Sunday 30 October 2011

October Draws To A Close

t's been an interesting month . I've spent the month looking for a free , web based , social calendar and playlist generator and sharer supported by ads. My first points of call used to work but dont now , the concept is simple and works but so many people want to control what you listen to , watch and see. Don't these organisation realise that majorly skews reality !! Although it does ensure that X-Factor take the number one single spot at Christmas and the winners autobiography gets pride of place in Waterstones displays.

Last night I missed a Los Coyotemen gig and the Central , because their gigs are rare as hen's teeth , but I was not feeling physically that well , c'est la vie!!

I've not anything about writing a book , still haven't had an idea , but have enjoyed the slew of new releases than have come out being majorly impressed with the new Half Man Half Biscuit and Magazine releases as well as discovering Beverley Knight - Come as You Are is a scorcher.

Oh aye Apple launched the iPhone 4S and Steve Jobs died on the same day , that's a heck of a way to promote your new product!! You can get it on T-Mobile and Orange on the links below , go on you know you want one!!

Anyway it's 5:42 which is really 6:42 , I'm washed and will just dig out a few embellishments to this before zipping to bed... or not.

Sunday 23 October 2011

How Expensive - More Ways To Get More Money Out Of You

U2 have just released the Achtung Baby Uner Box Set. I bought the Joshua Tree one which weighed in at a reasonable £25. Remember if albums had kept pace with Job Seekers Allowance (based on 1975 figures) you would be paying £60 for a new CD. But the new U2 box clocks in at £270 , click though on the link above to see what you get.

This comes on the back of the Pink Floyd Immersion editions which weigh in at a now seemingly reasonable £100 and the Who's deluxe Quadrophenia at £70 is almost pitifully priced!!

We also have the complete box set collections nby the Smiths , Beatles and Floyd to substaially lighten your wallet , but essentially none of this is new product , just new packaging. It looks good but where will you put it? Is one enough , and what is next? Who's going to break the £500 and £1000 barrier  for a reissue of a classic album? The Rolling Stomes?

I'm still tempted by Floyd's Dark Side of The Moon Immersion Edition though!!

Sunday 16 October 2011

RnB vs. RnB

In general I’ve always loved RnB and I’ve always hated RnB. This might sound a little odd, but remember that RnB originally was used for Rhythm and Blues and is now used for Rhythm and Beat. Ask your average RnB fan under thirty what RnB stands for and you’ll get the answer “I don’t know” or “RnB” or maybe “You know, Rihanna!”, unless of course they’re a Rhythm ‘n’ Blues fan!!
Any way here’s my brief guide to the two genres, Rhythm ‘n’ Blues will win every time for me, but you always have to have a winner.

Rhythm ‘n’ Blues

Essentially evolved from the slow blow blues but adding the rhythmic electric guitar and bass and drums, paving the way for Rock ‘n’ Roll and eventually all forms of rock. The finest examples of this are Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley, early Rolling Stones, Pretty Things and Yardbirds.

Rhythm ‘n’ Beat

I think that this   evolved from soul music, but to me is mostly, bland rubbish from Bobby Brown to the wobbly lipped Belinda Carlisle impression that is Whitney Houston, real elevator music. However I’d completely missed the excellent Beverley Knight, and must say most of BeyoncĂ©’s output is well worth hearing, and Rihanna is also worth a listen.

More Kindling

Just another thing occurred to me about the Kindle and eReaders in general. It’s similar to the digitisation of music. One of the problems about producing a book, like producing a record , is that there has to be a minimum initial run produced to make it worthwhile for the printer.

However in this digital age the book or album can sit on a server without a physical copy having to be produced. While this makes the item more open to piracy, prudent pricing and marketing could mean we see a lot more authors published , with a possible physical print run following a successful digital  debut. We’ve already seen this in the Amazon Kindle charts.

I think digital books are already a resounding success, and will complement rather than replace their printed counterparts and companions. My Advent Vega is a more than adequate eReader, so I won’t be getting a Kindle, but I think they are here to stay.

Can I Write Two Thousand Words In A Day?

1: Where Do I Begin?
This is a follow on from the National Novel Writing Post. In order to write a novel in a month you would have to maintain an output of two thousand words a day. As yet I have not even written that many words this week, let alone today. So last night I thought could I sit down and write two thousand words on the task of writing two thousand words or preparing for a novel. I have distractions, but am going to give it a go. This is not about quality, but entirely about quantity. I know there are people who can sit down, type and not be distracted. I am not one of those creatures. I have my first distraction about a hundred words into this task but will continue this later. It is eight thirty now, fifteen and a half hours left to complete my task!!

2: Here I Go Again
The second of today’s instalments , and still I haven’t made any impact on my two thousand word target for today , but every journey starts with a single step and that just added another  twenty words to today’s target. I will be going out , again to Alnwick to visit the Garden , Treehouse and maybe Barter Books , so there will be a great big gap in today’s writing , but that is the nature of thing. Life tends to get in the way of what you actually want to do!! It is Nine twenty now so an hour has passed since my last entry , there are things to do like showering, putting contact lenses in , getting dressed , and obviously driving to the Garden and parking up.

I’ve already breakfasted on coffee, burnt bagel with raspberry jam and cheese and onion muffin , so I am replete and prepared for the day ahead . Amazingly I suddenly realise that this morning I have already written five hundred words, that’s a quarter of the way there. I would be quite hopeful of reaching my target if it wasn’t for the days excursion , but really it’s only ninety minutes since I woke , so in theory four and a half hours is all I need to make the two thousand for the day , although the more I write now the less I need to do tonight.

Another thought is that my intention is to post this as a blog entry, and I hope it can actually take the two thousand words that I aim to fill this bit with. Though if not it will just consist of part one and part two or however many bits I need to do the post.

The more I write the closer the end of the line gets, and I’m quite amazed about how fast this is developing. As I stated this isn’t about quality, or being interesting, it is just a test as to whether I can keep words flowing from my fingertips via the computer keyboard into this document , and therefore reach my goal. Really I don’t expect anyone to ever read and finish this entry in my blog , but it will give me the satisfaction of knowing that I can actually produce text at novel writing speeds. The next thing is obviously to think about concocting a short story and god forbid actually doing the novel thing.

Well I am quite pleased as this diatribe a now hit eight hundred words, forty per cent towards my target, meaning that I should be able to hit the line in under three hours when I return tonight. Of course I am now going to shower and dress and will no doubt add a little more before I leave, so I am now getting a bit cocky in my attitude towards actually doing this. God, I may actually start to think that I can write! Shower time, contact lenses and time to dress, I am sat in the front room looking out on the grey North Sea. It is incredibly peaceful and I wonder if this is something that is enabling me to produce this. There are no distractions barring everyday necessities. By the way at this point I have hit two thousand words for the week!

3: On The Road Again:

It’s just after ten o’ clock and I’ve just discovered that you should never rub your eyes after applying Deep Heat cream! This task I’ve set myself reminds me of those essays you would get from your teacher after transgressing some rule or other. One hundred words on the inside of a ping pong ball. I was always tempted to dismantle a ping pong ball and transcribe “One Hundred Words” on to the inner skin, but never actually did it. I think that a stiffer punishment may have been my reward for such inventiveness, although I am sure someone must have done it at some point. Anyway this is my last entry before I depart for Alnwick Garden , nine hundred words to go tonight , and I think I have a very good chance of making it assuming I can think of something to write.

4: Again and Again:

I am back in the house now; it is twenty past five, so just over six hours to go. Nine hundred words to write about something.  I’ve just noticed that the word count in Microsoft Word sometimes counts spaces as words, I think, so the word count may not be as accurate as I would like.  Still it’s the only guide that I have so I will have to go with it. 

The main thing is that if you are willing to write and talk about nothing in particular, you can start to hit your targets fairly quickly. It’s like when I buy a weekend paper with all its supplements. There’s no way that I’m ever going to read everything in there, so it could be lots of meaningless drivel. But I’m sure it isn’t as they must have some quality control even in The Mail and The Express!!

Although I have already written twelve hundred words today, the remaining  eight hundred still seems like a hell of a lot of typing to do . Harking back to the punishment essays from secondary school, eight hundred words on the inside of a lead pencil. I’m sure that inspiration will rear its fickle head and let me limp over the line of two thousand words successfully before the midnight hour strikes.  Remember this still has to be pasted into a blog entry. I do hope they use memo fields so that I can fit the whole of this into a single post.

The sea is getting rougher, but is still remarkably calming and I’m now only six hundred words away from my target. It’s hard waiting for inspiration to turn up, looking round the room hoping something will give me the green light. We’re still without a mobile or internet signal but that may be a good thing. All the ideas have got to come from between my ears, which is becoming a bit dead at the moment. Maybe I will go out for a walk and let the sea air blow away some of the mental cobwebs and unearth some of the obvious nuggets that must  be lying around waiting to be discovered.

5: Four Seasons In One Day

Just watched episode three of series four of The Sopranos , which finished with a Four Seasons song featuring the falsetto voice of Frankie Valli. It’s an amazing series despite its eighteen rating. I now have four and a half hours to make up around four hundred and fifty words. Can I do it? It has gone dark outside, and its time I took my drugs, before having tea and watching more Sopranos.  Obviously despite all that is happening and the fact that I am trying to keep my own interest up, the thing that is on my mind is the number of words still to go. I have done far better than I expected but am almost at the seventeen hundred word mark which is eighty five per cent of the way to the finishing line.  Three hundred and thirty more words to be precise, so really, to be honest I do have the speed of word production to actually produce a novel. I just need to think about planning, story line, diction, grammar, spelling and generally making the thing interesting. Obviously the addition of a few expletives could always be used to pad out the piece although that would make it more readable for some and less than enticing for others, still you can’t please all the people all the time , though I doubt this piece will please any people. Still it may give a little insight into the general machinations that go on within the confines of my skull. Anyway this little section has taken me up to eighteen hundred words, two hundred short of the target , and I still have four and a half hours of the day left. I made a mistake before in my timing. The section was start at seven fifteen not seven thirty as I thought. It is now seven twenty five, so two hundred or so words in four and a half hours should be well achievable. Admittedly I need to eat tea, watch more Sopranos , take drugs and the like but I’m sure I should be able to easily do that. The more I write the closer I get to the end.
Anyway time for a drug break now and my next entry should be the one that rolls over the line. But before I do that I’ve just remembered that this is not set up to save a backup copy of the document. I have now rectified that in the Word options.

6: Here I Stand

I’ve arbitrarily chosen lines from songs or song titles to split this up in the belief that white space makes things more readable. I certainly find that with technical documents and with prose as well. Ths is the final paragraph and it’s going to run over the two thousand word in one day mark. It’s actually taken me less than twelve hours elapsed and maybe about two hours actually typing. So there is no doubt I could actually write enough words to fill a novel within a month. The trick of course is to make those words worth reading and that is a whole other ball game , but I’m just really pleased that I set myself a task today and I did it. This is the end. I wonder if anyone else will actually read this. I could mention Saddam Hussein and Al Quaeda and get picked up by a CIA search engine who will then search the piece for coded messages , but that’s a bit of a cheap shot, preying on peoples stupidity ….

National Novel Writing Month

Apparently next month is National Novel Writing Month. Entrants are to submit fifty thousand words in their attempt to capture the imagination of the paying public. Fifty Thousand is quite a lot of words though you could probably sit down and do it in a day if you were that way inclined. I am just thinking of the Novel Writing Sketch that Monty Python served us all those years ago.

To put this in perspective I’ve been jotting some notes for my blog while I stay in Craster. Because there is no internet access, I’m doing this in Word before transferring it to the blog when I get home. On the fifth day I’ve just written eleven hundred words so far, so that’s two hundred and twenty  words a day , so at this rate , if I were writing a novel it would take me two hundred and thirty days , that’s about seven and a half months, with no editing or quality control!!

So if I do decide to go for the Novel this month, looks like I have maybe two weeks to do it, I will have to increase my throughput to three thousand six hundred words a day (that is eighteen times my current rate) , and of course, think of a story. I’d love to do it, but really need the inspiration, and not end up in the book of worst opening lines!!

So even with a full month you would be looking at twelve and a half thousand words a week, that’s above two thousand words a day! I may, at some point see if I can do twelve and a half thousand words in a week, just to see if I could actually have the output to produce a novel. I thought that this would be some going for me.

Seriously probably my only attainable goal in this is to hit a thousand words by the end of this holiday , and I’m about half way through ,  so by the time this is published on the blog I should have done my thousand words , one fiftieth of a novel!!

Saturday 15 October 2011

Craster – Cul-de-Sac-Deluxe

Craster Harbour
As you drive into Craster you are greeted with a cul-de-sac sign. The only way out is back the way you came or via the sea. I tell a lie, you can walk along the coastal path to the magnificent ruin of Dunstanburgh castle or head due south and eventually land up in Blyth or Whitley Bay!!

This is no bad thing though, it means no through traffic and therefore it’s very quiet and peaceful.
Apparently sixty per cent of the housing here is holiday cottages. Unsure if this is a good or bad thing, if they are used the year round, it will obviously boost the local economy, which is a good thing. Problems occur when people buy holiday cottages that lie empty for most of the year.
Having said that the Shoreline Café was open and occupied at 5pm on Sunday, which implies that the trade is there for them.

Kipper Smokers
L Robson the local fish smokers provide kippers country wide and are sensible enough to maintain a web presence and the superbly appointed .

As well as this there’s an art gallery, run by local seascape artist Mick Oxley which was opened by David Miliband MP (the one who didn’t become Labour Leader). His paintings are well worth seeing and his web site is .

Craster is amazing. One phone box, a kipper smoking factory (well shed) , with adjacent shop and restaurant that opens for three and a half hours a day , is closed Sundays and doesn’t take cards. Opposite this you have The Jolly Sailor a wonderful pub with free internet access, and a sign board featuring a jolly sailor straight out of HP Lovecraft!!

There’s no mobile phone signal, no analogue TV, and digital TV is almost non-existent barring BBC1 and BBC2. The nearest attraction is Dunstanburgh Castle, a sprawling ruin maintained by English Heritage that you have to walk through 1.25 miles of livestock occupied cliff top pasture to get to.
Craster is essentially a cul-de-sac, but this is no bad thing if you want to get away from things but still have some semblance of comfort such as a decent local restaurant, food store and pub.
Dunstanburgh Castle

The walk to Dunstanburgh is visually stunning, and, amazingly, at points gives you mobile phone reception!

Today is the last day in Craster, will definitely come back.  Last night there were two lights, possibly torches on the breakwater just outside the harbour until about three in the morning. Though it was stormy they definitely were not distress signals, so I assume researchers or mad divers, although it would have been a great start to a Lovecraftian horror movie in keeping with the pub sign at The Jolly Sailor!.

This morning I went down to the rocks outside the harbour, even though they were chained off. Got some interesting views of the rocks beyond the harbour, no sign of any corpses rising from the depths or mermen!

One thing this week has done is allow me to put down a couple of words for the blog. Two thousand of those were for yesterday’s novel experiment, but that is still quite a few words for y diaristic observations. All this is maybe forty minutes from Newcastle, which is an absolute find.

Sunrise in Craster
Another thought is that in a week’s holiday on the North East coast of England there has been virtually no rain at all. The weather has been superb, allowing walks along the coast and inland without the need for big coats and umbrellas!

Anyway I’ll wrap this up now, until my next visit.

Alnwick and It’s Straight Tailed Lion

Straight-Tailed Alnwick Lion
Alnwick is the nearest centre for shopping and stuff to Craster. It has a lion on a pillar, commissioned by some lord or other , and when the sculptor wasn’t paid his dues he finished it off with the straight rod of a tail!!

Here is a Vocal Story about talking to the lion.

It’s home to Barter Books in the old railway station and republishers of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters now the subject of much litigation due to their extraordinary success.
You also have the Alnwick Garden and Treehouse and adjacent Castle, location for many outdoor scenes in the Harry Potter films, such as broom training and Quidditch backdrops.

You also have the Alnwick Playhouse , which features film , dance , art exhibitions and live music , I noticed Catfish Keith and Ralph McTell were attractions that were due soon.

I have also discovered the Wine Boutique, an excellent wine emporium, with brilliantly helpful staff and more than reasonable prices. Since the demise of Oddbins it’s great to find a local wine shop with integrity and value.

There are many eating places and pubs and you have a supermarket as well. It is, however, infested with the ubiquitous Greggs and Subway chains , as well as three Boots within sight of each other.
Another plus is that all day parking is only two pounds, a place definitely worth dipping in to.

Alnwick Garden Cascade

Alnwick Garden Walter Sculture cum Flyng Saucer
 Just been to the Alnwick Garden which is amazingly impressive, it’s fountains ad Treehouse are an absolute must to see.