Friday, August 31, 2012

Great animal hybrids in fantasy fiction

For this humans are going to be slotted in with the animals (rightfully so as I see it). One of the odd things that comes from doing so is that you can see that humans tend to want to be able to fly as well as have claws and fangs. Only rarely are we paired with animals or fantasy creatures that don't have such capabilities. 

Liger (lion and tiger)

Hippogriff (griffin and mare)

Centaur (horse and human - often a knight or warrior)

Werewolf or Wolfman (wolf and human)

Catdog (cat and dog)

Griffin (lion and eagle)

Birdman or Seraph (bird - often an eagle - and man)

Werevamp (werewolf and vampire)

Kalidah (lion and bear)

Hircocervus (goat and stag)

Cynamolgi (dog and human)

Chimera (lion, serpent and goat or goat, snake, dragon, lion)

Humanzee (human and chimpanzee)

Cabit (cat and rabbit)

Mermaid (human and fish)

Lamia (human and snake)

Faun, Pan or Satyr (human and goat)

Sphinx (human and lion) 

Wyrvern (bird and reptile)

Gorgon (snake, bird, boar)

Pegasus (horse and bird)

Fly/man (human and fly)

Allergy free cheese vegetable bake recipe

I went back for seconds. This is so nice.

  • 2 carrots, sliced thick
  • ½ a cauliflower, broken into cauliflowerets
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced small
  • A handful of green beans, sliced
  • 1¾ cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbsps Nuttlex
  • 2 tbsps Orgran all purpose flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half goat’s cheese ands goat’s milk, beaten
  • 1 tsp Massel salt reduced chicken stock powder or ½ salt reduced chicken ultracube, crumbled
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • Paprika (optional)

  • Place the carrots in a steamer basket; place in a large saucepan over 3 cm of water.
  • Bring to a boil, cover and steam for 3 minutes.
  • Add the cauliflower and beans and steam for 5 minutes longer or until the vegetables are tender.
  • Transfer to a large greased baking dish.
  • Using the same water, steam the potatoes for 8-10 minutes.
  • Transfer to the baking dish.
  • In a large pan, sauté the mushrooms in Nuttlex until tender.
  • Stir in the flour until blended.
  • Gradually stir in the half and half, chicken stock, onion powder and pepper.
  • Bring to the boil and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until thickened.
  • Pour the sauce over the vegetables and stir to coat.
  • Lightly sprinkle with paprika (optional).
  • Leave the baking dish uncovered.
  • Bake at 180°C for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

  • The stock options above are both vegetarian.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rosy's scrawled manhwa recommendation: Banya by KIM Young Oh

With a worldwide war raging between humans and monsters, the young delivery men of the Gaya Desert Post Office do not pledge allegiance to any country or king. They are banded together by a pledge to deliver. Fast. Precise. Secure. Banya, the craziest and craftiest of the bunch, will stop at nothing to get a job done. Known as the Explosive Delivery Man for his risk taking, bold resolve, and impeccable record, Banya agrees to complete a wounded soldier's mission to transport a parcel of great importance--not knowing what dangers lie in store for him and his friends! As their arduous journey begins, Banya promises, "There isn't a delivery I can't make. I always deliver."

Alternative names
폭주배달부 반야
Banya: The Explosive Delivery Man
Hell's Angel Delivery Man Banya


Sites for reading online (free)

In short, a Korean version of a Manga. There are many similarities in the writing style and art but different cultural references do apply. Read left to right.

Rosy's scawlings on Banya
This manhwa is definitely in honour of all delivery people. It focuses on the fantastical trials and tribulations of two boys (the older being Banya, the younger being Kong) and a girl named Mei who man a desert post office. Unlike regular post offices though, what is delivered isn't always a message. Sometimes it is people, dead or alive.
Reading this, I couldn't stop grinning or laughing at the situations the delivery man Banya and his cohorts got into and out of. And the fact that despite Banya being the best of the delivery men and most capable in a fight he was still easily beaten up and ordered about by 'crybaby' Mei. All because he's willing to be.
The story is divided into short story arcs that follow each delivery, focusing on each of the 3 characters whenever it is important to do so. With each delivery completed we move on to the next, although exactly when each new delivery is assigned is never really stated. It could be the next day or the next month. Either way, rarely are the deliveries ever connected except by reference to the three deliverer's relationships and character development but a greater plot does emerge after a few harrowing deliveries.
The pace of the deliveries and the constant introduction of new characters and new missions keeps the manhwa fast paced and interesting. Along with the giant killer worms, orgre-like people, dragon-esque creatures with incredible senses of smell and creatures that look like orcs, of course. Brutality is an indelible part of the world, whether as a result of man, creatures or the land and it too keeps you hooked and reading on to find out just what will happen.
The illustrations are mainly in black and while, with most of each panel shaded in, but there are a few coloured sections throughout. The illustrations are bold and although smooth they give the appearance of a jagged and harsh world in which most people and beings are fairly tattered. I found the illustrations rather appealing for their dark display of Banya's world and for the fact that most allowed you to focus in on the important details like expressions and eyes and the current state of a character. Glitzy smooth stylings are out in favour of depth, darkness and detail.
All in all this story is fun and fast read where from one minute to the next you aren't sure if the delivery man in question, usually Banya, is going to succeed or fail. It is very hard to put down once you get started, marking this as an addictive read.

I'd suggest this manhwa to: Anyone who is or was a delivery person: postal, pizza or otherwise. I would also suggest this manhwa to lovers of action and fantasy, although I'm aware it would likely appeal more to teenage boys. If you can't enjoy laughing at teenage male orientated action (you sit straight-faced and unmoved through any Jackie Chan movie) then this isn't for you. That said, there are many who love this type of story who aren't teenage boys so give it a whirl. Odds are you'll find this manhwa quite amusing.

Notes on manga reader sites
The quality of manga readers can vary. The uploads are often done cheaply or as a serious hobby by a collective. Be aware that sometimes licence hasn't been given but the sites noted above, Manga Fox in particular, are extremely careful about adding and pulling mangas according to license agreements. So you shouldn't have to worry too much about the material being pirated. There are also translated works and non-translated. Amongst the translated works you will find that the quality of translation may vary according to the skills of the translators. Usually the works are perfectly readable anyway, with only a few added or dropped words or a word in the incorrect tense or with/out plurals. But sometimes the text becomes gobbledygook. In which case, either seek another version or give up and buy an official copy once a printed translation comes out. The other issue of note is you may need to expand the screen to read the text easily as sometimes the scans are minimised a little.
I find that if a page doesn't download properly or some other issue occurs (too slow or someone ordered the pages incorrectly etc.) with one reader then skipping across to another reader and picking up where I was is quite easy and rarely annoying.
Otherwise, enjoy and watch out you don't get too addicted you forget about the necessary things in life.

Allergy free blueberry pancake recipe

  • 2 cups Orgran self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp Orgran No Egg
  • ¼-½ cup fresh blueberries
  • ½ cup sugar (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 40g Nuttlex, melted, cooled
  • 2¼ cups goat’s milk

  • Sift the flour and No Egg into a bowl.
  • Add the sugar and stir well.
  • Combine Nuttlex, vanilla essence and goat’s milk.
  • Add the goat’s milk mixture to the flour mixture and whisk to combine.
  • Fold in the blueberries.
  • Allow the batter to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Lightly grease a small frying pan and heat to medium.
  • Cook ⅓ cup portions of the batter for 2-3 minutes then turn the pancake and cook on the other side.
  • Repeat with the remaining mixture.
  • Serve with blueberries, strawberries, icing sugar and/or maple syrup.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tips for making steampunk goggles

There is an art to steampunk goggles but once you get an idea of where to start in making them, let alone imagining them, you should be able to create a pair fairly easily.

The idea is to combine metals, preferably bronze or silver, and leather. If you have an old leather bag you no longer use you can either take a strip from it to make the strap or modify a loose handle that incorporates a buckle. If you don't have any leather about, don't buy any new leather but rather search out old beaten up leather in a second hand store. The softer the leather the better. When making holes for the buckles you can use a nail punch and a hammer or mallet. Alternatively there are fabric or leather punches that you can use. As for the buckles, buy an old buckle and fold the leather over the right side. You can stitch the leather with strong sharp needle and thick thread (may require some strength) or you can join the leather using fold-back pins (you will need to make a small cut to push the pin through) that are covered with material on the inside to stop them from scratching you.

Alternatively you can make spyglasses and hang them on a strap around your neck so that you only need to locate a leather strap, some swimming goggles or a pair of protective glasses metalworkers or woodworkers tend to wear. Just head to a hardware and you'll find a cheap pair. Then add knobs and nodules, the ends of small cans and some spay paint, layered if you like (as above). A strong glue is a necessity.

And if that search proves impossible then choosing a strap that's made from brown or black elastic is best. If choosing black then match the colour of the goggles to the strap by including black. The dominant colours of the steampunk version of the Victorian era are red, brown, bronze, gold, silver and black. Metal is preferred over plastic but we all make do. If you don't want to work with metal then spray painting and lacquering a metal paint on might be an easy option.

Eye glasses can become more feminine if you add smaller, more intricate patterns rather than chunky techy type knobs, lenses and gadgets. While any pair of steampunk glasses would suit there are occasions when a more feminine pair is in order, such as when matching the goggles to a Victorian-style steampunk dress rather than pants and a shirt.

For a more futuristic or space-adventure orientated goggles it might be nice to start with ski goggles, possibly tinted. Not all steampunk stories are based on Earth or even during the Victorian era. In such cases it is all about Victorian technology being in use or being the basis for the current technology. As such, modifications like the above are perfectly acceptable.

Going this far may shock those seeing it for the first time though. The space based steampunk goggles here do tend to blend seamlessly with French horror (often romantic in some way) stories and cyborg stories. I quite like these for a steampunk villain's goggles.

Speaking of steampunk villains, here is one to rival Darth's helmet. This can be made using either a modified gas mask or a modified diving mask and top. Add piping, bronze bathroom or piping attachments as well as bronze goggles and you should be able to make a fairly intimidating version of this type of steampunk face mask.

To find those little pieces that make you goggles have a clockwork feel you can scour through second hand stores for analogue clocks or a hardware for parts. Then just attach them in an arrangement in a manner that seems to make sense. You can use wing-nut screws for their unique look, glue for a seamless look or small sized ordinary screws for practicality. If your goggles are to be black then painting them and then scratching or sanding back the paint for a weathered metal look might be nice.

The pieces you want to add may need to be bent to shape. In which case you can do this the old way, placing the piece against something strong with a shape similar to what you want, covering the piece with material and gently tapping it into shape with a small hammer. The more fragile the piece the gentler you need to tap. If you're a little worried you'll break it then obtaining a couple of them beforehand allows you to try and fail until you get the hang of it.

As to the lenses, you can find cut glass of the right size as coasters (although these might be hard to see through), as lenses in old glasses that can be popped out, candle plates, glass paperweights etc. As long as you can see through them clearly and they are the right size for slotting into the goggles, which could be made using cut tin cans or the rims of jar lids, then you can use them. You just need to be sure you've attached them properly by not only making sure they won't pop out but also pop back in. To stop them popping in just glue a strip of plastic or leather to the inside of the goggle.

To add the extra lenses you can use small magnifying lenses. You are unlikely to actually use these so the magnification shouldn't be an issue. Speaking of magnification, if you usually wear glasses you can pop the lenses out of an old pair (most of you will have updated you lenses at some point due to wear more than a change in your vision) and slot these in place behind the lenses or as the lenses. If you're doing this then make sure the lenses don't sit too far from your eyes. Bifocal lenses aren't an issue as most steampunk goggles just become more impressive the more intricate they are.