May 2009


IMG_0230My copy of Guitar Hero: Metallica arrived today and I’ve managed to coax about two hours play out of my left wrist.

There are no great surprises in the gameplay — it’s pretty much exactly like any other GH or Rockback game — the only exception being the Expert Plus level of difficulty on drums, which sees the introduction of a second bass pedal. Madness.

At the moment, I’m progressing reasonably well through Hard on guitar and frequently surprising myself at the number of riffs I’m hitting. The trick seems to be not to think about it too much. That, and mashing the buttons randomly.

Presentation-wise, though, it’s a much slicker product compared with the rather disappointing Aerosmith addition to the franchise. The band look like the band and behave like the band. Watching the game is, by and large, exactly like watching Metallica perform live. Unfortunately, that has a downside and that downside’s name is Lars Ulrich.

If you didn’t hate Large Oilrig beforehand, you’re not going to find anything in here to secure his position on your Christmas card list. He yawns at points when his drumming prowess is not required. He constantly has that smarmy, smug expression on his face, mouth doing a passable impression of a cat’s arse.

But what get’s me is, he must look at that and see it. He must surely have had to sign off the design of his digitized face.

“Guys, guys, guys,” I imagine he might have said. “If you can’t make me look like a bulldog licking pish from a nettle, we’re pulling the freakin’ plug.”

GH games and their ilk live and die by the song selection and GH:Metallica has picked its tunes from the right end of the Metallica back catalog, ie. the pre 1990 bit. That’s not to say there’s nothing from St Anger etc, but so far at least, they’ve been thankfully brief.

Easily one to play through to completion and to return to when the mood takes.

MAN: (frustrated) What the fuck’s wrong with this fucking photocopier now?

Man crouches and starts looking at flaps and doors, giving one or two a slap. Woman leans over and looks at the control panel.

WOMAN: It’s finished.

I’ve mentioned Random Acts of Writing before. It’s a print magazine based in Inverness and is available in many outlets in the north of Scotland. It’s great mag and has proved to be something of a model to Alloa Writers while we’ve been putting together our own mag, Trialling The Content (more details of that later).

When I finished writing The Ghouls at the Four Sisters, I immediately thought of RAW and I’m thrilled that they’ve accepted it for their June issue.

This is my twentieth published story in total and the fourth story to find a home this month. I think local bylaws kick in at this point that insist I have to get drunk tonight to celebrate. Who am I to argue?

To bring the recent batch of short story posts to a close for now (hopefully), allow me to direct you to Burst Fiction where my story — Spring Tide — is available for your perusal. You can leave comments on the stories and I encourage you to do so, especially if you have something nice to say.

Burst Fiction is home to quite a few shorts by Mel Bosworth, who the more avid reader will remember as sharing this month’s Bound Off podcast with me. His Spiderman one is class.

The blog has been somewhat exclusively van and short story centric recently, so I’ll keep this post brief. Baby Doll and the 101 went live today over at The Legendary. It’s in your interest and a matter of national security that you click the link and read the stories. If it sways the deal, mine is very short.

Enjoy!

(PS, when you read the next post, try and act surprised)

If I’d stayed up five minutes longer last night, I’d have been able to announce that another very short story of mine — Baby Doll and the 101 — will appear in the next issue of The Legendary, which goes live on the 20th. Again, expect reminders, links and my continued high level of chuffedness to continue for the next few days.

Batting average up to .500 for May. If I get another hit, the arithmetic becomes a little more complicated.

May’s turning into a busy old month in terms of soliciting short stories. A very short, 300ish word piece of mine — Spring Tide — has been accepted in Burst Fiction and will appear this coming Thursday. Don’t worry about marking it in your calendar. I’ll remind you at the time and if you eat all your greens, I’ll even throw in a link.

Everything in Burst Fiction is round about the 300 word mark and anything longer is broken up and serialised. The content is aimed to be read on mobile devices or on your ciggie break, and the whole zine has a very immediate feel about it. I’m proud to be involved in its early days.

So I’m batting .400 for May so far and with another 17 stories currently sitting on virtual slush piles scattered around the globe, I’m hoping I can slug out another few before the month’s out. That’s a baseball analogy, by the way.

Today, I get a little glimpse of what JK Rowling must feel when she hears Stephen Fry read out her words. Last summer I announced that Bound Off had bought my story — A Documentary About Sharks — and it was released this morning on boundoff.com and also in iTunes.

I’ve had a couple of stories in Bound Off before but this is the first one where someone other than me has narrated. The voice talent on the story is Vincent Louis Carrella and he does an excellent job, far better than I could do (and have done) myself, making it seem like I’m listening to someone else’s words, albeit ones that are eerily familiar.

As you must fully expect, I heartily encourage you to go to Bound Off, download the podcasts, listen to it and then send Mr Carrella an email to thank him from sparing you the task of listening to my Central Scotland mumblings.

I share the issue with Mel Bosworth whose story — Check Engine Light — is pretty cool, too and for some reason has a title that makes me feel a little odd. But then I have been listening to an awful lot of Death Cab For Cutie.

My wife, Julie, has recently started her own blog. Expect more art, less swearing and absolutely no mention of Alloa Athletic Football Club. Have a looky here.

As exclusively revealed here somewhere near the top of page 2, my short story — The Spirit of Shackleton — was picked up by Menda City Review and the issue went live today. So go check it out. I’ll wait here. It’s okay, I’ve already read it.

Getting a story published is such a buzz anyway, but working with MCR’s editor, Terry Rogers, is an absolute joy. Even when rejecting a story, he always manages to take time to send back something more than just form and when 80% of everything one submits is rejected, that can be hugely encouraging. I wish nothing but good things for him and MCR.

Now go read the story again.

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