Thursday, June 28, 2012

Scottish Meat Pies

It's that time again, yes, time for me to impart another modernization of a old family recipe of a beloved Scottish meal.  As most of us do not really have the time or the patience to make bread dough from scratch the modernized part of this recipe includes Rhodes Bake and Serve rolls rather than making your own bread.


12-ish Rhodes Bake and Serve rolls (uncooked)
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground sausage
1 1/2 cups oats
2 ts salt
2 ts pepper
1 onion
1 cube beef bullion
1 ts corn starch
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk

First, since it takes several hours, set your rolls out to rise.

When the rolls have risen enough, chop up the onion as finely as you can and boil it on high in a pan with the water, milk and beef bullion.  stir occasionally, because the onion and milk will tend to stick to the bottom of the pan if you don't.  When the onion has been thoroughly boiled (all oiniony juices transferred to the broth etc) strain the onion out of it and place aside in a bowl to cool a bit, and continue to boil the broth

After onions have cooled combine them with the beef, sausage, oats, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl and mix them together with your hands until they have been thoroughly mixed into a paste.

Add corn starch to the broth and mix it in with a whisk, be careful it will thicken very quickly.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Be sure to taste it, it may need a bit of salt, and/or pepper or hot sauce if you like things spicy.

Take each of your rolls and flatten it out with your hands, place a large spoonful of the meat mixture on each and a dab of the gravy and roll it into a ball, placing it in a greased muffin tin.  You should have enough meat/gravy for about 12 - 16 of them. 

Bake at 300 for 20-25 mins or until the bread becomes golden brown.  It is always a good idea to cut one partially open to make sure the meat has cooked through before serving, because sometimes the bread can cook faster than the meat.

It takes a long while to make, and creates a ridiculous amount of dirty dishes, but it is oh so worth the effort.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Book Review: Winter's Heart by Robert Jordan

So I've posted my review of Winter's Heart by Robert Jordan on Goodreads if you feel the great urge to read it.

This book, despite having probably the best ending of any of the currently available Wheel of Time books, is just plain awful.  It's boring and focuses far too much on characters that aren't doing anything important, rather than focusing on the characters that actually are doing things.  It's #3 in my worst books of the series trifecta.  #1 and #2 being Crossroads of Twilight and A Crown of Swords respectively.  Had these three books been spread out more throughout the series, it would not have been so bad, but there was about an 8 year long stretch where the worst books of the series just came out one after another after another.  I'm actually surprised I stuck with the series at all, looking back on it.

An awesome ending can make a good book better and a mediocre book good, but when there's 600 pages of absolutely nothing happening, even the most awesome ending in all of fiction can't make up for it.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Starfire chapter 5

I've gotten around to typing up Starfire chapter 5 and you can download it at the bottom of this page.

This chapter goes into Karen's motivations and who she is as a character, and lays out what is going to be happening in the next leg of the story.

Monday, June 18, 2012


Hello from Scotland and the largest gathering of MacDonald of Clanranald (my clan, bit of a mouthful, eh?) in history in celebration of 700 years of Scottish Independance...ish... since they sort of joined the UK and all.  If you know anything about Scottish history, or watched Braveheart, you'll know that the anniversary is actually next year, but my clan is throwing year long celebrations so we're getting an early start, because we're just that hardcore.

So, on the 17 hour long plane ride here I wrote a book review on The Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan before my laptop battery died.  I also did some work using a notepad and pencil on outlining I Am Nobody, which I plan to enter myself in this year's NaNoWriMo with, as well as a bit of work on The Eternal Chain and on Starfire.  I'll probably do some more on the plane ride home tonight, and get around to posting some stuff on my website after I recover from jetlag and get it typed up.

Friday, June 8, 2012


Last year I was at a movie, and I saw the first trailer for Prometheus.  I am a HUGE fan of the Alien movies (except Resurection, because it was total crap on a plate with a side of utter garbage).  Ridley Scott's name appeared on the screen, and then the self destruct siren from the first Alien movie starts blaring, and the vertical lines start appearing across the screen, forming into the title.  Yes, that's right, I've seen Alien so many times that I knew exactly where that siren sound came from.  For someone that is such a huge fan of the series, that was all I needed to know that this was another installment in one of my all time favorite movie series.  That siren and the vertical lines are so iconic to me that I didn't even need the rest of the trailer to know that I was in store for the return, and hopeful redemption of one of the greatest sci-fi series out there.

This review contains minor spoilers.

Anyway, Prometheus is the first movie of a trilogy in which Ridley Scott, creater of the original Alien movie (but none of the others) has promised to give us the answers that we, the fans, have been asking for for over thirty years now.  That would be WHERE IN THE FRICK DID THE ALIENS COME FROM!!!  The eggs that result in all of the troubles in movies 1-3 came from a crashed alien ship, and Prometheus deals with a space exploration mission happening upon another of these ships.  This ship seems to be carrying what looks like a biological weapon of some sort rather than alien eggs, and the horror ensues.

First of all, I don't normally say this about CG special effects, but holy crap, this movie had some GREAT CG effects (and one really, really awful one)  The landscapes and the ship look spectacular and they blend really well with the actors.  Usually a CG environment will look too clean, too fake, and too cartoony.  They did a really good job of making it realistic.  Second, the majority of the movie takes place on actual sets, rather than in blue rooms with CG backgrounds as more and more movies seem to be doing these days.  The actors were all excellent, especially Michael Fassbender (Magnito from X-Men First Class) who completely steals every scene he's in.  There's a shortage of talented young actors in the world, but he has been eceptionally good in everything I've seen him in.

Though this is a prequel to Alien, and incorporates many familliar things, such as the Company, the horseshoe shaped ship, the alien race that may have created the aliens from the Alien series, white blooded androids, and several other things, if you're expecting to see the aliens popping out of people's chests and ripping people to shreds, you're going to be disappointed.  This is not that sort of movie.  This one feels more like an sweeping epic than a claustrophobic horror movie, and it's obviously just the set up for a larger story.  It is, quite enjoyable in itself, but it does leave quite a few questions to be answered in later installments.  A pseudo-alien does make a brief appearance at the very end, but that's about all you'll get.  You'll just have to content yourself with Ridley Scott fleshing out the other aspects of the Alien universe, and I, for one, was quite content.

There are only two things in this movie that bugged me, and they were really only minor things.  In fact, they're really two sides of the same thing.  First of all, it is VERY obvious that there are quite a few missing scenes that were cut for time.  Several times things are referenced as if they had happened within the timeline of the movie and we never actually see them happen.  The second thing is that the movie brings up a lot of philosophical questions about the existence of God, who made us, why are we here, etc, and then it does nothing with them.  I think that in the scenes that were cut to make the movie short enough to show in theaters a lot of these questions are delved into in greater detail, but in the theatrical version that we got, they were virtually left out.  I'll bet that when this movie is released on DVD it will have a special extended edition.

Though the philosophical and theological questions are not delved into very deeply, we do get a VERY clever use of a character's belief in God near the end of the movie that almost makes up for the lack of development on all of the questions that the movie asks.  Shaw, a scientist, has believed in God since she was young, because of something her father told her.  That you can choose whether or not you believe in God and he chooses to believe because he likes to think there's something more to life, something afterward.  Through the entire movie her faith is tested as she helps to investigate ruins left by a race of aliens that may have actually created the human race, though this is left for the next two movies in the trilogy to flesh out.  Horrible, horrible things keep happening to her and she refuses to give up her faith.  And finally, when she's the only one left alive, stranded on a planet with a toxic atmosphere two years from earth with no ship, limited air, and no way to call home, she breaks down and just starts begging god to do something.  And, basically, her prayer is answered. HOWEVER, and here's the clever part, it's answered in such a way that it is left to you to decide whether it was divine intervention or not.  Some people might call it a cop out, but I think it's a really clever way for the filmmaker to say, "God may exist, or he may not, I'll let you decide."  It's really not something you'd expect to see in a sci-fi movie, and I actually kind of liked it.

After the botched Alien Resurection, which basically murdered the entire franchise because of how incredibly awful it was, there is really only one way to breathe new life into this series, and I think Ridley Scott nailed it.  Fleshing out the rest of the universe and the origins of the aliens, rather than giving us another lame alien outbreak.  And it was done in such a way that it challenges our hearts and our imaginations.  This movie, unlike so many others of late, actually respects the intelligence of the people watching it, and dares to  delve into things that many filmmakers of late have either been too lazy to do, or had too low an opinion of the average moviegoer's intelligence to do.  I really enjoy how Ridley Scott has always respected the people who watch his movies and gives us something a little deeper and more meaningful than just mindless action and characters we can't wait to see die.

As a Sci-fi movie, it was great.  As a horror movie, it falls a little flat, though I don't think it was really intended to be much of a horror movie, it was only marketed as one because the other Alien movies are.  As an Alien movie it really depends on what you were expecting.  On one hand, it fills in a lot of gaps in the Alien mythos, and on the other, there aren't any aliens in it.  So it really depends on your personal preference as to whether it succeeds as a part of the franchise or not.  Ridley Scott has a very distinctive visual style to his movies, and he knows how to build a story and create tension, mystery and horror.  He's one of the old school film makers that realizes that people are not complete retards like the current crop of filmmakers and makes a movie that challenges your imagination rather than simply dazzling you with special effects.  In my opinion it was a great movie and I can't wait for the next installment in the trilogy.  I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Lindsey Stirling

A couple years ago a girl named Lindsey Stirling was on the show America's Got Talent with her violin, her own arrangements of popular songs, and a whole lot of enthusiastic dancing.  Unfortunately, she did not win, because she really should have.  Luckily for her, and for us, a filmmaker was very impressed with her talents and together, the two of them made a series of music videos that are really pretty awesome.  You can find them all on youtube for free, or buyCDs/DVDs/Downloads at her website

Here's a sample of what sort of things they do.  My blog tends to cut of the edge of anything that doesn't fit in the frame, so if you click on it you'll be taken to the youtube page of the video, and if you'd like to see more of her work there is a whole list of videos you can watch if you do click it.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Have you ever looked into the eyes of a cat, and known for a fact that it was plotting world domination?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Starfire Chapters 1-4

I've posted the first 4 chapters of my new story Starfire and you can find them at the bottom of this page.

Not much to say about them, just exposition and character introductions.  This pretty much gets everything set up for the actual plot to begin.

One thing to explain though is a Wrath of Khan reference that is really kind of obscure.  The ship that the majority of this story will take place on is called The Nordhoff.  Charles Nordhoff is the co-writer of a book called Botany Bay, which is the name of Khan's ship.  Seeing as how Wrath of Khan is one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time, and it's about a character who is so consumed with rage and vengeance that nothing else matters to him, like the character Jake in this story, I thought it would be fun to toss in some Moby Dick and Wrath of Khan references here and there.