Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Summer Evenings and Hypocrisy.

 Odd title, you may be thinking, but I'll keep this short as I want to post an 80s summer song for you from a band I loved back in those glorious days of summer when I was a mere sapling of seventeen years.

Hypocrisy: the UK's Prime Minister, Boris Johnson dishing out a 'free pass' to all his V.I.P. chums from abroad to fly in with no swabbing, no quarantine, no being locked up in a hotel, jabs not needed nor masks or social distancing. Just so they can have a great, old time attending the UEFA football, Wimbledon Tennis Championships (which apparently is being palmed off as an 'experiment') and even Ascot Horse Races. All very jolly with lots of hugs and kissing.

Then there is the exception granted to 'business elites' being allowed foreign travel without penalty, the reasoning being that they bring economical benefits into the country. All this whilst the rest of the UK has to endure bans on singing or dancing at weddings, no hymns at funerals with limited numbers attending, and the usual 'lockdown restrictions' and mandatory mask wearing, not to mention the travel restrictions applied to going on holiday abroad and being locked up in an isolation hotel, for which you must pay around £1400+ for the privilege.


Summer Evenings: I remember being bought 'Ghost in the Machine' by The Police somewhere around 1982, by my then girlfriend. It was a wonderful surprise. I have a fond memory of a lazy summer's day spent at Southerndown beach, my old Ford Capri parked on the grassy hill used as a car park, and my squad mates from the City of Cardiff Swimming Club, Alun and Phil, along with a handful of others, generally enjoying the sea and sunshine, and listening to the Radio One Road Show - back when Radio One used to be worthy of a listen.
Then after returning home, that sun-baked feeling you get over your skin, when you know you caught the sun, but you're not quite at the crispy, burnt stage. And to top it off, crashing out on your bed, windows wide open, cool cotton sheets and a soft breeze.

Yup. Quite a contrast, huh.

So I leave you with 'Every Breath You Take', by The Police from their album, 'Ghost in the Machine'.

Enjoy. Until next time.



Monday, 28 June 2021

Electric Cars and Green Power. I Think Not.

Copyright ©.2021 CIO.com

There is a problem brewing. And it's a green one. Namely electric cars, bicycles, and scooters. I don't include electric motorcycles as all but one manufacturer has ceased making them - because no one wants them, namely sensible bikers.

It would seem that the Tesla and other electric car manufacturers are hitting the right note with the trendies with cash to burn. Apparently, the average electric car in the UK today costs £44,000. Though prices do range from the cheapest at £17,350 for something called a 'SmartEQ fortwo coupe', to an eye-watering £138,826 for a Porsche Taycan Turbo S.

Copyright  ©. 2021 YouTube.

I think back to when mobile phones first released, and basically looked like military field phones, but yet the trendies just had to have one and strut about with it. Same with the Sinclair C5 - where did they go, I wonder? Same with the electric car, scooter and bicycle, the 'trendies' had to be the first.

But for those too young to even know what the first mobile phone looked like, here is a picture of one below. And 'No', it's not from 'Call of Duty'.


My concern regarding electric vehicles is the production of this green electricity. Renewable? It's another smoke and mirrors con job. What do you think powers the stations producing this electricity? Fossil fuels. But there are some run by an energy source I found both unbelievable and outraging. To find out what it is, watch the video posted at the end.

As for solar power, forget it. Here in the UK, if we take London as an example, on average has 1460 sun hours per year out of a potential 4383 hours per year, with an average of 3.59 sunlight hours per day.

Then there is wind energy; this can have adverse environmental impacts, including the potential to reduce, fragment or degrade habitat for wildlife, fish, and plants. Furthermore, spinning turbine blades pose a threat to flying wildlife like birds and bats, plus noise pollution from their spinning.
But possibly one of the least known problems of wind turbine are the blades. They are unrecyclable, so get buried in massive 'turbine blade graveyards', a.k.a. landfills. See below.


Throughout Europe there will be around 3,800 blades coming down annually through 2022. The problem is only going to get worse and has become an issue of great concern. Whilst 99% of a turbine's parts can be recycled, the majority of turbine blades are a challenge. So much so, that they end up getting buried in huge landfills.
But there is something else I wanted to share, and this comes in the form of a video, so I'll stop here and let you watch and decide for yourselves regarding my opening remarks on electric vehicles and the creation of all this wonderful 'green' electricity.

          

Sunday, 27 June 2021

Rurouni Kenshin ~ More than you Imagine.


I first discovered Rurouni Kenshin on Amazon Prime's film listing at a time when it was free to view. Noting it was (at the time) a trilogy, and being a lover of Asian subtitled films in general, I gave it a go. It did not disappoint. I was immersed in the visual quality, and thrilled by the amazing fight sequences and choreography. In short, I thought it was brilliant.

Since then I have acquired the trilogy on DVD, and consequently done a little more digging into the history that is Rurouni Kenshin, and this is what I discovered:

Originally written and illustrated by Nobuhiro Watsuki, the first chapter of which premiered in the 19th issue of Weekly Shōnen Jump on April 25, 1994, and serialised in the magazine until its 43rd issue on September 21st, 1999. Kenshin was created as a former assassin and the story, for its time, took a more serious tone as it progressed. The manga revolves around the themes of atonement, peace and romance.

The complete work consists of twenty-eight tankōbon volumes, though years later it was reprinted into twenty-two kanzenban volumes. Several Japanese studios adapted the manga into an anime television series which aired in Japan from 1996 to 1998 - but to discover the complete history of Rurouni Kenshin, click on this LINK to the wikipedia page.

As of December 2019, the manga had over 72 million copies in circulation, including digital releases.

There is no denying that Rurouni Kenshin has become a popular favourite and as such has been produced as an anime series, an anime film, a 4 episode Original Video Animation in 1999, followed by two 2 episode OVAs in 2001 and 2002, then in 2011 and 2012.
There have also been stage shows, soundtracks, art & guidebooks, light novels and video games.

But possibly the biggest attention grab has been from the live-action films, now totalling five (since I originally bought the first three), which can be seen currently - at time of writing this post - on Netflix.
The films in chronological viewing order are as follows:

1) Rurouni Kenshin (film).

2) Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno.

3) Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends.

4) Rurouni Kenshin: The Final.

5) Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning.

If you have yet to watch this great series of films, I urge you to do so. But for now, I'll leave you with the first official trailer. I was considering leaving the last film trailer as a bonus, but thought it might be filled with too many spoilers.  Enjoy.

Until next time.



Saturday, 26 June 2021

To Be, or Not To Be, That is a DM.

Copyright to Image Creators - Source Unknown.


During one lunch time break at work I sat with two colleagues, both friends and members of our newly formed RPG group, one of whom has been bitten by the RPG bug and is already eager to learn the ways of becoming a DM. His weapon of choice? Dungeons & Dragons.

Recalling my first tentative steps on that beckoning wilderness path of adventure that was my first rule book, my mind was both excited and confused at the same time. More questions pulled themselves out of the muddy ground of my mind like restless undead in a hill top burial ground. I will admit, the core rules of my early years were far less number driven in complexity, and upon reflection, were very straightforward by comparison. Today, however, it seems number crunching is order of the day, and there is a roll for everything and every action. Why? I ask. If I wanted a dice rolling convention of a game, I'd play Yahtzee.

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Traditional RPGs in 2021.

 

Copyright ©. 2021 Mark Kelly.

Allow me to shed a little perspective on a pastime, and I suppose, hobby - though I rather look at it as a simmering love affair - that is traditional paper & pencil role playing games.

I was first introduced to Dungeons & Dragons back in 1981. The whole thing seemed a confusing and curious experience that teased my imagination, and unknowing to me at the time, laid the glowing ember of role playing games deep within the heart of the furnace that was my imagination. There it would gently glow and smoulder over time, until eventually giving rise to the flame of desire to become the creator and story teller of worlds yet to be born and shared with people I had yet to meet.

Role playing games were like a back room industry in the early years. Many publishers at the time were small concerns run by enthusiasts producing 'home brew' game systems and rule books in A5 format. Many were printed via a copier machine, stapled together and distributed to the chosen few gaming / hobbyist shops, such as Beatties, which in Cardiff, was situated opposite the corner of Cardiff Castle as you travelled in and out of the city centre. This was the first influencing location I discovered containing the hidden treasures of RPG games, miniatures and the then brilliant independent gaming magazine, White Dwarf - now a sad, former shadow of itself, turned into a useless Games Workshop catalogue.

Monday, 14 June 2021

My Reason for Blogging.

Copyright ©. 2021 Mark Kelly.
All Rights Reserved.

Back in March 2011 I sat down, logged onto the Blog website and began the formative process of creating this blog. Admittedly, it looked far different than it does today, but that's evolution for you.

I didn't come by the blog website by accident or design. I was guided to it by a friend at the time, who was savvy in such things and well ahead of the curve in all things social and online. In fact, they even introduced me to the concept of people and their 'entitlement'. Like I said, she was ahead of the curve. Upon reflection, there is much I learned from her, even in terms of being made aware of certain musical tastes. I do miss our conversations at times, as hers was a mind of discovery and exploration, and I was fortunate enough to be part of that journey for a time - so I would, even though I know she will never see this, just like to say, "thank you."

Thursday, 10 June 2021

Late Night Funk & Soul

Song for Today.

It's 0120hrs and I can't sleep, and it's all due to my own stupid fault. I broke my own decision not to eat too late, and now I sit here, stomach not feeling all that clever aided by a touch of heartburn.

Combine that with a decision to 'lay down' in order to aid my complaining stomach before 2200hrs and consequently falling asleep. I then wake, and the bedroom has that pre-dawn lightness to it, so I get up, visit the bathroom, stomach still feeling drum-like, only to discover the time is just after midnight!?

I look outside and the sky is covered in cloud that is reflecting, seemingly, every light source around. I exit to the garden where it is very lightly drizzling, but so lovely and cool. Still, everything is oddly bright, so-much-so that you could read by it.

Stepping back inside, sleep now having fled, I find myself listening to Spotify and 'Funk & Soul' Classics, and one track in particular, Dusty Springfield and 'Son of a Preacher Man', which not only makes me think of a cool summer evening, but back to a time when I last really sat and listened to it: 1992 driving down to Cornwall for my honeymoon. Seems like another lifetime ago.

This was written in September 1968, by American songwriters John Hurley and Ronnie Wilkins, recorded by Dusty Springfield for her album, 'Dusty in Memphis'. All when I was four years old.

Sit back and enjoy, especially if it's a cool summer evening, a gentle breeze is working its magic and your favourite drink is to hand, helping you to relax. And now sleep is whispering in my ear. 

Until next time.





Monday, 7 June 2021

WHY.

'WHY' 

Possibly the most under-used word humankind has ever created. It is the jack-of-all-trades in terms of usage; it can be singular in response, requiring no other syntax attached before or after. It can project playfulness, disbelief, anger, surprise, hurt, accusation - the list goes on. Surprisingly (to me), it doesn't even make the top 100 on wikipedia's 'Most Common Words in English.' If curious, check for yourself by clicking on this LINK.
Just ask any parent trying to cajole a five year old into eating broccoli:

"Eat your broccoli, darling."
Defiant child, "Why?"
"Because it's good for you, sweetie."
"Why?"
Inhales deeply, "It'll make you big and strong, darling."
Evil little twinkle appears in the eyes, "Whhhhhy?"

And you can see where that is heading. 

Below is a more clinical breakdown of this versatile, little, innocuous word that has such power and impact.

WHY:
is an adverb - for what cause, reason or purpose, "Why did you do it?"

a conjunction - the cause, reason or purpose for which - know why you did it... that is why you did it.
for which / on account of which - know the reason why you did it.

a noun (plural: whys) - reason / cause - wants to know the whys and wherefores.

interjection - used to express mild surprise, hesitation, approval, disapproval or impatience - why, here's what I was looking for.

Even used in a sentence as an adverb - Why did you quit your job? Why is the sky blue?

Moreover, it's used when we feel betrayed, let down, cheated or as an expression of anguish. It can be the most crushing of words uttered from the lips of the one you love and have hurt, but more likely, the one you used to love. It's imploring tonal use, coupled with tear-filled eyes and a heart-broken visage standing before you is more powerful than any physical assault, and sometimes the latter is preferred.

As the one asking, it is doubly painful when the one being asked refuses to give an answer, and that, as mentioned, can be a soul-crushing feeling. I have been there, both as the one asking, and the one being asked. Neither is an experience I wish to repeat.

On the flip side, it is also a powerful means with which to disarm a passive-aggressive barrage of words thrown at you by a smug, self-righteous arse. WHY can destroy the rhetoric hurled your way in one simple stroke, forcing the opposition to regroup and explain. This usually results in flustered  mumbling then abuse, should the person in question have zero grasp of what they've said, proving they're regurgitating words from another source, whilst not knowing or understanding the justification, logic or viewpoint from which the diatribe originated. This is commonly used by certain political advocates as a means to discredit an opponent without any basis in truth, fact or justification, but purely based on an opposite idea of thought.

Quite often WHY is a method of self analysis. A delving into your own reasoning and psyche. Admittedly, there are those for whom the act of opening their inner Pandora's Box is an unappealing prospect, and the majority will opt for an easy route, never to darken that particular closet within their mind.
But for the stronger and less faint of heart it is, or at least, can be, a massively empowering journey towards the iD - as described by Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality, 'the id is the personality component made up of unconscious psychic energy that works to satisfy basic urges, needs and desires.'
To face this is to face the darkest depths of your own personality and humanity. To gaze into this mirror is never to un-see it, nor unknow it. It stays with you your entire life, so be careful as the person staring back at you isn't always going to be the one you hoped for.

WHY did I begin this post? A combination of things; my current state of mind, life, memories, a feeling of reflection maybe? Ultimately, only I will ever know, but has it set you to thinking?  If so, then good.

Whatever the reason, IF you've read all the way through I thank you. I shall leave you with Annie Lennox and the song that sums it all up beautifully, 'WHY'.




Sunday, 6 June 2021

Dragon Warriors ~ Sellat Port Town.


PART 2 ~ ' You Never See It Coming. '

Ulak grunted as he leapt across the gap between the buildings, the moonlight illuminating his chosen point of landing. As the young Naran's boot hit the rooftop, the tile beneath it slid away without effort, skidding off into the dark of night. Only the young sorcerer's fast reflexes saved a plunge off the rooftop and into the undulating sea of fog below and the waiting predators gliding through it, as his hand grabbed hold of the chimney stack's edge, halting his potential slide to doom.


The stone work groaned in response. "Don't you even think about it," growled Ulak quietly, carefully easing himself to the ridge of the rooftop. Below dark figures gathered expectantly, hungry for their elusive prey.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Dragon Warriors ~ Sellat Port Town.

PART 1 ~ ' No Deed Goes Unpunished. '

Arriving as the fog fastened its hold throughout the weather-worn and storm-battered Port Town, the figure crouched with a feline grace, sinking deeper and deeper until the surface of the flowing fog washed over them and they were no more.

Fingers gently outstretched, both hands tenderly stroked the ground and although blind by both darkness and fog, the finger tips read every passing boot, shoe and bare foot as if they were illuminated words upon parchment.

A slow smile crept across the covered face. Their prey had passed this way. 

Shuffling forward like an insect under the cover of fog, they reached their first important point of contact where one of the targets was rumoured to have stayed. The information supplied by the contract holder was, so far, proving accurate.
A shiver of pleasure ran through their spine, as fingers stroked the rough wattle and daub exterior, once more gaining information important to the hunt. The thought of closing in on their quarry elicited a trickle of drool to escape their lips. A less than human tongue flicked out, erasing the errant fluid.