Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Sam Richards is no longer M.I.A.

I've been off the radar for quite a while, but I'm back now. It's been a very busy week and a half!

I've been in Portsmouth since Monday, helping at a music academy that my church is putting on. I had to learn four songs for the academy, "Mercy" by Duffy, "When You Were Young" by The Killers, "Stop and Stare" by One Republic and "Hit Me Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears. The last one was an interesting choice, but we've made it quite 'rocky'. I had to spend most of last week working out all the parts and learning them, hence my absence from the blogger-verse. 

We had one guitarist yesterday, who didn't turn up today, and isn't going to come anymore! So I taught the songs to the other guy helping with the teaching, because I'm off home tomorrow and won't be there for the performance on Saturday. It was useful for me to be there anyway, because they needed someone to practice with the kids.

It has been very tiring though; we arrive at 8ish in the morning and finish at 5. Because we have to stay with the kids all day I spend 8 hours a day in the great indoors. I was so glad to get outside at the end of the day!

Bought a new DS game the other day that's really good. It's called Puzzle Quest: Galactrix and it's uber-geeky. Essentially it's Tetris crossed with Star Wars, and therefore, very cool. Also got the new Divine Heresy album, which I will review for you in the not too distant future.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Thank you Nintendo customer support

At last my Wii is working again. I went to set it up a few weeks ago and for no apparent reason the remotes wouldn't sync. Oh well, I thought, I don't desperately want to play it. So I left it for a bit.

A week or so ago I thought I'd try it again. New batteries and all that, read through the manual and followed the instructions to the letter. Nothing. I sat there for ages pressing the little red buttons with my hand in the air. Nothing. I thought it must either be the sensor bar or the remotes that were broken, meaning I'd have to spend some money on new equipment. 

Before I followed that assumption I borrowed my friend's remotes and sensor bar just to check if it was my things that were broken. And they didn't work either. So in my despair I went to my last resort. I rang customer support. 

When I got through to a human I told him I'd tried everything in the manual and was at a loss. 

"Ok, press the button on the Wii, don't hold it," he said. I pressed it. "Now press the button on the remote." I pressed it. "Is it working now?" I'm all prepared to answer in the negative, and then the mickey mouse glove appears on the screen! Simple. 

My question is this; why didn't it say in the manual to try that? Why did I have to ring an 08 number to get this simple solution? I don't really care though, I'm just glad I don't have to shell out to get new accessories.

On the subject of Nintendo products I'm fully obsessed with The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass. The Zelda games are annoyingly good. Annoying because you easily get hooked but also because when you get stuck, you get stuck. One particular puzzle in the ghost ship completely halted my progress. And in the end it turned out that I just needed to apply some numbers in a different order. Still a great game, regardless of the frustration. 

Saturday, 15 August 2009

I'm clean at last!

I'm now back from camping in Wales, where the washing facilities weren't much to talk about but lots of fun was had nonetheless. We all had a really good time, the weather was beautiful for the most part and there were only minor issues to deal with.

My main blight of the week was the numerous insect bites I sustained throughout the camping, some of which blossomed very painfully and disgustingly. I had one on my wrist which was particularly gruesome. It turned into a pus-filled boil which I named Juarez. Its gone down now thankfully, I kept catching it on things. Ouch.

My night-duty responsibilities were fairly simple. Nothing really happened so all I did was watch films and play on my DS. I got quite far on The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass, which I was previously stuck on. The best film I watched was Stranger Than Fiction. Its got a fantastic plot and great performances, especially from Will Ferrell who proves there's more to him than just comedy. Also watched quite a few episodes of Flight of the Conchords and The Mighty Boosh, both of which I had never seen before and found very funny and weird.

Well I guess I should get on with some writing now that I'm back, need to work on some stories to post. Also I'm kinda realising how much work I've got to do over the next year for uni; I worked it out at about 50,000 words give or take. Slightly scary, but that's what I chose to do, so no one to blame but myself!

Friday, 7 August 2009

"Ten O'clock and all's well"

This will be my last post for about a week or so as I am heading off to Wales to help with the youth camp my church puts on every summer. I'm on night duty for the week, protecting the kids from a variety of nocturnal dangers. In reality all I have to do it sit in the car watching films on my laptop, as nothing bad ever happens. The worst event last year was when a fox got stuck in our camp site, and I was more worried for him than anything!

I was gonna post a review for the new Killswitch Engage album, but I've decided against it. Basically, it's a very average album, not really worth the time and effort of writing a review on. It feels very diluted, in that all the elements are there, but never becoming more than the sum of their parts. A bit of a disappointment really. Maybe it will grow on me in time, we'll see.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The Men from the Forest - part 3 of 3

Absolute terror. He is gripped, controlled. He wants to be so far away. Back in the cottage, wrapped up in his patchwork blanket, clutching his toy bear, enveloped by sweet sleep. But he is feverish, fervent, hopeless. The chasm within him is opening up, consuming him. He wants tears to rock his body, to pour out of him. The boy feels something.

She has drunk. She contorts, writhing, her naked flesh flashing like a gem in the torchlight. Death echoes in the chamber. She has filled herself, she is powerful, delirious, drunk on the fountain of his youth, his naivety, his innocence. She laughs, a rich peal of danger.

The knife is in his hand before she can break his neck, the claws enclosing. The cackle distorts into a scream as the blade violates her. Somehow he is dressed, he is tumbling down the stairs, a howl of pure rage pursuing him, snapping at his heels. He crashes through the door, across the clearing, plunges into the trees. She follows, a silken trace of scarlet falling in her wake, grasping her way through the treetops, panting, gasping, bleeding, ashamed, furious, alone.

She dives through the branches, knocking him to the ground, claws flurrying about his body, stealing more of him, ripping his clothing. Wildly he slashes. She pouches back, a streak of luminescent blood drawn on her white cheek. He stands, tall and cold. His shirt is in tatters, revealing his muscular chest, gashed. His dark hair is feral in the wind. His eyes pierce her emptiness. She is disgusted. He repulses her. Melting into the darkness, she returns to her tower, her hatred healing her skin, her pain eating her heart.

The villagers hardly recognised young Benjamin Thorn when he returned. He was so stern, so chilling, somehow taller and broader as he emerged from the Devil’s Whim on the third day. The grand old maids averted their gaze, knitting the funeral shrouds for the newly born babes.

He is a man now, they say, a shiver of discomfort running down the lace of their shawls. Benjamin grows up, he marries, becomes the father of a son, and then a daughter. He sends his son out on his fourteenth birthday, the son returns a man. He carries on living, as we all do, he builds Karletto’s first airship dock on the hills nearby, as air travel sweeps a new generation of travellers from the coast to the capital. As the village grows and becomes a town he grows old, sinks into bed, and ponders his dance with the beast in the forest, while his son stands in the dusky light, his newborn boy held in his arms, eyes piercing the night sky, watching the hills roll away, over and over, over and over.

The End

A Miscarriage of Justice

"You idiot! That goat was worth way more than a few stupid beans!"


Jack nursed the side of this throbbing head, tears welling in his eyes. This mother, a brutish woman who resembled a barrel with twigs for arms, thundered off into the ramshackle kitchen of the cottage, grasping the bag of magic lentils in her pudgy fist.

"And don't think you'll be getting any dinner tonight, you fool," she screeched, clattering pots and pans, making an unholy racket. "In fact," she continued, squeezing through the tiny frame of the doorway, "you don't even deserve to be under my roof. Get out!" Brandishing a greasy spatula she chased her son out of the front door, slamming it behind him.

Jack watched through the cracked window pane as his awful mother wolfed down a massive plate of steaming chilli con carne, a helping big enough for three people. His beans were mixed into the mess, glistening in the oily beef. The boy's stomach growled, and it took all his strength not to eat the grass under his feet. Shivering, he wrapped his ragged jacket as close as it would go against his jagged frame, and shuffled off to spend the night in the goat's shed, still stinking of its previous tenant, but warmer and drier than being outside at night.


Jack awoke with a start. A strangled cry resounded from inside the cottage. Fearing the repremand he would face if he did not hurry to the scene, Jack jumped up and ran inside. He burst into his mother's room, greeted by a terrible sight. His mother was writhing in agony, her huge belly expanding much larger than its normal size. Sweat and tears streaming off her mottled flesh as she screamed,

"Jack! What... have... you... done to me?!"

Still her stomach distended, as Jack watched in horror, unable to act. With one final blood-curdling bellow, the skin of his mother's belly split, covering the room with guts, gore and fluid. Errupting out of it, plowing through the thatched roof of the cottage and into the sky, a plant grew, green and hearty, pulsing with life. Jack stood and gaped at the destruction, until he was taken away from the scene by police officers called to the incident by the concerned and nosy neighbours.

"Look, we know you fed her the beans. We've got a statement from the dealer who sold them to you, and he's getting ten years for distributing an illegal and deadly substance." The detective glowered at the pale-faced Jack, his stocky partner leaning back in her chair, appearing uninterested. "The forensic evidence alone is enough to send you to the chair. Confess, and it will be life in prison." Jack cleared his throat nervously, knowing what would come when he spoke.

"I didn't-"

The female detective suddenly surged forward, grabbing him by the throat.

"Go on. Say it." She ground the words out of her mouth, crushing them between her teeth.

"I, I, didn't do-"

She flung him to the floor, his head colliding with the solid bricks of the wall. Both the detectives left the room, the man sneering as he went,

"We'll see what the jury thinks."

The old judge, a wasted skeletal figure, turned to the spokesman of the jury.

"Have you come to a vedict?" He croaked.

"We have," repiled the spokesman. "Against the charge of 'beanacide' (not to be confused with Ribenacide, the criminal act of murdering an individual through the use of fruit squash) we find the defendant... guilty." Jack hardly reacted, evidence some would say, of his guilt. He stepped down from the defendant's box, flanked by court security staff, and out of the room, followed by the flash of cameras and the gabble of reporters.

A strange thing happened not long after Jack's execution. It seemed that the enormous plant which had grown up out of the cottage, had disturbed a giant living high in the clouds above. Furious and raging at the insolence of the men below, the giant climbed down the plant and flattened the town, crushing men and women and animals, leaving none alive. He climbed back up to his cloud and uprooted the plant, casting it down upon the wreckage. Let this tale be a lesson to us all; only use beans for their intended purpose. Who knows what might happen otherwise?

Saturday, 1 August 2009

The Men from the Forest - part 2 of 3

Wrapped in a green cotton travelling cloak with a leather strap across the neck and carrying a tattered old knapsack containing a knife and a magic scroll, Benjamin set out into the woods. He isn’t scared, there isn’t anything to be afraid of in the trees, just small animals and shadows. His father taught him how to live in the wild and they had been camping in the forest before, on the outskirts. He takes out his scroll because the shafts of light dancing through the branches are growing dim. He reads the enchantment out aloud, the syllables slithering around his tongue like a serpent, watching as a little spark creeps off the page, floating up and growing brighter. It follows Benjamin, lighting the way. An obedient spark.

She can see him. Through the jet-ash boughs and trunks. She creeps. Watching him is making her thirst.
Soon I’ll make my move, she tells herself. An apocalypse of feeling rushes up her spine, causing her to shudder. Soundlessly she jumps to the next tree, her claws sinking into the bark.
The boy was walking, searching for a good spot to make camp, when he saw the black tower. Glimmering like an obsidian spike, it stands in a clearing of trees. Looking up he sees a window high above, near the tower’s peak. A light issues from within, its warming tendrils pulling at the boy, showing a presence inside. Benjamin strides up to the door and raps his knuckles on the ancient wood, no shame, no fear. The door slowly opens. When Benjamin thinks about it, he should have found it strange, the door opening as soon as he knocked. But he was too pure, too unassuming. Standing in the doorway is a tall woman, skin like a stone, washed by time, hair flowing like blood, thick and dark, her face too perfect, too symmetrical, beautiful but in a hideous way, a mask hiding secrets. The boy feels something, a depth within him, a cave opening, a gnawing. 
I shouldn’t be here, he thinks. She beckons him, her words cannot be heard, cannot be remembered. He follows. Her long violet cloak reaches down past the smooth stone floor. Like a ghost, he follows her up the stairs, past flickering torches in brackets high above. No shadows though. The black marble, its bone-white ripples, they take the shadows.
They are in a bedchamber, ornately furnished with plush purple cloth, a four-poster bed of regal proportions taking up the majority of the room. The boy feels uneasy, noticing that nothing in this, the highest room in the tower, seems to have any signs of the damage of age. The wood of the bedposts, the long flowing material, the stone walls, they were from the beginning of time, yet they will be there for forever. The window offers a view over the trees, a sea of green, brown and black, waves billowing over the branches. The woman slides over to the bed, busying herself at a cabinet beside it. He is looking out of the window, gazing towards Karletto, wishing he were there, sweat and fear driving him to rush away. He doesn’t jump when she touches him, turns him towards her. Like a mother, like a fiend, she removes his cloak, taking his dignity. He sees for the first time she is wearing nothing beneath her gown, a figure crafted from darkness. He hurts inside, a well of confusion, staring at that body, he will gaze as she fully removes the gown. She takes him across to the bed.

Heroes Needed!

Again, I must apologise for my lack of posting as of recent. My literary silence has been due to a combination of being extremely busy and wasting what little free time I have playing Driver and watching the extended editions of the Lord of the Rings films.

Mostly this week I have been working, which isn't really out of the ordinary, and also helping at the 'Junior Heroes' kids club at my church, which is slightly out of the ordinary. I didn't think I would really enjoy it but it was actually quite fun. I haven't done any youth work for a while so it was a bit weird to start with, but I got into it quickly.

I'm going to Uckfield tomorrow, to visit my mate Tom for his birthday. It's a long drive but worth it for his Mum's cooking.

Finished two books this week, Film Noir by Andrew Spicer, and Suffer the Children by Adam Creed. The former was very useful for my dissertation and the latter was just a very good read, which did have some noir elements so I guess it will be useful academically. That's the beauty of my course; I can watch films, play games and read books, all in the name of inspiration for my course!