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Just Like Heaven

22 Nov

I got into ‘The Cure’ when I was at uni. I wasn’t sure I’d like them as they wore a lot of eye makeup and the horrible emo subculture was popular at the time. I went through a punk music phase for a couple of months (never dressed that way thank goodness) and a friend said that if I liked ‘The Clash’ then I’d like this band. I was hooked from ‘Friday I’m in Love’.

I love reading. I don’t buy small bags as I always carry around a book. I read on trams, wating rooms, etc. I immerse myself and get transported to another world.

I was a precocious reader and obsessive about it. It got to the point where my parents didn’t like it as they would have rathered I read school and improve my maths (yes, I sucked at maths. Still do). I was an only child and we didn’t always have a television, I was terrible at sports and so I read everything. I read the children appropriate books the Enid Blytons, ‘The Babysitters Club’, ‘Paddington Bear’, ‘MaryPoppins’, the Hans Christian Anderson fairytales and the like. My parents’ books that I wasn’t supposed to their true crime Ann Rule type books, ‘The Godfather’, Elizabeth Taylor biographies as well as their trashy magazines. And the books they didn’t mind me reading. ‘Jane Eyre’, ‘Tess of the D’urbervilles’, ‘David Copperfield’, ‘The Scarlet Letter’, ‘Sons and Lovers’, ‘Dracula’, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’, ‘The Catcher in the Rye’, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, ‘Wuthering Heights’, ‘The Jungle Book’ and so forth. And the text books and ‘worthwhile reads’ that they wanted me to read about or by Freud, Marx, Satre and Camus.

This was the 90s and all before I was 11.

It was an interesting childhood. I had a very active imagination as one could imagine. Bored with school as they plodded through Roald Dahl books. Hopeless at maths but known for doing well in English subjects. It was the same throughout highschool though I read fewer classics and more by Man Booker Prize and other literary award winners. And I discovered Ruth Rendell.

I seldom meet people who read and I’m in good company on ‘WordPress’. Some are proud of the fact they don’t read. I can’t fathom it.

I sometimes have to bite my tongue when somebody waxes lyrical about books like ‘Twilight’ or ‘The Da Vinci Code’. I’ve read a shameful amount of chick lit so can’t really talk but gosh, it’s painful. I thought that ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ was a big pile of okay and I’d figured out who the killer was and a lot of the mysteries at the start. The only good thing that came out of ‘The Da Vinci Code’ is that it spiked an interest in Leonardo Da Vinci. The thing that came out of ‘Twilight’ was ’50 Shades’. Nuff said.

I’m reverential with a book. Each turning of the page is symbolic and I’m breathless with anticipation. I’ve experienced true happiness in pages and have been transported to magical lands. I laugh, I cry, I get angry. I feel on top of the world, I feel like I’m on the bottom of the world, I feel like I am at one with the world. Some reads are truly life-changing experiences. I pity those who have never had that experience.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

20 Nov

‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ is one of those songs that sound like it’s going out of its way to annoy you. It’s quite good really, charming with deceptive simplicity. It is probably the only popular song ever with the word ‘litigate’ in it. Despite the song being a hit, it killed Bobby McFerrin’s career. He has real talent and to the mainstream audience he’s a one-hit-wonder, he is fairly respected in the music world. I was ‘Youtubing’ accappela songs and came across him singing ‘Blackbird’. Wow. It’s nothing like ‘The Beatles’ original version but I suggest that you jump onto ‘Youtube’ and check it out. Great vocal style and the man looks good in a blue jumper.

This blog is ‘Part 2’ on the shite book list. When I first read ‘Bridgs of Madison County’, I hated it. I was about 9 and my neighbour was getting rid of a some old cat calendars and the book just happened to be in there. This was the first book I’ve ever thrown against the wall. I was a very precocious reader who had read quite a few classics as well as the standard children’s books. It’s a good thing that my parents didn’t notice the book. They’re the kind would have disowned me had I read ‘Spills and Swoon’ (Mills and Boon), Jackie Collins type books. My mother has never forgiven me for reading Jaqueline Susann’s ‘Valley of the Doll’s (but it’s iconic trash).

I mentioned before that I read the one star reviews on Amazon for ‘Twilight’ straight after reading the book. I wanted to restore my faith in humanity and had to know that somebody out there found the book as rubbish as I did. Thank heaven there were. Then I looked up the one star reviews for ‘Bridges’.  Thank you, ‘Goodreads’. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/83674.The_Bridges_of_Madison_County

I found a copy in a second hand bookshop. I’m so glad I did. I saw the book in a new light thanks to the reviews. The passages I found so ridiculous back then have just become better with age. I howled with laughter at some of the quotes.

‘If your evolutionary branch is a dead end, as you say it is, then I want you to hit that end at full speed’. (I wanted the characters to drive into a real tree).

‘Robert, when we were making love last night, you said something that I still remember. I kept whispering to you about your power — and, my God, you have that. You said, ‘I am the highway and a peregrine and all the sails that ever went to sea.’

See? Genius. It takes a certain mind to think up sentences like that. Every single sentence could be a entry in the ‘Bulwer-Lytton’ competition.

I thought back then it was just a terrible attempt at a love story. I don’t want to attribute to Robert James Waller such lofty ideals but it could be seen as a comedy, a brilliant satire of a romance novel and a bold attempt at challenging what the mass public like. A bit like the ‘Naked Came the Stranger’ of its day.

The plot is very ‘The Notebook’, maudlin tripe about two people and who fall in love/lust and the obstacle is that Francesca is married to a nice but forgettable man. A quote from ‘Goodreads’, ‘forget him, Waller does’. Bored housewife bonks travelling hippie photographer and then pines after him for the rest of her life as she ‘sacrificed’ love to be stay with boring husband and two children. Then at the end we find out that both housewife and hippie photographer die. Said housewife wrote letters to her children detailing her sexual relationship with said hippie photographer. Ick, ICK. Instead of acting as normal people would and throwing up at the thought of their mother having sex with this weirdo, her children feel guilty about being a burden between true love. Oh you’ve got to read the cringworthy sex scenes. Unbelievable. Sometimes when I’m in the mood for a laugh, I read parts of the book.

I used to talk about ‘Bridges’ with a former friend of mine.  We did a search and found that ‘The Shadow God’ by Aaron Rayburn was considered ‘the worst book ever’. The Amazon one-star reviews are just great and we found it so funny that my friend ordered the book from America. Quotes:

Spiers’s eyes popped extraneously from their socketsThe lamp’s glow was very weak compared to the blue glow emancipating from the basement.It infiltrated his lungs, filling them with a kind of innovativeness he had never felt before.

See? Forget your degree, forget the good books that you’ve read, forget your skills as a wordsmith. Making it big as a writer sometimes means writing tripe. Anything goes, anything sells. As Scott Adams said, ‘never underestimate the stupidity of the general public.

One Headlight

17 Nov

‘The Wallflowers’ was part of my uni playlist and ‘One Headlight’ was played excessively (On my Creative Zen, no iPod for me back then). They’re the kind of band that people like but don’t obsess over. I fell in love with Jakob Dylan. Oh god. Beautiful man.

It’s 04.00am and what better to do than entertain myself with a blog. I apologise in advance for the disjoined nature this entry is bound to be. I’ve decided to write about a couple of popular books that I hated so much that I went on Amazon to check out the one-star reviews. So here’s Part 1. ‘Twilight’ and ’50 Shades of Grey’ have been reviewed to death but really, the more negative reviews the merrier.

‘Twilight’-Stephanie Meyer. My ex bought me the first book as it meant to be like ‘Harry Potter’ with vampires (I’m a big, big ‘Harry Potter fan. In fact, I’ve put his birthday in every diary I’ve had since I was 14). So I expected to like this book though I didn’t know what it was about. The start was supremely boring and the writing amateurish. So, she meets this really goodlooking family, blah blah and thinks the guy doesn’t like her as he’s a tool but it turns out he does and then 2mins later it’s twoo wuv. And then oh god, the descriptions about his looks started. Oh the repetition.

I won’t go into an in-depth analysis of how toxic their relationship is as many have touched on that topic. I literally threw the book across the room as I was so disgusted by the repetition, creepy stalking, the repetitive descriptions, pining, the repetitive descriptions, the Mary Sue characters, etc. I actually bought a second hand copy later as I felt guilty about destroying the book that the ex had gotten me. The sequels were even worse, I didn’t think that was possible. I read them all, bored whilst staying at a former friend’s house and besides, I like to know what I’m bitching about.

I hate the idea of impressionable tweens reading this dreck. I’m disgusted that stalking, fantasising about killing, etc is okay so long as it’s ‘tru luv’ and so long as the man is ridiculously good-looking and wealthy. What does it say about us that this is popular. Just a few years ago, ‘The Princess Diaries’ was the most popular thing. How did we get from a feminist princess to being a pushover for this illusion of ‘love’? Is feminism dead? Or have we redefined it. We now have the right to choose stalker bad boys thanks to feminism.

Now onto’50 Shades of Grey’ by EL James. I knew about the media hype. How it had increased the sales of ropes. I knew it originated from ‘Twilight’ fanfiction so I only have myself to blame for bothering. Everything I hated about ‘Twilight’ was magnified in ’50 Shades’. The rubbish writing, the mawkish heroine, the older, wealthy man, the any-sane-woman-would-call-the-police-or-psychiatrist-on-him-but-it’s-true-love-because-the-author-says-it-is plot, the endless descriptions about the said older, wealthy man’s perfect face and eyes. Oh the frackin’ eyes. Don’t these women like oh, feet or anything?

I found myself bored, bored by the writing in ’50 Shades’. I rolled my eyes on every second page. I’m not against smut, we are adults after all. I used to sneak read my mother’s ‘Cosmopolitan’ magazines as a kid and have read more risque books (had been re-reading ‘Belle De Jour-Secret Diaries of a Call Girl) and gosh, if people’s sex lives have been improved by this book, I can only assume that they’ve done it maybe a few times purely for conception. To these people, I suggest that they watch a few dirty movies.

So, the descriptions about sex just got repetive. They were absurdly cringeworthy. Purple, purple prose. You know it’s a bad book when a book is known for being smutty has sex scenes which are just dull and repetitive. They were oddly clinical somehow. Back to the ‘plot’. Christian treats Anastasia badly but it’s okay, he’s really hot. Oh but it was ‘consensual’ sex you say. It was actually scary the control Christian had over her.

What I dislike about both books is how imbalanced the relationships are. The girls are cliches, ingenues who ‘tame’ seemingly unattainable men. The men are dazzling, debonair and dangerous. The Mary-Sues offer nothing to the relationship other than just being their ordinary selves. Well, Bella turns into a super-sparkly vampire and naturally, super-powerful. At the end of both series, both ‘girls’ get what they want. Baby and a guy. And their story is everywhere. Carrie ends up with well-off Big and can indulge her shoe addiction without guilt. I’m sure most who do online dating tick the box for well-off, tdh, gsoh, etc.

We need more stories about successful women who date less successful men. Or are we not ready for that. Off to sleep, 05.15am!