Posts tagged ‘youtube’


Ukulele Twiddles – 1 – Flamenco (inspired) Exercise

On Saturday evening I uploaded the first in an occasional series of YouTube videos which will highlight my favourite ukulele exercises. So today I bring you a link to this video, as well as a basic tabulation for the piece I play in it.

Please note that I’m not putting in time signatures, or standard notation. Just watch the video to get a rough idea of the melody, and play it at a speed which is comfortable for you. Also this was written for a standard tuned high-g ukulele.


Flamenco (Inspired) Exercise



Off to Cork for the weekend.

Yup, it’s Mommy time,  so I’m going to leave you all with the funniest YouTube clip I’ve seen in years.

And the entire of my favourite childhood animated movie. Click the link and enjoy. (Admittedly the picture quality isn’t all that good, but for a an old VHS scan it’s not terrible, and the show really is worth a watch.)

Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure of All.

Anyway have a good weekend, and see you all on Tuesday.


Antibiotics suck. But Ulysses 31 is awesome.

They really do, I feel like someone’s beaten me within an inch of my life. So instead of boring you with a long rambling moany post, I have decided today to share with you one of my favourite childhood memories. The first two full episodes of Ulysses 31. Prepare yourself for the awesome.

How frikkin great is the theme tune?

Have a great weekend.


My Video Ruminations – The delayed blogs…


My Random Video Ruminations – Month 1

As I said I a few weeks ago, when I returned to blogging from my holiday, I’ve decided to set up a video blog and a YouTube channel to host it. Well YouTube until I can get a decent independent site of my own running. Anyway here’s my first video, feel free to comment here, or on YouTube. Enjoy.


The newish Random Ruminations line-up.

As some of you will have noticed I just took a three-week break from blogging. Actually not quite. I actually took a three-week break from all writing of any kind, not counting several ludicrously long Facebook updates. Well anyway, I’m back. Technically I was back on Tuesday, but today I’m really, really back. And I’ve had some time to think about what I want my blog to be in the long-term.

Up until now there has been a regular pattern to my posts. Yeah, I know it’s kind of hard to believe. But if you were to go back through my archived articles you’d find that generally Tuesdays were news type posts, Thursdays were reviews of some kind, and Saturdays were completely random though usually about something vaguely personal. I’ve enjoyed writing to that line-up, and I’ve learned an awful lot about writing doing so. But lately I haven’t been enjoying writing as much as I used to.

Writing has always been a joyful thing to me. Something I do almost on automatic, like a waking dream that sort of flows from my fingertips and winds up on my computer screen. And almost the whole time I have this sense of euphoria, like nothing can possibly go wrong because while I write, while I create the universe belongs to me. Yes I know, I’m nuts.

But before I took my break from writing it had started to become a chore. Not a good thing when you truly consider writing to be your career (Even if you have only sold a couple of articles to random websites. But I’ll work my lil ass off, and some day, some glorious day I’ll make enough to pay for an extra-large pizza with double pepperoni, damn it!) the joy was leaking away. Then one morning I woke up with the thought ringing in my mind.

“Amanda, you need to rewrite everything you’ve written in the past five  years, because it’s all wrong.”

Right. Time for a holiday. Yes Ma’am, three weeks of reading military sci-fi, The Big Bang Theory, and playing PC games. Because there is no frikkin’ way in hell I am going to rewrite somewhere in the region of seven hundred and fifty thousand words.

The question now must be asked. Did the break do me good?

And the answer is quite simply, yes. Far more good than I ever expected it to.

It had time to spend sketching, learning again just how much I love to draw, and admittedly how little talent I have at it. That said I did find enough confidence to start drawing my long promised, and delayed webcomic. I also found myself thinking automatically about storylines, and characters.

I gained enough space, and perspective from the novel I’m currently working on to suddenly, and quite unexpectedly realise that I had screwed up the beginning rather badly. Nothing in it was unusable, I had simply put the cart before the horse. I also realised that I had accidentally written a third core theme to the story, and that actually that theme is far more powerful than the two I had intended.

And to top all this off while I was sketching out the ideas for a sci-fi table-top role-playing game, some Muse came by, and hit me between the eyes with a great big mallet. A great big mallet that gave me a vast almost instantaneous  insight in to what I think will be my favourite piece of writing ever. Characters, setting, basic plotlines, themes, morality, everything I needed to get kicking appearing in my mind in one glorious moment.

So, as you can see I was taking a break from writing. After all, a writer can take a break from the physical act of writing, but if you really are a writer there’s absolutely no way, short of a 9mm bullet to the brain stem to stop your mind from writing.

So that was my break, and now we get back to my blog. I have no intentions of stopping writing this blog. I truly enjoy owning, and writing for it. I enjoy putting my thoughts down on the screen, posting them, and letting them flutter out in to the world. But for it to stay enjoyable I need to change things a little.

So from next week onwards I will be posting Tuesdays, Saturdays, and on the last Thursday of each month. Tuesday will be reviews or news depending on what’s caught my eye in the previous week. Saturdays will still be the random intensely personal stuff. The last Thursday of each month will be something completely new, a video blog.As I gain experience in producing them, and thus speed up this may become a fortnitely, or even weekly thing. But for the time being it will definitely only be monthly.

While I do have a lot of ideas for topics, I still honestly don’t fully know what that video blog will turn out to be. Though terrifying is what mostly comes to mind right now seeing as I haven’t even once posted up a picture of myself here, much less video. But I’m sure we’re all going to have fun, and for my readers/viewers a lot of amusement at my expense in the early days, finding out it will become.

So for me it’s back to work. And I hope you’ll continue to read, be entertained, and who knows even occasionally informed by my blog.





Internet Trolls, I think I want my mommy!

Last weekend I took a short trip home to my mom. It was badly needed as I hadn’t seen her in almost two months, and while I’m no mommy’s girl I do still need some time with her now and then. Time in my mom’s is useful though, and not just for time with her.

When I stay with my mom I usually sleep alone, even when I’m down there with my Partner in Crime. Nothing to do with my mom being a prude, really 34 years of being my mother has definitely cured her of any prudishness long ago. No, I sleep alone because her spare theoretically “double” bed is more like a very large single, and its mattress bruises me (which is weird since it’s an extraordinarily good mattress, but there ya go.). So instead I sleep in the same bed I slept in when I was 15.

Now when I sleep alone I tend not to sleep very well the first night, and when I don’t sleep well I get sort of thoughtful. And usually those thoughts lead in one of two directions, either I get super creative, plotting out whole chapters of whatever book I’m working on at the time in my head, or I get super self-assessing.

Last Friday night I ended up both.

Over the course of the night I figured out huge swathes of missing storylines from the novel I’m currently working on. A very good thing as I had been very worried that while the core story was pretty good, the secondary plots were kind of weak. It’s a big relief to have much more solid ideas.

However over the course of the night I also got thinking about my own life, not just the lives, and deaths of imaginary people. And more to the point about my worries at the moment. There aren’t many…

Will I ever have a slavegirl again?

Will “insert person’s name who I love” be okay?

Should I kick “insert name”‘s ass for being a selfish prick?

How do I modify a really crap airsoft springer rifle so that it’s going to make other airsofters claim I’m cheating?

Why do I keep putting off my video blog?

So, would you like to guess which one pulled me up short? Yup, that’s right the last one. I’ve wanted to add a video component to this blog for a long time. I think it’s important to do so, because there are so many topics which I would like to speak about that need to be spoken about, not merely written about. The difference is important, some topics are too complex, too emotionally loaded, or simply too personal to truly convey what I want to say purely through written words. They need the sound of an impassioned/annoyed/pissed to high hell voice, they need body language, they need facial expressions. And to be honest they sometimes need a huge amount of swearwords beeped out to really bring across what I want to say.

So why have I been putting it off? After all I have a really amazing webcam now. I know how I want to make them. What program I intend to use to edit them. The format, I even have a few scripted. I know what I want to use as a background, and no my bedroom won’t be the background, I’ve no intention of letting strangers see where I sleep thank you…Yeah that’s the problem do you see? Strangers.

Even in real life I’m hardly a shy retiring wallflower. Frankly if I’m any type of flower it’s something like a Triffid you know, moves around quite quickly, is can be poisonous and is definitely carnivorous.

But I am also a transgirl. One who is less than totally confident about her voice, even if I am completely confident in my appearance (at least for this). This matters because, well have you ever actually read the comments by men on YouTube when a woman posts a blog type video?

Do I really want to end up seeing comments where some guy tells me in excruciatingly precise language where he wants to stick what in my body?

Or the comments about how because I don’t have a cervix I’m just a guy, but hey he’ll fuck me anyway cos I’m a very pretty guy? Gee thanks buddy.

Or of course those who just spend their time in my comment section explaining why I’m wrong. Because I have tits in case you wondered, because no-one with breasts are ever right about anything according to these particular men.

We won’t even get into the people who think that a relevant comment on any topic is “You’re hot wanna go on a date with me?”

My conclusion is that I’m holding off because I haven’t figured out how I’m going to cope with this yet. Not what will I do about it? They’re trolls, aside from not feeding them there’s not a whole lot you can do, not if you actually want to interact with your audience. No I really do mean how will I cope emotionally? Or probably more accurately, can I cope with it?

Sure my health has been an issue, who wants to be seen by the world when they feel like total crap? But figuring out a coping mechanism for internet trolls is definitely the core problem.

I know that in the end I’ll do what I always seem to do with these sort of situations. Make a positive out of a negative. I know I will get a video blog up sooner rather than later. But to expose myself to the world in the way I want to…that’s a scary thought…*pulls blanky up* I want my mommy!


Ancient Tech – Philips SPC300NC Webcam.

Yes, I know today was supposed to be my first video blog, but it was my attempt to produce that video blog which led directly to this piece. You see it once more brings us back to my deep abiding love for Cretaceous Era technology. I’ve spoken at length about my graphics tablet, which is so old that I believe it may have been used by Nabopolassar to design the inspiration for the Tower of Babel. And I’ve given a eulogy dedicated to my beloved Asus Eeepc 701. However today it’s a very different piece of ancient electronics I wish to speak of.

Yes there it is above these words, standing in all its glory! The Philips SPC300NC webcam. A piece of technological wonder with its amazing resolution of 320×240. It’s hard to use “Still” button placed on the side, where you hand WILL cover the lens if you try to use it. It even comes mounted on a base that is almost impossible to get to sit quietly on the desk, because of how stiff it’s cable is (pauses for the moans to subside).

And yet I have been using this webcam for since 2009, and my Partner in Crime had used it for two years prior to that. I’ve maintained two long distance relationships via its pixellated eye. I experimented with animation using it with Windows Movie Maker…I don’t recommend it as anything other than an object lesson in how make things hard on yourself.

I also made my first attempt at a video blog with it. Let’s speak a little of that attempt. I’m sure most of you reading this have watched someone’s video blog on YouTube, and thought “Hey, I should do one of those!” I know I have. In fact I decided a few months ago that I needed to add a video element to this blog for several reasons. The main one being that some topics just don’t work through the written word, to have your viewpoint truly understood your audience has to hear your voice, see your face, and the emotions conveyed by both. Hence my attempt this week to record, and edit my first video blog.

My webcam is almost old enough to have been used by Cleopatra to chat up Julius Ceasar, and Marc Anthony when they were off on campaign. I can totally see her lying on a bed, cupping her breasts, and promising to share Ptolemaic Egypt with them, as she licked her nipples. I can also see the two boys (separately of course…though when it comes to those crazy Romans who knows?) watching this, and wondering what the hell they’re seeing. Because frankly unless you keep the received image TINY, you’re going to find yourself wondering why Cleo is showing you a fully grown seal, and promising you half of her kingdom.

Yes, the image from my attempt was that bad. At best I looked like I’d been drawn on a very badly damaged Atari 2600, at worst like I’d contracted leprosy, smallpox, and had been whacked in the face with every branch off of the ugly tree for good measure. Now, I’m not Charlize Theron. But I’m not a bad lookin’ bird, and so it was with utter horror that I watched the raw video of my first attempt at YouTube immortality.

“So how does this story end?”, you ask dear reader.

Well, probably with this…

Or something similar, has anyone any suggestions? (Seriously, all advice cheerfully received.) And with my old webcam being given the end it deserves, ending up in a box filled with electronic spare parts, waiting for the day when it might be called back into service…it’s how it would have wanted to go.


“Table Top” – A YouTube program review.

So the YouTube channel Geek and Sundry has finally launched. This, for those of you who don’t know and if you don’t what sort of geek are you…honestly *scoffs*, is the closest thing to a real television channel for geeks that I’ve ever come across online. It covers everything from motion comics by Dark Horse, through to video blogs, and reviews of various types.

It includes well-known faces like Felicia “Aha, I’d date your avatar” Day, and Wil “No one liked Wesley Crusher” Wheaton, along with a large number of people who I’ve either only vaguely or have never heard of. So, as it turns out when it comes down to knowing a lot about American geek culture I’m not that much of a geek, but hey what’re you gonna do? I do after all have some kind of a life off of the internet.

Anyway I am not going to bother reviewing “The Flog” which is Felicia Day’s video blog on the channel. The reason? She’s a Marmite goddess (Marmite – Either you love it, or loathe it), anything she does is awesome, and therefore…in truth she’s one of my favourite geek actresses (yes, you did see her in “A Town Called Eureka”), and I want a few more episodes to build up before I get down to reviewing it.

Instead I want to do a short review of Wil Wheatons show “Table Top”. This is a short, “first impression after one episode” review so don’t jump down my throat.

What is “Table Top”? Well it’s comprised of four people sitting at a table, playing board games. It’s actually that simple. One of those people is the host/presenter Wheaton, the other three are players, and between them they sort of review the games by playing them. It’s nicely shot, well-lit, and obviously either completely, or almost completely unscripted. And that’s it really.

So what were my first impressions?

First impressions – the good.

– It’s fun, and funny.

– It’s well shot, and edited.

– Fast flowing, I never had a chance to get bored. Confused as hell, and a little less entertained than I’d hoped for (more of that below), but never bored.

– Wil Wheaton is actually kind of cool, let me repeat that, Wheaton is kind of cool! But he’s still the worst thing to have happened to Trek, and I include the explanation of the smooth headed Klingons in ST: Enterprise in that.

– He managed to have some good guests, two of whom I’d actually heard of. Grant of Mythbusters fame, and Jenna Busch. The other guy…if you can tell me who he is don’t bother, he just annoyed me.

– The format of reviewing a game by playing it through, is a wonderful idea, allowing the viewer to really get a feeling for whether it’s a game they would actually enjoy owning or not.

First impressions – the bad.
– I know it’s a show about reviewing table top games by playing them, but it felt like it was lacking in the near constant giddiness/BS/piss-taking that seems to be an essential part of table top gaming to me. A little of it creeps in over time but it left it feeling a little sterile for my  tastes.

– The first game they chose made absolutely no sense to me. I know that this could simply be because I was dropped head first onto a fireplace (not really) when I was 3 days old.  But the game they played just confused me, and with not a lot of off-game banter going on it took from the entertainment value for me.

In conclusion I will keep watching, at least for now. It was amusing, and fun to watch. After all watching geeks, geek-out is always fun (I know people who derive immense enjoyment from watching me do it). But I’ll be holding out hope that they’ll tweak the format slightly to make it more entertaining, and have more free roaming conversation. The latter more than anything would make this a weekly must watch for me.

So agree with me? Disagree? Oh you haven’t seen? Well then watch the first episode yourself below and make up your own mind. (Please note that the following video, like the other in this review, is not mine, I had nothing to do with making it, and am only linking because things which are generally this awesome must be shared.)


Ouch! My mandolin strings bit me!

So as we all know I play a ukulele. But what we may not all be aware of yet is that I now also play (by using a particularly broad definition of that particular word) a mandolin. So I thought for my first review post of the new year I’d speak a little about a beginners viewpoint on mandolins as an instrument. I think that I’ll leave the review of my actual mandolin until a later time, like when I can genuinely play it, and not just scales.

Okay so off the bat a mandolin is that sort of teardrop shaped stringed instrument you saw once in a music shop, and thought looked sort of cool. They’re not just cool looking, if you have a little luck, or are choosy when you pick up your own one they can actually be breathtakingly beautiful. Sinuous and sensuous looking. A mandolin is also stringed with four double courses of steel strings.

Yeah that’s right steel strings.

But let’s talk about how a mandolin sounds, and why you might want to pick one up before we get to the gory details about those strings. Well after starting my musical journey on a ukulele I was kind of stunned by the volume. For a hollow wooden tear drop that’s not really all that much bigger than a uke a mandolin can really throw off a lot of noise. The first time I plucked a pure note on mine I nearly dropped it from fright. I did drop it, on to my bed, when my dog barked behind me to complain about the noise. As a sound it’s hard to describe, I guess it’s sort of like a cross between a steel stringed guitar and a piano that you pluck…I did say it was hard to describe. Look it’s the most beautiful sounding instrument I’ve ever heard. Look up some solo pieces on YouTube and you’ll see what I mean. But to start you off try the video below for a taster.


What else to say about the mandolin as an instrument? Well it’s extremely comfortable to hold, fitting well into a player’s body. It’s light, not as light as a ukulele, but not as heavy as even a childs guitar. So if the day should arise when one day you are forced to defend yourself against a zombie horde, you’ll find yourself well able to beat at least one head in. Though you may find yourself better served by using one of the E-strings as a decapitating garotte from then on. Ah yes the mind of the rare lesser spotted Amanda is a wild, and wonderful place.

Oh yes those strings. When I started to play my uke my fingertips killed me for weeks. They screamed every time I touched anything hot or cold. But that passed, my fingertips toughened, and I thought to myself “Hey at least I won’t go through that again.”

Boy oh boy was I wrong. What that uke did to my fingers is nothing in comparison to what my mandolins strings are currently turning my fingertips into. They haven’t bled, yet. But I did make the mistake of trying a slide a few days ago, and I’m pretty sure they heard the scream two counties over. But someday soon my fingertips will adjust, the Sun, Moon and stars will align, Athena will bless my fingers with the right type of dexterity, and boom! I’ll play my first, error free, musical number on my pretty new mandolin.

That I have to say will be one sweet, sweet moment. So stay tuned, there’s more coming up on this.

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