Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Annual Leave.

 I’m an insomniac. Any insomniacs in the room?... ANY INSOMN- … God knows what causes it. I lie awake for hours wondering about that.”
-Jasper Carrot

Well- I had a week off. And I had plans.

Did I watch both parts of French crime movie Mesrine, back-to-back? No.

Did I get some writing published? No.

Did I go on an internet date via plentyoffish? No.

Did I find a better-paying job? No.

Did I finish reading The Game by Neill Strauss and put his dating advice into practice? No.

Did I go to the closing night at the Manchester Ritz? No.

What did I achieve, then?

Well- I threw out copious amounts of stuff from my old bedroom at my mum’s house then dragged tons of remaining belongings to my flat. Now the decorating is complete there’s entire cupboards no longer stocked with old curtains and paint cans. I even killed two birds with one stone by wearing my Mexican poncho and sombrero while driving back from Mum’s, then storing it on top of my wardrobe. (Obviously it was the non-essentials that got binned.)

Just look at that whisky collection, would you?! Masterful. It’s taken YEARS to accumulate to this size.

There’s STILL more stuff to bring over, though. I’m saving the TV ‘til last because a) the majority of TV is garbage and I hadn’t watched it at home for over a year and b) I’m reluctant to buy a TV license. Oh, and c) I don’t have a stand to put it on.

I also got some careers advice from Highways to Opportunities in Oldham , started an abs class at Oldham Community Leisure (a great stomach workout and one I hope I stick with), got a free haircut from the students at Oldham College who did a fantastic job, then I wrestled with insomnia, bought some sleeping pills, used some kind of sleeping lotion drops, ate loads of bananas (which supposedly level out the sugar imbalances that cause a lack of sleep), drank hot chocolate… And I still lie awake. Great.

This could be why I only sent out about a quarter of the writing I wanted to when hammering literature site  I just don’t have the energy to focus on what I’m sending out. But I WILL get these pieces published. Stay tuned.

Then, I failed to grasp how to use Ebay and hence failed to sell an Alien Vs Predator game for the Mac… and then I mourned the loss of this crazy guy.

I never had Sky growing up so I formed my WWF knowledge from sticker albums and word-of-mouth from people whose parents had Sky. The day I found out it was all acting was the first time my world collapsed. I felt utterly cheated, discovering that leaping off a metre-high post and elbowing someone in the head would actually result in massive brain trauma. But the muscle-men do it! I told the judge. Ironically- and in all seriousness- in 2007, I joined a Mixed Martial Arts gym. Wrestling and Muay Thai? WWF without the miming.

Macho Man Randy Savage will be missed. What a legend. Oh YEAH!

Did anyone go to the closing night at The Ritz? The old pre-war iconic Manchester building, once a cinema, lastly a club with a springy dance floor, closed its doors on Saturday 21st. If anyone attended the closing party and you fancy doing a write-up, I’d love to host it. Tell us what happened and what you thought. If anything surprising happened, I’d love to hear about it. Was it any good? Is it true that The Ritz is reopening in a few weeks? Or that HMV is moving into its basement? Are you enjoying this non-information-dump? Why am I tailoring my blog to sound like James Ellroy's fictional Hush-hush magazine?

Now if you'll excuse me, I must get back to my bottle of Kalms sleeping tabletzzzzzzzz……

Saturday, 21 May 2011

We all do it... right?

Don't pretend you don't look around before you head out of the door for a night out and think, if I hadn't been here before and I was brought here semi-drunk at 3:30am... would I be impressed?

You clear away the bottles, hide the giant pile of junk mail behind the settee, hoover up the popcorn and wash the dishes.

Don't you? Yeah, thought so...

I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon and make a “Like” page on Facebook referencing this phenomena. Get clicking. You know it makes sense.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

In Case You Were Wondering...

A few months ago I was getting spammed into next year by Chinese bots who were leaving bizarre comments over my blog posts. “ITS A GOOD SUGGESTION”, the comments would say. “THANKU LOTS.............” This was frequently followed by a link to an Asian teen porn site. Contrary to popular belief, this is not my bag.

Hence I moderate all of my comments now, this being perhaps the only way of being told that a comment has been left. If you're a human being with a brain and a set of fingers, which are collectively capable of constructing a logical sentence, please feel free to comment. Once I've checked that you fit this bill, I'll upload your text. If you're a bot insistent on making me look at Chinese “schoolgirls”- well. There's a time and a place. And it's not on the blog. I'm sure that if you're a real human being who's reading this with your eyes and brain, you won't arbitrarily link up to Computers, however, have no such quarms.

So, human readers. Feel free to comment, and I'll probably allow posting within 24 hours. The following is a scenario I would like to avoid.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Insidious- Insipid.

Insidious. Possibly the most un-scary horror film ever. Rushed, cliche'd plot regarding a possessed child / house. No atmosphere or build-up of suspense. Stock genre characters include the freaky kid who knows too much, the paranoid mother, the disbelieving father and the strange old-biddy spiritualist woman. The climax was ridiculous.

I watched this with a few mates. The only scary bit was when the host Becks got her kids to charge into the lounge in the middle of the film dressed as pirates, wielding plastic swords. That DID make me jump.

Horrifying, but not scary. Laughable, but not funny.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Multiply your blog hits this way

I wasn't looking / but somehow I found you”

Carly Simon, clearly discussing blogging in her 1977 number 1 hit single, Nobody Does It Better

Are you a blogger?
Twitter user?
Facebook user?
Did you answer yes to all of the above?

Good. Recently I added's Popular Posts gadget to my site

You can now click straight to the entries getting hit on the most.

I mentioned here about tweeting my most-viewed posts to optimise blog hits. 

Pretty simple really. Roughly half of my stats come from Twitter. I tweet links to new posts, being shown to 160 followers and whoever else stumbles across it in Twitter searches. Roughly half again comes from Google hits, with a few other hits coming from referrals from comments that I've left on other blogs. So I figured, why not combine the top two sources and tweet my top posts?

I also linked these posts to Facebook for a further 500-person exposure.
And seeing as I have an open profile, there's potential for more people to stumble on the blog that way. In theory. Nearly 200 hits were referrals from Facebook.

Well- this little experiment seems to have worked. For the last month I've been throwing up links to these two sites. I've gone from getting around 50 hits a day to around 100 a day. To put it into perspective, I opened this blog in 2008. Since then I've had 11,000 hits. Not amazing in the bigger scheme of things... but 2000 of them came in the last month. So I must be doing something right.

The experiment has doubtlessly helped my blog to get exposure. The majority of hits in this time- nearly 600- were still Google searches, meaning that people weren't specifically looking for my blog and they randomly landed on content I was covering.

Or maybe not so randomly. I've been brushing up on SEO- Search Engine Optimisation. If you have a blog and want hits, you need to know about this. In recent posts I have littered my blog with key words that people are searching for- references to Family Guy, celebrities and- kind-of accidentally- advice on whisky-drinking. All of this has helped me smash through the 10,000 views mark and beyond.

If you don't have both a Twitter and Facebook account, and you do have a blog, you're missing out. Both are free to set up. If this experiment works for me, you'll have success too. Let me know how it goes for you. As Carly Simon would doubtlessly say, it will keep them from runnin' but just keep them comin'...

Monday, 16 May 2011

How do you get into copywriting?

If you've landed here from a Google search, hoping to find the answer to this question, I'm sorry. I don't know either. HOWEVER...

If you can shed light, please let me know. I'm searching advice online. I'm meeting careers advisors. I'm reading related books. I've even had an interview for a voluntary position. So far, no luck.

I appreciate all help. Please feel fee to comment below.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

It's Only Words, and Words are All I Have

Description. You take it for granted in books and magazines. It’s unnecessary in films and TV, where the mise-en-scene is a given and you can see the surroundings of the story. We use it to instil emotion in the audience and to keep their increasingly short attention. As a writer, you’ll probably get used to using visuals to tell- or rather show- your story. Strong images grab attention.

But what if you’re working with the medium of radio? What if you have no visuals- only dialogue? And what if- just to make things more of a challenge- there were no sound cues to aid the narrative? Just two voices weaving a tale? How easy is it to tell a story?

Here’s how to find out:

Sit with at the table with a group of other writers and a sheet of paper each.

Write a type of person on the sheet. Maybe an occupation.

Fold the sheet back below the text so nobody can see what you've written.

Pass it to the right/ left.

Write another type of person. Fold it back, pass it on.

Next, write a place- a setting for a story- and an object that you would likely find in this place.

Fold it back, pass it on.

Unfold the sheet.

You now have two people in a place with an object. You have ten minutes to write an audio play- purely with dialogue and no sound effects. Think of a radio play but without the censorship restrictions. In the play, don’t tell the audience what the setting is or what the object is, but hint towards both of these. We will divulge the characters once the ten minutes is up. Then, the other group members can guess as to what the settings and objects are after each person reads out their play.

My two characters were a landscape gardener and a cleaner. Can you guess my setting and object?

Yeah, I sort of inherited it.

It’s impressive, isn’t it mate!

It is. It’s been here about 400 years, in one shape or another.

I can make it look much better but I’m not, like a decorator or anything.

No, I know. But it’d really help.

It’d take a few hours- shit! Get it off me!

Hold still, the hatch is still open. Don’t! Come here!

Oh Jesus!

Look, I’ve scrunched it up! There was nothing in it. Not even little ones.


I wouldn’t have thought you’d have been, like, an arachnophobe or anything, given your job.

I know, mate. Imagine every day like this. I was louder than those cows out in the yard. Ridiculous.

You wanna bring a hoover up here, then you can just suck them straight up and get rid of them.

Beep Beep. Time’s up. So. Did you guess where the setting was? How about the object?

I had an attic in a 17th century farmhouse, and a cobweb.

Were you close? I came up with the idea for this exercise, but then found it ridiculously hard to pull off. That’s why it’s so short. My group members vaguely got the farm reference and came close with “a spider” as the object.