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Tuesday, 17 December 2013

All the Davids

I have noticed that I like a lot of writers called David:


David Hartley
David Markson
David Mitchell
David Shields
David Shrigley
David Vann
David Crystal

As far as I'm aware, other names are available.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

The Latest Book Splurge

Could be the last one (already) for a while due to a change in earning circumstances...

  • EUNOIA - Christian Bok
  • That Was Then... Selected Stories - Thomas Barr
  • Invisible Cities - Italo Calvino
  • The Ask and the Answer - Patrick Ness
  • Dada: Art and Anti-Art - Hans Richter
  • Seven American Deaths and Disasters - Kenneth Goldsmith

Monday, 2 December 2013

'Negative Advertising'

Can you be a political party worth voting for if you rely on 'negative campaigning'? I'd like to make it clear that I'm not commenting on specific parties, if anything I'm apathetic about our current system, other than disliking the Conservatives and what they stand for, and racist parties.

This goes beyond the rather facile idea that 'if you say bad things there mustn't be anything nice to say' although, what with the current recession and many parties' reluctance to actually tell anyone what their policies are, there could well be something to that.

Negative advertising plays on people's  fear by encouraging them to take action lest their worst nightmares come true. By stimulating a human's fear, you are lessening their ability to make a reasoned judgement. When afraid, humans don't behave how they do under normal circumstances, they feel pressured and are more likely to rush a decision. It's bad democracy, let alone bad ethics.

Martin Sorrell on Thursday's This Week says that parties are more likely to use this tactic during times of a country's economic strifes. That's reasonable in terms of logic - there are more fears to exploit, after all. Hitler was one of many leaders who exploited existing economic problem for his own game, blaming groups of people for problems that are too wide-reaching and complex to be caused by those not in power. I think it's an awful tactic, so cynical and exploitative. I have no conception of what this was like in 1930s Germany, but now, I realise, given all the problems many people face in today's world and ceaseless messages of 'how bad it is for us all', how unfair it is to then put more stress on the country and its residents by stirring the fear pot further.

Although I realise how futile it is, I'd urge politicians to grow a back-bone. You should be going into the job because of how positive you feel about change and helping people, not how loud you can shout about peoples' faults, not about how much you want to cling on to money and power at all costs and not because you don't care about the plight and emotional state of the very people who (supposedly) control your future through voting.

I'm not saying politicians must be all happy, sunshiney, glass-half-full people all the time, I'm saying they shouldn't be so reckless and cynical as to tread on the backs of their electorates while they are already down. I'm sure a lot of it is down to the system - I believe it encourages people to put self-interest first, to keep political heads above water and to cynically compete with opponents that they could learn from if they listened. It probably makes people so bitter they don't have any positivity left in them.

Still doesn't mean they should spread negativity like anthrax over the country and pick the pockets of its dead citizens.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Goodbye AdSense!

I have just cancelled my Google AdSense account.

There have been questions relating to the integrity of a writer who lets his blog be used by others to advertise products and services.

Lately the question of why I'm writing has had some answers. For example, I get very concerned about how many page views I have, it sometimes borders on obsession. I think this is unhealthy - one doesn't write to have everybody read one's work. One writes to reach somebody a lot of the time, yes, but an obsession over statistics and magnitude is not cool. I'd rather let go of the quantitative nightmares and focus on the qualitative dream. Keep writing, worry whether it's any good or not, hope it reaches 'the right people' (usually receptive and thoughtful folk), but forget about how many.

Getting rid of AdSense, which has earned me just over three pounds (which I can't claim because it's under the threshold of sixty), is a way of keeping the blog about what it should be (and probably never has been!
) - quality. Letting go of as many numbers as possible is a way of getting rid of as many distractions as I can.

We can only hope that the blog improves because of this...

Thanks to DS for the motivation.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Test



Technical Issues

I actually bought a dictaphone recently (with many a poetic aim in mind), but I don't seem to be able to find a way on Blogger to add sound files (well, general documents apart from pictures or videos to be honest).

Does anyone out there know a way I can upload my sounds to Blogger please?

Peace out

x

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Getting On With It

I have so many ideas for this blog, and yet I'm publishing less and less. Soon my drafts will outweigh my published posts, and whereas there are some things you can keep to yourself, that's not the main point of Blogtastic. I've got an idea for a new series of posts and hopefully you will get something out of it. Once every month at least (i.e. payday) I have a splurge on books. What I fancy doing for this new series is posting a list of the books I've bought.

It sounds simple. It is simple. It's a kind of diary. They aren't recommendations yet, although I may review them in the future. In the absence of the regular reviews that used to feature here, these book lists still form a kind of dialogue. All things can be 'read between the lines', such as why one bought a particular pair together. Are they forming research for a project? Are any of them for uni or 'just for fun'? What happens if I lie on the list - add ones I haven't bought - how does that make it look? What does the list suggest, if anything, beyond the brute fact(s) of the books?

But it's not to be my job to answer, or even explicitly pose, these questions. I'm just going to put the list on here. It could be helpful for my development, another form of introspection, but as I said before, I hope you'll get something out of it too. I'm just not sure what. Possibly in the future there'll be more reviews or at least 'read lists', minor comments or whatever... We'll see.

Without further ado, here is the latest list:

  • Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking Trilogy) - Patrick Ness
  • Connoisseur's Science Fiction - Tom Boardman (ed.)
  • Exercises in Style - Raymond Queneau
  • Teach Yourself Writing Poetry - Matthew Sweeney

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Hi Denise

A shout out to Mrs Denise Barr for her outstanding services to Blogtastic - liking and sharing my posts on the social medias. Your medal is in the post, and if it doesn't reach you it's definitely Royal Mail's fault...

Blogtastic salutes you and all of my other loyal supporters!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Ghostories

Had a wicked time last Friday at Edge Hill's ghost story night.

I loved the celebratory air, which for me had more of an emphasis on student endeavour than it did on 'scariness' or Hallowe'eny things. The majority of the readers were students, and although the works of the individuals were admirable, what really took my breath away (apart from the dry ice atmosphere) was the amazing diversity of the evening as a whole. The range of concepts and themes was wide and stimulating, and this is all from not (yet) established writers.

I listened to narratives about a strangling scarf, a regretful affair, a palpable loss, vengeful memories, supernatural sexual predators and more besides. Sex and death wrought into original and compelling products. Groovy.

It wasn't all about the students' pieces, though, and the night was rounded off with readings from two classics: Oscar Wilde's 'The Canterville Ghost' and Susan Hill's The Woman in Black. Both were read wonderfully, allowing Wilde's hilarious wit to shine and ramping up Hill's already-high drama nicely.

It was a great night not just for trying to learn for myself as a writer, but also to learn as human beings that there is such talent, so many diverse and energising possibilities out there for us all. In short, it made me hopeful.

Not bad considering it's coming up to Christmas...

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Internettal Wonderment

I've just been blown away by some awesome articles that I found while having a cheeky browse on the ol' interwebs. I was trying to find Bob Cobbing's 'A good fuck makes me feel like custard' permutational poem, and, since time was on my side, I went the long route by simply Googling 'Bob Cobbing'.

First up I went on the Electronic Poetry Center site, which linked me to UbuWeb. Both are incredible resources. This article caught my eye, though, as the subject of sound poetry and its power to question the 'linguistic stereotypes' that prevail is rapidly becoming the most important to me. I think this is a very personable collection of thoughts, like a gentle mentor talking to a faithful student. The way it talks about motives, materials and concepts of the 'genre' unlocks so much future it's astounding.


Next up on my information superhighway tour is from the Birkbeck Uni website, which those of you who don't have the Ship of Fools version of Robert Sheppard's The Necessity of Poetics should check out (there are a few differences between the two versions that I found very interesting, especially the 'workshop junkies' element). My wandering took me to Lawrence Upton's Bob Cobbing: and the book as medium; designs for poetry. Now, I've not actually read this one yet, but it looks impressive, especially due to its generous use of pictures which are vital to understand the implications of going beyond (or, more accurately is some ways, before) language. What made me really happy I'd stumbled across this site was it's archive of issues, a vast wealth of discourse on poems and poetry, all free. I don't mention the 'free' bit because I got a puerile, knee-jerk gut reaction to getting something for nothing, I mention it because the implication is that the value in the articles is in sharing them, of learning from them. It's an ever-present debate in the art world, the 'value' of a piece and, of course, the value lies outside the capitalist constructs of monetary wealth, but it's nice to see such a high-standard body of important research being made so freely available. Of course, there are other great free sites, such as New Pages, Black Market Review (currently displaying a lovely bit of collaborative art), National Association of Writers in Education and a whole bunch more. They are all gateways to enlightenment. There are also plenty of journals that charge, and there's nothing wrong with that at all, I'm certainly not implying that 'free is better' in terms of the work itself. Gylphi is one example, London Review of Books, and, I don't know, New Writing? Priceless.

Next: University of Pennsylvania's collection of recordings. Again, you can't really appreciate the magic of this kind of poetry without the benefit of sensory stimulation - aural in this case - so this is massively important for unlocking the 'proper' experience. I'm sure Cobbing would probably not like such terms as 'correct' and 'proper' in this respect, but certainly he'd encourage performance (only one soul was brave enough to try that at the recent JMU exhibit [link correct at time of publishing]) and be more than happy to give his own.

Then I had to modify my search a bit to find this custard malarkey (to 'Bob Cobbing custard'), which eventually got me on the Jacket site,  reading Sheppard's Bob Cobbing: Sightings and Soundings. Each bit is like a match being struck, bright bursts of light, smouldering for a few paragraphs, some being blown out rapidly, before the next one is lit. It was an important read for me, as it really got you past the 'works' and into the contextual side of things. So vivid are the recollections, that I could smell the matchstick sulphur. Maybe this link isn't so interesting for general browsing, i.e. if you're not specifically looking for sound poetry material, but if you are then it's invaluable for those of us that weren't there (though my image of the 'SILLIWHIG' episode is so clear that I feel I was there, in disembodied spirit at least).

Anyhoo, that pretty much completes my redneck ramble, getting all excited about the internet whilst everyone else is probably like, "So what? It's nothing new to us..." Still, I'm glad to show you some groovy links, and remember folks: though these links are are Cobbing-centric, explore the rest of the site! These online journals are a great way to stumble across something new and something relevant, whether directly or indirectly, so be bold.

Ciao for now!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Back on the Wagon

The Creative Writing wagon that is!

Oh yes, we dropped off some of the grizzled, tobacco-spitting prospectors months ago, and brought in some fresh, energetic greenhorns. The wagons rolled through Scifi valley tonight, discussing The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. A surprisingly good book, an expectedly awesome discourse and the traveling companions were just the best (including the new driver).

It feels great to be back on the road. I promised myself to try harder than ever before on this final leg of my MA drive. I lost a wheel early on, but by God I can't (hopefully won't) let that screw things up. I may have had to stop to fix my vehicle, but now I'm back I'm going to spur on my horses 'til I get farther than I could ever have imagined possible.

Feeling the wind dry the sweat on your forehead is like an angel's kiss.

I am blessed.

Monday, 7 October 2013

According to Recent Estimates

Today constitutes approximately 0.00000000002% of the universe's history.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Things I'm Unsure of/Don't Get About Modern Life

  • Twerking
  • Candy Crush Saga
  • Reality
  • Friendship/socializing
  • Celebrity
  • Authority/trust/politicians
  • One Direction/The Wanted/JLS/Little Mix etc
  • BBC3
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Adverts (character-based and rhyming)
  • Presenters (Russell Kane, Nick Grimshaw, Jeremy Vine, Chris Evans... seems like all the male ones are annoying twatshits)
  • Love (is it or isn't it?)
  • Cryptic crosswords
  • Apps
  • Energy drinks
  • The price of stuff
  • Music (pop, club, club-pop and sexist)

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

A Time To Read

A very dear friend of mine bought me John Grisham's A Time to Kill for Christmas last year, and as thanks to him, I'm gonna discuss it here. Also, it's to help me explore my thoughts on more traditional narrative styles and hopefully encourage people to pick up a book, if they ain't already reading one.

I'd seen Joel Schumacher's 1996 film of the same name a long time ago and really liked it, but since I knew the plot already, my reading of it was different to what it might have been. Naturally I drew comparisons between both visions as I read, contrasting Grisham's balding Jake Brigance (our hero) with the swish Matthew McConaughey version from the film, for example. One other comparison I had to draw was the size of the book. You hardly notice the two and a half hours of film go by, but the edition of the book I've got is nearly seven-hundred and fifty pages long. Quite frankly it looks a little daunting, especially when you consider how other authors have brought the most vibrant universes to life in a much smaller physical space (I want to mention David Markson, Alasdair Gray and Elfriede Jelinek as examples because they are much more experimental, with plot (or lack of it), form and voice respectively). Basically, being a pretentious PoMo guy, I was sceptical as to how I'd receive A Time to Kill.


The first nice surprise in the book was an 'Author's Note', which was honest and humble enough to hook me right away. Grisham explains a little bit about the process of writing the work, his hopes and dreams at the time and also a reflection on the finished article. He directly deals with my primary put-off - the length - saying, "It's a first novel, and at times it rambles, but I wouldn't change a word if given the chance." At reading this, all my pretentious pre-judgements melted away, and I settled down to give it a go.

I've heard Grisham's work (and others' in a similar vein) described as 'courtroom procedurals' which is pretty damn apt. There's no doubt that the themes are very engaging, the characters nicely rounded etc, but this plot-riche novel is chock-full of dry protocol. It's great for Grisham that he has such a wealth of knowledge on the American justice system (or should that be injustice system, ho-ho!), but I just can't help hearing my writer's voice shouting "CUT IT!"

One thing that struck me is how a whole chapter will be devoted to one strand of the narrative, then the final paragraph will reveal a shocking development elsewhere. The effect of this is startling, a sudden gear change that yanks your head back as your body speeds up through the action - certainly an interesting device that is present throughout and has a way of getting you to read on. I had thought of re-writing the book just including these final paragraphs (because they are the most 'to the point' bits of the book). I'm not sure why I thought that, perhaps just as a reaction to the heavy dependence on plot, but it would probably be quite lame without the rest of the chapter as a counterpoint.

I'm not saying everyone should be like Samuel Beckett, I'm not saying plot is evil and I'm certainly not saying A Time to Kill is a bad book. It was an entertaining enough yarn and I'm glad I read it - especially since now I can compare it to the film (incidentally, the way the film deals with expositional elements was a little better in my opinion, especially in the most important matter of Jake's 'final speech' and the jury's final hour). As I say, there are things I'd take out to streamline it, but Grisham himself admits that, as his first novel, he could've done better. You can't argue with how successful it is, though, first book or not.

Right, enough of my rambling. Should you give this book a go? That's what we're all here for right? You will like this book if family is important to you. You'll like it if racism, class and social order is a concern. You'll like it if you're sensitive to plight, not averse to harrowing events and, above all, want a happy-ish ending. It'll while away a pleasant few hours on holiday or, failing that, make a serviceable doorstop.

Peace out.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

On the Probable Futility of Keeping Your Self out of Your Writing Picure

As you may know, I recently read Al Alvarez' The Writer's Voice. As with all good books about writing, it threw up many questions about the self, the world and the word, but the thing that really made me think was biography. People are absolutely mad for, and will voraciously consume, biographical detail about authors; trying to pry into their lives, either to unlock something within their texts (as in the study of Literature), or just because they're nosy.

This is unappealing to me. And not because of some lame 'privacy violation'. What bothers me is the focus it takes away from the work itself, either in the sense that people would rather read something else about you, as opposed to from you, or in the sense that such information can bend and warp meaning in your work. At a recent wine tasting (no, I'm not a Tory, I was working), a customer expressed her disappointment at the prices of the wines being listed on the sheet. This extra context, for her, meant that she couldn't enjoy the wines for their intrinsic merits, and instead could only make relative judgements such as 'it's not worth the money', for example. It's not a big leap from that to writing, I feel. I want my work to be 'waterproof', to stand fully alone and be (hopefully) enjoyed for what it is, rather than let it leak in 'real' bits of my life that will obscure its inherent message.

As usual, though, there are many problems here, some of which I have hypocritically blundered through in my post here. The first one is all the detail I've already revealed about myself (that I work at wine tasting, for example). I could have taken it out, but not only is that 'how the post came to be', it also sets up a (rather poor) 'joke' about Tory poshness. So it stays. Even at the risk of revealing certain political allegiances... The second problem comes in terminology - what did I mean by "'real' bits of my life"? I was literally meaning 'true revelations', rather than the fake ones I sometimes put in for humour/other effect. But does the way I phrased that not suggest that the act of writing inherently involves putting bits of your life in? I'd say so. As David Shield says in Reality Hunger, "...all writing is autobiography: everything... including criticism and fiction, writes you as you write it" which puts it nicely. And even if it is a made up life, is the author not living it on some imaginative level? Maybe I'm getting too metaphysical here, but I do want to stress the difficulties of writing and not revealing things in your life - that's where most inspiration comes from right? Think Plath's Bell Jar, Larkin's High Windows or Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata', as a pitifully small sample.

What are the options anyway? I've thought about deleting profile pages (or maybe inventing deceptive ones) and, in the unlikely event I'm ever published again, keeping my author profile as 'Martin Palmer is'. This might come across as arrogant and, to prospective employers/collaborators, unprofessional, but that's a personal sacrifice made for the work. I remember someone saying to me about my profile in Edge Hill's Question Mark vol 2, "You've not said a lot about yourself, look at everyone else's!" Well, I think perhaps I put too much ("Martin is a third year student of English and Creative Writing. Predominantly a scriptwriter, he also enjoys creating fiction, poetry and life writing."). So yeah, there's either abstaining from, or messing with, the profile. The former will make you mysterious and not-quite-there, but the latter, whilst meaning you'd have to perform a little on the level of a clown/jester, still runs the risk of tainting your work. And the things people read into it would be stranger, so I don't think that's an efficient strategy, as amusing as it might have been to list my occupation as 'Moonraker' or some such... thing... I don't know.

Another option could be the pen name, but my initial knee-jerk reaction to that is that it's my work, I want my name on it (complete with fist-banging-table motion). There's also an increased administerial duty here which, being a lazy sod, doesn't appeal. The benefits, though, would include a fresh biographical start. I wouldn't want to invent a new one, like Ern Malley or Rene Van Valckenborch because I wouldn't be writing as a new persona. I'd still be me, but no-one would know and therefore the work would stand or fall on its own worth, as opposed to some contextual consideration. Worth looking into for future projects... Need to come up with a better name than Nitram Remlap though...

Really, this is not the best medium to be judging myself on in terms of biographical detail. It's a blog, and this post is a personal essay - of sorts - and thus more susceptible to me 'being in it'. Also, it's not 'art' or literature, so the motivation for me to keep myself out isn't there as it would be in, say, a poem. In general, though, is there any point in trying to cover our tracks and make art 'self-sufficient', i.e. free from its creator/s? Sure, when we're still alive and our energies are more mercurial, there's less 'call' for biographical scrutiny. We are still in the act of writing, not just about inspirations from life and things we understand, but also writing in order to find meaning or revelation. After death, though the call increases. People either miss the artist on a personal level or, maybe, the work becomes popular and/or the subject of research (i.e. by Literary academics). And these biographers know everything about everyone, no matter how far in the past the evidence is (could give any example here... Coleridge, there you go).

These days a biographer could all kinds of stuff from our ever-increasingly self-documented lifestyles, from how often you've complained about the sniffles to every single TV programme you've ever claimed to watch. So what's the point in trying to be nobody? There's a tome of biography hanging around all our necks with no lock on it. As soon as we're dead and the bounds of our life have set, you can be boiled down easily. If you tried a pen-name it will be cracked and then you're not just over-contextualized, but over-contextualized as the person who tried to avoid being contextualized, i.e. a failure. So this post has all been a load of rubbish then... It's unavoidable, really, to be tied to your work and run the risk of people using your life as a key to unlock (possibly spurious) 'hidden messages'.

Having just finished Elfriede Jelinek's Her Not All Her has shed some light on possible ways to progress though: master your own myth. Reto Sorg's afterword to this book is a very stimulating few pages, and here I muse upon't.  Sorg is guilty of the 'boiling down' I mentioned in the last paragraph when she says of Robert Walser (who the play 'is about') that he was, "...a naive genius who used his writing to reveal his existential position, whose career fell apart almost before it got started, who entered an insane asylum despite being sane, and who gave up his passion in order to live out the remainder of his life silenced as a writer..." Seems almost abrupt, non? She balances this out with an interesting thought on the topic of legacy; that, "...Walser himself contributed to the Walser myth." He did this, Sorg argues, by maintaining a, "...stoic view of his own life as a writer... as one who turns his everyday personal life into his subject." This, along with making "the context and act of writing into his theme..." produces an "overlap between the real person and the fictional character" which "becomes the vanishing point of his work." To sum up, "he invented himself in the act of writing and at the same time made himself disappear." So the ways to move forward are to either 'manipulate the myth' or give up altogether. After all, if you produce nothing, then it can never be ruined by context.

But that's never gonna happen!

Bye for now folks (and apologies for this being such a long post. Please share any thoughts you have, or even just tell me that you made it to the end and I'll congratulate you).

Saturday, 31 August 2013

I'm Not Literary

And it disgusts me...

Yes I'm feeling this, rather than trying to cement my position as a snob. But it's all I have.

I don't know - this isn't even a proper post... I just wonder sometimes why people do things. If you're not literary then you are (based on my limited perceptions) looking for popularity or money. What else?

And what's wrong with that? Nothing. Inherently at least. I have friends who are already making their mark in the world of plottish-series fiction, and doing a good job. But where is the reach out to poetry, the thing that links everything to humanity? Not human interest, but humanity?

I've written pages and pages on single elements within this rubbish post, but I don't think they'll find the light of day. The main thing I want to do is stimulate discussion (or at least thought).

Sorry, this is a poor attempt.

Sorry, goodbye.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Word Factory Apprenticeship!

Oh my word, how did I miss this!? Reach to the back of your drawers (hey, the ones in your desk, I mean...), dust off your manuscripts and check your digital files - Word Factory has an apprenticeship closing soon! I've had the good fortune to know one of the team, and if the rest of them are half as talented and nice as he is, then this scholarship is priceless.

Entry is free, so if you're passionate about the short story form and want to develop yourself alongside practising professionals, CHECK THIS OUT: http://www.thewordfactory.tv/site/apprenticeship/

All the ts and cs are on that page, so read them carefully before you submit. Think about why you want to do it, what it'd mean and how it'd help you, then submit your summary along with your sample to the provided email address and good luck!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Al Alvarez - The Writer's Voice

I just finished reading Al Alvarez' The Writer's Voice. I thoroughly recommend it for writers (and to a lesser extent critics or art/literature historians), I really do. There's little excuse not to, a dolt like me could have easily finished it within a day and, despite it covering relatively complicated concepts, I understood it.

It was perfectly complementary to a number of titles I've read for my university course, whilst giving a fresh, dynamic and also further-reaching account of literary issues that are close to my heart. It was like a small cog in a machine, deceptive because of its size, but actually the thing that ties so much of the rest of the workings together. For example, Alvarez' talk about the relationship between physicality ('muscular processes') and mental exercise brought up a number of parallels with Haruki Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. Similarly, the schism between public projection of an artist and the actual writer is one of many things that Margaret Atwood covers in Negotiating With the Dead: A Writer on Writing that Alvarez also writes about. None of the material is reproduced, however, it is all fresh and stimulating. Further to my comparison with Atwood, I felt a similar sense of positively-affirming revelation after completing both books, but Alvarez' was much shorter. Being short isn't the be all and end all, of course, I'm merely saying that his succinct style packed a hell of a wallop, but if you have the time to check out Negotiating With the Dead too, I think they could go hand in hand as ways of understanding who you are as a writer and where you want to go next.

There were so many things to take away from reading Alvarez. The first - and perhaps the most 'pertinent', given the book's title - is that the writer's voice is the most important thing. One can hone craft, read widely and take all the mind-expanding substances one wants, but ultimately voice is something that can't be bought, ingested, learned or consciously changed, yet it is the difference between hitting home with your audience and simply putting words down on a page (I think the way I've put it implies that even 'review-type material' can have an energetic and touching quality with a compelling voice. I think that's spot on). My only real problem with this text is that in the first section ('Finding a Voice'), Alvarez makes a distinction between 'voice' and 'style' and then seems to fail to keep the two distinct (at least for someone of my intelligence to easily discern).

Other wisdom conveyed is that this voice can't be rushed (exactly what I need to be hearing right now), it can become powerful late on in life when youthful exuberance (ha!) has long since faded. There are so many 'lessons' I'd love to share, but I want you to read the book rather than read this. Plus one of the founding tenets of this blog is to 'keep it short', and I'm already off track there... So the last thought I'll say I took from The Writer's Voice is the disruptive (if not destructive) influence of the study of (English) Literature on literary production. I've been a keen literary student (if not a gifted one) and had, until reading this book, thought that Literature could help me write, learning, as it were, from heroes of the written word. I realise how false this is, not in the least part due to how context and the evils of biography overtake the text in primary importance. 'x was addicted to drugs, so now this poem is all about addiction,' is an overly-reductive (hey, I'm not getting paid to go into detail here haha) but fairly-true thought that may go through a Literature student's mind that will 'unlock' certain 'meanings' from a piece of writing, but also lock up and obfuscate the true power of creation that is unfolding between their eyes. This looks like a good place to shamelessly link you to Billy Collins' 'Introduction to Poetry'. But yeah, there's so much more to take from this, give it a go.

Now a bit of arse-licking: Alvarez is covering a massive swathe of time, from Classical culture all the way up to the Beat generation. Despite being a prominent critic in his own right, he covers the WRITING side of things consistently. In his considered approach, there is no deviation or afterthought. Instead he covers social, political, historical and cultural detail with an almost abrupt style, getting across strongly his voice and hygienic prowess by not wasting a single word or engaging in an ounce of circumlocution (that's my job). Clinical is a fairly good word - though it risks connotationally excluding the warmth and 'engagingness' he exudes - because he reminds me of a doctor I recently spoke to. He was such a friendly chap, it seemed like I was talking to a mate I've known for years. He talked about medical issues that were beginning to get beyond me, but then rephrased them in a more accessible way so that I fully understood. The only difference between he and Mr Alvarez is that the latter was not present to actually ask, "Did you get that?" I'm sure he would do, though, given the chance.

With that, I shall stop myself from going on even further. All I want to convey to you is how important this book is in terms of drilling right to heart of the matter of not just why writing can be important but how. It's far from a 'how to' guide, but the sensible ones amongst you will be stirred like a hot coffee and feel those granules of instant coffee within you dissolve, making the beverage of yourself stronger and more resolute. It's a day's reading, if that, so get it and make the time to absorb it. Comment back, maybe, tell me what you thought.

Peace out, and remember that no matter how down you feel, tomorrow is a new day and the limitless possibilities that abound around us
must contain some positive outcomes.

Just About

I noticed that twenty people looked at/clicked on my last football post, and that was all I needed to blabber on again about the same topic!

So: Liverpool v Notts County...

We were ahead 2-0 at half time. I was worried we'd switch off. We switched off. They scored, then they equalised.

It's The Capital One Cup, so to extra time we went.

We (finally) scored two more to make it 4-2. We just about made it.

Hard not to make Sturridge man of the match, though many of Gerrard's passes were so sublime he's a close second. Rogers' subs didn't make as much impact as I'd have thought they would, to be fair, but hey, we won.

Well done to Notts County for sticking it to us - we really had to "dig deep" to pull our fingers out our arses and win.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Cancelled Out

Got to see my first game of the new Premier League season today (well, technically yesterday now...). Not a Liverpool game, but I was excited because it featured two top-four heavyweights: Man United and Chelsea.

I didn't think they played at their technical best, nor at their highest tempo, but they definitely made up for it with application. There were a handful of very risky tackles (three or four of them were certainly dangerous fouls - high-speed slides that caught the man first), but apparently there's a new 'emphasis' in the rules that means you get more chances to cripple someone before you're carded. Unless you touch Van Persie, in which case it's a direct red.

Yeah the passing could be quite slow, and, where it was quick, moves seemed (and I stress the word 'seemed', it's not like this slug of an author could ever be an expert in these matters) to come off by accident. That being said, some of the moves came off well with relatively end-to-end play and plenty of scrappy, tooth-and-nail, who-wants-it-more kinda action in-between, where hunger somersaulted over clinicality (apart from RVP's 'Marseille roullette' on the edge of Chelsea's box in the first half) to produce a decent amount of entertainment.

Neither keeper was too busy, Rooney was clear man of the match and a draw is a very fair result. Done.

Liverpool are next playing Notts County in the Capital One Cup, 27.8.2013 1945hrs.

See you in the pub.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Simple

All I want is to pass on an image, an image imparted to me by a dear aunt. Please forward all royalties and gratuities to her:

Football fans cheering because they've found a chunk of meat in their pie.

Thanks.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Meditated Briefly: Kenneth Goldsmith's 'Being Dumb'

Before reading this post, it is recommended that you read 'Being Dumb' from The Awl. Here are some of my thoughts on said article:

Firstly, I think it's important to say straight away that I have a problem with Goldsmith's use of the word 'dumb'. It's not just the judgemental connotations of the word, I'm just not sure that it embodies the dynamics of 'conceptual writing', or indeed ideas in any branch of poetry. I know Goldsmith is trying to be inflammatory (no, I'm guilty myself there of using an incorrect word. I mean to say that he says 'provocative' things, in the sense of getting people talking about an issue. For example, in Radhika Jones' Bookforum piece 'uncreative writing', he is quoted as saying, "Writers don't need to write anything more... They just need to manage the language that already exists." He isn't making a claim about one set of writers, but all writers, thereby encouraging people to either agree completely or feel compelled to defend their position). What he espouses is a form of nutritionless (cf Goldsmith's 'Uncreativity as a Creative Practice'), re-cycled and numbing cultural production (sigh, or re-production... one feels obliged to add these 'ors' in, when really the original word does convey the right semantic weight - it's just alternatives seem more appropriate to those not already 'used to' the idea), but I argue that calling this "dumb" is not only strangely reductive, it is too prescriptive to be accurate. He claims children could do what he does, which is fair enough, so is it not 'easy'? Or perhaps 'processually accessible' is better. 'Dumb' it just isn't. He claims he is an "ill-prepared slacker", but he has set up UbuWeb (a resource of the avant-garde, ethnopoetic and 'outsider' arts), has published many successful books, is MoMA's poet laureate and has been invited to read at The White House. Saying he's dumb and lazy is a deliberate falsity. His methods rely mostly on other people's creative efforts, but his selection, typing, copying and pasting are all valid methods in the conceptual sphere, requiring skill, time and effort for completion.

Yet, to contradict myself again, describing the 'smartness' of poetry such as Bök's seems appropriate. To try and forge your own way through to originality (see what I mean about writing unstable sentences? How can you not forge your own way through to originality? It doesn't seem to make sense, but what I mean is producing original things, rather than re-appropriational originality) requires wider cultural engagement, but then uncreative writing doesn't necessarily exclude the artist from reading what they want. As I've said, Goldsmith is deliberately being overly-deprecatory for effect. I think a semantically 'tighter' term than 'smart' could be... I want to say 'more traditional', i.e. 'that which is not uncreative writing', but that throws up too many problems... The avant-garde is hardly 'traditional' is it? I suppose the best compromise I can muster instead of smart is 'newly original' work, for to classify the work or the workers as 'smart' again falls into prescriptive notions of one group being 'better' than another, on the level of craft and personality, which is not helpful.

Goldsmith then produces an extra dissemination of his 'intelligence' concepts with "smart smart", "smart dumb" and "dumb dumb" (I don't know what happened to 'dumb smart', surely including that would really have put the cat amongst the clarity pigeons...). I think it would have been much simpler and logical to have used these three terms from the start, rather than adding them in when his argument is already underway, but I am in no way suggesting that Goldsmith wanted this piece to be simple and logical. That just wouldn't be Kenneth.

I thought 'Being Dumb' had many interesting personal observations, especially the ones I've mentioned already about Christian Bök and their 'deep admiration' of each other's work. Again, though, this undermines Goldsmith's dumbness; how can he be a, or draw from, a "tabula rasa" when he knows of other people's work? He can't avoid knowing things about culture. But, like I say, he isn't exactly taking all this seriously. He is arguing, I suppose, that the work itself doesn't belong to a 'school' in the sense of people collected together to produce their own material, wherein people often make allusions and adhere to aesthetic and various other uniformities. Because the uncreative writers' work is also other people's, there is a 'blank slate' in the sense that you cannot critically read it (or, indeed, read it at all in some cases) like you would if a 'smart' poet had written it.

Paragraphs that are full of actual examples of what he's talking about - and are therefore more potent and useful - are five, eight, eleven, twelve and sixteen. This rapid-fire accumulation of relevant instances provides a vivid, astute and reasonably concise collage. You get a picture of what 'smart smart' cultural producers get up to, and the references to 'smart dumb' Thelonius Monk and John Cage are spot on, in my humble opinion, as they represent both popular/successful artists who had courage, but they also highlight literature's lack of engagement with this side of art, and explains partly Goldsmith's pursuit of filling this void.

One bone of contention I stumbled across in 'Being Dumb' was the idea that uncreative writing is "free of failure." I don't think one can make that claim of any writing, though the natures of failure and success are highly debatable and subjective. The aim of this writing is to be true to the principles of selection and re-appropriation. There are many ways that can go wrong, and then you have created merely a 'similar piece', where the changes will be assumed to have some meaning that they don't have, which is problematic. It would be baffling if one got it wrong, therefore, and therein failure lies. In writing out many pages, one may correct a mistake that was in the original, out of habit, or perhaps start putting in errors that weren't there, out of transcription tiredness. Maybe one might re-format parts of it, according to the rules you adhere to (possibly something as simple as using "s instead of 's in dialogue, or vice versa). When the movement's major proponent describes proofreading as an activity that causes him to "fall asleep repeatedly" (as in 'Being Boring'), then you can see that adhering strictly to the pure activity of re-appropriation is actually a hard task, certainly in terms of keeping constantly focused.

It is this point about attention to detail and dedication to aims and objectives that leads me onto my next point, that ties the whole article together and sums up (rather reductively) it's ramifications. The overall spirit of this work strikes me as liberating (different to 'inspirational', more like an affirmation of writerliness). His delineation, however contentious, of how being 'dumb' can help you achieve a Christ-like victory over failure is a lovely thought. I'd suggest, though, that this 'freedom from failure', i.e. liberation, can be achieved whenever one totally commits to any ideology. If you don't start a project because you're worried how it'll be received, it's like you're trapped in a prison cell. If you start the project, tentatively, still with anxiety, you're looking out the window of your cell, but you're still locked inside. If you say 'my manifesto (if you have one) is watertight. I believe in my project. This has to be done. This thing must exist, and I am the one to bring it to pass', then immerse yourself fully in its production, you leave behind the earthly concerns of doubt and free yourself from failure by doing it. You have succeeded by bringing truth to others. It may be panned critically, but if you count that as failure then you might have to ask yourself why you're writing (and therefore if you think you're a writer). It's the backing force - whether it be creative manifesto, something political or whathaveyou - that takes you beyond the petty success/failure boundaries and into a kind of invulnerability, because the aim of your project is simply existence (the best you can make it). This message of confidence (or should it just be 'stubbornness'?) is what I took to heart, though this was heavily tempered by Goldsmith's insistence on using semantically obfuscating words. Smartness and dumbness have incredibly little to do with conceptual writing - the idea is always that the concept takes a higher importance than the 'work' of the writer, so why use such connotationally disparate lexis? Either way I found it a stimulating read, I hope you did too.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed my (overly long) thoughts on 'Being Dumb'. I'd encourage you to check out the links, especially 'Being Boring', as the use of the word 'boring' has, for me, a less negatively-loaded prescriptive function, allowing for a more direct appreciation of Goldsmith's message.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Leon: The Professional

Sorry. I have been pretty lax in my writing lately. I know some of you will think that's good news but now I'm back (even if only for a moment) so ha!

Just want to take a few minutes of your time to talk about Luc Besson's film Leon, and recommend it most heartily. I'd heard it was about an assassin and, when coupling that with the moody red and black close-up picture of Leon's face on the front of the DVD case, I thought the film was going to be an uncompromisingly gritty, bloody action-fest. I was pleasantly surprised at the actuality. I have a heart of stone, as anyone who knows me can testify, but at the core of the story is a very touching partnership between Jean Reno's titular man and Natalie Portman's character Mathilda. She is orphaned and essentially has her life saved by the apparently emotionless killer, so you've got to feel the heart strings being tugged.

The guy doing the orphaning, by the way, is Gary Oldman, who gives another good performance amongst many as Stansfield, the psychotically-charged corrupt cop (this a link to one of his more iconic scenes. I'm including it to try and curry favour with the young popular modern kids). That's another thing, though the relationships in the film are engaging, the overall theme of the underdog against the establishment is absolutely timeless and resonant. Stansfield is a villain because of what he does, but also what he represents.

While I was watching it I did have the concern that some cliches might be evident. The first example is the montage of Leon about his residence, caring for his plant etc. It seemed like a bit of a lazy way to set up character in the 'status quo' part of the film. As usual I was just being picky and I have to admit that the scene did indeed make me feel for the main character and care what happens to him.

So the acting's good, the ideas are good, but also the elements of humour are well placed, some of the camera shots are pleasing and the writing is generally economic. It was just a bloody good film, it was a genuine shame it had to end I was enjoying being in their world so much.

All that's left for me is to say thanks to Nova (writer over at Le Cafe Du Jour) who recommended the film to me, and for me to tell you to go watch it: go watch it.

Laters!

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Always Fascinating

A friend of mine has recently been published over at 'Writers' Billboard'. Julian Holt is and/or was (depending on how far in the future you're reading this. This is 2013 at the moment. Welcome...) the June joint short fiction winner with his piece 'Writer in Residence'. Now, the link is only good for a period of a month or two, apparently, so if it doesn't work you weren't quick enough!

'Writer in Residence' is essentially a meta-narrative, where the question of narrative reliability is surpassed by narrator's culpability. The 'meta-ness' of a story 'like this' is always intriguing to me. Writing above narrative is fun, but it takes an amount of skill to pull it off. A big bank of meta-narrative cliches have built up over time, and even the idea itself can become stale. To overcome these varied stagnant swamps of writing delusion is a tough thing, but I feel Holt has hopped, skipped and jumped over the pitfalls and into all the exciting things a narrative of this type presents to us. The narrator is a self-confessed writer (i.e. professional liar (no, not a politician)) which gives us an immediacy to the truth (or does it?). You're drawn to the process of narrative, as well as multiple character facets and there's no way of judging if it's true or not beyond speculation.

But aside from my ramblings about so-called 'meta-ness', the essential tenets of storydom are very competently mastered. The dual 'tracks' (i.e. the writer writing about the Brusque-Mantels/Derailleurs and then the 'real-life' Kemps/Raleighs) converge pleasantly at the end. And yeah, it makes you think. I felt I had to read it over to get a sense of its full worth and I got more out of it the second time.

And for my end I shall talk about Holt's beginning. My love for language meant I was completely trapped in the honey-sweet stickiness of linguistic longing in the first paragraph. I was hooked, I was 'gotten' - I had to read on. What a journey. Go read it, or else you may have dealings with the very same 'writer in residence'...

Monday, 3 June 2013

Billy Collins Stuff

This is all stuff what I got from YouTube, I'm sharing the links here because I think they're worth checking out. Billy Collins is a very witty man, he writes amusing and thought-provoking poetry. I think I first came into contact with him when I read 'Introduction to Poetry', which is something with personal resonance due to my studying English Literature at school. I know you'll love it, so whatcha waiting for? Click below!

Here's a tiny selection of his poetry:

'Forgetfulness' and 'The Lanyard' at White House Poetry Night


'Hangover' (possibly my favourite)

'What She Said' (perhaps not what you're expecting...)

Here are a couple of short answers to a couple of interesting topics:


The Egotism of Poetry


The Romance of Time

Hope you enjoyed. Don't thank me, thank Billy Collins!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Calum Kerr Interview: Flash Fiction



I’ve been pretty disillusioned with writing short stories and thinking of novels lately, preferring to write poetry instead. Every time I go on one of these ‘poetic breaks’, however, I always notice that I start to miss writing fiction, and this time has been no exception. To get back into the swing of things I entered a couple of FlashFiction competitions, figuring I’d be pretty good considering I didn’t need to write as much as usual, and didn’t win. I read over some of the other entrants’ work, though, researched the form a little more, and it became very exciting, making me want to write more. I realised there’s so much more to their creation than simply cutting out words. Flash Fiction is still a bit of a strange beast to me, but luckily Calum Kerr, author of Braking Distance, 31 and Undead at Heart, editor of Gumbo Press and director of the National Flash Fiction Day, has given up his time to talk with me about his thoughts and experiences.

Martin Palmer: Welcome to Blogtastic, the occasional home of useful and interesting things, as it is today. How did you get into writing Flash Fiction in the first place?

Calum Kerr: I was at a conference and in between all the papers with people talking about what they were currently working on, there was a workshop in this thing called 'flash fiction' which I had never come across before. It was run by a writer called Vanessa Gebbie. This was at the end of a dry spell for me where I had not written anything for nearly a year. In the space of that one hour workshop I wrote two short pieces - 'Salt' and 'Pluck' - both of which have since been published. After the workshop another attendee came up to ask if I had really written those two stories in the short time we were given, and to tell me how much they had enjoyed them. That was what started me off. After that, inspired by NaNoWriMo, I started embarking on projects to write lots of flash-fictions in set times, and I haven't really looked back.

MP: Why is Flash Fiction important for readers?

CK: It's short. Sounds simple, but in this day and age, short is king. A lot of people don't want to devote time to reading a whole novel, and something like flash is perfect for the bus journey, the tube ride, the few minutes that can be snatched between this appointment and that one. 

That much is self-evident. But more than that, flash is a perfect form for a society which is so saturated with narrative. We have novels, TV series, films, computer games and more. All of these have created a readership who have a great understanding of how narrative works. In this culture flash works by presenting just the tiniest snapshot of a story and asking the reader to bring their knowledge of narrative to bear on it, filling in the gaps, finishing off the story, providing the backstory. And there is something very satisfying for a reader in that - in part they get to write the story as well as read it. Despite its short length, I think reading flash can be a very satisfying experience.

MP: Why is Flash Fiction important for writers?

CK: It allows you to experiment in a way that even a short story doesn't. A story of, say, 5000 words, might take you a few weeks to write. A novel will take months. However a flash is something which can be written in a single sitting. It means you can try out something that you haven't done before, or something which you aren't very comfortable with. If it's good, great! you've written a new flash. If it's not good, never mind, bin it and do another one, you haven't lost anything!

Additionally, there is a control which is required by flash. Like with poetry the words have to do a lot of work, each one carrying a lot of baggage. It makes you more conscious of what each word is doing, and how the whole piece works together to construct your meaning. As such it makes you a tighter writer and a better editor.

MP: How do you manage to pack such a potent punch into so few words?

CK: For me it's about having a clear image of what it is I want to say. This rarely means plot, it means the 'theme' or 'idea' which underlies the story. The words are then a way of conveying that meaning, and in writing it you gear all nouns, verbs and adjectives (I try to avoid adverbs...) to that one idea. In language studies this is sometimes called a 'semantic field' where the various terms in a piece all belong to the same context. If you do that within a flash you can push forward your idea without ever mentioning the concept. One example would be a flash I wrote recently. It was a love story between an older couple. The man was making a wooden box as a present for his wife. I refer to two of the pieces 'marrying' together. It is a common term for two piece of wood meeting up, but it's other meaning also carries the 'love' part of the story forward. Now, if I can just write a piece where every word does that much work...

MP: What was it like working on your Flash365 project, how did you keep yourself motivated?

CK: Sometimes it was great, sometimes horrible. Very often this depended on the prompts that I had chosen. For those who don't know, Flash365 was a project to write a flash-fiction every day, for a year, and post them on a blog. I chose different prompts for each month, such as film titles (really good as prompts) or book titles from the Old Testament (really bad as prompts, avoid, avoid!). 

The other thing that kept me going was the process of doing it on a blog. I promoted it, linked it to my Twitter and Facebook accounts, and generated an audience who, if it was nearing midnight and no story had been posted that day, would actually start chasing me up. That kind of pressure - like any deadline - is a great motivator. 

Also, and this is personal, I suppose, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. And I did! (And then my wife did too. Check out mrsflash365.blogspot.com for hers).

MP: You started National Flash Fiction Day as a way of spreading the word about the form, are the people getting the message do you think? What’s next in the campaign?

CK: Yes, it was about spreading the word, and I think that has happened, at least a little. New people are still coming along and saying 'what's this flash-fiction thing, then?' and getting involved, which is tremendously exciting. Something unexpected has also happened, which is that the Day brought together all the various flash writers who were working in isolation and a small community has been formed. All these people who thought they were alone now have colleagues, and considering the lonely nature of writing this is something I'm really proud of.

Next? Well, we have the second Flash-Fiction Day happening on 22nd June this year, and then we need to look to the future. In my personal campaign I am currently working with a publisher to produce 4 pamphlets of stories from flash365 and elsewhere which will also be released as a single collection. I'm also working on my novels (writing, editing, seeking publication), so really very busy.

MP: Thanks for your time, Calum, Blogtastic appreciates it.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Not My Card

I just watched Scott Ryan's The Magician (nothing to do with magicians, by the way). Its main claim to fame is that Michele Bennett also produced Chopper an also amoral antipodean anti-hero. Is anti-hero generous? Yes. So sets the tone for the rest of my overly-cynical 'review' of this short-of-the-mark film. The whole reason I bought it was because of its comparison (by what critic I don't know...) to Man Bites Dog. The idea should be that it's an exploration of documentary TV 'objectivity'. With things feeling so staged most of the time, it was always hard to 'let go' and believe.

The Magician's biggest problem is that it thinks ad-libbed dialogue is good dialogue, or even good anything. Even amongst decent actors, it's a tough skill, but I think this project didn't have the time - and probably therefore money - needed for the re-taking of scenes (the shooting equivalent of re-drafting) to make it better. There is so much 'dead' dialogue, nervous actors saying 'y'know' so much, trying to second-guess in the moment, where more rehearsals could've produced a much more believable scene.

Now I'm not saying I know what'd be credible in the world of Australian assassins, but so many things stretched my credulity too far. I immediately thought Ray's captive is too eager to get into the car, cuff himself, dig his own grave etc. NO resistance whatsoever. There would be at least SOME kind of discomfort with being asked this. And there was that scene where Ray decides to avenge his documentarist's previous grievance where, at the second time of asking, he gets him back some of his stolen goods. If you think it's lame the way I'm describing it, well, it's not far off in reality. Maybe if they'd set up Ray's character as the world's best assassin, then people would be almost glad to follow his orders (maybe even in a tongue-in-cheek style, like they're just glad to be with a celebrity though they know it means their demise), but this is never established. Maybe they tried to with that initial in-the-first-five-minutes execution, but it wasn't enough. I'm not being pernickety, I really was extremely conscious of it.

The second main problem is that there's no decent 'showing'. There is a LOT of clunky exposition. I'm really not sure how it came to be produced in such a professional way when the project is clearly quite rough. It's not terrible, and I can see how this would be - as an 'on the job' project - very useful to an individual, learning what they think works and what doesn't. Its shortcomings are so horrendous though. The documentary format should be liberating, not a 'tick box affair' of storytelling. I felt there were so many aspects of Ray's character that they shoe-horned in through exposition, such as his army career, his possible homosexuality and then a brief flicker of family life NO! You don't have enough time in a film to tell a whole life-story, that's the point, that's the art! You have to be careful with the documentary format. It should totally liberate you but Ryan (as writer, director, actor, producer and editor) hasn't thought enough. He's cut the worst bits out, as his extras show, but what's left is below par for today's please-don't-patronize-me audience.


I think it's a poor experiment with character over plot. I'm not just judging, I've written similar things myself where I've put in an ill-fitting scene because the theme it addresses helps the story. But in The Magician, it was basically a way of spelling out beyond all doubt something like [read with robotic voice] 'he is not comfortable with not being the most alpha of men and any challenge to his masculinity makes him feel not so good'. In the past I thought an 'issue' like this advances the plot/character, but it should all be there from the start, and be there so much that the ways you show it can be extremely subtle. If you're showing a truth, you shouldn't need to tell people it's true (sorry that's probably quite patronizing in itself).


We get told clunkily at the end that the only reason we're seeing the documentary is because Ray is dead. I don't care. I don't feel close to the character, don't care he's dead. I actually care more about the documentarist, who drives on the story, despite his questions clearly lacking an appropriate level of tact. Apparently he's given no thought to the fact he is interviewing a psychopath. You don't goad one about being wrong about whether or not Clint Eastwood was in The Dirty Dozen (one of the two of three instances of humour that one can excavate from the footage) when you're dealing with a killer. Judging him about his views on homosexuality too: question him, yeah, but this interviewer is doing the equivalent of waving a red cape around a bull, then blowing raspberries. Yet the 'big killer' hardly gets angry, let alone doesn't pull a gun out and threaten him to shut his mouth.

It isn't really explained why there's such comfort between the man with the camera and the man with the gun. The Independent describes Ray as a "swaggering psycho" on the promo part of the box, so my guess is that he's so egotistical, he doesn't want to kill the cameraman or else his story won't get told. That just doesn't hold much water though. If he was so narcissistic he'd hire another crew. Nothing's really explored all that well, and I don't mean in a pleasant 'I have unanswered questions to ponder after the film's over' like you do when you consider, for example, who might be infected in John Carpenter's The Thing.

Basically I'm bitterly disappointed (as if you couldn't tell). In order to try and redress the balance, I'd like to genuinely say that acting in general, aside from of course the ad-libbed bits, weren't that bad.Still, if you think my 'review' is bad, you should read this from The New York Times.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Luis Suarez Greatest Hits Collection

New from Troubled World-Class Footballers Productions, the company that brought you such blockbusters as Zany Zidane's 'Nutters Paradise', Eric Cantona's 'Tie My Opposition Fan Down, Sport, That I May Unleash A Kangaroo Kick on His Posterior' and The Balotelli Boys' 'The Fireworks, Anti-Bullying, Failing to Put on a Bib, Silly Car Paintjobs, Chameleon HairJobs, Silly-Trickshots-Not-Coming-Off-With-Rapid-Substitution-In-America, Why Always Me? Album', 'Luis Suarez - Greatest Hits'.

  • The collection has all your favourites including:
  • Bite Me Baby One More Time
  • Put Your Hand on my Balls
  • I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Negritoes
  • Golden Boot, Pewter Face
  • Yellow Card (Is it Me You're Looking For?)
  • You've Lost That Respectable Feeling
  • What Could I Possibly Do Next?
  • Twat Out of Hell
  • Scarborough Fair
  • I'm Having an Off Day But Will Still Find the Back of the Net (12" Version)
And, who could forget
  • If I Could Cheat Back Time

Yes that's right, get ready for a big bloody Suarez fest, right in your ears! Be careful they don't get bitten off by Mr Suarez or his new buddy Mike Tyson. He's one of the world's best footballers and hi-jinkers, so lets forget the controversy and just focus on the good bits: his music.

RRP: Your soul.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Manifest Exhibiton

Just wanted to tell y'all to get going to the Manifest exhibition, if you can. It's a showcase of collaborative pieces between poet Robert Sheppard and artist Pete Clarke.

I took a while before last Monday's MA session to take a look around the fifteen pieces (and the TV screen) that make up the collection, and I think 'impressive' is certainly top on my list of descriptives. The text-on-collage ranges from really striking boldly-coloured redblack pows in your face ('Tangled Scree, 2012'), to subtler pastel colours where the text submerges under some of the paint ('Invisible Cities, 2009').

Rarely on the page would you ever get such a diverse range of ways to try and read a text, let alone appreciate its correlation to other visual stimulus. I found myself wondering if I was reading image and regarding word and asking myself 'if I was reading it the right way' etc. In that way it was great art, surprisingly interactive in that sense. I appreciated it both from the perspective of a student of postmodernism (process on show) but also as someone who just likes engaging in new and exciting things.

It's on until April 26th, so there's still plenty of time to check it out. It's a great opportunity, not something you see often.

All relevant details about the event can be found on the first link, but also included are links to the collabortators' websites.

Peace out.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Good In Life

You know what I like in life? Rhymes based on how to safely mix alcoholic drinks. I'm sure you're all the same. There's that one, "Cider on beer makes you feel queer, beer on cider makes a good rider." Yeah, good one that isn't it? Then of course there's that other one, how does it go, "Wine on beer makes you feel queer, beer on wine makes you feel fine." Yeah, both got rhymes in them. I've made one myself, actually, hope you like it:

Wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine on wine makes you fall over.

G'night folks!