisting with the script (I’m assuming there were a few ad libbed jokes in some of the scenes). Unfortunately, I’m one of those dreary souls who prefers more drama—I love humour, but I like my superheroes a touch more serious. It would have been nice to let non-fans know that Evangeline Lilly’s character was Wasp. It’s never mentioned—as a comic book fan, I knew, but some casual viewers I spoke with didn’t make the connection.

Ant-man and the Wasp is an enjoyable evening’s entertainment, but it won’t leave you with the burning desire to discuss the bigger issues raised by the film afterward, because there are none. It’s fun, but ultimately disposable.

Rating: C+

Haiku Friday. Talk – a lone haiku.

Talk

Talk like you want to:
let your velvet expletives
fly free like the breeze.

Haiku is a Japanese poetic form with a strict 5/7/5 syllable and line structure.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

I write a lot of poetry, some of which doesn’t appear on this website. For more poems, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers.
Click here to buy a copy!

Fingertips. A poem.

Fingertips slide
Along the patina of your skin
Seeking gullies in which to hide
Crevices, creases and other things
Sketching highlights far and wide
Feeling their way with rarefied touch
Until they whisper to the underside
Until they’re lost and found and such
In sweat-soaked draperies
And windswept finery
Fingertips slide

I write a lot of poetry, some of which doesn’t appear on this website. For more poems, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers.
Click here to buy a copy!

Square Peg. A poem.

I was always a square peg,
out-of-place in round holes
with all the rounded souls.

An outsider striving
to make his way inside,
always locked out in the cold.

A perpetual stranger,
dwelling amongst strangers
and stranger things, I’d wager.

Hold me and shape me,
mould me like supple clay
into a thing of better ways.

And let this tactile process
knead this square soul
into a rounder whole.

I write a lot of poetry, some of which doesn’t appear on this website. For more poems, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers.
Click here to buy a copy!

The Laid back DM – Mini-Reviews

Hiya all! It’s been a while since I reviewed any tabletop role playing games (“What the?!” I hear you say. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, check out this link here).

Without further ado:

Vagabonds of Dyfed

This lovely little game was the result of a recent Kickstarter. It’s an elegant little system, based on the Apocalypse engine and some additional stuff from a few other games. It uses a simple, trait tag-based system in place of numeric characteristics, but still has traditional Armour Class and Hit Points.

vagabonds of dyfed RPG

The 2d6 + trait roll (with 6 or less meaning things get worse, 7-9 being a partial success, 10-12 a complete success and 13+ being a critical success), allows for lots of narrative options to push the game forward. Light on rules, but big on creativity, this is a game for more experienced game masters and players (some experience with Apocalypse World-based games or FATE is handy, if you’re only used to D&D).

The rulebook—black and white with a square layout, simple instructions, great illustrations and design—is gorgeous and easy to read. You can also use it with all those old d20 D&D modules you have laying around (if you’re old school, like me lol) with minimal conversion.

Ideal for GMs who like flexibility and less rules.

Stars Without Number

A few years back Kevin Crawford started his game-designing career writing a little Sci-Fi RPG called Stars Without Number. This is a revision of it, successfully Kickstarted not too long ago (yes, I went through a bit of a Kickstarter phase).

stars without number RPGD&D in space? Sort of—this OSR ruleset uses d20 systems as a baseline for a science fiction game, minus the fantasy tropes and adding some nice new mechanics like character foci and backgrounds (which are not too dissimilar to feats and backgrounds in 5e), new rules for starship combat and lots of tables to support sandbox-style gaming.

The rule book is in colour, with some lovely art and Crawford’s verbose but not overbearing style (I would like it more if he used bold or italics for highlighting important rules, as all that uniform text tends to make it harder to quickly find relevant bits in a paragraph). The great thing is, even with the changes, it’s still compatible with the loads of Stars Without Number supplements Crawford has written over the years, as well as old d20/OSR adventures. The sandbox element and lack of setting may not appeal to everyone, but this is a flexible system with a wealth of roll-up tables designed to support GM creativity: use the game as you see fit. The d20 rules are recognisable to anyone who has played D&D at some point.

Well worth a look and a lot simpler (and cheaper) than Starfinder. Plus, there’s a free PDF version, too.

Barebones Fantasy Role Playing Game

One of the shortest complete rulesets around, this percentile-based system uses simple mechanics that makes it ideal for beginners.

Barebones Fantasy RPG

This is dungeon crawling on a budget—the monsters are straightforward and easy to run, the spells and level progression limited—but still captures the essence of old school AD&D. The handy A5-sized rulebook is concise: aside from the usual character creation and game system, it also includes tables for adventure and dungeon generation, a bestiary, magic items, rules for magic item creation, and a pocket-sized fantasy setting (Kingdoms of Keranak)—all in 80 pages.

This is a lean and mean system ideal for beginners, which experienced players will still appreciate.

That’s enough for today. Until next time!

Cheers

Steve 😊

After the Cataclysm. A poem.

The cataclysm,
the implosion,
the thing that left me frozen.
Eking out existence
like a hermit crying “why?”,
wandering through a wasteland,
a prisoner doing time.

The aftermath,
a dawn, rebirth,
the world that to me opened.
A brand new meme that screams,
all in high fidelity.
No more wandering for this monk,
no more pity will I need.

I write a lot of poetry, some of which doesn’t appear on this website. For more poems, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Fulfilment. A poem.

I’m mister brusque, mitigated
by your infinite charm.
I’m the wallflower waiting
for your effervescent sunbeams.
I’m the wall of condescension,
you’re the ebullient ladder.
I’m the aching pit and you,
You are my fulfilment.

I write a lot of poetry, some of which doesn’t appear on this website. For more poems, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. A movie review.

The dinosaurs are back! The sequel to massive money-spinner Jurassic World and the earlier Jurassic Park films contains all the big action bluster you expect from a major tentpole movie, and just enough story to keep the audience engaged for the two-hour running time.

A volcano is about to erupt on Isla Nubar, home of the original Park and World movies. The second half of the John Hammond team that started the whole dino cloning thing, billionaire Benjamin Lockwood, wants to save the dinosaurs by transporting them to another island where they can roam free as nature intended. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, reprising their roles from Jurassic World, are on board to help identify and recover the dinosaurs, with a few extra cliché and forgettable characters along for the ride. Needless to say, things go awry (this is a Jurassic Park/disaster movie, after all—there’s an established template to follow).

jurassic_world_fallen_kingdom_ver2

This time around the bad guys want to weaponize the creatures. Don’t expect too much in the way of literary metaphor or social commentary—the story is almost by the numbers, but enjoyable, none the less. There are loads of nostalgic call backs to the original Jurassic Park movie (recognise the upturned car and the broken fence where the T-rex first appeared, and the crushed vehicle that fell through the tree?) and some scenes aping the original (a child escaping a raptor by hiding while the raptor brains itself on the sliding door, the shadow of the beast’s head on the wall, etc.). I can happily report there are enough interesting new developments to keep most audiences pleased, and it sets up some post-apocalyptic pretensions for a sequel.

Unfortunately, while the dinosaur special effects look great (as usual), the dinos just aren’t scary anymore. Too much of a good thing, I guess? You still gotta love ‘em, though—my son, a dino nerd, was engrossed.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a fun popcorn flick—no brains required. It took the story in a new but not unexpected direction and left me looking forward to the inevitable next instalment.

Rating: C+

Anvil. Part 16.

Like the new logo? I put a fair bit of work into it – Steve 🙂

Hansen’s airborne troop carrier hovers at the entrance to the ruined hangar. Shi-Cho taps his foot impatiently on some rubble as the side hatch slides open and he and his troops clamber inside. He makes his way to the cockpit as the others seat themselves on benches lining the rear cabin, opening their visors, lowering weapons and strapping in.

Hansen stands behind his pilot, gripping his sweaty hands tightly behind his back. His tempered South American features are broken by a deep scowl, a tinge of wetness on his uneasy brow. At over six foot, he’s still much shorter than Shi-Cho’s enhanced armature form. He nervously runs a hand through his close cropped black hair.

“I take it Chao got away,” says Shi-Cho as he squeezes through the hatch into the cabin.

“Yes, sir,” replies Hansen without turning. “The orbiter was a diversion, flying on automatic. It appears Chao left in another ship.”

Shi-Cho raises an eyebrow. “You mean my interceptor?”

Hansen wipes a bead of sweat from his forehead. “Yes, sir.” He unconsciously holds his breath and braces himself.

Shi-Cho grins slyly. “Don’t worry, Hansen. We know where she’s headed—my interceptor has a subterfuge beacon installed.”

Hansen breathes again, relieved.

* * *

Lady Quing sips her cup of shoujiu. As head of District 4 and 5 operations, including Verso production and distribution, she holds a prominent position in the Waveruin Triad Council. She is the only Triad leader present at the meeting wearing a business suit, rather than traditional artisilk robes; she disdains ancient formal dress. “Chao’s tower was attacked and almost destroyed,” she says, eyeing the others seated around the ancient oaken table. “An open attack on the Triads by Bester’s private army.”

Lady Chen, a portly older woman wearing a robe much too small for her girth, draws on an e-cig, exhaling invisible vapour into the air. “Do we know the reason for the attack?” She smiles ingenuously. “Perhaps Chao did something to upset our valued trading ally?” Chen oversees District 2 and 3 and the Triad’s more legal trading operations, including prostitution, cybernetics and weapons smuggling. Her innocent expression belies her sado-masochistic inclinations.

Lord Yang—handsome, silver-haired and sporting a zylex carapace in place of a human torso—laughs. “Why am I not surprised?” District 1, protection, racketeering and laundering are among his domains, but he much prefers hunting giant underwave lanfish. Quing can tell from the vacant expression that’s what he’s thinking about now.

Quing frowns. “This is not the first time Chao has moved beyond this council’s auspices. Bester wouldn’t do something like this without good reason.” She finishes her cup and places it on the table, where an invisible subluminal nutriment processor refills it. “I have it on good authority that she may be involved in the recent disappearance of Bester’s daughter.”

Chen rolls her eyes. “Kidnapping.” She takes another puff on her e-cig. “How long has it been since we engaged in something so rudimentary?”

Lady Koga is the only Japanese in the Triad Council and the youngest member. Her unlined face, bald pate and svelte frame look out of place amongst the haggard, greying crime lords at the table. Her multiple subdermal armaments, prodigious martial arts expertise and exceptional strategic acumen aptly suit her roles of assassination, enforcement and managing District 6, the roughest of the waveruin sectors. She leans languidly back in her chair, sipping saki. “The issue is not what she’s done,” Koga says. “I don’t care how much the world’s richest man misses his little cow. The issue is the level of response required. Bester needs to learn the Triad is not to be trifled with.” She stares at Chen, who smiles serenely. “‘Valued trading ally’ or not.” Chen’s smile fades.

The others, along with five other Triad leaders present at the table in hologrammatic form, nod in agreement. Yang grins. “We’re open to suggestions, Koga.”

Koga downs her saki with a gulp and rises. “Just leave it to me,” she says.

* * *

Flotsam station appears in the forward transteel windows like a shiny, rotating tin can, partly silhouetted by the arc of the planet’s dark side. As the interceptor approaches, the canister grows until its bulk fills the cockpit view: a mile-long grey cylinder, its outer face pockmarked with meteorite craters, pimply comms installations and wart-like gun turrets.

“Doesn’t look like much,” says Jimmy.

Chao’s long hair flows like medusa snakes in the zero-g. She raises an eyebrow. “And I suppose your vast experience with all things offworld makes you an expert, little man?”

Jimmy reddens and crosses his arms, the motion moving him awkwardly against his restraint belts in the null gravity. “I’m not that short,” he mumbles.

Granny Chun cradles her pumpgun protectively to prevent it floating away. “Of course, how do we get in?”

Chao gestures to Olsin in the pilot seat. A sliver of opaque plastic the size of a credit chit angles through the air at her head. “Transmit that code on the docking channel.” Olsin grabs the card from the air and activates the communications array. A few moments later, a crackling response: “You are most welcome, Lady Chao. We are honoured you have chosen to join us. Johnson and his crew arrived a few hours ago and advised you might be coming at some point, but we didn’t think it would be so soon.”

“Some unforeseen circumstances,” replies Chao. “When we dock I want you to batten every hatch and engage all defences. We can expect a full assault within the hour—I estimate about fifty ships, maybe more.” Silence from within the cabin and the comms. Chao glances at the blank faces around her. “You really think Shi-Cho can’t track his own ship?”

Alida crosses her chest in an antiquated religious gesture, looking to the heavens above. Jimmy shakes his head and murmurs to himself. Chun grimaces and grips the Anvil’s unconscious body to prevent it drifting. Olsin gulps and looks back at her teammates, wondering whether any amount of money will make up for what’s about to come.

Chao rolls her eyes. “Amateurs. It’s a wonder you got as far as you did.”

To be continued…

Missed earlier instalments? Click here.

What is ANVIL?

ANVIL is a deliberately unplanned, multi-part short story I’m creating week-by-week to challenge myself as a writer (I’ve done this before with The Sale – check it out by clicking here). My intention is to write an episode as often as possible, generally (but not always) ending with a cliff hanger, then work out how to solve the dilemma and continue the story. I have no idea how the story will progress, no idea what it’s about until I get there.

Only you can tell me if it’s successful, or not. I hope you enjoy my continuing experiment.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Pavement Cracks. A poem.

When I was a child
I skipped pavement cracks;
each one the border
of its own little world,
a patented microcosm
enclosed by grass and cement
and enshrouded by my shadow.

Now, as an adult,
I still skip pavement cracks;
not because I’m superstitious
or supercilious or superfluous,
but because I imagine myself
trapped in those little worlds,
remembering a time
when I was.

I write a lot of poetry, some of which doesn’t appear on this website. For more poems, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

The Year of Living Dangerously.

Is love hard to find?

In today’s fast moving and super-connected society, it can be. And for those of us who are shy, awkward, socially inhibited, or just plain old, it can be dang near impossible (yeah, old people use ‘dang’. What’s that, they don’t? Oh, shut up).

That’s where dating apps come in. No longer much-maligned and embarrassing to admit, they’re an invaluable tool for meeting new people.

My Tinder-esque experiences over the last year varied from the wonderful (a woman who appreciates my sense of humour) to the indescribable (foil hat-wearing oddjobs). I can certainly say the crazy gamut of wild and wanton women made my life interesting.

But the time came to put childish things away. I retired my dating app a few months back (only writing about it now? Sorry, had a few things going on).

I’m not saying I’ve found a perfect love (we’re both at the “like ya a lot” stage); we’re still testing the hot waters with each other, occasionally getting burnt, but not bad enough to run for cover. And that’s as good as anything in this crazy old world. Especially for this crazy old guy.

Now, I have to take my woman (oooh, she hates me calling her that…) shoe shopping. And I’m liking it a lot.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

The Brink. A poem.

More alike than we like to think.
Along a chasm of separate worlds,
here we stand upon the brink
of more than lowly words.

I long for you, for a subtle touch
and you long for just a thought.
Perhaps we want these things too much,
perhaps it could never work.

But if we tried and tried again,
made dreams from vagaries,
perhaps our love would never wane,
like the sun, land and sea.

I write a lot of poetry, some of which doesn’t appear on this website. For more poems, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Incredibles 2. A movie review.

I loved The Incredibles. Made by Pixar at a time when Disney was just a distributor of Pixar movies, before Disney bought the animation studio and started focussing on the bottom line. The Incredibles has humour, heart, action, conviction, amazing music and is a wonderful homage to 1960’s spy flicks and comic-book family, the Fantastic Four. It is one of my all-time favourite movies.

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Which brings me to Incredibles 2. The new film features the same characters, voiced by the original actors (Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson, Samuel L. Jackson) and starts where the original left off—superheroes are outlawed and Mr Incredible, Elastigirl, Dash and Violet, with baby in tow, take on the Underminer. Elastigirl is recruited by a communications company as the public face of the superhero comeback and Mr Incredible has to stay home to look after the kids and deal with everyday problems and a baby with multiple superpowers.

The premise is excellent and I was sold before I saw the film. Then I actually saw it.

Incredibles 2 has a solid story and fantastic superheroic action sequences that could only be done in a cartoon (live action CGI-realism comes with certain limitations). Mr Incredible’s struggle to cope with maths, Violet’s boyfriend troubles and an uncontrollable infant nicely balance out Elastigirl’s adventure as she attempts to capture the new villain. Frozone gets more screen time, and more of Sam Jackson is never a bad thing. A bevy of new, but shallow, superpowered characters is introduced.

But all too often Incredibles 2 feels like an inferior sequel to a great movie: the humour sometimes falls flat; the villain is predictable and unmemorable; the story drags at times; the sense of connection I felt with the first film wasn’t really there. It often feels like part of the Disney conveyor belt, rather than a sequel that was made because the story demanded it (see Toy Story 2 and 3 for examples of GREAT Pixar sequels made for the right reasons).

Incredibles 2 will make lots of money for Disney. It will sell huge numbers of toys (a primary motivator for Disney nowadays—Cars and its abysmal sequels, anyone?). There will be a sequel sooner rather than later. But it can’t help but feel like another film with an opportunity to be great that fell short because of a parent company’s focus on shareholder dividends.

Rating: C+

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