Friday, December 3, 2010

THE END (of the year) IS NIGH!

Not quite sure where all that time went, to be honest, but it means I'm inching ever closer to a mobile upgrade... iPhone 4, you will be mine! (Sorry, Android... I wished so much for you to be an equal for Apple, but it is not meant to be.)

Time for various updates!

NaNoWriMo -
As I thought, I didn't finish. But not too bummed out... I've got research material from the library, and plan to take my time on it and let it develop. Will eventually come up with a working title and continue with monthly progress updates here.

Foxes & Chickens -
I've got the card backs designed, as well as the Fox and Chicken cards (though I might now make each illustration different). I was able to playtest a bit with a group of friends at our Thanksgiving gathering last weekend. We didn't play with all roles (just 2 foxes, 5 chickens, the Little Chick, and the Farmer), but I think it went quite well. The only sticking point was the constant joke that not only were the foxes in chicken suits, the farmer wore a giant chicken suit as well. Might need to adjust rules/instructions to make it clear that the chickens would recognize the farmer as a member of the farm, and therefore not question his being there. (This would also be the case for other non-chicken farmyard characters: the ducks, the turkey, the rooster, and the farmer's dog).
Sadly, this won't be done in time for Christmas, but hey, there's Valentine's Day and Easter coming up... and it would be a nice birthday gift.

Etsy Store -
I haven't put up any new products yet because it's been a busy few weeks... more busy that I thought! However, with the bank holidays for Christmas coming up, I should be able to get at least a few things up, including some valentines! I've been wanting to make valentines for ages, but never remembered until February started. NOT THIS YEAR! They'll be geeky and science/math themed.

I've decided to relearn calculus (and finally get the hang of my mathmatical nemesis: matrices) and teach myself about physics (as I was quite silly and didn't take it in high school). Currently reading Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything (after having it recommended to me numerous times over the years*) and loving it. I've also got a new project in my head, which will be a fantastic outlet for my love of illustration/design, science/math, skepticism and critical thinking. Don't want to say much though, as I tend to zip between projects like no tomorrow. So we'll see! I should be able to say more come the new year.

I still want to finish my Bible reading project... just need to find it again, as I haven't seen it since we moved house.

I'll update again on Sunday, with recommendations for good educational books, films, and programming that I've come across recently. For now though, lunch hour is over and I've got to get back to work.

*The first glowing recommendation being from my neurobiology professor in college. This was during the short period I decided to double major in art and psychology, but then realized I'd take an extra two years to graduate.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

NaNoWriMo and Upcoming Etsy plans

Hello, boys and girls. I just realized that I haven't updated since October! Here's the skinny:

1) NaNoWriMo
I'm still chugging along, but it has become abundantly clear that I am most likely not going to finish those 50,000 words by November 30th. But that's okay. I've already written more than I have in my life, and I'm still going to finish this novel I'm working on... it just might take until the end of December. I'm actually pretty excited about it. It's changed quite drastically since I started.

2) Look out for new products in my Etsy store in the coming week or so... just in time for Christmas!
Yep, I'm buckling down and getting some more products made and put up, including more drawings, paintings, some plushies and...

3) Foxes and Chickens - a Werewolf/Mafia variant
I'm making a kid-friendly Werewolf varient called Foxes and Chickens... all about the chickens trying to detect the foxes in chicken costumes and chasing them off of the farm. I'm currently working on the illustrations and have sorted out what I'd like to do with packaging. Just have to finalize the drawings this weekend and send everything off to get printed. I think it's going to look fantastic.

I'll post the design for the back of the cards as soon as it's complete.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

We've moved! An update of sorts.

Hello! Haven't updated in ages. Why? We were busy moving house... and then BT took a week to get our internet sorted.

Here's a list of what's been going on:

1. We moved!
We now live in Bletchley instead of Newport Pagnell. A bit further from work now, but it's a good flat and a good location, and for once we have friends that live locally!

2. Roller Derby!
I'm getting a lot better at skating now. I even took part in some newbie scrimmaging two weeks ago. I've also picked out my skate name (H.P. Lovecrash) and number (751).

3. Handicrafts! With Yarn!
I'm crocheting a jumper. Why? I found a crochet magazine with an easy looking pattern for a hoodie, and I live near a craft store now (so yarn practically begs me to take it home and do something with it). I'm about halfway done with the back. I'll post pictures when it's finished. I also want to start making some more amirugumi as well, and try out some scientific knitting and crocheting. I've got a wickid idea for a scarf made out of a chain of neurons.

4. NaNoWriMo!
I am insane. I've decided to attempt National Novel Writing Month again, with slightly more effort on my part this time. You can find my author profile by clicking the image to the right. If you're taking part, you can add me as a buddy! I'll also toss up a word count widget, once they're available on the NaNo site.

And that's about it for now. Stay tuned for a Halloween post this weekend about classic horror flicks!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Movies and musings

I've watched two documentaries over the past few days. Both have given me insight and have made me want to delve further into their subjects, but only one of them made me a bit... well, a angry is not the right word. It's also not for reasons I would have first thought of. I'll be writing more detailed reviews and findings after I've had some time to step away and look at them more objectively and complete some personal research and investigations. For now, though, my initial thoughts:

Religulous was up first, Bill Maher's exploration of religion. To be honest, I was expecting it to be a lot more incendiary than it was. However, Maher was really a nice guy to everyone he met, even though he'd try to poke them into a bit of healthy debate. He mostly focussed on asking questions. I also learned that many deities actually share a lot in common with Jesus Christ; more than I had realized.

Tonight, I watched Ben Stein's Expelled, which is about Intelligent Design. I'll be honest: I was expecting to be really angered by this film.While I think the use of the imagery of the Berlin wall and Nazi Germany was more than a tad heavy-handed, they did seem to have a point and made sense within the Intelligent Design arguments. Great pains were taken at the beginning of the film to separate ID from Creationism. That ID did not have to be viewed from a religious perspective, and was merely proposing that life was kickstarted, or designed as it were, by some form of intelligence. This, I thought, could be plausible. I would love for the stigma to fade and allow research in this arena. It was towards the end of the film that I became angry. That's when the previous statements that religion (or specifically, Judeo-Christian) did not have to be involved in ID... well, they were blatantly ignored, in favor of capital "g" God being that specific intelligent designer. This, I think, detracted from the whole film.

As stated above, I'm going to do a bit of research on my own and take a step back before I write a proper blog post about either film.

*   *   *

And now, some snippets about life in general:

On Saturday, My friend Rach, her boyfriend Mark and I attended our first roller derby bout. It was a battle royale between the London Roller Girls and the UK Allstars (a team made up of the best derby girls from the rest of the country). London won by quite a margin (they have been at it longer than everyone else), but the Allstars received the most cheers by far (perhaps this was because were were in High Wycombe and not London). It was great to actually see the sport in action outside of practice jams. Now I just need to get the hang of skating... more practice!

Today marks one year that I've lived in Britain. It was a rocky start, but I think I've come into my own and truly feel comfortable here.

Tomorrow is my husband's birthday, and he's spending it as a contestant on ITV's The Chase. Good luck, Michael!

*   *   *

Lastly, here are a few podcasts I've been enjoying lately. All can easily be found on iTunes:

WYNC's Radiolab [link]
Radiolab explores a myriad of topics and threads stories and interviews together beatifully and with fantastic production values. Because of Radiolab, I now know about the terminal velocity of cats falling out of buildings  as well as face-blindness ( neuroscientist and author Oliver Sacks and artist Chuck Close both experience this condition).

Hometown Tales [link]
The Hometown Tales blog looks like it hasn;t been updated in a few months, but they're still putting out podcasts about every three weeks or so. Very much one of those "two guys shooting the shit about X" podcasts. The X in this case stands for hometown tales, folklore and urban legends. The great thing is, it's not about these stories being true (in fact, most of the time hosts Bryan and Gene don't think they are), it's about the fun of telling the stories themselves. There is also a separate feed of video podcasts available, most of which were segments from their old public access show.

Chortle: the Peacock and Gamble Podcast [link]
First off, don't listen to this at work unless you're wearing headphones and are prepared to be stared at by your coworkers as you gasp for air after loud fits of laughter. It's rude, it's crude, and it is utterly fantastic. Again, it's two blokes shooting the shit here, but the twist is that they're both actually professional comedians... who are both mental. I first saw Ray Peacock on Russell Howard's Good News on BBC3... the same night Matt Smith debuted as the Doctor, I believe. Michael actually started listening to the podcast first, and I hadn't given it a shot until a week or two ago. Now I'm hooked. After a bad day at the office last week, I listened to an episode on my way home... and it cheered me right the fuck* up.

*OH NO! I DID A SWEAR! Actually, I said "shit" a few times too, so I did many swears. Oops.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Scientology on the BBC's Panorama

A couple of nights ago, I watched Panorama on BBC1 with my husband, Michael. The subject? Secrets of Scientology.

I'd heard a lot about Scientology through the media in recent years: Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah's couch and going ballistic against mood-altering drugs prescribed by the psychiatric community; Isaac Hays leaving the cast of South Park after an episode criticizing Scientology was produced; and the frightening tale of Lisa McPherson.

The Panorama program focused mainly on the negative effects of how the church was operated, and not so much on its teachings. Personally, I think people have a right to believe what works for them. If Scientology is the way for you and makes you happy, that's fantastic! However, I do think that the way the Church of Scientology is run and many of its social practices aren't doing it any favors.

When asked what they think of the fact that many people believe Scientology is a cult, the reaction of church leaders and high level practitioners is one of deep offense. The person asking the question is not calling it a cult themselves and simply wants to know how these Scientologists feel about these statements. I've never seen or heard an honest answer to this question. Granted, I haven't been actively looking for one yet.

As a part of my great personal education caper, I'm going to be learning a bit more about Scientology. Dianetics is on my To Read list of religious texts. I want to understand why so many people flock to this church, while so many others condemn it. I want to find out if beyond the controversy there is some positivity. And I want to know if the rumor that L. Ron Hubbard started Scientology to win a bet with Robert A. Heinlein has any shred of truth behind it.It probably doesn't, but wouldn't that be both impressive and horrifying at the same time?

For now, check out the links to various Panorama reports about Scientilogy (including the one from 1987 with some dreadful animation depicting the Xenu space opera, supposedly shared at Operating Thetan level III). I've also included a clip produced by the Church of Scientology as a rebuttal to Panorama's 2007 program. Enjoy!

YouTube links:
Panorama: Scientology the Road to Freedom? (1987) 
Panorama: Scientology and Me (2007)
A section of Scientology's Response to the above [there are many more clips from this rebuttal that can be found in the list of related videos for this clip]
Panorama: Scientology & Me - What Happened Next [a further update from Panorama]
Panorama: The Secrets of Scientology (2010) [currently still available on BBC iPlayer, for those in the UK]

Monday, September 27, 2010

QuickLunch Break Update

Just a quick update for now; planning on a full post later tonight.

I'm about halfway through the book of Genesis now, and already I've decided there is no way I can take the Bible literally. The first two chapters (the story of Creation and the story of Adam and Eve) directly contradict each other in their timelines. So, not unexpectedly, I'm taking it as a collection of stories, some of which have many variations and interpretations. I've found I actually know many of the stories in Genesis already.

I've got to say, though, I'm more looking forward to the New Testament. I'm not really digging the vengeful God of the Old Testament at all. Granted, at this point, the world is new and he might not have been a dab hand at it, but he seems to play favorites and generally acts like a bit of a jerk. It's okay though; I know he mellows out a bit after he has his son.

I'm going to be making a post for each book I get through, to share what I gleaned from it. It is interestring though, if still difficult to get through.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Revisiting the Good Book

As I've said before, I would consider myself a reluctant athiest. Why reluctant? Because being an agnostic and at least believing that there was some sort of purpose to our little lives causes much less existential angst. However, the way my brain works logically has resulted in my atheistic thinking. I do consider myself an athiest with a lowercase "A" though, as I'm open to the possibility of there being something more than this, but would need some sort of evidence in order to justify a shift in my beliefs.

I am one of the Faithless.

A lot of factors contributed to this, and I ended up moving away from Christianity in much the same way I figured out there was no Santa Claus.* The more I learned about the world around me, and the more questions I asked that seemingly could not be answered by the Bible or my fellow Christians young and old, the less I felt connected to God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

The doubt definitely began when I was around 10. My family had never been really religious to begin with, but we considered ourselves Christian even though we didn't attend church often, if at all. A friend of my mom had a daughter in a Missionettes group at a local church, so I ended up joining too. Missionettes are a Christian variation of girl scouts. You earn badges and take part in activities, but obviously it involves more praying and Bible reading. In fact, to move through the different levels of Missionettes (whcih were all named after women in the Bible; I can only remember that one level was called "Ruth"), you were required to read certain sections of the Bible, and tick them of your list as you went. By the time you made it to the top level, you most likely had completed reading the whole thing.

I had a King James version of the Bible, which is written in the same type of language used by Shakespeare. Keep in mind, that while I was a bright kid, I was only about 10. I wasn't aware that there were several versions of the Bible, including version that were written in modern English, which would have been easier to understand.

I sat down to read the chapters I was assigned many times and struggled. When I asked for help from the Missionette leaders and assistant leaders because I was having a hard time comprehending, I wasn't given any. I've only been left with the vague impression that I was supposed to understand it all without any trouble, and that my questions were not welcome. This, and my time at a Missionette camp weekend when I fearfully witnessed a good many people "speaking in tongues," was definitely the beginning of the end for me.

I moved from a Christian, to a sort of agnostic-Christian, to a shameful phase as a wannabe Pagan in high school, to where I am now. I wanted to believe, but found that I couldn't.

As a part of my new educational adventures, I've decided to give the Good Book another go. I'm not setting out to become a born-agan-Christian, but I feel that if I'm going to live in a world where Christianity is ever present (especially in my country of origin) I should really learn more about it than what I picked up as a child and as an adult in art history classes that cover the middle ages.

My friend Rach is being kind enough to lend me a copy of a CEV (Contemporary English Version) Bible. I'll be making future posts as I read my way through it. In the future, I'd also like to read other religious texts, like the Qur'an, the Book of Mormon, Mahayana sutras, and even Dianetics. I'm sure I'll find a lot out there, but if you have any suggestions, let me know!

*Here's the story: I had long since figured out that my parents wrote the gift tags on my presents from Santa, though they had claimed to be helping him out as he was a very busy man. This made sense in my childhood logic, of course. It wasn't until I'd learned that there was no actual land at the North Pole (thanks, Where in the World is Carmen San Diego!) that I realized Santa probably wasn't real. Nevermind the fact that the ice is most likely solid enough up there to support a toy workshop and reindeer stable, I didn't think of that.

And if you're American and grew up about the same time I did, you now have the theme song from Carmen San Diego stuck in your head. Isn't Rockapella awesome?

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Forgive me, bloggers and blog readers, for I have sinned. It has been four months since my last post. During that time I've continued work (which has been a bit stressful at times), gone on holiday back to the States, had my first wedding anniversary, and have started going to Roller Derby practices (though as of late I've had to miss out because I've been under the weather).

It's been a bit hectic, all told. And I've not been the happiest of bunnies, all told. I've been over working myself at work (what can I say, I'm industrius), and have been desiring a project to work on, and have missed blogging. My super secret project is on hold at the mo, but I've done some major rethinking about my time management and what would make me happy, as well as what I'm interested in.

I've come to the conclusion that I want to take a more active role in my life, and I want a bit of adventure. I want to learn new things about topics I'm interested in, and I want to share that with you all. I finally came to the conclusion after reading Spook by Mary Roach and beginning to read Join Me by Danny Wallace. Both of whom decided to go out and DO something; Mary having done a load of really practical research about the idea of ghosts and the afterlife, and Danny bringing together a large collective of people seemingly by accident after he began his project on a whim.

I've come to realize that there are a lot of things that I don't know about and haven't experienced or learned for myself. I'm a skeptic and a reluctant atheist by nature, but haven't properly looked into the science and the religious enough to completely understand them. I don't think ghosts exist or that aliens abduct people, but at the same time, wouldn't it be kind of cool if some of that stuff were true? And how does brain function account for any of the aforementioned? Are some people more predisposed to believe in God, aliens, ghosts, or Bigfoot? The words "quantum physics" are bandied about by many, but how does quantum physics actually work?

I'm naturally inquisitive, and I soak up information like a sponge. What I'd like to do is learn as much as I can about things that I find genuinely interesting and that people seem to be divided on and share my findings on this blog.

I've now got a purpose! Let the adult education of Stephoodle begin...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Taking Care of Business

It's been almost a month since I've updated. Crazy how when you go from unemployed to working full time you spend much less time blogging and tweeting than you used to! I need to work on that.

The super secret project is plodding along. I've finally forced myself to complete a concrete summary/strip-by-strip outline of the story, because bits keep evolving in my head, and if I just let it go on I will never finish this. Most of the summary is complete; I'm just fidding with how things will go during the climax, as there are many threads to tie in and I might need a short flashback to lead up to it (and I'm not sure how to integrate that yet without disturbing the flow of the narrative). I'm also looking at comic books and artists I enjoy in order to nail down the overall look. I have some ideas (and all the characters but one are nailed down), but I'll need to experiment a bit before I find what fits. Normally my style is fairly static, but I would love to put much more energy into my lines and images, like Dave McKean, Craig Thompson, and a few others I can't quite remember off the top of my head.

Michael and I ended up watching a show about Picasso on BBC1 last night, and it was amazing and inspiring. His paintings are another reason I want to try to capture more emotion and energy in my work. I also now have a really strong desire to paint again, on large canvases; maybe even try oils. And learning that Picasso worked in so many varied mediums (more than I knew he had) makes me worry less about the fact that I like to create so many different kinds of things. It made me want to work with fimo clay again, too, and get my Etsy store back up and running with new products. I'll be working towards that over the next few weeks.

We're heading off to a wedding in Glasgow next weekend (volcanic ash permitting). It'll be my first trip to Scotland! Yay! And I met a good chunk of people that are going to be there this past weekend at a housewarming party, so I won't feel as awkward as I could have. This is good.

The weekend after the wedding, we're having a party of our own for Eurovision! It's my first one ever. I still don't quite get it, but it seems like good, awful fun. There will also be much Rock Band and SingStar and crazy board games and (of course) Doctor Who. Because we're all nerds.

So that's how things are going at the moment. I've got to go, as my lunch hour is ending, but I'll be sure to post about the trip up for the wedding.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Working hard for the money! also: Politics!

So hard for it honey! Yep. I've been at this full time job for three weeks now. I'm still trying to adjust to my new schedule. (It's hard to go from being unemployed for six months to working full time.) I'm actually really enjoying being back at a desk again, and being surrounded by people instead of being alone in the house.

*     *     *

I've been working on a super secret project for a long while now; at least for the last month, if not longer. The process has slowed down a bit since I started working again, but it's coming along quite nicely. It's a comics project, and it will be posted on the web. That's all I'll give away. Right now I'm still in the middle of finalizing character designs. The main outline of the first story arc is written, and I'll begin thumbnailing soon. I probably won't be posting anything up on the web until I've completed the first arc and am well into the process of working on the second, just so I can see how long each bit of the process takes.

I'm really excited about it, as it's the first time I've put so much work into a comic. The story for the first arc is pretty solid as well, and has a theme and everything! I feel like I'm doing proper work for once. And it's weird not to talk to anyone about it (save my husband and a close friend), but I think that it's been very beneficial for me not to. So... watch this space. I will update about how the process is going along, as well as when the project will finally go live.

*     *     *

I experienced a historical event here in the UK last week. On Thursday evening, I (and millions of other viewers) watched the first ever televised Prime Ministerial debate. I'd only just become interested in the debate process back during the 2008 US Presidential campaign, to be honest, especially the first ever Vice Presidential debate between Joe biden and Sarah Palin.

At first, the British politicians (Gordon Brown for the Labour Party, who is the current PM; David Cameron for the Conservatives; and Nick Clegg for the Liberal Democrats) seemed a bit stiff and extra formal. I found myself wondering when (or even if) the debate would heat up and they would start speaking over one another. Amusingly, it didn't take as long as I'd thought. There was a LOT of back and forth, a few deep digs (seeing Gordon Brown verbally flip off David Cameron was a highlight for me), and anecdote after anecdote (mainly from David Cameron). Nick Clegg made a grand showing, and proved to both Labour and the Conservatives that he was much more of a viable choice for voters than either opposing party ever thought possible.

In light of the public opinion polls after the debates, it looks as though the Liberal Democrats have a really good chance of winning the election. Before the debate? It was split nearly evenly between Labour and the Conservatives. This revelation was the most interesting thing to come out of the debate for me. Not only because a third party is seriously in the running here in the UK, but the fact that perhaps the US might take notice and we'll see a third party candidate who actually has a shot at winning in the next couple of decades. And perhaps the mentality that voting for a third party is a wasted vote will diminish.

It may not happen, but one can hope.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Christmas Caricature Commission

I meant to post this in January, but I forgot! I did a couple of caricature commissions for a friend last December. They were Christmas presents for his dad and his brother. I think they turned out great (and so did my friend and his relatives).

Click on an image to see a larger version

The brother's, I think, was the most fun. It was a take on the Army of darkness movie poster. Here's a side by side:

Click to see a slightly larger version

His brother works on a golf course (and loves golf), rides mountain bikes, has a cute little daughter, and apparently is a fully-licensed chainsaw operator. It was my friend that suggested the Army of Darkness poster theme in his original email, and I just ran with it.

I'd love to do more of these. My only hangup was that printing costs were quite a bit higher than I was expecting. There's no Kinko's (FedEx Office, whatever they're calling themselves now) equivalent here, so all the printing places have a base startup cost, even if you're just printing a couple of pages (which I was not told about when I got a quote). I may just try to go through photo printing places, as they're less expensive, probably have better paper options, and I know a few people who have used such services for art prints before (and they turned out lovely).

*   *   *

In other news, the job search continues. It feels a bit futile sometimes. I keep looking though, and sending out my CV.

I'm going to work on getting a portfolio website set up, and get more stuff up on Etsy. I was on a roll with that, and then it all got held up by the move last month. Then I went all gotta-get-a-job crazy, and when I do that it seems to zap my creative juices. It's like my brain can only focus on one thing at a time. I really need to work on that. 

I want to get back into doing illustration and paintings. I'd love to do freelance work, but other than registering for websites that require a large yearly or monthly fee, I don't know how to go about it. If any freelance illustrators happen to stumble upon this... do you have any advice?

I've also thought about offering my services as a caricaturist for local kids' parties and all that, but I'm not sure how to go about it yet. It requires more research.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hot Dogs, American Style

Hot dogs are a classically American food. We took the idea of sausage in casing and just went NUTS. Go to any supermarket in the States, and you'll find a whole section of the cheese/cold meat aisle devoted to hot dogs. They range from containing 100% beef to indiscernible meat bits. Hebrew National is the best brand (don't argue), followed by Nathan's (who holds a hot dog eating contest every year at Coney Island).

Hot dogs are harder to find here in England. I've only seen one variety in the classic shrinkwrapped plastic package I'm familiar with. But I see either of these whenever I go shopping, and it makes me feel a bit ill:

American Style Hot Dogs! In jars and cans! OH BOY! A taste of home!

Do people actually buy these and eat them? I suppose they must, as the products exist. But I will argue: these hot dogs are most definitely NOT "American Style" in my mind. They're hot dogs, yes, but hot dogs should not be packed in the same way vienna sausages are.

I find it funny to see American food as interpreted by another country... it must be what, say, Italians and Chinese people feel like in the States.

*   *   *

Last weekend we travelled up to Birmingham to experience a city that was neither slightly boring Milton Keynes nor the crowded madness that is London. I'd never been before, and promptly went OMG OLD BUILDINGS LOOK SO COOL MUST TAKE PICTURES. I took loads, but I'll just share four of my favorites:

Click a photo to see a slightly larger version.

Birmingham wins over London for me... it's less crowded and dirty, and has almost all the things I'd want out of London. Mostly the less crowded thing.

*   *   *

Over on my other blog, I've written about how I signed up for a Race for Life 5k in Milton Keynes on June 6th. You can read the entry here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Horrible Histories and Sorry I've Got No Head

Horrible Histories and Sorry I've Got No Head are both shows on CBBC, a children's network run by the BBC. Yes, they are intended for kids. They are also genius.

Let's start with Horrible Histories. It sort of has the same feeling as Bill Nye the Science Guy, except it's about history and more sketch based. But, like Bill Nye, it presents educational material in such a fun and entertaining way that you almost forget you're learning something.

For example, The Wives of Henry VIII:

Go on, tell me you're not going to be humming,"Divorced, beheaded and died... divorced, beheaded, survived..." for the rest of the day.

Want some more? Here are a few more of my favorite clips from Horrible Histories:
New! Victorian Child! (with the shouty man)
The 4 Georges: Born 2 Rule
Stupid Deaths: Edmund II
Wife Swap: Spartans and Athenians
Crazy Caligula
Anglo Saxon Ordeals
Prisoner of War Escape
Stone Age Tools
There are a ton more as well... just search for Horrible Histories on YouTube and go nuts!

Sorry I've Got No Head feels like Kids in the Hall for... well... kids. It's extremely clever and funny. It's also better than any episode of Saturday Night Live I've seen in the last decade.

Here's a sketch with a recurring character; the Witchfinder General:


Here are a few other sketches, for your perusal:
A Thousand Pounds!
French Exchange Student
The Fearsome Vikings
Billy the Imaginary Friend Sketch
Footballers Speech Disorder
Blueberry Woman
More of the Witchfinder General
I've also found a full episode (one I haven't seen yet!)
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

And of course, as with Horrible Histories, there are a lot more clips available via YouTube.

So there you have it. Two excellent bits of children's programming that adults can enjoy as well. I wish we'd had these in the States!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Convulsing Enter

The internet is working superbly now! Hooray! Now I can make posts with photos and used a proper keyboard! Granted, it's got a European layout, and I forget where the @ symbol is all the time since it's not above the 2, but that's okay.

Now on with the good stuff!

*   *   *

While out and about in Milton Keynes, Michael and I stumbled upon this awesome mural in one of the pedestrian walkways:

I really love the weird cute style, and the drips from the spray paint. I wish I'd gotten a better picture.

*   *   *

Speaking of finding things while in Milton Keynes, we were in T.K. Maxx (T.J. Maxx in the States) and ran across this tennis racket for kids in the toy section. Nothing weird about that, right?

It's also got oddly translated phrases on the packaging. Take this for example:

The best welcome gifts for the children.

Okay, so that's not really that bad. It's just a bit awkwardly phrased. But then there's this:


WHAT convulsively enters? I'M SO CONFUSED!

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We did manage to get out of the Milton Keynes area, and headed down to Bedford for wandering and shopping. We didn't really manage to buy much, but it was really nice to walk in and out of shops that weren't in a big mall. We also got to see this rad sculpture:

I didn't realize at first that I was looking at it from behind! I liked the shapes of the silhouettes, though. Here's a shot from the front:


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In other life news, I've ramped up my job hunt. I'm heading into town to register with another agency on Monday, and have applied for about ten jobs this week Here's hoping I find something soon!

I've also been updating my weight loss blog a tad more than this one. The good news? I'm up to five pounds lost so far. It's slow going, but that's better in the long run, really. 

That's all for now! 

Friday, January 29, 2010

Holy Six Month Anniversary, Batman!

Okay, so it was actually two days ago, on the 27th, but hey! Six months! How awesome is that?

We're still experiencing turmoil with British Telecom about getting our broadband connection sorted, so I'm tapping this out on my phone. I am completely amazed at the terrible customer service and the amount of crazy screw-ups that have occured over the last ten days or so.

Ah well. It will get sorted eventually.

Next week we're going to a Tweet Up (a meet up of local twittering types) in Milton Keynes. Looks to be fun! I'll report back, broadband or no broadband.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Argos is weird.

First off, just a note: we don't have a net connection in the new house, so I'm updating from my phone. Fun!

Monday night, Michael and I went to Argos to get some inflatable furniture to hold us over until we got a couch. I was expecting something like a Wal*Mart but more warehouse-y. I was looking forward to browsing some aisles. Argos is NOTHING like that.

You go in, look through the catalog, check to see if the item is in stock on a little keypad thing, pay either with a cashier or a kiosk, and wait for your items to be pulled. It was the strangest shopping experience I've ever had, as I am a browser when I shop. We got what we needed, plus a couple of floor lamps, so it was successful, if a bit boring.

That's all for now!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Quick Update

Because we're in the middle of moving, I haven't been able to work on paintings or anything (though I did make a some magnets over the last week or so, and will post a picture of those later this week once we're done). I do have my sketchbook though, so I'm doing some thumbnails for comics when I can.

The big news though, is that I've started a separate blog to track my weight loss. I figured that was a bit easier than fiddling with tagging and cuts in case some people didn't want to read it. If you're curious, though, you can find it here:

That's all for now!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Health, weight loss, oh, and arty stuff too.

Let's talk about the art stuff first. I've been working on a buffer for a webcomic I want to launch in February. That's really where I've been lately and why I haven't blogged much. I'm about half way to my goal of halving two months completed, which I'm happy with. I'm in the middle of a painting for the Etsy shop at the moment, involving Goldilocks and the Three Bears. And I've started playing around with some fimo, so there will be magnets up in the shop soonish as well.

But that's not really what I wanted to post about. After my appointment with the doctor today, it has become abundantly clear that I need to do something about my weight. I'd already started eating a bit healthier, but I need to go a step further. I'm only about 10 pounds shy of what I weighed at my heaviest (though it may be more than that, as I'm taking it from the only time I remember looking at a scale when I was that big), and that scares the shit out of me. I knew I'd put on weight since I moved here (partially owing to a few bouts of depression), but I didn't realize just how bad the situation had gotten.

I've had enough, and finding out how much I weighed (plus the doc really sort of sticking it to me this morning) was the last straw.

So begins my current venture into a healthier lifestyle. I have a "lifestyle" appointment with a nurse next week, as suggested by the doc, about nutrition and exercise and the like. We'll see how that goes. In the mean time, I'm eating more healthy foods and smaller portions.