Thursday, 17 April 2014

Who was the first Italian to Orbit the Moon?

I guess from your blank expressions, Noble Readers, that this question does not compute.

The truth is, until today I had no idea that any Italians had been orbiting the moon. But now I find that there was at least one, and I suspect the first of them will surprise you because he doesn't sound very much like an Italian. Actually, he sounds rather more like a native of a completely different country beginning with "I". Not Iceland, Iran or Iraq, but ... Ireland.

Have you guessed his name yet? I bet you have.

Yes, indeed, it's Michael Collins. The man is seldom mentioned in the same breath as his colleagues Armstrong and Aldrin, but he was pretty key to the success of that Apollo 11 mission, taking care of the mother ship in moon orbit as the other two took their famous lunar excursion. Don't you just hate it when worthy people get overlooked? So let's hear it, this time, for ALL the Apollo 11 astronauts.

But ... what's all this about Michael Collins being Italian?

It's true. Well ... sort of. He was born in Rome, which the last time I looked was in Italy. Although it must be said that his pop was in the U.S. Army, so America can probably claim him after all.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Phantom Bigfoot & The Vampettes from Venus ... by Simon Okill

Welcome to Big Beaver, home of Duane Dexter aka Phantom Bigfoot. Teen superhero, Duane, must get Sheriff Lou and Agent Virgil hitched on orders of the alien Elders. Simple enough! But not for Phantom Bigfoot and Guardian of the forest, who manages to screw things up just when he least expects it.

 And when he least expects it, Duane is rendered helpless as a new menace invades Big Beaver in the shape of a punk band - The Vampettes from Venus. It soon transpires these Vampettes are not your ordinary gals from outa town. Duane and his close friend, MB, know space vampires when they see them.

So Phantom Bigfoot with his trusty sidekick, MB, fight these insidious vampires head on in a free-for-all, no-holds-barred struggle. Will Duane save the day yet again or will these sexy Vampettes drink Big Beaver dry?

 #Teen Humour #Urban Fantasy #Teen Romance #Action/Adventure


Paranormal author Simon Okill lives in a South Wales coastal town with his wife where he is currently writing about the crazy adventures of Phantom Bigfoot and his tribe of Bigfoot Babes. Phantom Bigfoot & The Vampettes from Venus is book #2 of his YA adventure series, Phantom Bigfoot Series, to be followed by Phantom Bigfoot & The Haunted House. Book #1 is already out there - Phantom Bigfoot Strikes Again. Simon has also written two other books, all available on Amazon - Luna Sanguis and Luna Aeturnus, dark Gothic romance set in France 1925 as well as several screenplays.



Moments later Duane and MB tried the front door of the Bruger house. Of course it was locked. They hammered at the door.

Duane turned around sensing trouble and wished he hadn’t. Hovering a few feet above MB like a giant red bat was that raven-haired Vampette with the freaky hairdo, mouth open wide, tongue licking large fangs.

“I am Vampirella. I care not for neither of you fellas,” the Vampette sang her words like that punk rocker Sid Vicious, screeching out the syllables with a high-pitched hiss.

What did she mean she cared not for neither of them? His sixth sense told him she didn’t want their blood because they weren’t virgins. Did that mean they were safe from the Vampette’s fangs? Yeah it would seem so, Duane hoped.

“From somewhere within the deep, you cannot resist the need to sleep,” Vampirella screeched her song.

Duane cautioned himself to be wary. Her singing had made him feel a little hazy. The Vampette was obviously using some kind of insidious mind control on them with her lyrics.

The Vampette drifted towards Duane on her red cape wings and stopped less than a few inches from him, her fangs just a millimeter from his bare neck. Duane’s stomach gurgled with fear but strangely enough he didn’t feel like barfing. He stood his ground.

“Chosen by The Elders you have been. The Guardian of the forest I have seen,” Vampirella sang harshly.

“Go to hell!” Duane said, glancing at MB cowering behind him for protection.

“What does she mean by The Guardian of the forest?” MB asked as if those might be his last words.

Vampirella didn’t reply. She cocked her head then sang, “Vermillia … Venusa … Vixenella … come join me.”

The other three punk Vampettes floated down from the roof under their red cape wings and landed silently before Duane and MB.

“Beau is pure, Beau is sweet, he is our lure, he is our treat,” Vampirella and the other three Vampettes sang like demented sirens.

Duane and MB backed up to the front door and hammered to be let in, both shouting, “Let us in for fuck’s sake. Let us in!”


Simon Says: A Little History on Beer:

Phantom Bigfoot loves his beer and even has an ale named after him.
Cool, eh! The oldest written recipe is for beer, but mine is much more
recent than 4000 BC. The need to make beer kicked off the agricultural
revolution with inventions such as the plow and wheel. So just imagine
what a car would like without beer. Until hops were introduced to beer
makers in UK, herbs and nettles were used for flavour and bitterness,
but the beer would not last and had to be drunk quickly. There’s an Old
Indian Legend that tells us man who drinks too fast falls flat on face.
And did you know beer is good for your health, more so back in the old
days when water was considered poison. There are strong links to
reduced kidney stones, increased intelligence (not for Phantom Bigfoot
though) and stronger bones. And did you know it wasn’t legal to brew
beer in your own home in USA until October 14th 1978. Thank you Jimmy
Carter. And there’s another Old Indian Legend that tells us man who
fishes in boat drinks too much beer and gets hook stuck in thumb. On
that note I’ll end with the term “rule of thumb” which came from
brewers who would stick their thumb in the mash to make sure it was
cool enough to apply the yeast.

How to make Phantom Bigfoot Ale -
Equipment needed - 3 gallon fermenting bin with a lid, hydrometer,
siphon tube with Ubend to stop sucking up sediment, 3x1 gallon plastic
mineral water containers, 24 beer bottles preferably with spring-loaded
ceramic caps or 3 gallon plastic beer barrel, sterilisation powder, 5
gallon beer kit and pack of dried Goldings Hops.
Pour contents of beer kit into sterilised bin and rinse out can with
boiling water. Add more boiling water to dissolve. Meanwhile boil 2
ounces of hops in ultra-clean saucepan with as much water as possible
for half an hour and allow to cool. Strain hop liquid through a sieve
into the bin and add Demerara sugar, top up to three gallons with cold
water and test specific gravity with hydrometer.
Adjust with more sugar if needed to gravity of 1045. Sprinkle dried
yeast from beer kit over liquid, place lid loosely over top to stop
vinegar flies and ferment in an even warm temperature until specific
gravity drops to 1005 or fermentation has slowed.
Siphon beer from bin, leaving sediment, into 3x1 gallon containers and
leave screw caps on loose or they might explode. Place all 3 in a cool
place for one week until clear and firm sediment. Siphon into 3x1
gallon containers add 4 teaspoons of sugar to each and shake well.
Siphon beer into sterilised bottles leaving 2 inches from cap, lock
caps down and leave in cool place, not too cool about 60 F for two
weeks or use a 3 gallon beer barrel.