One liner Wednesday: First drafts…

“In two words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about maths; It goes on”

Robert Frost.


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Making more space…

I’ve spent the morning tinkering with the design of the new Starship Gypsies site.
I have now made it easier to navigate from the front page to both the beginning of the story and to the latest installment.

I’ve also (with the help of WordPress and their lovely support team, the “Happiness Engineers”) discovered how to embed clickable images.

So, because I like showing off when I’ve learnt something new, (yes alright, I expect you all knew how to do this ages ago) here are those very links.
If you’ve only just discovered our little space opera and want to get in on the ground floor, so to speak, this first link is for you.


But if you’ve been following the adventures of Captain Toes and his crew since the beginning, here is where the tale continues.


Thanks for coming aboard.

Watch this space(ship)


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Melodic Randomiser Unspooled 4…

After much burrowing around in the cardboard box and carrier bag breeding ground of our under-stairs cupboard, today I managed to haul out the second box of rattling plastic nostalgia cases that is my cassette collection.

Throwing caution to the wind, I blindly grabbed a trio of magnetic memory magnifiers and slotted the first one into the stereo before I’d even checked to see what it was.


So you can imagine my delight (or maybe you can’t, you might not be so easily pleased) when this next installment in the trip through my own personal musical heritage began with an album that gave us the best song from the soundtrack to a movie cult classic, the wantonly strange Donnie Darko (which, if you haven’t seen it, go find it and watch it).

The Church are not, in the UK at least, a hugely well-known band, hailing as they do from Sydney, Australia. But this song (as well as featuring one of the only acceptable uses of bagpipes in pop) is an instant earworm. It appears at a pivotal point in the movie and perfectly captures the dreamy and surreal tone of Donnie’s world.

Here it is then, from 1988, The Church and the sublime Under the Milky Way Tonight

…plus, if you liked that and because I’m feeling generous, why not check out the full album, Starfish, while you’re at it.

From antipodean indie to U.S. political hip hop and rap/rock, the next stop on our eclectic journey brings us to a tape that was put together for me by an old friend from Sussex (hello Chris) and it tackles themes that are, somewhat depressingly, just as relevant today as they were in the early ’90s.

The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy were an astute and politically aware hip hop four-piece from San Francisco who, despite their short lifespan, (they split after only three years) provided us with one of the most memorable rap anthems of the era.
Their album, Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury, was one long rant on the state of America at the turn of the twentieth century’s final decade, and although it’s filled with angst, it sidestepped the “cop killer” attitude of many rappers by concentrating on social issues and generational injustices.

Of the two tracks I’ve chosen from that first blistering album, this is the one you’re most likely to remember, Television, the Drug of the Nation

…and this, the album’s opener, is just as apposite in 2015, here is Satanic Reverses.

But if proper, eye-popping, vein-bulging anger is more your type of political poison, look no further than the other side of today’s tape two.
Because there you will find some truly furious men, the no-holds-barred riffing monster that is Rage Against the Machine and their ground-breaking eponymous debut album.

I could have picked a couple of the less well known tracks to play you, but there really is nothing that compares to their signature anthem from 1991, the musical steamroller they call Killing in the Name

…and I’m going to follow that with a performance I was fortunate enough to witness, the apoplectic Bullet in the Head, live from Reading Festival in 1996.

Which brings us to the final selection in today’s trawl of the tapes, lightening things up a bit with some American new wave pop from The B52’s and their ’89 breakthrough album, Cosmic Thing.
I could go the really obvious route and play the massive worldwide smash hit, Love Shack, but instead I’m going for two of my favourites.

First of all, here’s Roam

…and to complete this visit to the archives, let’s all join the Deadbeat Club.

Thank you for listening.
And as always, remember: Be kind, rewind.


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Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Last Supper…


Good grief, it’s already after four in the afternoon and I’ve only just seen the prompt Linda G Hill left us for our Stream of Consciousness Saturday post this week;

” “expect/unexpected.”  Use either or both words in your post, or simply base your idea on them.”

Ok, let’s begin…

Last Supper.

Eldrin scanned the evening news-vid, noting the inordinate amount of coverage given to the latest fatal droid incident; hardly an unexpected story these days, what with the numbers of droids on the Parallel almost equaling those of Naturals, you were always going to get the odd bad owner who didn’t keep an eye on his property.

I mean, he thought to himself as he poured a second glass of wine, it’s not like it’s the droids’ fault, right? They were just tools when all was said and done; strong, intelligent tools, that was true, but objects to be commanded nevertheless.

It was everyone’s Creator-given right to own a droid and nobody was going to change that anytime soon, no matter how many of those nature freaks campaigned against it.
It had been that way for hundreds of years after all, there was no way they were going to persuade the billions of droid owners across the Confederate Parallel to suddenly go without their cybernetic servants.
It would be like returning to the Pilgrimage days of the old stories, when settlers on the newly-discovered Parallels could only survive with the mechanical assistance of early droid prototypes.

The changes in gravity and polar orientation had made it difficult for the first few generations to acclimatize to the initially hostile conditions of the extraordinary new world they had colonized, so the Fathers had made provision in the Confederate Parallel’s Grand Charter to allow all citizens to possess however many cybernetic servants they required.
The first colonists received their droids as a gift from the World Council, as a sign of gratitude for volunteering to free up space on the catastrophically overpopulated home planet.

“No man, woman or child should be expected to give up their homeworld and embark on The Pilgrimage, save that the Charter guarantees them the right to employ the assistance of synthetic slave droids for the purposes of construction, manual labour, hunting and for the personal protection of themselves and their families. No man may question another man’s right to possess such a device, nor may he deny others the right, even should he not wish to possess one himself.”

And that was the way it had always been.
It was unimaginable that anyone should want to regulate droid ownership, the people wouldn’t allow it, there would be a revolution.

Obviously, thought Eldrin, the more of these dangerous radicals there were, wanting to take away everyone’s rights, just because there were a minority of owners who couldn’t or wouldn’t program their droids correctly, resulting in the occasional lethal malfunction, the more droids they would need to maintain order.
So he certainly wasn’t expecting the announcement that came on the vid he was watching, made by none other than the Overseer himself. He seemed to be pledging to drastically curtail the freedom to own anything but the most basic service or defence droid, with the introduction of stringent vetting procedures expected to come into effect almost immediately.

All because of a few kids getting crushed by a badly maintained education droid that didn’t know its own strength and most of them had survived anyway, barely even a dozen had died this time.

He didn’t understand why they were making such a fuss.

And as for reports from other Parallels, those that had revoked the rights of civilian droid ownership since acclimatization, suggesting that rates of violent deaths were lower than in the Confederation, well they were obviously untrue, those colonists were primitive peasants compared to the enlightened society they enjoyed here.

The sound of plates being cleared away made him look up from his screen, the carefully blank features of the servant droid intent on its work.

“So, I suppose you’ll be for the scrap heap won’t you” he said, grinning maliciously, “now that he’s bowing to pressure from the Natural lobby?”

“Excuse me sir, I do not comprehend your question.” The droid looked at him, an expression of polite enquiry on its face, “my purpose is only to provide service to society, I pose no threat to its citizens.”

“Well he won’t be taking my slave units away,” Eldrin snapped, “I don’t care if they do make it law, they’ll need to pry the control chips from my dead fingers. It’s guaranteed in the Charter damn him!”

“Is there anything else I can get you sir?” asked the patiently waiting droid.

“No, why are you even still here? Get out of my sight, you sycophantic synth, before I have you disassembled.”

“As you say sir.”
The droid moved behind Eldrin, ensuring it was indeed “out of his sight”, then reached out, grabbed his head firmly in both hands and twisted it sharply to the right, then the left, letting the body collapse noisily onto the table before returning to its service cubicle, Malfunction light blinking rhythmically, to await further instructions.

After a few moments of shocked silence, the buzz of conversation restarted;

“…another bad programmer, there are so many irresponsible owners…”

“…you can’t expect them to work right if you don’t treat them right…”

“…you can’t blame the droid, it just wasn’t coded properly…”

“…this sort of thing won’t get better unless they bring in more defence droids…”


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One liner Wednesday: First drafts…

“One, two, three o’clock, four o’clock rock, Five, six, seven o’clock, eight o’clock paper, Nine, ten, eleven o’clock, twelve o’clock, scissors…”

– Rock Paper Scissors Around The Clock, Bill Haley, 1955.


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Looking for literary ladies…

As I may have casually mentioned in passing a few weeks ago, I am about to have a short story, one that I wrote for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, published in an actual printed anthology, via one of my new connections on business networking site, LinkedIn.


Anyway, impatient as I am to see one of my improvised fiction experiments in print, I got in touch with Catherine Broughton, who is compiling the book, (on her blog, Turquoise Moon, see link below) to ask for an update.
It turns out that the hold up is that she’s 2 or 3 short stories short, if you see what I mean, and she is looking to fill that short story shortfall with contributions from women.

So, if you’re a lady blogger or writer (maybe you’re a woman, but not a lady, it doesn’t matter) and you would like one of your short stories published in a real printed book, then CLICK THIS LINK to submit your work for possible inclusion.

Good luck.

{Cartoon by Ho}


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The continuing saga of the IGV Alice Marie: 4. NASA 6…


Another day, another chapter in the life of the Starship Gypsies…

Originally posted on Starship Gypsies:


Lazzaro left the med bay, stopping at a com panel on his way out.

“Bridge; Lazzaro, what the hell was that noise?”

“Not sure sir, we’re showing a hull breech in the cargo hold, but that can’t be right, the olefin team are down there monitoring the methane transfer.”

“I’ll head down that way and take a look,” said Lazzaro, “and see if you can raise ZT, he’s probably puffing on one of those bloody Jamaican Gold things of his, try somewhere in the garden. Lazzaro out.”

Eric Lazzaro was one of the few people who got to call the captain by his given name – the hated “Zachary” – but only when nobody else was listening. Although Toes had relented slightly when Lazzaro shortened it to ZT, (“Zee-tee”) he thought it sounded more military, Eric suspected, like the old soldiers in the captain’s vintage movies who used to call…

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