Winter Blues (entry for national write a novel month)

here’s the draft I am working on for the write a novel thing. It’s full of my usual social satire and bleak pessimism.


I went into the post office and picked up the package containing my iPhone. I went next door to the restaurant again, ordered another coffee and began to open the package. I looked at the device, my third iPhone and realised that the happiness I had experienced on receiving this device was proportionally less than that I had experienced when receiving the last iPhone, an experience which had similarly afforded me less happiness than the purchase of my first phone.

I inserted the sim and turned the device on, downloading all of my apps from the cloud. The restaurateur brought me my coffee. He stopped to chat for a while. The coffee was nice and fresh as I took a sip and, for a moment, it satisfied. Then I was left with the empty feeling that material comforts leave once you realise how temporal they are, how time is slipping away from you and all that.

‘How’s it going?’ asked Albert, the restaurant manager. Albert worked almost singlehandedly, night and day to run this establishment. It was a nice boutique restaurant, and of a certain quality, but he worked hard – very hard – to make a go of it. He had another couple of staff who worked with him on the weekends. That’s when he got a lot of bookings from his regular client and from others who heard about him through word of mouth or the internet. But I liked it when the restaurant was quiet like this, because it was so clean. Even though he was a large man, who had survived a heart attack a year ago, Albert was meticulous, very meticulous. He was dressed in a kind of white apron and jeans, his hands folded together in front of him as he spoke to me politely.

‘How’s it going?’ he repeated, more as a conversation starter than an enquiry into my health, ‘you look very smart as usual, professor.’

I realised that I probably seemed overdressed for the occasion. I was in my dark indigo jeans, an Italian-made sports coat with a brown windowpane pattern, a black shirt and I had my sunglasses on my head my hair was tousled and thrust back with the wind swept look that was currently in vogue.

‘Yeah, I’m fine,’ I said.

He complained for a while about how bad business was. He called me professor because he knew I used to work as a high school teacher when I first met him. Then he left me to my coffee and bagels and I went back to playing with my iPad. I put my phone in my pocket as I waited for the apps and my music to download. I went back to eBay and started to compare laptop prices. Damn it, I want a MacBook Air, I thought. I want to trade in my old useless PC, for beautiful light ultra-book. I hadn’t brought myself to do it, balking at the cost each time I had thought I had made a decision to buy. Even though I reasoned it would be affordable and it would not set me back financially, in my heart of hearts I dreaded what suppose I knew I would feel when I bought it. It would not give me the material happiness for which the image of the computer represented, nor would it provide the boost in productivity, finally unlocking all of these ideas that I had hoped to put onto paper. I had projected all these hopes and dreams on the purchase of the new laptop, none of which it would provide, hence I yearned for it but felt let down by my yearning at the same time, as I knew it was clutching at the wind. I ordered another coffee.

The phone rang. All of my contacts had transferred across by now and I noted that it was Samantha, my ex-wife. What the heck does she want? I wondered, which was not necessarily meant to slight Sam, as I typically responded that way no matter who called me. My irritation was increased by the iPhone ringtone. I obviously had not had the chance to set up my own ringtones so the blasted original iPhone tone was ringing making the sound of a metallic timbrel enclosed in a phone booth. Dee de doo de do…dee de doo de do…

Just the thought of anyone hearing this ringtone made me extremely self-conscious, as I did not want them to think I was a noob or a scrub who did not know how to set my own ringtones.

‘Hello Sam’ I said, stepping outside and waving to Albert. I had left $10 on the table and he waved at me, his eyes beaming his customary warmth and energy.



This is the link to purchase my first CD, Love Songs to the Lord from Itunes. We recorded these songs several years ago and I did not realise they were still for sale on iTunes.

The link should take you to the track listing from which you can purchase the files in the iTunes store. If you can’t afford the album, you can buy each song for $1.69! Great value Christian music.

The Elemenium Fang

My World of Warcraft story

Paul M. Donovan

A World of Warcraft Tale 

For the first time in months Kleon was tired. He put his axe down, and from his rucksack hungrily tore out the packet containing mutton. He wolfed down the food, while sitting on a log nearby. He was unconcerned about anyone or anything round him knowing his great sword was slung over his shoulders… he knew that to sit down anywhere was extremely hazardous. For years he had been vigilant, alert, unwilling to rest. If for a moment he paused, he looked around warily in all directions, his heightened state of alertness not allowing him to relax even for an instant. Now as the fatigue set in, his fears were displaced by weariness, his concern for survival dispersed by an air of unconcern. For so long his only concerns had been revenge and survival. As he sat in utter fatigue, chewing so quickly into the dried salty meat…

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One more game

Paul M. Donovan

final_fantasy_2One more?

 The writing on the screen glared at me. It was a message from a gamer in the United States.

I placed my hands over my face, trying to relive the tension in my eyes. I looked at the clock, and paused trying to find the restraint and self-control I knew I would never manage to summon. I typed my response:

Sure. Why not?

We logged into the game queue and I settled into another gaming session. I had agonised over the decision to play as it meant almost certainly my writing would not get done and I would be extremely tired the next day. But I knew too that whatever disaster would befall me, the thrill of the game would be sufficient to salve any of life’s disappointments.

Everyday millions of people play video games. Many fall behind in their studies, others are taken…

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Review – The great Gatsby

downloadDirected by Baz Luhrmann

What can one say? I approached the Luhrmann version of Gatsby with mixed feelings. Having read several reviews it was a film that clearly polarised audiences – people either loved it or hated it. It was difficult to come to this adaptation with a fresh perspective having read the novel and seen the Redford version; as I watched I found it impossible not to make comparisons. Thus, I found myself constantly evaluating each scene in terms of whether it captured the essence of Fitzgerald’s narrative, or how effective it was by comparison to the other film version. Suffice it to say there were moments I hated and moments where I could appreciate which aspect of the narrative the director was emphasising. Trying to be as objective as possible I would say, if you hadn’t read the book or watched the previous film version you might just enjoy this film as a stand-alone achievement. Not being in that category myself, I could not bring myself to like it.

Firstly, of course there was the over-the-topness of Luhrmann, his trademark style. This was hit and miss as usual, but his style enhanced certain scenes, particularly the instance of Tobey Maguire’s character Nick Caraway getting drunk in New York. That scene had a certain theatricality that made sense.

From the perspective of an adaptation, the film had many flaws, particularly in misrepresenting characters and as a result, making some of the plot twists not making sense. Whilst The Great Gatsby was a ridiculous book in many respects, its one iconic feature was the man Gatsby himself. He was suave, sophisticated wealthy (‘I have my shirts sent over from London’) and a paragon of politeness. In the novel he is godlike, a man who Nick Caraway, the novel’s narrator idolises. Gatsby, is a self-made man, who made his wealth through bootlegging and mob connections. Despite this he remains a figure of awe in the narrative as he rises above the sordidness of the past through his idealism. His dream is that of rekindling the love of his sweetheart, Daisy. In rewriting parts of the script in this overlong film version, Gatsby’s aura is watered down, and even Leonardo DiCaprio’s iconic style and mannerisms cannot save him from appearing weak, indecisive and ineffectual. Hence Nick Caraway’s final line to Gatsby, ‘you’re better than all of them’ does not make sense as he is not presented that way in this film.

This film is too long by far and, unlike the Redford version, which was more faithful to the novel, there are some very (and I mean very) clichéd and repetitive bits of dialogue that simple make parts of the movie tiresome and tedious.  If they went to such expense with the quality of actors (it is a very good cast) and the glitzy cinematography, surely they could have spent a bit more and hired a better script writer. Let’s give you a few examples. Gatsby’s often quoted expression ‘old sport’ is quaint and charming, lending an ironic whimsy to a youthful man who employs such an old fashioned expression. It adds to the air of mystique and the aura of this self-made man  who, like Hamlet is spoken of before he makes his entrance. In this film he uses the phrase ad nauseam as though it is a nervous tick and it makes you cringe after a while as though the man was a bumbling idiot rather than a smooth talking debonair. Then there were these additional little bits here and there that did not appear in the novel but were so clichéd. Fitzgerald’s narrative, aside from being laboured, was remarkable for its original taut dialogue. Lines such as Gatsby’s ‘of course you can’ when told he could not ‘repeat the past’ were memorable and articulate examples of human pathos and idealism. Even Daisy’s lines ‘what will we do with ourselves’ hints at her near madness as she is torn by Gatsby’s impossible love for her whether to leave her unfaithful husband. Daisy was much much better portrayed in this film than in the Redfern version, which was a bizarre performance by Mia Farrow. But even in respect of this relationship, one of the main impediments to the love affair between Gatsby and Daisy was downplayed, that being her child. The scene where Gatsby meets her child is equivalent to Macbeth seeing the forest marching from Birnham Wood. He realised for all his idealism, the wealth and the strength of his dream, it just wasn’t going to happen – reality set in and the shock on his face was palpable. This scene was not even included in the Luhrmann production.

Another thing that really bothered me was the repetitiveness. One only has to watch the start of Strictly Ballroom to know that Baz loves repetition. He does the same shot and uses it over and over again as though audiences are not savvy enough to realise it is exactly the same thing. He needs to more rigorously edit his films and boy would he sharpen the impact. This ties in with the symbolism of the film. The novel, for all its tedium was laced with potent symbolism, in particular the eyes of Dr. Eckleburg, from the faded billboard. These were symbolic of God watching the characters of the novel, particularly in juxtaposition to the sordid ash heap and the sordid morality of the characters. Symbolism requires subtlety and boy the use of this symbol was a subtle as a supersized McDonald’s meal. They must have run that shot at least 7 or 8 times, to the point it lost its significance as a symbol. The film maker is treating his audience as incredibly dumb, having to repeat a ‘symbol’ so many times in order to make it clear that it is somehow ‘important’, which in this case it wasn’t, because it lost its significance.

Just one more gripe before I finish. Toby Maguire. Great actor, perfect for the role. This is actually the sad thing – the cast were perfect – who could think of a better Gatsby than Leonardo DiCapprio? (Then again, it was testing the bounds of incredulity that he was trying to portray himself as 32, even with that baby face). As Nick Caraway, Maguire he is confiding in a doctor (Jack Thomson) who advises him to write his thoughts down about Gatsby. This was the director’s way of getting around the fact that his film was based on a first person narrative and to include as much of the narration as possible. This was laughable. There was no clear explanation or rationale for Thomson’s character. One minute he was Nicks doctor, the next minute his friend, then his gardener? This was lazy storytelling. It is a film not a novel, why do we need this voiceover at all. They should have used the medium of film and shown us this information, rather than narrating it to this loveable uncle type person.

Overall, a film for those new to the Gatsby idea. Not one for the purists.

Where will all the crazy go?

Nice article. I couldn’t agree more about having my own space.

The Paperbook Blog

I’m going to break the rules today.

It’s Monday, the official rule-breaking day, after all. The day we break our diets and our savings plans, the day we break our promises to ourselves that ‘this week is going to be a better week!’ I’ve broken about six of my weekly goals already, and it’s only 3 pm.

So what’s one more. This blog is a blog about books, I know. About books that other people write, not me. But today I’m breaking that rule, with the help of a daily prompt by the Daily Post.

(I never do Daily Prompts on this blog – another rule broken.)

The prompt is called, poetically, Island of Misfit Posts. It is blatantly encouraging bad behaviour: We all have something we’d like to write about, but that doesn’t really “fit” our blog. Write it anyway.

You asked for it.

Here I go.

Human’s should not live…

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Steampunk Sheriff

Great article. I want to buy Cait now.

Nhan Fiction

Nhan-Fiction Note:
 I wrote this in terms of opinions of how this character plays on Summoner’s Rift.

Why So British?
Caitlyn, the Sheriff of Piltover, is my favorite ranged carry to play in “League of Legends.”

Caitlyn is a champion I proudly use on my Fantastic 15. I love her range and utility. Whether it is sniping down foes from afar or upholding the law with this sheriff’s bag of tricks, Caitlyn makes sure the bad guys and gals don’t get away.

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