Wednesday, 4 November 2015

IWSG: NaNoWriMo 2015

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and time for members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group to share their writerly insecurities. The group was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and those interested in joining in can visit for more information.

And yes, it is that time of the year again, when writers all over the world come together in a bid to churn out 50,000 words of a brand new novel in the span of one month. Last year, I was forced to take a pass on the challenge, with the caveat of getting some writing done from the sidelines. This year? It's looking like another pass, with zero to minimal hope of getting any kind of writing done.

I could spend the remainder of this post lamenting the various reasons why I am unable to set aside time for writing. But I'll spare you the rhetoric. Instead, I'll leave you all with something somewhat random, but at the same time more inspirational (not to mention pleasing to the ears) than my lamentations. Enjoy.

Monday, 26 October 2015

The Listing Fest

So I totally managed to forget today was The Listing Hop blogfest. Guess that's what happens when you try to juggle work, school and some form of a social media presence. The blogfest is being hosted by Bish Denham and Alex J. Cavanaugh, in commemoration of her eighth year of blogging, and participants are expected to come up with a list of, well, anything really.

Needless to say, I haven't given my list much thought before now, and as such, I am forced to keep my list short and at the same time try to come up with something that isn't too random/convoluted. So on that very note, I present to you my list of:

Top 5 Nigerian Actors making waves in Hollywood

5. Nonso Anozie

Born in the UK in 1979, Nonso Anozie is perhaps best known for his supporting roles. One of his first major movie appearances was in the 2007 British war drama, Atonement. He subsequently starred in the 2011 films, Conan the Barbarian and The Grey. His recent appearances include Pan, Cinderella, and the popular TV show, Game of Thrones.

4. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Another Game of Thrones alum, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is the oldest, at 48, of the 5 Nigerian actors I am highlighting on this list. He has been in movies as varied as The Bourne Identity, The Mummy Returns, and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. His recent appearances include Pompeii, Thor: The Dark World, and the upcoming DC Comics adaptation, Suicide Squad.

3. David Oyelowo

David Oyelowo is yet another Nigerian actor that has been quite ubiquitous in recent years. And he's got the acting chops to warrant it too; in what was perhaps one of the biggest snobs of the 2015 Academy Awards, he was not given a Best Actor nod for his portrayal of Martin Luther King Jnr. in the biopic, Selma. His other recent appearances include Interstellar, The Butler, Lincoln, and 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

2. Chiwetel Ejiofor

Chiwetel Ejiofor is no stranger to the silver screen. One of his earliest performances was in the Steven Spielberg movie, Amistad. He was also part of the ensemble cast that starred in the 2003 romantic comedy, Love Actually. He also starred in one of my favorite science fiction movies, Children of Men. His recent appearances include The Martian, Salt, and the Academy Award Best Picture recipient, 12 Years a Slave.

1. John Boyega

Of all the actors on my list, John Boyega is the one with the least number of acting roles under his belt. He also happens to be the youngest at 23. So why have I placed him at number one on my list? Two words: Star Wars. After all, not many actors today can boast of a leading role in one of the biggest film franchises of all time.

He scored his breakout role in the 2011 British science-fiction film, Attack the Block. He also appeared alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor in Half of a Yellow Sun, even though his character was criminally underutilized. But the current pinnacle of his fledgling acting career is undoubtedly the latest chapter in the Stars Wars saga, The Force Awakens.

If you haven't already seen the trailer, then I suggest you drop everything you're doing and head over to YouTube right away. And in case you still don't understand why you need to see it, here's a clip of John Boyega himself as he tries to absorb the pure awesomeness.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

The Martian (Movie Review)

Every now and then, a movie comes out of left field and completely blows you away. I had heard about the impending arrival of The Martian, but I didn't really look into it until the reviews started pouring in. I quickly found out it was based on a bestselling novel which was originally self-published on Amazon. And just like that, I was immediately compelled to go see it at the cinema.

The movie tells the story of NASA astronaut Mark Watney, who is stranded on Mars after he is struck and impaled during a severe sandstorm. He is thought dead by his crew mates, and a funeral is even held in his honor down on Earth. He awakens after the storm and is forced to grasp with just how dire his situation is; he is not only wounded, but without means of contacting his crew or NASA. And with limited food and supplies, it is only a matter of time before he either starves, suffocates or freezes to death.

But rather than curl into a ball and wait for death to find him, Mark decides to take matters into his own hands. This he does by devising a string of clever solutions to the various problems the red planet throws at him, all of which he documents in a series of video logs he hopes would be recovered someday. His activities are eventually picked up by satellite images, and soon the whole of NASA is committed to bringing him back home alive, with the whole world watching and rooting for him from the sidelines.

Before going to watch the movie, I had read and quickly devoured the book, which was awesome by the way, if you don't mind all the extraneous information about the various sciences that it explores. A lot of that information had to be dumbed down or abstracted away for the movie of course, but thankfully, they kept the source material's lightheartedness, for therein lies the movie's overall appeal.

The movie features an ensemble cast, with each one having his or her own role to play in Mark's rescue. And while they were no stand-out performances to speak of per say, I especially loved Donald Glover a.k.a. Childish Gambino, who played Rich Purnell, the scientist that comes up with the daring maneuver behind the rescue attempt.

It's nice to see a resurgence in realistic, space-based science fiction movies. This was started by Gravity in 2013, and followed by the success of Interstellar in 2014. And now we can add The Martian to that list. But of the three movies, this is the one I would recommend the most, if only because it is the only one to carry a particularly strong message of hope in the face of adversity.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

IWSG: Anthology Contest

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and time for members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group to share their writerly insecurities. The group was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and those interested in joining in can visit for more information.

Well, the cat's been out of the bag for about a month now, but just in case you missed it, the IWSG is celebrating the success of its crowd-sourced Guide to Publishing and Beyond by putting together a short story anthology contest. The competition is open to all active members, and submissions end on the 1st of November, so be sure to send in your entries, if you haven't done so already.

I was finally able to put in my submission earlier this week, after sitting on it for the better part of the past month, though truth be told, I'd been working on the story for something more in the tune of the past two and a half years. It is an idea I'd been playing around with, and it draws inspiration from sources as varied as the graphic novel Watchmen, the video game series Fallout, and the Philip K. Dick novel, The Man in the High Castle.

Needless to say, it is a work of speculative fiction and alternative history, much like the stories I have highlighted above, which by the way also happens to be the theme of the anthology contest. There's no saying whether or not it would make the cut, but it's been nice getting some actual writing done for a change. I'd almost forgotten how exhilarating it feels, watching my words come together on a computer screen to form a story.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

IWSG: Back to School

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and time for members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group to share their writerly insecurities. The group was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and those interested in joining in can visit for more information.

Today is the day of the big IWSG announcement that has been alluded to since the last round of IWSG posts. It's been a somewhat lengthy month-long wait, but I have no doubt that whatever the Ninja Captain has in store for us would make it worth it. You'll need to head over to his blog for the answer though, since this post was written and scheduled before the announcement was made.

But while you're here, I also have an announcement of my own to make, one that I have equally been keeping close to the chest until the right moment. And as you may or may not have guessed from the title of my post, it has something (read: everything) to do with school, or my higher education to be precise. That's right, this IWSG member has decided to further his education with a master's degree.

The degree in question is in Computer Science, a field that has always been a huge part of my evolving interests, and the course itself is to be delivered online, which means I can still continue to work and whatnot. The decision was made a few months back, even though this is a move that has been in the pipeline way before I started this blog or decided to publish any of my writing. In fact, one of the reasons why it took this long for me to pursue it was because I had decided at the start of 2012 to focus exclusively on my writing, a year that resulted in one of my most productive as a writer.

But I guess there comes a time in every writer's journey when you need to weigh the difference between what you want to do and what needs to get done. Getting my master's definitely falls in the latter of the two categories. So I guess my biggest insecurity right now is where this would leave my fledgling writing career. Would I still be able to squeeze time out to write, as unrealistic as that sounds, or does this mean I would be putting everything on hold for the entire duration of my course?

Monday, 17 August 2015

Immortalized (Music Review)

Two months ago, the heavy metal band known as Disturbed took fans by surprise when they announced the August 21st release of their sixth studio album, Immortalized, an announcement that was sweetened by the instant availability of its lead single, The Vengeful One. This was following a rather lengthy gap since the 2011 release of their compilation album, The Lost Children, and it effectively brought an end to their hiatus.

In readiness for the awesomeness that was sure to come, I had spent the past two months listening to their entire back catalogue, starting with their hard-hitting debut, The Sickness (2000), before moving on to Believe (2002), the album that marked the start of their gradual shift from heavy metal to hard rock, a trend that became more glaring in their subsequent albums, Ten Thousand Fists (2005), Indestructible (2008), and my personal favorite, Asylum (2010).

And now that the new album is almost upon us, fans are being treated once again as the entire album has been made available for streaming on iTunes and Spotify. I've listened to the album a couple of times now, and while I don't consider it their finest, I still think it is a worthy addition to their catalogue, with its fair share of highs and lows.

Just like with Asylum before it, the new album opens with an instrumental track that foreshadows and segues into its title track, Immortalized. This is followed by The Vengeful One and Open Your Eyes, the latter boasting one of the heavier guitar riffs on the album. Thereafter, the album quickly devolves into Nickelback/Theory of a Deadman territory with songs like The Light, You're Mine and the somewhat head-scratching ode to marijuana, Fire It Up.

Equally as head-scratching is the slow-paced cover of the Simon & Garfunkel song, The Sound of Silence. I know it really wouldn't be a Disturbed album without one such cover, but this one would've probably been better served as an album closer or dare I say a bonus track. I mean, the song allows lead singer David Draiman to shine like never before, but you can't shake the fact that it is still essentially a piano ballad in the middle of what is supposed to be a heavy metal record.

The deluxe edition of the album contains three bonus tracks, the strongest one in my opinion being Legion of Monsters. Another standout from the album that is quickly growing on me is Who, with its simple yet poignant sing-along chorus. In summary, if you're a fan of the band, then there's perhaps enough material here to justify the 5-year wait between Asylum and Immortalized. But if you're not, and are looking to get into their music, then I'd advise you start with Asylum or The Sickness instead.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

IWSG: Selling Out

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and time for members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group to share their writerly insecurities. The group was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and those interested in joining in can visit for more information.

Today, I would like to touch upon a topic I've found myself thinking about from time to time. I was having a discussion with a coworker of mine the other day, about his blog which he'd been trying to monetize with Google AdSense. The blog in question is a celebrity gossip blog, and he has been running it, on and off, for more than a year. But for whatever reason, his application for AdSense keeps getting declined, with what appears to be a form-letter response triggered by Google's bots.

According to the form letter, the decline had something to do with Google's policies and standards, but the letter was rather vague and it failed to pinpoint exactly what area of their policy or standard that wasn't being adhered to.

Anyway, I also spoke to my coworker about my blog, and the fact that I have been maintaining it for close to 4 years now, during which time it has somehow managed to amass more than 1,250,000 views. I'm not quite sure if those numbers are below or above average, but my coworker seemed to see nothing but dollar signs at the mere mention. He asked why I hadn't tried to monetize my blog, before proceeding to lecture me about real-life stories of bloggers earning considerable money off their blogs.

I must confess that I have indeed considered placing ads on my blog prior to this discussion. But the thought has always left me feeling conflicted. I mean, the original purpose of this blog was to chronicle my journey as a writer, even though it seems that has been relegated to these monthy IWSG posts. So I guess what I am asking is would placing ads on my blog compromise my integrity as an artist or writer?