Bad language

July 13, 2009

NSFMMTR (not safe for my mum to read)

I like language.

I’m quite fond of bad language too. I was a reporter, after all, and in most news rooms “Fuck You” is considered witty banter and/or a jovial greeting between peers.

And so it was that I was very angry to discover a journalist was fired for telling an editor to fuck off. But that was some time ago. I no longer mutter “motherfucker” under my breath when I think of it (arse).

Today’s lesson: swearing is good for you, particularly when you bang your head on the upper bunk while tucking in your four year old daughter/comedian/mimic.

It’s true. Scientific America told me.

“The study, published today in the journal NeuroReport, measured how long college students could keep their hands immersed in cold water. During the chilly exercise, they could repeat an expletive of their choice or chant a neutral word. When swearing, the 67 student volunteers reported less pain and on average endured about 40 seconds longer”.

I find the longer the string of words, the happier I feel.

Sadly, I’ve also discovered that some people view swearing in the same light they view kicking small dogs: that is, it’s not for polite company.

Interestingly, I work in an open plan office very near the boss, surrounded by accountants and people who have corporate jobs. They’ve never worked for an angry red-faced man with a too-tight collar and a bad tie who ate junior reporters for breakfast and spat out the pips onto the newsroom floor. Neither have I but they all think I did (either that or that I secretly ran away to sea many years ago and instead of a tattoo or syphililis, came home with a Vocabulary).

Still, they’re learning. I swear (ha) I saw someone taking notes during my last outburst. It went something like this:

and was a sight to behold.

EDIT: Asshole! Embedding not allowed? Wah? Huh? WTF? KMA, MF!

take that!

As I was saying, the boss doesn’t seem to mind. He seems to quite enjoy it at times.

One of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman, has of course already stolen the best title for this blog post – Warning: Contains language. The bastard.


I used to make my living writing things down and selling them. It was fun, but at times it could be quite difficult, which is why I was amply rewarded (40c/word) and lived the lap of luxury (PR folk, ever wonder why lunch works so well on journalists and they stay for hours? IT’S THE ONLY TIME THEY EAT THAT DAY).

Occasionally I was forced to Google for my own name (it helps to have a weird name so the only hits you get are for yourself) not with a view to polishing my room-sized cranium (no, really) but with a view to finding those evil bastards who steal my work and pass it off as their own and bringing down all the vengeance of the gods on their pox riddled arse.

Normally some booger would post my entire story in a thread with a “Hey, just found this. Isn’t it well written and insightful?” and not even link to the original source material.

That blows chunks.

Typically said vengeance would take the following path:

1: A friendly email to the owner of the website asking nicely if they could remove the post, replacing it with perhaps the relevant quote and a link.
2: There is no 2.

Almost without exception they would comply, typically within minutes. The only one I had any trouble with was a US legal website that had put up an entire article I’d written about the contractual ramifications of Y2K, complete with my name and “Auckland, Australia” and who refused to even answer my email. It would be ironic if it wasn’t lawyers. Hey, what’s the difference between a lawyer and a catfish? One’s a scum sucking bottom dweller and the other’s a fish.

So it is with interest and not a little mirth that I read this on my new favourite website, Cracked, and in particularly the blog of one Dan O’Brien.

And I quote:

El Grafico, a Mexican Newspaper, stole Jeff Kelly’s article on Sex Myths Explained by Science. Even though they’re getting traffic and ad sales due to the article, El Grafico didn’t come up with the idea- Jeff did. And they didn’t do the research- Jeff did. Hey, you know what else they didn’t do?

They didn’t upload their own images.

They linked directly to our images. The images in our server, that we have access to. For those not too familiar with how image hosting works, this basically means that, if we make any changes to the images on our end, the new, edited images would show up on their site. (It’s explained a little bit better in this article.)

With this in mind, it would appear that any clever, enterprising and well-endowed Cracked employee could easily alter those images, as sort of a public embarrassment to El Grafico for being such lazy, thieving fucking cowards.


Not to draw too fine a line, I’ve met a couple of plagiarists in my time and the thing is they don’t see anything wrong with it. One of the magazines I worked for had a celebrity columnist (now long since departed the scene thank the gods) who thought nobody would notice or care that she copied entire swathes of other people’s writing and passed it off as her own. What irks me most is that nobody knows about it and presumably still think nice thoughts about that lovely lady who used to be on the telly.

This all makes it very difficult for me (morally speaking) when I look at my hard drive and see TV shows galore. I know someone’s slaved to craft that, worked long hours, and sweated over [some device or other] to produce a show I like. And yet I’ve “stolen” it.

I wrestle with it, but then I think “those lousy bastards at the network will show this series in the small wee hours of Wednesday morning, having cut out vital scenes/dialogue to fit in more ads and they won’t even bother doing that for another six months. Fuck them and the horse they road in on” and I happily have it away on my toes. Play the TV when it is fresh and new and don’t cut anything out and I’ll watch it. In fact, make it available as a download and I’ll buy it. This is not rocket science, it’s business. Don’t make it difficult for your customers to give you money.

And with that in mind, the flip side of being able to find creative content anywhere and to have it for your own use is … that you CAN find creative content anywhere and have it for your own use. This beauty came to my via Neil Gaiman’s blog and I wouldn’t have found it without the internet and my world would be a slightly worse-off place.

“If I had urinated immediately after breakfast, the mob would never have burnt down the orphanage. But, as I left the dining hall to relieve myself, the letterbox clattered. I turned in the long corridor. A single white envelope lay on the doormat. I hesitated, and heard through the door the muffled roar of a motorcycle starting. With a crunching turn on the gravel drive and a splatter of pebbles against the door, it was gone.

Odd, I thought, for the postman has a bicycle. I walked to the large oak door, picked up the envelope, and gazed upon it.


The Orphanage



For me! On this day, of all significant days! I sniffed both sides of the smooth white envelope, in the hope of detecting a woman’s perfume, or a man’s cologne. It smelt, faintly, of itself.”

Mysterious Dave, this one’s for you.

PS: I have today learned that plagiarist isn’t spelled plagarist and that vengence actually has an ‘a’ in it. Who knew?


August 10, 2008

Usually I don’t mind not living in London. I mean, I never have, so why miss it?

But then I read Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, or Un Lun Dun by China Mieville or I hear that David Tennant is playing Hamlet against Patrick Stewart’s Claudius and I really REALLY want to go and see it.

And then I read this kind of thing (a review of the top 10 performances of Hamlet by the Guardian’s critic) and start to look at jobs advertised online … More on it here.

Gillian took me on a journalist’s tour of London in 48 hours that started with Fleet Street, long after the media had departed.

We visited a traditional journalist’s pub where, she said, ink ran in the beer, there were old chaps who’d stood their ground against Murdoch’s men and who hadn’t worked since and where I could get a real English pint without any of the fuss.

However, it was Waitangi Day in New Zealand and all the ex-pat Kiwis on their big OE were charging round on the tube wearing t-shirts with the map of the Underground but with the place names crossed out and places like Johnsonville, Geraldine, Te Awamutu, Cambridge etched on instead.

The pub was showing Classic All Blacks’ matches and serving Steinlager and was full youths in black shirts “talking loud in a Kiwi accent” including, but not limited to, a couple of guys I’m sure I remember from Waikato.

It was quite surreal and perhaps the best way to visit London.

But I would like to see Tennant’s Hamlet. I very much would.

Hat tip: Neil Gaiman for his very funny take on the photos.

The doctor is in

May 24, 2008

Just as the actor playing The Doctor changes periodically, so too do the staff behind the scenes.

Rarely, though, has anyone behind the scenes had as much of an impact on Doctor Who as Russell T Davies who quit as exec producer this week.

He’s moving on to other things, as is to be expected, following the most astonishing comeback in TV history. Forget wossname (hah) waking up and finding her dead husband in the shower on Dallas. Forget Magnum waking up after walking off into the clouds. Nobody in their right minds expected a Welsh writer to revive TV’s oldest SF show and make it into a drama for grown-ups as much as a homage to the children’s TV show it once was.

That Davies is moving on is sad news, but not a surprise. He had a career before The Doctor and he’ll have one after.

The great news is that the man shoulder tapped to take over is Steven Moffat, the writer behind such episodes as Blink and who clearly loves the show as much as Davies and as much as the fans.

From the BBC story:

Moffat, … said the whole of his career was ‘a secret plan to get this job’,” which is just lovely.

Even Neil Gaiman weighed in with a post on it, although I prefer his ode to David Tennant playing Hamlet as The Doctor. Scroll down a bit.


April 9, 2008

Neil Gaiman (God among men or GAM as he is now) points to this set of reviews on Amazon.

Snigger away.

Lazy blogger

January 26, 2008

Too much going on at work, too little motivation to post, too little direction (where’s The Editor when you need one?) and now, a holiday looms large. Oh well.

Saw this, thought of you. From Neil Gaiman (still a god among men and, occassionally, among other gods too).


The Colbert Report Writers: Sorry, Internet on

(hattip Neil Gaiman. Seriously)