Evening! I think I had something to say, but it went completely out of my head when I saw this:
Why do I want an illuminated pumpkin as a kind of witch’s familiar, growling advice at me in James Hetfield’s voice?
Speaking of pumpkins. Is it just me, or has October really out-autumned itself this year? It’s been absolutely stunning in Southend. Very orange and gold, lots of crisp wood smokey mornings, the return of the snuggly dressing gown… it’s been lovely. Cold, but lovely. I may purchase a pumpkin and do some carving. I never normally bother because when you put them out, you get eight billion small children wiping grease paint over your front door, but that’s banned this year. I think. It may or may not have been banned or reinstated by the time you read this and/or Halloween happens.
In keeping with the time of year, I am virtually ready for bed (it is half past seven) so I think I’m going to trot off to make cocoa and catch up with some online seminars. Seminars? Interviews? I don’t know if there’s a name for them. ‘Events that used to be in person and therefore out of reach for many of us due to geography and money, but are now online.’ I’m really enjoying the ones I’ve been a part of (loose term, since all I do is log in and paint my nails). I hope they remain a staple of the book/film-release-tour-circuit, because as electric as in-person events are, there is a quiet joy at being able to be part of something global, while sitting in your comfy clothes with a drink that didn’t cost £9.50.
Afternoon! I am fed up with organising envelopes and mythology-inspired greetings cards, so I thought I’d pop in. Happy Black Friday! Wait, that’s not what I mean. I mean, please buy from independent retailers this Christmassy season (and especially today, which many smart people are calling Indie Friday in a bid to cut through the Black Friday shite). I don’t want people to feel like they can only buy from independent retailers (yes, hello, Aldi’s gift and alcohol sections, I have been pillaging you since October), but I guarantee that the bosses in Aldi don’t feel a sense of personal achievement and glow both internally and externally when you buy a tote bag. Have I ever mentioned you can purchase reasonably priced tote bags, along with reasonably priced prints, pencils and the aforementioned cards from my Folksy shop?
I am still on Etsy, but I promote my Folksy shop more because a) it’s based in Sheffield and run by about three people, b) it’s a very friendly site with seriously high quality arts and crafts, and c) as it is a British company, the fees I pay actually go back into the British economy. So everyone wins when you buy something on Folksy!
I really ought to get to the post box while it’s still light so, as I cannot remember if there was supposed to be a point to this post alongside the SHOP SMAAALLLLL messaging, I’d better go and find my scarf.
Oh, wait, yes there is: I got to see Tim Minchin perform last night – in my actual town, nonetheless – and am pleased to report that, like a good cheese, Tim has improved with age. So has the Cheese song. Honestly can’t remember the last time I could feel my face from smiling. If the world needs anything at the moment – other than you lot buying from indie retailers hint hint – it is a good laugh and a rant on algorithms and confirmation bias. Like all good shows, I have a singular, shitty picture:
Side note: this man sold out the Cliffs Pavilion three nights running. Southend-on-Sea’s Cliffs Pavilion. Southend-on-Sea, where residents enjoyed Brexit campaign leaflets about how pro-leave they all were. Southend-on-Sea, where I did not really think LGBT people were allowed to live until I finally saw some when I was in my teens. Southend-on-Sea, that hub of lefty liberalism. Maybe the times are changing, or maybe people are more willing than I thought to travel to places that aren’t London for their south east-based atheism-tinged-fuck-Trump-sciencey-sprinkling of West-End-hit-Matlida-musical comedy.
Either way, I have a lovely post-show hangover. Right, post box!
This evening I posted on social media about MCR, which is not unusual, but I guess listening to MCR is becoming less and less everyday for me. This is partly because I have a couple of jobs that require a communal radio and/or relative silence and partly because there are other demands on my ears these days. Troye Sivan. Lorde. The sound of my conscience as it reminds me I haven’t worked on that giant writing project I want to finish drafting by spring. But My Chemical Romance is My Chemical Romance and the world is better with My Chemical Romance in it, so as I wrote this I had a little listening party at my desk. And as a My Chem listening party is a rock ‘n’ roll Wednesday night pursuit, I thought I’d make it into a helpful step-by-step guide so you too can mosh on a weekday!
Step 1: Compile MCR’s discography into Random.org
Step 2: Pick the first 5 songs that appear
“Vampires Will Never Hurt You”
“Mama” (featuring Liza Minnelli)
“It’s Not a Fashion Statement, It’s a Deathwish” (listed as “It’s Not a Fashion Statement, It’s a Fucking Deathwish” in the album liner notes)
Step 3: Youtube that shit, even though you have every song legally on a disc somewhere
Vampires Will Never Hurt You
Until I looked for the official Eyeball Records video and couldn’t find it, I hadn’t realised I’d never sat through the entire video for Vampires (although I think I have it on about 3 DVDs, so). Anyway it is here it is courtesy of some kindly soul:
I had never considered what Ray Toro might look like with no hair, and I am discomfited to realise he looks exactly like Ray Toro, except if Ray Toro was in a choir. Frank, man, I am so glad you got rid of those dreads. You remind me of the stoner kids I see in Southend. The Way brothers are, of course, changeless. Musically I have never had a clue what Vampires is about other than vampires – death? Rebirth? Betrayal? Time running out? – but I feel a short story coming on. Also I have a feeling the ‘like ghosts in the snow bit’ is gonna be way more fun if I do this exercise again after a couple of drinks.
Fortunately when I entered the discography into Random.org, I included the track numbers. The End in this case was Track 1, thus the first song on The Black Parade, not to be confused with To The End, track three on Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. Easy mistake to make though, and I have made it approximately 8000 times in my 11 years as an MCR fan.
Fun fact: the first time I heard this was on an iPod shuffle (look it was 11 years ago) and when it ended abruptly I thought I’d hit a button and went back to play it again. I still love the bleep-bleep-bleep intro, and harbour a dream that if I’m ever unlucky enough to be on a heart monitor, I’ll just think it’s an MCR song and sit back happily while doctors panic over the rate of the bleeps. I also feel fond of the line ‘when I grow up I want to be nothing at all’ because in my old age that has become a comforting thought.
The song that inspired the name for The Webways. The song that infuriated that FOX News man. The pop song that’s kind of a punk song?
Other than the greatly improved haircuts, my favourite thing about this video is the number of Mindless Self Indulgence members who make an appearance. I’d forgotten how rich the storytelling is: the wall projections, the posters, the freedom-fighters-versus-the-powerful narrative. It’s kind of ironic that Danger Days was set in 2019 – nuclear war and brightly coloured kids protesting the government was kind of novel in 2010. Now it’s the news.
No one in the universe is currently making music as interesting as this song. That is all.
It’s Not a Fashion Statement, It’s a Fucking Deathwish
When I was 16 I did an intricate art project in which I worked MCR lyrics from every song into a giant ‘MCR’. With boarder. I did not photograph it well; the end result did not reflect the work I put in. The lyric I chose for Deathwish was ‘you get what everyone else gets/you get a lifetime’ as those lines are as close as I have come to finding a mantra to live by. How can I feel spiritually enlightened by a song that also makes me want to throw red paint at a church altar?
Ugh, to be 16 again and have the time for leisurely listens and fansites. I love the new music I listen to now, but 5 years ago I did not go near pop because pop was not substantial. MCR was substantial. These days I feel like pop might be one of the only substantial things around. I read an entire article the other day about how Hayley Kiyoko and Troye Sivan kinda-sorta made queer/pop history by releasing their videos on the same day. No one had previously normalised same sex attraction in such a way, apparently (I can hear George Michael’s ghost rolling his eyes though). MCR broke new ground every time they released an album, because every album took what was expected of them and rolled it on its head… I don’t really get those vibes from rock any more, but maybe that’s because I stopped reading Kerrang! when they started comparing MCR’s drummer situation to that of Spinal Tap’s. Or maybe I have responsibilities now and need soft lil pop sounds to ease me into my mid-twenties. Who knows. I might weave some MCR into that project I’m working on. I might spend my next wages on an overpriced MCR shirt. I might go to California in 2019.
Probably can’t afford the shirt and the plane ticket though, ha.
Book of the Year: Backpack & They Both Die at the End
Two books have defined my year. The first is Backpack by Emily Barr, which was actually published about 15 years ago. It’s about a girl who goes backpacking in South East Asia, and I found a second hand copy in a shop in Hanoi. It’s also about a string of murders of backpackers in South East Asia, so I possibly made a mistake by staying up late to finish it in my bunk in Laos in almost the exact place where some of the action happens. It’s a brilliant take on the whole ‘British person goes travelling to find themselves’ narrative and has some good twists, so you should definitely read it from the comfort of your English armchair and then book yourself a flight to Asia.
The second book is They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. I started using GoodReads this year to keep track of all the books I see on Instagram and in those often questionable ‘recommended books for x’ lists, and I’m really glad I listened to the recommendations for this one. My review of it is here.
Special commendation to:Angie Thomas‘ debut The Hate U Give. I want to do a proper review for it so I won’t say too much except pick it up right now and read until you reevaluate your world views.
The ‘I Can’t Believe I’m Living Through This Shit, Although it Will Probably Kill Me So At Least There’s That’ Story of the Year
There are so many options, so I’m just going to list my favourites, aka the ones I’ll be complaining to my grandchildren about:
Another election how many fucking elections does one country need
When the DUP won the bloody election
Jacob Rees-Mogg’s opinions
The ‘I Witnessed this Shit Live and Wish It Had Killed Me’ News Story of the Year: Brexit
Brexit. All the Brexit. Big Brexit news on the actual news and little Brexit conversations in my house. Blue passports. The Daily Mail. Random people on the news with opinions about Brexit. The fact that, despite the entire country’s obsession with Brexit, very little tangible Brexit has occurred. So Ireland won’t have a boarder? Was anyone ever really going to look the Irish people in the face and say ‘hey I know there was a decades-long violent war in this beautiful land about boarders and sovereignty that was concluded with great effort on both sides, but I really feel that we ought to put a giant bloody wall up and reopen wounds that are only just starting to heal because BREXIT MEANS BREXIT’?
Special commendation to: the American government. Obviously it was tough to choose between Trump and Brexit, but on reflection I have decided that Trump will eventually be impeached, die from all those Cokes he drinks or come to the end of his term and deny he was ever president in the first place. The clean up process won’t be pretty, but I have confidence in the better part of America. Or the part that doesn’t want to die from climate change and nuclear war, anyway. The process and effects of Brexit, on the other hand, are likely to chug on until I reach retirement age which I am assuming will be 95. But who cares as long as we have blue passports!
Outstanding Achievement for Distracting Me from the Horror of the Year for Five Minutes: Blue Planet II
Thank you, little puffin families, for restoring my faith in the husbands of this world. You guys saw what puffins go through to bring back food for their pufflings, right? And the parents split the childcare! I wish I understood science because studying puffin families sounds like a nice job to have. And did you see the sea lions hunting tuna? How do humans think we’re the smartest species I frequently can’t locate tea bags.
Special commendation to: the country of Australia for passing equal marriage (congratulations, you have one-upped the UK) and every Women’s March placard, poster and pussy hat for warming my feminist bones.
Outstanding Social Media Moment: the Big Green Bookshop vs Piers Morgan
The Internet has been a double edged sword this year; the news is so important that it’s hard to look away, but so awful and consuming that it’s equally as important to know when to look away. But sometimes humanity proves it’s all right, and my favourite example of that this year is when the a man named Simon, who co-owns the Big Green Bookshop in London, tweeted Piers Morgan the entirety of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Until he got blocked, anyway. If there’s one thing the people of Britain can agree on, it’s that Piers Morgan should piss right off – and I feel the Big Green Bookshop gave us all a chance to rally together and express our collective love for Potter and our collective loathing for Piers. Please support your local independent bookshops.
Indifferent Ignorance Homophobic Dick Award: Everywhere?
I can’t remember their names and I won’t look for them because I don’t wish to give them further exposure, but some ‘gay cure therapy’ people were on morning TV this year. I think it was Good Morning Britain, but I won’t check and give the news articles any more views. I can’t dish out an award without knowing the names of the people I’m awarding, though, so this year’s winners are the member states of the United Nations. News broke some time in February about the detention and murder of perceived gay and bisexual men in Chechnya. The UN has confirmed and condemned it, but as far as I can tell the only country to have actually done anything to help is Canada. It’s also still illegal to be gay in 72 countries – countries whose human rights records are generally lacking. The Guardian did a handy map indicating levels of legal status of LGBT people globally, and it looks a lot like maps indicating press freedom and women’s rights. I feel like if one of those things can improve in a nation, the other two will follow, but I would also like to learn more about how that can be done in the next year. Primary education? Free access to the Internet? Democratic election processes? I will report back with my findings.
Indifferent Ignorance Ignorant Fuck Award: The Donald
Ugh. Ugh. It’s Trump. It was always going to be, really, but Jacki made a point in her comment on my nominations blog: Trump is a figurehead. If someone who had never heard of Trump were to take everything that is ignorant about Western culture in 2017 and mix it up and cook it and craft a little figurine, that figurine would be Trump. He represents the worst of us.
Look, a line representing the end of the year. A fresh start. I’ve been thinking about all the winners (and losers, ha) and next year I’d like to reboot The Six O’Clock News but with a twist. Every time I’ve turned on the news this year, either on an app or Twitter or the TV, the ratio of awful story:nice story has been about 9:1. So next year I want to find a story that has a happy ending or a fun twist. Like this 16 year old who got into Harvard (thanks Jacki!) or this dog whose bones were surgically regrown in a lab so she didn’t need her leg amputated. I like to think there will be enough material out there to fill a blog post or two… what do you reckon?
I won’t be back on here until some time next week and/or when the NYE fug has lifted, so happy new year! May your return to work on 2nd January be as painless as possible.
Afternoon. I feel like I should apologise for not posting on my story blog this week, but since approximately five people read it and at least four of them are direct relations, I think I’ll save the heartfelt messages for when there’s more like six of you. I really did mean to have a story up, but I only wrote it last week because I’ve been busy settling into my new job, and I’ve promised myself that I will get my writing critiqued properly before whacking it online, and I’m still waiting on feedback. BUT NO MATTER. I HAVE CONTENT TODAY.
I saw Lorde at Alexandra Palace last week and I’m still buzzing. I hadn’t been to a live show in three or four years, and my usual brand of live music is, you know, not Lorde. I also went by myself, which is one of those things you read in self help books titled Coming to Terms With Your Own Company (Because You’ll Die Alone), but actually I just didn’t have anyone to go with. I also had work central London the next day, so I stayed up there and learnt how contactless cards work on the underground (spoiler alert: next time I’ll just get an Oyster card). Anyway, the show.
I’d never really seen a pop concert – is Lorde even pop? – so it was quite heartwarming to queue with a group who’d seen Twenty One Pilots perform live and were also wearing Doc Martens (it was kind of more heartwarming to name drop that I once saw MCR at Wembley, because I am a dick). I’d never even heard of the warm up act, Khalid, but a bunch of kids were well into it and as soon as I got home on Thursday I saw him on TV, so when he’s up for a Grammy you’d better believe I’ll be name dropping him, too. During the obligatory wait between doors and warm up and warm up and main act I got chatting to two girls who’d decorated their faces in glitter, which made me wish I’d thought ahead. The atmosphere was actually not that different to one at an MCR show – there was a good mix of people, with parents with their kids and groups of friends and couples, all waiting with baited breath for the lights to go down. It’s quite hard to explain what happened when the lights did go down so here, have a video.
I guess one upside to a pop show versus a rock show is that the act changes clothes along with their set?
Yes, that’s a red sparkly jumpsuit with a pair of trainers.
It’s always hard to describe what it’s like seeing an act you really love play live. The last band I saw that had already fused to my rib cage was MCR when I was 15. My dad took us and we dressed up in our finest Killjoy glamour and it was probably as close to a religious experience as I got during my teens. At 22, with a very different life and in completely different circumstances, I got to have that experience again. There’s nothing like howling a song with a few thousand other people, knowing the person on the stage is having as much fun as you are. I have a cold this week – one of those where you think you’re okay to breathe through your nose and then you sneeze phlegm onto the nearest piece of clothing – and I can’t wait to be fully awake again so I can go and make things as cool as the music Lorde makes. I might also get myself a red sparkly jumpsuit, as clearly they bring good fortune…
Okay, so you might have noticed I’m a Maggie Stiefvater fan. I reviewed The Raven Boysway back, I met Maggie at YALC last summer and offered her my dad’s Mustang, I irritated my brother into reading The Raven Cycle and he took The Dream Thieves to Asia with us and now it looks like this:
Coincidentally I’ve also been trying to practise my screenwriting, and since I cut my prose teeth on FanFiction.net (yes, you can still find me on there and no, I’m not providing a direct link) I thought I’d do the same with scripts: using a book as a template so I could stop worrying about inventing a story and focus on practising how to tell it. Since The Raven Cycle is one of those books that has found its way into my bloodstream and will never leave, I played around with ideas for a Raven Boys TV show (this was way before the actual TV series was announced). I have index cards and post it notes and tiny little Fade In documents, and it’s safe to say I will look at them again when I want to pull out my eyeballs with embarrassment – think very bad fan fictions, then think of something worse.
Onto the #BroodyBFF challenge. Last year The Raven King came out and if I love my own books half as much I’ll be pleased. I won’t give anything away but there is a scene that reminded me of a song. Or the song reminded me of a scene, I can’t remember which came first. If I were writing this in a show, I thought to myself, this is how that episode would end. Here is the song:
It would not be a spoiler to say that Bite is not really about anything to do with that scene – it’s about certain clubs with sticky floors and certain men who visit them – but I can’t not think of The Raven King when it comes up on my playlist. Which, once you’ve read the books, is either really appropriate or really inappropriate. Kind of like fan fiction is, now I think about it.
Am I looking forward to the TV show? No. I’ve only ever come across one good book-film adaptation, and that involved the book’s author, who is also a screenwriter and director, doing the screenwriting and directing. As far as I know, Maggie Stiefvater’s long list of talents does not include those things. Also, I’m not writing it. That scene will never end that way with that song. So probably one day I will either write that scene myself into my Fade In documents to satisfy my artistic hunger or I’ll put it in piece of my own work instead. It’ll be fucking awesome.
I’m at Village Green this Saturday so Read, If You Like... will probably go up Monday. If you’re one of the #BroodyBFFs, link me your blogs! And if you’re involved with the TRB TV show, I am prepared to trade four books worth of script feedback for my firstborn child.
I’ve been coming up with the annual Indifferent Ignorance awards for long enough that I know to keep ’em cute and to the point. But there’s something about 2016 that’s been so thoroughly appalling that I couldn’t just list a few bits and pieces. So here is the best and absolute worst of 2016.
Book of the Year
The Raven King, because of cars and kissing, or Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, because of cars and kissing. Mostly. Just read them.
Album of the Year
Troye Sivan’s Blue Neighbourhood, or the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack. Neither of them were released this year that’s further proof of 2016’s shittiness. (Actually Frank Iero’s Parachutes came out this year and it’s a gem. Whatever.)
The ‘I Can’t Believe I’m Living Through This Shit, Although it Will Probably Kill Me So At Least There’s That’ Story of the Year
The ‘I Witnessed this Shit Live and Wish It Had Killed Me’ News Story of the Year
Tough one. Brexit? US election? The return of Poldark to our screens? Nah man. The only moment my stomach really dropped at the news this year was at maybe 6:15 on a January morning when Nick Robinson interrupted my dozing to inform me, with audible shock, that David Bowie had died. I did not think anything could shock a Today programme presenter, let alone audibly. The return of Jesus couldn’t have redeemed 2016 from that moment on.
Outstanding Achievement for Distracting Me from the Horror of the Year for Five Minutes
Or an hour, depending on the broadcast.
Ed Balls’ Gagnam Style on Strictly Come Dancing It aired the week Trump was elected. Coincidence? Or does a benevolent god exist?
When Newsnight listened to their critics and played God Save the Queen Stand up, please.
The Twitter users who liveblogged the Rio Olympics and came up with 40 different jokes about green swimming pools
The Rio Olympics themselves
Whoever started those Joe Biden memes
American Idiot(the song, not the people)
Planet Earth II
Winner: this song, which someone shared the morning Trump was elected. I really, really felt better and so will you:
Outstanding Social Media Moment
This is another new prize, and the competition was tough.
Coincidentally this is the year I learnt what ‘throwing shade’ means. Oh, I didn’t pick a winner. You guys choose (I assume I can trust you with this more than I did Brexit).
Indifferent Ignorance Homophobic Dick Award
Donald Trump’s voters. All of them.
Indifferent Ignorance Ignorant Fuck Award
Donald Trump’s voters. All of them.
I thought I’d put a line there as a metaphor. Because a line is like a wall, right… seriously though I nearly wrote an essay about how the name I gave my blog aged 14 is coincidentally a term that sums up this year’s election results, but I held off because everyone else was writing the same essay and I am so tired of being tired of all the bullshit I’ve lived through recently. I think in 2017 I might use my outraged liberal millennial viewpoint to make art instead of complaining. And by art I mean small stories and postcards about people who are full of shit.
Anyway that is me done for the year. I wish you all health and happiness in 2017, although at this point it’s probably enough that I wish you make it there. Happy new year!
Indifferent Ignorance has started snowing, so it’s time my darlings for this classic carol.
And this one.
Honestly if I don’t post these somewhere at this time of year, assume I’ve died. Anyway now I am actually feeling quite Christmassy. The sun sets at 4pm; the shop I work part time in is full to the brim with stockings, cinnamon candles and novelty bedspreads; my freelance work is nearly done and I have even managed most of my shopping. I accidentally bankrupted myself in the process, because my brother and I are getting presents between us but I went a bit overboard with my debit card before he gave me any cash, but still. Christmas is nearly here and I’m not completely immune to the odd Micheal Bubble song.
That being said, I am worried (and by worried I mean ‘just fending off panic’) about the following:
Getting visas in time for Asia
Getting cash for petrol so my mum can use my car when I’m in Asia, thus making my extortionate insurance worth having
Selling as many notebooks as possible this side of Christmas because they take up valuable wardrobe space (minimum orders of 100 units always seem like a great idea)
Selling as much from my shop as possible this side of Christmas because although my mum has offered to send things out while I’m away, I’d rather clear as many of those 100 units as I can while I’m in the country because I have an irrational inability to delegate tasks and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to cope watching someone else parcel up my precious merchandise
I’m on overtime at the shop next week (so byeee Christmas spirit) but because I’m leaving at New Year and I’m almost done freelancing I’m going to probably be broke as a joke when I’m back from Asia
I’ve already eaten too much chocolate and it’s only the 14th.
I have control over roughly two-thirds of that list, so I’m going to nip back to freelancing, text my brother about visas and work on holiday promotion. And by work on holiday promotion I mean remind you all that UK customers can get free postage on orders over £8 with the coupon SNOWFLAKE16 until 3rd January, and that shipping will be UK-only from January through April so if you’re overseas and you like something, get a move on.