Musings on Techspeak Analogies and The Sinclair Method

Hi guys

Since I’ve been absent from the blogosphere for a while, I thought that it was time for an update.

Aside from a few visits to the gym, binge-watching all four seasons of Halt and Catch Fire on Amazon Prime and playing some games on my new Xbox One X I’ve not been doing much, to be honest. I’ve had a really lazy start to 2018.

About the games I’ve been playing on the Xbox: I decided to go with Xbox exclusives such as Quantum Break and Gears of War 4. Whilst I completed Gears of War 4 (which is a relatively short 8 hour campaign), I have yet to complete Quantum Break… though I am keen to get back on it today as I’m intrigued by the time manipulation concept behind it and I think that the use of live action cut scenes used in a TV show type format is inspired.

I am also a big fan of Alan Wake (a vastly underestimated game made by the same Finnish company that made Quantum Break) so I’m happy to invest myself in it.

You know, it’s interesting… given my interest in gaming I often find myself using gaming or tech analogies to describe things.

For example, when it comes to my experience with The Sinclair Method (TSM) and how it removed my craving for alcohol I’ll often explain it in terms of having received a software patch to “fix some bad code”… and I don’t think I’m alone… I notice that a lot of people on the forums fall into the habit of using techspeak in order to explain their experience of pharmacological extinction.

One of the most famous recent examples of this type of thing was Claudia Christian‘s TEDx speech at London Business School where she said that she “pressed Control, Alt and Delete” on her addiction thanks to TSM.

Hmm…

The fact that TSM offers a “software fix” that other treatment methods don’t does prompt interesting conversations, though.

I remember chatting with Jenny Williamson of the C3 Foundation a great deal about it at one point… the fact that the difference between The Sinclair Method and other treatment options such as the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is that theirs is a palliative approach all about managing the condition and finding ways to tip-toe around triggers, whereas ours offers an actual cure.


Okay, enough yapping, I think.

Time to grab a bite to eat and settle down for the night.

Thanks for reading.

 

Peace and love,

GARY

 

My Liebster Award Nomination

Well, this is nice.

I have been nominated for The Liebster Award by fellow blogger, MagnumOpus. Thank you so much for nominating me, Magnum. It’s really flattering.

Magnum has a wonderful blog called – appropriately enough – MagnumOpus. It’s quite an endearing motivational blog, all about spreading positivity. To quote the About page, Magnum describes herself as: “An optimistic person who sees the bright side of every situation and every person”.

Click on this link to check out her blog: https://magnumopusforyouu.wordpress.com/

I have had some really nice interactions with some other bloggers on WordPress and there are some very talented people on this platform, so it’ll be a pleasure to put forward some nominations of my own.

Here are the rules for The Liebster Award:

  1. Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Answer the 11 questions asked.
  3. Nominate no more than 11 other bloggers for the award.
  4. Pose 11 questions for them.

(So do you see how it works? It’s essentially very similar to a chain e-mail, passed from blogger to blogger – the only real difference being that it’s actually quite a nice thing rather than an annoyance. Oh and by the way, it’s apparently okay for a blogger to be nominated by different people a number of times… there’s no rule against it)

Anyway, without further ado…


Questions from MagnumOpus:

  1. 1. What was your dream as a child and did you achieve it?

My ambition as a child was to be a great artist, to draw comic strips and to be famous for it. As for whether I achieved this… well, as for being a great artist, the answer to that is “I’m still working on it”… the answer to the second part is “yup, I first got published in Spit! comic back in the nineties” (see below for the concept design for one of the characters that I drew for that magazine)… and, lastly, as for the part about being famous – well, not really; even though there is a cult fanbase for those old comic books my name is not really well known… in fact, it’s only recently that fans of this stuff have been searching me out and saying “Are you the guy who drew this?”.

Original concept sketch for Sefton Ward: Paranormal Detective, a comic strip that I wrote and drew for Spit! comic back in the 90s [interesting fact: my old college friend, the 2000AD comic book illustrator Lee Carter (of Indigo Prime fame) owns this original drawing and has it on display in his home]
  1. 2. If you were given 3 wishes , what would you ask for?

I only have one wish: to be given a time machine… something which I’d use, firstly, in order to go back in time and stop my mum from being murdered and, secondly, which I’d use to go back in time to give my younger, stupider self a much-needed slap around the head.

Oh and if there was some way that I could engineer it, I’d like to make a life sentence in the UK actually mean life… not sure how I could use a time machine to do that, though.

  1. 3. What inspired you to start a blog?

I felt that I had a story to tell and, given my one man war against the tyranny of brevity (haha!), I thought that WordPress would be a good fit for my hyper-verbosity!

…And at the risk of sounding like a wannabe do-gooder, I also felt that some people could perhaps relate to some of the hardships I’ve endured during my life and could take some inspiration from some of the solutions that I’ve found – such as, for example, the story of how I recovered from alcoholism thanks to The Sinclair Method (see the podcast below – I’m the guy in the T-shirt on the right).

  1. 4. What is your biggest fear and what are you doing to overcome it?

Ooh! Good question. My reflexive response was to write “fear of failure”, but after a bit of thought I have to say that the thing which I fear most is being written off – that’s the thing that keeps me awake at night.

You see, here’s the thing about me… thanks to a combination of alcoholism and bipolar disorder that hijacked my life for the better part of two decades I managed to either miss out on or squander a lot of opportunities (on both a personal and professional level). And despite being as bright and as creative as I am, the fact of the matter is that what most employers want more than anything (more than even skill) is reliability – something which I just couldn’t give for many years and which would render me both unemployed and unemployable for a long time, unfortunately.

Now that I’m sober and that my mental health has drastically improved what I’m very much trying to do is to redeem and rebuild myself… though it’s not easy – I’ve left quite an unfortunate legacy thanks to my years in the wilderness (…oh and thanks to behaving like a horse’s ass).

So what am I doing about it? Well, I’m trying to set achievable goals and I’m trying to become the best possible version of myself – “creating some good karma”, in other words.

  1. 5. What is that 1 book that changed your life (you can also mention an incident if not a book)?

The Cure for Alcoholism by Roy Eskapa. The quintessential text book for The Sinclair Method, this book saved my life and released me from a near twenty year struggle with alcoholism.

  1. 6. Who is your favourite blogger in the WordPress community?

I like the work of a number of bloggers and I follow a number of blogs in my WordPress Reader, but if I’m absolutely forced to single out one person it has to be my friend Michael Dempsey of Recovering from Recovery because I think that out of all of the addiction treatment themed blogs out there (and there’s a plethora of them) his is one of the most balanced.

Click this URL to check out Michael’s blog: https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/

  1. 7. Which is your favourite fictional character and why is he/she your favourite?

Patrick Jane (as played by Simon Baker) from The Mentalist.

Why? Well, because here is a character who is so inspiring because he is someone who has endured a devastating traumatic bereavement – the murder of his wife and daughter – but who courageously chooses light over darkness… there’s no self-pity and no brooding with Patrick Jane – he instead presents a defiant joie de vivre to the world… 

…And I find this quite inspiring because I know that this is how my mum would want me to live my life.

  1. 8. Which Superhero would you like to get if you could have a superpower?

This dude:

Art by Tony Daniels

Because I want Bruce Wayne’s superpower of being richer than anyone else! Haha!

Seriously though, what makes Bruce Wayne so special is that unlike other superheroes he doesn’t have any superpowers to fall back on and yet he’s still able to kick the ass of just about everyone in the DC Comics Universe thanks to his mastery of numerous physical and mental disciplines… and it’s this unstoppable, indomitable will that I admire so much – that IS his real superpower and something that distinguishes him from the likes of Tony Stark (AKA Iron Man) from the Marvel Universe (and another playboy billionaire), who – let’s face it – is a push-over without his suit of armour.

The same cannot be said for Bruce Wayne at all… a true renaissance man who, as well as having an IQ somewhere in the stratosphere and being the world’s greatest detective, is an expert in just about every form of combat in existence and can bench press 800 lbs.

Well, that’s all I have to say, really. I rest my case. The only other thing that I could possibly add is that Batman simply looks cool – and there are millions of little kids on the planet who love dressing up as Batman who agree with me on that score.

  1. 9. Which pet do you like more, cat or dog? What is it about them that you like the most?

Oh I’m fond of both species and spend more time than I really should watching cute pet videos of both dogs and cats on Facebook.

But I would say that cats get the win just because their emotional colour-blindedness is so endearing. Haha.

Aaaw bless… they really are something else. And they remind me of children on the autistic spectrum in the curious way how they’ll give affection, but don’t know how to reciprocate it many a time. They’ll just look at you blankly.

They’re quite misunderstood, I think. Some people misinterpret the lack of reciprocation as coldness, but they just don’t get cats in my view. 

  1. 10. If you could have a talk over a cup of coffee with any person dead or alive, who would that be and why?

Easy: I’d pick my mum. I don’t think that I really need to go into why…

  1. 11. If you could have a day celebrated on your birthday, what day would that be and why?

“Pariah’s Day” maybe? A day that celebrates the outcasts and the misfits. A day that celebrates eccentricity and individualism, in other words.

Why? Well, because I’ve always been someone who’s never quite fitted in… I’ve never had a “tribe”… but I don’t see this as a weakness at all. Quite the opposite – I see myself very much as a free-thinker, not constrained by consensus opinion on any topics and someone who thinks outside of the box. 


  1. My nominees are:

Michael Dempsey

Beckie’s Mental Mess

Barbara from myaphorisms.com

Jon Stewart

Stephen from A Fractured Faith

…And my questions are:

  1. Why did you start your blog?
  2. Which person (alive or dead) has been the biggest inspiration in your life?
  3. What is one fact about yourself that most people don’t know?
  4. Have you met anybody famous and – if yes – what were they like?
  5. What’s your “TV kryptonite”? Which TV programme would make you want to kick the TV screen in if you were forced to watch it?
  6. What’s your favourite book?
  7. Where do you stand on the “nature vs. nurture” debate when it comes things like addiction, mental illness and crime?
  8. Name a pop song that you enjoy listening to but would feel really embarrassed to admit to liking to most people.
  9. Should there be a “Blogger’s Code of Ethics” or do you believe in complete freedom of speech on the internet?
  10. If you had a time machine what would be the first thing you would do with it? And why?
  11.  What would you like inscribed on your headstone after you’re dead?

“I (Still) Worship His Shadow”: Reminiscing about Lexx

Hi everyone. So, since the beginning of this year I’ve been binge-watching some TV, watching the 4th season of Black Mirror – which was very good – and watching some Netflix documentaries on weightlifting (as any regular followers of my blog know, powerlifting is a hobby of mine).

But what I’m particularly enjoying at the moment is watching old episodes of Lexx on Amazon Prime.

A little bit of background: Lexx was a science fiction show that was a Canadian/German co-production that ran between 1996 and 2002 and used to have a late night spot here on Channel 5 in the UK… this was back when I was really struggling with bipolar disorder and alcoholism… and though I distinctly remember discounting it as bat-shit weird (later commenting to a friend that upon watching it I “wanted to kick my TV screen in”), I became oddly hooked after seeing only a couple of episodes and would in fact later seek out episodes that I’d missed on DVD in order to better make sense of the narrative and the overall mythology of the show.

As for the narrative… oh man… describing it to someone who’s never seen the show is almost painful, but here goes: it’s all about a misfit crew of individuals (a cowardly low-class security worker, an undead assassin, a nymphomaniac lizard/human hybrid and a disembodied robot head) who commandeer a Manhattan-sized living spaceship called “The Lexx” which looks like a gigantic steampunk dragonfly in order to escape the oppression of their own universe (the Light Universe) by travelling into a fractal core that gives them access to a parallel universe, which – appropriately enough – is called “the Dark Zone”.

Each week our “heroes” (and, believe me, such a word is hard to use to appropriately describe our protagonists in this case… as I’ll explain later) would get into some sort of scrape visiting a planet in the Dark Zone for whatever reason… usually ending with the Lexx blowing up said planet… and that was pretty much the formula of each episode (at least until season 3).

Here’s a season 1 trailer from YouTube:

So why did it leave such a profound impression upon me?

…Well, because it was completely and utterly unlike any TV show I’d ever seen up to that point.

People make comparisons to Farscape, but if I am truthful I never really watched that show… I think I only ever caught one or two episodes of it, but from what I saw I can tell you that Lexx is a different beast entirely… one that wears its influences on its sleeve (like, for example, the aesthetic of H.R. Giger and the humour of British sci-fi comedy show Red Dwarf) but which is nonetheless completely unique and, it has to be said, really quite adult in comparison to many other sci-fi shows of its time – put it this way: given the violence and servings of occasional female nudity, it had its late night TV spot for good reason.

But, watching it now, do you know what really blows me away about the show? THAT Marty Simon soundtrack – giving the show arguably one of the most striking sci-fi themes ever.

I mean, you listen to it and you have to go: “What the fuck is that?!??”.

Another thing that’s quite refreshing about Lexx – and quite amusing – is its contempt for alpha males… you see, heroic Captain Kirk types don’t survive for very long at all in the Lexx universe(s). In fact, they usually get cut down quite abruptly. Case in point: the Barry Bostwick character in the very first episode.

The only character amongst the Lexx crew who might conceivably fit the alpha male mould is the assassin-come-renegade Kai (who is essentially a zombified killing machine who had his emotions surgically removed from his brain), but aside from possessing the remnants of a sense of a justice he doesn’t really possess any altruistic drive whatsoever and is much more likely to apathetically say something like “I am not motivated to do that” in response to any given situation that calls for heroism than to want to get involved at all; it’s instead usually only as a result of coaxing from others that he takes any action in any conflict.

Instead, as the episodes progressed, what began to happen is that I started to in fact identify with the Stanley Tweedle character… someone who, on the face of it, is a deeply unlikable character – a lust-driven, treacherous coward.

Why? Because for me he’s arguably the only sane character… and, as I got further into the show, I would think “Yeah, he’s right: leave the ‘hero business’ to other people”. But what’s so great about the character, looking at it now, is Brian Downey’s wonderful performance… here’s a character that you could absolutely end up hating with a passion, but Downey gives him real humanity and as the story unfolds there is a redemption of sorts, because you see that he isn’t really such a bad guy – just someone who’s had to make some impossible choices in order to survive a nightmare existence.

Anyway, aside from some minor quibbles… such as the low budget of the show being quite telling in some episodes (e.g. some dodgy matte paintings and some now very dated looking CGI), it still holds up rather well; it’s just a shame that Amazon is only showing the first three seasons – the completist in me is quite disappointed by this.

On a personal note, I have such fond memories of this show because it offered a bit of welcome escapism from what was a nightmare existence of my own at that time… so it’s an interesting experience to watch this show decades later, being now both sober and healthy.

Okay, well that’s my slice of nostalgia for the day.

Thanks for reading.

 

Peace and love,

GARY