Friday, 29 June 2012

Sing Along to Busy Doing Nothing

I found it! The song I was on about before is none other than Bing Crosby (with Cedric Hardwicke and William Bendix) in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, 1949.
Well I never knew that, I've never even heard of it. But here it is:

What brilliance it is! They certainly don't make films like that any more. I think they should totally find a way to incorporate the song into the new Spiderman or The Dark Knight Rises. Or even better, into the Spice Girls Musical. Geri in the middle?
For any of you who don't know (shame on you), A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is about a mechanic who gets knocked out and wakes up in the land of King Arthur. Sounds gripping if you ask me.
I really like the line of the song that says, 'we'd like to be unhappy but we never do have the time.' That's a good mantra to live by, and one that I could definitely benefit from following. What's the point in wasting time being unhappy? And more importantly, how am I supposed to squeeze being unhappy into my already extremely jam packed schedule? 

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Busy Doing Nothing

I'm beginning to wonder how I will ever fit a job back into my life. How do you people do it? At the moment I find the day passes quickly, with sometimes not even enough hours in it for the things I want to do. I get up, read for a bit, or maybe play on the wii. I have a shower, clean the kitchen or hoover. I do some editing, or write a blog, or mess around trying to figure out how to make my blog look nice (this part probably accounts for about 30 percent of my time these past couple of days). I go into town, maybe meet my sister. I look at jobs and apply for one, have an interview, send some emails. I cook the dinner. I go to Lee's house or his Nan's house or I visit friends. I wallpaper a hallway, I feed the cats. I (did) watch the football, I watch Dexter with my brother, I read again. I sleep. So many options for filling the day!
At the same time, I do find that during periods of unemployment I can be unmotivated or uninspired to work on stories. I guess actually getting out the house and experiencing stuff gives me things to write about. Also I'm convinced that inactivity breeds laziness. I become the Queen of procrastination, finding any other random thing to do like rearranging a bookshelf or painting my nails again rather than actually writing. 
I think over time people develop an ability to 'spread out the fun.' Before you know it going to the dentist AND doing the ironing seems like far too much for just one small day. You don't want to wear yourself out after all! I also firmly believe that when you are free all the time, you stop appreciating your free time.

This reminds me of a random song that has stuck in my head since childhood. I don't know where it's from and I only know two of the lines, but anyway sing along if you want!

'I'm busy doing nothing, working the whole day through,
Trying to find lots of things not to do!'

Do you know the rest?

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Onwards, Upwards, Away!

At the recommendation of a good and wise friend, my blog and I have moved house. So here we are! What do you think? The design is a work in progress, but I'm far too impatient to wait until I have it all right before I blog, as it could be a long long time until I actually understand how to do the things I want to do on it. So far it's taken me about five hours just to change some colours. In relation to this today I got thinking about perfectionism vs impatience. I would say I have a little of both in me, but probably more so of the latter. I want things like lesson plans and stories to look good, to be consistent and to be well edited. But of course at some point the impatience part kicks in and I just get sick of working on something. I want to send a story to the publisher or agent NOW and nothing else will do. Same goes for jobs. I want the best job I can have, but at the same time I don't want to wait, which could land me in a situation where I settle for something crappy just so that I can start earlier.
But despite the obvious downsides such as submitting typos in a blog or in an essay, I am still a fan of impatience. It allows me to actually get on with things rather than waiting for the circumstances to be perfect. Like having a go on a new instrument before getting lessons, or cleaning one half of the pantry but not the other because there isn't enough time, or indeed writing a first blog post before getting the page looking quite right. Without impatience I would agonise over a story submission and probably never end up sending it out. 
I think many people fall victim to never getting to the thing they actually wanted to do, because they are too caught up in the things that 'should' come before it. So if you look at it from this perspective, it seems impatience is in fact a virtue.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Every word is sacred

It’s becoming apparent that there is a direct parallel between not only the frequency of my blogging but how interesting the subject matter is, and the amount of activity going on in my life.
Nevertheless, here it is.
I have just finished clawing my way through the 750 PAGES that make up The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest and I have to say I’m bitterly disappointed. Both in this one and in the second book. I like the characters, but the storyline hasn't by any means lived up to my expectations based on the first book. There were disappointing revelations and disproportionately small portions of action; as each page went by I felt I was just waiting for something to happen. There were some interesting bits, don't get me wrong, but the books were so completely under-edited that these parts were surrounded and suffocated by descriptions of interior design, or the five cups of coffee a character had, or some pointless dinner and the pointless drinks that followed. Larsson also has an obsession with putting a name to the technology being used, like ‘power book’ or whatever. I guess some people like that, but I find it exhausting and boring and think it's a big mistake. Before we know it technology will have moved on, leaving the book well and truly behind, like reading about an Acorn as being 'cutting edge' today.  
I’ve decided that approximately one in every two words was of interest to me, which is why I couldn’t give up on it, but equally why it took an eternity to get through. My editorial suggestion would've been to do just that—cut out every other word. The results could hardly have been worse.  
I think possibly the reason that the books are under-edited is because of Larsson’s untimely death before publication. Perhaps it felt like editing would be dishonoring his memory, or maybe it was a case of there simply being no-one to ask for permission. In a way that’s fair enough, but on the other hand I’m sure Larsson would’ve preferred his books to be snappy and action packed.
There is definitely a trend of under-editing within fiction; there has to be a reason why the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh Harry Potter books are much bigger than the first three. It’s probably that once J. K Rowling became a big star, no-one wanted to be the one to say, “Sorry love, but this part has got to go. It's totally shit.”

On another note, I fear I’m going to have to read Fifty Shades of Grey at some point. I didn’t want to but the pressure is getting to me. I’m curious, I can’t help it, I want to know what ‘mummy porn’ looks like. God help me.  

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Just sign me up for one of everything and be done with it

This is a continuation of an earlier blog about amazing products in magazines. I had to write more because in true American style they’ve done it bigger, better and more ridiculous than us. Yey for Sky Mall magazine! Apparently a long haul flight is the perfect time and place to consider new and revolutionary ways to look after or clean up after your pet. I was a particular fan of the potty trainer for cats, which promises to train your cat to use any human toilet in eight weeks or less. Alongside the advert was a picture of a confused looking cat on a real toilet. I wonder how much he got paid for that.  
There was also a small patch of synthetic grass for your dog to use inside the house (how about taking it for a walk?) and a kitty litter tray disguised as a plant pot, complete with humongous plastic plant (clever, no one will suspect a thing).
Moving on into the generally weird and wonderful pet genre, a mini set of stairs to enable puppies to get onto the sofa, then on the next page a device to try to re-train your dog not to jump up onto the sofa. Confusing to say the least. 
There were some pet items in the magazine that seemed plain cruel. For example a cage to put your dog in, lovingly described as a ‘pet crate end table with chew proof bars.’ So a prison then? And worse than that, an ‘ultrasonic barking dog deterrent’ fake bird house. Apparently when a dog barks within a certain radius, the bird house emits a harmless ultrasonic tone that startles the dog into silence. Harmless? Did a dog tell you that himself? It’s really quite hard to determine from the list of pet products whether we actually love or hate our animals.
And if you’re not a pet lover/hater then don’t worry; there were plenty of things in Sky Mall magazine for humans too. ‘The traveler’s bed bug thwarting sleeping cocoon,’ being a favourite of mine. I’m sorry, but what kinda ghetto hotel are you staying at? Imagine the scene: a friend invites you to stay. You have dinner, some drinks, then turn in for the night, but not before whipping out your bed bug thwarting sleeping cocoon and insisting on sleeping in it on top of the bed covers. Better safe than sorry. I doubt you’re being invited back.
There’s also the portable infrared sauna that you zip up around you, leaving only your head sticking out the top like Violet from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when she turns into a blueberry, but without the luxury of arms. Again, probably not being invited back.
Not only did I love the products in this magazine, I also loved the fact that everything starts with ‘the.’ The always cool pillow, the lady’s plantar fasciitis slides (what?), the voice activated R2-D2. Pointless and powerful both at the same time.
At the back of the magazine was a whole world of life sized stone creatures for your garden. Nothing says 'stylish' more than a bear catching fish in your pond, a crocodile coming out of the bushes, Bigfoot peering round a tree, a zombie breaking through the earth. Just wait till I get my own house…
Honestly, I have to hand it to Delta: by the time I’d read the in-flight “entertainment” Sky Mall magazine, it was nearly time to land.    

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Happy Birthday!

As a presently unemployed person I can’t say I was particularly enthralled at first with the idea of the Jubilee. I mean, who needs two extra days off when everyday is a holiday? If anything I was actually annoyed as it meant two more days when our visa process would not be moving along.
But somehow, slowly but surely, the great British spirit began to infiltrate my being, starting when I came home late on Saturday night to find my Mum had put up bunting in the living room. The good old red white and blue- sometimes it can’t help but make you smile. The following day involved the purchasing of some strawberries and cream and an impromptu BBQ, and before I knew it I was feeling the Jubilee joy.
As a newly converted enthusiast to the cause I was appalled and disgusted to learn that two separate individuals—a radio DJ and a member of the public on national TV—had both managed to loudly congratulate the Queen on reaching her 60th birthday.
Oh. No.
That, right there, is what's wrong with the nation, people. Whether you love, hate or are indifferent to the royal family, there is no excuse for that.  It truly frightens me to know that there are people who are that stupid.  

I ended up watching some of the performances at Buckingham palace on the TV, really wishing I was there. Something about big events in London just whips you up in a flurry of excitement. As I watched the Jubilee event I found myself touched by the sense of unity. I even enjoyed the part where the crowd chanted ‘Philip’ over and over so he could hear them from his hospital bed. Here Philip, one has rounded up a friendly group of football fans in your honour.
The pinnacle of the night was Prince Charles’ speech, which I enjoyed whilst simultaneously being slightly confused as to why Cheryl Cole was chosen to stand behind the Queen. Then there was the National Anthem and finally Land of Hope and Glory, a song that embarrassingly enough has the power to make me cry. That's right, I may have shed a small tear and I'm not afraid to admit it (or am I, I don't know, it's pretty bad). I might start a petition to make it our national anthem as I think it’s much more fitting, as well as being less egotistical for the Queen.
After never giving it much thought in the past, I’ve come to the realisation over the weekend that I’m proud to be part of a country that still has a monarchy, and not only that but to be living during the reign of the soon to be longest standing monarch in English history. Maybe the royal family does cost us money, but they also put it back through tourism and are a source of great history and tradition. And I really don’t hear anyone complaining about those two extra bank holidays. So I say hurrah and God save the Queen!