Month: June 2008

London calling: farewell to the Valle

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” – Jack Kerouac

It’s that time again – time to pack up the red suitcase and move on to somewhere new. Six and a bit weeks – 48 days to be exact – have passed in the Valle and our lease is at an end.

Next stop is London for ten days or so to film some interviews for the book, but also to catch up with some people I’ve missed a great deal while stuck up a mountain. After that… well, it’s too early to say. Watch this space, and all that.

The Valle has been an incredible experience – warm, tranquil, re-energising, amazingly productive – and with some first rate visitors to keep things interesting.  If you were one of those visitors, then it was lovely to have you. If you weren’t then – well – maybe next time, yeah? Yeah.

See you in London.

Games without frontiers (with oranges)

On pain of death at the hands of RFW&N, my time in the Valle has been dominated by hard work and early nights.  And yet, somehow, amongst all the toil, we’ve still found time to have the occasional very small – and tightly regulated – bit of fun.

Take, for example, the games.

I’ve invented some brilliant games for us all to play while out here. So many in fact that last night Rob crowned me the master of games. The Gamesmaster. I couldn’t bring myself to tell him that the title had already been claimed by someone else.

There’s ‘Kate Nash or Not Kate Nash‘ – where players listen to short (five or six second) clips from iTunes and have to determine whether the singer is Kate Nash or not Kate Nash. Rob is the current champion of this, having zipped through Kate Nash, Remi Nicole, Kate Nash and Laura Marling, Kate Nash and Kate Nash before being tripped up by Colbie Caillat. A bonus round involving a Victoria Wood clip took him a good minute and a half of internal debate.

Then there’s ‘Roof Ball’ – a game involving getting a ball stuck on a roof. That was quite a short game.

‘Passive Aggressive Friend Tweets’ is an all-weather favourite; a team game that everyone can play, whether they like it or not. The rules are simple – search through the Twitter updates of all of your mutual friends for the last 24 hours and find the most passive-aggressive one. The most passive-aggressive friend, on aggregate, by the end of the week is crowned victor. The great thing about it is that the winner of the game doesn’t even know he or she is playing.

‘Road Frisbee’ – All of the fun of frisbee, all of the excitement of being hit by a car coming around a blind corner at high speed.

‘Dancing With Dogs’ – That one kind of speaks for itself. Those stray dogs sure can move.

I could go on. ‘The Google Maps Challenge’, in particular, deserves a post of its own, but for reasons of taste, decency and not wanting to alienate the entire female readership of the blog, I’ll leave that alone. Sufficed to say, I’m wearing my victory lightly.

My two favourite games though – in the Valle as in life generally – involve stickiness and mess. I’m referring of course to ‘Waterballoon Dodgeball’ and ‘Ten Can Orange Bowling’.

The former was the result of a trip to Alora were we found a small kiosk selling ice-cream and water balloons. Regarding the rules, the name says it all. If it were entirely self descriptive it would be called ‘Waterballoon Catch-or-Dodgeball’, but you get the point.

Michelle and Anna arrived in the Valle on Thursday and proved themselves to be rather excellent players, although of course being girls and so unable to catch, they were no match for Rob and me. But it’s not the winning, but the getting totally fucking drenched on a boiling hot day that counts.

Ten Can Orange Bowling also ticks the self-descriptive box, being ten pin bowling using empty cans and the last of the ten million oranges that Eris cajoled out of a kindly farmer the other week. Each game lasts for five rounds, or until the last orange has been smashed to Tropicana.

One point per can, 15 for a strike. The loser makes orange juice for the winner. It’s great fun and in no other game does victory taste so much like sunshine.

Today’s game started well for me, with a strike straight out of the gate – Michelle following with an eight and Rob only mustering a seven. The second round was a very different story, Michelle and I failing to score with Rob delivering a textbook strike. Round three saw a four for me, a two for Michelle a single can upset for Rob. The penultimate round, and with all still to play for, my four, Michelle’s humiliating and orange-smashing miss and Rob’s seven brought the scores to 23 / 10 / 30.

It was time for Michelle to break out the juicer but the question remained – would she be squeezing for Rob or for me? I needed at least an eight to win – but a strike to have any real chance of victory. Rob was sitting pretty but needed at least a nine to totally finish me off.

I missed. Totally. It was embarrassing. But, fuck it, I’ll always have my Google Maps Challenge cup.

And drinking out of that, anything tastes good.

Let the whoring begin

Ok, I’m back in the room1, and from hereonout things start to get really interesting.

The proofs have been read and re-read, checked for any last typos and factual errors – including double-sourcing the trickiest stuff with help my crack team of soi disant experts (/witnesses) where necessary – and as near to a final version of the thing as can ever be is now in W&N’s capable hands. Having now read my words for about the hundredth time, I know exactly how most people feel when they read them for the first.

So, now the fun begins; the real business of new media whoring.

I’ve got loads of other exciting things planned: interviews with characters from the book, a podcast or three, experimental interactive things that should be fun for everyone involved (including you, dear reader) and oh so much more. Not least the writing of the bonus extra chapter that RFW&N insists that I write – bringing the story bang up to date, and including some stories that didn’t make it into the book for one reason or another. Think of it as a lean-forward DVD extra.

And for those of you who have asked, there will be some kind of booze fuelled evening to mark publication. Details to follow but keep some days around 30th July-2nd August free, and let me know if you’d like more info / an invitation. And if you’re in the book – in any capacity – your drinks are on me. Which could make things very interesting indeed.

Meanwhile, across the Internet

Blog silence ends by tomorrow, I promise. Just getting – as they say – my shit back together after a traumatic week of proof reading / changing.

Meantime, Eris has joined us in the Valle – all the way from San Francisco – and has been busy blogging her whistlestop tour of London, the Valle and beyond. Which is lucky as otherwise the adventures of the last few days – frisbees, cowboy hats, classic rock and hideously expensive cocktails surrounded by topless Eurotrash – would have gone undocumented.

See here for the blog and here for photos and video.

Ok, more later – but first Eris and I are off in to the Valle to buy bread and – perhaps – to rescue the frisbee from Juan’s bar.

Oh – and I promised Varls that I’d mention her Writing For Games event tonight in my next post. But it’s sold out. So that’s good.

Diem perdidi, motherfucker

I’m still neck-deep in these proofs – reliving the last five years of my life, in painful detail – in the space of four days.

It all got a bit much on Thursday night and I decided to get very, very drunk indeed in the Valle. The alcohol here really is exceptionally affordable and, here, the concept of ‘licencing laws’ seems as ridiculous as the idea of the TV licence seems to Americans.

You know there’s trouble ahead when you are dimly aware of ordering a entire bottle of Bailey’s at the bar and it’s only just passed midnight. I fucking hate Bailey’s. Of course, rather than providing the escape from reality I was hoping it would, the alcohol wiped out all of yesterday – unless one considers watching ‘Entrapment’ for the millionth time to be ‘work’ – and now means that I have just shy of 24 hours to get this bugger finished.

Still, at least if I feel like I need another break, I can always flip open my ‘dialled calls’ list and repeatedly bash my head against this concrete table until the world goes away.

Right! Back to the past! I’m just getting to the really good bit.

Burden of proofs

A busy few days coming up. Or at least as busy as anyone can claim to be while swinging in a hammock in the mountains of Southern Spain.

Bea from Orion has just sent through the page proofs of the book – that is, the PDFs of the actual page layouts, as they’ll appear in print. My job now is to go through them and make any last minute changes before they go to press

For most part, this is a dull process – a final scan to ensure that no stray typos have survived the numerous editing levels that books go through. But it’s also a last chance to tweak any facts – and people – to make sure they’re represented as I intend them to be. And with that last chance comes awesome responsibility – and I’m terrible at responsibility.

To make matters worse, W&N also want me to write a bonus downloadable chapter thing updating some aspects of the story from where the book left off ’til present day. I’m going to get cracking on that next week – it could be a lark. Hoo yes. Meanwhile, RFW&N continues to bombard me with work, with an arduous-sounding telephone interview on Friday morning. And then Monday sees the very first TCUK Podcast. Geez.

I guess my point is this: forgive me if I’m slow to reply to emails etc for the next few days, and if the blog skips a day or two. I’ll do my best.

In other news, I’ve been really pleased with the reaction the book has got from the (admittedly small) number of people who have been sent the official preview (as opposed to the out-of-date bootleg – a brilliant story for another day). People in particular seem to like the footnotes, which makes me merry happy.

My favourite feedback, though, has come from Mil Millington who, aside from saying uncharacteristically nice things (”I have to admit that I was surprised and quite impressed at your partial success in faking a sensitive side – though this accomplishment will, of course, be lost on those who’ve never met you.“), very generously has agreed to be quoted on the cover. He gave me three quotes to choose from…
“Made me want to vomit for all the right reasons.”

“Like Dragon’s Den in a threesome with a society gossip page and the IT Crowd.”

“Carr is funny enough that you can almost forgive him.”

…and then threw in a bonus one which he acknowledged that W&N would possibly bury somewhere inside…

“Carr’s book astonishes with its seemingly pathological delight in defaming Islam.”

Heh. Stoopid Islam.

(He’s kidding of course. It’s the Jews who I defame.)

Right – that’s me for tonight. If I stare at this screen for another minute, my eyes might just melt. Just time to congratulate all of tonight’s Webby winners. Particularly all at Richard’s five word acceptance speech was excellent…

“They said print was dead.”

Quite so.

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