on Tuesday, 24 April 2012
Haven't posted in a while. Strictly through laziness on my part, my bad. Hopefully this short story I've been writing the past few days will make up for my absence.

There were fairies at the bottom of Abby’s garden, although she didn’t know that yet. It was an average British spring afternoon, warm enough to be outside but with the threat of rain in the air, and Abby was sitting on her back doorstep poking at cracks with a stick. Poking things with a stick is a source of unending fun for a nine year old, and cracks are a marvel to be explored, potentially filled with treasures or horrors of equal awe. For a child of her age, the most mundane things take on a veneer of the magical, behind every action and object is a fantastical world that exists only for her. Imagine her amazement then, when she heard a faint tinkling noise, like a pocketful of coins being dropped, and three tiny, beautiful winged girls shimmered into existence at the other end of the garden.

Stand up comedy.

on Monday, 16 April 2012
I'm a big fan of stand up comedy, ever since I was a little kid watching the likes of Ben Elton on TV and listening to my mother's Bill Hicks LPs. Yes, I'm getting old. When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always answered "comedian". It's true, I enjoyed and still enjoy making people laugh, but I think the comedy is not the main reason why I love stand up comedy so much.

As I've grown older and absorbed books by the hundreds, I've developed a real passion for language that I think was always burgeoning under the surface. For me, stand up comedians display incredible wordsmithing, and all the best test out new material, gauge its reaction and go away and re-write, test and re-write until it's perfect; until the sentences are structured to flow perfectly, giving the audience the right pause to laugh in, delivering the punchline at just the right moment.

I really admire that, the mastery over language, and the immediate reward you get for it. With creative writing it can be a long time before you get any kind of feedback on what you've written from your audience, but with stand up comedy they're right there in front of you.

If you're not following me, watch this video of George Carlin and let me know what you think:

That monologue gives me goosebumps every time. I miss ya, George.

I don't think I'll ever follow my childhood dreams of being a famous comedian, since I have the charisma of a damp cloth, but I still get immense enjoyment out of stand up shows. Who's your favourite stand up?

Screw it, cats.

on Saturday, 14 April 2012
Some days, you just want to post cats.

In summary, cats are awesome.

Boring personal thingies because I've been lazy.

on Monday, 9 April 2012
So I haven't gotten much any work done this weekend, I kind of gave myself the weekend off with it being Easter, so this is just some boring details about how I spent the holiday.

I didn't get any eggs, which I'm fine about because I find them grotesquely overpriced for what you actually get, but my brother did bring me some chocolate on Friday which was nice of him. My brother is a pretty good artist btw, and you should check out his stuff. His latest post has a promo video that I cut together for one of his pieces, for free I might add. I'm generous like that.

I did have some traditional Easter food though, a fish pie on Good Friday and some lamb and venison on Sunday. Normally I wouldn't eat anything so extravagant as venison, but I was perusing the discount meat isle in ASDA and a shelf stacker plonked it down in front of me while I was routing through the nearly-off treasure and I couldn't resist.

So that's about it for my thrilling, non-stop action Easter weekend. How was your Easter?

Concentra- ooh shiny things

on Wednesday, 4 April 2012
I think years of internet abuse have destroyed my ability to concentrate for more than half an hour on something. I didn't have computers or video games growing up, so I spent the vast majority of my childhood with my nose in a book. As an adult, I suppose I've rebelled against my empoverished upbringing and embraced technology, spending hours every day pouring over websites and whiling away the hours watching colourful video games blink entertainment into my brain.

As a writer, having such a terrible attention span is very detrimental. I try to set myself goals for writing: "Today I will write 1000 words! At least!" but often it turns out to be "Hell, I've written 100 words, I can reward myself with some [insert mindless entertainment here]".

I'm planning to finish a novel in 2012, and I've been doing well so far, but some days it feels like it might be more like 2015 before it's finished. Perhaps it's time to go ask my doctor for some Ritalin. Right now though, I've got some shiny things to go stare at.

Bullshit detector.

on Tuesday, 3 April 2012
Somewhat inspired by Carl Sagan's Baloney Detection Kit I've come up with a more entry-level guide to discern whether someone is telling you a load of bullshit. These are phrases or words that people usually use to prefix a statement that they have just pulled out of their arse. I hope you find them useful.
  • "Probably" or "Maybe"
Any statement beginning with these words is pure guess work. It means "I don't really know, but I'm going to give you an answer anyway so I don't look like I don't know anything about this subject". It's possible it's an educated guess, that's just something you have to work out based on the person you're talking to.
  • "Scientists have proven"
Oh really? Which scientists? Which study are you referring to? Don't get me wrong, I'm a great proponent of science, but unless you're going to back this up with some sources, I'm going to assume it's bullshit that you're attempting to give credence by throwing the S word around.
  • "Helps" or "Promotes"
This one is usually specific to products, and it's used by cosmetics advertisers a lot. It's a way of making a claim, without actually making it. "This cream helps prevent aging." "This drink promotes healthy bowels." Those words are key to absolving any responsibility for the products not living up to their claims, and in fact if they actually made those claims outright, then the products would be considered medicines and would have to have a wealth of clinical data to back them up. If you see a product advertised with these words, chances are it does precisely nothing.
  • "As a woman"
Before you jump down my neck, I'm not having a go at women. Some women do say this though, before a statement of their opinion, like it gives it any more weight. You may have different experiences of things as a woman, but womanhood is not something you earned or worked at, it's a simple matter of biology. You could use "In my experience" and retain some credibility, but "As a woman" means that you believe your opinion is somehow worth more because of your DNA and that those who don't share your double X chromosomes couldn't possibly understand.
  • "I find that offensive"
Usually followed by a statement explaining their views on the matter. People who say this seem to think that because they are offended by an opposing view, that their view is the correct one and they wont accept anything contrary to that, because it's "offensive". You can justify any bullshit you want by claiming to find any counter-point "offensive", simultaneously putting forward your view as if it were the morally correct choice and making the other guy out to be a bad guy.

Of course there are hundreds of other ways to tell if someone is bullshitting you, but the ones listed here are pretty fool-proof, so now you know when to spot them. Here's what you do when it comes up: