Friday, 29 March 2013

The Week We Stayed In.

Jay's best friend took his family on vacation to Minehead this past week. That meant that Jay wouldn't be going over to his house on Monday and Wednesday nights, like he normally would. We decided to take advantage of this and have a week "in." I cancelled all my plans as well so we could get in some much needed quality time.

I have to admit that I was dubious. I was a little worried that we would get on each other's nerves before the end of the week but that didn't happen. We spent the whole week staying up late while we talked, watched telly, fooled around, and played games. We even took turns doing the chores and cooking dinner. It was a really nice change and a welcome relief from the massively shit week I had at work.

It was really good to have that reminder of why we got together in the first place. I know that it can't last - aside from the fact that we both have our own lives to lead, Jay's best friend will be back today. Back to normal. But I'm feeling better and more optimistic about our relationship than I have in a long while. My hope is that, although we can't commit the same amount of time we did this week, we can keep some of the laughter and fun - which is something that has been sorely lacking lately.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Red Power.

I dyed my hair red a few months ago and LOVED it. Well, I say red... it was closer to orange. Like, Jimmy  orange. And that was cool.(But an awful lot of work because we had to dye it three or four times to get the desired colour.)


Awesome colour but totally high maintenance. Also, the orangey colour faded really fast and left it looking just bleached. A few months on and my hair was looking pretty awful so it was time to do something with it.

We used the exact same dye but without the bleach


And, even though it was the exact same dye, it came out totally different this time.


You can't really tell but it's redder this time instead of orangey. I decided to keep it shortish too because it's easier to handle and doesn't give me as many headaches. I'm thinking of maybe adding some black streaks to it, just for fun. What do you think?

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Goodreads First Reads Winner:

I had another goodreads First Reads giveaway book arrive last weekend. Free books always make a weekend better!


The Alchemyst (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Book 1) 
by Michael Scott. 

Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on 28 September 1330. Nearly seven hundred years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life. The records show that he died in 1418. But his tomb is empty and Nicholas Flamel lives. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects - the Book of Abraham the Mage. It's the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. And that's exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won't know what's happening until it's too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it. Sometimes legends are true. And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.

I entered this giveaway because of - and don't laugh -  Harry Potter, of course! Lol. I know that Nicholas Flamel was a real person, not just a character in Harry Potter but I can't hear the name without thinking about HP! It's pretty far down the to-read list right now, though. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Mortal Instruments, Cassandra Clare

When I first read The Mortal Instruments trilogy (as it was then) by Cassandra Clare, I thought it was the best Young Adult fiction I'd ever read. Since the movie's coming out soon(ish), I decided it was time to go back and re-read them. Was it as good as I remembered?

Better.

This is still the best written, most intense YA fiction I've ever read. From the first moment of shocking discovery to the last embrace, this series moves along at pace so swift the reader gets dragged right into the heart of the story. I guarantee that this is a series you won't be able to put down. (The amount of housework I haven't done in the last three days is a testiment to that.)

And this is the second time I've read them!

How this series doesn't have a cult following bigger than Harry Potter and Twilight put together is beyond me. The story is intense (and, unlike the other two, not repetitive), the characters are well developed (Magnus Bane, I love you!), and the world is one you never want to leave.

The thing that makes the series really great, though, is that there's nothing in it that isn't somehow important. The problem with too many series is that the first book is amazing but then the ones that follow are either too much the same or have too much filler. As a series, The Mortal Instruments is guilty of neither.

One of the things I love best about these books is the dialogue. Some of the quips between Jace and - well, anyone - are worthy of any Wheddon production. Take, for example, this conversation between Jace and Clary in City of Bones:

"It's not gray," Clary felt compelled to point out. "It's green."

"If there was such a thing as terminal literalism, you'd have died in childhood."

Or this conversation between Jace and Valentine in City of Ashes: 

"They had something I needed."

"What? A sense of decency?"

Or this conversation between Jace and Simon in City of Glass: 

"Have you tried talking to her?"

"No," Jace said, "we've been punching her repeatedly in the face instead. Why, do you think that won't work?"

If you haven't read this series yet, DO. And do it soon. You won't regret it. I'm currently reading the newest books in the series, City of Fallen Angels and City of Lost Souls. I don't remember them being as good as the original trilogy but I'm going to give them another go. I'll let you know what I think when I'm finished.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Meme of the Week

There were more worthy pope inspired memes this week - like this - but I decided to go for something a little different in choosing this week's Meme of the Week.


For. Real.

I wish I'd never listened to my parents when they constantly told me how fat I was as a teenager because - hey! - I was freakin' adorable!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

A Song for Sunday: The Damned - Grimly Fiendish

Due to my not feeling very well this weekend, the hubby has decided to stand in for me for this week's A Song for Sunday post. 

I told him it was his chance to prove that he has better taste in music than I do. Let's see how he does...

 

I picked The Damned's "Grimly Fiendish" out of nostalgia. This song was me.

It was the first Gothic single I bought, having seen The Damned a year earlier on The Young Ones. I loved the image, always loved the vampire look and I literally became Grimly Fiendish in my appearance - so much so that twenty years on my internet identity is still a line from the song: Simply Fiendish.

I liked the video because Dave Vanian was everything I aspired to be in his looks. As for the song... who doesn't like a harpsichord? But, if you listen to the lyrics, 'Grimly Fiendish wore a coat that's black and long./He didn't know that it's all wrong.' And that kind of sums me up: 'a child brought in a grown-up's world.'

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Blast from the past.

I've been trying to reorganize my digital photo albums to make things easier to find. It's taken me three weeks already and I'm still going so you know it's no small task. I was surprised to see that they went all the way back to 2005 - I couldn't remember even having a digital camera then!

See... I was a bit of a snob and refused to go digital at first. I figured you couldn't call yourself a photographer unless you did it the right way - darkroom and all! But there was something to be said for seeing results straight away so I eventually caved. Now, I couldn't live without my digital cameras. (Yes, three: two Canons and an Olympus.)

While going through photos, I came across a couple of my first digital camera which was, shall we say, reappropriated from a former employer. Oh boy was this thing CRAP. I think it was something like 4 pixels and had a view screen that was less than an inch! Still, it was my first so it's worth mentioning.



Did I mention that this camera was CRAP? Seriously. You had to be in a brightly lit area and hold the camera perfectly still, just to keep the photo in focus. There are cameras on phones now ten times better than this digital camera was. It's scary to think that I'll be saying the same about my lovey EOS one day...

Friday, 22 March 2013

My 2013 Watched List

As you know - if you've been paying attention - I've been keeping a visual record of my 2013 Reading Challenge. I decided, over the weekend, that it might be interesting to do the same for all the movies/TV series/etc. that I watch this year as well. And so I started a new board on Pinterest:


It's interesting to compare the two. I know that I'm quite the cinephile but I had no idea that I've watched three times more movies/television than books I've read! Shocking! I'd better switch off the idiot box and catch up on my reading if I'm going to beat my 2013 Reading Challenge!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

On My To Watch List...

The hubby surprised me with Frankenweenie last week because he knew that I wanted to see it in the cinema but didn't make it in time. One of the trailers that came on while I was watching it absolutely floored me. I can't wait for this one!


How freaking adorable does Monsters University look?! Too bad it's not out until this summer...

I saw the trailer for the next movie on my recent trip to the cinema. Jay says it reminds him of an old TV show called Gogs... I'll have to take his word on that one.


I was openly laughing at the trailer for The Croods in the cinema, that's how awesome it looks. Jay says I'm not allowed to watch it, though, until I've watched Gogs with him.

And, finally, the Big One.


Oh, crap. I think I just geeked my pants. :)

I am so excited that they're finally showing the trailer for Star Trek: Into Darkness in cinemas. I'm not saying I'm a Trekkie or anything but - ERMAHGERD STAR TREK! *swoon* This couldn't happen soon enough for me. (Please, please, please don't let the villain be Khan, though. That would be dire.)

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

On Ostara


The Christian holiday of Easter and the pagan holiday of Ostara typically fall very near to each other. (This year, they’re just over a week apart.) Both draw their names from the Teutonic goddess of the spring and the dawn, Oestre, or Eastre. And, boy, does spring really kick off from here.

The pagan festival of Ostara marks the Spring Equinox - the time exactly mid-way between the Winter and Summer Solstices. It is a time of balance. Night and day are of the same length today but, from here on out, the days will be getting longer. Summer's on the way, baby!

The Spring Equinox - or Vernal Equinox - normally falls on or around the 21st of March. This year (2013), it occurs on the 20th. They say that, at the exact moment of the equinox - and just a few moments before and after - you can balance an egg upright. I've never tried this...Have you? No, seriously... I'd love to know if it actually works!

Common decorations, for both Pagans and Christians alike, are painted eggs, rabbits and baskets of fresh flowers. You may wonder what exactly those chocolate eggs and bunnies that little boys and girls embrace have to do with Christianity and the rebirth of Jesus Christ… Well, to be perfectly frank... Not one damned thing. Like so many other traditions readily accepted by the Christian faith, the roots of these symbols lie in the Pagan traditions of yore.

The egg is the most recognizable symbol of this holiday. It represents fertility - in both plants and animals (and us, of course!) The Earth has shed her winter cloak and is starting Her return to abundance. The trees are starting to grow tiny leaves, the smell of fresh grass fills the air and early spring flowers like daffodils are poking out of the newly softened ground.

It is easy to see why bunnies are associated with this festival of fertility. You only have to think of the commonly used phrase, “shag like a bunny" to see why. I don't think I can go any deeper into this particular symbol without drawing a diagram. *wink, wink* Another tradition that both Easter and Ostara share is a lovely dinner of ham. This tradition can also be traced back to the ancient Pagans. How so, you ask?

Well… during the hard winter months, they would be forced to make due with the dried, cured meats (like ham) that they prepared in the Autumn. When Spring arrived, they could start to take advantage of the fresh produce of the season. The last of the cured meats would be finished off and the hard-working farmers could start to look forward to a few months of abundance.

The purchasing (or making!) of new clothes at Ostara/Easter time is a tradition I'd never really noticed. I saw it mentioned on a website a few weeks ago, however, and decided to put some thought into it. I guess it's one of those things you notice less once you're grown up because Mamaw and Papaw don't show up with new jumpers for you on Easter morning anymore. But I was walking through ASDA (yes, I'm an ASDA whore) just yesterday and I couldn't help but notice the new clothing lines. And such vibrant colours!

Well, it makes sense, doesn't it? The Earth gets new clothes... She gets new skirts of lush green and yellow fields, new jackets of brilliant blossoms and crowns of new foliage. It's all about shaking off the dark mantle of winter – for Her and us!

For me, Ostara is a holiday of gentle wonder. Walking through my village at this time, I can't help but stop and breathe deeply, taking in the smell of recently tilled soil, the sight of budding flowers, the warmth of the sun on my cheeks, and the tinkle of children's laughter as they play in their front yards. I marvel at the way the Earth can spring back to life after so many months of harsh wind and rain (winter in South Wales equals wind and rain.) And we, Her children, mirror Her rebirth.

The Christian holiday of Easter celebrates the rebirth of Christ, echoing the rebirth and rejuvenation of the Earth at Spring. Not so far from we celebrate, is it? I grow through a kind of rebirth myself at this time. A desire to make things, to make the most of myself, to create, to love, to LIVE hits me about this time and positively hums in my veins during the spring months. And it all starts here, now, with this so-called Christian holiday chock full of Pagan traditions. With Ostara.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Surprise!

My husband is an expert at ruining surprises. Not intentionally, mind you, just accidentally. It started many years ago when, trying to surprise him, I ordered him a DVD that he'd been really wanting, intending to give it to him for an upcoming holiday. The DVD arrived while I was out and I'd forgotten to swap his name on the delivery form for mine. You can guess what happened. I got home to a very happy husband. He held up the DVD with a big grin on his face and said, "Look! I don't even remember ordering it!"

*facepalm*

And thus was instituted the Don't Freaking Open Packages Unless You're Told To rule. It has done me well over the past few years. Jay knows better now than to open packages and ruin surprises - but it doesn't stop him from ruining the ones that don't come through the post. Take the two from last week, as an example. 

Last week I had to post a couple of packages to America. Shipping prices have been going up and up so I set aside a good chunk of money for them when I got paid last month. Luckily, it didn't even cost me half of what I was expecting (whoot!) so I could afford a few small surprises. I knew that Jay had been wanting a DVD for a few weeks now but, being broke as fuck, I hadn't been able to afford it for him. Now I could. So I took myself down to ASDA and picked it up in my lunch hour at work, intending to surprise him when we got home.

Only the surprise didn't last that long.

Sitting on the dashboard of the car when I got in it was the DVD he wanted. He'd ended up with extra money left over from his weekly housekeeping and managed to pick it up himself. He was quite happy about this mistake because we went right back to ASDA to exchange it for another DVD that he wanted. So, really, he got two DVDs out of it and was a happy puppy. (Never mind that my surprise was completely ruined!)

During the same trip to ASDA, I also picked up his Easter goodies, knowing that it's only a couple of weeks away and I might forget later. I put them in a bag and hid them in the top of the pantry where he would never think to look. (I know... that's where I keep the linens and, being a man, I'm pretty sure he doesn't know what the word "linens" means.) A perfect plan! Or... nearly. This surprise was ruined when Jay opened the pantry to get a snack and the bag full of Easter goodies fell off the shelf. It landed, quite literary, in his lap.

I was in the kitchen at the time and heard, "Ooooh, look! Chocolate eggs!" With a *groan* and a *facepalm* I stomped into the dining room to find a very happy looking Jay ready to tear into a box of Cadbury's Creme Eggs. In my grumpiness I grabbed the bag and shoved it back in the top of the closet before proceeding to lecture him on ruining surprises - a lecture, during which, he failed to look contrite in the slightest and occasionally giggled.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Meme of the Week

This week, you get the meme that launched a rant:


As you can tell, I'm not crazy about Pope Francis I. You can say whatever you want about him wanting to make the church a "poor church" blah blah blah - but until he wants to end bigotry and hate too, I don't like him. I admit, he's never been part of the Hitler Youth (like his predecessor) but that doesn't make him good. He's already come out with too many backwards comments to make me ever approve of him.

(And, hey people, he's Argentinian... so when shit hits the fan between Britain and Argentina over The Falklands, whose side do you think he'll pick? Just sayin'...)

Anyway, he wins this week because one of my uncles took offense over that meme and tried to lecture me about the only right and true, God approved, man-on-woman marriage. Hey, Unc - I'm bisexual, remember? And many of my friends are pagan, bisexual, or gay too. And that's why he got himself unfriended.

A Day at the Pictures

It would appear that Cineworld have started listing movies that you can pre-book along with the movies that are currently showing. Annoying much? Yes, I think so.

Why am I so annoyed? Because I wasn't paying attention, that's why. Between Cineworld listing movies for the wrong dates and me not paying attention, I ended up going to the cinema to see a movie that wasn't out yet.

Fail.

I went to the pictures to see Oblivion but, as you probably already guessed, it's not out for a few weeks. I wasn't too bothered, though, since I was planning on being there anyway. I just got a ticket for Red Dawn instead.


I heard that the reviews weren't very good for Red Dawn so I wasn't expecting very much - maybe that's why I enjoyed it as much as I did. Also, I've never seen the original and had nothing to compare it to so that probably helped as well.

It's easy to see where a bit of character development could have improved the film but it's actually pretty good. It deals with a fear that I think a lot of Americans harbor (invasion from the East) and has a good blend of action and emotion. (Also... Chris Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson don't hurt, right?)

Oz: The Great and Powerful came next.


I've been looking forward to this one for some time. It was... like Wizard of Oz - without the magic. Don't get me wrong... it's good. It's just not amazing.

The original Wizard of Oz terrified me so much that I was an adult before I watched it all the way through. (Not the witch, unsurprisingly, it was the tornado at the beginning that scared the crap out of me.) It quickly became a favourite. I mean... Margaret Hamilton. Need I say more?

Oz is a terrific bit of whimsy but I can't see it becoming the legend that the original is. The acting is good - yes, even Mila Kunis as Theodora. I thought she was very good, in fact. The bit where she appears to Oz the first time as The Wicked Witch actually gave me a chill. Actually, thinking on it, she was probably my favourite bit of the movie.

I also liked the projection of The Wizard. It was very clever and very well done. The little nods to the original were a nice touch too. (But there weren't enough of them.)

The fact that Oz wasn't a musical annoyed me. That's something that shouldn't have been changed. Also, it's pretty clear that they were setting it up to do a remake of The Wizard of Oz which, okay, could be good. It's been long enough now that a remake wouldn't exactly be a joke. But... Really? Does it need to be done? Can you do it better?

Meh. I'm not so sure.

And if they were setting it up for the sequel... Why no ruby slippers? They should have at least gotten a mention if they were going to play such a vital role in the sequel. I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

Sunday, 17 March 2013

A Song for Sunday: Paloma Faith - Picking Up the Pieces

How do you pick one song to share when you love the whole album? That was my dilemma this week. I knew that I wanted to share a song from Paloma Faith's Fall to Grace because I've been listening to it a lot this week but I couldn't decide which one to share because the album is so amazing. In the end I decided to go for the first song that I listened to off it: "Picking Up the Pieces."


I also picked this one because the music video is the best, most complete, of the lot. It tells a story but there's a creepy kind of undertone that appeals to the horror movie fan in me. There's an interview with Paloma Faith in which she explains how a lot of the album was inspired by cinema - and you can really see it in this music video.

The song itself is a tragedy. It's about being in love with someone who still in love with someone else. It's the kind of thing you can belt out when you're alone in the house by yourself, hurting a bit and wanting to let it all out. (Don't you feel sorry for my neighbors?)

But this song also makes me giggle a little because when I first listened to it (and for a long time afterward) I thought the lyrics "perfect heart" were actually "perfect whore" - which is also very apropos, given the story of the song. 

Fall to Grace is an album that it is absolutely worth buying. Paloma Faith's first album, Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful? is good and several of the tracks on it are among my favourites but her second album blows that one out of the water. Buy it. Love it.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

A Snake for St. Patrick

Tomorrow is March 17: St. Patrick's Day. A day held sacred mostly by raucous Americans who see the day as nothing more than an excuse to kiss random people, dress in lurid shades of green and drink as much beer as humanly possible while parading wildly in the streets. But who was St. Patrick? And why have a day in his honour?

St. Patrick - although it's very likely that his real name was actually Maewyn Succat and Patrick was a name adopted much later - began his life as a pagan. He was born sometime around 387 A.D. near in either Scotland or Wales. This is an educated guess, of course. The exact dates and location were swallowed up by time - and the Irish love of exaggerated (but not necessary accurate) story-telling. Much of what remains of St. Patrick's life and death is a combination of myth and conjecture - but here it is, such as it is:

Patrick was about sixteen when he was stolen from his home by a band of Irish outlaws and sold into slavery. He spent the next six years under the control of a master known as Milchu whom history remembers as a Druid High Priest. Milchu taught Patrick the ways of the Druids and the young man learned to speak Irish Gaelic fluently during his period of captivity.

It's easy to imagine a frightened 16-year-old boy growing to hate his gods for such a fate. Your gods have let you down, torn you from your home and delivered you into the hands of people you consider barbaric because of their treatment of you - people who hold similar beliefs to your own. So who do you turn to? Well, the first new god that comes along, of course!

When Patrick made his escape after six years of slavery, he made his way into the land of Gaul (now France) where Christianity was widely worshiped. Patrick, studying under St. Germain who was then a Bishop, embraced the Christian god as his saviour. Historians say that he spent nearly twenty years under Germain's tutalige. He first became a monk then was later promoted to priesthood before being sent - with St. Germain - back to Britain to convert the natives.

I don't find it surprising that Patrick would arrive back in the land of his captivity with a passion to eradicate everything that reminded him of his time of slavery. He was, after all, obviously scarred at an early age. I don't condone it either, however. I accept that Hitler had a disturbed cildhood, which possibly lead to some of the resentment-driven decisions he made later in life. But he was still a "mass murdering fuckhead" (thank you, Eddie Izzard, for that one) - if you catch my drift.

Some might take offense to my suggestion that St. Patrick was nothing more than a common-place murderer. However, that decision was made by history, not myself - I simply present it to you in the most direct way possible. Because Patrick spoke their language and could twist the facts he knew of their pagan beliefs, he was able manipulate many of the locals into converting. The rest? Well, the rest he converted to Christianity the old fashioned way: by the blade.

Legends say that St. Patrick arrived in Ireland like a hero, driving all the evil, nasty snakes away. Fact says that there weren't any snakes native to Ireland at that time in history. The word "snake" has always been a euphemism for pagan. Most pagan religions honour snakes as symbols of eternity, most Christians see them as evil creatures (Garden of Eden, etc.) so it's not that hard to work out the correlation.

While the rest of their neighbours and friends are dressing up in green, as leprechauns and the like, modern-day pagans are pinning a simple snake pin to their chest as a silent protest of St. Patrick's bloody sweep across the Emerald Isle. Many will not even adorn their bodies with the three leaf clover (or shamrock) that is so popular on this day, believing it to be his symbol. (It is said that Patrick would often wear a shamrock on his person, believing the three leaves to be a symbol of the holy trinity: the father, the son and the holy ghost.)

On a personal level, St. Patrick's Day just pisses me off. Think about it. We don't hold St. Hitler's Day to celebrate the eradication of the Jews, right? So why celebrate St. Patrick's Day to honour of the elimination of a religion and, indeed, an entire way of life?

Also See: 

https://suite101.com/a/maewyn-succat-the-real-saint-patrick-a207081 

http://www.rte.ie/tv/scope/SCOPE4_show03_snakes.html

Friday, 15 March 2013

From Book to Big Screen

I recently saw Beautiful Creatures and was impressed with how well it was done. The book was a more complete story, of course, but it's hard to due a book like that justice in only two hours.

One of the trailers that ran before Beautiful Creatures started was for the film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's The Host. I haven't read that one yet (got kind of disgusted with Meyer after a while) but the trailer made me think that it might be worth a look.


Looks good... This book came highly recommended to me so I'm going to give it a try. BUT it is a Stephenie Meyer book so there is no way in Hell I'm going to be caught dead picking it up from my library. Thank the gods for downloads.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

On My To Watch List...

During my recent trip to the cinema, I didn't see any trailers that made me go, "OMG! I have to see this!" but I did see a couple that looked interesting. Take Olympus Has Fallen, for example:



I think this is a story line that has been done a hundred times before - cop screws up and has to prove himself - but it's worth a look.

I'm not a huge fan of Tom Cruise but Oblivion looks like it could be interesting as well:


The last one that I want to share with you is less explosion and more fright: Dark Skies.


Alien abduction? Shudder. (Reminds me a bit of The Fourth Kind with Milla Jovovich.)

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Ending That Should Have Been - Part Two

I finished the second chapter of The Ending That Should Have Been (an ongoing fanfic based on Bram Stoker's Dracula) back in November but I haven't been happy enough with it to actually post it to http://www.fanfiction.net/.

The biggest problem I've had is that I don't have a beta for this story. Not for lack of trying, either, I must have sent out a dozen PMs or more asking people to beta this story but, sadly, there were no takers.

(Hey. Here's an idea: if you're not accepting beta requests at the moment, maybe take your name off the beta list?)

Anyway... I put part two through three rounds of edits between November and now - and I'm still not 100% happy with it. My problem? I find it easier to write from the male point-of-view. Why? I don't know. But I have the same problem with Mr. Darcy, Vampire. (Part three of TETSHB is from Van Helsing's POV and it flew.) *sigh*

So basically what I'm saying is that part two is out there but it needs some work. Read and review it and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

On failure. (Again.)

Being a writer means getting used to disappointment. Everyone who has ever taken up the pen has done so knowing that they have to have a hard shell, prepare themselves for rejection, blah blah blah.

Doesn't make it suck any less when it happens.

You may remember that I applied for a bursary from Literature Wales last year which, if I had gotten it, would have given me six months off to focus on my writing. You can probably guess from the title of this post that I wasn't successful. I got the letter informing me over the weekend.


I'm doing my best not to be too gutted about it - but I am. It would have been life changing for me. It would have been much needed Wondra time. It would have been the break that I've been waiting for.

But it wasn't meant to be.

Knowing my... proclivity for bouts of Depression, I'm trying not to dwell, trying not to do that I-wasn't-good-enough-I'm-rubbish-why-do-I-bother-I'll-never-amount-to-anything-I'm-just-a-useless-screw-up thing. It isn't easy.

Jay says to look on the bright side: the one thing that was keeping me in my suckfest of a job is now gone and I can start looking for something better. (Or, at the very least, less soul destroying.) Not much of a consolation, though, is it?

Monday, 11 March 2013

Meme of the Week

Some weeks it's hard to pick a favourite. Take last week, for example... I was wondering how I was suppose to choose between cake whores and Samuel L. Jackson when I came across this:


I am still laughing over that shit! (That is EXACTLY the face I make when I get titties for dessert! LOL.)

Sunday, 10 March 2013

A Day at the Pictures

I spent all day Saturday at Cineworld in Newport, catching up with some films that have come out in the last couple of weeks. My Unlimited Pass is the one way I treat myself, the one luxury I allow myself and refuse to feel guilty about. Some times, I just need to hide out in a cinema for a few hours and get away.

Saturday I actually spent seven hours straight in the cinema. Crazy. But I had a great time. I started with Beautiful Creatures which, as you know from my previous post, I've been looking forward to. Like most book to big screen adaptations, it was different from the book in a lot of ways but I think it did a pretty good job in capturing the essence of the story.


It was thoroughly enjoyable, even though there were some bits I was expecting (like all the stuff with his cellphone and her poetry) that either got no screen time or very little. The ending was also very different than I was expecting, with a huge chunk of climax missing. Oh, and his father was completely missing with very little explanation and all the stuff with his mom barely touched on but, hey, that's film for ya.

(If you don't know what I'm talking about, read the bloody book!)

Beautiful Creatures was my favourite of the day. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters was my least favourite. My verdict? Dumb.


I saw the trailer for this the last time I was at the pictures and I thought it looked cool. There were obviously a couple of things I'd forgotten:

1. I hate historical inaccuracy in film.
2. I am a witch

After about ten minutes of "burn the witch" crap, I was annoyed. It does have it's moments, though, and can be very funny in parts. (I wouldn't suggest it if you're sensitive to swear words, though, because they fucking swear a lot!) I think if you're going into it knowing that it's going to be dumb, you'll probably enjoy it. It's kind of like Sherlock Holmes (2009) meets Quentin Tarantino. (Yeah, lots of gore too.)

I finished off the day with Mama, a ghost story.


This had some great scary moments even though the ghost was shown too much. Trouble with a movie like this is that, if you overplay the ghost, it stops being scary. But she still scared the crap out of me - much to the delight of two teenage girls sitting behind me who burst into hysterical laughter every time I jumped. (Bitches.)

There was a moment where this movie was meant to end - and yet it kept going. I can understand trying to avoid that stereotypical horror ending but it was almost too sappy at the end. There was a story line set up especially for the ending but it was almost discarded when it got there.

Over all, I enjoyed my day at the pictures and it went far too quickly. Hopefully Oz: The Great and Powerful will be happening soon...

A Song for Sunday: Halestorm - Love Bites (and so do I)

This week's A Song for Sunday is "Love Bites" by Halestorm. Watch the video:


There are so many reasons to like this song but I think I can narrow it down to two:

1. It's totally rockin'!
2. Lizzy Hale is totally smokin'.

Yup, that about sums it up. :)

This is everything a rock song should be and even better because the band is fronted by a woman. There aren't nearly enough female led rock bands producing music this good. (If you think I'm wrong, please share!)

If you like this one, you should also check out Halestorm's I Get Off and It's Not You. They're favourites of mine.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

CoD Playercards: Cookie Monster

It's been awhile since I shared one of SimplyFiendish's (aka: Jay's) Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 player emblems. Today, I thought I'd share one he made for me. I demanded a cookie monster emblem and this is what he came up with:


I loved it but Jay said he could do better. So he played around with it a bit and came up with this:


And he was right - it is better! I love my Cookie Monster! :) (It still makes me chuckle when I see it on my gun.)

Since we're on the topic, I might as well share my Cookie Monster themed Pinterest board. (Even though I'm still a bit peeved at Pinterest for the way they recently blocked an image that they claimed was offensive.) Check it out:

Friday, 8 March 2013

Goodreads First Reads Winner: The River of No Return, Bee Ridgeway

I've started entering a lot of competitions on goodreads and have already had the good fortune to win a few. (Not the one that I really wanted but that's just the way these things go, right?) This was the first one to arrive:


The River of No Return
by Bee Ridgeway

“You are now a member of the Guild. There is no return.” Two hundred years after he was about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield, Nick Falcott, soldier and aristocrat, wakes up in a hospital bed in modern London. The Guild, an entity that controls time travel, showers him with life's advantages. But Nick yearns for home and for one brown-eyed girl, lost now down the centuries. Then the Guild asks him to break its own rule. It needs Nick to go back to 1815 to fight the Guild’s enemies and to find something called the Talisman.

In 1815, Julia Percy mourns the death of her beloved grandfather, an earl who could play with time. On his deathbed he whispers in her ear: “Pretend!” Pretend what? When Nick returns home as if from the dead, older than he should be and battle scarred, Julia begins to suspect that her very life depends upon the secrets Grandfather never told her. Soon enough Julia and Nick are caught up in an adventure that stretches up and down the river of time. As their knowledge of the Guild and their feelings for each other grow, the fate of the future itself is hanging in the balance.


I didn't realise what a hefty book this would be! I'm still looking forward to it, though. It's going on my list - right after The Traveling Vampire Show by Richard Laymon and Red Glove by Holly Black. (Since the library would like me to return them at some point.) I'll keep you updated on what I thought of my goodreads First Reads freebie!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

South Sea Tales, Robert Louis Stevenson

I'm not a fan of Stevenson or Island Fiction in general. It's just not my thing. But I came across this quote while reading South Sea Tales for class and it made me laugh:

'He had the courage of a lion and the cunning of a rat; 
and if he's not in hell today, there's no such place.' 

Heh. I know some people like that...

South Sea Tales is one of those books that will go on a shelf and never be read again. I don't like the style, I don't like the voice, I don't like the topic... and I've still got Treasure Island to read. (Oh, boy.)

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Pinterest Fail

You know that I am, and have been for years now, a Pinterest junkie. It's been one of my favourite sites and I've spent many hours there. But yesterday Pinterest really let me down.

This is the email I received:

Hi Wondra Vanian,

I'm sorry to say that we had to remove one of your pins from Pinterest. The reason is, it looks like the pin may have had nudity on it.

The pin was called "Witch riding the proper way, with the besom in front." and it was on your board If the Broom Fits. Could you please remove any other pins like this from your account?

Right now we don't allow nudity on Pinterest, because a lot of people use our site at work and around their families. We’ve outlined all this in our acceptable use policy.

If we made a mistake and your pin didn't have nudity on it, we're really sorry. Please let us know so we can keep improving our process.

Thanks so much for using Pinterest.

Sincerely,
The Pinterest Team


What is this shocking image that just had to be deleted? Brace yourselves, people...

Are the kiddies and elderly women locked away?

Here it is:


Gasp! Shock! Horror!

Get the fuck real, people. If that offends you, you don't deserve to exist in society. That's a BUTT, for the love of the gods. A BUTT. We all have them. Mine is slightly larger than yours, probably, but otherwise exactly the same. It's hardly offensive or something I would be ashamed to show my children. (And, by the way, children are happy to walk around starkers; it's only adults who teach them that it's wrong. But that's a different post...)

The thing that really annoys me, though, is that boards like thisthisthis, or this are perfectly okay - and some of those men are showing much more skin than that witchy lady! But... Maybe that's the problem. Is a butt really that offensive? Or is it the fact that it's a female butt? Or... Is it because it's a witch's butt that it's so dangerous to the families trawling Pinterest together? I wonder.

I would like to think that the fact that it's a picture of a witch on a broom (nary a wart to be seen) is not the issue. I hope, for the sake of humanity, that it has nothing to do with the reason it was deleted.

But is it any less annoying if it was "only" deleted because it was a female butt? That pisses me off every bit as much because - HELLO just look at all that male flesh on offer on Pinterest. That seems to say to me that female bodies are bad but male bodies are good. I cannot even begin to count all the ways that sentiment is wrong.

Do a quick search on Pinterest now. Use "male nude" as your search term and see how many wangs you get. Now do the same for "female nude." Plenty of tits. So... How about that no nudity rule, eh? Now just search for "nude."


Whoops! So either Pinterest arbitrarily enforces their no nudity rule or their anti-nudity bots are crap. (It lends credibility to that whole maybe-it-was-deleted-because-it-was-a-naked-witch thing, though, doesn't it?) Or... I don't know, maybe someone reported me?

I'm dying to know exactly why that particular photo was deleted when Pinterest is otherwise so full of wangs and tits. I think I feel an experiment coming on. Is it worth getting my account blocked for? Hmm....

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Things That Make Ya Go...

WTF?

Okay... I don't spend my nights randomly searching You Tube for my name. Let's just get that out of the way - I don't want you thinking I'm weird or anything... 

BUT...

I couldn't sleep the other night and was randomly searching You Tube for my name. Why? You know... Just in case. I'm clumsy, I do stupid stuff, and I piss people off regularly. How I haven't wound up on You Tube yet is a mystery.

(And don't pretend you don't search for your name too!)

While I was searching through videos, I came across this:


WTF?

Can someone please explain to me what. the. fuck. that is? (And if you're wondering, no, you can not call me "Master Wondra.")

Monday, 4 March 2013

Meme of the Week

Best meme of the week:


Do I need to say anything else? :)

This meme comes a close second... But since looking at it makes my blood boil, I'm sticking with Harry. So... Let's keep Republicans out of the White House and everyone else out of the closet!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

A Song for Sunday: Hot Water Music - Drag My Body

This week's Song for Sunday is "Drag My Body" by Hot Water Music. Watch the video:



Damn! That growl gets me every time!

I don't know what I love more: the song itself or the video. This is really the only song by Hot Water Music (an American rock band) that I like but it's one of my favourites right now. I especially love the chorus:

I’m hardly feeling human anymore  
Enough to drag my body from the floor

There's a tragic story being told in the music video, independent of the song, and I love that as well. 

Saturday, 2 March 2013

2013 Reading Goals: February Reads

I am still way behind on my 2013 goal of reading 90 books. I finished February at 10/90 and here are the books that I read:

5. The Iron King (The Iron Fey Book 1), Julie Kagawa
6. Deadly Little Secret (Touch: Book 1), Laurie Faria Stolarz
7. The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod: Eighth Grade Bites, Heather Brewer
8. The Dark Heroine, Abigail Gibbs
9. The Court of the Air, Stephen Hunt
10. Tom's Midnight Garden, Philippa Pearce

I need 14 books to get on track for March. My favourite book last month was The Court of the Air by Stephen Hunt Right now I'm reading Ruined by Paula Morris.

Keep up with my reading list here and search for #2013ReadingList on twitter. You can also check out my visual reading log on Shelfari.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Our Spot - Revisted

I've lived in Pontywaun for nearly ten years now and one of my favourite places to hang out locally has been the Scenic Drive in Cwmcarn. We've spent so many hours there, picnicking, doing photo shoots, walking the dogs - and even chasing the odd runaway flip flop. But that's all changed.

We took Dylan and Blodwyn up to the Scenic Drive last week and were shocked to find that you now have to pay for parking! Boo! Now... I know £1 isn't all that much - but it was more than we had! Also, the signpost telling you about the charges was small but the fee for not paying was large: £75! We almost missed it and could've gotten a nasty surprise!

This bothers me for several reasons: 

1. I pay council taxes especially for the upkeep of my local parks. I don't expect to be charged on top of that for using them. 
2. Nature is FREE goddammit. How DARE you charge me for the privilege of enjoying Her bounty!
3. I'm fucking broke. I don't always have £1 laying around (as sad as that sounds) and the Scenic has always been a wonderful cheap alternative. 

After much grumbling and some scrounging for change we knew we wouldn't find, we gave up and headed for pastures cheaper.

Our first stop was Sirhowy Valley Country Park. It's a place we've been meaning to check out but have never gotten around to. One of the reasons that we've never bothered is that it's right next to the local dump. Sorry... but I don't like my Nature with heaps of garbage on top! But, we had the dogs all dressed up and ready to go so we wandered over anyway.

And may as well have not bothered. It was so dingy and unclean looking. We didn't make it more than a few yards before we gave up and headed back to the car. The next stop? Home.

The dogs needed a walk so we decided to just do what we always do and head up the canal. So much for a change of scenery. But, as we were walking, I remembered a place Drew (from Twisted Stitches) and I discovered a few years back. So, after a little ducking around barriers meant to keep people like us out, we cut through the overgrowth and into the woods.

(Our spot, back in 2007.)

We eventually came to the little clearing that I remembered, dead now after the winter freeze, but peaceful enough for us to take the dogs off their leads and have a good run. Less than half a mile away - right across from the Scenic, really - free, and exactly what we wanted. Who would have thought?

(Dylan and Blod exploring our spot.)

The wild seclusion of the place called out to me and woke the witch in my blood. How could I have forgotten about it? I should be annoyed at myself but I'm not. I enjoyed discovering it all over again. You can bet, though, that it's a spot I'll be returning to often now - though probably without the mutts in tow.