... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

131: 2012, toe death, REM sleep, xmas, crap, and wall-to-wall other stuff

Let’s keep it short tonight as I have some important sleeping to do.  Each eyelid races the other to be the first to come to a complete shuteyed rest.  Then which eye will start REMing up first.  Don’t know, don’t care; all I know is I want sleep.  More than sleep though, I want to stay asleep for the entire of tomorrow.  No chance of that happening.  “I’ve got to write my stupid blog thing,”  “It’s not stupid Kevin, it’s a very good idea and very important,” “No, it’s stupid”.

I’ll mention Richard Herring’s blog Warming Up possibly for the last time, as it doesn’t do to keep reminding my paltry readership that I’ve copied the idea off someone else.  Anyway, Herring’s blog celebrated its eighth year on 25th Nov 2010 and he began looking forward to 2012 when it reaches its tenth birthday.  To mark the occasion he asked his readers to email him stating where they would like their lives to be on 25th Nov 2012.  He says he will check back to see how people are doing by then.  I decided to email him with my goals; he seems like a jolly nice man, so I thought “ok, let’s”.  My contribution can be found somewhere near the bottom (as KB) here.  You’ll know it’s mine cos it mentions Japan and my blog.  I could ask you what you want to be doing in 2 years time, but it’s probably not advisable to be copying another of Mr. Herring’s ideas.  “In two years time I want to be acting out my own ideas, not appropriating other people’s”.

But for today we’ll all have to settle for my word-count wasting.  My mind is a complete blank.  A blank canvas is a good thing, but a blank mind is a problem.  Waiting for any idea to form; still waiting.  I am breathing heavily.  Had a bewildering array of colds coming and going for at least a month now.  On the verge of a hypochondriac break-down.  Is my immune system compromised?  Is that ache in my toe the same thing that killed Bruce Lee, or was it Bob Marley; I don’t know.  But this is no good; a blank mind was marginally better than a paranoid one.  Let’s go back to empty-headedness and see where we end up.  Most likely right back where we started.  Where we started?  Huh?  I’m also trying not to think too much.  If I do accidentally think I might wake up and that won’t do at all, what with the early start and the arduous day I have ahead of me.  This is one of those not worth reading blog posts; exercise for my fingers and nothing else.  Nothing.  Sorry if you are a regular reader bored shirtless by today’s post; even sorrier if you are a first time reader put off by this...  But you know, it can’t all be gold.  It can’t even all be soil, or dustbin smell, or pube in the soap.  Some of it isn’t even good enough to be called crap.  What’s worse than being crap?  Being boring.  Or being crap and boring.  Just realised I’m typing with one eye fully closed and the other a tiny slit, the screen is completely out of focus and all that good stuff.

Maybe I could create a ‘blog quality’ graph to chart my ups and downs.  Yes that is definitely not a pointless exercise.  Challenge accepted.

P.S. Christmas decorations went up today in our flat :)

Paxman Meets Hitchens: A Newsnight Special

Monday, November 29, 2010

130: "...angry rant gradually slides into ineffectual dreaming of the future," it said.

Def Jam: Rapstar?  This game could make you famous; upload your video online now!  Who comes up with this shit?  Who are these marketing people paid so much to throw together random buzz words to come up with new artless products.  Objects that are simply ‘product’ and nothing else.  Where is the art, the love, the authority, the compassion?  No it’s all sick this and wicked that, or whatever the fuck the imaginary kids, that form the marketing man’s target, say.  When I worked in Ryman Sharpie pens were just something that illustrators and artists knew about.  We all know about Posca pens and uniball and all other pen brands that generate different lines and textures.  Then all of a sudden David fucking Beckham is inexplicably advertising them as fashion accessories; trying to sell them to people with no conceivable use for them.  

Like marketing petrol to fucking cyclists.  Yes it makes cars go, but it’s no fucking good for your bike, is it?  Like Sharpies are great for drawing with, but if you don’t draw and all you ever write is a txtmsg then what fucking good is a high end artist’s marker pen to you.  In Ryman we had a big promotional display of Sharpies; a cardboard structure with Beckham’s smug tattooed millionaire flesh spread down the side of it.  A typical ignorant no-nothing idiot (the kind of person it is impossible to be unfairly judgemental about, because no matter how low your opinion of them is, it is still accurate) looked at Beckham holding his pens, pretending to sign his name on a football, and she said “they are fucking top pens though, aren’t they”.  Yeah, they are, but you need to actually fucking use them to find that out, not just see some whore advertising them as designer label product.

It’s good to finally get that petty matter down in the written word.  Years after the event her obvious seduction by marketing annoys me still.  I have mentioned that story in conversation before but never really feel that things are out of my system until I have written them down.  No I can get on with my life; and two years after I leave my current job I might have begun exorcising the annoyances.  Anyway, I don’t want to become a full time I hate my job bore.  I am doing that in real life so perhaps I should make more of an effort to keep it out of this blog.  When I am not thinking about work I am not bothered by it.  But the second it comes up in discussion or I think about it I get so angry.  If you ever take a moment to really think about war or famine or genocide the only natural and healthy reaction is to be upset and angry.  These are the only reactions I have to thoughts of my job; that is certainly not healthy or natural.

On a positive note, I have planned the structure of my science-fiction novel, and written 863 words.  Not just any 863 words, but 863 words that have amazed me with their depth, width and breadth.  Now all I have to worry about is length.  Once length is sorted I will have a finished novel.  It will spring out of nowhere fully formed and will instantly be published, rising immediately up all the bestseller lists before all the big Hollywood studios are tearing each other’s foyers out for the movie rights.  The film, being true to the book, will be a critical and commercial success and I will be respected, admired and comfortably well-off.  And balance will be restored to the world (in my favour).

So for anyone keeping a tally I now have two novels sketched vaguely in plot/structure, a comedy/drama radio monologue half written, a sit-com idea developed from my dad’s working life, and some other ideas too unformed to bear mentioning.  All I need now is for those eggheads and boffins in the laboratories to medicalise my condition –laziness – perhaps calling it dysactivia, and formulate a handy over-the-counter pill or unguent to cure it.  All I want is reward without effort; is that too much to ask?

129: corrugated fibreboard and Kraftwerk

At work yesterday whilst hoovering some tedious rock song came on the sound system; not something I would usually even notice, but this pricked up my ears.  What is it, I thought; sounds familiar.  I have no idea who it was and stupidly didn’t think to ask anyone.  It was one of those terrifically tedious Coldplay-types I think.  The reason it sounded familiar was I instantly recognised it as a Kraftwerk rip off.  It took a few moments to place the song but I think it was Neon Lights off The Man Machine album.  The main synth melody from Neon Lights was repeated almost exactly the same over and over again in this mystery song.  But what was it?  Please help!  I just skim listened to Viva La Vida by Coldplay.  Not as entirely unpleasant as I expected; in fact I would go as far to say that it might be quite good if it didn’t have that fucking horrible singing on it.

After a bit of googling ‘Kraftwerk plagiarised’ I’ve discovered Coldplay did have trouble with another crappy song called Talk.  This is clearly ripped off Computer Love from Computer World.  I think this may be old news, and my inability to distinguish to completely different songs by one of my all time favourite bands says so much about my musical ear.  I need to get out more if this is the most interesting thing I can think to write about.  I should be living hand to mouth and tooth and claw, not home to bed and tea and slippers; wrenching every last drip of passion and gore from every fleeting moment of existence, tearing it (and other unspecified entities) up.  Instead I plod along ineffectually drifting, so much anger aimed in no particular direction, just floating without even the poetic allusions of clouds and dreams.  Just a solid but small lump of drudge.  If my life were to become visual form it may resemble a handful of matter scraped from the bottom of the canal; or it may resemble a medium sized 0.010 inch thick corrugated fibreboard box; or it may resemble a blank stare.

But I still can’t shake the feeling that it might not be that particular Coldplay song and that particular Kraftwerk song.  And also fuck you spellchecker for telling me Kraftwerk is not a word but Coldplay is; get your priorities right; ‘craftwork’ indeed!  Just wasted an hour reading about Stockhausen and Elektronishe Musik and a bunch of other related stuff on Wikipedia, whilst listening to similar sounds on spotify.  All I’ve achieved is a moment of elation upon realising that Pretty Hate Machine by Nine Inch Nails is finally on spotify.  Plus I’ve read a bit about Philip K Dick and his mentally ill writer stereotypings.  Then my girlfriend clearly said the word ‘substance’ in her sleep.  And I’m one stage from picking up the nearest object with writing on it and just copying verbatim.  Other ingredients: The cream also contains glycerol, glycerol monostearate, cetostearyl alcohol, beeswax substitute 6621, Arlacel 165, dimeticone 20, chlorocresol, sodium citrate, citric acid and purified water.  Directions: Apply to the skin as directed by your doctor.  Read the leaflet before use.  For external use only.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

128: boring different idiots and space tomorrow sleep

The weekly unwanted dose of X-Factor is becoming more and more unbearable.  Will it ever end?  But today’s blog is not about that thinly spreaded boredom-fest.  Not just because it’s boring, but mainly because I haven’t decided what to write about yet.  It’s not going to be gold as I’m not concentrating.  While writing this I’m listening to the Collings and Herrin Podcast (141) in the earphones which makes it almost impossible to think about anything else.  Collins is speaking about funerals, and Herring is talking about fucking turkey cloacae.  I’m not interested in talking about either of these things, and even less interested in... oh fuck I have to pause it, I cannot write with this nonsense going on.  It’s like sitting between two different kinds of idiots, and trying to meditate, as they play squash and re-enact Prime Minster’s Questions.

Today I am mostly annoyed I cannot get down to Blank Space, roll my sleeves up, open a beer and get stuck in with the clean-up and the set-up.  I feel strongly that I should be involved, and the less time I spend there the more I am missing out on.  The unpleasant lumpen obstacle of work is blocking my path toward inclusion in the Great Blank Space Turnaround.  Soon this unloved storage space will be a crisp hub of creativity, and I should be taking my spot on the podium alongside my fellow Blank Page/Media art botherers.  As it is I can only look at the pictures on facebook, and read the news feed on the Blank Media Collective website. 

Mark and the rest of the Collective (well some of them) will be down at the space tomorrow, and I can’t join them because financial constraints compel me to spend the day running around after self-satisfied middle class mums and there shitty little kids who don’t get told to cover their mouth when they cough.  For minimum wage.  And with only a 30 minute break in an 11 hour shift, which the boss has the delusional megalomania to try to reduce to a 20 minute break.  I’m not happy; but life could be worse.  I could be a member of an enslaved alien race, uneducated about my culture and cut off from my family, forced into a life of drudgery for no thanks and no reward.  Actually no, I am all those things, except perhaps the alien thing (assuming you don’t buy into the theory of panspermia).

I keep trying to read Foundation by Isaac Asimov but just as I open the pages sleep takes me as her bitch.  By the time the next day arise and I reattempt the read my mind is vacant of all it absorbed in the previous session and I must begin again.  I also need some time to write something that isn’t the blog (how can I be a professional writer if I haven’t got a product to sell?), and I need time to put in my fair share of Blank Space work.  Forget about donating to charity; donate to me, time or money.  Thanks in advance.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

127: sf, slavery and sleepily

So how do I get published?  First surely I must write something worth publishing.  I’ve been reading a lot of science fiction recently and it’s definitely a literary genre with a mass of potential.  Fantasy and reality complement each other to create a unique exciting o scary world that should be routed in what might scientifically be possible (or if it’s impossible it must be internally consistent).  And in the course of my feverish childlike research I’ve discovered that sci-fi is a derogatory term for science fiction pulp trash literature.  The respectful term for science fiction literature literature is sf.  SF is where the good stuff is to be found.  Luckily for novices like me some bright spark has had the idea of putting together the sf masterworks series of books.  I recon I could make a bloody good shot at writing and getting published a sf novel.

The best science fiction is set in the future but is really about the time we live in today; it uses its future setting as a kind of reductio ad absurdum.  My favourite film of the moment is Wall-E; everything about this film is perfect, but I won’t go on about it right now.  However it is clearly showing a possible future extrapolated from caricatured aspects of contemporary life (waste, pollution, selfishness, self-absorption) and uses science fiction trappings to tell a moving story (robots reminding humans how to live and love).  In my opinion Wall-E is successful as animation, sound art, drama, literature and science fiction.  It also, like Red Dwarf, has no aliens and a massive ship drifting in space but I digress.

Ideas are formulating and have been for some time, and they are just starting to bear fruit (genetically modified future fruit).  Two of my favourite non-science fiction books are slave narratives written by freed or escaped American slaves.  These wonderful, awful books are Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs, and Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass.  The format provides me with a historical template to use in my slowly forming sf universe.  One of slavery, oppression, suppression, trade, genocide, abolition, Universal Declaration of Rights, and continued modern slavery under different forms, names and in faraway lands... in space.  It gives me the scope to address vitally important issues such as communities recovering from past enslavement, child soldiers in Africa, enslaved women in the Islamic world, debt slaves in Asia and human trafficking (especially into the West where slavery is supposed to have been eradicated).  The wide range of subjects also allows a framework to build a wide setting of space and time in which events happen.  If treated sensitively, and if I am successful in writing a story of the quality I think I can manage, I may even do some good for the world (raise a bit of money for charity...).  Also the sf setting means I can let my imagination run away and keep the story entertaining instead of preachy.  And if I feel like it I could forge ahead into a future utopia free from slavery.

Meanwhile a running theme returns:  I’m too tired to do write anymore.  I literally have forgotten the start of a sentence by the time I am half way through.  That last paragraph about science fiction and slavery was probably an embarrassingly illiterate babble, but even if I haven’t communicated it properly the idea is solid.  I have written what could either be a stand-alone prologue, or the start of an opening chapter.  It’s been redrafted, pored over and read multiple times (all by me), and the verdict is in: the idea holds promise and what I have written so far is excellent.  The odd sentence needs a tweak, but all in all it is fluid prose, mature, establishes a literary style, and provides a hook.

Pass me Foundation by Isaac Asimov, or my notebook, and I’ll get reading or writing as sleep draws in.  Stop.

Friday, November 26, 2010

126: stupid twat and positive steps

I’m wasting my time looking for apprenticeships in carpentry and library assistant jobs and all sorts of other ways to earn money that are mildly less soul-raping than the service/retail/customer service things I’ve been doing.  Apparently to become an apprentice carpenter you need previous industrial arts training or experience, and to become a librarian you need a post graduate degree in information management (I honest can’t fucking believe that; it deserves exclamation marks!).  The other way into becoming a librarian supposedly is to become an assistant librarian and work your way up... However a quick look at the job requirements for an assistant librarian job at MMU in Didsbury specifies degree or post-grad in information management as essential.  So what the fuck is going on there?  I don’t even want to be a librarian, but Christ in a fucking wheelbarrow why is it so hard to find any jobs that aren’t sales.  It’s my own fault for wasting the decade after leaving school; what a stupid twat.

Now I’ve actually decided I want to be a writer, after all these years of indecision, time-wasting and procrastinating, I need to stop distracting myself by applying for jobs I have no chance in getting simply out of a desperate clinging hope that I can get away from customers.  This effort needs to be put into finishing the stories I am writing and working out what the deal is with agents and publishers; then get started on whatever it is that needs doing.  I need to be writing freelance articles about whatever and whenever and finding out how to target them at magazines, periodicals and ... I dunno, Reader’s Digest?  Whatever it is that starving writers do nowadays to buy stale bread, mouldy cheese, rolling tobacco and coffee. 

How can I stop myself from putting so much effort into hating my day job?  It’s a way to pay the bills and nothing more, but I seem to increasing spend time and energy waving a stick at it in impotent and misguided rage.  I should be walking out of the door and immediately forgetting about it, then spending my time as a professional freelance writer.  Even though I make no money from writing I show my dedication from this here blog, I am taking my first tentative steps as a fiction editor for a magazine, and I know what my goals are.  The nagging negative annoyance in my noggin keeps reminding me I should have been at this stage eight years ago, but there is nothing I can do about that now.  I can change the future, but I can only rewrite the past.

I really don’t know how to make money as a writer.  The internet is just full of ‘freelance researcher’ jobs, which basically means being paid pennies to write academic essays for the idiot spawn of rich parents.  I have quite a few piles of magazines; perhaps I should look through them considering content and style, contact the relevant editors asking if they accept unsolicited freelance contributions, pitch some articles or just write some and send them in.  Might be a start?  And at least it’d be good practice and a positive step.  It might also turn out that we are all living in one of those weird upside-down alternate universes where good things happen: I publish some articles, get more work, build my CV and contacts list, get more work, and before I know it I’m well paid, happy, successful and producing excellent work.  But then I’d have nothing to moan about and it’d be downhill from there on in.  (Note to self: moaning is not interesting.)

The only thing holding me back from becoming a professional writer is a less than ideal work ethic.  I spent most of my life learning how to skive and do as little work as possible, and habits like that are fucking hard to break.  That’s what this blog is about.  When I first blatantly stole the idea of doing a daily blog (from Richard Herring, whose blog Warming Up celebrates its eighth birthday today) I was initially tempted by laziness.  I thought doing it everyday would be impossible, I was so sure of my own inability to succeed.  I thought maybe three posts a week would be almost achievable, but the reality is if I had gone down that route each week I would be hurriedly writing up three shitty posts at midnight on Sunday.  But if I had to do it every day without fail there would be no putting it off until a later date.  Every day is the first day of the assignment and the deadline; it’s quite exciting.  It has become a comfort and a thrill.  Even on days when I moan about having to do it I still complete it.  Every day I complete it despite not wanting to, I become a better writer and a more mature boy.  Possibly.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

125: Penguins, Deathly Hallows and the petty distractions

Just got back from watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, and it was good but if I’m honest I didn’t enjoy it as much as the film of the Half Blood Prince.  The changes made from the book all made perfect sense considering the necessity to condense and the transition from written to visual media, but all things considered it wasn’t quite as exciting or emotional.  The books were the exact opposite with Deathly Hallows being clearly superior of the two.  It is much more story driven and focused with all the intrigue and war manoeuvrings accumulating and culminating.  I guess because the book has been split into two films we will get all the excitement and release in the final film.  (Note to my mates:  I am about to reveal myself as more of a geek than any of you perhaps imagined.)  The opening is bound to be incredible given that Harry, Ron and Hermione are soon to break into Gringotts to steal Voldemort’s Horcrux from the LeStrange vault.  From there on in it can only get better culminating in all out wizarding war and the Battle of Hogwarts.

I think the main reason I didn’t fully enjoy watching the Deathly Hallows tonight was that the house lights in the cinema were not fully extinguished.  They remained at a low level but noticeable in the corner of my eye.  This was massively distracting and prevented me fully suspending my disbelief.  Despite Ron Weasley continually playing with his Deluminator the house lights remained on.  I seem to remember when watching the Half Blood Prince the cinema was plunged into an oppressive choking darkness making the on-screen action the entirety of experience; no stupid little glowing bulbs at the outskirts of vision.  Why the cinema wasn’t in total darkness today I do not know.  It was my first visit to Vue in Lancaster; I watched the last one at the cinema in Parrs Wood, Didsbury.  Perhaps it is some health and safety based paranoia that keeps the low lights on; perhaps it is a forgetful, lazy and inconsiderate attendant.  Either way it is amazing how such a minor detail can affect one’s perception of events.

For years and years I couldn’t eat breakfast cereal because I had once found a hair in my bowl.  The hair was a long one (not short and curly) and mixed in with the milk and cereal.  It pressed across my tongue like a cheese wire, and for years afterwards when I thought of cereal I felt the cringe of the hair against my tongue and pictured the cheese wire.
I once tried to watch March of the Penguins, an American-made ‘documentary’ with extremely high-quality camera work.  Apparently good documentaries are so rare in the USA that when they make one they have to get all self-congratulatory and stick it in the cinemas.  We here in the UK are blessed with David Attenborough and the BBC and so are used to amazing documentaries.  As a result we know how to do them; as well as amazing visuals you also need to convey important accurate information about the actual lives of the animals being shown.  The makers of March of the Penguins didn’t give a shit about factual accuracy or naturalist realism; they thought fuck it, let’s turn reality into a made up story where everything is anthropomorphic and all the little penguins are good Christians, and if you have faith you don’t need knowledge and fuck off you fucking fucks, you ruined it with your stupid little script.

There’s more examples out there somewhere but my brain is in the off position.  Night.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

124: Musik, essen und the Lazarus taxon

I didn’t make it through a full day at work today.  Turned up late due to a sudden vomiting attack, and when staring into the sink at the remnants of cheese and mushroom from last night’s pizza I should have cut my losses and phoned in sick.  Instead I braved it and spent the entire time aching, retching and producing stinking burps.  Fortunately it was quiet and I was able to go home to bed, where I drank plenty of water and eventually managed some soup and some crunchy roast corn snacks.  I bought some frozen salt and pepper chicken wings on the off-chance I would want to eat, but was disappointed to find I had accidentally got Chinese flavoured legs and thighs.  That will not do.

 And what exactly is ‘Chinese flavour’?  I’ve had Chinese food before and it has more than one flavour to it.  In fact the umbrella-term ‘Chinese food’ includes more than one type of food.  There is rice and noodles and many different sauces and meats.  And that’s just the sort of Chinese food available in England.  In China they have scorpions and toads and fertilised duck eggs too.  To conclude: whoever is charged with authoring product descriptions for Co-op supermarket is guilty of cultural reductionism and obfuscation.

Chinese flavoured food

 So from my temporary sickbed I have little to report, except that it has a satisfactory comfort level enabling me to make regular transitions into somnia.  It is flanked by a towering Babel of books and looked upon by the world’s window aka the internet.  It’s a pretty safe and sound situ for one to stay and rest.  It’s also the kind of place where I make obsessive-compulsive decisions like writing a daily blog, and my most recent one, to listen to all 1001 so-called Albums to Hear before You Die.  This has the painful inference of having to endure extremely awful ‘really important’ music like OK Computer, Robbie Williams and System of a Down.  But I will undoubtedly find some good stuff amongst the generic stuff you are supposed to like.

Tomorrow I will rise like Lazarus, like Christ, like the Coelacanth, like Obi-Wan Kenobi, like Dumbledore and Harry Potter, like The Terminator, like a zombie with undamaged brain.  I will rise from my bed and go visit my family taking time out to go and see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. It’s going to be legen-wait for it-dary.  Yes, cynical, moaning, grumpy, serious, old before my time me is excited as a school girl about the new movie.  Perhaps not in the same way as a school girl but you know what I mean.  (Who are you anyway?)

Latimeria chalumnae

 Despite the ever present threat of headache re-emerging I have decided to go ahead and stick those earphones in my waxy holes and pump Deutsche Elektronische Musik directly behind my face.  The cavities of my cranium are choc-full of Can, Kollektiv und Amon Düül II.  And there is plenty more where they came from.  The opener to the album, Aspectacle by Can, amazed me by its similarity to Squarepusher’s frikkin auwsum elbum Music is Rotted One Note.  But hell these are long songs; not sure how much more I can take.... just.... one.... more.....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

123: brain injury, 1234, and '..........'

Number 123; the second in a series of consecutively numbered blogs.  The first was number 12 which was about, well very little really and definitely not worth going back to.  In fact 12 was so uninspired I gave it the grand title of “.............”  That was on the 4th of August.  The third in the series will of course be number 1234, which will occur in 1111 days, or 3 years and 15 days, on Sunday 8th December 2013.  I will be 31 pushing 32, and things will be different.

It will be a futurist haven of paid bills and holidays and working from home and initiating profitable creative projects.  But there is one thing that will certainly be the same; I will still be writing this blog... assuming I survive the coming apocalypse in 2012.  You know, the apocalypse that will definitely happen because the Mayan calendar ends then.  It’s unimportant that the Mayans knew almost nothing about the universe compared to what we know today, and that the end of other calendars isn’t often said to foretell the destruction of anything (except perhaps the calendar itself when it is chucked in the bin).

Apocalypse aside and ignoring the chance that I may personally encounter tragedy (such as being hit through the brain by a stray javelin, falling under a bus and being rendered comatose, or succumbing to sudden onset motor neurone disease) I will still be typing away at this unending project.  I will certainly have shelled out for a futurier computing device, and said futury binary interface may respond to me verbally or even mentally.  I could be walking down the street wearing an ocular implant wired into my frontal cortex and just think ‘blog’ and my thoughts are transcribed and posted automatically.  I could wear it in my sleep and keep a record of the dark places I go during the wee small hours.

Well here I go, here I go, here I here I go go.  To sleep. Yo, are you ready for me yet.  Yes I am; I’m ready for sleep.  And in 1111 days I can look back at blog post number 123 and say “the second was number 123 which was about, well very little really and definetly not worth going back to...”  Then I will write a little bit about how number 123 wasn’t up to much.  I’ll follow that up by looking forward to blog post number 12,345, which will occur in 12,222 days from now, or 33 years five months and seven days, on Tuesday 17th May 2044.  I will be 62 and a bit, and things will be different...

It will be a futuristic land of...  thanks to timeanddate.com

Sunday, November 21, 2010

122: stuck in a loop, Dr Jones and sighing

I’m rewatching Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark for its friendly familiar action-adventure hospitality and its ridiculously long title.  I wish I had Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls (I think is its name) as I have only seen it once.  I didn’t buy into the criticism that the whole inter-dimensional aliens thing was too far out and unbelievable; compared with the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail it’s pretty much on the same sort of level.  And surviving a nuclear explosion by hiding in a fridge might be impossible (but it might not be too); then again surviving a fall from an aeroplane by sitting in a rubber dingy is unlikely to say the least.

But isn’t this what Sundays are for; for sitting in a centrally heated cocoon recovering from an unforgiving and ungrateful working week, dreading tomorrow’s inevitable return to a world where individuality is suppressed and basic human dignity is denied.  The obvious answer is no; a resounding and undeniable NO.  A weekend is called a weekend for a reason.  It was named so by humans, and it is the time when humans’ working week is at an end.  The two days when workers get to spend their free time with other workers in a mass communal break from the shit we ordeal from our bosses and our customers.  The weekend is not a time to work.

Our ancestors fought and died for our right to share a weekend rest period with our friends and family.  Well, they probably did; I don’t actually know, but that’s the sort of thing people say isn’t it.  People fought and died for all sorts of things we take for granted and fail to appreciate: the right to vote, the right to live in peace, the right to freedom of thought and expression, the right to work and be paid for it, and the right to a weekend.  And the more we take them for granted the more we forget their importance, and the more we risk losing them.  Do not forget to value your free time, or someone may come along and take it from you; as you weren’t giving it its proper value you’ll barely notice it until it’s gone.  Perhaps better advise is do anything you can to avoid working in the service, retail or customer care industries.  They will chew you up for minimum wage with little regard for your personality, happiness or freedom.

This is a message to myself as someone stuck in a loop of customer service jobs I despise and haunted by the daunting thought that I may never achieve any of my personal career goals; to make a living being creative, to enjoy my job so it isn’t work, and to be happy in all areas of my life.  I know that people achieve these goals; I’ve seen them on TV and read about them in books.  Successful scientists, artists, writers, entrepreneurs: all these people are leading satisfying lives, and have the advantage of knowing where they are going and what they are doing.  Never am I more unsure that happiness exists in my future than when I remember what I do for a living and the pointless way I spend my working day.

Sigh and a massive shrug stretching infinite astronomical units through subspace from here to the delta quadrant and beyond where perhaps might lie a job worth doing.  A job with weekends free to spend eating sausages and drinking Glühwein mit Schuss at the German Christmas market, having a jolly nice walk, and celebrating life in all the best ways.  Anyway this ramble has gone on too long.  Kevin, pull yourself together.

121: 121. diarries, 121, and ante meridiem

Argh god it’s happened again; I have forgotten what I was going to write about.  It’s 2:07am and I have returned home, a little drunk and extremely tired, planning my blog as the taxi ride progressed.  But now sat before the laptop, keyboard poised for a-tapping, completely empty headed.  I am not lying one iota when I say the introductory wordplay I had composed was beautiful; but what was it?  Fuck knows.  Does he?  Yes, fuck does.

Note to self: must Dictaphone good ideas; become free from self-conscious thoughts of exposing myself to ridicule.  Perhaps I have already displayed a significant sliver of my psychology before the sparse spread of my readership. P’raps not.  I cannot tell you whether my daily daubs have been enlightening or idiotic; I may have a degree of sophisticated self-analytical subtlety to my scribbles, but one could equally derive consistent boredom from my persistent drivel and daily social-networked unwarranted subscriptions.  < That was one of those sentences that I have forgotten the meaning of by the time I have reached the inevitable uncomfortable dénouement.

time TIME time time Time ;;; and it’s now 02:23, that is in the AM, the ante meridiem as I know you prefer.  Yes, I am speaking drivel about nothing; this sentence is about nothing.  And this sentence is about the time; it is late.  This sentence says I am tired; I am tired.

So what have I said in these last 121 days, and what could an annoying psychologist learn about my squidgy sub-cortext (if such a thing exists)?  I like stuff, but I moan about lots of other stuff.  I write tired and am incapable of discussing anything in depth, except a minor surface scratch of the beauteous wonder of the Apollo project.  But would a psychologist make a deal from my moon landings obsession that briefly consumed my thoughts last month.

It’s very odd to have such a record of my daily thoughts, and even odder to read through it and then write self satisfied congratulatory wanks about them.  So that is me, the writing twat and the twatting wanker.  My daily thoughts have yet to progress beyond delusions of an audience.  Like when a child writes a diary they imagine is an important insight into modern life; writing with the idea of future publication.  As if any diary written by any old spotty-bollocked twerp can be Anne Frank, Kenneth Williams or Samuel Pepys.  Well mine already is, and I know this because I is and am very specials, says my mummy.

So even after all this amble and ramble and preamble I still have no idea what I originally intended to write.... What was it?  I don’t know, but when you read this shite please laugh loudly as though I have just said something hilizzariously funizzle.  Then all the readers standing around in the library and the librizzary will be of the jealous and wants to reads me.  I dunno; tired; sleep; t’end.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

120: duh-duh-duh, ta-dah! and la-la-lahs

As this relaxing evening has progressed I’ve had loads of really good blogging ideas, but the sofa has been too comfortable, the kettle has boiled and the television has grown and gotten louder.  As a result all my good ideas have disappeared out of the vent in the back of my head and are now floating on the ceiling with the moths and the cheese mites.  I wanted to write something about the Children in Need Eastenders/Coronation Street crossover (or mash-up if you prefer), but I have forgotten both the crux of my point and the comedic thread I was to weave.  Now the best I can offer is that it was really, really fucking funny.  I should have written this post back when my synapses still communicated as a group.  Now the merely offer noncommittal grunts to one another.

I then began mental formulation for a post about the spectacular Leonard Cohen concert on BBC Four that is just winding up.  It was about six songs into the show before an instrument was repeated in a solo.  Mandolin, Hammond organ, clarinet, electric piano, marimba, saxophone, twelve-string.  I was lost in one of those I wish I was good at music reveries.  But I’m not.  Sometimes the music is in my head, but I cannot bring it into the outside.  Sometimes I try to dance or even just to tap my foot, but my movements are embarrassingly wooden and the rhythms they produce are out of sync.  I twitch in an ungainly fashion before giving it up for the hopelessly demeaning ordeal it is. 

On rare occasions I can recall a tune, but usually I couldn’t conjure a mental image of a song I have loved for twenty years and listened to four hundred thousand times.  And don’t ask me to sing it to you even if I do remember it.  How does it go?  I have no idea, but it had this bit in it I like with like a violin going duh-duh-duh.  It was a song by Elbow on the radio this morning.  I had no idea I liked this band, and the song was boring along in the background until the duh-duh-duh bit started and all of a sudden my morning was worth living through; ta-dah!

And then I done a blog about stuff and I done write it all by myself.  And then I done watched more of Mr. Cohen croaking his songs with the band of musicians and the three ladies with the nice singing voices.  And I liked the music so I enjoyed it and tapped my feet and tried to sing the bits where I knew the words, and didn’t sing the bits where I didn’t know the words, but sometimes I hummed and did la-la-lahs.  Mr Leonard Cohen sang the words off of the beats and played with the rhythms so it was sounding different to on the albums and this done make it harder for me to sing along but I tried to anyhow; ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there is a crack, a crack in everything... it’s how the light gets in.  And then he did sing Hallelujah which is a very famous song, but I bet I still can’t remember the tune.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

119: McKeith, Palin and other unpleasant feelings

Yesterday I felt the uncomfortable feeling of an urge to watch I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!  It was an unpleasant sticky feeling, like sitting down on the bus without first looking, only to discover a patch of vomit soaking through ones trousers.  Wanting to watch I’m a Celebrity is a disgusting perverse feeling I hope I never feel again; otherwise how will I be able to look my reflection in the eyes?  That said, I now present my excuses to you:  

I received word, through the bollocks that passes for news on yahoo and the other internets, that wretched sub-human Gillian McKeith is locked in the stocks being pelted with shit and rocks by a robust public.  She is a despicable bullshitter (note to libel lawyers: Gillian McKeith is not a liar.  Aside: she is) who pretends to be a doctor in order to turn good advice (eat more vegetables) into a combination of commerce and anti-science.  The world would be a better place if she wasn’t in it.  She stupidifies the public in order to line her pockets and expects to be treated like a messiah.  In return the public is torturing her by texting in their votes.  We want to see the poo-poking shrew slapped about by rats and force-fed snake foetuses (or whatever).

The only thing that prevented me from actually watching any of I’m a Celebrity is the horrific thought of actually having to look at her face or, god forbid, hear her speak.  What a stomach wrenching thought, and one I don’t want to repeat.  I’m sure given time and encouragement I could manage to escape a box of rats or eat a spider, but I honestly couldn’t handle the skin-crawling unholy combination of Gillian McKeith’s face and voice.  Add to that her opinions on anything and I would rather drink diarrhoea through a straw and be shot in the face.  She has to be the worst woman alive in the popular media today, with the possible exception of Sarah Palin, the creepy megalomaniac masquerading as a quiet lil’ mom.

One day I may pull myself together and build up the necessary intestinal fortitude required in order to look at McKeith.  If that does happen I will use the power to watch her on YouTube being humiliated by bush tucker trials.  A terrible thought crosses my mind; by the time I watch Smelly Poo McKeith on YouTube, America may have had its first female president.  Gak! Perish the thought.  Fucking hell; god help us.  Where is John Wilkes Booth when you need him?  (note to threatening language lawyers: Sarah Palin would not benefit from assassination.  Aside: everyone else might...)

The Sound and the Fury: Great article about Sarah Palin from Vanity Fair here.
What’s wrong with Dr Gillian McKeith? By Ben Goldacre here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

118: green tea and extremophiles

Conundrum: green tea or wine?  Solution: both.

Still no luck on recovering my photos of the Frankophilia! exhibition, but never mind as other people’s pictures are popping up all over FaceBook.  Perhaps ‘all over’ is an overstatement, but there are a few in the Frankophilia! group.  I’ll get permission from some of the photographers to use their pictures, before posting them on here.  And in the meantime I’d better change the subject away from Frank Sidebottom, before I become a Sidie bore (unless of course that has already happened).

Anyhoo, on to other matters; whatever they may be.  Hmmm, what to write about?  Got personal family stuff going around in my head that I can’t talk about here, and work issues that I don’t want to moan about.  And ruling out those two options that leaves me with an entirely empty head.  Where my brain should be is only a dank cave, hostile to human life, and inhabited only be extremophile bacteria sitting in a pool of sulphuric acid.  The inside of my skull is the only place on earth where sulphuric acid is naturally found pure and as such my head is a valuable commodity in the chemical industry.

And after that half-hearted digression into forced surrealism, I return to the point of having little to say.  Although I have just received news from two of the Frankophilia! photographers that I can use some of their pictures, I’ll leave that until tomorrow.  I don’t have the energy or the concentration to start fiddling with photos and links, and if I pull myself together and do it I’ll forget to go to sleep.

What I could/should/will do is write myself a to-do list of all the writing projects I have begun but not finished.  Scripts, radio plays, novels, short stories, genre fiction, articles and all the rest.  Get all those together; prioritise them based on opportunities already arisen and likelihood of future success.  Then decide what my targets are in terms of publication, contacts, etc, and then get down to some serious work.  It’s true that this blog has helped me massively, but I definitely need to focus.  Just doing the blog every day might not pay for a wedding and a house and a trip to the moon.

Right that’s enough; bedtime.  Pretty boring blog today.  If you want to complain please write a letter to the management.  Thank you.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

117: pumpkins, giggles, and the Robins...

Just come back from the Frankophila! exhibition opener, and it was one of the oddest rooms I have ever been in.  The walls covered in the same big-eyed round face rendered variously on t-shirts and digital prints, pencilled on scraps of paper, and painted on canvas.  TV screens showed the same face cavorting on stage with a microphone, or walking down Timperley streets with a megaphone.  The floor was littered with big round-headed scarecrows and Guys, and a pumpkin cut into the same odd face quickly rotted on a plinth, oozing juice through the cling film and across the surface.

A big fat Frank in customary red and black gave all the big thumbs up and posed for photos.  The guest book filled up with positive comments this is great, you know it is, it really is.  A Santa hat had been cunningly converted into a Frank fairy which sat atop a Christmas tree sparsely decorated with Oxo cubes.  There were clay, bronze and papier mache sculptures of the amusing head, and a set of Russian dolls decorated with that same face.

In every direction the eyes could not avoid falling on the bizarre face of Frank Sidebottom; a very confusing effect.  It seemed to bring about the gradual onset of absurd giggles, and caused middle-aged men to get excited and young children to be unsettled.  Photographers prowled around like hunters unintimidated by their prey; circling around and around, making repeated visits to the same spot.  And I kept a sly eye out for people looking at my painting and two drawings.

Everyone was there to pay tribute to Chris Sievey (25/8/55-21/7/10), the eponymous hero Frank Sidebottom, and to enjoy a bit of art firmly in Sidie’s tradition:  very close to being ‘proper Art’, but primarily concerned with making people laugh.

I took some pictures on what I thought was my only functioning camera, a lightweight Tesco own-brand.  I could see the quality of the snaps was going to be seriously low but even worse, I’ve just tried to upload them and keep getting a bloody error message from it.  I’ve tried USB and putting the card in the reader but no dice.  Drat.  As far as art exhibition openers go it was a bloody good turnout; a gallery full of oddballs and chatting and joking.  It clearly wasn’t just the free booze that had drawn this crowd.

One of the main benefits of this event is hopefully to raise some money for the Frank Sidebottom statue fund: Timperley needs a Sidie statue.  So join the campaign: here for the facebook group, here for the website, and here to download Gemma Woods' brilliant poster in pdf.

I'll try and get my photos out of that accursed cheapo camera somehow, and as soon as I do they'll be up here for all and sundry to stare at in all their fuzzy, under-lit wonder.

Anyway, in summation: totally brilliant exhibition.  Partly because it's Frank-themed and partly because it's a room full of weird objects you wouldn't normally encounter.  Go see it; I command you...  And if you saw it tonight; I commend you.



17 Nov - 18 Dec 2010 (Wed to Sat, 12-5pm)

Chapman Gallery, free admission!

Earlier this year, fans responded to the sad news of the death of Frank’s creator, Chris Sievey, with a touchingly creative mourning. Images of all kinds of Frank-inspired objects made their way on-line; artwork made in response to the news, or years previously out of sheer Frank-love. 

'Frankophilia!' will bring this creative mayhem under one roof to revel in its heartfelt daftness; a multi-media ode to our beloved Frank.

Who is Frank Sidebottom?If you're not already aware of Frank's particular oeuvre, visit www.franksworld.co.uk



for a crash course in all things Sidebottom.

For further information please contact Suzanne Smith by e-mailing s.smith@salford.ac.uk or join our Frankophilia! Facebook group to be kept abreast of news.

Monday, November 15, 2010

116: Frankophilia!, Blank Market and cauliflower cheese

Three until close at work today; what an annoying shift, and only about four or five hours.  Hardly seems worth it for minimum wage.  I have no idea what hours I am working for the rest of the week, for reasons I won’t go in to, but I had better not be rota’d in for tomorrow afternoon/evening.  I’ve got an exhibition to go to!  Huzzah, it’s the opening of Frankophilia! the exhibition of Frank Sidebottom tribute art at the Chapman Gallery, Salford University.  I’ve got a couple of sketches and a painting included after the curator contacted me through the blog!  The first door that the blog has opened for me and it only took a hundred or so days of typing; huzzah, and again huzzah!

The opening of the exhibition is tomorrow (Tuesday) 16th November from 6-8pm; there will be free drinks as is always the case.  The exhibition then runs from 17th Nov – 18th Dec 2010 (Admission: Wed-Sat, 12-5pm, FREE).  The Chapman Gallery is in the Chapman Building, University of Salford, M5 4NT.  An exhibition of fans’ artwork celebrating Frank Sidebottom.  Illustration, animation, sculpture, scarecrows...  
It’s going to be ace, you know it is, it really is.

And now I’ve run out of things to say.  Oh, I know!  Make sure to check out the Blank Market Open All Hours exhibition.  It’s an art trail around Manchester city centre running until 18th November.   The work of more than thirty artists can be seen in ten different shop and office windows 24/7; to discover the locations download the map here.  All works shown are available for purchase online at Blank Market.  Start your art collection now; I command you.  If I wasn’t technically a pauper I would definitely buy a few pieces, and a large building to put them in.  If you’re not technically a pauper you have no excuse for not buying one or two.

Yesterday we had our friends and their little baby boy around to hours for some roast chicken, cauliflower cheese, roast potatoes and gravy.  We whetted our appetite by watching Life in the Undergrowth; there is something so appetising about watching a gigantic poisonous centipede hanging from a cave ceiling and grabbing a bat out of the air, before slowly consuming it.  In a nod to common decency we switched to Wall:E while we ate; perhaps it would have been even more decent to turn the bloody tele off while we ate, and have a normal human conversation.  If it’s any consolation, Wall:E is pretty much a silent film, so it’s like an expensive digital photo frame.  And it looks amazing on the big TV.

Then I fell asleep during X-Factor and when I woke up everyone was getting ready to go.  How rude of me.   

115: forehead, fights and threnody

My head unfolds, like that of a snake preparing to eat a goat, in an ear-popping yawn.  Some annoying mini-beast is burrowing behind my forehead, and hopefully the paracetamol will activate before the glowing white of the screen does me in.  But enough about my problems; tell me about yours.  And whilst you’re talking I’ll just stare at the walls, hum a tune and think about other things I could be doing.

Of all the things I could be doing right now the best would surely be dreaming pleasantly in a comfortable sleep, rather than forcing myself to write.  After every sentence I click back to Google Chrome to read a bit more random information on Wikipedia.  It was a big weekend for boxing, what with David Haye versus Audley Harrison at the MEN Arena and Manny Pacquiao versus Antonio Margarito, and I missed it all.  I missed Haye knocking out Harrison in the third, with Harrison only managing a single connected punch in the whole fight.  I missed Pacquiao becoming the first fighter in history to world titles in eight different weight divisions.  The last time I watched a big fight was staying up until 4am to watch Ricky Hatton stumble around like an amateur before finally being decapitated by Pacquiao, live from Las Vegas.

Now I’m inexplicably reading about Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima, a painful tone cluster composition for 52 string instruments, by Krzysztof Penderecki.  First boxing, now massive dissonance; it seems my headache is making me focus on pain.  The pain of being beaten around the head until I lose consciousness in the centre of a large crowd of shouting people and burning lights.  The pain of constant monotonous discord.  The pain of 160,000 dead from burns, crushing and radiation sickness.

I fear that if I keep on writing I’ll spiral into disgusting self-pity about how my tiny little head hurts slightly and how the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki make me sad.  As if it’s all about me.  Even though it’s my blog, it’s not all about me.  But, you know; what with the headache and the self-pity I can’t help making it about me.  Which is stupid.  Time to end the stupidity and go to sleep; tomorrow I’ll come out fighting.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

114: links, popes, toothpaste and blankpages presents...

Blankpages Presents... was a success.  We had John’s entertaining and expressive camply-performed poetry, and a nervous guy’s mumbling some lines from a piece of paper.  The self-styled ‘first female Pope’ Bernadette ironing her papal vestments, to the soundtrack of a surprisingly interesting radio interview on the subject of the Catholic Church’s hostility towards female priests. 

The band Old House Playground played a couple of sets.  Their singer reminded me of a cross between Sol Star from Deadwood and a less smiley Freak Out!-era Frank Zappa.  His between-song banter was a mystery to me; couldn’t understand a word of it.  At their best they reminded me of mid-70s Zappa (without the insane time signatures) mixed with Grinderman Nick Cave; and at their worst there was interesting paintings on the walls to look at. 

The show was stolen by the guitarist who continually enlivened their songs with exciting and intricate solos taking us on a journey of discovery up the fret board and back down again.  I think it was the guitarist’s style that gives their sound the hint that reminds me of Zappa.  Also the double bass player looked as though he could have been a background character from The Corpse Bride.  All taken into account, they were good. 

I got a free CD, I’m going to rip it now and give it a listen.  The singing is a bit too close to that awful Radiohead/Muse style whine that I find so unpleasant, but I can’t deny they know what they are doing and they do it well.  Last random thought on the subject:  Every time I hear the name Old House Playground I immediately think of the Americana band Old Crow Medicine Show.

Returning to the subject of the first female Pope; I wonder if Bernadette is aware that tradition and legend have already granted the title of First Female Pope to Joan.  Other than having heard of Pope Joan I know nothing about her.  I could read the Wikipedia page about her, and then regurgitate that information back, attempting to appear as though I already knew all about her.  I won’t do that; if you’re interested read it yourself.  I think there is a film about her too.  I’ve only heard of her cos one of the swots on QI mentioned her in passing.

Back to the poetry and we also had a piece by a gay Muslim.  We didn’t hear enough from him; if ever a situation was able to produce an interesting outlook on life it is surely the position of gay Muslim.  There was an art raffle, to raise money for Blank Media, in which I won nothing; I must have been at the bar when the tickets were being sold.  It’s a shame because one of the prizes was a sort of homemade hard-backed comic, which looked very interesting.

All in all it was a good night, raised some money for the collective, and had a jolly good time.  The night was made even better for me when I got to Fallowfield and got a McDonald’s double cheeseburger.  It was one of those perfect ones you are graced with on rare occasions; freshly made, perfect texture, and baking hot.  Mmmm, I can taste it now....

P.S.  Blank Sounds (Part of Blank Weekend) is tonight (7pm to 12.30am) at King's Arms, 11 Bloom Street, Salford, M3 6AN. £4 on the door.  Bands featured are NASDAQ, The Shogun's Decapitator, Go Lebanon, Eyeball Eyeball, and Day for Airstrikes, proving once and for all that unknown bands are the only people currently using MySpace (soon it may go the way of GeoCities and be accessible only through the Archive TeamInternet Archive or Internet Archeology).  Go to Blank Sounds, I command you.