Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Sisters ....

I am dedicating this short blog entry to my sister. My beautiful, clever, funny, courageous and lovely sister. Fate has dictated that we have spent the last twenty years living in different countries having little to do with each other's lives save for (often belated) birthday and Christmas cards - and a handful of phone calls. Why? Pressures of life, work, etc. distance, apathy - who knows ...

The fact is that she existed in my mind as a 14 or 15 year old (the age she was when I left home). The reality of her as a grown-up contemporary, with a life-time of experiences, hopes, dreams and disappointments that have shaped her into the person she is today, had not really dawned on me.

But wake up calls come - and sadly sometimes in the cruelest form possible, as it was with the death of our mother earlier this year. Once again we found ourselves together but with 20 years worth of separate lives lying between us. She was still my sister but in many ways a stranger and so, I suppose I was to her. But as we spent time together picking over the remains of our parents lives together, of our childhood, we drew closer once again, tears were shed, apologies made and once again we felt like sisters. It was a sad time however ...

Then I went to visit her in Spain and on a beach at midnight, in the middle of the Festival of San Juan, I hugged her, held her close and told her how much I loved her ... that was a beautiful, enlightening and overwhelming moment ...

They say that chance makes us family but choice make us friends ... well, chance may have given me my sister, but now I have re-discovered her I choose her as a beloved friend ...

Cherish your family ...


Saturday, 30 June 2007

Building Castles in Spain ....

It is strange where the mind can take you as you idly sift through your experiences with a view to writing them down. I have just returned to the UK from a trip to Spain - a much needed break, a chance to unwind and catch up with my sister and visit with friends in Gibraltar. Sitting here now, alone, on one of the coldest, wettest, most depressing days of an English summer I have ever known, I long for the warm touch of the Spanish sun on my skin and the embrace of family and friends.

Day dreaming is a great escape of course and I am reminded of a phrase that I came across in French class at grammar school when I was in my teens - "Châteaux en Espagne" - building castles in Spain the equivalent of building castles in the air, day-dreaming about about visionary projects and achieving the unattainable. But more than that, Spain was seen as the region of romance in French literature of the 13th century. The phrase embodied a burning hope for, and desire of lovers to have a place of retreat, a secluded spot, a stronghold - isolated from the prying eyes of the curious and all the irritating forces of the world, where love could be freely expressed and carried to its blissful conclusion.

Spain is indeed a land of dramatic scenery, vibrant colour, passionate people and proud traditions. More of this in coming days - but for now I admit that I have fallen in love with Spain and what I discovered there - yes I have lost my heart and I just hope that someone finds it and keeps it safe until I return ...

Más a venir

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Rocking at Glastonbury ....

No, sadly not me ... but David Hewlett's movie A Dog's Breakfast which will be shown to thousands of festival-goers at Glastonbury 2007 this weekend. Poor David couldn't make it to join in the fun in the mud because of filming for Stargate Atlantis back in Vancouver - but he recorded this outrageous intro for the movie screening- take a look:

Here's hoping everyone enjoys the film and the rain and the mud and has a fantastic time -- me - I am lucky enough to be on holiday in Spain where it is hot, sunny, dry and gorgeous and the wettest thing I have to worry about is where my next glass of wine is coming from!!

For those of you who haven't seen the movie yet or who have and want to watch it again and again, well you can now pre-order A Dog's Breakfast at Amazon.com - woohoo!! It isn't released until September but, hey that's not so far away!

Enjoy the mud at Glastonbury, or turn the music up loud and the sprinklers on and make love not war in your own back yard - it's all good .....

Peace AMx

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Friendship ...

Did you know that there is a drink called "Three Stages of Friendship" ? Found this on drinknation.com:

Combine the following in a shot glass:

1 part Jack Daniel's
1 part overproof Rum (151 proof)
1 part white Tequila

it gets a 9/10 rating - mind you, only 2 votes so far - presumably the rest are still passed out in a gutter somewhere .... lol. Mind you - further research turned up a different recipe for friendship on drinkswap.com. They recommend the following - again combined in a shot glass:

1 oz Vodka
1/3 oz Tequila
1/3 oz Bourbon

Mmm - oh well - I guess you can have more that one friend - at any stage.

The most important ingredient (apart from a bottle of Tequila!) would seem to be a good friend to catch you as you fall off the barstool, to pick you up out of the gutter and to support as you stagger home. Maybe those are the three stages of friendship.

Or maybe - after the introductions, the getting to know you stage, the steady growth of regard and trust - a good friend, a close and lasting friend, is someone who will not judge you for your shortcomings, someone who understands you enough to know when to pick you up when you are down and when to leave you where you fell, to lie on your back and contemplate the stars (although they might check you for head injuries and throw a blanket over you before leaving you to your contemplation). Above all a friend is someone who you can trust to be there to take care of you when you need it. After all - you would do the same for them ...

Good friends are few and far between, in a world full of billions of people how many do we truly connect with at anything more than a superficial level? While many would argue that they are happy with their own company the reality is that your own company can be an emotional wasteland. Of course friends can hurt you, and who could hurt you more than someone who knows you inside and out? But to deny yourself friendship because of the risk of getting hurt is really to commit emotional suicide and condemn yourself to your own lonely wasteland.

On that note:

Beneath The Shell

A curtain of hostility I wove
between myself and you to save me pain.
Resolved to live my life bereft of love,
sure that my work would always keep me sane.

I had no need for friends, called no man brother.
Stepped back from friendship well before the start.
No time for sister, family or lover,
Let quest for new discoveries shield my heart.

But I must reassess my self control.
I see now how our lives are intertwined
and I myself must play a leading role
to safeguard all the fragile ties that bind.

From friendship and from love I will not flee.
No man can be an island now I see.

by Amararti

Treasure your friends,

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Alternative Fairy Tale ...

.. this is what we should have been reading as little girls!

Once upon a time, in a land far away, a beautiful, independent, self-assured princess happened upon a frog as she sat, contemplating ecological issues on the shores of an unpolluted pond in a verdant meadow near her castle.

The frog hopped into her lap and said, "Elegant Lady, I was once a handsome prince, until an evil witch cast a spell upon me".

"One kiss from you, however, and I will turn back into the dapper, young Prince that I am and then, my sweet, we can marry and set up housekeeping in your castle with my mother, where you can satisfy my needs, prepare and serve my meals, clean my clothes, bear my children, and forever feel grateful and happy doing so".

That night, as the princess dined sumptuously on lightly sautéed frog legs, delicately seasoned and accompanied by a delicious white wine and onion cream sauce, she chuckled and thought to herself:


Share with all the princesses you know!
It's sure to brighten their day!

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Fateful Day ...

Ripped from my soul - in honour of "Sunday" ...

What can I say ...
It wasn't your fault ...
Mythology has it that each of our lives is but a thread spun out by the Fates - three sisters who are blind to and uncaring of the loves and friendships of the mortal world. One spins, one measures and one cuts the thread .... they truly are The Powers That Be ...

Don't dispair ...

Friday, 1 June 2007

Just Testing ...

OK - I know it is possible to email posts to a Blog - I guess you could do this by phone while on the move. Could I be bothered - what could I possibly be doing the the world simply had to know before I had a chance to get home, grab a drink and and put my feet up to Blog from the comfort of my laptop???

Several scenarios leap to mind I suppose - all pretty grizzly and/or life-threatening - Mmm, no let's not go there.

Oh well - just in case I ever need to Blog on the run as 'twere - I wonder if this has been successful. Well if you are reading this then it has - and if you're not ... er ... Mmm ... well I guess I'm talking to myself (so what's new ... )

This is me - reporting from somewhere - under the duvet ...

Oh yes, I knew there was some point to this Blogette - check out the new Sanctuary episode now showing on YouTube

Remember that for a very, very modest sum you can watch and download fabulous HD versions from the Sanctuary For All website

Night, night and happy June ...

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Art for Art's Sake ...

For no particular reason other than the fact that I can - I thought I would show you a few ATC's. What are those I hear you cry as you run through a series of possible candidates for the acronym in your head ...
Well wonder no more dear friends - an ATC is no more no less than an Artist's Trading Card - a sort of glorified business card if you like. The idea is that the artist makes them, sticks his or her contact details on the reverse and leaves them around the world in bars, restaurants and the like - free art for all with the slight (very slight) possiblity of picking up some work, as a result of this self advertisment, along the way.
Well that was the original concept - now of course the world and his wife make ATC's and take them along to swap meets and collect them in purpose made folders, and submit them to magazines for publication and exhibit them and all sorts of things like that. One tradition that has survived however - ATC's cannot be bought or sold, it is free art made for its own sake.

Me, I just make them for my own amusement and to share with friends.


Sunday, 27 May 2007

A Brace of Awards for Breakfast ...

I have just returned home from the closing night screenings of the Stratford-upon-Avon International Digital Film Festival. Over four days they have screened the best of independent digital film from all over the world. The closing offerings were One Last Drink Before Morning (UK), Fission (USA), Her Smile (South Korea) and A Dog’s Breakfast (Canada)

The screening was held in a much larger room with a lot more people in attendance than on Thursday when I was last able to get over there. I took Sarah with me this time and we settled down to watch the programme which began a little after 7pm.

The short films where very enjoyable and varied:

One Last Drink Before Morning
Director: JD Kelleher
Cast: Gareth Kieran Jones, Lesley McGuire
A late night dive, three barflys and a competition for a free drink.
Whoever has the saddest story wins … for once in their life.

Animated Short
Director: Kun-I Chang
A man sees himself as graffiti on the wall.

Her Smile
Narrative Short
Director/Writer: Minji Kang
Cast: Chrystine Yeh, Lindsay Kojima, Shine Inn
A young prostitute yearns for love while working in the
red-light district of South Korea.

The main film of the evening was A Dog's Breakfast - and as I settled back to watch it for a second time in a week I counted myself as lucky to be one of the few people in the world to have had the privilege of viewing this movie. It was just as witty and amusing the second time around.

After the screenings we had some refreshments kindly provided by the Festival organisers and I had a chance to chat to JD Kelleher about his excellent short film One last Drink Before Morning

JD is seen here with Sarah who was made an honourary "Film Maker" and is wearing her badge with pride.

Then came the award presentations. The organisers gave a brief speech saying what a high standard of entries there had been to the Festival this year and explaining that the judging and selection of award winners had been done, not by them but, by an independent panel.

The first to be announced was for Best Actor and it was a thrill to hear that this had been awarded to David Hewlett.

His future father-in-law, Mr Don Loughman went up to accept the award in David's place. He explained how sorry David and Jane were not to be present at the Festival and thanked the organisers for doing such a good job. He mentioned how grateful David was to the 70 or so people who had worked on the movie to bring it to fruition.

But that was not the end of the film's success story because, just a few moments later, came the news that it had been awarded Best Feature Film. Fantastic news and well deserved recognition for a great film!

So Hurrah!! for ADB - may it continue to go from strength to strength,
and well done to David, Jane, Kate, Paul, Mars and all the cast and crew.


Friday, 25 May 2007

A Dog's Breakfast ...

Yay! I finally got to see David Hewlett's wonderful movie, "A Dog's Breakfast", on Thursday at the Stratford-upon-Avon International Digital Film Festival. It was worth the wait - a witty, intelligent comedy, with excellent performances by David and the rest of the cast including (of course) Mars the dog in his film debut! A skillful piece of storytelling this, cleverly filmed and enhanced by a perfect soundtrack, the subtle nuances of performance are a joy and would bear watching time and time again, (indeed I am returning on Saturday to do just that).

One couldn't have imagined a more perfect directorial debut for David Hewlett - it is to be hoped that, once released on DVD (scheduled for Autumn 2007 in North America by MGM), the film achieves the success that it so richly deserves. It is to be hoped also that David has many more stories to tell in the coming years. In an age of overblown special effects and over-reliance on CG - we need more films that put plot and performance first.

David Hewlett is a star, not just for his acting performances, the writing and directing (if those were not enough), but for the energy, enthusiasm, drive and determination with which he has brought his dream to reality. He has made his own opportunities, taken a chance and not been content to sit back and take the comfortable path. His obvious delight in the whole film making and internet marketing process is infectious and endearing, and his charm is such that those who come into contact with it almost inevitably end up invested in helping him to achieve success for his endeavours. Put simply - his attitude is inspiring!

Believe me - "A Dog's Breakfast" was worth every ounce of effort expended upon it - congratulations must go to David, Jane and everyone else involved with the project.


Sunday, 20 May 2007

The Perils of Fatherhood ...

Would Rodney McKay (SGA) make a good father?

We may never find out - unless the script writers resurrect a storyline abandoned in the planning of season 4 (if Joe Mallozzi is to be believed -- and I can never be quite certain when he is joking). McKay has always seemed to be as allergic to kids as he (supposedly) is to lemons. But, just as an actual allergy to citric acid, given its presence in all mamalian life forms (remember the Krebs Cycle?) is almost unheard of -- maybe Rodney's intolerence to children would also prove insubstanial as his need for a family makes itself felt.

We may never know, but there again:

Someday ... Maybe ...

Yes, yes, I know that we once children were.
But really 'tis a time best left forgot.
The adult world I really much prefer,
so please don't face me with some snot-nosed tot.

Maybe they should remain inside a cage
To save them from themselves, you understand,
Until they've gained more suitable an age
to pay their way and lend a helping hand.

But here is one that greets me with such glee,
and as I look down on her upturned face,
her little arms wrapped tight about my knee,
that look of love fair makes my poor heart race.

That tiny hand in mine does not feel bad,
Know what? I'd someday like to be called ... Dad

by Amararti
(inspired by 'McKay & Mrs Miller')

McKay a father ... imagine that ...

There are however perils and pitfalls to be considered, sleepness nights and 4am feeds, diapers, teething, tantrums ... riding the carousel (again Daddy!) with a smile even though your adult inner ear has matured to a point where motion sickness is a very real concern ... and then there is ice skating ... you've skied down black runs many times so how hard can donning a pair of skates and taking to the ice really be? Anything for her ... who could resist those big green eyes, that impish smile ...

Two hours later, from A&E you phone your (wiser, much wiser) better half ... "um - the doc says it's broken in three places ... "

And later - your right arm in plaster to the elbow ... your broken wrist aching like a son-of-a-bitch - you ponder ...

Was it worth it?

Who Could Resist
For her ... for that smile ...

Of course it was.

To all the Dads out there, you're doing a great job - keep it up ...

( ... and yes, my day has been kind of ... interesting ... )

Friday, 18 May 2007

Of Haunted Desks and Victorian Values ...

It's a funny thing, I like to live in the present and look to the future, (which is kind of an odd thing for a history graduate to admit to I guess) but when all is said and done none of us can escape the past. The past is where our roots are; on a personal level, in our childhood and formative years, on a cultural level in the landscape and architecture of our homeland - my home looks out on the Uffington White Horse, carved into the hillside a mere 3000 years ago (give or take) - a daunting thought to make you appreciate the transience of your own life.

One of the things that I brought home from Mum's house, following her death, was a fine bureau topped by a glass fronted bookcase - a piece of furniture that I remember well from my childhood. It now stands in my home looking slightly less comfortable than it did in its previous location. It is the first thing I see when I open the front door, the first thing I see when I come down stairs in the morning -- and I am certain that it is haunted ....

When I look at it I remember and can almost see my father sitting at the desk working on lesson plans or writing letters - indeed the top couple of drawers still contain files of papers in his handwriting - my father has been dead for 28 years! The little pigeon holes of the desk contain all manner of letters, photos and other bits and peices belonging to my father's aunts and my grandmother. Whilst the bottom drawer is a treasure trove of older sepia photographs of relatives from an even dimmer and more distant past still. The bookcase housed many little bibles and prayer books each inscribed with one or other long dead relative's name. Works by Dickens and Trollop which I read as a child, The Peoples Pysician - source of many gruesome and alarming pictures and the root of my hypochondria I suspect. And a fascinating three volume set called Enquire Within Upon Everything -- well everything upto 1910 anyway!

Originally the bureau bookcase stood in the front room of what had been my great grandparents house then occupied by my father's two unmarried aunts and their unmarried aunt. One night during the second World War a bomb dropped in the park across the road from the house. The windows where blown in accompanied by various bits of shrapnel. The desk and bookcase bear scars from this incident which I can trace with my finger today. My father, then a child was in the house at the time and narrowly missed being impaled by bits of the park railings which came through his bedroom window -- or so the story goes -- it makes you think -- the transience of life ...

So is the desk haunted? -- truly, I have yet to see a ghost, but it certainly has presence and -- in the sense that it is imbued with the spirit of my ancestors -- I would have to say yes, I think it is ...

And the Victorian values?

Well last week my daughter took part in an immersion history lesson whereby her class were taken off to spend the day in a Victorian school. They had to dress the part and learn the rules: Children Should Be Seen and Not Heard, Speech is Silver, Silence is Golden and the like. She was particularly delighted by the fact that to ask to use the bathroom she had to raise her hand and when called on say "Please M'am may I visit the offices?"

So she is now well in touch with her cultural roots ...

May the spirits of your ancestors look down upon you with benign and watchful smiles:

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Go Zach Go ...

OK - having been trapped in my car in a torrential thunderstorm for a little while there, possibly 38 minutes, I have finally escaped (sorry to all of you who were worried *gulp*). I've been trying to catch up on some work - I have two deadlines tomorrow and so it looks like another all-nighter for me *sigh* when will I learn??

So I just dropped by to post this nice little tidbit:

Zach Selwyn of G4 TV's Attack of the Show paid a visit to the set of "Stargate Atlantis". He landed a cameo role as Scientist No.2 following his fabulous rap tribute to the show.

Ok - update - it seems that G4 Media have smacked YouTube and had the video (above) removed however you can still watch a much better, higher definition version on the G4TV site.

Cool eh?

Seeking Sanctuary ....

Just a quick(ish) entry - I have so many things backed up to Blog about but noooooooo time to write Arrghh.

So - today was the day that the first episode of Sanctuary was due to hit the Web. This is a new concept in Web based entertainment being a full production episodic SciFic series based on the web. Starring Amanda Tapping of Stargate fame and with guest rolls by lots of other well known folks such as the popular *grin* and talented David Hewlett. Each webisode of Sanctuary follows the exploits of Dr. Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping, Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis) as she seeks out all manner of terrifying and monstrous creatures. She is aided in her quest by her reluctant protégé Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne, Dawson’s Creek, The Big Hit, Species 3) and her intrepid, if somewhat reckless, daughter Ashley (Emilie Ullerup, Battlestar Galactica). Together they are drawn into a frightening and mysterious world populated by beings that defy explanation. Sanctuary was created by veteran science fiction writer and producer Damian Kindler and directed by Martin Wood (Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis). Kindler, Tapping and Wood serve as executive producers along with N. John Smith (Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis).

Unfortunately the Sanctuary For All site promptly died under the weight of so many connections and as I write is currently down. However by the time you read this, gentle reader, they will probably have it all up and running again so by all means click the links and enter the world of Sanctuary. But prepare to become addicted and obsessed (don't say I didn't warn you).

Mindful of the fact that everyone was eagerly awaiting the very first episode, the directors (bless them) have posted it on YouTube. Obviously this is not the crisp HD version that you would be able to enjoy on the site but it is certainly better than nothing. Much, much better in fact - even in this format it is very, very atmospheric.


And in other news - the talented Mr Hewlett's movie 'A Dog's Breakfast' is to be shown at the Stratford-upon-Avon International Digital Film Festival which runs from May 23th to May 26th 2007. The movie is due to be screened at 11am on Thursday 24th and at 7pm on Saturday 26th. Tickets are free but on a first come first served basis on the day of the screening.

OK - thats all for now ....

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Why I'll Never Be A Hand Model ...

Oh wow will you look at that it's late Wednesday night - er ... what happened to Tuesday? I could have sworn I posted an entry on Tuesday ..... ah, no ...wait ... that would be the Twitter effect - it makes you think you have been informative and erudite all day and then - hey presto - evaporates like the morning mist. Anyway how much deathless prose (or poetry) can one fit in 140 or so characters? (no that's not a challenge!!) - no wonder they invented l33t!!

I like this description of the Twitter phenomenon from TIME in partnership with CNN:

One early front runner for the title of the "YouTube of 2007" is a service called Twitter. Twitter enables you to broadcast to the world at large, via the Web or phone or instant message, tiny snippets of personal information: what you're doing, what you're about to do, what you just did, what your cat just did and so on. Twitter does the Internet equivalent of splitting the atom. It creates a unit of content even smaller and more trivial than the individual blog entry.

If you are at all interested in such things you can read the whole article at: Hyperconnected Time

So back to trivial blogging for real.

It has been a busy couple of days at the shop as we are getting ready for our Grand Open Weekend (and before you ask, no - we are not normally open weekends!) We are having 10% off all our stock for 2 days on the 12th and 13th May plus loads of half price bargains as well, we also have a 2 day sale happening in the Online Shop to coincide. It should be a busy couple of days - but the prep. is a nightmare!!! I have converted my studio into a demo area and will spend all day both days doing demonstrations of anything and everything I can think of using the crafting products we sell. Folks will be able to then take a place at one of the workstations and make something for themselves - in return they give a donation to our nominated charity.

Two more days to go and about five days worth of work to fill them with!!!

In the middle of all the setting up madness a new rep. turned up, unannounced, this afternoon. Now I fully recognise that these people have a job to do - but calling ahead to make an appointment would seem only courteous! After all your visit might not be convenient (which it wasn't!). Nevermind we try to be friendly and welcoming - but this woman was so hyper, manic even and spoke very fast at a decibel level about 10% above comfortable limits for normal indoor conversation. Added to that she seemed completely incapable of taking a hint - Well we're kind of busy right now ... no ... perhaps you could call back ... no ... well it's nice you dropped by but ... but ... er ... fine but ... *oh - just BUGGER OFF will you - my mind was screaming*. "And I plan to drop by to see you every 5 weeks ... ". Oh please God Noooooooooooo!!!

Then I had a Dentist appointment - the perfect end to a perfect day ....

So I bought a cake from the Bakery to cheer myself up. It is a Parsnip cake with Cream Cheese filling - think carrot cake but 200% more delicious. With a nod to Joe Mallozzi foodie Blogger extraordinaire - here is a picture of it:

And so ... finally ... why will I never be a hand model??

Well I thought that I would grow my nails a little and make them pretty for the coming 2 days of demos. Some hope - it never works out *sigh* see I work with my hands, I paint, I draw, I write, I spend untold hours tapping away on the computer keyboard, I do DIY, I sew, I cook ... sometimes!!

and my hands work for me and they look like they've had a hard day!!

So I'll never be a hand model ... and you know what? ... That suits me just fine!


Monday, 7 May 2007

Days Off Are Dangerous ...

Ooookaaay ... this what happens when you have free time & a sore throat and are consequently hepped up on cold remedies ... I feel no pain --- but I'm sure to hate myself in the morning ...


Yo Slug White Nerd
we hear what you say.
You give us the word
and the freedom to play
on the Forum you created
to get your Movie rated
by all who drop by
to give it a try.
You Blog and we comment
and MySpace - we're on it!
And then there's Technorati
Hell yes, we'll join the party!
Visit Mars there on Dogster
what else are your fans 'fur'?
Oblivious to flames
and accused of playing games,
you write it,
we Digg it,
and watch your back
and take the flak
from the misanthropic minds
of the cynics on the Web.
And now there is Twitter
And what could be fitter,
for the biggest geek we know,
to keep us posted on the show
by using his cell
to save us from the hell
of not knowin'
what he's doin'
every minute of the day.
So ... hey ...
we're all on the hook,
an' that's clever in my book,
all waitin' to see
your illusive movie.
So quit messin' about
tell us when it's comin' out?
For Real...

by Amararti

... and may I offer this heartfelt apology to all who thought they knew me ....
;) you know the rest ...

Tao of Rodney ...

One careless moment ego steers me wrong.
My coding is unraveled and re-made.
But early fear of changes fly ere long
and role of super hero now is played.

Now say you I must lay my burden down
and cease to seek to find all answers sought,
use softer words than those for which I'm known,
I must relinquish self, become as naught.

Sorrow, and love for me from each good friend,
but wait, as now I float in darkness vast,
and seemingly my journey nears its end,
the light of realisation dawns at last.

All is not lost, myself I can regain.
Awake to find that "Yes, I'm me again!"

by Amararti

For all those of you who love Stargate Atlantis, Rodney McKay (as portrayed by David Hewlett) and this very special episode in particular.

No copyright infringement intended - just showing my appreciation ...

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Auctions, Promises, Fairs and Apologies ...

Weekend at last ... well Sunday actually and Monday is a Bank Holiday here in the UK so ... yay! A day off.

Friday could have been a difficult day, as it would have been Mum's birthday, but I was so busy that I didn't have time to dwell on it much. I went straight from work to my daughter's school where we were holding an Auction of Promises as a fundraiser for refurbishing and equipping a new ICT suite at the school. So we can raise a whole new generation of little computer geeks - I'm all for it! There were some great promises on offer from 'Chocolate Brownies - once a month for a year' (bought by the Headmaster for the Staff) to 'A Week in an Apartment in Madrid' - and everything imaginable in between. I was in charge of taking credit card payments (as I am deemed the only one nerdy enough to know how the machine works - how right they are). During the evening we raised a staggering £15,000 - which was our target.

Oh and if there are any UK based readers of my ramblings - you can help out our fundraising efforts (at no cost to yourself) by simply doing your online shopping at several well-known retailers through our School Shop

Saturday was spent at the Craftsmans Market in Cirencester where I go twice a month to advertise myself and try to sell my paintings.

For over 25 years this Market has offered local artists and craftsmen a venue to sell their work - the standard is superb. We usually exhibit in the Corn Hall but, for good or ill this building along with the encompassing King's Head Hotel has been sold to developers who are .... er, developing it. At the moment this means that the Corn Hall is out of bounds and we have to exhibit in the stripped out King's Head Hotel - the interior of which resembles a cross between a bulding site and a non too salubrious squat. Oh well - the upside of this story is that I did sell 6 pictures ....

And finally ... those of you who were shocked and appalled not to say outraged and upset by David Hewlett's outrageous bout of 'rapping' will be glad to know that he has realised the error of his ways and has apologised ...

How does he keep a straight face? Well he is a brilliant actor - that's how - *smile*

Enjoy your weekend (what's left of it) ....

Friday, 4 May 2007

Stuck in a Dark, Dark, Room ...

Oh but it has been a tedious week. Thank goodness today is Friday although admittedly only 1:20 or so in the morning so still quite a bit of tediousness to get through before the weekend. I have been teaching or lecturing all week, one of my several jobs - (one day I really must decide what I want to do when I grow up) - a five day course in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Geospatial Analysis. OK for those of you who have dropped off to sleep - WAKE UP!!!!

Actually it is very interesting, and a very cool and sexy piece of software - but then I am a total geek and I also get paid loads to sit and play with said cool software on a computer all day and talk a lot at people who hang off my every word *smile*. So what is the tedious bit you ask - well several things really:
  • Firstly - having to "dress-up" for the job - not me at all.

  • Secondly - the God Awful Bloody Traffic which I have to endure, an hour into town in the rush hour and an hour back in the evening. Normally I only have to drive 15 minutes into the pretty countryside to drop my daughter off at school and then go to the Workshops where my Studio and Jane's Shop are.

  • Thirdly - the classroom at the office has one wall composed of glass windows (the whole building is made of glass in fact) but it used to get so hot in there with the computer equipment and the sun beating in through the windows that they installed permanent blackout blinds and now the room has no natural light at all. By mid-way through the day I am suffering severe light deprivation. Plus the lighting gives me a headache.

  • Fourth - the coffee comes out of a machine and is vile beyond belief, but I can't help myself.

On a lighter note the week was made much, much more bearable by the irrepressible Mr. David Hewlett and his outrageous rapping debut. This is what happens if you leave an actor waiting around a TV set for too long!

Talks fast doesn't he? Well if you didn't catch all of it and want to find out what he was on about you can read a transcript here Slug White Nerd Rap

One of the things he let slip (intentionally? - probably) was that his movie is coming out in the Fall. One can only assume he means the long awaited release of A Dog's Breakfast by MGM.

If so, Hurrah!!!

I have missed seeing it twice at the private screenings due to family circumstances.

My daughter is also excited (having seen the clips numerous times) and she it getting into training for a full on encounter with evil Patrick - as you can see!

Saturday, 28 April 2007

What One Lemon Will Do ...

Armed with a Lemon
One of the interesting aspects of clearing out my Mum's house has been the discovery of many old documents, books, letters and the like, which are the accumulated family archive back to the 1600's.

One of the interesting things I came across was a little journal kept by a relative in 1810 in which are many useful (well no doubt they were in 1810) household tips.

I thought I would share this one with you:

What One Lemon Will Do

A piece of lemon upon a corn will relieve it in a day or two. It should be renewed each night and morning.

The free use of lemon juice and sugar will always relieve a cough.

A lemon eaten before breakfast every day for a week or two will entirely prevent the feeling of lassitude peculiar to the onset of Spring.

The juice of half a lemon squeezed into a teacup of strong black coffee without sugar will sometimes relieve a headache.

Perhaps its most valuable property is its absolute power of detecting any of the injurious and even dangerous ingredients entering into the composition of so many of the cosmetics and face powders in the market. Every lady should subject her toilet powder to the test. Place a teaspoonful of the suspected powder in a glass and add the juice of a lemon. If effervescence takes place, it is in infallible proof that the powder is dangerous, and its use should be avoided, as it will ultimately injure the skin and destroy the beauty of the complexion.

Wise words indeed - you have been warned ;) So it's a lemon for me for breakfast from now on - *yum*

Oh - and in case you are wondering, that's my daughter with a lemon that we grew ourselves and which ultimately ended up in my gin and tonic - by far the best use for a lemon that I can think of :)


Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Haiku-a-Thon - The Birthday Surprise

A little while ago (well it was on April 6th to be exact) I thought up a nice little idea to start a thread going on the dgeek forums over on the A Dog's Breakfast Movie website.

The pitch went something like this:

I've always been impressed by this poetic form (Haiku) and
its ability to, with few words, sum up the essence of
a thought, a feeling, a moment or in this case
a Stargate Atlantis episode.

So for those of you who don't know the form is three lines
first line 5 syllables, second line 7 syllables, third line 5 syllables
so 5 - 7 - 5 ... ok. An alternate shorter form is 3 - 5 - 3 ... either will do.

See if you can guess the episode ..... then have a go yourself

Me first:

at the end floating
in darkness inspiration
re-awakens self

Well the thread bumbled along as threads do, gathering a little momentum and more Haiku along the way. So I started to record the offerings in a list, thinking, oh ... this will make interesting reading if we ever complete the 60 verses necessary to cover the first three seasons of Atlantis sometime next Christmas .... Then .... three days ago the thing suddenly took off big time .... !!!

So followed 200 or so posts, three nights with almost no sleep (as my main playmates were situated on the other side of the Atlantic) ... and most importantly ALL 60 Haiku - and then some!!!

The main impetus for this? Well ... although I had thought it but not said anything, someone eventually did suggest that the completed Haiku project would make a nice birthday gift for one Mr. David Hewlett, Writer and Director of and Actor in A Dog's Breakfast and also (of course) the man behind the outrageously snarky (but exceedingly loveable) Dr. Rodney Meredith McKay in Stargate Atlantis.

Many, many, many thanks to Pixel, dpainter, ankhmutes, Icarus, Shawna, Becky S, Netty, and Scifi_lemon who share authorship of what follows with myself, Amararti. The Haiku have no titles but appear in season and episode order (be warned though - some episodes have more than one Haiku). There may be SPOILERS towards the end for those of you who have yet to see the back half of Season 3.

if you want to play guess the episode then you might prefer to take a look a the PDF version first - it is also prettier!

So here we have it: Atlantis from Rising to Flying - the story so far ...

Season 1

the challenge offered
to fly through unexplored skies
cannot be ignored

salvation this time
surface of empty ocean
breached by gleaming spires

something harmless, small,
to fuel a man's obsession...
and a new courage

to thread the needle
should have been routine now lives
hang in the balance

our new friends are close
new enemies seem closer
should we link the two

bird falls from the sky
treasure tempts to lead astray
never felt so old

folly of the people
weapon hidden inside them
their decision made

not all that they seem
facade covers so much more
hid 'neath secret doors

misty illusions
false reunions, where are we?
live to try again

evil incarnate here
with elemental force
threatens our city

a calm in the storm
slaughter fear uncertainty
city in peril

you cannot have her
not while I draw breath nor shall
engulfing ocean

truth in a mirror
my life restrains his desire
my death is my gift

a frightening death
slow, but sudden, right on time
cured for some too late

another eden
desire for companionship
leaves vulnerable

a perfect lady
mysterious, beautiful
much more than she seems

Sleeping Beauty wakes
deja vu heroism
doom but all safe now

trust misplaced
our dream of power
snatched away

loved ones far away
cannot know all we saw and
did before we died

fears, suspicions reign
nightmares frighten, stir self-doubt
blessing in disguise

not the first nor last
tragic noble sacrifice
made to buy us time

maybe I'm crazy
but someone has to do it
I guess it's goodbye

Season 2

thought I had lost him
sometimes, death comes way to close
for now, luck wins out

a killer lurking
one to fight with brains not brawn
a page from Sheppard's book

was lost but now found
stronger, faster, but yet less
now one lost again

a solo player
your thoughts are no counterpoint

trapped on an island
cruel and unusual
now the great escape

trust the sacrifice
at the altar of ego
not infallible

vulnerable child
but do not be deceived for
her bite is deadly

never felt like this
remarkable, yet scary
like a bad, bad dream

a call from my home
moving through the dark after
centuries asleep

Peter Pan bids us
battle pirates in the sky
and we must follow

timidity lost
raw power surges through me
enemies vanquished

lost in a bubble
where are you?

now he thinks I'm smart.
he's gonna get it from me!
damn Canadian...

a warning from home
explosive situation
force crossing a line

lost, alone, afraid
wisdom comes to comfort me
it's been a bad day

noble lords rule serfs
misery for those who toil
rebellion comes

rescue just in time
grant true lovers a farewell
headed for divorce

a treasure offered
a team missing or slaughtered
a power toppled

double helix morphs
evil stripped away it seems
too good to be true

a group of people
trapped at the end of a world
best way out is through

can we believe them?
new friends with everything we need
wolf in sheep's clothing

Season 3 (may be spoilers)

in desperate straits
cocoons hatch and migrate back
must follow the plan

you'd think I would learn
meddling with people this way--
people I should save...

see the world a new
should have listened from the start
so don't remind me

the home I once loved
ghosts memories violence
time to finish it

corrupted offspring
of an ancient race - cold fire
of hatred fuels them

harsh reality
life is a waking nightmare
yearning for return

I had never thought
to be saved by such a one.
Neither had my friends...

how can he not know?
it isn't freedom, it's fear.
not me, not at all

sister sees double
one of these is not quite right
but it's a nice change

how can we fight it
what we fear the most turns one
against the other

I had to leave to
realize that I belong
this is my true home

they are in our minds
so plant a seed - a falsehood
to deceive them all

Doctor Dolittle
questions rise in nightmares
helios the key

familiar faces
one conniving, one evil
get what they deserve

at the end floating
in darkness inspiration
re-awakens self

playing with their lives
McKay and Sheppard face off
it's SIMS Atlantis

actions have impact
make amends and discover
you are not a god

survival of sorts
hollow victory for one
now shepherd them home

just another day
mistakes, choices, the results
but why? why this day?

realization dawns
friendship lost forever, I
face the day alone

a very deep sleep
literally, not unlike
a watery grave

everyone's below...
so who's running the city?
Heightmeyer and Lorne

new friends go missing
through mazes to new terror
danger still to come

offense from afar
poking a sleeping dragon
our enemy's back

.... the story ... as they say ... continues .............

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Nearly 4am in the Morning ...

... see, now didn't I warn you that I stay up late ... or maybe early.

Well all I know is that the birds have started singing ...

Mind you, we are so close to the damn airport here that I'm not sure how they tell night from day - blast that light pollution - give me back my sky so I can see the stars and dream of the infinite possibilities that other worlds might hold...

This may seem like a strange time to embark upon my BlogLife but ... hey ... it can only get better.

I should explain ...

I am currently in the North of England staying in my mother's house because, sadly, she passed away last week and my sister and I are organising the funeral and sorting out the myriad other issues that arise upon a persons death. After a two year fight against cancer, throughout which she retained her positive attitude and sense of humour, the end when it came was mercifully quick and painless. Sitting at her bedside and watching her slip away was the hardest thing I have ever done. A few hours previously she had been recalling little incidents in her life, people she remembered, things we had said or done ... but she was tired, so tired of the fight ... and then she was gone. We seemed to have said and shared so much and yet there was so much more that I wanted to say to her ...

Four Boats by Ann MarchTo all of you out there who have lost loved ones ... may you find peace, and eventually happiness once again.

And to all those of you who have not experienced such a loss ... draw your loved ones close and cherish them and your time together because life is short.

(Safe Harbour)

Sorry for the sombre tone but hey - biographical log - and as I said ... things can only get better ...