Let’s monetise motherfuckers!

6540698a-e056-4522-bf21-66c2c79eaa96It looks like Classic Rock magazine, and my old favourite, Metal Hammer have been saved from closure. I still buy the former but haven’t bothered with the latter since the commemorative Lemmy issue. As a youngster, though, it was a big favourite.

All good news for rock and metal fans I’m sure, but they’ve already let loads of their staff go – will there be jobs for them I wonder?

Of minor concern in comparison is what I assume is from the press release from Future, the new owners:

“The acquisition of these classic rock brands with their associated magazines, events and websites marks a further step in our buy and build strategy […] it further reinforces our creation of a leading global specialist media platform with data at its heart, which we are monetising through diversified revenue streams. We look forward to developing further these iconic and much-loved brands and to continuing to serve their communities of dedicated enthusiasts around the world.”

It doesn’t even read as English, let alone rock ‘n’ roll: It’s the kind of dense and wanky media speak that I thought had died out back in the nineties with Gus Hedges and Drop the Dead Donkey.

Still, ‘rock on’ and all that…

Hail Timoth!

A pub-lunch chat yesterday turned into a silly exploration of a name. We were talking about grandparents and I mentioned that my sons both have middle names after mine and my wife’s fathers and grandfathers.

My younger son has ‘Timothy’ as one of his names and I’ve always found it to be a strangely effete and middle-class name. Reminds me of Timothy Lumsden, the mummy’s boy from the 80s comedy, Sorry. The fact is though, that he was named after my wife’s grandfather who was a tough-as-nails farmer all his life, and the furthest thing from a mollycoddled suburbanite that you could imagine.

What might have made the difference, I suggested, was if his name had been ‘Timoth’ instead. Just dropping that semivowel ‘y’ somehow makes it sound much more rugged and masculine. I could image a ‘Timoth the Wanderer’ from the ancient legends, or a ‘Timoth Ragged-Beard’ of the Viking sagas. But putting the ‘y’ back just takes all the edge and romance out of the name.

Compare the two:

“And lo, the land was laid waste by Timoth the Despoiler, and there was weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

or

“And lo, the land was laid waste by Timothy the Despoiler, and there was much laughter and scratching of heads.”

It just doesn’t sound right does it…

EDIT: Younger son reckons that ‘Timoth’ would make a great name for a Scandinavian black metal band!

Alan Moore and Stewart Lee

jerusalem_mooreAttended An Evening with Alan Moore and Stewart Lee last evening – one of my favourite authors chatting to one of my favourite comedians.

Whereas Moore does sometimes come across as slightly curmudgeonly in interviews, this was a garrulous, light-hearted affair, mostly centred on his new novel, Jerusalem. I bought the book on release day, but it’s still on my ‘to read’ pile. After last night, I want to toss the Jonathan Franzen that I’m currently reading and dive straight in.

It’s common knowledge that Moore has walked away from many of the big titles that made his name, such as V for Vendetta, Watchmen, From Hell etc. and refuses to engage with Hollywood’s interpretations of his work. What did surprise me though was his admission that The Killing Joke (my personal favourite comic book ever!) was just written for Brian Bolland (the artist). It seems that he did it as a favour, and that was where his investment ended. I had to admire his honesty, but it does make me see the story in a new light.

What was more interesting, was Moore’s philosophy and perception of time going so far as to quote Einstein on the lack of finality in a universe where time is non-linear. I’d thought that his views on magic might come across as a bit kooky, but it felt like being in the presence of a sage rather than a shaman.

A wonderful way to spend a cold winter’s evening in London.

Words on a page…

“Writing is a concentrated form of thinking…a young writer sees that with words he can place himself more clearly into the world. Words on a page, that’s all it takes to help him separate himself from the forces around him, streets and people and pressures and feelings. He learns to think about these things, to ride his own sentences into new perceptions.”
Don DeLillo

Socratic spuriousness…

Dipping into Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, which I’ve been lugging around in my rucksack since I bought it. I couldn’t decide whether to treat it as a reference book or to try to read it straight through. It’s already got me smiling to myself though, with its inclusion of a quote from William Caxton which laments the changes to the English language as he got older:

‘And certaynly our langage now vsed varyeth ferre from that whiche was vsed and spoken whan I was borne’
(And certainly the language now used is very different from that which was used and spoken when I was born).

Considering that he was writing in the 15th century, it seems that those who complain about neologisms entering the OED are just part of a long tradition. I’d assumed that this was all just a reaction to advancing technology and the pace of change in the world.

It put me in mind of a quote from Socrates on the declining manners of children that I’ve come across on several occasions:

The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

This seemed to confirm the adage that the more things change, the more they stay the same, and that every generation produces the same disapproval of the one it spawns. Only, in this case, it seems a spurious tale. On looking to confirm the provenance, Bartleby, however, suggests a 20th century origin.

Caxton is real, Socrates (via Plato) it seems is not.

Thank heavens for the internet, by turns the destroyer and saviour of language and culture.

Missing the point?

I love how people get their knickers in a twist over punctuation – are we English speakers unique in this?

The Guardian has a review today of Making a Point: The Pernickety Story of English Punctuation by David Crystal. Sounds like an interesting attempt to wrest the dots and dashes of the language back from the pedants:

“His central argument, buttressed by countless well-chosen examples and enlivened by the odd whimsical digression, is that neither a phonetic, nor a semantic, nor a grammatical account of our punctuation system is singly sufficient. Those hoping to make punctuation logically consistent are chasing a will o’ the wisp – and ignoring the aesthetics and the pragmatics of practice. But nor is it a complete free-for-all. There are discoverable rules, or at least workable generalisations, about how punctuation functions. However, they are discoverable by the study of usage rather than from old school textbooks.”

Only, said pendants then all descend upon the comments section to argue over en-dashes, semicolons (or is it semi-colons), and even the usage of the humble comma.

It’s not that I disagree with the idea of correct usage, it’s the puritanical zeal with which some pursue it that puzzles me. If only people could get as animated about real injustices…