Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Birthday Books


Well, it's the end of the month and all those Tin Hat shenanigans are over, so I thought I'd better post another update of the books I've read. I'll warn you now before you scroll down that this is a 'Trek-heavy post.
I'll also give you a preview of what to expect from upcoming book-related posts by showing you the books I received for my birthday a week or so ago.


I finished Four Past Midnight, by Stephen King not long after I last did a book post. The second and third stories in this collection are The Library Policeman and The Sun Dog, respectively.
After the somewhat disappointing first two stories, I was pleasantly surprised by these final two. 6.3. The Library Policeman is a good old fashioned horror story in a typical King style. 6.4. The Sun Dog has a slow but tense build up to its conclusion but the storylines of the two main characters, 'Pop' Merrill and Kevin, didn't swap back and forth enough for my liking. I thought Kevin's story was over with as Pop's went on for so long, so it was a surprise to be reintroduced to him near the end of the book.
All in all, I would recommend Four Past Midnight for the concept of The Langoliers and the tense build up of The Sun Dog.

7. The Lives of Dax, edited by Marco Palmieri

This is a lovely anthology based on the character Dax from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. For those not in the know, Dax is a joined Trill, a humanoid host with a worm-like symbiont living inside it. The symbiont is implanted into the abdomen of a host and the two become 'joined' - become one being. At the end of the host's life, the long-lived symbiont is removed and implanted into a new host, taking with it the stored memories of all past hosts, thus ensuring a sort of immortality.
Each of the stories focuses on one of the hosts of the Dax symbiont. Beginning with the current host, Ezri Dax, all ten hosts are covered but the temporarily joined Verad doesn't have a story for himself as his few hours of being joined are told in the episode Invasive Procedures. He does play a major part in Jadzia Dax's story, though.
My favourite stories are those of the first host Lela, and her first contact with an alien race. Second host Tobin, and his thwarting of Romulan hijackers with new invention the transporter along with Spock's grandfather, Skon. Fourth host Audrid's letter to her estranged daughter, Neema Cyl. The long suppressed sixth host Joran's murderous nature, and the tenth and current host Ezri's story of an unprepared, almost forced joining.

8. Star Trek: Romulans - Pawns of War, by John Byrne

This collection of six comics was given to me by a still-not-topless-and-paint-flecked friend for my birthday. The story is told from a Romulan perspective and begins with the events from The Original Series episode Balance of Terror and goes on to cover the brief duplicitous alliance between the Romulans and the Klingons. It also features the character Number One (portrayed by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry as M. Leigh Hudec) from the pilot episode, now a commodore and commanding officer of the USS Yorktown NCC 1717.
I loved this collection (one might call it a graphic novel if one was particulary snobby) for its portrayal of the Romulans - A somewhat underused race in Star Trek on the small (and large) screen, in my opinion. The only problem with it is that universal one of not being able to follow the panels easily on those layouts that span the spine. I don't know why these comics/graphic novels are still produced in a portrait format? A landscape format is much more logical when the artists obviously seem to prefer a 'widescreen' look.

9. Star Trek: Mirror Universe - The Sorrows of Empire, by David Mack

This book was also a gift from the generous above-mentioned friend. It's by one of my very favourite Star Trek authors and is the story of the rise and fall of the Terran Empire from the Mirror Universe established in The Original Series episode Mirror Mirror.
I finished reading this book last night - Just in time to add it it to this post!


So, now those are out of the way, I'm free to show you an exclusive preview of upcoming books, all of which were birthday presents from The Parents (as instructed by my sister, Inexcuseable DeVice):



Monday, March 29, 2010

Triumphant Tin Foil Hats


I know many of you have been waiting for this moment with baited breath, so, to prevent anyone keeling over from asphyxiation, I shall now declare the winners of the Tin Hat & Tales Compo! And here to present the awards are ABBA!


Uh, oh. Someone obviously didn't get the proper message. I'll just have to host these awards myselves.


As I explained in an earlier post, there are two winners: One is the winner of the Popular Tin Foil Hat, as voted for by you, the blogging public. The other is the winner of the Technical Tin Foil Hat, as chosen by myselves.
So, without further ado, may I present the winners:

Popular Tin Foil Hat Winner: Eroswings, with his Tin Foil Hat London Olympics!


It's no surprise that Eros' hat won the majority of your votes - Just look at the detail: The intricate Olympic rings, the torch, the athlete. Eros also used up his entire tin foil supply to craft his masterpiece, so his prize shall reflect this: A Teflon cooking mat! Eros, you'll never need foil again!
Runners up were: Eros again with his Hermes-inspired Tin Foil Hat Wings, and Princess' glamorous creation.


Technical Tin Foil Hat Winner: Princess, with her Empress-Dowager-thwarting, disco-ball'd-daywear tin foil hat!


This was a very difficult category to assign a winner in. My cold, dead heart wanted to give xl the prize for such a cute chapeau, but then my head (i.e. the SubCs) got involved and pointed out that it looks like xl spent more time carving the sponge into bunny-form than he spent fashioning the ear-hats. Would this be true, xl?
So, I turned to the entries that had followed the rules of the competition and submitted a
short technical description of the hat's functions, or a tale of Mother-thwarting derring-do to go with it. That meant that poor, sick 'Petra was immediately ruled out. Eros was next to fall due to the fact that his (technically excellent) hats seemed to be displayed on some sort of gigantic zit or boil - very off-putting. He'd have won if only he'd worn the hat and only the hat in his picture!
Choosing the winner from the remaining two contestants came down to one factor as both were displayed on very glamorous models and both were perfectly accessorized: The specs/tale. Unfortunately, MJ seemed to have lost the plot and created a hat that actually attracted, rather than repelled, which left Princess with her tale of
Mother-thwarting derring-do as the winner. Congratulations! Your prize consists of some highly delightful cocktail parasols and an intriguing rubber-cum-crystal ball!

Just remember I said the prizes would be cheap!


Finally, here is my tin foil hat in all it's glory:


As you can see, the cone is angled backwards for aerodynamic superiority while piloting Broom. The brim is fully adjustable for various speeds and can also be flipped up to act as an air-brake. The pointed, beak-like visor shields my eyes from the wind and also protects my identity. The hat is double lined to prevent even the most piercing Mother mind-beam from penetrating it and, therefore, reading my most secret thoughts.


So, there you have it. Thank you to all those who entered and voted - You've made this compo a success!



Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tin Foil Hat Gallery


Ah, good day, and welcome to the gala opening of this neo-constructionist collection of international chapeaux de tin foil.

Or hastily thrown together crap, in other words.
Actually, some of them look like they went to a lot of effort.
Really? Which ones?
Oi! Shush, you two!

* Ahem * What was I saying? Oh, yes: I would like to present to you, the blogging public, this exclusive collection of objets d'art from the world over:


First, we have Princess, modellin- Oh. It looks like she was too busy voguing for the camera to pose properly for whichever houseboy was tasked with capturing her iconic Patsy Stone-esque image. Perhaps we'll move on and come back to her later.

This is more like it. Two examples of metallic hattery by Eroswings, complete with the artist's own tales of inspiration along with the hat's technical specifications:


Here's the first one: The tin foil hat wings

This hat was inspired by the winged god Hermes, who a few hours after being born, snuck out of his crib and went to cause mischief to the other gods, before sneaking back in and pretending to be asleep while his mother slept, none the wiser to his antics. This tin foil hat will empower me to sneak out and do mischievous things without the authorities (parental or gov't) knowing what's going on! And it will also repel any alien weapons, transporter, and tractor technologies.
If the aliens want to probe, they're going to have to do it the old fashioned way: using lots of alcohol and paying for dinner!


The second hat was the most difficult to create, as it took all of the tin foil in my home to complete! I call it: The tin foil hat London Olympics!

The Olympic rings on the hat broadcasts a signal that starts on the day of the opening ceremony, causing mothers within 100 yards to stop asking children to do chores when the Olympics are on! And the torch bearer will send out a signal during live events to ensure that people watching the games will be provided with snacks! The Big Ben clock tower will shield wearer's true thoughts, by radiating a continuous signal that makes scanners see only happy Olympic thoughts, freeing the wearer to plot and move about freely!


The next exhibit is by that Canadian glamourpuss Mistress MJ:


Mistress MJ’s Prizewinning Tinfoil Hat

Rather than act as a repellent, Mistress MJ’s Prizewinning Tinfoil Hat has magnetic properties.

That’s right. This hat actually attracts! And not just unwanted attention.

Wearing the hat is guaranteed to improve your mojo.

If you are a woman, it will lure men from across the sea (hence the symbolism of the blue band) to Canada (hence the Canadian flag symbolism) to your “flower” or “pussy” (see use of both symbols).

If you are a heterosexual man, it will attract pussy.

If you are a big ole flaming homosexual (like Inexplicable DeVice) it will signal that you are indeed a big ole flaming homosexual and your back door is open for business.

Really that’s all you need to know.

Grand, isn’t it?


This towering example of aluminium high fashion was fabricated by the a queen of Denmark: CyberPetra!


Against better judgment I hereby submit my attempt at a tinfoil hat. It's been done in a bit of a rush so my concept of 70s disco didn't really come through as flattering as it should have.

It looks like the poor model is suffering from the dry, chapped skin associated with scurvy - Perhaps he'd better eat himself?
Aha! It appears that Princess is now ready for her photo-op:


And as the Empress is starting to regain her powers, I have had to start wearing my tin hat again, just so she does not know what I am up to while surfing and blogging. She repeatedly asks "What Princess do on that funny TV all time"?.
I usually respond with "Nothing Mother just checking my Emails"
"Humph, Why you not just use Quill and Parchment like Empress Dowager? Send
Houseboy with letter!"
To which I reply "It is called technology Mother "Dial up" just stop your friends from ringing you while I am on line as they keep bumping me off" hence the upgrade and being off air for a little while:0!
I shall wish myself luck but unfortunately may not be able to vote as planned. Will let you know when I am back on air again.
End of Transmission.
Much Luv Princess


The final example of this avant garde collection has been very kindly loaned from the Salle de Bain exhibit down at the Loo Louvre, with compliments from the artist: xl


Unfortunately, xl didn't have time to attach a set of specifications, or a tale of inspiration, as he's already hard at work on his next piece, which I believe to be a rubber duck in a baking parchment sou wester!
But just look at this masterpiece - Soooooooooo cute!

Anyway...

Now that we have come to the end of the gallery exhibit, please show your appreciation by voting for the chapeau that you'd like to win.
I shall be tabulating your votes at the weekend and announcing the winner on Monday 29th March.
For those of you who didn't make find time *cough*BEAST,Tim,Snooze,amongstothers*cough* to create a metallic masterpiece, you may still submit your entries up until midnight on Sunday, but you'll only be eligible for an "also ran" credit. Unless, Tim, you make good your promise to "pose in my tinfoil hat wearing only a tie like one of Pete's book covers
", then you'll get an extra special prize...

Oh, I'll be modelling my tin foil hat, too.


P.S. Thank you for the birthday wishes!


Sunday, March 21, 2010

I hope you like my extension?


Due to constant haranguing from the multitudes (OK, so it was only BEAST, Tim, Eros, & Miss Scarlet, but I think you'll agree that any more than three equals a multitude?), I have graciously decided to extend the deadline of the Tin Hat & Tales compo.

The new deadline will be midnight on Wednesday, 24th March (GMT). For the rules, see the previous two posts, but especially this one.

For those of you who have already submitted your entries and are feeling increasingly bitter ('Petra) because you may have rushed your Tin Hat masterpiece, by all means create another hat and email it in. Multiple entries are allowed - After all, you can only win once!
And contrary to those circulating rumours, MJ's win is not a sure thing.



Right. You'd better snap to it my pretties!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tin Hat Teaser


Here is a little something to encourage you all to get those tin foil hats made, photographed and sent in:



Remember: To enter, you must make a tin foil hat to block the Mothers all-seeing & all-knowing mind-beams (see previous post), take a photo of yourself wearing said chapeau (or, if you are camera-shy, put it on a melon or other head-sized object) and send me the photo (email address is in my profile) along with a short technical description of the hat's functions, or a tale of Mother-thwarting derring-do to go with it.
The winner will be chosen by any/all of myselves, and displayed on this here blog. There will also be a (yet to be determined, but you can guarantee it'll be cheap) prize, or prizes.
And when do we have to get these photos sent in by, I hear you ask? Why, by midnight Saturday 20th March (GMT).

I have since decided that there will be two winners: One chosen by me, the other chosen by yourselves. I'm going to display all the entries for you to choose your favourite. Whomsoever receives the most votes (or approximations thereto), shall win.

Get your thinking caps on. And if they're made of foil, all the better!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tin Hat and Tales Compo


Now, today in Britland it's Mothers Day (who knows what kind of bizarre days you foreigners are celebrating?). And, taking inspiration from this auspicious day and my last post, I have decided to hold a competition. We all know that, as kids, we were often thwarted from carrying out nefarious and diabolical schemes by the insidious mind powers wielded by our Mothers. And sometimes even other people's Mothers. They'd always know when mud-pie mud was about to be hurled near to (or even at) their washing, or trampled through the house. Their Mother-sense would kick in from up to three rooms away when cupboards were opened and biscuits/cookies were about to be liberated from their packet/jar, thus spoiling our appetite for the
(often gruesome) impending tea/dinner. And then there's the ignominy of the almost insufferable face-wipe using a hankie moistened with their own spit! Oh, the horror!


Well, to vex the Mothers of the world, I am holding this competition. The rules are as follows:

To enter, you must make a tin foil hat to block the Mothers all-seeing & all-knowing mind-beams, take a photo of yourself wearing said chapeau (or, if you are camera-shy, put it on a melon or other head-sized object) and send me the photo (email address is in my profile) along with a short technical description of the hat's functions, or a tale of Mother-thwarting derring-do to go with it.
The winner will be chosen by any/all of myselves, and displayed on this here blog. There will also be a (yet to be determined, but you can guarantee it'll be cheap) prize, or prizes.
And when do we have to get these photos sent in by, I hear you ask? Why, by midnight Saturday 20th March (GMT).



So, there you have it. You have little under a week to design and build your tin foil hat(s - multiple entries will be considered) and email it in. I will declare the winner (and loser) the following day. Or possibly on the Monday depending how lazy/busy I am on the Sunday. I may even make a hat myself!

Good luck and godspeed!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Signs?


Does anyone else find this a trifle unnerving?

Image and news story from the Beeb

I don't believe for one moment that 75 starlings all commited suicide rather than get torn apart by a hawk or some other predator. No. This smacks of something much more sinister: A UFO with a cloaking device!
Those poor birds obviously flew straight into the side of a hovering alien space craft of some sort, hence all those broken beaks. Quick everyone, don your tin-foil hats to repel the aliens insidious mind control powers!

What?!

Haven't any of you seen Signs?


Saturday, March 06, 2010

Was it really four years ago?


I swam through the foyer, undulating like an eel as I gracefully made my way through the submerged house. The wallpaper was slowly coming away from the walls at the edges and waving like flock seaweed in the faint swell caused by my passing.

It was dim but not murky in the foyer. The large, multi-paned windows let in the vague green light from outside. I was about to inspect a picture on the wall to my right when movement in the corner of my eye made me freeze.

There was something in the kitchen. Something big. And black.

My heart was pounding as I slowly turned to get a better view. Whatever it was hadn't noticed me. I couldn't see or sense any eyes or make out any specific shapes, just its lissome movements as it manoeuvered around the kitchen. Using just my hands I propelled myself deliberately to the banister and concealed most of my body behind it while peering out through the rails.

Suddenly, whatever it was moved quickly towards the door into the foyer. Towards me. My eyes widened in fright. It was the queen.

Turning quickly, I surged down the stairs, curved over the banister and down in to the cellar below. Panicked, I sought for a hiding place but the room was devoid of furniture big enough to accomodate me. I was breathing the cool water faster now, in the grip of fear. Then I noticed the shape under the stairs.

Two aliens were nestled together on a sofa, stroking and caressing each other, oblivious to me. Sensing no maliciousness in them, I swam over them, dropping down behind their writhing, intertwined bodies. Through the gaps I could see the huge phallic shaped head of the queen come in to view as she effortlessly glided down the stairwell. Her massive, bladed crest was flattened against her back, her arms and legs brought in close against her undulating body and long, bony tail.

She slowly swam around the cellar, her lips curled back in a sneer displaying her sharp, translucent teeth. Ignoring the two aliens hiding me, she made one more circuit before disappearing up the stairwell. I remained where I was, shaking too much to even consider moving.

I don't know how much time had passed before I realised that I was transfixed by the writhing aliens before me. Their hard, black bodies rubbing and twisting around themselves in their intimate encounter. Before I knew it, a tail had smoothly wrapped around my leg and a strong but gentle, clawed hand had gripped my arm. I tried to extricate myself but was trapped. Then I found myself being pulled towards the sofa.

Despite being held by these terrifying creatures I felt strangely comfortable. Sandwiched between them now, they continued to caress each other, occasionally their hands, arms or tails would rub against me. I felt soothed by their actions. Relaxed, even. Gradually, I started to reciprocate, sliding my fingers over their hard, sinewey limbs, nuzzling my head into the crook of an arm or under a jaw. They were cajoling and enticing me to do more. I was becoming...

* rrrrrrrrrrrrruuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmmmmble creeeaak groan *

Huh? Wassgoingon? Wher...

Oh. I must've fallen asleep. What a bizarre dream.

That bloody central heating system woke me up again. Crotchety old clank. I only fed it the other day! Now I'll never get back to sleep.



Bugger.



OK, OK. So I'm too lazy to post something new, but, with the exception of Spike, Piggy & Tazzy (wherever they may be now) and Tickers, you'd never know if I hadn't admitted it. Besides, I have been having weird dreams lately, I just can't remember them as clearly as this one.


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

"Gerry fucking Anderson" vs "Ronco Woo-Matic"


I only managed to read one book last month. Well, three if you count two stories from an anthology of four. And those two stories were 300 and 180 pages respectively, and the whole book is 930 pages long, so maybe I will count them as separate books?

Anyway, the first book of this post - the fifth read this year - I found in a cupboard in our spare bedroom. It's one of SP's. I only picked it up because the cover was brightly coloured (just call me magpie), but, as I had actually picked it up, I thought I might as well read it, because I didn't have any other books to read that I hadn't read before. Well, that's a lie: I've got two in the loft, but that would have meant going up there to get them, and we all know how lazy I am, so that didn't happen.

I'm not going to review this book (when do I ever do reviews?). Instead, I'm going to leave you with some of my favourite quotes:

5. T-Shirt and Genes, by Richard Asplin

"'Well then,' I said with a heartiness that would make Brian Blessed look like Beaker from The Muppet Show." Page 134 - That must have been a VERY hearty "Well then" then!

"I could see screaming behind her eyes the white-knuckle restraint of a YOU FUCKING SPAZMO DURRRR! pulling at its lead." Page 169 - I know this one. I'm constantly restraining this particular beast when I'm at work. Or navigating around useless pedestrians. Or driving The list goes on...

"Smiling on cue, curtseying to the royal box, nodding away benignly like I had Gerry fucking Anderson at the controls." Pages 189-190 - I nearly widdled myself with laughter when I read this.

"Two children, barely eight months old, were strapped slightly into the chairs - as if at any moment Houston might finish the countdown and fire them off into the stratosphere." Page 262 - The best place for children as far as I'm concerned. Unless they end up in my flight path.

"This is was I was up against.
That smug face. That smug chiselled face which was, I checked my watch quickly, probably at this very moment being gazed into lovingly by my ex, all the while his mouth going ten to the dozen. Like a Ronco Woo-Matic, more coffee, sweetheart? I've got a nice wine in the fridge if you like I love what you've done to your hair I've got us tickets for this no no let me pick you up my treat mmm you smell gorgeous c'mere. All the arms in his olive-green romantic arsenal deployed. The Oozing 9mm, the Surface to Hair complimenting missile.
This is what I was up against.
I threw the photograph across the room with a card sharp's wrist flick.
And then promptly tutted, got up and fetched it from behind the telly, still murmuring away to itself. Because I could whine and stamp the floor and beat my fists and thcream and thcream and thcream until I wath thick about it not being fair." Page 286 - I just love the Oozing 9mm Surface to Hair complimenting missile. So much!

So. They were excerpts from T-Shirt and Genes, a story about a man who loses his girlfriend and his hapless plotting and scheming to win her back, along the way trying to work out the science behind love. Well, he is, or was, should I say, a science teacher.


Aaaaannd onto the second & third book, or just half a book if you're pernickety: 6.1 & 6.2. Stephen King's Four Past Midnight.

Firstly, I'd like to point out that I'm not a Stephen King fan - As regular readers will have noticed, what with the lack of posts about Stephen King books I've read. I found, after three or four books (or were they the film/TV movie adaptions?), that the stories were all a bit same-y. Good concepts but dulled by their similarities and by their sheer buried-under-an-avalanch-of-them number. Prior to this book, I don't think I'd read one of his books in years. And if I remember rightly, it was Carrie (a fantastic book, actually).

Anyway, this was another of SP's books, but I didn't just find this one laying around: SP handed it over and said I should read it. Albeit almost a year ago. And now I'm reading it, but only because - as I stated above - I don't have anything else to read.

The first story in the book is: The Langoliers. Rather than me try and tell you what it's about, you can just watch the trailer for the (inevitable) TV movie. It looks shockingly cheap and badly acted, and the comments on You Tube seem to support this. Don't get your hopes up.



The second story from Four Past Midnight is Secret Window, Secret Garden. Luckily for me, this has also been made into a movie. Although, I haven't seen it, so I don't know if it's true to the original story. Quite frankly, I don't care. If it's anything like the story, it'll be obvious what the twist is.



So that's it for another month. Next month (or at the end of this one), I'll post about the last two stories from Four Past Midnight plus, hopefully, at least a couple more books I've read.