“They say all the world’s a stage. Feh.” He’s mopping the hardwood floor. “All the world is a big hunk of metal and stone, fused by heat, and hurtling through space. But it’s true, I’ll say that. And the stage?”
He looks up into the stands.
“The stage is the lie that you all accept for three or so hours, because whatever is going on in your life is so shit, you’d rather have deception than reality.”
He smiles. “It’s not poetry, but you know it’s true. Next show in 10 minutes”
My newest post for Writers and Artists and #NaNoWriMo2014 is live, and handles the inevitable 1st week doldrums of #NaNoWriMo, from being waaaaaay behind on word count to what happens when you realize you hate your new novel-to-be. Yay!
Kid and I visited the Tower of London yesterday to see the penultimate day of the #TowerPoppies exhibit, and while the crowds were at times overwhelming, the atmosphere was very respectful.
Even the rains didn’t keep the thousands, and thousands, and thousands away. And while our day was very very very long, it was worth it to see the magnitude of the poppies in person.
While I’m a firm believer that armed conflict is essentially failing at humanity, as it means leaders couldn’t use their brains to work out a reasoned society and instead had to turn to brawn, I think it’s still important to always remember the sacrifices made by the men and women who, for whatever reason (believed in cause, were conscripted, didn’t have any other option), lost their lives to war. May we honour their memory while striving for a future where war is not an inevitability of disagreement.
“In Flanders Fields”, by John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Every Monday at 8 pm they climbed the steps to his Soho loft, where the artist taught them basic painting. And every Monday they were greeted with the evening’s schedule for class, which always ended with the task
“BE THE ARTIST YOU KNOW YOU ARE.”
The artist always felt hollow writing that task, but…a job was a job.
Till one day, they arrived at the Soho loft, to a woman sweeping an emptied studio. On the board it simply read:
“DON’T WAIT FOR ME
FINALLY DOING LAST TASK MYSELF.”
The worst part of the robot uprising was how little everything changed. Turns out the robots had no plans for human enslavement; we were already utterly dependent on them. This was merely a codification of our uselessness. That was the salt on the wound – we, the formerly top of the food chain, were nothing more than water for their mill. Our actions powered them, nothing more. Insult upon injury, and if everyone weren’t nose deep in their devices, I’d say it to their faces.
I’m dumping my blog review policy in favour of a radical new model. Here’s why.
My blog review policy has stayed relatively the same for years now. If I’m offered a product and I like the look of it, I’ll agree to review it. If I don’t like the look of it, I’ll pass. If something goes wrong with the product, but the company can fix it, I give them the opportunity to do so, but will mention in the review that I needed assistance to make it right. If the product just outright sucks, I say so. It’s pretty simple, and works for me. Most products I never purchase post-freebie, but there have been about a dozen or so that I’ve become a loyal customer because of the review, and happily sing their praises for years afterwards. However, I’ve become…increasingly eye-rolly with the concept of blogger reviews, especially after an incident that happened this week.
I was invited to a product launch not as a blogger, but as a contributor, so I was just having a great time doing the canapes and tiny froo froo drinks thing. I struck up a conversation with a lovely group of folks who happened to all work for the same PR office in the city, covering everything from major events to social media outreach (bloggers). Considering I’d recently written a piece about the #fairpayforbloggers debate, I asked them what their opinion was of blanket payments for bloggers to review products, and if bloggers should be considered at the same level of the press, who were also covering the event.
I’d like to say it was the free booze that made them laugh so hard, but we both know it wasn’t.
It’s clear that PR doesn’t consider ‘reviews’ as anything more than marketing cost, and if you privately asked any blogger who’s been reviewing for a good amount of time what would happen if they gave a truly in depth, objective review, they’d tell you the truth – they’d be dropped from the PR firm they worked with. And while some people still actually believe that bloggers are 1000% true in their online persona (they aren’t, and here’s how they pull it off), what’s the point in doing reviews? If the whole point for a PR company is to have the right mix of anchor text, links, and pictures in a blog, why don’t we as bloggers just start charging commercial space in a post, like you would an old-timey radio commercial?
“Today’s blog post was brought to you by Dr Methusaluh’s Antiquated Butt Ointment. Now with 64% more mentho-lyptus! Hmmm, that smells like mentho-butt!”
Slap in the appropriate SEO tags, and the companies get what they need, while bloggers get paid in whatever mix of cash and product they like. It would also be much easier come tax time (bloggers, you are itemizing all this stuff, right? Because your nations’ revenue service has very clear rules on self-employed professionals and renumeration policies).
I only started doing reviews for the past 3-4 years of the 12 of so I’ve been blogging, so maybe I just haven’t become jaded enough, but I want to make it clear:
I’m paid, in product, Paypal, or a combination therein, to like a certain product for a certain amount of time.
It is contracted that I say certain things about the product, with certain hashtags, and certain anchor text to boost SEO. And while I often go above and beyond when I really legit love a product (I will still sing the praises of BassBoomz and BassBuds forever because they are the best mobile sound devices I’ve ever had), many products are never mentioned again, because I liked them when they were free, but don’t love them enough to continue paying for them. And I am not the exception here in blogger land – we all do this. We may not say it, but we do. It’s how the machine is greased. And let me be crystal clear to the PR companies as well:
When I see a blogger praising a product with perfect anchor text and SEO-ness, I don’t for a second believe they actually like that product.
Unless it’s for a charitable organization, I immediately think “Oh, she’s been paid to review X. This is a commercial”, and respond accordingly. Or to put it another way…
So why is this niggling at me all of a sudden? My nieces are old enough to read bloggers now, and start to have favourites that they visit daily, and I’ve noticed they’ve started looking at these bloggers as authority figures. They don’t realize that the gushing purple prose over a new product isn’t because the blogger truly loves it, but because they’re being paid to be a human coat hanger, or makeup canvas, or shoe rack. They don’t notice the barely readable disclosure at the end of the post (if the blogger bothered to put it there at all). They don’t get that when a blogger links to a fab new whatever, it’s more than likely an affiliate link, and regardless of whether or not the blogger uses it, they’ll make money from the click through. Do I really want to be part of an ‘industry’ that goes to such lengths to seem genuine in an effort to make money off the most impressionable?
So, I’ll be changing my review policy rather radically in the next few months. I’ll be happy to sell an ad space to approved products, but it will be exceedingly clear that it’s just a commercial, and that I have neither tried, nor personally endorsed the product. And for reviews that are already scheduled and in the pipe for the next 6 months or so, I’ll continue to be very, very clear that this product was provided gratis, and I’m being compensated to tell you all about said product. And of course, if it sucks, I’ll still tell you. This will probably dramatically drop the amount of crap/cash I get, but I can’t keep pretending that blogging reviews aren’t anything more than a cash grab before the PR industry finds a new conduit for their products. If nothing else, my nieces deserve that.
So…yeah. Anyways, my next piece on Writers and Artists goes live on Monday, and I thing I wrote will be in the Guardian this weekend, and if you’re in the city, pick up the new issue of the Balance Paper, where I’ve written an article. #NaNoWriMo2014 is still trucking along (I have a cram day tomorrow, hoping for a 5K word day!), and then bonfire fireworks Saturday night with the kid and hubs. Busy, busy, busy. Wish me luck.
She knew she lost him on the train; that much was certain. She wasn’t sure what stop, but she knew, somewhere between the yelling and the crying and the silence was the train, and that’s where she lost him.
That’s the thing with breakups – the ending is never the actual end, it’s always some nebulous moment only discovered after the fact, where you realize you weren’t coming back together again.
She couldn’t pin it down precisely, but she knew she lost him on the train.
I once dreamed a ballet of math. Areal Butterflies danced on Rabinowitz Point shoes while a Mobius strip-tease revealed d’Ocagne’s Identity to the crowd. The prima ballerina was past her Prime, but she still had Hour Glass Timing, so why were the Two Men of Tibet having such a Problem with the show? Fermat’s Little Theorem about the second act proved fruitless; the Self Descriptive Strings sections kept perfect time, and Zollner’s Illusion as a finale brought the House down.
#NaNoWriMo2014 writers, check in! I’ll be pulling a 50K novel out of the air in the next 30 days, and blogging about the process for Writers and Artists here! T-minus 7 hours, 12 minutes till we DO THIS.