Friday, 20 August 2010

sing a song of ... somebody else's

*boots self up arse* since this is the only theme I'm actually bothering with at the moment, have some tunes...

With the other Friday's musical thread being parodies, this week's is a little more direct. Here's a handful of artist's singing other bugger's stuff.

Ever heard Outkast's 'Hey Ya' being played on an accordion? No? The result is surprisingly good:

Nick Cave's 'The Mercy Seat' is a song about redemption and the electric chair. Cave's vocals are dark and melancholic but Johnny Cash brings a different aura to the song. You can well imagine Cash walking the last hundred yards of his life, his prison denims creased by the wardens' fingers...

Here is the lovely Pixie Lott singing Kings Of leon's 'Use Somebody'

It's hard to imagine a ska version of Aha's Take On Me, but when you hear it, it all makes sense. I think it beats the shite out of the original video, so I'm linking to this 'literal video' instead. But don't worry Morten fans, it's still got him brooding away in squiggly charcoal.

And finally...Dusty Springfield's 'I just don't know what to do with myself' (although her version wasn't the original either) has been given the white stripes and supermodel treatment to create this rather interesting video:

I suspect the men may find it more interesting than the ladies!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Not Got That Friday Feeling... but hey... men in wigs and heels...

Nope, it's still not happening. I'm still as depressed as a pushed-in button. And flat as that joke. Ho Hum.

But I have discovered a new favourite film: Hedwig And The Angry Inch, the story of Hedwig, an East Berliner with a botched sex-change op who is dumped by her husband in the US and spends the entire film telling her life story and playing in a series of restaurants called "Bilgewater's"

I suppose this can go on the shelf alongside two of my other favourite films about transsexuals. The best of these is undoubtedly Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert
By the way, the music here has got sod all to do with the film, but I like the song.

And then there's The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which is still going strong after god knows how many years.

and as a bonus: more Hedwig

Friday, 6 August 2010

Hey, that sounds awfully like that other song...

It's Friday again and time for some more musical masterpieces. This week my theme is parodies, or rather songs that pay homage to other songs. The formula is simple, take someone else's song, change the words and hey presto, new song. But there's a definite knack to it.

First up is Newport State Of Mind, homage to Alicia Key's Empire State Of Mind. Quite simply the best parody floating around the net at the moment, the way the lyrics have been subtly altered to fit this Welsh town. And best rhyme award for making 'rap star' rhyme with 'hamster'. Superb.

The plain white T's song 'Hey Delilah' has proved to be fertile ground for the parody-fans. There's a Harry Potter version, a cupracabra song and one about weed. But as the best parodies are mirrors to their parent songs, I'm choosing this one:

And, talking of parodies and parent songs, how about a parody of a cover song? Leanard Cohen's Hallelujah (he wrote it, Buckley sang it), it's got so many cover versions that I suspect many people aren't even sure whose song it is. One of the latest versions is Alexandra Burke's, she of the pop-idol fame. I wasn't overly keen on her version, and it seems I wasn't the only one; Mitch Benn... take it away:

and finally, if Nickleback's song is all about wanting the rock and roll lifestyle and how wonderful it would be, but this song certainly gives a different spin on celebrity.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

In A Blue Funk

I am today, a miserable bint. Feeling completely uncreative and grey. So here, in stolen lyrics and videos, is a message to myself...

"..when sleep won't come and you've got no occuptaion, but nibbling at the fruits of the melancholy tree..."

"save yourself from pain, when you can..."

"and we dance while the sky crashes down"

melancholic to lunatic in three easy stages.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Songs and video games...

Music and gaming go together like hack n slash. In some games the music is simply background, so far into the background in fact that the only reason you remember it is that at 4am, when you are still mentally replaying that last unwinnable boss level, the music is going through your head like a toxic stream.

Other games use 'proper' music that you may or may not have heard in the charts. Chief culprits of this are urban sports games such as the Tony Hawk series. There's nothing like grinding your way through major cities to the tune of heavy metal, rap or punk/ska. This tune accompanied many a wipe-out of mine on a certain skateboarding game. Embedding is disabled but here is an unofficial version of the same tune.

Some games have quality soundtracks or theme songs written especially for them. The Silent Hill franchise is well known for its excellent musical score written by Akira Yamaoka and is well worth checking out on youtube (beware of the scary vids, the game is not rated 18 for nothing). This video is from Silent Hill 4: The Room, and is just breathtakingly beautiful. I *think* it is free of nasty imagery, but not 100% certain (trying to type and listen here)

I don't know what it is about women's voices and shuddery horror but here's another soft breathy song about death and killing. The 'Portal Song' or 'Still alive' to give it its proper title, is a rather pithy message to the player from the computer GLaDOS. The line "I've experiments to run and research to be done on the people who are...still alive," is deliciously creepy. Wholly safe for work and young eyes:

And finally, if there could be a song so unsuited to horror survival gaming and yet so bloody funny when applied to ya go; silent hill meets Benny Hill.


Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Dead weird

Although the topic of birth may be more appropriate to kick off this first Wednesday's Weird Wonderful Websites, I'm going with its dark deathy equivalent: zombies.

So, you're a fan of the genre. You've seen a fair amount of Romero films, argued that 28 days later isn't technically a zombie film and split your sides watching Shaun Of The Dead. Well, my odd little friend, here's some more zombie goodness for you...

To start with... the Zombie Alphabet , twenty-six panels of awesome artwork, cute in a gross way and not too scary.

Want to be a little more interactive with your zombies? Why not join the survivors in Malton fighting against the Urban Dead. Or, start off as one of the shambling undead.

Ever wanted to know just how fast the zombie invasion will spread? Try this interactive flash demonstration but if you fancy being the cause of the zombie apocalypse, then this game is for you: Infectonator:World Domination

But just remember... if you see this sign on your way to work, the end of the world is Extremely F***ing Nigh*

*Go on, be a smart-arse in the comments and name the reference.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Sorry, can you repeat that, please?

Well folks, I'm still deaf. It's been nearly a week now since the onset of this gunkyearitis and it's no better at all. Dh very kindly rang up the GP surgery and I've got an appointment on Friday. I guess I discover then whether it's glue ear or hardened wax. The latter will be easier to get rid of.

But in the meantime I've been living life as a hearing-impaired person. Granted, I'm not completely without hearing but there is definitely quite some loss and the difference is huge.

Firstly, I've never truly appreciated how isolating hearing loss can be. I went to a family barbeque at the weekend and despite me joking that at least I wouldn't have to listen to all the kids there screaming and yelling, it was hard work. Because I'm finding speech the hardest thing to hear, most of the conversations were completely passing me by. I was trying to compensate by leaning in close, staring at people's lips and asking people to repeat themselves. Not great, and it leads me to another revelation; people think you're a moron.

It's true. Despite me telling everyone I've had to speak to this week that I've got an ear infection and can't hear a bloody thing, I've had more than one instance of the person I'm talking to looking at me like it's IQ points I've lost. Shop cashiers mostly. I never expected that. I suppose I ought to have done, historically the deaf were usually considered mentally deficient, but I thought society would be past it by now. Obviously not.

It's been an educational week for me (and probably good for writing, I'm damn sure I'll be able to write deaf characters with a slightly better understanding now) but I'm hoping the doctor can sort it on Friday. Wish me luck.

Monday, 26 July 2010

This (stolen) meme has me weeping....

aka Songs That Make You Cry.   A meme I'm shamelessly lifting from the interwebs and I'm not tagging anyone because I know this meme is ancient. 

So folks, grab your hankies and prepare for the snotfest. 

First up is this from Bon Jovi. A song that I used to have on a cassette given to me by my first love when I was barely fifteen. Any track of Bon Jovi's takes me right back to that relationship. Despite all our promises of always, we eventually broke up.  The irony and tragedy of this song was even more apparent a few years later when I received news of his sudden death. Bob, this one's for you:

This video from emo band Jimmy Eat World is also for Bob. A song he never heard as it was released a year and more after his death. I was given a copy of the album by a mutual friend who thought I'd enjoy it.  He was right, I did. I was just thinking about how much Bob would have liked this band when this song came on and floored me completely:


This one makes me cry for a whole different set of reasons. I'm a Daddy's girl, always was, always will be, and this song captures that whole relationship and wraps it in a beautiful melody and wonderful lyrics. So I'm dedicating this song to my dad, who has also been known to play the guitar a wee bit...

and finally there is this, which makes me blub for unfathomable reasons. It's just so bloody nice 

Enjoy the vids, I find myself in need of a tissue...

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Icecreams and airplanes

Two poems for you today, both written for something called 'Saturday Scribes' that I had a brief dalliance with a while ago.  Both of these were published on an old LJ account of mine but I think they are worth revisiting. 

This one makes me think of Australia, or rather, how I imagine it to be in some far-flung mining town with nothing but bush and red earth for miles. Whether they actually have ice-cream vans in Australia, I couldn't tell you.  In fact, now I come to think about it, perhaps what I'm really thinking of is this children's programwhich definitely has one.


She walks.
Kicking up dust and pebbles,
Blue shoes turning grey in the dirt.
A one-person dust-storm

In her hand grimy coins
Held safe
Grasped by sausage fingers
Bitten nails.

And in the distance she can see
A larger dust-storm than she
A melody strained and thinning
Through heat-scorched air.

A sudden flash of sun on white
The looming lumbering form
Gliding across the horizon
A mirage in the heat haze

A van in the road
Pulled to the dusty edge
Motor idling, man whistling
A window sliding open

Coins held fast in grimy fingers
She runs.

This poem of imagination and childhood dreams was also written for the Saturday scribes, although it reads like a memory, I don't think it is. My son has never been into planes or flying, unless aliens were involved.  Had it been about UFOs, then I could well imagine him gunning down imaginary grey men and crashing in area 51.


In the kitchen, on the floor
A cardboard carton
Within the box is a small boy child making airplane noises
With potatoes for cargo
And teddies as passengers
He flies his plane through the skies

In his cardboard fuselage
His world is transformed
He pulls on the wooden spoon prop
And leans back
Ascending higher than any four year ever has
His imagination the only limit

He sees the clouds
As they pass below him
And aliens who wave from their flying saucer
He calls out a greeting as he returns to Earth
The airport is near The runway is clear
And he lands with a flourish On the black and white tiled floor

He tells me the plane needs more fuel
Before he pilots it to Mars
I offer him provisions for the journey
Milk and biscuits An apple cut into quarters
He requests raisins for his passengers
And a banana for his crew.

Then he climbs back into his plane
A simple box
Transformed by marker pen
A plastic plate for a steering wheel
An old lipstick pushed through the cardboard
Is the ignition button
His finger touches it
And he flies.

Hope you enjoyed them and if you've any ideas for poetry prompts, feel free to leave a comment. 

Friday, 23 July 2010

Kicking off the Friday Music fest

And, for this week's music awards we have a bit of Ronson, some weird song with lyrics you can't understand and something with barely any lyrics at all.  Why the hell not. *smirk*.

So, with the award for earworm of the week is Mr. Ronson and friends with a tune called Bang bang bang which takes the old song 'Alouette'  ( yes, you know it, but, if you're anything like me, have no concept of what the song is actually about - plucking feathers it turns out. And let me tell you, when the woman on the video sings about plucking, it's amazing how much PL sounds like F ) and mixes it up with a bit of rap, some keyboardy stuff and comes out with something that sticks in your head all week. Yes, you're welcome. 

This song also has lyrics in another language, but whilst a French speaker would understand Ronson's effort, this tune is mostly unintelligible. Winning my 'what the hell is he actually singing?' award is Yolanda Be Cool & DCUP's We no speak americano .  I'm putting this here because my daughter keeps playing it. It's not quite an earworm but it is really annoying and I just know it'll be in the top ten next week. 

Lastly, but not least is My Dirge by Sxip Shirey , here providing the background music for a snippet of a show called Sxip's Hour Of Charm. Winning the 'wish I had tickets to that show' award. Sxip's music is a whole world away from either of the other two songs here. It's strange, otherworldly and ethereal yet other pieces are beatboxy and urban. I came across his work whilst looking for video's by my favourite artist Jason Webley  and was entranced by all the different sounds this guy can make with marbles, bowls and various bits of metal. Well worth checking out. 

Friday Music Fest and other Newfangled Stuff...

The other day, someone on a forum I frequent asked how you go about starting a blog. Me, the ever-helpful soul that I am, posted her the link to blogger and told her it was easy. Which it is. I felt I had done my good deed for the day.

And then someone coughcoughNickiecoughcough posted this: The irony of Elle explaining how piss easy starting a blog is has just made me spit my tea all over my laptop  


Ha de ha ha. 

But she's got a point. 

I don't find it easy to find things to talk about each day. My life is not that interesting, I'm not a photographer, when I write, I tend to write loooooooooooong and sometimes, I just don't feel up to writing anything. In fact, doing anything more strenuous than mindless games on facebook is beyond me some days. But I've had an idea. An organisational sort of idea.

Themed days. 

Of course, not every day will stick to the theme, some days might have two posts and there will always be days when I'm back to playing solitaire and not communicating with anyone. My mental health is like the weather, some days it rains and other days it pours, baby. I don't expect much of anything of myself when my head is full of fog. 

So, Fridays. How about a little music? I'll stick a youtube video up and a few words, you lot can point and laugh at my musical taste. 

I'll sort the rest of the themes out and put something on the sidebar. Eventually make it clickable and stuff. 

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear...

I've always had a lot of trouble with my ears. I've got several clear memories of myself as a child, miserably holding a hot-water bottle to my head in an attempt to ease the agony of earache. And another of me as a teenager having to go to the doctor and have a foreign body removed from my ear canal after attempting to cure earache with cotton wool.

My GP once told me that I must have small Eustachian tubes, a genetic gift I seem to have passed down to my children, who have almost all been similarly afflicted, and none more so than dd2, who is my mini-me. An almost dead-ringer for myself as a child. The same doctor had commented it must be the shape of our head. I'm not sure whether it was meant as a joke, but given the strong family resemblance, it wouldn't surprise me.

Most kids grow out of ear infections. The tubes get larger, sturdier. Less prone to gunking up. It's true that dd1 has grown out of it, as has ds. Dd3 hasn't had one for several years. Not so for me and dd2. Even now she's complaining about them, and there's a faint whiff of eau de mank. I'm sensing another trip to the GP if they don't clear up.

As for myself, the other night I went to bed and had the most horrible sensation in my left ear. It felt as though it was full of glue, I could even feel the tube sealing itself up. Most icky. And not only icky, but deafening. Now I fully understand the term "glue ear".  Hearing with only one ear is strange, because you can really appreciate the difference in the two volume levels. And it throws your balance all to cock.

Wellll, I'm the sort of person who just can't leave any damn thing alone. Including manky earholes. So, disregarding that sage medical advice, I had at it with judicious use of cotton buds and ear wax softening ointment - it didn't do anything worth a damn to my hearing, but it did clear out an extraordinary amount of wax.  

So this morning I've gotten up and there is no discernible difference between the hearing in one ear and the other. My celebrations were short-lived. The hearing hasn't come back fully in my left ear, but now my right ear is also deficient. I'm now deafer than yesterday. 

The other weird thing about glue ear, is that I can still hear, but some things are really hard to distinguish. The very worst thing is the speech of small girls and young women. I'm having real problems today understanding most of what is being said to me. 

Given the normal amount of noise in my house, I'll let you know if that's a good or a bad thing!

Saturday, 17 July 2010

A post to say thankyou

For all the years I've been writing, two people have been there every step of the way.  They have encouraged me, applauded me and supported me. My parents are fantastic people and I couldn't wish for a better set of genes to draw upon. 

They are both really talented people, my mum is an amateur photographer and my dad is a poet and songwriter. Recently he's extended his talents to flash fiction and blogging. 

Mum, dad... this post is for you. 

With love xxxxxxxxx

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Poetry, paint and PC problems.

Those three came in the reverse order this weekend. 

It started with the PC playing up. First the browser shutting itself down, and then the computer randomly switching itself off.  It's been doing it for a couple of weeks, driving me nuts. I've scanned it, updated things, sworn at it and pleaded with it. Finally I decided to do a whole system recovery and see if that helped. Except I can't find the system discs. So I gave the tower to my father-in-law to play around with. He's done something with the power unit, cleaned all the dust (and pet hair, more than likely, that stuff gets everywhere) and now it's working. Hurrah!

But whilst I was offline - and bored - me and dh decided to repaint the living room. It's a rented house and the living room was already adorned with cornice, an artex ceiling and a dado rail. I can't be fagged changing it. So when we're bored of the colour scheme we have, we just pick two more colours and repaint. Last time we had an light orangey brown on the top, and a cocoey pink brown on the bottom. Now the top is a light mushroomy beige and the bottom (due to the fact I'd picked out a shade almost identical to what we already had and so simply added lots of white to the tin) is now a very light pinky brown.  

It's not fantastic, but it's cleaner and fresher. I'm not much of a nest builder, we didn't have the money, paint or energy to really make the room look fabulous. But it certainly looks better. 

Lastly, poetry... my friend Nickie suggested I submit something to the guys over at Pygmy Giant to see if they liked it.  So I eventually sent them a couple of poems. Turns out they actually did quite like them and here's the first.  I'm quite chuffed about that. 

So all in all, as weekends go, not bad!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

*Bustles in...with apologies*

Yes, yes, I know. It's been neglected again hasn't it? Poor old blog. Left for dead at the side of the internet highway whilst I was off doing more interesting things.

What interesting things? I hear you ask. Have you been out getting yourself one of them "life" things I've been hearing about? Sort of.

May was full of the final assignment writing-blur that most adults students may be familiar with, when the deadlines sneak up on you, you find out there's an extra part of the assignment on the page you didn't check and three edits and two final polishes just aren't getting your work up to snuff. Then before you know it, it's all submitted, you've had your notification it's been received and all that's left is several months of nail-biting and waiting for final results. I suspect there will be just enough time for me to forget how stressful it was and to have talked myself into the next course before I get that final result. 

In fact I'm already lying to myself here, I've already chosen my next unit. All I have to do now is apply for it. (adds that to to-do list)

So that was May. June... I have no idea where the hell June slunk off to. 

Although I did have a trip here with my son, and a trip here with about twenty other family members (and the bus driver did look pleased when five adults and twelve kids mobbed his bus !) and I've lost a whole evening a week because dd2 and dd3 are now Brownies, and I spend most of that evening sitting in a supermarket cafe reading, and the rest of it walking to and from. 

And we're into our second week of high temperatures, gripey belly and whiney child virus-type thing. First dd3 and now dd2.  It could be worse, it could be the dreaded norovirus. Although that tends to hit smack in the middle of NaNoWriMo  but all in all... life got in the way.  Sorry about that.

Although I have got a guest post coming up at Typecast this month.  Yup, I does poetry too. I may even shove some on here. At some point. 

Monday, 3 May 2010

Seven Things That Make Me Interesting

I've been tagged by Muddynosugar for this meme and apparently I've got to do several things to fulfil all contractual obligations and save myself from being tarred and feathered. *

1. You must thank the person who has given you the award - 
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog - 
3. Link the person who has nominated you for the award -  
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting. 
5. Nominate 7 other Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate - 
7. Let the nominated victims bloggers know they have been tagged -

So, here goes:

1. Muddynosugar, cheers for the tag and btw, we share a coffee preference (ie two spoonfuls of coffee, no sugar, just wave the milk at it will you) and a starsign. There you go, two bonus interesting things. 

2. the logo... let's see if I can do this, for I be very new at this blogging thing and have never put a picture on here...  hmmm, not where I intended it to be but hey, it's up and on. Yay!

3. Yep! It's up there! Go on, scroll back up, see!

and now, to the main event.....

Seven Interesting Things About Me:

1: I'm A Gamer, behold my mighty weapon!

I am a girl who games. It's been twelve years since I got my first playstation and I still get a thrill when I have a new game in my hand. I've slaughtered my way through legions of scary monsters on Silent Hill, flown around a world littered with gems on Spyro, spent hours perfecting the jump, pause, jump jump, count of two, twat the monster, swerve round the hole, jump up to the box, spin, spin and oh bugger of Crash Bandicoot.  But my favourite sort of games are simple hack and slash role play games. Baldur's Gate? Maxed out every character. And it's sequel. Champions Of Norrath ? Fabulous fun. Take three friends and a forest full of orcs, dragons, huge spiders and kobolds and what do you get? Fun. 

2. I Have Several Fears That Are Not Quite Phobias But Are Close Enough.

Everyone is afraid of something, right? I don't like heights. That's common enough, a lot of people don't like them. How about the dark? I'm not quite phobic about the dark, it has to be really dark before I'm quaking, not quite can't-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face-dark but getting on for that. I'm a big wuss.

The biggest phobia I have is somewhat more unusual and I'm not sure it even has a name. I don't like things with blades, and especially things that combine blades with speed. Food processors, lawn-mowers, chainsaws. I hate them. I won't use them, I prefer not to see other people using them. Nasty horrible things. 

I also don't like horses. 

3. I Own Two Guitars; I Can't Play Either Of Them

I've always loved the guitar, my dad plays rather well and frequently serenades family parties. Growing up, I was always desperate to emulate him and make my own music. I begged him to teach me. He said I wouldn't practise. He finally relented when I turned 30. He gave me a guitar (electric), I bought a second (acoustic). Almost five years later, I still can't play. He was right. I did not practise. 

4. My Body Is Weird. #1

My toes are the same length as dd2's. She is not yet 9 and a size 3/4. I am thirtysomething and a size 6/7. She has long elegant feet, mine are small and pudgy. With short toes. 

5. My Body Is Weird#2

I have lazy eyes, frequently seeing double or blurred. When I was younger, I was offered either an operation or exercises to correct this. I took the exercises but eventually gave up on them. and so over the years they've gone back to being lazy. When I'm tired, it gets worse. I also sneeze in the sunlight.

 6. I Have ... Fascinations. 

Occasionally, my sister will ring me up and say "There's this documentary on tonight, you'll love it, it's right up your's about conjoined twins." Or people with hypertricosis  or telepathy, or the hunt for the chupacabra. Weird stuff. I love it. Anything that is on the fringes of normality, things that may or may not exist and things that science cannot explain. I love the macabre, the abnormal and the downright spooky. 

7. Things On Tv I Don't Watch:

Soap Operas, because you need to watch them religiously or you have no idea who is who and who is shagging who. I can't keep up with all that. 

Reality TV, because reality is in the eye of the editor.

Sports, because they all bore me witless. 

so................ there are my seven things you may find interesting (or not!) and now for the tagging... except I'm not sure I know seven other bloggers, so I'm going to tag some people and if anyone else wants tagging, please comment with your blog address and I'll amend the entry. Ok? 



Nickie - although she may have done this meme already. 

* I may be overreacting just a wee bit here. 

Tuesday, 27 April 2010


I thought nobody was reading this. Or, of those who have possibly glanced at it, none cared enough enough to comment. 

Apparently I am wrong. 

Apparently the comments thing wasn't working.


Fixed it now! Hopefully. 

Seven things that make me grumpy...

I've been tagged by Nickie at typecast with this meme - she thought it suited me - and so I am doing this post before I forget. 

1. Facebook.  Or, rather more specifically, some of the stupid apps on there. So-and-so is 50% happy today? Oh really? Do they know this because they answered four questions and the app told them so? Were those four questions: are you happy? Are you sad? Is your favourite colour soft pink, grey or blood red? Choose the animal that best represents your mood - kitten, slug or raging swamp-beast. Do these people not know if they are happy or not, or is the app a way of yelling to the world "Ping me! I'm having a miserable day today."

And following directly on from facebook is... drum roll please ...

2. text speak . I don't know whether it is my age(rapidly heading towards 'mature'), or my nature (pedantic) but text-speak annoys me. And not just text-speak but the complete bastardisation of every word some people write. You need a translation device for most comments. I am thinking of creating a group on facebook. It shall be titled "I thought you were intelligent until I read your status updates" and I shall disqualify any potential member who writes 'better' as 'beta', 'mates' as 'm8s' and 'boys' as boiz'. Consider yourselves warned. 

3. the new remote control. An odd choice you may think, but let me explain. For all the years we've had cable TV, we've had the same type of remote. Grey, big buttons, reassuringly heavy. Chuckable. I had my cable box replaced this week and with the new and snazzy box, came a new and snazzy remote control. Very nice looking, all blue and silver. Except the damn thing is lighter, especially at the front of it. You press one of the ridiculously small buttons and the damn thing turns over in your hand. I keep pressing the wrong buttons, they are stupidly small, almost halved in size. It's got quick launch type buttons to get to the settings and ondemand quicker. Yeah, just what I need, for the kids to be able to access the PIN codes without having to trawl through six or seven menus first. I'm not impressed. 

4. Horses on verges I live on an estate where there is a high number of Traveller families. Not in caravans for the most part, but normal houses. It's not the Travellers themselves that make me grumpy, it's their horses. I'm no big fan of horses, I'd rather not have to walk anywhere near an animal that is twice the size of me, has teeth the length of fingers and comes complete with iron bolstered kicking apparatus. But often, I get no choice. Wherever the is a sizeable patch of grass, you will often find a horse tethered up. And not only on verges but also the gardens of empty houses and the grassy play area that surrounds the local playground. They are bad enough when tethered, but when they get loose, an annoyance becomes a danger. This isn't a rural village, it's an urban housing estate, I don't believe horses belong here at all. 

5. Crowd roar on football video games I get that it's part of the whole experience of being at a real life football match, I know it comes as a package for live games, but for the love of all that is claret and amber striped, why the hell am I listening to it in my own house? Dh is a lover of the beautiful game, and a lover of the beautiful console equivalent, and I respect that. I don't mind him playing, but the noise is grating. "WooooooooAHHHHHHHHHooooooooooAHHHHHHHhuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh" There's no words, no rhythm and no respite. Because it's low in tone, it carries through walls and floorboards, because it crescendos to a screaming frenzy it seems to be louder than the game would suggest. It's annoying and tedious and now I have a headache. Bah.

And on from that...

6. People who play music on their mobiles without earphones. You're on the bus, it's packed but fairly quiet, you're already irritated because you have five bags of very heavy shopping and you're sharing your seat with a fidgety six year old and then the worst happens. Some arse with a phone gets on and all you can hear is noise. It's probably meant to be a chart hit, but the tinniness of the crap speakers make it impossible to actually tell*. It could be bhangra, it may even be the world's finest singer doing a cover of your favourite tune ever. All you can tell is that it is annoying.  *Unless it is a rap song filled with expletives, in that case, the lyrics will be crystal clear. 

And finally, the last thing that is making me grumpy this week:

7. Me. Ever had one of those weeks where you just annoy yourself? My head doesn't seem to want to think (that'll be the football chanting induced headache then), no ideas are forthcoming for either of the two assignments I have due in soon, I can't seem to type at all ( my favourite button is the delete key) and for some odd reason, my toes are hurting. I am just grumpy, inside, outside and all the way through like a stick of rock. 

Passing this meme onto these ladies:


Monday, 12 April 2010

Unicorns, flying cats and other stuffed stuff.

The world is a weird and wonderful place, filled with eccentric people and fabulous animals. And this is nowhere more evident than the seriously creepy/magnificent / unusual (delete as applicable) collection going under the hammer at an auction house in Dorset. 

The entire contents of Brading The Experience museum are up for sale, waxworks and taxidermies mostly. Including rogue taxidermies of creatures that simply don't exist: unicorns, flying cats and a yeti (although the jury is still out on the yeti's non-existence).

Taxidermy is a art that seems to be coming back into vogue. The Victorians loved it. In the days before conservation, it was perfectly acceptable to bring home an actual lion from your travels abroad, have it stuffed and displayed in your study. Assuming you could afford it. Although most taxidermies are not that big. 

These days, it's a specialist art. Not many people know how to do it, and not many people are interested in learning, but there are still some taxidermists left. Some doing it as an art form, others as a business. 

The biggest collection of taxidermy I've seen is at Cliffe Castle in Keighley. No lions, but plenty of birds, rodents and creatures of the British countryside. It's quite a thing to see animals preserved in such a matter. So lifelike you'd think they are breathing. In fact, when we took dd1 and ds a few years ago, dd1 asked if they came out of the cages at night. It's not hard to believe they would. 

Sunday, 11 April 2010

How do you know you suck?

When I started writing, almost thirty years ago, I really didn't care how good I was. That's easy for a four year old. As long as you can write your name and all the letters facing the right way, you're golden. 

I started writing actual stories when I was about seven or eight and still didn't care. 

At thirteen I got my first typewriter, not only could I type stories and make them look printed, I can type faster than I can write longhand. This was about the time I started showing my stuff to other people. And they all liked it. So I figured I was pretty good at it.

I wrote all through my teens, got a couple of poems published, stood up at the Love Apple once and did some stuff onstage. What did I care? I was a teenager, fearless I was. 

I wish I still was fearless.

It's a funny thing. The more you learn about your craft, the less you seem to know. In my early twenties I decided to get serious about writing novels and bought some books on the subject. Bad idea, I succeeded in killing my muse for about ten years.  Why? Because I wanted it to be better and for it to be good and done properly. It's taken me a long time to realise that there is no proper way to write. Each writer's ways of getting that story down are as individual as the writers themselves. 

I went back to writing in 2004. I had come across something called National Novel Writing Month and thought I'd have a crack at it. I had a few ideas but no outline, no tightly plotted line with action points marked in red pen. I struggled through it but I did it.

The year after, I failed the challenge entirely. It wasn't a writing problem so much as a life getting in the way problem. 

The year after, and every year since then, I've won, and won comfortably. I've given up going into it with anything more than some nebulous ideas scribbled on bits of paper. I let myself leap into the unknown with no plot and just then everything develop.

Call me an OLPer (organic linear plotter - I think) or call me a pantser (as in flying by the seat of-) the label doesn't matter. What matters is the realisation that I do not plot and I do not plan and I simply cannot sit down and draw up a plot-line with action points on it. 

So I'm writing again now. Good stuff. Now the problem is, how good is it? Worth reading? Worth publishing?  The only way I'm going to learn the answers to that is if I let people read it. I'm assured that it's definitely worth reading, publishing may be another matter. When I've polished the novel enough to send out, then I'll know. 

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Cracks fingers and settles down....

Been a while since I posted. Yep, another blog, dead on the net. I'm so fabulous at this writing everyday thing. [sarcastic smiley]

Well, since I'm stuck on the current novel, and also stuck on the Uni Assignment, it seems the only form of procrastination left (which still falls within the remit of writing) is blogging.

I am spending far too much time on the internet reading forums, playing games and not being very productive. Now that spring is here and my brain has finally realised it has a conciousness, I am hoping to be more productive.

Of course I'm making all the normal promises to myself about giving up smoking (ten days so far, the nicotine replacement is working well enough), eating healthier (um... let's just pass on that one) and taking more exercise (moving swiftly on...) I'm making promises about more specific things. More time outside, more time being social with people I can actually look in the eye, and more writing.

So, back to the blog. And back to being a blogger with something people may want to read, and not a bookmark that you might remove after having it six month because the owner never bloody updates.

Friday, 8 January 2010

A couple from The Haunting Of The Orc And Dragon, a nano I wrote in 17 days about three friends, one of who is an amputee and another has achondraplasia. It was in response to a nano dare to write a story with disabled characters.

Because we were passing the Golden Duckling Chinese takeaway we stopped off in there to place an order. We often go there, it’s cheap and the food is plentiful. As with the pizza orders, we never seemed to vary our Chinese food order either. A special Sweet And Sour for me, curry for Figgis and a Special Fried Rice for Bel. We have no imagination when it comes to food. Not even Figgis, whose capacity for imagination in every other area is outstanding.

Bel wriggled up and onto the nearest chair. The guy behind the counter was new,at least I hadn’t seen him before. Bel winked at him. He seemed to be fascinated with her every move, as though she was some exotic creature that he had never before seen. Bel was used to this, she drew stares wherever she went. When she was in good humour she would smile at people and ask if she could help them. Bel in a bad humour looked evil enough to make most people think twice about opening their mouths. People who were stupid enough to make comments to a bad tempered Bel usually found themselves on the wrong end of an acidic retort. If the guy behind the counter wasn’t careful, he was going to experience it first hand.

And then it happened. The stupid bugger opened his mouth.

“Hey,” He said, and smirked. “You, you’re a dwarf ain’t you?”

Bel looked up at him. He wasn’t much to look at, an acne covered teenager who looked like his IQ was half that of toast. She sighed. “ I have a form of dwarfism, so yes, I’m a dwarf.”

“Seen any hobbits lately?” He sniggered.

“Seen any braincell activity lately?” Bel smiled pleasantly. “Hobbits? No, I don’t believe I have. I do think I’ve seen an orc though. Or is it a goblin?” She turned to Figgis. “Which are the really stupid, ugly ones?”

“The tall stupid ugly ones are orcs.” Figgis said helpfully. “The small ugly stupid ones are goblins.”

“So, you’re what? Medium height?” Bel asked sweetly. “I guess that makes you the half-witted bastard offspring of the two.”

“What?” The youth looked surprised.

“No, perhaps it is unfair to call you such names,” She said, still smiling. “After all, it can’t be your fault that you grew up both stupid and ugly, hereditary was it?”

“Hey!” He said. “Shut up.”

“And that sparkling wit, it’s so, what’s the word? Witty.”

“Shut up!” He said again. “Fucking dwarf.”

“Oh!” Bel clapped her hands together in glee. “It knows how to swear!”

Things could have got very ugly at that point, except that the bloke who actually owned The Golden Duckling came out to see just what was going on. He didn’t look very pleased at the youth’s version of events, which ran predictably along the lines of the youth being harrassed by three drunken foul-mouthed patrons calling him names. That was us, presumeably.

Bel tried to explain nicely that she was verbally defending herself against the ignorance and tactlessness of his employee. The owner must have been related to the youth because he launched into a defence of him that mainly consisted of saying what a nice polite boy he was. Bel told him that he was not a nice boy, far from it. He was an ignorant boy with less brains than a mollusc, a boy who would go far in the field of being a complete prick and a boy that was not likely to lose his virginity with anything that didn’t possess four legs and a wooly coat,. and only then if he was lucky, and it was a blind sheep, with no sense of smell, and it was cornered.

“Fuck, I’m drunk.” I said to Bruce, “Why did I drink the punch?”

“Because you’re a masochist?” He suggested, smiling the smug smile of someone who is sober when all about them are pissed up and feeling it, the smug smile of someone who knows he is going to be hangover-free in the morning.

“Oh ha ha, you are so funny, Bruce.” I said “Blimey, how do you go through life being called Bruce? It’s just one of the most crap names ever.”

“Well, thanks a lot.” He said. “I’m rather partial to it myself. It’s better than Ralph.”

“That’s not your middle name is it?” And I very unkindly shrieked with laughter. “Bruce Ralph?”

He nodded.

“Go on, tell me. What’s your surname?” I whispered. Crossing my legs just in case his surname was just as funny and I wet myself laughing. At that point it was looking like a distinct possibility.

“Simpkins.” He said.

I howled. I absolutely howled with laughter. I couldn’t help it. “Bruce Ralph Simpkins?”

And then what followed was the most embarrassing moments of my entire life. Bar none. Well, until they were surpassed by the embarrassing events of the morning after. But as October ticked over into November, they were still at the number one spot.

“How much did your parents hate you to saddle you with that?” I managed to ask through my giggles, and then I wasn’t worried that I was going to wet myself laughing because I knew without a shadow of a doubrt what I was actually going to do was puke. I ran for the ladies, threw myself down to my knees and was very, very ill. That wasn’t the worst bit. Oh no, that was still to come. Because I’d run off halfway through tormenting poor Bruce, he’d been worried about me. So, like the gentleman he was, he decided to come and see if I was ok.

“Hey!” I heard through the door. “Are you all right?”

“Yeurgh.” I said. And spat bile into the pan.

“Can I come in? Do you need a hand?” He walked into the stall and tried helping me to my feet. Despite the fact I’d got rid of most of the alcohol in my stomach, the rest seemed to have hit my bloodstream at a phenomenal rate. I could barely speak, let alone get up. He tried gripping me under the armpits and hauling me to my feet, with me still snorting hysterically with mirth. Then it happened. I slipped, he slipped, and to stop me falling back down he grabbed a hold of my arm. Except that he grabbed the wrong one. And it came off.

I’d never seen a man faint before, but good old Bruce hit the deck like a sack of spuds. Which, in my disgustingly inebraited state, I found hilarious. It was not my finest hour. I landed back on my arse beside him. When Bel found us a minute or so later we must have looked a right state. Bruce on the floor, with my arm in his hand, and me on my arse in drunken hysteria. As I said. It was not my finest hour.

“How did the seance go?” I mumbled to Bel.

“Shut up, you bloody drunken fool. I can’t get you up, I’ll have to get Figgis to help.” She yelled for help and we were suddenly surrounded by lots of people, Figgis and Jherek, Tyler and various others. All of whom were both amused by poor Bruce fainting and by the fact that I was now ‘legless as well as armless’ Gee, thanks for that one Figgis.

Bruce was carted off in the small side room until he recovered. Apparently he’d never noticed that I only have one arm, no wonder the poor bugger fainted. I was carted off home in Jherek’s van because nobody dare put me in a taxi. The last thing I remember was being helped out of the back of the van by two Jack Sparrows and a small witch that swore incessantly at me.