Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Friday, December 31, 2010

A barnstorming new year

Originally uploaded by SgtRock333
Despite it all, most of 2010 has been like this. Here's to lots of 2011 being like this too.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Hope you had a silent night

but not necessarily this silent knight.

Wishing all nine of you, my loyal readers, a lovely Christmas and barnstorming new year.

And for more Christmas records, head this way.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Poetry: Toothbrush

So, a few weeks ago in class, somebody mentioned that Sylvia Plath had said that she had found it impossible to put a toothbrush in a poem. Now, while she didn't actually say that, what she did was interesting. To whit:

Now that I have attained, shall I say, a respectable age, and have had experiences, I feel much more interested in prose, in the novel. I feel that in a novel, for example, you can get in toothbrushes and all the paraphernalia that one finds in dally life, and I find this more difficult in poetry. Poetry, I feel, is a tyrannical discipline, you've got to go so far, so fast, in such a small space that you've just got to turn away all the peripherals. And I miss them! I'm a woman, I like my little Lares and Penates, I like trivia, and I find that in a novel I can get more of life, perhaps not such intense life, but certainly more of life, and so I've become very interested in novel writing as a result.

Naturally, I took this as a challenge. Results below.


Can you get a toothbrush in a poem?
Sylvia, I’ll give it a damn good go.
Encouraging dental health isn’t hokum,
hence the need for a toothbrush in a poem.
As peripherals go, this one’s wholesome;
and regular use will mean smiles of snow.
Can you get a toothbrush in a poem?
Sylvia, I’ll give it a damn good go.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Commercial: Uberpup bikes

2xanadu Present Bespoke: Creative Show2010 from 2xanadu on Vimeo.

In an exhibition organised and curated by 2xanadu. Check out the design, fondled at 0.56 and then 1.20 or so.


Monday, December 20, 2010

On comparisons

As quoted in this month's Sight & Sound, from The Shop Around The Corner, when Klara describes Kralik, without knowing that he's her pen-pal:

I really wouldn't care to scratch your surface, Mr Kralik, because I know exactly what I'd find: instead of a heart, a handbag; instead of a soul, a suitcase; and instead of an intellect, a cigarette lighter... that doesn't work.

That'd be the genius that is Ernst Lubitsch then.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Commercial: Ads of the decade

As nominated by various luminaries (and me), over at Creativepool. Find out what I chose.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Poetry: More shameless pluggery

I have a few poems in issue 13 of The Delinquent.

Even better, so has Albionics. So you really have no reason not to indulge, nes ces pas?


Friday, December 10, 2010

Commercial: World's fastest panto

Girl. Boy. Stepmum. Wicked. Dame. Drag. Behind you! Really! Yes! Oooh!

And they all lived happily ever after.

Can you make a quicker panto? Why not have a go?


Thursday, December 09, 2010

Commercial: 20% for 26

Just in case you hadn't already seen it, 26 members can get 20% off their entries into this year's Writing for Design category in the D&AD Awards. It won't last for ever: you have until the 26th (naturally) of December to get your entries in.


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Poetry: Alphabetacrostalliteration

So Ian at the Faber Academy has set a challenge, based on this rather fabulous poem at the Futility Closet. While I respond to that (and it could be a while), here something that comes close to the form:

The fires of ambition

All my awards and baubles
and certificates and degrees

and emoluments and festschrifts
and gifts and honorariums

and IQ points and jeroboams
and kudos and laurels

and merit badges and nous
and ovations and premiums

and qualifications and renown
and scholarships and tributes

and ubiquity and vim
and wit and XP complexes

and yapness and zelotypia
couldn’t stop her leaving.

So I built a pyre
and had a bonfire

of my ambitions;
and under the flaming confetti

I thought, what use is
praise and pride

without love to lessen
and soften the fall?


Reportage: In Lantana, 11.50am, yesterday

She had a heart-shaped face, just about holding within its boundaries a full pout with a hint of being always open; always on, always available. Blue, almond eyes. Simple, straight hair, parted on the exact point of centred, with flecks of sun in the brown, even in this winter murk. Skin that glowed honey. Her teeth were gleaming, a beacon that lit up everything else. An index finger, straight and elegant, was waved in his face. It was firm; everything else about her was playful.

And then the thoughts began. She has the best overbite I’ve ever seen. Surely there must be some spite, to provide astringency to the obvious nice I know she is.

It was only as she was leaving, clutching a large pink lever arch file that he recognised why he thought he recognised her. She looked a fraction like A----. That was enough. She? She didn’t look back.


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Poetry: Reading Philip Larkin in the queue at the Post Office

'Tis the season to stand around grumbling about the Royal Mail. I offer this in the hope in soothes your brow.

What better place to think about time and age,
choking on the clouds of other people’s rage?
Sending parcels of love with maximum fuss;
at least they escape from here, unlike us.


Friday, December 03, 2010

On sincerity and narrative

David Thomson in The Guardian today poses an interesting question. Apropos of a discussion about how, excepting Alfie and Get Carter, Michael Caine only ever plays Michael Caine (which is, I think, wrong by the way), Thomson says:

Sincerity is vanishing, and I'm not sure that narrative can survive without it.

I'm not sure what to think about this. At one level it's saying that there must be truth to make any plot believable. Sure. But then, what we're talking about is the superior sort of lie anyway, so are we saying that if we put too many quote marks around things, we can't actually get any forward momentum from beginning to end?

Any thoughts?


Thursday, December 02, 2010

On perfection

Think you are a perfectionist when it comes to grammar? Reluctant to let any spelling mistake go? I bet you're not like SG Warburg, founder of the eponymous bank. As Niall Ferguson relates in the latest edition of the 'The Oxford Historian', the magazine of the history faculty at the university:

A perfectionist across the spectrum of banking activity, Warburg was unforgiving of lapses not just in ethical standards but even in grammar and syntax. A typical telephone call was one between Warburg and Stormonth Darling, one of his many Oxford proteges, when the latter was at his home:

Warburg: 'I do hope I'm not disturbing you.'

Darling: 'Oh no, Mr Warburg, not at all.'

Warburg: 'Well, it's about your note dated 22 December on the American stock market. Do you have a copy in front of you?'

Darling: 'Er, no, I'm afraid my copy is in the office.'

Warburg: 'Well, let me remind you of your second sentence in the fifth paragraph... I think there should be a comma after the word "development".'

This was on Christmas Day.

No doubt there is much more of this in Ferguson's biography of Warburg.