Thursday, 30 May 2013

Using Song Titles to Spur Creativity

Here’s an exercise suggested by a colleague of mine who’s been reading the blog for a few weeks now.

Dish out a slip of paper to each member of the group. Ask them to write a popular song title on a slip of paper. Next, ask them to fold up the slips and throw them into the middle of the table. Mix up the folded slips. Ask each person to pull out a slip at random. The title you’ve been given is the theme for your vignette.

For ten minutes, I’d like you to tell a story on the theme of the song title you’ve received. Inside this story, I’d like you to surreptitiously lace in as many song titles as possible.

Here’s mine:

Tracey Jones could see only the ceiling.

Stop!” somebody yelled.

The driver killed the engine.

She was dizzy. Her head hurt. She felt a little sorry for herself, but she thought, everybody hurts sometimes. The driver emerged upside down in her vision. She recognised the uniform. You’ve got me burning up, she thought. He started to sit her up. Passengers check their watches, grumbling.

An elderly lady scolded a businessman. “Have a little patience,” she grumbled.

A skater boy spoke up. “Get some help,” He said. “Go now!”

I’ve got to stay,” said the driver. “If I go, who’s going to drive you home?”

Okay, think,” said the skater boy. “I’ll find someone.”

Please don’t go,” said Tracey. “Don’t leave me this way.”

Hang on in there, baby,” he reassured her.

Pity overwhelmed her as the colour drained from her face. “Take a look at me now,” she moaned.

Song inclusion count: 17.

Now. Once the buzzer’s gone, each take turns reading out the stories. Don’t tell the group the theme of your own story (the song title you picked out.) When you hear a song title in the midst of the vignette, shout out PING.

At the end of each vignette, see if anyone can guess what song they picked out as a theme.

Did you guess mine? Scroll down…


Staying Alive”

Pic courtesy lobstar28, Flickr

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

On Not Going to Venus

Despite having dished out such vitriolic lambasting on this blog towards local house music club Venus, I still found myself walking straight in there on Sunday night. It was before midnight and the club was still quiet, and when I ordered a soft drink the bartender picked up that I was driving and gave me the OJ for free.

Unfortunately my mates- arriving later- had been stopped at the door, so the free drinks were shortlived. I came outside to meet them.

M1 was STEAMING and quite dejected. “Mate,” he said, hugging me, “I've been out all afternoon.”

You shouldn't have told them you were a doorman,” said F1, his girlfriend.

We walked off towards Revolution. “To be honest,” I purported, “It's more likely to be the amount of alcohol you've drank.”

I described the numerous problems I've had with Venus over the years such as this and this. “I never mentioned it before because I didn't want to be negative, but... fuck 'em.”

We got into Revolution, where I proceeded to crack onto women who the girls in our group told me I “could have got much better than.” (I didn't get anything from said women anyway.)

But before long, we were all in a house-party mood so we shot off to M1 and F1's house on the outskirts of Manchester, where I figured that if I was staying over there'd be no problem with me dropping my first MDMA bomb.This resulted in me dancing like a twat for hours and hours, but in fact being out-danced by a girl, who we will name F2, which was a first. She was on the same as me. I followed this up by eating a mountain of pizza and garlic bread, an inclusion that I had no recollection of anyone ordering, and eventually collapsing on the sofa with a Romanian barmaid.

But sleep evaded me, and at around 9am I convinced myself that the bomb had passed out of my system and I drove home to the enveloping warmth of my own bed.

So, once again, Venus was a let-down- under different circumstances this time. Hellufan after-party, though.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Published: BFF

I noticed that the acronym BFF Stands for Best Friend Forever over on The Urban Dictionary. I'd always assumed it meant Best Female Friend, meaning the close-but-platonic woman-friend of a straight bloke who also has his bloke mates. He can also confide in this BFF and get female advice from her. So presumably when I've said BFF before, people have not really understood me... until perhaps now. The Urban Dictionary have published this- my third entry. Check definition 19.

BMF (Best Male Friend) is already in the UD under definition 13

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Three Strikes: Week 26

Be careful, Laa-Laa. Don't step in the tubby custard.”
-The Narrator, Teletubbies

This week, things got equally messy in Manchester: I went to a stag party in Manchester The BFF (Best Female Friend, it isn't in the Urban Dictionary - yet) is getting married. I went on her fiance's stag do. We dressed him as a Teletubby.

The women loved him! Too late, girls!

It occurred to me that most of the girls out in town would have been the target age group- i.e. an infant- when Teletubbies first emerged on our screens. THAT is scary.

I made a good find this week. If you go to the gym, you need to download the PC Radio app. Internet radio on the go. The stations are categorised by genre so it's incredibly easy to find a station with just your type of music. I was blasting Digitally Imported featuring non-stop cutting-edge house music.

Listening to your favourite music can be a massive benefit to working out. Most gyms play mainstream dance music channels, so if cheesy dance and RnB isn't your thing, the gym can be extra hard work. I would recommend getting the headphones that clip onto the back of your ear, though, so they don't fall out during situps etc.

Four new records.

Seated row with vertical grip- up 1 notch.
Inverted pulley pulldown. Hold the left handle with your right hand and your right with your left. Swoop your arms down and out like you're parting a huge pair of curtains.- up 1 notch.
Abs machine. 3 extra discs, 50 reps- up 2 notches.

Now for a bank holiday Sunday trip to Venus Manchester... Will they let me in, I wonder, after the damning review I gave them after the last time I visited?  Let's find out...

Tuesday, 21 May 2013


'Hester Mofet. It's an anagram, isn't it, Doctor? Hester Mofet. "The rest of me."'
-Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) gets the run-around treatment courtesy Dr Hannibal Lecter 
(Anthony Hopkins) in Silence of the Lambs.

Going back in time a little here, let's take a look at Day 24 of NaPoWriMo, and the anagram challenge they suggest.

I used an anagram generator, one they suggested, resulting in some ridiculous word combinations. But I also wrote out my name- MATTHEW TUCKEY- and cut the paper into slips for each letter. This allowed me to pin down particular words and see what other words I could create out of the remaining slips.

Here are a few of the best:


I then decided to throw in my middle name ALAN to create more combos.

LA! THE MAUY KNEW TACT. (Okay, so using foreign words now.)

There are plenty of totally deranged images to inspire thousands of surreal poems, including supermodel hyenas, moving parts that abduct insects, strange reasons to be quiet on a boat, dangerous weapons with dangerous personae of their own, aquatic lizards, the forced consumption of seafood and arrogant camels. In fact, there's a whole Terry Pratchett novel in there. I might come back to this over the next few weeks.

Why not give it a shot yourself and see what anagrams your name provides?

Monday, 20 May 2013

Erotica Month

Pic courtesy Nagarjun, Flickr. Erotica at Khajuraho temples, India.

Dirty stories are not for everyone. They might not be for you. They probably won't be for your mum. You might not advise your boss checks out a short fiction piece about someone losing their virginity, or poem about a shy but eloquent driving instructor being coerced into his / her first threesome. Sex is still taboo, particularly here in the UK. In a lot of places, writing about it is still frowned upon.

This could be because a lot of what people perceive “erotica” to be- the likes of EL James, or worse, the articles in Fiesta- is actually garbage. Erotica- good erotica- is free of the clichéd scenarios, flowery metaphors, vulgar descriptions and general bad writing that surfaces in popular smut. This is another reason why sex writing is looked down upon- a good portion of it is horseshit, and its critics have never been exposed to- or have never sought out- anything better.

But fuck it, I've written about sex before and I'm going to do it again, and hopefully the right way too. In fact, I have some smut/ erotica/ dirty stories- whatever you want to call it- stored on my computer and it hasn't been polished off yet.

Okay, bad choice of words. I haven't finished it and fired it out yet. Wait. No. I- well, you get what I mean. Sex is everywhere, so there's no reason not to write about it. It's not a big deal. Something that is too big a deal for me, though, is the thought of reading out drafts of these stories at Writers Connect at the local Wetherspoons. That WOULD be awkward. So instead, I figured I'd use Scribophile, a creative writing feedback site, to gain advice on these pieces and knock them into shape.

Once the poems and stories are ready, I'll be using a few free online databases to search out markets for the work. I've found a few sites that look really helpful. Stay tuned for site reviews.

I've only written a small amount of erotica so far, but a good amount of what I've written has ended up in magazines. So let's see if I can build on that success over the next month.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Three Strikes: Week 25

This week: four personal bests at the gym.
10 min run- up 1 speed
Lateral pulldown, palms facing face, hands shoulders-width apart: up 2 notches.
10 min old-style cross strainer- not sure what you'd call this machine. It works similarly to most cross trainers (i.e. like the one I warm up on), but it doesn't operate with the same kind of circular motion that my hands and feet are used to. Up 0.08 km.

I've come to the realisation that I was in much better shape before I started doing extra cardio in my gym sessions. When I moved out in 2010, getting my own place coincided with my previous local gym shutting down

I joined OCL, and found the facilities were in much better condition that Bodymatters' were. There's something about smart gym equipment that makes you want to use it- to give certain machines a shot, and keep using them. That's why I found myself mixing a lot more cardio into my workout, and hence cutting down on weight training. This, coupled with problems with the new flat, my memory, social life and money- leading to me eating cheap, salt-heavy food- meant that despite all the working out I was doing, I was falling out of shape.

Since then, I've overcome pretty much all of these problems. My diet's in order, I'm sleeping better (sort of- okay, I've got the pills for it-), I've overcome problems with friends and I'm doing better at the gym, as these blog posts reiterate.

Yet I've not got back to the physique I once had. I've tried doing long cardio sessions to burn off fat, I've kept up with weights and I'm mixing cardio in alongside it all. This is probably because the cardio machines at OCL are much better than Bodymatters' were. So. What if I cut back on cardio, only using the cross trainer to warm up? What if I spent the rest of the sessions purely weight training? It makes sense that, now that I'm eating well like I did when I lived with my mum and dad, and now that I'm on protein shakes, that I should be able to tone up really quickly if I skip the cardio machines and focus on strength. Especially seeing as you can burnmore calories doing weight training than you can doing cardio.

I'm going to give this a shot for the next month. Time to get shredded!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Masala-Marinated Chicken with Minted Yoghurt Sauce

Next up in The Hairy Dieters cookbook is this Indian delicacy.

This was possibly the dish that required the most preparation out of all of the meals I’ve cooked. It comprises of 18 separate ingredients- most of them spices- and a good 12 hours of preparatory time. Forewarning- make sure your knives are sharp for this one. I didn’t.

That’s the first mistake I made, followed by not buying a garlic crusher. The next mistake was to not read through the instructions from beginning to end before starting the recipe. I didn’t realise exactly how long it would take to make. After making the marinade, I fridged it for 12 hours. The next morning at 8am I carried on making the dish (realising I didn’t have an appropriate baking rack either. The grill mesh had to do).

Once the steps had been taken, it wasn’t that difficult. I just followed the instructions. Ripping out the chicken’s spinal cord a la Predator took a bit of elbow grease, but essentially, the time and effort I spent preparing it was worth it. Just.

I took it to a Jacob’s join in work, having not actually tasted the dish at all. It went down a treat! I even got marriage proposals from the (somewhat older) ladies in work. It was hella spicy though. I’ve even had people asking me for the recipe! But of course, by the time I’d brought it in I’d forgotten what the recipe was called.

So. I’ve cooked for myself. I’ve cooked for my family. I’ve cooked for work. Plan for the next month: to cook for friends, and cook for a woman…

Monday, 13 May 2013


A glass triangular prism sits on the pavement outside the Armani store on Deansgate. It’s hardly noticeable during the day, but at night the light emanating from underneath it, and the door staff, isolated from colleagues at any other nearby bar, draw a lot of attention. To read the bar’s name, you’ve got to walk right up to the door staff, to check the pale white lettering printed in a slender font on the glass.

I went on Bank Holiday Sunday. In front of me, a group of twenty-something-year-old lads were being stopped by security.

I told the doorman I was going to meet a girl. He let me in, past the exasperated group and down the long, under-lit staircase to the bar area where the bar staff were mixing cocktails over Bunsen burners. I met my date near the DJ booth, where deep house pulsed from an immense touch-screen glass mixing station. It’s worth going to see that alone. (But of course, my date was better to look at.) The painted brick walls and iron ceiling offered good reverb, and looks a lot better than I’m making it sound. Before long we were smashed on “Love You Long Time” cocktails and the supplies from their (incredibly tall) back-bar.

The toilets, normally the downfall of many a “classy” bar, were on top form: clean, with soap and moisturiser dispensers and Dyson Airblade hand-dryers. On the way back to the bar, I noticed the walkway passes not only the restaurant’s dining room but the kitchen, and you can stop to watch the chefs frying up behind the darkened glass.

A rough guide for a night out: check this bar out, then head into Spinningfields for venues of the same class. But beforehand, just keep your group small, load up your wallet and dress to impress.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Three Strikes: Week 24

Gym smashing from 6th May onwards:

10 min run: up 1 speed
Lateral pulldown, backs of hands facing face, elbows at right-angles: up 1 notch. Kind of like this, only I wasn't topless and my head doesn't look like a penis.

Wow. Quiet week. I've found an amazing bar and I've had a big cooking success, but they warrant blog posts of their own. Stay tuned.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

What is your dramatic need?

Pic courtesy Pascal P, Flickr

In Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo becomes the ring bearer to return the ring to its place of origin, Mount Doom, so he can destroy it. That is his dramatic need. How he gets there and completes the task is the story.

The character's need determines the creative choices he/she makes during the screenplay, and gaining clarity about that need allows you to be more complex, more dimensional, in your character portrayal.

Without conflict, there is no action. Without action, there is no character. Action is Character. What a person does is what he is, not what he says!

-Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting, Syd Field

There are two subjects that I frequently write about on this blog: creative writing and self-improvement. They are two fairly distinct topics. I've also written quite a few posts about my life and the slightly weird situations I find myself in.

Occasionally, there's a crossover. I'll have an anecdote that bridges two of those. Take this one, for example: I am 15 years old, reading a copy of the Reservoir Dogs screenplay instead of revising for my GCSEs. I realise that this is what I want to do with my life: I want to tell stories for the cinema. I want to write. The only half-decent jobs I'd ever be applicable for, however, are in IT and that's what I've applied to do at college. I'll never get the grades to study media, which might- at a long-shot- lead to a career in screenwriting. Or that's what I think, until I find an intermediate course at a local college, a course that doesn't require any grades at all. This is it: my first step to becoming a screenwriter.

A year later, I've made it onto the advanced course. A couple of people from the media industry come to the college to give careers advice. One tells us that to stand out from the crowd, and to be hired by media managers, a degree can be really helpful.

Another year later, I've learned an introduction to a range of sectors within the media industry- the goings-on in the worlds of print media, design, video, sound recording and editing, live TV and radio. I've finished the intermediate level work and am half-way through the advanced course. I still want to be a screenwriter, but I've learned so much about how competitive each sector of the media is and how each area- be it graphics or marketing- are totally different lines of work. We have touched on screenwriting here and there, but I've struggled with the modules that relate to it- the video modules I've found challenging due to memory difficulties and learning to use the technical equipment, and with organising groups of people like actors and crew. I don't really know where my strengths are and Screenwriting has become a pipe dream.

It's the start of my final year at college. The course tutor tells us that if we want to go to university next year, we'll have to fill in our UCAS forms now. The idea of me actually being taken on by a university seems ridiculous. I got a very low merit grade in my intermediate media course, and 1 grade C in my GCSEs. I feel like I'm being kidded, but I don't have anything to lose. I fill all six options on my UCAS form. As we've been learning about various different media forms, I have no idea what to focus on and screenwriting has been pushed to the back of my mind. I apply for more general media courses at degree level; an HND in Media Production is right down at the bottom. I send it off and forget about it.

Whilst I'm hammering through reports, practical projects and evaluations, a letter comes in the post. It's an invitation for an interview at The University of Salford- my last choice. I attend the interview and it goes well- I surprise myself with what knowledge I've actually retained- but I'm intimidated by the prospect of me doing this at higher education level with the intention of doing it professionally. Here I am, waffling about 2-camera set-ups and interview techniques. It all sounds very convincing. I'm too dazed, due to hard-and-fast work, hampered by forgetting countless things, to stop and think about why I ever started on the intermediate course to begin with. Regardless, I gave the interview a shot.

Days later, I get accepted onto the course. I'm in disbelief. My next two years, at least, are planned out. I just hope they support me in whatever way I need.

One of the last college modules I complete is Freelance Journalism. The majority of this is written work, an area where I seem to be getting a lot of Distinctions. There's a flash of inspiration as I look through all of my grades from the last two years. Each module has four grades: Planning and research, Implementation, Evaluation and Outcome. Each grade is either a Pass, Merit or Distinction. My grades are mostly Merits, but the Distinctions are scattered around the work where writing was a major part. Four in Freelance Journalism. A lot more in Evaluations. A tutor tells me my writing has come on a long way.

There's a part of me that wants to “pull the handbrake on”- to say, “Wait a minute. I seem to be a dab hand with this here. I should be doing a writing course, not a technical one.” But as I've been turned down for every other course I've applied for, I assume that the place I've been given is the ONLY course at the ONLY university that would ever take me.

I'm prepared to bet that I'd have been wrong. Why didn't I get that movie-style flashback of me trying to read the Reservoir Dogs screenplay in school, and being filled with that urge- that NEED to tell stories and to put sentences together? Why didn't I look at these grades and realise that I was more likely to fulfil my original ambition than I was of having a chance of succeeding on this tech course and getting a job in that field?

Because I forgot all about my dramatic need.

I had pushed those harboured desires to write to the back of my brain, where they stayed until my 26th birthday. Then, whilst chowing down on jalapeno pizza, I was talking to a relative about blogging. She asked me if I'd considered sending it out to anywhere- local magazines or newspapers. I said I'd never thought of that, but there's no reason why I couldn't, I suppose. I'd been writing for fun for a couple of years, but at that moment in Albert's Shed in Castlefield, the penny dropped.

I was a writer. It was no wonder I'd not succeeded at anything else. The grades I'd got at school, college and uni were all average except those I got for the written work. The hopeless attempt I'd made to join the Armed Forces years after graduating had involved testing- I'd scored abysmally at the memory and numeracy sections, but very strong in the literacy section (and my electrical comprehension score was very high, bizarrely).

There was one other problem I have had- aside from applying to the wrong jobs and doing the wrong course. Throughout college, university and subsequent jobsearching, I'd forgotten what I wanted in the end. As a result of not having this “dramatic need” of my own, I didn't know how to behave. My whole personality was “wrong”- I was shy, depressed, directionless and frustrated. I wanted to develop myself and become more confident, but into what? What was I striving for? I wanted a girlfriend, but what else? Regardless of other people, what did I want from life?

I had no idea. Not until that birthday meal. I am a writer, first and foremost. I do reception work to pay the bills, and I'm grateful to be in a job in this climate, but integrally, I write. Since that conversation on my 26th, I've become much more confident– overall, with writing, and with talking to friends, family and colleagues. I've made decisions based on that need and I feel like I know myself a lot more. I stumbled across that opening quote more recently and it spoke volumes to me. It said, know what you want and you will know who you are. And knowledge, as we all know, is power. Power, even if only over yourself, is confidence.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Scribophile Works.

Scribophile is a creative writing feedback site. You upload work. You offer reviews to others. They offer reviews to you. It's a format used by many sites, yet the majority I've dabbled in have been dire- lame reviews, inactive accounts, bad writing to begin with. I have been trying one site after another.

Scribophile is different. The writers are good at writing. They are fine reviewers. The system is fair and effective. Check out why.

When you sign up to the site, you can choose between Basic- a free account- or Premium, for $9 a month, allowing you to upload multiple pieces and with a guarantee of exposure to other writers on the site. I went for Basic.

Basic promises you the opportunity to upload 2 pieces of writing. This promise is fulfilled once you've dished out enough critiques to other writers.

After setting up an account, your next task is to review. As April was NaPoWriMo, I focussed on reviewing poetry. The poetry section was under “fiction”, which was a little confusing, but it appropriately filtered out the prose fiction and articles. I'll be referring to poems in this blog post as an example, but the same descriptions of the site could apply to fiction.

To pick out a piece to review, you can choose to search for newest writing, work with bonuses (more karma points, more on this later) or random writing (any format or genre). After this, you're shown a poem by another site member. When you decide to review this, you're offered 2 different forms through which to give feedback: a comment for general feedback (i.e. “I liked this”) or a critique for real feedback. At first, I wondered why anyone would bother with the former. We're using the site to improve our work and prepare it for publication, so who wants general nicey-nicey feedback?

It did occur to me, though, that sometimes critiquers might be starting out with writing and might not spot any errors in a piece of writing. We all need to find our feet somewhere, so this site might help those. Also, if a writer is particularly skilled, their poem or story might be too good for a lot of people to be critical about. So comments may work in these scenarios.

The site is versatile. When you start your critique, you're offered three different methods for giving feedback: Inline, Template or Freeform.

An Inline critique allows you to insert your own annotations into the text of the poem itself, to point out specific details. These appear highlighted to distinguish them from the original writing. This style is effective as you don't have to copy sections of the text to back up particular ideas or suggestions, and the reader doesn't have to wade back through their own text to check the specifics- the advice is placed right where it's best seen. I found this to be the easiest to write, and probably the most helpful to receive.

A Template review asks you to write suggestions in separate boxes that relate to plot, pacing, description, point of view, characters, dialogue, grammar and spelling and finally general comments. This is good for those starting out in the critiquing field. The prompts encourage you to check the work with a more detailed, investigative eye and indicate the kind of writing elements that a good critiquer should be aware of.

A Freeform review allows you to put your thoughts into a standard block of text. However, if you want to quote the original piece to draw attention to something, you may have trouble copying and pasting. I couldn't do this using Firefox's browser.

The more words you write in your review, the more “karma points” you receive. With enough points, you can post work and unlock critiques other writers have written for you.

After you've written a review, you can read other contributors' reviews of the same piece. These reviews come with “review” options themselves- you can click to mark them as “thorough”, “enlightening”, “encouraging” and “constructive”. There's also a “like” button and an opportunity to flag a “bad critique”. The amount of clicks you get on these reviews will increase your “reputation points”, indicating to other site members how much respect you've gained from the reviews you've given.

Before long, you'll be allowed to upload a piece of writing and your work will go into the Member Spotlight, which is basically the top section of the list of reviewable pieces. Reviewers will get full karma points for critiquing your work. You'll receive knowledgeable, helpful critiques quite quickly. It will leave the spotlight after receiving 3 long critiques. After uploading my first piece- something I've been sitting on for 2 years- I woke up with 18 notifications, a couple of reviews and LOADS of replies from The Writing Forum- a section for discussing the writing process, which I'd been contributing to.

Again, people in the Forum have good ideas, interesting questions and good discussion and debate. Reputation points are given and received in this section of the site too. I love the site's witty update notices. When you post in the discussions, the site will inform you to “hang in there” or will notify you that it is “reticulating splines” while it saves your message.

Also on the site is a Member Publication Showcase, a section for showing off published pieces of writing that had previously been critiqued on Scribophile. (You need to go Premium for this.) You'll also find tons of writing advice (from the Scribophile admins themselves and the best of the reviewers on the site) in the Writing Academy. This is a collection of free writing resources- advice on storytelling techniques, grammar and legal issues.

The only problem I had with the site related to responding to reviews. Other sites will let you comment on the reviews that you receive, so that the reviewer- and other site users- can engage in conversation under that specific review. On Urbis, a similar feedback site that stopped working a few years ago, all of this could be seen in the same place on the same screen. With Scribophile, you're asked to thank reviewers by going to their “scratchpad”- like a wall on Facebook, a place to leave messages for that person but are visible to all site users- to discuss the piece reviewed. I found this difficult as there's no instant hyperlink to the story / poem you're discussing.

Regardless, Scribophile seems like the site I've been searching for since Urbis' days came to a close. Join me on the site here. Let's help each other out.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Reading on a Treadmill: Take 2

The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.
-Hunter S Thompson

A year ago I attempted to increase my endurance and burn some fat by walking on a treadmill for over an hour, whilst reading a book.

In retrospect I felt that I could have trained a little longer, and that I hadn’t pushed myself to see what happens when you go “all-out-” to keep reading until your legs seize up and the words go blurry in front of you.

In order of taking things “to the edge”, I figured I needed a book written by someone who knows exactly where that edge is: the good doctor and godfather of Gonzo, Hunter S Thompson.

I managed to read about two-thirds of Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, walking at a stroll of 5kph.

Thompson’s stories of following the presidential candidates across the country, whipping up ridiculous scenarios (accusing TV station NBC of reporting that their own reporter Doug Kiker was found trying to unscrew his own “neck pipe” makes for an interesting anecdote) and finding himself involved in rumours that he may or may not have started himself (accusing presidential candidate Ed Muskie of taking speed, smack, downers and Ibogaine whilst implying he was trying to overcome some kind of speech impediment, for example) are hilarious. I’ve got to admit, though, my interest in 1970s politics isn’t so strong as to hold my attention- especially not whilst I’m trying to get fit.

I read for 2hrs 39, then toilet-stopped, then read again, stomping for a further 2hrs 56. Total time walked: 5hrs 35. I stopped when my legs- and my brain- had totally seized up. My brain healed quicker than my legs. They’re still killing 4 days on.

Conclusion: This was a silly idea. It wore me down, and I’ve been falling asleep at stupid times ever since.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Three Strikes: Week 23

Matt has been single for 2 years. His signature dance move is ‘The Hangman’. He once took part in a naked photo-shoot in Manchester city centre. Matt likes to sing Motown classics and his singing voice has been likened to that of Brian, the dog from ‘Family Guy’.”


Well, in case you haven't heard me banging on about it, I was on Sky Living's Sing Date on Tuesday. I don't have Sky, and none of you tight bastards invited me 'round to watch it, so I still haven't seen it.

No, I'm kidding. Some of you have, and I WILL get 'round to it, thanks.

I just watched it unfold on social media on the night. “Amazing” and “legend” were words being thrown around on Facebook. Sing Date themselves tweeted me, describing me as “The Lord of the Dance” after my ridiculous break-dancing moves.

Here's a selection of other tweets from the #singdate hashtag:

This sing date programme is possibly the most cringe and awkward thing I have ever seen on tv :s”

Just watched an episode of #SingDate on #SkyLiving and am now looking for a rusty spoon to gouge out my eyes” -@kashaf786

Tuckey on #singdate get you ha!! My friend thinks you have a nice smile and beautiful eyes ha!!” -@Tanya_Jenkinson

"#SingDate .... pleeeeeease tell me if anyone else has seen this. Im peeing myself with laughter”

I think bella will pick matt D he was the best singer with her and was well good looking too!” #singdate xxxx -@lucywatts

"#SingDate Not sure this guy's voice is going to last the song!!” -@RachAnders1
Ahhh this man can not sing mate. Get him off lol #singdate-@TheSugarSweet1

Please, make it stop! My ears are bleeding! #SingDate” -@BambiKerr

So, yes, a profound success all 'round, I think it's safe to say. Now all I need to do is go and see it at whoever has it stored on their Sky HD. Oh, and can anyone get me a copy?

On Saturday I hit Prohibition, which is turning into a bit of a regular haunt for me. Good house music, DJs and décor make this a treat. It comes at a price, though. Drinks aren't cheap. I got spotted! It took me a few moments to properly grasp the situation.

Girl: I know you from somewhere.
Me: No, I'm not Jim Carrey... OR Harry Kewell... I was in here a couple of weeks ago though.
Girl: Nope, none of those.
*5 minutes pass. Penny drops*
Me: Have you get Sky?
Girl: Yes...?
Me: Have you got Sky Living?
*Her eyes start to get really wide like she's just understood some profound moral truth*
Girl: Yes!
Me: Did you see Sing Date the other day?

Most of the time, when someone recognises you, it's from either seeing you face-to-face or seeing a picture of you on Facebook. Somebody recognising you from TV is a weird scenario. It's not something that's at the forefront of your mind when you're half-drunk, throwing yourself around to Parra Dice.

It's an awesome feeling, though.

Gym work: 10 min run up 2 speeds. Steady progress.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

NaPoWriMo Comes to a Close

Courtesy SriLankan Photos, Flickr

Poetry is possibly one of the most unpopular forms of literature in existence today. Trying to get people to read something other than their own Facebook news feed is a challenge, so trying to open people's minds to the medium of poetry- an outlet most people haven't looked at since they were last forced to just before they left school- is particularly tough.

I'm one of the few people I know with an interest in the form, and I've been dabbling with poetry throughout April. After all, April was National Poetry Writing Month in America, and a lot of the blogs I read are US-based (see the blogrolls on the right). I thought I'd get involved. Whether any of my friends or regular blog readers checked out my numerous poetry posts I don't know. Whether anyone thought any of these posts made any sense is also debatable. But the organisers of NaPoWriMo came up with some interesting prompts and I enjoyed dabbling with these ideas.

At the start of the month, my plan was to focus on feedback on poems and getting work published. Well, I've found a good site for getting reviews on poetry. I'll write it up here soon. But I spent most of the month working with the surprisingly effective prompts (the fruits of which can be seen in the last few blog posts, with a few more in the pipeline). Publication, however, is unlikely to happen until late this year...

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Erasing Erasure

For Day 30 of NaPoWriMo the task is to write an erasure poem. Because I’m such a zany twat, I decided to use Erasure lyrics. Pop music’s a kind of poetry, right?

We'll be
            waiting for a long time
We're gonna be we're gonna be


And nobody never
Gonna disconnect us
        separate us
Or say

        you go too far
     you          fool
         jump before you look
Get hung up
      you         fool       of love