Tuesday, 29 September 2015

If You Don't Keep Your Feet

It's been a while. So what's the point in coming back?

1.Going full circle.
2. New perspectives of the beginning and where you are now.
3. Never leave something incomplete.

Really, that's three ways of saying nearly the same thing.

Returning to the beginning always brings fresh perspectives which, when you're deep in an adventure, whether it's physical travel, a mental goal post or something else entirely, it's very easy to forget about where you are going. Your feet get swept off.

In other words; sometimes you are so close to a particular situation (your life) that you cannot see where the road is going, or where you actually want it to go, or where you had originally intended it to go.

Since I last wrote I've had a bit of that. Loosing my feet, getting some perspective, going back to the beginning (when I went home for a visit) and loosing my feet some more, getting more perspective and currently still existing in a state of slightly lost feet as the clock ticks on this particular experience.

I've been calling myself a writer and a photographer for a long time now. People give me envious looks. They cheer me on for being a creative individual. (As if it's some sort of select cult that only those with an intrinsic gene can enter. Ha. I'm creative because I like expressing myself differently and I've done it long enough I've had oodles of practice). 

Yesterday I just told someone I am an imaginist. As in, my job, my career, my life. All in one. They looked at me oddly but with envy again.

The ability to freely choose your identity, your time, your life. That's the ultimate for all people (dictated by society to keep us unsatisfied), and yet, very few ever step onto the road and let themselves get lost in the imagination, the wonder, the "who knows what will happen next week or next month."

Letting go of your feet is one of the most frightening things you can do. And this is coming from someone who has only done that halfway. To fully let go of your feet, letting go of friends, family, home and belongings for a time or longer would be more true to that way of life but, despite the ultimate (dictated by society to keep us unsatisfied) belief of freedom to choose your identity, time and life, you really don't, and don't want to, because certain things exist, such as cars, buses, trains, airplanes, theatres, restaurants, parks, pools, books, films, chocolate and computers, that most would not give up.

Thus one must play into ladder of employment, of government documented identity and a life rotated around mental misery because "freedom" and "happiness" are untangible and definitely individual ideals but also, ones which, if you've been born into society, you'll inevitably be influenced by the definitions which society formulates. Even if you scoff at the current ideal of "high-paying job, marriage, car, house, kids" thing which has been around since the early 20th century.

Oh please. All of that is desperately passé. Also, it's the 21st century. 'Bout time we made our own ideal. And it's there. A bit. Struggling along with most of us millenials who saw the lives of older generations and put our feet down. With a stomp.

Thing is, all that stomp is still very much just the moon rune riddle on a map. Not even the map itself, let alone a decent trail.

The first step is solving that riddle.

Start by testing your limits. How far can you give things up? What can you give up? How much control do you want over your freedom, identity and life?

Freedom being defined here as: The ability to create a living.
Identity being defined here as: The overall image you associate yourself with. (Yes we all wear different hats, but ultimately, everyone can boil their identity down to one word which encompasses all the hats. Try thinking of emotive language, of active language; a maker, an inventor, a saver, a helper, a planner etc).
Life being defined here as: The event you choose to make up each day, week, month and year.

Spend an hour this week making a list of all the things you could give up and all the things you could not. Give a reason for each.

Think too about what single word defines you. This is your job. This is what you are here to do and be. Not a chef, not a manager, not a lawyer, not a archivist, not a customer service agent or an artist. No, you are more than that.

You are also your feet. Take a look at where they have taken you this past year. It's autumn and nearing the best time of the year to curl up in a chair with a cup of tea. This time to reflect on where you have been and where you are going.

Don't let your doer feet get wild, don't let your inventor feet get distracted. Focus next on your freedom and life.
Can you create living with at least some of the events you fill your time with?
Do the other events support this living by expanding a part of your identity and freedom through knowledge, connections or other faucets?
Does frustration play into any of your answers? If so, why?
How will you cope with the frustration?
Where will you go from here?

Everything out there means something if you look at it hard enough but also, sometimes a leaf is just a leaf and the wind just blew it in a direction which made it hit your face.

When you step out your door today, don't be afraid to look away from your feet, but know that they will sweep you off toward directions you might never have planned for.

When you step into your door today, look down at your feet. Thank them and then get yourself a cup of tea, a writing implement and get on with drawing that map.


Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Lightning Strikes

It is a universally unknown fact that weeks don't pass in seconds, they pass in lightning strikes.

Each day is one count and suddenly, by Sunday you'll realise Monday is only one count, or one day, away from your location of a cliff, with a beach and a few friends.

These ligning flashes are filled with half-full cups of tea gone cold and a trail of hob-nob crumbs marching from the bread bin.

They are overhead in folkfuls of salad and spag bol for dinner during a heatwave of thirty degrees plus.

They keep eyes blinking in after-shock to the speed of peak hour grocery store check-out lines. Hands which snatch that extra bag of crisps or that millionaire bar or snack nuts, layered nearby and waiting for their penultimate moment of existence; being consumed.

Whateer shape these weeks take, the end result breeds only another week. This isn't Jurassic Park. Weeks don't splice DNA of multiple time counters together. Grow up.

It's the seasoning of spring, autumn, winter or summer which enables a comprehensible differentiation between weeks that deosn't resemble the scratches of a physistis theorising light speed or a mathematician clocking shadow lengths.

Those are entirely other issues gone sideways. Shadows are longer and faster than light since light does not exist without them, but neither are as fast as weeks. Nor can they exist without them.

Light and shadow are merely window dressings rolling past backed-up nine in the morning traffic.

Look, a week has just passed again.

Did you see it?

Monday, 29 June 2015

Bicycle Tales

You can tell a culture by the way they ride bicycles. Not on the right or wrong side of the road. That's irrelevant to this particular case. Rather, the riding is in where they go and how they stop. Especially in how they stop.

Remember when you first learned how to cycle? Getting started wasn't half so hard as figuring out how to stop the wheels from turning and turning and turning. Turning. It's like narrating a story. Once you start, you cannot stop until you've figured out how to end it and so you ramble on and on and on.* Hoping there exists a deity which might take pity on you and blast a lightning storm of inspiration through your skull, without it having to hit concrete and see the stars first, of course.

That's irrelevant.

Stopping, on the other hand, now that's where everything goes. Newton didn't get hit by an apple for nothing. Even gravity requires a good ending and nothing says a good ending like a solid concussion.

Humans like noise and injury tends to bring a lot of it. Starting with oww and ending in the earth-shattering sound universally known as the eeeoooeeeooo. The ambulance. Except it tends to be more of a hurdler than an ambulator. Even cyclists must nose-dive in the face of that history. It's do or die.

That's today's lesson.

There's an either or to cycling. Nobody in the history of cycling has managed to go slow and steady without falling up and dying and nobody in the history of cycling has managed to go quick and heavy without crashing down and dying.

So what culture is better? The one's who will ring their bells and barrel you over anyway, or the ones who will ring their bells and beeline for the between you regardless?

Considering the cave-men played tic-tac-toe and we still play it today. We must consider cycling will be as incomprehensible as chalk on rock for as long as humans bother to remember history.

Then again, even if humans forget history, like a bicycle wheel, the question of who is better than who will probably come back 'round again.

That's called the circle of life. So, where are you next cycling to?


*This is the point where I tell you to just imagine if I actually did ramble on and on. Imagine lots of "ons" to such a point where the word starts to sound incomprehensible. Unfortunately even though this is pixellated space, I would rather not force you to spend the rest of your portion of cycling** in the unfortunate situation of reading the same word over and over, just so the author can prove a point.

**Cycling: verb. The act of living a mundane life full of laundry and grocery shopping and jobs.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Google That Thing

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Google can be a light in the dark. Or is it?

Don't know the answer?

Google that thing.

Sitting down on the curb, on the park bench, the bus stop. Phone out. Phone ready. Just in case.

A thought passes through. Passes by as the cars zip through roads made of concrete and yellow paint. Little green men walking and red lights talking. Stop. A thought passes through.

I wonder. I think. I'm not sure.

Don't know the answer?

Google that thing.

Wandering the wayside of a canal, side by side a friend. You wonder mid-words. What was that again?

Don't know the answer?

Google that thing.

Spending more time on Google than doodling on paper during classtime or drawing words with air or on bath-tubs.

Spending more time on Google than listening to the tales told tall and wide by friend, family and street-side story-spiders.

Words come in many forms. Not just text on Google.

Look it up.

The voices are a countless dozen. Trillion a two.

Not anything like you. But possibly so too.

Don't know the answer?

Just ask your best friend.

Or better yet.

Make it up.

Add your own story to the world. Maybe it will end up on Google, one day, too. 


Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Invisibility Exposure

Can you see me?
 Being between two people in a discussion makes for a period of invisibility exposure.

You are a lighthouse beacon being stared at by a crisp's chomping lady on break and two desk bound employees in the position of question and answer for the current project in progress.

To make matters more icing than cake; being temporary makes a case of invisibility exposure between two people discussing overhead as if you were four years old and in the grocery store with your mother running into an old friend, or worse, a teenager trapped over a reunion dinner of family. Being then oggled at for how tall you've gotten but not folowing the debate over business and the nails on chalkboard crunch of more crisps. Again. And again. And again.


In my mind I had many impressions. I have many but most of the time, these tend not to pan out anywhere near as impressed on my mind.

Which leads to that self-doubt of "should I really do this?"

That's your self-confidence talking.

Or as I like to call it, your invisibility exposure.

It makes relunctant pop idols of us all as we sit on public transport, or tumble off, or walk in the wrong direction, twice. Passing the same old man knocking back a coffee. It makes obsessed fans of us all. Dreaming, desiring and wishing for the recognition of others.

See me. See me. See me.

Except, when they see you, they don't really. They mutter profanities when you accidently bump them because you are wearing your glasses and see less better than when wearing contacts. They snicker and mutter under their breaths, not realising your good hearing caught the words when you go the wrong direction thrice.

Except, when they don't actually see you. It is you just thinking they did and the gossip in the back of the bus is actually two teenagers obsessing over Justin Bieber, not snarking at how ridiculous you look. Or how they are totally not going to as worthless as you at the age of 25.

Except, when they do see you. You don't believe them. Because words don't hold weight from the mouth of the other, not matter how close the other may be. You're awesome. Fantastic. Brilliant. Wonderful. Talented. It's a sieve full of sand.

You can't see yourself either.

That's the human condition of invisibility exposure and there is no easy smear of super glue to fix it.

No, all you can do it keep trying. Keep asking. Keep walking. Into fog, flame, moonlight and rain. All the while, hold hands with someone, or many someone's. The journey is the point of life but no one ever said you had to make the journey alone.

What will you do this week to bring people into your quest?


Sunday, 14 June 2015

Do the Thing

Been going through the usual downturn of an artist.

"Am I wasting my time? Am I making the right choices? Shouldn't I be focusing on "x" or "y"? Time is running out! What am I doing with my life? Why am I bothering? Failure. Failure. Failure.

Sound familiar?

Whether you actively identify as an artist of some form. Or "imaginist" as I like to call myself. Or maybe you have another term entirely. Or you are just someone who daydreams and dreams under the stars and in moonlight on porches and on the hood of a car or the edge of your desk, you've probaby had a similar sort of running commentary of doubt.

I kicked myself over to England because I felt like I wasn't doing anything with my life. Now I am doing many things. Every day, every evening, every second I am experiencing so much I barely have time to process it all, let alone devote time to creating art.

Like the glorious month I had last February, house sitting for some relations in their nearly "middle-of-nowhere" house, in the middle of winter. I got some of the best writing done that I have ever managed.

Except life can't always be hiding away in seclusion. Certain life choices mean you need to make money to live. Certain life choices mean you have things you require to be sane, even if they aren't things that you need to survive. Though some people choose to just stick to flat survival in the name of The Art. Some people manage to balance everything. Some people flounder and flutter. Scared. Worried. Focused on practicality.

Some people just grab the milk carton. Stand on it and ask.

Recently I had the pleasure of not only meeting an individual who's music and art I have long admired but I also got around to reading her memoir (read over two days, it was that engaging).

Her name is Amanda Palmer.

I won't be surprised if you wonder: Who?

She's a bit of a cult figure. And yet she is one of the most human, human being I have ever met. Wise, honest, witty, and just wanting share the joy of music with other human beings.

This is one of her songs:

And this is her TED talk. The Art of Asking:

She draws on her eyebrows to make people unconsciously look her in the eye because it is through the eyes that people connect.

It is through the eyes that people see eachother.

And in a society that is far too open about looking, we don't really see anyone.

She endeavours to empathise and get into the perspectives of all individuals, whether they are on the right or wrong side of morality or law. Because we are all human at heart.

She is often critised as being too showy and trustworthy, as breaking all boundaries of what is "right" in the music industry by allowing fans to download for free.

She does this because the only way to build a connection is by making yourself vulnerable, by being 100% honest. When that connection is built you don't have to force anyone to do anything.

Most likely they will want to do it.

First though, you need to connect.

Second though, you need to ask.

That requires vulnerability.

And through it all you need the bravery to just do the Thing. Because you want to. Not because you have to or you should.

I've long been wanting to publish a novel. And I do. Want to publish a novel, that is. Except there is much more I also want to do.

After reading Amanda's book I sat back and thought. Why haven't I published the novel yet? I came up with this:

I am afraid no one will read it because no one has yet seemed to read what I do already.

Then again, I haven't shared much of my writing yet. I did have someone read part of my novel-in-progress recently and they laughed in many parts. Just as I had hoped as I wrote it.

That made me happy.

Art isn't about being able to live off of it. Yes that would be lovely but really, art is about sharing a moment with other people. It is about sharing stories around a campfire. Like humanity has done for millenia. Albeit in different formats.

I am going to start sharing more. I am going to keep writing and photographing more. Maybe one day people will laugh, smile, cry and cheer over this art from my heart. Until then...

I have re-started my tumblr which you can find at: alyssaimaginist.tumblr.com

On that platform I intend on sharing my photostories since it is more friendly to photography and here I will continue my life musings and travel blogging. The novel is going to be a work in progress for a while and who knows what I'll come out with next. The good thing about being an imaginist is that I always have ideas for new works. I'm going to be as busy as ever. I live in London. I'm going to build experiences the size of the Great Wall of China thank you very much. And hopefully you'll stick around for the ride. If you're a twitterer do check me out on @TheMoonyDreamer where shorter bits of inspiration, and links to much more creativity are generally found. 

All that I ask is that you enjoy my work, comment when you have the time and share with others if you have a moment.

That is the point of art after all. It brings us together. It reminds us what being human is about; deep down, all we want is to be seen from the inside.

We are all bigger on the inside. Like the Tardis. So don't be afraid. Do the Things. Because you can. Not because anyone says you can or anyone watches. Dance like no one watches. Dance like the world is within you. Or in the words of Amanda Palmer's other brilliant half, Neil Gaiman: "Make good art."


Tuesday, 12 May 2015

A Drabbled History in Knowledge

To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought. 

From Tennyson's Ulysses

In knowledge we live and die.
 People retreated into distant corners and set up literal walls as the Romans had done many millenia prior. Caravans trekked the lands carrying loads of goods and people as they hurried to safety. Wary of each other of other things. Technology had brought much which was fantastic and forbidden to the forefront.

Shadows of nameless fear. Hidden societies. Secret cults. Inventions gone sour.

Among the chaos came the Druids. From the sky they came, riding upon bulbous clouds. They offered humanity their aid. Led by twin brothers these people from the sky beyond taught humans how to protect themselves from the shadows. They called it alchemy and it followed one sacred rule.

Equivalent exchange. So long as people put in something of equal value to what they wished to create or fix, anything was possible. With possibility in hand, humanity felt safe and in their safety they began to look further. Where did the Druids come from? What other worlds were beyond Earth? What other powers were possible?

The Druids would not tell and so suspicions grew. Just why did the Druids come when they did? Some said. Others stated they knew all along that the Druids were bad business. Technically the lot of insanity was down to a greedy human and a beautiful woman who too many people obssessed over, but that is another story for another day. Either way, what history came to call the Great War erupted and after, the Druids disappeared. Alchemy became outlawed as a new power sought to bring control to the lands. Remember, alchemy and love do not mix.

Under the Emperor Alexander the world prospered once more. Simply, albeit slowly and like life, this comfort was not truly comfort, was not truly felt, strongly and fully, until it was gone. Quickly. A short time it was. Only a hundred years and once again, shadows unknown whispered from the darkness. Alchemy trickled to the surface.

Humanities hunger for knowledge would not long sit starving and soon there was revitalisation of texts and tales. Those who were most hungry for knowledge; the ultimate quest for the truth of existence formed an organisation. The Rosicrucians.

Garbed in red they were. Trapped in gold chains about their wrists and foreheads, in symbol to their devotion to their quest and their duty; the seeking and protecting of all knowledge. As the Great War showed, lesser beings could not be trusted with such power. (Like kings. Or knights. Academics, whether they are alchemists or not, do spend their lives with their heads in towering castles so do try to understand their narrow stair perspective).

Which brings us to a covered wagon that rumbled along a Roman road. Still rutted, winding and narrow after countless millenia. It traveled to the village of Chesterfield, a haven caught between hills, river and forest and segregated from the world's wonders due to a great wall, put up to protect from nameless shadows, that was never felled.

But when the shadows come in human form, what is there to stop them? The human in question was a young man with a neat brown beard and twinkling eyes shaded by a cloth cap. A falcon was perched beside him and a barrel-chested horse pulled his home. Well, home it was to him. To you and me it was a sea of books, loose parchment, ancient scrolls, quill pens, broken clocks and an old gramophone. Caught between the past and the present this young man was admitted, albeit with the narrowed eyes of the gatesman watching him, to one of the last places on Earth to have not yet felt the fear of hungry knowledge.

Oh Chesterfield was full of intelligent people. They didn't lack knowledge. They just didn't have the tower-abiding sort. Or the sort which scrabbled and scrambled, pointing guns and and dropping traps on people for the bits generally belonging in museums. They were the sort who knew the land, knew the seasons and thanked the Earth for its generosity while whipping up in curious chatter when an itinerant tradesman huffed his way in, pushing a broken down lorry full of woven rugs from distant lands or the lady from over the hill came in her donkey cart piled with sweets.

When the alchemist came to Chesterfield this all changed. With him he brought knowledge which the village folk called magic. It simplified things. After all, what else can see a cold cured with a quick mix of a drink, rather than a fortnight of Nan's tangy teas or the your dropped pocketwatch could be fixed with a quick sketch of some symbols and a pile of spare gears to replace the bent ones.

He also brought peeping eyes to his shaded windows, and when he bothered to venture out for a client a wake of gratitude tinged with fear and anger followed his way.

He wasn't particularly polite.

Then again, when one is an alchemist who delights in the puzzle of broken things and can fix them with a quick brow quirk and other necessary bits, who needs to.

He did appreciate Matty's cakes though.

And that is where things went wrong. Well, started too. When she died things when very wrong, but really, haven't humans learned that alchemy and love never mix?

Not my place to interfere. I'm just a spectator. What are you? What will you do? What do you know?

(A/N: Thanks for reading! Just a heads up I am delving more seriously than I yet have in a long time in terms of properly completely a full novel so my blog posts will be relegated to photostory-esque drabbles like what I have been doing on and off. I'll work on fitting in more article-based things but at the moment I am wanting all my focus to go toward writing for the novel directly or expanding the universe it sits within. Hopefully in some months time this will be less of a priority and I will certainly go back to detailing travel-related experiences and tips as usual).

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

A Road Trip in Brains: Drabble

Did you know that mayonnaise is 5% milk?

Did you know that everyone has a unique tongueprint, as they do with fingerprints?

Did you know that the northern leopard frog swallows its prey using its eyes? (It uses them to help push food down its throat by retracting them into its head).

Did you know that Vladimir Nabokov nearly invented the smiley?

Did you know that there are 274 different types of dust?

Did you know that bacteria lives in hairspray and in 2008 a new one was discovered?

Did you know that there are around 60,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body? (If you took them all out and laid them end to end, they’d stretch around the world more than twice).

Did you know that there are more stars in space than there are grains of sand on every beach in the world? 

As the road stretched out ahead. Deep into the peat moss mire and moors of Connemara, twenty seven brains on a bus ramble down their own lanes.

Some of it was true. Some of it was not. Mostly though, the thoughts were much of nothing. Though that's just a limitation of the English language. Nothing is impossible to quantify. So what is all of this. Really?

I'm bored. When are we going to arrive. Is this even worth it? I'm hot. I can't sleep. I'm tired. This bus is rocky. Look a sheep! Those mountains are gorgeous. I have so much work to do. This is the middle of nowhere. I wonder what Jeremy is doing? Yellow car! What am I going to do tomorrow? I want a chocolate muffin. Should I have a muffin? This is a holiday. Nine-hundred and ninety-nine stars in the sky, the sun is burning. What do I have to do when I get back? Pretty stream. Where are my sunglasses? It's so hot.

On wanders the brains of the twenty seven passengers.

The brain belonging to the wire rimmed glasses and bohemian blue shirt chatters a Connemara stream's worth of gossip about the next door neighbours to the brain of the brown messy bun and sensible white shoes. They've been friends for thirty years.

Behind the two middle-aged brains sits the brain of the textbook version of freshmeat business. A twenty-something in a sharp jacket and jeans who holds the hand of a svelte model with a camera bigger than a swan's neck. Together they are caught in a duet of money and expectations of love.

Over to the left is the brain of a bouncy castle. Well, not literally, but the way the mind leaps from sheep to cloud to the curiousity of Connemara sunshine versus the mystery of mist blown moorlands, one wouldn't be wrong to deduce so.

The brain at the front of the bus is full of burden. Burden at bearing patience at the long journey ahead of which, despite the declared time of two hours before the bus began trekking, cannot see an end. And now the brain feels accute hunger and needs the toilet quite badly.

Which brain is the best? The most normal? The wisest? The smartest? But who are we to give definition? Brains are brains. Presently there is a total thirty-nine living in yellowed jars at the Victorian pathology museum of St Barthomew's hospital in London.

And that means, as far as anyone knows, we are all normal here.

Brains are brains.

So take the hands, take the stream, take the road that does not seem.

Far beyond the fallen skies, beyond the rolling hills. Find future sitting in the southern lands and fantasy through a lean-to.

Come count these brains of the twenty seven. All together come as one, many and none.

That is all. 

Remember then, when people come, kicking the sky down from overhead, normal is not a destination, it is a stream of thought, trapped between grocery lists and restaurant recipes. It is the brain chirping "yellow car" for the umteenth time, just because it can. Especially if present in a country known to have a regular dose of yellow vehicles for reasons still unknown.

What thoughts pass by on the rocky roads, rolling, won't fit into the cutout squares where peat moss sat for billions of years. No, its more likely these thoughts will wash downstream with the pins and coins, the bones and toys of days long past which melted deep into the earth as it grew and died, grew and died, over and over. Cementing the brains of humanity into the very earth itself.

Sink deeper now, into the sheets of dreamland.

Don't live normal. Live your story.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Live Imagination: An Event

Duh, duh, duh, duh duh duh, duh, duh.

Alright, so translating music into onomatopoeic words doesn't work well so here's an idea of what's got me humming today.

If you clicked the link and listened, you'll noticed it's from the 25th Anniversary Symphony from 5 years ago and the event which got me humming this epic theme tune again was the more recent run called the Symphony of the Goddesses which is basically a slightly updated version since the original run was so popular.

A view from in between during some pre-concert videos.

The lights dim, the cacophany of strings, brass and woodwinds tuning fills the air, smelling of anticipation. Murmurs and mutterings grow and then fall, suddenly as cymbals crash and the violins throw us into the world with a series of sixteenth notes.

We gallop through the plains of Hyrule on the back of Epona, we leap over rivers, walls and cliffs, we face down enemies and dark lords, traverse deadly dungeons and face puzzling trials.

A cheer rises around me. Audience appreciation was encouraged, this, may I remind you, is not a regular orchestral concert. This is a celebration.

A celebration of a series of stories in a complex world which we, the audience, have all connected to in some form or fashion.

The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses at SSE Wembley in London, United Kingdom, has begun.

For 2 full hours I sit in rapt attention. Squeaking, cheering, whispering "yes!" or "love this bit!" or "I remember that!" as the music flies and a projector screen plays scenes from the games which match with the music. All in all, I am the epitome of the exciteable and adorable fan (according to my companion who has had the tragic misfortune, in my mind, of never playing a single Zelda game...yet).

Said companion has been used as a experimental subject in regards to why everyone should attend a fan-related concert.

As someone who has played nearly every Zelda game in existence, apart from any spin-offs, anniversary editions or remakes, I am with Link (the main character) for every flute twirl and trumpet salute; for every slash, dodge and dive that brings back the intense memories of the hours it took to conquer a particular dungeon or the frustration at a particular boss or the terror as the scenery turned to a shadowy underworld with an equally disturbing soundtrack (a particular dungeon I was never able complete unless the light was on and I knew someone else was nearby).

This experience is a unique one. Though they are growing in popularity thanks to the ever-closing gap between "mainstream" and "geek" (in terms of overall acceptance of the validity to celebrate, and be passionate about, such things).

So, why should you go to a concert for film, game, or tv music?

1. It's live music.

 No matter whether you know the significance behind the following tune, did you have an emotional reaction? Get goosebumps? Imagine something?

That is the goal and purpose of music. 

2. It'll take you back to childhood.

Okay, so you aren't going to recall the sweat, tears and cheers that go with finally getting through a difficult dungeon or a testy puzzle. Nor will you feel the nostalgia for entering the main town after a long trek, or laugh at the antics and snark of a particular character. No, you'll, at minimum, you might  get caught tapping your feet to a tune or humming along.

You might even experience your own imaginings to match the music and perhaps even start to catch the particular themes which hearld the hero, or gasp when the music creeps toward the moment Princess Zelda is snatched or the big bad appears. You're imagine will fire up and take you back to the days you knew you could be anything and were. You were a dragon one day. A pirate the next. And then pirate-dragon-detective on the third day.

That's the power of music.

That's why you need to check your calendars to the next themed concert you can find. They are everywhere these days and cover most everything, so who knows, maybe you will find one which plays tunes from childhood, favourite films or a top composer like Hans Zimmer.

Either way, go, listen and revel in the magic with fellow fans, friends and lovers of music.

You don't need to dress up in costumes, or have a heated debated about what game is the best, or critique the representation of the game via the music and clips used. No, all you need is to enjoy the feeling of imagination washing over and through you via the medium of music.

Relax. Let the music transport you and leave you with a satisfaction and smile achieved by one thing only. A connection to possibility.

Passion. Imagination.

Let your mind run wild.


Thursday, 16 April 2015

Cardiff: City of Curios

Some people don't know where Cardiff is, most people don't particularly care about going there. Wales. Really? Tiny. Sidelined next to the big ones. England. Scotland. What's there to do in Wales but see sheep? A lot of sheep?

And stone circles. Lots. Also sacrificial stones. This is a park.

Well, yes, there are sheep. But then again, trek anywhere outside of city walls in the entirety of the United Kingdom (or the green isle of Ireland) and you are going to see sheep. Triple the usual amount too, seeing as it is lamb season.

The other thing people identify Cardiff with is it's position as the base of operations and general action for anything relating to that snazzy and ever-popular network known as the BBC. Everything from little period dramas like Society at Cranford, to series which got far bigger than first imagined like Poldark. Add in more modern suspects like Luther and Misfits and drop the flagship series of Doctor Who, and well, there's few people in the world who don't know what you're talking about.

As such, the city of Cardiff and the country of Wales itself, is a candy store for any afficiando of any BBC drama. Every corner has ended up on a show at least once, if not been used multiple times over for everything from a standard mystery to a supernatural spree.

Except that is not Cardiff. Not really. Or rather, Cardiff is a million more little things than that. Truly, Cardiff is a giant curiousity shop.

On the surface it is just any other town, but peel back the layers, like you might an onion and you see the underbelly that has been germinating thanks to years upon years of countless creative individuals descending upon the town for months at a time to funnel their imaginations into sense, suspense and success for audience satisfaction (and absolute obsession).

Start by wandering down to Cardiff Bay. Make the stop into the fabulous and fantastic Doctor Who Experience (just get it out of your system), spy the TARDIS perched on a rock in the harbour, not far from the Norwegian church where the famous Roald Dahl was baptised as a baby.

Then, beyond you'll spy a great silver building with Welsh words wrapping in block cut-out letters at the front. The Millenium Centre. The words translate to "in these stones horizons sing" and oh do the stones of Wales sing. Stories after stories await in all the corners of Cardiff, whether you believe Captain Jack Harkness is going to saunter up from the Torchwood base below the centre, his miltary coat swinging and witty grin quirked (see wiki if you don't know this awesome character) or you wonder who the people are who pass in and out the doors or along the street. What they do. Who they are. What they have done.

The Millenium Centre (under which sits the Torchwood base of course)

Meander your way back up to Cardiff and you'll probably pass under a bridge stamped with "brains or brawn." If you're me, you'll snort and think, "obvious. Brains are far more superior." The reality is a little bit less interesting as it's just a play on the Welsh branded beer 'Brains.' Once you've hit the city make a beeline for Cardiff castle. It's impressive. Grand walls and a huge grass courtyard lead up to a looming hill on which is perched the central tower. A medieval masterpiece.

It's Brains you want!

The reality? It's a mix-matched revitalised Gothic style with Victorian period flair on the inside and is more of a flagship for the secret curio side of Cardiff than any medieval history might be. Each room is more elaborate than the last, as the Victorian owner, Lord Bute was more focused on updating (and generally bulldozing over (in the metaphorical sense) old Roman and medieval remains into something resembling an overgrown Victorian country house. Excessive is an understatement. But that was the point. Besides, you might say the BBC are a bit excessive with some of their shows so humanity hasn't exactly grown out of the desire to show off stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. Crammed into architectural corners and wooden cupboards.

Back side of Cardiff Castle seen from Bute Park.

None of those are the best bits though. It's finding the corners and corridoors which run in, out, around and between the streets and straight lines of buildings. Known as the arcades these are where the curiousities of Cardiff shine. Quaint tea rooms, old-fashioned barber shops, a bespoke tailor, a boardgame merchant, book shop, camera store and a shop selling more buttons than you coud ever imagine, not to mention the usual vintage clothing and shoe shops. Cardiff also has a ridiculous number of joke and costume shops (possibly an aftershock of it being a centre for crazy creatives who have day jobs prentending to be different people or making characters get into unfortunate situations).

Seating at a cafe down one arcade.

There is even an ice cream parlour, known as Science Cream, which, in front of your eyes, has lab equipped and dressed employees mix up your ice cream using the special ingredient of liquid nitrogen to do so.

Best ice cream ever. And I'm not a big ice cream fan.
 The usual town marketplace, though one of the rare covered ones (as most towns have open air these days) pales in comparision, though it too is a fun romp of two stories full of fresh fruits, veggies, meats, fish, breads, desserts, cafes, fabrics, DIY bits and other such things.

Even the hostels are quirky. The Bunk House is especially so with it's dark main entrance illuminated by lightbulbs in vintage birdcages and a ceiling covered in a rainbow of paper cranes, hot air balloons and faerie lights. The seating is made up of old leather couches, picnic tables with lit up umbrellas and vintage beds with metal or wood headboards and covered in colourful quilts, throws and pillows.

All in all, it makes you wonder at times where the creativity started. Was it Cardiff? With it's blocks of houses called Silurian Place (which happens to be an alien species featured in Doctor Who) or was it just the thousands of creative people and their minds leaking their imaginations across the pavement?

Either way, don't go to Cardiff with the off-chance hope of knocking elbows with actors, writers and directors of your favourite shows, or for fan-cheering the famous locations. Well, you can do that, but also go to Cardiff to explore the corners and quirks.

Who knows, if you sit and think hard enough, some of your brilliant imagination might leave a splash of paint which will be picked up and used in your favourite show later on.


Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Lightbulbs: A Drabble

She wasn't a Betty. Or a Betsy. Not even a Milly, a Molly or a Mandy. Certainly not a Mary or a Charlotte.

Catherine was too pretentious and Elizabeth, too grand.

No, she was just Terry.

This is all learned the third time I met her. Directly, anyway. Though even as I say third time, it might have been the first, for all the two of us knew in the moment. It wasn't until later that I connected the other signposts together.

Either way, it held more weight than our first meeting. Now that one was more of a "pass the salt please" situation, let alone an afternoon's tittle tattle over tea or a duel of wits over drinks. It was born from the stupidity the human race descends into after months of grey lightbulbs suddenly getting switched over to halogen golden. Like flies to flame humanity descended outdoors. Coupled with the usual insanity around working hours, well, I found myself playing human Tetris as I navigated my way through a station and dive-bombed, Olympic style, through the closing doors of the train I needed.

The trials weren't over. Once on, I was still in such fast forward motion I tripped a pair of home-painted converse and slipped into the crack between a six foot five business man with discreet dreadlocks and a gaggle of Spanish girls in heels, only to nearly fall in the lap of an older lady with Einstein hair and a pink jumper with cherries all over it.

I apologised profusely and managed to gather my bearings.

"Up 'n at 'em dear. Don't want to miss your stop."

I apologised again. Righted myself properly and promptly buried my nose in my phone. Three stops later the lady was off and three more stops later the train was less like a can of beans but I was off anyway and back into fresh air and sunshine. I forgot the encounter.

The second time I met her I dropped the three avocadoes I was analysing. You can never tell with avocadoes. Ripe or not to be ripe. That is the ridiculous question and I spend more than enough time as it is, agonising over purchases at the supermarket.

I was bent down, mortified, when a weathered hand dropped into my vision and passed me one avocado.

"Perfect that'un."


"Is. See?" She knocked it with a fist. I winced, practically feeling the avocado squish. "You can always tell the squidgy ones. Bad for business having avocadoes. Don't want a squidgy business."

"Of course."

The old lady eyed me down, "work hard. Help's always wanted. Somewhere. And people always talk. Somewhere."  

"Thanks." I nodded and scarpered off toward the cheeses, even though I had no intention of getting any.

The third time my car had broken down near a canal. I plonked next to it to wait. On the bend of the water's edge was a boat called "Dances with Bears." I idly picked at the grass around my crossed legs and wondered if it was inspired by the film Dances with Wolves, when the boat began to move.


Inch by inch it chugged ahead. A man and woman of around fifty popped out of either side of the boat and jumped up onto the bank.

They began pulling at the levers to set the lock so the boat could move down to the next level as it slipped forward, nose close to the gate. At the back wheel was an old lady of nearly ninety, with Einstein hair and a pink, cherry decorated jumper.

I was nearly at the point of connecting the dots when a furry missile bowled me over. Stick in a drooling mouth, I realised a second later it was only a dog.

"June! Sit!" The old lady, who was presently waiting on the lock to fill with water, commanded.

The dog sat. Panting.

"She's missing a lightbulb today. Land-sick." The lady shouted over to me. I shuffled up from my position on the grass, just to be in polite talking distance.

"It's fine." I said.

The old lady harumphed. "Not on my watch. Been waiting years to command my own ship. A dog's not ruining it."

"Don't mind." I said.

"I don't need help. I said. I don't need help. I'm going to do this." The old lady ranted on, not quite noticing I was standing nearby. Helpless under her tirade.

"Your generation doesn't do anything. We did it all. All. Least my son's generation knew to listen. They had a lightbulb on somewhere." Her rant was cut short by a shout from the couple.

"Terry move 'er in!" They called. "We're ready!"

"Ah. Good timing. Have a lightbulb on me. Buy yourself a boat with lightbulbs." Words passed on, she turned her attention down the narrow strip of the lock and canal. "Come on girl. Let's do this." Inch by inch, the long boat slipped deftly between the narrow sides of the lock bridge and walls.

I cheered with the couple who watched from the other end of the lock.

"Happy trekking," Terry waved. "Places to be and all that."  She whistled with her fingers between her teeth.

"Get on ye runt!" She shouted at her dog. "This bear waits for no creature."

Inspired by the luck of catching a boat moving through a lock on a canal in Wales and my favourite spoken word poet, Shane Koyczan, who grew up not far from my little hometown. Below you'll find the specific poem if your curious. Formally it's known as "Help Wanted" but in the spoke word circles it's got the nickname of "Grandma's Got Her Game On."


Friday, 3 April 2015

Bath: A Tub of History

Stylish. Unanimous. Uniform. Sleek.


The famous Royal Crescent.

Those words and their synonyms summarise Bath. A city which looks to have been built in one era, when in reality, it is part of as many eras as any city in these parts of the world. So what makes it so special? It's in the layers.

Or perhaps it's all in the footnotes.

The Romans founded it.

The Georgian era nobility kept it.

The 21st century stylises it.

When someone asks what period you would most like to go back to, what would you say?

In my experience, most people answer the question as asked. With what period they would love to visit or live in. The problem? Well, the past is never so shiny as we make it out to be and so very few answers are, "no I am quite happy in my own time period."

Today, Bath embodies that particular question. Prompting imaginations to run while as you walk streets lined with the gorgeous symmetry of Georgian design and local, golden Bath stone.

Step down an alley, peer through a crack and you'll start seeing something different. A bit like laying down tiles for a mosaic, Bath is not the sum of one thing. It is the sum of many things. Many eras. But literally built on top of the other.

Below street level, in a hideaway alley behind a row of homes, is the sole remaining Roman gateway. Now it is a just another arched doorway tucked away and forgotten.

Outside the Baths, this is all that's left of the Roman's here.

 Walk to the side of any building and you'll spy the cracks in the facade since the city died off for a time after the Romans left, picked up a little during the medieval period and then died again. Its life-curing waters from the United Kingdom's only hot springs, not enough to sustain the town.

That is, until the 1700's when Queen Anne decided she'd test the legendary water and thus it was built up, to the state it remains in today, with medieval buildings touched up and covered over with the tidy Grecian inspired symmetery and design which is so inconcruous against the time period's excessive fashion of giant hair and giant dresses.

Except for one thing, it's all a facade.

Look in the corner of your eye where you never want to look. Who knows what you'll see.

 Imagine this: elaborate head-pieces which often involved fruit, birds and even a model ship in one woman's hair, was a way to distract everyone's noses from everyone else (since utterly no one properly bathed back then). Even the bathing in the famous spring baths was done still in a mostly complete costume.

Ridiculous. But hey, they were human. We're still human. The internet is 95% full of ridiculous cat pictures and videos. Nothing changes. Humans still dress up, put on shows, put on masks and try on new faces, depending on the people they are with or situations they are in. 

Remembering, and musing upon facades and their place in our lives is the sole reason why I would say visit Bath. To spend the day exploring its hidden corners and tendency to secrete away things which aren't tidy, stylish and neat.

Like this hideout/cafe. Located behind various bushes secreted underneath a bridge of busy traffic.
For me, well, I love good wear and tear, prefering to side with the Japanese view that anything weathered has far more value than something still pristine and untouched. Wear shows use, history and love or desire. But that's me and my personal preference for life. Bath is a puzzle to be ripped apart rather than put back together which makes for an entertaining day of backwards thinking while you pause to photograph the stunning Pulteney Bridge (you might recognise it from the film of Les Miserables where Javert drops to his death), the dizzying Circus or austere Royal Crescent. 

Yes, this is that famous bridge.
 When you first visit Bath don't get pulled into the tourist traps of the Jane Austen Centre, the Roman Baths or the modern Thermae Bath Spa, the Fashion museum or other such attractions.

Start by walking around. Look. Explore. Peer into corners. You'll see wear, tear and ruin beyond the stylish wig of golden stone. Then go check out the tourist spots.

Compare. Which is better? Which is more real? It's not like the Georgian style is a Doctor Who-esque perception filter. Nope. It's real too. Just in a different way.

The Weeping Angels are coming.

And don't forget to try some of the spring water at the Roman Baths.

It will change your life. (Translation: Just open the flipping door and...snap).

Just maybe not how you were expecting.


Monday, 23 March 2015

Season's Greetings

Swinging her bumble-bee coloured wellies while attempting to dive-bomb bread crumbs onto the heads of unsuspecting goose subjects, the little girl gained no attention from her human relations.

Relations being a loose term by the way. For various reasons.

Mostly though, it lies within this particular day of baby whisper breezes, and one tentative cherry blossom who had had too many seasons of being destroyed by wayward footballs to come out too full for too long. Not to mention it hit zero the night before anyway.

It was supposed to be the season of new starts and Winter was on a mission despite having recently retired only a few days prior. As he approached the girl, better known to himself and other folk of nature as Spring, she landed a bit of crust on the head of a bobbing goose, causing it to squawk, spin around and pull the others nearby into a frenzy of waddling argument.

"Don't the humans do enough of that already?"

"Nope." She replied popping the "p." She tore off another piece and held it up near her nose, one eye closed and the other squinting an angle of aim. "It's fun."

Winter snorted and gracefully folded his six foot plus frame onto the bench. Spring turned her head sideways to Winter and giggled.

"Still carrying that face? Don't you get bored. Looking like cracked brownies? I would." 

Winter raised a brow at her sugary metaphor. Last time he had seen Spring she had resembled the cartoon version of a Roma. In other words, a lithe dancer the colour of chocolate with a voice of drum beats. "No," he replied."Besides, looks neither here nor anywhere this side south of the Arbor. It's your turn. Where's the weather gone? Cherry blossoms don't count either. Percy came back yesterday so Demeter's all jubilant."

"Bored. Bored. Utterly bored."

"You could do your job."

"Boring. Did you see that exhibition last week? The beard one? Humans like that sort of thing. And cats. They love cats." With each sentence Spring lobbed a bread bit at a goose, letting out a little "ha" of triumph when the targets lost balance.

"They also like warm weather which facilitates the growing of cherries and strawberries." Winter added with all the patience required of one who tries snowshoeing for the first time. Spring dropped her bag of bread and hopped up on the bench, leaning, elbows on the back of the bench, toward Winter, who merely raised a brow as she exclaimed.

"Do they really. Really? Cause I couldn't see my feet yesterday. I think I was somewhere in Asia. In a field of white stuff."

"You don't say?" Winter drawled.

"Not done yet! Obviously not snow. Plastic probably. Bags. Wasn't really noticing. Cause the moutain was a million, trillion times better than snow. Not cold either. They wouldn't like real strawberries. Too squishy. Too much juice."   

Winter opened his mouth but Spring interrupted with a "oh look! See. See. That's why they don't care. Strawberry ice cream." She pointed at a five year old boy trailing behind his mother, occupied with breaking up a duel for a plastic giraffe between twin girls in the stroller she pushed.

"Give me one reason. One. Why should I give humans a new set of lives this year? Got my geese games. They've got cat pictures. Even. Square. Haven't Anansi and Loki gotten back from the tour yet? Time to move on."

"And leave the storytelling to the Greeks? Have you really fallen so far?" Winter pushed up from the bench in a huff. "You've lost me my best toque."

Spring snorted. "Toque? Seriously? You care about that?"

"I can care about lots of things. One happens to be my favourite hat."

Spring hopped off the bench and looked up at Winter. "Who'd ya bet?"

"Echo." Winter sighed and scuffed his boot in the mud looking more like a child than Spring. The geese who had lingered in hopes of further food scattered, calling Winter various names unmentionable in polite company.

Spring growled and pull off a true tantrum of stomping, fist punching and unintelligeable noises. One goose, either a bit slower in the head than most, or a bit more stupidly brave, got caught in the crossfire of one particular lash out of her bumble-bee wellie.

"Well then. I'll just have to prove that empty girl wrong. Words mean mud and I've got plenty to turn over. Some seeds to plant."

"Is she still playing in the human's fashion world?"


"Still obsessed with Narciss?"


"Brilliant. Laters Winter. I've got me a field of narcissus to grow."