Monday, 30 April 2012

If you want it, take it :)

 - A to Z Survivor Badge -

If you like this, feel free to copy and paste it onto your blog. If you'd like a different colour, then please tell me in the comment section and I'll add it here for you to collect :)

Blog Break

Image courtesy of, entitled 'Rest'.
Now the A to Z Challenge is at an end/conclusion, I intend to take a wee break from blogging, maybe  for several days, just to allow my mind to calm itself and for me to focus on getting Photoshop to work once more - apologies to Cassandra, I did say I would make her a badge for being my 100th follower at the hearth, but until I get Photoshop to work again, the poor gal shall have to wait :( . 

But I haven't forgotten :) .

Here is my farewell song to the A to Z Blogger Challenge, courtesy of Portal 2's GLaDOS. So all you Portal 2 fans out there, sit back and enjoy the robotic lyrical tones of Glados :)

Zenzizenzizenzic - Final Day 26 of A - Z


HA! Have at you, A to Z Challenge ! Shove that up the proverbial and like it! You wanted Z, so here you go: the oddest word beginning with Z that I could find, Zenezizenzizenzic - although, I have a slightly sneaky feeling that Amanda of 'Drama, Dice and Damsons', might just have heard it mentioned by her genius father in his field of work (go to Amanda's blog to find out what I am referring to :) ).

Saturday, 28 April 2012


One of my favourite female singers is Robyn - more info about this Swedish dynamo can be read by clicking -> HERE <- .

I'm including two pieces of music - one of her own pieces, and another from a memorial service for the Swedish tourists killed in that awful tsunami in 2004.
In both, she sings beautifully, and especially in the memorial service, singing in her native tongue, she does it with dignity and compassion. Enough to make you weep.

*Edit: the memorial service video was taken down from YouTube due to copyright infringement issues. My apologies. But if you can find it I highly recommend giving it a listen.*

Friday, 27 April 2012

The XX - Day 24 of A - Z

The XX are an English indie pop band, formed in London in 2005. The group released their debut album, XX in August 2009. The album ranked highly on many 'Best of 2009' lists, placing number one on the list compiled by The Guardian and second for NME. In 2010, the band won the Mercury Music Prize for their debut album.

They are currently working on their second album due for release in 2012. Here is the intro track to that debut album. Some of you might find it familiar. I think it is so good I've chosen to let the music do the talking without any distracting images. I absolutely love this track, especially when driving. :)

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Guild Wars 2 - Day 23 of A - Z

   In celebration of the upcoming title of Guild Wars 2, today's post is represented by the 'W' within the game title; a highly anticipated MMORPG with no recurring monthly fees. Buy once, play forever.

A successor to the highly popular Guild Wars with was released seven years ago and celebrates its 7th birthday all this week with in-game celebrations, events and competitions, Guild Wars 2 pushes the boundaries of the MMORPG genre with redefined dynamic event systems that continually affect the ebb and flow of the game world within which your characters roam and live. Unlike previous Guild Wars, here you can elect to aid other players to overcome massive odds, turn the tide in a battle or join in massive player versus player conflicts... or just pass them by and continue with whatever it is you have planned.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Valuable - Day 22 of A - Z

What is the true meaning of the word 'valuable'? How is it applied and to what measure? Is it enough to attach it to something treasured and possessed like a family heirloom? Or would it be more effective in describing the feelings we have for someone and their company?

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Artist: Michael Kutsche

As an additional treat for the poor offering under the guise of my A to Z posting, I offer by way of a peace token an incredible young German artists by  the name of Michael Kutsche.

He now resides in Los Angeles, California. What makes this young guy so amazing is that he is self-taught, which really blows my mind when looking at his stunning art. He works in both traditional and digital media. He has worked on films such as, "Alice in Wonderland" by Tim Burton, "John Carter of Mars", directed by Andrew Stanton, and "Thor", directed by Kenneth Branagh. Impressive, I think you'll agree.

You can go to Michael Kutsche's site by clicking -> HERE <- Enjoy :)

Monday, 23 April 2012

Trailer - Day 20 of A - Z

For today's letter T I've dipped back into my favourite past time of watching CGI game trailers. Yes, I know I'm getting predictable, but this is one very fresh on the scene and seems to combine the elements of dark fantasy, a touch of Assassin's Creed, Steampunk and hints of Half-Life 2 & 3.

It's short and oh, so very sweet. I was blown away by how realistic the flesh tones, and especially the eyes of the guy in the opening sequence are. I should imagine Hollywood actors are starting to get nervous with the advances in CGI animation. Personally, I'll be only too happy if the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Tom Cruise and Owen Wilson, to name but a few, are replaced by CGI created characters - the actors I've mentioned are great at playing themselves, and to my mind bring nothing fresh or exciting to a film. Let them do the voice acting would be fine with me. But imagine how fresh films could be with CGI created actors, each with a fresh new look that 100% fits a character brief?

I hope it happens. Not for film entirely, and certainly not for television, I'm not saying sack all actors, but just stop giving the parts to the same bloody faces time and time again. Anyway, here is the trailer. Enjoy :)

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Dead Island Music

An amazing game trailer video with absolutely beautiful and emotionally charged music by Giles Lamb.

Not sure about anyone else, but I find this such a moving trailer to watch. The theme tune by Giles Lamb can be purchased on iTunes. If you are not a gamer and are a bit squeamish with regards to all things zombie related, I urge you to face your fears and watch/listen. I think you will be moved.

Ignorance is bliss

    Toothbrushes. We all have one (I hope), and we all use them at least twice a day (again, I hope).
Just recently my wife bought two new electric toothbrushes, mainly due to a BOGOF by our local Boots store (Buy One Get One Free).

These marvels of dental scrubbingness--yes, I know--now replaced our humble hand-operated toothbrushes. Except mine. Of a night (and after lunch if home), before bed I prefer to use my not-so-old hand-held toothbrush, mainly to help massage the gums whilst brushing my teeth, plus it isn't as noisy. Electric in the morning, hand-held at night. Lovely.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Musings from an astronaut bound to earth - Day 19 of A - Z

Today's post will kill two proverbial birds with one atomic missile - and that is to highlight a newly introduced blog belonging to someone from my gaming past (I shall explain in a moment), and to cover the letter S for the continuation of the A to Z Challenge. So where does the 'S' come in to this, I hear you ask? The word SPOT, or course! Tenuous at best, I'll admit, but I'm just bubbling with enthusiasm for Cassandra and her blog site, and the wonderful world that is our blogoverse in which we swim.

So, Cassandra and I met when I signed up to a guild within the World of Warcraft setting of Azeroth, within a domain (server) called, Darkmoon Faire (European). The guild in question is the Vanguard of Valor, a brilliantly run guild full of mostly mature players, which is a blessing, especially for an old fart like myself. Cassandra has the distinct honour of being one of a few veteran members of the guild, dating back to its embryonic days.

Now, just days ago, Hana, another guildie from both WoW and Guild Wars (and still current in Guild Wars within my guild), suggested putting me in touch with a former guildie from WoW who is also a writer... enter Cassandra. Having read some of Cassandra's writing, I can honestly say that I've found a new avenue of escape in her stories. Inspiring, amusing, touching and thoughtful I feel her writing is worthy of a read.

As is the point of the 'Blog Spot', I'm highlighting Cassandra's site not only because it's full of great writing, but also because it needs more people like YOU to wander over and help reel in Cassandra's site into the warm heart that is our blogoverse community. I know she will benefit greatly from interaction with you writers out there, and vice versa. So, once again, the door is flung wide open for you to show my friend (and talented writer) Cassandra, how amazing our community really is.

To teleport to her blog, please click -> HERE <- :)

Friday, 20 April 2012

Artist: Chris Rahn - Day 18 of A - Z

Artist Chris Rahn is another of my favourite fantasy/sci-fi illustrators that I discovered whilst trawling the internet for inspiration after I bought myself a Wacom Bamboo pad.

Born in San Francisco and raised in Washington State Christopher Rahn attended San Francisco Academy of Art where he earned his BFA in Illustration. Since then Chris has worked with a wide variety of clients, such as Wizards of the Coast, Discovery Channel Magazine and the Village Voice, and has had work exhibited at the New York Society of Illustrators.

His style is amazingly varied in subject and approach. I was especially drawn (no pun intended) to his fantasy illustrations, due to the fact he has done considerable work for World of Warcraft, and I being a former World of Warcraft player.

I think you will agree, Chris's work is worthy of your attention. I hope that again, you enjoy the art of display. Just click -> HERE <- to be transported to his site. Have fun :)

Thursday, 19 April 2012

One Hundred!

A big THANK YOU to everyone who has joined me at the hearth, especially my newest resident, Cassandra, for taking us to that magic 100!

I know many just drop by once in a while, and others are more regular, but it's great to have you here nonetheless. The hearth is always open, so when passing, drop in, take a seat by the fire and make yourself at home.

Thank you all, once again :)

Quasit - Day 17 of A - Z

Today we take a look at the evil Mage's lesser known side-kick: the Quasit.
Quasits are chaotic counterparts to imps. The chaotic evil priests and wizards which quasits "serve" gain the same benefits and disadvantages that an imp's master does.

Like imps, each quasit can assume two forms. Those most commonly chosen by quasits are bats, giant centipedes, frogs or wolves. They can use their magic in any of their forms.

The quasit attacks with its clawed hands (1-2 points each) and its deadly bite (1-4 points). The quasit's claws are coated in a toxin which causes anyone struck by them to save vs poison or lose 1 point of dexterity for 2-12 (2d6) rounds. The effects of multiple wounds are cumulative.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Personal Training - Day 16 of A - Z

 So, this is an A - Z challenge, correct? Yes, of course it is. So, my lovely blogites, for today I have decided to set YOU all a challenge. Granted, some of you will be of a 'meh, whatever' mindset. If so, not a problem, but you might actually enjoy this wee challenge and feel the better for it.

Doubtful that any of you will know, but I am a fully qualified personal training & fitness instructor, which I combine with my sports massage in terms of helping folks to rehab. I've worked as a sports massage therapist for over six years now, but in terms of training, I've trained, in one physical form or another, since the age of twelve.

So what I would like to present to you is a little routine I perform when 'warming up' before the main part of my session at home.  This can be done as a stand alone routine if you are pushed for time, or need a 'quick fix'. I've also included the music track I perform this set to, just as to give you an idea of the pace ;)

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Mark's Music - Day 13 of A - Z

Late again! Apologies but I fell asleep on the sofa watching recorded episodes of 'The Big Bang Theory'. Bad habit... falling asleep, that is.

Anyway, lacking inspiration for the letter M, I decided it was best that I take the easy way out and post three of my favourite pieces of music by artists whose name begins with this wonderful letter. This is by no means my definitive choice, but I still love them nonetheless. I hope you enjoy :)

Friday, 13 April 2012

Late, Lazy & Lacklustre - Day 12 of A - Z

I have to give my apologies for this poor showing in the A - Z section of 'L'.

I have but one reason, and I feel it's a justifiable one: my birthday. Today, I am two years closer to the big five-oh. And after seeing two clients at the clinic I rushed home to go to a local shopping outlet to try and purchase some training shoes - and I don't mean to fart about in, but to actually do training. Alas it was not meant to be, plus it was chilly, so I was in no mood to be mooching about a load of shops I had no interest in (yes, I'm well and truly on my way to being a grumpy old git).

So then home and change in order to go to friends of ours for a chill out, chit-chat and nosh up. After which I ended up fixing their pc *sigh*. And now here I am, with under an hour before my magical day ends and I turn into a pumpkin once more.

But by way of making up to you gorgeous, sexy, intelligent, witty, articulate and super cool blogites, here is a great tune from the film 'The Lost Boys' - apologies that it's just still images, but every clip has had the embedded option disabled :(

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Artist: Kekai Kotaki - Day 11 of A - Z

Once again, I am so very, very proud to present to you lovely folks out there in the blogoverse, an extremely talented and imaginative artist by the name of Kekai Kotai, a native son of the Big Island of Hawaii.

Attending Seattle art school, Kekai graduated and secured a job at AreaNet, makers of the Guild Wars franchise, as a texture artist. Through hard work he rose to concept artist, and has now risen, through hard work and talent, to Lead Concept Artist on Guild Wars 2. He is also focusing on a blooming illustration career.

I came across this artist after years of playing Guild Wars and following their art. Kekai has an amazing eye for detail, and combines the use of digital and traditional media to fantastic effect. His work is highly imaginative, evocative and desirable - if ever I were to become a published writer, I'd be hounding Kekai to do the cover art for my book :)

I hope you will enjoy his work as much as I have done, and still do. Not just a great fantasy artist, Kekai Kotaki is a great artist, period!

ADDITIONAL: Kekai Kotai has just opened up his tumblr site - you can get to it by clicking -> HERE <-
it's brilliant :)

~ apologies for the late post - it's been a shite day ~

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Farewell to Ceri

I had it first!

It was a bitter-sweet experience this morning, when, at 0830 hours, Emily, Ceri's guide dog trainer came to the house to pick Ceri up one last time. As I type this Emily is driving Ceri to her new, permanent home where she will begin life as a fully trained and qualified Guide Dog.

Joke - Day 10 of A to Z

Apologies in advance to anyone who has heard this one before, but it made me chuckle, and seems the least offensive joke I know of. I also invite you to post your favourite joke in the comments section. Have fun :)

A guy meets a hooker in a bar. She says, "This is your lucky night. I've got a special game for you, I'll do absolutely anything you want for $300, as long as you can say it in three words."
The guy replies, "Hey, why not?"
He pulls out his wallet from his pocket, and one at a time, lays three, one-hundred dollar bills on the bar, and says slowly, "Paint... My... House."


Now it's your turn :)

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Irrepressibles - Day 9 of A-Z

I stumbled across this musical troupe toward the last quarter of 2011, purely by accident through an email from Röyksopp, and within it was a plug for their cover of 'In This Shirt', by The Irrepressibles. You can go to The Irrepressibles website by clicking -> here <-

The first song I would like to present to you is taken from their live show at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, from their debut of the MIRROR MIRROR spectacle. One thing to be aware of, these are not just a gathering of musicians, but they are also performers in the sense of being something akin to a living, moving work of art/theatre, as you will see for yourselves. They produce a beautifully rich, deep sound and the singer, Jamie McDermott has an excellent vocal range and control over his voice, the intricacies of which can only truly be appreciated by repeated listening.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Harold Budd & Brian Eno - Day 8 of A-Z

Ok, I realise that technically I should be using the artist's surname and not his first name. But it's my blog and I'll do whatever I like, so ner-ner! :P

This is by means on an apology to those folks who read my ' G ' post and were maybe none too comfortable with it. So allow me to present to you a piece of music I often chill out/relax/meditate to. It is from the album, 'The Plateaux of Mirror' and the track is entitled: First Light.

A co-produced album by Harold Budd and Brian Eno of ambient music to sooth the soul and the mind. Not their first co-operative effort, this pairing have produced - their first being that of 'The Pavillion of Dreams'.

Allow me to suggest a visit to Last FM for more information and music by these artists ( I urge you to use that link to listen to more amazing music by these brilliant musicians).

Some of you might remember Brian Eno as the keyboard/synthesizer player from the 70s band Roxy Music

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Ghosts - Day 7 of A-Z

I thought long and hard about this letter. That fact that in graphic design circles the lower case 'G' is considered one of the most attractive letters aesthetically - Times Roman, usually. In our graphic design studio at Glamorgan University, in Pontypridd (the birthplace of Tom Jones, no less), they had a six foot poster of a lower case 'g' hanging up on the back wall. As an aside, the graphic design department has been relocated to Cardiff in a place called, The Atrium.

But I digress... please, read on.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Fuck - Day 6 of A-Z

Yes. I did it. I went there. I'm a bad man for doing so. But why? Basically, in my (dark) fantasy story 'A Matter of the Heart', I've had occasion to write a scene where characters cuss, but I was reluctant to resort to 'modern' swearing for fear of breaking the moment. I know in George R.R. Martin's, 'Game of Thrones', he throws in the whole gamut of swear words. As easy as it is on the ears to hear in the television adaptation of his story, due to its everyday commonplace usage, I'm very reluctant to go that route; for a modern day setting as in my Three Minute Friday Short Story 'Old Farm', I used the f-bomb, but it was applicable for the contemporary setting.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Eurythmics - Day 5 of A-Z

Keeping it short 'n' sweet for this post. Basically feeling guilty for boring the stuffing out of folks with my verbal diarrhoea (funny that there are several ways of spelling this loose term!?). So for today's A-Z pleasure, I've nominated to post for your listening, and viewing delight, a song from my youth by a popular duo known as 'The Eurythmics'.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Dehydration - Day 4 of A-Z

Earlier I read a post by a blog friend of mine, Matt at War Bear, and his latest post regarding a stint in hospital suffering from a bad case of dehydration.

So this got me thinking, this would make an ideal post for today's 'D' section. Working as a sports massage therapist and rehab trainer for the past six-and-a-half years you cannot help but pick up almost instantly when someone is not drinking enough fluids - and by fluids I mean water, not soft fizzy drinks, coffee or tea and definitely not alcohol.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Ceri - Day 3 of A-Z


Attentive Ceri - there must be a treat
It seems only like yesterday that we fostered a tail wagging, bum wiggling, smiling-faced hairy mass of gentleness and love in the form of a Golden Retriever named Ceri, into our home. She is a guide dog in training, coming up to her final weeks of training before being placed with a deserving soul for whom Ceri will be a Godsend.

And now we have roughly one week left with her before she leaves us permanently to go to her new owner for the rest of her working life. We've been told it is a 69 year old lady, and the two have hit it off beautifully, which is a great thing to hear, but tinged with sadness - but then I'm being a wee bit selfish, as over the last 8 weeks we have grown to love Ceri as one of our own. Our own dog, Darcy, also loves Ceri and the two are so funny to watch as they play and tease each other with toys, and play-fight.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Bleeding - Day 2 of A-Z

It was on 12th April 1994 that I underwent surgery on my right arm. The reason? My ulnar nerve would dislocate during load bearing exercises making a loud 'click/snapping' noise. It wasn't particularly comfortable but having lived with it since I could remember, I had become accustomed to it. It really started to make itself manifest upon waking, whereupon I would find my little finger and ring finger of the right hand totally numb or suffering sever pins and needles.

Sunday, 1 April 2012


Whilst going through various blogs, I had a warning regarding the following blog site: '' - my browser states it is a site known to spread malware.

So until otherwise proven safe, I urge you all to avoid this blog site like the plague.

Question now Answered - Many thanks :)

Is anyone else suffering from 'Error 503' when trying to post comments or open up other blog sites since Blogger's update?

This thing is stopping me from posting comments left, right and centre over the last several days, but I'm damned if I can find a solution to it?

*This has now been addressed, thankfully - appreciate the replies :) *

Artist: Matthew Stewart - Day 1 of A-Z

A while ago I began highlighting starter blogs on what is now known as the 'Blog Spot', and I must say, with a smile, it has proven to be quite successful in helping fledgling bloggers get into the swing of the whole blogging thing by means of increasing traffic their way and giving them that gentle nudge into the big wide world that we come to know as the blogoverse. This also ties in nicely with my start in the 'A to Z Blogging Challenge' for April.