Category Archives: Books

It’s Been a While…

It’s been exactly a month since I’ve posted anything here, mostly because I’ve gotten a new job (huzzah!) and I’m not all that used to getting up before 9am or sleeping before 2am, so I’ve been a little preoccupied.

But that’s no excuse to leave my little blog so empty for so long, so I’m going to strive to keep posting here as much as possible! My new target is once a week, pushing it up to twice a week once I’ve got the ball rolling.

Another new target of mine – seeing as it’s a quarter of the year in, I can make new resolutions, right? – is to do more writing. I’ve been doing ok on that front overall, by typing up bits and pieces on my phone whenever I feel like it, and I’ll post about all that soon too. But I’m not actually sitting down and doing anything. Nothing is solid or forming into full drafts. It’s kind of lazy of me, so I need to start sorting that out. Over the last month I’ve done about three days of work based on that Script writing book I’ve been reading. And today and yesterday were days off and supposed to be my oh right Imma get down and get some motherfucking writing up in this joint but alas, nothing. So bloody lazy. And I’ve got cleaning to do. Meh.

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Other New Quarter Resolutions are:

  • Play with rats more (Ideally, play with baby rats 1hour+ every day.) 

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  • Read more 

I read The Virginia Monologues recently – Hilarity! – and am currently reading Battle Royale which is one of the longest books I’ve ever read, but completely awesome and brilliant and I’m about half way through so far.

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  • Keep up a 25 minimum of work hours a week

My now two jobs both consist of 10 hours weekly, not including overtime, so I have to make sure I get enough overtime so I actually have enough money to live…

So there’s a lot of More in my new targets, but that’s probably because there’s a lot of not a whole lot happening in my life currently. It’s all baby steps, my friend.

I have a couple of posts drafted to update soon, so More is on it’s way…

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Distracting Myself With READING

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I haven’t been posting much lately, because I’ve pretty much been super busy with work and stuff… Nah, just kidding. I’m still a useless lay-about. Mostly I’ve been reading, lots of important reading.

I’ve basically put aside the idea of going off to do an MA for a bit, partly because I can’t really decide what I should do. Should I go on with English Literature? Study Film? Or Screenwriting? Or just something awesome like Japanese Studies or Science Fiction?

It’s all giving me a headache, so I’m decided for now just to fuck it, fuck studying, and just read a shit-ton of books instead. I discovered that most of the modules I think look interesting include full reading lists on the website anyway, so until I can make a solid this is what I want to do with my life choice, I’m gonna knuckle down and ~educate myself~, as it were.

It’s kinda like a masters course, only it doesn’t cost thousands of £s and involves little to no essay writing!

The first book on my reading list is this:

Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless

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It seemed like a good place to start, a self-acclaimed no-bullshit introduction and guide to screenwriting, written by an actual screenwriter (always promising) and screenwriting university professor. So far the book is really good; the first few chapters basically talk about the nature of screenwriting as a profession, and as a writing form, and pretty much persuading the reader to avoid it at all costs – which is far enough, because it’s making sure you’re committed to the art. About twenty pages in, it pretty much confirmed my belief that screenwriting is something I’m passionate about – not only did it remind why I love it so much, but also helped me realise why I’m so shit at writing in other forms. Such as prose, I always write the dialogue first, and force myself to go back and insert description in between, ending up describing in detail where the characters’ eyes are looking or how they’re sitting. I tend to think ‘in pictures’, as it were. Further into the book involves writing exercises, which I’m pretty excited about.

Slightly less academically speaking, I’ve also been busying myself with:

Bakuman

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Bakuman is a fantastic manga, written and illustrated by the same duo as Death Note. And whilst the writing is still clever, and the art still beautiful, the tone and theme couldn’t be more different – the anime presents it as practically shojo, although the manga itself is really more of a coming-of-age slice-of-life story. The two protagonists – young boys in middle school – team up with a dream to create manga together, and the comic follows their path with the complications and lessons along the way.

It’s pretty inspiring stuff, a touching and hilarious tale about a couple of kids wanting their dreams to come true, and learning how to do so without compromising their art. I recommend it to anyone with artistic or creative dreams – and it’s pretty down-to-earth and often brutally honest at times, so it doesn’t feel too washed over with magic and happiness (this is, after-all, from the parents of Death Note). I’ll emphasis again that it’s main charm is the clever writing – afterall, it’s a story about a couple of kids creating manga, what’s exciting about that? Well, a lot, as it happens. You really root for these characters, and believe in them more and more as they grow and mature. It’s got true heart, this manga.

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The series also has an anime, which is excellent but unfortunately wasn’t too popular in the US as the dubbed series only ran for 7 episodes (!) although I would recommend watching them personally – for Shujin’s voice alone, which was just perfect. I know a lot of anime fans disagree with dubs but I happen to love a good English dub. Problems arise if the voices are all wrong (like the dub for the schoolgirl cast of K-On? Just creepy) or the dub is inaccurate, but having read the mangas I’d say the dialogue is pretty much spot-on – bar a couple of iffy comments about women and marriage, in which I was glad for some westernisation in those cases.

I’d also like to mention here the band Area 11 whose album All The Lights In The Sky is out and in the UK top 10  Indie Album chart this week, and whose song Dreams & Reality is based on Bakuman. The album also has songs based on anime such as Death Note, Cowboy Bebop, and Code Geass (also the namesake of the band), and video games too. Check them out!

And lastly, not strictly speaking (or non-strictly speaking) a book, but none-the-less time consuming and brilliant:

Homestuck

 

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Let’s Get Materialistic Here for a Sec

Here is some stuff that I want. I’m posting them because they are pretty and I want to be able to stare at them when I’m sad. These are all likely things I’ll take pictures of and say ‘oooh look how prettyyy~’ when I eventually get them.

So here are some things I will (hopefully) get:

WHEN I HAVE THE MONEY

Cost: £399

It’s been a couple of years – two exactly in fact – and it’s time to update. This goddamn beauty has everything I want or need in a computing device, and not just the ability to run things without over-heating (Note: my current laptop cannot do this). It has enough spec to play my games on (Sims 3 and Spore…) and a flashy camera and microphone built-in so I can record my face and stuff.

Cost: $20 + $22 + god knows how much $ for shipping

Homestuck is this awesome webcomic that’s got a lot of flash and interactive stuff and is the longest friggin’ thing in the world. Act 5 is gonna be twice the size of The Order of the Phoenix if they don’t cut it up.  It’s a bit dull in the beginning, and supposedly the books don’t pay the animated webcomic nearly enough justice, but goddammit do I want these books.

Evil CouncilYugioh Abridged: Screw The Rules Key Chain

Cost: $18 + £10 + IDEK how much $ for shipping

Yugioh Abridged! Giving money to LittleKuriboh! Need I say more?

Cost: £15 each

Pretty sure I was supposed to be getting these for Christmas. But I didn’t and now I need to pay for them myself.

But look how preettttyyy~

Cost: £25 each

Yeah, ok, I like the Sims. So, sue me. I like to make families and houses and shit. I like it and I want to enhance my experience of it.

WHEN IT COMES OUT (AND I HAVE MONEY)

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Release date: Jan 24th & March ’13

Yes more Sims. When I have my new laptop I can have ALL of the expansion packs. All of them.

But seriously looking forward to University Life. That was my favourite Sims 2 Expansion pack, and now I can use it to relive the Uni experience whenever I want!

My Sims are gonna get so drunk

Release date: Feb ’13

Perks is one of my favourite ever books, and I’m very nervous about seeing the movie in case it will ruin the book for me yada yada yada. But the same time I really want to see it. I didn’t see it in the cinema, so I’m saving myself for the DVD. That way I can do a fun screen cap review of it, analyzing all the ways it murdered my childhood.

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Fifty Shades of I Don’t Want to Live on this Planet Anymore

Yes this is another 50 Shades post. I just love writing about it, ok? I have a weakness for mocking really really bad things. It helps me deal with some issues.

This post required a lot of fun, and often disturbing, research for me.

Firstly, I want to talk about an article I found in Shortlist magazine the other day – The premise of it is to explain to the magazine’s male readers that women liking 50 Shades does not mean that they like or expect BDSM sex now. Apparently this has become a bit of a concern for men. The article explains that treating sex like a business deal is not something women crave, nor is being stalked – both things that could easily be read from 50 Shades – but that men should be reading from this that they like being paid attention to (In, you know, legal and sane quantities). On the other hand, the writer offers that what men can really learn from 50 Shades is that women like men with helicopters. And fair enough, I’m pretty sure most men wouldn’t say no to dropping their knickers for a go in a helicopter.

Anna North on buzzfeed.com agrees that womens’ interest in 50 Shades is in the attention Christian Grey showers upon her, just knowing what it is she wants and needs. Of course, this includes in the bedroom too. Some women have complained that men nowadays aren’t assertive enough, doing things like asking permission to touch them and constantly asking if they’re alright, and wanting to talk everything out, instead of ‘just fucking them‘. That’s right – women are complaining about men asking permission now. I don’t really want to use the word ‘consent’ here, but surely this presses some issues? I can understand that someone asking ‘Is this ok? Is this ok?’ constantly can get annoying, but surely there’s a middle ground between being over-cautious and throwing all cation to the wind? Supposedly it’s ‘unmanly’ to talk things through, and a man should know what to do instead of asking, but let me let you in on a little secret here ladies, Christian Grey is fictional. Of course he knows Ana’s every need and desire without having to ask, he’s written by a woman. Technically he is being told what to do, by his author.

The ones I feel sorry for are their husbands.

Next on the agenda is the economical side of the 50 Shades franchise. Let’s skip right past the $1 million E L is earning weekly and look at other businesses that are cashing in – such as the sellers of ties (Coz Christian wears a tie), tea (Coz Ana drinks a lot of tea), rope (yes, rope), Dating Sites that focus on relations between older men and younger women, Hotels that are featured in 50 Shades (some of which offer ’50 Shades’ packages), and of course, bondage gear and sex aides. The Tallis Scholars’s song ‘Spem in alium’ has gained placement in the music charts recently, as it’s featured in the 50 Shades soundtrack (yes, soundtrack).

And they’re not the only professionals wasting their time on this book. You know that equipment used to determine the profiles of criminals? Yeah, those image-generators have been used to create a profile of Christian Grey  from descriptions of the how readers imagine the character looks. Here he is:

Hot.

But did all the time and resources put into this pay off? Did they create Christian Grey – the perfect man??

No

And of course people are now using this profile as a basis in trying to find an actor for the upcoming movie (yes, upcoming. Movie.) to play him. Any volunteers?

If all this wasn’t frightening enough as it was, experts are predicting a baby boom as a result of the book’s recent popularity. Yes, children are being brought into the world out of all this.

I will finish this on a high note though, with some sane people on this planet: these three lovely ladies expressing their opinions on 50 Shades, and a nice little feature on E L James’s inability to use the English language, and her Just-Thesaurus-It attitude to writing. These made me feel much better.

I would like to give a special thanks to 50shadesofsuck.tumblr.com, where I got a lot of good stuff on the ridiculous-ness of 50 Shades, and also for the running commentary the blogger has done on the books – funny stuff. I literally read the whole website. No regrets.

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Fifty Shades of Shit

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If you don’t know what 50 Shades of Grey is because you’ve been living under a rock or just got out of prison (although I’m pretty sure they’d have that book in prison) then let me be the one to tell you that you don’t want to know. But who am I to tell you what you do or do not want?

Unfortunately, for those who enjoy literature and the English language, 50 Shades of Grey is about a girl who goes for an interview or something with a man that is very rich for reasons nobody really cares about and they have lots of sex. Of course, she was a virgin and had no friends or personality prior to meeting him, and none of that really changes besides having sex seven times a day, but apparently the fact that she enjoys his wild, violent, BDSM sex, and generally being submissive to him in every way convinces him she’s the best thing since anal beads and they end up getting married in the third book (Yes, there’s three of them). If there’s more to the book than that, then you’ve read too much of it. Also, the grammar is awful.

Reasons to why these ‘Mummy Porn/Mom Porn’ books are gaining immense popularity among middle-aged housewives to the extent that it has beaten Harry Potter in the fastest selling paperback of all time and sold over 30 million copies world wide remains to many a mystery.

I just want to point out that I was told in school by English teachers that ‘Shades of Grey’ was the most common, cliche and generally unimaginative title that every new or just bad writer uses for stories, on the basis that it can be used for pretty much any subject matter possible. I’ve been informed that ’50 Shades’ refers to the name the protagonist calls the guy she’s banging, but regardless I would say this was the first warning sign I received from this book.

The second was, as with many people, the sex. Not necessarily the content because, hey, to each their own. Am I bitter that a women wrote an entire book about handcuffs and bum-play and has sold and earned more in the last month than I probably will in my entire lifetime? Do I judge the people who praise these books? Definitely. But the first thing that struck me when I picked up this book scoffed at the title and skipped straight to the sex scenes  was how badly they’re written. I honestly can’t understand how anyone could find this book erotic, not because of the sexual acts, but the inane and immature way in which they’re written. I immediately said my my girlfriend, ‘This is written just like fanfiction! What is this?’

And guess what kids, I was right. It is fanfiction! 50 Shades of Grey was originally a piece of Twilight fanfiction, with the names and places changed – So originally it was Edward and Bella having rough, kinky sex. And that’s what people are reading. That’s what people are paying money for, and that’s what this women ‘E L James’ is earning millions from.

Yeah. This smug bitch.

And I don’t like to rant about it, but I read fanfiction. And fanfiction is shit. For the most part, about 80% of the time, it’s teenage girls, or middle-aged women – basically anyone not getting laid and getting thier frustration out on the internet by writing about attractive fictional (sometimes not fictional)  characters getting it on. Yes there’s some fanfiction, maybe 25%* (* Note: these statistics aren’t scientific) of it, that isn’t sexual, but for the most part sex is pretty much part of the scenery. Fanfiction exists as it’s own genre of literature, and one it’s generic conventions, and audience expectations, is a good deal of sexual activity. Sometimes there’ll be stories literally consisting of so-and-so and so-and-so get together under certain circumstances and fuck. Others will be full stories, with entire plots and back stories with the occasional explicit sex scene every chapter or so. It’s what people like writing about, and like reading about, so why not? Speaking as someone who doesn’t read fanfiction for the sex (And no I don’t also ‘just read Jugs for the articles’) it becomes second nature to shift through the endless sex – which is always perfect and relentless and with mindblowing orgasms – to get to the plot because some fanfiction is genuinely good, regardless of whether you enjoy reading about sex or not.  Some of them have amazing stories and are written by people clearly just looking to explore their creative talents and looking for some feedback. Some of these people do deserve to get published. E L James is not one of these writers (or at least not one that followed any of her feedback). Skip the sex, and there’s nothing there but bad grammar, boring characters, pointless plotlines and some creepy borderline-stalker behavior. Basically just like Twilight then.

barelypolitical has this great 50 Shades parody ’50 Shades of Mom Porn’ which more or less sums up my feelings on E L James’s* writing :

*(I refuse to call her ‘James’ as I feel it would dirty Henry James’s name somehow…)

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