Archive for stockholm

Power Reading

Posted in Life..., Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2009 by stanleyriiks

Since almost the beginning of this year, I’ve been, what I like to think of as, power reading. Taking the advice of Stephen King, not personally I’m afraid, but from his book On Writing, I’ve been reading as much as possible. Power reading, basically ever spare minute has been involved in reading, a spare moment at work, during the adverts of tv programmes (which I’ve cut back on), I’ve also started listening to audiobooks, so that H G Wells and Andre Norton tell me tales as I walk to work and wait for the opening credits at the cinema.

I haven’t played with my xbox since January.

I haven’t played with my girlfriend since May. She’s a damn sight harder not to play with than my xbox!

Every spare moment has been absorbed with reading.

It’s got to the point where my life is no longer split up into minutes, hours, days and weeks, but pages. While I run my bath I think I have time for twelve pages, between adverts is a two page stretch. Time is now counted in pages. Which of course becomes a little difficult when changing books, so it may well be time to demand that publishers don’t try to cram too many words onto a page and try to work between them to come up with the perfect number, with the perfect font size and just stick to that for every book. Harmonisation of words to a page is my new cause!

Anyways, this power reading over the last few months has become something of an obsession as I try to work through my quite considerable collection of books. I’ve managed to buy very few books this year, only about twenty, which isn’t too bad for me. But it still means I have about a thousand to go. Yikes!

Now, since the power reading marathon started I think I’ve managed to do a book in an average of three days. I can’t remember taking longer than four days to read a book this year. I have tried to stick to books of between three and four hundred pages. When power reading I find it’s more of a sprint to the end, so longer novels can get a bit sticky.

But this weekend I’m going to Copenhagen, to suffer the delights of Trivoli and another Scandinavian Capital City (last weekend away in July was to Stockholm). I know, poor me. My girlf loves all that is Scandinavian, and I can’t refuse a holiday opportunity, so on Friday off we go. But last Wednesday this left me with a dilemma. Do I start a nice short book and rush through it before we leave, or pick a huge book that will take me over the weekend. I pack light, and when I say light I mean minimal. We’ll be there for three nights, so I need three t-shirts, three pairs of underwear, three pairs of socks, a camera and charger, ipod and charger, phone and charger, toiletries (consisting of mini mouthwash, mini toothpaste, toothbrush, mini shower gel), and what I wear on the flight: jeans, t-shirt, waterproof jacket, sunglasses, trainers, socks and pants. I will take a small rucksack and it will be half filled, at most. So there is only room for one solitary book. Hence the dilemma.

I could probably have read a book in between, but I thought I’d use this opportunity to have a bit of a slow down, to take a break from the breakneck reading. So I chose an epic, a collection of novels, by the aforementioned King. Four Past Midnight, the paperback version obviously, to minimise weight in my rucksack. So I’m taking a break and having a rest, and will be intent on enjoying Copenhagen over the weekend, and once I get back and I’ve finished the epic collection of Mr King, I’ll be back on course for some more power reading, at least until I go to Berlin in October. Such a hard life!

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Ridiculous Reviews, Fascist media, and Antichrist

Posted in Life..., Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 23, 2009 by stanleyriiks

I was on a British Airways flight back from a weekend in Stockholm, lovely city by the way, plenty of museums, clean, efficient, and loads of ice cream; when I picked up the Daily Mail, a traditionally English tabloid, often lambasted for its view on johnny-foreigner, who are obviously to blame for all the ills of England.

The paper was free so I thought I’d flick through, the new is invariably bad so I tend not to watch or read it often, I find the several stabbing a day, rising crime, cheating and fraudulent politicians, all rather depressing. Most of the articles I barely read, more exciting staring out the window and waiting to get off the plane, it’s only just over two hours away.

When I got to the media reviews I found an article on Lars Von Trier’s new film Antichrist and read that with interest, and then rising disgust. The film is apparently sexually graphic, but that’s not what I found completely repugnant. It was the fact the reviewer had never even seen the film or intended to, he started off the article saying that he wouldn’t bring himself to watch such filth (I should have stopped right there), and then proceeded to say how evil, wrong, and corrupting the film was. How the film was not only a moral hazard, bound to turn even the most angelic of children into rapists and murderers, but also a sign of the liberal attitude of British Board of Film Classification. A Board which banned the erect penis from all films and kept hardcore pornography illegal until only a few years ago, British still has one of the strictest classification systems in the world, and certainly the strictest in Europe. Barring Albania obviously.

I don’t mind a film being completely ridiculed or critically torn apart, if it deserves it all the better. What I can’t stand, really can’t stand, is when someone gives an opinion, which will be taken seriously by many of the Mail’s readers, without one ounce of knowledge.

You cannot and should not be allowed to write a review of anything without having actually seen or read or heard some of it. Fair enough if the whatever is so bad you couldn’t make it all the way through, I wish I hadn’t wasted two hours of my life sitting through the hideousness that was Crank. But you must try, you must, with all integrity, attempt to watch the film.

To review it after reading what sounds like a brief plot summary from the publicists aimed at stirring up controversy, is prejudice of the highest order and really shouldn’t be allowed.

The fact that this non-review, a basic, hypocritical, bullying tirade is allowed to be published in a daily newspaper just makes me cringe. It makes me angry that such idiots, I say this without ever having met the reviewer, but obviously that isn’t important in making an informed decision about their intelligence, are allowed to spout such nonsense in a legitimate avenue of so-called journalism.

I haven’t watched Antichristso I won’t try to defend it or review it,  although I might get it on dvd, all that sex makes it sound very much like home-viewing material.

Reading, Controversy and Horror

Posted in Life..., Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2009 by stanleyriiks

Wow, I’ve just finished a marathon session reading The Kultby Shaun Jeffery, which is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year. A brutal thriller. I felt exhausted after the finale, like I’d experienced it right alongside the protagonist.

The reading part of being a writer is going well! It took my only two days to polish offThe Kult. Before that I dug deep into my book pile and got out The Gobbler by Adrian Edmondson, which was pretty good. Comedic novels aren’t my favourite genre, but it’s good to have a laugh every now and then to relieve the horror and terror that are my usual entertainments.

Before that the Eyewitness Guide to Stockholm, which is a bit of a strange one, trying to take on all these facts and marking off almost everything in the book because I want to see it when I go visit with my girlfriend next month. Woohoo! A holiday! Desperately needed, I must say.

In between the reading I managed to write one story. It’s pretty raw still, needs major editing, but I think it’s pretty good. Bit controversial. It’s about a young teenage boy who kills his thirteen year old sister by accident when playing an erotic asphyxiation game. The fact that both of them are underage I consider a problem ethically. Normally I’d steer clear of anything underage, just because it makes me feel uncomfortable. But I felt the story needed something extra to make it more… horrifying.

And then I got to thinking about what makes a horror story. Some of them make us feel disgusted, some of them make us feel pain, hurt, horror, lonely, neglect, uncomfortable… Horror is such a limited categorisation in some ways. I think the point of all art is to make the reader/viewer feel. The works that have impacted most upon me: The Lord of The Rings, Star Wars, Dracula, are the ones which had the biggest emotional impact.

So, if a story makes you feel uncomfortable, if the point is for you not to enjoy it, does that mean it works? And does that make it legitimate? Or is it just best to steer clear of controversy?