The Neverending Story: A Cautionary Tale

Neverending story Michael Ende
It’s dead.

For those of you who don’t actually know, the Neverending Story was a movie from the 80s with a super-catchy theme tune. It was also a book by Michael Ende, a German dude. It was fashionable at the time for authors to sell movie rights to Hollywood then, upon seeing the film of their work, complaining that it destroyed their work and that they wanted nothing more to do with it (see also: Alan Moore).

Michael Ende sorta did that. So you don’t know who he is any more.

It’s actually a good read, in the same league as The Princess Bride. And The Neverending Story is also a great film. I liked the sequels when I was little, but they didn’t have the same timelessness as the first one.

But my favorite part is the theme tune by Limahl. The lyrics are just… just perfect.

 

Amazon Prime Day, Rainbows + Bestseller Lists,

So the book I can’t tell you about on here has now made it (quite a long way) into the Amazon Top 100 Bestseller List for a third week!! SQUEE I WROTE A GODDAMN BESTSELLER, BITCHES!! (…and my in-laws and assorted relatives still think I’m an unemployed layabout loser working occasional days as a substitute teacher. And I can’t tell them otherwise. They probably wouldn’t believe me if I did. It’s like being a superhero only my secret power is NSFW).

Oh and in case you’re wondering, the money doesn’t get good until you hit the top 5, so no, I’m still poor. This person had a #1 bestseller and still didn’t make anything. And I’m sure some sanctimonious middle class person will try to say “but that’s not why you should write” because you *should* write to be poor (which is fine if you’ve never had to choose between eating or paying rent I suppose), to be unappreciated (which is fine if you believe you’re Van Gogh or something), to be ignored (see prev. re: Van Gogh), because that’s the stereotype we imagine for writers and what we tell ourselves to feel better about the fact that some people are spending 16 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week doing something they actually want to do (yes, I actually do, come hypomania or depression, I work very hard and some days I only write 50 words but it’s 50 more than I had the day before, other days what I write makes no sense, but that’s okay because it clears my brain out, it’s like scraping the gloop out of the sink so you can wash dishes in it, instead of letting that gloop touch your crockery). Like we imagine that all the pretty people are dumb and all ugly people have hidden depths, instead of seeing that some pretty people are clever and some ugly people are very shallow. I will never stop appreciating being able to write. So I will look forward to writing being my full time income one day but obviously, the money I’ll get in several months’ time (bookstores pay s-l-o-w-l-y) is a LOT better than nothing and while it isn’t going to pay all my bills that month, it at least goes a long way towards it and therefore validates my Goddamn life choices. And I didn’t even have to take my clothes off this time.* 😛

*I am neither confirming nor denying having done this in the past although I do feel it’s high time my cat** wrote a guest post because it would make interesting reading.

**I don’t have a cat. That’s sort of the point.

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And apparently every year Amazon has some special deals that are only available to Prime subscribers. This year, that’s happening on July 12th. From today up to July 12th, Amazon has loads of special pre-prime day deals to get you in the mood (or something).

My personal opinion? Signing up for a free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime, including free shipping and loads of TV shows, makes a lot of sense if you want to do some bargainous shopping. This is a very good month to try Amazon Prime for free, just remember (if you don’t intend to keep it) to cancel before the month is up, and sit back and reap the rewards.

I had Amazon Prime for about a year but I cancelled it in favor of Netflix because they didn’t have such a good range of TV shows. I think I’d consider it again now that the Clarkson Hammond and May show (formerly Top Gear) is on there. Also did you hear about the BBC’s so-called “Top Gear” that they’ve been trying to flog as a replacement to the (not-quite-original but definitely best) Clarkson version? Chris Evans, the show’s main host, and seasoned TV presenting veteran, has just quit. They’re flogging a dead horse, and I’ve been saying since Clarkson got sacked, that nobody in their right mind would sign up to take the place of Clarkson Hammond and May, the audience for that show is too pre-prejudiced against change. They’d have been better off doing a total re-format, since Clarkson invented most of the stuff they did on there anyway. Those of you who know me in person know how much I appreciate Jeremy Clarkson’s contributions to journalism (oh God, the way he can get you from the opening sentence, I wish I could do that), he literally invented new ways to write/talk about cars, and no-one can really replace that. But you can watch Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond messing around in cars IN OCTOBER on Amazon Prime with the 30 day trial in the UK; the BBC was really shitty about copyrights on all the stuff Clarkson came up with while he worked for them, so Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May have renamed their new car show “Grand Tour.” I wish I was eligible for another free trial of Amazon Prime now 😦

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Also, this rainbow wig is legit gorgeous I wish I could afford it, its so beautiful, and I wanted to show you all, but WordPress doesn’t allow image links from Amazon. Last time I accidentally pasted the wrong link onto a WordPress post, WordPress actually shut this blog down within seconds, not giving me a chance to fix the problem, and I had to email them 5 or 6 times over 2 days to get them to understand that it was an honest mistake. I totally don’t get the weird and wonderful policies that various blogging sites have regarding their smallprint. I think now I have my own domain I’m allowed to do more advertising, but I look at some of the sites that have come up in reader over the past few months, wall-to-wall advertising, and I simply want to vomit in disgust. The whole marketing model is messed up if they make money from that shit. It’s like those trees falling in the woods and concussing bears who are trying to take a dump.

Brexit: You have doomed us all.

So I haven’t really said a huge amount about the big important referendum that took place yesterday.  I woke up this morning (it’s currently 7:49am here) to check the results, confident that, despite all the alleged posturing etc of the “remain campaign,” that the “leave campaign” didn’t stand a snowball’s chance of winning.  I thought they’d maybe get 20% of votes.

Nope.

They won.

They actually won.

Apparently I live in a racist, xenophobic country that is more interested in getting foreigners deported than remaining a part of the EU.

To put it into perspective for my American readers, it would be like if Texas was sick of all the Mexicans and decided to quit the United States.

You might say, “whatever, doesn’t matter to me, I’m not in Texas.”  No, but I am, I am stuck in Texas that wants to leave the USA.  Only I can’t just leave because of border control.

I genuinely don’t know what to do – I think this time, I’m going to have to emigrate.  I have a cheque from US Amazon which I now can’t put in the bank as the exchange rate is so bad – it’s plummeted.  My latest book is selling really well (but also pays in USD).  All my ways of earning money are now worthless and I’ve got a foreign sounding name in a country of xenophobes who are so desperate to deport foreigners that they’ve voted to leave the EU.

There, also, goes the US-UK tax treaty.  The IRS can now tax me as well as the UK.  I will now pay double tax on my meager earnings.

I am glad I voted remain.  Now, I think I have to vote with my feet and leave the UK before it gets any worse.

Suggestions? Apparently as a writer I will meet the eligibility criteria to emigrate to Canada by next April.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Jubilant

The WPC this week was Jubilant. Which means really cheerful.
Well I’m stuck into editing my next book at the moment, it should be out in a few weeks time, I’ll let you know, but I did get some beautiful pictures of cherry blossom this week and I do always think the pink snowfall of cherry blossom is one of the happiest sights in the world.  It always reminds me of wedding confetti only you don’t have to be at  a wedding to enjoy May blossom.
In Japan they hold festival celebrations for it.

A dandelion amidst the fallen petals. cherry blossom may blossom delight and inspire www.delightandinspire.com
A dandelion amidst the fallen petals.

Victoria Wood yesterday, Chyna today.

Two women whose contributions to the world were greater than it wants you to believe. Victoria Wood died yesterday at the age of 62. Cancer. Chyna died today aged 45.
But the whole world is only talking about the loss of Prince, with a sidenote about Guy Hamilton, director of the James Bond movies.
Let’s talk about the two women who deserved the spotlight today:
Victoria Wood was a writer and comedian who was and still is a household name in Britain. Her style of comedy was insightful and witty. She often worked with Julie Walters, and was known for a multitude of sketches along with “Dinnerladies” and “Acorn Antiques.” Irritatingly, everyone was going on about how she was an “inspiration to women” as if, because she’s female, she couldn’t possibly be an inspiration to men. It’s so annoying when you go out and become inspirational as a woman, because as we all know, your uterus pops out and inflates like an umbrella and anyone taller than 5’6″ can’t see you any more. It’s happened to a lot of women. It’s an outrage that the BBC, in their rush to get the first obituary out, to boost their views, produced an obituary for her which was riddled with proofreading errors. As someone whose parents were such fans of Victoria Wood that they named me after her, I thought it was very disrespectful of the BBC to write such illiterate rubbish.

But it was better than what they did with Chyna. They called her a “wrestler and porn star.” Because of course women aren’t allowed to shine out in male-dominated sports. She’s the only female wrestler to have defeated a slew of male WWE champions in the ring, the first (and possibly only) female wrestler to win the WWE Championship belt, and yet the BBC chose to focus their headline on the fact that she had also worked in the sex industry. In the entire article, they never even mentioned that she taught English in Japan.
To put it into perspective, calling Chyna a “Wrestler and Porn Star” would be like calling Vivienne Westwood a “fashion designer and schoolteacher” or JK Rowling a “writer and unemployed single mother.” It’s just not necessary and it’s not appropriate, it’s to remind you that she’s a woman and has worked in a profession society considers degrading.

Do you know why they’re trying to downplay her achievements in the wrestling ring by focussing on the porn?  Because she was a female wrestler who defeated men at wrestling.  This isn’t the sort of thing the world wants women to know.  That it’s possible for us to become physically strong enough and skilful enough at fighting to overpower men who are also physically strong.  Oh, they’re scared shitless that if we work that out, it’s game over for the men who try to keep us down with their fake “feminism” (where they tell us what to think about feminism) and their “fear of rape culture” culture that they’re crippling us with.  By focussing on the porn rather than the wrestling, they’re hoping to distract us from the fact that she beat HEAVYWEIGHT men in the wrestling ring.
Here she is doing some wrestling:

They would never say crap like that about a man. If Jeffrey Archer died tomorrow, the obituary would read “Jeffrey Archer: Writer and politician has died” not “Jeffrey Archer: Ex Convict has died.”

But then, if Jeffrey Archer died tomorrow, he might actually get a word in edgeways as he’s a man and the world might actually see that his death was worth making a fuss over.

I’d love to see what (if I ever make anything of myself) they wrote about me. Slut?  Actress? Writer? Youtuber? Teacher? Model?  Checkout Assistant? Archaeologist?  Comedian?  Car enthusiast?  Adventurer?  Person who got paid to hold a sign for two days one winter? Atheist? Roller skater?  Probably nothing at all.

What would they write about you? Single mother? Homeless person? Dog lover? Runner? Blogger? Peanut Butter Factory Operations Labourer?

I’d like to hope that by the time we die, women are actually allowed to have careers and impacts on the world beyond a) sex and b) “inspirational to women.” I mean, there’s nothing WRONG with being a porn star or inspiring women, but it’s pretty narrow and sexist to make that the focus of a person’s obit just because that person is also female. I’d like to think that Victoria Wood inspired people of any gender. She sure as hell inspired me, she was one of my biggest formative influences in performance and comedy when I was growing up; I used to read the credits in amazement, seeing with awe that she’d written, acted in AND done the music for most of her TV programmes. She should be EVERYONE’S inspiration for so many reasons, she was a wonderful person and a fantastic comedian with a real gift for natural, approachable comedy. Most comedians can be divided into two groups, either they make you feel more stupid for having watched them, or they are so highbrow that you won’t get half of it. Victoria Wood was neither. She was completely accessible but her jokes were never stupid.
Earlier today, I saw her in a sketch with Alan Rickman (I’d never seen this one before):

This is more her usual style though:

What do you think they will write about Caitlyn Jenner? I dread to think what they’ll put in her headline, I bet it won’t be “Decathlon Winner and Olympic Champion Caitlyn Jenner has died.” They’ll shoehorn something else in. That’s what they do to women. She’ll be an “inspiration to transgendered people” instead of just an “inspiration.” You’re not allowed to go round contaminating good honest white men with your inspiration unless you’re a white man too. Just to clarify, please understand that when what I say sounds like the opposite of reasonable, I’m being sarcastic; it’s what happens when I resent the inherent prejudice in the system.

It’s funny how every time a male celebrity dies at the same time as a female celebrity, the male one overshadows the female one. Did you know that Farrah Fawcett, the bombshell pinup from Charlie’s Angels, died the exact same day as Michael Jackson? No, of course not, because they latched on to Michael Jackson and turned him into a saint and she faded into obscurity. Like women are supposed to. They do it when we get married, they do it when we have babies, and they do it when we die. We’re just supposed to disappear. So Guy Hamilton and Prince get the spotlight today, and Chyna and Victoria Wood, the real tragic losses of the past 48 hours, have just disappeared.

Sorry about the ranty tone of today’s article, but this whole inequality just makes me so angry. Death happens to everyone. Why do we only publicly see and seem to mourn the deaths of men? It’s a throwback to the dark ages (or Islamic Shariah states such as Afghanistan) where women never left the house and weren’t seen to do anything of any importance, and by that token the important contributions of women were invisible. In death, the ultimate reality, we see that nothing has changed for women despite all the “rights” and “freedoms” they have been accorded.

It’s also the Queen’s 90th birthday today.  At least SHE got a headline.

11 words British people don’t actually say.

This article is about the “British” words and phrases we don’t actually use in Britain, so if you’re planning a holiday to England, Scotland or any other part of Britain, and trying to learn some colloquialisms, scratch these from your list – the consequences of saying some of them can be a fist to the face (which, curiously, we tend not to call “fisticuffs”). This article has occasional use of the f-word etc.

This article about British words came about after an American blogger mentioned how if he ever came to the UK he’d be sure to tip a bob to the waiter. That was shortly followed up with someone (also American) commenting on a page on dialects with some sense of authority that British people said “sitting room” or “parlour” instead of “living room” or “den.” If you’re writing a British character for a book, these words will throw up a big red flag that kills suspension of disbelief for anyone British reading the book, and if you’re coming to Britain for a trip or travel, you will be mocked for using these words.

So here’s the words and phrases we just don’t say (or very, very rarely) in the UK:

1. British Accent – we rarely classify ourselves as “British” as opposed to our individual countries. For example, I’m English, my mother was Irish (which ISN’T part of the UK), my father was Jamaican (we say Afro-Caribbean not Afro-British, BTW), the man on my birth certificate was Scottish, my best friend at uni was Welsh. So we would start by saying “English accent” or “Scottish accent.” Then we’d get more specific, such as “Northern accent” for people from the north of England.

2. Bob – we call it money or cash, we use the word quid to mean pounds, or p (pronounced “pee”) to mean pence (multiple of penny). If you say “pennies” (multiple of penny) to anyone from the UK who speaks Polish, they will laugh at you because that’s how you pronounce the word “penis” in Polish.

3. Ta – Nowhere do people in the UK say “ta” for goodbye. That’s an Americanism you have imposed on us. “Ta ta” might be said by a posh elderly aunt (or a young lady with adorably misguided aspirations) from time to time, and “tara” (pronounced ter-rah with a long a at the end) is another word for goodbye, but we don’t say “ta” to greet someone’s departure. Ta is an informal way of saying “thank-you” in the North of England (as in, ‘ta very much’).

4. Cheero – Nobody’s said this since the second world war. Cheerio is sometimes used by older people, but again it’s dying out and it’s considered more old fashioned than roast beef. The last time I heard it was in the lyrics to a song in Oliver Twist, in the context “so long fare thee well, pip pip cheerio…” and we also don’t say “thee,” so it shouldn’t be considered an accurate representation of our modern language (it was made in the 1960s, after all).

5. Codswallop – Another old-fashioned term, we tend to say “bullshit” “bull” or “crap” (crap has three meanings – excrement, something that is really terrible, or something that is untrue). Our favourite, however, is “bollocks” when we want to call out something as untrue. The only time in living memory that a British person’s said codswallop was when Hagrid says it in Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone (we call it Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, BTW) – and that’s set in 1991 (if you do the math from the gravestones etc this adds up).

6. On your bike (actually, it was always “on yer bike”) – Very dated to the 1980s. We tend to say “fuck off” these days or, if we’re being polite, “sod off” or “get lost.”

7. Fitty – this isn’t a word. I’ve lived in Britain for 29 years, I’ve travelled all over, I’ve voraciously devoured literature, and nobody has ever used this word in any context. It’s made up. Some people would say someone is “fit” meaning attractive (or “she’s well fit” or “he’s dead fit”), and there’s the very outdated and generally offensive word “totty” which again no-one has used for a very long time, but we just don’t have the word “fitty.” It even sounds made up. Referring to someone as “fitty” will probably have people wondering whether you think they’re epileptic. If they buy into fear-of-rape culture, they might even use this opportunity to make a scene.

8. Rumpy Pumpy – if you suggest having some ‘rumpy pumpy’ to any woman under 45, she will tell you to fuck off. AVOID! Nobody’s used this word since 1995, and even then it was only in an ironic sense. Nobody actually uses this word to describe sex that they have had or are going to have.

9. Sweet Fanny Adams – no, we say “fuck all” to mean the same thing. Nobody’s used “Fanny Adams” to mean “Fuck All” since World War II.

10. Toodle Pip – again, the only time this gets used is by people who are being ironic. It’s a joke. People are taking the piss when they say this.

11. Cack-handed – I got this claimed as “I’m not co-ordinated” from this page but actually it’s a derogatory term meaning left handed (the hand that you wipe your arse with if you’re right handed), from the days when schools were run by a certain type of nuns (and other pro-social psychopaths) who thought that left-handedness was a sign of the devil. There are plenty of British people out there who hate on lefties due to their subconscious cultural conditioning. Use it anywhere near a left-handed person and prepare to get bitch slapped. It’s as offensive to a left-handed person as the N-word is to most human beings.

12. Fisticuffs – another one from Oliver Twist, people tend to call a fight a “scrap” a “punch up” a “brawl” or a “fight.” Then they tend to call the police. Assault is a crime in Britain, and is defined as “any unwanted physical contact” but people still do it and the police are utterly arbitrary in whether they choose to enforce it or not, like most other things here. I know someone who got a criminal record for putting their hand on someone’s shoulder, and I know someone who got away with trying to kill their child after years of abuse. It varies.

Generally when looking at British words and phrases, when faced with the choice between a bigger or smaller word, we will use the smaller one. Water will always find it’s lowest level, and it’s the same with language – think about what the minimum is that you need to say to make yourself understood instead of trying to dress it up with loads of words or phrases that might be inaccurate. Communication is about understanding, and the only real rule of communication (at least, general communication, not specialized e.g. academia) is that if most people can’t understand you, you’re doing it wrong. I stated “most people” not “all” because you can’t please everyone and some people will just never understand you.

Keeping track of things

When I started Invoke Delight, I would read every blog post of everyone I was subscribed to, and I’d try to comment on them all, although sometimes I just didn’t know what to say (and I’m not so good at making up the “keep up the good work” type comments, they always sound stilted and forced coming from me).  But I’d still read everything, even though I didn’t always click like or comment.

More recently, I’ve still tried to read everything, but the output of some people is astounding, and as time goes on I’m finding it harder and harder to keep track of everything.

So I’m not going to.  I’m not going to read everything by everyone any more.  Sorry.  I’ve tried my best but I’m just getting fed up of constantly being behind and every day I go to bed just about on top of reading everyone’s blogs and I wake up and theres another billion for me to catch up on.  I can’t do it any more.

I will read articles that stand out as interesting.  I will comment if I feel it’s really necessary.  But I won’t catch up on every single post I missed every time I’m AFK for a few days because I just can’t.  There’s too many.

Sorry guys.  So if you want me to read an article, link me to it because I just can’t keep this up.  Otherwise I’ll just read what jumps out at me.

I feel really guilty about this because I feel like I’m letting everyone down by not reading every single thing you’ve written, but I know that I’m not getting time to update my own blogs enough because I’m spending too much time reading other peoples, which isn’t really right.

So please don’t be offended.  I haven’t stopped speaking to anyone or unfollowed anyone.  I’m just reading less stuff across the board and trying to feel less personally responsible for everyone else’s wellbeing.

Here’s a picture of some bunnies (Katie (ginger), Fifer (brown) and Sebastian (grey)):

Look at the bunnies... become one with the bunnies... the bunnies are all...
Look at the bunnies… become one with the bunnies… the bunnies are all…

Fewer than fifty people care if you use “less than” instead of “fewer than”

…And they’re all literature snobs.

Based on an article about how to write better travel articles (that was utterly ridiculous in its earnestness), I present you with the following poem about the rules of language.  This one goes out to all the Grammar Nazis out there; I am confident enough in my command of the English language to not need to correct other people’s SPAG. All grammatical “mistakes” in this piece are intentional; they are making my point.

Dear Heavenly Father, I come to confess for I have sinned.

I split no less than twelve infinitives this week,

Before addressing someone as “darling”

I started a sentence with “and”

Because I wanted to.

I misused the subjunctive by design.

I made this poem that doesn’t rhyme.****

I used contractions when I shouldn’t have,

And I didn’t use them when I should.

I referred to myself in the third person.

I used a cliche and exchanged metaphors for similes.

I alliterated all along a line and all across an article.

I made up my onomatopoeia.

And I published it just like that.

Where the whole wide world of internets could see it.

See how I pluralised “internet” when I shouldn’t have?

See how I carried forward the subject without reaffirming it?

Then, I used a few dozen adverbs and adjectives.

When someone spoke, I ended it with “said” instead

Of “asked, replied, exclaimed, howled or beseeched.”

Oh I beseech thee, I even used the same word twice in the same sentence.

Canst thou ever forgive me?”

And in a dream, God replied, and spake He:

“Last time I had anything to do with this ball of festering pus,

Everyone was speaking Latin and they were fighting over bits of wood.

What do I care if you break some arbitrary language rules?

Did you get your point across?

Did you share something with your readers?

Did you like what you’d written?

If so, who cares what Ms Rowling down the road is doing?

Who cares whether Strunk and White would have approved?

They wrote that stuff ages ago. In America.

American is a whole separate dialect to English; Australian;

Canadian; Scottish; South African and so on.

Are they qualified to tell you how to write in a global society,

As your language fuses in a new melting pot of accents and colloquialisms?

Language is fluid, growing, shaping itself and, at its heart,

Language is a tool for communicating.

If you’re getting bogged down with “less than” or “fewer than”

As long as it makes sense, and people can understand it,

It really doesn’t matter which you use.

Call it luncheon, call it dinner, call it tea,

It’s fine by me.

Just cos everyone else is wearing short socks, it doesn’t mean winter has ended.

They’re over there with their friends.

Oh, and tell them to stop fighting and to get off my lawn.”

**** See what I did there?  It’s called IRONY because I’m intentionally trying to avoid rhyming in order to let my language flow freely, but on this line, in order for the language to move how I willed it, It had to half-rhyme.  It’s also a COINCIDENCE because I’m talking about the very thing I’m trying to do in a couplet where I’m clearly not doing it.

That’s your English lesson for today.

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