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Gliterature is Born!

11 Aug

It’s time to say farewell to thesolipsisticsocialite.wordpress.com, the URL which once was my entry into the world’s competition for things that don’t translate well and are also hard to type after a couple gin and tonics.

So hello Gliterature.com, I promise to feed you and walk you twice a day.

Let me know if you have any ideas for the site! I’m also taking guest submissions.

Six Word Stories

1 Jul

Hello readers! I don’t know if I’m mentioned this before (I have), but I work in the coolest bookshop ever. As this week is Independent Booksellers Week, I thought it might be a good time to remind you all.

This was a customer testing our pens.

A couple of weeks ago, my colleague and I were discussing the concept of the six word story. For example, Ernest Hemingway is (incorrectly) believed to have once said that his best work was a story he wrote in just six words:

‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn.’

And yeah, it’s pretty spooky. But we thought we could do better, so we took to Twitter to rally some would-be writers. Here are my six favourite responses.

Continue reading

Friday Night Playlist: Literary Songs

21 Jun

If you don’t have Spotify you can listen to the playlist on Last.fm here.

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About ‘The Great Gatsby’

2 Jun

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s seminal novella is regarded as one of the greatest stories of the twentieth century. It has been translated into forty-two languages and touched countless lives.

There’s a lot of hype surrounding the story right now, what with the new film out and all, and last month I was lucky enough to attend a screening of the 1974 version, hosted by Oona Chaplin and The Gathering Goddess, at The May Fair Hotel. It was amazing! Tonks from Harry Potter was there, as were Cassie from Skins and Talisa from Game of Thrones. I was fangirling like there was no tomorrow.

Here are ten things you may not have known about the original text, which I’ve blatantly plagiarised from my own list over at the Vintage Screenings website. If you want to know more about the 1974 adaptation, or other Gatsby adaptations in general, I’ve written about those too!

  1. The great American novel has been adapted into several films, stage productions and ballets as well as a graphic novel, three video games and an opera.
  2. The Great Gatsby may have inspired Breakfast at Tiffany’s (both the novel and the film), and was at the forefront of Hunter S. Thompson’s mind when he wrote ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas‘.
  3. Francis Cugat was commissioned to create a cover for the book before Fitzgerald had finished writing it. The author liked the design so much that he wrote it into the novel.
  4. David Lynch directed a 30-second commercial for Calvin Klein’s Obsession fragrance which was titled ‘The Great Gatsby’ and which featured Heather Graham.
  5. The author tried to change the name of the book several times, his final preference being for ‘Trimalchio’ or ‘Gold-Hatted Gatsby’.
  6. There are several conspiratorial readings of the text, particularly by scholars. Some argue that the narrator is in love with Jay Gatsby and therefore unreliable, others write papers outlining the reasons why Gatsby should actually be read as a black man.
  7. The author and his wife Zelda walked out of the 1926 silent film adaptation of the novel.
  8. Some people have said that the entire text is a lipogram devoid of the letter ‘e’. This is not the case – it’s in the title, for instance, and it appears sixteen times in the first sentence alone. Readers may be confusing ‘The Great Gatsby’ with ‘Gadsby: A Story of Over 50,000 Words Without Using the Letter E‘ by Ernest Vincent Wright.
  9. Screenwriter Francis Ford Copolla went on to write Apocalypse Now, based on Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness‘, but Fitzgerald was also indebted to Conrad’s text and drew inspiration from it during the composition of his own novel.
  10. The poem which appears as an epigraph is credited to one of Fitzgerald’s characters from his first novel ‘This Side of Paradise‘.

How to do Stuff

8 Apr

bunny

I am a procrastination expert, especially online. In my defence, it’s hard to stay on track when the internet is such a fun place. There are cats to laugh at and creepypasta to devour. But I’ve recently discovered that the internet is actually a kinda neat platform you can use to get things done. I thought I’d use today’s entry to show you guys some of the tools I use to improve my laptop-centric productivity.

 

Do It Later!

A Planner (or Non-Planner) for the Creative Procrastinator

£7.99

This diary is an absolute godsend to putter-offers like me. As well as the week-to-a-page layout – so you can plan your week in one go – it has a to-do list on every double page with subheadings including ‘Things I have to do but that can wait a day, or two, or three…’ and ‘Things I absolutely have to do unless I absolutely don’t want to do them’. There is also an ample supply of tips and quotes. They’re not very helpful but they are fun to read.

(You can preorder the 2014 title here. How futuristic does 2014 sound, by the way?)

 

Challenge Accepted!
Website
Free (£10 suggested donation)

This is probably my new favourite way to get stuff done. Challenge Accepted is a web-based productivity app structured like an RPG. There’s quests, mini-boss battles, leveling-up, skills and achievements… basically, your to-do list becomes a quest log and therefore way more appealing. ‘Drudgery’ is a skill, and you can set your race as ‘Unicorn’. What is not excellent about these facts?

 

SelfControl for Mac
Online app
Free

This is a Mac application designed to help you avoid distracting websites. SelfControl lets you block your own access to distracting websites to help you avoid getting stuck in a technology loop. You add the distracting sites to your blacklist, set a time to block them for and then click ‘Start’. Then you’re locked out until the timer expires.

Let me just warn you that this app is evil. I guess that’s why the logo is a skull and crossbones. Even if you restart your computer or delete the application you won’t be allowed to check your precious Facebook newsfeed until your allocated time is up. But it works.

Obtract sounds good too, if you want to monitor productivity as a team. It’s Mac as well though – if you don’t use one this website helpfully lists some alternatives.

 

What are your tricks for getting things done? Do you turn off the WiFi or use Write or Die? Let me know in the comments!

All Dolled Up: the Aesthetics of Lolita Feminism

1 Sep

Image via daily-lolita.

Yesterday evening I was fortunate enough to attend Loli-POP! at the Victoria & Albert Museum – a celebration of Lolita fashion and frolics. The event was free and curated by Rupert Faulkner of the V&A’s Asian Department, to whom I extend my thanks for hosting such a wonderful evening. If you’re interested in reading more about the night, rabucon has an excellent post with lots of pretty pictures!

I was first introduced to Lolita style by the baby-goths of Brisbane’s King George Square, but it wasn’t until years later, on my first trip to Harajuku, that I was able to witness it on a mass scale. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of lace, frills and bows on display, as well as saddened by the fact that I would simply never be brave enough to pull it off. Because that’s the thing. Despite its sweetness, it takes incredible balls to becoming a fully-fledged Loli.

I’d never thought of Lolita as a feminist response until last night’s Q&A panel on Japanese Fashion Subcultures, when one of the panel spoke quite articulately about the movement and its relation to the subculture. I can’t remember if it was author of Tokyo Look Book Philomena Keet, or Harriet Hall, who wrote her thesis on ‘Nostalgia, Innocence and Subversion: Kawaii and the Lolita Fashion Subculture in Japan’, but they were both very clever during the whole panel discussion and made a lot more sense than I’m about to.

Image via jeriandjapan.

Basically, I see Lolita fashion as hyper-femme. It takes the concept of femininity to the extreme – almost to the obscene. Bear with me here. There is something quite subversive about Lolita. It takes these traditional symbols of femininity – bows, ruffles etc. – and exaggerates their existence. Rather than being feminine in a passive way, Lolita fashion is extremely visible and in-your-face. The whole package is all so obviously artificial, so unattainable, that I think it can be read as a political statement. A statement against a society that teaches girls to be princesses, women to be beautiful, to be submissive, to be feminine. Out society ultimately measures a woman’s worth by her appearance. These dresses and wigs and false eyelashes and knee-high socks are a rebellious act. They seem to ask, “Is this what you meant? Is this what you wanted?”

If you have ever seen a group of Loli girls, you will know that this kind of aesthetic is confrontational, and can be unsettling.

Image from feministlolita.

Lolita is also a threat to traditionally patriarchal values because it exists to the exclusion of men. These girls/women aren’t dressing this way to ‘get a husband’. These costumes are not created to please others, dressing Lolita is an almost entirely self-indulgent practice. This can be quite a novelty for those individuals who assume that “every single action in a woman’s life is entirely based around how she feels about the men in her life.” You know,

If she wants to be pretty, it’s because she wants men to look at her as an object. If she is a feminist or a lesbian, she just hates men. If she wants to be a stay-at-home mom, it’s because she feels she’s subservient to men. To society, absolutely nothing she ever does is based upon her own feelings, but to bow to or rebel against the men in her life.

Online, one Lolita shares a conversation with her friends’ father:

I was showing off ‘Sugary Carnival’, which is a print by Angelic Pretty with marshmallow-twist lines that end in carousel horses around the hem.
“So what,” he asked, “is the idea that men want to eat it off you?”
“Er, no,” I told him, “lolita isn’t intended as sexual. I guess people can find it that, but to be honest, finding it sexual I find more than a little creepy.”
“Well,” he told me, eyebrows raised, “what do you think men are thinking?”
“I think nobody cares what men are thinking.”

And there we have it. I suppose to outsiders like me, it can be difficult to understand how empowering pastels and frills can be. But I’m not about dictating what people should and shouldn’t wear – you know, “Let’s ban the burka!” or “these skirts need to be more feminist!

But this post is already way longer than I intended and I am by no means an expert, so I’ma throw it over to you guys. Any thoughts?

Festival Guide: How to Camp the Camp Way

12 Oct

So this year I went to Reading, my first festival ever. It was so in tents you guys. Tommy has a full review here, it was a pretty amazing long weekend.

Festivals can be educational — you can learn how to use a she-wee, for one. But there are a few things that I wish I had been warned about. Here’s my list of what to bring to a festival if you want to maintain your dignity, in alphabetical order.

  • Air mattress – If you plan on actually sleeping, this really makes such a difference.
  • Alcohol – If it’s in a glass container, put it into plastic bottles or in your mouth before you get there.
  • Change of clothes – Because you will get wet. And not the sexy kind. A hoodie paired with leggings is a safe bet, as is anything that will still look slightly glamorous caked with mud.
  • Ladythings – Surfing the crimson wave is a pretty godawful experience at a festival. Ditch the tampons for another option, because the bathroom facilities are way fonder of hand-sanitiser than they are of taps, so you probably haven’t washed your hands all day. Eww.
  • Mirror – Take one small enough to fit in your bag and you’ll have one up on everybody else on the campsite.
  • Munchies – It’s easier to take things that you don’t have to cook, because it’s a pain to wash up.
  • Tent and sleeping bag – Duh.
  • Torch – Those tent pegs can be sly buggers in the middle of the night.
  • Wellies – If you think it won’t rain, it will.
  • Wet wipes – It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a lady in possession of a festival ticket, must be in want of a shower.

The easiest thing is to take as little as possible and, where possible, make someone else carry your stuff. But lucky for me, I don’t have to worry about all this next time. I’m seeing the King of Carrot Flowers at Butlins.

The Misogynistic Hashtag

19 Jul

Call me Ishmael, but my problems don't just end with the fail whale

Twitter, I love you. You had @me at #hello. You link me to brilliant news and amazing like-minded people, helped me follow the student protests and today’s Hackgate, and you are one of my all time favourite expressions of narcissism. (Remember that time I was on your front page? That was fun for everyone.)

But Twitter, you can be really, really sexist.

For those of you that may not be familiar with what a trending topic is, it is a way to group certain terms on Twitter, often preceeded by a hash (#) to make them more easily searchable. If enough people are discussing something, these hashtags will become ‘trending topics.’ It can be a pretty cool feature — Doctor Who commentary usually trends, and it sometimes alerts you as to which celebrities are about to appear on talk shows (or which ones have just died…). But the cool thing about these hashtags is also the problem: they are the most popular conversations on the social networking site. And as one blogger points out, “Sometimes when you try to peer into a hive mind, you end up stung by hundreds of misogynist bees.”

Offensive trending topics of the past have included #stopthatthatsgay and #rulesforgirls.

By far the worst I’ve ever seen was last year’s #ItAintRape, which I won’t even dignify with a link. At the time of writing, one of the top hashtags is #youknowuasideline, which looks a little like this:

It’s true that Twitter forces you condense information into 140 characters, but it’s somewhat difficult to defend these with the ‘oh-but-there’s-a-lack-of-contextualisation’ excuse. According to Bad Reputation, “if you ever share a train carriage with a stag party you may well overhear some of the same sentiments.”

The flagrant misogyny of most of these trending topic hashtag tweets makes me furiously angry. But I don’t find them shocking. I think Germaine Greer is wrong on lots of things but right on this one: “Women have very little idea of how much men hate them.” Well, now we have a handy index in our Twitter sidebar

Now, I don’t think that Twitter’s trending topics are reflective of a universal and perpetual ‘hatred’ towards women, but rather an effect of society’s tired old belief that the two binary genders are separate, unequal and cannot be reconciled. However, trying to promote understanding through dialogue usually ends in a #ragequit (for me at least), as people are inherently defensive of what they have been conditioned to believe. It is also close to impossible to have any kind of productive debate in 140-characters or less.

Bad Rep has a pretty decent theory that explains why Twitter’s sexist (-racist-homophobic-ableist-ageist-etc.-etc.) trending topics feel out of place next to your Twitter stream.

Sorry everyone, I know you don’t want to hear this, but Twitter is people with misogynist views, at least if the trending topics are anything to go by. I would hazard that Twitter might feel like a feminist space that has been invaded by these ‘orrible ‘ashtags because you follow feminists. But we’re in the minority, just like in Real Life.

It’s much easier to craft your own media bubble online than offline, but it’s basically the same thing. If you read the Guardian, and hang out with other people who read the Guardian, then Guardian-y sort of opinions are going to appear to be the norm. Whereas the norm, in circulation figures at least, is actually the Sun. And then the Daily Mail.

Also, they have an excellent answer to why Twitter is the way it is: Because the web encourages people to be shitheads. Have you ever been to text-based chat site Omegle? You’d think that, given this amazing tool, which could use anonymity to free users of prejudices like class, race, gender and age, people would finally be able to make some kind of profound, tangible connection to another human being, as equals. Well, no, it seems like they can’t. Because humanity is a dick.

It’s easier to be an asshole to words than to people.” Just look at Facebook’s reaction to Japan winning the women’s World Cup against the US, or take a look at Openbook. That people are bigoted or misogynistic when they have the safety of their monitor to hide behind is no ground-breaking story.

In regards to Twitter, use of the hashtag itself may also encourage cheap shots at minorities. As Bad Rep asserts, “It’s a joke, and there’s an age-old link between cheap gags and crude gender stereotypes.” Through comedy, people often voice more controversial opinions than they might otherwise. When I was featured on the front page of Twitter, it was not for my left-leaning tweets, or my keen observations of the books in or near my house – it was for a joke about hipsters, and one which in some lights belittled the experience of the Chilean miners. (A miner faux pas, you might say… Sorry.)

I actually think that feminists have a strong enough presence on Twitter to dominate conversations like #menmarrywomenwho. But it’s also important to remember that people are no more ignorant on Twitter than they are on any other social media platform, or high street, or train carriage. Flaming everyone who posts a derogatory tweet is a waste of time.

It’s a symptom. You’re treating a symptom, and the disease rages on, consumes the human race. The fish rots from the head, as they say. So my thinking is, why not cut off the head?

Of the human race?

It’s not a perfect metaphor.

…And maybe Doctor Horrible isn’t the perfect mouthpiece to illustrate my point.

Basically, misogyny wasn’t invented by Twitter. It may be perpetuated in that forum, but the real problem is much bigger than that. Sexism is a global problem, not just confined to the Twittersphere. As well as undermining women, it reflects unfairly on men, it divides us, and sadly it’s not going to go away soon.

Just remember folks: you are what you tweet.

Amsterdaaaayum, gurl!

30 Jun
If you ever watched Neighbours a few years back, you will remember Sky Mangel, and you will remember that she was awesome. Sky determined that the Secret of Happiness™ was a combination of at least two of the following three things:

1.  Being content in your career
2.  Being content in your love life
3.  Having something to look forward to

As we know, all things in soap operas are true; one of the twins is always evil, and you always drive off a cliff on your wedding night. So it should stand to reason that Sky’s formula for happiness holds too, right?

Basically, this is all a round about way of saying that I am going to Amsterdam tomorrow. That’s nice enough on its own, but the fact that I’m flying to the Never Say Netherlands with the girls from the bookshop is even more exciting, especially as our camping trip last year looked like this:

I’m going to try to continue to update while I’m over there. However, I’ve heard that the cafés there sell some kind of magic cake that makes you dance better so I might be too tired from throwin’ shapes or something.

Why Do Vampires Suck Now?

21 Jun

I can’t be the only girl who spend her adolescence reading Anne Rice and Bram Stoker, equally lusting over Lestat and shuddering at Dracula. But the state of vampire fiction is a sad one indeed. I’ve read the first Twilight, and the eighth book from the Morganville Vampire Chronicles (it was for a review, I swear), but I don’t get it. I don’t see what’s happened. Vampires are supposed to be repulsive. They should smell like quicklime and soil and want your gross tampons. Failing that, they should be clever and handsome and look like Brad Pitt. They shouldn’t sparkle or eat tacos or take Math.

Here is what I think should be included in vampire fiction to make it engaging again:

  • A vampire who meets some avid Twilight fans (fanpires?) and cheerfully bites off their heads, because that’s what vampires do.
  • A vampire with OCD. In old myths, scattering small items like rice or salt into a vampire’s path caused him to spend hell of time counting the exact number before trying to eat you again. This is probably why Count von Count is so educational.
  • A vampire that can change into a mosquito or a leech THAT WAY YOU CAN SQUISH HIM.
  • A vampire that does not want to date a sixteen-year-old because frankly, you shouldn’t even date sixteen-year-olds outside of your teens so being 200-years-old it’s clearly out of the question.
  • A vampire that is corpulent. Why are they all so fit? They gorge on pints of blood every night.
  • A vampire who FIGHTS CRIME! Oh boy!
  • A vampire with an addiction to Italian food who cries every five pages because he can’t eat garlic bread.
  • A vampire who is thwarted by means of a sunbed. He is named Darque Tan, because children ran.

I am always in the market for a good vampire novel, so if you think I am being too harsh and that good contemporary vampy fic still exists, recommend me some in the comments! [If you’re just gonna recommend My Immortal, though, I’ve already read it and clearly Tara Gilesbie is an unrivaled genius of prose]