Sunday, 31 July 2016

Who Is That Person?

Who is that person? Why are they stopping their motorbike and trying to talk to you through their helmet? What is going on? Is this one of those incidents? Is it Level Two? Level One is when cars mysteriously beep at you as they zoom past you on the road, but Level Two is the stop. Suddenly, you are confronted with someone you haven't seen for twenty years, since school time, and they're gleefully suggesting that you don't remember them. The face is somehow familiar... and then they put you out of your misery, and ten minutes of cheering banter ensue. Then, with a sonic boom, it's all over and you're returned to your previous activity.

Reality is funny that way. It likes to intrude upon people's lives in small doses and then retreat with no warning, leaving some necessary realignment in its wake before being forgotten all over again. No absent-minded stroll down to the river and back is safe! You have been warned! Level Two is not the final level you can reach here, but it's best to not dwell on the significance of Level Three, which is yet to occur.

What could Level Three be? In general? A lost girlfriend meeting you on the bike trail? A mentor figure selling you a burger from a roadside van? Would anything else be that significant? A favourite author wandering into your library, checking to see if they have any of his books in stock? Ah, Level Three, you shall remain mythical to this writer, due to a lack of personal history. Where do some people accumulate all that personal history anyway? Is it a requirement of not being a blogger or mathematician?

Now to return to the regular activities of the week: reading 'No Name', tutoring, the endless DVD marathon, working on 'Alien Landing Centre', and endless worrying about money. What will happen? Will the endless O.U. debate be answered? Will 'The Glove' finally be abandoned as a serial story or will it be turned around with a flourish? We shall have to see...


Friday, 29 July 2016

Television: 'The West Wing: In The Shadow Of Two Gunmen' (2000) (Episodes 2x01 and 2x02)

I honestly didn't remember that it was this good. From the very beginning, there were tears and shock as the repercussions of the season one cliffhanger rolled in, and the two part story then never slowed down. The sheer ruthlessness of plotting drove it on, coupled to the surest characterisation, acting, direction and overall excellence to be seen anywhere. There's a reason why 'The West Wing' won so many awards in those first four years, penned by the mighty Aaron Sorkin, and that reason is magnificence.

'In The Shadow Of Two Gunmen' (ITSOTG) picks up where the season one cliffhanger, 'What Kind Of Day Has It Been', climaxed, forming a rough three-parter in practice. Shots have rung out, people are down, and chaos has erupted at the exit to the building within which Bartlet was giving his address. Who is injured? Is the danger over? Will people die? (Was Mandy shot through a retroactive continuity wormhole and removed from the time-space continuum, thus explaining why she's never seen again or even mentioned?) How would anyone be able to stay sane over the Summer vacation, waiting to find out?

Most of the dramatic weight and trauma is carried by the two characters most beloved in the series to date, and the ones whose injury would be the most traumatic to the viewers: President Bartlet himself, not too seriously, and the marvelous Josh Lyman, immediately sucked into critical condition and hours of surgery after being discovered by the fallible knight errant Toby. What could have been an overly intense two hours of watching people be shocked while you are yourself shocked, is saved by the intense wonder of the unfolding story of Bartlet's presidential campaign from three years before, told in flashback within the framing narrative. It's the story of the grand rounding up of the West Wing's staff and central characters, but it's also Josh and Bartlet's story, the story that makes the whole thing tick, with a healthy dose of Toby's enigmatic splendour thrown in for full measure. Yes, Sam, Leo, CJ and Donna are important, but it's those three that form the heart of the whole enterprise, and who must have won the arch-plotter Sorkin's heart.

If you're familiar with the series at all, then you couldn't possibly watch ITSOTG without shedding a few tears, as Josh goes into surgery, into and out of shock, and helps the round up of the gang in the past. You also see the deep human underpinnings of Bartlet as he offers to go with Josh to his father's wake even while a primary victory celebration and California awaits. It's just perfect, and nothing more remains to be said.


Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Time Enough At Last?

We drift down a stream of consciousness, and we call it living. Are we in control of it all, or is it all dictated by some plan etched into the foundations of time? We'll never know. We just drift, drift, drift. Yes, it may seem as if we're paddling, but the rudder is missing, and probably being sold in a bargain bin at Eternity's second hand rudder store. It's nice to just mentally drift when you're tired and recovering from all the tensions of modern life. Drift drift drift.

Suddenly, the words stop flowing. What happened? A drift is vulnerable to strange intersections with banks and shoals, and nothing will ever stop that. You just need to stay in the current long enough to bounce off back into the river, free to strain the seams of tortured analogy until it falls apart into subatomic matter. Eventually, said analogy is forced into retirement, and we move on to more diverting things. An analogy can only go on so long, after all.

All this tutoring can really drain the mental stamina. It's fortunate that these improvisational pieces don't have to be about anything in particular, just a stream of what passes for consciousness set against a backdrop of 'Mission Impossible' and whatever else might be going on. Yes, as long as it works, it works! There was another for improvising that used to be used here, though. What was it? Was it 'extemporise', perhaps? There's nothing like a nice bit of extemporisation and introspection to really get the brain going. This piece could go on forever, given more time, but time is always the thing we lack most.

What would people do if they time enough at last? Would the world settle into a happy and contented place? It would be nice to take the positive view, that a utopia would sweep over the world, never to leave again. Isn't that a nicer target than the dystopian visions supplied elsewhere?


Monday, 25 July 2016

Story: 'Wordspace' Phase II, Part III

( Part II , IV )

Dream had been gone a long time. On the other hand, she had never really been gone at all, and had merely been asleep on a different plane of existence. The Wordspace had rolled on without her, and while she slept, the others dreamed. No sleep lasts forever, however, and so Dream awoke on a tuft of punctuation near the Well of Vocabulary, and stretched on the symbology luxuriously. It took a while before she woke up enough to realise how quiet everything was. She popped open an eye, and looked around. The Well was quiet, as it always was, and School was nowhere near. That was strange. School never ventured far from the Well.

Dream got up, stiffly flexing her syllables in the process, and wandered over to the origin point for new words. It was a hole, with a small surrounding bank of bricked up letters, and the usual wet content of Hs and Os. She still found it hard to believe that she had crawled out of there, just like any other juvenile word, gaping at the magnificent world all around her. It was a black pool...

"Good grief! Dream!" Boomed a voice, and before she knew it she had been swept up in a massive hug. It was a very familiar experience.

"Justice!" She managed to squeeze out the greeting. ``What's wrong?''

"We thought you had gone forever!"

"It was just a little sleep."

"You've been gone for a hundred and fifty cycles, Dream!" Another hug, but this time less punishing.

"A hundred and fifty cycles?"

"And we're in a state of crisis. You had best come with me." Justice pulled Dream along behind him, and around a small hillock. There, in a shocking turn of events to Dream, was a little trapdoor set into the bedrock of the Wordspace. She stared at in shock. Justice looked at her, faking his own turn at surprise. "Yes, some things have changed, and not openly. Will you come with me?"

Dream could only say yes, caught up as she was in the dream-like aspects of what was going on.

Her old friend opened the door. "Come on then! Who knows when that invader might arrive here?!" Justice scooted down the tunnel. To somewhere entirely new to the knowledge of the Wordspace. The foundation was supposed to be inviolable. Still confused, she entered the tunnel herself. Mystery would be proud of her, she thought, wherever he might be.

More? Of course more!

Saturday, 23 July 2016


The word 'galactic' is inextricably bound up in the original idea of the Milky Way. Our galaxy was thought to be the only galaxy in existence for a long time, and as a result 'galaxy' is a very milky direct translation. Galactic doesn't just describe things that relate to galaxies, but also a generally milky nature. That's right, whenever you describe anything in terms of the galaxy, then you're just as equally saying they came from a dairy farm! It's amazing what you can find on that Phrontistery site...

Oh, our marvellous galaxy, what a wonderful thing to think about. A massive swirl of stars spiralling out from its cosmic core. What might it look like from the outside? Is it really like the picture of Andromeda we normally use to represent the Milky Way? What imagery to use in naming the galaxy! What on Earth is in that cosmic core, anyway?

Can you imagine what it must have been like, in the time of the ancient Greeks? Can you imagine a land with so little light pollution that you could see the great and dim band of concentrated stars that form the galactic plane, and to call that vast whiteness the 'Milky Circle', which would be translated later into the 'Milky Way'? Throughout history, we have kept that name alive in Europe, while other equally lyrical names emerged from the rest of the world. In China, they called it the Silver Way, while in Georgia the galaxy is called 'The Deer Jump', and in Thailand it has the enigmatic 'Way Of The White Elephant'. Can you imagine such a scope for imagination?

Perhaps our blindness to the galaxy is one of the reasons that exploration has faltered in the twenty-first century. We can barely see the stars now, and so we don't remember they're out there, waiting for the people to go and see them before the end of the universe. We'll have to make some advances, though, and invent most of the technology seen in 'Star Trek' to do it. Who knows? Perhaps there will be other people there, taking a look of their own?

The stars are still there, if you look for them. And they remain more than a little milky.


Thursday, 21 July 2016

Board Game: 'Robo Rally' (1994)

It's a great game indeed that makes it into the pages of the Quirky Muffin. This time, the game in question is 'Robo Rally', the programming game that sees you setting out sequences of actions to guide your robot from A to B to C, only for unforeseen circumstances to send it careening from spinner to conveyor belt to gaping pit instead. It's a great game, and one which can definitely be classified in the same way as 'Carcassonne', 'Ticket To Ride' and 'Tales of the Arabian Nights', as the perfect encapsulation of a mechanic. 'Carcassonne' is the archetypal tile laying game, 'Ticket To Ride' embodies set collection and pushing your luck, and 'Tales' is the perfect realisation of storytelling and reading. In its place, 'Robo Rally' is the ultimate in programming and mayhem. I do love an archetypal game!

Now, don't be put off by the idea of a 'programming' game, as it's not really what you think. At the beginning of each round, you choose the five actions that your robot will make, in order, as will every other player, aiming to get to the next check-point on the map. The ultimate goal is to reach the finish line first and win the race. There may be collisions, laser accidents, falls into pits, spins on the turntables or even misadventures on the conveyor belts of doom! There is no knowing beforehand what will go wrong or what you have forgotten, and once you set off there is no going back. It's a wonderful game experience.

It can also be an odd experience, though, if you don't follow the advice of the illustrious Tom Vasel of the Dice Tower. He does sometimes know what he's talking about, especially when it comes to throwing out badly conceived rules. To play 'Robo Rally' well, you have to ditch the 'three lives' aspect, build small and tight courses of no more than three or four checkpoints, and perhaps even remove the pre-inflicted damage to replacement robots. Also, to avoid a lot of fuss, get some eight-sided dice to monitor player progress instead of fiddling with the tiny tiles! If you do all that, and don't take it too seriously, then a great game is there to be enjoyed.

A programming board game... Who would have thought that would be good? Who would have thought that forgetting to include the motion of a turntable would wreak such havoc, or that that tiny little pit would be so hard to avoid after the conveyor belt makes your plans just a little 'kaka'?


Tuesday, 19 July 2016


The great thing about a weekend away, and a cumulative twelve hours on the coach, is that your mind clears completely of the comparatively trivial things that normally get in the way. Yes, thought occurs in between compulsive page turning of 'No Name' or Mark Twain's 'Joan of Arc', but what kind of thought? It's hard to say, as it drifts away with the miles.

Ah, Quirky Muffin, what are we to do now? Leisure time is over once again, and the gruelling slog that is Summer is upon us, complete with a thoroughly unpleasant heat wave, that threatens to convert the whole country into a sweaty mess. The endless murk and cloud have departed, and for what? Sunburn and a desperate desire to find a cool cave and shelter there for the next three to six years? You can never be too careful.

Perhaps we could now, after a long absence, dip into the Phrontistery once again and review some of the rarer words that don't get used any more. Perusing under the letter 'E', a particular and topical example soon pops out from the others:

eirenism: peaceful state of mind.

Yes, extended coach trips are conducice to eirenisms when you least expect them, except in the most extreme of circumstances. Sometimes, when packed in with too many items in a sweltering heat, and with elbows poking into your ribs, other states of mind might be far more likely! When you think about it, tranquility is one of the most prized and rare states of the modern age, and one often thrown away in the endless quest for things unowned. Maybe we should work toward some form of eirenism instead? Good grief, I hope there's not some implication to the word that I know nothing about...

Runner-up words for the day are the following, with a special emphasis on 'empleomania'. Aren't rare words wonderful and enchanting?

eclipsareon: astronomical toy used to show phenomena of solar and lunar eclipses.
empleomania: mania for holding public office.
euphonism: custom of using pleasing sounding words.

Let's all try to relax, spin and not to swelter. The horrific Summer of news is now over, and we can get back to being deeply decadent. Aaaaahhh... 


Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Is The Storm Over?

An interruption is coming, as the Quirky Muffin goes down for a long weekend. Yes, it is time to revisit Beeston once again, that grand little town buried in the urban tentacles of the city of Nottingham. It's a lovely little place, packed full of the most positive memories of that postgraduate portion of life. How long ago it seems... Ahem. Putting the false nostalgia to one side, the Quirky Muffin will reopen in the middle of next week, with twelve hours of travel musings to serve as vital blogging fuel. As always, there might be cover posts, if time appears, but expect them not.

The times, they are a changing. It has been a crazy time for domestic politics, so crazy in fact that even the Trump is being drowned out. However, politics is boring, so let us move on to something else. It's hard to remember how this worked back before the bizarre events of 2016 began galloping all over real life. What on Earth happened to the interesting word of the week? What happened to just spinning in place, or air conducting to Jerry Goldsmith music? If the whole readership of this blog didn't consist of web robots, three Belgian waffle makers in Pittsburgh, and a goldfish called Ivan, such a lapse would be unforgivable! As it is, Ivan probably won't notice a difference.

It will be nice to stop worrying about things quite so much, and get back to being moderately silly instead. Yes, moderate silliness is the target tone here, as befits someone who writes stories about ninjas of health, alternate dimensional versions of Aberystwyth, and whole time space continua made out of words. It's time, dear readers from the Phantom Zone, to take the bung out of the bottle and see what words flow. Yes, the worries can stop, and the fingertips can be wafted through the air to feel the currents. The giant pencils can be unleashed for air conducting, and most of all it is time to spin for no reason.

My, 'Garfield and Friends' was a good show. How on Earth did they pull that off for one hundred and twenty one episodes, and three itmes that many segments?


Monday, 11 July 2016

Story: The Ninja of Health, XII

( Part XI , XIII )

The interior or Crane and Nelson's was what you might expect from a maritime store. There were dinghies, ropes, sails, compasses, items so specialised that they will remain nameless, and a marvelous antique ship's wheel stood proudly amongst other valuables in the expensive collectors' area of the store. The Man walked over to it, and held on to it like a dear friend. "Would you ever actually sell this, if someone came up with the extortionate price?" He asked the Oracle.

"Two people offer to buy it every week, usually. I always tell them it's been reserved by someone else. People who come back look at me quizzically and ask again. The wheel remains here." The seer of things to come patted the wheel affectionately. "You can't see the direction of the future if you don't know your own direction." Then, he led them into the back area of the store, and up some steps.

Beyond a perfectly plain white wooden door, lay the Oracle's Room of Seeing. It was a perfectly normal looking room, in fact, except for a simple collapsible cards table, and a few books on fishing on the single bookcase. There were three foldable chairs leaning against one wall, and the Oracle pulled one off for himself.

"Don't you want to know why we've come?" Asked the Woman.

"No, it will only complicate what I have to do. I know already that there has been an incursion from elsewhere, and that you have been contacted. That is more than enough context."

"You seem to have changed your method a little..." Noted the Man, who was beyond curious. No water pool this time, and not even a chalk pile!"

"I've been experimenting with weaves, actually. He held up a small woven multicoloured tablecloth and threw it on the table haphazardly. Then, seated on the little folding chair, he closed his eyes and put his hands on the tablecloth. The two visitors sat down as well and watched, confused. It all became a lot clearer when the weave began to change in front of their eyes. Colours moved back and forth, crossed over, jumbled, and mixed until finally a confused woven picture was visible on the cloth, as complete as it could be under the circumstances.

"What could it possibly mean?" Wondered the Woman.

The Oracle didn't reply. He was fast asleep.

More? Of course there will be more!

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Needle And Thread

The life of an erratic and resigned bachelor holds many extra chores, not the least of which is that you have to incorporate many many more talents within yourself to get things done. There is no backup in the usual sense, so everything broken and everything ripped ends up in the hands of... yourself! It doesn't matter how slow you might be with a needle, nor how many hours a simple job might last! Pyjamas must be fixed, with gusto, and all while endless episodes flash by on the nearby television intended to stop a total nervous breakdown.

In past eras, a history with needlework would have been something for a red blooded man to keep secret, it being not at all manly in the conventional old way of thinking. There is a history, though. You see, if you didn't feel confident doing woodwork or metalwork in design and technology at school, there weren't that many options left. Ultimately, needlework would be the safest option, despite the multitude of sharp pointy metal things. Somewhere around here, a very underwhelming cloth wallet-like object might still lurk. Oh, the horror.

In a week of minimal workload, you end up doing all the chores that have been piling up forever. Fixed pyjamas? Check. Covers for those archive DVDs filled with old files and media? Yup. Typing up of stories in LaTeX? Affirmative! It all gets done, and takes up far too much time. Why on Earth should tying knots in cotton thread be so difficult? Why? Is it a deliberate ploy? Is it related to a knot-tying deficiency, which mainly manifests in having to repeatedly re-tie shoelaces with unprecedented frequency? Is it a conspiracy foisted upon us by the alien inventors of polyester, even now plotting their next outrage from their base on the dark side of the Moon?

It's useful to be able to handle a needle. Men of the world, be not afraid to admit your skills! Skills are manly! Even sponge juggling and pasta making! Unite unite!

Here ends the silliness, except to make a recommendation for the Old Time Radio newbies out there: Check out 'Escape!'. Based on a few episodes, it was amazingly good!


Thursday, 7 July 2016

Book and Film: 'The Thin Man' (both 1934), novel by Dashiell Hammett

It's a great book, and a good film. It would be a great film too, but the stars enter just a little too late, and as a result the opening is a bit underwhelming. What are we talking about? What? You didn't read the title? Shame on you, gentle readers of the Quirky Muffin! It's 'The Thin Man' of course! Although the book came out in 1934, this classic story, the last full length novel written by the master Dashiell Hammett, was originally serialised in 1933 so it does predate the movie significantly. The written and screen versions didn't just appear one day, simultaneously, in a basket labelled 'utter class'.

To begin with the novel, the more complex version of the story, we see a fascinating diversion of Hammett's usual style to something closer to a traditional murder mystery, and away from the more familiar stories you might expect from the ersatz originator of the hard-boiled detective story. Dashiell Hammett could write like no other, though, and the story is permeated by his distinctive style. Instead of a tale of the anonymous 'Continental Op' detective, or cynical private eye Sam Spade, or even ambiguous union-man/gangster Ned Beaumont, we get the gleefully retired (due to marriage) private eye Nick Charles and his wife Nora, heir to a magnificent amount of money. The concept of a happy, albeit apparently constantly sozzled, detective is quite a new one. The story is a little labyrinthine, but is essentially a murder case mixed with a massive shaggy dog story, and more smart dialogue than you would find in a dozen novels by any other writer. It begins, and then rolls irresistibly to its conclusion, which will not be spoiled here.

The movie version is a lot simpler than the original prose, and has a lot of the discussions and related events that are at the core of the story instead shoved into what is effectively a prologue, before the advent of Nick and Nora Charles, the heroes and impossibly charming protagonists. It seems utterly unbelievable now that the divine Myrna Loy and impeccable William Powell would have been unknown to me before these 'Thin Man' movies, and it seems even ridiculous that any actress would ever even compare to that former legend. She is the epitome of a female movie star, and more shall not be said. Once Loy and Powell show up, with their indomitable pooch sidekick, the film catches fire. Yes, it may be a simpler version of the story, with a whole subplot excised completely, but the casting allows a wonderful actor-based equivalent to the hard-boiled prose of the written word. The film also manages to conceal the central novelty of the story far more effectively than the story by not elaborating around it quite so much, and introduces the old staple of bringing all the suspects together for the denouement. At least, I assume it was an old staple. In 1934, movies were still comparatively new, after all. In novels, many tropes and clich├ęs had been established, but what about in the movies? I bet they didn't drag in all the suspects under police coercion, at least, for a sit down dinner?

The novel is excellent, and should be read by everyone. The film is great, but you should check your tolerance for old black and white movies first. I loved it, but some people might balk at the lack of colour and dumb action sequences. Of course, there is always the mighty attraction of Astar the dog to drag in the more reluctant people, those philistines who care not for the grace of Loy or the charisma of Powell. Good grief, William Powell could deliver a line like no other. He was supposedly the model for Don Adams' delivery as Max in 'Get Smart' and Inspector Gadget, although the evidence isn't conclusive. Again, how could this writer be unaware of these two beforehand?

'The Thin Man', a classic in prose, and a wonder on the screen. In fact, it was such a wonder that it spawned five more movies in a series that spanned more than ten years, which is a testament to a couple that some would call one of the best screen romances in all of film. Those people wouldn't be wrong.


Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Really? A Kraken?

Once again, it's time to release the kraken that is the Quirky Muffin and see what ensues. Oh, the kraken, the kraken! (Or even, 'The plankton! The plankton!') The pen and paper has been out in force today, proving itself to be once again the most tractable medium for writing and rewriting stories. Typing is all very well if you already know what's planned or are extemporising freely, but for true thoughtfulness there is no substitute for ink and good quality paper. Ah, the joys of scribbling while lying prostrate upon the ground. There's nothing like it! It might even be a good story, too, which would be nice.

'Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea' is playing once again to one side, one of the default accompaniments to frenzied typing. It's a pretty good one, too, with the debut of the giant whale! My, they would get some extra mileage out of that giant whale in future episodes! I might have to write this one up, though. It's a curious series. Did they ever go up against a kraken, though, which upon research is not at all what I thought it would be. A kraken is an infamous mythical sea monster of Scandinavia; a gigantic squid, octopus, whale or crab that attacked ocean vessels. Yes, a Scandinavian sea monster, and not Mediterranean! For some reason, it resonanted with Greek mythology in this writer's mind... I think they went up against a giant squid at some point, but never a monumental crab.

One exchange over the weekend has led to some introspection: Obsession can be a terrible thing, as can fear. The two walk hand in hand often. Could it be that this sojourn in the valleys is not an exercise in seeking a vocation, but really one in avoiding responsibility and progress? It could be, couldn't it? This introspection will have to be revisited away from these pages, but it's a lot more fun to be a private tutor than to work on any of the other jobs previously trudged through. This would be a better life, if practical. Soon, I'll be reading 'Five Children And It' and 'The Railway Children' for the first time, supposedly to assess their suitability for my littler students. Oh, such excuses! It's such fun to expose young readers to new works. Of course, you have to build them up carefully to 'Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea', but they'll get there eventually. The kraken must be faced, after all, and enjoyed.

Enough incoherent and senseless gibberish for today. Consider the kraken reined in once again.


Sunday, 3 July 2016

Story: The Glove, XIII

( Part XII , XIV )

The shot rang out, and then another. And another. Gunshots were practically unheard of on the moon of Ganymede, apart from the shooting events at the Highland Games, the annual moon-wide sports championships. Steffan had gotten used to gunshots while competing for his precinct in the modern caber toss and tennis champsionships, but that had been two years before. A moment of stunned stillness quickly segued into a duck for cover behind a tree. Where had the shot originated?


The Ganymedian tree lost a bit of bark as Steffan huddled behind it. Then there was silence. There was to be no fooling the young piper, though, and he waited a full ten minutes before waving a white handkerchief outside the hidden zone behind the trunk. Had that shot been aimed at him, or had coincidence played its normal grim and merry part? Gunshots didn't fit into his preferred lifestyle. Perhaps some running away was in order? Just as he was preparing to make a break for it, keeping the trunk at his back, a squad of armed police appeared, utterly incongruous in both their style and appearance. Armed police were another unheard of happenstance, and he gaped.

"You, get back behind the vehicle!" Bellowed a probable high ranker, and Steffan dutifully obeyed. The vehicle was completely unmarked. Not an insignia in sight. In fact, the police didn't have any markings either. They just had the air of police officers. He pushed back into the trees a little, in the general direction of the tea shop. Some cakes seemed in order. Or scones, where the onligatory argument about pronunciation would be a blessed relief.

The scanner was waved in disgust, and knocked against a tree in the time honoured fashion as Steffan disappeared. Minutes later he was ensconced, and en-sconed, at Alison's Tea Rooms. There was nothing like tea and scones to calm someone down after a traumatic event. Alison was a nice lady, thoroughly at home in her environment, and seemingly perpetually busy with preparing things for the tourists visiting the old scenic town. A second person emerged from the back room and consulted her for a moment, before boldly advancing and sitting opposite our protagonist. She looked relieved.

"Thank Troos that you're okay! You are okay, aren't you?" She looked him over. "Aye, you seem fine." A freckled frown relaxed. "We've never wanted to see anyone hurt."

Being caught with a mouthful of scone had never been so inconvenient. Steffan's response would have to wait.

To be continued...

Friday, 1 July 2016

Exhaustion And The Speed Of Light

Oh, this is far too tired an evening in which to write a post, but a post shall be written nonetheless. About what? I have no idea. A week of confused timekeeping and sleep disruption certainly does catch up with a person! The current theory is that the cocoa was to blame, in combination with a nervous reaction to the accursed referendum. Yes, all those months of agonising and second guessing certainly have resulted in a small pit of exhaustion. Politics really shouldn't be taken so seriously. It's not as if the blokes in charge think about it that much!

Apart from nervous exhaustion, the first episode of 'The Time Tunnel' was viewed this week, and it was very interesting, very much a version zero of 'Quantum Leap'. Time was also spent in re-reading 'The Thin Man', which is still a magnificently readable masterpiece from Dashiell Hammett, (Note: Learn definitively how to spell Dashiell Hammett without looking it up.) and enquiries were made into doing just a little bit more with English and Spanish...

Life is like juggling. You pick up a ball and throw it, and then hope to not hit it with the other balls that you have to throw and catch at almost the same time. In other words, it's chaotic, and all you can do is enjoy the unpredictability, assuming you're awake enough to be more than just vaguely concerned by it all. Actually, juggling is fun, except for the massive amounts of work involved in getting good at it. In more than a year of regular practice, I never could get three balls going for more than a minute... and still can't! Perhaps some people just don't have the coordination? It was fun to try, though, and continue to try, and to wonder at the other people at JuggleSoc picking it up so effortlessly.

A shortened Quirky Muffin is now concluded, so that sleeping can commence. Enjoy your times in slumber land, oh illusive readers of this blog, and be careful out there. Mwahahaahahhaah.