The Odd Blog

And when our cubs grow / We'll show you what war is good for

Posts Tagged ‘reading’

It may not have escaped your notice…

Posted by That Other Mike on 12/07/2008

… that I have not blogged about I Am Legend. And you’d be entirely right to think so. Basically, I’ve not been in a mood to do fiction stuff this week. I know, deplorable lapse. I’ve kind of been busy, both with the move to our spanky new offices at work, and with other stuff.

In the meantime, ladies and gentlemen, Mr Conway Twitty:

Actually, while this is sometimes used as a joke on Family Guy to distract from when a plot point has become a little sticky, Conway Twitty actually had a long and well-respected career as a rock ‘n’ roll musician (in the late 50s and early 60s) and then country musician.

I think the above video really speaks more to his rock roots, but he was definitely a big player in the country scene – he made many appearances on Hee Haw, for example, sold a butt load of albums as a country musician and he dueted with Loretta Lynn. It doesn’t get much more country than that. I’ll probably obtain *coughillegaldownloadcough* an album or two this weekend.

In other non-news, I have also spent a disproportionate amount of time this week becoming addicted to the Order of The Stick, the link to which can now be found in my blogroll, under Toons. Anyone who’s ever played a tabletop RPG will recognise a lot of what’s in it, especially D&Ders, and it made me laugh like a big fool. Go and read it immediately, or fear my +1 mace!

Idiosyncratica. We will be announcing the new topic on the 15th July, for publication on the 1st August, with my choice of topic. No doubt Gary has already written his, using his prophetic magic. Wait, too much time spent reading OoTS. Anyway, that’s the date for the next exercise. All announcements will be done over there, although this week we’ve discussed who’ll be next and inaugurating new members. Anyone wishing to join the hippest, coolest, bestest and most interesting new group for readers and writers on the whole damn interwebs should come on over and join.

This week has also seen some shitflinging in the femisphere: Feministe has been allowing bullying in its comment threads when certain people (OK, me and Lottie) have said some things which were reasonable but unpopular. Many of the commenters over there seem to be suffering a raging case of the passive-aggressives, and apparently the administrators are far too in love with their blog popularity to do anything about it.

That may be a harsh assessment, but I think it’s a fair one. Passive-aggressive behaviour annoys me, mainly because it’s the kind of tactic my parents used on me for years as a vehicle for their emotional and mental abuse. It’s dishonest – if you have a problem, name it. Don’t hint around it.

Another shit storm has also been brewing over Kyle Payne, a self-described radical feminist blogger whose own self-penned biography describes him in glowing terms as an activist against pornography and advocate for women’s issues. You’d think, reading the page, that he was Jesus crossed with Andrea Dworkin.

He’s just been sentenced in the matter of sexually assaulting an unconscious female student, and apparently the State police are investigating him in regards to some child pornography found on his laptop. This has been shaping into a shitstorm of epic proportions; while the story has been around for some time (I first copped to it on Eleanor’s Trousers earlier in the year), it’s only become big following his sentencing, when a bunch of the bigger names in the feminist blog community have started to blog heavily about it, although notably the BIG names, such as Feministing, Pandagon and Alas have rather disgracefully failed to mention it at the time of writing. That being said, that it took the medium-sized bloggers a fair amount of time to notice, too; not exactly on the ball, either.

There’s been some juvenile shitslinging towards male feminists, particularly Hugo Schwyzer, and frankly, it’s bullshit (even as much as I dislike him). The effect that this has on us is relevant too; nobody’s saying that we should ignore the fact that an innocent student was assaulted, and I’d call anyone out that even suggested it.

That said, we’re more or less all in possession of more than a handful of functioning brain cells, and we can discuss things in more than one dimension. None of us are stupid, we’re all adults, and we can bring up the fact that it fucks over a demographic within the feminist community without detracting from the main issue or turning it into a pissing contest. That being said, some people have maintained an admirable and inclusive stance, and they need to be saluted for that.

Yeesh. That was a long old post. I bet you wish I’d stuck to the original plan and finished it after Conway Twitty, don’t you?

Advertisements

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

My fiction and me – on being a writer and reader

Posted by That Other Mike on 01/07/2008

Before I get into my shtick about fiction, I’d just like to thank everyone who has decided to take part in our readers’ and writers’ group by joining Idiosyncratica. I’m sure we’ll all find it enjoyable and useful.

The topic we chose was “My fiction and me”, which I think is a nice and gentle opener. It may get more complex later on as we get into the swing of things and grow more confident as a group; then again, it might become easier for us to handle. We’ll see, anyway.

I’d like to start by talking about what I read. Ever since I was a young child, I’ve been an avid reader. Mainly, I think, because I am by nature quite shy; I have learned to overcome it and be more outgoing, but it is an act of will rather than nature.

My reading runs a wide range, although I am very much a fan of the 20th century in terms of what I read, probably because the 20th was the first century in which reading was not a pursuit only of the wealthy who had leisure time: it saw a huge variety of different genres explode onto the scene in a very short time, from the hardboiled noir of Chandler to the elegant visionary themes of Alfred Bester to the psychological mastery of Patricia Highsmith. The sheer volume of different books about different themes and by such different people are enough to make the 20th century my favourite.

On my bookshelf, Vernon God Little sits next to The Left Hand of Darkness and The Wasp Factory:I will read almost any genre, although I do have my limits and my favourites. I am always drawn to science fiction, perhaps because it so often offers a vision of better future, and to horror and the supernatural, my affection for which I’m almost scared to analyse! I tend to stay away from romance fiction and I often find myself turned off by modern literary fiction, which too often takes pretence and obfuscation and confuses them with profundity.

I also adore certain writers beyond all measure and will remain for ever loyal to them: Margaret Atwood, Patricia Highsmith, Ursula K. Le Guin, Iain Banks (M. or not!), for example. They have created utterly believable characters in backwoods America, apocalyptic futures or utopian worlds of wonder; they tell incredibly human stories set among grand vistas in space or among the claustrophobic nightmare of the 1950s small town.

That’s who I like to read. My writing is a different story. I write with hesitation and I really dislike the actual process of writing. It doesn’t come easily to me, and I’m never sure if anything I do is actually worth reading.

It’s not that I have trouble with story or plot – they arrive whole into my brain, with beginnings and endings and every event, all sketched in faint lines. What I have to do is fill in the colour and block out the shapes, which is what I find difficult.

As far as what I write goes, it mirrors my reading habits – I feel drawn to the supernatural and technologically magical, as well as the darker side of human habits and personalities. This makes me a little wary of showing stuff to people sometimes, and also a little disturbed about it: if I can come up with the most horrific things to happen to my characters, what does that say about me as an individual? I sometimes need to be reassured that it isn’t the mark of a psychopath to write psychopaths, but Lottie and Gary both assure me that isn’t the case. I am thus reassured 😀

Anyway, those are my reading and writing habits: my fiction and me.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Thor is angry!

Posted by That Other Mike on 07/06/2008

Thor is righteously pissed off!Thor is angry because I failed to do a round up in his honour on Thor’s-Day last. Ordinarily, I would’ve posted a late one on Friday, but I was busy putting out the fires caused by Thor throwing lightning bolts at my house.

First on the weekly round up is Part 3 of Lottie’s Getting to Know You series, in which she talks about a couple of things about long distance relationships which might sound funny or superficial in isolation but which are nonetheless legitimate concerns: What if the other person has personal hygiene problems, or you’re not sexually compatible?

Idiosyncratica, the readers’ and writers’ blog ring which Gary came up with, and of which I am now a member, is still high on the agenda. We’re still developing it, but we hope that aspiring writers of fiction will drop by and get involved; there’s hopefully going to be a certain amount of material for dedicated readers in search of new and interesting fiction.

Anxious Mofo has come up with a rather genius idea, which he has modestly entitled the Anxious Mofo Index. I think it’s probably going to come in handy; someone needs to invent some kind of algorithm or measurement for it (along the lines of the Hovind Scale).

Jill at Feministe details how reading fundie pro-life blogs rots your brain. I don’t pretend to be entirely comfortable with abortion, and I would, on an expanded definition which I get to define, call myself “pro-life” in one sense, but I’m also not so hide-bound as to think my uncomfortable feelings should constitute law.

Over at EvolutionBlog, Jason Rosenhouse reviews Dawkins’s latest book, which goes by the name of The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing, an edited anthology of science essays by professional scientists. I stress the “professional scientists” part, because that is what makes it interesting; too many times in recent years, the Anxious Mofo Index in science has dipped towards 0, often as the result of ignorant journalists.

Current music:
The Filthiest Show in Town, by My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult

Ten Summoner’s Tales, by Sting.

Coming soon – a new meme, zombie flicks and some other stuff.

Posted in Atheism, books, Odds and Sods, science | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Ring-ding-a-ding-a-ding-dong-ding!

Posted by That Other Mike on 03/06/2008

OK, while I’m getting mad levels of hits (thanks for the HT, Jill), I thought I might as well use the opportunity to promote the new project that Gary is starting. It’s going to be a fiction-based webring, aimed at bringing largely unseen writers and talent to an audience wanting new and interesting fiction.

The ring, which is still somewhat in the planning stages, will be aimed at promoting the work of new and emerging writers to the legion of readers out there who want quality fiction. The idea is to build an online community wherein the writers can gain a receptive audience, promote themselves and get informed criticism and help in becoming better at their craft. Hopefully, it will also provide a spur for those interested in writing who have never taken the plunge, or those, like myself, who do it far too infrequently and with too little motivation. There is also, as Gary says, the very useful goal of having some fun with like-minded people.

The ring will hopefully end up large and successful, but to do that, we need interested people to join. If you’d like to take part, please go and post a comment on the relevant thread at his blog.

Posted in Odds and Sods | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »