This Week I Have Been Mostly Listening To…

Key West

A month ago, I wrote about listening to Imagine Dragons. If you remember, I had invited some ‘young people’ to challenge me, to suggest music; bands, solo artists,etc, for me to listen to (shock, challenge, and make my music neurons wake up!) (I forgot to mention the age group of these young ‘uns – 18 to 21 years). To carry on with the idea of me- middle aged woman, being introduced to ‘new stuff’ in regards to music, I have been listening to Patrick’s suggestion –

Key West.

N.B: this is NOT a review – it’s simply an experiment in expanding my listening tastes.

What I listened to
1.This is Heartbreak– A slow, romance song with steady drum beat and gentle vocals. “Over and over again I can’t take it”, just about sums it up for me.

What does it sound like to me? ‘Soft’ Pop.

Did I like it? No.

2All My Mistakes Another romance, more upbeat with a cheeky little tambourine in the chorus. Has a kind of summer feel to it and I can definitely see the ‘young one’s’ dancing to it at a party. Me? I’d have to have a few G&T’s first!

What does it sound like to me? Pop/Rock

Did I like it? If I’m being generous, it was okay. Kind of…

3.Carousel Another love song!! Gak!! A little upbeat, nice drum rhythm and clapping. Didn’t make me want to dance though – or ride a carousel!

What does it sound like to me? Pop/Rock

Did I like it? No.

4. Stuck On ReplayAnother song about love, this time unrequited, sort of. A typical pop melody and rhythm that reminded me of so many other ‘love songs’ of the 90s. Even the lead singers voice has a very generic quality to it; ‘croaky pain’, check. ‘whispery pain’, check. ‘high-note sorrow’, check.

What does it sound like to me? Pop

Did I like it? No

5.This SummerDid that intro sound like All My Mistakes??? Slightly heavier beat (though still rather soft) – oh! I can go ‘Fuck yourself’!! Seems like he’s got over the girl/girls in previous 4 songs, and it makes a positive difference. It ends on a discordant note on guitar and piano – which I thought might bode well for future stuff…

What does it sound like to me? Pop/Rock

Did I like it? Almost. Not quite.

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Key West look as thrilled as I did listening to their music

6.Electric Love The opening has potential, a minimalist feel with a slappy bass. But guess what? It’s ANOTHER love song!!! There is a bit of a western feel with the rhythm, like being on a train, which keeps the song feeling more ‘alive’ than others. But it gets quite repetitive after 2 minutes in.

What does it sound like to me? Pop/Rock

Did I like it? Not really.

7.Messages From God Sounds like another love song to me. Blah, blah, blah.

What does it sound like to me? Pop

Did I like it? No.

8.Feels So Cruel Aarrgghh!!

What does it sound like to me? Pop

Did I like it? No

9.The Message Borrr-ing!

What does it sound like to me? Soft Pop

Did I like it? No

10.The Little Things – A stronger vocal opening than previously heard. Picks up into a bouncy little number after intro. Nice guitar and bass. A little experimentation at the end with some ambient sounds.

What does it sound like to me? Pop/Rock

Did I like it? It was okay.

 
To round-up – I won’t be listening to Key West again. The name suggests a link to America, though they are, I discovered, a Dublin band. I had never heard of them before, despite the fact that they have been on the scene since 2012. The sound is too processed, too audience friendly – middle of the road for my liking.

Was I challenged? No. Were my middle-aged-lady sensibilities offended? Not at all.

By track 4 I definitely felt ‘Stuck on Replay’! I had determined to listen to 10 songs and to give them an even break, but boys, I’ve heard it all before. It’s so hum-drum, pedestrian with little creativity that I can see.

The point of this exercise was to have music that would challenge me, something new, something exciting, perhaps weird or a little ‘arty’. Key West is, for me, none of those things. The challenge was sticking with it long enough to form and write and opinion.

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Key West had me yawning at my key board

 

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Self – Obsession

Warning: you may not like what you read today. And if it piques, ask yourself why.

Self-Obsession

What strange times we live in.

Imagine you are not from the country that you live in. Take a moment.

Now look at it with as objective a view as you can.

Do the people in your country care for each other? Do they work together in harmony? Do they strive to make it a better place to live in? Or, are efforts made just for the few?

Now let us step away from that country, pull back as though you were a camera lens, a film shot pans out, and we see the Earth. Ask the same questions.

Are you satisfied with what you see?

Are there people in this world who do not have what you have? Are there people in this world who do not even have the basics for sustainable life? Are there people dying needlessly? Are children dying needlessly?

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We think we are being a good person when we make a donation to a charity. We think we are a good person when we drop coins into a ‘begging bowl’. We think we are good when we buy a poppy, a copy of The Big Issue, use a charity shop, recycle.

But we need to seriously ask ourselves the question – Who am I doing it for? For many, this is actually a self-serving activity. We tell ourselves, ‘I’m a good person because I ….fill in the gap…’

But are we doing this to make ourselves feel better? To alleviate a little guilt? To be able to proclaim to others that, yes, I am a giving kind of person.

We live in an age of self-obsession like never before. Of course there have been cultures in the past, in which people have been worshipped and adored; the ancient Greeks, Gladiators and Romans. But because they did it, does that mean it is alright now? Are we not a progressive being; do we not strive to improve?

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We all know how easy it can be to get attention via social media, and the biggest item used by regular folk today is the selfie; the ultimate tool in the self-obsessives kit.

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Now that we have the front-facing camera on our smartphones, the way we take pictures and share them has changed. So convenient, so ‘trendy’, so self-obsessed; we never to stop to ask – is it good for us, good for others? What a bizarre question, you may say, but if you step back and apply the ‘imagine you’re from another planet’ test, you begin to see how truly strange this activity is.

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Why do we think anyone wants to see our every move? Why do we think the rest of the community wants to see our pouting lips, thrusting hips, girlfriend’s arse, boyfriend’s pecs, a new hairstyle, lipstick, every inch of the human body has been photographed to within an inch of its life.  We all have one, so why do we feel the need to show ours to everyone else?

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We are so self-obsessed, that when someone ‘famous’ dies, or an horrific incident kills many, there is a public outpouring of grief, a gross display of ‘how I feel’. People don’t want to hear this or be honest about it, but there is a strange reaction to the victim(s) and the event: around the inner circle of family and friends, a second layer begins, the people who did not know those involved, but ‘want to express their love’. Outside of this, complete strangers arrive to ‘show solidarity’ at this sad time.

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But, we must ask ourselves, who are we doing this for?

Really.

Are we actually empathising, feeling the sadness of loss that the family feel, or are we pandering to our own, selfish need to feel like we are a part of it? Can we not feel something without a public display? Why the need to be seen placing flowers at a site that has absolutely no relevance to us, other than, the true answer – I need to be seen to grieve, I need to be seen to be a feeling/thoughtful person. I need to be seen to do something.

I need to be seen.

 

self obsession Tilda

Sex…(That got your attention didn’t it?!)

 

N.B: Possible sensitive material. (Depending on how sensitive you are.)

Sex sells.

Forget your Game of Thrones romps in Peter Littlefinger’s brothel, or the gyrations of any number of women – and occasional men, in music videos, or that 1990’s bra advert – ‘Hello Boys.’

You know by now that I like to have an occasional rant  – and if you don’t then you haven’t been following properly! *smiles coyly – or you have only just started following.

I wanted to rant about sex, no not the lovely smushy, let’s-get-this-party-started kind of sex, but the kind that is used to make you (and me I suppose, sometimes, but I like to think I’m-above-that-kind-of-thing) buy stuff.

Are advertisers bastards? Or are we just dumb animals that allow our baser instincts drive the click-pay-send-buy cycle? It’s all over the show: perfume and aftershave adverts, clothing, cars, ad infinitum. But what bugs me most? Music videos! Music videos that contain endless yards of naked, semi-naked, sweaty, oiled, writing flesh. And guess what? There’s no age limit on them like films have, so television channels can show them at 8:30 on a Saturday or Sunday morning, when you want a lie-in, and your little kids are up and about. And what do little kids do when alone? (Ew, not that!) Yep, they watch the box, unsupervised (‘cos you got pissed the night before and have to lie still in a darkened room so you don’t vomit all over the place – or is that just me?)

Your kids are watching soft porn people!!!!

But before we all get carried away, this post isn’t about soft porn (though I know some people will wish it was). I have been noticing semi-clad images all over the show except one place – literature (NO! Not that kind of literature) I’m talking about fiction writing and the covers that bind them.

Sex sells.

petyr baelish
Petyr Baelish, fondling those exquisite pages.

Which brings me back to Game of Thrones; or should I say books in general. Although there is an insanely wild amount of sex in G.O.T, the covers tell a different story, because it’s all about politics, not sex. There are those books that have a suggestion of sex on the covers; prime example is Jilly Cooper and all those jolly gals and boys who ride horses, play polo and live in a foreign country as far as I’m concerned. And maybe an open shirt or two revealing a male chest to titillate the middle-aged, middle-class reader. And then there is the brigade of women writers and readers (and I guess some blokes) who read romance. Ah, romance; roses, wine, softly scented kisses, you’re kidding aren’t you?!

 

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It was not always so. For your delectation, I have trawled through acres of yellowing-dog-eared-slightly whiffy pages to present to you some fine, and cringe worthy, examples of how sex has been selling literature for decades. From the 1920’s through to the current day, I give you, how sex sells literature…

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Ladies in Hades. 1928

 

What Aldous Huxley would have made of this cover, God only knows!

sex 1963
Teacher’s Pet. 1963
sex 2011
In Bed With a Highlander. 2011
sex 2012
Taking a Shot. 2012
sex 2013
First Strike. 2013

And my favourite; even though it is a parody…

sex spoof

You can find more romance parody book covers at – https://www.flickr.com/photos/verybigjen/sets/489555/

Feel the need of a scrub down now. Have a great day y’all.

To Be (a nerd), Or Not To Be (a nerd)…

…that is the question… that I am posing today.

Way back when I was at school, nerds were the really intelligent kids (not me!), who were excellent at Maths and Science in particular. They couldn’t throw, or kick, a ball, they shied away from crowds, cool kids, hockey sticks, pubs, clubs and bars, even their own shadow at times. Nerds were, well, nerdy!

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Then along came this other word – Geek – it infiltrated to the UK from the ‘good ole US of A’. And we were confused, so this geek was like a nerd but had something to do with technology, both intelligent in academic ways, but stupid socially, neither had any dress sense (many wore spectacles) and you certainly did NOT want to get trapped with one who then regaled you with their favourite topic, no sir!

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For older readers, the difference between nerds and geeks is purely a matter of lexical semantics – they’re both weird. For younger readers, there is a whole pile of difference , and don’t you dare call me a nerd when I’m a geek!!! And then they stomp off to read their comics (because, as we all know, nerds/geeks read comics, don’t they?)

So let us have a little stroll through the history, and meaning, of the world of Nerds and Geeks. Got your notebook and mismatched attire? Then let’s go…

A nerd is a person seen as overly intellectual, obsessive, or lacking social skills. Such a person may spend inordinate amounts of time on unpopular, little known, or non-mainstream activities, which are generally either highly technical, abstract, or relating to topics of fiction or fantasy, to the exclusion of more mainstream activities. Additionally, many so-called nerds are described as being shy, quirky, pedantic, and unattractive, and may have difficulty participating in, or even following, sports.

Though originally derogatory, nerd is a stereotypical term, but as with other pejoratives, it has been reclaimed and redefined by some as a term of pride and group identity.

The first documented appearance of the word nerd is as the name of a creature in Dr. Seuss‘s book If I Ran the Zoo (1950), in which the narrator Gerald McGrew claims that he would collect “a Nerkle, a Nerd, and a Seersucker too” for his imaginary zoo.The slang meaning of the term dates to the next year, 1951, when Newsweek magazine reported on its popular use as a synonym for drip or square in Detroit, Michigan.  By the early 1960s, usage of the term had spread throughout the United States, and even as far as Scotland. At some point, the word took on connotations of bookishness and social ineptitude

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nerd

The word geek is a slang term originally used to describe eccentric or non-mainstream people; in current use, the word typically connotes an expert or enthusiast or a person obsessed with a hobby or intellectual pursuit, with a general pejorative meaning of a “peculiar person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual, unfashionable, or socially awkward”.

Although often considered as a pejorative, the term is also used self-referentially without malice or as a source of pride. Its meaning has evolved to refer to “someone who is interested in a subject (usually intellectual or complex) for its own sake”.

This word comes from English dialect geek or geck (meaning a “fool” or “freak“; from Middle Low German Geck). “Geck” is a standard term in modern German and means “fool” or “fop”.The root also survives in the Dutch and Afrikaans adjective gek (“crazy”), as well as some German dialects, and in the Alsatian word Gickeleshut (“jester‘s hat”; used during carnival).[1] In 18th century Austria, Gecken were freaks on display in some circuses. In 19th century North America, the term geek referred to a performer in a geek show in a circus, traveling carnival or travelling funfair sideshows (see also freak show). The 1976 edition of the American Heritage Dictionary included only the definition regarding geek shows. This variation of the term was used to comic effect in an episode of popular 1970s TV show Sanford & Son. Professional wrestling manager “Classy” Freddie Blassie recorded a song in the 1970s called “Pencil-Necked Geek”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geek

Hang on, let’s pause here – so nerds are shy – so fucking what!? Most shy people I know are also the most strong-minded individuals I have ever met. They read fantasy fiction? Co-o-o-l.  And geeks are enthusiasts? Where would we be without people who are enthusiastic about something, anything? Aren’t creative types enthusiastic to the point of obsession? William Turner, Auguste Rodin, Frida Kahlo, Barbara Hepworth, H P Lovecraft, Prince!? They would never have produced the paintings, sculpture, books or music that they did, without having at least a hint of geekiness/nerdiness.

So what happened?

Lets see if we can identify the ‘accusers’ and the ‘supporters’…

1974: The Fonz, a character on an American TV show; Happy Days, referred to socially awkward kids interested in science and math as nerds. The world gave him a big thumbs up and nerds a big thumbs down. NB: this was a guy in his late twenties(at least!) who seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time hanging out with teen schoolkids!!! *J’accuse The Fonz.

1978: Eugene Felsnic, a character in Grease was shrill voice, had poor social skills, thick glasses, and was generally considered embarrassing. He was the butt of a lot of jokes. poo Eugene was just overly keen. *J’accuse the T-Birds, The Pink Ladies and Producers,  Allan Carr and Robert Stigwood.

1984: The movie, Revenge of the Nerds was released, and amazingly,people delighted in a movie where the nerds get to win. The film does not actually portray nerds positively, but they were the stars! “We have news for the beautiful people. There’s a lot more of us then there are of you!” Nerd appreciation went up slightly. *Kudos to Director Jeff Kanew.

1985: Movie; Weird Science by John Hughes came out, (also Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). Hughes humanized the nerds that audiences had made fun of before. Audiences were made to understand that nerds have feelings too. They were no longer the butt of jokes. Nerd appreciation was beginning to climb. *Kudos to Director John Hughes.

1991: Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons, was a fairly accurate stereotype, and though an enjoyable character, he does not help the cause of geeks and nerds. Ever. Not sure if he was appreciated or jeered. *Nada.

1999: Star Wars: Episode I was released. And so began the biggest nerd growth in the history of mankind. Nerds were popping up all over the show; watching the films, talking about the films, buying merchandise that appeared in those comic shops that started popping up everywhere. (Being a cynic, I am apt to believe the supreme marketing of this franchise is what has created a cycle of movie-nerd-merchandise-tie ins-geek-movie-nerd ad infinitum.) However, the profile, appreciation/acceptance of nerds and geeks has risen tenfold. *Kudos  to creator George Lucas.

2007: The Big Bang Theory, American TV show arrived. It has been and continues to be, a massive hit. It portrays nerds/geeks as being not only super intelligent but, know-it-alls’ who are indeed socially adept, who are terrified of women, often pedantic and in one instance (Sheldon) possibly lean towards Asperger’s. What initially appear to be stereotypes, and to a degree they are, they also reflect what the vast majority have concerns with; friendship, work, and problems with both. The first nerds to get their very own show! Hurrah! *Kudos to writers, Chuck Lorre, Bill Prady, Maria Ferrari, Steven Molaro and the rest.

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2010: It wasn’t enough anymore, to visit comic book shops, sit on the side-line and discuss girls who would never look at you, it was time to get physical – enter Kick-Ass, the movie! This was a nerd who was mad as hell and he wasn’t going to take it anymore! This was the skinny, ‘little’ guy who no-one looked at, the guy who hung out with his two equally nerdy pals and spent too much time with comics – it is an homage to the comic superhero, stop just reading about it, and do something. Kick-Ass hailed the rise of a new nerd – Super-Hero-Nerd! *Kudos to writers/Director Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman.

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Well there you have it. Or do we?

Before you go, can you see anything missing from this picture so far?????

Notice an absence from the list???

Still not got it??

I’ll give you a clue – what is the gender of the writer of this blog?!

Where are the women?! It is an odd thing, females have been noticeably missing from the nerd/geek history. If you type female nerd into your search engine, you will more than likely get an image of a ‘sexy’ woman in tight shirt and spectacles that she probably doesn’t wear in her ‘real’ life!

1995: Hackers starred Angelina Jolie as a young hacker alongside Jonny Lee Miller. It wasn’t a terrifically good film and did little for nerds and geeks, even though their IT skills were at the cutting edge! *Nada.

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1996: Saw Matilda making a hit, (with children and some parents). Matilda was not only very well read and intelligent, she got the better of her bullying teacher; Miss Trunchbull. It was cool in the playground for a short while, then the boys came back with their footballs and sense of entitlement. *Kudos to Roald Dahl (and Director Danny De Vito for trying.)

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1997: J.K. Rowling brought us the best girl-nerd ever! Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, was published. Then it was made into a film! It was a HUGE success. She wrote 6 more! We got more films! Hermione Granger was the new hero of young women and girls right across the planet, she had to fight extreme prejudice from, not only classmates, but teachers. She is from a Muggle family, she is well-read, she is intelligent(more than any of the other characters), she is brave, she is loyal – she is the driving force behind Harry and Ron and without her, I believe, Lord Voldemort would have won!!

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Girl nerds are just as cool as boy nerds, perhaps more so, as they have to work harder. In what way, I hear you ask? Well, if you’re a boy, and a nerd, it can still be a battle to get respect from people. If you’re a girl nerd, you not only have that battle, but another with the boy nerds, who are just like the rest of their species when it come to females!

To Be (a nerd), Or Not To Be (a nerd)…that was the question. Or are you a geek?

I have decided I am a mix of both. It needs a new word, I propose NEEK!

‘Good Mo-orning, e-ev’ryone!’

Yes, I know it’s a misquote – (my blog!)

So, I was thinking about how we misquote or remember famous lines incorrectly and decided that I would seek out the correct one’s, just for you dear readers – I spent some time rewatching old movies, sections of movies and looking up literary passages.

I suppose it depends where in the world you are, whether or not these famous lines have become part of general usage, you know when you wake and say “I love the smell of coffee in the morning.” ? Do you know who you’re mis-quoting? Ever get the urge to say, “You lookin’ at me?” ? – I do, ALL of the time, that’s just me then is it? O-Kay…

For your delectation I’ve compiled an eclectic mix of movie and book lines, said by characters, that have entered our current zeitgeist, you might be surprised how your memory played tricks…

 

“You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” Charlie Croker – The Italian Job.

“Play it!” Rick Blaine – Casablanca.

“You talkin’ to me?” Travis Bickle – Taxi Driver.

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“Elementary.” Sherlock Holmes – The Crooked Man.

“I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore – Apocalypse Now

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“Alright, Mr. Demille, I’m ready for my close up.” – Norma Desmond – Sunset Boulevard

“I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.” Blanche Dubois – A Streetcar Named Desire.

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“Please sir, I want some more.” Oliver Twist – Oliver.

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Rhett Butler – Gone With The Wind.

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“There is no place like home.” Dorothy Gale – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

“Mine’s Bond- James Bond.” James Bond – Casino Royale.

“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Howard Beale – Network.

“Live long and prosper.” Lieutenant Spock – Star Trek.

“Call me Ishmael.” Ishmael – Moby Dick.

“You’ve got to ask yourself one question. Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?” Harry Callahan – Dirty Harry.

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“He-e-e-e-re’s Johnny!” Jack Torrence – The Shining.

Stupid is as stupid does”, Forrest Gump – Forrest Gump.

“Say hello to my little friend!” Tony Montana – Scarface.

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And pretty much anything said by any character from Shakespeare’s plays!

I think I selected these because, at one time or another, I have used these lines (albeit a little crookedly and adapted to the occassion).

Feeling irked at a colleague? Put your best Rhett Butler face on and say the line! Go on I dare you! You might even want to go all Oliver on your boss!

So until next time, go and hunt out your favourite quotes, try them out on some unsuspecting sap and enjoy the results, in the words of The Terminator –

“I’ll be back!”

The Alan Gibbons Interview

 

Alan Gibbons  is an English writer of children’s books who has won a Blue Peter Book Award. He lives in LiverpoolEngland, where he used to teach in a primary school. His father was a farm labourer, but was hurt in an accident when Alan was eight years old.  The family had to move to Crewe, Cheshire. He began to write for his pupils as a teacher, but never tried to get any of his work published.                                      (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Gibbons)

In 2016, I attended a writer’s workshop run by Alan, he managed to fit a heck of a lot into that 4-hour session, from how to write catchy opening lines to setting a scenario;  we all had to create our own ‘good guy finally comes up against the bad guy’ scene. We were encouraged to focus on detail; through the eyes of a person immobilised in bed, to imagining being trapped in the room we were writing in and writing a first person account of meeting the villain of the piece. He worked fast, gave honest feedback and provided a fresh angle on, what the industry calls, Young Adult literature.

He has over 70 published books!

I am extremely grateful to Alan, for taking time out of his, evidently very busy schedule, to be interviewed. And as you will see, as well as being no slouch when it comes to writing, he has definite views on politics, and is no cry baby!

alan gibbons book 3  alan gibbons book 5  alan gibbons book 6  alan gibbons book 7

Hi Alan, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for my blog; Flailing Through Life…

And talking about flailing; Do you ever find yourself ‘flailing through life’?

Alan: Always. When you are young, you think you are on a journey and one day you will reach the promised land. Later, you realise you are already in the promised land and you have been wandering round in it without knowing.

Me: Your books often have political leanings; in An Act of Love (2011), two childhood friends are tested by the onset of the war in Afghanistan, in Whose Side Are You On? (1991), you tackle racism. Would you describe yourself as a ‘political animal’?

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Alan: I am, definitely. I am on the Left, but spend most of my time arguing with what I perceive to be the moral and political failings of my own tribe.

Too many people on the Left are trapped within the mindset of the past, the sclerotic failings of Stalinism or lack of courage to adopt truly radical political positions.

Me: Do you see any disparity, or connection, between those books that are based in the ‘real’ world, and those of a more ‘fantastical’ nature; such as The Legendeer Trilogy?

Alan: Not really. Fantasy is just as capable of insights into power structures, class relationships and issues of oppression as more naturalistic work.

It is the quality of the ideas behind the book and their artistic execution that matter.

alan gibbons book 1

Me: What is the first book (another author) that made you cry? And have you ever shed any tears when writing yourself?

Alan: Nothing makes me cry. De nada. Among the books that have moved me are Jane Eyre and Grapes of Wrath, Alex Wheatle’s Island Songs, Bali Rai’s City of Ghosts and Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses.

Me: What’s with your obsession with football?

Alan: Growing up as a working-class boy in a white bread and tinned veg part of the North West, we didn’t do feelings so we found an emotional outlet at football grounds. It offered tribal loyalties, heroes and a sense of common values. It was a myth of course. Racism and violence stalked the terraces too.

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Me: What other authors are you friends with, and do they help you become a better writer?

Alan: I know people like Bali Rai, Alex Wheatle, Andy Seed, Cathy Cassidy, Steve Barlow, Steve Skidmore and Paul Cookson. I wouldn’t say I discuss writing much with these guys, but I learn from their work and their outlook on the world.

Me: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Alan: No bullshit.

You fall in love with somebody? Don’t hang back. Tell them.

You think somebody’s a clown? Don’t waste time on them.

You want to say that kind of thing in fiction? Don’t self-censor. Do it.

Me: How many unpublished and/or half-finished books do you have?

Alan: Maybe four. I have been lucky that most of my stuff has been published. That is getting less true. With the modern day obsession with the market and shifting ‘units’ and the celebrity culture, writers are facing new pressures.

Me: How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?

Alan: A short novel takes a month, a longer one six months.

Me: And finally, What is your favourite childhood book?

Alan: For younger kids Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.

For older kids Treasure Island. Most books could do with losing a good fifty pages. In this book, every word is needed.

 

You can find Alan Gibbons at www.alangibbons.com or www.alangibbons.net

To book Alan for a school visit email mygibbo@gmail.com

 

Next time – Mike Wood on Sci-Fi, music, and Travel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Oh yes, I’m the great Procrastinator.”

I was going to write about how English words mean something else in other languages – like ‘kiss’ in Swedish means ‘pee’. But I went and did some laundry instead.

Then, I was going to write about the current political climate re- America and Syria. But I went and had a cigarette instead.

I thought about writing about how words in the English language have changed their meaning – did you know ‘nice’ originally meant the opposite of today’s meaning. But I ended up reading and replying to e-mails.

You see, I’m a procrastinator, of the first order!

It isn’t that I don’t have an idea, I have plenty of ideas, I write little notes everywhere, my dining room is an homage to Post-It notes and notebooks. I will wander about the house looking for something to do, or I spend an hour (or two or three!) on the Playstation. or suddenly, there is a huge amount of laundry to be done! I have always been like this; seemingly directionless, a self-accused lazy person.

However, I have since realized that this is not the negative non-activity I first believed it to be. I watched a TED talk given by Tim Urban, in which he explains, with amusing visuals, what a dire procrastinator he was/is;      https://www.ted.com/talks/tim_urban_inside_the_mind_of_a_master_procrastinator

and recognised many elements within myself. I also discovered that I belong to a, pretty awesome, group of individuals who are cast as procrastinators.

Victor Hugo – French writer Victor Hugo was apparently familiar with the muse of procrastination; preferring to do any and everything rather than focusing on his work. So how, I hear you ask, did he get busy again?  Well apparently, he would strip naked, have his servant take away his clothes and lock him in his study until he resumed work! Well, at least he wasn’t distracted by doing the laundry!

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“It may look to the untrained eye [like]I’m sitting on my arse all day” (I Spy, PULP)

 

Saint Augustine – Who’d have thunk it! A saint! (I feel so much holier than thou now) Apparently, Augustine was dreadful at getting things done and could relapse into bouts of distraction at the drop of a hat.  He struggled to maintain his pious status all of the time and often relapsed into sin. His desire for sex often led him astray and over the years he forgot his holy path on more than one occasion. I know how he feels!!

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“Dum de dum, people watching, so I’ll pretend to write..tum te tum…”

 

Leonardo Da Vinci –  Da Vinci completed some of the most famous works of art ever to have been created, but it turns out that he was not very focused.  Mona Lisa took 16 years to complete! Da Vinci was so renowned for his procrastination that one benefactor had to threaten him with bankruptcy to get him to finish a commissioned piece.Many of Da Vinci’s works remain unfinished.

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You think you grow a beard like this without procrastinating?!

 

Margaret Atwood – Margaret Atwood apparently suffers from serious bouts of procrastination. She has had 14 novels, 9 short stories and 16 poetry books published, but, according to the author herself, her success is down to allowing herself to procrastinate for a few hours in the morning, and by the time she sits down to work mid-afternoon, she is finally able to focus.

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The evil genius that is the procrastinator, mwah-ha-ha!

 

Douglas Adams –  was as legendary for his procrastination as he was for his one-liners. “I love deadlines,” he once quipped. “I like the whooshing sound they make when they go by.” According to his friend, Steve Meretzky, “Douglas has raised procrastination to an art form. Hitchhikers Guide would never have gotten done if I hadn’t gone over to England and virtually camped out on his doorstep.” Adams struggled mightily with the writing of his final novel, The Salmon of Doubt, and would soak for hours in a bathtub instead of getting on with it. He had been working on it for ten years and still hadn’t completed a first draft when he died of a heart attack in 2001. The fragments were published posthumously, but they are far from forming a coherent novel.

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42? Whatever!

 

The Dalai Lama – A great spiritual leader who travels the world teaching about compassion as the source of happiness in life. But before Dalai-hood, he was a student who found it hard to get motivated. “Only in the face of a difficult challenge or an urgent deadline would I study and work without laziness,”. And now?  “You must not procrastinate,” he now teaches. “Rather you should make preparations so that even if you die tonight, you would have no regrets.”

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Ha ha ha ha! You fools who work non-stop!

 

The Dalai Lama! I know! (he went and ruined it at the end when he talked about making preparations though.)

So, if you feel the guilt of the procrastinator, fear not, you’re we’re in good company. So forward procrastinators of the world! Let us hold our heads high, unfurl the banner without sigil and sound the horn and feel proud of what we are! We are (not quite) mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore – 1st Meeting of The Procrastinators – meet at the park next Friday at 7 pm – if you can be bothered – or maybe you have some laundry to do? We could postpone it until next month…

 

Dashie XP procrastinates good style – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13y7IVYoRS8 

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N.B: there is swearing in the above video, so if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing…well, what can I say?!

 

P.S: I will be starting a series of interviews in the coming weeks; keep a lookout! And if there are any creative types out there who wish to be included, just drop me a line. Ta ta for now.