Tuesday 27 November 2012

First of the Month Fiction - December 1st

Now normally this would be posted on the 1st, but we have an out of town wedding, leaving at 8am and as I am technologically challenged, I need some time to work up the blog-hop part of the linky thing. So come Jan 1, I will have it all sorted, and in the hangover haze swing by, but for today (and the next few days), you have a head start.

There are 2 categories (examples here) 100 words exactly or 30 words or less. I think we can say that feed back on offerings are unnecessary, but if you really love someone's story, maybe go to their blog and mention it there (if this is not how people want it to work, let me know, was just thinking it's better for the readers to read the stories all together). Add your stories to the comment section, but don't forget to add your blog to the link below. My offering is in the 100 word category. (I know I cheated with "who'd" but what can you do!?) Look forward to reading yours.

 She had longingly watched him pass by this spot every day on his way to work since he was a young man of twenty. Her day always brightened with his sighting. She’d felt heart-breaking envy when his new bride joined him. Over time, their laughter declined and eventually they ceased talking. Nowadays, he wandered miserably alone, but she knew he would still never notice her, and she ached for the love she would never know. Toby looked at the painting of his grandmother, who’d died in childbirth, and wondered why it always looked sadder when his dad was near.

Monday 26 November 2012

First of the month fiction

Now I have an idea, which some of you may be interested in - but as I've only noticed fly by fiction, maybe none of you will be...but I'm not one to let popularity get in the way of an idea...

Awhile back, I entered a competition where you had to write a story in exactly 100 words - not one more, nor less. I enjoyed the challenge so much, I wrote another one, even though I couldn't submit it. I found it quite therapeutic, like sudoku ( and Heaven knows I need the therapy!) James Patterson wrote a brilliant one for Half Minute Horrors (every one should own this book, it's brilliant to see what writers do with the challenge of writing horror stories that can be read in 30 seconds) called Grand Entrance. Track that down, it's excellent.

Then  Random House put out the challenge to write short stories in 30 words or less. Hemingway's six word 'novel' being the most famous.

Or the  world's shortest horror story, by Frederic Brown, called Knock.

Thursday 22 November 2012

"Just remember that the things you put into your head are there forever,"

That's a quote from the very brilliant The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I have had it emphasised to me today. We got our laptop fixed by remote IT techs, and somehow since then, a porn page kept opening up after they'd fixed the other issue (ironically a worse issue came in it's place). Now I'm not a total prude but there is one image on the 'welcome' page of this site that has stuck in my head in a disturbing fashion.

One woman has had massive implants, and I mean not human implants. These fake breasts are larger than any other females' on the planet. They are easily larger than her head - individually! There is something almost beastial or alien about it. I can't really get that any guy would find it sexy. It just looks really uncomfortable to me. And disturbing.

Then the practical side starts buzzing in my head. Where would she find clothes? Would she ever be treated like a normal person? The word 'freak show' springs to mind, I'm afraid. We are not talking large, we are talking crazy implants. Think Anna Nicole Smith is an A cup in comparison, this woman is a JJJ. (Pamela Anderson is too small to make the chart, in this example). They are literally as big as her torso.

I am not taking issue with implants, nor porn. Both are pretty common these days but the size of these implants means the woman stops being a person and just seems to be a pair of enormous breasts. I mentioned it to a friend who had seen a similar site (or the same site, care of a virus) and she asked me if the woman had brown hair. I honestly had no idea. All I could see was those huge distorted and uncomfortable looking breasts.

Fortunately the techies then fixed this problem, so I won't share the photo with you (actually I wouldn't have anyway). But I keep wondering what my son would have made of it, and the conversation we would have had to have about it. I really don't think I could explain why a woman would do that to herself.

Don't the doctors have some sort of responsibility? When someone says 'We can get it specially made but you'll need to wear bespoke clothing and undergarments, and your back was never made to carry this sort of weight", do you not rethink your pending choice? And surely if you've already gone up a few sizes, whatever the size before this is must have hurt your back and caused problems. What is the driving force to go bigger again? It just seems so sad and tragic, and I really can't comprehend the process, and the fact that obviously someone must see it as desirable, makes me uncomfortable about my fellow mankind.

 So Mr McCarthy's warning still resonates with me today, years after reading The Road. I think I would happily take his disturbing apocalypse images over this tragic disfigurement.

Monday 19 November 2012

Are we raising spoiled brats?

We went away in a big group with our 12 year olds school friends and their families. There were 40 odd of us in total. After dinner the first night, I asked the year 6 kids to wash up. They acted like this was some unreasonable request. They mucked around flicking tea towels at each other, being silly and basically not doing the task at hand without another mother and I barking orders at them.

It was a small thing but it really bothered me, and made me cross with them all, my own son included. It wasn't until we got back, and I was looking at a list of gift requests for an orphanage that it fell into perspective. There was a 12 year old girl, asking for her donated gift to be school stationary. I knew my kids, and their friends never thought once of the money spent of books and uniforms as something to be appreciated, It was taken for granted, we just got it when needed. It wasn't a birthday or Christmas gift, but it was still a lot of money to be spent.

So too was the weekend, as we've done a few with this group. They don't see it as something special that their parents gave up their weekends to take them away with their friends, their parents spent a lot of money taking them all somewhere fun and their parents did a lot of work cooking and cleaning up after 40 people. Three times a day. They were asked to contribute to once and they accepted that task in an appalling fashion.

We do a lot of household tasks for them because it's quicker and easier to do it ourselves, and I think this is a disservice to them. We make excuses for them because of their age, but twelve is really past that age, but we've lead them to this point by using their age as an excuse up until now. It is our fault, not theirs.

We have another group weekend away and I'm going to ask that we roster the 12 year olds on washing up for the whole weekend, and let them know what is expected of them prior to going. I think they should know they are expected to contribute, and more importantly, why they are expected to contribute.

They are all good kids, but it needs to be a lesson taught, and it's our fault, the parents, if it isn't. If the kids do the washing up even once each over the course of the weekend, they will at least get an idea of what work and effort goes into creating such a fun weekend for them. They might even appreciate it, instead of assuming it just 'happens'.  I'll be thinking of a task for the 8 & 9 year olds too. As I have no intention of them getting to 12 and being in the same boat.

I don't wonder that I'm known as the 'mean mum' but I'm hoping it makes for a lovely young adult in the future...

Linking up with the lovely Jess at Essential Jess - drop by HERE to see who else is about...

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Too weird for real life

I had a moment today - I'd like to say epiphany but I don't think that's the right word. I was flicking through the Dymocks Christmas catalogue and by the time I hit the kids section, I realised there wasn't a single book in it that interested me. There were crappy biographies of aging rock stars, more cook books than anyone on the planet could be interested in and a host of junk I would never read. And I LOVE books. I know, however, that a great deal of care goes into selecting the xmas best sellers, which means the majority of these books appeal to the majority of the population.

I thought about how I'm constantly saying "who watches this?' about almost every show on tv. I hate what Kirkman has done to the Walking Dead (Shamefully moralising it and destroying the whole point in one soap opera judgmental swoop), while all my friends seem to love it.

Into my head popped a line from Pals in Peril* 'Sometimes Jasper, you're just too weird for real life'. It came from nowhere but it gave me a jolt as I considered it. Could it be me? Far from feeling superior to society, it actually threw me into a minor panic.

I have a theory, that if you are fighting with everyone, then you need to note that in those situations, you are the common denominator, so you are probably the one with the issue, not everyone else. So in this situation, I'm the one out of step.

I'm not sure what to do with this information. I will ponder some more. It does worry me a little, I'll be honest. That said, I've got through forty odd (apparently that's the operative word) years, maintaining long friendships and relationships, so it can't be too drastic. Pop culture, reading matter and interests are small potatoes. I will be watchful on the big issues....stay tuned.

I comfort myself with this quote from Maya Angelou - and if she says it, it must be good advice, right? "If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be."

* M T Anderson (who is great, read Feed everybody) wrote this for the 7+  age group and it is HILARIOUS and quirky. I would recommend it but I'm now wondering if that's wise, given my taste is so out of step with the rest of society. He does win lots of awards, so award boards like him too, if that is more trust worthy.

PS People that added me to their circles, if I didn't do it back it's because I'm old and  don't know what I'm doing - I did try but I'm not sure if I did it right. But you made my day! Thanks!

Linking up for FYBF with the lovely Grace at http://www.withsomegrace.com. Pop over and see the more popular bloggers with less angst....but thanks for dropping by!

Monday 12 November 2012

Stranger in a Strange Land (Part 2 - Ready to travel)

A while ago I talked about going to the EB games expo (see here but not really relevant, just in case the Part 2 had you thrown). Yesterday we trundled off to Good Game Live at the Opera House, as the kids were keen. I drew the short straw, so after a lovely lunch in town, we headed our separate ways and the boys and I made our way to the Opera House.

I had low expectations, so the fact there was an Art of Dr Seuss exhibition in the foyer made it all seem worthwhile. That man is truly a genius, but that's a tale for another post. This post is to tell you what I learnt....

All in all, it was actually quite entertaining. It was very funny - even for someone who didn't really know anything about games and gaming. I am, as they say, a total Noob and okay with that. (Has anyone noticed I have a habit of adopting the new lingo of whatever I'm doing to sound like I know what I'm talking about?)
So here is what I learnt from Good Game Live:

1. Television really does make you fat. Hex, who is slim (in a normal looking way) on TV is positively TINY. She is noticeably thin and petite. I even looked up at her on the screen and she went back to 'normal'. So I think I was right to make it a rule never to go on TV. I would look terrible - and take up half the screen.

2. The hosts of Good Game talk to the robot - I mean they really engage with the robot as if he's real. They'll make jokes and then direct their smiling faces to the robot, where as the other panelists tended to direct their jokes towards the audience. I don't know if they're really, really professional or if they've spent so long making the show they actually think of him as real? For some reason I found it very sweet and it made me like them more.

3. The pacman ghosts are called Blinky, Inky, Pinky and Clyde. (Clyde seems to be a popular gaming character name. I don't know why).

4. The Evil Big Business in Resident Evil is called the Umbrella Corporation, and it's catch phrase is "Our Business is Life Itself". I think we could all have a think about that, with our attachment to consumerism and dependence on technology (Read Feed, everybody, by the magnificent M. T. Anderson). Also a topic for another post.

5. Sonic the Hedgehog is actually the name of Chromosome 7 in the human genome. (and as a hopeless speller, I just learnt that chromosome is spelled with an 'M' not an 'N" - seriously! So double win there.) It's responsible for growth.

6. Mojang is Swedish for gadget. I'm now going to use it in everyday circulation. We have 'gadget free time' at our house, so it's now no mojangs. I tested it out on my son yesterday and his reply was 'That only means we can't play minecraft'. Have you noticed kids have a comeback for everything?

7. In one of the games, they showed a clip from some really bad movie with Scott Wolf (Double Dragon). I predict video rentals of this movie will skyrocket this week. I thought it, and the guy behind me said it "We've got to see that movie!"

8. Jimmy Giggle looks really different in real life. I wouldn't have recognised him. He also behaved differently too - but when a little girl came over to him at the end of the show, he bent down to talk to her and was all 'Jimmy Giggle' again. Which is nice.

9.  In Portal, the evil mastermind (?) is GLaDOS and while guessing what it stands for, Giggle said "Great Lord of Doom and Stuff" which is not correct, but I think I might steal it as my sign off. (It actually stands for Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System, which is boring.)

10. I think I should try one of these games. I don't really get the appeal or the kids obsession with them - they can talk about it with their friends for ages. They tape Good Game to watch other people talk about games. The audience was a really nice crowd and their enthusiasm was infectious. I thought, why wouldn't I want to visit a country where the countrymen are so friendly? So when they showed a still picture of Ezio Auditore da Firenze, gazing out from Ponte Vecchio and I thought "that looks alright." (I'm sorry I didn't think in a more eloquent and profound manner).  I think I will start with that one. "I have lived my life as best I could, not knowing its purpose, but drawn forward like a moth to a distant moon; and here at last, I discover a strange truth. That I am only a conduit, for a message that eludes my understanding." (to quote Ezio) Who doesn't love high brow pretension? (Gamers, if this is totally the wrong place to start, let me know. I know with Comics, I would steer them in another direction if someone wanted to read Watchmen with their first attempt at the genre, so advice is welcome).

So the list grows:

Torshlusspanik List:
1. Shooting (check)
2. Fencing (check)
3. Play croquet at Croquet Club
4. Laser skeet
5. Off road buggy driving
6. Play Assassins Creed

I've been sitting on the sidelines judging, without really knowing what I'm talking about. It may not be for me (as I can barely use any of the technology the world offers with any skill) but at least I'll have tried. Who knows, next year at the Games expo, I might be dressed up as a character and cheering like the rest of  them.

Yours truly,
The Great Lord of Doom & Stuff. (GLoDaS) who's off on a voyage of discovery, like a moth to a distant moon to discover a strange truth that eludes my understanding.

GLoDaS has been over IBOTing with the lovely Jess at Essentially Jess. Pop on over http://essentiallyjess.com/ to see what everyone else is talking about...

Thursday 8 November 2012

Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. Part 2 (More Misconceptions)

So awhile back, I decided to start a list of new things to try. (see here if origins are of interest).
As part of the list, I signed up to a fencing school for 2 lessons. (as discussed here). My friend thought it sounded like fun, so she joined in and last Monday night we finally headed off.  At first we were all giggles at the outfits and the funny polka-like movements. Then the instructor started to hit me on the head. It didn’t actually hurt but the noise on the metal mask was loud and disconcerting and it seemed like it should hurt, so my brain somehow processed it that way.  I did not like it, Sam I am.
I also didn’t like hitting with the sword either. I am apparently not as violent and aggressive as my enjoyment of the target shooting implied. (misconceptions again). Let me tell you, shooting is way more fun!   Ironically, on paper, I thought I’d enjoy the fencing more,  so I was very surprised by the internal reactions. (I just noticed I wrote this at the start of September   “I hope I am as excited by the actual fencing as I am by the IDEA of fencing…”. Perhaps I put it out there and jinxed myself?)
I did however, become very good at parrying  (I sound like I know what I’m talking about). I paid close attention to the part of the lesson on how to block attacks. I am not co-ordinated in any way but I was determined not to be hit in the head anymore. Where I lacked skill, however, was once I’d blocked the attack, I’d  then neglect to launch an attack myself. I tended to just stand there preparing to avoid the next assault. I clearly will not be taking this sport to the Olympics.
However, once we got suited up in the electronic scoring gear, and my friend and I took to each other for real, I enjoyed it. We were both hesitant (there was a lot of jumping about, waving the sabre but not striking) and laughing. THAT part was fun! And I am still giggling at the thought of how we must have looked to the instructor. She actually had to tell us that we didn’t need to jump around quite as much as we were if we weren’t  going to attack each other. We’d jump around from the start line until we reach striking distance and then we’d stop and wave our swords around but not strike.

We have another lesson, but we’ve decided to just go back and play each other (do another introductory class, so to speak). It’s fun, but not a sport I’ll continue – unlike shooting, where our numbers are growing for the January rifle shooting day (three of us ladies will be doing rifles and pistols in the same day, 2 more ladies will be trying pistols for the first time…we’ll be a regular Ladies Gun Club at this rate, high tea at the range afterwards).
When I was fencing with my friend, I seriously had to control my impulse to start saying, as I moved towards her “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” I was too embarrassed to do it in front of the instructor (she might have hit me in the head for being an idiot).  Next lesson, I will…and I’ll be wearing my new shirt that turned up the day after the first lesson, but I don’t think the six fingered man need worry.

Torshlusspanik List grows:
1. Shooting (check)
2. Fencing (check)
3. Play croquet at Croquet Club
4. Laser skeet
5. Off road buggy driving

So next time we talk, I should hopefully have a croquet mallet in hand...(or a flamingo if the Red Queen has anything to do with it).

Linking up for FYBF with the generous Grace at http://www.withsomegrace.com/. Head over and see who else is about.

Monday 5 November 2012

Growing old disgracefully

I am getting old. I can tell when I try on clothes and they look ridiculous on me (unfortunately my taste hasn't matured with my years.) I can tell by those pesky grey hairs that require me to keep purchasing various shades of hair dye. I can tell by the topics of conversation that keep coming up when with friends at dinner. And I can tell when m kids roll their eyes at a lecture I'm giving them or correct my antiquated terminology. (Video shop is now as hilarious as wireless was in my youth).
I'm okay with it. I'm happy with where I'm at in life, which made it all the more surprising when I had an alarming reaction to the news that I needed (dah -dah - daaaaaaah! ominous chords) BIFOCALS!
I am apparently young to get them, though this could have been the optometrist reacting to my panicked face as the blood drained away and I got that instant tunnel vision only truly bad news brings. But there it is. It's official - I am old. Old people wear bifocals. I am on the downhill run and things will only get crappier from now on, physically speaking.
So despondently I went to choose the frames. They need to be much 'deeper' than my usual style (to match the ensuing depression, I thought). I tried on all these ugly, big frames, like the ones I wore in the eighties. I just looked crap. No other word for it.
Then, I picked some Peggy Sue catseyes, and said "These! I'll take these!" The glasses looked great with my 'going to town' dress and heels. I already know they'll look terrible with my normal birkenstocks, shorts and scruffy tee.
With that split second decision, I have just committed myself to doing my hair and make up everyday, wearing heels and dressing immaculately, no matter what the occasion, even if there's no occasion at all. Ironically, I may become one of the few who looks better in old age than I did in my lazy youth. I know my knee-jerk reaction is extreme and quite probably something I'll regret. However, as I often say 'When you're on thin ice, you might as well tap dance.'  And the best part? I'll fit right in at the Roller Derby.

Linking with #lifethisweek, as it is my youth that I will never see again, but not all losses have to be sad.

Thursday 1 November 2012

Crazy Cat Shoes

I went to Malaysia with a friend I’ve known for forty years. It was meant to be for our fortieth birthday celebration, but as I was still breast feeding, and had no income to speak of, she kindly let us delay our trip. It took me three years to save up the money to go, but eventually we went, no longer to celebrate our forty years on the planet, but forty years of friendship.
We had a wonderful time, relaxing, reading, massages galore and fabulous cocktails for lunch and dinner. It was weird to be away from our husbands and kids, but nice to be unencumbered for a change.(Imagine just being able to jump in a taxi and do your seat belt up? No Maxi taxi with carseat fiasco, no clicking everyone in). It was also lovely to have some time together, as we live in different cities, and I am remarkably the world’s worst telephoner: I call no one. I’ve lost the art of phone conversation.  I don’t really enjoy the faceless voice at the end of the line, though apparently I’m fine with faceless emails.
We shopped, with marginal success, she acquiring luggage limits of new footwear, me happy with just one pair of fancy red ankle boots, but more Angry Birds and Gangnam Style shirts than you can imagine.
We headed off to the airport together for our hour apart flights home. While she was in the chemist line, I popped next door to a shoe shop. In a moment, I saw them and had to have them. Miraculously, they were in my evidently elusive size. Within a minute they were in my bag!

The Crazy Cat shoes are super comfy, and literally put a spring in my step! I love just looking at them, because they are quirky enough to make me smile. They also have the whole holiday experience wrapped up in them – they remind me of my friend, my week off from reality, and the lovely laid back island of Langkawi.
Another friend told me I should enjoy them while I can, because there soon comes an age when you can’t wear those sort of shoes (I suspect I am that age already but inner city living means anything goes and there’s always someone weirder than you walking by).
I rang my friend for her birthday, slackly but predictably two days late. She mentioned she thought we should look at Vietnam for our next beach holiday, sans enfants. Guess I better start saving…Do you think they’ll have animal footwear in Hanoi?

Do you have happiness wrapped up in an item of clothing?

Linking with #HappyTuesday