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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Mario Brothers in the Last King of Shambhala Style!!!

I was reminiscing about playing Mario Brothers on the old Nintendo, so I made a silly video and put it up on YouTube.  I don't usually put the YouTube videos I make on my blog, but this time I thought why not!  It's good for a laugh.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Library of Alexandria Burnt Down!

The Royal Library of Alexandria in Egypt was the largest and most significant great library of the ancient world.  It contained half the world's knowledge in many areas of study.

In 48BC Julius Caesar accidentally burnt down the library in a spat with Achillas.  Most of the knowledge was lost in that fire, perhaps putting the progress of humanity back hundreds of years.

Lesson of the day.  Back your stuff up.  I could've lost my novel's 103,000 word manuscript if I hadn't backed it up elsewhere.  Damn computers.  :-)

Monday, 20 June 2011

Can too many book editors or artistic opinions spoil the creative brew?

The idea behind this blog article can be adapted to anything, whether you're writing a story, or creating art, or creating anything artistic - but since I've just finished my first novel and everybody wants to be my editor (which I'm thankful for), I'll use a book as an example.

Say you're writing a book (if you're confused because you are not writing a book, read the above paragraph again).

You've put a generous proportion of character development. Put a sprinkle of romance in it. A dash of action. Two cups of intrigue. You've mixed it around, and have let it sit. It is now ready for you to put it in the oven and have people look over your story.

We are still talking about writing a book right? Yes, and I'm glad you bared with me with my over-the-top extended metaphor. Are we talking about a cook book? No, forget the whole cooking thing. Then why did you start talking about cooking? (Excuse me, I'm just having one of my multiple personality moments.) I'm hungry.

Where were we? I have been sidetracked... a feature of this unedited blog apparently.

Now you've got people looking over your work, critiquing and giving advice. Question on your lips is, or sign-languaging hands for those who cannot speak... can you ask too many? Survey says... The plain and simple answer is yes but no but yes but no - to quote a few television shows in one mash-up sentence.

It's great to get different perspectives and ideas (and grammar checks) from willing participants, but the caveat on that is that they are the cooks, and you are the chef. The iron chef with the iron fist.

You use your cutting knife (probably iron too) adding some suggestions and cutting others. So although they are integral to the editing process, do not change your story if it doesn't feel right to you. Or change your artistic vision. Or your art piece. Or whatever.

It is ALWAYS your work, not theirs... however this leads me to...

Two words of warning.

Well, two points of warning. I couldn't summarise each point in one word.

One, don't take offence to what they say.

Everyone has different tastes and sometimes they'll have an opinion that you don't have. That's okay. Doesn't mean your books sucks, or that is must be changed to their liking. (They'd probably tell me enough of the cooking analogy Daniel. You should really have got this blog entry edited. In which I'd answer, "I'm hungry and I don't know why.")

And then there will be people who just never like your work, or the fact you are doing that work. There are many reasons people won't like what you do, and none of them are really ever about you or your work. For example, I find people often tell me I can't do things when they really fear that it will reflect badly on them and what they have achieved in their lives.

And, as I always say (to myself in the mirror with the door closed), if you want to be something different or more than those around you, you have to think and do differently than them. So thinking differently to those around you is the first step in moving forward.

Don't get me wrong, your editors will always (most likely... probably... maybe... perhaps) be well meaning. But subconsciously they won't want you to make them look bad. Success and being different scare most ordinary folk.

And that leads me to my second point...

Two, don't fight over what they say.

It's futile for one. They probably think what they're saying is correct no matter what you say, but more importantly, you should never have to justify your reasons. Does Lady Gaga defend her cigarette glasses, or Michael Jordan ever defend why he wears Nikes, or Charlie Chaplin ever defend why he never spoke? (I hope I'm making you laugh as much as I'm making myself laugh!)

Point being, because you're a genius, or a genius in the making, you don't explain - that's for critics to ponder. Just ask me why I can think that and watch me not justify it because I'm a mother flippin' genius - and so are you - yes, you.

Always thank them for their advice, but you don't have to ever say you'll take it all on baord!

Thank them, use what you want, don't use what you don't want. You may ask them for clarification, but don't go to war with them on why your artistic idea is right and their opinion is wrong. It's an easy equation.

Y x (A + T) x (G - R) = S

Y = Your Work
A = Ask
T = Thank
G = Good Advice
R = Rubbish Advice
S = Success, or sexiness personified

So don't go to war with your editors. Just thank them, and don't take it personally because your art is all about YOU.

(On a side note, if a young Hitler's art pieces had been more accepted we may not have had War World Two so... case in point. And who knows, Ghengis Khan was probably spanked when he did finger painting at pre-school.)

And take a look at it from your editor friend's side of the table. If they feel attacked for opening up with their opinion they'll never give you advice again (and I need people to check my spelling and grammar).

These two points are hard to follow, especially since you've put your soul into your story, but essential to a writer or artist.

Last Thoughts...

Never worry about whether people will like what you've done. I have always found that if you throw yourself completely into your artistic expression, are passionate about it and making it the best possible piece, and love it with all your heart, the world is a big enough place that there will be plenty of people who will support you.

On a side note, one month until my novel is out! :-) Just in case you are one of the people who are going to support ME and buy it!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Live in the Moment and My New Time Machine

I said to myself, "enjoy this moment because it will be your last..."

And it was. It was the last time I ever experienced that moment.

You see I've invented a time machine. Yes, hard to believe, but true.

And guess what? There are just three problems with my time machine that need ironing out before I release it to the time machine market.

They are:

1) It only travels forwards in time.
2) It only travels at the same speed as everything else does outside of the time machine.
3) Once you travel forward in time, you cannot go back.

If you have not guessed already, it is essentially a card board box with the words "time machine" scribbled on the side of it.  (Note: This is a reference to a Demetri Martin joke. He is probably my favourite comedian. Look him up! :)

Bar eBay, where a sucker subscribes every second, I do not think anyone will buy it.

Essentially because everyone is travelling forward through time in the time machine called life and they don't need my cardboard box. It's like selling ice-cubes to Inuits who own an ice-cube making factory.

You may be thinking "How very philosophical (or confusing) of me" right about now. And then you'd be thinking, "Oh, how did he know I was thinking that?" And then you might start getting paranoid as you begin wondering how I know what you're thinking.

In which case I would answer, "Yes I did just read your mind, and I can see all your dirty secrets. I know you hide your dirty dishes in the oven when your in-laws come to visit. And I know you decide upon the scientific-validity of horoscopes only after you've read your prediction each week."

Okay, so after you are over the shock of having your mind exposed to this mind-reading, time-traveling blogger, I will get to the point.

The point is to do with the problem behind curtain three. That was the: Once you travel forward in time, you cannot take that time back.

This problem faces everybody in the entire world as far as I'm aware - and I'm about to start an awareness campaign called "Save the Moment". It's catch line will be "A moment dies... every moment. But you can give that moment the attention it deserves before it passes."

And I'll include a picture of a moment with a frown and distant eyes, glassed with tears.

Back to my article. Thing is, most people I know (including me) do not savour each moment for what they are even though they know they'll never EVER see it again.

Instead, we usually spend these dying moments thinking about our affairs with other times, in either the future or the past, while the current moment is crying, paws stretched out through the bars of a van that is taking it to be put down.

And my parents didn't even tell me the moment was going to be put down until I asked after it, leaving me a scar for life... wait a second, that was my dog, not the moment. But case in point. There I was again living in a different moment that has long passed.

So what do I suggest? I suggest you give each moment the respect it deserves and truly live in it. If it's a happy time, soak up the happiness. Be completely present in the happiness.

If it sucks, realise that it will pass, and don't bring regrets of the past or worries of the future up. If you're fully present in the moment, and don't bring up the past or dream up horrible futures, you'll notice the moment isn't that bad and it'll pass quicker.

You'll also realise how often you waste great times. You'll catch yourself thinking things like "oh, I can't wait to come here and do this again... when can I get here next?". What?!? You are there now, and yet instead of soaking it up, you're taking the enjoyment away by wondering when the next time will be that you can have an IDENTICAL experience. Talk about crazy talk.

Give your complete focus to only what is happening this very exact second, as often as you can, and you'll actually find life becomes more enjoyable. You'll also find you don't miss the important things in life. I'm off to go enjoy this moment. Talk later.

Note: By living in the now, you don't need to give up on your future goals, but reframe your mind. Enjoy where you are in the journey towards your goal because when you've reached that goal you'll: a) have another goal, b) wasted all the time between goal setting and achieving, and c) look back at the time you're experiencing right now with fondess as a "time in your life" - so why don't you enjoy that "time in your life" while you're in it!

Note 2: You also don't need to never think of the past (double negative translator: it's alright to sometimes think of the past).  But try to only remember past events that make you genuinely happy when you remember them.  And place little importance on what actually happened because it no longer exists and the way you remember it is so subjective that it really only ever existed like that in your head anyway.

"There exists only the present instant... a Now which always and without end is itself new. There is no yesterday nor any tomorrow, but only Now, as it was a thousand years ago and as it will be a thousand years hence."
Meister Eckhar (c. 1260 – c. 1327)

Monday, 13 June 2011

Something a little bit different... a stereotypical joke

So many jokes rely on silly (read: eye-rolling offensive) stereotypes that do not reflect reality at all and are not funny... which gave me the idea for the joke below... 

An Englishman, a German, an Irishman, a blonde, a rabbi, and a philosopher all walked into a bar.

The Englishman looked carefully at his companions and said, "Great, I'm in a joke aren't I?"

The German held his helmet and yelled, "What is a joke? Can I invade it?"

The Irishman said, "Oh, how stereotypical that a bloody Irishman is in a joke about going into a bar. Seriously, what a surprise. Who thought this joke up, really?"

The blonde looked over and said, "I love jokes. But I always think throwing the shell away is a waste so I use the shell as a hat. A hat for very, very tiny people, like pixies or tiny pixie babies."

The rabbi looked at them all and said, "I wasn't even meant to be here. I was in another joke which I wanted to avoid because it put Jewish people in an unkind light, and now I've walked into another one. What is the meaning of this? Are we all in a joke?"

The philosopher nodded his head and said, "You are both in the joke, and you are the joke."

The Englishman rolled his eyes, "the weather's bloody terrible, our football team is rubbish and overpaid, and now I'm part of a joke. Could the world get any worse?"

The German said, "What is this joke you talk about? I want to watch Eurovision. Is it October yet?"

The Irishman said, "Well, as bad as having me portray the whole country of Ireland as lovable yet intellectually challenged in every joke I've ever been in, the writer of this joke really did write crappy lines for the German that are politically incorrect and have absolutely no baring on the German people whatsoever."

The blonde said, "I love yellow. And Santa and rainbows and candy." She laughed. "Candy's my name."

The rabbi shook his head and groaned, "Mr. Jerry Seinfeld would have done so much better with this joke. He's a good kid. Good family too."

The philosopher smiled and said, "This joke is becoming very post modern."

Finally the Englishman realised that he could in fact change the joke. If he understood that he was in a joke and not real life, he could control the joke. But as the English aren't funny, as soon as he did this the joke ended.

Note: All the stereotypes above are unfounded, but funny because they are so ridiculous.  And I'd like to point out, despite popular belief, the English are indeed very funny.  For proof, check out the following English comedies: Spaced, Coupling, I.T. Crowd, Black Books, The Mighty Boosh.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Automatic Drawing?

Often when I do art, I let my mind take a back seat and just draw.  I feel like I'm half there and half in another dimension, with my mind blank like I'm in a trance almost.  The outcomes are quite bizarre and dream-like.  Here are some samples I have done recently...