Contest! (involves kitty and doggerel)

The prize for the answer is braggin’ rights. Nowt else.


My mistress bids me wait in durance stern.
With ignorance she blocks my path to joy;
Unjust delays are wrought at every turn,
My every plea set back by falsehoods coy;
Or else she seems to wilt, or then relent,
Yet in the granting, buck my earnest wish
With pale commital, watered-down assent —
A day-old tin of bleak and joyless fish.
Such cheapest chicken wafted at my face
That any cat would balk to call a meal!
There’s gravy when I wanted jellied plaice
Or tuna when I becked for curried veal!
That witch! that crone! a wight with no remorse!
I shan’t be coming back for second course!


What colour is the cat who writes this complaint, AND WHY? No marks will be given for an incorrect reason. (Hint: You don’t need any foreknowledge of my household to work this out.)

Comments will be screened for a couple of days to let everyone guess.

Posted in animals, poetry | 1 Comment

The Barking Ghost, reviewed

Another blogger has reviewed The Barking Ghost [warning: complete spoilers], a Goosebumps book that I picked up a while ago from a used book stall.

It’s the shortest and lamest member of my Black Dogs book collection. I’m currently trying to muster the energy to start The Kettle Chronicles: The Black Dog again; it’s historical fiction about the Bungay Black Shuck incident, which ought to be epically fabulous, but it’s written somewhat densely and the story is mostly about some human characters for whom I have little interest, so I only got partway through.

*skims the rest of the Wikipedia article* WAIT WHAT Shuckie is mentioned in Northern Lights? One of my favourite books of all time mentions one of my favourite historical persons of all time and I somehow have not NOTICED THIS?

Oh, since you’re here, have some Black Dogs in popular culture.

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A writerly exercise: "How could you get me so damn wrong?"

An important step in making sure you have a rounded character instead of a Mary Sue, or so I’ve read, is making sure your little puppet is not omniscient, isn’t correct about everything and is sometimes pretty failtastic at telling important information from unimportant.

Recently, in the interest of characterisation and hopefully the occasional plot idea, I’ve been mentally listing ways in which my characters are wrong about other characters. I don’t mean factual things here, but rather those impressions that you form of people for whatever trivial reason and, thanks to confirmation bias, are hard to dislodge.

Some of them are secret for the sake of spoilers (although, for the record, even Suitov thinks Weft is gay), but here are some examples.

Suitov is wrong about:

Malfina: “It’s a pity her gameplan for her life could never involve me. I gave up asking her the question; I imagine she was bored of hearing it.”

Jaina: “She is emotionally fragile and I have to protect her. She couldn’t cope with knowing about everything in which I’m involved; I’m not sure I could rely on her understanding.”

Basaltine: “He will come to regret giving up his lifespan to match mine.”

Sebastian: “The man is a ridiculous fraud playing a game of his own devising and not caring a whit for those around him. Sounds like a lot of fun, actually.”

Himself: “I am not ‘evil’. I am not cold-hearted. I feel as deeply as others do. That nickname ‘Iceheart’ is just a silly reputation on which I capitalise. I do have principles, some of which I will not break for any reason.”

(Suitov has quite a balanced personality overall, and is intelligent and well-informed, but that doesn’t protect him from sometimes being plain wrong, sucka.)

Weft is wrong about:

Sebastian: “He can do anything! Everything he says is true. In fact, I’m not worthy to hang around with the servant of a goddess. I wouldn’t be surprised if he despises me.”

Nico: “She has an irrational grudge against my organisation. Either that or our enemies have been telling her lies. She thinks I’m weak and she probably despises me.”

Jaina: “She luuuuuurves Suitov so much that she won’t listen to anything against him. They could never be happy together. I try to warn her off and she despises me.”

Himself: “I’m worthless. Anything I try to do on my own initiative will end disastrously. Everyone I ever love will die horribly and it’s my fault. I ruin everything I touch and I deserve to be despised.”

(Classic example of an attitude problem saying more about the perpetrator’s attitude to himself.)

Basaltine is wrong about:

Sylvie: “She could be my girlfriend. It could so work! We’d be awesome!”

Ferrl: “And she could be my girlfriend too. I’m her type!”

Helmine: “She so wants me!”

(Basaltine has a definite advantage in nosing out lies and motives, but hey, even a doggy character needs silly self-deception. A good-natured and hopelessly optimistic doggy personality provides that in spades.)

Posted in Profusion, worldbuilding, writing | Comments Off on A writerly exercise: "How could you get me so damn wrong?"

Mythology Engine: a data-driven site all about stories.

I’ve been eager for more news about this proof-of-concept project, now called the Mythology Engine, because I’m enchanted by the idea behind it.

The Mythology Engine is envisioned as a guide to stories on the web: a database of characters, places and, crucially (the most unusual bit) events in fiction and drama.

Now, in its complete form this would be a paradise for pedants and canon geeks, but it can be a lot more than that. The ideas is that the site would let you (points quoted from the introductory blog post):

  • Catch up on stories you’ve missed
  • Explore stories and characters and help you understand plots and relationships
  • Find the stories you are looking for and share your favourite moments or characters

That’s right. In addition to solving arguments, giving you ideas for what episodes to watch to see more of your favourite character or showing you what she meant by “This is exactly what you did last time!”, this site could be the most advanced, most thorough spoiler experience ever created. (Naturally, however, the pages are in fact very polite in hiding spoilers.)

The proof-of-concept, unsurprisingly, uses Doctor Who. Not just because it’s popular, but also because a show whose central theme is time travel ought to be an especial challenge to represent in a sensible form. See what they’ve come up with…

More about the Mythology Engine at BBC Blogs.

The bad news: as I’ve said, this is just a proof-of-concept and I don’t know that there are any plans to make a full version.

Posted in bbc, web | 2 Comments

Bedtime story

“Rigey, tell me a story!”

“What do we say when we ask for things?”


“Oh, all right then. One story.”


Heheh. You like?

Posted in Profusion, writing | 4 Comments

The best joke ever.

Absolute genius.

Posted in animals, dogs | Comments Off on The best joke ever.

Ninja Assassin

All right you guys.

Ninja Assassin is the BEST FILM EVER.

We were laughing so hard throughout. It’s wonderful, really, all cheesy plot and plentiful OTT violence and gore.

And of course it reminded me strongly of Weft‘s upbringing, except more girl ninjas* and less knitting.

*a definite improvement.

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*does the pirate dance*

Alluring Swiper realised now that attacking an entire crew of pirates had been somewhat ambitious.

Sankmarray: Clouded Hearts (section two of about five). © 2009 Herm Baskerville, all rights reserved.

In other words: Part Two is complete, yay!

Posted in pirates, Sankmarray, writing | Comments Off on *does the pirate dance*

Cat Piano

The Cat Piano, an animated noir beat poem.

This was really designed. Like KJ Parker with her special longbow, I don’t want to know if it was ever built.

Posted in animals, films, music | Comments Off on Cat Piano

Artwork post: Tim O'Brien (trains, tetrapods and unbridled horror)

I found a really nifty artist’s site: Tim O’Brien.

Tetrapods! I LOVE tetrapods.

Anyone like Beatles? Sopranos? Horses? TRAINS?

Finally, a great one this: prepare to be distoibed.

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On Them

I’m not sure if I’ve ever blogged this before. It is a thing of truth, justice, beauty and win.

On Them, by Hilaire Belloc

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Dream: The Pancake Trick

So this dream I was some fast-talking guy, American I think (possibly something to do with illness and a big Dexter box set).

I was offering to show my sidekick, another random bloke, a cool trick. This involved a dozing older fellow who was sitting with a big stack of American breakfast pancakes on his head. Using a fork, I would whip one of these from the middle of the stack, without disturbing the rest. Then I would cross out the number on the raffle ticket pinned to the older gentleman’s polo shirt and reduce it by one, repeating this with each pancake until the number matched his age.

And this was the best trick ever.

Posted in dream | 2 Comments

The continuing adventures of Dork Boy and Spaceman Sniff

Three new shortish updates since last post. I’m going for little and often so I don’t lose the momentum.

In this update:

  • The perennial disorganisation of genius!
  • Find out what Mistake considers important enough to swear on!
  • And, lots of lovely murder!
Posted in black dogs, Profusion, writing | Comments Off on The continuing adventures of Dork Boy and Spaceman Sniff

Dork Boy and Spaceman Sniff in their continuing adventures

“And don’t try telling me she’s suddenly discovered her maternal side, ’cause she hasn’t got one.”

OMG, the drama reaches lava pitch!

Posted in black dogs, Profusion, writing | Comments Off on Dork Boy and Spaceman Sniff in their continuing adventures

Are you playing Smokescreen?

Good stories with rich worldbuilding always make me happy, but it doesn’t have to be speculative fiction.

Here’s an example of online storytelling that is wonderful (and has a powerful message or three).

Smokescreen is a free-to-play online game, made by some folks called Six to Start along with Channel 4. It has a very clever plot. And, as of the latest episode, it even has a resident music video (which is part of one of the episode’s puzzles).

It’s lovingly put together with the kind of attention to detail that pours out of the Grand Theft Autos and the Oddworlds of this gaming world.

Continue reading

Posted in music, web | Comments Off on Are you playing Smokescreen?

When mage/scholars squabble…

Letters page of Life academic journal, issue 134 [PDF]

A little background material for Profusion. >:)


Posted in Profusion, worldbuilding, writing | Comments Off on When mage/scholars squabble…

You owe it to yourself to watch this fullscreen.

Cat miaow music video – surely the only one in existence that doesn’t suck.

Posted in animals, miscellany | Comments Off on You owe it to yourself to watch this fullscreen.