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Knaw says...

You shouldn't be in the circus if you can't ride two horses.

I'm Not Dead.
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knaw
Moving from LiveJournal to Wordpress is like using your local playpark for years, then visiting Blackpool. The number and quality of features in their free account wipes the floor with the paid ones here. So to follow me generally, head for http://www.gavincameron.me.uk.

However, I've no plans to give up LJ just yet. It's much better to watch a Blu-Ray, but sometimes it's nice just to pop in a video. Also, how would I keep track of the other stalwarts. They include, but are not limited to webgirluk, deliriums_dream, moseleyjules, and faunal_fantasy.

At Your Inconvenience.
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knaw
Just before Christmas, I found out from a friend that I could have been on a phone tariff with a better data allowance. That night, annoyed I wasn't offered it in the first place, I phoned up Orange and I was swapped over to the better rate, and it would take effect from the very next bill.

Last week, I received an e-mail giving me the chance to swap to the EE network. While a terrible name for a company, they promised 4G with selected phones, including mine. Determined not to be left behind again, I swapped on Saturday. I expected a bit of a problem, but it went just as smoothly as my last contact with them. All I need to do is wait for the SIM card to be sent out, pop it in, and be one step ahead of said friend once more.

As I was writing this, I realised that the early entries in this LiveJournal actually talk about installing a 33K modem in the back of a PC. 4G and all those whizz-bangs are progress for the better, I'd say.

Next on my list, a national-rate call to Pure Gym, although I called for half the price by using Skype. I joined in early January, and asked to delay it for two months while I cancelled my old contract. However, they took out £18.99 straight away instead of the £5.99 freeze fee. But it turned out that this had been for the first month's fee, and there's no freeze fee if you've just joined, only if you're an existing member. Happy days.

I've only been in once so far, but if it hadn't been recommended by a couple of people, I'd've been put off because it's not very welcoming to new people. When I went there, I had to press the buzzer and wait for an assistant to come out, who took some details then showed me around, but I gathered the impression that it was done reluctantly. The same when I went back to join, and I was directed to their terminal and left to get on with it. But I'll hold my full judgement until I start there properly.

Before my aforementioned calls, I decided to try printing some information from my phone using wireless printing. The theory is that you place the device on the printer, switch on the NFC function, and it prints what's on the screen. Not quite.

For a start, there was no chance to preview what would be sent. It just went ahead and did it. I also thought it would be fine to remove the phone once the data had been transferred, but it stopped halfway through. When I tried it again, it kept spitting out page after duplicate page, so I lifted it off. This time, the printer kept going and even the its Stop button had no effect. I ended up pulling out the plug simply to avoid wasting paper. It couldn't have been incompatibility because both the phone and the printer are Samsung.

But I will persist with this. I didn't let a 33K modem beat me in 2003 and I certainly won't let a laser printer beat me in 2014.

Enough is Enough.
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knaw
I think society has now agreed that the year should be pronounced twenty-fourteen rather than two thousand and fourteen. It saves two syllables, which add up if you say them often enough.

And that usually means it's time for my traditional review of the previous year, done by taking the first two sentences of each month's entry. However, when I attempted to compile it, most of them are Music Monday or Saturday Mission posts, so I've skipped it this year. I attribute this partly to my other blog, http://www.gavincameron.me.uk, dedicated solely to writing.

Many changes have happened to me this year. In chronological order, I've had two short stories published, changed jobs, come out of a long-term relationship, upgraded my phone and tariff, and stopped volunteering at hospital radio to concentrate on said writing. I've also taken some time out this December to watch some of the DVDs I've bought but never played. I'm currently working my way through The Prisoner.

On Friday, I visited Glasgow to see Iain and Andy from university. I went there by bus and returned by train, as it worked out cheapest. We went for a China Buffet King, then to a couple of bars. The following morning, Iain and I went out for breakfast and a few errands before I returned to Dundee.

He also told me that he had joined Pure Gym, where he receives support from a personal trainer, so I joined up today. It's a trade-off, as my existing gym is more expensive and doesn't offer trainers but allows me to use any council gym or swimming pool in the city. However, I reasoned I used the city centre facility most, rarely swam, and needed someone to kick me in the pants and give me a proper exercise plan. Pure fitted the bill on that front. The only snag is that I need to freeze it for two months while the notice period for my existing gym expires.

One of my Christmas presents was a Fitbit Flex, which tracks how active you are. I've nicknamed it Santa because it senses you when you're sleeping and knows when you're awake. It's provided me with some interesting data about how restless I am at night. I'll have to conquer that with a dose of valium, or simply going to bed earlier.

Normally, I set myself firm targets for the year, but I'm not doing it this year for two reasons. Firstly, looking back on the targets I've set over the past couple of years, I've reluctantly realised that it would be a stretch do meet them all. It's what economists call an opportunity choice. If you spend your money on one item, you can't spend it on another, and the same goes for time. Secondly, who knows what changes will take place this year? For example, I didn't know in January 2013 that I'd wind up my video blog.

So this year's target is simple, but still firm: to become far more productive. Specifically, I aim to work more, to write more, stop putting off jobs, and stop wasting time. If LiveJournal still exists in 2015, and it might not, I'll let you know how I got on.

#MusicMonday - I Want an Alien For Christmas by Fountains of Wayne.
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knaw
Released: 1997.

Highest UK chart position: 36.

YouTube:




Spotify:




Carry on grooving.

#MusicMonday - Christmas at the Airport by Nick Lowe.
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knaw
It's tempting to think that the last Christmas songs were written in the 1970s, but the one below was released this year.

Released: 2013.

Highest UK chart position: Has not charted, according to EveryHit.com.

YouTube:




Spotify:




Carry on grooving.

My Mad Month.
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knaw

Back in the olden days of LiveJournal, when only birds twittered and a face book was a collection of mugshots, I had a go at stemboy for using the word My at the start of his entries, in homage to the episode titles of medical sitcom Scrubs. I never did apologise for this insult, so if he's reading this, I admit I was wrong to tell him how to write his entries.

November is generally a busy time for me. This year, all the madness seemed to mash into one mighty ball of pandemonium. It all seemed to be centred around one theme.

Primarily, National Novel Writing Month commanded the full thirty days of November. The challenge, if you don't already know, is to bang out a 50,000-word novel in this time. Naturally, anything written at this speed – 1667 words per day – is going to be a first draft. But that's fine, it can be edited in the future.

With the sole exception of the very first day, my word count always reached above the daily target, and I reached the 50,000 on 27 November, at which point I stopped as I'd run out of material. The actual total was 50,029 words, thirteen short of my very first attempt in 2010. Last year, by contrast, I reached 60,000 by the last day, and I'd barely scratched the surface of the plot.

I always knew that my evening class would clash with this, a life writing course at the University. This concentrates on memoir, autobiography, and also touches on biography. The tutor has had books published exploring the losses in her own life, and she tries to draw ours out through prompts such as an early memory, a map of the favourite place, and discussion of an abstract noun. There will be a second run of classes in January, and I've just received confirmation through the post today. So far, I've kept up with the homework, but I haven't yet looked at this week's prompt.

On top of this, my regular writing teacher Zoë Venditozzi began a new run of her own classes at a recently-opened café. The inside is panelled like an ancient cargo ship, with wooden crates covering every surface, and it's very conducive to writing, even when some customers came in on the first week and were treated to a free story reading. As usual, it's given me a lot of ideas for new stories, including the two that have been published.

And now is as good a time as any to plug them. The first one is still available: A Big Leap, published in an anthology by The Fiction Desk; while my complimentary copy of FourW, included as part of a collection by the Wagga Wagga Writers' Centre, arrived just yesterday from Australia. It's very exciting to see your name in print beside a high standard of writing from other authors, and although I'd read the proof, I was a little concerned about errors creeping in, but there were none.

On Friday of last week, I was invited to what was billed as a night of poetry and cabaret as part of Book Week Scotland. I arrived early and met some of the performers, a poetry duo known as Rally & Broad, and a woman called Lake Montgomery who played moody tunes on an acoustic guitar. A lot of the material from the other three poets' acts within the Dundee dialect, which I can translate but I don't naturally speak, and I don't think a lot of the audience understood it. Still, it provided some inspiration for a poem of my own.

I wasn't invited to read at that event, but I intend to perform that poem on Monday, along with three others, at the writers' open-mike night Hotchpotch. If you’re in Dundee and want to read or just listen, that begins 7:30pm at Caffé Borsa. Other upcoming highlights include The Lament Room on Thursday at The Little Theatre, beginning 4:30pm, then a Literary Salon in the Central Library straight afterwards.

With all these writerly happenings, I intend to ease back a little in December. This is not a break, but an overdue opportunity to catch up with the films and TV box sets that I've bought this year, but never had a chance to watch.

November is also my birth month, and I took a little time out my writing schedule to go with my parents and my former hospital radio co-presenter Marc to a surprise location that turned out to be the Glenturret distillery in Crieff. There, they make one of the whiskies that goes into the Famous Grouse blended malt.

We booked the tour, which takes you through each part of the building and explains the various processes that make up this spirit. The air in the area is so thick with unrefined alcohol that you’re asked to switch off your phone and not to take any photographs in case there's an explosion. It was frustrating because I brought my new semi-professional camera to record the day, although I still did manage to take some excellent snaps in places such as the restaurant, where we ate haggis, potatoes and turnips.

We'd already tried their newest brand Snow Grouse, which is designed to be drunk cold, but ended up back in the restaurant as we’d also booked an enhanced tour to sample three more whiskies from an etched wooden tray including: Macallan, Black Diamond, and the last one, whose name I'm sure will come back to me once I've posted this. I didn't manage them all, since my companions were giving me theirs, but we all have a souvenir glass from the day. It was a wonderful surprise, and I'd like to go back there in the future.

More immediately, my work's Christmas night out is tomorrow. One of the reasons I keep my job is to hear the gossip that comes from the party. No, you're not getting to hear about it.

And finally, a reminder of where else you can find me on the Internet. If you want to hear more about my writing, head to www.gavincameron.me.uk, or if you know me personally, this is my Facebook profile. Anyone can also follow me on Google+ or on Twitter. And if you would like to send any Snapchat photos, I'm LadyGavGav.


Carry on.


Crappy Diem.
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knaw
I can't sleep. I'm starting to think I might never sleep again. I'm tired, exhausted, yet I can't get any rest.

Send valium.


Carry on.
Tags:

#MusicMonday - Hey Jude by The Beatles.
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knaw
With the St Jude storm in the wild just now, what better song to sing as your house is blown away?

Also, listen out for the phrase, "F...ing hell," at about 2m 57s on the YouTube version. Once you know it's there, it's very obvious. The Beatles don't allow most of their music on Spotify, so instead I've posted a live version by Paul McCartney.

Released: 1968.

Highest UK chart position: 1.

YouTube:




Spotify:




Carry on grooving.

#MusicMonday - Walk On The Wild Side by Lou Reed.
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knaw
In a bizarre coincidence, I was listening to The Velvet Underground on the day I heard about Lou Reed's death. Here's my favourite track of his.

Released: 1973.

Highest UK chart position: 10.

YouTube:




Spotify:




Carry on grooving.

The Big Sleep and The Bechdel Test.
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knaw
Once a month, I go to a film club. Each one is based on a book, and is shown in the library cinema – what, doesn't your library have one? This month, The Big Sleep, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, which I watched while eating an Italian BMT from Subway.

It's an excellent film, packing a classic detective story into just under two hours, an unusually long duration for 1946. You can read the synopsis here, but it mention that that it fails the Bechnel test.

This test was devised by feminist cartoonist Alison Bechdel in 1985. In a strip called The Rule, a female character says that she only watches films that:

  1. have at least two women in it,

  2. who talk to each other,

  3. about something besides a man.

In this case, the women who share screen time are sisters Vivian Rutledge and Carmen Sternwood, satisfying the first rule. But it falls flat at the second because one says to the other, "Come on, we're leaving," but the other doesn't answer, so they don't talk to each other. If there had been a reply, it might have passed by a hair.

In case you thought Hollywood had addressed this situation, even today's films fall short. BechdelTest.com contains a list of modern titles that trip up, including Avatar, The Social Network and even Kick-Ass. Next time you're at the pictures, watch out for this phenomenon.


Carry on.

#MusicMonday - Eve 2012 by Barry McGuire.
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knaw
Over the last few years, Barry McGuire has been updating his track. Here's how it stood last year.

Released: 2012.

Highest UK chart position: Did not chart, according to EveryHit.com.

YouTube:




Spotify:




Carry on grooving.

#MusicMonday - The Eve of Destruction by Barry McGuire.
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knaw
The track that encapsulated the Vietnam generation.

Released: 1965.

Highest UK chart position: 3.

YouTube:



Spotify:




Carry on grooving.

What Does The Fox Say?
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knaw
Fresh fields

I've started a new blog exclusively for writing about writing: http://www.gavincameron.me.uk. It might look unusual, but it's a valid domain, and it links to a Wordpress site.

The difference between LiveJournal and WP? Ye gods! I knew I was living under a rock here, yet I didn’t realise the exact extent until I received nine likes between my first two posts, and several followers. The basic functions over there wipe the floor with the premium offerings here. However, I've no plans to give up good old LJ in the foreseeable future. It might be an old and crusty dinosaur, but it's my old and crusty dinosaur.


Films

On something of a whim, I went to see Sunshine on Leith on Saturday, adapted from the eponymous stage play. I'm not one for musicals, but it's a story built around the songs of The Proclaimers, and I thought it would be a laugh. It reminded me of Mamma Mia! with a little Gary: Tank Commander sprinkled in.

The characters were all well-cast, but Jane Horrocks easily puts in the best performance, not only nailing the Edinburgh accent, but singing in it as well. If I told you much more, I'd probably spoil what there is of a plot.


Flickr

The other day, I was all set to make another video post to Tumblr. I use a paid Flickr account to host the videos because it allows you much more storage space than Tumblr's own hosting facility. I uploaded the file all right, and then I tried to embed it.

I found I'd been opted into a new layout, with no obvious opt-out and no embed code. They do have a specific button for posting to Tumblr, but I can't find how to connect it. The alternative is to install a toolbar bookmark, but then I can only use it on this computer. On top of that, my videos are emblazoned with Video Support Coming Soon. That's no use to man nor beast

Flickr have said on Twitter that the link and embed options are coming soon, but how often do you hear that on the Internet? I haven't come to a complete decision yet, but based on what I've seen, I'm not renewing my paid subscription, and I might make future posts with Vimeo instead.


Foliage

Does anyone else keep a special pair of shoes and trousers for cutting the grass? The shoes always turn up, but the trousers are forever going missing. I've attached a keyring to one of the belt loops so I now know which ones they are.

I had a lot of difficulty getting the mower out of the shed thanks to the Mitsubishi roof rack that has been slowly slipping down to floor level. Once I'd finished the cut, I couldn't get the wheels back over it, so I decided to remove the rack. But to remove the rack, I had to remove an assortment of glassware and china from a broken plastic box. It was already getting dark and I had no light in the shed to work with, so it's a miracle that nothing was smashed. I'm going to have to get in there at some point and clear it out properly.

With any luck, there won't be too many more cuts this year. I find it quite relaxing to do, and I was listening to Franz Ferdinand's new album as I went around, which I think is better than their first. But my favourite album at the moment is Roaring 20s by Rizzle Kicks, featuring the production skills of Norman Cook. Unfortunately, Jamie Cullum also appears, but it's so well done that you barely notice him.


Filth

Recently, I’ve noticed I’ve not been as pernickety about germs as I used to be. There was a point when I wouldn’t even eat cold leftover pizza the following morning. But while I still have some limits, I’ll now quite happily reuse a plate for something else if it still has my toast crumbs on it, or fill up a glass that’s waiting to be washed beside the sink.

Is this something that happens to everyone eventually, or am I just slowly becoming fed up of loading the dishwasher?


Fox

According to one Angelfire user, the sounds of a fox are similar to that of a dog. Perhaps Ylvis should take a look.


Carry on.

#MusicMonday - Can't Be Tamed by Miley Cyrus.
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knaw
No. I wouldn't do that to you.


Carry on grooving... to something else.

#MusicMonday - What Becomes of the Brokenhearted? by Jimmy Ruffin.
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knaw
Everyone knows this track inside out. However, the YouTube video is a rare version featuring a spoken introduction that was taken out of the final mix. It's also about 20 seconds longer and in stereo. That version isn't on Spotify, so I've posted the classic one from there.

Released: 1966

Highest UK chart position: 4 (in 1974).

YouTube:



Spotify.




Carry on grooving.

#MusicMonday - My Prerogative by Bobby Brown.
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knaw
It's probably your prerogative as well.

Released: 1988.

Highest UK chart position: 6.

YouTube:



Spotify:


#MusicMonday - Is She Really Going Out With Him? by Joe Jackson
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knaw
Today's four-play starts with a question I sometimes I ask myself when I see good-looking women with hideous guys around town.

Released: 1979.

Highest UK chart position: 15.

YouTube:



Spotify:




Carry on grooving.

Your #SaturdayMission for 2013-10-12.
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knaw
This week's Saturday Mission:

See if you can make up your entire week's shopping using only products on special offer.

Let us know how it goes.


Carry on.

#MusicMonday - Pass the Courvoisier Part II by Busta Rhymes / P Diddy / Pharrell.
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knaw
The last of our odd bunch this week.

Released: 2002.

Highest UK chart position: 16.

YouTube:



Or listen to this track on Spotify.


Carry on grooving.

#MusicMonday - Luka by Suzanne Vega.
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knaw
The Spotify link is an acoustic version.

Released: 1987.

Highest UK chart position: 23.

YouTube:



Or listen to this track on Spotify.


Carry on grooving.

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