Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The Hori Project - My good advice cured a pakeha jokers ulcers

A very merry hoho to you all.  This blog has been quiet because I've been imbibing of several merry  ho ho which tends to dull my usually rapierlike wit.
Regular service will resume now that I've sobered up and as the next post is scheduled to be the latest instalment of the Insecure Writers Support Group I promise it'll be a nice big one that you can sink your teeth into.
Until then I present proof that the Hori Project lives!

I was sitting on the lid of the dustbin the other Sunday enjoying half a gallon of cool beer which the missus had put in the fridge for me the night before. A pakeha joker from up the road has a gink at me and says “well Hori, what are you looking so pleased about?”

Well, “ I say , “it's a kapai morning, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the beer tastes plurry good and I have had a good breakfast of bacon and eggs and the curried crayfish which the mother in law couldn't finish on account of having too much pakeha tucker at the indoor bowls meeting last night”
This pakeha coot says to me, “what you think about the yanks sending monkeys and things into space?”
I say “I don't know anything about this news”
He says, “Don't you read the papers?”
I tell him “Only when they make the korero about the Maori not being allowed to go and play the Springboks in Africa” I then say to this jokers, who looks about as cheerful as most pakeha fellers do on a Sunday morning “will you have a drink and a cold whitebait fritter?”
He says, “Cripes no. Don't you know that I have a stomach ulcer?”
I say “How you get thing this thing?”
He says “It's the worry about the income tax and the share market and one thing and another. Don't you get the ulcer sometime?”

I tell him that I don't pay the income tax 'cause I got too many kids and I don't make enough dough to buy the shares. I also tell him that even I f I did get the ulcer it wouldn't have a show fighting the good tucker that I eat like the crayfish, the paua, the pipi, the corn on the cob and the pig's head.
This pakeha coot he then say “Don't you ever worry at all?”
I say “Py korry yes, sometimes when the wife’s brother rats the fridge and pinches the pigs trotter which I always have about two o'clock in the morning to keep me going till breakfast”
This thin faced pakeha says “what you think about the Russian situation and don't you worry about world affairs??”
I say “Py korry what you think we keep all these jokers at the Parliament for? We pay them to do the bellyaching and worrying for us, so why do the worrying ourselves?”
He says “Stiffen the crows... you've got something there mate”
I say “Cut out this worry business. Don't worry about the Yanks and the Russians. Just go ahead and eat the good kai and drink the good beer. Have the good wahine and kids and the good mates to enjoy the good things”

Do you know what? I talk this coot into having the pigs trotter and a few pots and he soon forgets about the ulcer and the income tax.
All of a sudden he says “Hori, your talk has done me good. I feel a lot better”
In that case I tell him we better have something to eat, so I bring out the mussels, the pipi, the corn cob and the pickle onions a also another jar of beer.
When he go he thank me very much and say goodbye.

I don't see this pakeha for about two weeks when I am having a pot with my mate in the pub about ten to six on Saturday. I see this joker standing on a chair making the korero to about about 20 pakehas.
He wave the arms and says to this mob like this You fellers worry too much about world affair and your own personal selfishness. Also you don't eat the good tucker like the pig's trotter, the pipi and the crayfish. Watch yourselves “ he says “ or you will finish up with a good crop of stomach ulcers.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Devils Sooty Brother or Work is hell!

Christmas is almost upon us and in my country it means BBQs, cricket on the beach and singing about all those lovely carols how cold and deep the snow is and Santa has to wrap up warm to deliver presents.

So it's a good job that I stumbled across this little gem when I did because my version of the nativity was going nowhere fast.
    Inkeeper: We don't often get mothers of potential deities in here
    Mary: At these prices I'm not surprised.
Better to leave it on the cutting room floor and spare myself a lifetime of dodging lightening bolts addressed to “That smartarse who thinks he can make fun of my mum”

It's actually one of The Brothers Grimm stranger stories, it doesn't follow the rule of three [1] that so many of their stories do, except in the most roundabout way and I suspect that the only child that was given this as a bedtime story grew up to be Hannibal Lector.
Its another one that will most likely never get past the doors of Disney [2] But that's not a bad thing because this is clearly a more of a Mike Mignola type story anyway.

There was once a soldier who had been discharged from the army, for reasons that were never actually made clear, he had nothing to live on and did not know how to make his way in the world.  While he walked through the forest he met a little man who turned out to be the devil.

Hi Devil” the soldier said calmly enough
Damn” replied the devil who had been hoping to spring the surprise himself “it's the pitchfork isn't it? I knew I should have left it behind. Anyway, I was just sitting here minding my own business when you walked by looking sad. Whats got you down friend?” [3]
I'm hungry” the soldier replied, completely ignoring the prompt that would have turned this into a musical number “but broke”
That's fixed easily enough. Hire yourself to me as my serving-man and I promise that you shall have enough for all your life.”
That sounds like a good deal”
The devil smiled like the slimier kind of used car salesman “Of course it is. All I ask is seven years and then you'll be free [4] My only condition is that you must not wash, comb, trim or cut your hair and nails. You can't even wipe the water from your eyes”
That's an amazingly specific list sir. I take it there’s a union?”
“Naturally. I am the devil after all” [5]

The pair shook hands to seal the pact and the devil led the soldier down into hell. When they arrived at the devils house he received his list of duties.
Official list of hell duties:
  • Keep the house clean
  • Drive all the sweepings behind the doors and make sure that everything is kept in order
  • Poke the fire under the kettles where the hell-broth was stewing.
  • Collect the mail
  • Walk the Dog
  • Maintain the garden
  • Manage my downloads
As can be expected the list went on for a while but the top three were the most important and the devil strongly cautioned him against looking inside the kettles.
No prob boss. You can count on me” and the soldier got on with the work while the devil went out again on his wanderings.

When the devil returned he had a good look round and appeared satisfied with the soldiers work and left once he had remembered that he was running late for an appointment in Georgia. [6]
Left to his own devices the soldier looked at the huge kettles and, overcome with curiosity, looked inside each one.
Inside the first was his former corporal who looked decidedly uncomfortable. Inside the second was his former ensign who wasn't having such an easy time of it either. Finally inside the third kettle was his former general. He closed the kettles up and made the fires hotter and hotter since these three had once delighted in making his own water very hot indeed.

Time passed and for seven years he didn't wash or cut his hair and the seven years seemed so short to him that he thought he had only been there half a year.
Well soldier what have you done?” the devil asked one day
Everything on the list. Poked the fire, swept the dirt behind the doors, walked the dog and got your mail”
Anything interesting in there?”
Just some bills. Price of coal has gone up again”
And they call me evil” the devil shuddered “It's been seven years since we met and don't bother denying that you didn't look in the kettles because I've got the whole father of lies thing sewn up tight. I'll just say that it's a good job that you kept on making the flames larger and hotter because otherwise you would have paid with your life. Anyway, now that your time is up will you go home again?”
I will” said the soldier “my father hasn't heard from me all this time so I'd better drop in and say hello”
Very well. In order that you may receive the wages you've earned in my service [7] go and fill your knapsack full of the sweepings and take it home with you. Also you must remain in your unwashed state and when anyone asks where you're from you've got to say 'from hell' if they ask who you are you must tell them 'I am the devil's sooty brother, and my king as well'”

The soldier held his tongue as he collected the sweepings from behind the door, added a few more logs to the kettles and left thinking that all he'd been tricked by his friend into working for this muck. When he returned to the forest he looked in his bag and discovered that his sweepings had become pure gold. He felt bad about what he had been thinking and whistled happily as he entered the town.

From whence you came?” called the landlord in fear of this horrible man who looked like a particularly badly made scarecrow
From hell” the soldier replied as the devil had instructed him
Who are you then?”
I'm the devil's sooty brother, and my king as well”
You're a loony” the innkeeper said to himself “but a loony with money and that means he's just eccentric”
Our friend the soldier made certain he had the best meal and rooms in the place which was easy since very few people wanted to spend a night under the same roof as the devils brother.
Finally he lay down to sleep but during the night the innkeeper stole his gold filled knapsack.
Of course the theft was discovered in the morning and the soldier returned to hell and talked with his old boss about the problem.

Sit down soldier boy” the devil said and for the first time in seven years the man was made clean, neat and tidy. “now you go back to the inn and tell the keeper to return your gold or else I'll fetch him and he can work for me”
So the soldier went to the landlord and threatened him with servitude to the devil if the gold wasn't returned right bleeding now.He left the inn with a bad review, all of his gold and all of the innkeepers gold as well.

On his way home he strolled about making music, since the devil, as we all know, has the best tunes it had made sense to spend some time learning them.
It was a good thing that he had because a king heard his music and was so delighted with his playing that he promised him his eldest daughter in marriage.
Give me to that common muck and I'll kill myself” the eldest daughter proclaimed and looked around for a divan upon which to suitably languish.
So the king gave the soldier his youngest daughter who was happy to please her father and when the king died the devils sooty brother inherited the throne. [8]
The end.

  • The devils kettles:
    It's a nice setup. On the one hand if the devil says don't do this then you probably should but on the other hand he's your boss and you have to obey his orders. Either way he wins.
  • The men in the kettles:
    The three men who had made his life as a soldier hell just happen to be in the kettles? Methinks the devil didn't choose this soldier at random.
  • and the seven years seemed so short to him that he thought he had only been there half a year”
    this suggests that he enjoyed his work a lot I think we can take it as a truth that this guy wasn't going to be very nice even without the devils job.
    In fact we could go so far as to say that, by keeping him in hell and away from humanity, the devil of our tale is actually the good guy of the story. Um, yay?
  • Don't wash or cut your hair...
    I'm pretty certain that the devil was just messing with him. But could this be something deeper? Perhaps an attempt to make him look as ugly on the outside as he was on the inside?
  • Why did the soldier return to hell when his money was stolen?
    He might have resolved the matter by dropping the devils name into the conversation like so.
    “You know my brother, the devil, gave me that bag of money and I'm sure that Old Scratch, isn't going to like the fact that someone has taken it. Lets also not forget that his old boss sees everything that happens in the world and some of his staff are taking notes about things that people have done. Hint bloody hint mate”

    On top of that he's a soldier.  Any soldier who knows that someone has pinched his money, especially a sack full of gold, isn't going to bother with the law when there's such a thing as a rampage.
Its difficult to know what to make of this one and since it ends so abruptly I wouldn't be surpised if there was a part two floating around out there.

I think my biggest question is what exactly are the devils motives here?
He gets a serving-man for seven years but what is he really after?  The more I think about this the more I think that the whole thing was the devil using the soldier to scare an innkeeper into living a good life.
But how mean and nasty do you have to be before the man in the striped pyjamas looks up and says "Damn me [9] If I don't do something then this guy will be coming down here for sure"

  1. Three brothers, three godmothers, three this, three that. You get the picture.
  2. Unless there is one heck of a Christmas party the night before.
  3. Cavet! The devil calls everyone friend, be wary of this.
  4. “You'll also have a hard time explaining this to Saint Peter but I didn't say that”
  5. Boom Boom!
  6. He'd been practising and was confident of winning back his golden fiddle.
  7. Your completely voluntary service to the prince of darkness that is.
  8. And there was much rejoicing because nobody wanted to be the one that wasn't rejoicing hard enough. Not with the devils sooty brother sitting on the throne and watching everyone.
  9. Again

Friday, 9 December 2011

Can we guess your characters age? Blogfest Contest

We'll save the regularly scheduled post [1] so that I can post about this blogfest Which I stumbled across on Everything you didn't want to know about writing. [2] and is the brainchild of

The gist of the contest is that the first 250 words of your manuscript, regardless of whether it's finished or a Work In Progress. Then jump onto a few other entrants and try to guess the age of the character, give critiques, or praise [3] 

I did have to whittle it down a little to make the 250 word limit but it's only replacing a few words here and there.  All this really means is that if this ever does get published this excerpt and the first few paragraphs won't marry up perfectly but aside from that and without any further guilding of the lilly. Here's my Entry. 

Character Evelyn Oneeye [4]

For a time she dared to dream of escape, even a rescue, but she knew it was futile. There would be no rescue because she wasn't here, had never been here and, really, shouldn't have been here but the opportunity to tug the barons nose had simply been too much to resist. 

“Good evening Beautiful. It's a cold night out there tonight and no mistake” The voice of the Baron in question brought her out of her dreaming and she raised her head, the effort of even this small movement almost exhausting her “I've told you before, Don't call me that” 
His smile was contemptuous but then it always had been “Look at you still trying to give orders” without warning his fist, made heavy with tasteless jewelery, slammed into her face “Tell me who sent you!” 
She spat but it fell short “I don't speak with traitors. You couldn't break me when I was your betrothed and you can't break me now” 
“You sheep can bleat about traitors all you want. When the dust settles I'm going to be the one ruling Kalagrim while you'll be just another beggar rolling around in the filth” 

The door opened again with the blast of wind pulling the guardsman in with it. “Baron Trailin sir!” he remembered to come to attention and salute, Ambian style, just in time “a traveller at the gate requests an audience with you. He claims to be from the Carbine Barony” 


  1. That I totally had already prepared and ready to go. Honest 
  2. Which is always awesome and you should totally visit. Don't forget to bring cake because that's always polite. 
  3. Or money. I'll stress right now that money is perfectly acceptable.
  4. In the actual book her name isn't revealed until later for various reasons, but it doesn't hurt anything to include it.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Insecure Writers Support Group Post Day

Sometimes, sometimes you just don't feel like writing at all.  You've got no ideas and even if you do their either rubbish or totally stolen from somewhere else. [1]  
It's the season I suppose.  Work is piling up, everyone seems to either be on your back or in your face for no reason at all.  You can't escape it because no matter where you turn it's all mountains.

Eventually they all just run together into one big blob of negative and the only thing that you can do is to make soothing go away type noises in the vain hope that it will do any good.
Then they turn around and expect you to write something worth reading? [2]

But you start scribbling anyway and you aren't paying attention to what your doing, it's all just random.  Eventually you look it over and, sure it's rambling, angry, incoherrant and illegable but there's some good stuff in the mess as well.

What's my point?  It isn't enough to tell the reader that your main character is angry or sad or in love or whatever you've got to show them through their actions and their interactions with others.

Someone who's angry isn't going to listen to anyone else.  They'll rant to anyone within listening distance and if there is nobody in listening distance then they shout towards the heavens [3] or perhaps they won't, it might be that they are the type of person to keep things on a slow burn, staying silent and just turning it all over in their mind.  If they speak at all it will just be a repeating of a single word or phrase over and over. [4]

Think about the posture of a person as well.  No eye contact, not speaking, moving away when someone gets close are clear signs that they don't want to talk.

It won't always go the way you plan it.  I know the cast of Harts Change are becoming notorious for choosing option C when I could only see options A and B.

There was supposed to be more to this but I lost half my notes and work is killing me.
Also I'm listening to a really big fight that has flared up between the guy and his girlfriend who live in the house.
This is an epic level meltdown and by that I mean that they were a block away and we could clearly hear them in the kitchen [5].  Everyone went back to their rooms just now.  This is one of those fights that will stop for neither man nor beast.

Ok, she's just slammed the door in his face and he's gone around to shout at the window.  Hasn't tried to break anything yet.

He's walked round the house twice and now he's back inside inside and banging on the door.  Still shouting although it's pretty incoherent at the moment.  I'll let you know if anything comes of this [6]

10 minutes later:  There were some more door slams.  I think he did it twice for extra effect, now she's crying in the kitchen with his mum.  I don't know what the story is and I don't know them well enough to pry.  All I'm going to be doing is observing the actions of these two until they patch things up. [7]

  1. Very much like this post.  It's taken me days to get even this much down on paper
  2. Although who exactly "they" are I'm sure I don't know
  3. At which point the boss is looking down saying "Oh me!  Not this guy again"
  4. It doesn't have to make sense except to them.
  5. While part of me is hoping that they sort it out another part of me is doing the whole Jerry Springer experience
  6. if anything comes of this....incredibly convenient fight that you have no way of verifying for those of us playing along at home.
  7. which, of course, I hope that they do.  Greek tragedy is very much overrated.

Friday, 25 November 2011

A Scribbly bit of Harts Change

I'm wading through the book with a machete and in the middle of rewriting this encounter with Evelyn and Toryan.

Concerning the setting:
The fortress port of Daggers Rest has been taken by <Classified At This Time> and at the Beggar Kings command the warsongs ring through the country!  
Evelyn, Toryan and Leonia accompany the army of Prince Nichus south to join with his father and lay siege to the place.

Concerning People:
Leonia: a mysterious woman of power.  She has plans of her own that involve Evelyn and Ambia but is content to take the long view, for now.  You will never see her without her flock of priests [and as this is skirting close to classified information we'll leave it at that]
Evelyn Oneeye: The main character and a Tinker of the king.  She's been tasked with protecting the prince who makes her job difficult by laughing at the idea since he's surrounded by an army.
Toryan: An Ambian.  Technically he's Evelyn's prisoner but since he deserted his men to be with her it's a bit of a grey area.
Horrible: he's too small to be a pony and tables don't bark so he must be a dog.

Concerning the notes:
The words in a hue of blue, 
are notes from I to me (and now to you).

That which is writ in red,
are scribblings from inside my head.
If reading them becomes a chore,
they can safely be ignored.

[nw: So what might happen I think is that they sleep together platonicly which is fine because every one else is doing it regardless of sex. It is one of the best ways to keep warm out in the open and perhaps there is a bit of sex going on as well but I wont' get into that unless it becomes narrativly important.
Now as I have said before if they merely sleep together and infact have Horrible there as a canine honor guard then it will be fine and they'll laugh about it in the morning.
The next step up from that is that if they sleep together and in the darkness of the night something happens sexually between them. That's when the morning breakfast would be slightly awkward.

Whether or not they make the beasts with two backs is irrelevant. The thing to remember of course is that while sexual tension draws an audience in After the actual sex it tends to slow everything down. The classic example is the television show, the adventures of Lois and Clark which was a hit show until Superman and Lois Lane got married and then nobody gave a damn.
What then is the point of this scene?
It would be easy to say that there is no point to it but that would also be nothing more than sloppy writing and if there were no point to the scene then why bother having it in the first place?

The point of the scene is not to just get Evelyn and Toryan humping like bunnies which realisticly is not going happen. The point of the scene is that Evelyn has been sleeping with Horrible every night since the change. She has needed something in her life that makes no demands upon her, in effect he is a teddy bear that makes her feel safe.
Now feeling safe is the interesting part of that sentence because as strange as it may seem she is beginning to feel safe with Toryan and it might be that she has caught herself casting a lingering gaze on his well formed shoulders from time to time but thought nothing of it.

Note: She hasn't had any “relations” since Tobias died and that was 5 years ago. So there is opportunity for her to feel great shame and guilt over these thoughts she is having about Toryan which is understandable although according to the character analysis she is well past the period of feeling any guilt over this]

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

A Story Short (well, shorter than the last one at least)

[This started out as an experiment to see if I could write something without dialogue.  In direct opposition to my previous post which is nothing but!
Thus I release my hold on my latest monster into the wild interworld to rampage as it pleases]

The man who was a rock

He had only known love a short time when he was in the care of the man who called him son and that was a lie for they were not related by any sort of blood but it was a lie that they were able to live with. But forces stronger than either of them conspired and amongst the various homes that he would enter with high hopes, only to be returned when something inevitably went wrong, he learnt that the rightful place for his heart was behind a stronghold of stone and iron.  This was the way that he grew to manhood and within him the fortress grew deep and mighty

Still, every so often, he gazed out from his parapits at the happenings of those who wore their hearts on their sleaves, those who gave it away freely, saw it returned in the faces of their loved ones and even as he turned away in disugust he would feel a tiny piece of his fortress crumble.

But crumbling brickwork or not his fortress remained strong and he walked the earth an abberation for he was quite unable to feel love, nor greed, nor desire for they live in the heart itself. Many times he told himself that he was happy and some days he believed it while other days he did not.
One night love came for him, not attempting to storm his gates but rather slipping in quietly between the cracks that he didn't even realise were there.

The night theatre finally closed its doors and spilled its audience out into the street.  It was never a medium that had given him any pleasure.  Grown men and women prancing about and declaring love or even plotting murder in extravagant musical numbers.  You didn't need to be any sort of police mastermind to figure out that the uncle who just sang about wanting his nephew out of the way might have had something to do with his nephew suddenly "going off to see the world and seek his fortune"
This night out hadn't been his idea but their business was courting his business and such things usually greased the wheels of commerce, usually.
That the Berlin markets were never closed was something that he often told himself he should approve of, everyone needed money and the people that were willing to make the effort ended up with it all.

It was a parting of the crowd that gave him the first glimpse of her. That merest chance, half a second later and he would have walked by without knowing she was there. Indeed had she not turned to meet his eyes he would have done just that.

Unlike her brothers who ran about the place heedless of any that might be watching she stayed quietly in the small square of artificial moonlight as was provided by the streetlight.

His acquaintances moved on down the street. If they had noticed, or cared, that he was no longer with them they didn't bother to say anything. But they didn't matter now.
A few hesitant steps took him out of the foot traffic and he told himself that he was being foolish even as he opened the door with more force than strictly necessary
Around his heart his walls came down and for the first time since boyhood he was able to feel something other than a lump of iron in his chest.

Darf ich helfen?” The tired looking clerk had three piercings in her eyebrow and a long purple mohawk. At almost any other time in his life he would have disaproved but on this night none of that mattered as he reached into his meagre repetoire of German
Ja, ja du kannst. Wie viel ist das Hündchen im Fenster?”

Thursday, 10 November 2011

A Story Short - An alliance of sorts.

Woke up with this idea in my head and started scribbling it out.  I'm still not a hundred percent happy with it but it's only a few minor tweaks that are required. Although the last time I said that to myself I ended up reshaping the destiny of nations!

On a completely unrelated note:

I was in the library the other day and picked up

I was entranced.  High Quality photos, that don't just treat the subject as a kind of "Look at the freak with his tattoos" which I've seen in other books, the obligatory Goldie paintings of course, but that's fine because he's simply one of the best artists that I've ever seen.
It covers the mythology of the art and tracks its use throughout our country giving us stories of Moko from our earliest histories up to the modern day people that get it done and the tattoo artists themselves..
I would highly recommend it to anybody that needs information about the art of Maori tattooing for whatever reason.

~An Alliance of sorts~
~An old mans passing and what came of it.~

Sunday, 6 November 2011

The Golden Conundrum

I got into a rather philosophical discussion about gold recently (1)
The question was “If you had a bar of pure gold. Could you destroy it so that it was utterly gone? And you're not allowed to throw it into a black hole”
The black hole solution is a pretty common solution for solving debates round our way but this one occasion I'd forgotten to pack it.

Every suggestion I had was shot down by David saying “but you could reconstitute it on the atomic level” and then looking smug because he thought that he'd finally been able to stump me. But fear not loyal readers because I've been thinking about this a bit (2) and have, in fact, devised three surefire methods for getting rid of gold when you've forgotten to bring your handy dandy black hole.

Now because David is going to be reading this I'd like to assure him that I have put quite a bit of thought into each of these theories before posting them. After all you can't just slap together a bunch of loony statements and call it a day! (3)

Theory One:
Change the language. A rose may small as sweet by any other name but it does change the surface of the problem, chiefly that you're supposed to be getting rid of this stuff you've gotten hold of is merely Grundlewort rock (4).
The metal in question has ceased to be gold and thus been gotten rid of although the problem of removing the word gold from every language in the world will no doubt require a tardis, some Daleks (5)
and a willing partner to distract the Doctor by saying “hey Look over there!” whenever he starts to wonder where the big blue box has gotten to.

But I would like to point out, no black hole.

Theory Two:
As it seems that the Tardis has manage to elude us and I'm not crazy enough to try and pinch the one that belongs to the master we are forced to take a different approach.

Now it seems that back in the days of yore the ultimate dream of any alchemist worth his alembeck was to turning of base metals into noble ones. To whit, lead into gold, This would lead to them being rich, powerful and suddenly extremely handsome.

Pictured: Typical Alchemist
Due to the technology of the time none of them suceeded, or if they did then they kept it well under their hat. However if we were to use modern technology then it is possible that we could very well discover that formula which so eluded them.

Now you might very well be saying “Hang on. All he's doing is making more of the horrible stuff. I want to get rid of it!”
This statement has indeed hit the nail on the head, but here's something that you might not have considered. There are positive and negative versions of everything and if there's a formula for changing lead into gold then it follows that there must be one to change gold back into lead.

The next step is to put yourself in a hypnotic state and deliberately command yourself to forget the equation. Thus leaving you with a lump of lead and that annoying feeling you get when you've forgotten something important (6)
A Post hypnotic trigger will ensure that, should you be captured by certain parties who demand the formula, all you will be able to give them is a complex formula that ultimately does nothing more than turn them into the fluffier kind of duckling. At which point I guarantee they will suddenly have more pressing concerns than all the gold in the world.

Theory three:
This is the one theory that David didn't like, mainly because it managed to stand on its own despite his many, many attempts to riddle it with more holes than the montage at the end of The Godfather.

Step 1: Turn the gold into guitar strings of various sizes and thickness
Step 2: Sell these strings to musicians the world over and donate the proceeds to charity (7)

Conclusion: The gold is now destroyed, over time the strings will snap, be replaced and eventually thrown away, while there might be a lingering urban myth about golden strings it isn't one that anyone will ever take seriously.
Thus if they are at the local landfill or toxic waste dump and happen to see a guitar string hanging from the  bonnet of an old car their first thought isn't going to be “I wonder if that's one of the golden guitar strings I've heard about” followed by them frantic digging through the dumps of the world in order to track down the rest of the fabled strings (8)

The more you know!
The chemical that you really want to use is callled Aqua Regia (Royal water) which is a highly corrosive mixture of acids that will dissolve gold and even platinum. It is not recommended that you test this out on your grandmothers wedding ring.

This post details the how but it doesn't address the why.  Exactly what dark and insane purpose could there be in wanting to destroy something utterly?  We can only look to the skies in the vain and futile hope that there might be salvation to be found.

  1. If you knew David then you'd know that this is pretty much par for the course
  2. Mainly because it's more interesting than work
  3. Unlike some.
  4. It's not even real grundlwort, That's fools grundlwort you've got there
  5. Because everythings better with Daleks
  6. You know that song you can't remember? The one that goes “Da da de dum something something loved her” That. For the rest of your life
  7. Since it could be argued that the money you've made from the selling of the gold is an aspect of the gold remaining.  I'm just covering all the bases here.
  8. Unless it's a Saturday morning cartoon but I think that's rather outside my jurisdiction.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Insecure Writers Support Group. - Negative People

As contradictory as it sounds there are good negative and bad negative people out there in the world and the ones that you want to hang around with are the positive-negative people as they will make the best walls to bounce your ideas off and critique your work honestly.  If they don't like something then they'll speak up and let the chips fall where they may.
At the other end of the scale are the negative-negative people and these are the ones that you want to stay away from, A double negative is the kind of person who, upon hearing of your dreams of becoming a published author and knocking King and Rowling out of the best sellers list forever, will attempt to try and burst the bubble.

It may begin with a series of quick jabs to the ego "But you can't write a story, you can't even tell a joke properly"  "What's the point?  nobody reads anymore" "Doesn't sound like anything I would ever look at, though I suppose it's all right for some"
But they won't stop until you throw away your work and never again take up the pen for anything more exciting than a shopping list, a boring shopping list.  This is the only time that they'll be happy because a double negative is an emotional vampire who feeds on anguish. [1]

Once upon a time I used to work with a double negative, for the purposes of this story I'll call her Impedimenta.
If someone took time off she disaproved of it because it meant more work for everyone else, but especially her.
When another worker went on a course she spoke badly about it because it wasn't going to teach them anything important.  When she was informed that it was a first aid course she replied "So?  he'll never need it"
My turn came when I was drafted into teaching a computer course that was very far from work and the two jobs would overlap.  Clearly this meant that I would be late for this, my real job.  Besides, what were those people doing on a course?  Why didn't they go out and get jobs?"

It wasn't an ego, why aren't they talking about me?, thing at all.  She just didn't seem to want anyone to succeed at anything, ever.  Eventually the rest of us stopped talking to her which is exactly what she didn't want since it meant that she had nothing to disaprove of and that's when she sent her flying monkeys, as we called her minions, out to gather intelligence. [2]

Using them in writing:
I know I've just said stay away from the more extreme negative person if you can but unless you spend some time around these people then your characters are going to be living in a sacherine sweet world with a big purple dinosaur for company.
Life dictates that you must rub shoulders with these people and since we're writers it is an opportunity to take notes of the human condition and use them in your work. [3]
Perhaps your own Impedimenta becomes a major antogonist for your characters, who set out on their quest in order to prove her wrong.  Or it may be that she is relegated to the chorus and her voice is lost in the crowd that cheers for the rightful king.

Take it all in but, and this is the important bit, remember to get it all out as well.  Remember that their ultimate goal is to turn you into a double negative so be wary of the amount of time you spend in their presence and then go to a lake and feed the ducks, because it's impossible not to smile when your feeding ducks. [4]

1: with some nice metaphor for afters.
2: dun Dun DUN!
3: possibly my most pretentious sentence ever.
4: unless you get chased by the swan mafia who are desperate to get whats in the bag.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

The Analysis of Sleeping Beauty or How to make Narcolepsy pay!

Good Morning,  I'm using up another one of my buffer posts today simply because I'm still in the middle of organising my notes from Naama and trying to slide some Monty Python jokes in as well.  I'll take this opportunity to say hello to my new followers and add that the official Jabberwockerykiteers hats, uniforms and vorpal blades will be posted as soon as the cheques clear.

Tonight's tale is one of love most true and magics most dire.  There isn't much more to say about it except that once again it comes from the Brothers Grimm who have drawn from several older sources to give us, what we would call, the modern version.

The Story:

A long time ago there was a king and queen who said every day "Ah if only we had a child" but they never had one [1].  It happened one day when the queen was bathing that a frog appeared and said
"Your wish shall be fulfilled, before a year has gone by you shall have a daughter.  Oh and since I've been in here the whole time one of us is going to have to take another bath"
Overjoyed as she is the queen takes the time to have another bath, sans frog, before letting her husband know.

"This is wonderful" exclaimed the king "if it be true"
"It must be true" the queen said "the talking frogs never lie"
"We shall see dear.  We shall see" he rumbled and quietly gave orders to hide the cooking sherry.

But the king need not have worried for a baby was born at the speed of plot and there was much rejoicing throughout the land.  A great feast was ordered and all the movers and shakers of the kingdom were invited.   Naturally the most important of these were the wise women [2] and the king ordered that golden plates be made especially for them.
The feast went well and there was all manner of cavorting, both professional and amateur, taking place.  Eventually the wise women stood up [3] and made their pronouncements regarding the child.

For the most part they went with the easy stuff, she would be loved, beautiful, rich, faithful etc. and just as everyone was looking down at their wrists and wishing someone would invent the wristwatch so that they'd know exactly how long they'd been standing there she appeared!

It was the thirteenth and final wise woman who stood in the doorway, her shadow reaching out toward the throne.  The people looked away in fear and counted the twelve golden plates before hiding under the table.
With a practised ease she moves through the crowd and when the princess gazes up at her face there is only coldness in her returning stare.

"What do you want?" the king demanded
"Want?  Why nothing" the wise woman answered with a casual malice "I was going to pay my respects to the latest addition to the kingdom but it doesn't seem that there is a place set for me"
The king begins to protest but she silences him with a curt wave "but this is neither here nor there for I am here now and also bring a gift for your daughter.  Thanks to the gifts of my sisters she will certainly be the perfect child but I tell you now that child she will remain for on her fifteenth birthday she shall prick her finger upon a spinning wheel and Die!"
The revellers began shouting in uproar but the woman paid it no head and left the gathering at the speed of gatecrasher [4]

Eventually order was restored and the king called for the court jester because if this was another one of his stunts then he'd join the royal swineherd in wearing the royal bootprint.
Then the final wise woman, who was rather miffed at being upstaged by all this spoke up "I may not be able to stop the curse but I am amble to change it.  It shall not be death but rather a deep sleep into which the princess shall fall" just as everyone was breathing a huge collected sigh of relief  she added "and it shall last a hundred years!" [5]

By the kings command all spindles, spinning wheels and instruments of weaving were destroyed and when he recieved word that there were no more to be found in the kingdom he allowed himself to relax and slept soundly in the belief that he had beaten the curse.
What he didn't realise is that you can't fight the narrative and when the princess was fifteen years old she happened to come across a little room at the top of a forgotten tower where an old woman sat inocently spinning away.

"Good morning.  What are you doing?" the princess asked in fascination
"Just a touch of spinning" the old woman replied "would you like a turn?" [6]
Naturally the princess pricked her finger and fell to the ground asleep.  Except it wasn't just her,  the curse spread down through the floors of the castle and everyone present fell into a magical sleep, the castle itself was encased in a dense forest of thorns that grew higher and thicker than any tree.
Noble princes and hero's from near and far attempted to gain entrance but none ever returned.

It might seem as though this is the end of the story, clearly evil has triumphed and all that remains is for Disney to put in some songs and a cameo appearance of the Boss Mouse.   But this is merely the middle and for the proper ending we shall need to fast forward a full century into the future.
For it is only now that the prince [7] has arrived.  The Story of the sleeping princess has passed from news and fallen into legend.  On being informed that he's in the very land where it happened he decided to check it out. [8]

Because the curse itself was winding down to a close the forest was in bloom and he had no trouble moving through it and casually walked through the sleeping castle to the side of the sleeping princess where he awakened her with a single kiss and they did the whole happily ever after thing.

The Questions:

  • The Frog:
    Now I'll accept that there are frogs that can talk to people.  This is after all a fairy story and these things have a tendency to just happen.  But the queen just accepted the diagnoses without question.  Where, I would like to know, are Dr. Frogs Qualifications?
  • The Good Wise Woman:
    Why didn't she take the opportunity to take a couple of villages and a duchy or two in return for a good blessing?
    She was probably kicking herself when she figured out what she'd given away.
  • The Country itself:
    Who ruled while everyone was sleeping?
    It really depends on the version that you read, sometimes the king and queen are inside the castle and other times they aren't.  Ultimately it doesn't matter since the aristocracy has long since developed "the rightful king" protocol for just this situation.

    If, by some miracle, they manage to get the throne back without one of those messy civil wars then the royalty will be severely out of touch with modern politics which is an ocean of intrigue at the best of times.
  • The curse:
    Why did everyone in the castle fall asleep when the princess did?
    Sounds like someone didn't pay attention in Curses and Potions class.  Possibly they were too busy trying to get that Potter boy to notice them.

    If everyone knew that she was going to sleep for a hundred years then what was the point of sending all the princes into the thorns?
    Presumably these were second sons who were now a liability rather than insurance.  The smarter of these would have taken the hint and kept on going.
  • The ending:
    This retelling, for want of a better word [9], is based of the Grimm Brothers version of the tale, it doesn't take much digging to find much darker versions out there in the wilds of the Interwood.  However if you remember the prince fighting his way through the thorn forest, past a gigantic dragon and finally awakening the princess with a kiss then you are certainly thinking of the Disney adaptation. [10]

  1. I have to point out that they didn't have one because all they did was lament about not having one when they could have sat down with some racy tapestry and got on with a bit of needlepoint.
  2. The exact personages very with the telling.  I've heard it told with witches, fairies, elves and godmothers.  The point is that these are not the people you want to upset.
  3. Rather shakily I'll admit, the wind had been flowing rather freely.
  4. No doubt with a well timed roll of thunder because if you're going to be the villain in a story like this then you have to have style.
  5. As has been pointed out by those wiser than me.  Good isn't the same as nice.
  6. Spinning?  Turn?  Comedy Gold!
  7. Everyone knew he was special because he was THE prince rather than simply A prince.
  8. Along with Scoob and the gang.
  9. Mangling comes to mind
  10. This one time I'll allow that the Disney version is worth watching.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

MonsterFest Posting Number Two: Yuki-onna

I'm posting early this week because on Friday I'll be off to Naama and much roistering shall be found there.  I've picked up a camera so incriminating photos will be eventually be posted.

Back in the day Foreigner sang about a girl who had a heart that was cold as ice (1).
While we all knew that they were talking to us about our current ex's we let it go because we could appreciate a decent metaphor and we'd already done the whole drunken pining thing and accepted that she wasn't coming back, really.

But what if you ran into someone with skin as cold as ice? Odds are good that you would be in the walk in freezer of the supermarket but there remains an outside chance that you would be in the mountains of Japan and the woman would be Yuki-onna, the snow maiden.
That's the cue for everyone to post things like, "Dur she doesn't look so tough"
Like others of her ilk she enjoys long walks out in the open and leading travellers astray. (2)She will frequently trick people into kissing her or, approach with a bundle that looks like a baby except when the unwary traveller takes it Kathwacco! Instant unwary travellercicle.

To win her love:
Her main story goes along these lines. The party, usually consisting of a servant and his master are toiling their way through the mountains of Japan.  They may or may not be lost when Yuki enters(3)
She kills the master but spares the servant warning him to never tell anyone about what happened today.  The servant agrees and is permitted to return home(4).

Time passes and the servant meets that someone special.things are arranged and many knowing looks are exchanged.  At some point there is the traditional Kung Fu showdown.

"You must defeat me to win her love"
But eventually they get married, have 10 children and there was much rejoicing (5)

However one fateful night when the pair are in bed together the husband looks over at his wifes pale skin that glows in the moonlight and remarks that she looks just like the snow woman he encountered those many years ago.

She gets up and turns towards him. Revealing a face quite different than the one she normally wore.
“I told you not to tell anyone!” she rages and warns him to take good care of the children or she'll make certain he pays before flying out the window. (6)
Usually it ends with a quick note that he was a good father and never saw her again  In a few versions she takes the children leaving him alone and miserable, in another she stays with him.
It all depends on the whim of the storyteller.

This one will probably give you a happy ending, but not the Disney ending.  It's important to know the difference.
How to hunt them:
Warning!  This is going to be very dangerous and I advise you not to attempt any of the following unless you are filled with righteous fury at being the continuing butt of the worst practical joke since Loki gave Hod some mistletoe.
  1. You'll need to establish that she is in the area by going out into the mountains and getting lost.
  2. When she appears be exceptionally polite, this will put her off her guard and make it more likely that you are the one she spares
  3. When you arrive home ignore the pretty woman who “just happens” to cross your path. Order that a packed lunch of various coldmeats be made ready.
  4. The next day head up into the mountains and purposely get lost. When the Snow Madain arrives have a nice picnic lunch with her.
  5. Continue this each day until you have won her trust and friendship.
  6. Finally it is time for the hidden sniper to prove his arrogant boasting and fire from his hidden blind.

And there you have it, Congratulations you've just managed to successfully hunt the snow maiden. But as you're putting the chains that you obtained, at great expense, from the Tengu smiths you are struck with a series of revelations.
  1. That you've betrayed her friendship and trust.
  2. That she's an elemental being with the power of Ice, Wind and Snow (7) who only wears human form in order to get close to people.
  3. That you never actually tested the chains in order to make certain that the Tengu smiths made them as strong as they said they had.
  4. That those Tengu have a strange sense of humour.
  5. That she's standing right behind me isn't she?
  6. ...Oh dear.
  1.  or more accurately coooold aaaaassss iiiiiccceee
  2. Because this is what passes for humour in supernatural circles.  If you ever hear of a comedy festival for supernatural entities then run, RUN, very far in the other direction.
  3. Trying to keep a straight face and resisting the urge to wave to the friends hiding behind that tree over there.
  4. The punchline being that when interested parties want to know they'll be asking with many sharp pointy things.
  5. "Yay"
  6. This is the delayed punchline.  Once she's pulled it off a few more times it becomes a running gag.  Oh how I hope someone up there is scoring these properly
  7. the Japanese equivalent of Earth Wind and Fire

Friday, 14 October 2011

MonsterFest Posting - The Valravn.

As it's October and global spooky day draws ever closer I've taken the opportunity to join MonsterFest 2011.  If you want to join then you're welcome to click the button, pick your favourite thing that goes bump in the night and get blogging!

Here's a rather obscure wee beastie that is ever so much fun. If your definition of fun is spreading misery far and wide that is.
The Valravn comes to us from Danish Mythology and means “Raven of the Slain” (1)

Now much of this has been cribbed from Wikipedia and assorted other places around the net but I assure you that the facts have all been checked by my Danish relatives, or at least from my relatives. Who had a Danish at the time. I'm pretty sure it still counts.

This thing sounds awsome.  How do I get one?
In the age of the internet anybody can find or make bombs and cause widespread mayhem (2) but just think how much the other anarchists will respect you if you turn up with a flock of these monsters traveling in your wake.

Pictured: The face of modern anarchy.  Clearly Cliff Richard has much to answer for (3)
  1. Like many things in the ancient world the Valravn is born on the battlefield so you will first need to locate a suitably bloody fray.
    1. A good tip is to watch for Valkyries and familiarize yourself with Wagnerian opera since you'll generally hear the sopranos and the “Hi Yo Ti Ho Yo” song long before you see them(4)
  2. Having located a suitable battle take one raven and feed them the blood of either a Chieftain, a nobleman or a valiant king that has fallen in battle but not been buried.
    1. Opinion seems to be divided on exactly who you are supposed to choose and it's no good watching the other ravens because they'll just eat anyone that happens to be lying around.
    2. One possible solution to this problem is to bring along a jug and a blender in order to make bloodshakes and then feeding it to your chosen raven.
  3. However you manage to do it you'll know instantly because the raven has suddenly acquired the power of human speech.
    1. This step is optional but recommended for those who want a free thinking monster rather than just a talking magic bird. If the Valravn eats the heart of the unlucky dead he gains human knowledge, the ability to perform great acts of malice and a varied range of superhuman powers .
But some people are never satisfied with what they have and even though you've just become the owner of a super powered talking magical raven you still want more. Well that’s just fine because there are two more step before you can truly claim to have created a monster.
  1. Obtain a child, once again opinion is divided as to whether the child has to be your own or not.
  2. Give the child to Dave the Raven, as he wishes to be called, in total defiance of you wanting to call him Quoth, to have the child’s heart and you'll find that, in addition to all the powers he's already got he will now be able to either take human form or the form of a half raven half wolf monster. (5)
It is an unfortunate fact that, thanks to the shocking record keeping of the Danes, the exact method of this monsters creation is covered in deception and opinion on almost every aspect of the Valravn is divided.

This means that the only method of separating fact from fiction is experimentation.
Of course being that this is the Internet I'm certain that there are message boards where you can get assistance and differing opinions are discussed in a calm and totally rational manner.

How to fall in love with them:
Or more accurately how to get them to fall in love with you since the alternative would include copious amounts of leather, beer and certain substances that I, unfortunately, don't get paid enough to speculate about.

Naturally you will need to be extra breathtakingly beautiful in order to catch his eye in the first place because until now he's just been concentrating on meeting his Travellers Led Astray and Malicious Deeds Quota for the month.
It couldn't hurt to commit a few of the more epic sagas to memory. Beowulf is pretty much standard but you could branch out into Cú Chulainn or even The Song of Roland

But Is it worth the effort?
The pursuit of love is always worth the effort. But this does seem rather a lot to go through just to catch the eye of a shape shifting bird.
At first he won't contribute much to the household wanting to concentrate on the band and his drumming (6) but it won't be long before his avian mania for shiny things begins to kick in and he'll begin bringing home many shiny baubles for you.

As a completely random example the crown jewels of England are housed in the Tower of London which is also home to the tower ravens. (7)

Hunting them:
Jumping over to the side of the goodies now.
Pictured: The Goodies.
Boom Boom
Now It may be that the monster is rampaging out of control as monsters are wont to do and it is up to you to put an end to the foul creature (8) that you helped to create, a fact that you're going to keep under your hat for the time being.
The good news is that you don't need any special weaponry for this one, unlike werewolves, who need to be shot with silver and vampires, who need to be forced to sit through Twilight.

"The power of Stephanie Meyers compels you!"
A potential capture scenario would be to use one of the aforementioned epic poetry reciting beautiful maidens to distract him and imprison the beast after she has seduced him. Technically this makes her a fallen maiden (9) but she will join you in selling him to the travelling circus secure in the knowledge that he will certainly won't get free because no circus would ever let their star attraction escape.

Alternatively Dave might leave behind a cloak of feathers when he transforms into human form and if you were to get hold of that then he'd be your, very unwilling, slave in order to get his cloak back. It should be noted that this particular method of shape shifting is more of a Russian Slavic technique and is generally found only in werewolves

The problem is that neither of these methods of hunting are taking into account his powers which are many and dire. In these modern times actual magicians that are practiced enough to best the creature in a magical battle are few and scattered to the remotest parts of the world.

Thus we are forced to turn to modern technology and reveal the L115A3, a sniper rifle with an effective range of 2.5 km.(10) This time the plan is simple
  1. Lure him into the kill-zone with the aforementioned maidens give the order to take him out.
    1. Lets see him abracadabra his was out of that!

  1. Band name #293 – Available for childrens parties.
  2. Band name #294 – I'm thinking it's good for a string quartet that wants to be Ironically hip.
  3. If you're old enough to get this then enable smug mode.
  4. If you only hear the “hi ho” song then you've managed to strike dwarf and I can't help you with them.
  5. Congratulations you've unleashed your first monster onto the unsuspecting world. If used correctly your monster will give you years of trouble free rampaging and widespread devastation.
  6. Can't sing, can't dance. Yep, he's a drummer all right.
  7. I can hear the plot thickening as we speak!
  8. Corvus Corax Lupin Sapiens Erectus. if we want to be incredibly pedantic about it.
  9. Band name #295 – Pretty sure it's a Traveling Wilburys tribute band
  10. 1.5 miles, but you already knew that