Desert Of Zin

The occasional blog of Alistair Bain – Writer, Husband, Father and Chief Techno-Arcanologist at the Institute of Giant Robots, Spaceships and Wizards. None of these positions pay well.

Operation Filling In The Gaps is underway!

Ooh! Unexpected delivery on a Sunday!

I ordered two Doctor Who dvds (The Keys of Marinus and The Aztecs – Special Edition) just the other day and they just turned up. A bit strange seeing as it’s a Sunday but apparently Amazon do this now. I’m not going to complain though as I’m two Who dvds closer to the end. And that’s classic Who. Just so you know.

Also, The Sensorites and The Reign Of Terror are on their way. Almost half of William Hartnell’s Doctor is complete. Much watching to be done!

January 4, 2015 at 6:51 pm | Watching | Tags: , | No comment

Good Morning Internet. It’s been a while.

Just two thing to share, neither of which are mine.

As the wife and child are at church today I get a chance to indulge in some “Sunday Morning Personal Time”. I understand all too well that this has a limited life now – I may have made a rash promise to start attending again soon – but for now I have all the time in the world. As a popular song goes. “All the time in the next hour and a half” isn’t quite as catchy.

Anyway, for those of you who weren’t paying attention at the time, there was a thing in 2011/12 called the Leveson Inquiry which was a public inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press. All very serious, and for good reason. I’ll not go into the in’s and out’s of it here, but I was rewatching the evidence given by Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye. Because for reasons, I like both Ian Hislop and Private Eye.

And that led me nicely on to “An Evening of Private Eye 2013″.

Much enjoyed. Well worth a watch.

January 4, 2015 at 5:48 pm | Watching | Tags: , , | No comment

LoNoWriMo (November day one)

It’s not NaNoWriMo, it’s LoNoWriMo!

It seems the differences are I’m not engaging with the NaNo community and that I’m working on something that needs a substantial edit and rewrite.

Word count from day one is 1073. Not a massive amount but it’s a start. And I don’t have a target in mind. Once the story is done, it’s done. And I’m taking 30 days to do it.

Day One Count : 1073

November 2, 2014 at 11:45 am | Writing | Tags: , | No comment

Never too early to get your advent calendar…

24th of October. Not too early at all.

I couldn’t help myself. It’s a classic Star Wars “Milk Chocolate Calendar” with “24 Festive Milk Chocolate Shapes”. And with a Death Star game on the back!

October 24, 2014 at 11:42 am | General | Tags: , , | No comment

Final Fantasy XIII-2 – Don’t judge me

I’m not playing this game. That’s not to say that I’ll never play the game in the future but right now, it’s not me playing this piece of… art. It’s the wife. We had a trawl though Game in Glasgow and came away with a few second hand games; Lord of the Rings: War in the North for me and Final Fantasy XIII-2 for Ruth.

I’ve had a go at War in the North and it’s not bad. It captures the Middle-Earth-iness well and, other than a bit of ropey voice casting, a few hours of gameplay is revealing a game that’s not bad. It’s not going to set the world alight but it’s certainly playable.

Then there’s Final Fantasy XIII-2. (I used to call it Final Fantasy Ex Three Two, for reasons that I can’t possibly explain other than I found it inexplicably entertaining to do so.)

It’s pretty. A very pretty game indeed.

I have no idea what’s going on. I’m watching it over Ruth’s shoulder and I’m finding it hysterical. Really, astonishingly funny. I’m sure it’s not meant to be.

I’ve just read all the preceding post to Ruth and the word she used was breathy. You know that kind of teenage almost angst? “Oh, my. What shall we do now? <sigh>” That make sense? And then there’s the music. Which is all breathy (there’s that word again) and self-important.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not slating the game. I’m actually kind of enjoying it. Sort of. From afar. And I can see why it appeals to a certain kind of teenage market. And, despite having loads of things in my life that are both more pressing and more important, I can really see myself having a go at this nonsense. And really enjoying it.

October 8, 2014 at 8:39 pm | Gaming | Tags: , , | No comment

Luther Arkwright: Ascendent!

After a pretty heavy week of job hunting, and letting job hunting get me down, I discover this and my mood lightens.

Arkwright Integral, a new collection of Bryan Talbot’s The Adventures of Luther Arkwright and Heart of Empire, is due for release at the end of October. AT THE END OF OCTOBER.

My copy of The Adventures of Luther Arkwright has seen better days and I’ve only ever read one issue of Heart of Empire but to get a new collected edition is now at the top of my list of future fun buying.

When I was first getting into comics it was 2000AD that was my particular poison. I also picked up larger print copies of Batman and The Punisher that did the rounds in the UK in the 80’s/90’s, but 2000AD was my passion. Although I’m sure I saw lots of Talbot’s work in that title, it was Nemesis the Warlock I remember the most when he took over art duties from Kevin O’Neill on The Gothic Empire story and subsequently The Vengeance of Thoth and Torquemurder.

(I really must re-read the three volume Nemesis the Warlock at some point. It’s just spectacular.)

I picked up Luther Arkwright on a whim, recognising Bryan Talbot’s name, and initially I was a bit overwhelmed. It’s quite dense. There’s so much on each page. Even now, I have to be in a particular frame of mind to read it. But it IS brilliant.

September 26, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Reading | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No comment

All the writing, all the time

Or, a bit of writing, last night.


This was my impromptu “home office” set up last night. After Doctor Who was watched, and very much enjoyed, I decided to dodge the usual late night time wasting of GTA5 and do some ACTUAL WRITING. Yeah, I know. What an incredible idea.

(The oversized keyboard in the picture belongs to Aurora. It’s meant to save her from battering the laptop keyboard. And the laptop is Ruth’s old one. Turns out the “u” key is a bit temperamental. So, I thought, I don’t mind using the bright green oversized keyboard. That lasted about five minutes before I settled on not minding about a single temperamental key.)

A few years back I successfully completed NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, with my sci-fi masterpiece The Planet Of Snakes. Don’t go there. There is honestly nothing Freudian about the title. Nothing at all.

I’ve tried editing it a couple of time over the years with no real success. Last night was another dig at it. What I ended doing was starting a rewrite. There are some good ideas in the original version but it’s too disjointed to make a decent story out of. That is, an edit isn’t enough. So, not with a heavy heart at all, I’m embarking on a longer novel than the first attempt taking part of the structure and dropping anything the clangs. And there’s a fair amount of that.

On the first attempt last night I battered through 500 words in about a half hour. And after reading it, it was binned. Awful. Terrible. I didn’t want to fall into the old trap of writing loads that was later unworkable. Neither did I want to edit as I went as that’s the death of productivity. (Once I wrote a chapter. Six months it took me. I was really pleased after countless revisions. Unfortunately, I ended up being sickened of the story and it still lies abandoned.)

So with 500 words written and abandoned I started again. But with the same approach I’ve taken with the few works I’ve actually finished. I one and half hours I wrote 382 words. But good words. I took my time, checking that what I was writing was actually worth being committed to the screen.

382 words. Not much. But 382 words more than I’ve written in a while.

September 21, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Gaming, Writing | Tags: , , , , | No comment

Doctor Who: Time Heist

I didn’t post about this last night because, you know, it’s not like the land will fall into the sea. Or if it will and I’m too late to avert it, then I’m sorry. I know, I know, it was a surprise to me too…

Last night we had the 5th adventure (5th? It can’t be. Not already. Hold on… Deep Breath, Into The Dalek, Robot of Sherwood, Listen… Time Heist. Wow, I can’t believe we’re that fast through the eighth series already.) and it was another good one.

I like the faster adventures that don’t just devolve to 30 mins of running around ending with the sudden, but not unexpected, use of the magic stick sonic screwdriver. Also, we’ve had an increase this season in the character development of Clara, which can only be a good thing. She was the Impossibly One-Dimensional Impossible Girl and now she seems like an actual Companion. We see the Doctor through her eyes, which is an important job of the Companion, possibly after looking pretty and screaming on cue.

Peter Capaldi continues to impress. I always thought highly of him before and I’m content that the Twelfth Doctor is in safe hands.

Oh, and no spoilers. Just in case you haven’t caught up with it yet.

September 21, 2014 at 11:21 am | Watching | Tags: , , , , , , , | No comment

Wreck it!

One of the countless benefits of having a child is being able to watch kids films without having to justify it any way, shape or form.

Although I’m not sure what my justification was before Aurora came along. Oh, yeah, I didn’t need to justify anything. That’s right. 😉

Wreck-it Ralph. Much better on a second viewing.

September 19, 2014 at 11:19 am | Watching | Tags: , | No comment

So much to paint and so little time

A friend of mine, Greg, handed in part of my birthday present this morning. My birthday was last month. 39. Moving on…

So, he’s a big fan of Mantic Games and invested, reasonably heavily, in their kickstarter project for Deadzone, a skirmish scale table-top game involving plastic/resin/metal toy soldiers. My particular poison is Warhammer 40K but I haven’t played in about a year. Too many unpainted models and so little inclination to get them finished. The title of the post isn’t quite accurate. Still, that’s all aside. Greg got me some Deadzone miniatures. I suspect he got them as part of a particular stretch goal that justified his spending more to get other things. That might not be the case, but I know Greg. 🙂 It’s a relatively safe assumption.

But let’s not shoot him down in flames. After all, I’ll happily accept his gift of more miniatures to paint and play with. Oh, yes. Thank you very much sir. 😀

So, this being a fresh blog, let’s start a to-do list.

  • Assembling and painting Deadzone miniatures: Forge Fathers and Enforcers.

A good start. I’ll count them up and get an idea of what I’m working with. Then stick a few blurry photos of my painting attempts up here.

September 19, 2014 at 9:34 am | Gaming | Tags: , , , , | No comment