Friday, 28 October 2011


There’s few things in this world that make me bounce up and down in my seat and squeal like a deflating balloon without the prior intake of sugar or alcohol. One of the very few exceptions to this rule is discovering the release of the third instalment of a series of books that are so awesome that you can spend the best part of a weekend hammering through them and feel as though you’ve been all the way to Narnia and back. And ORCS: Bad Blood is similar to Narnia in many ways, except grittier, much more fighty, challenging stereotypes rather than building on them, and…ok, belay that comparison, but you get the idea.

I purchased the first omnibus back in 2008 (because that’s what you do on a school trip to France), and I can honestly say: MIND=BLOWN. Stan Nicholls has done the simplest thing an author could do, and made a fairly typical fantasy epic about a band of heroes on a quest to find these magical items just that little bit more amazing. Making orcs the protagonists.


This move would be considered a risky one by many, because let’s face it, how do you write a story that puts orcs in a positive light? In the traditions of Tolkien and the Warhammer universe, orcs are big, brutish, and the only thing that drives them is the prospect of the next fight. Making them into protagonists will obviously have an effect on the ‘orcishness’ of the main characters, in this case an outfit of renegade soldiers who are the fantasy equivalent of the SAS known as The Wolverines. However, Nicholls is able to maintain a distinct feeling of savagery about these guys, by making them the best bloody warriors humanely possible. Think Spartans multiplied by Vikings with a hint of Sean Bean. As well as keeping them brutal warriors, Nicholls presents the orcs as proud warriors with a strict martial code and strong feelings of comradeship. In short, utterly bad-ass.

Anywho, the third part of the second series comes out in December, just after Christmas. Methinks I might leave the reading of it until after New Years Day, since I’d rather like to remember what happens. And essentially from now until then, I will proceed to shake with excitement and spontaneously utter random squeals of delight. Because I’m just that damn dedicated.

Here’s looking with great expectation to the concluding volume of this outstanding, unique series.

*Oh, and here's an image of the front cover. Bow before it's glory...BOW BEFORE IT'S GLORY!*

Regards, Laurence

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Squirrely Goodness (VIDEO HEAVY)

Anyone who spends as much time on the internet as I do will undoubtedly be aware of the web-show Neurotically Yours, also known as Foamy the Squirrel. It’s been around for a while now, and follows the daily happenings of Foamy and his fellow squirrels Pilz-E (a bespectacled young lad of Jewish descent who is severely overmedicated), The Hatta (An Afro-American squirrel who sees racism in everything), Begley (an English punk squirrel with a purple Mohawk and an interest in internet porn sites), and finally Germaine, a young punk/goth woman who is struggling to found an artistic career without the need to show her jiggly butt to the masses. It is the latter reason that I find this show so great, because it offers an insight into the alternative lifestyle of these people as well as providing detailed and a thought-provoking analysis of the subculture as it more or less stands today.
The show itself is absolutely outstanding. The gritty style of animation is a good reflection of the struggles the characters go through, as well as being an appropriate means of showing the stupidity of their surroundings. Foamy offers a hilarious view on life, with frequent rants of things that piss him off (i.e. essentially everything in existence except for bagels and cream cheese) are particularly awesome. It is also goes into some quite delicate and yet thought provoking areas, covering topics from politics and media to personal beliefs and lifestyles. The array of characters help to deliver the storylines, often with quite amazing hilarity and helping to push the story further in effect of sheer randomness. Now, you may be thinking this is a bit much for a webshow. And yes, the episodes are generally 2-3 minutes in length. But nevertheless recurring themes are seen throughout the episodes, most recently Germaine’s journey of self-discovery as she attempts to correct her life from overweight prostitute to enlightened individual.

Here’s a list of my favourite episodes of the series, for funsies and for those who’ve not seen it yet. So go take a look, I’ll wait…

…Done? Good.

Well recently there’s been a massive update of squirrelly awesomeness. The creator, John Ian Mathers, has introduced a massive reboot to the series, with a brand new style of animation and a regression back to the early days of the series, before any real plot was assumed or thought out. Germaine, having become utterly sick of her life and haunted by her past, is given a mysterious reboot button by Foamy in an effort to cure her constant bitching. She goes from former prostitute, sick of the world, back to her teenage self, back to her scribbling and Foamy’s threats of maiming in pursuit of peace.

My thoughts…Well, I’ve been into Foamy for the best part of two years now and as a result I’ve become fairly accustomed to the style. Personally I thought the former gritty style was more befitting to the general nature and purpose of the cartoon. Having the graphics style remade to a more…anime style, for want of a better description, is one that’ll take some getting used to. It does however look much more cleaner than the previous form, so Mather’s art form has definitely improved. More than anything it’s a nice change to see Germaine return to something resembling her early goth form (although there’s nothing untoward about blue hair on any female). In any case the new storyline and the combination of the characters from Mather’s other webtoons in the series will no doubt provide the same hilarity that we have come to expect from this show, and I look forward to see how the characters react to their new surroundings.

Foamy be with you.

The Beard.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

The last few days

Ok, anyone who lives in the UK, and has been taking notice of the news lately, will surely be aware of the riots that have been going on in London of late. But now it’s no longer in London. Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham have also been affected, with scores of thugs and looters coming out to riot like it’s the 1980’s. The low-down is that a chap was shot in a drugs bust, and there was a peaceful protest by members of his family against the shooting. That kicked off, and now present-day London greatly resembles that of the 1940’s. In other words, shit has gone down, hitting the fan, and getting royally fucked in the process. What started as a spat between police and a handful of protestors has turned into an excuse for every anarchist to get together and fuck shit up like there’s no tomorrow. But when I say anarchist, I don’t mean someone defying government to support a common cause. Well, in a way I do, since every ‘oppressed’ teen has taken the shooting of a drugs-dealer as an excuse to rampage through most major cities in Britain and take whatever the damn well want. And these people have been saying repeatedly ‘The police don’t respect us’, ‘They don’t like us because we’re poor’, ‘We wnt 2 b treeted gd, u no?, (Yes, actually talking in text-speak here). Well guys, you’re doing the right thing towards getting that respect. No seriously, well done.

And what do the media blame for this? Do they blame the government spending cuts? Do they blame the lack of a decent system that encourages these people to get off the job-seekers and actually make something for themselves? Do they blame three decades of pussy-footed policing and no intention to tell these people ‘You can’t do these things, you WILL go to jail’? No. No, the media has decided that, in keeping with the tradition of using video games as a scapegoat to blame adolescent violence on, that the games industry is the villain in this. Apparently the Grand Theft Auto series is responsible for the amount of violence going on up and down our country. How the deuce can you come to that conclusion? Do they think that all the rioters were playing away on their Xboxes the previous night and all thought ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be great if this was in real life? Let’s all go out and cause a riot just like in the game, because there’s nothing else that could prompt such an outburst’.
The offending article is here:. Reading through it you can really get an idea of how the media is simply clutching at straws here. The notion that video games corrupt minds is one that has been used so many times in the past, and frankly guys, it’s getting old. Either make a valid argument, with evidence to back it up, or GTFO n00b.

Regards, The Beard.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Life Updates

Hey you guuuuuuuuuys =D

Well lots of shit has been going down lately. I got fired from my supermarket job, BUT managed to get a job in a clothes shop in the same town. It’s less hours, but I’ve been guaranteed overtime in the next few weeks. Also I managed to finish my Black Library novel submission: Three chapters, a synopsis and a chapter-by-chapter walkthrough of the entire novel. Writing it was a bitch, I won’t lie. I suffered really bad writer’s block halfway into the project, and given the nature of the novel I had to do a lot more research than on many of my other stories to date. But most importantly, it gave me an insight into the life of a fulltime writer. It was hard, frustrating, I was unmotivated, dealing with a lot of shit whilst trying to come up with the energy to write. And I loved every minute of it. No seriously, it was a realisation that this is how true writers live, how they work. And the satisfaction of seeing my work finished. Of proof-reading, making the final preparations and then clicking ‘send’. Even if I don’t succeed this time, I know what I can do, where I need to improve, and the importance of a regular supply of tea, coke and sugar at all times.

In other news I also passed my first year at Uni. I didn’t do so well with the English side, but Creative Writing went so much better. The feedback I received was honest and fair, and now I feel more prepped for next year. Now I need to find the monies for the books…shit :c.

Anyway now that that’s done I’ll finally be able to divert some attention to this place. Expect articles, rants and shizzle in due course.

Cheers, Laurence

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Farewell and Adieu...NOT!

I thought I’d make a post, since not only has it been a disgraceful amount of time since I actually made one, but I actually got asked to do one by a certain Kitty (and the last time I pissed off a cat…let’s just say, I nearly got mistaken for marmite at the hospital…yeah).

But anyway I thought now would be a good time to pay my respects to the Harry Potter franchise. Yes, that hyperactive little emo Harry Potter is hanging up his wand for the last time as the conclusion to the film series hits our screens in the next few days. And it’s a good opportunity to reflect back on the last few years to see how this franchise has become one of the most successful movie franchises of all time (Take that Star Wars!)

I have to admit, the films have never really done it for me. The innacuracies have been a major put-off, and let’s face it, they range from the simple oversight to simply ignoring the book in some cases. And the final book was also a bit of a let-down, since Rowling seemed to go on a bit of a killing spree and took out half of the cast during the story. They also became darker in tone as they progressed, and I don’t know whether Rowling was doing this to keep up with the age of her original readers (In which case, nice move), or if they simply stopped becoming children’s books and became more targeted at adults, which goes against their original intention (Which for me says ‘selling out’). And then there’s the fangirls. I’ll be blunt, I’m wary of most fan fiction relating to this franchise, especially since brining myself to read the infamous ‘My Immortal’ (well, I started, but had to stop after my eyes sort of imploded and I began to eat my own face). There are plenty of good ones however, and it’s impressive to see the amounts of dedication and creativity that go into these stories. So well done to those fans, and the rest of you…well, you know where to go.

So you’re probably thinking I’m very anti-Potter by this point (assuming you’ve made it this far). Well in truth I am and I’m not. As I got older I started to become weary of the books, and recently have noticed several plot-holes and other nit-picks which kill the illusion of the original stories. But looking back, I realise how much of an impact the books had on me growing up. I almost certainly wouldn’t be a writer if not for them. Rowling’s books taught me that fantasy didn’t always have to be about men in armour fighting with unrealistically huge swords. That it could be far more subtle, realistic even, and didn’t have to take place in ‘ancient’ times. It taught me how to create a range of characters with different backstories, and how to bring them together for an exciting read. Most of all, it taught me how to create a world. I know for a fact that I wasn’t the only one to grow up waiting for my Hogwarts letter. The world of Harry Potter was one of danger, adventure, friendship, heroism, it was to all intents of purposes, magical. I praise J.K. Rowling for being able to create such a world, with such a variety of great characters and a truly timeless story. Not only that, but also being able to create one of the best known series of books of all time. Anyone who writes has tried, but Rowling managed to do it, and for that I salute her.
To have the final film released is in many ways a shame, but at the same time a huge tribute to Rowling and her works.

Right, nerdgasm over. Time for bed.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

On The Subject of Prejudice

I’ve noticed a lot of posts from the blogs I watch regarding abuse and bullying suffered as a result of being an individual. After reading these posts, I can only offer my deepest sympathies to those who’ve suffered and continue to suffer for being yourselves. But listen guys, you’ve come through more than most people should and indeed can suffer. And yet you’re standing proud, still holding onto your beliefs and ideologies, and have got amazing and successful lives ahead of you. Those who’ve shown themselves to be close-minded cowards will remain so forever, and lead lives dictated to them by society. Boring, mundane, and ultimately joyless. My hat goes off to those who have decided ‘No, I don’t want to do things the way ‘normal’ people do. Now fuck off and let me live the life I want to plzkthxbai’.

Reading these posts I also feel mightily humbled, and likewise relieved that the most I’ve ever got for my style have been pleadings from my family (I will continue to wear a hoodie and trilby together until I decide otherwise dammit!), and being compared to The Batman by some charming shitfaced gentleman when making my way home in Lancaster one night (comparing me to a billionaire crime fighting super-dude with a butler and a car with more firepower than the average battle tank is SUCH an insult…B[).

In any case, here’s my way of paying tribute to everyone and anyone who’s suffered as a result of the way they choose to dress, their tastes in music, or just for being different. Dedicated to Amy, Kitty, Vicky, and anyone else who’s ever suffered for being part of a subculture such as ours:

It was night when they came
Where from, we could not say
Nor could we say why
But they were there, and so where we

First came the words, the harsh volleys of hate
The names
The jeers
We ignored them

Then came the stones
The bottles
The bricks
We moved on, away
But they followed
Soon the fists were flying
The blades were dancing
And the blood was pouring
They said it was to teach us a lesson
A punishment for being us

Why can’t we as a society move on from our insecurities and embrace those who are different as people, rather than cast them asunder like scum?

Regards, Laurence

Friday, 20 May 2011

Getting One's Steam On

Sorry for the lack of updates people, been so busy lately with course deadlines, job interviews and moving my gear from one end of the country to another. Seriously, it's been a bugger. All paid off however, since I'm not back home for the summer with a job, coming with a guarantee of overtime and my holidays booked off. So whilst I'm doing that I'm using this time to gather together the parts for a steampunk military outfit I intend to wear to Whitby this coming August. It will be awesome, to put it bluntly.

I have in mind something military. I've always been fascinated with Victorian military outfits, as well as the obsession with sticking a peaked cap on anything. So I'll be dressed as an officer of the Imperial Steam Corps circa 1872, during the height of the Undead Wars (will write more about this later to cure the mindfuck).

Elements of the costume will consist of:

A British engine driver's greasetop leather cap, for that peaked cap look as well as putting a bit more emphasis on the 'steam aspect'

A military gothic jacket from Criminal Damage (might also invest in a Sam Browne sword belt)

Will also require some trousers such as these to complete the military look.

I will also require the obligatory set of goggles that one hears so much about these days. Now, a lot of places sell goggles for rather cheap prices, but personally I'd rather like to make my own. So, to the internet to find a decent tutorial that won't potentially bankrupt me. Huzzah.

In other news writing has been going splendidly so far. I've been writing a lot more emotional pieces lately, mainly writing down things I want to say to people to their face but am unable to. I've also been writing up a novel for the Black Library, alpha-nerd that I am. I basically have to have three chapters completed by the end of the next month before emailing them and then waiting for about 8 weeks for a response. Will be fun to do, and the sooner I get published the better. I just want to get my career underway as soon as possible.

Oh, and it's my birthday tomorrow. I shall be leaving my teenage years behind, and moving onwards towards full adulthood. I won't lie, I've many regrets. My life as a teenager was depressingly unfulfilling, with so many chances missed and experiences untried. In many ways though I'm glad to put those behind me, and now can use the fact that I am entering my twenties as drive to make up for it. Making every day count as much as I can. Life starts at 20, so bring it the fuck on.

Regards, Laurence