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One Direction by hmv_getcloser
One Direction, a photo by hmv_getcloser on Flickr.
In honour of the approaching NaNoWriMo, I'm going to start writing one hour a day. I don't mean necessarily write for one hour, but have that time and space dedicated to it. I may just stare at a screen or a paper journal for 60mins.

What I want is routine. I already have one with exercise, and even with my little cafe excursions on Monday mornings before work, so why can't I have an hour a day for writing? And for days when I absolutely can't get an hour to myself, I could add it to the weekend so - say - on a Sunday when I'm at home, I can write for three hours and catch up on the hours I owe (though that sounds like a cop out already, doesn't it?)

So I'm here, sitting in the living room listening to Jarvis Cocker's show on BBC Radio 6 (<3), the wind rattling the windows (bring it on Super Storm of the Decade About to Hit Britain), only a few minutes gone by in my allocated hour.

Can I write on LJ during my allocated hour? Yes I can. Can I write on Twitter or Facebook? No, I can't - those networks don't count.

I wish we had a cat. It would nestle against me when I was focused, then sprint away when I tried to pet it.

My mouth tastes faintly of chai tea. And a little bit of the cheese and onion Ruffle crisps I had for lunch with a salmon and cream cheese bagel, on a bench in Victoria Park.

I went to the gym first thing this morning - it's always empty on Sundays, which I love. I took a bath in the afternoon, with a candle for company (a scented one that one of the Sissies gave me for my birthday.) I listened to songs from my iPhone while I soaked - 100 randomly selected songs from my iTunes.

I have a brasilian friend in town who I met for drinks and a play at Soho Theatre last night. (A very good feminist play that was a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe - highly recommend you see it you have a chance: Bryony Kimmings: Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model.) We were meant to go to Columbia Road's flower market today... I'm still waiting for their phone call.

Last Tuesday my boyfriend and I marked 15 years together. Fifteen years ago we went on a date in Montreal, to see Bride of Chucky. I gave him David Sedaris' latest book, which I bought at Gay's the Word (one of London's best bookshops). He gave me a collection of short stories written by bloggers, edited by Dennis Cooper.

He's now in his cupboard office, going through his bills. We just watched the final episode of The Killing III. I'd been under the impression that it was the last series ever, but the ending has left a door open and a return more than likely. This makes me happy even though the Scandinavia portrayed in the series is as bleak as fuck.

A few weeks ago I toyed with the idea of doing a fanfiction NaNoWriMo - a thriller based on One Direction. Here's my pitch: girls from all over the world adore the boys and want to meet them at all costs. But little do they know that... One Direction have a bloodlust for their fans! They enjoy hunting and killing them for sport. (There's some subplot about One Directioners disappearing and a cop who wears ugly knitted sweaters investigating these cases.) The opening scene is a One Direction bus pulling out of the stadium, with blacked windows - girls screaming their heads off around it and begging the boys to come out. Little do they know that inside its soundproof walls, Harry Styles is wielding a chainsaw and advancing on a terrified Directioner... and so on. My heroine in this fanfiction comes from Nottingham and survives a night in One Direction's hotel after her friend is killed. She turns into prey as the band hunt for her, even going so far to track down her family's home (they announce to the world that they are bringing their arena tour to - surprise surprise - Nottingham!)

I may have Moussaka for dinner tonight. I bought some at M&S during the week and put it in the freezer. Oh, I forgot to mention: we didn't have Pancake Saturday yesterday! I don't know if the boyfriend has been reading my journal but it suddenly became French Toast Saturday and I was in charge. (I make some mean french toasts I'll have you know.) I'm determined to have Pancake Saturday return next weekend.
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A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3)A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Some time ago there was a television interview with a literary critic who was asked if any current authors were "our Charles Dickens". The point of the question was that Charles Dickens was a populist writer in his time and many didn't think his work would be of interest to the future. The interviewee went on to speculate if Jackie Collins or Stephen King were the new Charles Dickens - their work to survive the centuries while more lauded writers fell into obscurity. I don't know if George R.R. Martin could be our Charles Dickens, but he's certainly a better story teller than Collins or King.

It didn't dawn on me until this third book in his "A Song of Ice and Fire" series how Shakespearean he is. Perhaps not in poetic terms, but definitely in his themes and in the exploration of his characters' motivations and inner worlds. Sansa has something of Ophelia, Tyrian could be Falstaff if he was a little taller, Cersei channels Lady Macbeth very well, and so on. Unlike most fantasy worlds, including J. R. R. Tolkien's, Martin has reinforced in this novel that he's not afraid to kill off characters we hold dearly, or to offer redemption for those we'd written off as evil and immoral. But Martin is no James Joyce, though he's as wordy: his novels are long, classic page turners that stick to the tried-and-trusted structure of suspense through escalating conflicts and reversal of fortunes, culminating in climaxes that leave you itching for the next book in the series.

Like Dickens, his twisted and deformed characters are well thought out creations that rise above the narrative and stay with you, sometimes in mind-troubling ways. It's impressive what a giant cast he has created and expanded here, spread out across many continents, and how he moves them without giving away his larger vision for the series. His world is more magical here than in the previous two books, explained before as a result of the appearance of three hatched dragons and, potentially, a red comet in the sky. It's also gorier.

As with the two preceding books, there are certain twists to the novel that take the reader by surprise and throw into doubt where exactly Martin is taking the whole narrative. The twist that recently got everyone upset with the TV series caused in me insomnia and a bad night of sleep (that will teach me not to read his novels before bed time.) I do wonder what the future will make of his work. Are they popular because they say something about our world today? Do we crave something more explicit and gory in our entertainment, like the Romans before us? Are we allowing ourselves to explore more taboos in fiction? Do we see our world as chaotic as the one these characters live in, and their struggle to make sense reflects somehow our own struggles? Is that where the pleasure in reading these books comes from?

View all my reviews
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Walt Whitman by Marion Doss
Walt Whitman, a photo by Marion Doss on Flickr.
I bought a copy of Walt Whitman's poems before yesterday because I've been wanting to revisit Leaves of Grass after hearing him mentioned in My Dinner With Andre. I read Whitman in university and seem to remember my professor not liking him too much; I was a fan though.

I found his poetry collection in that second hand bookshop just by Waitrose in Bloomsbury (the one you go down steps and it's like a Borgean maze of dusty classics.) The book was on the floor, at the top of a poetry pile, waiting for me. £3.

My Dinner With Andre has also made me think/notice about people choosing to dress like what they think they are. I.e. terrorists look like terrorists, designers look like designers, hipsters look like hipsters, bankers look like bankers. We (unconsciously?) try to fit into the stereotype of what we think we should be or look like. Have you noticed? Just watch the news and you'll see confirmation of that.

Who am I? Whom do I look like? I see pictures of myself from 5, 6 years ago and realise how gray my hair has become.

I've also been this week to a launch party by a famous British rapper, and written a letter to a famous dancer (now retired) asking if she'd like me to teach her how to use emails and the internet.

Yesterday, I witnessed two women getting into a fight at the bus stop outside Westfield Stratford. One of them was wearing a hijab and looked Somalian; she was sitting down beside three white British women when she suddenly broke into a loud, angry rant. She accused them of making remarks about her hijab and called them some bad words. Everyone looked at her as if she was mentally ill. A few minutes later, she made a phone call and, during it, began to make offensive comments about the women again. One of them couldn't take it any longer and shouted back: how dare you be racist to me? Somalian lady replied that no British woman shouted at her, which only made the other one shout louder.

An elderly man (muslim as well) tried to calm things as well as the British woman's daughter, but in vain. I saw a policeman walking towards us and made gestures at the daughter that the police was coming. When she understood she tried to stop her mom, but by now there was no stopping that verbal war. More police arrived and the Somalian woman tried to leave. But the police were having none of it - they wanted an explanation as to what was going on. Now Somalian lady looked meek and perhaps aware she was in deep shit (witnesses were also not being allowed to leave - perhaps because it was a suspected racial incident?) I picked up my shopping bags and quickly made a getaway for the Tube.

Later, on my way to friends for a Twin Peaks Marathon, I saw police cars and firetrucks outside my building. People were looking up at the tower block next to ours... one of the flats was on fire.

This morning, I'm debuting a new pair of glasses I bought at Westfield Stratford. The world looks wonky and 3Dish. I can see all the lines on my pale face and I feel even more old.
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If I ever marry [1], this is the song I want played for the First Dance.

[1] My boyfriend comes from Irish Travellers stock (or at least his surname does) so I could technically have a Channel 4 My Big Fat Gay Gypsy Wedding!
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TWIN PEAKS by WMHART
TWIN PEAKS, a photo by WMHART on Flickr.
It's a Sunday for spending indoors, cooking lunch with friends (brasilian feijoada) and watching Twin Peaks. It's a Sunday where I've finished Madame Bovary for the 2nd time while getting through my 2nd cup of coffee and now have a skype date with my family in Brasil for 8pm tonight (but my mom says my nephew may not be there as he's afraid of computers.)

It's a Sunday of two fried eggs on top of toast for breakfast. It's a Sunday where my boyfriend and I had initially planned to go for a 5K run in Victoria Park but now we are aiming for an hour-long walk to our friends' apartment in Clapton (where said Twin Peaks marathon will take place.) It's a Sunday for further inroads into A Storm of Swords (Game of Thrones #3).

Grey, uninspiring Sunday. Like the radioactive dust that falls on your hands and on your face... on your face... on your faaaaace.

Hungry Sunday.

Monday never comes too late. And for the 6th week running I'll find a coffee shop in the neighbourhood, around 8.30am, and do a bit of creative writing before heading into work.

Brief Post

Mar. 3rd, 2013 07:43 pm
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Lying on the couch, watching telly. About to eat chocolate cake.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

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writer's nook - blue pillow by omoo
writer's nook - blue pillow, a photo by omoo on Flickr.
I'm alone in the flat, in my new office (the spare room.) I've just eaten a tuna sandwich and drank a cup of tea (while surfing Tumblr and YouTube for company). I have my headphones on and I'm listening to a mix that includes songs from Grimes, Zola Jesus and Hercules and Love Affair. I'm about to do some writing.

I woke up early today with my boyfriend's alarm clock. He needed to leave the house early to cross London and join his sister for a yoga class. He whispered to me just before he left that there were some pancakes and blueberries in a tuperware for me. I ate them for breakfast with butter, maple syrup and coffee.

Around 10am I left the flat for my local gym. It was blissfully empty (as it always is during mornings.) Afterwards, I bought some groceries at Sainsbury's and took a bus back because of the rain.

I've started a new writing routine: on Mondays, I have my breakfast at a nearby cafe and do one of Linda Barry's image exercises. Last Monday I pulled out of the envelope one of Henry Darger's images - a small girl leaning against a tomb-like stone in the middle of a field, surrounded by two ethereal, snake-like flying creatures. I wrote a short story based on that image which I plan on finishing up today.

Tomorrow morning, another local cafe, another randomly-selected image, another writing exercise. And so on for the rest of the year.

Later today I'll play Xenoblade Chronicles (because I intend to finish it in my lifetime) then cook a stir fry for dinner. There's a bottle of white wine chilling in the fridge and Derek Jarman's "The Tempest" lying by the DVD player.

Just before bed, I'll read a chapter of George R. R. Martin's A Storm of Swords. Only a month and a half until Game of Thrones' Season 3 starts.


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I was having a drink last night with my brasilian friends Lila and Bia at the Haggerston when I noticed a guy dancing by the front door. I couldn't see his face (the pub was dark) but I got the hunch he was cute. The DJ was blasting soul & funk and the guy was animatedly dancing to it with his friends and having a good time. He danced quite well too.

Later, when he walked past our table after visiting the gents I realised it was Michael Fassbender. Cue five minutes of me trying to explain to Bia and Lila who he was, complete with descriptions of X Men and Shame, and the obligatory iPhone Google search.

A woman in the table next to ours leaned over and asked: "is that the certain Hollywood gent I think he is?"

Yup.

She rubbed her face in surprise and shrunk back into her boyfriend. "He is THE number one... my number one star!"



Just then, Fassbender picked up his jacket and left with his friends. A search through Twitter informed me he'd been all afternoon in London Fields, causing a commotion with his naked torso. He joined some random BBQ with his friends and talked about chicken hearts (he likes them) with a brasilian girl who only clued in who he was once he'd left.

Other celebrities I've spotted since I've gone on annual leave: Boy George (as mentioned before) and Ulrika Jonsson window shopping for specs in Covent Garden (the shop where Johnny Depp usually buys his.)

This gorgeous sunny weekend also involved an unsuccessful trip to Old School Indie, a club night at the venue usually used for Feeling Gloomy (but still run by the same people.) The idea was apparently to do F.G. but with "happier" songs. It was complete rubbish. The DJ played Rolling Stones after The Cure, amongst other barbarities. Bob Dylan is apparently indie too. RUBBISH. And there was nobody there.

While everyone in London was celebrating the athletes parade this afternoon, my boyfriend and I were at the Tate Modern, enjoying the Edvard Munch exhibition.



It's a beautifully put together show on his life work, arranged thematically. I recommend you use the multi-media guide if you visit: it gives you really good commentary on key work as well as an overview of his life and the key historical events of the time.

Sadly, The Scream is not part of the show (maybe they were scared of another attempted theft?) And my only tiny criticism would be that Munch's photos and experiments with film are almost presented as worthy artistic pieces, whereas they are more like studies of themes he was interested in (self-portraits, ghostly bodies, and other things the moving camera made possible for artists at the turn of the 19th century.)

Edit
I forgot to mention another "celebrity" I spotted this weekend... Maeve from Dalston Superstars! She was working behind the counter at the Haggerston and she looked well tired. (Or was there a camera secretly following her around for Season 2?!)
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The biggest mystery and topic of discussion surrounding The Killing 2 so far this year is...

Who's Hotter? )
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See y'all at 9pm tonight!



[livejournal.com profile] millionreasons, pass me the popcorn. [livejournal.com profile] the_meanest_cat, don't hog the blanket!

Goddesses

Nov. 16th, 2011 05:25 pm
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goddess athena. by shaman.
goddess athena., a photo by shaman. on Flickr.
I'm reading at the moment a really great book on the unconscious and the mythological, by Michael Vannoy Adams, called - of course - The Mythological Unconscious. A passage caught my attention:

Pallas Athene was the Greek goddess of war. At her birth, she sprang from Zeus's head, with, as Kerényi says, "a far-echoing battle-cry," in "armour of gleaming gold," and "brandishing her sharp javelin." According to Kerényi, Pallas Athene was "a warlike virgin." He notes that the epithet "Pallas" means "a strong virgin, a virago, as she would be called in Latin."
I immediately thought of the video I posted yesterday, the trailer for RuPaul's upcoming Drag Race (season 4):



There she is, walking towards us in her golden armour, like Athena. Wikipedia describes Athena as "the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill... [she] is also a shrewd companion of heroes and is the goddess of heroic endeavour."

So the "girls" she creates are the heroines that will fight during the Drag Race until one is crowned the victor. In previous shows, RuPaul has sat at a judging table (Mount Olympos?) and dispensed her wisdom to contestant, her praise, her encouragement, while they compete against each other. There are always guest judges that help her decision (fellow Gods) and she always visits the room where contestants work on their outfits to see how they are doing (which involves RuPaul climbing down some stairs into the room).

Later in the book Zeus is discussed and how he is related to thunder/electricity. Now, thinking again of Athena/RuPaul as the daughter of Zeus (the other side of Zeus?), check out the video again around 0:50 seconds, when Zeus' power fills the room and rushes through Athena/RuPaul's hands.

And aren't drag queens "virginal" in one sense, just like Athena? Their ubersexuality and sexual language only reinforcing how they are neither men nor women, but a construction (the "droids") - virginal until either a man or a woman chooses to remove their outer drag shell (shells, of course, being related to Aphrodite, goddess of love). Athena and Zeus are myths - images - and so are drag queens, who play up to their own favourite myth-like stars when they create their looks.

The book also mentions the "Black Athena" theory, which I had never heard of before - and which RuPaul embodies in the video: a theory that Ancient Greece is more indebted to Africa and Asia than is commonly known or promoted.

Again from Wikipedia: "The Greek philosopher, Plato (429–347 BC), identified [Athena] with the Libyan deity Neith, the war goddess and huntress deity of the Egyptians since the ancient Pre-Dynastic period, who was also identified with weaving. This is sensible, as some Greeks identified Athena's birthplace, in certain mythological renditions, as being beside Libya's Triton River."

I'm not sure if RuPaul or her producers were aware of the connection when they made the video. Perhaps they weren't, otherwise they would make it more explicitly "classical Greece"? Either way, in my opinion those myths are channeled by RuPaul in the video and neatly embody what she wishes to portray in herself and for the show.
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It's nearly here...



(via [livejournal.com profile] beeorkendurkey)
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A good gym session is like a good shag, isn't it? At least in the way your skin tingles and glows afterwards, and you feel like you can take on the world. Or something.

I'm glad I hauled my ass to the gym this morning because it was exactly what I needed and had missed. I haven't felt this alert in weeks.

This evening I'm going to begin downloading True Blood episodes to watch when I'm in Brasil (I'm currently at the end of Season 2). I may also take a long bath and watch a film. I opened a bottle of red wine last night that needs my attention today.

I dreamt last night with my nephew and it freaks me out (in a good way) that I'll be seeing this little entity next week who now walks and chatters when before he was just an 8-month-old ball of fat and Johnson & Johnson's hair. I want to buy him some toys and books but can't make up my mind when I walk into the shops. So much to choose from.

I love this song: very Inner City circa 1990, very British pop.

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The day has finally arrived: an X Factor (ex)contestant released a cover of a goth song!



It's surprisingly OK. What next Rhydian? NIN? Alien Sex Fiend? For those 99% of you that don't know, this is a cover of the 90s goth classic "Tower of Strength" by The Mission UK:



I was in high school at the time and I remember recording this video from MTV onto one of my many VHS compilation tapes. It probably sat alongside something by the Cocteau Twins and The Smiths. I never bought any of their CDs, mind. Nor have I ever been to Whitby.

No songs are sacred or off limits.


I dedicate this post to [livejournal.com profile] inbetween_girl
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Most Brasilians dream of one day visiting Portugal just as I imagine most Americans wish to eventually cross the ocean and take pictures of themselves outside Buckingham Palace. It's one of those things that is drilled into us from school: this is the country that discovered you, that you fought against to gain your independence, that you now have a special relationship with thanks to shared history and language.


Last week, at the height of the riots across the UK, [livejournal.com profile] wink_martindale and I hopped into a plane in Stanstead (terrified we'd encounter rioters as we took the No. 8 bus at 4am to the train station) and flew to Spain for 8 days of traveling down the Iberian coast to Lisbon. We visited Bilbao, Gijón, Ferrol and Galicia in Spain; and Braga, Aveiro, Lisbon and Porto in Portugal.


Spain and Portugal are very similar to France in the widespread restaurant and café culture, except that they mostly specialise in sea food. Alcohol is very cheap and the food is mostly excellent, sometimes really great. Watch out though for the bread and butter placed at your table without your request - if you eat from it, you pay for it.  We found the Spanish and Portuguese to be friendly and helpful.


The Portuguese are obsessed with that American reality show "The Biggest Loser" - they have marathons of it on the telly as well as their own version of it. In stores, you see all sorts of Wii games dedicated to the show. I'd always heard that their tellies were filled with Brasilian soaps but I didn't spot any. Fado was played in touristy restaurants, Arcade Fire in the ones used by residents.


I didn't like Lisbon very much: it was decadent, decrepid, dirty, crumbling, depressing and a little creepy. But I also saw loads of potential there for rejuvenation - it needs some kind of artist revival that breaks through the hashish haze and brings life and vibrancy back to the streets. This bit of urban art was sweet and inspiring, reminding me of projects here in London that involve community residents: it was an exhibition of photos of elderly residents that lived in the hills surrounding the city's castle; a sort of remembrance. We also saw some great graffiti, including this strange altar in a dead end alley. Sadly, there was also a lot of rubbish tagging that spoiled the beautiful, historical buildings.  Loads of grand homes that would be worth millions in London were completely abandoned, boarded up, trashed.



Porto was lovelier and I want to visit it again. Beautiful beaches that are close to town, loads to see - our day and a half there wasn't enough.  I'd like to go back for a week and have time to spend days on the beach, swim, discover all of Porto's bookshops and history.

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