Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Photographic Memory #3

It's that time again - Photographic Memory! This is my chance to give you a glimpse of the life I lead, because frankly that's the sort of person I want to be; I'm not a man of secrets, though if they're not mine I won't spread them. Below is a photo from a 21st I was at back in June; we were there way before the birthday girls (they're not related, but they were sharing a party). We were early, so we took the time to take photos...

I'm super cool in girls' shades...

Monday, August 30, 2010


 My bedroom wall is a mess of post-its and madness. The snake is long, 53 post-its long. Yes, 53. It started off looking like this:

Let me explain; I'm story boarding. This is the first step in my story boarding. Each post-it is a chapter in the book. Admittedly, that's a lot of chapters. Especially since it's not a very long book. But still, the chapters themselves are important. I might add, though, that there will probably be more chapters. This line of post-its on my wall is based on the first draft; the second draft of the book, which has been added to already, requires that I add more detail to certain areas of the book.

The story board became something like this, then. As you can tell, it's a bit wibbly-wobbly. These post-its were very kind, though. They stayed in the right place... mostly. The ones under the loop are evil and kept deciding to move. So I stuck one of them there with blue tack. At this point in the book, there has been a lot talking about something happening and a comparison between two of the female characters. It's a relatively small cast of characters, I might add. Because the book was originally only fifty thousand words long, I didn't want to get trapped by lots of voices all trying to speak.

The snake grew longer. It's sort of like the game on old mobile phones, with all snake getting longer the further into the game you get. The post-its increase in number as time goes by in the book.

This is all Meet Sam, I might add. It started off as a simple idea, and became something more than I thought I could handle. At this point, the second draft calls for taking from recent experiences with doubt and depression and writing an emotional and mental breakdown. I wasn't ready for something like that a few weeks ago. Now, unfortunately, I am.

That seems like I'm complaining about being able to write my own book. I suppose I am. I've had a tough summer, but it's allowed me to have a look at a more human way of dealing with the world. It's not all just words anymore. This book is becoming a transformative experience of its own. It's allowing me to look into the life of my protagonist and apply my own problems accordingly with his. Circumstantially things are different, but the end result of deep despair is the same. However, the snake unwinds. Things aren't all jumbled up madness, anymore, in the book. There's some sense being made in Sam's life.

And finally the snake climbs. This is because, despite everything, there is a happy ending. Or at least, there's an ending of the current tale. I have already expressed my wish to write a sequel or two to this book, once I'm sure of what to actually write for them. The snake won't last that long, of course. I won't be letting a rain of post-its come down on me in my sleep for the sake of planning a trilogy of books based around the life of a writer. However, the image will always remain. This is my book, ladies and gentlemen, in its simplest form. It's winding and crazy and falling apart in the wildest part, but it's all there, all together, and it does appear to have an ending.

Over the next couple of weeks, I hope to add to the idea of this snake; there are chapters that may be added - inserts into the time-line - and ideas and relationships to explore. We are not our fathers and we are not the sum-whole of our parents' wishes. I think that's one of the things I really want to get written in this book. Sam's escape from his house, while still bound by its walls, is perhaps one of the things I really need to elaborate on. His ability to deal with his own depression, too, needs to be looked at, and the reasons behind everything. Furthermore, I need to develop his relationship with his cousin, Nick, who is in fact the real hero of the story. He's the one constant friend in Sam's life and he plays the biggest role in keeping him safe. Nick is the brother Sam never had.

I do hope you've enjoyed this little insight. I didn't actually intend on discussing the book, but in doing so I'm getting a better understanding of it for myself. So, two weeks until I go back to college. After today, that means I have nine days to work on the book, because I work weekends. Today will be a note-taking day, I think, and a re-examination of what I have to write. Edits for draft two will work on getting the new and the old pieces of writing to fit together into one book. I think my Sunday mornings could soon become Novel Writing Time, when I go back to college.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

September to August

Okay... here goes...

Things haven't been great for about the past week. I mean, they really, really haven't been great. They've been the complete opposite of great. And I hated it.

That's why I'm here: for reflection. I had a short chat on the phone to Ferris. He brought up September to May... it kind of stretches up to now, though. I mean, there's a lot to look back on between September 2009 to now, rather than stopping at May. And I think I kind of forget all that sort of stuff, because it's easier to focus on the bad things. But the bad things are the things we have to overcome. So, the bad things:

  1. I lost my job for 9 weeks. This meant that the money I had saved, and the money I was no longer earning, got spent. This meant I was broke all summer.
  2. My debs was categorically shit. I didn't enjoy it at all. I especially did not enjoy the limo ride, because we had to go from the suburbs of Dublin all the way to Balbriggan and then to Kells, and I had to use the toilet. And the karaoke machine we were supposed to have didn't work.
  3. Jonny Havron passed on in February. By this stage, I would have known him for about three years. Rest in Peace, Jonny.
  4. Esther Earl passed on last Wednesday. I didn't know Esther, but her courage at fighting off cancer was an inspiration, and her wish to spread love all around the world was remarkable. May she Rest in Awesome, as the community around her have been saying.
  5. I had a fair few stressful, emotional times between May and...now, I guess. Right now. The past week was pretty bad. More than bad. If shit could take the form of a period of time, it would have been the past week.
Okay, five bad things. That's bad. That's pretty bad. So, the good things. Okay... the good things...
  1. I started college. I think, overall, this is a good experience in itself. Just starting this great new journey. The lectures, the essays, the completely overhaul of secondary school society and the escape from all the people that made my life a living hell, and the halls that reminded me of them.
  2. I made at least thirty friends over the past year. That's not an exaggeration. The fact that I went into the college with no friends around me and that being weird seems to have been an advantage for me meant that I could make friends very easily. I talk to some of them more than others, but I still count the rest as friends.
  3. I was in two plays. Yes, two. And I loved both of them! Drama was a life-changing experience for me.
  4. I went ice-skating for the first time. I fell after the first ten feet, while holding onto the wall, but I did it. And I actually managed a lap with falling over or holding the wall. Well chuffed.
  5. I managed to get a lot of the stuff that holds me back emotionally off my chest. I won't really go into much more detail than that.
  6. I've stayed out all night twice. Once I didn't get home until about eleven the next day, and I didn't sleep that night either. The other time I didn't get into bed until six in the morning after spending the whole time hanging out at a double twenty-first, despite the fact that the birthday girls vanished for large periods of time each... so incidentally I wasn't hanging out with them most of the time.
  7. I've been to Offaly and Westmeath. I know that doesn't seem like much, but when you're me and you don't go anywhere, going to two different counties and actually doing things in them is a lot.
  8. I taught actual lessons to actual children. And I was pretty damn good.
  9. I passed all my first year exams. This is despite my panicking every single morning before an exam, except for the last day because I had to stay calm while somebody else panicked and swore about having left his notes at home. So I had to teach an actual human being an actual topic an hour and forty seven minutes before the exam started. And it was his second best result. I was a success as a teacher. Awesome.
  10. I went to the zoo twice in the space of five days. With the exception of work and college, I don't really go anywhere twice in five days. Especially not somewhere that costs as much as the zoo and requires so much walking.
  11. I got albums from twelve bands I hadn't listened to before, and listened to a few songs by about as many artists. Because I like music so much, this is definitely worth mentioning.
  12. I wrote two novellas and have the makings of a novel from what I thought was a third novella.
  13. I read and reviewed quite a few books. Considering I often get lazy about reviews, this is good for me.
  14. I started to learn to play the ukulele. I am still terrible, but at least I'm trying.
  15. And, finally, I accepted that it's okay to be me: this means I can be weird and loud and hyperactive, because anybody who thinks poorly of me as a result of being, technically, a non-conformist can go and swim upstream with the rest of the salmon while I fly away. It's okay to be me, because at least then I have an idea of who I am. I'm not an idea someone came up with. I'm not a line of clothing or a band on the radio. I'm not dark clothing and long hair or a shaved head. My name is Paul Carroll, and over the past year I have realised that it's okay for me to be myself, because even the friends who knew me while I still pretended, in some respects, accept me for being that person.
I made a particular effort to get to fifteen, because I believe that if I don't have a happiness to sadness ratio of at least 3:1 then I'm doing something wrong. I have second year in college starting in two weeks. Next year things will be different. Next year I don't plan on losing my job. Next year I don't plan on losing friends. Next year I definitely don't have a shitty debs to regret going to. I will probably still have all those stressful and emotional times, but I have at least five friends who would be more than willing to help me through them.

Next year - and my year is marked by the start of September, I might add - I will submit my novel for publication. Next year I will finish writing my novella-turned-novel. Next year I will show other people that it's okay to be themselves. Next year I will teach for two weeks. Next year I will do Drama again. Next year, I'll live the life I've always wanted. Next year I'll be happy.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Review - Eunoia

EunoiaLet me explain this, for those who don't know. Eunoia is the shortest word in the English language that contains all five vowels. It means "beautiful thinking." Eunoia is also the title of Christian Bok's poetry book, which is what I'm reviewing.

So... why did you buy this?

Okay, so I was walking home with some friends and one of them mentioned the word Eunoia. He thought it was pretty neat. He told us what it meant, why he liked it, stuff like that. The next day I saw a book - this book - that had the title Eunoia. I thought, "That has to be a sign." I read some Amazon reviews. I read the first page. I liked what Bok was doing. I bought the book.

What's so special about it?

There are five chapters in the Eunoia section of the book - A, E, I, O, U. Each chapter uses only the title vowel in it, no others. So chapter A is made up only of words that contain an A. Even Y is avoided. He doesn't cheat! He gets through all five vowels with this, swearing a few times, telling some wonderful stories through the poems and displaying the full force of the English language. It's experimental poetry on a whole new level! I've never read anything like it, and I don't think I'll ever read anything like it again.

Was it difficult to read?

It takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you get into it it's fairly easy to read. You begin to appreciate the style and the grace and the power of the individual vowels. Bok's control over words it just too impressive to worry about not understanding everything he's saying. So, a little bit difficult, but worth it.

Recommended to..?

If you're looking for something unique, this is it. If you love words, this is for you. If you like experimental forms of writing, buy this book. But if you want something easy, don't bother. If you want something that makes sense grammatically and within all the usual constraints of speech - even written speech - then don't go for this. There are plenty of books that fall into line with language you can understand in the ways you understand it. Still, it's a wonderful book. I hope that if you do read it you'll enjoy it. 


On Wednesday August 25th, Nerdfighter Esther passed on. She was sixteen years old and had been undergoing treatment for cancer. John Green tells us about it in this video.

Also, the links John refers to:
The Friends of Esther Fund: http://www.thehpalliance.org/friendso...
Esther's Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/cookie4monster4
Esther's twitter: http://www.twitter.com/crazycrayon
Esther helped run the amazing site http://effyeahnerdfighters.tumblr.com/

I want to help, but I'm not all that well-off. To put it bluntly, I'm fairly broke. However, if you can help, I strongly urge you to. If you would prefer spend your money on something like a book for yourself or you have presents to get people, then please help me raise money for The Friends of Esther Fund by purchasing things through the Amazon links on my blog - as I'm signed up to receive a cheque once I've earned $100 through the Affiliate programme, I won't actually get any of the money until then. Being honest, I haven't earned a whole lot from this (I think so far my revenue has been $0.32 in total...). However, I'm pledging the first $100 dollars to the fund. (Note: this is me donating the money, not Amazon - it's technically against the agreement to associate them with any charity). So, if you have things to buy from Amazon and can't afford to also donate to the fund, please help me along the way to helping Esther's family. Her treatment cost an awful lot of money, and with everything that they now also have to face, they'll have a lot more money to hand over.

Of course I would prefer if you could donate directly. I'm a realist, though: I understand that not everyone can afford to do that, that they have things to buy for people and that they need downtime for themselves. If you're a reader of this blog, I imagine your downtime comes in the form of reading. That's why I'm pledging the first $100 dollars. I don't expect to get much more through the Affiliate programme, anyway. So if you're in need of some downtime visit the review page. I'll keep everyone updated on what goes on as I hear it.

Best wishes,

Review - Write and Get Paid For It

Write and Get Paid for itI have to admit, I'm a sucker for books about writing; how to do it, how to get published, how to market it. This book was the latest in a long line of these books, and one that I read in a day. Yes, I read a book called Write and Get Paid for It in a day. It was easy to read, accessible, and there were even a couple of parts that made me laugh. That was an unexpected delight!

I'm the inner-voice in your head; tell them who it's aimed at!

Ah, yes... okay, the book is written from the point of view of an Irish writer. In Ireland. While the techniques in it are most likely applicable to other countries, the media that's mentioned is all Irish. That's just a precaution to anyone thinking of getting this book.

Is it useful?

Writers' and Artists' Yearbook 2011By itself, not entirely. Okay, there's a lot to learn from it, but you can't get the information on where to submit anything without, say, The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook 2011 (latest edition at the time of writing this) or really good research skills for the web to find all the information you need. Another thing it won't give you is the skill to actually write. That's something you have to work on for yourself. Thirdly, it won't give you the confidence you need to go out and actually work. It's not just about the writing; one has to make phone calls to find out stuff like in-house style guides and editors' names, and there's all sorts of stuff we all have to be ready for. But this book won't give you confidence. Okay, you may find confidence in having the knowledge, and that's good, but knowledge from a professional is all you'll get in that area.

How helpful has it been to you?

So far I haven't used it, properly. You know why? No confidence. Also a crazy life. But that's a different matter altogether. But it did give me ideas for articles to write. Not directly, I might add. I just got ideas while reading the book. In that regard, it has been helpful. In other ways, not so much. Yet. I am determined to make this work for me. I just have another issue, which is that generally the people behind the phones at newspapers aren't available at the weekend. And, you know, confidence.

Would you recommend it?

If you're serious about writing and earning from it, yes. You really need to get this book. Of all the books I've read on the matter of publication, this was probably the best one. Ladies and gentlemen, I urge you get it. Just, if you're not from Ireland, remember to contact your own newspapers - not only is a phone call cheaper, papers are more likely to publish an article from an author within their own country when it comes to articles. Basically it comes down to culture differences; what I write may not reflect well over in the States, because I don't know everything about American culture and idioms, and the same goes for American writers over here. But yes, the book is definitely recommended for writers who want to earn money. It's a motivator. Even if, you know, it doesn't give you confidence. (Or at least, it doesn't give me confidence.)

Review - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young ManYou've heard of James Joyce, I'm sure. He was that author who wrote stuff. Okay, he's most famous for Ulysses, but A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is the one I've read. And a couple of the stories in Dubliners. I'll read the rest at some stage. Anyway, Portrait is a wonderful book, but there's a couple of catches...

Catches? It's James Joyce!

Yes, I am aware of the author's name. I am aware of the fact that he's one of Ireland's most celebrated authors. But I'm also aware, now that I've read this book, that he liked to talk a lot about very particular subjects. As the book is a tale of his life - a Bildungsroman -  it follows his interests in politics, religion and literature. Unfortunately, the politics isn't all that interesting unless you're have a fondness for Irish history, too. And the religion..? Well, I get enough of that in God College. The literature was manageable. I quite enjoyed that, actually. But by God, I didn't want to read all about sin and the apocalypse and all that stuff. It was the sort of book I'd say to people, "Read it if you actually want to read James Joyce", but not otherwise.

So... why did you read it?

I was helping Ferris Bueller study. The book was on for one of our modules in college, and he was doing it for his exam last week. Volunteering to help him prepare, I had to read the book, first! That's why. (And no, he didn't fail the first time around - it's complicated!)

Okay, but was it worth it?

I enjoyed the book, yes. I knew it would be difficult. I didn't think some of it could be painstakingly boring (the religion part... I wasn't in the mood to learn about religion). However, the story was wonderful and delightful and very easy to follow. Once you got used to it. And it's a perfect example of writing a life story for a fictional character - Joyce writes the book so that as Stephen Dedalus gets older, so too does the narrator. The text becomes more and more mature towards the end. That was one of the things I noticed way back in 2009 when we discussed the book during tutorial; Joyce was writing his character into maturity without so much as mentioning his age. I think we're told once how old he is. It's when he's sixteen. That was it. The rest of the time, you just got an idea of his age by how old the writing seemed. Always a bit more mature than the character was capable of during his youth, but definitely young.

Will you read it again?

Probably never, no. However, I do plan on finishing Dubliners. And Ulysses is on the course at a later point, I believe. That won't be fun, I don't think. It's supposed to be very hard to read. But probably also enjoyable. I hope...

So... should people read this?

Like I said, if you want to read James Joyce, read this. It's the closest thing of Joyce's you'll get to his masterpiece. It's a sort of warm-up. But if you're looking for something that's an easy, enjoyable read... move along. Really, this isn't the book for you. Pick one from the reviews page, instead. But not Portrait. It's too heavy reading for a soft read. The language is completely different to what we're used to in this day and age, and the style is so different to what's published these days. Good book, but you have to want to read it.

Review - Equal Rites

Equal Rites: A Discworld NovelThere are two types of magic - Wizard magic and Witch magic. That's the sort of theory that everyone believes in Terry Pratchett's Equal Rites. Admittedly, everyone is a bit stupid in these books, though they refuse to admit it. They live on the Discworld and think in a very primitive way; women can't be wizards. Ever.

Your point is..?

Oh right, the review! Okay, so the book is actually quite funny. See, the whole story revolves around the eighth son of an eighth son - a wizard. The problem is, the eighth son is actually a daughter, and she's been given the staff of a wizard. Now, while this doesn't necessarily make her a wizard, it does give her access to wizard magic. Like the whole women-not-having-a-vote thing that happened in the past, Esk - the female wizard - lacks a few rights... like access to the Unseen University! She learns how to become a witch, instead, but the wizard magic is always there. It makes for a lot of fun havoc.

Good book, then?

Of course! I'm a huge fan of Pratchett. Okay, so I haven't read a lot of his works, but I'm still a fan. I couldn't put the book down... until I had to. Literally. But I read it all, anyway. Finished it, loved it, and didn't really want it to end because the characters are so loveable. This happens all the time with the Discworld books; I fall in love with the quirky characters and then when the story ends I have to try find someone to replace them. Thankfully I have four more of the books on my shelf unread!

Wait, what do you mean you had to put it down?

Eh, it's complicated. I had to do other reading... and I had to sleep. I think that's allowed, right?

No. No sleeping.

O...kay. Sorry.

Hold on, no. I'm not. Because I still read the book! And I really, really think other people should too. Because it's amazing. Because Pratchett is one of the finest writers. Ever. It will be a huge loss when he stops writing (because we've all been told he will have to stop writing.) So... so read his books! Really. You won't be disappointed. They're fantasy, yes, but they're also about the people. I mean, the magic part of these books is just a little added bonus. Trust me, they are wonderful books. Especially this one.

Review - Library Lion

Library LionFor those of you with small children, you might have read Library Lion. For those of you who have small children but who haven't read it, well, that's why I'm here. I give you my professional opinion on a story book - professional as a bookseller who's recently been put in charge of Story Time in our shop (Side note: it's like a promotion, only I don't get paid more.)

So... any excuse to read a picture book, then?
Alter-egos are a silly joke of mine, forget about this question. The book was read for work, out loud, to small children. They seemed to enjoy it. I did not. Not the book, the reading out loud of it. Nerves. Meh... moving on...

Is the book recommended for small children, then?
Very much so! And the parents enjoyed it, too, from what I could tell. I personally thought it was a great little story, with a good set of morals, a little bit of humour and a lovely story to go along with it. The kids seemed to like the book, when they were paying attention - I think kids paid better attention afterwards because they'd settled down a little bit, so I'd recommend the book for night-time more than anything else, when they might be tired.

What were the pictures like? You said it was a picture book!
Ah the pictures... they were very pretty. Lots of attention to detail to get the lion looking just right, to make the characters look vivid and real, while still maintaining the illusion that cartoons are capable of. Fantastic, easy on the eye drawings that complimented the story in a lovely way.

And the moral behind the story..?
Rules. The book is all about rules. They have a big importance in the book, controlling the lion in a proper, friendly way - stopping him from roaring in the library - while also showing that rules can be broken if a friend is in need, for example. What more could a parent ask for, than a book about the importance of keeping rules, and acknowledging when they should be broken? (and the only times when they should be broken!)  

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ze Powah of ze Interneht

So there I was browsing the Internet (as you do) and suddenly something pops up on my screen and tells me I have a trojan horse... or seven. I thought, "That's annoying and untrue." I was right on both accounts. I saw that a file was on my computer - well, it was a programme. It was called My Security Shield. I hadn't downloaded it, but I knew it was trouble. So I did what I always do when I'm distressed about something: I did some research.

My Security Shield is one of the latest in a line of viruses that pretend to show you other viruses to get you to download (once you've paid money) this particular software to help kill these malicious viruses that have gotten onto your computer. In my case, they attacked my laptop. In every case with My Security Shield, they are Red Herrings. What this means is that the files are actually fake. They are harmless and only detectable as viruses by - you guessed it - My Security Shield. I'll call it MSS from now on.

So, MSS planted these files on my laptop after worming its way into the system. It changes the host settings to stop it getting deleted and in some cases can even delete attacking software that tried to remove it. I found a handy guide that explained all this in full. I used its recommended software to kill MSS. It took a lot of time.

So, I did what I always do when my laptop is on the fritz: I went to the desktop. I tweeted about my problem, found my answers, and looked at a lot of videos online. They were all the lovely work of John and Hank Green, because they are awesome. Watching one of their videos also answered a question that is vague and wonderful in equal proportions: penguin, elephant or tiger? The answer is elephant. More on this in the future.

Through the power of the Internet (yeah, that's what the title is suggesting...) I managed to kill MSS and entertain myself. The power of the Internet also allowed myself and another writer on Twitter come up with the idea of having a sofa in a kitchen. This has the advantage of having a comfortable place from which a writer need not get up from to get tea, while having the disadvantage that the sofa needs to be easy to clean, and one would need to get someone like Ferris with his ability to drive several types of vehicle, including something to knock down a wall and something to carry away the debris. The cost of this goes up a bit very quickly. Even if Ferris were to knock down a wall in my house for free, I'd have a problem getting him to put one back up for free.

So, I think we all have a few lessons to learn from this. 1. The Internet is capable of both creating World Suck and 2. destroying it. Also 3. don't knock down your kitchen walls. Or 4. any other wall in your house, unless you have money to put it back up and 5. a trained professional to do the job for you.

Friday Friend #3

Friday Friend is a feature in which I post about a different friend each week - on Friday! Simple concept, really; I pick a friend, not quite at random, then tell you some of the fun stuff about them! This week is the now almost-famous Miley Cyrus, who's been mentioned here a few times in the past, and on my Twitter page.

Miley is another college friend, because frankly I have more friends in college than I do outside of it, so I might as well write about them. She comes from the strange land of Offaly, but enjoys coming to Dublin more than spending time in, say, Tullamore. I've been to her house, met her family, even been in her bedroom. She showed me her CDs and books, and a few photos on her dressing table. That was pretty much it, before we left to watch Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

It's true to say that Miley is one of my best friends in the whole wide world. We're there for each other when we need a kind word and a friend who likes to talk, and even when we just want to chat... well, we're both thankful for free texts.

Miley was the first person to be told the Rules of Adventureland, since at that stage no one really read them from my blog. Since those days, we've been out living up Adventureland to the fullest, exploring Dublin and Offaly, getting a not-birthday present for Ferris together, going into Penneys more times than is normal and even bringing her youngest brother to the zoo, because he'd never been before. We've also gone out for dinner, because we could.

There's so much to like about Miley, so once again I don't know where to begin. I suppose... yeah, I like the way she calls her parents Mammy and Daddy, even now. I like that we can text each other all day long and not get bored. I like that we have all of our little arrangements made for when we go back to college. I like that we spend days out together and manage to always find something to do, even without a plan. I like that she can't go into Penneys without buying something. I like that she gets a bag in every shop she goes to. I like that I get to be part of her life, and that we keep each other in the loop about everything. I like that we share our plans for the future with each other. I like that despite loving Dublin so much, she's still a small town girl. I like that she knows what church she's going to get married in. I like we can trust each other with anything. I like that she understands what's important to me. I like that she takes an interest in all the things I write. I like that we have most of the same friends in college. I like that no one seems to feel uncomfortable around her. I like that she's one of the coolest people in the college but she doesn't act like it. I like that she cares so much about other people.

Wow... that was a little more substantial than I thought. But what can I say - Miley Cyrus is one of my best friends! And her mammy and daddy are so lovely! Her nickname was given to her by Ferris Bueller, and it's stuck since then. We're but weeks away from college again at this stage, so the real test will be how many people remember the nickname. And of course, once we go back we'll be working on doing some of the things we said we'd do, like our "whopper study sessions" and our Adventureland days out. Summer's almost over, but good times are still ahead with Miley and I!

And a last remark..? Well, there's not much more I can say. Miley, you're a star; you're kind and caring and you have that very traditional side to you that everyone loves. Keep being yourself and I know you'll be happy.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Silence, silence, silence, terrible and hanging, gnawing away at this weakened island from all sides; the sand washes into the sea and nothing is left but the reclusive tree of the knowledge of good and evil, forever entombed in a quiet storm.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Justin Bieber Vs Meat Loaf

While on an excursion through Dublin the other day, a mate happened across a Justin Bieber album. He looked at the back. "It only has seven songs!" he said. No really - seven songs. I've just come from the wonderful mass-collaboration site Wikipedia; the album is less than twenty six minutes long. Seven songs. Seven. This was Bieber's début album.

Now let's look at another album with seven songs. Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell. Seven songs, forty six and a half minutes long. That's the average length of an album, I believe. I don't have many that go widely above or below that mark. So, Meat Loaf also has seven songs on his album. What's the difference?

Bieber doesn't do epic rock songs. That pretty much sums it up. Meat Loaf has these great big songs about love and sex and the lack of it. Bieber sings what Wikipedia classes as "teen pop". Bit of a rubbish definition, if you ask me. But it's rubbish for a reason. He's some strange little sensation in the States who's not known for being wonderfully weird and rather frightening like Meat Loaf; he's known as the guy who walks into glass doors and escalators and doesn't know what Germany is. I'm not making that up! He was on an Australian chat show and he didn't know the word "German".

Now, Bieber's songs are the average length for a song. There's nothing wrong with that. I don't know what they sound like because I refuse to subject myself to that, but let me make one thing clear - if you're only going to have seven songs - seven! - on your album, you'd want to make sure that they're a bit longer. That, or don't call it an album. It's an EP. His début album is an EP. His second album has ten songs (thank you Wikipedia) and is just shy of thirty eight minutes. It's also "teen pop". So probably a bit rubbish unless you're in love with Justin Bieber, or it's your job to pretend to like things enough to write a favourable review to make people 1. buy your magazine and then 2. buy the album, or 3. the other way around.

Something tells me that once Bieber grows up, though, and his fans grow up with him, he's going to try drop this "teen pop" thing. But, like Harry Potter is to Daniel Radcliffe, "teen pop" will be hard to forget for the general public. The walking into doors things and getting bottles thrown at his head at a concert are also going to be hard to forget, especially when there are several dozen videos of each incident on YouTube. Because the public is that cool.

Meat Loaf's career is obviously much bigger, too. And his market is wider and a lot more favourable. People like Meat Loaf. He has some very awesome songs. I mean, you don't have to like everything he's ever done, but he has some brilliant songs, and they're more than a little more mainstream than Bieber. He appeals to people young and old...er. He has songs people actually listen to. He has songs on compilation albums because they're that good. It's like Journey - not everyone likes them, but by damn they love Don't Stop Believin'! That's something the likes of Justin Bieber won't get in his current market. By lacking marketability to the wider public, he'll never get what Meat Loaf - epic rock legend - or Journey or a dozen others have: long standing careers and songs so memorable that people actually choose to listen to them years and years after their original release. It's over thirty years since Bat Out of Hell came out and it's still selling in shops. Justin Bieber... well, he sells to pre-teens and young teenage girls. Need I say more?

Meat Loaf pwns Bieber. The latter should understand that, right? I mean, he did start out online. He should understand when he's been pwned.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Threats are a wonderful thing, aren’t they? The words chosen have to be exact, or things could get out of hand. I’ve been threatened and issued threats. I think it’s an art form that too many people are terrible at, but that if it’s done right you’ll be able to do one of a few things, including: 1. make someone laugh, 2. frighten the life of someone and 3. make yourself appear threatening. Which is kind of the idea.

One of the best threats that’s ever been issued towards me went something along the lines of You’re lucky you’re so good with words or I’d beat the shite out of you. This was proceeded by You! You little bastard! I have great friends, obviously. They do love to look out for me and make sure I don’t do silly things like talk about cigarettes and alcohol and Facebook. Those are out of bounds with some people. Or I’d be beaten. I don’t particularly want to be beaten. However, this means the threat worked on levels – it made me laugh, but I can’t help but laugh when someone says that, and it made him appear threatening.

I still did something similar the next day, though.

Out of the all the things I’ve said to threaten someone – which admittedly isn’t very much – my favourite was If you ever say anything to diss Jim Morrison again, I’ll shove your man bag so far up your own ego you won’t know what country you’re in. I still love that one. I’m quite pleased with myself for it. It didn’t make me appear threatening, though. And I don’t think the lad was frightened out of his life. But we both laughed, all thanks to my careful use of the English language.

Carefully observing the Facebook, I do notice a few things. And I say carefully observing, which translates roughly to creeping. But anyway, I carefully observed a threat issued to a drug dealer – I know, dodgy. Basically, the guy was threatened that if he ever offered someone drugs again, he’d be beaten. The lad was told to apologise to this drug dealer because he’s dangerous. He went back up and threatened to kill his whole family if he ever offered drugs to any of his friends.


The threats were effective, though. It made everyone who read it on Facebook laugh, it frightened the life out of the drug dealer and it made the lad appear threatening.

Threats are wonderful.

Other such things that I’ve seen have been along the lines of threatening people that if they ever caused trouble for someone, they’d – you guessed it – have the shite kicked out of them. It: 1. made me laugh, 2. frightened the asses that were threatened and 3. made the lad who threatened them appear threatening.

I am a firm believer that these threats have all been done in either 1. good humour or 2. good will. They were very particular threats, aimed at very particular people, for very particular reasons. Don’t mess about on Facebook, don’t poke fun at a rock legend, don’t deal drugs and don’t mess with people just because you think you can. The words were chosen well, I think. It was all very important that these things were said, because the messages sent out really did shut a few people up. Myself included. It’s hard to get me to shut up, I might add. I’m not very good at staying quiet once I get going. I tend to go on and on and on about things, unless I’m on the phone to someone who’s very good at telling stories. My love of talking is bested only by my love of stories.

Use threats carefully, though. I mean, you can’t go around issuing threats to people left, right and centre. You might get stabbed, or worse. I mean, I didn’t threaten someone who I thought would be offended. The other threats were issued to people who really couldn’t do very much about it. No matter how good your wording, if you in any way threaten the wrong person, you’re going to get in trouble. There’s the right use of words, and there’s common sense. Sometimes we lack in common sense, but for your own sake, don’t be a fool – if you think you might offend someone, make sure you can deal with the trouble that arises from it.

And, importantly, don’t issue empty threats. I once threatened to plot against someone. I him so. And I did plot against him. I plotted, and I told him what I’d plotted. Well, I was smart about what I said – I didn’t actually have to go through with the threat. If you threaten to kill yourself... well, I’m not going to say You bloody well better kill yourself. I’m actually going to advise against it entirely. No matter how hopeless things look, that shouldn’t be an option.

This has gotten all depressing... I think it’s time for a threat. Okay, you ever bring up the S word, and I’ll have to get someone to hit you. Hard. And it will only hurt, it won’t kill you. Sorry. But that’s how it’s going to be. I’m threatening you, right here and right now, to have you hit, hard and possibly with a hurl, if you ever threaten anything like that. (If I ever threaten anything like that, I give any friend reading this who has a hurl permission to use it.)

Let me see... oh, there are some horribly common threats. The worst one that was ever said to me was Give you that or I’ll stick something in your head. It was a badminton racket. I think my brother told him to Fuck off. He deserved it. Nobody threatens me and That Guy I Am like that and gets away with just being ignored. He was a fool an a strange one at that. He didn’t even ask for our phones. And he was on a bike that we could have pushed over.

This society is a bunch of idiots.

I especially dislike that threat because 1. it wasn’t funny, 2. it didn’t frighten me and 3. it didn’t make the guy seem threatening. It actually just made him seem like an idiot. He didn’t have anything to actually threaten me with, so it was just a vague conglomeration of words he uses in his day to day life that formed a hollow expression of fruitless aggression. What a fool he was!

So, there we go. Threats and the proper use of them, and the words that are used in them. And I didn’t make any of this up. I swear, people actually said these things, because they are 1. funny, 2. mad or 3. stupid.

Now I’d like you to rate this as being 1. something that made you laugh, 2. something that made you feel entertained and/or 3. something that made me seem like an entertaining individual.


Written as part of Challenge 5 of Literary Den's Summer of Writing 2010, Words.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Begins with A, Ends with E

There's a word that describes this past week quite well. It begins with A, ends with E and has wesom in the middle of it. So, discounting work, because that's never really worth mentioning unless a customer is an idiot or there's an event or someone does something really funny, this week has been great. I mean, I didn't think I'd get a week like this all summer. Okay, circumstances could have been better for someone, but still - it's been fun!

Ferris had a couple of exams. They weren't repeats but they were on the same time as the repeats with the same questions. Just had to point that out. It's complicated. Okay, so he was at God College for his exams, and I'd helped him with Drama that morning. I was there, then, for his exam that afternoon. It was Poetry. I hadn't really done the poets he decided to answer on - Tennyson and Browning - so I had to familiarise myself with them a bit beforehand. Still, twas grand! He seemed happy with the exams, anyway. We had lunch. Chicken rolls. Sure it'd be rude not to.

Then it was off to Westmeath for Giddimon's birthday. It was a long trip out, but he got collected at the bus stop with our bags and my sleeping bag and we were left to ourselves in the kitchen with a cup of tea, a plate of biscuits and a bowl of jellies. Phone reception was rubbish. Still, we did a lot of talking and the kitties were just the cutest things I've ever seen. About two and half hours after we got there, her other friends arrived. There was some awkward silence, then some banter, and always lots of food.

I had my first taste of alcohol. Literally a taste. Hyper McHen had a glass of punch called purple pussy. Naturally I texted Ferris saying "Hyper likes her purple pussy." Once I had a sip of it - and only a sip, because it was literally only a taste - she texted Ferris saying "Paul also likes my purple pussy." A wee while later I texted, truthfully though vaguely, "Hyper's threatening to tie me up!" A little while later when my phone had gone ignored, I received a reply from Ferris. "Sounds like fun! Tell all i said hi! Have a great night ya messer!" He didn't know what a purple pussy was until I told him the next day.

We stayed the night. I slept on the floor, That Guy I Am on a couch by himself and Hyper and Giddimon on a smaller couch together. We talked a lot, of course, but eventually we fell asleep. I got the best rest out of all of us, and I didn't even have a cushion or a pillow. Just a sleeping bag between me and the wooden floor and a duvet over me.

A breakfast of toast and scrambled eggs for the four tired remnants of the party guests. He sat down a lot that morning. We didn't talk much. We were too tired, so I don't think anyone minded. Giddimon's mum made a lunch of toasted ham and cheese sandwiches - two each - and a cup of tea, and a slice of hat cake. That's a cake that looked like a hat, but it didn't mean to. It was still delicious.

The bus back home. I read for a while. We were all very tired. The Mountain Goats kept me company. Hyper got off before us this time. We ended up back home at about three. We had tea. We showered later, then watched Smallville. We slept.

I've been reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man for a while. It was still boring and painful and contained far too much about religion for my liking. I go to God College. I don't want to have to read about religion in my fiction, too! I got a break from it when we went to town. There were eight of us. We got food at this place called Bad Ass in Temple Bar, then we went looking for a pub. We ended up at the bar in Captain Americas. I took a sip from two drinks. One was an Appletini. We had much merriment and banter.

I got into a bad mood that night. I gave out to Ferris, because he was supposed to have sent me the titles of the stories he was doing for his second text in Fiction. He didn't.

I got all the reading done. Ferris had gotten in touch and my mood had lifted up. I was very pleased with myself to have suffered through all that James Joyce. It was good, don't get me wrong, but I didn't want to read it. I wanted to help him with his exam, though, so I had to read it. I think that's a good enough reason if there ever was a need for one.

I got a PDF of Fungus of the Heart by Jeremy C Shipp to review. I got lots of work on these texts done to help Ferris prepare his questions. He didn't answer his phone for ages. I finally got through to him at ten to eleven. We had a twenty five minute discussion more or less solely about James Joyce. It was all very sophisticated. I was a bit cross at him, so I didn't notice when he made jokes. I was grand after the phone call, though. I just wanted him to pass his exam.

Miley Cyrus and I kidnapped Ferris. She was a surprise for him. I'm very good that way. Arranged the whole thing. We went for a drive down to the south of Dublin. We went to Ranleigh and UCD and Ailesbury Road and ended up, eventually at Stephen's Green. We got lunch at this place called Lemon, Crepe and Coffee Co. Then we sprung Surprise Number 2 on him. I didn't even mention this on Twitter, and I mention everything on Twitter. Since Offaly I've known this. We made him a scrapbook. It was full of photos from the year.

The scrapbook meant a lot to us all. It was something we all had, even though it was now in Ferris's possession. It was a day together for Miley and I. We knew that thing so well. We had put a lot of time and effort into that and we'd been trying for weeks to get it to him. From what I can tell, he likes it. That was the best part, I think. Knowing he liked it. Knowing that it actually meant something to him.

We drove Miley to Heuston, taking the scenic route around North Dublin, around by the prison that had held Larry Murphy, and finally she was gone and I was in the car with him. He drove me home, and we talked a bit. It was all very pleasant and relaxing. I watched Adventureland when I got in, with tea. Loved it. Reminded me of Looking For Alaska and Paper Towns by John Green.

Ferris called. It didn't last long. It was just a very brief, light hearted conversation, but it mattered, you know?

And here we are. It's still Friday. I'm going to see Salt later with some lads from secondary school. This has been my week. I think I could get used to this. Naturally, college is starting back soon, so I can't. But at least I had this week that began with A and ended with E and had wesom in the middle.

Friday Friend #2

Hello and welcome back to Friday Friend, in which I open the doors to the lives of my friends against their will. This week, we have the lovely Hyper McHen. I first met Hyper back in September for college; due to the explosive nature of our individual positive energies, we quickly became friends and have since gone on to wreck the heads of many a person in the college. And each other. Sure, what are friends for?

Hyper comes from Wexford, though she's lived in Kildare most of her life. Much of her time is spent away from home; she goes to Dublin for college and has a way of running off to Wexford or Tipperary or some other county that's not Kildare almost every week, and will soon be venturing off to Galway every month for Drama. Because that's the sort of person Hyper is.

She's one of my very best friends in the college, and outside of it. While we may get on each other's nerves a lot, she knows when to be serious, when to just be the sort of friend that gives you company and comforting words.

There's so much to like about Hyper McHen, I don't know where to begin. Okay, I like her happiness. I like that 95% of the time she's the happiest person in the college. I like that she's not afraid to say something mean about someone to their face - which isn't as bad as it sounds - because everyone knows she's doing it for the laugh. I like that she reads so much. I like that she's always there to help when you need her to. I like that she wears boys' clothes but still finds shoes pretty. I like that just by sitting down next to me she can make me feel better when I'm feeling down. I like knowing when she's seen a guy she likes because it gives us something to laugh about. I like that she's always herself unless she's acting for Drama.

Hyper McHen - so called because she's hyper, she needed a surname and she has hens - is a friend for life, and I'm blessed every day that she's there to talk to me. She was one of my first friends at college and she's one of the people I spend a lot more time with than anyone else.

And my closing remarks? Don't be afraid to be who you are, because people will love you for it. And live by the Rules of Adventureland, because you know you love the time you have for following them.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

First Lines

"Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo." The famous first line of James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Earlier today, I asked the lovely folks on Twitter to suggest first lines for stories for me to write.

Now I open up the topic here: can you suggest a first line for a story? I am hoping to write a few short stories based on these suggestions over the next few weeks. I have three weeks to go until I start college from the time I start writing these. So, first lines anyone?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Review - Birth of a Killer

Birth of a Killer (The Saga of Larten Crepsley)Larten Crepsley is back. Darren Shan’s latest book, Birth of a Killer takes us on a rollercoaster adventure back to the childhood of our favourite orange-haired vampire, Larten, to show us how and why he became a vampire and all of the things he managed to get himself up to since he became a vampire’s assistant, since he was blooded and more!

I was fortunate enough to receive a free proof copy of the book from Waterstones’s Twitter feed, so I had this book read at the start of August. I’ve been dying to get the review online since, but I didn’t want to get people too excited. It’s not that the book isn’t good, it’s just that I don’t think fans of Shan want to die of awesome before they even get to read the book.

So, how does the book compare to the others?

What, all of them? Okay, it’s a step back from the gore of the Demonata books, and it’s nothing like The Thin Executioner (reviewed here), except in the narrative style – Shan seems to have moved away from first person stories to write in the third person, giving him more mobility with the thoughts and feelings he writes about other characters. If I’m being honest, I preferred his previous methods, but the change is nice. The only problem with the book I can see, based on one reading, is that the narrative can seem a little jumpy, which I’m assuming is a result of getting a proof copy and not the final work. But I forgave it, anyway, because I only noticed it as something that I’d been warned away from in my own writing.

What can you reveal about the book?

Not much. Really, I don’t want to ruin the surprises in store. But familiar names pop up in the book and it’s split into four parts (at least the proof was... I think it’s safe to assume the finished work will be like this, because it works really well!). I can reveal that the book follows Larten Crepsley, though, and that in this book – the first of a new, short series that will tell this tale – he’s not quite the vampire we may remember him as in Cirque du Freak, when we were first thrown into the world of vampires. He’s wilder than Darren was!

Definitely recommended?

If you’re a fan of Darren Shan, yes. If not... well, I’ll actually recommend the book, but maybe after you’ve read The Saga of Darren Shan, so that you can get the same enjoyment out of the book as I did, spotting names you didn’t expect. However, you might still get the same experience if you read them in reverse order, starting with Larten and moving on to Darren. That way, you’ll see the names you became so familiar with popping up in another vampire’s life long after they were originally introduced to Larten! So, yes, read this book. Whether it’s before or after Cirque du Freak is up to you, but definitely give it a shot!


Birth of a Killer is the first book in a series of four to follow the life of Larten Crepsley up to the time of his meeting with Darren Shan. It will be published in hardback in the UK on September 30th 2010, and in the US on October 5th 2010 (note: details of the release date vary – Amazon.co.uk says September for the UK, while Darren Shan’s website says October 5th for both the UK and the US.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Review - The World is Mine (I Don't Know Anything)

The World Is Mine (I Don't Know Anything)I think a lot of people will look at this and think ‘What?’ Okay, crash course in Alex Day. He’s this guy on YouTube called nerimon, or Alex, or ‘Hey you from London, yeah you, singing boy reading Twilight.’ Alex is part of a generation of Super Nerds. I mean that in the nice way. Super Nerds are awesome.

Okay, so Alex plays music. You with me so far? He plays music on YouTube. Okay, I know what you’re thinking – lots of people do that. Except, and here’s the fun part, these two Super Nerds, Alan Lastufka and Hank Green, set up a record company called DFTBA Records, and they signed Alex and many other cool people. This is Alex’s second album with them, The World is Mine (I Don’t Know Anything). So, now that you have the crash course in Alex Day and how he came to be on my blog, let’s begin!

What’s so special about this album?

In short? I think it’s how it came about. And the songs are ridiculously catchy, especially Georgia, The Time of Your Life and the title track The World is Mine (I Don’t Know Anything). And many others... or all of them. And, like Elbow, Alex Day sings with his own accent. He tried, before, to sing in the sort of American-commercial way, but he didn’t like it. He could do it, but he chose not to.

What’s it most like?

I would say his first album, but that’s not true. He did what Muse and many other bands do and created a new type of sound for his next album than what his listeners were used to. However, there’s common ground between this and his first album, Parrot Stories – the songs are pretty much all about love. Bless. He doesn’t claim for the idea of singing about girls to be original, but I like how he does it. Sort of a melancholy in some songs, but an enormous amount of energy in others (like Georgia).

Is this album really recommended?

If you can get past the fact that it’s not a commercial act, that it’s not made in the same way commercial albums are, and therefore doesn’t have the same sort of sound as commercial albums by much better known bands, then yes, this album is recommended. But if you have an attitude about music that restricts the growth of indie artists (not Indie the genre, but indie as in without a massive company behind them), then you may not be able to see The World is Mine (I Don’t Know Anything) as an album worth your time, because you’ll have attached a distaste to it before you’ve given it a shot. In short: your prejudice will get the better of you.

If you can get past your prejudices about certain types of music, then you will like this album. You’ll at least like it. As in, you might not love it like I do. But that’s okay, if you give it a shot first. I can almost promise you’ll find something you like on the album. Almost. I have to take into account that different people have different tastes. This is what Alex Day calls his “dance” album – really it’s called that because it has a lot of electrically produced sounds in it, it’s generally fast and it’s very much the sort of album you want to move about to. It’s a fun album to listen to, and I never get sick of it.

What next, then?

Well, Alex Day has another album and an EP that I’ve listened to a number of times, and he’s in two bands – Chameleon Circuit and Sons of Admirals, whose work I’ll be reviewing soon, too. Watch this space, because the DFTBA artists need backing to help them keep doing what they do best.

Review - Creedance Clearwater Revival: Rock Legends

I picked this little number up recently on – you guessed it – a recommendation. Creedence Clearwater Revival’s edition of Rock Legends (or is it the other way around... it’s a collection of CCR songs, anyway) is a fantastic album filled with songs by one of my latest crazes. I fell in love with the sound of CCR from the moment I heard Bad Moon Rising, so I had to have the CD when I found it in the shop!

Was it what you expected?

It was, and it wasn’t. I knew it’d be awesome, but I wasn’t sure of the sound before I listened to it the whole way through. My experience of Creedence Clearwater Revival was strictly limited to Bad Moon Rising and Proud Mary.

So does that mean –

Yes! They’re my favourite songs on the album. Two of my favourite songs to listen to out of everything I have in my collection. And that’s a lot of songs. I wasn’t going to get a CD with only one of them on it – it was both or nothing at all. Thankfully, this one found its way into my hands, and I love it. I mean, I may have two favourite songs out of sixteen on the album, but I can’t complain in one bit about any of the other songs. I love the guitar. It’s real classic rock guitar, not the sort of I’m-desperately-mainstream guitar you hear from a lot of bands. It’s not muddled up with a plethora of electric sounds, either. This is pure rock, and I love it. Which might surprise a few people – I paint a picture of myself as something entirely more modern, with an obsession with Glee that verges on dangerous. But, if it wasn’t for Glee I wouldn’t have first heard Proud Mary. I think it all evens out, there.

Which is better, then: the CCR or the Glee version of Proud Mary?

I knew you’d stick me with that option. Okay, one thing I’ll say – same lyrics, but they’re essentially different songs. Glee speeds up the CCR track to a dangerous tempo that threatens to throw the earth off its axis. Don’t get me wrong, I like it. I like the speed, the energy, the life that’s gone into the song. But it’s completely different from the mellow rock tune that CCR created. Instead of a slow, rolling beat to go with the lyrics, Glee created something that – as was intended – put life into the wheelchairs they sat in while performing the song in the show.

Let’s just clarify that, in case you don’t watch the show: there’s a kid in a wheelchair in the Glee Club, and to make him feel more included, they all go around in wheelchairs for a week. That way they know how he feels all the time. Part of the deal was also to do a “wheelchair song”, which is where Proud Mary comes in. To create a tune that showed that the guy wasn’t just a chair, they picked a song with the word “rolling” in it, and sped it up some to show the life, the energy, the emotion that the guy still has, even if his legs don’t work.

And it’s in that that the songs are different. Glee gave it a new purpose. For them, it wasn’t a classic rock song that was widely covered by a number of artists – it was a tune of expression. I think they did CCR proud, even if they had to change the song’s vibe. So, neither version is better. In saying that, though, I prefer CCR’s version of it, now that I’ve actually heard it. Originals tend to win hands down, because you can get a feel of the artist in them better.

Recommend the album, then?

Definitely. You haven’t heard rock until you’ve heard Creedence Clearwater Revival. They’ve got something special about them. They’ve captured some of the essence of rock. Too few people know about them these days. Sit back and enjoy the music, ladies and gentlemen. You won’t be disappointed.

Photographic Memory #2

Welcome back to Photographic Memory, in which I give you the chance to catch a glimpse of a moment in my life, simply because I feel like posting a photo a week! In the photo below, I take you to the museum; we discovered later that photographs were not permitted. Possibly because they don't want people posing like fools.

Welcome to the Guns Show! (what a lovely rifle at Collins Barracks!)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Review - Adverbs

Adverbs: A Novel (P.S.)The very first thing I have to say about this book: I bought it because 1. it was recommended in the shop and 2. I love the author’s children’s books – Daniel Handler’s Adverbs is a big step away from A Series of Unfortunate Events (by his alter-ego Lemony Snicket). Okay, so the narrative is more mature but is otherwise quite a bit the same, but this is so much weirder.

What do you mean weirder?

Think along the lines of every chapter being an adverb. Think along the lines of the story being non-linear. Think along the lines of alternating narrative styles, switching between first and third person narratives for no obvious reason other than that was what Handler wanted to do. It makes for a somewhat difficult to follow story, because the events don’t take place in the same order, but it’s made even more difficult by the fact that almost every chapter has new characters, but will reference other characters from before. More or less.

More or less?

Yes, more or less. Basically, everyone reading this for the first time will be confused until the chapter called Truly. Which is where I give the consumer – you, the reader – some advice: don’t skip ahead to there, but don’t give up before then. It will all, more or less, make sense when you read it.

What made you keep reading?

I’m a very curious individual, for a start. I wanted to know if 1. I could figure out the plot and the switching between characters, and stuff and 2. how the book would end, if it wasn’t linear. Also, the book is about love and people, and I love love and I love people, so I had to keep reading. Now, it’s not a romance. No, I wouldn’t class it as a romance at all. But it’s about love. It’s about the idea of love and the idea of people. It’s all very wonderfully put together, and that’s an adverb, because that’s what the author likes in this book – adverbs. It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. That also kept me reading.

How does it compare to any of the author’s other books?
Considering that this is the first of Handler’s adult-market books that I’ve read, I can only compare it to his thirteen book series of children’s books. They were funny in an obvious kind of way – the adults were stupid. That’s funny. This is funny is a different way, a more subtle way – the adults aren’t all stupid, but the ones that are are really stupid and the others don’t seem to like them very much, except that they’re good looking. And there are jokes about how people talk and how British they are and about taxi cabs and love and birds and detectives, and it’s all very funny, once you’re paying attention. This also makes you think more than A Series of Unfortunate Events, though if memory serves this uses less complicated language, because the Lemony Snicket author liked to use convoluted language to allow himself to explain it in a way that was funny and that fit the story. Relative to the age of the reader, this is definitely a less complicated book than A Series of Unfortunate Events in terms of language used.

So it’s recommended... like everything else you review?

Pretty much. More so than most books, actually. It’s funny. It’s smart. It’s thought provoking. It has rude characters who talk about sex a lot. It talks about love from so many different angles. It’s confusing but worth it. When you finish, you feel like you’ve accomplished something wonderful, like climbing Everest, except you haven’t gone anywhere (if you’re like me and you sit still while you’re reading). It’s a brilliantly written book, and the reviews on my edition’s cover are hilarious. They’re also worth it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Review - I Made You a CD But I Eated It

I Made You A Cd, But I Eated ItFirst thing’s first – what a great title for an album! This is an EP by the wonderful Molly Lewis, I Made You A CD But I Eated It. In summary: it’s short, but it’s sweet and it’s very funny. From the first song on the track listing you’re filled in on what you’re letting yourself in for: Molly sings (and plays her ukulele) about MySpace, an astronaut, Mr T, Peeps (whatever they are... American’s, please fill me in), Wikipedia and the president in her EP, with much hilarity guaranteed. There’s also the added bonus of Molly being a Super Nerd, one of few female Super Nerds.

So, why this strange CD?

Okay, so when I first got introduced to the idea of DFTBA – Molly is one of their artists – I got a compilation CD that had Molly Lewis on it – I Pity The Fool. Very hilarious, I have to say. After that, I decided I had to hear what else Molly could get up to, and I couldn’t resist the price, either. So I got the EP and I loved it. It’s strange, but funny, and well worth it.

What’s your favourite song? All of them isn’t an option.

You know me too well, vicious Review Alter-Ego. Okay, not all of them. Simply because I don’t understand it, Peep Fight is my least favourite song on the EP. But that’s it. The rest are all brilliant in their own ways, and they’re all hilarious. I especially love the two website songs (those about MySpace and Wikipedia), because they show off a couple of the best known sites on the Internet – one a social network that none of my friends are on, possibly bar one, and the other a mass-contribution encyclopaedia that colleges disagree with because anyone can change it, and so anyone can make it wrong (or funny). It’s also not complete, which Molly makes a point of. Why is there no page about her?

Is it recommended?
Oh very much so. It’s still one of my favourite things from DFTBA Records, because it’s so funny and so easy to listen to, and I fall in love with the nerdiness of it all every time I start to play MyHope, the first song. I can’t claim to know any/many funnier artists that Molly Lewis – a few have some funny songs, but Molly Lewis takes the biscuit (ew, a cliché!) with these six songs (plus one live version of a song) as they’re all funny in some way or another (okay, I might not get Peep Fight, but I’m fairly sure that the joke she makes about them is both right, and funny because it’s right! Definitely get it. You will laugh your pants off! (Warning: if you’re going to laugh your pants off, don’t do it in public, because that will get you locked up.)