Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Doggam, I did it!

I finished my 50000 word novel with three days to spare.

I actually hit 50050, as it seemed like a good idea at the time to hit 50/50, maybe.

Their word counter (after I scrambled it for their server) seems to think I did even more. Whatever.

It's called "Foolproof"

I have to thank my late (or parallel universe) friend Mick Swain, who would have loved this project.
Mick Swain - writer and mentor and best friend at the time
He loved writing and always encouraged me to try - no, not to try, but to actually DO it, and regularly, routinely, habitually.

Half way through, when I was losing momentum, he turned up as a character, 13 years and one month after he left this realm - he died on October 30th 1994 - to write his own happy ending at long last.

Thanks Mick! Here to Go!

As I rolled up to the finishing line, and gave him the last word, XM Radio was cranking out Leon Russell and Joe Cocker's "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" - and the track that hit by chance was "Space Captain"

Once I was travelling across the sky
This lovely planet caught my eye
And being curious I flew close by
And now I'm caught here
Until I die
Until we die
Learning to live together
Learning to live together
Learning to live together
Till we die
I lost my memory of where I've been
We all forgot that we could fly
Someday we'll all change into peaceful man
And we'll return into the sky
Until we die
Until we die
Learning to live together
Learning to live together
Learning to live together
Till we die
Live together, yeah,
Learning to live together
Till we die
Learning to live together
Learning to live together
Learning to live together
Learning to live together
This involved a few late nights...
Till we die
Ah... hum...
Until we die
Until we die
Learning to live together
Learning to live together
Learning to live together
Learning to live together
Learning to live together
To live together...
To live together...
To live together...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Harpo Speaks

Many years ago a very wise man named Bernard Baruch took me aside and put his arm around my shoulder. 'Harpo, my boy,' he said, 'I'm going to give you three pieces of advice, three things you should always remember.' My heart jumped and I glowed with expectation. I was going to hear the magic password to a rich, full life from the master himself. 'Yes, sir' I said. And he told me the three things. I regret that I've forgotten what they were.

--Arthur 'Harpo' Marx

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Just a cyberwave to my son, so far away around the planet, that he's almost on the way back.

Here's Pentaphobe on Wikipedia.

It has links to his website, tribal groupings, albums released, etc.

I hope you have a great day, mate!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

You can't make this stuff up

Only recently I mentioned having a Gmail account hacked, and some consequences (not financial, fortunately!) on my eBay and Amazon accounts. Mostly hassle and paranoia.

Today I heard that the main ID thief seems like the government. I quote the shadow chancellor (who, as an opposition politician may exaggerate just a little)

"Let us be clear about the scale of this catastrophic mistake - the names, the addresses and the dates of birth of every child in the country are sitting on two computers discs that are lost in the post. The bank account details and national insurance numbers of 10 million parents, guardians and carers have gone missing,” said Osborne.

Full Story here

It appears that such a cock-up may delay the grand plan for a central database, and the whole ID Card fiasco in the UK. Most European countries have made citizens carry ID cards for years, but it has remained a slightly illusory freedom on this island to not have to carry an ID card.

Of course, as in the USA, many people now carry a driving licence in the UK, which works as the same thing, but people like me, who do not drive, do not have to carry proof of ID or address by law. A tenuous freedom, seeing as how any policeperson who suspects me of something can detain me until my ID is confirmed!

But anyway.

To paraphrase William Burroughs: 'They' can always find something wrong with your papers.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Life's Sentence

Ah me. Well, today I have completed ten years work for/in the local library.

If only round numbers let you off! But the 'lifers' here sneer at a mere ten years...

At least they are heading for a pension, for all the hard labour.

I fell behind on my NaNoWriMo wordage yesterday, but I figured it might have been inevitable, given the halfway point reached...and still no plot! Just a sequence of events.

But then again, that's how I perceive life. It doesn't seem to have a plot, either, nor an author (of course). I'm not so much an atheist, perhaps, as a non-authorist?

Anyway, on we roll.

And don't forget, if you like these sort of things, that next Saturday is Buy Nothing Day. Well, you can at least try...

Friday, November 09, 2007

She does it proud

I love my partner dearly, and we are coming up to ten happy years together, but I have to go off into my den if I want to crank up Dylan and play him (nearly peer group, and he always said what I wanted to say). If I tell her to listen to the lyrics it doesn't work, as she can't stand his voice and delivery (she's a singer). I point to Hendrix singing "All Along the Watchtower"...which she loves, and even Dylan does it that way now...but she didn't know he wrote that.

So when KT Tunstall came on at the end of a mostly drearily retro folky Dylan tribute tv programme - and blew the audience away with the first two tracks of Blood On The Tracks - I wanted to share it. Didn't have video recording access. On YouTube now you can see her doing the first track (did anyone record the follow up of "Simple Twist Of Fate" - please post it!) You can glimpse a clip at the BBC on the link above. Oh, and I liked Robyn Hitchcock doing Visions of Johanna, too. No disrespect to the folkies (I loved you once...)

YouTube has her doing it on Jules Holland's show, but you get the drift. Who else does write lyrics anything like this? Read this, maybe, but listen to KT's delivery at the same time...

Early one mornin' the sun was shinin',
I was layin' in bed
Wond'rin' if she'd changed at all
If her hair was still red.
Her folks they said our lives together
Sure was gonna be rough
They never did like Mama's homemade dress
Papa's bankbook wasn't big enough.
And I was standin' on the side of the road
Rain fallin' on my shoes
Heading out for the East Coast
Lord knows I've paid some dues gettin' through,
Tangled up in blue.

She was married when we first met
Soon to be divorced
I helped her out of a jam, I guess,
But I used a little too much force.
We drove that car as far as we could
Abandoned it out West
Split up on a dark sad night
Both agreeing it was best.
She turned around to look at me
As I was walkin' away
I heard her say over my shoulder,
"We'll meet again someday on the avenue,"
Tangled up in blue.

I had a job in the great north woods
Working as a cook for a spell
But I never did like it all that much
And one day the ax just fell.
So I drifted down to New Orleans
Where I happened to be employed
Workin' for a while on a fishin' boat
Right outside of Delacroix.
But all the while I was alone
The past was close behind,
I seen a lot of women
But she never escaped my mind, and I just grew
Tangled up in blue.

She was workin' in a topless place
And I stopped in for a beer,
I just kept lookin' at the side of her face
In the spotlight so clear.
And later on as the crowd thinned out
I's just about to do the same,
She was standing there in back of my chair
Said to me, "Don't I know your name?"
I muttered somethin' underneath my breath,
She studied the lines on my face.
I must admit I felt a little uneasy
When she bent down to tie the laces of my shoe,
Tangled up in blue.

She lit a burner on the stove and offered me a pipe
"I thought you'd never say hello," she said
"You look like the silent type."
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century.
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burnin' coal
Pourin' off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you,
Tangled up in blue.

I lived with them on Montague Street
In a basement down the stairs,
There was music in the cafes at night
And revolution in the air.
Then he started into dealing with slaves
And something inside of him died.
She had to sell everything she owned
And froze up inside.
And when finally the bottom fell out
I became withdrawn,
The only thing I knew how to do
Was to keep on keepin' on like a bird that flew,
Tangled up in blue.

So now I'm goin' back again,
I got to get to her somehow.
All the people we used to know
They're an illusion to me now.
Some are mathematicians
Some are carpenter's wives.
Don't know how it all got started,
I don't know what they're doin' with their lives.
But me, I'm still on the road
Headin' for another joint
We always did feel the same,
We just saw it from a different point of view,
Tangled up in blue.
Copyright © 1974 Ram's Horn Music

Lord knows, I've paid some dues, getting through... (yeah, I was going through the break up of a long term relationship at the time, too) Duh

All the people we used to know, they're an illusion to me now. Some are mathematicians, some are carpenter's wives. I don't know how it all got started, I don't know what they're doin' with their lives. But me, I'm still on the road headin' for another joint. We always did feel the same, We just saw it from a different point of view...

Go score Blood On the Tracks and listen to the stripped down, original version, of Tangled Up In Blue..

My Desert Island Dylan (can I take Blonde on Blonde, with me too, please? And maybe Planet Waves, and uh, oh well, fuck it...)

This lyric alone kept me going all these years:

The only thing I knew how to do
Was to keep on keepin' on
like a bird that flew

Thursday, November 08, 2007

write on, right on, write now

Pyrenees block the 'neck' of the Iberian Peninsula

So I plough on with my writing project - no idea where I am going, but NaNoWriMo say that's OK!

Curiously, doing a quick bit of research with keywords for 'the story so far' - Barcelona, street performers, reincarnated Cathars, 'coincidence', etc I found that someone had already written the damned book I had vaguely (very vaguely) thought of.

Google is a great humbler, when you think you have an original idea. The library I work in happened to have a copy, too, and I had to decide whether to read it and be influenced, or to not read it until December. I chose to read it.

What puts it into the synchronicity class (for me, at least) is that the author lives in the same city as me, and teaches creative writing at the Uni! He even put a dog in the title.... heh

The colour of a dog running away... Richard Gwyn.

Whether this will alter the course of my own piece I don't know,but I still have no idea what to do. I can't categorize it (they don't have Roman a clef in their choices, so I put Mystery and Suspense (it's a mystery to me what I am doing, and I can hardly stand the suspense of waiting to see if I fail), but I think that would draw me into the wrong group of people, as they seem to find murder interesting...

I could try to bring in a magician, I suppose...and maybe a robbery...

I feel more inclined to relabel it, although 'literary fiction' just sounds far too grand...the other labels seem too specific (Sci Fi, Romance, etc)

And I have opened a can of worms here (or a can of memes).

Can of Memes

  • NaNoWriMo asks you to start from scratch.

  • NaBloPoMo asks you to write a blog post every day for a month (something I often do spontaneously, but not every month).

  • nanofimo is set up to finish incomplete works (which may come from November's NaNoWriMo but could be for any unfinished written piece)

  • NaNoEdMo is apparently for pieces completed, but needing editing, proofing, tidying, etc

  • And there's 24 hour Comics for the graphic artists

  • And, in June (but you can visit the site any time) there's Script Frenzy, for you playwrights and screenwriters

Sunshine Gray
PS: my mate Sunshine Gray emailed me to tell me who the woman in that Gwyn book set in Barcelona might have been based on. (!) You can listen to some of Sunshine's stuff (including a comment about the Barcelona Chair (sic) on MySpace. Hi Sunshine!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Inspiring Creativity

starwarscrafts animated puppet Jabba
As ever, the energy and enthusiasm of Star Wars fans astounds me. These guys have built their own Jabba that WORKS - with room for two people inside.

Go look.


We (the original crew) have met a static Jabba at CEStatic Jabba at CE
and Elvis Trooper tells me he has been working with one in The States
Elvis Trooper with a handful of Leias
One day I must learn how to make this...smaller, of course!
And, of course, there was the amazing life-size origami Jabba at C3, from Chris Alexander at Star Wars Origami.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

So Far, So What?

If you think my den is a mess, you should see the INSIDE of my head...
I have kept my number count up for three days now, but the NaNoWriMo server seems swamped. I can hardly ever get into it...especially when America is awake! Like now - 7:30 pm on the West Coast, 10:30 pm on the East).

That's a shame, as I wanted to browse the forums, having hit my target for the day.

I thought the sluggish response could be caused by my PC, or my ISP, but when I did get in one time I could see they had had an unexpected number of hits on Day One, and admitted the server was struggling.

This evening I haven't even got close...

I did come across something more accessible, i.e. NaBloWriMo - which involves posting to your blog every day for a month. It seems weird to pick the same month, as I need to trim my 'other writing projects and exercises' in order to just hit the original target.

Hey ho.

Still, you can always go listen to CS&N on the old (ahem!) hippies page

Friday, November 02, 2007

Just write the damned book!

Last year a fellow student at MLA told me about writing a novella in a month...a small community project has grown to a gigantic web event, with thousands of participants, so this year I decided to kick in and start, at least...

To write 50,000 words in 30 days means 1,666.666666 words per day...

I have done a set for Day One (so far so good) and you can find me over at NaNoWriMo under my avatar name of BogusMagus.

I suspect my lack of invention, and the fact that I have found my life stranger than fiction means that I probably will end up writing a roman a clef (a thinly disguised set of autobiographical events, and real people) but that may come as no surprise if you realise how much I enjoyed Henry Miller when younger. He, rather than (say) the mournful and forlorn Kerouac, gave me the courage to cheerfully plunge into poverty and insecurity in pursuit of a creative life. Miller didn't have a mum to go home to (like Kerouac) or a small allowance arriving every month (like Burroughs) but had to scrounge, beg, borrow, hustle and steal to get by. Actually, he probably exaggerated his lowlife credentials, in fictionalising his life, but there remains the ring of truth (even if Feminists destroyed interest in his work in the 70s, by putting him down as a male chauvinist). Actually, (apart from mistaking the character for the man), they seem to have missed his role in getting rid of censorship, which began the process of truly debating in real language about people's needs, and made honest writing possible. But hey, I don't want to start all that here.

Don't think of it as too late to start, or plan ahead for next year. Why not register anyway, to get access to the support, advice, forums, etc? I intend to give it a try, at least - and with no judges, no cost, etc - what's to lose?

Who The Hell Am I?

Identity Theft. Over there, until it happens to you. One co-worker used a cash machine and ended up with her account emptied in Italy. Another had an enquiry about a purchase on a credit card, to find someone was cheerfully buying things with his card.

I went offline for these few days, only to find that someone has posted some mixing desks on my eBay profile, presumably by hacking the Gmail address that links to the profile. I think that was the bad security (feeble password) because when I went into that particular Gmail account all the controls displayed as little square boxes.

I thought it was corrupted so it took me a little while to figure out that someone had been reading it in a font that I don't have loaded on my PC.

So whatever alien lifeform hacked my feeble password, and then used the account to post some items on eBay, doesn't appear to have gained anything. But I don't feel certain of that. :-(

If anyone bought the item (s) how would they pay? I'd get it if they did it through PayPal and the eBay account. I don't mind receiving £13,000 in error! :-)

eBay caught it real quick, and cancelled the items, etc - and say they returned any fees deducted (!) - which must have only been in the form of an invoice, because they don't seem to have gone into PayPal to take money from my card without my agreement. (!)

Weird shit, but I think (crossing my fingers) that changing the passwords, and so on, will suffice. I don't particularly want to cancel or delete the accounts, but would happily do so...

Talk about picking pockets... Unsafe wherever you go!
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