Saturday 30 January 2010

You remember me!

Ah, hello. Fancy seeing you here! Sorry we haven't been about much in the last few days - We caught the plague again. Not a particularly virulent variety, but just enough to keep us off work and firmly ensconced on the sofa watching the first (and best) season of Heroes.
And now you're here, you're just in time for a books-read-this-year-so-far post. Ha!

We must do better than last year's feeble attempt to read more than the year before. We came sadly short of the heady heights of 23 books read back in 2008, only managing to read 14. But, this year will be different. This year we will astound and amaze you all, not only with the amount of non-Star trek books we will read, but also - well, I haven't thought of a "but also" yet, but I'm sure something will crop up.
Anyway, to start things off, here are the first four books-read-this-year:

1. Star Trek Vanguard: Precipice, by David Mack

I'm saving myself the bother of writing this one up as I know you just don't care. I will say this, however: David Mack is one of the finest writers of our time (in my opinion, of course), and continues to make reading about the lives of those caught up in the contininuing events related to Starbase 47, aka Vanguard Station, a pleasure.

2. Nation, by Terry Pratchett

I took me a little while to get into this book because I was of the opinion "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", i.e. This isn't a Discworld book, so why should I bother. Well, I'm glad I stuck with it as it's a terrific story.
Without wanting to spoil the story for anyone who wants to read it, here is the author's note:
This might look like a book set in the Pacific Ocean. Nothing could be further from the truth!!!!!* It is in fact set in a parallel universe, a phenomenon known only to physicists and anyone who has ever watched any episode of any sf series, anywhere. Different things happened, some people lived at different times, some bits of history have been changed, some things are made up out of real pieces (like the beer and the last five minutes of the Sweet Judy**) and so on. But the Great Pelagic Ocean is its own place.
Oddly enough, though, after the book was finished I learned that the Society Islands in the Pacific were named after the Royal Society in London by the famous Captain Cook, because it had sponsored the first British scientific survey of the islands. Sometimes it's hard to make things up . . .

* All exclamation marks were provided by The Author. They are not my own addition.
** A sailing ship wrecked upon the island of Nation by a tidal wave.

3. Grinny, by Nicholas Fisk

This book scared me silly when I first read it as a child and it's still creepy and disturbing today. It centres around a family whose Great Aunt Emma (or Grinny, as she's nicknamed by the daughter) turns up out of the blue to stay with them. The thing is, the mother and father have no clue who she is until GAE says the phrase "You remember me!", and then it's as if a recognition switched is flipped. The two children Tim and Beth, and their friend Mac, quickly discover Grinny's horrifying secret and set about ridding their family of Grinny in the hope of saving the world.

4. Stardust, By Neil Gaiman

Now, this was not the amazing read that I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, it's very good (especially as it doesn't feature Ricky 'I'm an irritating unfunny twat' Gervais, like the film version did), and a very easy read, but just not on par with the film's grander scale of character, marvel and enjoyment. I also didn't find it very involving.

Well, that's it for January. I hoping to read at least another four books in February, but we'll see how well that goes nearer the time, eh?

Tuesday 26 January 2010

Scabby old bat

Can you smell burning?
It smells like burning hair.
Yuck. I hate that smell. Where's it coming from?
* sniff sniff * Over there. Look.
Where? Oh, yes. Is that a dragon?
Is it?!
Lawks! Let's get out of here.

Oh no you don't! We're here now and Moom's expecting a walk. I'm not letting some jumped up lizard dictate whereabouts I walk just because it can incinerate a mortal at one hundred paces.
And, besides, if something's burning, chances are that it's already eaten.
Exactly. Hopefully, it'll have eaten that dreadful cow who walks that ratty little Yorkshire terrier, or whatever it is.

Yes, well, I don't think we should go bounding up as bold as brass.

Yeah, let's just stick to the woods at the edge of the park.

Oh, don't be such babies. We're more than a match for some scaly, scabby old bat.

Careful! We're right out in the open, now.

It's looking right at us! Run away!

Wha-? Jinkies! Look at the size of it! Uh, I think we will walk in the woods, after all.

* squints into the mist * Ohforgodssakes. It's not a dragon: It's that old tree stump in the middle of the park, you dolts!

Then what's the burning smell?

* sniff sniff * Smells like weed. I bet it's those delinquent teenagers from the housing estate up the road. Bloody hooligans. Where's a dragon when you need one?

Tuesday 19 January 2010

An unpleasant entry

The garden was barely visible. A thick blanket of fog had fallen and was doing a remarkably good job of obscuring anything more than two or three metres away. I sighed and turned back to the soup.
And snapped my head back again as something out there caught my eye.
Did something move out there in the garden? Did something big just cut a swathe through the fog, only to have it rapidly close in again after it? Was I imagining things? Again?
Probably. I turned back to the pan of soup.


I jumped
as I stirred the soup that was gently warming on the hob and spun towards the back door. A swarm of filthy, disgusting flies buzzed in through the gaps around the pulled-to door, causing me to recoil in horror. Before they reached me, the flies quickly coalesced into a figure. It was Izzkt. Or at least most of him - The rest was probably stuck to the fly-paper coils hanging in the sunroom.

"Ooh, I do wish you wouldn't do that" I said, holding my nose. "I told you I'd call you when it was ready. Pheeewwww!"

Saturday 16 January 2010

Dreaming of Mim

I had a dream the other night, in which I and my former tutor, Shee-La, aka the Princess Of Poached Eggs* (maysherestinpeace), found ourselves in a square, stone bell tower. At the top was the mad Madam Mim, and, let me tell you, she was mad that we were in her tower. POPE and Madam Mim got into a magical dual, but POPE, after becoming invisible, lost the majority of her powers, so I had to intervene.
In the dream, I was still young and inexperienced, so I wasn't faring too well. Suddenly, Mim knocked me out of one of the glassless windows - Hoping that I would fall to my doom, I shouldn't wonder. Instead, I managed to summon a broom (not Broom) and stop my plummet earthwards. But, the broom was invisible and relied on the power of belief to keep it tangible, which was very difficult to achieve what with most of my thought going into spell-casting and attempting to remain aboard (side-saddle, of course. A witch never rides astride a broom - That's for those heathen warlocks). It was also desperately slow. I was reduced to firing spells at Mim in through the windows and avoiding her retaliatory barrages as I very slowly orbited the tower.

Then I woke up.

I wonder what it means? Perhaps it's a premonition that Mim has recovered from the effects of Merlin's germ warfare and is on her way here? I do hope so, as I lent her my butter dish years ago and would rather like it back.

* She ran a cafe and had mastered the egg in all its forms, especially the poached variety, hence her nickname (unknown to her, though - It was only my sister Indescribable and I who called her POPE - out of her earshot, of course).

Sunday 10 January 2010

Hottest Sci-Figure 2009

I think it's time to wrap up the lingering vestiges of 2009 and post this; the half-arsed award ceremony for 2009's Hottest Sci-Figure, as chosen by you (and me, of course - After all, this is my blog).

First, here are the red carpet photos just prior to the awards. However, in my somewhat overzealous efforts to protect the identities of those of you with faces not worth showing,
by not showing your faces, I've somehow not shown the faces of everyone. I know that those of you who do have faces worth showing may be miffed, but I'm not going back and doing it all again. So there.

Now that the publicity photos are done and dusted, let's get on with the show.

The nominees for 2009's Hottest Sci-Figure are:

Josh Duhamel
(to see him naked, click here)

The Cylons: Tricia Helfer, Grace Park, Lucy lawless & Callum Keith Rennie

Katee Sackhoff

Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine

After much deliberation, the winner is: Chris Pine!

Well, it must have been obvious that I wasn't going to pick a girl. And while CKR is undoubtably sexy, he's just a little too craggy and I couldn't find a suitably clothe-less picture. So that left Josh, Sylar and Captain Kirk. Josh was the first to go as I find him a little too perfect (and facially, in some pictures, he looks like that hideous creature John Barrowman). Sylar, oh Sylar. You had everything going for you until Heroes watered you down - You should have been killed off while the going was good.

Sunday 3 January 2010

Look Back at Your Favorite Blog Post of 2009

As instructed by Tara's first post of the decade, here is a look back at my favourite blog post of 2009. The instructions aren't clear as to whether it should be the blogger's post or a post of another blogger, so in
an egomaniacal way, I'm choosing one of my own.

Before I'd even thought about it, Cusp Trek II (the one for Tim's birthday) popped straight into my mind. However, I don't class that particular post as finished as it's only one part of many (I'll get around to posting the further adventures soon, I promise), so I came up with this shortlist:

  1. The 2009 Coven Awards (Well, I spent a long time compiling it and doing the graphics, so of course it's a contender)
  2. Splish, Splash, Splosh! (the posts for 'Petra's birthday)
  3. A Hallowe'en Stalking (because it was my first video posting)
  4. Dungeons & Drag Queens (my birthday post - even though I finished it a little abruptly)
  5. The Valentines Day Mascara (chosen for the title which comes from is inspired by the film Priscilla: Queen of the Desert - See Princess's gracious help in the comments with my fading memory)

After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I have chosen Dungeons & Drag Queens as my favourite post of 2009, with Splish, Splash, Splosh! running it a close second. D&D won out in the end because it features Tim wearing little more than a belt. And if that isn't enough for you, then I don't know what is!

For those of you with lazy or inoperative clicking fingers, you'll find the winning post (almost) in its entirety below:

Dungeons & Drag Queens

“Hey, look! A dungeons and dragons ride!” Dora yelled, running towards the imposing fairground ride.
“Wow! Neat!” Dinah exclaimed and took off after her.
The rest of The Coven and ‘Petra followed the girls, barged past the queue (after all, it is my birthday), then jumped in to the lead car with Dora and Dinah. The ride started slowly then began to pick up speed, passing plastic skeletons brandishing plastic swords, papier-mâché demons gurning and snarling at the trackside, and a huge fibreglass dragon spewing terrifying orange and yellow silk streamers in an approximation of fire.
“Gimme a break” ‘Petra groaned, rolling his eyes.
“My arse is scarier than this” Dora sneered.
“I’ll say” T-Bird agreed a little too enthusiastically.
“That last dragon reminded me of Audrey” I said. “Oh, that reminds me, I never finished telling you about the palaver it was getting all of Audrey’s stuff over to SP’s.”
Tim slumped in his seat, his head lolling to one side hilariously (yeah, right), as I ignored him and continued.
“There were her medications and the list of how much and when; we had to pick up her shower chair; there’s the batteries for her hearing aid; magnifying glass for reading-" My monologue was rudely interrupted by our car shaking on the rails.
The tunnel blurred, it’s painted images fading into one another before streaking out to nothing as we shot past. I’d be damned (again) if I was going to let a little thing like that stop me though, so I took a deep breath to continue. And then the light vanished, plunging us into darkness. All momentum appeared to have ceased and silence reigned. Until…
“What happened?!” I exclaimed.
“Your mouth used up all the power” Tim snarled.
“Don’t worry IDV, we can still find the bar” ‘Petra quipped.
“Where’s my flashlight?” T-Bird asked. “In fact, where’s my bag? Peecat's in it!”
“I think it’s here next to me” Tim answered. “I’ll get the torch out” he continued, rifling around in the bag. “Where is it? In a pocket?” There were more sounds of rummaging, followed by a brief silence, then: “Where’s the switch?”
“Bring it here” T-Bird said.
“Oh, here it is.”

* bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz *

“What is this?”
And then there was light.
“Oh!” T-Bird screamed in mortified horror as everyone saw what Tim was holding.
Tim looked at the massive dildo in his hands and guffawed. He continued laughing as he took the mighty tool out of the rest of The Coven’s sight.
“What was that?” Dinah asked innocently.
“It was an… Uhhh…” I struggled for an explanation “electric ear cleaner.”
“It was kinda big.”
“It sure was!” ‘Petra intoned as Dora looked on smugly.

- - -

After the hubbub had died down, we followed Tim towards the source of light with T-Bird bringing up the rear, blushing furiously.
“Where are we?”
Looking around, we discovered we’d just left a black leather-lined dark room and come out into a cavernous staging area. Chains and leather straps hung from the lofty ceiling almost to the black rubber floor. Occasional swathes of padded red leather grew from the floor, forming couches and screens, some of which were adorned with full length, smoked glass mirrors. A liberal amount of dubious looking moist patches could be seen on most surfaces and everything had a disturbing sheen to it. To top it off, the whole environment smelled of poppers, sweat and spunk.*
Then, from behind a bestrapped and padlocked chair-like contraption, a ginger dwarf** appeared.

“What the fuck do you lot want?” it demanded in an effeminate Scottish/Yorkshire hybrid accent.
“We just want to go home” Dinah piped up after the initial shock of the sight of the dwarf had worn off.
“Home?” the stunted poof sneered. “You’ll have to work to pay your way home. Although, you’ll have to be kitted out in uniforms” and he pointed his stubby index finger at each of us in turn, a flash of light emanating from the nicotine stained digit to envelope us.
“Stalker” he declared, pointing at me first. My clothes became replaced by a dull black coverall complete with hood, dark glasses and what appeared to be a tranquiliser gun that, on closer inspection, fired rohypnol-tipped darts.

"Well! How very dare you" I declared. "I don't know where you'd get the idea I might be a little more attentive than etiquette deems polite?" I was very careful not to meet Tim's eyes as I said that.

"Pole dancer" he said next, sneering at me and pointing at Dinah, who was suddenly wearing little more than a couple of tassles and a handkerchief. In her hands she held a shiny eight foot metal pole, the end of which appeared to dispense lube.
"Hoody." T-Bird was transformed into a purple hoody-wearing malcontent, who, when she pulled up the hood, blended in with the shadows until she was practically invisible.
"Warlock." 'Petra became adorned with a green velvet cloak and pointy hat with enough dark eye make-up to plaster a wall.
"Cavalier." Dora groaned under the weight of battered and rusty armour made out of an old Vauxhall. She dropped the shield that was formed out of the car's bonnet*** with a dull clang.
"And" the dwarf sniggered, "Page 3 Stunna!" The last of our party's clothes disappeared and were replaced with- Well, they were barely replaced.

* Gasp * Dinah covered her mouth.

"Oh..." 'Petra exclaimed.

"My..." T-Bird continued.

"Gods!" I finished.

The four of us stood gaping and drooling at Tim in his barely-there 'three belts' costume. Dora looked on in mild interest, filing her nails on the rusty wheel arch that covered her hip.
Tim opened his mouth to protest at his attire, but became distracted at his reflection in a nearby mirror.

"Rawr!" he growled, he and his reflection admiring himself before remembering that he had an enrapt audience. "Ahem... I mean, I'm not wearing this outrageous outfit! It's clearly meant for a female physique." He glanced in T-Bird's direction then frowned in concentration as he attempted to 'rearrange' himself without spilling out of the blatantly cramped lower belt.

T-Bird eyed him suspiciously before pulling at her hoody. "While I like the comfort of this, it's hardly very fetching. That's not to say I'm gonna swap, Tim."

"Well, I'm not wearing this, either!" Dinah snapped.

Then Dora cut in. "At least you look female. I look like an ancient Transformer."

'Petra sighed in frustration. "Can't you magic up some different clothes, IDV? This green makes me look washed out."

"Oh, no" I replied. "You're the warlock - You do it. I quite like my 'Milk Tray Man' gear, thankyouverymuch!"

"Well, what do I do?"

"Oh, I don't know. Pull something out of your hat?" I said somewhat exasperated.

Sighing even more heavily, 'Petra removed his hat and pondered for a short while as everyone else resumed arguing about who should wear what, and where that nasty little ginger dwarf had gone.

"Ooh, I know!" he suddenly said. He waved his hand over the open end of the upside-down hat and chanted as he pulled out a spell:
"Magic hat, end this strop. Make everyone's costumes swap!"

* poof *

After the puff of pink smoke and the small shower of glitter had cleared, we regarded each other with almost as much astonishment as the first time we had an unplanned costume change.

Dora was now the 'Page 3 Stunna' - "Oh, great" she remarked sarcastically.

Dinah looked a lot happier in the hoody. Somewhat unsurprisingly, I was the warlock, sans hat, which 'Petra was still holding as he bore the weight of the cavalier armour and shield. And Tim, in a role-reversal, was now the stalker. But instead of paying attention to me, was lasciviously eyeing up a pole-holding and betassled T-Bird.


A piercing shriek rent the air, freezing us in place and chilling us to the bone. It was 'Petra.

"It's not a hat" he wailed, holding it betwixt finger and thumb. "It's not a hat!"

"Look!" he hissed, holding it up for all to see. "It... It's... The 'Shorts!"

He was right. It wasn't a hat he was holding. It was The Freakin' Green Elf Shorts, stiff after multitudes of blogger excretions had soaked in then dried over the years.
Tim sneered in disgust as 'Petra flung them away, not noticing a door opening right where he'd thrown them.

"What's all this shouting?" A strident voice bellowed. "This is a local dungeon for local people. There's nothing for you here-" Whoever it was that had come through the door complaining, was abruptly cut off as The 'Shorts landed squarely in her face.

"Oops!" 'Petra said.

A taloned hand reached up and pulled The 'Shorts from its head, exposing a murderous expression beneath a severe fringe.

"Look out!" T-Bird yelled as a vicious tongue lashed out from the demon-woman.

'Petra instinctively raised his shield-baring arm, inexpertly but effectively, preventing the tongue from making contact with us.
As the demon-woman screeched with rage, another door opened, unnoticed. Five over made-up faces peered around it.

"Cooeee!" they cried in unison just as the tongue lashed out once more.

This time 'Petra accidently deflected the tongue towards the newly opened door, where it slapped across the five faces, rasping great clods of trowelled on make-up from them. Their friendly demeanour changed instantly.

Five burly and befrocked bodies burst through the door heading straight for the source of the evil tongue. All but one opened their mouths, the other lifted its skirts and turned to face its arse at the demon-woman, then a stream of varying particles spewed forth from all five.
The first projected a jet of ice; the second brought forth a blast of molten metal; the third**** burped up a cloud of noxious gases; the fourth projectile vomitted a suspicious looking thick, sticky white liquid; and the fifth did an enormous duvet-raising fart from underneath his voluminous skirts.

"I'll get you my pretties" the demon-woman screamed. "And your little-" she stopped to regard the hissing Peecat who'd emerged from the depths of T-Bird's handbag, "cat, too!" And with that, she ran off to escape the five drag queens who set off after her, faster than six inch stilettos should allow.

"Who were they?!" T-Bird gasped.

"That" the small ginger poof answered, reappearing from a hidden trapdoor looking decidedly moist and dishevelled, "was M'jer, a force of evil. The monstrous drag queens are TiaMaria, a failed all-drag girl group. And I am Dungeon Slav- I mean, Master, your guide in the realm of Dungeons and Drag Queens!"

* The British definition, not the Australian or American.
** Piggy, obviously, but I couldn't access his blog to link to him when I transcribed this.
*** Or hood, to you Americans.
**** Tazzy. See explanation after **Piggy.