Wednesday, 31 October 2012


More Halloween stuff. At the 100 Word Challenge, this week we're to think of a recipe. A cocktail recipe to me seemed the obvious way to go, but what with yesterday's potion and this older one for Unicorn Nipple Biscuits (which I like better, possibly because it is longer) I'm starting to run out of ingredients.

Here are the ingredients for a single serve, but when catering, mix a batch in your cauldron.

* One measure of bitter bile from a long-standing argument
* Two fingers
* Two fingers of whiskey
* A jigger of stolen souls – the real spirit
* Splash of broken dreams
* Nettles for colouring
* Pinch of brimstone
* A spoonful of ectoplasm

Disintegrate the fingers, brimstone and nettles with a howling curse. Add the remains to the shaker, along with the liquids. Shake then pour over ice. Add a dollop of ectoplasm. Serve chilled in a ruby slipper. Garnish with a stuffed fairy skewered on a witch-finder's pin.

Yeah yeah, it looks nothing like my description, but it's the coolest looking Halloween cocktail I could find. It's from here

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


It seems every prompt at the moment is Halloween themed. Here's a couple in quick succession. From Lillie McFerrin Writes Five Sentence Fiction prompt for this week - potions. She's picked a marvellous picture to illustrate it, too. Simply gorgeous.
People always say that the Arcane Arts aren't something you should meddle in, but how hard can it be? It's just like cooking really - you follow the recipe and get the desired outcome. Water of Lethe, hemlock, down from a phoenix, dryad's moss and a dragon scale. The master has them all in labelled jars... I should know, seeing how it's me that had to sort them away. This stupid musty old tome doesn't specify what colour dragon scale, but that shouldn't matter, should it?
Picture source

Friday, 5 October 2012

I've spent a bunch of writing time yesterday and today on not writing. BUT, it wasn't a complete waste. I've been signed up for the Creative Bursts sent out by Sandy Ackers for a while now. The idea behind them is something you can do in about fifteen minutes just to get the ideas flowing. Sometimes they're writing, sometimes drawing, sometimes physical. Some of the writing ones I've liked, but I've never got around to doing them. Usually I ignore the drawing ones, because I'm no artist. But the one this week was: Draw a picture that includes only flowers, trombones and octopuses. I thought that I could have a crack at that, especially if I used pictures for a guide. And this is what I came up with: 

It's not 100% in line with what I imagined (especially the flowers) but I'm pretty happy with it. Moreso because of attempting it, rather than just going "Eh, I'm a crappy drawer!" (it is true though, I'm a much better cupboard). This has come round largely because of Super Better I reckon. A wonderful piece of gamification to improve your life in whatever facet you choose. Most of the people playing it are overcoming something serious, but I'm mainly using it for motivation for more writing and being more dedicated at work. So far, it's working on both fronts. A lot of the stuff they recommend - such as positive thinking, noticing the small things and complimenting others - are things that are already pretty ingrained in me.

But Super Better also has a social element that I find quite nice too... you have the option of teaming up with allies, who cheer you on and support you. Allies can be real life friends, or random strangers on the internet. I've opted for the latter. It's quite refreshing, having sympathetic ears to rant and decompress to. I reckon it's a good system, as no matter how much you piss and moan, you're unlikely to offend them (which could be the case if you had real life mates supporting you). I’m also lucky that I’ve picked up some shit-hot allies, that definitely helps, too.

I've pretty much jettisoned most of the elements they suggest in the couple of power-packs I tried at the start, instead creating and customizing things that suit me. So far, I'm keeping on top of my marking (admittedly only having a class of eight this year is helping with that too), but also other facets of my life too. I'm more likely to be honest about things where I screw up, too, because I know that every man and his dog can't see it displayed on the internet, and because of how awesome my allies are in suggesting ways to deal with problems and for general moral support too. It has me thinking of other ways I can improve, or change, too. I surprised myself and had a salad the other day - and now I see that my review for that place has more props than the one for the glorious meat temple that is Au Do Lac Brazil... that feels really weird and out of character.

Thursday, 4 October 2012


I heard that October the 4th we were meant write something about Stars. Rather than whipping up a piece of fiction, I thought I'd instead write something based more on fact. These snippets are some observations about observation of stars, both here and back home. The picture is of the star chart from that most fantastic of games Star Control 2. The name Snellopy comes from there, his race is the Spathi, and their sphere of influence is marked out in yellow.

The sky in Hanoi is usually pretty sparse - there's plenty of smog, light pollution and other nastiness up there, so it's rare that you'll get many bright twinklies. On quite a few occasions we've been walking and my wife has said "Wow! Look how many stars there are!" and there's been maybe six, maximum. She said it wasn't always like that, back when she was a kid, things were different. There were lots of them. She used to fall asleep on the roof of their house, looking at them, and recalled being groggily carried downstairs in her father's arms.

I've seen lots of stars, not just on charts of various science fiction games when I'm battling aliens. I used to work out bush. When holidays came, we'd team up and drive back to civilization. One time on a drive when it was my turn to sleep, we were going past Brunette Downs on the Barkly Highway. It's a cattle station larger than Northern Ireland, so there's obviously not much light pollution going on. I only woke up after we'd stopped, and so my eyes were perfectly adjusted to the darkness. Looking up, I was amazed by the pinpoints scrawled across the ceiling, far more than I'd ever seen before. I pissed all over my feet as I leaned back in amazement, trying to get it all in.

At Tet a few years ago, I excitedly called my housemate out to have a gander at the skies. Just like me back when I'd been working in the Outback, everyone here had taken advantage of the holiday to get the hell out of Dodge. The roiling tendrils of pollution had relaxed their grasp on Hanoi somewhat, and we could see maybe 20 or 30 stars. But that wasn't what was so amazing to me - happily, I pointed.
"What?" he asked, "It's just Orion."
"I know," I replied, "But this is the first time I've seen the bugger in the flesh (so to speak) and he's not standing on his head. Damn you northern-centric celestial cartographers!"

I just got a necklace made for Tho. Originally it was going to be for her birthday, but just after I had paid the deposit she forbade me from getting anything custom made, so I kept it around for a while longer until a suitable occasion arose. It was of a starred star - A gold star (from the Vietnamese flag) with the Southern Cross (from the Australian flag) picked out on it in four sapphires for the cardinal points and a diamond for the wee one. It looks quite good if I say so myself, and it’ll be perfect to pass down to Madeline too.

We're now looking to head back to Australia soon, and while Tho did see a more representative smattering of stars when we were there for a holiday, I will make sure she gets to see them in all their glory. I didn't spend enough time looking at them before, but after losing them for the past few years, I'll try not to take them for granted in the future. There's probably a lesson there, I'd say, but I’m a slow learner.