Monday, April 21, 2008

Lottery Winner! WooHoo!

This arrived today! Lucky me. Especially since it's been years since I've bought a ticket.

The Uk National Online Lottery
P O Box 1010 Dublin,
11 GLower Dorset Street(Customer Services)
Ref: UK/9420X2/68Batch: 074/05/ZY36

We are pleased to inform you that your e-mail address has won the UK National Lottery. Therefore you have been approved for a lump sum payout ?,000,000.00 GBP) One Million Pounds in the Uk National Lottery program held on 17th of feb 2008) and released today 19th of feb 2008. The online cyber lotto draws was conducted from an exclusive list of 21,000 email addresses of individual and corporate bodies picked by an advanced automated random computer search from the internet, no ticketsweresold. After this automated computer ballot, your e-mail ID emerged as one of the winners in the 3rd category. You are therefore been approve to lump sum of ?,000,000.00 GBP).

To file and claim your winning, please contact our Fiduciary Agent for the processing of your winning particulars, with the following information's below To file for your claim, please contact our

United Kingdom Lottery FiduciaryName:

Provide him with the information below:
1.Full Name:
2.Full Address:
9 Valid ID card

Yours faithfully,
Mrs. Stella Ellis.
Sweepstakes International Program.
Copyright ?1994-2008
The UK National Lottery Inc.All rights reserved.

The Stench of Success - HP and the Deathly Hollows

Last week, I took it upon myself to read the seventh and final installment of Harry Potter. It's been sat on my shelf, since I bought it. A guilty buy, spurred on by the hype of the release and peer pressure. I kept looking at it and have really not been able to face it. I'm not sure why I needed to read it last week, I just did. I picked it up and waded through it during the course of an evening.

If it were a report written for a developing country, I would say it was very successful; such reports are judged on their ability to kill local cockroaches when dropped from table height. As a work of fiction aimed for children and their parents, I have to say I was less impressed. Half-way through the first chapter I felt myself reaching for a red pen. I found myself wanting to annote my copy with: why is this here? Overwritten. Does not move the story forward. Show, don't tell. With a good editor, she could have had a much better read, using half the space. It's so disappointing. Rowling didn't know who she was writing for, which is a real shame. This confusion has led to her books becoming far more turgid reads from Goblet of Fire through to the Deathly Hallows.

The elements which made the books such good fun in the beginning, the sharp, witty writing have disappeared. I was left with the feeling that she was killing off people for the shock value, rather than to heighten the risk and realism. Realistically speaking, the wedding fiasco which took up far too many pages, was completely unnecessary. It didn't lead to us learning anything really new about the characters or move the story forward in an original or outstanding way. Yes, it did hint to a revelation about Dumbledore...but at what a cost.

The revelation about Snape at the end, which was by far the most interesting and enjoyable part of the whole bloody book, was over in a matter of pages. He died almost as a footnote. The thing which kept me wading through the book was Harry's discovery that Dumbledore was a mere human being was interesting, but I'd have loved to have seen more of Snape (and not just because Alan Rickman is a thinking woman's crumpet).

There. Got that off my chest.

I'm sure there will be people who will rightly say 'who are you to be critical of this successful writer?' and 'you're just jealous'. To you I say, success is not a good enough excuse for sloppy writing. I rest easy with the fact that I'm not going to be JK Rowling, earning however many millions per print run. I'm not sure I'd like to be. Her current court case over her rights over the Harry Potter empire is just crass and cringeworthy.

I think part of the reason Rowling's voice has changed so much since the Philosopher's Stone, is that she has grown into her craft. The true test of her success as an author will be what she writes next. Though, even if she writes a complete dud, she's amassed enough wealth to be comfortable for the rest of her life, for it not to matter one whit.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Holiday ~ in a Madonna-stylie

Yep, what you read is true. I'm on holiday for a week. The big question is: what do I do with my time? I'm so flat broke that going away, even if Boy could have been excused from school, is out of the question. I have a list of things to do around the flat that starts: dust, hoover... You get the picture. There is also the other list of things I Ought To Do: read Virgin Suicides, Sophies World, writing, poetry, photography, as well as reading several academic books so my brain does not turn into Mush (oops, too late). Finding things to do has never been a problem for me, the problem tends to be that I sit in front of the computer and dither on-line for hours on end and suddenly, the day has passed and Boy is asking about dinner. I can waste time like a pro.

I think I'll pass the buck - it's up to you, my faithfull blog readers, to tell me what to do this week. Leave me a comment, I'll pick the one I do and then I'll blog about it and provide relevant evidence. I won't do anything silly, or obscene (unless I really, really want to), but I'm open to ideas.

Go on then, ideas on a postcard!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Nite Out and About

A chance meeting with someone who I used to work with (when I was gainfully employed) has led to Friday nights out, good drink, good food, good female company. Which has been all very well and good, but I've had to work the Saturdays after. Mind you, I'm not exactly living it up; I'll be in bed well before midnight, I was fully dressed when I went out, I'm going to bed with the cat and the contents of my stomach are staying put.

Since I last posted, I've been working quite a few hours, I've wrenched my shoulder and been pottering around the house. The green things I've planted have in the main lived and are even thriving. I have managed to kill a couple plants, but I suspect that was just them, rather than me. In a warm spell Boy and I did some gardening, but I have no idea how the plants are doing because since then the weather has been crap. One Saturday started off sunny, went dark, chucked it down, it then turned to snow, sleet and hail and then we had a brilliantly clear sunset. I'm getting pretty fed-up of this global warming malarkey. People start recycling now, I need a decent Spring.

Next week I've got some time off. I shall be pottering round the flat, doing the jobs which have been somewhat neglected for awhile. I'm not sure I understand the point of dusting regularly. The more I dust and clean, the more I need to dust and clean. What's that about? It's quite irritating that. I've also planned to go dancing with Hottie, meditation with the Chant Ladies and birthday shenanigans on Friday with Josie (my Friday-night drinking lady).

I've been writing again. A poem on Tuesday and I'm beginning to work on a couple of ideas for possible plots. It's so good to feel creative again. The photos I've taken recently haven't been brilliant, but they're starting to get me in the swing of things again. I've also been working with my old course, providing feedback on the on-line forum for pieces of fiction. I think doing that, more than anything else, has spurred me to be creative again. I've missed it so much. I feel whole when I'm doing creative endeavours, empty when I just exist. It's really making me think about starting the MA again in October and how I'm going to afford it. One of the things that I'm coming to realise is that I have it in my power to find a way. It might not be an easy way, but I can and will do it.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

S is for...

Today improved no end when I got home with Chinese. I took off my uniform, make-up and changed into my jammies and pink fluffy dressing gown. As I write this, I have an extra accessory. Her name is Carla and she is a Royal Python. She's a guest while Boy's dad is away for 2 weeks and has been hiding in her plastic cave, in the vivarium in Boy's room. She was brought out for 5 mins on Sunday and has been out for quite awhile tonight. Apparently, she is a bit of a nervous soul and can get stressed quite easily. She's draped across my shoulder trying to find her way down to the carpet to play with the cat. You've never seen a better example of feline unimpressedness this evening when Solitaire realised my lap was moving.

I don't mind snakes or frogs, but I'm not keen on tarantulas or scorpions. Ewww. I really don't like scorpions - nasty tempered creatures. The tarantulas we saw in Trinidad were far enough away for me not to worry about. There was one that had a silk tent in the corner of the roof of the veranda in Morro House, in the bush. She would sleep in her tent during the day; you could tell she was home by the silver tips of her front feet which would be peeking out her doorway. I never actually saw her leave her tent to go hunting in the evening. We would be swinging in the hammock, drinking the local beer, chatting, I'd glance up and her tent would be empty. Unfortunately, her diet did not include the local hornets called Jap Spaniards by the locals. These hornets seemed to seek Boy out. I can't remember a visit where he hasn't got stung. Bastard things. At least the tarantula lived and let us alone.

Carla is still a young snake and hasn't reached her full potential yet. I was surprised how cool to the touch her skin was; and she doesn't particularly like being stroked, or she didn't, the first time Boy plonked her on my lap. When she's shy, she pulls herself into a tight, ball of stress and it takes her a while to relax and sprawl out. But once she sprawls, she likes to have a nose around and can be quite determined once she wants to go in a particular direction. I've since put her back in her little cave because I got fed up of her using my left wrist as an anchor as she tried to go over my shoulder, the back of the chair and head for the floor. She's really got a good grip, but will let go if necessary.

It's funny trying to describe a snake in terms of a pet, because they don't show emotion the way that mammals do. I knew she thought I was ok because she didn't stay long in her stress ball and even when I got up and walked around, she was loosely draped. I realised that I'm so used to dealing with animals that have a greater level of interaction with with me, that dealing with a snake can be a bit disconcerting, I was constantly checking with Boy if I was 'doing it right'. He was busy killing things on-line and let me and her bond. I must admit, she's not bad company for a snake. At least she's not smelly.

Waiting for Paint to Dry

Yesterday evening, I thought I'd finished the triptych. I kicked back, drank a glass of raspberry beer and contemplated my work. As I co...