Cellar Dweller: A Wine Enthusiast, Monster, or Cartoonist’s Story?

Was writing a post on magical items, but decided it needed more thought.  You know what that means.  Remember, guessing before Googling 🙂

And now, let’s play Balderdash…

Category:  Movies

Cellar Dweller

a) An agoraphobic wine enthusiast must leave the safety of his dark cellar to save a humble winery and its sassy, impractical owner from bankruptcy.

b) A mockumentary exploring a day in the life of an everyday monster from under the stairs.

c) After a weird cartoonist moves into an old house, he finds out it’s haunted by another weird cartoonist who died 30 years before

The Opposite Impressions of S and F

I was fifteen, I think, when I first considered the letter S and the letter F. There are no two letters more opposite, in my mind.  In Karen Cushman’s The Midwife’s Apprentice, the protagonist, while learning to read and write, gives her opinion of letters:

She liked best the O, the D and the G, for they looked friendly. Z seemed mean, X wicked; and W always made her yawn. Q was by far the most beautiful, she thought, even if it could not stand alone and must be accompanied everywhere by the compliant U (p. 74, The Midwife’s Apprentice)

S and F may also be considered by the impression their shape gives on the page. S, I believe, is prettier even than Q, a pleasing swirl, curvy and soft, that takes little effort to create, without even the need to lift the pen’s nib from the paper. And S is not only lovely to behold; its substantial base gives it strength where it rests. It is sturdy and true, and though rounded its footing will not falter; S will do no more than gently rock, too evenly distributed to fall.

F, on the other hand, is top-heavy, its weight irregularly distributed on its one narrow foot. In other words, F is doomed to fall. The only other letter that stands such is P, which at least has a soft curve to catch it should it stumble. F is all harsh angles and points, and to write well requires the effort to lift the pen twice from a page.

It is little wonder, then, that there seem so many words associated with beauty and good that begin with S, and so many words linked to weakness, grief and loneliness that begin with F.


sacred, safe, sanctuary, saved, shimmer, shine, soft, solid, soothing, sparkle, special, splendid, stable, strong, succeed


fade, fail, faint, fall, false, falter, fatal, fatigued, fault, fear, forgotten, forlorn, fragile, frail, frightened

There are some words, of course, that break this trend – sorrow and sick, faith and fortune – but for me, since hearing the chorus of Fuel’s Shimmer – hearing and understanding, not how it was heard by only my child’s ears long before I was fifteen – S is forever raised above while F remains troubled and broken below.

All that shimmers in this world is sure to fade (Fuel)

(Graphics sourced from http://office.microsoft.com/en-au/images)

One Down in the Ground

And now, a randomly generated scene …

Nouns: handicap, jellyfish, lace, rate, resolution, screwdriver, shorts

Adjectives: puffy, long, irritating, goofy, kind

Verbs: stage, perform, calculate

Adverbs: gladly


A front runner already, Holly calculated her chances of success, folding gently while her neighbours who shared the same long work bench stirred at a feverish rate. Both would have gladly traded their batters, lumpy on the left and runny as diarrhoea on the right, along with all future prospects of freedom for the smooth concoction in Holly’s mixing bowl. Being an experienced home baker, she had begun the week’s handicap a full half hour behind both Gregor and Tess and without the benefit of self raising flour, as had been bestowed on most of her competitors. She could see the shorts of the young man baking in front of her clung to his sweaty thighs beneath his apron.

They had begun as 16. One week in, they were one down.

One down, one down …

A more ominous than irritating little voice sang at her, overpowering the list of ingredients and methods in her mind.

One down in the ground …

They had been made to watch. She knew they would be – Holly had seen a dozen seasons before being unexpectedly whisked off to the dreaded kitchen herself. She’d known what was coming. Still, she’d been unable to distance herself from the small girl’s scream and the smell of blood mingling with the citrus-infused meringues they had been made to whip up.

The girl had never baked a day in her life. With only the barest instructions, her meringues had emerged colourless, wobbly as a sleep-deprived jellyfish. Holly’s were as puffy and crisp as those she’d called to mind to emulate from her mother’s ancient magazines, and the others’ bakes had at least resembled meringues. Holly could still see bulky Judge Wagner’s screwdriver-like index finger, stiff and cruel, trailing across the line up of nervous competitors before pointing squarely at the hapless girl. She’d been seized where she stood, toes uprooted from the linoleum beneath their feet.

‘Holly,’ Gregor moaned  as she peered in her oven and straightened, cupcakes baking nicely. Tess eyed the sugar lace that Holly wove as decoration, trying to emulate the technique and poorly staging confidence with a flick of her hair and flourish of her fork. Her cupcakes were now baking, too. Gregor, however, still gazed helplessly into his runny mixture.

‘Holly, help … I have to perform, this week. If Shelley had known which end of a wooden spoon to hold, I’d be gone already.’

It was true. Wagner had made a point of ridiculing Gregor’s goofy-looking meringues before spitting out the first bite and smashing the rest into his bench, meticulously scrubbed for the sweets presentation ceremony.

Holly pressed her lips together, nervous in indecision. She sympathised. But front runner or not, Holly wasn’t truly safe, either. Disasters happened – sometimes they were made to happen. If she helped Gregor – kind Gregor, who’d spoken to her those awful, tension-laden weeks they’d already spent in and around that kitchen while the rest of the field avoided her, forming their own segregated cliques of support – Holly would jeopardise her own chances, the firm resolution she’d made to win. To live. She’d sworn to her mother that she would.

‘Please, Holly …’

She felt like a villain for even thinking to refuse Gregor’s plea. Hadn’t she always delighted in sharing her secrets, freely distributing advice on how to best melt chocolate and knead pastry?

This is different, she tried to insist.

But despite her hefty self-preservation, Holly’s humanity refused to be ignored.

Down, down in the ground …

Holly busied herself weaving sugar into delicate strands, leaning close to her work to hide her face from Wager as he stalked up and down the aisles of benches. Internal debate raged. Gregor deflated with her silence, seeming to sink into the speckled linoleum, already feeling the iron grips that would be about his arms in a little over an hour, wrenching him out of line.

Down, down in the ground …

Finally, Holly spoke, whispering from the most minuscule corner her mouth could produce.

‘Wagner can’t see. No one can know. Do exactly as I say.’

Guest Blogging Over at Michelle’s

Sent in a guest post to lovely Michelle to take up space over in her corner of the internet. Michelle Proulx is a highly talented self-published author who specialises in young adult sci fi romances, a wonderfully fun genre there never seems to be enough of.

A random scene was generated for the guest post purpose by the nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverb supplied by Michelle herself. Her chosen words created an entirely different scenario to that which I usually write, featuring a magical hit-girl, a purple poodle fluffier than any sheep and a face handsome enough to banish hunger.  Twas heaps of fun.

You can check out the post here, and while you’re over at Michelle’s make sure to have a click on her brilliantly-titled novel Imminent Danger and How to Fly Straight Into It.

Room of Random Shadows

I get the best shadows in my room when the light is right.

Behold the Evangelion in Middle Earth Shadow:

Eva Shadow

Now, see the Dragon Over a Calendar and Cupboard Door Shadow:

Dragon Shadow


Finally, marvel at the wonder of the Evangelion Takes On a Dragon in Middle Earth Over a Calendar and Cupboard Door Shadow:

Dragon Eva Shadow


Also, it’s my first WordPress Anniversary 🙂 Thanks to everyone who’s had a bit of a look at my stuff throughout the year and, particularly, thanks to everyone who’s commented and stuck around for more. I’ve kept this up longer than I thought I would. Hope to continue in that vein 🙂




20 From 45: Top Songs of ’93 to ’13

Time for a highly self-indulgent post.

When I listen to the radio, I listen to Triple J, a national music station here in Australia. Not as unrelated to that point as you’d think, I have a great love of lists. Subsequently, every Australia Day (26 January) I am near incapacitated by Triple J’s Hottest 100, an all-day countdown of the best songs of the previous year as voted by the listeners.  Every now and then, Triple J has another countdown in addition to this annual event – Best Australian Albums and Best Songs of All Time come to mind. Recently, they’ve announced yet another great list of music:  Top 20 Songs of the Last 20 Years.

Must select best songs since ’93. Sister Erin is way ahead of me in this, but I sat down tonight and got all nostalgic with iTunes, downloaded a favourite song that for some reason wasn’t already in my library, and managed to compile this list. Many of these songs hail from defining points in my life, some are guilty pleasures, still more were pivotal in inspiring characters and events in my stories. I maintain my first novel wouldn’t even have been written without one of the songs on this list.  Unfortunately, I’m only allowed 20.  I currently have 45.  Partway through the culling process and thought I’d share how it’s going.

Hope you look up a few songs that you don’t know. A lot can be learned about a person by their music choices, I believe. Learn, if you wish, from this list. Let me know what you think 🙂

This is going to be a long blog below …

Key:  Bold – definite;  Italics – culled 😦

Soho Square – Kirsty MacColl (1993)

Distant Sun – Crowded House (1993)

Video – Ben Folds Five (1995)

Morning Glory – Oasis (1995)

Your Ship Has Gone – My Friend the Chocolate Cake (1996)

The Song Formerly Known As – Regurgitator (1997)

No Aphrodisiac – The Whitlams (1997)

The Impression That I Get – The Mighty Mighty Bostones (1997)

Cigarettes Will Kill You – Ben Lee (1997)

Waltz #2 – Elliott Smith (1998)

Shimmer – Fuel (1998)

Larger Than Life – Backstreet Boys (1999)

Learn to Fly – Foo Fighters (1999)

Hey Boy, Hey Girl – The Chemical Brothers (1999)

Freestyler – Bomfunk MCs (1999)

Gravity – The Superjesus (2000)

Yellow – Coldplay (2000)

Harder Better Faster Stronger – Daft Punk (2001)

Weapon of Choice – Fatboy Slim (2001)

Monsters – Something For Kate (2001)

(Baby, I’ve Got You) On My Mind – Powderfinger (2003)

Scar – Missy Higgins (2004)

Zebra – The John Butler Trio (2004)

Godhopping – Dogs Die in Hot Cars (2004)

Apple of the Eye (Lay Me Down) – Something With Numbers (2006)

Come And Check Your Head – Blue King Brown (2006)

Hearts A Mess – Gotye (2006)

The Beast – Angus and Julia Stone (2007)

Don’t Fight It – The Panics (2007)

Embrace – Pnau (2007)

Farewell Rocketship – Children Collide (2008)

Burn Bridges – The Grates (2008)

Dawn Of The Dead – Does It Offend You, Yeah? (2008)

Rabbit Heart – Florence + the Machine (2009)

Come On Come On – Little Birdy (2009)

Fireflies – Owl City (2009)

The Rake’s Song – The Decemberists (2009)

Tongues In Cheek – Sugar Army (2009)

Mace Spray – The Jezabels (2010)

Watercolour – Pendulum (2010)

Mowgli’s Road – Marina and the Diamonds (2010)

M.O.A.B. – Project 46 (2011)

Varuo – Sigur Ros (2012)

Little Talks – Of Monsters and Men (2012)

Paddling Out – Miike Snow (2012)


Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand (2004)

S.P.M.A.: Architecture, Mountaineering, or Sewage?

Wanted to post a post I’ve had on ice since the middle of last year, but it involves an audio file and I am currently too stingy to fork over the twenty dollars a year to be able to upload audio files on WordPress.  I may start a YouTube channel to get around it, but tonight was meant to be a no thinking night, so that will not happen right now.  So, after dumping out all the water, that post is going back on ice and I am posting something that requires minimal thinking and/or creativity.  Remember, have a guess before googling.

And now, let’s play Balderdash …

Category:  Acronyms


a) Society for the Protection of Medieval Architecture

b) Scottish Pre-teens’ Mountaineering Association

c) Sewage Plant Manufacturer’s Association

To Read in One’s Own Words

Late nights singing, overtime and and a weekend away at choir camp all aligned at the end of the week and kept me away from the computer longer than I’d like. Not much to report save a small personal achievement: for my review (sort of like a talent/variety show, if anyone requires an explanation) item at camp, I read the first scene from Under the Bright Water aloud. I thought it fit the evening’s costume theme – book characters. Thought about dressing as one of my own characters, but decided that might be a little pretentious.
Twas a touch nerve-wracking, reading my own work. I know I’ve already published it, but still. It’s a little different, sharing it that way. More personal. I chose Under the Bright Water as it’s still the piece of writing I’m most satisfied with overall. I received several good comments about my style and quite a few said they were going to read the rest and would look into reading the rest of the series, which makes me happy.
I’ve really got to get a move on with the fourth story in Treading Twisted Lines and keep the series moving along. Number four’s been eluding me for far too long.

Account for Every Grain

And now, a randomly generated scene …

Nouns:  salt, decision, cause, earth, number, minute, sea

Adjectives:  roasted, vigorous, boiling, colourful, obsequious

Verbs:  upgrade, bargain, foster

Adverb:  brutally


The teacher found the boy kneeling on a colourful towel with a handful of sand. What had begun as vigorous counting, every number uttered in anticipation of the next, had dwindled to a monotonous drone of ever-increasing figures as the day squirmed on. Now early evening, his skin was roasted black.

‘You could count minutes instead of sand,’ the teacher suggested, sitting carefully beside him. She didn’t wish to knock a single grain from his palm. Keen as she was to foster development in her student, to ease him from his consuming fixations towards true, deserved childhood, she knew that would upset him terribly. ‘That way you’d have time to play in between each number.’

‘I’m on the beach. I have to count sand.’

The reply was matter-of-fact, disquietingly so. What on earth was the cause of this malady? What had emblazoned numbers in the boy’s mind to the exclusion of all else, trapping him, even as the names and insults brutally hurled his way progressed to cruel shoves and blows?

‘Doesn’t that look like fun?’

The teacher indicated the other students. Most frolicked in the shallows. Those more confident in the sea had upgraded to swimming, and stroked happily. A small group up to their knees in water kicked a rubber ball between them with noisy splashes, white sprays of foam flying up beneath their feet.

‘If you go and play for five minutes, I’ll mind your sand for you,’ she tried to bargain, offering her hand.

The boy lifted his eyes to his classmates and the early stages of sunset, backdrop to their play. He studied them, eyelashes showering salt as he blinked. The crystals had embedded in the soft curls over the hours, carried by waves and the breeze. Momentarily he was absorbed, but having counted every child and gull that winged overhead, he soon returned to his sand, prodding granules across his palm with utmost care.

‘I’m counting.’

‘You could make the decision to stop,’ she told the poor boy.

He glanced up again, this time at her. A moment ago an obsequious slave, now he appeared uncertain.

‘No, I can’t.  I have to count.’

He waggled his hand, indicating the tens of thousands of grains. He wouldn’t feel settled until every one was safely accounted for.

‘I have to. Don’t I?’

‘You don’t,’ she replied, boiling with resolve to see him freed. ‘You can stop. You may feel like you can’t, and it may be hard. But if you want to, you can.’

The boy’s eyes. She had never seen them so alight. But then, his head dipped, her heart alongside.

‘Maybe later. I have to finish here, first.’

Rant Mullens: Musket Man, Mountain Man, or Unitarian Man?

Random new fantasy short concept came upon me while watching Great British Bake-off.  Two words for you:  bone marrow.

Time for another round of Balderdash.  Make sure to have a guess before googling the answer 🙂

And now, let’s play Balderdash …

Category:  People

Rant Mullens

a) A confederate musket man turned double-agent who was captured and executed by his general uncle weeks before the end of the Civil War.

b) 86 year-old mountain man who whittled large wooden feet so he could scare people with his “big foot” prints.

c) A 1970s unitarian televangelist