Christian looked across garden furniture towards Norman in his little café apron and smirked. So less manly than his own hardware apron! All was going well. Norman was out and he, Christian was the rising star of the Handy Pavillion! Just look at him there, making coffee for Sadie and that guy with the glasses and big chin! Where would he be in five years time? Still making coffee! Where would Christian be? 2IC of the power tools section! Or even… dare he even dream it? Manager of power tools!

Of course, his success was not all down to him. He had his mentor to thank…

His shift had ended, so he made his way to the men's toilet and moved the hidden panel in the floor. Beneath was a narrow tunnel, which he descended by means of a ladder of huge cast iron staples. Hanging on one staple was an old electric lamp. He turned it on, clipped it to his belt, and continued his descent. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself, Chapter 25: Underground"

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I got a warning from the Blog Police today, reminding me that every writer's website needs a bunch of writing tips on it. Well, speaking as someone whose writing sales are in the tens of dollars, I have to say that they are right, and it is my clear duty to impart my great experience to you, the little people. Bask, then, in the light of my wisdom: ...continue reading "Writing Tips"

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Teaching ESP

It's a logical day in the neighbourhood...
It's a logical day in the neighborhood...

We open with Apollo astronauts on the Moon, because of course we do. We're told that the lunar astronauts experienced unusual perceptions during their journeys, and that astronaut Edgar Mitchel tried to send telepathic images from the Moon to the Earth in 1971. We are told that the chance of his results being accidental are quite low.

Cut to Nimoy at a table with a bunch of kids using Zenner cards, for testing telepathic powers. All of a sudden, I find myself switching from scepticism to jealousy. Why didn't I get to play 'psychic guess the card' with Nimoy? I'm not much younger than the kids in the story would have been.

Then it hits me: Nimoy has broken the fourth wall. In a documentary. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S01E13 Teaching ESP"

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Captain Stellar had been sober for fifty days. No. Captain Stellar wasn't around any more. It was Vincent who had been sober for fifty days. Only Vincent.

Vincent, coming off the bottle and here to make amends to the people he'd wronged. He'd written an anonymous cheque for the damage he'd done to the DIY Barn and the Place O'Pets, but that was just impersonal property damage. Now he had to make amends to the real people he'd hurt: Popplewell. Harper. Cho.

Platzoff. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself Chapter – 24: One Day at a Time"

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Nebulae! Our voices have ascended to the heavens. We're awaiting a reply. I'm a little bored already. I'm not a SETI enthusiast. Honestly, I'd prefer some nice juicy account of a UFO abduction to footage of radio telescopes, even if that is where the call from space will arrive.

InSearchof1.12

But then out of the blue, we're talking about communicating with dolphins and suddenly I'm awake again. Nimoy tells us if we can communicate with one 'strange intelligence' that may give us the tools to talk to others. Interesting.

It wasn't going to last long. Then we're back to nebulae, portentous talk about the possibilities of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and footage of, you guessed it! Radio telescopes. Nimoy gives a narration about the importance of radio telescopy, and damn but does he hit it out of the park. I'm starting to think that maybe there's something to my theory that he just likes the space stuff better than the pseudoarchaeology. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S01E12 A Call From Space"

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Nalda scared the crap out of Fiona. Always had. She was tall, way taller and more solid than Fiona, and she never looked you quite directly in the eye. She had this thick European accent, and never smiled. And she was strong. Not just 'big person' strong, either. More like 'forklift truck' strong. Nalda wore sunglasses, even at night and she was forever threatening to travel back in time and kill someone.

On the other hand, she was quite good with children.

Belinda--who worked in Paints now-- was off sick. Fiona had been temporarily moved from Plumbing to Paints, and every time she went to the spray paint locker, she could see the little open area between the end of aisle fifteen and the rear wall of the Pavilion. There, in a little area behind a short plastic fence, Fiona saw Nalda leading the Saturday morning kids craft group.

"Ja, you see you are too much glidder using," Nalda said to a girl in a pink fairy princess costume. "Dat is why it is running. Go easy on der glidder, use it to accent, not overpower, der acrylic paints."

"Thanks, Miss Robot!" the child said, hugging Nalda's leg.

"Affection acknowledged," Nalda said. "Now I must deal with dat little dopey boy eating der crayons. As for you: ah'll be back." ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 23: The Chase"

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Psychic Detectives

We open on a man handling a ring. Nimoy tells us that the man claims that he can visualise scenes related to the ring. There's stock footage of police cars and then back to the man with the ring. We're told he's Peter Hurkos and that he has 'hard information'. Names, places, dates. "He calls himself a psychic detective," Nimoy intones. A big claim, from Mr Hurkos-- and one that this episode seems to have little interest in investigating.

This episode is a little short on cool visuals, so here's a picture of Leonard Nimoy in his study. Enjoy!
This episode is a little short on cool visuals, so here's a picture of Leonard Nimoy in his study. Enjoy!

We go on to see Chief Detective Lowry, a 1970's cop in St Louis. We're assured that he solves crimes by conventional means. That is, until a kidnapping case in the mid '70s, where he couldn't find the victim. At the request of the victim's family, Lowry called in a psychic, who located the kidnapping victim. Fascinating, if true. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S01E11 Psychic Detectives"

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"A flash of lightning illuminated the object, and discovered its shape plainly to me; its gigantic stature, and the deformity of its aspect more hideous than belongs to humanity, instantly informed me that it was the wretch, the filthy daemon, to whom I had given life." -- Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

"Your father was Frankenstein, but your mother was the lightning!" – Ygor, Ghost of Frankenstein.

Ghost of Frankenstein is where the Universal Frankenstein series really starts to run out of ideas. It's basically a 'greatest hits' compilation rather than a movie in its own right.  It starts right out with the angry peasants and goes straight into the destruction of the castle, and then just meanders its way through Frankensteinian tropes.

Thunderbolts and lightning, not especially frightening to me!
Thunderbolts and lightning, not especially frightening to me!

It does bring two innovations to the Frankenstein story. First, it brings up the idea that the Monster is indestructible. Second, it introduces the trope of the Monster being frozen in something and needing to be revived (this time it's sulphur, but later it becomes quicksand or ice). ...continue reading "Ghost of Frankenstein – 1942"

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Hot autumn was turning to freezing winter when Wellsey returned to the Pavilion. He stopped just before the automatic doors. He knew exactly where the invisible line was, that opened them if crossed. He drew a deep breath, held it for the count of ten, then let it out slowly.

He spotted Axel, helping an elderly customer find a cardboard box of an appropriate size for the old girl's gardening supplies. Wellsey felt his eyes narrow.

"Axel," he said in the most neutral tone he could manage.

"Morning, Wellsey," Axel said. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 22: No Way Out"

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Atlantis

Cold open on Easter Island, many, many miles from the Atlantic. Nimoy proclaims the famous statues a mystery, which they were. I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that they were still a big mystery in the 1970s, though these days we've got a decent idea of how and when they were made. But that's not what gets me. What gets me is the In Search Of… three step. 1: Identify something as unexplained. 2: Assume that 'unexplained' is 'inexplicable'. 3: Explain it anyway. It's not good science, but damn it's fun to watch!

Atlantis

Now Maya (or maybe Olmec, I'm no expert) statue heads, stand a distance from where they were carved. See the connection yet? Macchu Piccu and Californian petroglyphs, the Cerne giant (I think) and some other big statues. These indicate advanced technology, Nimoy says, which I guess is true for certain values of 'advanced'. Now, remember a few weeks ago when anything that might have been tricky for old-timey people to accomplish was actually the doing of aliens? Turns out it was actually the doing of Atlanteans. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S01E10 Atlantis"

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