clhollandwriter: (Default)
For today, something fun and catchy: Weird Al "Word Crimes".
clhollandwriter: (marchin)
In December I took my reluctant boyfriend to see Duran Duran in concert (we made a deal involving Fallout 4). Even though it was the same hall, it was a very different experience to when I saw them in 1994 and 1997. Back then was before the renewed hype of the reformed original line-up, and Andy Taylor's second departure. In fact, I deliberately chose not to go and see them when they re-formed. In part it was due to the cost (I was a student at the time) and partly because it was clear even then from their performances on TV that there was strain between Andy and the others.

At the earlier concerts the hall was standing only with balcony seats. I got there early and picked out where I wanted to stand - and didn't move from that spot all night. At the first concert I was close enough to the stage to make eye contact with and get a smile from John Taylor, and make eye contact with (but no smile from) Nick Rhodes. Those of us close enough to the front also got drenched when Simon Le Bon decided to throw a bottle of water over the crowd. They usually play a left-field album track or B-side. In 1994 it was "Friends of Mine" from the first album, which left me with an appreciation for the layers of keyboards I'd missed before. In 1997 it was B-side "Secret Oktober" and the only people singing along where I stood were me and a six foot plus bloke built like a brick shithouse. The dancing and singing didn't stop all evening.

This time around the hall was fully seated for some reason. The aging demographic maybe? Although I did see a family with two children under ten. This time around I was on the balcony, directly opposite the stage. This was partly due to the venue cocking up when they told us the costs of the different seating areas (they got the most and least expensive the wrong way round) and the cost itself - twice as much to be down the front as at the back, and the tickets sold out fast.

The people at the front abandoned their chairs early and didn't sit again from what I could see. We appeared to be in the middle of a group of grumpy middle-aged men who were only there because their wives wanted to come. They stood but didn't dance, apart from the guy next to me who appeared to be the fan in that couple - he certainly knew more of the songs than his partner did. I became that fan - sang along to everything, and stood up regardless of what the people behind me were doing. Although even I sat out the utter turd that's "Danceophobia".

In fact, sitting down seemed to be the order of the day when if came to the new album. After the first couple of new tracks, people on the balcony just sat down for the new stuff. To be honest, Paper Gods isn't a great album - too much emphasis on dance tracks, and I say that as someone who loved the hip-hop influenced Red Carpet Massacre. When one of your selling points is your bass player it's probably not a good idea to play tracks that have him penned behind a dinky keyboard instead of leaping around the stage with his usual gusto.

The left-field choice this time around was "Love Voodoo" from The Wedding Album, which was a pleasant surprise. Most of the rest of the balcony didn't appear to know the words, and I was starting to suspect they were lost with everything released after 1984. Another surprising choice was to "blow their load early" (as my boyfriend put it) by following opener "Paper Gods" with "The Wild Boys", "A View to a Kill" and "Hungry Like the Wolf".

There were, on the whole, too many tracks from the new album and not enough from the middle of their recording history. Although to be honest I don't really blame them for skipping everything that came out between Big Thing (1988) and Astronaut (2004), except tracks from their comeback The Wedding Album and the ever-popular cover of "White Lines". There were some truly dreadful albums in that period. Skipping "The Reflex" was an odd - and disappointing - choice. In fact, Seven and the Ragged Tiger didn't make an appearance at all apart from a brief seque from "(Reach Up For the) Sunrise" into "New Moon on Monday" and back again.

It was enjoyable, but being so far from the action I didn't really feel as engaged with the shows as in previous years. This probably wasn't helped by bunged up hearing from a cold I was getting over, but in all honesty I think the balcony's a bit far removed from the action for me. Maybe next time they should corral all the middle-aged partners onto the balcony together, so all the real fans can party down the front.
clhollandwriter: (marchin)
I thought I'd begin this year's posts with a couple of mentions of my favourite finds from last year.

I tend to find my favourite musical finds come from random encounters. Last years favourites are "X marks the Spot" by Ghostpoet, which I discovered from a random on demand episode of Jules Holland, and "I Can Change" by Brandon Flowers, which I heard while buying shoes and spent the rest of the evening Googling "Bronski Beat sample" to find.
Videos )
My favourite books I read last year were House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard and Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, both of which were unconventional and reminded me there is still room for the kind of fantasy I like even if all the shouting on social media these days makes me feel differently.

I don't watch a lot of TV, since we only have on demand, but I binge-watched Daredevil and Jessica Jones and loved them both. I also belatedly discovered Stargate: Universe. I thought it was fantastic, and refreshingly different to the usual saccharine and worryingly colonial Stargate offerings. Atlantis lost me at "let's steal the alien planet's power source because we need it, even thought it will leave the inhabitants undefended". But Universe only got two seasons, because apparently it was too challenging for the usual audience. This kind of dumbing down is the reason I don't have regular TV.

Finally, food. I discovered in November I do actually like olives. Which is weird because I hated them in January.
clhollandwriter: (poppy)
A piece of writing advice I come across quite often is that if a story isn't working, try writing it from a different point of view. Shift from first to third person, or choose a different viewpoint character, or change the gender of the character, and it will change the story. It turns out Dolly Parton's "Jolene" is the perfect example of this.

For those of you not familiar with the song, here's a video complete with lyrics (and poor grammar).

The lyrics are important here. Regardless of what inspired the song (Wikipedia claims it was Dolly's fear of her husband flirting with another woman), I don't hold with the idea that songs are necessarily autobiographical. They have so stand alone even if you don't have any knowledge of the artist, or if they're covered, so in that respect they're just like a short story. In this story, the heartbreaking thing for me is not the tale of the potentially lost love but the narrator's obvious lack of confidence in herself.  She's not beautiful enough to compare with Jolene, she doesn't see it as a fair contest - and rather than  fighting for her man, she's begging her rival not to take him: "I had to have this talk with you./ My happiness depends on you/ and whatever you decide to do,/ Jolene". Not only this, but her assertion that she could never love again suggests she'd stay with the man in question even if he did cheat on her (and I'm inclined to think he has). This is not a woman who knows her own worth.

Now listen to it again, only this time try the slowed down version that's been doing the rounds of the internet lately. The one that people are saying sounds like it's sung by a man.

Changing the sex of the main character here makes the world of difference to the story, and raises a different set of questions. Has Jolene gone out of her way to seduce a man in a same-sex relationship? Why doesn't the narrator feel he can compete with her? The female narrator blames it on Jolene's beauty, but how does he see it? What kind of a man is the faithless lover now? If you set the story in the early seventies, when "Jolene" was released, does the narrator even really have this talk with her, given attitudes to homosexuality at the time? It's the same basic story, but the relationships are completely different. If anything it's even more heartbreaking than the original, because the narrator here really might be powerless.

So next time you get stuck, why not try shifting something around? It might open up a whole new perspective on the story you're trying to write.
clhollandwriter: (mutant lucifer)
My poem "Ode to My Dark Lady" is up at Every Day Poets today. Yes, it is autobiographical. ;)

Distinctly non-productive weekend, filled with too much eating out, and too much sitting on butt watching movies. Not at the same time. The most productive thing I've done is a couple more pages of my writing scrapbook.

On the plus side, I also discovered the joy that is Professor Elemental.


Feb. 4th, 2012 09:43 pm
clhollandwriter: (Default)
It's like the illegitimate lovechild of Edgar Allen Poe and the Beastie Boys.

clhollandwriter: (Moogle)
I've just found out that my story "A Celebration in Blue Silk", originally publised in Lorelei Signal, has been accepted by Anthology Builder, so it's now available along with Mr Bad Man, and In Search of Camanac.

The other day I was listening to this

and thinking of this (which it won't let me embed) - and wondering why nobody's ever done a version of White Rabbit as sung by Elmer Fudd. Ozzy fudd the Wabbit Slayer notwithstanding.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
I missed the flash challenge this weekend, because I had to paint the bathroom ceiling. I'm lookig forward to this week's though, which is typical since I'm supposed to be working on the previous week's so I can get it out the door.

I'm completely hooked on Agnes Obel's album Philharmonics, which arrived yesterday. She's a Danish singer/songwriter, and the album is sometimes melancholy, sometime creepy, but always compelling. Below are my two favourites, "Wallflower" (audio only) and "Riverside" (the official video). 


clhollandwriter: (Default)
The chapter is off to my crit group (although I've just remembered I forgot to spellcheck), plus I got one of those crits done, and some writing, so I'm feeling OK. Unfortunately I don't think my S&S story is going anywhere - so far it seems to be mostly people talking. I have another idea floating in my head, but I think that one wants to be a novella. So I'm not sure what to do about that.

I bought the White Lies album the other day, and I have to say it's not good. They sound a bit like The Killers, but unfortunately in a way that sounds like they're trying too hard to sound like The Killers. They're part of this 80s revival thing that's going around, and the influences are obvious (U2, Depeche Mode, and The Cure stand out, and there are also several Andy Taylor from Duran Duran moments on guitar). The problem is, they go from sounding just like U2 to sounding just like Depeche Mode, to sounding just like The Cure - sometimes all in the same song. The end result is a mash of influences, behind which it's impossible to hear anything original from the band. They're so busy sounding like everyone else that they don't have a sound of their own. Plus the lyrics are bad. It's like they were written by a teenager who's just discovered angst, one who went to the Simon Le Bon school of songwriting but missed the part where portentious nonsense only works if you have a sense of humour about it.

Also, I must be mad but I've just signed up for bellydancing classes starting next week. Eeeek!
clhollandwriter: (Default)
Back when I was at school I got into Duran Duran, just before they resurfaced from obscurity with "Ordinary World" and "Come Undone". That's about sixteen years ago, during which time I listened to them obssessively (like you do at that age), went off them, rediscovered them, and generally played their music a lot. One of my favourite of their songs is the ever-popular "Save a Prayer", and yesterday I was playing the live version from Arena when the bf commented that he didn't like the guitar part on it. I said that I'd only ever heard that part on live versions, so we put the original version on to compare them. Then the boyfriend pointed out the same part, played very very quietly.

Sixteen years and I never noticed it. And now of course I can't not hear it, and wonder how I ever missed it.

Writing-wise I'm back on Reunion after a couple of months' hiatus. The break has done me good, as now I'm enjoying Dastenin's next chapter instead of fighting him every step of the way. The novel also seems to have come to a natural point to transition to Part Two (I always wondered how that happened!). It's a long way off finished, but I'm looking forward to getting there. My inner editor is being impatient. At the moment structure is a very simple one viewpoint character per chapter affair, but I'm wondering if I should change it in the edit. The two different plotlines might work better if they're woven in together instead.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
Cranked out a few hundred more words on Reunion yesterday. Unfortunately one of my "sleeper projects" - the ones that sit in the back of my mind and bubble until they reach the front of the queue - raised its head this morning and demanded to know what was taking so long. It's entirely my own fault: I tend to have songs attach themselves to stories, and this morning I listened to one that's attached itself to this particular project. It's great for keeping me in the mood if I'm focusing on a single piece of work (for example Reunion is mostly fuelled by Rammestein and Depeche Mode - don't ask me why, because it's not as dark as either of them!) but it's not so good if I want to listen to things that are attached to other projects.

Other news I forgot to post up is that in the last couple of weeks I managed to make my 30th submission of the year (my original goal was 12), and got myself up to 10 submissions out at once. And now I have nothing left in my inventory so I really should get writing!
clhollandwriter: (Default)
NaNoWriMo progress
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
38,794 / 50,000

38K and 38 cliches down, just 12 of each to go. I'm not sure that I can wrap up the whole plot in 50K, but it doesn't matter if it goes a bit over as long as I finish the story by midnight on the 30th.

If not I might have to try again next year. ;-)

I finally got my copy of Duran Duran's new album, Red Carpet Massacre, yesterday. On first listening I didn't really like it all that much - but then I didn't like Notorius, Big Thing, Liverty, or The Wedding Album the first time I listened to them either. It's grown on me now though.

Some of the tracks are a bit samey, with the same sort of hip hop beat going through them, but on the whole it's a good album, both danceable and singable which is what you'd expect from Duran Duran! "Box Full o' Honey" reminded me of the Big Thing album, while "Skin Divers" has got some keyboard swirliness that's remeniscent of The Devils albums that Nick Rhodes did with Stephen Duffy, of "original" (ie pre Simon Le Bon) Duran takes a little while ago.

The sound is a little sparse in places - with a noticeably reduced amount of guitar (not really surprising) but I've no doubt that if I listened to it on headphones I'd discover layer upon layer of keyboards that aren't immediately apparent.

SO on the whole, it's unusual but it gets a thumbs up!

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