Monday, 29 July 2013

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream is a post apocalyptic sci-fi short story by massively prolific writer Harlan Ellison about a supercomputer called AM and the last five humans left on Earth. Despite being so short it is considered a classic, winning the Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1968 as well as being adapted into a computer game, short graphic story and a BBC radio play.
"What does AM mean?" 
Gorrister answered him. We had done this sequence a thousand times before, but it was Benny's favorite story. 
"At first it meant Allied Mastercomputer, and then it meant Adaptive Manipulator, and later on it developed sentience and linked itself up and they called it an Aggressive Menace, but by then it was too late, and finally it called itself AM, emerging intelligence, and what it meant was I am - cogito ergo sum - I think, therefore I am." 
I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream is a bleak vision of the future and a warning about Man's constant desires to play God and wage war. Ellison wrote the story when the end of the Cold War seemed a distant fantasy so envisions in his story that the war never ends, just keeps developing and expanding to the point that computers are designed to fight with each other on a technological level that humans cannot understand. One day one of the supercomputers becomes sentient and connects with all the other computers that the humans have now peppered the Earth with. It exists to kill so kills all the humans bar five. With the Earth uninhabitable it takes the last five humans into the centre of the Earth with it and gives them immortality. A fantastic gift, no? No. It gives them immortality because it hates them and everything they represent. For 109 years it torments them physically and mentally with no hope of freedom and no hope of death.

As the story progresses and the humans struggle to cope with AM's tortures we learn why it hates humanity so: humanity created it, created it with all the intelligence and power imaginable but without a physical form to be able to express or use its intelligence and power. It is as trapped as the last five humans and will inflict upon them all the torment its existence has brought upon it.

At last the humans find a stash of tinned food in an ice cave but when AM appears to suffer a lapse in concentration things take a turn for the darker. Enraged, AM punishes the remaining character, preventing him from being able to do what the other four managed, providing the quotation after which the story is named.

You can read the short story here and listen to the radio adaptation (featuring the voices of Ellison as AM and Starsky and Hutch's David Soul as Ted) below:

In the 1995 PC game you play as each of the five humans, put into situations AM has devised to torture them. Their personalities are vastly expanded with complex backgrounds and flaws. It is up to you to not only help them survive their situation / personal hell but to help them become better people. It is a point and click game and just as depressing as the short story (if not more so). Think of it as akin to Silent Hill with the puzzle solving and bleak story but none of the fighting. Once again it features the voice of Ellison as AM and a terrifying job he does!

The five humans are:

Gorrister - a bar owner who is severely depressed / suicidal after believing it is his fault his wife was committed to a mental institution.

Ellen - a once promising engineer whose life fell apart twice. She finds intellectual interaction much easier than social interaction so when she suffered a miscarriage found it so hard to recover that her husband left her. When she finally began to enjoy life again a man posing as a maintenance man raped her in an elevator resulting in a phobia of the colour yellow. Apart from her phobia she is strong and feisty. She appears to be the only one who AM does not torture physically, deriving an almost sexual pleasure with abusing her mentally. AM also uses her lack of sexual interest in any of the other characters apart from Benny to torment them.

Benny - a physically proud military officer who killed his unit. In the original short story Benny is a gay scientist who AM turns heterosexual. In both versions he is the character who AM delights in physically damaging the most. One of the first changes AM made to Benny was to make him into an ape-man both mentally and physically, which is how he starts the story. 

Nimdok - an elderly ex-Nazi physician in denial of not only his own racial heritage but the hundreds of experiments he performed.

Ted - a con artist paranoid about being found out. Where once he would use his charm and looks to seduce rich single women he now only has eyes for Ellen, who despite all his best and heartfelt efforts does not love him back. He is offered the chance to escape AM if he lets Ellen be killed.

The game is very difficult to buy now however you can watch walkthroughs on YouTube.
I am a great soft jelly thing. Smoothly rounded, with no mouth, with pulsing white holes filled by fog where my eyes used to be. Rubbery appendages that were once my arms; bulks rounding down into legless humps of soft slippery matter. I leave a moist trail when I move. Blotches of diseased, evil gray come and go on my surface, as though light is being beamed from within. Outwardly: dumbly, I shamble about, a thing that could never have been known as human, a thing whose shape is so alien a travesty that humanity becomes more obscene for the vague resemblance. Inwardly: alone. Here. Living under the land, under the sea, in the belly of AM, whom we created because our time was badly spent and we must have known unconsciously that he could do it better. At least the four of them are safe at last. AM will be all the madder for that. It makes me a little happier. And yet...AM has won, simply...he has taken his revenge...
I have no mouth. And I must scream.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

2013 Whitstable Oyster Festival

Yesterday I attended the first day of the 2013 Whitstable Oyster Festival. Whitstable is a fishing town on the Kent coast. The festival is inspired by ceremonies held back in Norman times when the folk of Whitstable gave thanks for the sea and everything they were able to harvest from it.

The festival lasts all week however the best days to attend are the Saturday and Sunday as that is when the food festival at the harbour is. The food festival is a showcase of traditional Kentish food including preserves, cheese, fudge, cider, beer, strawberries and of course oysters! There is also a separate beer festival.


(Right click and select 'open link (in new tab / window)' to see this panoramic in its full glory)

The Oysters - yum!

The students of Chaucer College
Chaucer College is part of Japan's Shumei University based in Canterbury. It allows Japanese students the chance to experience life in the UK (Kent in particular) for five months. There is a heavy influence in volunteering and getting to know the local community. It is a wonderful school as it teaches the students about traditional English life and also brings the magic of Japan to Kent. When I move to the coast I would very much like to help at Chaucer College.
The students performed traditional drumming and a soran bushi (traditional fisherman's dance).

The Landing of the Oysters parade

This man is great XD I hope he's a minor royal lol

Dead Horse Morris - Morris dancing is the most famous traditional folk dance of Britain. It is rooted both is Moorish dancing as well as British folklore. There are very traditional Morris dancing 'sides' (groups) who wear white, ribbons and bells as well as modern variations that mix Morris dancing with subculture fashion and music such as gothic Morris dancers. There are also sometimes characters dancers such as a green man, a giant crow, a 'molly' (man dressed as a woman) and a demon horse. British folklore is highly underrated but I think it's great! 

Captain Sam and his wife are giants created especially for Whitstable! Giants are also part of British folklore however recreating them in papier mache is a recent thing. I think they look great! His wife in particular is beautiful and reminds me of Toyah Willcox

Friday, 26 July 2013

Pretend Friday Feature - Daria's High School Reunion

My copy of Photoshop (the program I draw my graphic stories on) had a massive malfunction today to the degree that I am far too depressed to review a Minx graphic story this Friday or even do a Friday Feature (two days worth of work lost FOREVER ;_;).

So here's a cool mock trailer created by Aubrey Plaza / College Humor for you Daria / mumblecore / indie film fans:

Regular service will return next week....maybe.

Impossible Spaces Launch

Hi guys!

Just a quickie to let you know that Impossible Spaces is now available to buy in a physical format / e-book format (which is very cheap when bought via Amazon) so please do buy it and let me know what you think!

Also there are now photos of the launch party which I read at.

Here is a very unflattering photo of me mid sentence:

And here are the other photos (isn't Jessica George cute?)

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Recipe: Pimms / Mojito / Chai ice cubes

What a summer, eh? Fruit seems to go off the moment you buy / pick it and everything's all hot and sticky! So here are my solutions:

Pimms ice cubes

Pimms No. 1 is a gin based 'fruit cup' liqueur which is very popular in the summer in the UK when mixed with lemonade and fruit. It is great to share at a party / picnic / BBQ but not so fun to have on your own because you usually end up omitting the iconic fruit (you don't want to buy a whole punnet of strawberries just to use one / a whole lemon just for one wedge etc) however if you have these cubes waiting in the fridge / freezer you can still enjoy the full Pimms experience whenever you want!

These cubes also go nicely in almost any other fruit cocktail. If you don't drink alcohol a good alternative to Pimms is Schweppes' Summer Punch. I've also been drinking them in non-alcoholic grape juice and my morning fruit juice.

You will need:
  • An ice cube tray
  • Ripe Pimms fruit (I used one strawberry and one grape per cube section but the other Pimms fruits such as one orange slice, lemon slice, apple slice, cucumber slice, mint leaf will also do)
  • Water
  • A fridge / freezer

Make sure your fruit fits the centre of each ice cube section. You will probably have to cut your strawberries in half (these were the last of my home grown strawberries so were small enough to go in whole). If your fruit is too big and touches both walls of the ice cube section it will make it really difficult to get your ice cube out when frozen! Trust me!

If you are using lots of different types of fruit don't squeeze too much in or the cubes will never come out! I'd say three pieces of fruit is the most you should put into each cube section.

Top up the cube sections with water (though not completely to the top as that will also make them hard to get out) and put into the fridge / freezer to freeze.

When set break into a glass, add Pimms (about 1/3 Pimms to 2/3 lemonade) and enjoy!

Mojito ice cubes
A variation on the Pimms cube is the 'mojito' cube. These ice cubes also go nicely in other fruity cocktails and non-alcohol fruit drinks.

You will need:
  • An ice cube tray
  • One half slice of cucumber per cube section
  • One half slice of lime per cube section
  • One sprig of mint per cube section
  • Water
  • A fridge / freezer
Follow the same method as for the Pimms cubes.

Chai ice cubes

My final variation is designed to go into iced coffees, iced teas (milk or herbal) or plain milk to add an extra twist of spice. I wouldn't recommend adding them to chai tea itself as they will make it too strong.

You will need:
Fill the ice cube tray with water or milk (water will dilute your drink whereas milk will make it taste creamy). Obviously if your drink was not milk based to begin with don't use milk for the cubes or it will make your drink go all cloudy and weird.

Stir into each ice cube section 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of chai tea mix (if you want a subtle flavour use less, if you want a fuller flavour add more). Powdered tea mix works better as it will infuse better with a cool liquid. If you wanted to be really sure the tea flavour infused you could heat your milk / water with the chai tea mix first.

Put into the fridge / freezer to freeze then when the cubes are set break on top of your favourite iced coffee / tea and watch the little particles of chai mix with your drink as the cubes melt.


Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Impossible Spaces Trailer

Hehe the trailer has even got me excited to read all the different stories now! Dark fantasy and surrealism is just the kind of subject I love! If you love it too then here is all the information on where to buy Impossible Spaces! I hope you will all enjoy it! The great thing about anthologies is that if you don't like one story there are twenty more you may like!

We really need people to host guest posts for a blog tour (like Toby Stone's fantastic Aimee and the Bear post on my blog). Please be wonderful and allow one of the writers to write a post for your blog! To join in click here!

Liebster Award II

The Blue Jade Press nominated me for the Liebster Award. This makes me so happy - I never imagined a blog like mine would get it once let alone twice so thank you everyone who visits!

I was never able to nominate enough people last time so please forgive me that I am also not able to again this time however I will answer the questions.

Do you speak a second language?
Yes, I speak basic German. I have also previously been to Japanese, Russian, Latin and French classes. I would like to continue with my German and Japanese should I be able to find the classes and the money!

How do you feel about the moon?
I really like the moon. I especially like it when it is full and red.

Why do you use Blogspot and why is it so popular?
I had to own a blog to enter a competition that I didn't win! My choices were Blogger, Tumblr and Wordpress. Though I like the look of Tumblr it doesn't suit my style of blogging (and I'm certain I'd be totally addicted to it). In the end I chose Blogger over Wordpress as Neil Gaiman uses Blogger!

What do normal people i.e. you wonderful people do with summer?
I'm either hiding inside writing (I'm very pale and burnable) or exploring the Kent countryside.

Mac or PC?
I very much love my iPhone and iPod but I use a PC.

What is your ultimate style icon?
Animated / graphic novel characters. They can dress however they like and no one has a problem with it! They are usually super stylish too eg Ramona Flowers, Edward Nygma, Poison Ivy, any character drawn by CLAMP, all the different versions of Lewis Carroll's Alice, etc. I don't know if I have just one person, I'm not into celebrity. I really LOVE the various Japanese street fashions like you see at Harajuku. I guess my favourite of those is Classic Lolita.

Do you consider yourself worthy?

What keeps you up at night?
The idea that I haven't worked hard enough. The idea of losing the people I love. I have a lot of big thoughts that keep me up late at night.

Do you read Rookie?
I'm far too old...but yes. I'd like to write for them.

Do you journal?
I try but I'm really rubbish at remembering to do it. At the start I get really excited and journal loads then I just stop. I've bought Listography because I love making lists (part of my OCD). I think maybe I'll be better at that.

Are you 100% right now?
I don't think I'll ever be 100%.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Malala Yousafzai's birthday / Malala Day

If you don't know Friday was Malala Yousafzai's 16th birthday. Malala was the Pakistani school girl shot last year in the head on her school bus by the Taliban due to her campaigning for women's rights and education. That's right a group of grown men shot to kill a bus full of young girls. But guess what? The cowards didn't win as Malala survived and she now dedicates her life to the rights of young women and an education for all. Instead of silencing her they have made her shout louder.

It was also my friend Tom's birthday on Friday but he was willing to move his celebrations to Saturday so as not distract from Malala's speech to the UN and in particular the celebrations in the UK which his wife helped organise as part of Plan UK.

Here is Malala's moving speech:

You can learn more about Plan UK, Malala Day and how to get involved here.

Accessories from Japan I

Very soon I will show you how to make three Japanese street fashion inspired accessories out of faux fur (it is TOO hot here to be thinking about faux fur right now lol)

So here are some photos of the accessories I bought whilst on my trip to Japan.

'Lariat' KG by Kurt Geiger low tops + Japanese ankle socks
I never buy designer brands and I never buy anything at airports but I saw these at the Kurt Geiger in Heathrow and the Riddler fan girl in me NEEDED them (also they were on sale lol). The cat is the cat who has been banned from seeing me anymore. You can see she is taking the ban very seriously.

Metamorphose (temps de fille) white Mary Janes + Japanese ankle socks
Metamorphose is a lolita brand which mostly specialises in sweet and classic lolita styles. I love lolita and I love Meta! I have two Meta dresses (would you like to see photos of them?) These are my first pair of lolita shoes and I love them! I find shoes very difficult to buy (they just never fit right), especially shoes with heels so I was wary of buying lolita shoes. They usually come in S, M and L rather than actual sizes (and of course if you order them all the way from Japan you want them to fit) but these fit my feet great!
These specific shoes were bought from the Metamorphose shop in Kyoto's gigantic Teramachi shopping district. It was incredibly hard to find, I won't lie. The shop is right in the middle and not on ground level so you must keep your eye open for a mannequin wearing a full lolita outfit in a glass case. There will be a sign stating it is Metamorphose and an arrow bent like stairs. DO NOT GO UP THE STAIRS. Take the lift to the fifth floor. It is very freaky as the lift is like one from a horror film. Luckily when you reach the fifth floor you arrive in a single room full of pink and bows and two lovely assistants waiting to help you. Here is more info. I really recommend shopping in Teramachi and Kyoto in general.

The white pearls come from Singapore, the black pearls come from Hong Kong and the pearl on the purple bow comes from Jersey.

Bow ring

Whilst in Takayama we were supposed to visit a sake brewery however the guide didn't know. To make up for it she took us to a traditional craft shopping street. About half way down was a shop called San Ai Handmade. It is adorable! I could have bought everything however limited myself to this green and pink ring by CHONIi CHONIi and a pair of tabi socks.

Takayama is a wonderful city to visit if you are interested in Japanese history and tradition. I especially recommend going during the Spring or Autumn Matsuri, which are two of the best float festivals in Japan.

The other ring is a mood ring I picked up from an American service station. The big bracelet was a gift from an ex, the smaller pale pink shell bracelets were from Camden Town and the rest are from where I was a little girl way back in the 1990s! Back then bracelets made of rubber tubes with glitter floating in were all the rage.

More on socks
The traditional Japanese sock is called a 'tabi' sock. They were designed with the big toe separated from the rest of the toes so that you could wear them with flip-flop style sandals called 'geta'. All three of these socks come from Japan but the middle pink and grey sock can be bought from a shop called Muji which has stores all over the world.

Here are the two socks I wore in the shoe pictures. I bought them in Kyoto but all across Japan are shops that specialise just in socks (there must have been at last five in Kyoto's main shopping streets alone). I bought these Coudre Un socks from a shop called Crazy Dance in a young fashion department store called OPA but there are loads of franchises all offering the same offer of three pairs for ¥1050. That works out at around £3 each which may sound a lot but they are of very good quality - much better quality that English socks - designed to be shown off and to last, rather than to just be hidden in shoes. One Japanese sock shop, Tabio, also has a few shops in London but the range of designs is nothing like their Japanese counterparts.

I've also included English alternatives. Lace trimmed socks are very popular at the moment so easy to get. I bought mine from Marks and Spencer (you get a pink and cream pair for £5) but I've seen a variety with much more delicate lace around the cuffs from Top Shop. The patterned socks came from Marks and Spencer's children's section! You got five pairs for £3! Bargain!

Here is the final pair of Coudre Un socks I bought from Kyoto as well as the tabi socks I bought from Takayama. I don't know how clear it is but as well as patterned cotton the Coudre Un socks also include glitter and mesh sections. Definitely special occasion only socks!
The tabi socks are by Kyoto Kurochiku, a traditional item shop. They are festival socks so were expensive. In Japan you wear traditional wear to festivals and religious events but the pattern of your clothing depends on the season. Because these have pale colours, flowers and rabbits these are meant for spring festivals.

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