The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Posts Tagged ‘misery’

If You Want To Be Safe, Don’t Mention My Birthday…

Posted by BigWords on January 9, 2010

I stomped around all morning, grumbling under my breath and trying – not entirely successfully – to work out the easiest way to clear the snowdrift from my back doorstep without the benefit of salt. The past week has been spent trying to conserve the little remaining reserves of the stuff, despite the fact that I need to have clear paths – really, I do, it isn’t just OCD. I’ve been brushing away the loose snow with a hard brush and scraping away the ice beneath with a spade, but that just makes the path dangerously slippy once I finish. The spreading of salt over the paths is the only way to keep me from breaking my neck, but I’m down to half a tub and none of the shops withing five miles has any more. The snow, unfortunately, has fallen quite heavily since last Sunday, rendering all my hard work pointless.

I really can’t stand not being able to walk around the house.

Oh, while I’m bitching about the weather, I should add a major inconvenience and cost into my rant – on Thursday I got a plumber in to fix a valve (or something) which had dripped water down the side of the house. In other weather I might not have noticed it, but in the current climate it presented me with more visible effects… A trail of ice, roughly a foot wide at the base and protruding eight or so inches from the wall at its’ deepest part, had appeared in the space of a couple of weeks. The cost of getting the (minor) repair done? Only a mere £210 thankyouverymuch. If I knew how to fix it myself I could have saved myself a bundle of cash… So much for blue-collar jobs paying less, right?

Up until Friday my mood has been fine (if not bright and cheery, I was at least restraining myself from verbal assaults on anyone who crossed me), but a three-hour journey ended any pretense I had of enjoying the bone-aching cold. It should have been twenty-five or so minutes, but with the weather trying to kill of anyone stupid enough to travel – moi – there was a reasonable enough excuse for the journey descending into farce. I hate winter, I hate Christmas, I detest (beyond any normal levels of bile and spite) the damned and uncontrollable snow and ice, and I really, really, really want to throttle anyone who deigns so much as smile at me in the morning. What is wrong with people? There’s nothing to smile about. Smiling simply makes me believe you are mentally challenged. Seriously, this is not the weather for cheery people…

If you read that and think, obviously, that my week has been bad, then this morning – as per bloody usual – managed to trump any problems thus far. The bank, in their infinite wisdom, has lowered my credit. This wouldn’t be a problem, but the fools have managed to lower it below the sum which is on my credit card, necessitating four letters dropping through my letterbox this morning – one to tell me I’m not allowed to spend over a certain amount, one telling me I am overdrawn (thanks to the bank) and warning me that I have incurred a fee for doing so, one with the standard thinly veiled threats of repossession, bankruptcy and (possibly) jail, plus a fourth which has the sum I am due to pay this month, handily including all of the information from the other three letters in case I didn’t get the message the first time I read through their crap.

I swear, sometimes it feels like the universe is playing an extensive and coordinated game at my expense, probing the edges of my patience until I explode into a frothing rage.

So it’s my birthday… I’m really not sure if I feel older, but I certainly feel more cynical, more irritable, definitely more aches and pains… Some of the benefits of birthdays (the presents, f’rinstance) are out of the question with the abysmal postal service here, so I’m stuck inside the house listening to Jefferson Airplane on a loop and drinking Jack Daniels. Hey, it ain’t as bad as it sounds… At least I don’t have to worry about my brother moving in until the end of the month – which is a problem I’m ignoring until he actually turns up on my doorstep with the rugrat in tow. Jeez, if only things could turn out as planned, rather than the unexpected little problems kicking me in the face at ever opportunity.

Seeing as how I’m venting, I may as well expend a bit of energy complaining about the idiot tax in the UK, otherwise known as the television licence fee, which currently sits at £142.50 per annum. I’ll pay the money, but I do so grudgingly, and with the complicit agreement that I am under no obligation to be anything but disrespectful to the overpaid, under achieving idiots who staff the BBC – one of the worst run companies in the UK at present, which is really saying something. The latest brain-dead decision (to let their lisper in residence, Jonathan Ross, walk from the corporation) is one which confounds me. Are they trying to drive people away from their channels, or is there some secret master plan at work?

My guess is plain, old-fashioned incompetence.

What, precisely, am I paying for? A bunch of radio stations I don’t listen to? The Gaelic channel with twenty-eight regular viewers? The web presence they keep needlessly promoting? The parliament channel that runs twenty-four hours a day, even when nothing is actually happening? Can someone please pull the Director General to one side and explain to him how crap the service is in comparison to the money they get? There is no need to have such a large fee when they seem determined to pack the schedules with endless repeats. I wouldn’t be so annoyed if they were the shows worth watching, but they seem to be under the impression that their bargain basement crap needs viewing at least a dozen or so times… Make it stop, pleeeease… I don’t want to see Heir’s Hunt For Cash For Antiques In The Attic Roadshow bullshit on the schedules any longer.

Oh, while I remember to include it here – I finally got a doctor’s appointment set. It’s for the 28th, so a bit sooner than I expected for the NHS.


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It’s That Time Of Year Again…

Posted by BigWords on December 5, 2009

Christmas, huh? It makes people go completely nuts, and for what?

I ventured forth onto the high street yesterday, and was amazed to see the town crawling with people. It was almost a scene out of a zombie flick, with the mindless husks of former people shuffling along towards their ultimate goal. Not brains, thank fuck, but cheap crap. They pile their shopping trolleys full of the nastiest, most foul food they can find, the worst DVD’s they can get their hands on – just because a Uwe Boll DVD is only £1.99, doesn’t mean it’s any better than at full price – and expect the hole in their soul will be filled thanks to excessive and idiotic purchasing.

Wrong. Filing the hole deep in your essence is what cocaine is for.

I hate Christmas, especially because of the universe’s fun and games at my expense. Want to play along, and see who has the worst luck at this time of year? Fine. Let me start with a minor annoyance and work my way up to full-on cataclysm as this post progresses.

The minor annoyance is the television. Or, rather, the beige box which used to be a television, but which is now an oversized paperweight. It started acting strange on Wednesday, which was – not unsurprisingly – two weeks to the day that the five-year guarantee ran out. It made a wheezing sound, then had a fit of some kind. The sound, thereafter, was out of synch with the visuals. It continued on for a while, but the signs were obvious – it was on life support, and fading fast. When I switched it on this morning I was presented with a black screen and the sound of a mouse caught in the back of the television.


Loud enough to make me spill my coffee down the front of my shirt, and setting me off on a bad mood from which no amount of swearing and stomping around will bring me out of. It’s almost as if they make the damn things so that they are designed to break after they fall out of guarantee. What is it with Goodmans televisions anyway? This is the second one I’ve got my hands on, and they seem to self-destruct at an alarming rate. The first, which was dead on arrival, obviously came from the “no refund” pile at the back of the store, but luckily I bought the five-year plan. All was sorted, and the replacement arrived within two weeks.

I’m sure they stack televisions in piles according to when they expire, because they always manage to stay operational until the moment that they are no longer covered by insurance. It’s a pain in the ass, especially since I now have to contend with the yahoo’s running around trying to get all of their Christmas shopping done at the last possible moment. Thank you Goodmans. Now, if I could only work out how to hook up my Freeview box to my computer monitor…

But that isn’t the best part of my week.

It turns out that the job I was expecting to waltz into again is no longer there for me. Which means that my non-existent savings will have to stretch further than ever before, adding pressure to my already maxed-out credit card. I knew that there was the possibility that there would be a reshuffle within the company due to the economic climate, but this came straight out of the blue. I was promised a position by someone who no longer works there, so I’m not gonna make a scene.

Even better…

My brother called and told me that his apartment manager has given him a two month notice. Over Christmas, when everything is closed, it will be impossible to get a place set up. It appears I may have him, his SO, and their kid coming to stay for an unspecified length of time at some point in January. Fucking marvelous. I want my family to feel that my door is always open to them, but I never expected any of them would be foolish enough to accept my implied invitation. The timeframe for this event is worryingly vague, and I have the feeling that there may not be enough time to hide all of my first editions, rare comics, and enough DVDs to open a Blockbusters. Everyone knows what kids are like, and my niece isn’t getting anywhere near my Gold Key collection…

It’s below zero here. There is a layer of ice on the windows, and the garden is covered in a blanket of frost. My television is dead, I have no job, there are family members coming to stay, and I haven’t slept in three days. I can’t think of a better excuse to ban this ridiculous holiday immediately.

Bah, humbug…

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What Is Literary Fiction?

Posted by BigWords on July 13, 2009

Just for fun, lets see what some people cite as the definition of ‘literary’ (The quote is from Wikipedia.):

Literary fiction is a term that has come into common usage since around 1970, principally to distinguish serious fiction (that is, work with claims to literary merit) from the many types of genre fiction and popular fiction (i.e., paraliterature). In broad terms, literary fiction focuses more on style, psychological depth, and character, whereas mainstream commercial fiction (the page-turner) focuses more on narrative and plot.

Which is an easy way of saying thast the writers of literary fiction are too fucking lazy to come up with a decent story. Added to the thin scope for original ideas, the characters in most literary novels are miserable bastards who I would gladly see suffer more than they already are. I’ll throw out a celebrated example of a literary novel so that you might get a better idea of why the snobbery of a small clique of writers irritates me so much – On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. It centres on a pair of highly unlikeable individuals whose sexual life is so antiquated that it isn’t even slightly believable.

And the English professors couldn’t wait to get the circle-jerk started. The grubby fingers of quasi-intellectuals are all over this book, staining its’ pages.

I’ve been here before, though the subject was ‘high art’ rather than literary novels. It’s too easy for the book snobs to dismiss something which is ‘commercial’, or ‘popular’, while being completely ignorant of the need for solid A-B-C plotting and fresh ideas. When I started to defend the pop-art movement (including comic-books, graffitti and tattoos) I was rounded on by art snobs (equally as boorish as book snobs) who cited numerous ill-founded grounds for ‘high art’ being better than the more accesable art which permeates our lives.

I’ll re-heat some of that argument here, though not in detail.

Firstly, I’ll look at the hypocrisy which starts up every time a ‘hot’ creator is thrust into the limelight. It could be Damien Hirst or Jack Vettriano, Jamie Hewlett or Banksy, the accusations of ‘cheating’, or ‘being shallow’ crop up sooner or later. Damien Hirst’s use of assistants draws on a long tradition of artists using help. Most of the Old Masters hanging in art galleries across the world have brush-strokes upon their canvases which were placed there by apprentices to the credited artists.
It doesn’t matter that Vettriano may or may not have used an art book as a reference in his painting. All of the great painters traced. Take a look at x-rays of paintings known for their ‘greatness’ and you will see reworkings and sketches underneath, so there is no doubt that the work was done and redone over a period of time. It was a standard way of working, though modern artists are criticised for their adherence to the truth of painting.

Back to books, where this post began, and I’ll lay out the reason why we have fucked up our perception of ‘great works’. It’s all connected, and it’s all down to a change in culture beginning with the advent of mass paperbacks. They needed some titles which held universal appeal, so the publishers picked books they could sell. Seeing certain Victorian writers as being elevated from their contemporaries is a fallacy that has skewed thinking for decades. Dickens was a hack. Conan-Doyle was a hack. The balance has been tilted too far towards the ‘important’, that most people don’t even realize that the shit being peddled as new literary classics have no real depth.

Start looking for a new way of thinking, ’cause the old ideas are all wrong…

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You Don’t Have To Be Miserable, But It Helps

Posted by BigWords on June 27, 2009

There’s a thread running through the media at the moment which goes some way to explaining the way in which deeply flawed human beings can produce great works of art. I’ve read all this before, and so (I’m sure) has everyone else. The basic theory runs thus: Happy, contented folks are most likely to do diddly-squat in the realms of greatness, while others – who are addicted to drugs, have long and painful illnesses, have no luck at relationships and are quite horribly fucked up – go on to soar in their chosen field.

Riiiiiighhhhht. So that’s why I’ve not written the Greatest Novel Ever Written, I’m too happy.

I hate the premise of the cod-psychology being trotted around at the moment for a few reasons. I would hate to think that Roy Orbison could only have recorded songs of such power and intensity because of his personal life. The opposite (that those songs were recorded despite his circumstances) is much more appealing, and gives a glimpse into the man’s willpower and intelligence. I’m not using Michael Jackson as an example, because every other outlet of opinion, information and hackery is beating the subject to death, so I’m sticking with past examples. If you’re missing you’re daily fix of salacious gossip, feel free to pretend we’re talking about MJ.

Some examples of crazy+ miserable = genius are so abstract in their implementation that it becomes painful to read the words. One particular subject for this brand of historical pop-shrinkage is Vincent Van Gogh, whose paintings “are obviously the work of a genius” and who was “miserable”. Okay, I’m willing to play this game… Explain how the two are connected? C’mon…

It’s all bullshit. The press needs to feed people a line, and the public are dumb enough to take the bait. If the corrolation between misery and genius was to be proven, then the poor saps who are routinely trotted out on stage in reality television would be producing novels, albums, television series and paintings whose sublime beauty and overwhelming strength would carry the ability to drive people to tears. They aren’t doing this, of course – they are too busy bitching about the trailer park they live in, or complaining that their twelve year old daughter is pregnant (again), or wondering how to open a carton of milk without pouring the contents down their front…

Am I being too harsh?

No. People, on the whole, are dumb.

You know genius when you see it. Certain folks are destined for greatness due to their inherent abilities, and nothing life throws at them will stop them. If Roy Orbison had a happy and contented life, he wouldn’t have been a lounge singer – he would still have been a great recording artist. Don’t pay any attention to the newspapers or television reports in the next couple of days, because the crap will be flying thick and fast as people try to get their two cents on the air. Wait a while, then go back to the albums and books which are considered the work of greatness.

I’m now ignoring CNN’s blathering completely. Ditto to the BBC (the Bullshit Broadcasting Corporation) and Sky. I don’t need the headache which accompanies their “news”, and I’ll just get irritated if I try to untangle their mangling of the English language…

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