Watched “Dredd”…


Well… just watched the movie Dredd starring Karl Urban.  What a disappointment!  The story was fair enough but Karl Urban was just plain awful!  Why, oh why, didn’t they get Stallone?  He was a far more convincing Judge Dredd.  I’m just glad I didn’t buy it.  Urban moped around and gave absolutely no feeling of power or cold-bloodedness.  Oh, he shot the bad guys and such, and he said the right things, sort of, but there was no sense of menace.  If Dredd were to be like Urban, there’s no way he would become the most feared Judge in Mega-City One!  Indeed, the prophets of the future, who chronicle the incorruptible Judge’s deeds in their comic 2000 AD, would doubtless have found some other Judge who better suited the role!

It’s a great shame, too, as the girl (the rookie, Judge Anderson, he’s assigned to assess) is excellent – bravo Olivia Thirlby!  The bad guys are passable (some more so than others) and their leader is pretty good.  But without a decent Judge Dredd, the whole thing tends to fall flat.  It’s weird really.  The characters are so sanitised that you’d think it was made for a much younger audience, but the special effects are gruesome enough to prevent that.  Stallone, in his outing as Dredd, was so good, it was almost as if he’d been born to play the part.  He was able to live up the name, which is, of course, a play on dread.  Criminals of all kinds would feel dread if Dredd was the Judge they faced – but only if he was convincingly merciless.  Urban just never gave that impression.

The acting aside, some of the sequences were obviously meant to convey the way the psychic Judge Anderson perceived things, but they failed miserably.  Such sequences simply didn’t belong in many of the scenes.  They should have been confined to the scenes where they were appropriate to the events portrayed.  The sets were OK but very limited, with nothing like the extravagantly realised vision of Mega-City one that were presented in the earlier movie with Stallone.

I know that others have praised the movie and given it high ratings, while the Stallone movie has been slammed.  That’s their prerogative.  Mine is to give you my rating: 2.5 stars – and that’s rescued by the story and Olivia Thirlby’s performance!  Now imagine what rating it would have gotten without those redeeming factors!  As to slating the earlier movie, all I can say is that I’ve read the comics and enjoyed them.  The Stallone version fits far better but I suspect it has been regarded as a failure because of Stallone being cast in the lead!  I have observed that he seldom achieves critical approval, yet his movie are immensely entertaining and popular – even if few will confess to liking them!  I certainly won’t bother watching Dredd again, but I’ll be happy to watch Judge Dredd many times more.

Movie: Dredd, 2012.  Starring Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby.  Written by Alex Garland.  Directed by Pete Travis.  My rating: 2.5 stars.

Alternate movie: Judge Dredd, 1995.  Starring Sylvester Stallone, Armand Assante and Diane Lane.  Directed by Danny Cannon.  My rating: 4.5 stars.

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Beating The Evil Ones!


Hi all!

Those of you who follow me on Facebook (yes, I am involved with the Demon Portal!) may have seen an announcement I made there today, in the guise of a ‘status update’.  For those who didn’t, I shall repeat it, in a little bit more detail.

Those of you who know me fairly well will know that I am passionate about security on the internet.  I detest those characters who have made it their (very sad) life’s mission to make the internet not only unpleasant but potentially lethal to our computers.  Indeed, I consider it entirely feasible that these people could cause even more damage to individuals.  For example, denying a housebound person their one window on the world, forcing them into a downward spiral of depression culminating in an early demise.  In another possible scenario, a person of frail condition, discovering that the computer they don’t understand has been utterly trashed by a virus could, potentially, at the moment of discovery suffer a coronary, leading, again, to an early death.  Extreme?  Perhaps, but not beyond the bounds of possibility!  I don’t, therefore, care how mentally ill these people may be, there can never be any excuse for their behaviour!

I, along with the rest of the internet community, have been guilty of permitting these vile individuals the (dubious) honour of possessing special terms, denoting their own specialised sphere of activity.  The names ‘Spammer’, ‘Troll’, ‘Hacker’, ‘Black Hat’ and the like litter websites from here to the vanishing point.  Worse, these sick people actually glory in their designations, and form communities… on the internet!  This is an affront to us all.  But how have we handled it?  We continue to use the terms, or we fall back on ‘the bad guys’.  To me, ‘the bad guys’ includes those unhappy people who drag you down into their own sorry worlds of depression, bigotry, hate, and other purely unpleasant natures.

This morning, in  a moment of sheer inspiration, arising from a a comment that elicited a (then) joking remark from myself, I made a discovery.  I could use a totally new term.  A collective term for the worst of the worst, but excluding those people who are simply unlikeable.  It sums up the destructive nature of my target groups while denying them any specialisation acknowledgement.  I also happen to think it’s very descriptive of their nature, and worth.

So, what is this new term?  It is, quite simply: the termites of the internet!  If you feel so moved, please, feel free to use this term whenever you wish to mention any, or all, of the destructive element who plague our lives in this virtual world!

Bragging Rights!


Yep, you read that right!  I’m exercising a father’s right to brag – about my kids!  Again LOL!  Well, two of them, anyway.  I’ve had no real news from Damien, so I can’t mention anything for him, unfortunately.

Reuben 20min sketch - rearing horse Take a look at this incredible ‘sketch’ drawn by Reuben, in just 20 minutes!  His partner, Dawn, is so proud of him, too, that she posted this on Facebook.  In fact, she’s taken to posting his sketches quite often, lately, since his return to art.  Sorry it’s not a ‘cleaner’ image bur it’s a photo’ and not a scan.  You can click on the thumbnail to see a larger image.

Apart from these sketches, Reuben’s making excellent progress with my book cover!  He drew two sketches and I have chosen which one he’s to work up into a colour piece.  I’ve pointed out to him that, if he does as good a job as I believe him capable of, then he could well find that other authors may be interested in him creating book covers, or even illustrations, for them too.  From what I’ve seen online, it could be a very useful supplement to his income.  When the next book is ready, I will be conducting my first ever ‘Cover Reveal’ for one of my own works.

l-plate-printable-template

Meanwhile, in a small town some 25 miles away, Emma is taking driving lessons, and doing very well too!  Conscious of some of the contortions expected of drivers, many of which they’ll never employ in real driving, I’ve advised her to make sure that she tells driving instructors and, eventually, the examiner, that she suffers from Fibromyalgia and that restricts her flexibility significantly.  Hopefully, that will make driving a more comfortable experience for her.  It would be a huge boon to her whole family if she passed her test.  It would reduce the fatigue she suffers from walking and open up their options for family outings.

No family related post would be complete without mention of Jenny!  She has been busy crafting, making blackwork cross-stitch pieces, as well as lovely little colour pieces, for various people’s birthdays, along with ,making their birthday cards.  She’s also making other things, like cots and highchairs out of card, using templates.  It always sounds so easy, when you say that a template is used.  Believe me!  It’s not!  The templates are good, but getting the job done right and looking good demands considerable skill, including choosing the right materials and embellishments.

And, in the immortal words of Elmer Fudd…. “That’s all folks!”

Shamed and Delighted


Shamed

Well now, what a time I’ve been having!  First, I suffered shame!  I, who have often warned of the many perils of the internet, got caught out!  I’m on LinkedIn, where I have spent a great deal of effort increasing my network of fellow authors, and others involved in the book business.  When I received a message from a contact asking me to rate them on their ‘online business card’, I naturally obliged.  More, I participated in the scheme.  It was an apparently buggy site, but I thought nothing of that – there are, after all, plenty of those around!  Part of the process is for the site to send a message to all your LinkedIn contacts, which it did.  That was about eleven or twelve days ago.   It was with considerable surprise, therefore, that I was alerted to the fact that the whole thing was a Spam/Phishing site, through a friend.  It seems that she received an invitation to rate me – on 1st May!  That was well after the original day.  Naturally, I immediately changed my password and scanned my computer.  Fortunately, nothing nasty got through my security!  Still, I’m ashamed that I was not more careful, as I normally am.

Delighted

This morning, around noon, there was a considerable clatter at our letterbox, followed by an enormous thump of something hitting the floor.  Upon investigation, I discovered a brown card mailing package.  Sitting down, I opened the package with some anticipation.  In the process, I discovered that the sealant used is rather unpleasant – adhering to the fingers with tenacity, coated in thin layers of the card.  Well, once I had successfully penetrated this sticky seal and the card unfolded, I revealed one of those things I’ve been waiting for with excitement: a paperback copy of my novelette Shade of Evil.

It may be difficult for some to understand, but this was a very special moment in my life.  Here, after many decades of desiring it, was one of my very own books – in real life!  The glossy cover, the beautifully printed text, the texture of the cream coloured paper.  It was almost overwhelming!  I’ve got the ebook copies, of course, but this was entirely different.  I read a few passages and made a discovery: somehow, the words no longer seemed to belong to me!  It seemed, to me, as if I had cut the final binds between myself and my work.  This book represents the fact that it now belongs to the world!

I didn’t retain possession of it for long.  In fact, I was only able to fondle it for about an hour.  Jenny took it with her, back to work, to show her colleague!

Disgusted and Furious! Update


I am happy to say that Imagineer-ing is back!  I received the following from WordPress.com:

Hi there,

Thank you for getting in touch.

Your site was flagged by our automated anti-spam controls. We have reviewed your site and have removed the suspension notice.

We greatly apologize for this error and any inconvenience it may have caused.

No comment….

 

Disgusted and Furious!


I really thought that this month could only get better.  I was wrong!

I fired up my PC this morning to discover that my Imagineer-ing blog has been deactivated!  No warning, no questions.  Just switched off!  And for what reason?  You can be confident of one thing:

I have not violated any terms of service!

So, just as things on that score, i.e. writing and publishing, are looking good – the whole world just comes tumbling down!  Sure, I know – that’s over dramatic.  To be honest, it’s exactly how I feel, though.  Going through a change in meds, involving the withdrawal of some potent stuff and inadequate replacement with new potent stuff, and therefore meaning my pain levels have gone somewhere beyond Jupiter for today and the next two days, at least.   Like many these days, finances have dried up and that has one significant consequence – no cigarettes – and yes, I know many will think “Good!” but, I really don’t need the withdrawal symptoms from that too!  And, an admitted codeine addict – I was ‘cold turkey’ for over a day and a half because I ran out of tablets.  So yes.  I feel extremely put upon!

Now, I’m pretty certain that WordPress.com don’t have people checking every single one of their hundreds of thousands of blogs.  Conclusion?  Somebody reported mine.  For what, though?  I make no money through the blog!  Yes, there are links to places where people can buy books, but the majority are not my books, nor do I receive any consideration for advertising the works of others.  I have been meticulous about making it very clear that I do not want anything in return – not even reciprocal links!  Perhaps, on the surface, it might appear somewhat commercialised, but the fact is that until this week, it wasn’t even that!  And it has only been so this week because of my health issues – during which time I allowed scheduled posts to take over – posts in which I had little to do.

The only other possibility is that WordPress.com are going to come knocking on every blogger’s door.  Or rather, changing the locks while they’re not looking.  Why?  Could it be a drive to increase income?  “Go Pro” or “Get our experts to do a ‘guided data transfer’” – both fiendishly expensive!  I really hope that’s not the case.

I have, of course, appealed.  I was ungentle, I admit.  I’m afraid that, while generally not overly temperamental, when I do get angry, then “fury” is a severe understatement!

Now, in theory, I could do one of three things:

  1. Start from scratch, using a new blog host, like (shuddering uncontrollably) blogspot – and I really don’t have the energy for that.
  2. Purchase a domain and web hosting, install WordPress.org, and plough through, reconstructing the blog as best I can – see conclusion to 1.

     

  3. Same as 2. but also paying for WordPress.com for the privilege of recovering all my hard work!

The problem with both 2. and 3. is: cost!  Quite simply I can’t afford to take up either option!

Final conclusion?  I am being penalised for not having money in any significant quantity, and without any consideration for the years of loyalty I have shown to WordPress.com!  And there was also no consideration on their part as to the consequences of their extremely high-handed methods!

I wonder whether this post will lead to further unhappy consequences?

What a mixed month!


April has turned into a really mixed month.  While the writing is generally going well, and a paperback edition of one of my novelettes almost here, other things have been less good.

A recurrence of pancreatitis to contend with at the end of March, early April, things on the health front were definitely not looking good at all.  The pancreatitis subsided again, but other things surfaced.  Most significant was the increasing level of chronic deep muscle pain in both thighs, making it impossible to get comfortable.  My doctor increased the dosage of one of my meds, which had a very limited benefit.  Within a few days, it was back to the same.  So, still no going out!  Well, no going out until today.  Time to see the doctor again.

Travelling across town is sheer torture, with all the damaged roads and road humps.  I also ran out of codeine more than a day ago, so no support from that.  I wasn’t in a very good state by the time we got there.  Still, the doctor made a quick decision.  He has changed my meds, which will mean 3-6 days of being very uncomfortable, but then we’re hoping for a significant improvement.  I’d keep my fingers crossed, but they’d probably get stuck like it!

The future of Jenny being able to cope with me, as my sole carer, has also been put in doubt.  The doctor suspects that she is developing arthritis.  It’s a big blow and now I worry about her, especially when she has to cope with getting my wheelchair in and out of the car, and things like that.  It can’t be helping her condition!

***

A remote control for the Sky+ satellite TV ser...Last night, I had cause to pause a movie on TV.  When I got back, the Sky box refused to play the movie!  More, it refused to do anything!!  Well, that’s to say, it refused to do anything expected of it.  Instead, it proceeded to alter settings on the TV display.  Now, the picture is entirely the wrong size and shape for the TV and we’re missing bits all around – not good when watching cricket and the current info’ is only half visible.  I’ve tried everything to restore things, to no avail, and I can’t find the TV remote, which has the controls I need.  In a word: frustration!

***

If I’m quiet over the next few days, here, on Imagineer-ing, and elsewhere, do remember that I’ll be trying to cope with the meds change.  Fortunately, I have two or three posts scheduled already for Imaginer-ing, so they’ll appear on cue.  I’m afraid I don’t have any advance posts set up here.

Have a good April and remember to make the most of every day!

Wow! OMG and all that!


It’s been so long since I posted here!  I feel terribly guilty.  I have to admit that I’ve done no knitting and only a little cross-stitch.  I spent a fair while beading and making jewellery but have returned to my first love: writing!  I apologise to everybody for not being more active here, but I kept leaving it because I done nothing new and… well, time flies.

If you’re interested, I have a very active blog on various subjects around writing, called Imagineer-ing.  You would be very welcome to visit me there too!  It might even be fun.

I can’t promise that I’ll be busy with the needles again soon, I’m afraid.  I would love to be able to do everything I love, but it’s just not possible.

I do have a thought… I might turn this into a general blog, with all manner of subjects that reflect my life, such as it is.  I’ve no idea if anybody would find that interesting, of course.  I’d be delighted to hear your views on the idea!

All the best,

Steve

The Grasshopper Effect


This last few days has been something of a mixture of activities!  I’m still working on the sweater (I’ve actually started a sleeve at last) but gemstones have been distracting me!  In fact, I’ve been hooked!!  I now have my own supply of gemstones – though it’s been much reduced over the last week…  I honestly never expected to ever become a jewellery maker but I’ve been having fun making stuff.  I’ve had a go at earrings, bracelets and even a necklace!

You can see most of what I’ve made here.

I’ve discovered that jewellery making is just as addictive as any craft – be warned!  Once you start, stopping becomes unthinkable…

Catching Up


I’ve been having a bad time recently, ever since a routine blood test threw up an alarming result.  An INR target of 2.5 was returned at 17.6 instead!  So the hospital have been tinkering with my Warfarin dosage and taking frequent blood samples.  So much fun for a trypanophobe (needlephobe)!  As emergency treatment initially, I was given a large dose of Vitamin K (mercifully an oral solution).  That, of course, disrupted my system for days…  Life is so much fun!

I should have known better but I started making a pair of lace socks for Jenny, despite difficulties in concentrating.  Yesterday, the errors just became absurd so I frogged the first sock and started again.  Let’s hope I can get further…

Better news: on Monday, we picked up our new car    It’s a Kia cee’d SW and is our first diesel-fuelled car.

Finally, for now, I’ve signed up to the trial of Google +.  This is a new networking/sharing concept.  You have to be invited to join at the moment.  I’m hoping that some of my knitting and cross stitching friends will join me.