From this week’s New Statesman, guest-edited by Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer (and read out by Neil at their event on Thursday, which I went to)

I believe that it is difficult to kill an idea, because ideas are invisible and contagious, and they move fast.

I believe that you can set your own ideas against ideas you dislike. That you should be free to argue, explain, clarify, debate, offend, insult, rage, mock, sing, dramatise and deny.

I do not believe that burning, murdering, exploding people, smashing their heads with rocks (to let the bad ideas out), drowning them or even defeating them will work to contain ideas you do not like. Ideas spring up where you do not expect them, like weeds, and are as difficult to control.

I believe that repressing ideas spreads ideas.

I believe that people and books and newspapers are containers for ideas, but that burning the people will be as unsuccessful as firebombing the newspaper archives. It is already too late. It is always too late. The ideas are out, hiding behind people’s eyes, waiting in their thoughts. They can be whispered. They can be written on walls in the dead of night. They can be drawn.

I believe that ideas do not have to be right to exist.

I believe you have every right to be perfectly certain that images of god or prophet or man are sacred and undefilable, just as I have the right to be certain of the sacredness of speech, of the sanctity of the right to mock, comment, to argue and to utter.

I believe I have the right to think and say the wrong things. I believe your remedy for that should be to argue with me or to ignore me, and that I should have the same remedy for the wrong things that you think.

I believe that you have the absolute right to think things that I find offensive, stupid, preposterous or dangerous, and that you have the right to speak, write, or distribute these things, and that I do not have the right to kill you, maim you, hurt you, or take away your liberty or property because I find your ideas threatening or insulting or downright disgusting. You probably think my ideas are pretty vile, too.

I believe that in the battle between guns and ideas, ideas will, eventually, win.

Because the ideas are invisible, and they linger, and, sometimes, they are even true.

Eppur si muove: and yet it moves.

©Neil Gaiman / New Statesman 2015

Says it all far better than I can.  Stored here for posterity, and further referencing as time goes on.

Creativity Locked

Over the last couple of months, my creative side has felt like it’s completely locked up. I don’t particularly know why – although I suspect it’s linked to feeling constantly tired, burned out, and unwell.

After this weekend, I’m making some changes again – mainly employment stuff (of which a bit more tomorrow) but also a few life-based things.

With the new job, I’m aiming to limit myself to work-based stuff just in work hours. With the last couple of jobs they’ve been coming home with me, and it’s been sitting in my head. I suspect that’s been a mistake.  It’s certainly put me in a position where a lot of the time I don’t even want to look at a computer while I’m at home – although again that may be down to also feeling depressingly run-down – so I’m currently hoping that if I limit myself a bit more workwise, I might have the time and inclination to do other stuff when I’m back at home.

It could also be that I’m going through a bit of a depression dump. It wouldn’t be the first time that I get affected like that once the days have started getting longer. I can deal with – and fight – the seasonal depression of long nights and grey days, but once the days get longer I lower my guard, lower my resistance, and sometimes it just hits hard for a while.

I’m hoping I’ll find some ways to reset myself a bit over the next couple of weeks, but we’ll see.


The Next Step

This last week, I’ve been working from home – which is something I usually enjoy, but it’s not been overly assisted by feeling like rubbish, and somewhat demotivated.

Alongside that, for whatever reason, the cats have been super-demanding and really whingy, which has pissed me off more than it should.

All told, it’s meant I haven’t got as much done this week as I should’ve done, so it’s time to do things differently.

I’ve been aware of ‘co-working’ spaces/offices for a few years now, but never really felt the need to make use of them. I did look at them quite seriously when I had the possibility of the long-term ‘working from home’ gig earlier this year (which fell through) so I had some decent contacts.

As it turns out a couple of new ones have opened up quite near me in Milton Keynes. One in particular is ridiculously priced (as in ridiculously low) so I’m going to give that a go this coming week. Four days for £30 all in. I can live with that.

Of course, I still need to find out what the catch is. (If there is one) But if it works out and I like the place, it might be worth my while to make use of it for longer (depending on what other projects come up, naturally)  Looking at the costs, it could cost me £80 for the whole of May, which is pretty insane…

We’ll see how the first week goes. But this could be the start of the next step up the ladder, having a place to work from for myself…

My Films of 2013

Yesterday, Karen made a comment on a previous post, and asked for my top five films from 2013.  And I thought “Well, why not?”. Although be warned, my taste in films is rotten.

gravity5. Gravity – Probably the smartest sci-fi film (albeit with some bugs still, mainly around orbital mechanics – and the fact Sandra Bullock doesn’t bloody die) of the year, Gravity is short and powerful. Worth seeing in 3D (which is saying something – I’m no 3D fan at all) although I can well imagine it could kick off a dollop of illness in those prone to motion sickness. But that disorientation is almost key to the film, it manages to convey some of how it must feel to be weightless and with no idea what your orientation is.

It also gets a lot of the tech stuff right (although a fair amount wrong, as well) as well as keeping the story tight. I was in two minds about seeing it, if I’m honest (not being a massive fan of Sandra Bullock at the best of times) but I’d say it’s probably the best thing she’s done – in my opinion, anyway.

elysium4. Elysium – Another smart sci-fi, with a dark ‘them and us’ premise that seems to be becoming all the more feasible. Hell, even Jodie Foster was good in it – which is a real revelation, as usual I can’t abide her in films.

The basic premise – that as the majority of the world’s population get poorer, the rich opt to take off to a space environment/station, where they carry on their lives, with the best of technology, medical care etc., effectively leaving the poor to their own devices – is pretty dark, but also (I found) very believable, even though you know the required leaps in technology would be huge.  I’m a fan of the director’s previous stuff (particularly District 9, another near-ish-future scifi) and also looking forward to his next film.

im33. Iron Man 3 – Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, written and directed by Shane Black? I’m *so* there.  IM3 lived up to its premise, far more than 2 did. Indeed it pretty much ignores 2 for the heap of crap it was. Smart snappy dialogue, some great action scenes, a glorious twist (that again seems ever more feasible in reality) and Robert Downey Jr just being himself. You can usually tell when people had fun making the film, and that comes across in this one.

And yes, I’ve even ended up watching it again on TV over the Festering Season. And it’s still fun, even when you know all of how it works out. Besides, just how damn good an actor is Guy Pearce?

pacific_rim2. Pacific Rim – I never expected anything more from Pacific Rim than what was in the trailers – big robots fight big monsters. If you expected more than that, you were – at best – frighteningly optimistic. But going in with no expectations more than that, I loved this film. Yes, it has some epic bugs and plot holes – the biggest being “if they’re clones, how can one be pregnant, FFS” – which rankle more on repeated viewing. (And yes, I’ve seen it rather more than once!) But still, epic effects, an absolutely cracking soundtrack – which I also bought – and it’s just ridiculous, fun, and probably the most entertaining film (for me) of the year. So why isn’t it at number one?

mud1. Mud – And the answer to that is ‘because Mud is’. I don’t know why this appealed to me as much as it did, but it’s probably the film that stuck with me the most through 2013. Matthew McConaughey has really grown on me as an actor since he’s stopped doing all the rom-com shit, and he’s really pretty versatile. This one’s more ‘American Mythology’ than anything else, I suppose – matched up with a doomed love story, coming-of-age stuff, and a whole lot more. For whatever reason, I just really liked this one.

And just for fun (and I won’t even credit them with links!), my five worst films have been…

5. White House Down – I was aiming for brainless entertainment. I got brainless.

4. I Give It A Year – I have no idea why I even went to see this. Romcom tat that was about as funny as infected piles.

3. The Counselor – Great expectations from a great trailer, but the film just wasn’t what had been expected. Beautifully shot, and some great set-pieces, but all told a real disappointment of a film.

2. Ender’s Game – One of the few this year that left a really bad taste in the mouth – the whole child-soldier thing, with some very dark morality (and no, I hadn’t read the book, so didn’t know what to expect) and again that feeling that somehow it’s not a concept that America would have any great issues with in the future. All-told, really quite unpleasant.

1. Only God Forgives – In a similar vein to Counselor, a film that didn’t live up to it’s trailer, and turned out in truth to be a very different film from that portrayed. Very arty, beautiful, but utterly up itself. Probably a good film when you’re in the mood for an art-house essay about violence, vengeance and [whatever else] but I wasn’t, so I really didn’t like it.

But bear in mind, there’s a lot of others just outside that list – including Last Stand, Man of Steel, Pain and Gain, and The Paperboy…

Why I Blog

[Inspired by this post with the same title over at Gordon’s place]

I started writing D4D™ back on August 9th 2002. Eleven years ago – damn, that time’s flown past.

I’ve said this before (almost certainly more than once) but I started blogging primarily because I wanted a project to keep on working on. I’ve always been a lover of the written word, since I learned to read, and I wanted to see if I could write. I’d done other projects along the way, short stories, novella-length and a couple of novel-length as well.

But the main reason was that I know how bad I am at not going through with projects. I start them, and then I move on to something else. I know that about myself, and the basic reason behind D4D was to keep a project going – as well as to get into the habit of writing, and to see whether it spawned anything else.

D4D’s been part of my life ever since. It’s been there through the ups and the downs, and a lot has changed in that eleven years. I had a year or more where the writing fell off a cliff, but this year I’ve worked quite hard to get back into it, and I think that’s been quite successful. There’s still a way to go, but I’m getting back into the habit and the routine of it.

And has it spawned anything else? Well, yes and no. I got into the writing of D4D, but in some ways that supercedes the writing on anything else, and I need to rediscover – or perhaps find at all – the balance between writing here, and writing elsewhere. I’ve got more writing ideas, stories and screenplays, but I need to find the time to write them.

D4D will keep on going for the foreseeable – I’ve still got a long way to go, and I want the ability to look back on things afterwards. I’ve changed a lot in this eleven years, and so has my writing – none of which is surprising, considering that time span – and it’ll be interesting to see how things develop from here on.

And that’s why I blog. Writing, routine, a diary, a repository of ideas and thoughts. D4D is all of that, and more.

Neil Gaiman, “Fortunately, The Milk”

Cover for Fortunately, The MilkLast night I was in London to see Neil Gaiman‘s one-off reading of his new children’s book, “Fortunately, The Milk” at the Methodist Central Hall in London, (also known as Central Hall Westminster) which was also fortuitously a friend‘s birthday (I won’t say which one)  As it turned out, we also bumped into Clair

It was excellent. I’d been lucky enough to get tickets when they went on sale, but I know it sold out pretty quickly. The tickets also included a special signed copy of the book as well, so definitely value for money.

It’d been billed as “with special guests”, but with no real clues as to who might turn up – and it turned out that (among others) Neil’s wife, Amanda Palmer came along as a surprise – even to Neil –  and Lenny Henry was also there, along with Mitch Benn, and live drawings from the book by Chris Riddell. (who is just ridiculously talented) There were several others who I didn’t immediately recognise, although some research has helped on that score.

The book itself is brilliant – if you’ve got spawn, add it to the Christmas list – and the performance of it was great, with lots of humour, and a brilliant atmosphere all the way through.

As for the venue, well, I want to visit that again and look at it properly – it’s quite amazing in and of itself, and even more so when you look at the history of the place. It’s spectacular inside, and totally not what I’d have expected from the name. It’s about as restrained and subtle as Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

A brilliant evening, even with a jam-packed train ride home. (Apparently there was some sporting event on at Wembley as well, which meant lots of happy football fans)

Not Quite An Apology

One of the phrases that keeps on annoying me at the moment is the current ‘approved’ terminology for an apology

We’d like to apologise for [x]

Why does it annoy me? Because if you look at it, it’s not actually an apology. It’s a mealy-mouthed excuse. “We’d like to apologise for [x]” isn’t the same as “We are really sorry about [x]”

I know it’s probably only me that even notices this kind of thing, but regardless, it’s an annoyance.

If you’re sorry for something, say you’re sorry. Apologise. Don’t tell me that you’d like to apologise – because that’s not actually apologising. It might as well say “We’d like to apologise, but won’t, because well, fuck you”

Just say “Sorry”. Don’t wank around the bushes with it. Say you screwed up, apologise, move on.