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The Lair Of Gary James

Archive for December, 2009

Four Days And Counting…

Posted by BigWords on December 27, 2009

It’s something of a tradition, as the old year gives way to the new, that a short moment is given over to reflection on those who have passed in the previous twelve months. I’ve been surprised – rooting around the old Absolute Write threads – that nobody has thought of putting together such a list for the wordsmiths who have passed beyond the veil. Well, that is all set to change, as I have usurped the role of official chronicler from whoever was meant to be putting together such a thing. Yup, that’s the reason I haven’t been so active around the internet, commenting on blogs and such, but I’m sure I can be forgiven my lack of participation in the day-to-day activities as I toil away in my own mad way.

It started out as a few names, hastily sketched down in a notebook, but rapidly grew into an obsession. That’s what you get when OCD begins scratching away in the back of the mind, demanding a comprehensive run-down, alphabetized and with copious links to ensure that a level of understanding can be gained into the work of those who are no longer with us. I’m currently up to four pages of names, though I had (about a week ago) assumed myself to be 80% through the names. I was wrong, and the list grew substantially. It doesn’t help that I have signed up to various news feeds and e-mail alerts, begun digging through old obituaries, read Locus’ online portions, and trawled through Wikipedia.

Which brings up an interesting point – I’m not linking anything directly to Wikipedia. I’ll use the wiki to gather direct information (their links), but the site itself doesn’t meet my criteria for accuracy. There’s a long history of me bitching in forums that surfing Wikipedia is a poor substitute for research, but I’m willing to concede that it (sometimes) manages to throw up the odd name or two I wouldn’t have thought of. That, in case you missed it, is an apology to Wikipedia for my dismissal of its’ usefulness. Don’t hold your breath for a more glowing tribute to it, ’cause one ain’t coming.

The main thing I have realized, as the names accumulate, is the shockingly young age of some writers. My peers, people my own age and younger, are among the departed. It’s scary, and a bit intimidating. Here’s something I thought of – you know that feeling, when you first understood how far away the Earth was from the sun, and how far away the sun was from other galaxies, and how far those galaxies were from the rest of the universe, and how small and insignificant we truly are… That’s kinda the same feeling I had when I stood back and looked at the ages of some of the writers. I also has a few moments when I had to walk away from the laptop before the utterly depressing nature of such an undertaking got to me.

I’ve also begun thinking of the myriad ways in which I might – one day long from now, hopefully – die. It seems that many of the writers over the past year have died of cancer. That’s scary. That’s scary in ways which cuts through the bullshit and hits straight in the gut. My paternal grandmother died of cancer – and my mother has had a few scares – so it runs in the family.  I smoke a lot, and my chances of dying from the disease are slightly above average. Slightly. My paternal grandfather had a few heart attacks in his thirties, and my maternal grandfather had cancer at the end. I have genes which are custom-built for self-destruction, aided and assisted by a streak of obsessive compulsive weirdness.

Not the Christmas cheer you came looking for, right? Sorry. I’m not up to dancing the Snoopy dance for your entertainment.

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone besmeared with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
‘Gainst death and all oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth: your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
. So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
. You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.

Shakespeare

The immortals, those whose words will continue to ring down through the ages, may no longer be with us in person. They are gone, but their words will outlive us all. It’s a wonderful reassurance that everything isn’t in vain – we will always be here as long as our work is remembered. I don’t hold on to religious notions, so grasping at immortality by vicarious means is as good as I can hope for. That’s why remembering those who came before us is important, and why time should be set aside to think of those who have gone from our midst. It’s why I’m putting my piece together. It’s why I’ve been surprisingly quiet this last week or so.

Things should be back to normal soon enough. Savor the quiet while you have it.

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2009 – Awards (Part 2)

Posted by BigWords on December 25, 2009

MAG Poetry Prize

Thirteenth Birthday by Francesca McMahon

The Orwell Award

The NCTE George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language 2009: Amy Goodman (co-founder / executive producer / host: Democracy Now (official release of winners)

The Orwell Prize

In association with The Orwell Trust, Political Quarterly and the Media Standards Trust

Books: Fishing in Utopia: Sweden and the Future That Disappeared by Andrew Brown (Granta) (link)
Journalism: Patrick Cockburn (The Independent; London Review of Books) (link)
Blogs: Jack Night for Nightjack, An English Detective

Poetry Foundation

Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize: Fanny Howe

Pulitzer Prize

Honoring excellence in journalism and the arts since 1917.

Biography / Autobiography: American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham
Breaking News Photography: Patrick Farrell for The Miami Herald
Breaking News Reporting: Staff of The New York Times
Commentary: Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post
Criticism: Holland Cotter of The New York Times
Drama: Ruined by Lynn Nottage
Editorial Cartooning: Stephen P. Breen for San Diego Union-Tribune
Editorial Writing: Mark Mahoney of The Post-Star, Glens Falls, NY
Explanatory Reporting: Bettina Boxall and Julie Cart of Los Angeles Times
Feature Photography: Damon Winter of The New York Times
Feature Writing: Lane DeGregory of St. Petersburg Times
Fiction: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (Random House)
General Non-Fiction: Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon (Doubleday)
History: The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed (W.W. Norton & Company)
International Reporting: Staff of The New York Times
Investigative Reporting: David Barstow of The New York Times
Local Reporting: Detroit Free Press Staff, and notably Jim Schaefer and M.L. Elric / Ryan Gabrielson and Paul Giblin of East Valley Tribune, Mesa, AZ
Music: Double Sextet by Steve Reich (Boosey & Hawkes)
National Reporting: Staff of St. Petersburg Times
Poetry: The Shadow Of Sirius by W.S. Merwin (Copper Canyon Press)
Public Service: Las Vegas Sun, and notably the courageous reporting by Alexandra Berzon

The Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award

Birth And Death by Carol Guzy (Washington Post)

SFPA Rhysling Award

Long: Search by Geoffrey A. Landis
Short: Song For An Ancient City by Amal El-Mohtar

The Society of Authors

The Betty Trask Prize And Award: The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey (Cape)
The Cholmondeley Awards: Bernard O’Donoghue / Alice Oswald / Fiona Sampson / Pauline Stainer
The Elizabeth Longford Prize: Florence Nightingale: The Woman And Her Legend by Mark Bostridge (Viking)
The Encore Award: Disquiet by Julia Leigh (Faber)
The Eric Gregory Awards:
The Patron Saint Of Schoolgirls by Liz Berry
The Stone Operation by James Brookes
Touchpaper The Night by Swithun Cooper
Joséphine’s Giraffe by Alex McRae
It Ain’t Honest by Sam Riviere
The McKitterick Prizee: Missy by Chris Hannan (Chatto)
The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award: Ross Raisin
The Tom Gallon Trust Award: My Father’s Hands by Rosemary Mairs
The Somerset Maugham Award: The Broken Word by Adam Foulds (Cape)

Strokestown Poetry Prize

Awards announcement
English language poem: Padraig Rooney
Irish / Gaelic Poem: Pádraig Mac Fhearghusa
Percy French Prize: Sean Lyons
Schools Competition (Secondary): Emily Cooper, Convent of Mercy, Roscommon
Schools Competition (National): Amy Curley, Ballyleague, NS, Lanesboro

Struga Poetry Evenings Awards

Bridges of Struga Award: Ousmane Sarr-Sarrouss (Senegal)
Golden Wreath Award: Tomaž Šalamun (Slovenia)
The Miladinov Brothers Award: Vesna Acevska

Tezuka Osamu Bunkashō (Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize)

Grand Prize: Gekiga Hyōryū by Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Grand Prize: Ōoku: The Inner Chambers by Fumi Yoshinaga
New Artist Prize : Panorama-tō Kitan by Suehiro Maruo
Short Story Award: Saint Oniisan by Hikaru Nakamura

Okay, here’s the deal: I’ve spent a while searching through the websites which list awards. Having come across out of date pages, dead links, abandoned awards, and sites which are extremely user-unfriendly (it would help if there was a ‘home’ button on some) I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be easier to quit while I’m ahead. Feel free to add to this list below, with links to the appropriate award or to a notification of the win.

I was going to hold this back to complement the other end-of year list (which seems to be gathering more information on an hourly basis), but this was a much more complex preposition. Is there anyone else out there putting together a list of information for writers? C’mon, take this idea and run with it – there’s no way I’ll be able to get it up to scratch if I keep stumbling over the horrendous websites which hurt my eyes to look at…

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2009 – Awards (Part 1)

Posted by BigWords on December 25, 2009

Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Literary Achievement

The Alfred Thayer Mahan Award is named for the famous naval theorist who, through his writing, provided vital stimulus and guidance to those who share in the defense of the nation. Presented since 1957, this award for literary achievement is awarded to a Navy officer, Marine Corps officer, enlisted service member, or civilian who has made a notable literary contribution that has advanced the knowledge of the importance of sea power in the United States.

Professor John Hattendorf, U.S. Naval War College

American Academy of Arts and Letters

Academy Award for Literature: Stan Allen / Michael Collier
Rosenthal Foundation Award: A Better Angel by Chris Adrian
Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction: Better Children by Charles Bock

American Book Awards

The American Book Awards, established in 1978 by the Before Columbus Foundation, recognize outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community. The purpose of the awards is to recognize literary excellence without limitations or restrictions. There are no categories, no nominees, and therefore no losers.

Betrayal: How Black Intellectuals Have Abandoned the Ideals of the Civil Right Era by Houston A. Baker, Jr. (Columbia University Press)
Ask for a Convertible by Danit Brown (Pantheon)
Please by Jericho Brown (New Issues Poetry & Prose)
José Antonio Burciaga, The Last Supper of Chicano Heroes: Selected Works of José Antonio Burciaga edited by Mimi R. Gladstein and Daniel Chacón (University of Arizona Press)
Uncertain Peril: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Seeds by Claire Hope Cummings (Beacon Press)
If I Die in Juarez by Stella Pope Duarte (The University of Arizona Press)
All of It Singing: New and Selected Poems by Linda Gregg (Graywolf Press)
Breaking Poems by Suheir Hammad (Cypher Books)
The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes (Pantheon Books)
A Power Stronger than Itself: The A.A.C.M. and American Experimental Music by George E. Lewis (University of Chicago Press)
Ghosts of El Grullo by Patricia Santana (University of New Mexico Press)
Jack Spicer, My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer, edited by Peter Gizzi and Kevin Killian (Wesleyan University Press)

Lifetime Achievement Award: Miguel Algarin

Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards

The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards “recognizes books that have made important contributions to our understanding of racism and our appreciation of the rich diversity of human cultures.”

The Plague Of Doves by Louise Erdrich
The Hemingses of Montecello by Annette Gordon-Reed
The Boat by Nam Lee

Lifetime Achievement Award: Paule Marshall

Aqua Books Lansdowne Prize for Poetry/prix Lansdowne de poésie

this is a small northern town by Rosanna Deerchild (The Muses’ Company, an imprint of J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing) (link)

The Bancroft Prize

This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust (Alfred A. Knopf, 2008)
The Comanche Empire by Pekka Hämäläinen (Yale University Press, 2008)

Booktrust

Booktrust Early Years Awards
Baby Book Award: Chick by Ed Vere (Puffin)
Best Emerging Illustrator: Box Of Tricks by Katie Cleminson (Jonathan Cape)
Pre-School Award: Oliver Who Travelled Far And Wide by Mara Bergman, illustrated by Nick Maland (Hodder Children’s Books)

Booktrust Teenage Prize: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Kim Scott Walwyn Prize: Kathy Rooney, Managing Director of Bloomsbury Publishing, has been awarded the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize.

Orange Prize For Fiction: Home by Marilynne Robinson (Virago)
Orange Award For New Writers: An Equal Stillness by Francesca Kay

The Bridport Prize

Poetry: Non-Invasive by Dore Kiesselbach (Bridport Prize page)
Short Story: Something by Jenny Clarkson (Bridport Prize page)

Capitolbeat 2009 Contest Winners

The Christopher Tower Poetry Prize

Is Life Likely? by Timothy Carson

Committee to Protect Journalists

2009 duPont-Columbia Award Winners

The Edgars

Best Critical / Biography: Edgar Allan Poe: An Illustrated Companion To His Tel-Tale Stories by Dr. Harry Lee Poe (Sterling Publishing – Metro Books)
Best Fact Crime: American Lightning: Terror, Mystery, the Birth of Hollywood, and the Crime of the Century by Howard Blum (Crown Publishers)
Best First Novel By An American Author: The Foreigner by Francie Lin (Picador)
Best Juvenile: The Postcard by Tony Abbott (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Best Motion Picture Screen Play: In Bruges Screenplay by Martin McDonagh (Focus Features)
Best Novel: Blue Heaven by C.J. Box (St. Martin’s Minotaur)
Best Paperback Original: China Lake by Meg Gardiner (New American Library)
Best Play: The Ballad of Emmett Till by Ifa Bayeza (GoodmanTheatre, Chicago, IL)
Robert L. Fish Memorial Award: Buckner’s Error by Joseph Guglielmelli, from Queens Noir (Akashic Books)
Best Short Story: Skinhead Central by T. Jefferson Parker, from The Blue Religion (Hachette Book Group – Little Brown and Company)
The Simon & Schuster – Mary Higgins ClarkAward: The Killer’s Wife by Bill Floyd (St. Martin’s Minotaur)
Best Television Episode: Prayer of the Bone (Wire In The Blood) Teleplay by Patrick Harbinson (BBC America)
Best Young Adult: Paper Towns by John Green (Penguin Young Readers Group)

Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award

Paul Salopek (foreign correspondent for Chicago Tribune)

Forward Poetry Prize

Best Collection: Rain by Don Patterson
Best First Collection: The Striped World by Emma Jones
Best Single Poem: At Roane Head by Robin Robertson

Golden Pen of Freedom Award

Najam Sethi (Friday Times & Daily News; Pakistan)

Griffin Poetry Prize

Awards announcement
Canadian Winner: The Sentinel by A.F. Moritz (House of Anansi Press)
International Winner: Rising, Falling, Hovering by C.D. Wright (Copper Canyon Press)
Lifetime Achievement Award: Hans Magnus Enzensberger

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The Year Ain’t Over, So Stop Mourning It

Posted by BigWords on December 22, 2009

There’s a lot of posts being written at the moment which seem to lament the passing of another year. Somehow I’m not feeling the motion towards a new year yet, though I’m sure there are people who have been planning their December blog posts for a while now. It is, after all, the final chance to comment on all of the news stories, to bitch about the way we’re all a year older, to state defiantly that next year will be better (c’mon – it can’t be worse, right?) and to place their spin on the current state of the world. That is all fine and well, but there are still some days to go before I have to retrain myself to write the correct year on stuff. I hate the time at the start of a new year when I always get the date wrong.

When people write up their summations of the past year, and the past decade, they will try to confuse you with stories about personal growth – the need to show off and explain how they’re somehow a better person is one of the (many) things which still eludes me. If I had a personal growth I’d be making an appointment for my doctor to immediately get it removed, but that’s just my opinion. If you like your growths where they are, then by all means show them to the world. I’m not gonna pretend that I’ve mellowed any. Hell, if anything I’m even more bitter and twisted than ever (I watched Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen), still as impulsive… Maybe even less sociable than ever.

And why, now of all times, do people suddenly come over all sentimental – as if the year which has just kicked them in the ass never happened? I’m beginning to wonder if there is something I’m missing out on. Is it just me, alone here, mocking the frivolities of an arbitrary date we are held in thrall to? It isn’t as if there is a rule that we have to enjoy the “season of goodwill to all men” and be merry. Merry. Hmmm… Merrymerrymerry. After a while it isn’t even a word anymore, yet it is everywhere at the moment. It doesn’t really inspire goodwill in me rather than an uncontrollable urge to punch somebody. Anyone. The next person who says ‘Merry Christmas” perhaps.

One thing the last twelve months has taught me, in the particularly annoying way that only time can, was that I shouldn’t make plans. I really shouldn’t make plans. Three of my big ones were utterly ruined by unforseen events, so I can only surmise that there is some weird universal constant which determines that the making of plans is a Very Bad Thing. That sits just fine with me. I was planning on (maybe) sending out some Christmas cards this year, but haven’t. No biggie… The world hasn’t ended, there are no impending problems, and I doubt anyone will really notice.

I am, of course, going to use the fact that I’m not sending out cards as a way to appease the global warming nutters – never passing up an opportunity to make myself look good will remain a personal goal, though it hardly counts as a positive thing.

Oh, and if you, dear reader, happen to be one of those global warming nutters advocates, tell me this: Why am I freezing my balls off under a blanket of snow here in Scotland? If the planet is getting warmer, which I doubt, where have the sunny skies gone? I’ll concede that there isn’t as much of the white stuff (well, the other white stuff anyways) as there used to be, but it hardly constitutes proper scientific proof to the very, very debatable theory we’re screwing up the planet. Answer me, science bods.

2009 was the year we put war behind us and… Oh, wait. No, we’re still at war. How the hell are we still at war? Did anyone sign anything? I seem to remember some vague promises about decreased involvement in Iraq, but a promise from a politician is as good as supermarket credit- you’ll get screwed in the end, it’s only a question of how hard you want it. The endless reporting is one of the reasons I try not to watch BBC News 24 or Sky, because they seem to revel in the misery and human despair. With video footage. Lots of video footage. It’s a good thing nobody else seems to be watching, or they’ll wrangle a way to keep the war going longer for good ratings.

We didn’t disappear into a giant black hole when the Super-Collider was plugged in, which disappointed and overjoyed an equal amount of people. I guess that the naysayers had a point about dangerous experiments, but their massive knee jerk overreactions were a personal highlight of the last year – one particularly good commentary claimed it might open up a hell dimension and plunge us into the game Doom for real. Seriously. That shit is hilarious, and I am really disappointed that it didn’t pan out as expected – man, I really, really want a FBG. More than I want peace on earth. More than I want to find an agent.

2009, huh? Bit of a let-down. At least we managed to move some ways into the future, with bionic limbs being advanced, a robotic eye that seems to hold promise, advances in robotics, tweaks to the way the internet works… Soon (prob’ly not in my lifetime) we’ll actually have spaceflight on a regular basis. No, wait a sec – Richard Branson is getting all hot and bothered about a plane/spaceship thingy which might, possibly, precluding problems, actually deliver on that promise from the pages of The Eagle comic. We’re still waiting on proof that it won’t develop a problem on its’ inaugural flight, requiring Superman to bring it back to earth safely (okay, so that reference is asking a bit much of you).

I should mention Obama somewhere here, as that was a highlight – as was the redneck KKK fuckers who were caught with guns, then were stupid enough to admit they were going to kill the president. Jeez, Darwinism in action. I bet their parents are proud. Politics… I really don’t think anyone comes here for insights into politics, but I have to say this – 2009 was the year we discovered just how low, underhand, scumbaggy (is that a word?) and compromised some leaders were. Gordon Brown betrayed the UK every few days, The Italian government flip-flopped like a dying fish, the Chinese and Aussie governments tried to choke the life out of the internet… Bad year for politicians.

Oooh, lookee – I made some political commentary and managed to conveniently neglect mentioning how badly British politicians have been working the system to line their own pockets. Or how one of their number was caught with an illegal immigrant working on their staff. Or how we had reports of the stupid lengths some MP’s were willing to go to screw over their constituents.

Somehow it doesn’t seem like anything ever changes, no matter which year we are in.

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The End-Of-Year Wind-Down

Posted by BigWords on December 20, 2009

I’m in the middle of a massive fact-checking excercise for a That Was 2009 type post, covering notable deaths, the important awards, the stuff that I’ve found interesting and other information, so I won’t be getting around the internet as much as normal. Don’t worry, I haven’t died, or gotten lost on my way home from a night out… As soon as I’m finished prepping the big posts planned for the last day of the year it will be back to business as normal.

If anyone has anything they want added to the rundown of 2009, then leave your notes in the comment section below.

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The Australian Government’s Internet Plans Affect Us All

Posted by BigWords on December 19, 2009

Despite the endless freedom of information campaigns spread across the internet, the Australian government is set to strangle the rights of web surfers come next year. The rationale behind the proposal is to weed out illegal content, but the supposition that an independent body can remain neutral is both idiotic and overly simplistic. The notion that a single illegal element can be successfully separated from perfectly legal material existing on the same server is beyond imagining – are entire domains going to be cut off from Australian access, and can sites launch an appeal if they have been wrongly labelled as containing illegal content? These are all valid questions.

And, while I’m thinking on the (many, many) problems which this brings up, are torrent sites going to be blocked? They aren’t, as any sufficiently intelligent people will be well aware, illegal in nature. They are often illegal in content, but they are still used by companies to get material out to customers and fans – in no way breaking any laws. Another thing that is bugging me – because this might affect me – is a tendency by governments to look to individual points of law. There are things on this blog which can be construed as illegal in several countries (libel, offensive insinuations, um… some pics), so will this entire blog disappear from the internet as far as Oz is concerned?

Even better – what will happen to web searches?

Wait. We’re not done yet. One more question. The big one. The question you’re going to be asking if you are living in Australia, and one which is key to the entire debate – the question that everything hinges on: Who is the wizard of Oz internet access? Who is the name which will be signed at the bottom of every blocking order? Who is the man (or woman) who will decide wether a website is permitted to operate in Australia? There is more on this story at Infowars. If you want to know what the Australian government doesn’t want people to know (you do, trust me, you really do) then go to the list here. Unfortunately, most Aussies won’t be able to get to the listed sites, but I’m happy to check them out for you guys. 😀

Oh, and in case there is any doubt a to the severity of this problem, the UK’s very own New Labour Reich have decided that it might be a good idea to follow suit. The horrors which await us are unimaginable – the people in power have no idea what they are talking about. Have you taken the opportunity to check what the assholes people in charge of the Australian government have to say about the ‘dangerous’ individuals who they are targeting with this bill? Their concerns that inappropriate material may be getting through the blocks already in place are one thing, but when people start talking about charges being brought against hackers…

Um… Riiiight. Y’know, it’s these kind of statements which will bring a lot of people over to the anti-censorship stance, simply because the use of the word is completely wrong. Damnit, I’m a fucking hacker you stupid politico. So is Bill Gates, and so is the guy who will implement your dumb censorship plans. Anyone who creates, modifies or tinkers in any way with code is a hacker. To be so blatantly ignorant is no reason to be so terrified of technology. It’s the statement of someone who watches way too many Hollywood movies and ignores real life. Can you tell, just with this post, how pissed off I am with the entire situation?

Don’t be surprised if this doesn’t show up on Australian browsers.

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Is It Really That Big? Damn. Yes, It Is.

Posted by BigWords on December 18, 2009

I’m a moron. There, I said it… I got discouraged after a positively horrible shopping experience, so I turned to the internet. The internet, as everyone knows, never lies or misrepresents things, so you have a much better chance of getting to the truth than if you trust television, newspapers, friends, relatives or shopping catalogues – all of which routinely screw with the truth in ways that a politician would be proud of. The internet is a dear old friend, who advises and consoles, who encourages and assists – and, just to make the universe just a little bit more interesting, sometimes makes things appear larger or smaller than they really are.

There’s a problem with images online – nobody thinks to take photographs of items in context, so pictures of a 19″ television and a 48″ television, side by side, can appear to be the same size. This, if you hadn’t guessed, is where my brain puts one and one together to make five. And before I know what is happening, I’m sitting in front of largest television I’ve ever owned, wondering how the fuck I managed to spend so much money, and…

Aw, hell. Just take a look for yourselves. This is the box it came in:

Jeez. It’s massive. It’s also gonna keep me making repayments for another decade or so, but what the fuck… It’s big, and that is all that matters, right? Chicks might tell ya that size doesn’t matter, but I know different. Now all I have to do is make some space for it.

So, for those of you who like the technical definitions:

32″ / 82cm pixel plus HD-ready 1366 x 768p LCD screen
3 HDMI inputs, USB connection, and DVB-T/C for digital

I have to admit this right now, because I don’t think it’s fair keeping the whole truth back – I didn’t realize how big 32″ was. Seriously, I had no idea the size of this thing until it arrived. Which, in a weird kinda way, made opening the box all the more exciting. I had expected something a bit smaller, but the credit card payment had already gone through, and I don’t want to send it back just because I can’t tell the difference between a medium television and a gigantic one.

Shoot me now…

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Demotivational Gallery

Posted by BigWords on December 17, 2009

If you have no idea what this post is about, then take a look at A little friendly competition. For motivation. Gone and had a look? Then I’ll begin…

The political side of demotivational posters has always been overlooked in favor of the rude stuff, but there is a long tradition of politics creeping in to art when people aren’t really paying attention. The quote at the bottom of the second image may just be obscure enough to hide the sentiments, though I suspect folks will get the gist of the juxtaposition. If you need it explained to you, then you probably should start brushing up on your twentieth century history. The first image is an easy dig at the intellectual level of the then-current President, mingled with a meme popular at the beginning of the war in Iraq.

The following images are more typical of the demotivational style. There’s and Easter Egg (of sorts) if you look carefully at the Pokemon one.

I have a tendency to go for companies and politicians, apparently… I never noticed before, but a lot of the demotivational images which come readily to hand have this theme running through them. Which is probably a tad more self-awareness than I really needed to be made aware of. There are some I’ve come across which would definitely land me in some serious trouble, even though copies are probably still floating around in cyberspace it is better that I distance myself from anything which is too libelous.
There will probably be completely new images appearing in response to the “friendly” competition (is there such a thing?), so I’ve put together one specially for the occasion:

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‘Tis The Season For…

Posted by BigWords on December 15, 2009

Selling, right? That is basically what Christmas exists for. It’s the financial equivalent of lions rounding on antelopes in the wild, only the slick and shallow bastards throwing Santa Clause at us don’t want to kill us, they want to fuck us. They want our credit card details, our e-mail addresses, our ‘phone numbers and our continued (and, apparently, ‘valued’) custom. They want to shill us for everything we have, then get us so hooked on their products that we run up credit card debts which would shame third world nations. C’mon, lets face it – Shops are no better than crack dealers at this time of year, and it is all legal.

But… Here’s the thing. They don’t realize that in between the sales and the hype and the never-ending jingle music – which, one of these days, is gonna be the cause of a shooting spree – there is little actual assistance on offer. Since I’ve been looking for a new television, I’ve been subject to an endless parade of seventeen year-old’s, all equally indifferent to the customers and determined the chew their way through ever single word they speak. And not a single one of them seems to know the difference between plasma and LCD, or the different functions available on the products they are meant to be advising on.

It’s almost as if they don’t want to take my money. It did occur to me that my insistence on paying cash was probably hindering the speed at which things are going. Then another though hit me – when did money lose its value? It isn’t as if I’m offering to pay them in Monopoly money, but they look at the spending of cold, hard cash as the actions of a fucking madman. It’s completely insane. The shops were always going to be hard to deal with at this time of year, but the electrical retailers in the UK seem to be going out of their way to make things as difficult as possible. Doesn’t anyone know “the customer is always right” any more?

In order to minimize my aggravation at dealing with idiots, I’ve been looking through the pages of online retailers as well, but they have an even bigger agenda at the moment, and dealing with customers who want smaller end items is beyond their comprehension. If you want to lay down five grand on a television you’ll be in your element, but looking for a set which has a more modest outlay is next to impossible. A lot of electrical companies also has an insistence on horrendous videos playing on their websites, and that slows the process of browsing through their wares even more annoying than the process would otherwise be.

Having said – on numerous occasions – that Christmas isn’t a particularly festive season, and that I don’t think much of cold weather, faux-merriness, terrible music and bullshit promotions (that crap “on sale” was the same price in the summer) I have come to regard this as punishment for my disbelief in the holiday.

Posted in Misc., Over The Line | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Hybrid Writing / Art Experiment

Posted by BigWords on December 13, 2009

If you saw my response over here, you’ll know what this post is about.

The big idea:

This would entail the pages to be printed full-bleed, and I’m sure it would give people a headache if they tried to read a full book printed this way. Damn. It was such a good idea when I had it.

Nevermind.

Posted in Over The Line, writing | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »