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.