Do you know what I hate most about my mental health? It’s not that it leaves me in a state of intellectual catalepsy or that it darkens even the brightest of days. It’s not that it is unpredictable as west coast weather or as deleterious as vindaloo. I struggle every day with it, (although most days I can cover it well), and even that – it’s temerity and gregariousness – isn’t it’s worst aspect.

It’s that I can’t talk about it.

Let me explain that a little. Because, yes, I do say I have it, and my friends understand. I don’t think everyone does; I think there’s still a hideous stigma about it, and there are still too many people out there that equate mental issues with “being at it”. I try to see their point of view – I mean, if you don’t suffer you don’t see – but it boils back to how I’m feeling, and I get caught up on how other people view me – and guilt, self-deprecation and paranoia sink their claws in.

I even spotted a section on the Bungie website (creators of my new obsession Destiny 2 on the PS5) about mental health and that’s great. We need to get it out in the open. We need to talk about it, both sufferers and lucky alike.

But my point : I CANT explain it to someone. I can’t tell them where it hurts or what’s making it hurt. It’s all, literally, in my mind.

The catalyst can be anything. Today it’s the Armageddon strain taking hold for the third time (covid btw). Most of the time it’s an aside made at work about how things are shit. Yes they are, but I’m trying to survive and I don’t need people reminding me there are better things out there when they won’t pursue them themselves. One person in particular, who doesnt thankfully read this. Yes- that person. Everyday chips more of my soul away. I’ve been on the edge for far too long. I don’t know what it’s like to be at peace.

Every waking moment I’m thinking about the other side. How people are happy, have wonderful partners, and to an extent are content – I’m envious. Not jealous; I love my friends too much I’m never jealous. But I’m definitely envious. Oh yes, I’m sure nothing is perfect with them either, I’d never assume such things because I’m very aware of everyone’s right to individuality and uniqueness. We’ve all got problems.

But how do I explain my issues to the people i love the most? I can’t. There are no words. Quagmire. Maelstrom. Kaleidoscope. Cerebromania. Miasma Infinitum.

All I ask of any of you…if you’re like me, stay positive. Fight it, do not go quietly into the night. If you’re fortunate, then stay supportive and keep your own mind open. Be patient. I need you to be tolerative when I’m trapped in my quagmire. You can’t help me out, but you can stop me from sinking.

Dungeons and Dragons (2000)

With the new Dungeons and Dragons movie, “Honour Amongst Theives”, out at the end of the month, i thought it prudent to visit the first stab at the franchise. The game series is to tabletop role-playing games what Superman is to comics. The original, the thing that started it all.

Now, i need to make something very clear, before you all start lamblasting me. I like this movie. I may even say i love it; but, BUT I MUST MAKE IT CLEAR…. i completely understand that its absolutely rubbish. The CGI is appalling, the acting is very, very questionable, and the plot is about as derivative as it is possible to be.

Basically, the land of Ismir is divided into two castes – the elite Mages, and the lowly people, forced by poverty and theivery to survive. Now, this would provide an excellent canvas for social commentary but no such thing comes across. The writing simply isn’t intelligent enough for metaphors and themes. And of course, the elites and nobles are caught up in the usual nonsence politics. The new Queen – wielder of the golden rod that lets her control Dragons – wants to unite the kingdom, bringing poor and rich together. HOWEVER, evil mage Profion wants to take over the world, and hopes to control Red Dragons to perform his perfidious plans.

The details of the following plot are sketchy – there just seems to be a recycling set of scenes involving lots of silly banter, and all the staples of a standard quest plot. Theives somehow get involved in the search for the Rod of Sevril – which controls the aforementioned dragons – obviously we have some stereotypes. The cocky young Han Solo, the comedy sidekick, the love interest, the dwarf, the elf and the evil henchman trying to hunt them down.

As i said, its absolutely rubbish.

BUT. Something works. Justin Whalin (Jimmy from Lois and Clark) is having a ball, lured into thinking this is a big break for him as an actor. Marlon Wayans screeches his way through intensely annoying to warmly hilarious, and even poor wee Thora Birch – whose recent oscar nominated American Beauty has made her a catch – is trying her best. The dwarf is played by Lee Arenberg, who will find fame years later by one of the Pirates of the Carribean. Jeremy Irons devours the scenery but looks as if he hates every second of it. Bruce Payne tops this off by being utterly awful and yet his genius level ham is scene-stealing.

However, allow me the positives. The music is absolutely perfect – running themes and melodies like something by John Williams. The guest appearances by not only Richard o’Brian (!) but the legendary TOM BAKER raise the bar even more.

My conclusion? It was brimming with potential. Given the budget which the upcoming 2001 movies were running with, (i speak of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings) then there could have been something in this. But, alas, its just a silly film relegated to the bottom of the IMDB bargain box. Worth a watch for a laugh.

Next up: Dungeons an Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God. Oh….dear.

The Shattered Conscience

Time to come clean. I feel as if i need to write this down. Maybe in some small way i will feel better as a result. The last week has been very trying. I was pushed to the very brink of my personal sanity. And, remarkably, this isn’t to do with work.

Quite simply, i was dealt with a horrible set of cards. At the time, upon the slap of the first card on the table, i broke. My sanity shattered like ice, my mental framework reduced to zero. Maybe even negative numbers.

I don’t want to go into the gory details. A good man once said, “one should never dwell on his troubles, lest they consume him’. Well i am trying to take the advice of this stellar man to my heart.

The end of my tale is sad one. I am not writing this from a balcony in Fuengirola, overlooking the mediterranean and spotting weird south spanish birds. I am instead drowning my sorrows in multiple litres of Diet Coke and watching my comfort TV shows. (i’ve finished Doc Martin and Ghosts, so i’m now binging Star Trek: Prodigy. You see, i heard that a certain person and actress dear to my yound adulthood has more of a presence than a cartoon hologram….Kate Mulgrew, i have been waiting for your return since the end of the 90s).

You see, i developed severe pain in my right foot. Which meant i couldn’t walk, Which means a trip to the airport and beyond was out of the question. Truth be told, i was worried. It could get worse. And i didn’t want to be in a strange place. I wanted the comfort of my own home, exiled by personal calamity or not. To rest, get my mind back on track.

Which is where you join me now.

I think i’m over the worst of it.

However, good news abounds, which has helped me greatly to cope with the damage. My younger bro went to a film festival down south and the feedback he recieved for his film “Stag’s Head” was apparently very positive. My blood-addled visage was used as the thumbnail – although i’m not making it about me.

If you haven’t seen it yet, see below. And if you enjoy it, make a comment. You can all help me feel better.

Oh…and i made up that quote. Yes, i’m following the advice of my practical side.

Crannog Bay (2023) – by Chaos Box

I know it’s generally frowned upon to self-promote and be all wishy-washy about projects i myself had a hand in, but let me assure you all i am not waxing lyrical about this just because i was in it, and had a hand in the story creation. My role is small and arguably minor, and so the real plaudits must get ladled onto my younger, better brother. Douglas – the director and writer of this scottish horror.

Crannog Bay features prominently the haunting visions felt by Chris (Josh Currie), as he drowns every night in a bay he can’t remember. He finds himself going to Crannog Bay in an attempt to understand his past. He doesn’t know there are nefarious happenings, both human and beyond…and his very life and legacy is at stake.

I don’t want to review this as i am biased, but i do emplore you to give it a shot. Its under an hour, fairly fast paced and features some absolutely stunning aerial photography. The monster may look like a 60s doctor who villain, but thats the idea. No budget, no limits. Welcome to Chaos Box. Hope you enjoy.

Feel free to comment or even if you have questions…i’m willing to answer.

If you like what you see…visit http://www.chaosbox.uk

Chaos Box presents…a scottish folklore horror. Don’t. Go. Back!

Marching in the Misery Parade

The drums have been beating for a long time now, and the portents of doom have been hovering in the air like vampiric midges. The atmosphere is encroaching as in a thunderstorm. Oppressive, like a heavy weight pushing your very soul into the soil; a vacuum of biblical proportions sucking the life essence out of our withered husks – we are all, quite simply, pooped. Like out of the back end of a gypsy cob (because they have the biggest turds).

Its 2023. The end of last year changed my life. And hopefully such incandescence will continue into this new year. No guarantees of course, but things are looking rosy, at least in the small ways that i pay attention to. I’m published in the upcoming Blakes 7 annual 2023 (coming soon from Cult Edge), i’m going to Malaga, then i’ve got a 40th with my best friends in the world, then i’m going to see Mike Wozniak in easter (tick tock, Wozniak o’clock), then i’ve got my own 40th, and sometime throughout i’ll be visiting Jurassic Drummond, airBnBing down to England for an amble-by-the-sea, then likely doing some other nonsense at other, unspecified dates.

Who knows what i’ll be doing workwise. The future of my company lies still in limbo, and my personal future with the company is at concrete as a bag of clouds…but as the famous phrase goes, every cloud has a silver lining. Except the firing of Henry Cavill as Superman. Nothing good will ever come of that travesty of cinema. I had to watch the excellent Enola Holmes 2 last night to counter a depressive funk brought on by too much Cavilline contemplations. No Witcher, No Superman. Thank Krypton we have his Warhammer movie to look forwards to.

But i’m not here to rant about the decisions of James Gunn, am I? No. This is just a rant about the decline of hope and the dissipation of aspirations. The kick to the teeth of optimism and the gut-punch of life undesired.

I’m writing currently so many things that i can’t even name all of it here. I’m working on two Pandora Man scripts (The Denton Iterations and Heartbeat of the World), trying to finish Dr Who: Accident and Emergency, and putting together thoughts for numerous speculative shorts such as “Humanity Extraction”, “Widdecombes Nightmare” and “The Tennoffusaur”. Keep an eye out!

Right, well, Happy New Year to my readers (i’ve noticed i have a few subscribers now, so thanks very much to you all!!) and i’m off to rejoin the parade. Where the fish are more intelligent than the staff.


Change, My Dear. Not a moment too soon.

This entry has been a long time coming. I’ve been brewing it like an animal-themed ale, perfecting my idiosyncrasies so that i’m channeling my own eccentricity into the narrative… you see, 2022 has been a milestone in my life. An event unforeseen in my future – i could never have been able to predict this.

The only background relevant is my declining health. Ever since somewhere in the 2010s my body malfunctioned. By some bizzare mutation of anatomy my thyroid gland started to get lazy. It produces the hormone thyroxin, which in turn is required to run a huge set of operations in the body.

So over the course of several years i became hugely overweight, constantly fatigued, weak and massively depressed. And i couldn’t fix it; try as i might, walking after work, swimming, any form of exercise – i just didn’t have the energy to do it. Even at work – a fairly energetic affair, i was unable to perform some of the basic tasks. I was a walking time-bomb, tripping, falling, unable to lift things…my mental health was spiralling.

I’ve spoken before of my mental illness and i’m a big advocate of sharing and talking about it; its possible to fight it. You’ll never truly best it, but it can be rendered tolerable.

I applied for a small job on Scotlands east coast, but was advised against the transfer due to my lack of stability and general overweightness. As a result, my occupational health nurse expressed concerns over my general neural health and i was referred to a glasgow-based brain woman.

It was a non-event. Nurses didn’t confer and there was no appointment. So it was rescheduled. And then THAT appointment was cancelled as the Doc had COVID. Then the NEXT appointment was cancelled because the doctors assistant had COVID. So the next idea was to get me an appointment with my local GP. Why this couldn’t have been an option all those months ago i don’t know.

So this is six months after the initial concern, by the way.

The Doc was very amiable, and asked about family history, current job and exercise, mental health and the such. But she right away said she had a theory, and wanted to do blood tests. So i did.

I then went to Harrogate to visit two of my bestest friends for a board game and booze weekend. On the way back, trapped in gridlock in the Lake District, i receive a phonecall. I have hypothyroidism.

Two days later i’m on thyroxin capsules, two a day for the time being.

Three months later i’m 18kg lighter, brimming with confidence and able to speak without slurring like i’ve had a stroke. I am, as mentioned now by just about everyone, a completely different person. A better person. The actual me.

So with all my heart my thanks do to the manager at Kinnaird and my wonderful doctor. Things have changed, and the future is brighter than ever.

There. The first and likely only time i’ll be in a good mood whilst blogging. SAVOUR IT.

Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

The first Avatar came out in 2009 and made box office history with a global taking of $2.9 BILLION DOLLARS. Utterly insane. With that, obviously we’d get a sequel. But, contrary to Hollywood’s usual trope of shoving out a follow up with nary a care for quality, James Cameron’s highly anticipated sequel has been 13 years in the making. Not doing things by halves, though, Cameron is releasing another (rumoured) THREE of these CGI extravanganzas, bringing the total to five. Its hardly a rival to the likes of The Fast and Furious franchise or James Bond, but its certainly more than we expected.

Avatar (2009) is a hippie high budget metaphor for the value of nature and Humanity’s mindless aim to eradicate our world’s rainforests in the search for rare wealth. It could have been dismissed as a load of nonsence with an awful script and in-your-face environmentalism – but somehow the world was captivated. Perhaps it was the spectacle; the ground breaking realism of the computer generated moon of Pandora was mindblowing. Enough to dwarf the wooden performance from its lead, Sam Worthington.

Avatar 2 exceeds my expectations. Read on.

We are treated to a wonderful introductory sequence that covers what has happened since the events of the first movie. This feels right, seeing as we have waited 13 years for the film, it fits that the events are set a similar number of years later. In the intervening years Sully (sam) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) have given birth to three kids (two boys and a wee girl) and have adopted a female girl who is the child of Sigourney Weaver from the first film. Interestingly, Sigourney also voices the teenage child. And her parentage is…well, i’ll leave that to your theories. Oh, and theres a young boy on the base “Spider” whose father is stupidly obvious but who is brought up Na’vi-friendly.

The film then delivers a nasty gut-punch. The humans return to Pandora and on landing, devastate the World Tree and half the rainforest. fast forward a year…

the Na’vi are raiders, let militaristically by Sully to upset the human supply lines.

The villain of the piece is Quaritch (Stephen Lang) – but he was killed in the first film!! Yes – this time we have a Na’vi “recombinant”, a clone bred from Quaritch’s DNA and embedded with the memories before he died. A terrific sci-fi idea and one that is not wasted.

Quaritch retains his death-grudge with Sully, and vows to kill him. So Sully and his cliched family up sticks and head to the oceans of Pandora, seeking asylum with the turquoise water Na’vi.

And there we have. The next two hours are a mix of family drama, children fighting and bullying, outcast cliches and beautiful underwater imagery. Oh. And did i mention a massively upsetting moment when a f*cking hovercraft butchers a huge Pandoran whale in order to drain its brain fluid. I was close to tears. Its a powerful message about the evil of the whaling industry.

Its by no means perfect. The script is dire; cliched, textbook dialogue. The plot is cookie-cutter and almost identical to the first film: characters arrive in new place, become friendly with the intitially unhappy locals, then get attacked by a battalion of humans searching for some rare material (this time age-stopping whale brains).


Its shockingly beautiful. The underwater scenes, the pandoran creatures, the rousing music, the explosions…amazing. Cameron knows he has a very very high standard of special effect on show here – so he sets whole action scenes in rain, underwater and gleaming with lightshows from sunrise to sunset, and even through the night.

And the best thing… i forgot the Na’vi were fake. They are astoundingly realistic. From the minutest of facial ticks, ear twitches and nose-scrunching to their ridiculous height and alien movement. Its only when you see them next to humans you go, “oh shit they’re not real!”

The occasional moment of humour shines too. Sam Worthington proves that despite a face as beige as a vauxhall corsa, his alterego Na’vi is oscar worthy.

A tremendous achievement in cinema. Don’t wait till DVD or stream. See it now on the big screen. The biggest you can find.

Crisis in the Cinematic Universe

I’m taking this news badly, by the way. What i found out yesterday has left a nasty taste in my mouth and i’m afraid i’m about to wax lyrical about my discontentment…

A recent blog post spoke of the HBOmax TV show “Peacemaker”, and how i enjoyed it’s violent action, witty script and subtly rounded characterisation. I even, if i recall, spoke very highly of its direction – provided skillfully by James (Guardians of the Galaxy) Gunn. I thought i was happy, pleased with the geek world and its various forms. I found myself revering Gunn himself…

And then it all came crashing down. I was betrayed. My fan instincts were torn asunder and i was full of trivial hate and anger.

To understand the full picture of my despair, i must tell you of a few things. Firstly, let us address a Netflix show, of which i am also a fan. Its called “The Witcher” – you may have heard of it. Its the story of Geralt of Rivia, an outcast monster-hunter with silver hair, yellow eyes and the acting range of a Larch. His expletive utterances and grunts are a source of pop memes the world over. His strikingly monosyllabic dialogue have earned him many fans. That, and the fact that women and men alike find him startlingly handsome. He is Henry Cavill, british actor who has played the son of Edmund Dantes, the unwanted suitor of Clare Danes, an immortal demigod, Sherlock Holmes and even Napoleon Solo. He missed out to Daniel Craig as Bond. So the stars were in alignment when he secured the role of the best superhero of all. Clark Kent. Superman.

However, due to rumoured creative differences – the word is the Witcher’s writers want to take the show in a different direction than the books – and Cavill is off, to be replaced by one of the non-Thor Hemsworths. Fans are in uproar. A petition has already been signed by nearly half a million people to have the writers fired and Cavill reinstated.

But the fans were compensated. A surprise cameo of Supes himself at the end of the recent Rock vehicle Black Adam, followed by a media message from Cavill…Superman was to return. A sequel / follow up to Snyder’s Man of Steel was in the works. I’m sure i wasnt the only person that leaped for joy.

My happiness was short lived.

Merely days later there came a shockwave through the industry. It began with the news that Wonder Woman 3 was shelved. Batgirl has been lost to time. And…the recently announced Superman movie was now in the trash pile. We weren’t going to get Henry Cavill in the cape again after all. Nor we going to get Geralt of Rivia with his dreamy demon eyes.

James Gunn has sledgehammered the DC Universe. It looks as if the entire justice league are fated to their doom. The troubled Flash movie is apparently still happening, as is Aquaman’s sequel, and thankfully we’re still getting Robert Pattinson’s second Batman movie. But no more Batman Beyond (with michael keaton!)!

Theres almost no consolation. Oh apparently there is another Superman, with a younger clark kent. But no henry cavill.

I am a great fan of Christopher Reeve. A hero and a role model. I loved Brandon Routh, my superman. I’ve met the man and we’ve posed as Captain Cold and The Atom. I was retiscent to accept Cavill’s new, darker Superman… but i did. And now he’s been taken from me.

I ask the world; if you’re going to do this to me, give me Man from Uncle 2…

Its not all doom and gloom. We’re getting a Warhammer movie in the future, and i just read a rumour that he’s in the reboot of Highlander. WHAT? WHY AM I HEARING ABOUT THIS NOW!!!


Peacemaker (2022)

This spin off from The Suicide Squad (2021) was very faint on my radar. Why, though? I mean, i’m a massive comic book fan and i like to keep up to date with all the comings and goings of both the MCU and (in this case) the DCEU. I’ve seen everything so far except Morbius, Wakanda Forever and Black Adam. I hated / disliked Suicide Squad and i was entertained, if not blown away by The Suicide Squad, its too-similarly titled sequel / reboot.

So why was i not immediately enamoured by Peacemaker? Well, i confess, its because of the Peacemaker himself. I’m not a fan of John Cena – i find his personality arrogant and ham-fisted. And his performance in The Suicide Squad hardly suggests a decent TV show.

BUT. For some reason, i was in the mood to try it out the other day. My schedule was a void and i fancied some comic action. So i watched the pilot.

I cannot define exactly what it was that had me hooked. But i will attempt to explain. Firstly, the inevitable synopsis. No spoilers.

The Peacemaker is released from prison to serve with a group of ragtag Argus black operatives in “Project Butterfly”. He is told nothing to begin with – to them he is a hired bit of muscle capable of killing who he is told to. His team-mates are suitably diverse questors – the hardass girl with no heart / the beardy weirdy tech guy / the cold sinister boss man and the new girl. Together they must undertake this mission despite their grievances and their dislike for one another – and save the world.

BUT. Throw into this the hardass girl has indeed a thawing heart, the bearded dude has feelings, the boss has his own demons and the new girl is Amanda Wallers daughter – the BIG BOSS of the lot. OH and Peacemaker – the biggest douchebag of all time and all round shithead, is in fact tormented by his racist white father, is having a morale-complex and whose best friend is frikking eagle called Eagly.

The plot mergansers more than the Mississippi and is the twists are shyamalanic. You will literally feel your jaw drop at the end of (nearly) every episode.

What i’m going to highlight though is the direction of James Gunn. His use of music and slo-mo is bordering genius. Its second to none. I’ve not seen this level of pitch-perfect cinematography and pop / rock music topography since…i don’t know…a long time. Kick Ass, maybe.

Jennifer Holland is amazing as Emila Harcourt (the hardass girl with no heart), and certainly one of the reasons i think i stayed with the series. Danielle Brooks is fantastic as the new girl, displaying so much range and truly providing the emotional core of the show.

BUT here it comes. The apology. John Cena, i am sooooo sorry for judging you. You have created here a character so complex that its like a fucked-up rubix cube. On the surface he’s a muscly, handsome douchebag with enough one liners to rival Bruce Willis on a good day (to die hard), but below he is a warm-hearted goon whose character arc rivals that of Daenarys Targaryen. An absolute d**khead that is infinitely likeable, and more importantly forgivable. I mean. His dad was a terminator and a racist. His childhood was f**ked.

There is comedy without pastiche here. There is humour both slapstick and verbal. Its brilliant.

Stealer of the show though? That frikking Eagle. Simply the best!!

(and we have season 2 to follow – F*ck yeah!)

The Game is afoot. And mine hurts.

I woke on sunday morning to neck spasm and agony. Literally three hours of intense neck pain and frenzied inability to sleep. It was horrendous. I was so close to phoning an ambulance, or at least someone to run me to the hospital. In my hallucinating sleep-deprived pain state i checked webmd for my symptoms and discovered i had acute somethingsomething neuralgia. OH NO i declared, only to read on and find it means pinched nerve. Clearly i slept funny, and there was no ha ha this time.

Anyway, that was my productive sunday down the drain; instead of looking up writing jobs and trying to finish my various projects – like “Running Out of Space”, “Dr Who: The Crystals of Time”, “The Pandora Men: It Begins”, my novel “The Adventurations of Finchely Chase” or any of my innummerable short stories in progress like “Humanity Extraction”, “Death to the Twitterverse” or even any of my narrative memoirs “Duck Food / Cinemonkeys / The Intervineous Line / Wealth and Hellfire / Pink Shampoo” – i decided to lie and wallow on my couch and play Assassins Creed: Valhalla.

I’ve just found all the synchronisation points in Kent, thanks for asking. Think i’m venturing to Jorvik next. Either there or Winchester. My favourite pastime is eviscerating Zealots.

My Monday morning it had cleared up and i dutifully went to work.

Morning afternoon i was limping. I must have jiggered my pre-broken foot at some point jumping in and out of the blasted forklift. So whilst watching Wednesday (on Monday) i was in mild pain. Fortunately, gammon steak and chips distracted me.

Then Tuesday morning comes about and lo! Put weight on my foot i could not; not without lightening agony striking through my body like…well, electricity. So after sleep until 12 (clearly needing it, considering i haven’t slept well in about a week) – i migrated (on my knees) to…you’ve guessed it…the couch. And i started playing … you guessed it … valhalla. By dinner time i had climbed the Dover Cliffs, finished the Cave of Trials and killed another fucking zealot or two. I’d even assassinated two of the Order. Praying that my foot would have healed enough by the morning, i then finished the day with tempura pollock and chips and four episodes of the awesome Doc Martin. I may fancy Caroline Catz. In fact i’m sure of it.

Wednesdays here now and i am in pain at work. No Assassins, just backstabbing maniacs and f’tons of trout. Yippee kai ay, Milovaig’er!

Tonight i need to buy Fizzy Drinks. I have an addiction to both them and Assassins Creed. Neither of these addictions are good, but they’re getting me through life right now.

Oh and top it all of, I have Haemorrhoids. Conversation killer.