Things That Made Me Smile This Year

Everyone has their best of lists, favorites lists, etc, and frankly I haven’t played enough games or seen enough movies to make a 10 best list; instead this is a buffet (since no one says smorgrasbord anymore) of things that made me smile.

13th Star – Fish

This got a deluxe early release in September of last year, but didn’t have its US release until February of this year, so I’m putting it in. A remerkable album, filled with passion, soul and some cowbell on a couple of tracks. At a lean 55 minutes over 10 tracks, Fish creates some of his best music and insightful lyrics ever. Pretty damn impressive given his solo work and time with Marillion. In light of recent events he blogged about with his throat problems, it’s only all the more impressive.

The Dark Knight

One of the few movies I saw this year-at an IMAX theater no less, it lost none of its excitement or thrills for me as I watched it again on DVD. With such strong performances from Heath Ledger and Gary Oldman, Batman as played by Christian Bale, is overshadowed. The action is nonstop, the music is some of the best I’ve heard in a long time, and well, it had me on the edge of my seat for the whole movie.


Yes, I know this is a summer movie from ’07 but I only saw it this year. Its go for broke raunchiness is tempered by an ending that had me a bit choked up. Michael Cera, a favorite from Arrested Development, Cera has the comedic acting chops to be around for a long, long time.

Secret Millionaire

This one is a bit of a guilty pleasure. Fox’s new reality show, allows a millionaire to pose as someone poor in order to look for people to help. It’s about as shallow and contrived as one can get, but I swear, when they break the checks out at the end, the look on people’s faces is worth the 50 minutes of cringe inducing moments.

World of Warcraft/Wrath of the Lich King

Anyone who’s read my blog,  by now knows my love (indeed obsession, perhaps), for the game. It’s brought me hours of joy, diversion and excitement in ways I could have never imagined. Oh, I know it’s only a video game, but there’s something that happens once you log in…you lose yourself in it the way you do in a great novel or movie. And as much as I loved WoW when I first started playing in April, I have come to adore it even more with the expansion. Brilliant game.

Rusty, Cussedness, ETT

And most everyone else who details the exploits of the nitwits. If I listed everyone I’d have a list as long as Nikita’s problems, so don’t feel excluded.

Death in Common

I still have a smile from this one. The first published appearance of my work as a writer. What’s not to smile about?


And finally no list of things which make me smile would be complete without my cat Odetta. She keeps me going, and is the only anchor I sometimes feel I’ve got to this life. For almost 5 years now, this furry little friend has been my constant companion, and life wouldn’t be the same without her.


So, now you know what made me smile this year,  what about you? What made you smile this year?

Fish Update

As many who know me, both online and in person, are aware, my favorite singer is ex Marillion frontman Fish.  I became a huge fan when I first heard him sing on Misplaced Childhood, some 20 plus years ago. His departure from the band, and difficulty of getting his CD’s in the states, never deterred my enthusiasm for the man and his music.

This all culminated in my finally seeing him live this past July at the House of Blues in Hollywood, CA. The avatar I have on SL and Odark as well as one on my blog here are of Fish and myself. For me, it was liking meeting Stephen King or CLive Barker. It was a highpoint in my life, and one I will remember until I become worm food.

In an email this morning, Fish had this to say:

She took internal photos of my throat and vocal chords with an endoscope and pronounced that I didn’t have nodules.
I thought everything was going to be diagnosed as down to heavy usage and prescribed a rest from singing for a while.
Just as I thought I had an all clear she pointed out a white area on one of my chords and said “But this is worrying!”
As soon as I heard the phrase “irregular cell growth” my mind went cold and focused.
I knew what it meant.

Needless to say I was shocked. He then went on to write,

I was in hospital yesterday and had an examination under general anaesthetic which involved taking a biopsy from one of my vocal chords.
I now wait on the results.

Either way I have come to grips with this as much as I can under the circumstances.
In all honesty I am 50 year old, I smoke(d), drink, have a “colourful” history, have sung nearly 1700 gigs in 27 years and have conducted probably three times as many interviews. It’s like standing on the M1 and expecting not to be hit by a car  😀

I wish Fish and his fiance Katie nothing but the best. My thoughts go with the Big Man and his family, in hopes that everything comes out okay.

Comfort Music

When the news gets overwhelming, the nitwits out of hand, when work gets too distressing, I listen to my favorite band.

This is probably my favorite song bar none. It made me a fan of Marillion, and a huge, huge fan of Fish’s lyrics. It’s a tad long, but please enjoy… Script for a Jester’s Tear.


Marillion: The Early Stages 1982-1987 The Official Bootlegs

 It’s official! The box set of some of Marillion’s early concerts will now be available on November 17th. All orders made directly from former lead singer Fish’s website will also receive an autographed copy of the cover (Mark Wilkinson is the artist,who also did the banner on my website-which is from Fish’s album 13th Star) by Mark, himself and the members of Marillion. 

For those not familiar with their work, this is a great way to sample some of the best music of the 80’s.

They’ve been compared to early Genesis, King Crimson and every other progressive rock band you can think of; but they were (and still are)their own creature. I heard about them from a roommate, and I was an instant fan. While I don’t care for some of the more recent work, preferring Fish’s solo stuff much more, what’s packed into the 6 CD’s represents the best of the best. Check out Fish’s website for more info including track listings here:

13th Star Revisited

Released as a limited edition in September of ’07 and a world release this past February, 13th Star may be Fish’s best solo album to date.

From the opening track “Circle Line” to the closing track with the album’s title, 13th Star is a voyage of one man’s rocky journey though life.  With the unversal themes of love, hate and everything in between, Fish and cowriter Steve Vantsis make it all sound fresh and original. That is Fish’s greatest strength with his lyrics; his ability to take tried and true themes and make them his own. Written and recorded in the midst of a relationship breakup, Fish has never sounded better. At 50, his voice isn’t what you remember from his time with Marillion in the early 80’s but it doesn’t need to be. He retains all the emotion; the love, the heartbreak, the hope and yes, the vulnerability (his voice clearly cracks with emotion during 13th Star) that very few possess in this day and age.

I’ve spent a couple of months on a podcast binge and haven’t given this a play since his Hollywood gig back in June, and it amazed me just how much of an impact it carries. 10 tracks, spanning 56 minutes or so and not a wasted note, or lyric in that time.

With a new single on its way (Zoe 25), 13th Star shows no sign of slowing down. For anyone interested, the limited edition (which includes a 64 minute making of DVD) and standard edition can be purchased from his website,