Day Three Hundred and Fifty Eight: Dice, Part I

Lets end the year on a cheery note, eh? Here’s some new fiction. Been working on it a while. I hope you enjoy it.

Removed due to journal submission.

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Day Three Hundred and Fifty Six/Fifty Seven: Taxi Driver Monologue

I’m combining two days here because of dodgy internet.

Yeah so we’re nearing the end of 2011 and thus the end of my challenge. More thoughts will follow on that, however I’m actually looking forward to not blogging every day so I can focus more on creative work without a deadline. I think I’ll do a post a week though.

Maybe.

Anyway, this is based on a real conversation. I tried to remember as much of it as I can, so there’s hardly any fiction in it but what it does do is give little suggestions and insights into the character of the narrator. It’s a monologue and yes, the conversation really was as one sided as it appears.

Taxi Driver (Sans Bickle)

So, how’s life? Ah’m pretty good maself. Ye sorted for Christmas, aye? Nice wan. Aye, it’s pretty cauld innit? Well me n wife ur aff tae Spain in two days; Spain fur the Christmas holidays. Lookin forward tae it. A damn sight better than here in the cauld fur Christmas ah kin tell ye. Wis jist a wee cheap deal we saw in the windae eh that Barrheed Travel oan Oswald Street. Thought it’d be nice tae get away fur Christmas tae the sun. It’s jist me n the wife ye see, aw the kids huv flown the nest so aye, that’s us, aff tae Tenerife fur ten days. Ah heard oan the radio that its tae be right cauld later oan in the week so ah’m glad tae be aff tae Spain. 60 degrees ere there, so it is. Just workin a wee bit extra fur some spending money tae take ere. Ah started at 12 and ah reckon ah’ll stay oan tae about 7 or 8 o clock the night. Ah wis gonnae start earlier but ah hud tae take me wee grandwean tae the school this mornin ye know? So aye, ah took him doon there an went back tae the hoose an that’s when the wife says tae us that we’ll need to go doon tae her brother’s the night. Ah was like why? An she wis like, cause we’re aff tae Tenerife for Christmas so ah’ll need tae gie him his Christmas present afore we go so that was like fair enough. Ah picked the wee yin up fae the school again at aboot 11 an dropped him aff at his maws then ah went doon tae the taxi rank tae talk tae some eh the drivers fur a bit an then ah decided that ah’d come oan fur the day at 12. Ah’ll tell ye man, that brother eh hers pure scunners me. He asked us tae get him 60 fags fae the duty free oan oor way back. Fur his Christmas like, y’know? The guy cannae afford them like cause he’s no workin. Husnae worked for years. He’s on that disability benefit cause he’s only goat wan leg. He’s got diabetes tae like an he was telt that if he did nae stop smokin he’d lose his leg. Did he listen but? Did he hell. He just kept oan smokin. Ah tell ye son, if somebody telt me ah was gonnae lose ma leg ah’d have stopped smokin right there on the spot. He’s a stubborn bastard, y’know? So aye, he asked us tae get him 60 fags but ah telt him naw. We cannae afford that for his Christmas plus ah didnae want tae encourage his smokin like. He’s a bit eh a plonker, just sits oan his arse aw day watchin the telly. Him and his brother, ma other brother-in-law, hate each other. He lives in England noo like. Don’t hink they’ve seen each other in years. They used tae be in the RAF thegether ye see, but stationed at different barracks’. That younger wan, the wan wae the leg, he used to borrow money aff eh loads eh folk in his barracks then no pay it back. Eventually he moved tae another barrack an when his brother moved intae the barracks he used tae be in aw the squaddies wur like, your brother owes us money an he said aye, ma brother does. No me. Ma brother. Whit ye want me tae dae aboot it? So ever since then they’ve hated each other. He even telt him tae stop smokin tae. He’s a surgeon y’know, so he knows whit he’s talkin aboot. Ah mean, what’s an aeroplane fitter gonnae know aboot amputation? Shoulda listened tae his brother cause he wis a surgeon, knows whit he’s talkin aboot so he does. Mebbe if he listened tae him he’d no be such an auld crabbit git. So aye, that’s ma night sorted efter ma shift. Crimea Street eh? Is that just next tae the MoD building aye? Just aff Brown Street aye, aye, ah know where ye ur. Ah’ll get ye there awright. Nae worries at aw son.

Day Three Hundred and Fifty Five: Every Day Horror Redux

Here’s a fragment for you about every day horror. And perhaps also about the facelessness of some corporations.

Teeth

The Industrial Shredding Company placed great pride in their fleet of Hammel 750D Industrial Shredders. Clocking in at a whopping £70,000, the company felt they were an essential part of their business yet did not feel it appropriate to ensure their employees safety around such dangerous equipment. Before the proper safety precautions were put in place, one man alone operated the machinery, first by pressing the big red begin button on the control panel on the front of the shredder then mounting the gangway that surrounded the machine before finally depositing whatever needed to be shredded in its metal mouth. Sometimes this was done by hand, most of the time it was emptied in from the back of a truck. During a lunch break one November afternoon a young man who had only started working at the plant two days earlier wanted to impress his colleagues with his tenacity and decided to work through lunch in order to increase his processing quota for the day. After emptying a truckload of electronic waste into the shredder he found that one piece of plastic was refusing to be consumed by the blades. Thinking that he could solve this issue, he used a large metal rod to try to push this last piece of waste between down through the blades. He was successful in pushing the plastic into the shredder’s large jagged teeth however the metal pole he used was consumed with it. Gobbling the pole out of his hand with so much force it knocked him off balance the serrated jaws of the Hammel dragged him between its teeth. The subsequent scream was heard throughout the entire plant. It was so sudden, so harsh and so violent that it startled most of the staff in the lunch room into a frozen silence. With the exception of the safety officer all the other staff members remained rooted to their seat. As the safety officer donned his hard hat to go and assess the situation the plant manager informed him that the 750D takes approximately fourteen minutes to complete a shredding cycle. The safety officer removed his hat and sat back down. Fourteen minutes later, and roughly seven minutes after the screaming had ceased, the safety officer went to check the machine for damage. All that remained was the young man’s foot severed just above the ankle and blood dripping from the shiny metal teeth. The machine however was still in perfect working order.

Day Three Hundred and Fifty Three: Small Things

Allow me to be uncharacteristically soppy for a moment.

It has been just over two weeks since I moved in with Jennifer and even though i know she’s going to read this, I’ve come to appreciate the small things even more than when we didn’t live together.

Particularly coming home to someone. That’s the best.

So just a small update today since it’s coming from my phone. The new wordpress mobile app is pretty good mind you, so I might update more using it.

Day Three Hundred and Fifty One + Day Three Hundred and Fifty Two: Advice

I’ve been trying to write something substantial for a few days now but sadly nothing of any merit has came out.

For a time I used to lambaste myself for failing to write, a practice which was (or perhaps still is) tied to some kind of overarching existential drive for me to leave my mark on the world.

Being more relaxed about writing has its pros of course but it remains to be seen if I’m producing anything which has as much energy as some of my earlier stuff.

That sounds horribly self indulgent, so to clarify I don’t actually think I’ve produced a great deal of good writing in my life thus far but it all counts. Every sentence counts for something.

With that in mind, advice is always good. Feedback on your own work is invaluable naturally (budding writers out there: I cannot stress just how useful how taking your writing to a workshop is. Even if you only do it once) but there are other kinds of advice out there.

Earlier on today a friend of mine posted this. I found it hard to disagree with any of it. It’s definitely worth a read. Not that my opinion is worth much, right enough.

P.S. Again, apologies for missing a day. The only internet connection I have at the moment comes from my phone and tethering it to my laptop eats my data usage.

Similarly, here is something I’d read before which was also once given out in my creative writing class. I some of the advice is rubbish, however Elmore Leonard’s advice is good (even if I don’t agree with some of it).

In the end there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to writing. You’re forever learning new things. But advice is useful. Even if you’re like me and hardly in a position to dish it out, it’s always good to have some anyway.

Day Three Hundred and Fifty: The Drive

Is there a difference between people who write blogs about music and actual music journalism? What even is music journalism these days anyway? In just under a fortnight, or with a bit of luck some time before Christmas, Daily Dischord is going to change. To explain how and why it’s going to change is going to take a little while and to get there we have to go back. Way back.

When I was 12 years old I bought my first ever album: Americana by The Offspring. I think I listened to that thing nonstop for about two years, so much in fact that I warped the disc. For a long time, those guys were my entire music world. (As an aside, I only figured out about eight years later that the image on the CD itself is the picture of a pie with a slice cut out of it and a cigarette stubbed out in the empty space, weird eh?) In my fourteenth year a high school friend of mine gave me a tape (an actual VHS cassette) which basically had something like three hours of MTV recorded on it. He gave me it because there was this cool interview with The Offspring on it. When I got home and watched it, it blew my mind. Suddenly I was exposed to a new world of music, subsequently becoming a fan of Marilyn Manson, Limp Bizkit and the Beastie Boys.

In school I started hanging out with people who liked similar music who introduced me to Korn, Slipknot and a whole bunch of nu metal bands. Eventually my passion for music was solidified when I saw The Offspring live on their Conspiracy of One tour. I loved every second of it. It was cathartic. It was passionate. It was beautiful. And sweaty. So sweaty I could actually wring it out of my baggy jeans.

After I left school at 16 a Limp Bizkit loving friend of mine, who happened to have the fastest internet connection of anyone I knew, started to download and send me music which was a lot more underground than what I was listening to. I’m sure we passed around a bunch of bands, but the three that stuck were Rise Against, Boysetsfire and 40 Below Summer. Only two of those bands remain with me, nearly ten years from when I first heard them. Around about the same time I started reading Kerrang! and Metal Hammer magazine, becoming so obsessed with them that I’d read the same issue countless times until I could recite whole articles from memory (at the time), yet when I reflect on those publications I cannot tell you a single piece of writing or writer which sticks out.

Here’s the thing; reading about music in the shape of reviews, articles, interviews or editorial pieces changed things for me. There wasn’t a single particular piece which changed my outlook rather it was years of absorbing other writer’s words through boredom that changed how I interacted with music. I developed a critical ear for music and felt that I had to communicate these thoughts to the world. The truth is when it comes to journalism there aren’t any specific characters who I look to for inspiration. Essentially I felt that I had something to say about music and how it affected me. After a few years I stopped reading those magazines because it began to dawn on me that what I was reading just wasn’t that good. For years these magazines were saying the same things, talking about records in the same way and interviewing bands in such a manner that it never really felt like there was a single human personality in the room.

In short, I felt I could do better.

A Boysetsfire live show introduced me to a band called Funeral for a Friend who were on their first UK tour. I knew right away that they’d be a pretty big deal, so I checked out their website and ending up on their message board where I eventually became one of the administrators. Through running that message board I became friends with a chap who wanted to start a music website. Somehow I got involved and found myself writing reviews for the now defunct Watch the World (which you can see by clicking on the Way Back Machine link above).

The site lasted for less than a year but I haven’t stopped writing since.

Writing reviews isn’t something I thought I’d still be doing nearly eight years later. The very idea of journalism itself is one I have grappled with for a while but I reckon it’s time to give into it – it’s become part of who I am. Reviews are an attempt at being as objective as possible about music but after a while that’s no longer challenging. When you review music eventually you end up saying the same things about music; if a good album comes across your desk you end up using more or less the same language to describe it as you did to describe the last good record you wrote about, even if the bands aren’t even remotely musically similar. The same goes for bad records too, it’s those records which are in between where the real fun is to be had.

Have I become jaded? No, not really, I’ve become realistic. The best album ever made by the greatest band in existence might be released next week and in my review I’d describe it in the same way I have countless other great records. Nickleback might release their new record next week and it’ll be so bad that I’ll just spew out another collection of words which may or may not be objective but definitely will be the same as something I’ve said before about another record sometime in the past eight years. This is not how I wanted to talk about music. This is not how I wanted to communicate with people.

No, I started writing about music because I was bored with what I was reading in popular music publications and I had no one to discuss music with critically. Over the years I lost sight of that and I’ve ended up doing the same old thing because it’s easy and safe. Things have to change. There are other, better ways for one to communicate their feelings about music.

This is why Daily Dischord has to change too. A quick look at other music websites (webzines?) shows that they all have similar content – news, reviews and interviews with the occasional feature or article. In an effort to be different and challenging we’ve become the similar and conformist.

I won’t stop doing reviews because it’s still a particularly handy way of communicating how good or bad a record is, yet I know that one day I will stop reviewing records in favour of writing more articles or essays like this one.

Day Three Hundred and Forty Nine: Decline?

Yeah, after the article about my grandad there’s been a RATHER SHARP decline in readers. I think I know why, but that’s cool

Having no internet makes it difficult to do decent blog posts. I’m sorry about this. The bad news is I will not have a stable internet connection until January. So the blog might get patchy towards the end of the year not because I’ve stopped caring, but because I have no way of posting stuff on a regular basis.

So yes, decline in readers and a decline in content. If you’re on of the few who’s still here then thank you. I’m sorry to let you down.