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Idiotic Things I’ve Done This Month (The Rambles Are Back!)

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My poems are now available to pre-order in their respective anthologies from The Student Wordsmith and Good Newz–follow links here. [UPDATE: Sorry the link doesn’t seem to be working. I’m still trying to figure out why that is. In the meantime I’ve posted the info on my Welcome page.]

End sales pitch.

I’ve had an interesting month. I did a few posts titled “Things I Learned in [insert month here]” when I first started this blog, but haven’t done any for a while. But for this post I’m doing something … else.

Some Things I Learned:

  1. My animal is a beaver, according to one of those “What animal are you” quizzes. The night after I did the quiz, I had a dream about a beaver called Bobby who kept singing Madonna’s “Open Your Heart”. Feel free to analyse.
  2. If you stick a tube in a tree and collect the water, you can boil it down to make syrup. (Not all trees.) I only know this because I was looking at a wilderness survival website for researching a fan fiction (which is like a kind of cross between Lost, The Hunger Games, and I’m a Celebrity).
  3. I can, apparently, hold my breath for longer than average, since I beat my St Peter’s buddies on our Butlins weekend. This came as a real surprise since I always thought my lungs were rubbish and expected to lose. Okay, I used to play the oboe, but only for a couple of years, about eight years ago …
  4. This one’s for the Whovians: there is no ‘C’ in the Gallifreyan alphabet. At least in the one designed by Lorna Sherman, which is awesome and I’ve been inputting tonnes of character names into the translator.

Some Really Dumb Things I’ve Done (I learned from these too):

I wanted to go to Charing Cross. I usually use the ticket machines rather than real people, since the queues usually move faster and I don’t have to worry about being misheard (I don’t have a particularly loud voice).

For some reason I couldn’t fathom, my only options seemed to be “Charing Cross Underground (Sorry no fares available”, or “Charing Cross Glasgow”. Instead of going to the ticket office like a normal person, I panicked and bought a ticket to London Bridge instead.

This meant that upon arriving at said station, I had to walk all the way to the barriers, go out with the ticket and touch in with my Oyster, and go back to the same platform I’d just arrived at to get the next train. And, subsequently, the same on the way home.

And it’s not till I was just typing this up that I twigged: I should have been searching for “LONDON Charing Cross”.

Do you want to know the most ridiculous part? I wasn’t even running late. In fact I arrived an hour and a half early. Why I panicked I have no idea. I apparently have a pathological need to get to places early. It’s more of a nuisance than it sounds

Here’s another example of how my brain (sometimes) works. Yesterday I got it into my head that it was a bank holiday. (My calendar doesn’t have holidays marked, and I don’t use a diary, so they usually creep up on me.) For some reason, I thought it must be May Day.

Yep.

And it’s not like I didn’t know it was actually March. It wasn’t until twenty-seven hours later, and I was pondering when spring starts, that I twigged.

So, there’s some insight into this author’s head for you. I hope you don’t find it too frightening.

PS: I don’t like starting each new post with an apology for not posting in a while, so I’m not going to do it anymore.

mystery

Mystery sentence. First reader to translate it gets a minor character named after them in aforementioned fan fiction.

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Magic Tea and Dalek Cupcakes (They’re Awesome!)

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I guess blogging, like with anything, there’s a time to know when to break the rules. Today, I am rambling just like I used to.

For starters, sorry again for the gap. Birthday + nasty cough = letting things slide. Not that the cough and the birthday were at the same time, thank goodness. I had one, then the other. And talking of my birthday, see photo below!

1619359_10201331760431486_336652819_nThe Doctor Who decorations and cake kit were a bit of a surprise from my mother. It certainly added a little something to my party, which consisted of four friends and two brothers coming over and all of us stuffing ourselves with pizza then talking geeky stuff until … uh, quite late. Late in my book, anyway. I’m no night owl.

The cough hasn’t been nice. Usually I can stave off colds with what I call my “magic tea”–it’s not magic, just a Chinese herbal tea called Xiasangju Keli. I just have a cup or two when I start getting the sniffles and it clears up–much better than First Defence, which I’ve never liked. I’ve never got a full-on cold since I began drinking it (the time I forgot to drink it aside), though sore throats seem to be something else. Either that or I just didn’t drink enough. Anyway, I’m just coming out of my lack-of-sleep haze enough to be able to write something coherent and hopefully interesting. I’ve spent most of the last few days watching House of Anubis (series two, second time!) and reading Percy Jackson–finished the first series for the second time, and just finished the first in the second, for the first. The two combined have given me some strange dreams and story ideas. I’m itching to write something with weird puzzles and time travel.

Today, for only the second time ever, I did an entry at 750words.com. It would be a very useful site if I remembered to use it more often. I wish I had the gumption to do it every day, but when I look at the little link in my toolbar I think, I dunno what I would write/I feel dry/my brain’s not up to the task, etc. But I managed to get my fingers moving on the keyboard again and spurt out a load of random stuff, some of which I have just re-written for this paragraph! I’m hoping using it will get me back into blogging, and give me more randomness to offer the world.

I’m changing the subject back to the cupcakes, but only because I didn’t want to put this earlier for formatting purposes:

My copy of You is For University, in which “Nutshell” is published, is in the post! Finally I can see my name in print for the first time. And in my final bit of news, I received an offer for someone to translate some of my Doctor Who fanfiction into Russian! I actually got the request a while ago but I’ve just said yes (I thought I had already for ages). I’ve already had a Harry Potter drabble posted in French … does this make my work trilingual? Okay, probably not, since I’m not doing the translating. But still!

Crazy Convos and Christie

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Review of “The Christie Curse” by Victoria Abbott

15808728I can start by saying that the book met the two primary objectives of the whodunit genre: one, I didn’t work out whodunit straight away, and two, the narrative kept me hooked till the end.

As for the plot, “The Christie Curse” is a mystery about a supposedly lost Agatha Christie play, which is linked to a possible murder. The protagonist, Jordan Bingham, is relatable enough despite most readers probably weren’t raised by crooks as she was. Her job, to track down the play for her book-collecting, dragon of an employer, quickly looks to be dangerous but she continues stubbornly at it—if only to keep her luscious room and meals at the Van Alst manor house. She is a little too quick to point the finger but that only makes her more human.

The mystery itself is intriguing. Whilst I guessed about the cat quite early on, I only realised whodunit a few sentences before it was actually stated—about the right time, in my view, for the reader to work it out. A few scenes ran tingles up my spine, but there was nothing at all thriller-rish about the book—overall it’s what I think is called a ‘cosy’ mystery. There was definitely a Christie element, though you don’t have to be particularly familiar with her works to read the story.

I enjoyed every moment of the book, and highly recommend it. The best thing is, it’s the first in a series, and I believe the second one is out now.

Insane Facebook Conversation

My friend gave me permission to post this here. I had to save it for posterity. Possibly the most bonkers conversation I ever had, except maybe with the lady in New York who could tell I was English just from my complexion (apparently).

Me: I think my computer’s got Chizpurfles[1].

Friend: Oh dear … This is what happens when you exterminate all the Doxies in your home. Doxies feed primarily on dead skin cells and Chizpurfles.

Me: Hmm. I guess I shouldn’t have bought all that Doxycide from amazon.wiz—what a waste of Galleons. I should have trained them to guard my electrical items instead. Especially my TARDIS[2], it’s been crashing for weeks. Mr Scamander should have informed me. That book of his has some serious gaps.

Friend: Scamander? The Scamander prejudice against Doxies is well known. I’m surprised you hadn’t heard. They all despise Doxies and have advocated the complete extermination of the entire species. There was an article about it in the Prophet the other day, I’ll send it to you by owl when I find it. As for your TARDIS, I find when mine is malfunctioning, a good kick to the console tends to fix it for a while. Alternatively, I’ve heard that some people have luck with blue or green jello.

Me: Scamander? Prejudices? Well I never. Thank you very much for the article. I’m a Quibbler reader myself, hence why I didn’t see it. I would kick my TARDIS, but it was rather delicate before those pests got at it. I could try the jelly, if I had some. My first instinct was a powerful Reparo, but I’m afraid of the whole magic vs electronics clash.

Friend: Just once, I tried an enlargement charm on a computer screen, I was trying to turn it into a TV you see, and nothing happened except that all the actors, characters and animals on the screen seemed to have red eyes. It was a bit unsettling after a while. Since then, I prefer not to mix the two, just in case. I wouldn’t try it on something the size of a TARDIS. I suppose you could hire a Jedi mechanic … I mean, the Force is, after all, as much magic as science … but it could be expensive.

Me: Bro, help, I need Star Wars knowledge for a comeback.

Bro: May the unhelpful quote be with you.

Friend: Victory is mine

Me: [struggles to think of something witty to say about the currency in Star Wars—what IS the currency in Star Wars???] You are no longer my brother.

Bro: [grins inanely—at least, that’s what I reckon he did though I wasn’t actually there]

Footnotes

[1] Chizpurfle: a pest (from Harry Potter, but mentioned only in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) which feeds on magic or, in the absence of such, “has been known to attack electrical objects … explaining the puzzling failure of many relatively new Muggle artifacts” (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, page 7 footnote.)

[2] My phone, which has a TARDIS skin.

Pin of the week

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If anyone can help me properly embed a Pin so it SHOWS UP properly, please get in touch! At the moment I’m having to save the pics and upload them. The guidance on Pinterest is not working.

A Geeky Christmas

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Apologies for the long gap in posting. Hope everyone had a good Christmas and didn’t get indigestion. I hope all those in my area have their power back on now, and didn’t get flooded–weather’s been awful.

A Who-ish Season

I got a book called Doctor Who: The History of the Universe in 100 Objects for Christmas (along with two Doctor Who calendars–my parents know me!). I’ve only flicked through it so far, but I have mixed feelings about these kinds of books. As far as I can predict without reading it cover to cover, anything related to the new show I’ll already know, and anything to do with the classic series will probably spoil me majorly for when I watch the episodes in question. Which I plan to once I own the complete box set that was being advertised at the Anniversary Celebrations at London ExCel (no price or release date I noticed, but it’s obviously being planned, and about time too).

I don’t think I wrote anything about the Anniversary Celebrations for my blog, which I will rectify probably in the next post. For the moment, my two cents on the last two episodes. I went to the cinema to see the Anniversary episode, and enjoyed it more than I thought I would actually. Ten(nant) was my Doctor and I never quite got into the new style of writing either since the show changed hands (that’s not to say Moffat hasn’t done some great things, but I find it more confusing and less continuous). I was afraid the ep would be too ambitious and all energy would be put into understanding it rather than enjoying it, but I think it worked in the end. And whilst during the first watch I was dreading the end (what were they going to do with Gallifrey??) I was relieved by the actual finish. I was disappointed that Billie Piper wasn’t actually there to play Rose, and I did spot a few small plot-holes that I now can’t remember, but overall I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

I don’t think I’ve had long enough to really build an opinion of the Christmas ep. Maybe I should do a reflective paragraph on it another post.

Re-reading Potter

A recent bout of insomnia, other than spurring a tonne of fanfiction during the first night (I wish it could have been my coursework that got stuck in my head, but at least I wrote something) has made me read more, since I now stop looking at screens an hour before I try to sleep. This has meant a break from my Kindle, since it is Kindle Fire and more like a tablet than an e-reader. But it’s made me finally get around to reading some physical books again, specifically all 7 Harry Potter, which is and always will be my favourite book series.

I haven’t read them through for some time–the last time I read one, it was the seventh, and I finished the day I moved into my first uni digs (back in 2010). So it’s been a great experience re-reading them and reminding myself of all the greatest bits, especially those that never made it into the films, like my favourite quote:

It unscrews the other way”

or small details that I’d forgotten or even not noticed before, such as:

… one [task] that many of my followers would give their right hands to perform …”

(Both quotes by JK Rowling, I claim no ownership.)

Also moving through the series there were more of them, since the later ones I’ve read far fewer times. I can recite passages from the first book or two (I used to be able to do most of the first chapter) but the seventh I’m much less familiar with. Allow me to demonstrate.

Online Graphing
Create a chart

All right, I’m a geek. And it’s all approximate, I’ve hardly kept track of how many times I read each book. The only one I can be certain of is Deathly Hallows, since I read it once when it came out, once to my dad, and just finished it again two days ago.

In my “calculations” I’m allowing for audio versions and the number of times I’ve read individual passages (for example some of the earlier books I flicked through so often there’s probably at least an extra read total in addition to having read cover to cover).

Joke of the Week

(Told to me at Christmas.)

It was a cold Christmas night. A man was sitting warm by his fire, when there was a knock on the door. When he opened it, there was nobody there.

“Excuse me,” said a tiny voice. He looked around, but still couldn’t see anyone. “Excuse me, I’m down here!”

He looked down, and there on his doorstep was a snail, shivering and dusted in snow. “P-please s-sir, I’m s-so cold, could I c-come in and shelter b-by your fire?”

The man picked up the snail, and hurled it down the garden, slammed the door and returned to his chair by the fire.

The next Christmas, there was a knock on the door. The man left his warm seat by the fire to open it, but again there was nobody there.

Then a tiny voice said, “What did you do that for?”

Call For (Constructive) Criticism, Aquila Extract

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My Aquila project has officially begun. I have drafted a plan of the pilot and begun researching the genre and other things. You may find I am talking about superheroes a lot for the coming months! I’ve invested in plenty of books on writing for television, as well as a few box sets to work my way through. I need to be a superhero expert by the time I come to write my critical essay, so that seems like a good place to start.

I began writing the plan out in script form, and feel it’s falling rather flat–it’s also turning out a lot shorter than it needs to be, which is worrying.

Extract:

Hospital Waiting Room

(DAD is staring at a magazine without reading it. FIONA comes rushing in.)

DAD: Fiona! (stands up quickly) Well?

FIONA: I’m fine. Just a bit of a bump, nothing to worry about.

DAD: Sweetheart, you have amnesia. I’d say that’s something to worry about.

FIONA: Dad, I’m fine. Look, they’re letting me go, see? And if my memories come back, they come back; if they don’t, well, I can live with that. Come on, let’s get out of here. Please.

Fiona’s Bedroom, Night

(FIONA is in her own bed, asleep but fitful. The flashes continue.)

DAD (v.o.): Sweetheart, you have amnesia. I’d say that’s something to worry about.

NURSE #1 (v.o.): I can’t make out what this is–it looks like some kind of implant …

(The words BEWARE REDTHORN is superimposed over her.)

GEORGIA REDTHORN (V.o.): Come on in my dear, let’s get you dried off and warm, and then something to eat …

(FIONA sits up with a gasp.)

Major’s Kitchen, Morning

DAD is brewing coffee. ALFIE is in school uniform eating breakfast, wide awake. MUM is on the phone, holding a list.

MUM: … I know we should have called, but it was the early hours and our primary concern was getting her to bed safely. … Of course, I’ll give her your love. Bye, Dad.

(Phone is replaced. MUM crosses a name off her list.)

MUM: So that’s Grandad notified …

FIONA enters in her dressing-gown. The room stills as they all look at her.

FIONA: Um, morning.

MUM: Morning, love. What do you want for breakfast?

DAD: Do you want some coffee? Or tea, I could put the kettle back on.

MUM: You could let her answer, Doug.

ALFIE: Mm, Daddy’s being rude.

DAD: Alfie!

FIONA: Do we have any bacon?

MUM and DAD look at each other.

MUM: No, but I could pick some up when I drop Alfie off at school. Come on, Alfie, you’ll be late.

(ALFIE finishes his breakfast speedily while DAD proffers the cafetiere at FIONA.)

FIONA: Coffee, please, Dad.

(FIONA sits down while DAD pours her a coffee. MUM ushers ALFIE out into the hall.)

ALFIE: (from hall) Fiona, you’ll still be here when I come home, right?

FIONA: Of course I will.

(Sounds of MUM and ALFIE leaving house.)

DAD: Are you all right, sweetheart?

FIONA: You’re all acting so weird.

DAD: You can hardly blame us, it hasn’t exactly been a normal few weeks.

FIONA: No, it hasn’t.

DAD: We all want things to go back to normal as soon as possible.

FIONA: I know, Dad. I just wish it were that easy.

Fiona’s Bedroom, Morning

(FIONA is alone with her laptop, and searches REDTHORN online. Too many results. She tries REDTHORN SUPER EYESIGHT and REDTHORN IMPLANTS but also gets nowhere. Tries variants with RED THORN, still nothing useful.)

School Gates, Morning

(FIONA stands in a milling crowd of students, nervous. She looks around, noticing minute details. She looks behind her and reads the menu of a cafe the other end of the road. Swallows, but with great reluctance joins the crowds.)

VICTORIA: Fiona?

(FIONA turns and sees VICTORIA and EMMA standing behind her.)

FIONA: Vicks! Emma!

FIONA goes to hug them both but they don’t respond.

EMMA: Where’ve you been?

FIONA: I … I’m not sure. Amnesia.

VICTORIA: That’s not what I heard. Everyone’s saying you ran out on us for the Gymnastics Championships.

FIONA: What? They’re not! That’s not what–

EMMA: No, you just chose then to do a disappearing act on us, your teammates. We always said you were a drama queen.

FIONA: But–I didn’t–really–

VICTORIA: Have a nice life, Fiona.

(VICTORIA and EMMA walk off, arm in arm. FIONA stands there, stunned. The bell goes and she runs into school.)

I’m looking for some constructive criticism (not about the format, I had to do some jiggling to get it to be readable as a blog post). This is the first time I’ve posted something on this blog specifically for feedback, I’m hoping to do it  more in future. I’m very very sorry for neglecting my blog, but the stress has I’m afraid been getting to me.

Funny-Pictures-Anti-stress