Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Story: 'Wordspace' Phase II, Part VIII

( Part I , VII , IX )

The sparkles spread for a few moments, and then scuttled away. Mystery had no idea what they were, and presumed they were from Sorpresa's home space. The distraction worked, and the three made their getaway, heading back towards their friends. Behind them, the Invader lumbered around awkwardly, even comedically, before turning back to the Zone of Meaningless Jargon and giving it some half-hearted thumps. Presumably, this 'Armageddon' type was getting a little bored with it all.

"Not even that thing will be able to get through the Zone," thought the ever contemplative Mystery. Then he corrected himself inwardly. "Not a thing, but a word. There are no 'things'."

Cloud fluttered through the air, undulating nicely into curves, and stretching out into sprints, bent on throwing off any chance the invader had of tracking their course. Sorpresa looked thoughtfully back, and said little. Mystery remained alone with his thoughts.

"I have no idea what we're doing." He wrinkled a syllable in introspection. "Are we going to war? Are we going to an execution? What's it all about? How could we even begin to deal with such a gigantic problem? It would be difficult at even half the size! If it weren't so big, we could somehow trap it inside the Zone." The idea or war worried him. "There has never been a war here, only War herself."

On the distant horizon, Moon was rolling along, in melancholy fashion. Somewhere on the opposite horizon, Sun was probably jumping and down and doing his aerobics. Ah, that crazy old Sun. It had been ages since Mystery had made the journey to have a chat with either of those distant hermit cousins. Some notions began to whisper at the back of Mystery's mind, but didn't permeate through to his consciousness. Not yet.

"There they are." Murmured the ever quiet Cloud in her succinct way. War and her troop were striding toward them out of the dusk. Light and Illumination were doing their best to make it easy for people while not giving away their position.

"Thank you, Cloud." She murmured in response, but didn't impose on his thoughts. "I keep thinking that I'm forgetting something."

Mystery was forgetting something, but we'll get to that in good time.

To be endlessly continued...

Sunday, 28 May 2017

A Rhombic Star

One of the great things about the school holidays is that you get to indulge in games and origami with some of your students. This time, the chosen project will be a rhombic star, as requested by someone very interested in the crafting side of things. It could have been the game 'Paperback', now considered a minor phenomenon, but the rhombic star prevailed. 'Paperback' will wait until the Summer.

Modular origami is often both frustratingly simple and annoyingly elegant. The dodecahedron is a classic example of that, as it requires twelve components, six of two slightly varying types, and is beautiful when completed, as long as you can fix it together before it explodes again! Invisible tape to the rescue! The rhombic star requires twenty four modules, and therefore a lot of prior preparation! how is it going to work out? Will it be a triumph or a disaster? It will definitely be a nice relief from GCSE season, that's for sure!

In gaming news, a very eventful game of 'Tales Of The Arabian Nights' can be reported. It featured instances of insanity, imprisonment, grief, envy, crippling wounds, a bald gorilla, several pilgrimages, scorn, determination and finally a marginal victory for Ali Baba due to Sinbad being trapped in a prison and marriage. If none of that made any sense, you may need to look up the game! At least this time, I wasn't turned into an ape or enslaved by wandering genies. It's a classic, really. A classic or storytelling.

The general election is still limping along (at the time of writing), now in the wake of a ghoulish bombing in Manchester, but it seems there is some hope in the air. Despite all the negative campaigning from the previous winners, there are definitely two possible governments in waiting now, with two very distinct ideologies. After decades of there being only one choice of thought, disguised under different colours of rosettes, it seems things may be shifting. The choice is the important thing. Expect more tangential and hopefully not too partial comments in the future, mainly on the sheer bias and stupidity of reporting. Egads! Does no-one go looking for stories anymore? There's more to journalism than reading press releases, after all, especially poisonous and toxic lies.

A rhombic star. Fascinating. Much more interesting than politics. Watch out, origami's about.


Friday, 26 May 2017

Heat Wave

It's hot out there. Dangerously hot. The summer has leapt upon us pre-emptively, or so it seems, and the sweltering has begun. Oh, the sweltering, and the hiding in shadows. Where would the eerily pale be without shadows? It might be good to dig up that old idea of dragging along a portable wall on wheels in order to guarantee shade at all times. It would have to have an extendable awning, of course, for those awkward times in the middle of the day. Ah, what an idea... The portable wall could even have top-mounted solar cells! It's the crackpot invention that keeps on giving! And a small wind turbine!

Oh, if only we had more crackpot inventions. What about a soup-powered spoon, which is really a battery that charges up on soup-power (a well-known and classical power source), and can then be plugged in to power anything small. It would be the perfect multi-purpose tool to put in your shirt pocket! Or, the Swiss Army melon, a folly of the first order, as it would be utterly purposeless, being devoid of all nutrition and therefore even useless as a food. No, melon-lovers, the anti-melon crusade will not be going away any time soon. Bleuch.

It seems the sweltering is going to coincide with one of the most interesting general elections in my whole life. The very concept of having a meaningful choice between two ideologies is exciting beyond all belief, even if it is somewhat at odds with the whole notion of voting on your local candidates. Sometime in the future, we will have to disassociate the selection of the leadership of the country from the election of the local representative. Somehow. It seems like the most logical thing in the world, but tradition always has an advantage over reason. Tradition is the guiding rule behind breakfast, and breakfast rules often win out...

Yes, let's associate all constitutional matters to matters of dining. It can be done very easily. Elections themselves are very much like a select buffet, where you don't get to eat all that you want, but instead go to the supplies once and live with what you choose. You just have to be careful that the vegetables are going to last for five years. No, the analogy doesn't work at all! It must be the heat wave talking.


Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Television: 'The Mentalist: Red Sky In The Morning' (2010) (Episode 2x23)

In a few short minutes, everything changes. 'Red Sky In The Morning' is in many ways a culmination of the whole series to date, and a high point of the whole show, if only because they would back off from some of the most fundamental issues of the show in future seasons in order to wrap it up. Here, however, those issues are on full display. Is it possible that Red John is even more than he appears, and could Kristina Frye be the real kind of psychic that the ultra-cynical Patrick Jane denies at every turn? Can there be a life other than the one of vengeance, and what if he makes a mistake? The arcs that restart from here will go round in circles in future seasons, but here... Here, they all work.

There is a lot to like in this second season closer. For one thing, we get the return of the angelic Leslie Hope, a lesser known Canadian treasure, as the possibly true psychic Kristina Frye, never to be properly seen again as she is taken away by the series villain Red John after repeating Jane's original pre-series mistake. In fact, Simon Baker displays true acting chops here, going from charismatic charmer, to affable hopelessness, to a nervous mess, and then to a peculiar place beyond fear. Jane is a great character.

'Red Sky In The Morning' closes the second season and goes from wonderful, to weird, and then back to wonderful again. The closing experience with Red John is just a little shocking, and you do wonder what will happen next.

The problems with this episode are contextual, and not really anything to do with the hour itself. The problems lie in how themes won't be addressed in the future. Yes, Jane's vengeance finally will happen, but it will be in an unsatisfying way. The underlying tension between Jane's assertions that there are no psychics and the difficultly explained abilities of Red John (and Kristina Frye) is thrown away. The tension between Lisbon's dedication to the law and Jane's quest is ultimately reconciled by circumstances. However, for now, we are forced to wait and wonder what will unfold next. What does that calm and determined look mean?

On the other hand, we could all think about triceratops moulds instead. It's our choice.


Monday, 22 May 2017

No, Not The Spoons!

It's time to do some wibbly wobbly tapping of the keys, on whatever springs to mind. It could be anything. The predicted heat wave, which may not materialise at all, the potential of a router in woodwork, the principles of tricking people into doing algebra without even knowing it, 'The Rockford Files', the world being just like a great big onion, and the lovely old Moon spinning around the Earth while slowly slowing down our own rotation. Mutter mutter satellites...

Or it could not be about any of those things. Venice Classic Radio has been playing an amazing amount of Hummel recently, and it can be utterly enchanting. He was a complete unknown to me until a couple of weeks ago, and now is fast approaching favourite status. Hummel may save this last French assignment from complete doom, which would be remarkable. Thank you, Mr Hummel, whoever you may have been.

Piano music has a power all its own, making it the very top of the pile when it comes to classical music, or even jazz and blues. There is nothing as nice as the tinkling of those keys. I wonder how it all began? Did it begin with some primitive form of xylophone, and then somehow evolve into keys attached to strings? However it happened, it was a primal act of genius:

"Excuse me, Son of Torg, but I was just playing the rocks when I fell across the loom, and it made this horrendous noise!"

"Really, Brother of Boof? What happened then?"

"I was chased away by Mother of Snab, who chastised me for messing with her fabric production."

"Sounds like a bad idea. Don't do that again. Here, try this rock. It's got a hollow end."

"Neat! Hang on, I've got an idea..."


"What if..."

"What?! What?!"

"I play the rock with the spoons! Huzzah!"

And then the universe sighed, and we all went back to sleep. Oh, and to trick people into doing algebra, you need to begin with number machines, but that's another story entirely...


Saturday, 20 May 2017

Television: 'Star Trek: This Side Of Paradise' (Episode 1x24) (1967)

This is the one where Spock climbs a tree. Did other things happen? Yes, I suppose so, but really it's about Spock climbing a tree and smiling. Everything else is a bit redundant. McCoy talks about mint juleps a lot, if that counts?

'This Side Of Paradise' (TSOP) is a classic example of the anti-paradise strain of 'Star Trek'. Yes, there are evil alien flowers, which shoot out spores and brainwash host humanoids, but it's really all about people being too healthy, contented and stagnant. Paradise is bad in 'Star Trek' land, and maybe that's an interesting thing to think about. On the other hand, it's much less interesting than the tree climbing, or Kirk being the only one out of the whole crew who can cure himself of the spores' influence. He does a similar thing two seasons later, in 'Elaan of Troyius'. Apparently, the Enterprise is more important than anything else in his life, and he will even get Vulcan-pummelled if it means saving the day. Burn, spores, burn!

In a strange way, this is almost not 'Star Trek'. Yes, the familiar characters are all around, but it's much more like 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers', with the eerie smiles and odd behaviour multiplying exponentially as the episode wears on. It's very much of the 1950s or 1970s, but not 'Star Trek'. The only unifying aspect with the series as a whole is the great William Shatner, who pulls off confusion with the whole scenario with great elegance. He seems to be the all-purpose actor, pulling off practically anything with ease, except perhaps musicals. (All lovers of 'Rocket Man' or 'The Transformed Man' are free to disagree.)

Paradises get a very bad reputation from works of fiction. There are almost none which remain intact or aren't abandoned out of sheer boredom. 'Star Trek' pummels them repeatedly: 'This Side Of Paradise', 'The Apple', 'I, Mudd', 'The Paradise Syndrome' and 'The Way To Eden' all involve renunciations of the ideal, with other more tangential examples left unsaid. It's one of the great human ideas, that we're happier when we're attaining, rather than when we've attained.

So, 'TSOP' is a good episode about alien spores infecting a colony and the crew of the Enterprise, Spock jumping ship, and Kirk finally bringing a resolution to the whole misadventure. Sulu gets brainwashed, not an uncommon occurrence, and we end on a bittersweet note. We can call it a classic oddity. Oh, and Spock hangs off a tree.


Thursday, 18 May 2017

Random Thoughts

These are curious days. The quest for a new dog continues, with no clear consensus of what a new dog would look like, or what anyone really wants. As you can imagine, that's a bit stressful! The student roster continues to temporarily inflate, as a changing of the guard approaches with the end of the GCSE exams. The nine hundredth Quirky Muffin is now not very far away, nor is the end of the first year of Open University studies. Yes, it's definitely a curious time. Please send remedial cookies.

Selecting a dog seems to be far more fraught than it ever used to be, and more expensive and far less organised. Hopefully, something will work out. Tangentially, beagles really don't look at all like Snoopy, do they? Not even the Snoopy from the very beginning of 'Peanuts'. It's odd. I don't remember when the breed 'beagle' was attached to him, nor whether it was earlier or later in the first few years. Ah well, he's a lovable dog anyway. Mental note: Watch 'The Peanuts Movie' again. My, that's an underrated movie.

What else is going on? Apart from student prep and studies of my own, there is also the endless reading and 'Project Watch Every DVD', which is now into the final seasons of 'The Six Million Dollar Man' and 'The Bionic Woman' and has recently cracked open the first season of '30 Rock'. '30 Rock' is surprisingly good, a great show. It may even have rewatchability, by gad! 'Gilligan's Island' has proven to be amazing, by the way, a gigantic success which never made it to Britain. What a shame that is, as they really are an iconic set of characters, and it's obvious why they have remained popular references for all these years.

The reading stretches on, as endless short story collections continue, and continue, and continue... The complete 'Father Brown' is a dense brick of entertainment especially, whose remaining pages never seem to become fewer despite the fun of what's going on. 'Journey to the West', definitely not a short story, is continuing well, but at over two thousand pages it may consume the rest of my life...

'Journey To The West' may never actually finish? Is that some kind of Buddhist or Taoist exercise?


Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Television: 'Supergirl: Stronger Together' (2015) (Episode 1x02)

We won't cover every episode of 'Supergirl' here on the Quirky Muffin, and may not even venture into the second season at all. 'Stronger Together' is the first episode of the regular run, though, so it's a good place to pick up on the progress. This is a great improvement on the pilot episode, which ditches some of the melodrama and picks up on new threads, but still disappointingly jumps into meaningless fight scenes for very little reason indeed. That, more than anything else is disappointing. It's cheap and unimaginative to do brawls. Any show, and any series, can do fights. However, it takes an imaginative one to have Supergirl pulling an oil tanker out of its dock to avoid a fire, and then accidentally pulling off the end of the ship and having a spill. That's a massive plus, with not a fist thrown.

This season first season could potentially be the best season of a superhero show I've ever seen. Melissa Benoist is perfect as Kara Zor-El, Mehcad Brooks is great as James (Jimmy Olsen), and the rest of the cast is running between wooden to average as of 'Stronger Together'. It's nice to see a novitiate period, where someone actually learns how to use their powers on the job, which of course fits thematically in with the series do the same thing.

This series seems to be pulling its building blocks from interesting places. It has a hologrammatic parent, as in the Richard Donner 'Superman' movies, solving of ordinary day to day and work problems much as in the first season of 'Lois and Clark', some unnecessarily thumping landings a la 'Iron Man', and the aforementioned boring violence as seen in practically every modern superhero movie, whether they be DC or Marvel. (I'm still thanking the stars that 'Man of Steel' and 'Batman vs Superman' went by unseen.)

The show does split heavily into two pieces, though. There is the half that deals with Kara and her job at CatCo, which is pretty good, and the other half at the alien investigating DEO, which is often problematic. It makes for a very difficult contrast. Perhaps that will work out in the end. For now, it's nice to have daring rescues, character interaction, and not to have to worry about network meddling. The 'Super' projects have always had network meddling of the worst kind. 'The Adventures Of Superman' was nobbled and converted into colour and a kiddies show a decade before colour hit television officially, the 'Superman' movies were destroyed by avaricious producers, 'Lois and Clark' was ruined by network meddling, 'Superman Returns' was denied sequels due to idiocy, and then we have the modern 'Superman' movies... You're lucky to even get one good example in any given iteration! Even the Fleischer animated shorts were disrupted by Fleischer Studios going out of business and having the remaining cartoons converted into propaganda pieces. The Big S doesn't get any luck.

'Stronger Together' is a good building episode. We get some back history on 'S' symbol, some confidence building for Kara, some soul searching for James, and some other stuff that doesn't matter. Let's see how it goes.


Monday, 15 May 2017

Monday Monday

Monday, continuing day-long rain, a giant piece of writer's block, and no end in sight. There's got to be something to pull out of the last couple of days? Politics is happily embargoed for the moment, and my mind is still being made up on the first season of 'Supergirl', so what else is going on? The GCSEs are finally in full swing, and causing their usual stress-related problems. I honestly don't know how my students are coping. My own memories of GCSEs are extremely hazy, but they didn't seem to be so numerous or so stress-inducing. Of course, I was never in danger of failing (such modesty!), so maybe it's just a case of different perspectives.

Ah, at the end of a not particularly long or busy day, it's good to think about going to sleep. People really need to sleep more. As a member of the nine to ten hour club, it's really one of the best things to do to stay healthy. If anyone other than llamas or mythical unicorns were reading this, I would tell them to stop drinking coffee and go to sleep instead. That's the top tip for the insane people of the modern day, and one only barely ahead of ditching sugar. Ah, health tips from the bizarrely tired might not be the best things to accept.

It's very difficult to write today. Nothing seems to be gelling. Even the last OU assignment was a wearisome and extended task, and it should have been a doddle given the constraints. On the flip side, 'Wordspace' has been a genuine pleasure to return to. Is it psychological? Is it hair cut time? It must be that! It's the old 'Inverse Sansom' syndrome, an old curse that persists from ancient times. It's always seemed miraculous to me that people with longer hair ever get anything done at all...

That's Monday for you, a mixed up bunch of words. Some posts on 'Supergirl' and the continuing 'Wordspace' will follow in the next few days. Now it's time to do the healthy thing and go to sleep. At last.


Saturday, 13 May 2017

Story: 'Wordspace' Phase II, Part VII

( Part I , VI , VIII )

Club's grasp of history wasn't comprehensive, but he had heard of the Ordinals. Near the beginning of their time, a group of words had formed, as part of the fundamental order of things. According to Truth, they had reflected the order of things somehow, but Club was more interested in practicalities than philosophies or history. He really needed his old friend Mystery for things of this nature.

"We will go and see?" Repeated First. "What is wrong, good fellow?"

"I am not used to interesting times." Club admitted. "This is all... very new to me."

"New to you, sir?" A second word interjected. "We haven't seen a non-Ordinal in numberless days!"

"And I have only heard stories about you."

"But they were good stories, I trust?" The second word persisted.

"Yes. Yes, they were good stories. You're right. We should go." Club turned with alacrity. (But not with Alacrity, who had been out running when this latest disaster had descended upon them.)

He led them back toward the Zone.

*    *    *

Dream and Surprise headed down the unexpected tunnel to parts unknown to her. Every so often, they would reach another side corridor or trapdoor in the floor, and descend further into the depths.

"This can't be possible. There's no way through the foundation of the Wordspace." Dream muttered disbelievingly.

"That's what we thought, but a chance experiment by that idiot Alchemy revealed the existence of these tunnels. He suspected a connection to the Well, but privately I thought that we were still above the foundation, that perhaps the super-fundamental layer was extra thick in these regions." Surprise couldn't help showing off his vocabulary. It was a little vanity of his.


"Neither of us was exactly right." Surprise uncharacteristically stopped Dream before turning the next corner, and asked this question: "Are you sure you're okay, Dream? To be away - vanished - for so long. I think I'm trying to ask whether you can stand, and I know I'm spoiling something here, a surprise?" He looked very uncomfortable.

"Is there a choice? I'm still shaky, so stay close." Dream did her best to look brave.

"Very well." Surprise led his still recovering friend around the corner and stayed close as they came up against the guard rail forming the boundary of a small platform. The platform projected out from the side of mass of foundation, and before them... Well, Surprise summed it up best. "Voila, the great question. The world underneath our world!"

To be continued.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Little Droplets From The Stars

I've always loved to watch it rain. (Sometimes, it's also wonderful to sing and dance while walking in the rain, but we won't talk about that too much just in case the padded room beckons.) There's something magical about those moments of living in tune with the environment as you watch the drops of water fall from the stars, and creating that lush symphony of sound. Never has a sunny day been all that agreeable, but rain... rain is the bringer of a kind of holiness. Maybe 'purity' is a better word for it than 'holiness', on second thought. You might, for some moments of your life, buy into a Gaia orchestrating it all. For a few moments.

It all started at school, where I would spend wonderful lunch hours in the arched recesses facing out to the sports field, sometimes reading and sometimes just watching and listening. It was a tiny piece of magic, and a great exercise in embracing both solitude as well as communion with all of nature. Now, it continues from underneath the workshop stoop, or the trees at the top of the garden, or somewhere out on a country walk. Have you ever actually listened to raindrops on leaves? It's an amazing thing. Such moments are not to be missed.

Rain makes an environment interactive. No longer are you surrounded by a mass of emptiness; no longer is the world a boring nothing to walk through. There is something new; a medium through which everything becomes fresh and exciting. This probably sounds bizarre and eccentric, and of course it is, but not everyone has to be the same. Sometimes I wish we could emblazon upon banners that axiom: 'Not everyone has to be the same.' It's perfectly acceptable to prefer a rainy afternoon to a sunny day, although maybe not a rainy afternoon in mid-January, when you're afraid to step out in case you freeze into an icicle, while rain from the last walk clings to all your clothes and wonder how far away pneumonia might be. No, we're talking about slightly nicer days than those.

It's still lovely to stop and watch the rain fall. There's a gorgeous smell to it in some times of the year, and a sound that crosses over from audible to living in your unconscious. It was hard to live in Beeston and not have it rain so often, and in Hungary we went for months on end with not a drop of moisture from the sky. Months on end! It seems so bizarre a memory now. Endless days of cloudless blue skies. How unnatural for a coastal dweller from a stormy island it was.

Yes, the rain has fallen, and the world is a little cleaner. Today's planned post is pushed to another day, and now it's time to close.


Tuesday, 9 May 2017


The final OU deadlines of the academic year are upon us part-time students, heat rash is pouring down upon the Welsh Mediterranean, the election battle busses have been launched, the Quirky Muffin is counting down to its nine hundredth post, and GCSE season has started! It's all go, and doesn't even include the horror of impending birthdays. If anyone would like to take over this hectic schedule, please send your details plus a hefty bribe in magnet loaded plastic penguins to the Quirky Muffin, with your answer to this tie-breaker question: 'I am lunatic enough to write your blog and make wooden busts of William Shatner because...'. Nothing less than twenty thousand words will be acceptable. Good luck.

There's something just a little bit romantic about an election battle bus, isn't there? A long road trip full of ideas and passionate debates? No? We're probably far too cynical to believe that now. People are not exactly prone to being persuaded of things any more, and that's about as far as I'll go. It would be nice to think that ideas could propagate and intermingle to make interesting and exciting new things to talk about.

Nine hundred posts would be quite a milestone. How difficult would it be to get there, I wonder? Could it be done nicely? Oh, we all know it will be done, but what exactly will be the content for these next twenty something posts... The ongoing serial stories have been on hold for so long that I'm not even sure what has been happening, but maybe it's time to dig in and actually read through what has occurred so far in 'Diary Of A Laundry Robot' and 'Wordspace: Phase 2'. It could take days of deciphering all the dead ends and mis-starts. Fortunately, the job is made easier by the aborting of 'The Glove', which had fallen completely apart. Somehow, it never quite worked. There should have been more penguins.

Maybe we need to use battle busses more literally. Would it be better, since actual debates are things from ancient history at this point, to use them instead for ludicrous tugs of war with old bits of anchor chain? It might be more interesting. Or they could be used to for chicken races? These are all just ideas; You can make up your own. Each one needs an appropriate mascot for their party on the dashboard though, or hanging from the rear view mirror.


Sunday, 7 May 2017

Television: 'Star Trek: Arena' (1967) (Episode 1x18)

It's the quintessential Kirk episode, it's the episode with the Gorn, it's the episode with the home-made cannon, and it's one of the first episodes where Spock calls his captain 'Jim'. It defines 'Star Trek' in many ways for those who discovered it early, and is one of the most anomalous episodes of a series which also features an episode with Alice in Wonderland and Don Juan.

Oh, 'Arena' truly is a special piece of daftness, but it does say something very special that cuts through the polystyrene rocks and fights to the death. It dares to say that humans are a developing and evolving species with a good future, which is practically unheard of in science fiction after the advent of HG Wells! It defines the essential difference between 'Star Trek' and everything else of its time. 'Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea' never did that! 'Star Trek' even contradicts it itself occasionally, but the spirit persists.

Overall, though, this is the episode remembered for the fight with the Gorn, where Kirk refuses to finish off his foe and wins the admiration of the Metrons. Surprisingly, however, there is about twenty minutes before that fight even begins, where the noble crew reluctantly set off to chase a ship that committed a massacre on a Federation colony and perform like interstellar policemen. It's pretty unusual in that respect, with a whole varied story playing out on many stages, especially with a location shoot to unwittingly visit the massacred outpost.

Are there better episodes of 'Trek'? Yes, there are. Are there better showings for any of the cast? Yes. However, this one does something special, where the whole exceeds the sum of its parts, and Kirk runs around making a makeshift cannon while fighting a bloke in a far too hot lizard suit. That's special, and ultimately you do believe we might have a better future after all, and it's one with rubber lizard suits. Be warned on that front.


Friday, 5 May 2017

Snoozey Ramblings

Returning from a trip, there is always the joy of your own bed, the place where you spend more time than anywhere else. A bed is more important than a chair or a desk, even if you're not actually awake for most of the time that it's in use. Yes, your bed is the best part of coming home... Sleep away, merry voyagers.

Now, having slept off travelling weariness, it's time to get back to normality. What does that mean? Teaching and studying, studying and teaching. There's no escape! Oh, and some baking. There should always be baking. What is life without highly experimental biscuits, after all? Just a hollow mockery. There needs to be a good sugar-free carrot cake, though. How to do it? How?

The quest for a sugar-free carrot cake has been long but erratic. Months can pass with little thought on the subject, and then suddenly it pushes itself back into the mind. There has to be a nice one, that doesn't require fake sugar substitute. There has to be! Maybe it could be merged into the experimental cookie path? That almost makes sense. Actually, it makes a lot of sense. It... could... work...! ('Young Frankenstein' has a lot to answer for.) We might be putting on the Ritz.

Oh, that bed is really calling now, after three students and the pressures of helping with exam preparation. It's a tough balancing act, as the exams move closer and closer, between past paper practice and explaining just why things happen and how the questions work. Every fibre of being demands teaching and illumination of the mysteries while the hours tick by and you are cornered more and more into drilling with past papers. It's tough.

Now to sleep, and perchance to dream. Hopefully, the nightmares of the last few nights will not recur. The Charmed Hockey Stick of Security should see to that. Worry not, it will be explained one day.


Thursday, 4 May 2017

Story: 'Train Story', Concept

With the 'x' now bluntly pencilled into an electoral box of doom, and an enjoyable trip over, it's time to get back down to business. However, what should it be?


Story: 'Train Story', Concept
The train chugged along the tracks quite happily, steam and smoke trailing from the locomotive. I was at peace with the world as I watched the slow bend go by from the restaurant carriage's platform.

In the distance, there was a lake, glistening in the evening light, with a few small boats sailing in leisurely fashion. It all looked very relaxing.

"Excuse me, sir." It was a voice behind me, on the platform. Probably a conductor or porter.

"Yes?" My peace broken, I turned resignedly. It was neither a porter nor a conductor, but instead a woman in very plain clothes. In a crowd of passengers, she wouldn't have stood even a small jot.

"Train detective Jones, sir. I've been observing, and have some observations, if you would be interested."

Inwardly, I sighed. Sooner or later, someone always tried to change the rules. Maybe it was a mistake, though. "Observations about what? The beautiful scene out there perhaps?"

"No. Actually, it relates to the activities in the Poker Car, and the methodologies of your opponents." The detective was being as discreet as possible, as was her duty.

"Cheating? Deception? Creepy goings on amidst the usual shenanigans?"


"Oh well. It was getting cold anyway. Lead on, Lady Macbeth."

The detective led me back into the carriage. A herd of mammoth came into view as the bend finally came to an end, but I missed them. I always seemed to miss the mammoth.

This will eventually be expanded into a story.