Welcome to a very exciting Witness Protection Programme email, as we invite you all to step outside your secret lives, and join us for an evening of books, books, books, more books, and maybe even some songs!
“It has been a week and the phone does not seem to ring. Another boring day dreaming and longing for an opportunity… She sat there, in front of her computer screen, checking her inbox every 5 minutes with the hope someone would reply to any of her applications.
Her work at the Hotel was no longer satisfying, and the thought of having to go back there, made her stomach turn and her mood gloomy.
‘The weather in London is always mood lifting’, she thought.
Being a full-time student, little or nothing helped, in her job search. She sat there wondering in an almost pretentious way, that she had the skills, personality and last but not least, she had knowledge and experience. She would never apply for a job, she knew for a fact, she would not be able to be at her best and perform like a pro.
Since she moved to England, she had applied for more than 200+ jobs. Nevertheless, she was determined to make a name for herself.
Unfortunately for her, University was still 1 year from being over and that Paper… She only needs a Diploma. A paper that seems to carry all the evidence of what she already knows.
‘What a waste of my time’, she whispered while lifting her cup of Tea.
She had by now developed a taste for a milky tea, something unthinkable to her before.
‘Why in the hell would you mix the two of them?’ Never made sense to her and she could not be bother to even try to understand its origins. She enjoyed it now and that was all that matter.
It has been another day at home, in bed, wearing pyjamas and drinking the same tea, made in the same weird milky way, in the same mug she decided as the ‘Lucky one’.
See, that matter here is that she was not your average type of girl.
While most of the young females between 19-25, think about hair, nails, drinking Costa coffees and partying down in Piccadilly with the fresh meat, she would sit and plan her future: Buying her first house, marrying, being a mother and running not only, a great home but a great business. How good that sounded to her only she knew.
‘My Curriculum can’t be that bad! I refuse to believe that know is calling me!’, she walked frenetically back and forward in the room. Than a pause, than a rush, silence, fury and body movement flux.
The room seem to shrink and her heart beat was increasing by the second. She now looked for comfort in her own arms and self-hugging never seemed so appropriate.
It made her feel warm and safe, but lonely and dark.
Her body was now lying there, in the same bed she spent a fair amount of hours procrastinating about the tomorrow. It’s all so tiring, all seems uncertain, all in a blur, like the closing of eyes.
Tomorrow is yet to come. “
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Lots of Love Laurean
We are almost there! The weekend never seemed so close
In case you guys noticed my Post titles, they are bits and pieces of the book I’m writing
Lots of Love Laurean X
When I made Rachel Wolfe a Mormon in The Icon Thief, I had no idea that she’d end up as the central figure in City of Exiles. At the time, as I’ve explained before, I saw it as a convenient way to give her a little more personality, and it provided me with just enough material to enliven a crucial supporting character. Later, when Wolfe was upgraded to the status of lead protagonist, I realized that there were a number of directions in which I could take this particular detail. I could simply retcon it out of existence, or, more reasonably, ignore it as something that wasn’t relevant to the story; I could make her a lapsed Mormon, which might have been thematically interesting in itself; or I could embrace it, making Wolfe a devout Mormon who was unironically smart, admirable, and brave. When in doubt, I’ve learned to go with the idea that seems the most challenging, so I went with the final option. In practice, the novel splits the difference between the last two approaches: Wolfe is serious about the role of faith in her life, but she’s also full of doubt, and although the result may not be as pure as it was in my head, it ended up being better for the novel as a whole, as well as more suited to my personality as a writer.
All the same, even if Wolfe was starting to question her religious assumptions, I wanted her to maintain the externals as much as possible. There are aspects of Mormonism that seemed utterly organic to her character as a straitlaced federal agent, and I tried to keep as many of these as I could: the teetotalling, the avoidance of debt, the lack of swearing. It also seemed appropriate to the concerns of the overall novel. City of Exiles is a crowded story with a dense web of themes, not all of them intuitively related, but they all tend to center on the idea of exile itself: national, spiritual, and emotional. Exiles often maintain a semblance of their old ways long after they’ve experienced a change of address, and it felt right that Wolfe would continue, for example, to pray every morning, although she’s no longer sure if anybody is listening. She’ll always be a stickler for structure, even as she learns to improvise her way around the obstacles the world presents, and it made sense to me that she’d continue to value the ways in which these traditions have shaped her life, long after she’s left the country of the saints.
This is why I open Chapter 4 with the image of Wolfe on her knees, an unconscious echo of the kneeling body we saw earlier in the book. I still think it’s a startling introduction: we’ve met Wolfe already, both in the previous novel and in a prior chapter, but this is her real debut as the heart of the story. Before long, we’ll jump back into the plot, which has to cover a lot of ground, but first I wanted to give Wolfe a contemplative page or two to set up her personal journey. I dressed the set as carefully as I could with details that would hint at what her life has been like in London. She’s living in a sterile extended stay apartment in Vauxhall, but there’s a lump of bread dough rising on the counter—a nod, perhaps, to the way she was brought up, and also what strikes me now as an interesting bit of symbolism, although I didn’t see it at the time. She walks to work along the Thames, which, with its muddy, depressing bank, counts as another way the city has failed to live up to her expectations. (I’ve walked the same stretch of the river.) And when she arrives at the office, she’s faced with a choice: prolong a foundering investigation, or cut her losses and take what she can get now.
We’re also introduced to a number of key supporting characters at the Serious Organised Crime Agency, some of whom will go on to play an important role both in this book and in Eternal Empire. There’s Maya Asthana, Wolfe’s deskmate and best friend in London, pretty, a little vain, and the sharpest person in the office when she isn’t busy planning her wedding; Arnold Garber, a hothead pushing the team to focus on immediate results; and Dana Cornwall, the flinty officer in charge of the intelligence directorate, who finds herself struggling to balance political concerns with the needs of the investigation. (Cornwall’s name is a nod, sightly disguised, to the man who calls himself John le Carré, as well as to another fictional character whose identity should come as no surprise.) And, of course, there’s Alan Powell, Wolfe’s mentor, whose example she has increasingly begun to question. I’ve spoken elsewhere about how I took pains to fill out the ensemble here more carefully than I did in The Icon Thief, thinking that the resulting combinations of characters might be useful. As it turned out, this was absolutely the case, and in ways that shocked even me. But that’s a story for much later…
Bartholomew Daniels is an avid book collector and it was through his purchase of a wooden chest of unwanted novels and forgotten papers at an estate sale in Illinois last year that he made the extraordinary discovery of several lost Shakespeare journals.
Bartholomew is also a close friend of novelist Dan O’Shea, who encouraged him to set about editing these manuscripts so that modern readers might be able to thrill to them also.
Bartholomew Daniels said: “Shakespeare the writer is the colossus of English literature. But Shakespeare the man is an enigma. These manuscripts I’ve been privileged enough to discover and edit cast new light on Shakespeare’s secret life as a
detective in the cut-throat world of Elizabethan England.”
Bartholomew Daniels was from his mother’s womb untimely ripped on April 23, 1959. The Chicago-area writer is a long-time Shakespeare aficionado, and sees the chance to edit the Bard’s lost journals detailing Shakespeare’s unfortunate adventures as an unwilling Elizabethan gumshoe as the chance of a lifetime.
In real life, due to legal entanglements and security concerns surrounding the lost manuscripts, Mr. Daniels lives at a secure, undisclosed location.
Rotten at the Heart (April 2014)
Rotten at the Heart is the first in a series of Shakespearean mysteries featuring and narrated by the Bard himself.
London, 1596. With his patron’s mysterious death leaving Will on the brink of ruin and eviction, he’s forced to fall back on his own inimitable powers of observation in order to ferret out the killer and in so doing unravel a conspiracy that goes straight to the beating heart of the court of Queen Elizabeth I.
Rooted in historical fact and written in Will’s own accessibly Elizabethan voice, Rotten At the Heart explores the intersection of religion, politics, and corruption, and underscores the sacrifices that honour demands when a troubled man finally discovers his own.
Introducing Wm. Shakespeare: Detective.
For fans of David Liss and, of course, Shakespeare himself…
Praise for William Shakespeare:
“The great master who knew everything”
– Charles Dickens
Throughout the past few years I have come to know many people, now friends, who for various reasons are, or were, homeless. Antonio, slept on a park bench and was beaten, had his teeth kicked out, for no other reason than his choice to sleep outdoors. He is a small, gentle man who has a phobia about enclosed spaces.
Craig, slept on the sidewalk in the freezing cold. I see him every morning and am never sure if, when I lift the corner of his sleeping bag, I will find him dead or alive. Sometimes, he confided, he would prefer never to awake.
Joy is a friend who fell on hard times. She slept behind a dumpster in back of Starbucks. I have seen her with blackened eyes, bruised legs, cracked ribs, cut and swollen lips. I usually see her sitting on the sidewalk ‘panning’ for change.
I can’t do much for these people except to show them love, compassion, an ear to listen, perhaps a breakfast sandwich and a coffee. I would like to do more. To know them is to love them. What has been seen cannot be unseen. I have started to write an account of their daily lives. I intend to turn this into a book and have it published. That is my goal.
I am writing articles and biographies of Joy and other street people. They have been informed that they don’t have to use their real names, that any profits would go back to the homeless and that it could be a vehicle to say whatever they want to the population at large.
I love my work and maybe even more teaching to hairdressers what I have learned on my long way in arriving where I am at the moment. I love to teach my skills and knowledge to make up artist’s and hair do passionate’s how to style amazing hairstyles!!
You can find here inspiring hairstyles from my daily works: bridal hairdos, photo shootings for magazines, TV programs and much more.
Find Me Online
In the late 1990s, I stood behind Debbie Harry in line at Sloan’s. We lived in the same apartment complex, a behemoth. Sloan’s, the unsavory supermarket around the block, was our common ground. One summer evening, a rat crawled past my flip-flop-clad feet while I waited in the checkout line. I vowed never again to wear flip-flops while food shopping. If this essay is an allegory, I’m the rat, scurrying along interpretive thoroughfares where my filth isn’t wanted.
In the late 1970s, I listened to Blondie with a fanaticism founded on my belief that Debbie Harry’s vocal delivery would give me tips on differentiating the genuine from the fake in the apocalyptic world of romantic love, where I was a befuddled amateur, working intermittently on my heterosexuality as if it were last Sunday’s crossword puzzle, a confusing grid of boxes I’d not given up trying to fill.
Every inflection of Harry’s voice I followed, memorized, sought to explain. Why did she approach a cry or a cheer, why did she flatten a vowel or slur a consonant, why did an aluminum aura complicate a phrase? Was she angry, infatuated, indifferent—or was she turning emotionality into an amusing diversion?
I admired her voice’s Lancelot edge, but also its indirection, its underworld willingness to grow tarnished and to sound unsentimentally street-schooled. Phrase by phrase, her voice switched sides. Momentarily, in her timbre, a metallic yet bubblegum inflection emerged—suggesting irony, wit, shininess, rage, and a fondness for things plastic and repeatable. Then, in a flash, she’d adopt a rueful, bluesy sound. She quoted mannerisms from other singers, other milieux; punk London warred with suburban New Jersey. She leapt between the borrowed and the original, the emotive and the shellacked.
Even her physical beauty seemed ironic; she seemed to deploy it as an analytical torch, a secret agent, dismantling the stereotypes she cheerfully traversed. In the Polaroid snapshots that Andy Warhol took of her in 1980, she gazes at him—and at the viewer—from across the moat of received wisdom, whose toxicity can’t touch her; with us, she exchanges a complicit glance, as if to say, We understand the joke that gender is, and we understand how masterfully I embody its barbed glories. Like Edie Sedgwick, Harry seemed a cynical sylph with whom he could giddily unpack the fenced goods stuffed in gender’s suitcase.
MUCH MORE OF THIS GREAT ESSAY AT Debbie Harry at the Supermarket : The New Yorker.
Almost thirty years ago, in 1985, a London graffiti artist by the name of “King Robbo” threw this piece up in the Regent’s Canal tunnel in Camden. Little did he know that he would still be working on it decades later…
This is a picture of the exact same piece in 2006. It had been scribbled on, tagged, and painted over to the point that the original was almost completely cover up and barely visible.
Out of nowhere came infamous London street artist “Banksy” in 2009. In his signature stencil style, he painted a city worker covering the now grey walls with “graffiti wallpaper.” Banksy’s style is so unique and well-known that he oftentimes doesn’t even include a tag with his work. People started buzzing all over town; this had just sparked a battle between legends.
Upon seeing Banksy’s alteration to his original piece, King Robbo was not happy. His work had not been seen in public for over a decade, yet he came out of retirement to strike back against Banksy. According to King Robbo, in an exclusive interview, “He broke a graff code of conduct and for a lawless community we have a lot of laws, so I had to come back. What people don’t realise is that he’d already gone over loads of my stuff before and I hadn’t bothered retaliating but this time it was just so deliberate, so cowardly. If you’ve got the hump about something, you send a message and discuss it like gentlemen, you don’t wipe out a piece of graffiti history. But that’s what he does, never expresses his own opinion, he puts something out and lets people fool themselves, he’s smart in that respect.”
This rebuttal piece was painted on Christmas day in 2009. King Robbo said of his piece, “it was actually pretty sloppy, I’d gone out Christmas morning, done it quickly and just thought ‘fuck it’. I didn’t even know how to post it on the Internet afterwards let alone think it would cause the fuss it did.” The media immediately jumped on this and all of London was talking about it. The street art vs. graffiti war had begun, and was now in full force. According to legend, there was an encounter in the late 90s between King Robbo and Banksy. King Robbo claims that he ran into Banksy at a party, and Banksy ”decided to get cocky and say ‘I’ve never heard of you,’ so I gave him a swift backhand and said ‘you may never have heard of me but you’ll never forget me’ and that was that.” King Robbo is convinced that Banksy’s attack on him was a deliberate retaliation for his disrespectful actions.
For MORE CLICK HERE= Banksy vs. King Robbo Street Art vs. Graffiti | Modern Hieroglyphics.
Last Wednesday, we invited Jon Swartz of Black Ink down to Richmond, Virginia to paint a mural at the RVA Street Art Festival. We had a wild weekend and found just enough time to squeeze in an interview.
Where are you originally from?
Rochester, New York. Moved to Philly when I was nine? Or eight? Something like that. Let’s just say I’m from Philly.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be? When did you know you’d end up being a professional artist?
When I was five years old, my dad gave me some watercolors and he let me do my thing. He said he saw something in it, so he immediately started pushing it, you know. I was with it… I really wanted to do it for some reason. I don’t even know what drove me to do it in the first place.
But after realizing I had something, I wanted to be a comic book artist. So I would just copy comic books, for hours and hours and hours. My mom saw me doing it, so she gave me an anatomy book. She saw me drawing muscles that looked ridiculous, so the book showed me the real way that they should look. I would study those, I would study comic books, and that’s kinda when I learned how to draw.
I’ve always been a huge fan of traditional aerosol street art and graffiti, but I recently came across an artist who has been switching it up: instead of painting on walls, Paul Curtis (Moose) uses a powerwasher to remove dirt and grime off of walls, resulting in the creation of stunning images and patterns. The new art form is known as “reverse graffiti” or “clean tagging,” and is growing in popularity all over the world. This is the story of Moose.
How and when did the name Moose come about?
It was never meant to be an artist name, I never actually meant to be an artist… It was a nickname given to me one day after I’d spent a day walking around my art school. I was telling everybody that I was a warehouse, or a moose, or a Waldorf salad. I would say, “I’m a warehouse” and spread my arms wide as if to make a box. Luckily that one didn’t stick, and the next day my friend Damien remembered that I’d told him that I was a moose. So he said, “You’re a moose aren’t you?” with a group of friends around, and they all agreed. I was grateful to lose my real name, Paul, and I would have settled for almost anything in its place. I was nineteen at the time, so for nearly thirty years I’ve been Moose.
Where are you originally from and how has that brought you to where you are now?
Born in Manchester and grew up in Cheshire until I was 8, then moved South until I was 12, then up North to Leeds… So everytime I moved I had an accent from the wrong part of the country. I learned quickly how to change and fit in, and that was the start of a great ability that I have for being able to deal with most people on level terms. From the age of 14, when I started watching bands play live, I was fascinated by the people who came on stage and moved the equipment around. Almost as much as the bands themselves. That’s what lead me into working in music and events. After becoming one of those people… even though I still love that job… I started looking for something new.
I am a 20 something year old human who likes to think, care and share. So I decided to make this blog.
Here you will find ideas to stimulate your thinking about life and living.
- Random stuff written be me.
- Links to thought-provoking videos and articles.
- Book recommendations.
- Nice Quotes.
Please share your comments and opinions. If you have the audacity to try making friends with random people on the internet – feel free to contact me with the contact form. I would love to hear from you! 🙂
I am writing a story.
I am writing the greatest story I can.
I am writing the story of my life.
A brilliant speech by David Foster Wallace. He discusses empathy as a way of life, to get out of being stuck in your own head. To being aware of the beauty of the human experience and connect with others.
Our reality is based on how we interpret and give meaning to things. But this is a choice that we can make – we can choose our own reality.
I highly recommend reading the full transcript rather than just watching the video.
I have traveled a lot the past 3 years since graduating university. My employer has allowed me to live and work in a variety of locations internationally.
In each place I have had to find and make new friends and after all this time have become quite good at it. I am very selective with people I choose as friends. I only want genuine, kind people who are able to discuss challenging topics with a rational and nuanced perspective. These people are quite rare.
I have grown tired of frequently changing my location and losing my connections – keeping in touch through the internet just isn’t as fulfilling. So I am moving to London soon where I intend to stay for a few years at least.
These are some of the methods I will use to meet some great people:
- Couch Surfing – I have made a lot of my absolute best friends here in the last year. It is a great site filled with travelers that you can meet in your local area. I primarily use this to find people who I might become good friends with. There are usually weekly meetings and other events and most people are not averse to meeting up from a direct message. I have hosted once but not used it to surf while travelling.
- meetup.com – I haven’t used this one much as there aren’t many events in my current city. But it seems to have a lot of cool events, especially in larger cities.
- Dating sites. eg. okcupid.com – Made some really amazing friends through this, doesn’t need to be used just for dating.
- Volunteering. – I plan on combining my passions of education and coaching to do some mentoring with school kids, preferably ones that need it the most. You can meet all sorts of Altruistic, like-minded people through volunteer organizations.
You have to be persistent. You have to be confident enough to single out people who interest you and to engage them in a one to one situation where you can really get to know each other through deep, meaningful and open conversation.
Whether you are moving to a new city or just want to upgrade your current social circles, give it a go!
As much as we might prefer to think that the internet just happens, the fact is that it comprises a massive physical infrastructure. In an exclusive excerpt from his new book Tubes, Andrew Blum takes us on a tour of the internet’s most important US hideout.
Ashburn, Virginia is a small town that Internet people think of as a giant city. They toss around “Ashburn” as if it were London or Tokyo, and often in the same sentence. The reason why lies behind an Embassy Suites hotel in an unmarked complex of buildings owned by a company called Equinix. The Internet works because every network is connected, somehow, to every other. Where do those connections physically happen? More than anywhere else in America, the answer is “Ashburn.” This is the bullseye of America’s Internet.
On the hot June day I visited, a maintenance worker wearing a surgical mask swept the empty sidewalk. Jetliners buzzed by low overhead. Heavy-duty power lines hemmed in the horizon. I saw no proper entrance to speak of and no signs, only blank steel doors that looked like fire exits. But the parking lot was full, and I followed a guy into the security lobby of what turned out to be the wrong building. When I finally found Dave Morgan, the director of operations for the complex, he saw no reason to apologize. On the contrary, confusion was his goal: customers are reassured by the anonymity of the place “except maybe on their first visit.” Then he shared a handy tip for the next time I found myself similarly lost on the way to the Internet: look for the door with the ashtray next to it.
I passed through three layers of security-biometric scanner, man-trap, steel mesh wall-and then it was like stepping into a machine, all rush and whir. The high ceiling was painted black, like a theater, and disappeared in the dimness. I faced a long aisle lined with darkened cages, each with a handprint scanner by the door. Blue spotlights created a repeating pattern of soft glowing orbs. “It’s a bit like Vegas,” my guide, a “recovering network engineer” named Eric Troyer, said, “no day or night.”
Equinix’s customers are network operators of all sizes, from Verizon to Telecom Malaysia, Facebook to Wikipedia. They rent space here, ranging from a single rack to an apartment-sized suite. Some will ship their equipment ahead and pay to have it “racked and stacked.” Others, affectionately known as “server huggers,” spend their days here. “They’re locals, like Norm in Cheers, pulling up his bar stool,” Troyer said, nodding in the direction of a large guy in jeans and a black T-shirt. “But this is not a resort destination.”
Equinix Ashburn isn’t a warehouse for data. It’s a distribution depot, mostly occupied by networking equipment: machines in the exclusive business of negotiating with other machines. A company like Facebook, eBay, or a large bank will have its own data center in the boonies-somewhere electric power is cheap and there’s fiber in the ground. Then it will tether in here, spraying its data out from its own cage to the cages of Internet service providers and backbone networks. (This is exactly what Facebook does.) The heavy-duty storage happens elsewhere; the wheeling and dealing-the actual exchange of bits-happens here.
The Internet doesn’t make itself. It is built on connections between networks agreed on with a handshake and consummated with the plugging in of a yellow fiber-optic cable. Technically, those connections could happen across any distance. But it’s more efficient to do it directly, plugging my box into your box, in an exponentially repeating pattern. Equinix Ashburn satisfies that basic economic and technical desire: it is cheaper and easier to connect two networks directly than to rely on a third network to do it for you.
When two networks want to connect to each other, they’ll request a “cross-connect,” and an Equinix technician will climb a ladder and unspool a yellow fiber-optic cable from one cage to the other. Laying cables is something of an art form, with different types placed at different layers, like a data center mille-feuille. The oldest cables are on the bottom of the pile. “It’s almost like an ice core,” Troyer said. “As you dig down you’re going to see sediment from certain time periods.”
Given the monthly fee Equinix charges for each “cross-connect,” this is the bread and butter of the business. The bean counters see each one as monthly recurring revenue. The network engineers see vectors. The data center techs see the sore back they’ll get reaching up to the racks to run the cables. But in the most tangible way possible, these cables, and this building, are the Inter in Internet: the space in between.
Equinix Ashburn is the extreme logical opposite of the Internet’s standard proposition: if most days we count on the Internet to let us be anywhere, this is the place where the Internet connects to the earth. It is the seam between the global brain and the geologic crust.
Map by Geo-Tel
It was decided that the award winning Thrillers, Killers ‘n’ Chillers had run its course. Other projects/deadlines/real life were getting in the way of being able to run the mag as it was so… as I’m like a dog with a bone, I decided to give it a re-vamp. Hence, Thrills, Kills ‘n’ Chaos.
I thought it only right that the legacy that best selling author Matt Hilton originally started back in 2008 should carry on – so TKnC is still here.
As with the old place, all genres will be published BUT with a max word count of 1000.
Please read the Submission Guidelines page for more info.
I really hope that you will support the new webzine and enjoy the adventure.
Bio: Chris Benton was born and raised in Wilmington, North Carolina where he still resides (though not for long, thank Christ). His stories have appeared in A TWIST OF NOIR, PLOTS WITH GUNS, THRILLER’S KILLER’S ‘N’ CHILLERS, BLACK HEART, CRIME FACTORY, and SHOTGUN HONEY. He can be found on FACEBOOK…
Our heavenly father was horny last night and decided to fuck our trailer park into countless pieces. I was fine with such destruction; I despised most of my neighbors, especially the younger ones, whose faces were already bloated by endless streams of beer and screams. What I wasn’t fine with was that my son, David, was missing after the storm. David was about to turn ten this Good Friday and both of us were looking forward to eating shitty pizza and watching fuzzy robots singing for us inside a safe, dark space.
I woke up in a bed of cattails nodding proudly at me. The sun was smiling like a maniac through a true Carolina Blue and I was strangely content within these kind reeds. I wanted to linger there for another hour or two, but unfortunately, my son was waiting for me.
The only thing I was wearing was a Slayer T-shirt. My legs and bush were bright with blood. When I found a handful of balance, my body began screaming, so I screamed with it. My legs were already beginning to go bye-bye when I stepped on Kelly Paulson. She was beneath a mattress and moaning like she was freshly grudge fucked by her crack head husband who was executed last year. I didn’t feel bad stepping on her; she was beyond insult and injury. Something had taken the top of her head off, showing the world just how bad her memories were. I knelt beside her and told her, “It’s alright honey, just stay calm, help is on the way.” It was the greatest lie of our age, and I was amazed how hot my tongue was when I told it. I felt like telling it to the world, right then and there, felt like becoming a prophet of its absurdity, traveling through ravaged land after ravaged land, preaching the futile infinity of its gospel.
Bio: Scott Dingley has worked as a London-based copywriter, publicist and film reviewer for Channel 4, Film4 and various film websites. He is the author of novellas The Renegade Hunters and The Tied-Down Man, and his short stories published on the web include The Devil’s Elbow and A Hard-To-Shake Melody.
I think chicken or egg as I turn the TV dial through the airwaves and get, wall-to-wall, the disaster emergency message they keep looping.
Focusing, I fix the lens to the camera body and admire its sparkling glass contours. Focus (that’s cute), that’s what I need.
I assemble the rest of the camera pieces just as lovingly. I sold most of my stuff and worked a lot of lonely overtime to buy this camera. All worthless, materialistic junk at the end of the day…
(Did I mention I take photographs?)
I take them because, well, they capture time, that’s it in a nutshell I guess. They say you can’t, that it waits for no man, but you can steal a tiny fraction of time out of the universe and you can keep it. There it is, forever; slip it in your wallet, frame it on your wall. No one will miss it. I like to steal those little moments and relive them at my speed. Take them out of circulation like a thousand dollar bill.
Heck, all that’s living in the past, that’s what you figure. Some people say I live in the future too, so someone’s wrong.
There have been a lot of them recorded since these things—these time machines—were invented. Everyone’s got their favourites, you name it: the Hindenburg fireball, Man on the Moon, Oswald getting shot, the tennis girl scratching her butt. For me, it’s all about the decisive moment.
Bio: Paul D. Brazill was born in England and lives in Poland. He is an International Thriller Writers Inc. member whose writing has been translated into Italian, Polish and Slovene. He has had bits and bobs of short fiction published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books Of Best British Crime 8 and 10, alongside the likes of Ian Rankin, Neil Gaiman and Lee Child. He has edited a few anthologies, True Brit Grit– with Luca Veste – and is the author of Guns Of Brixton,The Kelly Affair, Gumshoe and 13 Shots Of Noir. His blog is here.
‘Let’s get ready to rumble,’ says Scopey, in an annoying Donald Duck voice.
Scopey is one of those people that you just want to twat and twat and twat. He’s a twitchy smack-head who peppers his conversations with impersonations of cartoon characters.
‘Awld on,’ says Binky, looking suitably pissed off.
He moves the pub’s tables into a semi-circle. Patsy, the pasty faced landlady, glances up from her Sudoku when one of the legs squeaks on the floorboards. Glares. Binky forces a smile and looks like he’s having a stroke.
‘Ta for your help, BeBop,’ he says to me. ‘Appreciate it.’
‘Nowt I can do,’ I say. ‘Gotta keep hold of this.’
I tap the camcorder. ‘Don’t want anyone TWOCing it, do I?’
Binky looks around at The Fisherman’s Arms’ geriatric customers.
‘Yeah, that’ll be right,’ he says.
‘You’re a big lad, Binky,’ I say. ‘You can manage.’
And he is big. Massive. A behemoth with a shaved head and a face latticed with scars.
‘Ready when you are,’ says Scopey. He wipes his snotty nose with his shirt sleeve and does a more than passable Woody Woodpecker laugh.
I switch on the camcorder.
‘Ladies first,’ says Binky, amping up his Glasgow accent for the camera.
‘Yabba dabba do,’ says Scopey.
He grunts as he slams a fist into Binky’s guts.
Binky grasps Scopey’s fist in his catcher’s mitt sized paws, turns to the camera and winks. He chuckles as he crushes the hand, the cracking of bone quickly drowned out by Scopey’s screams.
Scopey crumbles onto the sticky pub floor. Binky stands on Scopey’s knee until it pops and Scopey passes out.
A couple of boozehounds sat at a table by the fruit machine furtively look over disapprovingly. Binky turns to me with a shit eating grin, gives the double thumbs up and takes a bow.
‘How was that, chief?
‘Good one,’ I say.
I switch off the camcorder.
‘Piece of piss,’ says Binky.
I lean over and stuff a handful of notes into Scopey’s shirt pocket.
‘Pleasure doing business with you,’ I say, my back creaking as I straighten up.
Born in Washington, D.C.
Grew up in Potomac, Maryland.
Graduated from New York University, Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Concentration entitled, “Exploring and Examining Otherness: Japan as well as The Globe.” Colloquium/Rationale entitled, “The Hero as Other.”
June 2013, commissioned by Zest Books as a freelance illustrator to create cover and interior art for a number of upcoming titles.
Currently living in San Francisco.
★★★ thepoetandtheflea.storenvy.com ★★★
★★★ thepoetandtheflea.storenvy.com ★★★
★★★ thepoetandtheflea.storenvy.com ★★★
★★★ thepoetandtheflea.storenvy.com ★★★
★★★ thepoetandtheflea.storenvy.com ★★★
Professionally printed zine featuring the first 10 pages of graphic novel The Poet and the Flea by G. E. Gallas.
Manga-sized (8.25″x10.75″), saddle-stiched with 80-pound glossy paper cover and 60-pound high bright paper interior.
★ ”Smithereens” Zine ★
“Smithereens: Mammon’s Ring-Posy,” poem by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 – 1882) and illustrated by G. E. Gallas.
Printed and assembled by G. E. Gallas. Illustrations printed on 65-pound, nautral-color paper packaged in a lilac envelope with handwritten inscription.
★ “The Ink Drinker” Zine ★
“The Ink Drinker,” a short story by G. E. Gallas.
The dystopian story of a young girl who learns the truth about an outcast of society.
Printed and assembled by G. E. Gallas. Cover printed on 65-pound, nautral-color paper. Interior printed on 24-pound, white paper.
★ The Flea Plush Toy ★
The sinister antagonist of The Poet and the Flea by G. E. Gallas.
Based on William Blake’s “The Ghost of a Flea.”
Body and limbs made of khaki green crew socks (80% cotton, 20% nylon). Horns, ears and claws made of buttonhole stitched green felt.
★ The Poet Oval Button ★
Button featuring protagonist William Blake from graphic novel The Poet and the Flea by G. E. Gallas.
High quality, USA made, 1.75″x2.75″ oval button.
Note: For those interested, the following is the rationale I wrote for my senior colloquium at New York University: Gallatin School of Individualized Study (for more information, click here). This rationale is basically a map of my personal history, thought process, and creative inspiration. The notions explored here hold great significance in all my work.
The Hero as Other
From an early age, I found the idea of the hero and his journey fascinating. During middle school, Joseph Campbell’s universal formula of the hero’s quest became the nucleus of my understanding of all narrative mediums. For me, Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces is a work of cultural anthropology, which identifies a remarkable array of elements occurring cross-culturally within the ancient tradition of storytelling.
During my first year of college, I took a course at Smith College called “Writing, Japan and Otherness,” which helped evolve my understanding of the hero’s quest. This course was my introduction to the dual concept of self and other. Through Modern Japanese literature, I discovered how social constructs of identity affect the way in which the hero moves through his journey.
At Gallatin, I continue to pursue and develop my interpretation of the hero’s journey through the perspective of self and otherness. Gallatin courses such as “Yellow Peril: Documenting and Understanding Xenophobia” and “Globalization: Promises and Discontents” provided an opportunity to investigate how stereotypical social constructs influence the way in which society interacts and how society portrays otherness in narrative mediums. Courses such as “Tragic Visions” and “Dante’s World” further educated my notion of the hero’s journey, complimenting my knowledge of Modern Japanese heroes with those of Western classics. A variety of writing courses such as “Writers as Shapers” and “Crafting Short Fiction From the Sentence Up” allowed me to examine self and otherness within my own creative process.
The hero is a universal presence. Originating from the mythology of the ancient world and passed down throughout traditions of narrative mediums such as literature and more recently film, the hero is an essential figure in the art of storytelling.
Society is captivated by the notion of the hero. But why are these figures essential to society? What makes the hero a hero in the eyes of society?
Predominantly, the hero possess a characteristic that sets him apart, designating him a solitary figure within a greater society. Often, the hero is misunderstood by the world around him and subjected to society’s constructs.
Through his challenging journey of trials, the hero undergoes great suffering. And, as a result of his journey, the hero is distinct from the rest of society.
But how does society perceive the hero and his journey? How does society identify the hero? Where does the hero occur within the dual concept of self and other?
In terms of identity, the other is that which defines the self. The self is regarded as the archetypical social “norm,” while the other in contrast embodies that which is foreign to the self. Typically, the self is overcome by the need to tame the other for fear that the other poses a threat to the authoritative identity of the self. The self and other are trapped in a perpetual struggle against one another sustained by the self experiencing a simultaneous attraction to and repulsion towards the other. The identity of the other remains other only through the perspective of the self. In this way, the presence of the other causes the self to constantly question its own existence.
Across boundaries of culture, time period, and narrative medium, the hero protagonist is universally other. The hero exists exclusively as other in that the hero occurs only within the context of society, that which constitutes the self. According to Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, the hero transcends the status of “…mere human beings…” in that the hero is bestowed with some variety of “…extraordinary powers…” (319). The hero is distinguished from the average human being, a member of the social self, by an atypical “power,” or by what otherwise takes the form of a deviation from society in the hero’s physical existence (his strengths, his flaws, etc.), his place in society (race, ethnicity, social status, etc.), and/or his psychological or intellectual state of mind.
Annabelle Franklin lives in an area of outstanding natural beauty on Wales’s stunning and magical South Gower coast. She shares her chalet home with Millie and Pearl, two beautiful rescue dogs who allow her to see the world through their eyes.
Since leaving school Annabelle has worked in an artificial limb and appliance centre, studied radiography and music (not at the same time), played in two bands and taught children to play the piano. During her time with a local drama group she wrote and performed in plays and made a short film, all of which gave her the chance to try on different characters for size.
You can contact Annabelle on firstname.lastname@example.org
Annabelle gives us something called ‘kibble’, and makes all sorts of claims for it which can’t possibly be true. She says there’s chicken in it, but we’ve examined it closely and can find no evidence. She says it’s good for us and of greater nutritional value than the food she eats herself. (Actually, I can believe that – Annabelle is a disastrous cook.) She also claims it keeps our teeth clean. If that’s the case, why does she have to add weird seaweedy stuff to our food to get the plaque off our teeth?
Kibble is boring and hard work to eat. Annabelle tries to liven it up by adding dog meat, but that doesn’t work because the dog meat is dull as well. Even the word ‘kibble’ is boring. Interesting food words for dogs are ‘meat’, ‘chicken’, ‘rabbit’, ’fish’, ‘cheese’, ‘egg’, and ‘cat’. ’Kibble’ is meaningless.
For a long time we’ve accepted this substandard fare on the assumption that all dogs are in the same boat. But now we’ve discovered this is not so. When Annabelle was reading WAG! (DogsTrust magazine) the other day, I ‘listened in’ and picked up that certain dogs – dogs who belong to CELEBRITIES – get to eat delicious, dog-friendly food prepared specially for them by a proper chef at a private members’ club in Mayfair!
This situation is bang out of order. I may not belong to a celebrity – yet – but I am a celebrity in my own right. Did I not feature prominently in the Pets At Home 2010 Greyhound and Lurcher calendars?
And NO, Pearl, I am NOT a ‘has-been’. My stardom lives on. Just last week, we were out on a walk and some German tourists asked if they could take a picture of me. That’s as good as asking for my autograph!
The point is, I should be getting gourmet food. I don’t even need to go to some posh London club to eat it – I’d be more than happy to have it served at home. I’d even be happy to share it with Pearl. She may not be an A-lister, but I can’t bear to watch her chewing live wasps in an attempt to spice up her diet.
The hero of Gateway to Magic is 11 year old Steven Topcliff, a sensitive and imaginative boy who has learned to hide these qualities in order to ‘fit in’. An only child, he lives in a well ordered home with a loving family. His Mum is a bit of a worrier, and some of her anxious nature has rubbed off on him.
At the beginning of the book, it’s the summer holidays and Steven is spending most of his time in his bedroom, glued to his games console. He doesn’t want to think about the coming autumn, when he has to start Comp – he’s heard all sorts of horror stories about rampant bullying and ridonkulous amounts of homework. The gaming world is a world he can control, where he can be a powerful hero.
Steven doesn’t believe in fairies or magic – that stuff is strictly for girls – so he’s horrified when he actually finds himself in Fairyland. He’s even more horrified when he discovers there are no video games. He has to learn to fit in all over again, in a place that’s far more dangerous than any school. If he wants to get back to his own world, he’s going to have to wake up that rusty imagination and use it for all he’s worth.
- A video game called McDivott (it’s his favourite)
- Chicken nuggets and chips
Fruit and vegetables
Fungus (he’s allergic to it)
His cousin Tracy
Here’s the condensed version.
I live, work and play in the English Midlands. I lived in London while I was at University and for a few years afterwards and then moved back to the Leicestershire/Derbyshire borders. I now live in Staffordshire – the creative county!
Most of my time is spent writing, in every possible way. I mainly write poetry and scripts but also flash-fiction, short stories, longer prose and food writing.
I started writing poetry when I was very young and just kept going. Once at university I began to research and write more clearly, I developed a lot and settled into my own style. I also wanted to have the words I wrote visible and so I began to design collages to frame my poetry and had these all around my walls. I ended up enjoying the collage so much that I formed a small business making and selling collage artwork and cards alongside the jewellery I already sold.
The first major project that I worked on was my “Three Random Words” collection where I asked for three words from 100 different people and wrote a poem that had to contain those words. The most unexpected and wonderful side effect was the inclusion of one of these poems in the beautiful anthology, Dark Currents from NewCon Press.
After the end of the Three Random Words project I tried to find something new to keep working on and I tried a few different ideas – I tried writing a poem a day, I tried free writing as well writing some After Poetry. The After Poetry collection is a series of poems inspired by a poem that I admire where I take the rhythm and theme and re-work the idea in my own voice. In spring 2012 my poem, “Free Flight into the Wordless” won the New York Times found poetry competition.
sleep at the bottom of the tallest tower
so that the your dreams can spiral
up, out, and away into the world.
Chase them – as they wait for you
at the crossroads and the end of the line
Simply at peace, she doesn’t move.
Her pale skin is dressed in hues
from the Rose kept high above.
A brittle glass – filigree decisions
fused over time to create beauty.
She stands, equidistant between
the Crossroads and the doorway
to decide where to go next. Choose
whether to renew or walk out.
The sun shifts and everything old
falls into its place, so that the way
will illuminate for one and all.
To follow, to choose, to believe.
With many thanks to Scott Waldrup for the original inspiration of “rose, doorway, illuminate” during the Three Random Words project.
Vick created this poem from the 1892 Times obituary of poet Walt Whitman.
Check back every day through May 25 to see the rest of the 11 winners.
Free Flight into the Wordless
He selected who arrived, sent a messenger – His
vital powers, his own lot, should turn him gradually.
The remains of the poet will be champagne, oysters and
last words. The disease left him – exhumed and deposited.
Conscious, he felt the peaceful end. Uttered so low that
the poet’s wish answered, in an almost inaudible tone.
He was dying – punch this morning – he might die.
The old gray pain arrived at the house,
the attack was failing enough to be permitted.
His last hours gathered around him,
with his few faithful friends in two tiers
“I would rather go in the woods.”
The remains of the poet continued to beat.
Life Through A Lens
Helloo and welcome to my blog. I have never done this before so you will have to bear with me.My name is Amina Abu-El-Hawa and i am a wannabe photographer. On this blog will basically be my attempt at photography, so any comments, criticisms and thoughts to make me perfect my craft are all welcome. Thanks for dropping by
Wherever you turn in the City you see suits – pillars of solidity, power, status and masculinity. They project their influence and shape the whole world… or like to think they do. When you look in the mirror in the morning, do you see one of them looking back at you? Or do you see a human being – flawed, misshapen, beautiful in its individuality but far from a walking pillar of power? What makes that difference? Who hews the statue from the stone? Who creates that stronger mirage of you that greets the world on your behalf?
Click here to visit Amber Photos to download The Last Tailor of Fitzrovia.
Music, murder, Metropolitan mayhem.
Protest songs, popping corks.
Scandal, sabotage, stink.
Then let’s go to the pub.
RETURN TO EUSTON SQUARE
At the crossroads, he darted into a peculiar tiled entrance, marked GOWER STREET STATION in maroon and white tiles. One of Worm’s chums was guarding the wide lattice gate of articulated iron. I approached with an indeterminate grunt.
“Who’s yourself, then?” muttered the child. He held the grating closed, peering out wide-eyed through the gaps.
“I’m with Worm,” I mumbled. Behind him stood two pairs of turnstiles. A flight of steps descended into the earth.
“Beggin’ your pardon. I’m not ’specting nobody else.”
“I’ve a message,” I hazarded, “for Mr Skelton.”
The boy drew back the latch, then hesitated.
I threw the lattice aside, pushed the boy to the ground. He cried out, his hand caught in the metal, but I leapt the barrier and went on. The footsteps ahead of me stopped a moment, then redoubled. Worm knew at last that he was followed.
Richard Parker has been a professional TV writer for twenty-two years and started by submitting material to the BBC. After contributing to a wide variety of TV shows he became a head writer, script editor then producer.
His first novel, Stop Me, was shortlisted for the prestigious UK Crime Writers Association John Creasey Dagger Award. He has had two short movies shot – Estranged and Sleep Tight hitting festivals near you in 2012.
More importantly, he has just finished penning a brand new thriller for publication.
Check out Richard online at the exceedingly creepy www.richard-parker.com.
Exhibit A Books by Richard Parker Scare Me Spring 2013
“When did you last Google yourself?”
Wealthy businessman, Will Frost, gets woken in the middle of the night by an anonymous caller asking him exactly this.
When Will goes online, he finds a website has been set up in his name, showing photographs of the inside of his home, along with photographs of six houses he’s never seen before.
Will is then told his daughter has been kidnapped.
The only way he can keep her safe is to visit each of the houses on the website in person – before the police get there.
Seven gruesome homicides.
Seven chances to save his daughter’s life.
After throwing another boyfriend out of her life, Chloe receives word that her mother has died. Under the circumstances, she is forced to reunite with her estranged brother, Julian, and drive down to their mother’s hometown. Julian shows up with a precocious twelve-year-old girl named Suzy, unwanted by her divorcing parents and hitching a ride to her aunt’s house. Before they get to their destination, Chloe’s reason for keeping her distance from the family is revealed, creating a chain reaction that pushes her even further away from her brother.
‘Will came to a beaux-art statue in Washington Park called Fountain of Time. The oppressed figures of Taft’s procession of the doomed cowered from the warm daylight. Across the water, the imposing and hooded Father Time looked down at them from his pedestal. Its static participants reminded Will of the cadavers that had been composed for him.’
Though expected, the passing of author Iain Banks came as a shock and a blow. I first met Iain in London, where I lived in the mid-1980s, when we were both brash young newcomers. I’ve always respected his literary fiction, but even more deeply admired his science fiction, especially the last two decades. His Culture Universe was among the few to confront straight-on the myriad hopes, dangers and raw possibilities that might be faced by a humanity-that-succeeds. By a posterity that manages to eke past our present stupidities in order to scale heights that we (their ancestors) can barely conceive. A destiny that we wish for our descendants even as too many nowadays proclaim it can never happen.
It’s trivial to provide protagonists with pulse-pounding jeopardy and action, if you first toss them into a cookie cutter dystopia or post-apocalyptic hell. But Iain Banks rejected that easy path. In richly textured (sometimes voluptuous) prose and across a vast range of plots and predicaments, Iain asked a profound question. Won’t those descendants – even rich with success – have interesting problems, anyway? Won’t they still have to fight for things that truly matter? Won’t some of them still seek the dangerous edge?
That is exploration, the true heart-essence of science fiction. And Iain Banks did it peerlessly well.
Tens of thousands have signed up as preliminary candidates for the Mars One Project, aimed toward sending a high risk and one-way “first colony” to the Red Planet. This NBC story gives an overview by profiling three applicants — an 18 year old college student, a 71 year old retiree… and yours truly. You can also view our 1 minute video sales pitches. In a year, the public may get a chance to help vote for the final team.
In a fascinating podcast, author (and recent Nebula Award winner) Kim Stanley Robinson talks about the politics of science fiction, how robots have historically represented wage workers — and why we need to right Earth before we head to Mars.
== Science fiction moving onward ==
In a nutshell, I’m a thirty-something, who after ten years spent either in conflict areas around the world or in a squat in Brixton, has entered a period of transition. This blog is about how we enter the abyss and come out the other end, more whole, human and happy. Please read more below….
The Journey So Far
So a bit about me and why I’m officially a girl in transition. When I was twenty-four I embarked on my first big, life-changing adventure – I travelled to Uganda, with the initial intention to stay there for three months before heading south and east, to South Africa, then South-East Asia and Australia. In the end I stayed in Uganda for several years, either based in its capital Kampala or travelling there regularly from London or Nairobi, Kenya as part of my job. I worked on the , raising international awareness of the plight of children abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army and trained to fight among their own communities. I took British MPs to the war-ravaged areas of northern Uganda, met the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni (and was lectured by him about how to engage in counter-insurgency – his choice of agenda, not mine), and lobbeyed the International Criminal Court and the United Nations Security Council to pursue all avenues aimed at bringing a peaceful settlement to a conflict which had continued for twenty years with very little international attention.
In 2006, I left Kenya and Uganda and returned home. I moved into a squat in Brixton, which was to become my home for four years, bringing with it a host of eccentric and colourful characters, a few all night parties, a whole lot of noise and the odd mentally unhinged neighbour.
Through my next job at a British charity and campaigning organisation I became involved with the Palestinian cause, travelling to the West Bank regularly and subjecting myself to the Israeli hostility and interrogation which is customary for any Palestine activist, and one element of the widespread humiliation meted out against Palestinians on a daily basis. In 2010 I left my squat in Brixton to go and live in Ramallah in the West Bank where I worked for a local human rights organisation. I didn’t manage to stay there long – as is common with international development work, the personal melded with the political, and both work and home life there could not be sustained. I had to return to London, because in my fluctuating state of anger, despair, guilt and insecurity (and I’m talking mental rather than physical) I was no use to anyone out there.
I’m now living with my parents for the first time in 10 years. Moving from Ramallah to the leafy suburbs of southwest London was a bit of a shock to say the least. But it was better than moving back to a squat with no natural light or central heating. After several months of resistance, and a month of yoga, meditation and healing in Thailand, my priorities have slowly shifted. I no longer spend my days trawling the job pages and reading endless news reports on human rights violations and conflict around the world – although I haven’t completely stopped these habits. My 2012 resolution was to be more creative, so that is what I spend my time working on – whether it be yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, dancing, baking, writing – and of course this blog, after many false starts and much procrastination, is perhaps the biggest outcome so far of this resolution. The journey has by no means ended, and although I’m getting better at knowing what I don’t want, I have a long way to go in working out what I do want. It is my wish that this blog will provide some answers to us all.
Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.
Agnes De Mille. Dancer and Choreographer
Hidden or suppressed emotions manifest themselves in mysterious ways. When I got back to my hotel room after a relatively uneventful day in the office – which, rather than feeling grateful for I found dull and anti-climactic after the long and busy days of the last week – I didn’t know whether I wanted to scream with anger or burst into tears.
Was this the Monday blues? General exhaustion after spending last week rushing around, chasing the stories behind the Government’s closure of Uganda’s main independent newspaper and other media houses? Or the angst of not knowing what’s going to happen with this job or my future in general? The reasons behind my bad mood seemed hard to pin-point, but either way I’d had a short fuse throughout the day. Moments of irrational anger and irritation arose over the slow internet connection in the office, or because the people I’d hoped to meet in Kampala weren’t answering my calls or e-mails, or because I couldn’t go swimming in the hotel pool after work. This last inconvenience being due to today being a public holiday in Uganda – except, obviously, for my organisation who carried on its fight for human rights whilst the rest of the population enjoyed some time out. The swimming pool was therefore teeming with Ugandan families practising their splashing skills, which severely diminished my chances of having a relaxing evening swim.
And so it was in this state of inner turmoil that I turned to yoga. An obvious solution for many perhaps; but I’ve been a little out of practice over the last few months, preferring to immerse myself in other forms of powerful energy healing. It was only when I returned to the practice the other day with my friend – in an idyllic setting overlooking the River Nile – that I remembered the value of yoga; the way it both invigorates and relaxes, moves you to break into a sweat but also calms you down to a state of stillness and clarity.
The yoga I did today targeted the liver and gall bladder – organs which, in the Chinese meridian system, are where anger and anxiety are often held. And just allowing myself those 45 minutes to observe and accept whatever physical or emotional pain came and went as I held each posture was truly transformative. By the end of the practice my irritation had lifted and was replaced with a feeling of pure bliss.
And not only that. Giving myself that time out has opened up my creative channels, at a time when I felt I’d been suffering badly from writer’s block. My inability to write, and my anger and short temper, were all interlinked of course. Writing is another healing exercise for me, but one only made possible if I allow myself space to breathe and be still amidst the fast pace of human rights work. Which is why as well as returning to yoga, I have also returned to Julia Cameron’s morning pages; letting all the crabbiness I sometimes wake up with – this morning being a perfect example – spill out onto the page before I get up and get on with my day.
I am grateful to have these tools at my disposal. When times get tough and I start battling with my emotions, I know what I can do in order to calm down, rebalance and reconnect. And in doing so, creativity once again flourishes.
Uganda – the home of waragi, of reckless boda boda drivers, of rolexes and of matoke (definitions to follow). And my home for a number of years.
It was only as I sat in the back of a cab on the way to my hotel from the airport that I had a chance to reflect on the personal enormity of me returning here; the last week having been another whirlwind of actions and reactions on ongoing forced evictions in Kenya.
As we drove along the Entebbe-Kampala Road, all the familiar landmarks of yesteryear were there. The chapati traders preparing the juicy and satisfying rolexes (fried eggs rolled up in chapati), lit only by a candle on the otherwise pitch black roadside; boda boda drivers (motorcyle taxis), carrying up to four passengers, squeezing their way through traffic; the clocktower which now, unlike when I lived here, actually has a working clock, and which is the epicentre of Kampala’s worsening traffic jams.
And with these sights returned my memories of a place I called home ten years ago. Memories of sitting on those perilous boda bodas, ignoring their danger and instead appreciating their efficiency in the Kampala traffic. Of drunken parties with too much waragi, the local gin distilled from bananas, one of Uganda’s most important cash crops. Of day long NGO workshops with long speeches by proud officials and with bored participants, waiting eagerly for their free buffet lunch of assorted meat stews, beans, rice and matoke – mashed green bananas, the national dish. Of listening to live reggae music in the warm outdoors. Of falling in love.
My years in Uganda in many ways shaped my life. There were many experiences that would challenge me – from meeting former child soldiers, both male and female, who had been forcefully recruited by the Lord’s Resistance Army to looking after the psychologically damaged man I had fallen in love with, in a country where mental health problems are associated with juju – witchcraft – and adequate health services are scarce.
I’m returning to Uganda a very different person from those days. Older and wiser, sure. And more self-aware – I think. As the days have gotbusier and longer, my time for self-reflection and checking in has diminished. I find myself rushing from one thing to another, panicking, getting irritable….and I know it’s because there has not been time and space to take a deep breath – literally – and listen to my heart. My head has been ruling the show with plans, preparations and mental documentation of sad, sometimes horrific stories. I am confronted with them every day – whether it’s directly from victims or second-hand; like my taxi driver in Nairobi yesterday who told me he’d seen three young men dying that morning, who had just been burned to death by the local community – mob justice for attempted robbery on a house. There is little time to dwell, to get upset or to show pity. If there was, I wouldn’t get much actual work done. And so I rely on those moments when I can write. Or 15 minutes in the morning to meditate. These are the brief moments I have to open my heart, to process and to release what I’ve been holding.
Being in Uganda will bring extra challenges for me. There is a major human rights crisis to work on – the Government’s raid on a leading independent newspaper. One of many signs that the President – now in power for 27 years – plans to step up already draconian measures aimed at suppressing dissent in his country. Our response as a human rights NGO will be proactive and uncompromising in its condemnation. The work will be exhilarating, but I look forward to when my feet touch the ground again and I can fully enjoy being back here. Uganda has always been close to my heart, and my memories of this country are so much more than the personal and external tragedies that lie within my experience of living here. Uganda, it’s good to be back.
First: I’m from the earth. No places, no times. Citizen of the world and the history.
Inside me there are other lives, other women, of other times and other places. Write is the only way for make them breathe and live. They want me to do it, they reveal to me their desires and memories.
Hope that my women can give you a great pleasure.
via Info | N.I.N.A.
-Morning…what time is it?-
-Maybe 6 o clock. Is your birthday today, isn’t it? happy birthday Frida… it’s sunny outside-
He said as he looked out the window with a ray of sunshine lighting up only half of his face.
She was watching him in astonisment. Wild long hair on his shoulder, deep blu eyes. Handsome. It was impossible to stop looking at him.
A man, at the end. After the “I-don’t want -I don’t- need-a man” period, maybe longer than expected. Him, a total stranger…The stranger. She had fallen into the trap of his gaze in a couple of second, maybe less.
Three nights before, friday, at the Queen of Hoxton. She didn’t like the club, she had nothing to do in that place. It was not her choice that club, was there for a matter of casualty, dancing alone and trying not to think about this. At least, the music was not too bad. Suddenly, she saw these two blue eyes and a vibration covered her body from the toe to the head. He was relaxed, chilling and dancing, looking around like he was in the middle of nothing. He was another one that had nothing to do in that place. Then, he saw her big brown eyes and they start talking to each other with their gazing. Sometimes, eyes talk more than mouths can.
During the last note of the last song of the night he grabbed her hand while she was looking for her friends. He left her his business card. Without speaking.. it wasn’t needed, they had already said everything.
“Leaving a business card? What a stupid thing to do…”she thought. “Maybe he does this with everyone, every night.”. No, there was chemistry, there was chemistry for sure, it’s impossible to not recognized that kind of thing.
She spent the next day, saturday, looking at the business card, as if this small piece of paper had The answer. Finally, in the evening, after the second moijito she texted him.
An hour later he joined her, somewhere in Dalston. it was bloody raining and cold, but they didn’t care.
“First, I’m so sorry for the business card, I know it’s a stupid thing, maybe I was too drunk. Secondly, I didn’t remembered anything about you but your eyes” . Weird, she did too.
They start talking and laughing, feeling like they already knew each other. Chemistry.
“Not tonight, tomorrow.I’m going inside now, my friends are waiting for me”, she said to him.
And in no time it was sunday afternoon.
That day, they mixed their meats, smells and fluids for hours and hours. The fusion between their bodies could go on and on. It was not a matter of sex, it was a matter of souls. They were exactly the same, two crazy horses, two wild fires and the meetings of their bodies was an explosion. They fell into each other on a perfect wild beat, a sort of a burning harmony.
-Without breakfast?Is it not too early?-
-It’s a good one darling….drink, come on is your birthday!-
-Ok, why not-
That Tequila was amazing. The best tequila she had ever drunk.
One year later. Cancun, Mexico.
Drinking a fresh cocktail on the beach, Frida felt finally free. She quit her job for no real reason and spent the clearance for the flight to Mexico.
She broke up with her boyfriend in the same day. Frida decided to take literally the rule “carpe diem” and to follow her instinct always and everywhere one her 26th birthday.
Now she was 27. She spent a lot of months in a studio apartment with “a-not-so -cool-boy”, the one you can present to your parents but not to your friend. Obviously she loves him, but more like a friend. She was running out of money and this guy was really intentioned to take care of her and…. you know how it works. Life in London is not easy.
The sea was calm that day.
Chilling on the beach only three days before was only a distant dream.
A french charming man invited her to have dinner at the ”Puerto Madeiro” restaurant and she was figuring the burritos taste and thinking about the perfect outfit for this date.
Suddenly she were sucking the ice at the bottom of the glass, making a terrible noise. So decided for another cocktail. She had no money to drink but, eventually, there was always someone willing to pay for her.
She leaned at the wooden counter, on tiptoe to get noticed by the lazy bartender. Her skin was already tun like the color of the wood, first time in her life.
-Margarita?- . Said a voice on her left.
-Oh yes please!-
-Two margarita, please, and…. not too much ice, please, but a lot of tequila!-
And she recognized the voice.
-Ray???- She said, taking off her sunglasses.
-Oh god!How are you?-
-I had seen you since yesterday, but you was with a man so…. anyway, why are you here?-
Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable.
-And you, stranger?-
-You had never call me back, wild girl-
-You too stranger-
-Touchet- he said smiling. – Im here for the marriage of one of my best friend, now… you-
She didn’t really knew way she choose Mexico, Cancun. Was always one of her bigger desires visit mexico and discover the meaning of her name.
-I wanted to visit Mexico, thats it.-
-With your boyfriend?-
-No, he is not my boyfriend, I just met him yesterday.-
-Two margherita for you guys, here we go-
Frida was looking down to not allow her eyes to speak. “Oh god! Why him? Why here? And now? What can I say? Damned, damned, damned!”
-Cheers!- He said to break the embarrassment.
-There is something interesting on your feet Frida?-
-Yes, the sign of the flip flop-
-Don’t lie to me, girl, I’m sure you don’t wear shoes here, like me. So tonight?-
-What’s the plan?-
Oh God! The dinner, the french man.
-I have a dinner-
-I don’t know. Tequila somewhere.-
-Ok, I’ll find you-
Remain calm close to him was impossible. She was sweating all along her body more than normal.
He moved more close to her. With the index finger pressed on her lips, looking in her eyes and she in him. Then went on along her chin, the neck, between her breasts, down to the navel. There he stopped. He opened his hand and took her side. He brought his mouth to her ear and said :
-You are even more beautiful sun-kissed…-
-There are a lot of beautiful woman in this place-
-I know. It’s difficult to choose.-
-I have to go now, Ray. See you around, was good to see you anyway-
Sometimes life seems to be a big trap.
Our decisions, our choices, the case, the lucky, the moon and the tides together create our road.
Sometimes we walk this road without see. At some point, this blindness drive us in a trap.
When you are doing what you don’t want to do, when you are where you don’t want to be, when seems to be that everything is running against you and your wishes
just wake up, open your eyes, look with your soul
it doesn’t matter of what the others expect from you, it doesn’t matter of money, it doesn’t matter of the rights things to do
feel the energy, your own energy, take your breath and fly
you are your trap and only you have your key
find your key, open your soul to the earth
your energy will bring your souls in the right connection with the other souls like your
and you will understand yourself thanks to this meetings
Sometimes do what is not already planned, what don’t seems to be in line with your passed choices, is the right way out from this trap
Feel you energy, understand it and this will drive you right
I was born and raised in Pakistan. Before , after and during my Masters in Marketing from London , I had started working. By the time I turned 25, I had worked in 3 continents of the world: Asia, Europe and North America.
I am a daughter, sister, advertising professional, masters in marketing, avid fashionista, devoted foodie, graduate in economics and finance, certified personal shopper and fashion stylist, self-proclaimed poet, curious traveler, music buff, friend and one of the most random and memorable person you would ever meet.
As a child, I wanted to be a pilot, doctor, scientist, actress, air hostess until my father said that my aim should be to become a good human being and that’s exactly what I am striving to be.
Hello, I am Cheeni (which literally means sugar in Urdu) and I am here to share my thoughts and experiences about anything and everything! From Cheeni Thoughts and Beyond…
Welcome to Cheeni Thoughts – A Lifestyle Blog!
I had boycotted bananas for a long time before I began training. On the strict orders of my instructor I started having a banana between lunch and training. Frankly speaking, I love them now owing to their numerous health benefits and NO! I am not even a monkey. Not yet…
Here is quick look at how beneficial bananas are for the human body and otherwise:
Source of Fibre
A single banana has about 3 grams of fibre. Dietary fibre helps in feeling fuller longer and also keep digestive processes running efficiently.
Satisfy your sweet tooth
An average banana has 110 calories and can fulfill your sweet tooth cravings without ruining your diet and training.
As per a research by Colorado State University, potassium is essential for a smooth nerve and muscle function. It also facilitates the balance of fluids in the body along with preventing painful cramps after rigorous exercise.
An average banana has approximately 400 mg potassium packed in it!
Fat & Cholesterol
Bananas are completely free from any fat and cholesterol and are a great natural and healthy diet!
Mashed bananas are one of the most widely used baby foods especially when they are introduced to solid foods. They are easy to digest and a source of important nutrients when suffering from indigestion or a virus without straining the stomach too much.
Manganese aids in bone health and speedy metabolism. Bananas are a great source of manganese, as one medium banana provides about 3 mg. Adults on average need 1.8 and 2.3 mg of manganese daily.
Carbs are instant energy. Eating a bananas before or after a workout is the best way to feel energized!
Vitamin C & Vitamin B-6
An average banana has 10 mg of vitamin C which boosts immune system, cell health and improves and facilitates the absorption of other nutrients.
Our body needs vitamin B-6 to grow new cells. An average banana supplies 35% of daily B-6 requirement
Overcomes Depression & helps in reducing PMS symptoms
Bananas help combat depression due high levels of tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin ( the happy-mood brain neurotransmitter).
Moreover, it not only lifts your mood but also reduce PMS symptoms, as it regulates blood sugar and produces stress-relieving relaxation. You listening ladies?
- Banana skin relieves against itching as a result of insect bites.
- Bananas aid in lowering body temperature and can be eaten when running a fever or just to cool down on a hot day!
- It helps in quitting smoking as it contains high levels of potassium and magnesium which helps in quitting.
- Helps in removing a wart by putting the inside of a banana peel on the wart and tapping it.
- Rubbing the inside of banana peel on leather shoes and handbags makes them shine instantly!
So who am I? Well… I’m Sam, I’m 28 and I live in North London, Archway to be exact. I’m a chef at a top London hotel and restaurant. I suppose the “main” thing about me is I have a little condition know as Xeroderma Pigmentosum (or simply XP) – It’s basically where my skin cells don’t have the ability to repair damage caused by ultraviolet light, mainly that big ball of gas in the sky we call “The Sun”. All sunlight and I mean ALL sunlight for me is strictly forbidden. And because most of us with XP live in the dark hours many refer to us as “children of the night” hence the title of my blog. But hell there’s more to me than just XP, the main passion in my life is cooking. I have my dream job, in my dream location which makes me very content. Even from a young age the kitchen was where you’d always find me, knocking up some fancy bread or learning my knife skills, all while people slept.
Cold, hungry and tired.
I’ve been sleeping rough for almost two weeks now and I’m starting to feel it in my bones. I’m much slower than usual and I’m feeling weak. My thought process is confused and disordered, but that’s probably due to the lack of feeding and any “real” sleep. I’m finding it a struggle to motivate myself for even the simplest of tasks, like posting this blog for example – I should have had something up last week. But it’s the sleeping that is the main problem at the moment. It’s hard to recuperate properly laying on cold concrete while people in hard shoes pass by only inches away from your head. I can sense them looking down and passing judgement, blissfully unaware of the monster that lies at their feet.
During the day I have been hiding out in underpasses and old abandon buildings (whenever possible), anywhere that offers me protection from sunlight. It’s only at night when I get the chance to move location. I’ve been trying to keep on the move to make it harder to be tracked down. So far I haven’t seen anything in the papers about the massacre at National Temperance Hospital or any reports that I am the one responsible for that blood bath. I presume the police don’t want to scare the public or worry you out-there, that I’m still free to roam the streets of London. Perhaps they don’t want you to know that they made a huge mistake by letting me slip through their fingers. To be honest I am not worried about the police, they are simply a pack of dogs with a different master. I know that they will be monitoring this site so you will forgive me if I don’t divulge my precise movements. As I’ve already mentioned in my last blog, I watched as they ransacked my home and when they searched the restaurant. I must admit it was a humbling experience watching the end of my old life. I knew this time would come though. The time when I would have to learn to be myself and accept my cause on this Earth, I just wish I was more prepared.
Thankfully I have found a little savior in a young man who calls himself “Deka”. He approached me one afternoon offering me some very much needed water. But I declined, not wanting to mix phlegm with someone who is very much the drug addict. I appreciate that he didn’t have to offer me anything, but he did look like he needed it more than myself. He told me that he’s been on the streets for about two years now, mentioning something about an abusive father making it impossible to live at home. His thick Liverpudlian accent made it hard to follow him to the word. He’s only a young guy, say late teens but he looks more like he’s in his late thirties. Skin all weather worn, nicotine stained beard and years of drug abuse have given him features more akin to a Gothic nightmare . But he’s a canny lad and has a good heart. That evening he showed me some areas around town where you can pick up a free meal and a hot drink. Obviously I have told him nothing about what brings me to this stage of my life, that is my business and it’s something I only feel comfortable sharing with you, dear reader. For someone who has had to grow up quickly, Deka seems very naive, maybe it’s that i see how out of control of his life he is. You can see that his bravado is just a front and behind his blue eyes there is a young man, that born to different parents could have been something more.
I have enough money to maybe last another week or two, then I will have to think further afield. But to be honest I can survive on very little and being homeless does offer a kind of anonymity that I crave, an anonymity that ordinary life can’t give right now, especially when I have my real purpose, my real goal.
The Butcher is not far from mind and indeed still haunts my sleep.
Hannah, if you are reading this…
I’m sorry. xxx
May 10, 2013
When I feed, it’s more like a frenzy rather than fine dinning. I ravish the bodies inner cavity, searching for the best of fatty meats and the delicious little pockets of blood clots. I chew the lower intestines, squeezing out every little morsel of flavour. I suck the moisture from hearts and lungs. Then I wash my entire body in the red stuff, allowing my pores to absorb vital vitamins and minerals that it so very much needs. I don’t have the luxury to be able to bath in the vast rays of glorious sunlight, something my body yearns for every waking minute. Instead I turn to cannibalism to quench this thirst. My XP is a curse passed down to me from our heavenly father, the first true bastard! This curse is something I have to live with. If I hurt and slaughter look only up for the reason why.
I devoured the body that was once James, while being studied by the onlookers. Even Nathan managed a smile, well I thought it was a smile, it’s hard to tell with his cheeks missing. They came to be with me, on what marked my step into “the fulfilled enlightenment”. In the eyes of the onlookers I had now matured into adulthood, in my own mind I had simply become at ease with myself. No longer would my rage control me, I would control it. No more black-outs, no more mood swings. I am now the master of my body. I felt overjoyed at having such a special ceremony all in my honour. There I stood naked, drenched in the blood of a deserving, surrounded by the onlookers who made me what I am today, as I them.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain
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If poetry be the food for love, pen on.
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