Monday, May 21, 2012

Music Monday: I Gotta Get a Message to You

It's been a while since I did a Music Monday post but today with the sad news of the death of  Robin Gibb it seemed very fitting.

In the end he just couldn't hold on - but he sure left a wonderful message.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Stop Fecking Swearing!

Bad language catches your attention doesn't it?

Do you think people who swear profusely think it makes them sound more important or cool or contemporary? Or do you think obscenities are so engrained in the modern psyche it’s of no consequence if language is littered with them? Is it considered awesome to swear?

You see, as I've been surfing the net lately I've come across even more bad language than normal and I'm really beginning to find it quite unpleasant. In fact, I have no desire to visit those particular personal websites again. Sure, I can tolerate a few vulgarities and sometimes when they're used cleverly it can be a useful tool for comedic effect or to really hammer a point home - but every other sentence? I just find it fecking tedious. Worse, vulgarities can make you sound like a fecking idiot with a limited fecking vocabulary. Know what I fecking mean? You do? Awesome.

I'll admit that I occasionally swear and even drop the odd clanger here on my blog. Sometimes I even write the word "arse" - and not always when it's about my bottom. In respect of those very few f-word incidents I use asterisks because I'm sensitive to other people’s use of language so I anticipate that some people might have sensitivities to mine. I think asterisks take the edge off obscenities whilst still allowing me to speak in my own voice. I know some people will see that as a cop out or not being true to myself or even rather quaint but I just consider it polite. And what's wrong with having good written manners? I wouldn't use swear words in conversation with a stranger so neither would I want to offend one landing upon my blog by stringing every other sentence together with expletives. Frankly, I don't think the level of profanities I’ve come across lately is clever or cool and, in my opinion, if the writer thinks it's funny they’d better be sure readers are laughing with them and not at them.  I suppose what I’m saying is; I think swearing can be totally non-awesome.

Strangely enough, when I was a teenager I swore a lot. I wrote about the reasons for it in my article: Life and Language: A Personal StoryHowever, now I'm older and wiser I swear in moderation which is when I'm really irate (which usually involves being cut up at a roundabout on my way to the dentists) or when I am in one of my excitable moods (which may or may not involve alcohol). In my everyday language, I don't swear much at all now - although I'd be lying if I said a few corkers didn't occasionally slip through my  lips whilst I'm nibbling my cucumber sandwiches. I've definitely become more conservative in my use of language. Perhaps that's because as I've watched my children grow (which is mega awesome by the way) and listen to the world around them I understand and appreciate the need to preserve all the nicer aspects of the English Language and behaviour.

Maybe the increased use of casual expletives I’m reading on the net is just another example in the overall decline of literacy skills. Language is always changing and evolving and it always will be but, in my book, some changes are not so welcome. When I see vulgar language written by supposedly young and intelligent writers on their blogs I just cringe, particularly when it's by women writers. It's almost as indigestible as when I hear it coming out of the mouths of children and teenagers which is usually inappropriate and always ugly. I've had enough experience of life to accept bar room language but when I hear it from my own sex it grates even more. Call me old fashioned if you want, but there's something about foul language written by women that really turns me off.  It makes me want to take out my ruler and slap them over the wrists. Only I can’t because that would be politically incorrect and Her Majesty would probably incarcerate me in The Tower and subject me to repeats of Royal Weddings which would be the height of non-awesomeness and I’d probably have to fecking kill myself.

No doubt I’m just getting old.  I may need to start wearing support tights soon. However, I’ll probably be more comfortable with them than I am with modern language trends. How fecking sad is that?

In additions to the comments below you can follow this thread on Blogcatalog here

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Too Much Information!

Have you ever experienced one of those moments when someone says something they shouldn't? Or perhaps you've read an article, a Facebook status or seen a picture that you would really rather not see?

Yesterday, that happened to me. I was reading an article on Yahoo which was curiously titled "Japan faces "extinction" in a thousand years."  and a very interesting article it was too on the decline of the birthrate in Japan. Well it was - until I got to this sentence:

Unicharm said (on) Friday that sales of its adult diapers had "slightly surpassed" those for babies in the financial year to March, for the first time since the company moved into the seniors market.

UGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH. That I do NOT need do know! I am trying to stave off old age here! I do not need an image of the entire population of Japan wearing diapers shoved into the forefront of my imagination.

(By the way I had to stick an "on" in that sentence because otherwise that sentence looked really clumsy. I mean what do Yahoo think they are doing with that sloppy grammar? Writing a blog or something? )

So the trouble is -ever since I read that article that image has indeed been at the forefront of my imagination and now I can't get rid of it. I'm actually now thinking of taking up painting again because I think there's a possibility of some big bucks in a surreal interpretation of this image - if I transposed the works of L S Lowry from the North of England to Tokyo and filled it with diaper-wearing workers and I reckon I could make a fast buck.

Oh crikey, I could be going off into one of my Modern Art rants again. Of course, the only difference is that my work which I would entitle Tokyo City 3012 would actually be meaningful whereas we all know that most Modern Art is just some stuff splattered on canvas by some drug crazed, alcohol fuelled, sexually confused nutters. Okay, okay I'll be sensible - not all Modern Artists are like that - just most of them.

L S Lowry's "Huddersfield" courtesy of Wikipedia and currently on display at the Huddersfield Art Gallery, UK.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Formal Complaint about Schools

Right, what shall we talk about now that I've got my formal complaint about spots off my face. (See previous post.) I know - let's talk about the massive plank of wood that fell off the school gymnasium wall today and hit Master Ben on the head and knocked him to floor.

So shall I or shan't I ask for a copy of the accident report and the last health and safety check on the school gym equipment?

Hmm. Now let me think - the school have already got it in for Master Ben because I've brought it to their attention that certain members of their staff couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery - let alone mark a book. I may become even more unpopular than I already am but, more importantly, so might Master Ben who is already dispirited by the turn of events of the last year or so.

Hmm... I wonder if Young Master Ben will be sufficiently recovered to make his début for the county cricket team tomorrow as opening bowler. We'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, I might run through a few ideas for his letter of absence for tomorrow.

Dear Sirs,

Benedict was absent on Friday due to a headache and sickness.

Benedict was absent from school yesterday as he was suffering from concussion due to being unexpectedly hit on the head.

Benedict was absent yesterday due to a large plank of wood from the wall of the school gymnasium falling on his head, causing him to be absent from school with concussion. I would be most grateful if you would ensure that the school equipment meets current health and safety standards as this incident suggests that equipment is not being regularly inspected. 

Please, please, please will you get your act together. I have had enough. Last year Ben fell two grades in literacy which is not acceptable. His books, homework and diary were marked infrequently until I brought it to your attention which is not acceptable. You never ring me when the school cricket matches are cancelled which is not acceptable and now you let my child be hit on the head by a plank of wood most likely through negligence. It is not acceptable. Once again, you have failed my child.

Yours faithfully,

Jane Turley

A Formal Complaint about Spots

I am forty seven and I still suffer from spots. Please don't leave this page though; I am not that revolting. Just you know - a tiny bit. I haven't got big boils under the armpits or anything like that - and I'm not infectious. Facetious - yes. Infectious - no. Anyway, these accursed spots really annoy me, especially when I look at my friends' faces and I don't ever see them with any spots. Not that I wish spots upon them - but it would make my life more bearable if every now and then one of them got some huge pus infected monster that required a javelin to lance.

Hmm at this point, Dear Readers, as I was writing I Googled "Big Boils" on Google Images and got some fascinating pictures. The ones of actual boils made me want to throw up so I'll spare you that horror - and the rest were really quite bizarre and included: a man holding a fish, a hotpot (stew), the equipment for making home brew, a lemur wearing a bracelet on its head and a picture of George Bush. Now I get the George Bush picture but the others? What the hell were the tag lines?

I was just casting out my line when a huge boil erupted....

I was just adding the hops to the barrel and felt my face explode into a massive boil....

I was just adding the vegetables to the hotpot when I saw my reflection in the stainless steel container . I thought the contours of my face had been distorted by the curves of the pot until I realised my chin had developed a boil so so enormous it looked like Mount Etna...

I like to dress my pet lemur with jewellery. Oh and by the way he gets massive boils on his bum... (I don't know your guess is as good as mine on that one.....)

Yeah, so spots. It is categorically unfair that the lovely Mrs T should get spots! At forty seven I should be looking smart, sophisticated and super attractive but not so. All I need now is to develop a hunchback and I will be well on my way to acquiring a disabled parking space. Actually, I could really do with one of those as I can never get a space at our local hospital. Oh - apart from the time I pretended I had a bad leg and limped across the car park in front of the CCTV cameras. Which wasn't really my fault as they make you pay on entry and it was the only space left. What was I supposed to do? I asked Master Sam to pretend to have a limp as he was the one who was temporarily disabled (well his nose was) but he refused point blank...

Anyway, to get back to spots I tell you what annoys me even more then having spots is all the spot creams on the market that do not work. I particularly detest the ones that says they "visibly reduce spots in 4 hours" which is complete utter rubbish - I've tried them all. How the companies involved manage to get away with those statements completely baffles me - I can only surmise that the creams have been simultaneously tested with hair growth preparations on a sample group of bald gorillas and not your average woman or pubescent teenager.

Oh, I also hate those spots that never erupt but lie under the skin rumbling away so half your face swells up and you look like you've got mumps. And what's worse if you get one of those on the side of your nose you can end up looking like Karl Malden. Not that I have any of those of course.......

(Picks up a mirror, a large needle and takes aim......)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Guilty Stories, Wonderful Music and Cryptic Clues

I am probably not the only one who felt a little tear sting their eye when the news broke that Robin Gibb was on his deathbed. There probably aren't many of us, young or old, who haven't at some point in our lives enjoyed the wonderful music of the BeeGees. How utterly delightful it is to now know that Robin Gibb has come out of his coma and is speaking to his family again. The BeeGee brothers have been struck by some awful tragedies in their lives - how lovely it would be if Robin and Barry could lightened our lives with a little bit more of their very special brand of music for a few years longer. Poor Robin is facing some serious challenges though with bowel cancer, liver failure and pneumonia. But he's already faced survived against the odds - let's hope he can make the distance.

Anyway, this morning I suppose I was subconsciously thinking about the BeeGees and I came up with a scenario for a short story;

A man walks into a collector's shop wanting to sell his collection of old albums. The shopkeeper  recognises him and after exchanging pleasantries he agrees to buy the record collection for a few pounds. Later, as the shopkeeper sorts through them he sees Barbra Streisand's Guilty album. He's a big fan of Barbra so he pulls it out of the cardboard box and as he inspects it he sees a cryptic message written under the album title.

What might happen next? Does anyone want to offer up a cryptic message to get the old creative cells working further? I always find a little bit of input from others can be quite stimulating. So, if you got an idea for me let's be having it! I might even send this scenario to a writing buddy and see what he makes of it too. The more the merrier!

In the meantime, here's Barry and Barbra singing Guilty. Having watched the video below a number of times I think my favourite excerpt is not Barry arriving on stage halfway through the song or Barbra's kooky faces but the close up of the three adults in the audience so obviously enjoying the performance with smiles on their faces and in their eyes. The woman looks like a young Elizabeth Taylor too - although I don't think it is her. Isn't it great to see people looking happy and enjoying themselves?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Homeless, Drugs and Mental Illness

I have a new book review up on The View From Here. By début novelist Tyler Stevens, Street is about the challenging topics of the homeless, mental illness and drug abuse.

Today I took a day off to see a shrink. To tell him my problems. And I went and it was okay, except I knew he was messing with me, and he knew I was messing with him. I told him I felt out of sorts and violent. Tell me about the violent thoughts, he said.

My guess is the book is semi-autobiographical. It's very thought provoking and emotionally quite raw, as is the writing. I actually liked that - such a change from all that ludicrous chick lit and implausible thrillers with plots you need Google Maps to follow. It was very refreshing to read something that sounded both true and honest and where the author clearly had something very important he needed to say.

One British pound is being donated from the sales of Street to the UK charity for the homeless, Shelter. The book is £7.99 on Amazon and only £2.05 on Kindle. At £2.05 that's less than the price of your next cup of coffee and Costas or Starbucks. So how about giving it a shot? 

You can check out my full review of Street here.

My Nominees for the US and UK Elections and Other Waffle

It's the early hours of the morning, and I have had a large gin... Late-night alcohol is always a good recipe for writing gibberish. And...