On New Year’s Resolutions

So here you are nearly at the end of NaBloPoMo month again, and so far you have a blog post for every day this November.

This’ll probably jinx it, of course.

You don’t think this is your finest BloPo. That was 2010, despite the fact that you missed a day there. Technically. Too many rather lightweight postings and not many of the meatier posts that are still half written in your head. There just isn’t enough time in the day.

Some nice stories though. That’s the good thing about not blogging much for the last year. The kids do the funniest things. You are glad you caught some of those moments, finally.

Thing is, just posting every day for a month isn’t enough any more. You have decided that you need to try a little harder with what you write.

This is tricky. Trying hard isn’t something you do, as a general rule. You have a tendency to slack off without deadlines and someone cracking the whip. Self motivated you are not.

Just like your son. Oh dear.

So as a pre-New Year resolution you are going to give yourself some targets for next year-until-November. The hope is that a schedule will mean you don’t just let t’blog and your ability to type languish, but that you can’t just get away with dashing off 500 words of lightly amusing this is what the Star did today, and isn’t the Comet just darling too. All the time. You reserve the right to do just that when they are really really cute though.

Firstly, you are going to write some entries for h2g2.com. Broadly speaking, this is factual writing, but it is a Guide not an encyclopedia, so there’s quite a lot of scope there for making the pieces interesting. You find it difficult to be interesting and broadly factual without becoming anecdotal, so there’s challenge in that. Plus, you get feedback from fellow h2g2ers, which is always a good thing if you are trying to push yourself.

Topics identified so far are:

Urban fantasy as a genre of writing.

Mummy blogging.

How to celebrate with food Russian style.

How to make borscht and schee.

VDNKh – my favourite place in Moscow.

How to collect Soviet medals (with B).

In addition, you really enjoyed writing the toddler’s Guide to… series of articles, so you are going to commit to a bi-weekly column in h2g2’s newspaper, the Post. If they will have you. You haven’t actually asked yet. This is just for fun really, but there is something interesting in trying to remember the point of view you are writing from, at least for about half the time.

You are also going to try not to neglect the blog too much. A post a week as a minimum and more trying to enter in the yeah write challenges. You have totally failed to hit the target the last two times, so this will require effort. Good. There are some great blog writers participating in the project too, and so if nothing else you will have plenty of examples to live up to. You would say, make sure you participate every two weeks, but it really depends. At least once a month though, and you can certainly hang out on their coattails the rest of the time.

Finally. You have been dying to have a go at NaNoWriMo now for years but aside from the total lack of time, you also had a total lack of really workable ideas. It’s the whole plot thing. You are no good at plots. However, you had an idea recently which came built in with something of a plot and it might work for 50,000 words or so. Certainly you could have fun researching it a bit and playing around with some related fiction writing, and as this is something you hardly ever do, it would also go towards the goal of stretching yourself. Whether or not you will actually do the novel writing thing next November remains to be seen, but at least you will have a pleasant day dream for the rest of the year.

There. It helps to have a plan.

On going out.

Today you have been out. Across the breadth of London. On a jaunt. With other people. To eat food. To eat vegetarian food.To eat vegetarian food arranged in a very chefy manner on the plate. Which you completely forgot to take a picture of because the other people were so much fun.

Nyah nyah nyah nyah.

On NaBloPoMo again again again

OK, so here we are at the end of October and there is a certain inevitability about the fact that I am about to announce that I will attempt NaBloPoMo or National Blog Posting Month again. Yup that’s 30 posts in 30 days. Don’t all laugh at once, I’ve done it before. Not last year, admittedly. I only managed two weeks of lacklustre one liners that time. But previously I have been mostly successful.

However, just to up the ante impossibly, as well as NaBloPoMo, which is supposed to be an Internet-wide thing despite the fact that it seems to have gone to ground at BlogHer these days, I am also going to do NaJoPoMo, which is the h2g2 Nation’s Journal Posting Month. The difference? Well, it’s a community thing, and I really like finding out more about people in that community, especially the ones I don’t usually run with.  Also, since most hootooers aren’t bloggers, they tend to have an entirely different take on the idea. This year, people seem to be deciding to give themselves themes to work around this year too, as if posting 30 days straight isn’t enough. Plus it is a writing site, and there were some astonishingly good journal entries last year.

Not that the same isn’t true of the NaBloPoMoers I’ve met before. Really, if the whole Internet would just join h2g2.com, my life would be a lot less complicated.

Anyway, I could get away with posting the same think on there and here except… I’m not going to. Or at least, I’m going to try not to.

There I am going to be doing a series of posts around the idea of a toddler’s guide to London. Here I am just going to catch you all up on the amusing things my kids have said and done in the last year or so. I also have many, many holiday pictures saved up. You lucky, lucky people.

Anyway. I’m back and I’m blogging. For a few days at least.

On Big Miracle.

The email mentioned whales and with that you gave up your hitherto apathetic stance to pimping your blog out for material gain and accepted the offer of taking the Star along to an advance screening of the film Big Miracle in return for a review.  The Star regards whales as honorary sharks and remains violently interested in all things marine, so despite the fact that you had vague misgivings owing to the fact that these were whales in peril, and also despite the fact that when the blurb mentioned ‘rival superpowers’ you just knew there was going to be a Russian swigging vodka in it somewhere, you decided that it was too good an opportunity to pass up and off you both trotted.

Plus, it has Drew Barrymore in it. You like Drew Barrymore.

“Will there be sharks?” said the Star on the way to the ’boutique-style’ hotel where they hold such events. “Fish? Penguins? Seahorses? Sharks? Jellyfish? Sharks? Fish? Sharks? Sharks?” and because you hadn’t actually bothered to read much beyond ‘whales’ ‘Greenpeace’ ‘Drew Barrymore’ and, yes, ‘rival superpowers’ you were confident when you said, “Oh, I should think so.”

There weren’t any sharks. Or fish or penguins or seahorses or jellyfish or even a vast amount of screen time for the actual whales either, although the one sequence of the whales swimming around under water was impressive enough to get rapturous gasps out of the Star. So if, like you, anyone is thinking of taking a budding marine biologist along to Big Miracle and then sitting back and letting the wildlife work its magic on their hyperactive toddler it is best that you burst that bubble right away.

For Big Miracle is a film not about the three whales imprisoned in the Point Barrow Alaskan ice of the frozen north sometime back in the 80s when Ronald Regan was in power that people who actually read the summary more carefully than you might think it is.

No, it is a film about the disparate group of people who come together to save them, the efforts they go to and the trials, tribulations, and incidents of getting their tongue stuck to various metal surfaces and being fleeced by a young Anouki boy they have in doing so.

It is, in fact, an ensemble rescue-adventure movie.

This is not at all a bad thing. In your opinion. Apollo 13 is one of your favourite movies for the very reason that it is the triumph of a team of engineers over adversity, and given the choice between saving Tom Hanks or three whales from certain death, you know which you’d choose. Watching all the pieces slowly and inexorably fall into place on the whales’ behalf was quite diverting.

Plus, the people involved are all quite engaging. Flawed, certainly, but generally the film was lacking in the kind of negativity that comes from being forced to watch unpleasant people being unpleasant at length. The major baddy is the weather and nearly everyone is pretty focused on trying to beat her.

You got a couple of chuckles out of it. This always pleases you.

And there may not have been much in the way of further animal action to support the three leading mammals, but there was some quite nifty  heavy machinery for the Star to drool over.

The problem is that there was quite a lot of back story to fit in, as well as attempts to tackle the themes of ethics in journalism, the tension between environmental protection and a native people’s traditional way of life, Cold War politics, coming of age, the generation gap, the evils of the oil industry, serving in the armed forces and luuuurve. Towards the middle of the film you started to feel as though huge swathes of the original script had been ruthlessly excised in order to bring the film in in anything like a reasonable length. In one instance, for example, an entire romance sweeps by in the space of one phone call. It’s rather a shame. You would have almost sat through the seventeen hour version.

Which brings us to the other problem. Being a film about humans and human motivations, it involves quite long periods of talking, talking, talking at times, so it does have to be said that in the second third of the film the Star did wander off to look for more of the sweeties kindly provided by the organisers for a while. Much business with his whale-shaped balloon and trying to chat to the people next to and behind us.

He resisted your suggestion that you leave altogether, however, and when the rescue efforts ratcheted up towards the final push, he was duly enthralled again, and remained so until the end. It helped the whales come back into focus then too.

A final word of warning. The ending of the film is not quite what might be expected from a heartwarming family-friendly movie about saving cute animals. Possibly the filmmakers were constrained by it being based on a real life event.

That said, this plot twist went right over the Star’s head and he left well content with his experience overall. He was certainly able to go home and give a fair summary of the main points of the plot to his Papa and pronounce it good quite decidedly. Really, that’s everything you can ask of a film experience with a toddler.

As for you, you like to cry in movies. You pronounce it good too.

Although the Russians? Did neck the vodka.