Archive | December, 2016

Summing up 2016

31 Dec

So to sum up my year:-

Started (and finished) a new job.
Wrote a novel in 28 days (it’s still in edits!).
Submitted over 25 stories.
Sold nothing.
Received 2 free contributor copies of an anthology I’m in.
Wrote 87 new short stories.
Moved house.
Tried & failed NaNoWriMo.
Got older.

Swimming In Jelly [a silly poem]

17 Dec

Swimming In Jelly, By Ray Daley

Let’s all go swimming, go swimming in jelly, Jilly & Jimmy & Bob,
Just don’t crazy, don’t invite Daisy & certainly don’t invite Rob!
We can 3 have fun & when we’re all done we can have trifle for tea.
So let’s all go swimming, go swimming in jelly, what a wonderful thing it’ll be.

THE END.

Deconstructing Magic

14 Dec

CAUTION! CONTAINS SPOILERS ABOUT A MAGIC TRICK! STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW HOW IT’S DONE!

Today I’m writing about something that interests me very much, the world of magic and illusion. Today I’m going to be explaining how a trick is performed.

Today’s trick is “The Mad Scientist” as performed by “Professor” Al Carthy. I first saw this trick performed when I was about 8, whilst watching The Paul Daniels Magic Show.

I had a MASSIVE fear of Frankenstein (at the time made even worse after seeing “Carry On Screaming“) so seeing this illusion scared 7 shades of shit out of a very young me.

Apparently, Al is STILL performing this trick today, almost 40 yrs later!

I’ll include links to 2 different performances of the trick as there are some slight variations between the two. I’ve been a massive fan of how tricks work for a long time and it’s the main reason why I like Penn & Teller, they like to explain how some tricks are done.

I find I appreciate the staging of an illusion more if I know how it was done.

Version #1:-

This is the trick in what I believe to be it’s original incarnation.
“The Scientist” walks out, carrying the top half of his creation. Walks over to the animation machine (stage left) and places the top half of the creation onto the table top.

He examines the creation (vanishing behind the animation machine) then quickly reappears, repositioning the creation to go and get the creation’s legs from around the front.

He demonstrates how the legs work then goes behind the creation to attach them. He then moves the creation around to the front of the animation machine and plugs the creation in, then fires the machine up, bringing the creation to life!

The creation then walks around, up some steps, almost falling over but amazingly managing to hang at a seemingly impossible angle. The creation rights itself, walks back down the stairs where The Scientist deactivates it & begins reading his notes.

The creation unplugs itself, walks over to The Scientist who turns around, then the creation pulls off The Scientist’s head, who falls to the ground, apparently dead.

In this version of the trick, the creation breaks character at the end and Al takes his bow.

#

Version 2:-

This is what I call the “scary version”, it’s my belief that this is the version I saw on the Paul Daniels show near Halloween.

“The Scientist” walks out, carrying the top half of his creation. Walks over to the animation machine (stage left) and places the top half of the creation onto the table top, he then gets the creation’s legs from around the front.

He demonstrates how the legs work then goes behind the creation to attach them. He then moves the creation around to the front of the animation machine and plugs the creation in, then fires the machine up, bringing the creation to life!

The creation then walks around, up some steps, almost falling over but amazingly managing to hang at a seemingly impossible angle. The creation rights itself, walks back down the stairs where The Scientist deactivates it & begins reading his notes.

The creation unplugs itself, walks over to The Scientist who turns around, then the creation pulls off The Scientist’s head, who falls to the ground, apparently dead.

#

How it’s done.

In version 1 that’s Al walking out with a dummy scientist attached to the back of him. His legs are disguised under the lab coat. Al positions himself into the table, bending his legs.

At this point, the assistant who is playing the scientist is already under the “animation machine” and helps Al remove the dummy, which is why the scientist vanished from view for a moment.

It’s to allow the assistant to stow the dummy & swap places wearing an identical costume.

In version 2, Al is being carried by the assistant with his legs hidden by the lab coat. When the assistant places Al onto the “animation machine”, I believe Al is putting on his shoes.

The assistant then goes around to the front of the animation machine and gets the fake legs, showing how they work as a distraction to allow Al time to secure his shoes.

As the assistant is pretending to connect Al to his “legs”, the fake legs are being stowed in the same compartment where the dummy of the fake scientist was placed.

Al is then moved into position and connected up to the “animation machine”. Al does some simple robotic actions and walking. His deliberate slow small steps are established to show how “the creation” walks.

When he reaches the middle of the top step, he stops there for a reason. It’s the area rigged for the next part of the trick. As Al reaches that step, he slides his shoes into some preset rods that allow him to do the forward lead without falling.

After the “lean” you’ll see Al taking 2 slight steps backwards, that’s to release himself from the rods. It’s just then a matter of walking down, positioning himself for the assistant and waiting for his musical cue to pull off the scientists head.

Obviously it’s a fake head, the assistant is much smaller & wearing the fake head & neck rig on their shoulders. As the “scientist” falls, you’ll note the assistant places their hand on Al’s arm to guide their fall safely.

I assume this also done to ensure the fake shoulders rig doesn’t come off in the fall.

In the Paul Daniels version (version 2) the trick ends with the creation (Al) holding the scientists head in the air. However, in version 1 the creation places the fake head onto the animation machine & Al breaks character, takes his bow & smiles.

In no version of this trick do we ever see the scientist move after the end.

#

So that’s how this excellent and extremely entertaining trick is performed.

The Final Trump [a poem]

8 Dec
The Final Trump, by Ray Daley.
 
America’s retractions,
Of Freedom in fractions,
Sounds unlikely to exist.
But if done so slow,
That the people don’t know,
Then no-one is likely to resist.
 
The End. (It’ll be here before you know it.)

NaNoWriMo 2016, Lessons Learned

6 Dec

So I thought that now we’re almost a week into final month of 2016, I’d tell you how my NaNoWriMo went this year. It failed.

I did not write 50,000 words of novel. In fact, I bailed on day 4.

On day 1 I wrote 2212 words.
On day 2 I wrote 2288 words.
On day 3 I wrote 1730 words.

I called my failure on day 4 having written a total of 6230 words towards a new novel. So why was this?

I called the close of play for several reasons.

1) I knew I couldn’t sustain a narrative with only 1 character.
2) I hadn’t done any prep work.
3) The research was digging into my writing time.
4) I decided too late to actually take part.
5) I’d not long moved house.

So what did I do for the rest of NaNoWriMo?

I left it a few days before deciding I’d still like to write stuff, so I went the NaNoRebel route aiming for 50k of anything that’s not a novel.

How did I fare with that task? Again, I failed.

To be precise, I wrote 20 complete short stories totalling 28,887 words. While this may not be 50k, I counted it as a personal victory for me.

It’s 20 stories that I didn’t have before November.
20 stories I can potentially send out to submission.

I didn’t write every day. But I made a lot more words than I expected to.

I don’t see my not hitting 50k for either reason as an actual fail.
I’ve written stuff that didn’t exist before. I wrote anything at all!
That’s a big thing for me, considering how my brain gets on certain days.

What I’m saying is, take what you will from your NaNo experience.
You might not have written a novel, or reached 50k but what ever you DID accomplish was through your own hard work.