Sunday, June 30, 2013

Creepiest fictional vampires

Lord Ruthven from John Polidori's The Vampyre
(in part based on Lord Byron's personality)

Dracula from Bram Stoker's Dracula

Nosferatu from the movie Nosferatu

Claudia from Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles

Pearl from Blade

Pretty much any vampire from 30 Days Of Night

Viktor from Underworld

Eli from Let The Right One In

F from Marebito

Martin from Martin

Max Schreck in Shadow of the Vampire

Markus Corvinus from Underworld: Evolution

Homer from Near Dark

Barlow from Salem's Lot

Drusilla from Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Jerry Dandridge from Fright Night

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Allergy free lemon chicken lovely legs with roast vegetables recipe

  • 4 chicken lovely legs
  • ½ cup Orgran all purpose flour, to coat
  • 1 tsps paprika
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup allergy free soy sauce replacer
  • Desiree potatoes, cut into 1cm pieces
  • 1 carrot, sliced thick
  • 1 red onion, sliced into wedges
  • 2 tbsps oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Toss the vegetables with oil and season to taste.
  • Spread the vegetables over a baking tray and place in the oven while preparing the chicken.
  • In a bowl, combine the flour and paprika.
  • Coat chicken lovely legs in the flour mixture and place them in a greased baking tray.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the lemon juice and soy sauce replacer.
  • Pour the lemon mixture over the chicken.
  • Cover the tray with aluminium foil and cook in the oven for 10 minutes.
  • Turn the chicken over, baste and remove the foil.
  • Turn over the vegetables.
  • Cook for a further 20-30 minutes or until cooked through.
  • Serve the chicken and roast vegetables with any remaining juice poured over the top.

Allergy free apple cream tart recipe recipe

Mmm, caramelised sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cream and apples...


  • 1½ cups Orgran all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup Orgran gluten free gluten
  • 2 tbsps sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup Nuttlex
  • 5 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (red or green apples optional)
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1½ cups Liddells lactose free thickened cream
  • 3 tsps gelatine


  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, gluten free gluten, sugar and salt
  • Rub in the Nuttlex until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Press the mixture onto the bottom and 2cm up the sides of a greased 22cm spring-form pan or shallow pie dish.
  • Arrange the sliced apples over the crust.
  • Combine the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl and sprinkle the mixture over the apples.
  • Place the pan or dish on a baking tray.
  • Bake the pie and apple at 200°C for 15 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the cream and gelatine until evenly mixed.
  • Pour the cream over the apples.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes longer or until the apples are tender.
  • Cool on a wire rack or refrigerate until set.
  • Store in the refrigerator.

Friday, June 28, 2013

10 quirky characteristics of manga and anime

1. Tentacle monsters are everywhere, as are cat people (usually girls).

2. Sword size equates to penis size unless you happen to be an unlucky overcompensating villain.

3. The leading lady almost always has the biggest breasts but even if she doesn't her best friend will. And whoever has them will bathe, trip over and be caught undressing a lot.

4. Electrocution will not kill you (unless you deserve it).

5. Children, particularly those in school, are almost always smarter than adults.

6. Female characters enforce moral values using whatever violent means they are capable of. Even the strongest hero will bow before her anger.

7. There will always be at least one cute creature or person, probably with big shimmering eyes. They might also be incredible violent and mentally unstable so approach with caution.

8. Everything explodes.

9. Emotions are in the air, be they love, hate, anger, happiness or sadness.

10. Dramatic lighting can always be conjured up at the right moment.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Allergy free chicken diane with roast potatoes recipe

  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • Pontiac or desiree potatoes, peeled, cut into 1.5cm cubes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 30g Nuttlex
  • 700g chicken breast fillets, preferably with skin
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ cup chicken stock made from a Massel vegetarian chicken ultracube
  • 2 tsps dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • ½ tsp vinegar
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ¼ cup brandy
  • ½ cup Liddells lactose free thickened cream
  • 2 tbsps flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tsps lemon juice

  • Preheat oven to 180°C.
  • Spread the potato on a baking tray, drizzle with 1 tbsp of olive oil and toss with salt and pepper.
  • Roast the potatoes while cooking the chicken.
  • Heat the Nuttlex and remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.
  • Season the chicken and then cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden.
  • Place the chicken skin-side up on an oven tray, turn the potatoes, and roast both for a further 5 minutes, or until cooked and golden.
  • Return the chicken to the frying pan over a medium heat.
  • Add the shallots and soften for 1 minute while stirring.
  • Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the chicken stock, mustard, salt, tamarind paste, molasses, vinegar, garlic powder, chilli powder and ground cloves, brandy and cream.
  • Bring the mixture to the boil then simmer on medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the sauce has reduced by half.
  • Stir in the parsley and lemon juice.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Serve the chicken with the sauce and baked potato.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The movie and TV faces of Emma Woodhouse

    Judy Campbell (who also wrote the screenplay) as Emma in the 1948 live BBC TV broadcast Emma

    (Promo shot possibly of another of the Kraft Theatre live shows)
    Felicia Montealegre as Emma in the 1954 live NBC TV broadcast Emma

    Sarah Churchill as Emma in the 1957 live NBC TV broadcast Emma

    Diana Fairfax as Emma in the 1960 live BBC TV serial Emma

    (1962 press photo)

    Nancy Wickwire as Emma in the 1960 live CBS TV broadcast Emma

    Alicia Silverstone as Cher Horowitz (Emma) in the 1995 movie Clueless

    Kate Beckinsale as Emma in the 1996 ITV TV film Emma

    Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma in the 1996 movie Emma

    Doran Godwin as Emma in the 1972 BBC miniseries Emma

    Romola Garai as Emma in the 2009 BBC miniseries Emma

    Sonam Kapoor as Aisha (Emma) in the 2010 movie Aisha

    Tuesday, June 25, 2013

    Rosy's scrawled manga recommendation: Jormungand by Takahashi Keitarou

    Takahashi Keitarou

    Jonah is a child soldier, born amidst the chaotic conflicts that rage across West Asia, his family lost to a war fueled by weapons supplied by the so-called Merchants of Death--international arms dealers. Despite Jonah's hatred of weapons and violence, he employs both extremely well in the service of high-flying arms dealer Koko Hekmatyar and her band of mercenaries. Their journey through the dark underbelly of the world's arms markets may lead only to damnation, but will Jonah one day make his way back to the light? Only one thing is certain: it's going to be a long, hard road out of hell...

    Alternative names


    Manga reader sites (free)
    Manga Reader, Manga Here

    Rosy's scrawlings on Jormungand
    Jormungand is a strange manga that addresses corruption surrounding arms deals and the impact of war upon children, and not just through the character of Jonah. Neither topic is addressed too directly but there's more than enough action and conversation to analyse. In a way this can leave you feeling both satisfied with the story and dissatisfied for its lack of picking a side, depending on your perspective. And it is just this, along with the action, that makes Jormungand such an interesting read.
    In Jormungand Jonah is the one to lead us into the world of arms dealing but ultimately we end up following not just his story but that of Koko and her band of warrior guards. Each has been pulled from an unusual life within the armed forces or the secret service or in Jonah's case from his revenge mission for the death of his family. Except Koko, who has been born into the arms dealer life along with her elder brother. Every character within Jormungand is more than a little twisted or damaged and yet they act for loyalty, for a chance to be something more and to survive. Even as conspiracies on the part of various governments, sometimes named and sometimes unnamed, begin to wear at them all they go to incredible lengths to remain together, often over simple promises.
    Koko leads her team, along with Jonah whom she's trying to drag out of his shell, through battlefields and various danger filled negotiations with terrorists, gang members and government officials alike. Anyone is a customer, as long as they can pay and if they can't then they're nothing but the casualties of business. Koko is insanely ruthless, self disparaging and surprisingly gentle and caring. She's what her world has made her and her loyalty and trust are not to be crossed. Jonah, in a similar way, is what the world has made him but he has refused to be a victim like so many others. He appears to be mild mannered or even cold and emotionless but underneath is a raging hatred for weapons, arms dealers and the insanity of war. He's one who is both innocent and far too jaded, of a sane point of view but also completely lost to raging emotions. Through such characters, the turmoil of the arms dealer world is shown for all its harshness and for the battlefield it is. Still, there's a lightness to the story telling and an emphasis on loyalty and growth that makes Jormungand palatable.
    The art of Jormungand is grainy, scratching and stark, with a balance of darkness and light that draws you in to study the characters. Expressions are key to understanding the characters of Jormungand and their illustration is gently produced, often with sparing lines and an eye to light pairing with sadness and seriousness. Action scenes flow well and they aren't always focused on the twirl of motion, sometimes focusing on the stillness and caution that proceeds the storm of war. In all, the action and the characters pair beautifully through the use of light and dark, movement and stillness.

    I'd recommend this manga to: those who love action stories with elements of intrigue involving government and criminal groups as well as those interested in the arguments revolving around gun usage, wholesale weapons sales and gun control.

    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.

    Monday, June 24, 2013

    Allergy free Mexican fried rice with chicken recipe

    • 500g chicken breast, diced
    • 1 Massel vegetable ultracube mixed with 3 cups boiling water
    • 2 cups long grain rice 
    • 4 tbsps olive oil
    • 2 cobs of fresh corn, kernels removed
    • 1 red or green capsicum, diced
    • 1 red onion, diced
    • 1 red chilli, chopped
    • 2 tsps ground coriander
    • 1 tsp cayenne pepper 
    • 400g red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
    • 2 fresh tomatoes, diced
    • 1 cup green peas or sliced beans
    • 1-3 tbsps lime juice, to taste
    • Salt and pepper, to taste

    • Rinse the rice under running water.
    • Cook the rice with the vegetable stock for 12-15 minutes.
    • Once the rice is ready, heat a frying pan or wok and add a further 2 tbsps of olive oil.
    • Add the chicken and cook until beginning to brown.
    • Add the capsicum, corn, onion, chilli, coriander and cayenne pepper and sauté until fragrant and the vegetables are starting to soften.
    • Add the cooked rice, kidney beans, fresh tomato and peas or beans.
    • Toss everything together and cook for two minutes.
    • Turn off the heat and pour over the lime juice and toss to combine.
    • Serve with salt and pepper to taste.

    Saturday, June 22, 2013

    Ingredient replacement options for allergy free recipes

    Cow's milk replacements:

    • Goat's milk - contains all that cow's milk does except the fatty acids are more flavourful and the lactose is a different sort. Goat's milk is fairly close to human milk so it is a gentle replacement for kids. Do test in small doses for any response to the lactose. Also, this milk is best for baking and doesn't match very well with cereals or drinks.
    • Rice milk - thin and watery, this can be used for breakfasts and baking but I find it adds no flavour and could as easily be water.
    • Water - the go to replacement for all liquids but a flavour replacement will need to be added somehow.
    • Oat, almond and soy milks - these are made using the main allergens removed from the recipes on this blog but if you happen to be fine with any of these you'll probably do well with adding such milks into your baked goods and maybe even use them for breakfasts as they have nice flavours. Please be aware though, that consuming too much almond or soy milk can either bring about a reaction anyway or may, in the case of soy, tip your hormones out of balance. The level of "too much", which is usually quite a bit, is personal as this would depend on your sensitivity and current hormonal balance.
    • Lactose free cow's milk - if lactose is the problem then this should give you a easy replacement for flavour in baking, for breakfasts and with drinks.
    • Coconut milk - this can be used as a replacement in some drinks, such as hot chocolates and smoothies, as well as baked goods.

    Yeast replacements:
    • Baking powder and baking soda - these don't create bubbles as large as yeast in breads and doughs, meaning the baked good won't rise as much. They also have a bitter taste so use in moderation and also in combination as the soda is more bitter than the powder. If you are fine with gluten then the baking soda and powder will produce bubbles as expected for these products but if you are using gluten free flours in your baking expect even less reaction again. This is because the gluten normally traps the bubbles of steam in the bread etc. while a gluten free alternative won't and the steam escapes altogether. Still any reaction is often better than none and a balance between flavour and reaction can be found.

    Oils replacements:
    • Nut oils - a flavoured olive oil, grape seed oil or flaxseed oil can be used, depending on the flavour desired. Olive oils heat quickly and to high temperatures so always monitor how your food is cooking and adjust the heat accordingly.
    • Soy inclusive oils - these can be replaced with any pure oils but olive oil is a cheap enough all-purpose alternative.

    Tree nuts and sesame seeds replacements:
    • These can be replaced with other sorts of nuts but also seeds like sunflower seeds, poppy seeds or anything else acceptable.
    • Almond meal can be replaced with coconut flour, using quantities as noted on the packet.

    Oyster sauce replacements:
    • Fish sauce or a salt water mixture.

    Soy sauce replacements:

    Shrimp and shellfish replacements:
    • Avoiding dishes where these ingredients are central is best as flavour replacement is hard but if the shrimp or shellfish ingredient is to be used sparingly then a fish or salt water with a pinch of sugar included may be your answer.
    • If only shrimp is to be avoided then langostina tails and lobster might be good replacements.

    Egg replacements:
    • A floury egg replacer. The Orgran version is called No Egg but there's several different egg replacers available, some even claiming to replace the flavour. Test and choose which you prefer and follow their instructions of inclusion. No Egg is 1 tsp = 1 egg. There's no flavour change with its inclusion but when by itself it does taste a little floury after a while, say with meringues. No Egg whips like egg white and so can be used to create small bubbles.
    • A flaxseed and water mix is quite popular with vegans as a flavour replacement but I've not found it to be the right flavour for most situations. Still, if you're trying to produce an egg yolk flavour replacement this might be the option to try.

    Wheat and gluten inclusive flour replacements:
    • Oat, rye and soy flours - often included in replacers but many people are also allergic to these too.
    • Corn flour, yellow pea flour, rice flour and buckwheat flours - the next most popular alternatives and are usually used in combination. These flours can have a bitter taste that requires some compensation but this doesn't have to be with sugar. You can use a flavourful milk or vanilla essence etc. to offset the bitterness.
    • Potato starch - good for creating crispy batters, as is corn flour although corn flour produces a slightly softer batter after frying.
    • Coconut flour - a good replacement for not only flour but almond meal, which is the most common go to for flour replacement. In fact, coconut flour has a finer grain and produces a pudding-like texture all while needing to be used in less quantity for the same recipe. If using it, add the coconut flour a little at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
    • Flaxseed - can be used to replace a wholemeal flour but it is best used in combination with any of the above as the flavour is quite strong.
    • A variety or rarer flours can be used but be sure to taste test for bitterness or flavour matching.
    • You can always mix your own if you can't find the right pre-packed combination of flours.

    Gluten replacements:
    • Agar - this gelling agent can be used as a thickener or gelitin substitute as well as a gluten substitute.
    • Guar gum - this can be used as a thickener like corn flour as well as an emulsifier and stabiliser. 
    • Gluten free gluten - Orgran's brand of gluten replacement. If you don't like this product or can't find it then use the above as required. There are likely other pre-packed multipurpose gluten replacement blends out there so shop around and find your favourite.

    Gelatin replacements:
    • Agar - this gelling agent can be used as a thickener or gelitin substitute as well as a gluten substitute.
    • Pectin - this gelling agent is usually made using vegetable and plant extracts so it suits vegetarians and those avoiding all forms of red meat.

    Alcohol replacements:
    • Essences, extracts and oils - these are highly flavourful and don't always include any alcohol as a base ingredient.
    • If you aren't allergic but shouldn't drink in quantity then using a wine or beer in anything to be thoroughly cooked is usually fine. A tiny bit of alcohol may remain after cooking but most is cooked away to leave the flavour of the alcoholic drink only.

    Fish replacements:
    • As a flavour fish can be replaced with saltwater.
    • As an ingredient fish is difficult to impossible to replace so switching to white meat dishes is recommended.

    Minor allergens (not of the top seven) garlic, capsicum, pepper etc. replacements:
    • These can be replaced with other vegetables of similar flavour or ones suitable for the dish you are making. If you have a problem with garlic but not onion then replace garlic or garlic powder with onion or onion powder. Alternatively, leek has a mild oniony taste, as do chives, shallots and spring onions. The aim doesn't always have to be to find the exact flavour. Instead, use whatever else works well with the remaining ingredients to make your own version of a dish. Few recipes, such as garlic bread or pepper chicken or stuffed capsicums, rely on these ingredients so unless you are eating pre-packed or restaurant cooked food you shouldn't have too many problems.

    Red meat replacements:
    • There aren't many for flavour but eating a suitable amount of white meat or the "red" meat of chickens such as thigh can replace the iron content. For iron, also consider lentils (yellow pea flour will help you consume enough lentils) and legumes.
    • Salted or flavoured chicken can provide the burst of flavour needed when recipes call for bacon or other such meat, although the flavour will be different. It isn't recommended that you consume a lot of salted meat as this will affect your health, particularly your blood pressure and weight.
    • If fish and shellfish is acceptable then switching to a seafood and chicken diet can offer equal variety. Otherwise, when creating variety using white meat only the sauce is often key so stock up on vegetables, flours, milks, stocks, herbs and spices.

    Noodles and spaghetti replacements:
    • There are several corn, buckwheat and rice noodles out there of several brands (including Orgran) so search through health stores, online or in the health section or your supermarket to find some that suit you. I prefer corn noodles but they shouldn't be reheated. If you have a problem with corn the rice noodles can come pre-cooked or dried and work well in stir fries and for spaghetti bases, although they don't have as much flavour. There are also some vegetable flavoured ones being produced although you will need to check what sort of flour is being used.

    Chocolate replacements: 
    • Cocoa beans - these provide a raw chocolate flavour.
    • Cocoa powder - is an easy way to create a chocolate flavour without the added milk, soy or nut allergen worries.
    • Homemade chocolate - can be made from cocoa beans which are ground down until they release their own oils. Adding a little sugar and some spice can make for a tasty treat. While often grainier than store bought chocolate, it is great for mixing into hot chocolates and making other chocolate flavoured baked goods.
    • Chocolate essence - this may suit some recipes for baked goods.
    • If cocoa beans are the root of your chocolate allergy then caramel is often suggested but caramel doesn't taste like chocolate. So, if using caramel, make sure all the other ingredients will match. Also, please note that most caramels are made with cow's milk and possibly even soy.

    Butter or margarine replacements:
    • Vegetable and olive oil spreads like Nuttlex work wonders in cooking and for serving. Only when using butter as an agent to solidify a mixture or to produce puff pastry does any other alternative fail to match up in results, if not taste. With Puff pastry, less steam is produced when other spreads are used, producing less puff. These spreads are likely to be healthier for you though, so for everyday use it is good to switch over.

    Copha replacements:
    • Pure coconut oil is an excellent replacement as this is the main ingredient in copha.

    Friday, June 21, 2013

    Allergy free mini pumpkin dampers recipe

    • 2½ -3 cups mashed butternut pumpkin
    • ⅓ cup goat's milk
    • Basil, sage or thyme, to taste (optional)
    • 2 tsps Orgran No Egg whisked with 60mls water until thick
    • 400g Orgran self-raising flour, more or less may be required

    • Pour the pumpkin mash into a large bowl and fold in the goat's milk and Orgran No Egg mixture.
    • If you’d like, add some basil, sage or thyme.
    • Slowly add the self-raising flour and combine with a spoon to make soft dough.
    • Once the dough closely resembles standard dough, though more sticky, dust your hands and the dough with flour.
    • Take large portions, to make approximately 6 damper rolls, and pat into shape with dusted hands.
    • Gently drop each dough ball onto a greased and floured baking tray.
    • Top with a light drizzle of olive oil. Don't drizzle too much oil over the top as it will pool on the pan and burn the bottom of your damper.
    • Cook at 180°C for 35-45 minutes or until a skewer comes away clean.
    • Cook on the highest possible shelf in the oven to prevent burning.

    Thursday, June 20, 2013

    Allergy free black pepper chicken with honey stir-fry recipe

    • 1 double chicken breast, sliced
    • 2 tbsps cornflour
    • ½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
    • ½ tsp turmeric
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 6 tbsps olive oil, for frying
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced or finely grated
    • 2-5 dried chillies, to taste
    • ½ cinnamon stick
    • 2 shallots, sliced
    • ½ red capsicum, sliced or diced
    • 100g snow peas, sliced
    • 3 tbsps honey
    • 1 tbsp allergy free soy sauce replacer
    • 1 cup chicken stock made from a Massel vegetarian chicken ultracube
    • 3 shallots, minced
    • 1 tbsp tomato sauce
    • 1 tbsp black pepper, freshly ground, to taste

    • Combine the chicken, cornflour, pepper, turmeric and salt in a bowl and set aside for half an hour.
    • In a wok, heat the oil on medium-high.
    • Flash fry the chicken until white yellow, for about 30 seconds a batch.
    • Remove chicken from hot oil with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel.
    • Heat the leftover oil and add the garlic, garlic, chillies and cinnamon and stir fry until fragrant.
    • Return the chicken to the wok along with the shallots, capsicum and snow peas.
    • Pour over the sauce ingredients, cover and bring to a boil.
    • Cook until the chicken pieces are cooked through and the sauce has thickened.

    Wednesday, June 19, 2013

    Is there are war on creativity and the arts?

    This is written solely from my personal perspective, which has some experience in some fields and just hearsay in others. I'd love to hear what others think on this topic too so pitch in. What concerns me is that everywhere I look the arts seem to be running into hard times despite the population increasing and art being produced on a wider scale than ever. Only the world of comics seems to be doing well enough right now, what with movie deals expanding the audience further and copyright still be fairly firmly in the right hands and enforced. Mind you, they're only just coming into play on the Internet so I don't know how long that will last. I'll get back to you on their field if they should go the way of the book industry. Which is always a possibility.

    Fine arts, a.k.a painting and sculpture etc. has become less and less appreciated by the masses while printed photos, either on canvas or off, has become more popular. And I'm not talking about arty photos taken for a single purpose by the one to have it printed, I mean mass produced nothings of things like twigs in various colours. Even printed family portraits would pass as vaguely uninspired but worthwhile. The most appreciation most artists get for their works is a hanging in a show, a very slim chance at a sale (very, very slim), and possibly enough people walking through a showing and appreciating the work to have a known name in a certain area. Whether or not gaining a name leads to more sales is another thing. It seems that the masses still have this idea that art is mostly to be found in glitzy galleries, doesn't make sense and that all artists are pretty well off due to exorbitant pricing. The reverse is reality. Most artists feature in small galleries or nowhere, their art is easily understood and appreciated (although those 200 word descriptions are still demanded by gallery owners when artists just want to write it in one sentence, such as "scene of the back pasture at morning" or "man/woman crying"), and their pricing barely covers the cost of materials and framing.
    What's causing these artists to struggle? The large retailers offering cheap and nasty prints and the lagging and outdated social concept that artists all have it the way a few did in the eighties. Even the Tax office management thought there was money to be gleaned in taxes from artists and insisted all artists fill in tax forms. On finding out most came in at a loss they gave up on such a foolish idea. It is laughable really but on seeing mass produced prints with frames worth hundreds and the print worth $2 in houses and offices all over I just feel like crying for the whole fine arts scene. Artists are losing out on sales and recognition for ignorance, disinterest in individuality and quick sales.

    As you can tell from all of the above, photography is also being undermined by the mass produced prints now sold by the big retailers. For an individual piece, one not to be found anywhere else, you will have to fork out for the artist's time and materials plus a little profit. This does mean a higher price but uniqueness is assured and the photographer's income along with it. For those who produced the mass produced prints, there might be a few dollars to be had but most aren't produced by a single artist creating art but rather someone within a company taking a photo and having the product so digitally enhanced it has little relation to the original work. The artists who do find their works printed have usually already taken some of the most famous photos of our era and do receive some money for their work. Said artists though, are few and very far in between. They are also often employed by or work with newspapers, where they make the bulk of their earnings taking shots of celebs, events and disasters. Photography for photography's sake? Has anyone heard of this being bought and sold en masse anymore? Not really. You have to be in the field to find the clues as to how to be successful and while in the field you see thousands of others producing great works that highlight colour, space, shape, texture, emotions, lines. The competition for recognition is extremely high but recognition doesn't necessarily lead to monetary reward anymore. Although, it might help with getting you a newspaper contract so you can make a living taking less thought out photos of events, disasters and of course, celebs. The best of the best then do take the time to try to infuse a focus on colour, space, shape, texture, emotions and lines into their work, creating those famous photos and securing a little extra pay through the mass production of their work. Why all this struggle on the part of the photographer? Instant, thoughtless gratification on the part of the consumer, a disregard for individuality and personal appreciation and the ever present shadow of big retailers and cheap mass production.

    Music artists are having a tough time of it too. You're probably thinking "not really" or some such with a mind to junk like Bieber or some other toy boy prince, girl power band or glittering in gold rapper. You'd be right in thinking they're bringing in the big bucks quite easily but even they have it rough compared to before. Individuality and creativity do not exist in such fields of music and where it does exist the big bucks are nowhere to be seen. Most musicians nowadays have to walk not only the tightrope of creativity vs earning money but also copyright vs mass reach. To keep one's copyright is to stay small and earn little, which does allow for creative freedom as you're unlikely to get a contract. To have your copyright infringed by all and sundry is to earn more (though not at all what you should be earning) and reach millions but to have your creativity stripped from you for increased sales and an income propped up by product placement and advertising. All because the masses steal music like never before. Sure, music can be free as it is but airwaves free to the ears  and files are just there but the masses continuing to take without paying does mean the entire music industry is facing a financial and creative crisis and all those pesky new programmes and restrictions are created to annoy the consumer who just wants to hit one button to play but has to go through more than necessary. The masses think they have rights to someone else's work but they don't really. Not until those rights are released by the creator. Unfortunately, most people don't see the creator as the one holding said rights but rather an enormous company that won't miss a few dollars anyway. Taking music for free is seen as stealing a single candy from a supermarket filled solely with candy rather than taking a giant slice of someone else's dinner. For those musicians not really deserving of the name as they're more puppets than anything else, dealing little in music and even having their product altered down to the base notes by machines, there seems little harm in stealing from them but consider this: if even these remaining "music stars" disappear the entire music industry as we currently know it will crumble apart. In this, I'm actually not sure if the result would be better or worse for musicians everywhere. Music would naturally have to become more local and creative, shifting back to something closer to what it was pre the music producer boom. But then, most of our collective knowledge about some really fantastic bands would disappear too. Of course, this isn't necessarily the way it would all turn out but I would say it is fairly inevitable that to continue to steal means to slowly destroy the very mass culture you're all wanting to follow by stealing. And along the way you'll destroy many a smaller band who's just making their break.

    What's happening to music is fairly similar to what's happening to movies. If you're at the top then you can afford to produce movies still even though the costs are enormous and the amount of earnings lost seems to be forever growing. To combat lost earnings the movie makers produce what is believed to be desired by the masses, drawing in larger and larger audiences for single films. The upshot of reaching a wider audience per film though, is stripping out all the possibly objectionable aspects and making films less creative or revolutionary than ever. This is why we see the same old story lines over and over, the emphasis on booming soundtracks and flashy fight scenes over unique plots and unconventional characters etc. For the rest of the movie makers it is a struggle to gain funding, to find a wide enough audience or even to get a showing. Indie works have their time and place but they aren't seen often, bring smaller crowds and appear in very few cinemas. The DVDs to follow have to same pattern. The bigger the audience of the original show, the more prints are made in hope that a wide section of the population will want a copy. The smaller the original audience the less likely you are to find a print at all. And then there's things like, it was big enough to be shown in several countries but the estimated audience of a print only sees returns in the original country at best so sales are lost for a lack of subtitles being included or for few sales points. There are so many movies out there that the number would have your head spin. Movie production took of far faster than pretty much any other art form and yet, what can you find in most collections? The same as in everyone else's. The top sellers of the day and some childhood classics. Only the fanatical collectors have combed through enough of the backlog of movies and shows to find original prints or rare B-rated works. And many of these will sell for peanuts and have been damaged for lack of proper care. And I don't even want to consider the stashes held by governments and TV stations that remain locked away from the public for one reason or another but usually neglect. Movies are going the way of music for the same copyright issues, the same mass demands and the lack of appreciation for something completely different.

    And finally books. This is home turf for many of those who come to my site. The world of books is in a mess and non of the authors, critics and publishers seem to know exactly where the industry is headed. Traditional publishing houses are clashing with the newer ebook publishers and big retailers. Indie publishers are losing out to big retailers and traditional publishers that merge. ebook publishers had a boom and are now competing with their own clients as authors begin epublishing on their own to save the costs of the publishing house. Who knows what mess the distributors are in but usually a publishing house is a distributor now so I guess it follows suit that they're in a bad way too. There's a high chance that an author will have to find an overseas publisher if the distributing publishing houses in their home country distribute more than print. The pool of authors seeking the more definite sales from a traditional publisher who's also into distribution is growing enormously, increasing the slush piles of said publishers. This means that more and more publishers are now shutting their doors to submissions. Well, this along with the fact that it is cheaper to distribute the same old hits than to print a new work and take a risk on a new author. Even critics are under fire from 'reviewers' who do little but write "this is crap" or "this is great" under a book on Amazon or such like. Critics have gotten to the point of saying you aren't a critic unless you analyse the work, and likely for a publisher. So where's the line between a critic and a blog reviewer who writes an essay on the book? The mire is large in the book world and it has been created by several factors: new technology, copyright infringement of said new technology, the increasing numbers of authors that is thanks in part to the author mystique and to writing classes and courses, the big retailers emphasising consumer responses and interaction and the price war created by different methods of publishing. Unique writing is being thrown in for formula and expected results from sticking to genre trends and certain writing styles. Big names are ever big while little and new names are drifting into the world of nevermore. There are some publishers looking to change this by seeking out niche markets and different writing but those are few and the competition is high. Indie publishers offer to print more unique works but their distribution is limited and sales as a result. There are probably more aspects to include but to be honest, considering the mess the book industry, my favourite arts industry, is in just makes me want to cry (Quick! Someone paint me!). All the problems of the book industry come down to the consumers wanting cheaper fad books all the time as many saw the possibility of such and began a wide demand for competitive pricing and the slower change of consumers giving up the reading of less popular works for other entertainment pursuits. Fashion, as driven by the less read consumer, has taken a hold of the book publishing industry and the hold is uncomfortably tight. In all, the traditional publishers, the distributors, the ebook publishers, the vanity publishers and the critics are all just responding to consumer trends. The sales that were once eroding solely for entertainment competition are now eroding for internal strife. Unfortunately, the authors are suffering for it and there are more of them than ever, creating a shark pool that's calm on the surface and bloody underneath. Calm for sharing information and bloody for the intense competitiveness that comes with securing a living.

    So with all this, is there a war on creativity and the arts? Well, not officially. It is more that we the people have shot ourselves in the feet and the knees and are progressing upwards. In some ways you could say that big business is to blame for setting trends in the first place but they really just follow sales. If it wasn't for us buying the same old stuff as everyone else in the first place then insisting it be cheaper and possibly (in some cases make that probably) free then we'd not be facing such mindless waffle from out media, the same old mainstream books from the publishers, the horrendous proliferation of Bieberism and such like, all while going home to sit and ignore the prints seen in hundreds or thousands of other houses as they're only really there to fill in space and impress visitors. If we all wanted things to change into something more creative, accessible and varied then we'd better go back to paying our artists and being interested in new sights and thoughts and stories.

    That's it for my ramble for today (I hope it made enough sense). I'm not one to draw a definite conclusion on all this as there isn't even one out there in the big wide world of the arts. We'll all see what happens as it does. But if I lose my books there will be hell to pay. Boredom doesn't suit me.