‘ahems and ahahs’

Literature, & Etc.

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One Nation…..

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…Under God, well maybe not God, maybe Literature.

Erin and I were in the Crapters recently and she asked me an intriguing literary question. If you could only read one nation’s work of literature, the authors must have a birth certificate from this nation and (here is the fun part) you are restricted from reading authors outside of this nation, which nation do you choose?

It is a difficult question to answer. So many wonderful authors from so many different countries: Ireland, Great Britain, Japan, United States, India, Mexico.

Going to think on this for a bit and will respond later, but enjoy. Cheers.

Written by thebeliever07

August 31, 2009 at 10:43 am

Posted in media, news, random

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‘Smoking Martyr’

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I do not personally smoke cigarettes. But let me be clear, I have no problem with people that do smoke as long as it does not get in my face as I hate the smell and would rather not breathe it in.

The following article is interesting though: ‘Smoking Martyr’ Lynn Barber pulls out of festival.

Barber, who writes for the Observer, was due to appear at Richmond’s Book Now festival in November to discuss her memoir, An Education, which tells of the destructive affair she began as a teenager with an older man who picked her up at a bus stop. Her publisher Penguin had supplied a black and white photograph of Barber for inclusion in the festival’s brochure, embroidered scarf around her neck, head thrown back, cigarette in mouth.

But Richmond council deemed that using a picture of an author smoking went against its responsibility to encourage “good health habits”, and asked Barber to provide another. She declined and pulled out of the festival, saying that she had “always wanted to be a Smoking Martyr and obviously this is my opportunity”.

“If a pic of me smoking is such a threat to the good burghers of Richmond, imagine what my presence would do,” she said this morning. Barber, winner of five British Press awards, is also the author of a study of Victorian naturalists, The Heyday of Natural History, along with How to Improve Your Man in Bed and The Single Woman’s Sex Book.

I believe that this festival has every right to deny access or limit the types of people that attend and this includes the type of documentation that they publish (advertising, etc). But even though they have every right to do this it seems a bit much to ask that a photograph of an author be replaced because deemed unworthy of the “good health habits’ that the festival wished to promote.

Lynn-Barber-001This is a book festival not a health fair. I could understand if the primary sponsors of this festival was an organization that was about lung cancer or something of that nature, but this is a festival. Should the festival censor the types of writing that authors and publishers are promoting. God forbid an author have a character that smokes or does drugs or dare I even think it: have sex.

The festival responds as follows:

“A Richmond council spokesman said: “We don’t like to use images of people smoking in our promotional material. As a local authority we are responsible for encouraging good health habits in the area, and to be seen to be endorsing smoking, no matter how unintentional, doesn’t complement this.”

What do you think? Is it out a bit much for the festival to demand this photo be changed? I think that she was right to pull out of the festival. I’m sure that if other authors were scrutinized along with their photographs someone, anyone, would find  a reason to object.

I am going to hold a Literary Festival of my own and invite famous authors and publishers but I swear to God if I see one photograph of an author sitting in an armchair it’s off with your damn head.

Your thoughts and commentary?

Written by thebeliever07

August 24, 2009 at 2:49 pm

A book should be a book, right?

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I’ve read two recent articles over at the Guardian and it has made me reflect on a trend that seems to be occurring at the moment, the blending of mixed media when it comes to the book form.

booksfuture1

Nick Cave, a musician, poet, artist, actor, dare I say it: renaissance man recently released: “Nick Cave’s new novel The Death of Bunny Munro – the story of a sex-maniac travelling salesman taking his last road trip – goes to market through the iPhone App Store, in an enhanced edition that is being launched before the print version.”

The enhanced app has the following advantages:

you can faff with fonts, change colour, bookmark it, and so on; and there’s some smart social networking stuff attached. But it also includes enhancements that could have a noticeable effect on the experience of reading. Instead of paginating the book conventionally, it’s presented as a continuous vertical scroll (one geek-pleasing trick is that you can adjust the scrolling speed with the angle of tilt of the phone), and the App includes an audiobook that syncs with the written text. Pop on the headphones, thumb the screen and Cave’s voice picks up where you left off.

So the question is? Is all of that necessary for the enjoyment of a book? Thomas Pynchon’s latest release Inherent Vice now has an added feature to “enhance” the reading. Pynchon has released a playlist to accompany the reading:

a list of the songs which feature in Inherent Vice, which follows the story of pot-smoking private eye Larry “Doc” Sportello. From The Beach Boys (God Only Knows and Help Me, Rhonda) to The Beatles (Can’t Buy Me Love), Frank Sinatra (Fly Me to the Moon) and Pink Floyd (Interstellar Overdrive), the soundtrack, whichhe designed for Amazon.com, is a journey through the music of the 1960s, the setting for his new novel.

It also includes a few fictional tunes: a song “performed” by Doc himself, Skyful of Hearts, as well as providing a nod to Scott Oof of Vineland fame, whose band Beer “performs” the theme song from The Big Valley.

Again, I have to ask if all of this is necessary for the reading of a book? I guess on the one hand I can understand that in today’s modern world with all of the distractions that are constantly around us, I can understand the desire to add some pizzazz and punch to a work of art in any medium to attract people so that they generate some interest and passion for the work. But it is also sad that it takes this much excess to draw the eye.

A book cannot be a book anymore, it must have a playlist, it must be read to us, it must glow in the dark and be downloaded instantly into our minds.

The fact that books now have “trailers” astounds me and I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not? Good in catching the eye, but as I’ve said, bad because this signifies that we are too caught up in the light-show and that these works cannot simply stand on their own now.

I enjoy mixed media and I support the arts in all of its forms, but still, sometimes a book should just be a book. Maybe I’m turning into a curmudgeon (I can hear Erin saying outloud, “turning into….” with a very particular tone).

Your thoughts?

Written by thebeliever07

August 12, 2009 at 4:15 pm

Links Galore:

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Enjoy:

Thirty-Two pages of mispelled 😉 signs in New York City, New York. The commentary is also delightful.

This next one is amazing and something I am quite thankful to have stumbled across. For all my fellow Bibliophibians: The Book Seer. Type in the name of the book you’ve just finished, and The Book Seer will provide recommendations for your next read.

I am not a big fan of Kevin Smith films in general. I find there to be a certain amount of pretension that just gets on my nerves, probably because I have a similar personality and dislike for all things in the world that anger me. That being said, his blog is hilarious at times and I was trolling around on mefi when I stumbled upon this dated but hilarious post: “On the Perils of Strip Clubs”.

First seen on the web this week, posters have sprung up in LA and Atlanta. Interesting discussions on the WashingtonPost.com site. Many different ideas about the posters and their significance. Tampa Bay Times also takes up the debate.

And this is just cool, that’s all for this your most current Links Galore post. Enjoy.

Written by thebeliever07

August 11, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Links Galore:

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Links Galore:

  1. Amazon takes a page from Orwell, literally.
  2. Merln’s Beard! Editing and proofing are important.
  3. Barbie, now with more authentic-looking black features.
  4. Smoke if you got ’em.
  5. Quietube| Video without the distractions.

Written by thebeliever07

July 22, 2009 at 8:38 am

R.I.P. Frank McCourt

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I’ve not had the chance to read any Frank McCourt but I’ve listened to a few interviews about his thoughts on writing and teaching and someone who had that much passion for teaching children will certainly be missed.

mcc1-007“You have to study and learn so that you can make up your own mind about history and everything else but you can’t make up an empty mind. Stock your mind, stock your mind. It is your house of treasure and no one in the world can interfere with it.” – Frank McCourt (Angela’s Ashes) –

Cheers.

Written by thebeliever07

July 21, 2009 at 7:49 am

Independent Safeguarding Authority

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I used to think that the United States was pretty intense in its fear mongering of all those “what if” scenarios… What if 9/11 were to happen again? What if we ignore the threat to our security and Al-Queda sneaks into the country and kidnaps your children and brainwashes them into zombie sleeper agents?

But the more I read the Guardian and the more I look at the politics of Great Britain, the happier I am to be in Canada.

There has been some concern of a recent proposal put forth by the “Independent Safeguarding Authority”:

Set up in response to the murders of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells by school caretaker Ian Huntley in 2002, the Independent Safeguarding Authority will vet all individuals who work with children from October this year, requiring them to register with a national database for a fee of £64.

The Vetting and Barring Scheme is managed by the Independent Safeguarding Authority, which was set up in response to the 2002 Soham murders, committed by former school caretaker Ian Huntley. It kicks off this October, requiring the 11.3m people across the education, care and health industries who work with children to register – for a £64 fee – on a national database.

Guardian

Philip Pullman, noted children’s author, has stated that he will not comply with any such requests and I think that he hit it right on the head.

107782.full

There are several reasons why this form of “security” or “vetting” is ridiculous. First off, when you invite someone to speak at your school, for the most part they are people of some importance: scholars or academics, writers, film-makers, actors, people who have a name. I mean why else would they be invited there. So I’m thinking that most of these types of people are not going to be doing things that are harmful towards children.

Secondly, if these noted persons who are invited into the school are being left in a position where they are on a one on one basis with a child, then your concern should not be directed towards the person who has been invited into the school but the school administration itself and the way they handle your children and their safety.

Third, I am not saying that we should not inspect people who come into schools. This whole issue is in response to a murder that took place after a caretaker at a school attacked two students. If the schools want to require a mandatory check of all bags and/or some kind of metal detection, whatever, by all means go for it.

But to require people to pay money to enter a database, hmm, why not ask them to wear some kind of insignia on their sleeve so that we can identify these persons.

Think about it, what if this starts a precedent where Academics are singled out. It’s a slippery and scary slope.

I’m glad that people like Philip Pullman are speaking out against this type of inane fear mongering. I’m inclined to agree with him as he asked why he:  “should have to pay £64 to a government agency to be given a certificate saying ‘I’m not a paedophile’. It’s so ludicrous that it’s almost funny, but it’s not funny, it’s actually rather dispiriting and sinister.”

What’s scary though is that the current “Children’s Laureate” thinks that writers should comply.

I’m all for the safety of children, nothing is more important. But, this seems like a bit much.

Interested in your thoughts?

*EDIT/UPDATE

Anyone who has “regular” or “intense” contact with children or vulnerable adults will by law have to sign up to the Vetting and Barring Scheme from November 2010.

“Regular” is defined as more than once a month and “intense” as three times a month or more, the Home Office says. BBC.com

Ok, so this seems a bit more reasonable as people who have authority and are likely to be models for students to look up to should be held under a more rigorous standard, as we expect the same checks on our teachers and principals.

I still see this as a bit scary though. At what point do we say enough is enough, should are children be locked up at home and only taught by parents, because no matter how much they vett and interogate there will always be an element that gets through, its horrid to envision, but its true.

Just had a very intense discussion with Mrs. Karriana about how far is too far when it comes to this issue. As much as I respect these types of policies and laws to keep children safe, I worry about the precedent it sets. How much “Think of the children…..” fear mongering can we have and at what civil cost? Something I want people to consider before they attack me for letting the pedophiles into the school system. The Government does not discriminate. It is often very much black/white. Suppose you commit a minor offense as a young adult, you get caught with some pot or something like that, and now you have a record. If policies like the one set above in UK are put forth it sets a precedent that allows for legislation to be passed that prevents anyone with a record from entering school grounds. So now you’re screwed for something early on in life, as if people do not grow up or change or sometimes shit just happens. What if you get caught with a bag that is not your own and heaven forbid the police mess up with evidence, b/c we know that doesn’t happen, what then, you’re punished for life. It’s all or none when it comes to children. Parents are fallible and I’m not saying let rapists into the school, but things happen in life, we have to be weary that in the name of the children, our own civil liberties are not lost. Something to consider.

Written by thebeliever07

July 16, 2009 at 7:29 am