My Gosh I’ve never seen such terribly obviously spam generated content :)

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House of Cards SE5 (and a recap)

Just finished the latest season of House of Cards, possibly the pinnacle of ‘anti-hero’ television. But unlike the Seminal Breaking Bad, which was sort of time-bomb of the main characters descent/ascent into dealing meth, House of Cards feels like a never ending rabbit-hole of poor ethics, deception, manipulation and above all ambition.

I mean at this point I’ve pretty much lost track or am simply overwhelmed by who is playing who, for what and how.


To catch up SPOILER ALERTS FOR ALL SEASONS I really enjoyed the first two seasons, which basically chronicled Frank’s response to being shafted by his own political allies and assent to President of the United States through murder, lies, manipulation, and just generally evil stuff. What I particularly liked about the 2 seasons, one is that the tension was well written and compelling, even though Frank Underwood is probably one of the most unrelatable protagonists out there its still a tense ride wondering if he is going to achieve his goals and watching him overcome the barriers to his goals.

Even if this show had ended with Frank becoming president, and that haunting image of him standing in the Oval Office starting at the camera I would have considered the show a success and been satisfied with the story.

That’s not to say that season 3 or the rest were bad. But simply that the tale changes considerably after season 2. SE3 sees Frank struggling to hold onto his presidency, and as it turns out his marriage. I confess for me the narrative floundered a little here, as a corrupt man trying to hold onto his position of power didn’t quite have the same oomph as without the underdog factor, or without a dramatic fall from grace it kinda just felt like Frank was generally a loser rather than the dangerous criminal mastermind of the prior seasons. The file of Claire leaving him was logically important, but lacked the emotional intensity I craved.

Season 4 was a great return to form, and ended with a appropriately powerful conclusion.

So how did season 5 go? AGAIN, SPOILERS FOOL

Well again things were a little odd here. The first half of the season was devoted to the presidential race which was played very well with Frank true to form basically pulling all the dodgiest moves to secure his position. The second half was where the rabbit hole started to deepen and reveal even more layers to the weirdness of this show.

Again the focus shifted from Frank’s political shenanigans and looked at Claire and Frank’s relationship. At this point the pair were president and vice-president and all the signs were pointing to Claire being the next president.

But I just want to take a moment to talk about narration. As any fan of the show knows, a hallmark of the narration is Frank himself speaking to the camera, this has always provided a often humorous glimpse into Frank’s mind although often throughout the show we are shown evidence of his monologues being just another layer of deception possibly even a self-deception of his. The first odd thing about this narration is Frank’s approach changes slightly in season 5, he even berates us the audience for enjoying watching his antics delivering some great lines about the end of reason.

But the second odd, thing, let me just take a breath, is Claire herself starting her own.

Yes Claire knows we’re there!

Typically when Frank monologues, like in a play he steps outside the rest of the characters reality, however other watchers may have noticed that when Frank addresses the audience at the end of season 4 Claire reacts like she can hear him too and it my memory serves she places a hand on his arm or holds his hand as if to support his speech. At first I thought Frank might be just speaking to us while ‘real life’ happened and it was just my imagination. But then I noted another moment during the season where Frank started to monologue and Claire again seemed to be able to hear him, and he awkwardly stopped.

Finally towards the zenith of the season Claire direction talks to the audience, telling us she isn’t sure how she feels about our scrutiny.

The feelings was mutual to say the least.

The season ends with Claire as president, not pardoning or taking Frank’s calls, and by all appearances allies that are just as manipulative if not moreso than the Underwoods.

Bastards have me hooked just waiting for the next one.

Overall the season was pretty good, the build-up towards the election was suitable tense and compelling, the shift in power between the Underwoods much as Claire’s reveal was perhaps a little more awkward and I have to say at times frustrating, as between all the lies and manipulations it gets a bit hard to really get invested because it takes a tonne of brain power just to keep up.

One thing I want to talk about is Doug Stamper, who is brilliantly played by Michael Kelly. I honestly thought his character was killed in season 2, but he returned from the dead with a severe head trauma. His character is strange to say the least, almost comically loyal to Frank, but with a tendency for debauchery he spends equal amounts of time trying to cover the Underwood’s crimes and his own. By the end of season 5 we see him on house arrest for taking the fall for Frank’s crimes (although also having a fair few of his own). The reason I find his character intriguing is it isn’t really explained where this extreme loyalty comes from, and every now and again he seems to show a bout of conscience which typically ends up expressed in a dysfunctional way. For example he starts a relationship with the widow of a man he basically allowed to die to save Frank (by manipulating the organ donor lists). He thinks that he is hiding this information from her, but its finally revealed that she knew all along and engages in the relationship as an expression of hate for Doug, who bizarrely seems genuinely shocked by this but also fails to see his own issues put him in that position.

By the end of the season it’s not entirely clear (to me at least) where Doug stands with the president, after having his loyalty questioned by Frank, and clearly being hurt by this, Doug is shown to leak information to the media, yet Frank claims he orchestrated this and despite possibly being put out by Frank’s words Doug still takes the fall for a murder (one of anyway) of Frank’s.

Anyway my mind boggles to see how much further House of Cards can go, its hard to imagine what will happen next, will Claire prove to be the Frank 2.0 that he could never be, or a force for good after all the crime, or will Frank wrestle power back from his wife, the underdog position being his forte?

Looking forward to finding out!




Fiction Friday: 8 Things Writers Forget When Writing Fight Scenes

On Fighting by Lisa Voisin

Lisa Voisin


Recently, I attended a session called “Writing About Fighting” at VCON, a science fict ion and fantasy conference. The panel consisted of writers and experts who were disciplined in multiple martial arts, including authors Lorna Suzuki and T.G. Shepherd, and Devon Boorman, the swordmaster of Academie Duello in Vancouver.

For me, this talk was so fascinating, it was worth the cost of admission alone. I spent days thinking about the topics discussed and tried to incorporate them into The Watcher Saga. These are just a few of them as I remember it.

Eight Things Writers Forget About Fight Scenes:

1. It’s not about the technical details

First of all, if you’re not technical and don’t know the details of fighting, you shouldn’t try to write about them. Some writers try to to include technical details of fighting, which only calls out their lack of expertise. If you don’t know what…

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Review of Jessica Jones SE1

I’m just googling when this season came out and am rather alarmed to see that Jessica Jones appeared on TV in 2015.

Better late than never I figure.



Jessica Jones is my first foray into the Marvel ‘street level’ stuff and overall I enjoyed it. Bloodier and edgier than the Disney movies the serial format allows for much less heroic themes to be explored and far more dynamic character interactions.

Although there were a few things which bugged me about the season:


The conflict between Jessica and Kilgrave just didn’t seem enough to sustain the season. While it made some sense that Jessica wanted to capture Kilgrave alive to save Hope from life in prison, it just became a frustration when there were numerous opportunities to kill Kilgrave, so much so it was almost an upturn when Hope glassed her own neck to allow Jessica to kill him. I totally got behind the fact that Jessica didn’t want to straight out murder someone, but time and time again more people got killed or caught in the crossfire of Jessica’s attempts to free Hope which begged the question: is Hope worth more than all the other innocent victims?

No to mention that Jessica essentially just became immune to Kilgrave at a plot point when it made more drama to do so, sure it lead to a half satisfying conclusion but it still felt hollow because she just did something that if she had done earlier less people would have been killed/maimed/psychologically disturbed. It probably would have been more interesting to see if the ‘can Jessica manipulate Kilgrave into doing good’ idea was stretched out longer.

I think overall I wanted to see more ‘monster of the week.’ episodes, if memory serves there really only were a couple of stand-alone storylines and normally I love long running plots, but in this case I wanted to see more of Jessica developed more generally.


Overall not unhappy to have watched, but hoping Daredevil and Luke Cage are a bit better (not even going to bother with Iron Fist after being torn apart by the internet and my bro who said it blew too)

Crossing the Equator 7: What Is Bad Writing?

Michael Church’s thoughts on bad writing (longish read)

Michael O. Church

Bad writing. I bring the topic up not to mock bad writing, because it’s rarely worth the time, and also because most of the sins of bad writing have also been committed by good writers, either when they were inexperienced or in quick first drafts. It’s useful to explore the topic, though. What is bad writing, and why does it exist, and why do so many people produce it? Even most intelligent people write more bad prose than good. Where does this come from?

Not (Necessarily) Bad Writing

Some tastes are arbitrary. Let’s take so-called “swear” words. Shit was once an unobjectionable term for feces; fuck, for copulation, and cunt, for the vulva. These words became objectionable because of the social classes and ethnicities of those who used them, centuries ago. Bloody is mildly profane in the UK, but laughable in the US. One of the worst German…

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The Pros and Cons of different writing schedules

Today I’d like to talk about writing schedules

Now, I’m a firm believer that not only is everyone different, but the ebb and flow of our lives changes over time too, so whatever schedule is going to work for you is going to be different than what works for me, and that’s too will be different over time. Nonetheless I think it’s worth going over some of my thoughts and experience of different schedules as I can safely say over the last 8-9 years I’ve tried them all with varying success.


First up! First thing in the morning St Clair (poke)

I’ve been having good success with this strategy this week (here’s hoping I can keep this up). My take on it is you really want to write first thing perhaps only allowing a cup of Oj or coffee.


  • You can get writing done before other needs of the day take over (especially if you have a family and/or busy life)
  • The rest of the day is not spend procrastinating or feeling guilty


  • One really has to talk themselves into just sitting down to write. I was on the verge of turning my router off or putting the computer onto aeroplane mode the night before
  • You really need to have steady sleep patterns and get early nights, otherwise you’ll be too blurry
  • There simply isn’t always time to spare in modern life. I jump up around 6am to have time to get ~500 words done

Next up:

Last thing at night

Lawyers Head (poke)

I think this is a pretty common writing time for people. Whether because its the first quiet opportunity of the day, or whether procrastination has had its wicked way. This used to be my common time pre-child, but not only has he recently settled into a good sleep routine that allows his Dad to stay up independently, I tend to find the tasks of the day take their toll and my mental energy levels are trash. Nonetheless:


  • There is a sort of sense of having plenty of time to get writing done, after all you can just write further into the night if you’re inspired
  • I’ve mentioned procrastination a few times but sometimes its good to have a day of getting psyched up to write
  • It’s usually a pretty quiet time to get writing sorted


  • Easy to get tired at the end of the day and just Netflix and Sloth
  • If you have a life you’ll often find your writing time interrupted by other activities


The ‘whenever I get a spare moment’

This is something that I could only really maintain when I was younger (both as a person and a writer) and honestly just thought I needed to get my novel written so I could get it published and never work again. Suffice to say it takes a lot of motivation to pick up your project where-ever and whenever you have a spare moment.


  • You get a lot of words down at a fast rate
  • Momentum is preserved


  • Hard to maintain
  • Sometimes quality suffers


Any other regular scheduled writing time:

All pros, no cons.


Just kidding. Scheduling a regular writing time is a great approach, my main problem with that was always getting life not to schedule things at the same time!

I’m sure there are many other ways to schedule writing. One that I have yet to organize myself to do is regular cafe sitting. I probably can’t afford the amount of treats I’d by myself but strategies like that have a lot of advantages because trying to write at home can be very distracting with all the other potential bits and pieces that need to get done.

I think I also have to compose a separate post about what sort of goals/benchmarks are best to use because I have also over the years used many yardsticks (i.e. wordcount versus timed writing sessions)

What sort of schedules you do use?

Also how do you balance different projects? (i.e. for me the better I schedule my writing, the less I end up blogging etc!)



Interview with Jasmine Cui

Interview with Jasmine Cui: Brilliant ( but what an over achiever 🙂

A Young Writer’s Guide to Publishing

jasmine cuiJasmine Cui is 18 years old and is majoring in Political Science, Economics, and Violin Performance at SUNY Geneseo. She aspires to be like her parents who are first-generation Americans that fought an extraordinary battle for their place in this country. Jasmine found the courage to pursue writing when she was 17. She is the co-editor in chief of The Ellis Review, a weekly online poetry publication for emerging writers. She is not a mentee, not a Foyle Young Poet, not a Presidential Scholar (and this is not to say you can’t be those things), but she is still every bit a writer.

Q: What writing have you gotten published? How did you accomplish this: a collection of your own, magazines, or something else? What was the process like?

A: For the most part, I have stuck to publishing single poems. The process has been a difficult one…

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Review: Wonder Woman


AKA: the actually good DCMU movie (sorry got truth lassoed)

Reviewing Wonder Woman is actually a little odd. Its one of the few movies I entered with accurate expectations, which were the movie reviews well but my friends are saying its ‘okay’ which lead to a general assumption that it would be fun, cool and action packed but perhaps lack a little depth. Personally that is how I found the movie.

Just to clarify the good bits of this film were really good the action was phenomenal and well supported by the soundtrack. The visuals were completely on point and much of the time I just really just sat back and enjoyed the amazing set pieces.

The movie was funny too, with a good range of humour ranging between sarcasm, quips and a few slapstick moments (i.e. what happens when an Amazon Princess tries on uptight turn of the century clothes.)


So why am I saying there was an element of ‘Okayness’ to Wonder Woman? Well to put it bluntly the plot felt pretty flat. To be fair overall it was a fun movie and it’s hardly the only action movie in the world with an average storyline, I guess the reason the plotting stood out is that it was so close to being something a bit more powerful!


The crux of Wonder Woman was a tension between Diana’s belief that if she found and killed Ares God of War mankind would be uncorrupted and return to goodness, and the reality that mankind doesn’t need a God of War corrupting them to wage it. This was largely shown in dialogue between Steve (the above average male) and Diana as they went about a mission together to stop a German chemical attack.

This was a great tension in my opinion, whether or not Ares existed was hidden from the audience and the question of how Diana’s naive beliefs about The Great War would play out was a compelling one.

My issue is that the ultimate question ultimately fizzled. The tension between the two world views mostly just made the characters feel bad rather than impacting the plot in any meaningful way.  For example after Diana kills who she thinks is Ares, she discovers her mistake and realizes the world isn’t a better place. Somewhat stunned she stands around watching Steve’s squad do the hard work against the Germans. The problem with the tension here is that Diana had already decided not to help them (i.e. it would have been more shocking if she was helping and decided to suddenly stop) the squad did an amazing job on their own, and finally Ares literally showed up moments latter turning Diana’s quandary into a moot point.

The final battle while visually appealing was intended to be a battle of belief between two Gods – are humans worth saving or should they perish for their evils? While the movie did a great attempt to set this up with Diana’s naivety and struggle to accept mankind’s dark side one never even got an inkling that she might ever side with Ares and not save everyone. It might have been more powerful if it had been setup so her choices were not so obvious or had more of a reason to doubt mankind (beyond colonization which granted was terrible but Diana did not witness it directly).

Also it irked me somewhat that a major theme of the film was that human beings are capable of good and evil and should not be considered one or the other but judged for their beliefs and efforts. Yet German’s were almost 100% still portrayed as ‘bad guys’ who were appropriate for Diana to slaughter to advance the Allies missions etc. I will give directer Patty Jenkins props for having what few German soldiers survived the final scene for showing solidarity and humanity by getting a manly hug from ‘Chief.’

Not to mention there were just so many cliche’s littered throughout the story – the older mentor sacrificing herself to save the hero and delivering an ambiguous death speech, the heroes being refused by those in charge to go on their mission, so putting together a rag-tag group of misfits with various emotional backstories to carry the plot, and finally the bad guy being someone YOU NEVER SUSPECTED, because there was zero reason to or any sort of satisfaction in the reveal as again it was a plot point that made little to no difference to the story, Diana was going to kick Ares ass whoever he was.

I guess to summarize I loved the juxtaposed theme of multiple truths a lot. The tension between the ideals of humanity being corrupted by an evil being that needed to be killed, and humanity actually being ambiguous in morality without help was worth exploring. I just felt like the payoff was weakened somewhat by the inevitability of the action. Both Steve and Diana were heroes through and through and both of them had their beliefs vindicated and synthesized with little more than a stuttery weird conversation.

Not wanting to be too arrogant but if I were to take a r/fixingmovies approach I would have liked to see Diana take more of a stance, perhaps refusing to fight against the Germans, believing them to be corrupted, forcing Steve to manipulate her to help the mission (which he sort of does initially but kinda low-key) the point being this would create more of a question of what will Diana do next if she discovered Steve manipulated her it might have made a more believable conflict where Diana would have questioned saving mankind.

All in all Wonder Woman was indeed wonderful. It’s actually kind of exciting to see DC pull its socks up, while I like the niche they have been filling of movies everyone loves to hate its nice to have more good options out there. Although I will say with Whedon taking over Justice League, and Wonder Woman feeling a little ‘Marvelized’ I’m worried DC movies will just become Marvel movies with different characters.

Thanks for reading, what did you think of Wonder Woman?


Pros and Cons of Fake Internet Points (a.ka. Social Media)

It was with some self-reproach I recently thought about my online activity and actually listed the sites that I am currently active on:

  • WordPress (obviously)
  • Reddit (probably the worst time sink)
  • Facebook
  • Goodreads
  • Amazon
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

In my defense, Facebook and Twitter largely act as synced sources of other activities, IMGUR and Pinterest are largely mindless surfing were things of interest are saved and shared, and Amazon, Goodreads and WordPress are where my reviews and blogs posts are held (really I only keep posting to Amazon because I know it helps authors and thats were the most snarky and combative [i.e. the most fun] comments happen).

Reddit I probably can’t justify as well, while I do spend most of my time in writing related posts, the website acts as a sort of online black whole that one look up (or slightly across and in the corner) and realizes two hours have passed.

Social media [presence] is generally touted as something aspiring and current authors ‘must have’ but if one isn’t careful one simply wastes time and effort better spent actually writing. So without further ado, please see below my thoughts on social media which I hope will either help streamline your own activity or at the every least procure a laugh or two (please click like and subscribe blah blah blah VOMIT)

The Pros:

  • It can be good practice ‘reading a room’ so to speak, being able to interact appropriately and positively online – after all you do use the written word to get results you want
  • Social media can provide a good platform to ‘market’ your work (more on this below)
  • Connecting with other like-minded folk online can provide learning you might not have found elsewhere, helpful relationships and generally provide a good incentive to keep going

Just a wee tangent on this controversial subject. I want to repeat that in almost all cases its still more productive to actually write, rather than develop your online ‘presence’ however have some connections can be helpful. Foremost is that agents and publishers may be looking for a writer to work with you has some self-marketing potential. Secondly you might actually be able to market your work through your networks.

I just want to add a big fat caution in here that this isn’t about becoming some sort of snake oil blog merchant, nor do I actually think that online marketing is actually that effective at straight out sale (willing to debate the issue). What are you wanting to do is having a potential ‘infrastructure’ (for want of a better word) where you might find people to say review your work, or share it on their networks where overall you might start making sales.

My point is if there is nothing to sell, or people are wondering whether its better to push the social media thing or work harder on quality work its definitely the latter.

The cons:

  • As alluded to already, social media can become a massive black hole of wasted time
  • Along with time wasting getting addicted to fake internet points is a real thing, and worrying about social media can also waste a writer’s brain space (i.e. no-one lost a writing contract because Big_Bunny121 unfollowed them)
  • Being tight for time and effort can also make social media work against you, I have latent paranoia that my older and more snarky reviews will come back to haunt me one day, and in a similar vein poorly managed, offensive or desperate social media activities may turn people off

I’m sure there is sooo much greater depth to hit this topic, but as per my own advice I’m going to how off. Also I have a very very cute recently two year old who literally just fell asleep on my lap so I better work a magic ‘sleeping nappy change’ before beddybise.

Chuck me your thoughts about social media below – I still have tonnes to learn