Clay Head @ A Fly in Amber

MJG Books, Stories, Surreal 4 Comments

My story Clay Head published at A Fly in Amber!

There’s a giant head in my living room. It’s made of grey clay, and it sings through the night.

It sings songs about America. Sometimes boogie-woogie or the Big Bopper. It sings Buddy Holly. It sings about the plane that crashed and sometimes the song about the crash. It sings about whiskey and rye.

I don’t know why the head sings. I don’t know why the head is in my room, or why I let it stay.

Read the full story at A Fly in Amber.

Axis and Allies

MJG Uncategorized 2 Comments

Yesterday I had Canadian Mike and Alex round and we finally got down to some serious Axis and Allies gaming. Mike had his parents bring the game over with them when they came for his wedding last month. We wanted to play last week but ended up just playing Halo and Rock Band at my place.

Well, yesterday we got stuck in. I was Germany, Mike was Japan- the Axis, and Alex played all the Allies, the UK, US, and Russia.

What an interesting game. From the start I was fascinated by the very static set-up. Compare this to another of the MB gamesmaster games- Shogun, which I know well- and the fixed set-up seems like a big mistake. Even compared to games like Risk, where every set-up is randomized, ensuring every game goes a different way.

In A&A though I think it would work. We only played one game, and for only a few rounds as it takes a long time to get through one round, but I think the fixed set-up would work, because the game is long, complex, cumulative, and there’s a lot of choices to make and a lot of interplay between what your allies do and how that effects your enemy.

As Germany I was fighting in the European theater, mostly land-based with tanks, on the Eastern front against Russia, with the Uk slowly building up its sea and air power to the West. Mike was fighting in the Pacific with Russia, but finding it necessary to retreat from the US build-up on the West coast.

The connection comes as his battles and successes against the Allies over there impacts how much the allies have to spend on troops on my fronts in the next round. If he kills a lot of Allies, they’ll have less money, and they’ll have to split it at least 2 ways.

Then throw in America. The game seems like a very faithful replication of the broad strokes of the war. The UK is very hard to kill, with lots of sea battles and bombing raids going on. Russia and Germany are engaged in a drawn-out combat that distracts Germany from extinguishing the UK. The Japanese can destroy Pearl Harbor early on. American joins the fight late.

As we played I found myself thinking- ‘It makes perfect sense the Americans joined late. It makes sense the war with Russia is what allowed the Allies to have victory in the West. It’s a fascinating replication of an interlaced world in microcosm, of seeing how all things were connected. I’m looking forward to playing next time. I want to be Germany again and see if I can’t crush Russia a little faster.

Doomsday – 0.5/5

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What a load of garbage.

Doomsday is an adolescent male’s mash-up fantasy of a bunch of other post-apocalypse SF-type
movies, executed abysmally, with some of the worst writing I’ve seen.  Take large chunks of 28 weeks later and Escape from New York, mix liberally with dashes of Mad Max, Resident Evil, and Lara Croft, throw in a little Alien- set the whole thing in some 80’s vision of the future (2023) with both cannibal hedonist street punks AND medieval knights living in castles, and this is what you get.

We open with a lot of voice-over, similar to 28 weeks later, explaining how the virus occurred, and how it was mismanaged. This section was quite slick, and I thought I might be in for a decent rip-off. But no. Every line is hackneyed and a cliche and from another movie. Every shot is a shot I’ve seen before. Every plot thread is unoriginal. Every character is a shell. Every attempt to put us in some SF future world is laughable- she has a video camera eye! Data storage is on little discs! They have poly-fiber carbon flexible body-shells (that just make them look like dudes wearing skating kneepads all over their bodies)!

I can’t believe how much money got thrown at such a juvenile script. How can we make intelligent and reasoned movies like 28 weeks later- then produce this garbage? Did none of the actors (Bob Hoskins, Malcolm Mcdowell) realize they were reading lines from a script written by a 13-year old who’s hopped up on smarties and his first glass of Special Brew? Or were they just in it for the money? I can only think the second option, because the whole thing is a wanton waste of energy, lazy manipulative directing (the girls can’t really fight? So quick-hash cut the fight scenes together so they seem to be high-energy and vicious).

Or the third option. This is the writer/director (Neil Marshall) who did Dog Soldiers and The Descent. The Descent was excellent, and Dog Soldiers was a good laugh. So the actors/producers thought- I don’t see what’s great about it, but his other movies were great, so this one must be too. But this is not great. I think Neil Marshall has Shyamalan-ed himself and used up all his skill on his first two movies.

What a joke. I should be making these movies. I think I’ll write a script.

The Mist – 1/5

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Frank Darabont directed the Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and now The Mist. It’s a story about a dense white mist that rolls down on a small American (Canadian?) town, bearing all kinds of nasty critters within it.

Well- I didn’t like it. I didn’t believe it. It wasn’t so much the SF- though the spouting of garbage like ‘interdimensional rifts’ should only be done with proper preparation, and only if necessary, and in this it wasn’t either. Rather it was the characters acting like idiots, wimps, and cowards.

The hero starts off like a hero. He takes fairly fast action, he does some cool stuff. But it’s the slow and stupid delays that kill me. I’m thinking- get a damn axe! I’m thinking- what are you, fighting with a mop? Are you really lighting the mop inside a wooden store? Are you just gonna wait while the psycho religious nut whips everyone up into a sacrificial frenzy? Again, and again, and again? Did you really just sleep a whole day away while she drove everyone to fever pitch?

If I’d been there I would have sorted those people out. Gag the nutter from the start, tie her up, lock her in a room. Talk to people, calm them down. They spend like 10 minutes just convincing people there’s a monster outside! For God’s sake, just bring the severed tentacle in for them to see!

Too many shots of people crying and talking quietly. Too much ineptitude. You’re in a hard-ware store. Weapon up! Use shelves to block the windows. What the hell is dog food stacked waist-high going to do?

If I can’t believe the people in the movie are smart, reasoning people, then I can’t believe in the movie. I just got manipulated. The final whipping up scene that ends in a sacrifice, where the ‘hero’ is getting held back by his own people- I was going nuts. Just kill her! Stop her whipping them up and they’ll just calm themselves down again!

Then the ending- as dark as can be. What can we take from that? All we can take from it is- these people were really stupid. And impatient! Hang out, play some gin rummy. What’s the rush?

I feel a little ill. An exercise in serious pointless waste. I’d give it 0 out of 5 but for some of the creature designs, and the unsettling effect of the Mist itself.

Emily’s Fajita Party

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Yesterday I headed out to Emily’s Fajita Party in Kunitachi. It was raining, I got lost for about an hour on the way there, but Amy Mcdonald’s ‘Mr. Rock and Roll’ and a case of Asahi saw me through.

People I met-

– Emily- Emily! The hostess, teacher, artiste- her work currently on show at The Pink Cow.
– Jeremy- Fairly drunk fella soon headed to Oz to become a pilot.
– Greg and Alycia- Married programmers- good police.
– Tim- Navy dude, big fella, just came from paint-balling.
– Peter- Teacher, went fishing over Golden Week but no fish!
– Christoria- Traveling Texan.
– Josh- The man mountain, now shaven-headed and sporting a bandanna, belongs in WWE!
– Connor- A guy with crazy eyes.
– Scott- Who has a photo show on Drunken Japanese Salarimen in The Pink Cow at the moment. Wore a knitted sweater with skulls on.
– Stanley the manley- Navy dude, longest stint in a submarine without a break- 78 days!
– Belinda, Kay, Theresa- Emily’s friends, maybe teachers also.
– An Italian girl who appreciated me saying- ‘hey beautiful, I love you!’ multiple times in Italian (that’s all I can say…)


– Drinking Margaritas! (Strong. Though I sneakily made a few virgin ones for Jeremy after he drunkenly spilled 2 or 3 drinks on people.)
– Petting cat Gidget and dog Arlo.
– Weighing myself in pounds. 190?
– Arm wrestling! I was against this from the start, but got roped in, ultimately taking the crown. The toughest was against navy dude Tim- I was totally shocked I beat him.
– Drinking Texan beer- Bocka?
– Going to buy cigarettes in the rain.
– Disco dancing!
– Making and eating fajitas.

I had a great time- thank you Emily for organising! I stayed over, woke up at 8am on a sofa, got back home at 10, and slept through until noon. Sweet!

Meiji Jingu Newly-Weds

MJG Japan, People / Culture 5 Comments

Last month my buddy Canadian Mike had his wedding ceremony. It was held in Meiji Jingu- the huge central shrine in Harajuku right next to Yoyogi Park- and I went along to check it out. Here are some of the highlights:

– Drinking sake during the ceremony.
– Mike telling me they took hours to strap him into his groom-kimono, even longer for his wife Kumi.
– Promenading around the shrine courtyard, a dude with a big red umbrella leading us.
– Getting gawked at by tourists (who scurried after Mike and Kumi like they were paparazzi)
– Being greeted by Mike’s folks: “Are you uk Mike?”

I had a good time, though it puzzled me they held the practise wedding ceremony right before the actual ceremony. I thought it was the real ceremony! But no, the real ceremony had a lot more jangling golden bells and priests with funky hats.

Here’s a few pictures:

Mike’s on the left with his parents, Kumi on the right with her parents. You can see one of Meiji Jingu’s gates in the background.

The happy couple.

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Modelling photo shoot!

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Today I went in for my photo shoot at the Victoria model agency. I had to bring a suit, sports clothes and casual clothes, all for my modelling CV- not for work.

Let me tell you- it was fun. In front of a camera I tend to prance and fidget and strike poses anyway, so being told to do that was very liberating. It felt a lot like playing, like I was a little kid and the adults were watching me, and everything I did they said- ‘wow, isn’t he clever!’ or- ‘oh so cute!’

I broke out my ‘Welcome to the Show!’ pose, of course my ‘Blue Steel’, as well as old favorites such as ‘straining for the frisbee’ and ‘looking whimsically off to the side’, plus a new addition- ‘raging angry boss.’

Felt like I couldn’t go wrong!

The OL’s there (both working models themselves) said my shots will go online on their website in the next few days, so I’ll be sure to link that up here when it happens.

Male model, baby!

Eastern Promises – 2.5/5

MJG Book / Movie Reviews Leave a Comment

A movie in which Viggo Mortensen pretends to be Russian. Slow, with a core of exploitative horror. Slow acting, slow speaking. Nothing much to care about. Some disturbing visuals, seemed gratuitous- they showed us because they could.

The bath-house scene everyone raves about- just made me feel like his attackers were pretty stupid, like WWE wrestlers. One-note, a slow simmering Cthulhu-like horror underneath the thin skein of normal reality- overdone I felt. The movie coasted along thinking itself important and valuable.

The twist- I felt ludicrous, and unnecessary.

2.5 out of 5. Watch it only if you have nothing else to see.

Showa Kinen Disc Golfers

MJG Japan, People / Culture 16 Comments

Hidden away in the massive bulk of Showa Kinen Park in Tachikawa lies the best dosc golf course in all of Japan; 18 holes of longish straightaways, doglegs round hills and trees, paths cut through bamboo forests, and leaps over water.

Disc Golf is a lot like regular golf, but with a specially moulded set of frisbees instead of balls and clubs. You toss the disc towards the ‘hole’, a metal chain-link basket, counting your throws like in golf. You use variously shaped discs like a driver or putter just like the various clubs in golf. You shoot for under par as best you can.

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Leanna Drew the Moon @ The Harrow

MJG Books, Stories, Surreal 2 Comments

My story Leanna Drew the Moon has just gone live at the The Harrow, yeah!

“Leanna knew she was a special little girl because the moon spoke to her.

She knew that it shouldn’t, and that she shouldn’t listen, but none of that stopped it from happening. She drew pictures at school of her talking to a big moon face and the moon saying things like “try eating those soap suds, Leanna,” or “that dog wants a bite of plasticine, go on,” and in the pictures she would go ahead and do it. The moon, after all, was her friend.

But it wasn’t always so nice…”

Read the full story at The Harrow.