a little east of reality

Friday, July 31, 2009

surrender, to the meme

This fun little meme comes via Amanda.

Introducing my new book cover! (Fake, of course...) Make your own, using the following directions:

1 – Go to “Fake Name Generator” or click http://www.fakenamegenerator.com/
The name that appears is your author name.

2 – Go to “Random Word Generator” or click http://www.websitestyle.com/parser/randomword.shtml
The word listed under “Random Verb” is your title.

3 – Go to “FlickrCC” or click http://flickrcc.bluemountains.net/index.php
Type your title into the search box. The first photo that contains a person is your cover.

4 – Use Photoshop, Picnik, or similar to put it all together. Be sure to crop and/or zoom in.

5 – Post it to your site along with this text.

I like this picture and I liked finding out about Picnik, which I'll be using again. The word 'surrender' was already on the picture. I just cropped, recoloured slightly, and added the name. I'm glad that was the first pic with a person in it, as the second was soldiers. I'm not sure it came out as cool as my fake album cover, but interesting nonetheless.


Monday, July 27, 2009

8 out of 10 cats ~ woohoo!

Joy, oh joy, 8 out of 10 cats is back. I couldn't find any reference to the new season and then suddenly I'm checking again and finding eight belly-laugh-worthy episodes waiting for me. Woohoo! I could use a good cackle.

(Remember to read these out loud in a British accent. It's better.)

Jimmy on Susan Boyle:
Yes this is the story that Susan Boyle came second in Britain's Got Talent. Or, as the Daily Mail reported it: a 48-year-old woman has been beaten by 11 youths from East London. There were 19 million witnesses and no-one's come forward: BROKEN BRITAIN!

Jack Whitehall on the British government expenses scam:
It did go properly extreme, though. When I opened the newspaper and read about the guy that claimed for a moat I thought, you better be the MP for Camelot!

Sean Locke on the same:
That duck island really annoyed me. I'll tell you why. Because it was a floating island. So that's not an island - it's a boat! Ducks don't need a boat - they can swim. That's like giving a ladder to a magpie!

Alex Zane on Obama's visit to the Middle East/Egypt:
He got a standing ovation at the University of Cairo and everyone's like, that was fantastic. But it was a university. It's not hard to get a standing ovation at a university. I got a standing ovation when I was at university for drinking a pint of vodka from a tennis shoe.

Jimmy Carr on the same:
Obama has pledged financial support for Egypt. I'm worried about where that money's going - it could be some kind of pyramid scheme.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

gaiman and mckean on quay and svankmajer

Random quirk like this just makes me happy.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

two things a tattoo told me

I just saw this tattoo on the contrariwise blog (tattoos inspired by literature, song, etc) and I think my first response is a bit telling.

1. It bothered me that the line was straight instead of following the natural line of the arch of the foot. Aesthetically it's not as pleasing, but it also feels like they've tried to impose something rigid onto something free and flexible. Seems a shame given that the words themselves suggest a freedom to live as you choose without judgment or constraint.

2. It also bothered me (way more than it probably should have) that there is no full stop on the end of the sentence. For me to have it written without one, I would have had to make the first letter lower case.

It's a strange thing about rules when it comes to language. It's not just a matter of obeying the rules and I'm aware that language changes and develops over the years. But I really like the sense of order and 'rightness' that comes from grammar, spelling and punctuation rules. So much so in fact that 'correct' language that conforms to those rules is actually more beautiful to me.

It's the same feeling I get from using traditional poetic forms. I like free verse, I often use it myself, but sometimes when I force myself to be creative within a strict traditional form with a set rhyming scheme or other limitations, what I produce is so much better ~ more musical, more satifying to read aloud. The ideas have more clarity and the thing as a whole is more beautiful to me.

Does anyone else find that? Not just with writing, but any art form? Also, if you were going to get a 'literary' tattoo, whch line/s would you choose and why?

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

holy approaching wall of water, batman!

This would definitely be the first time I've ever been glad I don't live on the coast. Twitter is already alive with people wanting to go 'catch a wave'. Good grief.

Issued by the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre (JATWC) at
09:27 PM EST on Wednesday 15 July 2009
An undersea earthquake of magnitude 7.9 has occurred at 07:22 PM EST on
Wednesday 15 July 2009 at 45.960S , 166.470E off W. COAST OF S. ISLAND, N.Z.
Sea level observations have confirmed a tsunami has been generated.
People in areas with threat of land inundation and flooding are strongly advised by emergency authorities to go to higher ground or at least one kilometre inland.


surreal and funny harry potter conversation


Harry Potter books 6 and 7.


So Band Boy (who used to be Drummer Boy but sings and plays guitar now (18-year-old)) finally got around to reading the sixth book in the Harry Potter series, finishing a couple of days ago just in time to see the movie premiere (in just under five hours, yah). Last night we were talking about watching the trailer and seeing that one moment (1:53 in this linked video) where Snape says 'it is over' and feeling overwhelmed by the fact that this is the moment when he kills Dumbledore.

Now here's the thing. I'VE read the 7th book and I know that what Snape is doing there is heroic and painful and beautiful. However, Band Boy HASN'T read the 7th book and is under the impression that he has just read the big Snape revelation, the proof (FINALLY!) that Snape is eeeeevilllll.

So for the next ten minutes I'm having a conversation with him, trying to be as empassioned as he is about the fact that AFTER ALL DUMBLEDORE HAS DONE for Snape, after he SUPPORTED him when SO MANY PEOPLE said that he was still a death-eater and couldn't be trusted, that RAT BASTARD killed him!! And how this is the end of the (Harry Potter) world as we know it. And asking HOW HOW HOW could Dumbledore have BELIEVED him for ALL THOSE YEARS?


He is so going to want to kill me when he reads the 7th book. But I remember that moment of devastation on that balcony o' death when I was reading the 6th book, and I'm not going to take that away from him. It's a heart-wrenching scene, but it's also fantastic writing. And thank goodness they cast Alan Rickman as Snape.

Oh and can I just say how thrilled I am that Lupin's back again, and with David Thewlis still in the part. He's one of the reasons the third movie is still my favourite. I'll let you know if that changes after tonight. :)

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Monday, July 13, 2009

ink notes #1

Amanda has posted details for the first Ink Notes challenge. The idea is to use music as a writing prompt: to listen to a song or instrumental piece and see what inspiration comes. The embedded video is the music she chose this time. If you'd like to participate there's still plenty of time as Amanda's allowing two weeks for people to blog their writing (story, poem, non-fiction, whatever) and provide a link to it at the bottom of her post.

My story follows after the video. I wrote it with the music playing and you might like to read it the same way. It was a pretty fun exercise. If you have a writerly bent I hope you'll give it a shot.

From the window

He watched her from the window, sitting to the side where the curtain hid him from view. She was kneeling next to one of the beds in the vegetable garden. Her fingers, pale and exact, reached into the rows of young vegetables to pull each unwelcome weed from the soil. Methodically she made her way across and down the bed, shifting sideways on her knees from time to time.

He tried to mentally record it all: the turn of her wrist as she threw each weed onto a growing pile, the curve of her shoulders and back as she leaned to reach the far side of the garden bed, the exact nut-brown of her hair and the tortoiseshell clip that held it tightly so it wouldn’t fall into her eyes as she worked. Perhaps she wouldn’t leave while there were plants still young. He sighed. He didn’t know what would keep her here; that much was clear.

Then she was done and reaching into her bag of gardening tools for a short, thin knife. She moved to other rows, to vegetables fully grown and ready to be eaten. She studied the beds, bending to each worthy specimen – two zucchinis, four or five spring onions, a butternut pumpkin; fat roma tomatoes, basil and coriander from the herb bed to the side. She turned with hands full towards the door that led to their kitchen, but then stopped.

A moment passed before she made her way instead to the outside tap. He had to lean into the window to see her hands under the rushing water. She lifted each part of her harvest to the flow, then shook off the water and placed it in a cotton carry-bag. So she wouldn’t be home tonight. Again. He wondered briefly what dish she would make with them. She was the gardener, the vegetables were hers. But he had often turned the soil for her back when they could not stand a whole afternoon apart and he still felt a pang as she placed the bag of produce into the basket of her bicycle.

As she led the bicycle out to the driveway, he pressed his fingertips against the cold glass. Even if he knocked now she wouldn’t hear him. She was already too far away.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

meme for grownups

Here’s a meme aimed at grown-ups via Sean from Alone and Unobserved. If you’re a grownup, and you’re reading this, consider yourself tagged. If not, seek your parents' permission first.

1. What bill do you hate paying the most?
Electricity bill, especially in Winter.

2. Do you miss being a child?
I miss the stuff I did as a child, like playing in a treehouse or riding my little orange two-wheeler with no hands or exploring the dump and other places I wasn't allowed to go. I miss having so much time to read. I miss that feeling of really believing that your dad was magical and knew everything. There's also a mountain of stuff I don't miss and wouldn't want to return to.

3. Chore you hate the most?

4. Where was the last place you had a romantic dinner?
At the guy's house, roughly oooooh, a million years ago? This question just makes me sad. :)

5. If you could go back and change one thing what would it be?
I would learn a lot earlier how to be responsible with money.

6. Name of your first grade teacher?
Miss Tucker. Nice lady.

7. What do you really want to be doing right now?
I'd like to be working on a t-shirt design, but can't find the cable that connects the camera to the computer to upload the photo I took to use as a tracing image.

8. What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a teacher, but I honestly think that was a lack of imagination on my part. I didn't have a lot of life experience beyond school and so I conjured up a career that exists in school. Of course I have now actually been a teacher in a high school (in Japan) and loved every minute of it. I know now that (if I could be bothered getting the extra qualification) I could be a teacher and like it, but I really don't think as a kid that I had a clear picture of the job to judge it by.

9. How many colleges did you attend?
Two for my degree and one more right now.

10. Why did you choose the shirt that you have on right now?
Because it's warm, purple and looks good with these jeans.

11. What are your thoughts on gas prices?
They're high, but I work less than ten minutes from my house, so I tend to not care too much in terms of paying those prices. I will say that I don't think gas prices are a reason to go to war over oil, and that if people bought local goods and produce where possible and used public transport more often that we wouldn't need so much petrol. Also bio-fuel research and development is causing starvation and should not be vigorously pursued at this time.

12. First thought when the alarm went off this morning?
Quick, snooze button!

13. Last thought before going to sleep last night?
Remembering a nice conversation I had with someone at work earlier that day. I often replay conversations later.

14. What famous people would you like to have dinner with?
Living people? Noam Chomsky, Neil Gaiman (I was at the linked event, incidentally), John Cusack and the guys from Domoto Kyoudai (and if Shingo and Gackt come along I'm cool with that). But not all at the same dinner party.

15. Have you ever crashed your vehicle?
I slightly scratched my neighbour's car last year. Apart from that any crash I've had has been someone else crashing their car into mine.

16. If you didn’t have to work, would you volunteer?
Yeah. Last time I volunteered it was doing literacy tutoring. I'm not sure what I'd do if I didn't have to work at all.

17. Get up early or sleep in?
I like to sleep in on the weekend, but on work days it just pisses me off if I wake up and realise I've slept late. I like getting to work early because I need about an hour without the phone ringing or people wanting something, just to get organised and settle into my day.

18. What is your favorite cartoon character?
Right now...maybe Stewie from Family Guy. I no longer watch the show (I hit my crass humour threshhold somewhere around season 4) but he is always hilarious. When I was a kid I really liked Birdman and the Herculoids. And Batfink. And Cool McCool. And Wylie Coyote.

19. Favorite thing to do at night?
Movies, internet, writing.

20. When did you first start feeling old?
I don't feel old. I don't even feel as old as I am (I often find myself feeling like people my own age are old-fashioned). However, I first felt like someone 'older' when I was talking to a younger friend one day about relationships (and the drama and uncertainty of relationships) and realised just how much crap I don't put myself through anymore because I have more of a sense now of who I am and what I want and where I will and won't compromise. I think I really 'grew up' the day I realised that I'm not afraid to be alone. I don't like it, but I'd rather be alone than be in a bad relationship.

21. Favorite lunch meat?

22. What do you get every time you go into Wal-Mart?
I guess in Australia the equivalent would be Kmart or Big W? I think this would go something like cheap shirts, greeting cards, and random home stuff like door hooks or a desk lamp. There's nothing I get every time.

23. Do you think marriage is an outdated ritual?
No. I think it's a commitment that can take a relationship to a whole new level. I do recognise that it doesn't suit everyone's take on romance and family, but I'm definitely into monogamy and think marriage is cool.

24. A favorite movie you wouldn’t want anyone to find out about?
I think I'd own up to pretty much any 'guilty pleasure' movie if pressed. Um...Xanadu? (No seriously.) I also really like 'Bring It On'. :)

25. What’s your favorite drink?
Nonalcoholic? Water, apple cider.
Alcoholic? Malibu (Barbados white rum, coconut flavour). I'm not much of a drinker, but I want to try tequila one day to see what all the fuss is about.

26. Who would you like to run into from high school?
Sandy, Tracey, Dagmar, Craig. Would be nice to see any of them and talk over old times.

27. What radio station is your car radio tuned to right now?
106.3 (80s till now) 104.7 (Top 40) and Triple J (indie/alternative rock mixed in with top 40 stuff that doesn't suck) and I switch between them all the time to find songs I like.

28. Sopranos or Desperate Housewives?
Gossip Girl. :)

29. Worst relationship mistake that you wish you could take back?
Being afraid to make the first move and losing a guy as a result. (Of course he was also afraid to make the first move. We talked about it later, but by then he was dating someone else.) It was a long time ago and it would have ended, but it would have been a lot of fun while it lasted.

30. Do you like the person who sits directly across from you at work?
Yeah. He's an older guy, and quirky, but we get along pretty well.

31. Have you ever had to use a fire extinguisher for its intended purposes?
No, but I did spill oil on one of the kitchen hotplates and had to pour salt on it to kill the fire. It was a bit scary actually.

32. Last book you finished reading?
'Strange Pilgrims', a book of short stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I read some and then put it down for a few months and only just got back to it. I'm currently reading 'Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain' by Oliver Sacks. Interesting. Hoping to squeeze in 'My Sister's Keeper' by Jodi Picoult before going to see the movie in a couple of weeks. I'm borrowing it from a friend, but she hasn't finished it yet.

33. Do you have a teddy bear?
In a box somewhere.

34. Strangest place you have ever brushed your teeth?
In my car? Camping? This is a stupid question.

35. Do you go to church?
Not for six months now.

36. How old are you?
I find it strange how reluctant I am to answer that question. In real life it doesn't bother me at all. Weird.

37. Have you ever been arrested?
Couple of times in the 80s by the fashion police. You know how it is, you're with a few friends, you get a little carried away and suddenly you're wearing an electric blue, button-down shirt with puffed sleeves and ruffles and way too much pink blush...um, yeah.

38. Have you ever attended a public protest against a major corporation or a government?
Yes. Most recently the Howard government's terrible industrial relations laws (later overturned by the new government).

39. Do you feel that your type of employment traps you or liberates you?
I work in the public service as a policy analyst. This allows me a certain amount of choice in moving between departments without losing my accumulated benefits, which is handy. The pay is decent. I like the work, but to say it liberates me is probably a bit rich. I don't feel trapped. I do sometimes feel like I get too comfortable and would have trouble going back to the private sector.

40. Is voting a duty, a privilege, a right, or an option?
A duty and a right.

41. Have you ever sat on a jury?

42. Have you ever seen someone die?
Yes. I was with a friend at the hospital when her step-mother died from cancer. She just kind of slipped away.

43. Are you making any preparations for old age or for retirement?
Yes, but I'm not satisfied yet that I've done enough to avoid living in a cardboard box on the side of the road. We'll see how it goes.

44. Do you have children? Or, if not, do you wish to?
No, except the ones I borrow from time to time. I would very much like to raise kids, but I don't care if they're biologically mine or not.

45. Have you ever served in your country’s armed forces?
No. I'm not sure why (because I've always been pretty coordinated when it comes to sport and such) but I have this ominous feeling that I'd end up shooting myself in the foot, or blowing up the wrong building or something equally counter-productive and unsoldierlike.

46. How is your relationship with your parents different from what it was when you were a child?
When I was a kid I worshipped my dad and resented my mother (because she was the one trying to raise me properly and he spoiled me). As an adult I respect my mother and really enjoy her company. My dad is not a bad person, but he is flawed in ways that make it hard for me to be around him for long periods of time. Sometimes we get along really well, but it never lasts.

47. Have you ever had a substantial conversation with a homeless person?
Yes, but not very often.

48. If life is “a journey”, then where are you going?
I honestly don't know. I feel a strong need to establish some security for myself and I suppose that's the destination I'm seeking financially. In terms of me as a person I care less about where I'm going than about what happens along the way. I don't think I'm ever going to do anything really profound, but if I can have a positive impact on the lives of people I meet and interact with, I think I'm okay with that.

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the bitch is...well, a little over-rated actually

I'd forgotten this story. I like this version because it's not all 'Christianed up' like the version you mostly see floating on the interwebs.

An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice, "Let me tell you a story. I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do.

But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times." He continued, "It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.

But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger,for his anger will change nothing. Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit."

The boy looked intently into his Grandfather's eyes and asked, "Which one wins, Grandfather?" The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, "The one I feed."

Obvious really, but it doesn't stop people from feeding their anger and negativity until it consumes their better self.

I think I do this sometimes and it's just wasted energy. Recently I started working with a guy that is always calm. At first I found this kind of annoying, actually, because I mistook it for a lack of passion about things that matter. But as I've gotten to know him over the last few months I've realised that he doesn't lack feeling; it's more that if anger isn't going to change anything, he will only give limited energy to it. He is, however, quite insightful when it comes to solutions, and I think this is a result of him being calm enough to really apply his rationality to a problem.

This is a workplace. Things go wrong and management occasionally suck and there are any number of people ready to bitch about it. It's actually kind of nice to work with someone who doesn't always need to vent, even if this does throw my own impatience or irritation into sharper relief (embarrassing!) in the process. Maybe I'll become more zen as a result.

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

buffy vs edward

Attention Buffy & Twilight fans!!! This is easily the coolest pop culture vampire-related thing I've seen in months:

Beats all the fake New Moon trailers for sure. Must have taken ages to put together.

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