Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year ~ New Start?

First and foremost, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone who visits my blog, be it for a one-off hit, or a semi-regular peep, a very Happy New Year for 2014 to come.

May you all have good health, happiness and peace of mind. I would normally wish folks wealth too, but I'm beginning to realise that money doesn't always make for happiness,  so I'll leave that little detail down to you :)
~

People always tend to view a new year as a time to start afresh, or even turn over a new leaf. This usually takes the form of a New Year's Resolution. But why bother? All it does is to place unnecessary pressure on yourself, and if we're honest, it's usually something we've tried before without success.

Monday, 30 December 2013

47 Ronin ~ A Short Review

Image from datapremiery.pl
Last night (Sunday 29th December), my nephew Luke, and old friend, Cat, went to see Keanu Reeves' latest film, '47 Ronin'.

Annoyingly the evening showings were only in 3D - of which, there was very little within the film itself - and I can't help but feel that cinemas and the film industry are taking advantage of cinema goers by restricting '2D' viewings to times which are not always watcher friendly, plus the evening films are much busier in terms of viewing figures. Great revenue for them, but what about us poor folks who rather not see a film in 3D and have to pay the extra money for the pleasure?

Anyway, to the film - beforehand there seems to be two camps of viewer having seen this film: those who hate it, and those who love it. No middle ground it appears?

For me, it was a little slow in the beginning, taking the slow build up that always seems to be associated with films concerning feudal Japan and the subject of the Samurai. It did lack the sweeping, glorious vistas of Japan's varied landscapes, and seemed to lack cohesion. And I think this is where the film divides its viewing audience. From the trailer you expect to be treated to an all-out fantasy, action-packed story, but no. The trailer shows all the 'best bits' in terms of fantasy-styled action - sorry.


www.digitalspy.co.uk

But if you loved 'The Last Samurai', or 'Seven Samurai' then you will most likely enjoy this film, as I did, though I was still a tad disappointed overall. As for Mr Reeves' performance, it was, I would say, a mix of his Constantine character and his Neo character from the last film in the Matrix trilogy. Not a bad performance. His fight scenes were fluid and very well choreographed, and his Matrix martial arts training has come to good use. The rest of the cast are equally good within their roles, but I would have liked to have seen the villains of the film put to more use, especially the main protagonist's 'go-to henchman'; a ripe baddie never used to their full potential. Shame.

Not a film for those who love the all-out-action-fest, but more towards the slow boil film fan.

*EDIT: After reconsidering my initial impressions and reading further 'reviews', I would have to suggest, save your money and wait for the DVD, as my good friend Jeremy has already stated below in the comments.*

What is interesting is that the film is loosely based on actual events within Japan's feudal history, where 47 masterless Samurai - referred to as 'ronin', took it upon themselves to avenge their Lord's death. Even today, people from all over the world travel to Japan to visit the graves of these 47 brave and valiant ronin.

If I had to score this film out of 10, I would have to give it a 5 - average/good, but could have been so much better.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

New Discovery - Hiatus & Shura (Today's Song)

I always like to find new artists and songs, especially by total accident; it's like walking down the street, penniless and finding a crumpled-up ten pound note in the gutter. Pure joy.

Hiatus (the male part) and Shura (the female part) are a collaboration of two music styles: he is from the electronic/trance/chill scene, whilst she is of the folk/acoustic/vocal scene. They have produced an EP, which I believe is titled after this track I'll be presenting to you for your listening pleasure ' Fortune's Fool '.

The video, in my opinion, isn't up to much, but the track is amazingly beautiful, haunting, and touches the heart and soul simultaneously. I hope you enjoy :)


Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas one and all :D

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to come. I hope 2014 brings us all something better than last year.

Peace & Love :)


Monday, 23 December 2013

Bastion - A Proper Story (Today's Song)

For those of you for whom gaming is a bit of a grey area or that 'thing' that nerdy types do, allow me to introduce you to Bastion - a game released in 2010 on both PC and XBox. A fantasy-themed, isometric platform styled game, with a hand-painted, colourful look and brilliant soundtrack, this game has its own cult fan base amongst players.

The Bastion link will take you to the Wikipedia page where you can find a wealth of information regarding this cult game. For your listening pleasure I have included a track entitled, 'A Proper Story' from the game. How to describe this music? Hmmm... cited as being along the lines of American frontier music, and that of 'acoustic frontier trip hop' - not that I know what that is, or even if it exists.

Enjoy :)


Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Today's Song

For all you cat lovers out there, here is a tune by PIXL from the EP Astrocat, entitled ' Monster Cat ' - maybe a bit too 'club mix' for some of you with more delicate ears and tastes in music, but pour moi, c'est parfaire.

Prendre plaisir, mes amis :)

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Prodigal Son Returns

Well, tonight we get our internet back - midnight UK to be precise - but writing this I am using a freebie wifi hotspot at an amazing 2.6Mb download speed ( I can almost feel the speed whipping at my hair! ).

I hope those of you who are regular visitors to my blog haven't given up on me, and I also hope you have all been well and life has been kind to you all during my time away in the nether sphere?

It's been a pretty shitty time really - the hurried and stress-loaded move, moving in with my wife's parents, then Tim, my wife's father falling ill and being hospitalised, and very sadly passing away a couple of weeks ago. I had keyhole surgery on my right shoulder the day before the funeral so was unable to help carry his coffin, for which I was truly gutted, but I wrote him a poem and had the honour to read it out in the service.

Hopefully, 2014 will be a better year all round, not just for my wife and her family, but everyone else I know who have experienced similar stresses and strains during 2013. My thoughts are with you all and I'm looking forward to returning to regular blogging and harassing you all with my video music picks and inane drivel.

Peace and love,

Mark x

Friday, 15 November 2013

Free Tavern Maps for RPG

Happy Friday, folks!

I think it's about time I gave something back to the role playing scene instead of just talking about it.

So here, for all you role playing dudes and dudettes out there, I present to you some of my old rp tavern maps. Basic and generic, they can be used in any fantasy (or any other setting if so desired) rp system.

Scale used is 2 squares = 3 feet, or if you prefer to ignore that and convert the scale to 1 square = 1 foot, then be my guest.

Now the ' official ' bit:

Should you decide to download these and use them, just please be good enough to remember me and give credit where credit is due. These are by no means meant for commercial use and I do not give permission for them to be used for commercial purposes and they remain my intellectual property and all that entails. Enjoy : )







If you like these and would like more, I have some others on my USB stick I can post up, just let me know in the comments section. If there are problems with copy and paste, again, tell me and I'll see if I can get them in a different format for you all to enjoy.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Retiring

Today is a sad day for me - I have officially 'retired' myself from Sports Massage Therapy after a working career of just over 7 years. My last email to my clients went out before I logged onto blogger, so it is all done and dusted.

I can't even begin to imagine how many massages I have performed, how many bodies I have examined and how much massage oil I have gone through over a 7+ year period? But the time I have spent as a massage therapist and rehab trainer has been very rewarding and I have met some fantastic people along the way, and more importantly, been in the privileged position to have helped the majority of them.

Part of my reason for 'retiring' is a pending shoulder operation on the 28th November, which has been an ongoing issue for me, plus this afternoon I am going for a radioisotope scan of my lower legs; namely my tibia and fibula, again, for a pending operation on both legs, which will see me on crutches for the best part of 3 months - during which time I'll be in charge of my own rehab.

But, as one chapter closes, another one opens, or so it is said. So I am looking forward to the next new chapter in my life and whatever it may bring : )

(Music video care of ' In Tua Nua ', one of my favourite Irish bands of the 80s - I am the proud owner of two of their albums.)

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Today's Song - Inspiration for Writing

Sigur Rós ~ a band discovered through a friend some time ago, but initially I ignored, though for the life of me I don't know why?

I now own three of their albums, and this particular track Ára Bátur is a wonderfully beautiful piece of music that I find immensely soothing, calming, emotional, uplifting and inspiring all at the same time. An excellent piece to listen to if you are sat trying to write a rather emotionally charged scene - it works for me every time, especially when the piece concerns love and/or loss. I can never help but weep slightly towards the mid point of this song. It just pulls me in, opens up my heart and allows me to let go, without fail.

Soppy old fart, I know. But when it comes to writing I am a firm believer in choosing whatever medium inspires you most and sets the tonality of your writing perfectly. Sigur Rós help me to achieve this wonderfully; be it a love scene or a scene where you require majesty of setting charged with emotional perspective from a character; for me, they always deliver.

I'd be interested to hear from any writers listening to this piece as to their thoughts on the matter. Enjoy.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

NaNoWriMo

I started this NaNoWriMo malarkey in all good faith, hoping the challenge would spurn me into the realms of writing once again, and it has, albeit in a rather bumpy fashion - but at least I'm starting to feel my mind and imagination undergoing the mental equivalent of a thoroughly deep and intense stretching routine.

But as for NaNo, nah, it isn't working for me; or at least their site isn't. Each day my word count has been going up, but over the past couple of days it has been reducing!? No matter what I do, the NaNo word counter refuses to show the exact number of words I've written thus far, and seems to delight in actually subtracting them!

So, fook NaNo, I'll just continue to plod on regardless and withdraw from the race. Don't you just love technology - when it works!

The very best of luck to the rest of you NaNoites out there, my your mind pumps never run dry.

And on that thought I shall leave you with a song from one of  my favourite artists, Sting and ' Desert Rose ' ~ enjoy : )

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Today's (other) Song

Sorry, but I couldn't help myself.

I dedicate this to those of you who can remember what it was like when you fell in love for the very first time and how amazingly special it felt.

This tune ' Innocente 'by Delerium does it for me. Enjoy : )

Today's Song

One of those tunes that you hear and like but find yourself wondering, 'Who is it singing that?', and vowing to look it up and add it to your collection. Well, done and dusted. Now it nestles snugly in my 'Training Beats' playlist on my iPad.

Hope you enjoy : )

A Moving Tale

Western Hognose Snake ~ Shylock
Well what a mixed bag the last four weeks have been; chaotic, stressful, exhausting, testing and tearful. I can confidently state this has been the worst move to date - I honestly do not wish to repeat this experience, nor wish it upon anyone (save my worst enemy - muh-wah-hahaha!)

The main thrust of the stress and chaos was injected by our buyers. For 10 weeks our solicitors (lawyers to our cousins across the pond) chased and chased in an attempt to determine the progress of the sale through the chain of those involved: our buyers were also selling to first-timers in Yorkshire, but everything was moving as if caked in half set tar.

Nothing was happening. No updates or information forthcoming.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Quieter Than Usual

People of the blogoverse, friends, pets and disguised aliens from another solar system, I may appear to be quieter than normal over the next few weeks (or more, depending). It's due to the fact we are now--as of today--starting the process of moving home.

Our house is now officially 'sold', and the big move into storage begins in earnest this very day (urgh)! So creature comforts, like the internet for example, will be off limits to me for a wee while. I just hope not too many of you take this opportunity to jump ship, and I look forward to getting back online as quick as is humanly possible--internet service providers not withstanding.

Until then, be safe, be happy and WRITE/POST LOTS!  :)


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Definition of Beauty

Recently I've been moving my training regime into a crossfit style with the intention that once I have my two knee surgeries out of the way I'll make the transition more fully. Until then I'm sticking to tabata, a little crossfit and my own brand of training.

But I found this on the Crossfit Channel on YouTube, so I thought it would fulfill two aspects worthy of a post:

1) Show what crossfit is and does.

2) Answers, in a different perspective, the question on the definition of beauty.

See if you agree.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Book Review

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (official website HERE)

For me, reading a book such as the one I'm about to introduce to you, is like having a conversation with a very close and dear friend; you never tire of the subject matter and when the conversation has to end, you look forward eagerly to continuing it the very next day. Such a book wraps you in its mysteries, introduces you to its characters like they are old friends, and takes you by the hand on an intimate and personal journey through each page, and ultimately at the end you are left mourning its completion as you close the cover for the final time and bid the characters farewell.

This book has been with me for over several months lying in my bedside cabinet ignored and alone. But now that has all changed. I've been reading this since Thursday 3rd October and I can't put it down.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

iPhone Frustration

Stupidly I accepted an update to my iPhone 4 yesterday. This evening finds me getting madder and madder in attempting to restore it back to iOS 6.1.3 from the bloody god awful iOS 7. The one thing I always loved and found attractive about the Apple interface were the high res icon graphics. To me they represented style and quality, as opposed to Windows' workman-like icons. But now the new update has turned everything into a flat, garish, child-like affair... urgh! It almost reminds me of what Microsoft did with Windows 8 - they dumbed it down, made it harder to work with and produced a shitty looking interface/desktop.

If anyone else reading this is in ownership of an iPhone 4 that has yet to accept the upgrade to iOS 7 - DON'T! It's still a beta and it messes with your settings, functions and battery life. Stick with iOS 6, really, you'll be doing yourself a great favour by doing so.

Firkin' Apple 'designers'... pffft!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Video Special

Found this on YouTube purely by chance and it moved me so that I just had to share. I dare you not to shed a tear or two.


Saturday, 21 September 2013

The Perfect Sentence?

Yesterday, during a quiet moment in 'work', I started reading through  'Improve your Grammar', published by Collins (yup, still trying to improve myself and my writing), and came across the following example of an opening sentence from a slightly popular piece written back in 1719, by a gentleman named Daniel Dafoe.

The story in question is entitled: The Life and Strange and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1719).


Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Lamborghini Aventador

Saw this and just had to share. Amazing skill and patience this guy has. I don't know how he did it, all that cutting and sticking. Simply incredible. A brilliant time-lapse video. Enjoy :)

Blog Question re: Comments

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Just a quickie to all my blogofs out there:

What is the best option to use when wanting to prevent Anonymous  comments? I just don't want to do something that prevents regular commentators and other bloggers replying.

Thanks for help in advance :)

Blade Runner T-shirt Arrives

Excited! Excited! I really need to grow up - but not today.
Early this morning I heard the familiar flutter of the letterbox, followed by the unfamiliar flop of something soft landing on the hallway floor. Sleepily peering over the landing banister (finished work way past 11pm last night, not home till after midnight...ugh!) I spied an off-white A4 sized plastic post bag. T-shirt, me thinks.

I am correct. My order from the USA has arrived, and it is one of my blog buddy's, namely Jeremy Hawkins, designs in honour of one of my all time favourite films, ' Blade Runner '.



Monday, 9 September 2013

Gender Writing ~ a question

Copyright  © Shiramune.deviantart.com.
All Rights Reserved.

What makes for a good male or female character in a written piece? How do you write a believable female as a male writer, or a believable male as a female writer?

In the past I have been told my female characters were not 'believable' and somewhat stereotyped. As a member of the 49% of the world's population I found that disheartening and frustrating.



Having spent nearly all my life interacting with members of the opposite sex I assumed - obviously ignorantly - that I knew how to create a believable female character, and not a Mary Sue, as has been hinted at in the past.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Silvered Veil


Copyright © Mark Kelly 2013

Oh silvered veil and pale of skin,
you are the woman within. 
You are my Mistress,
my saviour and my gaoler, 
the night your realm,
my prison and my freedom.
You curse me yet bless me,
I am more alive under your cold, pale gaze. 
You give me strength of frame and form,
and set me forth to hunt the land. 
Yet still you leave me and I am lost,
shrivelled and weak,
full of hate.
I love you,
I hate you,
I yearn to see you, 
but the thought of you chills me to the bone. 
The innocents cower in fear at my call. 
Are there none who will end my misery?



~


Copyright © Mark Kelly 2013

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Magic Abuse

adam.legendary.org
Magic. We all love the idea of it, the use of it and the visualization of it in film and the description of it in books. It can make characters in games nearly invincible, turn the tide of battles into something momentous, and the saving of a life tear jerking.

But it fails miserably. Or rather, it fails due to the abuse of it by those who employ it. Be they the characters, the games masters / dungeon masters, the film makers and the writers. Why?

Okay, let's look at J.K. Rowling's brilliant (yes, I've read them all and love them to bits, and the films equally so :P) 'Harry Potter'; here we have an alternate society, possibly even an alternate universe, where things are magically created, controlled, repaired, healed and hidden (and the list could go on a tad longer).

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Destiny Video Update

Copyright © Bungie 2013

A must see if you liked the previous video about Bungie's new and upcoming game, Destiny. This video expands on what the game entails (so far) and gives an overview of what we can expect (again, so far) inside the Destiny universe. I really do love what they are doing with this game and what they intend for its ongoing development with a 10 year game plan - no pun intended.



Today's Song Is...

Copyright © TheProdigy


One of my ultimate training go-to tunes for blasting cardio/circuit endurance sessions. Energizing and total freak-out beats, this little number does the business - as does the majority of their music.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you The Prodigy and the track, 'Omen '... just mind the furniture ;)




Saturday, 24 August 2013

Superman vs Batman

Copyright © DC Comics

Really? Seriously? Sorry, but Superman is way, way beyond the ability of Bruce Wayne.

If it were a 'who has the most money' contest, or 'who has the best gadgets' contest, then Batman would win hands down. But in a 1-on-1 confrontation, Superman wins every time.

Sorry Batman, I think you're an epic kind of superhero, but nowhere near being the equal of Superman.

How this will translate into a feature film (especially with Ben Affleck playing the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman) that works, I'm really not sure?

If anyone has other thoughts or disagrees, then I'd love to hear why :)

Friday, 23 August 2013

The Book Thief... from words to film

Copyright © MarkusZusak

The Book Thief is an amazingly written novel, released in 2005, by Australian author, Markus Zusak. I've read this book almost a year ago now, and it is still fresh in my mind, which says a lot for this author's powerful command of the written word and how he weaves it into this brilliant tale of a little orphaned girl, death and her love of books, all set against the backdrop of Germany during the throes of the second world war.

An award winning author, Markus Zusak's first novel, ' The Underdog ' was published in 1999 and since then Mr Z has gone from strength-to-strength. But undoubtedly, ' The Book Thief ' has been his most successful book to date.

This wonderful story has now been turned into a film, and the casting looks to be spot on, with the excellent Geoffery Rush as the adoptive father of the main character, Liesel. So, without giving away too much and spoiling things for you, here is the official trailer for your viewing pleasure. If you have not read the book, then I strongly urge you to do so before thinking about seeing the film on release. You really won't be disappointed, this I can promise.


Today's Song Is...

en.wikipedia.org
Adiemus by Karl Jenkins - a fellow Welshman I'm proud to say :) and performed by lead vocalist, Miriam Stockley.

I first stumbled across this wonderful music when at university at Pontypridd. At the university leisure centre were numerous courses, one of which was yoga. I couldn't believe my luck and joined up, only to find I was one of two men in the class.

It was great! After nearly a year of yoga, I signed up to attend a yoga retreat in Cornwall. It was absolutely amazing. The retreat itself was, by all accounts, an extremely spiritual place and was the haunt of several ghosts. In the garden itself was an archeological dig site which had uncovered a small underground shrine and pagan place of worship - apparently not-so-nice rituals had taken place there. The site was subject of a prime time UK archeological program, so all the research had been very in-depth and detailed. To be honest, to stand in there for any length of time made you feel very uneasy and disinclined to stay longer than you wanted to.

In the yoga sessions we focused on inner meditation and breathing exercise incorporating posture and stances. It was the meditation that really hooked me; so-much-so I was extremely fortunate to experience what many would refer to as an 'out of body projection'. So amazing, yet so painfully brief :(

Adiemus was one of our meditation tracks, and the instant I heard it I was in love with the sound. I still have the CD today, over 10 years after buying it. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I still do.


Thursday, 22 August 2013

Today's Song Is...

Copyright © SteamPoweredGiraffe

Now, love it or hate it, either way you can blame Jeremy over at Being Retro, as he posted this tune some time ago, and since listening to it, I can't get the damn thing out of my head - plus I think it's far better than  the original (only my humble opinion ~ dons flame-proof suit ready for the flaming  :P ), though I like that too - the original, not flaming.

I now have this cover version on my iPad and is part of my training music compilation having purchased it from iTunes.

What is it? It is a cover of Rhiana's 'Diamonds', by none other than Steam Powered Giraffe - by clicking on the link you will be taken to their official website, where you can find out all about them. So, without further ado, here is their version of 'Diamonds' ~ thanks Jeremy :)



Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Destiny... Your end is coming

Copyright © Bungie 2013
This is for all you gamers and sci-fi lovers to 'get your geek on'. Destiny is being produced by the creators of Halo, and will, initially, be aimed at console gamers (*boo! hiss!*), and talks are going on about releasing it for the pc at a later date (*hooray!*).

When I first read about this my initial reaction was one of, ' Yes! Finally a game I can devote time to! ', and then watching the production videos just confirmed my initial joy - only to be downed by the console game only bit, but I can live with it... for now - the setting, the animation, the entire concept AND the fact they state the game itself will create unscripted situations/events just blew me away.

Copyright © Bungie 2013

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Today's Song Is...

Copyright © Kasabian 2004


Kasabian's ' Club Foot ' from their album 'Kasabian'. Why choose this particular song? It's a brilliant energizing tune to train to... or just jump about and be a little crazy - enjoy :)






Monday, 19 August 2013

Blade Runner, the game

blog.screenweek.it
A little while ago a blog friend of mine, Jeremy of 'Being Retro', posted about the film, 'Blade Runner' - which just so happens to be one of my all time favourite films to date.

In a comment I posted on Jeremy's site I mentioned the Blade Runner game from 1997, produced by Westwood Studios and published by Virgin Interactive Entertainment. Not sure how well it sold, but I love it, and it retains much of the mystique and atmosphere of the original film. So in order to share the experience, here is a clip from said game for all you Blade Runner fans and gamers reading this.

And apologies for the poor quality, but back in 1997 video graphics weren't as high in resolution as they are now.

Today's Song Is...

For today I have chosen this offering from Mike Falzone, someone I stumbled across on YouTube. I particularly like this tune for its satire/humour regarding internet-based relationships and the 'Advice from Batman' at the end (reminds me of Nicholas Cage, so funny) is priceless - enjoy :)

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Happy, happy!

Today I started my first day in a full-time job, after chasing so, so many with nothing to show for my efforts but frustration, rejection and disappointment.

Granted, it's not my 'career path' or ideal job, but it's a steady monthly wage and a boost to my self respect as a human being. Maybe now my mind can relax and once again return to being creative enough to begin writing, sketching and every other pleasurable past time I've shut down due to feelings of guilt, stress and worry.

Happy days folks - another plus we've sold our house!
It would seem things are beginning to pull together. Tomorrow I go to see a knee surgeon about the two tears in my right meniscus and set a date for surgery.

A poem ~ 'Here I am'

Copyright © 2008 - 2013 Mark Kelly
For those of a curious nature, the image is a screen shot from my old gaming days in Blizzard's online MMO, 'World of Warcraft '. Fun times and some really great memories. Friends now lost and forgotten.


Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Advice for New DMs ~ A Blog Post Revisited

Copyright © Mark Kelly 2013

Today, I have decided to revisit one of my earlier posts from my blog's early inception.

The topic is entitled, 'Advice for aspiring Game Masters / Dungeon Masters '. Like the majority of my early postings it received very few, if any, comments - mainly due to the fact I had virtually zero followers.



It is dated 6th April 2011 and falls under the tag of 'Advice for New DMs' (just in case anyone feels inclined to read any more of them).

I will admit, it is somewhat anecdotal with the aim of sharing and adding a touch of humour, combined with advice aimed at helping those fresh-faced and 100% green to the challenge of being a GM / DM for the first time, and hopefully not the last.

So, if curious, then please click on the link below to read the original post:

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

A Problem with Comments - A Trend?

Copyright © 2013 Mark Kelly
I thought I'd do a short posting about something I've found to be both frustrating and irritating at the same time: commenting on other bloggers' posts.

It's becoming a real pain in the arse! Why?

Namely Google+ and Disqus, and there are probably other formats too I've yet to encounter. If you are not joined to these sites and have an account, then when it comes to posting a comment it asks you to sign in.

Grrrr! I don't want either, nor any other, thank you.

Asides from that, I notice that blogs with these in place have very few, if any, comments. This makes me feel sad for the blogger concerned; not knowing if anyone is reading or even bothered with their blog. I could be very wrong. But not having the option to post via some other system is, to my mind, reducing comments and turning away readers who do actually enjoy posting feedback/comments, but whom do not wish to sign up to either Google+ or Disqus. I am of the latter.

Any thoughts on these methods of blogging? Do you use either, or both, or any other avenue? If so, what have you found to be beneficial in doing so, and have you noticed a decline in the number of comments on your blog posts since converting over?

Appreciate your input (if any) and thank you for stopping by :)

Friday, 9 August 2013

Genres: Fantasy vs Sci-Fi


In one of my earlier opening posts when I started this blog just over 2 years ago, I spoke about my first love: science fiction - anything and everything sci-fi I loved and fed upon as a kid. My two main loves were Dr. Who (the Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker era) and the original Star Trek.

Initial encounters with fantasy were met with a lack lustre 'meh' and then it was back to space ships, aliens and laser guns. I was a full-blown kiddy space cadet - hell, I even recall having Start Trek pyjamas, resplendent in Kirk, Spock and McCoy et al.

And now, decades down the proverbial path my shift is firmly fantasy; everything from animation, literature, gaming to art (and everything else inbetween). Please, don't misunderstand me, I still love sci-fi.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Artist: Tyler Jacobson

This particular gentleman is a great D&D illustrator, bringing the classic character classes to life and bringing a gritty, yet vibrant look to the fantasy world in which we gamers of rpgs love to frequent.
I would go so far as to compare him amongst the likes of the great Larry Elmore

Mr Tyler Jacobson is worthy of a visit if fantasy digital/traditional art is your thing, or if it's just the digital aspect you love. You will not be disappointed. So click on >HERE< to trundle over to Tyler's site. Enjoy :)

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Double the Fun: Big Bang and D&D

When I saw this episode on tv the other evening it had me in fits of laughter on several levels. Not only is it one of my favourite American comedy shows, 'The Big Bang Theory', but has the cast sitting down to an evening's Dungeons & Dragons session, GM'd (Game Mastered) by Howard Wolowitz a.k.a. actor Simon Helberg.

During the session, Wolowitz provides voices for various NPCs that the players encounter, and the clip below is just that. Actor Simon Helberg shows an amazing talent for voice impersonation as well as being funny to boot. So, for all you D&D and Big Bang fans, sit back and enjoy the moment :)

Monday, 5 August 2013

Keanu is Back... So Am I :)

Still coping with the dregs of the after effects of  my lumbar puncture but at least able to look at the pc screen without feeling my eyes are about to explode, I discover this beauty waiting for me; the latest film offering starring Keanu Reeves - 47 Ronin, due out in December 2013.

Basically, it's Japanese sword 'n' sorcery at its best, just the way I like it (outside of Anime & Manga).

So, for your viewing pleasure, and curiosity, I present to you the official '47 Ronin' trailer. I hope you enjoy :)


Saturday, 27 July 2013

Good Day Gone Bad

Due to an unexpected and unplanned stay in hospital for 3 days beginning Wednesday (24th) evening, I'm now home having undergone emergency CT scan and a lumbar puncture, with a further MRI scheduled soon. As a result it is about all I can do presently to post this to you lovely people - my eyes are less tolerant of the screen.

I will be back as soon as things settle down. I see I've lost two 'followers'? Oh well, shit happens. Until the next time, take care peeps ;)

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

300 Returns

Oh my, I never even knew a sequel was in the offering?! Loved '300' so much I added it to my own DVD collection. I hope this lives up to the first film's brilliant style and cinematography. Judge for yourself :)


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The Dream Speaker Set Up for the Audiophile

After my last posts regarding the environment and general tone of 'doom and gloom' (no, I'm not trivialising) I've decided to look at something completely different in terms of geek tech, namely the high, high end (and possibly higher?) of audio excellence in speaker performance and technology.

The first set are Avantgarde NANO Horn Speaker System and weigh in at an astounding $16,500 a pair, but watch the video and listen to the sound they produce, beautifully crisp and clear, not to mention loud. Imagine these trumpets linked to your home cinema surround sound system.

The track playing is by a gentleman named Tatsuro Yamashita, and I've tried to find this particular tune on iTunes, Amazon, etc, but to no avail - sorry :(

The second speaker set are the beasts you can see in the background of the first video, which are the RM-7V. The entire set up is monstrous, both in physical terms and its price tag of $121,695 for the complete set up delivered to your door. All you need do then is buy the house to fit the speakers. But these are absolutely stunning in their sound. I hope all you geeky audiophiles are enjoying these snippets as much as I did upon discovering them.
Both videos were filmed in the Rey Audio store premises in Japan - sorry, but no reliable links for this.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Trash Islands in the Pacific Ocean

As a follow up to the previous posting on the fate of the albatross of Midway islands, here is a video taken from the 'TED: Ideas worth spreading' site, which you can go to by clicking >HERE<. I highly recommend visiting this site as it is packed with a wealth of ideas, discussions and topics, something for everyone.

Below is a presentation by Captain Charles Moore on the 'sea of plastic'. It is a shocking realisation of how we continue to slowly destroy our oceans, the life within it and possibly, even ourselves. I urge anyone with a conscience and interest in our environment to watch this, then spread the word. Out of sight, out of mind - this no longer should be the way of thinking.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Terrible and Sad Plight of Midway

My good friend Claudia Del Balso of Inspiring and Helping New Writers sent me a link today regarding a film by Chris Jordan that highlights the plight of the Laysan albatross. I won't say any more and let you watch for yourselves to draw your own conclusions, thoughts and feelings.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

LP Covers of Old

Image: theblogismine.com


This evening, whilst training in my garage, my CD compilation played Paul McCartney & Wings' 'Band on the Run' and it got me thinking of the album cover, which in turn caused me to think about other LP covers my brother had in his LP collection that I used to gawp at as a kid and marvel.






Monday, 15 July 2013

More Changes

Due to a long, hard think and consideration I have decided to remove all my works of fiction and poetry from my blog, and will not be posting any future works of fiction or poetry - of any great length, at least.

The reasons are of a personal, creative and copyright driven nature. I apologise, but hope for those of you whom enjoyed my writing will understand. Thank you.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Inspirational Video ~ C. T. Fletcher - ADVISORY: Contains Profanity

There are some amazingly inspirational videos on YouTube now, and this is one for all the gym goers amongst you. It is a gentleman by the name of C. T. Fletcher, a body builder and former power lifter. His approach to training is a no-nonsense, profanity-littered journey through hell.

Initially, I thought this guy was full of it, but after watching his entire series of videos I now realise much of what he says makes sense. He is driven, determined, dedicated and direct. How I'd love a month training along side him at his gym.

Monday, 8 July 2013

New Skin, New Title

I finally managed to get round to giving my blog a bit of a makeover. Exactly how it will be received I can only tell by any comments left. So, do please let me know what you think - yes, I know it's typically neutral and boring with it being primarily beige and browns, but I'm opting for something not too dark, yet not too light.

I did try the sliding tiles/mosaic/magazine look. As much as I really, really like the layout, it just doesn't sit well with my blog and how I post on it. Shame that.

Fiddling with these things normally takes several days, so there might still be one or two alterations yet to come. But anyway, plonk a comment on what you think; good, bad or indifferent - it all helps.

I thank you in advance for any input.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Five Emotive Tunes

Music can deliver an eclectic range of feelings, emotions and memories for the listener. It has been with us since time began, and has the capacity to endure beyond most things we, as humans, like, cherish and love.

I present to you, five of my (but not my ultimate) favourite tracks and the reason/s why.

StumbleUpon

Image from: searchengineland.com
My writerly friend and very talented author and poet, Deborah Walker (who, by the way, has had a revamp of her blog and it looks fantastic - I seriously urge any writers and poets to nip over and have a gander!), kindly directed me to this great site: StumbleUpon. If I had to describe it I would liken it to a web site version of Pinterest.

On this site you will, at first, find it a bit confusing, but once into the swing of what the site is about, what it does and how it works you will find a wealth of brilliant sites at your finger tips. The site enables you to create profiles of sites you deem most interesting. You can either tag them as a favourite or create a profile to store them in for yourself in order to save having to search for them.

Basically, you have some of the best websites at your finger tips all under one virtual roof. A great source of reference material, music sites, photography, astronomy, household tips, you name it, it's there. You can even add your own website/blog into the mix if you so desire.

Once again, a big thanks to Deborah for sharing this with me, and now I'm sharing it with you. Hope you enjoy :)

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Art Spot - Mihai Radu

Today, for your viewing pleasure, it gives me great pleasure in presenting to you the work of a very talented artist: Mihai Radu, a young gentleman hailing from Bragadiru, Romania.

I stumbled across his blog back in the early part of 2012 and was so taken by his work that I added him to my growing list of digital/concept artists. His work covers traditional and digital formats, and I particularly like his freehand work, especially the figure drawings. Mihai can also be found on Twitter, FaceBook and DeviantArt - the latter being a great source of artistic works from all round the world.

To view Mihai's excellent works, click on his site name here -> e n i x t m - go visit, look and enjoy, and if you like what you see there then leave Mihai some comments (we all love comments :) ).

Saturday, 15 June 2013

The Usual Suspects... A GWs2 Guild Member Line Up

Copyright © ArenaNet 
Although all the players from my Guild Wars 2 guild have now left the game, either from overkill game time, boredom, disillusionment or real life taking centre stage, I thought I'd share with you the player character portraits I did for our guild when it was at its busiest.

The screen shots have been doctored in Photoshop to give the images a sense of portrait rather than screenshot, so forgive the odd lack of clarity - also are missing several guildies whom I didn't get round to taking screen shots of, as they had decided to quit the game beforehand.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Elder Scrolls Online is coming...

Copyright © 2013 Bethseda.
All Rights Reserved.
Can't but help feel a rush of excitement when I see these video updates as to the progress of what (I so very dearly hope) promises to be the new king on the MMORPG scene: The Elder Scrolls Online. Even better, we now have a release date/season of Spring 2014.

After the major disappointment that was Guild Wars 2, so many MMO players were left disillusioned and feeling somewhat betrayed, myself included. So the nerd/geek inside me is clapping with glee at how this 'old world' is being given a new lease of life in proper massive multiplayer online format. The only fly in the ointment is the prospect that it will be a monthly fee driven game *sigh*.

So watch the video below to see what the fuss is about - and you never know, we might end up bumping into each other in the world of Tamriel. How? Because those wonderful people at Bethseda have opted for the 'one world server', so no matter where you are playing from in the real world, you can hook up with your buddies - no more individual servers for US, Europe and Asia. Nice one :)


Art Spot Re-visited

Some blogs are just worthy of a re-visit, and the Cake Mix is a fine example.
I first introduced this blog to you all in last year's A-Z, in fact it was the day before my birthday, 12th April 2012.

So, without further fuss and pomp, I re-introduce to you and the blogoverse, Kekai Kotaki's: Cake Mix - a fantastic showcase of all his digital and traditional artwork and concept designs for the gaming industry. You will be blown away. Enjoy :)

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The Art of the Character Sheet

Copyright ©  2013 Mark Kelly
With over 20 years of running role playing games under my proverbial belt the character sheet has seen many forms and incarnations during my campaign and scenarios, but one thing remained constant - character sheet art/graffitti (the above image being a prime example, though I have coloured it in Photoshop, it was scanned from a tatty equipment sheet from a long-since dead character of mine).

So, in the spirit of nostalgia, and the guilty feeling of neglecting the true essence of my blog's origins, I've ventured into the attic and crawled through curtains of silken web, choked on clouds of dust and suffered impaling of many splinters to rummage through numerous boxes for old character sheets of yore.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Music While You Work

Original image created by
Mark Kelly © 2013 All Rights Reserved

All good things should be shared, and the site I'm about to share with you is no exception. I discovered it via my iPad in the app section. It's basically a streaming site for online DJs to strut their stuff and you can also do 'live requests' via the chat window.

There are two channels: ambient and beats - needless to say, I'm always on the ambient channel, especially good when writing.

So, without further ado, here is the link to the site concerned, so click on the name and add it to your browser bookmarks: it's called RePlayScape.com - I hope you enjoy :)

Friday, 7 June 2013

Zombie Plant Life

Copyright © 2013 Mark Kelly

Couldn't resist doing this when I saw it in our garden this morning. Gave me a giggle :)


Thursday, 6 June 2013

Reconstruction and a Face-Lift

I have mentioned this once previously, but left it alone due to the uncertainty within my mind (and heart). But now I feel the time is right and my blog needs a complete 'make-over'.

What I'd like to do is throw this out to the blogoverse and pick your erudite brains on the matter; should I go white? Keep it dark, but not as dark as it is now? Change the whole blog theme for something less 'fantasy'? Different layout scheme? Rename maybe? Arrgghh! I promise, I'm not like this about much else, I... just... don't... know?

I'm at a loss as to what would be best - so I asking you guys 'n' gals... HELP! Any and all suggestions/ideas are gratefully received :)

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Training Day

Copyright © 2003 Randy Glasbergen
www.glasbergen.com
This afternoon I decided to mix it up a bit, with regards to my 'training'. Why the italics? Well mainly because I'm limited to what I can do functionally due to the fact I have two tears of the right meniscus and a rotator cuff issue - my knee is awaiting a surgery date, and the shoulder is awaiting a scan date before surgery. So the old routines  are off the menu.

But today is gloriously sunny, everyone is out - including the neighbours - so I thought, what the hell, and plonked 'The Very Best of Euphoric Dance BREAKDOWN ' on the ancient boom-box I have, and cracked on with a heart-pumping session.


Thursday, 25 April 2013

Post Op

Well, here she is 36 hours post op. The ear is dirty looking, but that's due to dried blood, but we're not going  to fuss just yet in order for any swelling and tenderness to reduce.

Due to the nature of the ear and the location of the sites stitching was not an option. As you can see by the photo, things look raw, but rather looking raw for 10 - 14 days than a complete amputation of the ear structure. Until this I never knew the little out flap of a dog's ear was called 'Harry's Purse'? How bizarre.


But today Darcy is brighter and not fussing with her ear, and as the photo below shows, she can still turn on the cutsie charm :)


Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Another Operation

Darcy sporting bling in the
form of Troll Beads - just for 
fun. Copyright © 2013 Mark Kelly.
Being an owner of a pet is a wonderful thing, especially when the pet concerned reciprocates love and affection and is like one of the family. But then there are hard decisions that have to be made which are upsetting for owner and pet alike, especially when it involves the pet's health, and potential quality of life.

So it goes with our lovely girl, Darcy. Two more potential mast cell growths have been discovered inside her left ear, and a possible third on her gum lining between two back teeth.

Yesterday we discussed with the vet the best way to deal with these issues. The least and simplest would be to aspirate a sample from each lump with a fine needle. But, as the vet pointed out, these have been known to be inaccurate and to lead to a false diagnosis. The downfall to this approach is that should the samples prove 'positive', then poor Darcy would have to return again for further surgery, and of course, stress.

The other option is to excise the areas, send off the removed parts for screening and wait, which means the areas cannot be stitched and will be left as open wounds to heal. Basically the dog's ear is like a skin sandwich with a layer of cartilage between the skin layers, so we will be able to see this layer of cartilage.

This is the option we have chosen for Darcy. Our only concern is that should the two removed pieces show to be cancerous, then the vet has said the total removal of Darcy's ear (or pinna, as the floppy part of a dog's ear is anatomically termed) is then likely. My wife has just come off the phone to me, upset and crying, as Darcy is really her baby, and I have to be calm and positive for all of us, even when my wife is describing to me how Darcy wouldn't stop trembling at the vets and trying to pull towards the exit.

I can't help but have a little weep for our little Darcy, but I'm alone, so it's ok.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Bye Bye Google+


Couldn't fathom it out, couldn't stand it and found all the spam bots and junk overbearingly infuriating.

So I no longer have a Google+ account - sorry peeps if you were in my Circles - and dragged my blog back from the void.

Don't do it, leave Google+ alone, don't bother with anything Google+ related.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Transferring to Google+

O2varvara.wordpress.com

Well, I did it. I made that slightly edgy and precarious transition over to Google+ with the DM's Screen.

And you know what? I'm still confused? I've looked on my Google+ account and see no signs of my blog anywhere, but it has changed my blog profile info, so something must have happened? If only I knew what?

I just hope this hasn't screwed anything up, blog-wise. Oh well, I suppose I'll find out soon enough... I think?

Saturday, 13 April 2013

My New Love...

Now this is a car that I have fallen in love with. Saw this ad for the first time last night whilst at the cinema waiting for 'Oblivion' to start - which is, by the way, an average kind of sci-fi flick. Sorry to disappoint - and for the duration of the ad I just could not stop grinning from ear-to-ear.

Turn up the volume and enjoy. THEN play it again, but second time round, close your eyes - it's scary, but in a good way ;)



That engine growl and the exhaust note - I'm definitely in love!
YAY! I think I've found my midlife crisis! 
:)

Friday, 12 April 2013

Chill Time

Copyright © www.bandwidthblog.com
I love YouTube, really I do, possibly more than is reasonably healthy for one supposedly 'mature and sane'. Saying that, it does deliver some lovely trips down that early evening sun-kissed tree-lined place known as 'Memory Lane'.

I have to admit, there are times I find myself strolling through its dappled sunlight, revisiting friends and loved ones gone and no longer with me. At times it's comforting, and other times it's melancholy, and then there are the times of pure face-splitting-grinning (can I say that?) nostalgia.

So here, for your listening, and possibly viewing pleasure, are three tunes that help me chill out and send my brain spinning into alpha wave mode. I hope you enjoy :)

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Blog Spring Clean


Copyright © Games Workshop.
Today I spent the good part of three hours going through my list of blogs that I originally started following.

To my surprise several had decided to shift their blogs to an 'invite only' readership, thus locking me out. Fair play - they were the first to be deleted. I then turned my attention to those blogs that hadn't posted for a year, and from there it was a simple process of working backwards. Some had even been removed by their creators, which made my job easier.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Question time: Google+ - Share or not to share?

Been looking Google+'s option for sharing/connecting your blog posts directly into your Circles account.

What I'd like to know is:

1) Have any of you done this?
    1a) If so, how successful has it been?

2) How much traffic has it generated for your blog, if any?

3) Are there any negative aspects to doing this?

Thanks in advance for any and all replies :)

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Oh...

Darcy trying to be 'gangsta'.
Copyright © 2013 Mark Kelly.
On looking over my posts and going back to the very beginning, it would appear I've missed my blog's birthday in March - it is now 2 years old. Hmmm, does this mean I'm a bad blogfather for missing it? Bugger.  I suppose I'll have to get something on the go to make up for it, plus this month is going to see me turning 49... where has all the time gone?


Sometimes I do envy those of my friends for whom life has been a clear and direct path to their future and any, and all, success it brings them. Unfortunately I've been like a rubber ball, bouncing my way through life going from one job to the next, then out of work, then back into work and on, and on it has gone.