YANC (Yet another writing challenge)

Hot on the heels of my second NaNoWriMo win, and thanks to a post from fellow wrimo Natnie, I’m going to have a go at the inagural Project52.

I’ve complained regularly of spending more time fiddling with the theme on this site than I do writing on it. This could be a good way around it. I had already set in mind a goal to do more writing here this year but Project52 seems to be a good idea. It’s concrete (write once a week), there’s community (one of the great things about NaNoWriMo) and hopefully some accountability.

So this year expect a bit more traffic here. It will be no more focused than it normally is. Maybe once I get into the habit of writing more often, I might be able to “brand” the site a bit and maybe focus on one particular topic. But we’ll leave the future for the future.

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The Unblinking Eye [review]

I’m a bit slow with this one, but I thought I should give this a good chance before I wrote my review.

Last month, Roger Taylor (of Queen drumming fame, for those not in the know) released a single “The Unblinking Eye (Everything is Broken)”. I’ve always enjoyed the Queen songs penned by Roger and I don’t get much of a Queen fix nowadays, so I bought the mp3 from queenonline the day it was released.

I’m really sorry to say it, but… FAIL.

Here’s what annoyed me in detail:

  • It’s understood that Roger’s voice is not Freddie’s (or even Brian’s for that matter). That doesn’t bother me normally, but the songs he sang as part of Queen (thinking “I’m In Love With My Car”) were so much more rock ‘n’ roll than this track and suited his voice better. He seems to be trying to do too much and fails badly.
  • The music is all over the place. Was he trying to write a ballad, a rock anthem, a protest song (actually, I think he has said this was his goal), a symphony or what? I couldn’t enjoy the tune or the rhythm because it kept changing at inappropriate times.
  • The lyrics. Oh dear. He was trying too hard to make his protest. Look at this: “This Kingdom’s not united; Just a complicated mess; Are we in Europe; Half in Europe; Not in Europe; We’re soulless, spineless, directionless” and this: “Why send our young men out to die in wars that we don’t understand; Why on earth should we be meddling in places like Afghanistan” and worst of all (the first line of the song): “God would weep if he existed”. God would weep if he existed? Please. It’s the same sentiment, though much less eloquently put, than “Is This The World We Created?”.
  • The politics. Not that I necessarily disagree with all of what he says in the song, it’s just that he shoves so much of it into one song. And not even very well.

Out of what is probably misplaced loyalty, I tagged this track with 3 stars (it’s a reasonable song) in my iTunes library, just so that it stayed in rotation properly. It probably deserved 2 (keep only for completeness sake). I’m hoping it might grow on me like the Queen + Paul Rogers album from last year.

Want to make your own decision? It’s on youtube, I suggest you try before you buy. And I think I might be giving the upcoming album a miss.

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What do I like in my music?

If you have ever visited my last.fm page you might wonder random landscape you had stepped in to.

Eclectic. Yes, you could say that. Even just looking at my top 6 you’ll see The Beatles, Iron Maiden and Jethro Tull. Who listens to all that?

So to cast off the rumour that my taste in music is actually no taste at all, I thought I would throw together a list of the things I look for in my music. A tick next to any one of them will get the music a listen. Two or more and I’ve probably found a new favourite.

So without any further ado and in no particular order (except perhaps #1).

  1. A beat that your head can bang along to. Self-inflicted whiplash? Yes, please.
  2. Unusual instruments. Think flute and mandolin (thank you Jethro Tull), operatic vocals in metal music, harpsichord, accordion (button for your Sharon Shannon, piano for Al Yankovic).
  3. Unusual voices. Ian Anderson, Kristin Hersh, Kasey Chambers, Mark Knopfler.
  4. Powerful voices. Bruce Dickinson, Ronnie James Dio, David Coverdale.
  5. Lyrics that tell a story. Mythical themes and folklore for an extra point.
  6. Creative blending of genres within an album (or even a song). Tull (again), Queen.
  7. Folk music (Irish and English and their descendants mostly) and anything that blends it with. Flogging Molly for Irish folk and The Currency for Aussie Folk.
  8. Sadness. Depressing stories and melancholy music. An offering for my inner emo if you like. I have a special playlist on my iTunes I just call “Melancholy”.
  9. Surprises in lyrics or music. Things that you hear that you really wouldn’t expect. Like when Ozzy Osborne sings “They should realize before they criticize that God is the only way to love”.
  10. A bass line you can feel. Steve Harris is the master.
  11. A certain amount of obscurity. No one else has heard of this band? Gimme.
  12. Nostalgia. Some songs just remind me of a particular time in my life and will always be favourites, even if they aren’t very good (hello, Duran Duran old friend).
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Nag me for NaNoWriMo 2009

Following on from this brilliant idea last year, I’m going to keep tabs on my progress in this year’s challenge right here.

To all those friends and family who I have pointed in this direction, please keep an eye on me here and feel free to give me a hard time if I am looking like I need one. Have a look at my Progress Report if you are interested in the details. Please leave a comment here, give me a ring or a text message, send me an email or knock me over in the street with your car. Anything to remind me what I’m supposed to be doing.

As with last year, there are some pretty little images to show how things are going:

Country vs City Word War, Elsewhere in Australia vs Perth, North

North vs South Word War (race, really), Me in Esperance vs Kamu in Port Hedland:

As of just before midnight on 31st October none of these links and clever images are working. I’m sure the NaNo servers will get with it eventually!Done. Images working now. Sweet. (edited 2009-11-06) – Of course now that this NaNo is well over and done with the images aren’t available at all. I might have to remember to save them in future. (edited 2014-05-08)

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Soundtrack for 2009

For an interesting exercise, I’ve created a soundtrack for the forthcoming film of my 2009 NaNovel.

We can dream can’t we?

  • Love Lies Bleeding – Elton John
  • Julie’s Been Working for the Drug Squad – The Clash
  • She’s Invisible Now – Eurythmics
  • Would You Believe? – Roxy Music
  • Superman Main Title Theme*
  • He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother – The Hollies
  • You Know I’ll Always Love You – Budgie
  • Flames of Fire – Machinae Supremacy
  • Super Steve – Machinae Supremacy
  • Laura – Flogging Molly
  • Liar – Queen
  • Blood Brothers – Iron Maiden**
  • Liar, Liar – Castaways
  • For All Tomorrow’s Lies – Berlin
  • Ride of the Valkyries*

* I apologise in advance for the use of the Superman Theme and the Wagner. It was just too hard to leave them out, being a superhero story and all (My MC can’t even fly!)
** I also apologise for the Maiden. But I’m fairly convinced that my muse comes disguised as Eddie, so I’d best make this small offering for the sake of a smooth and comfortable November.

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Violet Crumble Cheesecake

Here’s a nice recipe, minimally converted from a Tim Tam Cheesecake recipe to use Violet Crumble instead and to add some thermomix directions. It was a big hit with children and wife. Mum too, but she made me put more Violet Crumble in it the second time I made it (quantity below is this higher amount).

I love the way the honecomb “melts” if you leave this in the fridge for a while. I’ve never really been a big cheesecake fan myself (this was made primarily for my darling Linda, and then for Mum when she requested a re-do), but I could manage to eat lots of this I think.

Please excuse the copy-and-paste image. I’ll update the post with a photo taken of the real thing once I get the camera emptied onto the computer.

Ingredients:

    • 250 grams plain chocolate biscuits

 

    • 80 grams butter melted

 

    • 375 grams cream cheese cubed and softened

 

    • 1/2 cup caster sugar

 

    • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

 

    • 1 cup thickened cream

 

    • 3 teaspoons powdered gelatin dissolved in 1/4 cup boiling water

 

    • 200 grams white chocolate melted and cooled

 

    • 150 grams Violet Crumble chocolate (3 regular bars)

 

Method:

    1. Place biscuits in a blender and process into fine crumbs (10 seconds in thermomix on speed 7)

 

    1. Add the butter and process to combine (5 seconds in thermomix on speed 5). Press the mixture into spring-form baking pan and refrigerate 30 minutes.

 

    1. Beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth.

 

    1. Beat in cream.

 

    1. Melt chocolate (in microwave, give 1 minute at 50% power, repeat until soft). Beat into mixture.

 

    1. Dissolve gelatin in boiling water and beat into mixture.

 

    1. Chop the Violet Crumble and stir into the cream cheese mixture then pour over the biscuit base.

 

  1. Cover and refrigerate until set.
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Mythic and NaNoWrimo 2009

We’re well within two months of NaNoWriMo 2009 and I’m not really sure what I’m wanting to do.

Last year’s story only told half of the story I had planned, so I was originally planning on doing a sequel. But now I don’t want to. I was happy to leave it where it finished. In fact, the story I ended up telling started off being just the introduction to the story I first envisioned telling. It’s funny how things turn out sometimes!

I need to come up with something else. That doesn’t need to be hard, I’ve always got lots of ideas, I just need ideas plus inspiration. And a bit of interest developed in the subject matter.

So instead, I’ve come up with a completely different and very stupid idea that will have me doing almost everything differently to how I did it (successfully) last year.

I’ve been playing around with the Mythic Game Master Emulator (demo here and yahoo group here) for my role playing games this year and I am considering using that to completely “wing it”. The GME book says this:

Finally, Mythic: GME can be used as a writing tool. The architecture that creates dynamic adventures is really an automated story-telling system. It will work just as well without any games or formalized characters attached. Just set the scene, ask some questions, and start writing.

If it works the way I see it, I could just come up with a general concept (or even make one randomly) and then use the system and appropriately phrased questions to let the plot work itself out.

Some years ago, I did some rough outlines of an alternate-history Earth. Very little of it got detailed, but the setting has a reasonably defined place in my mind. The idea of writing a novel set there, and having the Mythic Fate chart to help me flesh it out really appeals to me.

I’ll keep you informed as to how it goes…

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Meet Phil the Pharmacist

My name is Phil and I’m a Pharmacist, you bring me your medicine list.
Cough or cold, I can fix your issue, I can even sell you a box of tissues.
To be like me study is intensive and these drugs back here are rather expensive.
So at night to help sleep sound, CGU is the best all round.
Whoever you are – PHIL
Whatever you do – PHARMACIST
we put the U in CGU.

I wonder if I would find this as funny if I didn’t go to uni with another Phil the Pharmacist?

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Some cool CC images

I’ve recently taking to putting an image with most of my posts, both here and at the pharmacy web page. Unless there is something more specific (like a photo I took), I tend to use the Creative Commons search plugin through Firefox and find an appropriately licensed image. Because I often want to use it on the business page, I make sure it is something licensed for commercial use.

In my travels, I often come across some images that I think are really good, but that aren’t what I am looking for. That’s what this post is about. Here are a few images I have found over the last few months that I would like to use, but I haven’t got anything to use them with. Some of them might go nicely in printed products. Perhaps later.

For now, enjoy. If you like the work, click through on the image to get more details and a link to to the original page (usually somewhere on flickr) where you could download a better quality image.

(Edit 2014: Sorry about this but I cleverly used the function in wordpress to show these images but that got completely messed up when I came back to blogger. Bottom line is that I have no idea what these images were. If you care, have a look here or here for similar posts)

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