Friday, 25 January 2013

Book Club Discussion!

   So back in the beginning of January I picked the book Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

  I thought that I would post some questions and thoughts, on here as well as on facebook.
  So I want to say at the beginning I really really liked this book all the way through, I thought that it was plotted really well and I really liked the characters in the book. I did have some problems with how physical appearance was represented in the novel as well as how overwhelmingly white to protagonists are, but these are minor in comparison to how much I thought it was a great read. I read it two guys guys so i really liked it!

  So in no particular order here are some questions:

   Do you think that you have to be familiar with all of the eighties pop culture in the book to enjoy it?

   How do you think the games in the book reflect the world created in the novel?

   What did you think about reality versus virtual worlds in the book?

   Did you have any problems with the book?

   What did you think about the theme of quest and the levels within the book?

   How did you think the romance was portrayed?

   I will probably do a follow up post about questions etc. next week.

   Anyway I am going to think about next month's book I am thinking about Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn which I have heard good things about but know pretty much nothing about, which worked very well about this book! Hope all have had a good week.


Sunday, 13 January 2013


   OK hair I think has always been a thing in sexuality going back to nude paintings of women without the pubic hair that I am assuming that they must have had. Hair is not something to be afraid of in my experience.

   I also find it super amusing that the hair on your head seems to fine and can practically do anything to it and not get any weird looks. There are entire magazines devoted to what women would like to do their hair. From frosted blue and cut close the head, to I don't know modelling it to birds or putting feathers in your curls. Go free seems society to the hair that is freely seen.

   There seems to be a strange obsession with hair on legs, arm pits and most of all your pubic hair. Maybe this is the fault of porn, or maybe just trying to make women uniform. Who knows? But this definitely seems a very modern phenomena.

   I have also noticed that people often try and reassure women that men don't care. It reminds me of that scene in the movie Eat, Pray Love when the two women are eating pizza there is a discussion of what they are eating. Julia Roberts (I do like a lot of the book but I don't think it translated very well on the screen) says to her friend essentially it's fine to eat good pizza that men don't care about a few extra pounds, once they have you naked in the room he's won the lottery. This sort of does try, but it really is about the man's reaction to you.

   I think this is framing the question wrong. Why is anybody talking about it to begin with? The person that you should be framing that question towards is you. Extra pounds should not be weighed about whether some guy is going to reject you and giving him the power. I think you should be the person most important in your decisions.

    I would also say that this applies to hair on your legs or your armpits, or indeed your pubic hair. I say own what you want. It is difficult, I do have to say that I do still shave my armpits but I don't think anyone would really care if I didn't. I only really only do it when I am swimming. It is really down to laziness rather than being a weirdo.

   The point is I am hopefully making this decision based on what i want. I think a good rule of thumb is 90% of people don't give a shit what you do, think about the stuff that you do I am too involved to be honest in what I am thinking instead of whatever anyone else is doing. No one is going to care is my theory.

   What I think would be the best thing, is people not caring whether women have hair or not. I just wish in public discussions about art and media that the appearance of people didn't matter, and nobody gave a hoot whether women had their legs shaved or not.

   There are plenty of other things to be doing that give for me personally much more pleasure, like listening to Aretha Franklin, or baking, or doing suduko or I don't know plotting how to make a puppet show. All much more interesting to me than worrying about hair. I love strange hair though so I say do whatever you want with your hair, because you are the most important person in that situation.

Girl Groups

   I am not talking about The Spice Girls here (though important to me at the age of 10, but I am giving myself a pass to that as I was young and we all do stupid things when we are young. Indluding I have say belting out 2 become 1 wihout understanding what that song was about for far too long). What I want to talk about is the 60s.

   I love the Supremes and I think I really like Baby Love, You Can't Hurry Love and Who's Loving You. I also have really got into Gladys Knight and Pips I really love the song Every Beat of My Heart, her voice is amazing, and I also really like their cover of I Heard it Through the Grapevine.

   There are many of the girl groups of the sixties, and I have not listened to one that I really liked. In some ways I think they are the forgotten music of that period, they are definately not the blast of rock and roll but for me I am just discovering how wonderful the music is.

   So that is what I am recommending this week 60s girl groups, long may I listen to them, the music is awesome.

Monday, 7 January 2013


   I wanted to offer some things that don't cost much money. I wanted this as twin with the previous post, to offer some practical advice. This is to say not having money sucks, but there are still things that you can do, some mean no money at all, some require a little.

   So here are some things that gave me real pleasure, in fact a lot of them still give me pleasure.

   Go for a walk. I know this has probably been beaten to the ground in self help books and alike but it is nice to do, and sometimes if you walk you really see something. It might be the light catching metal or the way leaves rustle on the ground, either way it is refreshing and requires minimal effort and no money. I find walking on paths you walk every day can be enlightening if you really enjoy the experience and embrace it. This is the only thing that you are concentrating on and let the feeling wash over you. i find even in the rain it makes me feel better, if for only ten minutes.

   Go to the library. Being in a library makes me happy. Borrowing books is always free (where I am now borrowing audio books is free as well). Go into any library and browse to your hearts content. Just seeing a lot of books in one space makes me really happy. I could make it my life's goal to read every book in the place (skipping a few that were awful but I would try and read all that were interesting). You can also sit and read in a library without being bothered most of the time.

   Joining and borrowing from the library. You do need proof of address in order to do this, but I think most people can provide that. Borrowing books is great, also with libraries you can borrow the latest books without having to buy them. You can borrow DVDs and music from the library (those do come with a charge though), but you do get to keep them for a time and see whether you like the things that you have gotten out.

   Go to an art gallery. Most are free in the UK. I always try when I am London to see art while I am there it is free to see and it can very often surprise you. There are often surprising places that you can see art for free, it is to me worth the bus or train ride to see something that is surprising. If you can walk there all the better.

   Buy your food in a market. This one can be difficult, if you live near one then great, vegetables and fruit are cheaper there. You can often find staples like pasta and canned stuff for a lot less there too, as well as meat. This is obviously contingent on one being near you. If you live really far out of town as I do, it makes little sense to be lugging this stuff for miles. But there are things like cheese, chocolate and book stalls that have things sold reasonably and is worth the journey to get them.

   Not all I have listed above require money, and the ones that I am going to list do. But there are places you can get stuff at a good price.

   Charity shops. I am going to list this as one resource, a great place to find presents in terms of Christmas and Birthdays. They are great place to get books (for a book addict like me finding books priced as 50p or a £1 they are a treasure trove. And if you find Sarah Addison Allen's books for under a pound like me you might emit a gasp of delight right there in the shop). It is also good for clothes though if you are over a size 20 like me they are hard to find, but if shopping for someone else it is a good place to find some nice things. Also good places to find scarves and other knick knacks.

   In terms of books there is sometimes a very limited choice but if you look at a lot of shops, then you can usually find something that you like and in budget. I also want to give a quick shout out to Oxfam who have shops just devoted to books, and if you find one usually their prices are a bit high, but their choice is much more wide and sometimes I have found something rare but great in that shop.

   Knitting. Now this does come at a cost. Knitting needles you can only really get in shops that are about knitting. There are not usually over £5 though so investing in them over time is a good idea if you want to do this hobby. Wool is also another cost, but charity shops again can sell it, admittedly it might not be very nice but I have seen some nice stuff sold of 50p in charity shops. The market is also a good resource for crafts in general and if you get wool on sale in can come cheaper that £1, or £2. It does cost a bit first in my experience. I would have to say though once you have to needles and the wool and can knit, it takes time to master it but it is worth it for me. And something great comes out of it. 

   Podcasts. I am a great listener to podcasts. Now you do need a computer and Internet, not everyone has this, and importantly Internet does not come free either. Increasingly though even for me (who got a mobile incredibly late to the whole phenomena, I was even later to the MP3 thing but it something that I love having now. not indispensable but something that I like to have) Internet is something that has become important to my life, it keeps me connected to all sort of things. 

   While not free in terms of how to get them, you don't have to pay to get the content. There are some great Podcasts (Popcorn Dialogues, Comedy Film Nerds, Pop My Culture and Pop Culture Happy Hour to name a few), and they all have interesting and free to obtain content.     

   Writing. To round this off I want to say how much I love it, you do need a pen and paper or a computer in my case, but the ideas are yours. I love writing it is one of my passions. I could not be without it. You can do it anywhere, in bed, on a plane, in a queue or I don't know potentially in space. There something levelling about it because all people can do it, but there are people who are supremely talented at it. They are the people I always wanted to be. I am always trying to get better, maybe they are too, but I will always be so grateful to the writers one and all that have made my life better by their work. Theirs is a talent forged by hard work, and hours and hours of sitting and writing, I can only hope that I have that kind of dedication.

   Also I would like to mention that Youtube is a great resource for finding silly videos, but I primarily use it to find music that I would not usually have heard, there are some great ska tracks on it to find, and also something I only found yesterday, was The Guild's I'm the One That's Cool, which I have to say is pretty cool.  

   On a side not blogger won't let me upload any photos today for some reason, but well never mind :)



Relative hardship/why I never threw my pants away

   There is hardship and there is absolute poverty. Making a dollar an hour in a sweat shop, or living in a shack made of plastic, and walking seven miles to get water, that is complete dejection and without really any hope of the standard of where you are living getting any better. This situation is obviously dire and no one should have to live like that.

   There is another type of poverty, that is living below your means. This means not being able to afford rent, not being able to spend enough money on food or clothing. It also means not being able to make tiny decisions, like taking a bus to the doctor, or being able to buy a drink with a friend or for a friend. It means not having a great birthday because all things you actually want to do require some money, I am talking about £10 not £50. This breeds fear and exhaustion, it also makes you feel like you have failed.

   This type of poorness I have been in more that I would like to admit. There is the argument that people who have been on benefit (I have forever hated that word, it implies that being on this is a favour), that you should not make life too easy on them as they never have the motivation to find work. In a way I understand, and all this emphasis on benefit cheats. Let's pause and remember it was not too long ago that there was rioting in the UK due to this very issue, taking away the only resource that people to have money is not the solution to the problem.

   The problem of million of people being out of work is because we are in a recession, jobs are scarce let alone work that means you can pay rent and you know food. Not only that but training for something is hard, I have a degree and that does not mean automatic work, it means student debt and living on very little for more that three years.

   That is another discussion for this skewed way that people see education and decrees as a way to get into work. I don't think it is meant for that and nor should it be. I loved my degree I would never have read feminist theory, wrote essays, had so many discussions about literature if I had not been studying. I would never have had the time to read all the things I have read. Now some I hated (I am looking at you D H Lawrence), but Orlando I really liked and so many more. I loved being a student and I wouldn't trade it, but it is not all fail safe for work, and should not be treated as such. 

   Now the relative poverty is not living on a pound a day, but it takes its toll, you rarely have time to buy clothes, and some of my pants have become pretty holey in the past, but I didn't throw them away till they are shreads.

   Money has always been a thorny issue but really it is about having the population not being scared. About being able to shop for essentials without guilt, these are things that everyone needs. Treat people out of work like people. Treat people living below the line well. These are the people who are forgotten when talking about wealth. And please remember people shopping in Primark or Asda it is not a choice a lot of the time, this is the only option for people to buy something they can afford.

   In the end I think being truly unable to afford things makes someone desperate and bitter. Bitter at the people who discuss this kind of stuff without being on the end of it. Desperate because there seems no hope. I hope that the situation gets better, and most of all I want people not to be desperate or bitter.

   I really want to believe that people have potential, and they have, but not while they are trapped in desperation. Maybe through it all we have the capability of potential and creativity. I hope we all do.