Sunday, 8 August 2021

Number Four

Let me tell you about number Four.

Why do I think number 4 is significant?

Firstly, it’s nicely symmetrical. 2+2 and 2×2 and 2^2. Human beings like symmetry. Symmetrical objects are usually considered beautiful and symmetrical features attractive.

Now let’s have a look at how many things there are four of:

Four Seasons

spring



summer



autumn



winter



Four Cardinal Directions

north | east | south | west

image credit: Honey Yanibel Minaya Cruz on Unsplash


Four Elements

| air | water | earth | fire |

Obviously, once you master them all, you'll become the Avatar.

Four States of Matter

| solid | liquid | gas | plasma |

Four Arithmetic Operators

| addition | subtraction | multiplication | division |



Four card suits

| hearts | spades | diamonds | clubs |



And corresponding tarot versions

| cups | swords | pentacles | wands |



Four Basic Tastes

| bitter | sour | salty | sweet |

Although there are five, the fifth one being umami. 

Four Renaissance Artists (or Ninja turtles if you wish)

| Leonardo | Michelangelo | Donatello | Raphael |

Other examples:

Every four years we get an extra day. Leap year is also always of a number dividable by four (example: 2020). This is also the year Olympic Games take place (unless they're delayed by a pandemic), as well as the American presidential elections. 

Rooms usually have four walls and four corners. 

Pop culture examples include Marvel's Fantastic Four, four hobbits from the Lord of the Rings books/movies and four Hogwarts houses.

image credit: Harry Potter wiki


Examples from sports are the four tennis grand slams and the big four sports in America. Winter Olympic Games and World Cup happen every four years too.

And here are four red tealights.



Pictures mine, apart from those that have credits in captions.

Saturday, 2 January 2021

I Know What You Did In 2020

As we have just started a brand new year (happy new year to everyone!), I thought I'd do a post looking back at my 2020; the things I did, and places I visited. I like taking pictures--I have a whole other blog dedicated to it--and last year, strange as it was, was no exception in that regard.

So, here are the pics:











There is art in taking pictures of Netflix screensavers too, you know. 



Saturday, 31 October 2020

Gothic Drawings

I have this little sketchpad. I input my attempts at art into this little sketchpad and then, of course, I take pictures of them. I don't draw often, it's more doodling than anything else. When I was a child I used to spend much of my time drawing. In the adulthood, I prefer photography. And writing blogposts when I feel like it. 

I fill the little sketchpad with all the things I like and it turns out some of these are spooky-themed things. As it's Halloween, I thought I'd share them with the world. 


A very simple first attempt, I drew this last year for the spooky season.


I copied this from a picture I came across on Pinterest; it's one of the pins on my gothic and eerie board. Victorian London, clearly. 


Castle on a hill. Is it enchanted? Probably. The silhouette of the woman also inspired by countless pics on that same Pinboard. 


Giant candle and tiny window. Which I only realised now. Might be that the window is that small because it's a small room. Maybe it's the attic room, home to the poor Madwoman, counting days of her imprisonment, plotting revenge on the man who put her there...


Street light again. Similar to the one on the Victorian London pic, but this one was made sooner.



Inspired by the view from my kitchen window. Which is very small and narrow. It faces west but it's physically impossible to take photos out of it. The views are often beautiful and it's a waste. This is me trying to reproduce one of such views at least a bit.


Typical tower and full moon. There is a light in the window of the tower, so someone's probably inside. A beautiful maiden, kidnapped and locked there by evil villain? Maybe. Or maybe she's there because she lives there. She likes the view and there's a lot of space for her books. 


I drew this because I can't take a decent picture of a full moon with the branches of a tree in front of it and it's something I regularly see from my living room window, every full moon. So I drew it. I was also thinking of the book Endless Night by Agatha Christie. It's one of her late works and it's an unexpected gem, very gothic. One of my favourites of hers. Speaking of gothic literature...


One of the most famous opening lines and my most favourite book of all, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Oh, I mentioned it before. The recent Netflix movie completely missed the point of the story. Read the book instead. Or if you can't, go for the Hitchcock version. (Though that one's not 100% accurate because of the Hays Code.) 



While on topic of Daphne du Maurier, I drew this while rewatching the 2017 adaptation of her other famous novel, My Cousin Rachel. (I saw it in the cinema when it was released.) A candelabra like this appears in it. It's also a much better movie than Netflix's Rebecca. I recommend.

So, that's it for my gothic drawings. Happy Halloween!

Monday, 27 April 2020

Novel Openings

What makes a great opening line of a book?

Many have pondered this question. I haven't, really, and I don't know the answer, but what I can do is a do a little blog post dedicated to opening lines--or openings in general--of books I have read. That's really it.

If it had not rained on a certain May morning Valancy Stirling's whole life would have been entirely different.

~LM Montgomery, The Blue Castle

As much as I love Anne of Green Gables series and its protagonist, it's The Blue Castle that is my most favourite LMM book. It's the only truly adult one, it's heroine being 29 years old at the beginning of the book. Valancy is unmarried and lives with abusive family; a theme that is well known to LMM's readers (those that believe Anne With An E is too dark have not been paying attention) and to top that off, she gets some devastating news. The Blue Castle gives me some serious feels, more than any other work by this Canadian author.

It was a dark and stormy night.

~Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle In Time

I love this! Dark, stormy and night, can it get any better?

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

~George Orwell, 1984

You may have heard of this one even if you've not read the book. At first it seems quite insignificant, until you get to that last word. But even if the last word was not what it is, I still like the structure of the sentence, it's the type that always works for me.

His name was Gaal Dornick and he was just a country boy who had never seen Trantor before.

~Isaac Asimov, Foundation

 Another one that works for me. A name and a place, tell me more about this Gaal guy and what is this place called Trantor?

It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York.

~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

This one immediately made me feel hot. It's interesting that she mentions electrocution--Sylvia Plath suffered from depression all her life and was treated with electroconvulsive therapy.

Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

~JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

It's funny now that Harry Potter actually starts with the Dursleys, yet how else could it have started? It would never have been as good if we had started in the wizarding world, instead of our normal, muggle world.



~JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit

A variation of "once upon a time". Nothing more needs to be added.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

~Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

A classic! At first you're like, what the hell, then you're like, is she joking? Perfection!

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.

~Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

Simple and clear, takes us straight to the character, time and place.

Dear friend,
I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn't try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have.

~Stephen Chbosky, Perks of Being a Wallflower

I have always liked diary entries and letters in fiction and this sounds like it was written by someone who might be socially awkward--instant like!

All this happened, more or less.

~Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

This is pure perfection. I wish I could form sentences like that.

There is one mirror in my house.

~Veronica Roth, Divergent

My favourite YA dystopian series. Out of two I have read. And it's an unpopular opinion too. What can you do. Characters looking into mirrors and describing their appearance is very cliche, but we soon find out why it is this way. Btw, the other YA dystopian series begins with the character waking up in the morning and that's overdone too.

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.

~Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird

One of the best known and most beloved books in the world. And with good reason. This book starts and ends with the same thing, Jem's broken arm, as the main character, Scout, reflects on the events. The opening line also mentions a brother and good siblings are one of my favourite things in fiction.



~Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca

This is the one I normally cite as my favourite opening line--that is, if I ever do cite a book's opening line, because who actually does that... I don't know what it is about that line. But of course, Rebecca belongs to my all time favourite books. Gothic romance, but also a thriller. 

And finally...

"You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?"

~Agatha Christie, Appointment With Death

Of course I couldn't end this post without mentioning my all time favourite author. Most likely everyone knows what to expect from an Agatha Christie book and one can't say her opening lines are very remarkable. That is, until you pick Appointment With Death. The line of dialogue is overheard by Hercule Poirot while he's staying at a hotel in Jerusalem. He thinks he's going crazy--too much work as a detective--but of course, turns out that he isn't and the "she" of the opening line does get killed. Not one of the most famous cases by the Queen of Crime, but definitely worth checking out if you haven't done so! (Just please, for the love of all things holy, ignore that awful adaptation with David Suchet...) 

So that's it, those are some cool opening lines of books I like. What are yours? Tell me in the comments!



Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Stay Home, Save Lives

And so everything that was written before the pandemic just becomes obsolete...

Coronavirus has made everything else irrelevant. What matters now is: Stay at home. Only go out to buy groceries. Wash your hands. Keep social distance.


Never has there been an easier way to save the world. Stay at home and watch Netflix. That's literally it.

All that criticism of "kids these days" that "spend all their time inside playing video games" is out of the window (where it belongs).

Streaming services, books and games will be our saviours now. Disney Plus launches in UK at just the right time!

There is a meme going around about Shakespeare writing King Lear when he was quarantined, I don't know how far it's true or whatever, obviously nobody should be expected to write King Lear-like masterpiece but you never know, you might discover you have some hidden talents. Drawing, writing, music. Or you can always start a pointless blog.

Now you see my point about eBooks? Downloaded to your device within seconds, not a step outside required. If you don't have an eReader, you can still read on your computer or phone. Don't forget there are loads of free books in public domain!

I practically live as a hermit so this new order means little change for me. Staying indoors all weekend only for a trip to supermarket or launderette has basically been my lifestyle this winter. Even my cat is an indoor cat! It's the spring that usually gets me out with my camera--but not this year.

This post is all over the place because I don't know what to say and I had to address this somehow.

I leave you with another convo with my brother on Facebook messenger.

Brother: I've just eaten a kiwi and found out it was half-rotten. What will happen to me?

Me: FFS we're literally living through an apocalypse. One piece of rotten fruit won't make any difference.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

STOP SPEAKING FORRIN!!!

Recently there has been a poll going around showing results for how bothered people in UK are when they hear a foreign language and how it related to the Brexit vote. I'm too lazy to look for it but it's something that has been on my mind for a very, very long time.

I was quite dumbstruck--which I so often am because human behaviour confuses me--when I first found out that there are people who have a problem with other people speaking another language somewhere out in public. You know, like when they're on a bus and there's two people talking in Polish on the same bus or someone out in public is talking on the phone in Punjabi or whatever. In my first ever office temping job, I was part of a small team and on some other team there were two Spanish women and apparently once one said something to the other in Spanish. A woman on my team told another woman on my team about it and-- She was so bothered, guys, like fucking hell. "HOW DO YOU KNOW THEY'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT YOU?!?!?!?!?!?!"

I still remember how I sat there at my desk, I can picture the place clearly in my mind, because it was one of those moments you just remember. I thought, bloody hell, you really think you're that important? 

I just...

Okay, let's imagine a scenario. You have three people, person A, person B and person C in an English speaking country. Let's say A and B are native French speakers and English is their second language. So A says something to B in French and C immediately thinks it was about them. It's possible, I grant you that. But, now imagine B walks away somewhere, e.g. to the toilet. And A says to C in English "B is a bitch." C says it's true, B is a bitch and they discuss more on how B is a bitch until B comes back, when they stop.

You see what I mean? You don't need another language to gossip or bitch about someone. You can easily do it in the same language behind their back, because it's... literally talking behind their back. Anyone can at this moment be talking trash about you and they don't need to do it in a foreign language.

So, this is my my message to the people that have the type of thinking described above:

Nobody cares about you. Not a single foreign-speaking soul cares enough about you to even mention your name. Your mundane life is of no interest to us. You are nothing. Our minds are preoccupied with things much more interesting than you and it is those things we talk about when we speak "in foreign". Not you. Because you're no one to us. You never were anyone to us and you never will be anyone to us. We don't give a fuck about you or your boring life. Trust me. So no, we're not talking about you. We're not interested in you. But if you think yourself so important that you believe others are talking about you, then you might have a problem. So, don't worry about us. Worry more about that fake co-worker there who is nice to your face but will stab you in the back at any opportunity. Go home and cry into your stupid cereals, okay? And maybe learn a bit of "foreign". It may just help broaden your mind a bit and who knows, even stop you from being such a pathetic loser.

End of message.

Once I was on a tram and saw a group of people communicating in sign language and I thought, I wonder if that would get the same reaction from those losers. "OH MY GOD THEY'RE SIGNING ABOUT ME!" Sure they are.

Anyway, if there are any nerds reading this, who happen to be fluent in a fictional language, like Klingon or Elvish--go and have fun with it!


Monday, 27 January 2020

Brexit 50p Coin

So, you have finally got it, Brexit supporters. The thing you have been desiring for so long. The fruit of so much labour, already taken from you twice. At last, you will be getting it. Your Brexit 50 pence coin.

No more meltdowns. This is the real deal. And it will be in circulation soon. On Brexit Day, 31st January.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, unveiled the design on Twitter.


The engraving says: Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations.

Because so far, you've not had those three things. The mean EU was taking them from you. But you will have those three things now! You will have peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations! Presumably this excludes the 27 member states of the EU and your nearest neighbours, who you've been shitting on for the past four years, but who cares, right? Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations except EU27 would have been too long to engrave on a coin anyway. It would be an absolute aesthetic disaster and we can't have that. And the date wouldn't fit there, which would be unacceptable. The date is crucial.

In my own opinion--because this is my blog--Sajid Javid looks a little like Gollum from Lord of the Rings on that picture. All he's missing is my precioussssss. So naturally, being the nice person that I am, I fixed it for him.


Better.

As a side note, does anyone else thinks Javid looks a bit like an alien? I always think of Roger from American Dad when I see him. He also reminds me of the aliens from that 90s movie, Coneheads (which I've not seen but I've seen its poster and some pics.) I don't support making fun of people's looks, but--it's curious, is all I'm saying. Gollum, aliens... normally you don't compare people to such creatures. You might know a guy that looks like, idk, to pick someone generic, Chandler from Friends for example. A human, you know? If Javid wasn't in the government I wouldn't find it curious. Well, if he wasn't in the government, I would have no idea the dude existed, but you know what I mean. He is in the government. Curious.

Decidedly curious.


Saturday, 11 January 2020

Fuck The King

So who is your favourite Game of Thrones character? 
For a long time I could never answer that question because I have always liked all the characters. (I think the only one I didn't care about was Stannis, but he has a place in the story and I don't hate him). There were some that I liked straight from the start, others I grew to like. I was glad I could make sense of who was who in the first place, with cast of that size. Then I read the books and there were even more characters but that's not what I'm talking about today. What I was saying was that I could never pick one character and say, this is my fave. But now that the show is over I have a definite answer--it's Cersei Lannister. It's likely to make people's jaws drop which is always entertaining. Bad women in fiction are just fascinating. But even this changes sometimes.

Sometimes, depending on... not my mood but on external circumstances, my favourite changes. When I feel passionately about voting rights, it becomes Samwell Tarly. (Who's a good choice overall anyway.) And then at other times, when the news gets obsessed with certain high standing family, the spot gets taken over by this guy.

Sandor "The Hound" Clegane

Such a beautiful, simple, well put quote. 

Whatever the universe has in store for me, I hope the next country I live in will be a republic.

Come to us, Sandor. We have chickens!

PS: Shout out to the all the Wildlings, of course. The Freefolk don't kneel.





Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Christmas Thoughts

So, the festive season is here--and it got me thinking about... Christmas.



I'm not a believer so the religious side of the holiday never meant anything to me. I have to make a confession here that I didn't know Christmas Day was the day of birth of Jesus... at first. I grew up in Communism so religion was off limits (also nobody in my family was religious, at least not much) so I had to wait till after the Revolution to find that fact out. When I first watched the midnight mass on TV, I was like, why are they saying that son of God was born today? *shrug* Make of it what you will.

Last year I went to the midnight mass, mostly because I wanted to experience it. I liked the whole calmness of it, the singing choir, the incense.

some decorations, idk
In my childhood, my favourite thing, apart from the presents, was the Christmas tree. My mum used to a get a real one and we would decorate it together. I remember this set of lights we had. Twelve of them, shaped like big bells, in six colours: red, orange, yellow, pink, blue and green. It was a different style from the lights we have now. It wasn't that long ago that my mum still had them, but she eventually had to throw them away as they stopped working completely and there was no way of repairing them.

I loved the Christmas tree so much, I would spent the entire holiday season sitting by it and once attempted to go lie underneath it as if I was a present. I said to my mum: "look, I'm a Christmas present!" and the next thing I know, the tree fell. Nothing got broken or damaged and I wasn't injured, my mum put the tree back up but the funniest thing was that one of the baubles somehow got stuck on the net curtain--our tree was always next to the window. You know that glittery stuff that's on the baubles? Or at least used to be, back then? That's what made it stick to the net curtain. It was the 80s...

Because I liked drawing, during the Christmas season I would draw Christmas pictures, which just meant a giant Christmas tree with presents underneath it. Then I started a Christmas Book. I took one sketch book (I used to have loads of those), and wrote on Christmas Book on the cover and that's how it started. That particular book didn't last, I replaced it with another one, which I have to this day.

the back cover of Christmas Book
The oldest drawing in it is from 1989. A few pages I tore out as I was embarrassed about some of my art and I haven't been contributing into it for the last 7-8 years. So this year I decided to give it a makeover and these pics here show the front and back covers of the book.

front cover of the Christmas Book
My younger siblings contributed some of their own art too. We also share another Christmas memory together--in the late 90s we crafted a big Christmas poster. The idea was mine but that's not bragging, I was the oldest (there is a big age gap between me and them) so it's not surprising. We took sheets of blank paper and sellotaped them into a big poster and then drew on it. The drawing was of a Christmas tree near a window and Santa and some angels looking at it in awe from the outside at the beauty of the tree. (We live in block of flats, no chimney for Santas to slide through for us.) This all makes me sound like an artist but I'm not. I just liked drawing things... and sometimes still do. Though it is photography for me these days.



In Slovakia the custom is to eat Christmas dinner and give out the presents on Christmas Eve, not Christmas Day. Christmas Eve, which we call Generous Day, is also a public holiday, so people get three days off instead of two. I can't really answer if you ask me what we do on Christmas Day. Nothing I guess? Sit at home and watch TV mostly. What else? I live in UK now so I do it the local way, with turkey etc on Christmas Day ("immigrants don't integrate"). Christmas Eve I usually work, if it falls on a weekday; depending on how not-lazy I am, I prepare the closest thing I can to a Slovakian traditional Christmas meal. It's all about the food once you grow up. I like the traditional British Christmas dinner--pigs in blankets being my special favourites--and I like pince pies and Christmas pudding. I mentioned here already that I don't drink alcohol but at Christmas, I like me some Baileys.



Every year I look at how stressed people get themselves over Christmas and I find it so sad. Humans invented Christmas (or Yuletide if you like) to cheer themselves up during the bleak winter months. I'm sure it wasn't supposed to be like this. I wish it wasn't like this. I celebrate Christmas on my own terms, because I'm lucky enough to be able to do so. But not everyone is. For some it's a difficult time of year because of many issues... Hugs to you, you are valid. Some have to work, like the emergency services--we are grateful to you for watching over us.

Let's just be good to each other.
red things
And don't beat yourself up if there was something lacking. Embrace the not-perfection of your Christmas!

Samaritans are available round the clock on 116 123 (UK) if you need to talk to someone.

Look after yourselves.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Ah well...

This is a reproduction of a real conversation I had with my brother on Facebook Messenger. (That's how we usually talk, you know, as we are in different countries.)


Brother: You may have heard of it; Google has bought FitBit.

Me: Yeah, I've heard. But I don't really know what it means for me?

Brother: We don't know that yet.

Me: On top of everything else they have on me, Google will also know how many steps I do every day.

Brother: They know that already anyway.

Both of us: