Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Gentlemen EP

Merry Gentlemen EP by Fflwcs

My new Christmas EP, free to download. Nadolig Llawen! Xx

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Joseph and Matthew are pregnant


Here is an image I made for Jesus in Love. It's a re-imagining of the nativity story. Joseph and Matthew are pregnant. Families are made and kept together with love, and I believe that all families should be celebrated.

Happy Christmas everyone x

Monday, 19 December 2011

A galaxy


Look at my lush new necklace. I'd had my eye on the most gorgeous bead on Folksy, and finally decided to buy it. It's like wearing a galaxy on my neck, a bit like in Men in Black!

I bought it from Blue Box Studio on Folksy, and the seller, Sue, is lovely and friendly and makes awesome jewels and the most beautiful lampwork beads. Check out her website.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

New patterns

Lynne from Calon Yarns asked me to design some patterns to sell, and we had the launch last Saturday. The patterns were not actually ready (problems with the printer, they said 6-8 days, but it's more like 14. Grr!) so instead people could pre-order them - but the samples were there so they could have a prod and a squeeze. I'm please to say that we sold three patterns. I couldn't believe it: we walked in to the shop and I saw my name on a sign "Patterns by local designer Andrew Williams". I'm a published knit patterner!


Bedwen means 'birch tree' in Welsh. Easy cables with a little flare at the base, so it sits on your neck nicely. It's knitted with Patons Fab Big, a lovely mega chunky yarn that's 100% acrylic, but really soft. It's very reasonably priced too, £4.50 for a 200g ball and that's enough to make a cowl and two large crocheted flowers. Each of my new patterns comes with a free bonus pattern - either a little crocheted thing, or a cute wristband.


Draig means 'dragon' in Welsh. It's crocheted with DK yarn using the crocodile stitch, but as I'm Welsh, I prefer to think of it as dragon scales. I think it would be nice in a thicker yarn, and would be much quicker to make too.


Igam Ogam (pronounced: ee-gam oh-gam) means 'zig zag' in Welsh. It's knitted in DK yarn (but can easily be made using a different weight) with a simple k2, p2 repeat, but every two rows the repeat is changed which creates the zig zag - first one way, then the other, and then back to the original direction. The pattern has instructions for making a long cowl, and a short, normal-sized version.


Onnen means 'ash tree' in Welsh. I made up this cable pattern and it reminded me of the bark of a tree, the colour of the test knit (a beige Wendy Mistral, sadly now discontinued) also made me think of as ash tree. This knits up really quickly on 8mm needles, I made this one while watching two episodes of Game of Thrones. A very nice Christmas knit.

The patterns should be with me on Friday the 7th of October, so Calon Yarns will be fully stocked with the patterns by next weekend. Some people very kindly bought the patterns anyway, as a pre-order kind of thing. I can't tell you how excited I was! The patterns can be bought from Calon Yarns, 380 Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff. They are £3.50 each. Bargain.

So what's next then? Well, my friend Nina has asked me to knit a poncho in mega chunky as a Christmas gift for her sister (she'd been eyeing up the one I made Nina a few years ago), so that's my next pattern: The Ostrich Plume Poncho (I know, I know, but I can't help it, I love that lace pattern!)

Happy knitting!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Galargan EP


New EP released today. Free to download from my Last.fm page


1. Zombi 
2. Casét 
3. 33 
4. Dolenni 

Galargan is a Welsh word that means lament (literally, 'grief song'). Each track is based on a piece of music I wrote in 2003 called Zombie Lament, music for a non-existent zombie film. The EP is inspired by techniques of creating music used by John Cage, Aphex Twin, Michael Nyman, Akira Rabelais, among others. I used the two VSTs I made to create textures and sounds that I then composed these tracks with. 

It's certainly a new direction from the usual silly house music I usually make, but I am quite eclectic in my musical taste! 

All the Fflwcs tracks on Last.fm are free to download. Please help yourself!

Jesus has two daddies


After seeing some lovely pictures of gay and lesbian nativity scenes on Jesus in Love, I wanted my own. It took me two years to find a set I really loved, and finally I now have one. It's a Fisher Price nativity set, with an extra Joseph ordered from America. I'm not a Christian, I'm not religious, and I don't believe in God (the Christian god, that is); but I've always loved the nativity story. Celebrating the birth of a child to a loving family is always good, and we get to sing some of the best Christmas carols too: Away in a manger, Little donkey; The friendly beasts. Jesus was born into a loving family. If Patrick and I are ever lucky enough to have children, they'll be brought up in a loving family too. 



 

Monday, 25 July 2011

Designing VSTs

I use VSTs (Virtual Studio Technology instruments) in my music, and have always admired those who make their own. So last weekend, I sat down and decided to learn how to use Synthedit. I've been reading a lot about John Cage, and his early experimental music. Too much coffee and a whole day spent learning how to make a random (virtual) voltage signal, and I came up with Cassette_musik. It is inspired by Cage's 1977 work 'Cassette', and his 1953 work 'Williams Mix' (great title!)



Cassette_musik loads a .wav, and plays it either forwards or backwards, and can cut the audio (via a simple gate) or play the entire wav from start point to end point. I'd only recommend that for one shots or very short samples though. The sample plays at a random starting point each time it is triggered (using the lovely Random Voltage module). I have also added some filters to degrade the sound and make it more like a scratchy old tape. I'm still beta testing, but when it's totally finished, I'll post instructions and a download link. My first free VST, whoop!



Buoyed by my success of making a working VST, I started to make a second one (using the structure of Cassette_musik as a base). Jareth also loads a .wav file and has a random starting point generator, but it also has a granulator. The GUI is inspired by Labyrinth, a 1986 film starring David Bowie as the Goblin King, so the controls are based on things in the film. The Peach button is pitch range, Goblin controls the Grains, and Oubliet controls the Grains Range (I think). You can play the sample forwards and backwards, although reverse doesn't work very well with higher Peach and Goblin settings; you can also choose different cycles 2-16, 32 and 64. This one is still being beta tested too, but as soon as I've finished I'll post instructions and download link. I'll also make example mp3s so you can hear the original audio compared with what it sounds like run through the VSTs.

Designing the GUIs was great fun too. I wanted an old cassette for Cassette_musik as it made sense, but I was a bit more creative with the design for Jareth. I even made my own dial for the dB levels - the clock hand is a bit jerky but I still love it!

This is fast becoming my newest obsession.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Ikea hacking


I spent five hours this weekend turning a cheap Ikea bed that I no longer needed, into a shelving unit (that I need desperately).

I'm really pleased with the result, and I've got quite a few of the bed slats left and am dreaming up what to do with them!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Toksvig and Burchill: I'd use the same word for both.

I just read this uninformed, unimaginative opinion piece.

Regardless of what one thinks of Sandi Toksvig (I personally think she's quite a hoot), this drivel by Julie Birchill smacks of bullying. Bullying of the worst kind. It borders on homophobia, xenophobia, and even misogyny. I am an advocate of the C-word. I use it to mean both friend or mate, and horrible person. "Alright, Sandi, you cunt?", I may say to a friend, or "That Julie's a cunt" about someone I dislike. I also use the words prick, dick and cock (even though I have one) to mean, basically, idiot.

I'm sorry if my use of any word offends somebody reading this, that certainly isn't my intention. My intention is to say how nasty I think Julie Birchill has been in this piece; and why I don't think it should have been published on the Independent's site - a paper I normally like.

I'll leave you with a quote from a very intelligent young woman:
"Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself."
Hermione Granger

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood

I read the Letting Children Be Children report with interest, as it is something I believe in quite strongly, but I fear the report is misleading.

I agree wholeheartedly that sexualised clothing for children is wrong. I have seen young girls wearing clothing unsuitable for their age group. Asymmetric t-shirts with adult slogans, or the playboy bunny emblazoned on them. The report states "nearly nine out of 10 parents surveyed for this Review agreed with the statement that ‘these days children are under pressure to grow up too quickly’". I'd tend to agree, but I would also like to know who bought these t-shirts for their young daughter? Who allowed the child to wear the clothing? David Cameron won't allow his six year old daughter to listen to Lily Allen. Who bought her the CD then, Dave?

I agree that we need stronger ways of controlling what our children see, but parents need to take more responsibility. If my child wanted to watch a programme on television that I thought was unsuitable, I wouldn't allow my child to watch. If my child wanted to play violent computer games and they were not old enough (games are controlled by ESRB ratings), I simply would not allow it. I can't understand why a parent wouldn't want to be part of their child's life; why they wouldn't want to protect them from the horrible things out there, and help guide them when the time was right.

Point 14 in the report: "We are all living in an increasingly sexual and sexualised culture, although it is far from clear how we arrived at this point. Many parents feel that this culture is often inappropriate for their children. They want more power to say ‘no’. Some parts of the business world and sections of the media seem to have lost their connection to parents and this is compounded in some new media where there is limited regulation. Where regulation does exist, regulators need to connect better with parents and encourage businesses to comply with the ‘spirit of the regulation’." Parents, you do have the power to say no. If you do not wish your child to see inappropriate images on the internet, then sit with them, add parental controls, set up a PIN system. All are free and easy to do. If you do not wish your child to see an 18-rated film, do not let them, do not buy it for them, monitor their television. Some comments I have read on online forums about this, seem to imply that it is not the parents' responsibility, it is the Government's. I don't want a new regime of draconian measures against children's freedom to suddenly be imposed. Children should explore and learn and form opinions, but if you are concerned enough, then you will shield them from things that will harm them.

I love zombie films, the gorier the better, but I wouldn't have wanted my niece or nephews (when they were young) to watch the films I watch. They're horrific! That's why I love them, but I love my family more, and so want to protect them.

I am worried that this report will do more harm than good, and take the onus to protect childhood off parents and square it on the Government. I also worry that new draconian measures will be enforced. If there is to be a single website where parents can complain, just imagine who will do so. I don't think I'm being far-fetched when I say (and this is my blog so I can): members of Mumsnet and fundamentalist Christians. What will this do to the already shocking portrayals of LGBTQ people on television?

Thursday, 14 April 2011

NaPoWriMo *14th April 2011*

Removed for possible publication.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

NaPoWriMo *13th April 2011*

Hoodies, louts, scum

Teenage boys made boys wary of other boys,
National thugs often showed best chance
of receiving glowing angel's
violent and untimely death.
Nearly 1,000 teenage boys found light.
They felt light, as a result of their behaviour.


Found poem - original text here.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

NaPoWriMo *12th April 2011*

Removed for possible publication.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Bumper NaPoWriMo *4th - 11th April 2011*

Removed for possible publication.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

NaPoWriMo update

Real life got in the way of the internets lately, so I've been scribbling my NaPoWriMos in a notebook. I'll post them as soon as I come home from work this afternoon.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

NaPoWriMo *3rd April 2011*

Removed for possible publication.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

NaPoWriMo *2nd April 2011*

Removed for possible publication.

Friday, 1 April 2011

NaPoWriMo *1st April 2011*

Haiku for Chi Chi

Learning the drag steps
In a dusty little town,
Win's Catwoman's praise.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

When authors attack


Having enjoyed the recent meltdown of self-published author Jacqueline Howett, I found that this wasn't an isolated case. Author meltdowns happen not only to self-published or unknown writers, but big names too, like Anne Rice. Sometimes, like with Jacqueline Howett, the situation is funny; other times, like with Victoria Laurie and DeborahAnne MacGillivray, it gets a lot more serious. Laurie reported posters on Amazon thread to the FBI and MacGillivray allegedly hired a private detective to obtain names and addresses for a bad reviewer's family. Not good.

Laurie and MacGillivray both write romance novels, which I am not interested in, so I can't comment on how good or bad their writing actually is; never read and and never will. Howett's book, at least, may have sounded mildly interesting to some people; maybe something you'd have picked up to read the back of. Had The Greek Seaman been a printed book, and I had read the back, I'd have quickly put it back down again. The spelling and grammar of the back cover blurb make it very hard to read. From the Amazon page:
"Description to The Greek Seaman novel.

What is an eighteen year old newly wed doing traveling on a massive merchant ship anyways? Hadn’t she gone to Greece on tour in a ballet as a dancer? These are questions, Katy asks herself while traveling the high seas with Don her chief officer. However, little do they know a smuggling ring is also on board for this ride, on a blue diamond exchange and when explosions and threats to sink the ship also happen, they must try to save themselves.

Getting to know the smugglers, the Arabic and Pakistani deck hands and Don, the Greek Seaman is an exciting sea adventure with enough suspense and romance that will make you laugh and cry. It will take you on a voyage to experience the magnificent soothing wonders and beautiful scenery at sea, dolpins, flying fishes and takes you through storms and hurricanes where Katy finds herself navigating through it with a seasick crew. From Piraeus, Greece, your visit the ports of Lebanon and Libya and enjoy the exotic magic of the bazaar. The love between Don and Katy, in their ordeal at sea makes this a memorable story."

Description to The Greek Seaman novel? She makes a grammatical error on the second word that a reader will read before deciding to buy her book. That's just not good enough. When I read her first comments on Big Al's Books and Pals blog, I sniggered a little, but then got angrier and angrier as I read further down the comments. Some posters gave examples of poorly constructed sentences, such as:
"Don and Katy watched hypnotically Gino place more coffees out at another table with supreme balance."
and her response was: "...what I read above has no flaws. My writing is fine." I watched a YouTube video of her reading an extract of her novel, and I did feel sorry for her. When she reads it, it kind of makes more sense. She pauses, when reading, so the sentence is clearer, but neglects to insert commas into the written text. To me it seems that she is trying to write as she thinks an author should write. When speaking, one might say "Don and Katy watched Gino putting coffees down on another table" which doesn't sound particularly interesting, so she has tried to write it in an 'authorly' way - but it just doesn't work. If she had left well alone, none of this would have been emailed, tweeted or blogged by as many people as it has (me included!)
To the people who say that we should leave her alone, and that this is bullying, I say: no we shouldn't, and no it isn't. She started posting childish and defamatory replies which ended in her telling various posters to "Fuck off!" for that, she deserves everything she gets, and long may it continue. Other posters have pointed out that Al (of Big Al's Books and Pals) has grammatical errors on his own blog, and that he is a hypocrite. Tripe. Al does not charge people to read his blog, so he is entitled to write it however he wants to, bad grammar or no. He is not a hypocrite.

I feel very sorry for Rebecca Black, who some have compared to Howett. I don't think she should have been subjected to such vicious attacks - she's only a kid. Don't get me wrong, I think the song is utter shite, but it's no worse than many songs being played on the radio at the moment, by older, and supposedly wiser, artists.

I will continue to watch this train wreck to see what Howett does next. I think it's appalling that family members posted 5 star reviews on Amazon, and are continuing to do so. That's another reason she deserves all she gets.

Edited: I've been reading more and more blogs saying everyone should lay off Howett, or talking about dogpiles: "Seriously, it’s one thing to righteously smack someone down when they’re giving you a hard time. It’s another to join in on a dogpile. Dogpiles are for cowards and for fascists.
And it’s completely another if you’re a famous author with a million followers to feed that dogpile. For real, NEIL GAIMAN? I’m defending some poor crazy lady from NEIL GAIMAN?"
All Gaiman did was point at Howett's behaviour and say "don't do that". When someone suggests this to the blogger they respond "The more power you have, the more careful you have to be. I can write a whole couple of paragraphs trashing Neil Gaiman, and not have to worry that I’ve harmed him in any significant way; for someone with a million and a half readers, even pointing to something like this can constitute a kind of cruelty." I would agree with the blogger if Gaiman had written somethign horrible about this woman, but he didn't. He pointed at her on his Twitter page. People seem to forget, this is the internet. Everyone can look at it, and comment on anything on it, as much as they want. What Howett did was done on a public forum - it's like she came into a café where I was enjoying a coffee, and screamed in my face. If Gaiman wants to do the same thing, that's totally allowed. It's the internet. It's public. If you don't want to discuss yourself on a public forum, you make a choice not to go to that public forum and discuss yourself.

Man alive!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

While England Sleeps


While England Sleeps by David Leavitt.
After reading the reviews of this book, and how gut-wrenching the ending was I thought I'd give it a go. I'd just re-read Forster's Maurice and was wanting a bit of a gay period story. Oh dear.
I know that it's possible to have a hateful protagonist, and for that to add to a book; but even horrible people need to grow, or at least go on some journey and be different at the end (even if they are still horrible). Brian Botsford does go on a journey, a literal one, and comes back the same. I was disappointed by the story. Upper-middle class writer briefly lives with a working class boy, treats him terribly, awfully, then realises he loves him. Kind of. Well, actually, no, "it would be twenty years until I even contemplated marriage between two men".
Part of why I didn't like it is the picture it paints of gay men. All gay men cheat, it seems to say; all gay men go cottaging, desperately. I'm gay and I do neither of those things. Alec Scudder didn't do those things, neither did Edward Phelan. What is Leavitt trying to say then? Upper class gays do? The story was a non-story, the main character didn't change all the way through.
I agree with other reviewers who say it's perfectly acceptable to have a villain as the protagonist, and to be able to enjoy that book or story - but I can't condone the way Brian treated Edward, his cowardice or lying, and worst of all: he learned nothing from his behaviour and its consequences, not even regret.
Read the book if you want to, there's lots of beautiful description in there, and there's no denying Leavitt is a good writer. Having read this, I doubt his storytelling abilities though. Every chapter ends with a wistful, forced image; much like a hollywood blockbuster: "I stopped being young", "Then the letter came", "As if it mattered. As if he weren't watching my every move".
The characters talk of Oscar Wilde, E.M. Forster, and it seems that Leavitt wanted this book to be a sort of Maurice or Wildean tale; it falls far short. It lacks the wit, tenderness and story that Forster or Wilde's works do.
I wish it had been great, I wish Brian Botsford hadn't been such a lazy, cowardly cheat; but it wasn't, and he was.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Cygnet 9



My first 3D animation - a test for Cygnet 9 (the escape pod for my film Jettisoned). Not bad for my second ever attempt at Blender.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Jettisoned


I'm finally getting round to making my film Jettisoned. I have scripts, plans, storyboards and even finished soundtracks to films I've conceived: Slow Descent (a zombie love story), Red (a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood with a serial killer cast as the big bad wolf), and my original idea for Jettisoned (three astronauts stuck in an escape pod, slowly going mad as they realise they are hurtling towards their inevitable deaths). I have the ideas, but not the time or funding to make them a reality.

I decided that all my ideas were way too grand, and that I needed a shorter idea to actually be able to see it through to the end product. I'm notoriously bad at finishing projects (bloody marvellous at starting them though!) and with Slow Descent and (original) Jettisoned, I have the soundtracks finished - and apart from conceptual art and storyboards - not much else. So with Jettisoned 2.0 I'm doing the difficult stuff first: CGI spaceship and filming. When that's done, I can get on to the stuff I know I can finish because it's what I enjoy most: editing, sound design and music. To keep the shoot short and as cost-free as possible, I'm also acting the main part. Patrick will act the other part (he doesn't know yet, but I'm sure he will do it - any excuse to show off). I have locations and costumes sorted, and am also in the middle of drawing the storyboards. I'm actually doing this the way films are supposed to be made, instead of arse-backwards like I normally do!

I'm even learning 3D modelling to make the escape pod. The premise of the story is this: young astronaut has been jettisoned from his Mothership, The White Swan, in the ninth and last escape pod, Cygnet 9 (a little nod to Plan 9 From Outer Space). The instruments and navicomputer go haywire and he finds that he is stuck on a collison course with a star. There's nothing he can do to change course, and as he realises he's going to die, he starts reminiscing about the relationship he left on Earth. His relationship with a handsome, bespectacled young man (Patrick) ended because he decided to go on this mission. The astronaut (haven't got a name for him yet) has flashbacks of different situations he was in with his boyfriend: walkign in the park, waking up in a tent, having a meal, having sex, reading newspapers in bed... lots of little, inconsequential things. Then he remembers arguing, shouting, and finally waking from hypersleep. Then Cygnet 9 plummets into the heart of a star.

It's quite sad really. But I have some great shots and music in mind, close-ups of light shining through his corneas, slow piano... beautiful. The hardest part will be the establishing shots of Cygnet 9. That's why I'm doing these first, I have to learn how to use a fantastic piece of 3D Modelling software, Blender. It's free and open source. Here its the website. Look how good it can be:



I've been watching lots of sci-fi films for inspiration: Star Wars, Moon, THX 1138, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes...

The image at the top of the screen is my very first attempt at using Blender, not bad for a few hours work. I'm planning to have the film ready for June 23rd, my birthday. Wish me luck!
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