Brain Bite #17

Posted by Rob on 5th November 2015 in Brain Bites, Writing |

Well, it’s been a while since the last one — I’ve been busy. Work here, writing there, and a schedule that I let run rampant. More recently, I’ve gotten a handle on that, and the necessity of days off (which I had begun to neglect — but a month without any days off will really make you miserable). So I now have Sundays all to myself, and I take early Fridays.

But enough of that! Let’s go to woik1. And instead of being utterly random, the first song’s here for a reason.

Rammstein: Moskau
It crossed my mind recently that, while generations of parents and kids have been growing up and hating each other’s music, the generation that my parents and I straddle seems to have rejected that model. I like a lot of the music that my parents grew up with, and they, in turn, seem to find things in our generation that they like, too. My working theory is that this is because the music that WE listen to has evolved from the music THEY listened to — you need the Stones and Led Zeppelin to get to Black Sabbath, Sabbath to get Iron Maiden and Metallica, and so forth. So in the end, there’s a lot of commonality2 — the sounds change, but the fundamentals of the rhythms and the instruments being used remain similar, if not exactly the same.

However, we come to Moskau. I was introduced to Rammstein by my wife, who loved some of what they’d done. I, in turn, introduced it to my Dad, with the expectation that he wouldn’t like this loud, growly stuff. Instead, he embraced it as exactly what German metal should sound like — and this is one of the songs he’s mentioned as a favourite. So enjoy.

So, there we have it — a song that my Dad likes, which I also like. It turns out there are bloody loads of them. However, let’s move on to other things now.

Acorn Hunting
For a while after the previous post, our cat took to hunting for acorns. It was a daily affair, and she was having the most fun with it, bringing the acorns inside proudly, as if they were prey she’d caught (she also did the same thing with a succession of hissing beetles once). However, the whole episode was interrupted by…

Painting Fences
Which meant we had Strange Men in the house, which broke up her game’s rhythm and ruined her fun — she’s not picked up a single acorn since. However, after some sanding and blasting of things, the landlord and I painted up the deck fence, and now it’s all nice and white again. Which sounds great, but it won’t last — the point of the paint is not just to look good, but also to protect the wood from the snow, which will ultimately eat away at the paint again until this needs to be repeated.

Ah, yes, the wonders of NaNo! It kicked off again yesterday, and I’ve made a solid start. I’m not always a fan of the NaNo approach, whereby you hit your word-count goals at the cost of actually writing something worth a damn (by such means as padding with lists, lyrics, and random musing), as I try to write something I’ll be happy to have written — but I do like the way that it’ll nudge you to try and write on a daily basis. I’m pairing it this year with the Mando Method, suggested by Armand Rosamilia, though I’m not sticking to it like glue — it’s a good way to work writing in around a busy work-day, though.

Wait, the Mando Method? What’s that?
Oh, yeah. It’s basically writing in fifteen-minute bursts only, rather than longer, dedicated writing sessions. I’m mixing and matching between the two for now.

That’s not all that exciting.
No, I know, but it did need explaining. Let’s drop this and get onto something else.

Windows 10
Ah, that wondrous thing that hath trudged into view — everyone’s having a bit of a mixed experience with this one, which is essentially everyone’s experience ever with almost any version of first-out-the-door Windows (with Windows ME being king amongst these). For myself, I updated during a quiet spell, and since then I’ve been letting it run — so far, it’s not bad from what I’m seeing. Much quicker to start on both my PC and my wife’s, and although some of the features I’m used to aren’t available any more (why can’t I change default parameters for programs I’ve pinned to start?), I’m working around it, and getting used to the New Thing.

But people do have problems, and they don’t always come up right away — so for the time being, I just have my fingers crossed…

And lastly: one more of those musical things!
Because it’s NaNoWriMo this month, and because I’m on with it again, I’m listening to a lot of instrumental tracks. I’ve teased a couple of these in the past — Airmech by Front Line Assembly most recently, and Flying High by Samael before. But this is another taken from the list, a short instrumental by The Birthday Massacre that reminds me a little of Blade Runner.


1. It’s a Reservoir Dogs thing.
2. The commonality is probably challenged by Death Metal — but there’ll always be exceptions, right?

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  • john wilkins says:

    Well, that’s sent me scuttling over to get the sleeve notes for Moskau – haven’t listened to it for a while – they’ve got the lyrics, and I can actually still read a bit of the Russian, which is more than I can say for most of the German, which is very fragmentary at best! It’s stil a great track – I’ve got the album, and it’s one of their best. (Still a sucker for ‘Live Aus Berlin’, though!)
    ‘Nowhere’ I might have to let grow on me ….
    On to mogs – was that ‘Mo’ or ‘Mi’ Mog who had her little routine interrupted? (My money’s on ‘Mi’.)
    All cats tend to like to get into a routine, and are thrown when that gets disturbed. Over here, one of Fran’s little things is to wait while I set up the dishwasher, then she jumps into the sink when I’m ready to switch on, looking down the plughole, waits for the ‘gurgle’, then, when that’s happened, apparently satisfied that God’s still in his heaven, and all’s right with the world, she goes back to whatever she was doing before (usually, sleeping). On the other hand, if I don’t switch it on, and the gurgle fails to materialise, her face is a picture of confusion …
    Fingers crossed, Windows 10’s behaving nice on five blooters over here, (after a destructive crash on TJ’s laptop during installation, which we got fettled at DTech) , but we’re still doing that thing with the recovery disk you sent us the link for, ta.
    And lastly, NaNoWriMo – I write stacks of bullshit notes, tables, graphs, but precious little of real story stuff. My real writing rate is well below what I’d need to be able to complete anywhere near 50k words in a month.
    I used a site a few years back called ‘One Page A Day’ (I think – forgotten where it was) which drove you to generate a page of text a day, which I found alot more achievable.
    I did a quick count the other day, and I’ve now done around 50 pomes which I deem worth keeping, mostly for sentimental, nostalgic reasons. 5 of them I’d call serious (i.e., playing with using standard ‘forms’ like sestina, sonnet, villanelle, etc.), maybe 30 of them are daft ones, and the rest crud. I’m thinking of compiling them into a coupla collections for fun.
    My latest thing was a ‘commendation’ for a humorous poetry submission a year or so back, judged by Roger McGough, among others – never tried anything since.
    I don’t think the Mando stuff will work for me – I just get verbal diarrhoeia.
    Anyhoo – nice post – thanks for the Rammstein poke – and ‘best of’ with NaNo!

    • Rob says:

      You’re right, it was the Mi mog who was acorn-hunting. It’s actually unusual, though, as mostly the catch-and-carry game has been a fondness of the Mo mog, where Mi generally leans away from that. She’ll chase things down, look at them, then leave them wherever they are and trot back. The acorns were quite unusual for her.

      For writing pace, I think it helps that I write a lot. The more I write, the more fluent I feel, and the more quickly ideas come to me. They get taken, twisted, pulled and altered before I’ve ever put a word on the page, too — I think there’s a thing where, just by virtue of writing out junk stories, you get to push some of the junk out of your head, and you start to get a real feel for what feels stale and uninteresting to write. And when you find something to write that IS interesting, then it’s a lot easier to pursue it.

      I’d be curious to see those pomes, too — I’ve seen them as were posted on your blog, and recalled a few others, having been known on occasion to recite “Ode to a Egg” to people, partly by way of explaining my familial roots. But I’d be curious to see the rest of those I haven’t yet.

  • john wilkins says:

    A lot are, as I said, nostalgic, and as such, stuff you’ll have seen before, or slightly titivated. There’s some serious stuff as well, in the sense that I’ve been reading some Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath, good ol’ TS Eliot, among others, with a view to using some of their literary methods of form, rhyme and rhythm and alliteration and onomatopoeia etc.
    The work that Thomas put into his poetry belies his reputation as a drunkard and ne’er-do-well. He was a master of form, and of language, without parallel. Not a word he wrote was wasted, at least not a word he considered worth publishing. A bit like Mozart and music.
    It’s only then that I’ve come to realise what giants these people were. I’ve tried, un-tutored, to incorporate some of these things into a few offerings, but the results are like a candle flame in front of a powerful headlight. I’m happy to use them for self-criticism, but they need work, a lot of work, before I’ll let anyone else have a squizz.
    I’ll see if I can bring myself to put a couple towards you for a private look-see, after another edit or two, just to see what you think, eh?

  • john wilkins says:

    Just another interesting little tidbit on poetry – I was looking at a nice, two-line evocation of steam railways a few weeks ago (‘But give me still, to stir imagination,
    The chiaroscuro of the railway station.’), and found that, as well as liking steam trains, the poet W H Auden was fond of wandering around Weardale and the North Pennines in general, and for a while, lived near to Rookhope, just up the road from Grove Rake, that old mine we visited a few years back on one of your visits. He wrote some pretty nice poetry about that, and other lead mines in the dale.

    • Rob says:

      Curious! I didn’t know that about the man at all — and I do like that piece. It’s a compact little beauty…

      I’ll look forward to seeing whatever you send through to me. It’s fascinating to read other people’s work and see how they make use of language — everyone has their own way, in the end, and it takes a while for some to absorb their inspirations and then grow into their own style, I think.

  • Mum says:

    Well, I’m quietly enjoying Rammstein right now. I also like them. Chris has recently introduced us to Nightwitch (if I have the correct format) which I think you would also like. 3 different female leads on 3 different albums, but I like all of them, and so does Dad.
    Tinker’s main play over Autumn has been spider hunting, but she continues to play chasey with me – and sometimes even Chris. Today she did it differently. Meeped while posed ready to run and as soon as I responded she was off like a rocket. Fot a change, the kitchen door was open, so it was 3 times up the stairs full pelt (rather less pelt for me!) followed by dashing past me down to the kitchen to which I ‘hurried’. The best bit – of watching her- is the leap onto the living room wall and onto the first stair which means she doesn’t skid on the laminate at that point.
    The car’s in the garage today. Dad had to nurse the clutch Wednesday night to get to and from Chris’s work (and the shops), but couldn’t get the car to the garage till today. We have a nice courtesy car. Nissan Micra with advertising all over it. Fortunately, Chris found a regular lift which will continue for the shortish time he will be working there.
    Did he tell you his work was described as ‘exemplary’? They put him on the hardest job in the factory and he did it faultlessly – while surrounded by other new staff making a ballsup of stuff. Amazing from our clumsy lot!!
    Just been listening also to a song written by Paul McCartney for the Beatles. Maxwells’ Silver Hammer. As ‘dark’ goes, it’s a bit weak. Just a comment by Dad the other day made me want to listen to it again as I couldn’t really remember it.

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