Sunday, February 21, 2021

Order in the Universe

Lockdown has been a bit of a strain on everyone, especially mentally. While I've been grateful not to be out in the public, being exposed to the threat of the virus, it has been hard to concentrate on things. Luckily, I've had plenty of writing to keep my occupied, with both WILD and something else (that I'm not sure if I can talk about yet).

But when I haven't been writing, I've wanted as big a distraction from the real world as possible. Thinking about the virus, what it has done to everyone, all the people we've lost, those who deny its dangers. Heck, I ended up with counselling last year from having to go out among people for work.

So, to distract myself from the real world, I've been watching a lot of movies and TV. When I mean, a lot, I mean A LOT...

When Disney+ started, we had this ridiculous idea of rewatching all of Star Wars in chronological order of the events. Okay, so we didn't re-jig the episodes of The Clone Wars into event order, but we watched everything...

Starting with Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Episode II: Attack of the Clones, The Clone Wars (all seven seasons), Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Rebels (all four seasons), Rogue One, Episode IV: A New Hope, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, The Mandalorian, Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Resistance (season 1), Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, Resistance (season 2) and finally, Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.

Was great to watch everything in this order. Took a long time, we didn't marathon it or anything, and after many months, we finished the Star Wars rewatch about a week ago. The highlights were definitely rewatching The Clone Wars and Rebels. Rebels is such a good series. Seriously, why haven't you watched it yet?

Anyway, that was Star Wars done... so what do I watch to distract myself next?

The X-Files is going onto Disney+ in a few days, despite me already having it on VHS and DVD (but not Bluray, much to my disgust... and can you get it on Bluray now without a lottery win? No. Why have they discontinued it? - I know, probably to make you get Disney+). 

After watching the weekly episode of WandaVision there seemed to be one really obvious rewatch to do... the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe... in chronological order. 

Now, I'm not going to be pedantic - I know some of the episodes of Agents of SHIELD involve time travel, but I'm going to stick with the time the team should have been in if they weren't knocked out of time, or in an alternate dimension, alternate future, etc... So we're sticking to the order that DigitalSpy recommended.

So, we started with Captain America: The First Avenger, (my second favourite movie in the MCU... you'll have to wait if you want to know my favourite)... followed by the fantastic Agent Carter (seasons 1 & 2). Why did that ever get cancelled? Great series, and great to watch it again.

Okay, so you know I said I wasn't being pedantic? Well, maybe a little. Agent Carter is followed by the strange 'alternate version' with Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter (found on the Iron Man 3 Bluray). Peggy's back in New York and being treated like crap, before Howard Stark gets her to start up SHIELD. The beginning is like a prequel to the TV series, but it definitely ends afterwards with Carter's big new assignment. 

There's a big time-jump in the timeline from the 1940's to the 1990's, as the 'one-shot' is followed by Captain Marvel (may have to look into what happened to the Tesseract between Howard Stark finding it at the bottom of the ocean to Lawson using it to power the lightspeed engine), Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk (not on Disney+ to due rights issues, but it's on Netflix if you want to keep up and don't own the disc), and then onto the 'one-shots' again...

Marvel One-Shot: The Consultant is next (on the Thor bluray), explaining the appearance of Tony Stark at the end of The Incredible Hulk in a great bit of retconning. Along with Marvel One-Shot: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer (on the Captain America bluray). You could so tell they were testing the water for Agent Coulson to get his own spin-off series. This leads in nicely to Thor (The Mighty Avenger), and the big team up movie The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble as it was called over here). A movie I have a bit of a history with as it was my first big press conference (yes, I was in the same room as 90% of the Avengers) but it occurred just as my mother was hospitalised. Anyway, that's another story...

It's been really cool watching these all again, despite us having watched them dozens and dozens of times before. Heck, I can probably recite huge chunks of Captain America and Thor off by heart. 

Topping off MCU Phase 1, we squeezed in Marvel One-Shot: Item 47 (which again, was so setting up a SHIELD spin-off, which can be found on the Avengers bluray) before making a start on Phase 2 this morning. 

We started Phase 2 with Iron Man 3, and the Marvel One-Shot: All Hail The King (which I do think is Ben Kingsley's finest performance, found on the Thor: The Dark World bluray). 

And now we're onto a rewatch of season 1 of Agents of SHIELD. Must admit, I love Agents of SHIELD, though I know a lot of people gave up on season one for it being a bit slow. Did they ever miss out! The whole Agents of HYDRA series and the time travel seasons? Awesome. Love it. Of course, we're starting slow, and stopping at the right time to insert the movies and more from Phase 2. So we're going to keep watching until the end of Episode 7, then onto Thor: The Dark World. We're on Episode 3 at the moment (with Ian Hart appearing, looking identical to a very good friend of mine). 

I'll let you know how we get on. It's been a great distraction from the impending doom of returning to the outside world. 

Stay safe everyone, 

Monday, January 18, 2021

Who Do You Think You Are?

I'm not sleeping very well. I don't know if it's the lack of physical activity in this (third) lockdown, or if my head's too busy worrying about everything, but I spend a lot of time just staring at the ceiling and thinking. Wondering. Wondering why I'm not able to sleep. Wondering if Star Fleet uniforms in Star Trek: Discovery are so comfortable that you don't need socks - let's face it, Burnham wasn't wearing socks when her boots were ripped off by that baddie in the Jefferies Tube.

Anyway, at three in the morning a few weeks ago I had this idea. I wanted to write my autobiography. 

Crazy, huh? First of all, I'm not a great fan of autobiographies. I know a lot of people do get a kick out of them, but they really don't float my boat at all. I've read a few - one of the few I really did enjoy was Wil Wheaton's 'Just a Geek'. There was something about its honesty and the way it was written that meant I actually enjoyed it. 

But secondly, I don't think I'm actually very interesting. I had this conversation in my head at 3AM where I thought...

Why would anyone want to read an autobiography of you?

Well they wouldn't. But, then there are others out there who have done the same and I didn't know who they were either. Look at that Mark Barrowcliffe chap who did the one about growing up while playing Dungeons & Dragons? 

Yeah, but you didn't enjoy that one did you? 

It's no fault of the author, I'm just not a big fan of autobiographies! I know lots of people who loved that book.

But he was basically saying the same thing. About growing up in the 70s and 80s and playing far too much D&D. What could you bring to the table that's different?

That's the thing isn't it? What would make my boring autobiography different?

I had this idea many years ago about doing some of my Roll Your Own Life entries as some form of webseries - this was back when I used to think webseries were cool and before everything went horribly wrong. Of course, not only did the webseries thing come to a grinding halt, I had that realisation that (in the long run) no one would want to stare at my big bald face for any length of time.

How to make it different? And not boring?

One way of avoiding looking at my boring face is doing a podcast. But then there's editing, recording it without any background noise, adding music and stuff like that. It's doable, but is it the best way forward?

The other option is going for the comic strip. Heck, I used to draw comics. When I thought the RPG writing thing wasn't happening I wrote and published comics back during the UK Indie Comics boom of the late 90s. Admittedly, it has been a long time since I've drawn comics. I've done some drawing recently for illustrations for WILD, but I'm convinced I can't draw. 

But, I may give it a go anyway. 

So here's the pitch. My life, retold in comic strip form, in small episodes from different eras, badly remembered and slightly fictionalised, from the perspective of a long time tabletop gamer who really should get a life. It'll get me away from looking at computers in the evening (when I've spent most of the day looking at them) and it may be a laugh. It may also be rubbish. 

Now... where to start...???