Sunday, July 29, 2007

Wild Leek

That’s right, everyone! Chicago means ‘wild leek’. I include this detail as a jaunty segue into the fact that - hey! - I’m in Chicago! For Games Day! So this is my first roving, on-the-road blog (thanks to the hotel’s wireless internet connection ... don’cha just love modern technology?)!

And what can I tell you that I can’t tell you from home?


Well, it’s not windy, for starters. And I’ve never been anywhere that’s so like New York and yet defiantly not. The cab drivers are a bit ‘two fer’ (ie for every one that took me where I wanted to go, there were two who didn’t). I saw that Paul Morley off the telly riding the down escalator in Borders while I was riding the up (a fact that will mean little to nothing to our US readers). I met the very charming Chris O’Reilly, who has (as regular posters will know) named his new born son Jack Abnett O’Reilly. O’really? Yeah, really. I wish Chris, his wife and little Jack absolutely the very best for the future (whilst feeling slightly... nonplussed). Jack will have the first available book dedicated to him. May I also, while I remember, wish Tara’s boyfriend Jason a very Happy Dan Abnett Birthday Party. It’s a funny old world.

My dad (I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this), apart from being a rather famous maker of plucked stringed instruments (the correct term is luthier) is also a keen railway modeller (N gauge, for those nerdishously interested), and has constructed some of the most amazing scale model railways I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a good few, believe you me). So I arrive at my hotel and guess what? The other convention in town is an American railway modeller’s show. I’m going to have to go awol from Games Day for half an hour and take pictures so he can evaluate the competition.

What else? I’m half tempted to go off on a little riff about food in the states, and how it’s great but it comes in portions four or five times larger than is in any way necessary, and that’s coming from me, and you’ve seen me, I like my food...

But I won’t, ‘cause it’s a cliché. Though clichés are usually clichés for a reason.

Instead, I will point you in the direction of Hot Fuzz, which I watched on the plane. Yeah, it’s been out for ages and, yeah, I love Simon Pegg and Nick Frost... it’d just slipped past my lateral deflectors somehow. Great stuff, if a little odd in places, but truly, truly sublime in others.

And Transformers, which I went to see with my girls and my brother in law last weekend. Accepting the premise that it isn’t and cannot be the greatest film ever made, I will add the following remarks:

1) Michael Bay in fabulous movie shocker! (Never, EVER thought I’d write that)

2) It’s pure, pure entertainment if, like me, you’ve the brain of a twelve year old boy (mine’s in a jar, where do you keep yours?).

3) It’s the first film I’ve seen since I was a teenager that simply made me thrilled to be in the theatre. I’ve seen better films than Transformers, but nothing (not Matrix, not King Kong, not Lord of the Rings etc) that afforded me that same pure buzz, the buzz I got off Empire Strikes Back, Blade Runner, Conan, Aliens and Mad Max 2 when I was a nipper and going to the Maidstone ABC.

4) Also, if you forget for a moment that they’re robots/Transformers, I contend the movie has the best superhero/40K action ever filmed (depending on your preference). In the last third of the flick, think of them as superheroes (if you’re into comics) or Space Marines and Dreadnaughts (if you’re a 40ker), and you’ll see what I mean. Crunching, super-powered, high speed, heavy calibre street fighting.

To sum up, I absolutely loved it. Which is a good thing, as I’m going to have to go and see it again with Andy Lanning, or he’ll feel left out. PROVISO - do not take my recommendation if you:
a) don’t like heavy duty shooty death kill action


b) are not prepared to suspend your disbelief.

Otherwise run, run like a fool and go see it. I personally think it’s going to change the way movies work. Here’s why. Ahem... My theory, my theory is this... when CGI first came along, it changed the face of cinema and advertising (cf Jurassic Park, Matrix etc) and thereupon everyone realised that ANYTHING was possible, so they tried to DO anything, with some pretty creditable results (cf Lord of the Rings) and some palpably bad ones (cf the Star Wars prequels). In other words, because CGI allowed film makers to do anything, they tried to do EVERYTHING. And the kitchen sink.
Now Transformers is not a movie of restraint, and Mr Bay is not a director of restraint, but restraint is ultimately what Transformers delivers. It does what it has to do - hugely and brilliantly - but it doesn’t go overboard (I mean, not more than any movie about giant clashing robots CAN go overboard). It is massive and noisy, but there is was nothing extraneous. I honestly believe it is a turning point: the first blockbuster picture to use CGI absolutely as much as is necessary without CGI-ing the arse off everything willy nilly. I mean, it’s got a surprisingly good script, characters, humour, good performances...


Time for bed. Games Day looms. I miss being at home, and I miss Nik and the girls. Home soon. I will retire and contemplate Jack Abnett O’Reilly. I don’t wish to harp on about that, and I certainly don’t want Chris and his wife to feel in any way odd about their naming choice. But it’s very strange to me. I just wrote some stories and look what happened. I am, entirely, flattered and humbled.

Dan, Chicago, Friday night.

21 comments: said...

thanks for signing my book today! it was wonderful to see you and hear about all the neat stuff thats gonna be going on.

Pack_master said...

Well, I hate to ask again, but will there be a time in the future you will be in germany, Dan? I can't take it any longer ;) Must... get... autograph... on Sabbat Worlds Crusade CE... must...

Jack Abnett o'Reilley. Whew, the more often I read it, the more amazing it is ;)

sredni vashtar said...

from flattery to shameless derivation: I just received The Inquisition from BL and I'm afraid that I am not impressed. Dan's introduction, in fact, is about the only original text in the book. I had kinda assumed that mdm et mssrs Priestley, Kyme & Stirling might have managed something more than what amounts to a summary of characters and events from someone else's books (and some bits lifted practically word-for-word from the Inquisitor rulebook). sorry folks, but I can't really recommend this one despite the subject matter - if you're reading this blog then the odds are that you've also read the Eisenhorn and Ravenor novels in their original form already :P

Nik said...

pack master - you're right, Dan should do a round of signings in Europe, if for no other reason than I enjoy Paris so much, I'd love to accompany him to some of Europe's other beautiful cities.

If anyone at BL is checking in... send us to Europe, please.

lordy said...

@sredni vashtar

I don't know - it may not have been original, and yes I've got all the books the material is taken from - but I still found it interesting. I hadn't seen the list of psychic mastery levels before - some pretty powerful stuff, like gamma +.

I thought some of the pictures were a little odd though - Kys looked more like a dark eldar than I would have though.

Xhalax said...

I only deal with 00 gauge.

Boom said...

I highly suggest you go and find a good pizza place and have some chitown deep dish. They are famous for it after all.

PS for anyone that went to Games Day that got a Warhammer online beta key and doesn't want it let me know :D

sredni vashtar said...

lordy - okay, you got me with the psychic mastery thing, I don't think that has been formalized before. however, is that really £15 worth of interesting? :P

anyways, now I'll say something nice about BL to balance it out - Palace of the Plague Lord (C L Werner, also released this month) is great fun (in the most grotesque and pustular way possible, of course). he gets better with every novel, in my opinion.

Madclaw said...

Dan, It was great to meet you and your pictures of Jack are on the way. The coolest part of my weekend was showing you around the tournament. I hope your trip went well and talk to you soon.


lordy said...

@sredni vashtar

Well, no. Maybe not. As for CL Werner - bought it, haven't read it yet. Re-reading the Ringworld books currently.

Pack_master said...

Wheeee! Someone from got Dan babbling!

"He mentioned that there will be another Trilogy spinning out of the Ravenor/Eisenhorn books called either the "Kiss Trilogy" or the "Nail Trilogy" following other members of their retinues. He said Eisenhorn will be back in at least a supporting role, and there definitely will be at least one more true Eisenhorn novel."

Apart from the point I wanted to scratch the eyes and ears out of the guy with a plastic spoon because of Kys and Nayl, I am really excited now. A new trilogy, AND another Eisenhorn novel! Whew!

And before a known good girl some posts above me, asks it, I do it: what about Inshabel? :)

b.p.steve said...

Dan u write another Eisenhorn novel and il have ur kids an u can call them anything u want!

Krieger Haggoroth said...

Hey, thanks for all of the signing, and the picture with you. I've been showing all of it off since i got back. It was really great to meet you, and hear about some of your future plans. I cant wait for that next heresy book!

b.p.steve said...

On the advice/comments of Dan i went to my local cinema to see Transformers last night and belive me it wasnt a let down in fact it was it was bloody fantastic! Being a bit of a fan as a kid i thought it they would not transform it (excuse the pun) to film properly but they did an outstanding job so much so that i would say some of the fight scenes were perhaps to fast! brlliant

Dixx said...

Dan... I saw Transformers today in the odeon. It... it is beyond belief. Im sorry but they are REAL!

Jesse said...

Transformers was glorious. Kind of bummed that:


Jazz buys it. I was pissed (in the American sense of the word). He was always my favorite.

LIfe continues as abnormal here in Arizona. I'm bored out of my mind in classes, but I can plot 24 hours worth of intelligence reports on FalconView in a matter of minutes. Only the truly nerdy will know of what I speak.

I'm doing what I can to start a genestealer cult of Abnett fans here as I did in Iraq. So far, I've met with decent success.

I miss being a regular poster here. I'm just so slammed with work that I don't get online as much as I'd like.

Dan, Nik, Lordy, how I miss the banter. . .

One day, the endless hours of homework and training will end and I'll get back in the game.

Boom said...

The only problem I had with Transformers was Megatron's voice. You can't even tell it's Hugo Weaving. There's no menace/venom in the voice. The best part or most accurate character was definitely Scorponok. With the exception of Megatron the movie was fantastic.

Pack_master said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pack_master said...

Ah darn... Hugo Weaving? I hate it that there are so few cinemas in germany where you can watch movies without translation... :(

tuffdart said...

Dan, it was truly a pleasure to attend your talk and then to meet you in Chicago. Your upcoming projects are much looked forward to, all in equal measure.
With the looming volume I hope you find the time to revisit the Snakes. I thoroughly enjoyed the collection and thank you for the autograph.

One trick to portion control in the US is pay 3x more for 'pretty' food. It seemed to me that the Sofitel specialized in this for my benefit. They also managed to control my spending on alcohol in the same way!

I hope to see you back next year.

On Transformers:
Is it such a stretch to think the time has come to apply cgi to a fantastic screenplay by some talented author and make a 40k trilogy of films?

Robert said...

My memories of Chicago are of doing social work in the bad parts. At one time I was asked by the pastor of a very poor church to cut down a weed growing through the fence. He handed me a steak knife to do it with.

When I got out there, I found that the "weed" was, in fact, a tree as thick as my wrist. I went back and asked for a saw.

He gave me a butcher knife instead. It took me awhile.

That night there was a thunder storm, and my whole group, all stupid Hawai'i kids who'd never seen fork lightening, clustered under metal awnings and electrical poles to keep dry. That's culture shock, kiddies.

As for food, I'm always fascinated by the variation between countries.

I usually use MacDonald's as my benchmark. I have found that...

British MacDonalds' have much sweeter condiments, and slightly smaller portions.

In New Mexico, they don't stock "mild" sauce.

In Hawai'i we have saimin and taro pies as regular menu items, and serve SPAM instead of sausage with some breakfast meals.

Japan... Japan is my favorite. There the largest thing you can get is a double cheeseburger, happy meal-sized fries and drink, and you can get Wasabi dipping sauce with your fried ahi strips.