Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Favourite posts from the last quarter of 2012

Some highlights from the closing months of my blog here...

Pick of the Archives:
Favourite Posts, October-December 2012

1)  Why China will never be a great power - 6th October 2012
Quite a bit of overlap with this earlier post; but these points need to be made repeatedly.

Looking back to who would have been the very earliest erotic influence in my life, I can't be sure whether it was Alexandra Bastedo in The Champions or Deanna Lund in Land of the Giants. Yes, that dates me!

3)  Ditching the magic - 16th October 2012
My views on fantasy literature; and an outline of an idea of my own for a sequence of fantasy novels. [This  post prompted in response a meditation of the role of the 'unreal' in fiction from my perpetual disputant JES.]

4)  Oneiric - 27th October 2012
A selection of great films that have a notably dreamlike quality.

5)  Horrific - 31st October 2012
I mark Halloween with a collection of thumnbail outlines for horror stories that I've come up with over the years.

6)  An idea 'stolen' - 3rd November 2012
I was shocked - and discouraged - to discover that one of the best short stories I wrote during my childhood had already been made into a short film. It was some consolation to me that it was an extremely good short film.

7)  T'ai chi forms for the new century - 10th November 2012
My frivolous suggestions for some new movements that might be incorporated into the traditional Chinese exercise system.

8)  What's in a name? - 16th November 2012
I discover some especially striking Chinese hotel names.

A celebration of my favourite singer and inspiring role model.

10)  Film Quiz: Tough Guy Quotes - 24th November 2012
Another little trivia challenge for the farewell entry in my Film List series (answers provided in the comments).

11)  Travel notes - 26th November 2012
An anthology of humorous SMS observations from my trip to Guizhou earlier that month.

12)  A Chinese shopping slogan - 30th November 2012
Some classic Chinglish photographed on a recent holiday reminds me of another instance of somewhat inept advertising I encountered in my early years here.

13)  My ideas for (non-fiction) China books - 1st December 2012
I'm unlikely to get around to writing any of these myself. I hope someone else will, because they're really very good ideas.

14)  More discarded story ideas:
There was a bit of rush to clear out the 'writing ideas' drawer, as The End of the Blogs approached...

The Writing On The Wall - my concept for a (mildly autobiographical!) China-based thriller
Killing Hitler (and Churchill) - two long short stories exploring time travel and alternate histories
The Tyrant's Feast - a play about a South American dictator and his nemesis
Bloke - a six-part sitcom about the staff of a British 'lad mag'
The Catalyst - a screenplay about a mysterious stranger who triggers magical, liberating transformations in the lives of those he comes into contact with (for which I envisaged a particularly quirky opening gag)
Oxford Blues - another screenplay from my student days (but not the title I actually had in mind for it!); a fantasy of escape from the drudgery of study that was rather too revealing of my own unhappiness at the time
The Lie Injector - a sci-fi short story about the inventor of an i-Pod-like device that can implant memories
The Tempter - a sci-fi novella about an unusual HR specialism in advanced economies
The Prison - my latest idea for a novel, again somewhat of a sci-fi scenario: a prison where none of the inmates can remember what they are being punished for, and where nobody dreams

15)  Hotels with Chinese characteristics - 5th December 2012
More observations from my recent travels (with a supplementary illustration here).

16)  Nature's brilliance - 6th December 2012
A note on the remarkable work of Franziska Schenk, a German artist who I'd met over the summer, and who works with newly developed nano-pigments that can replicate the dazzling iridescence found in wild creatures such as parrots and beetles and butterflies.

17)  Beijing is broken - 7th December 2012
Its subway system, at any rate, has degenerated into a laughable state of disrepair, chronically dysfunctional.

18)  Is blogging dead?  -  7th December 2012
No, but I fear it is on its last legs; as is the whole of the Internet as we have known it - being strangled by the 'Internet Lite' of the Mobile Device Revolution. Sad times, indeed.

19)  Fantasy Girlfriend leftovers - 8th December 2012
A bumper rundown of all the lovely ladies who I didn't get around to including in this series.

20)  The road - 9th December 2012
My first poem on here in well over a year - and one of my bleaker ones.

21)  Beijing, a city out of hope - 13th December 2012
One of the most profoundly dispiriting work experiences of my last year or so in China.

22)  An ultimate China nightmare - 13th December 2012
An alarming true story of how a Chinese bank attempted TO STEAL ALL OF MY MONEY... and a warning to any expats in China to be on their guard against the same danger.

23)  Telling stories - 14th December 2012
Two of my favourite bits of the great singer-songwriter Michelle Shocked: a cover of her song The Ballad of Patch-Eye and Meg, and a link to a performance of her own of Wanted Man - including a wonderful introductory anecdote about the song's inspiration.

Peter Cook and Dudley Moore sowed the seed of potential infatuation in my mind when I was a kid; and it just growed and growed.

25)  And any other reason why (not) - 17th December 2012
A final summation of the reasons Why I don't learn Chinese.

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