Monthly Archives: September 2013

Jedward 29/09/13

“I’m John. I’m Edward. And together we’re Jedward!”

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For those who don’t know, Jedward are Irish twins, John and Edward, who took part in the 2009 series of the talent show X Factor. They have also appeared on Celebrity Big Brother and represented Ireland in Eurovision. In England, it seems to be the ‘done’ thing to dislike them. But sister-of-mine is a dedicated fan, so when she went to see them play live in concert last weekend I was lucky enough to go with her.

On the way there, the sister and I were worried that we would be the oldest people there, save for the parents taking their ten year old girls to the concert. When we got there, we were pleasantly surprised to find quite a wide demographic. It was mainly young adult girls, but the middle-aged generation, men and children were also represented. What linked them all was a palpable sense of fun and sociability. And a love for Jedward, of course. There was a real sense of community.

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Jedward’s music isn’t what I typically enjoy, but as performers they are great fun to watch. They back flip, dip into their choreography when they feel like it, mock fight with each other and change their jackets almost every other song. Adding to the fun were back up dancers, and a screen that played graphics and sometimes their music videos behind them. Whilst they were off stage changing outfits, the screen would play pre-prepared videos of them talking. Their random banter in between songs was so funny.  Critics tend to say that they are talentless, but I disagree. John played the guitar well, both showed a versatility in their singing, also covering rapping and beatboxing, and anyone who can hold a note whilst jumping around and cartwheeling deserves credit. But even if they aren’t the best singers in the world, they are just amazing to watch and the atmosphere was great. They put on such a show!

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Not pointing fingers at any artists in particular, but some could stand to learn a lot from Jedward. The twins obviously love and respect their fans, and they enjoy what they are doing. Their message is one of optimism and fun. They aren’t over-sexualised. Although, someone in the crowd did shout at them to take their trousers off. John was good enough to explain that their jeans were so tight that it would take forever to take them off, so it wasn’t a good idea.

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What I admire most about Jedward though is that they haven’t let the haters change them. Despite the criticisms, they have carried on doing what they love, staying true to themselves. In a way it’s a good message for the younger fans – people are going to hate, put you down and maybe even bully you, but don’t give in to them, live your life.

So have a jepic day, everyone! 🙂

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Beta-reading

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Over the last week I was lucky enough to beta-read self-published author K.S. Ferguson‘s upcoming book Hostile Takeover. It is the second book in her Rafe and Kama series, following on from the events in Calculated Risk.

It’s the first time I’ve ever ‘officially’ beta-read something for anyone, and I was a bit nervous about it, but luckily she gave me a list of things she particularly wanted me to focus on. First, I read through it, noting down anything that jumped out at me, then I read it through again, this time taking notes on more general things about the overall structure. After that I organised my notes into something resembling coherence and sent it off to her. She replied saying I had been helpful and it was just what she needed, which was reassuring. I felt that my critiquing skills were under as much examination as her writing, so it was nice to get such positive feedback.

Hostile Takeover is a sci-fi thriller, along the same kind of lines of Michael Crichton’s  better books. It has murder, blackmail, corporate intrigue, social upheaval and explosions. All the good stuff! It was such a visual read, I could see this as a movie or something. It also has a romance subplot running through it between the two main characters, which was something that needed some work, but this book has amazing potential. I can’t wait for her to release the final version so I can read it.

K.S. Ferguson has also written an urban fantasy series, the first book of which, Touching Madness, is available through her website. As is Calculated Risk and a science-fiction novella called Puncher’s Chance. Puncher’s Chance was published in Analogue magazine. It was featured as the title story and won an award.

I really enjoyed beta-reading and it’s something I would like to do again, especially now I feel a bit more confident in it. I also really enjoyed the book, it was fun and well-written, so a big thanks to K.S. Ferguson for giving me the opportunity.


Night Vale necklace

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Welcome To Night Vale is a podcast by Commonplace Books and available for free through iTunes. The sister got me hooked on this amazing Lovecraftian comedy. The picture up above is my Night Vale-inspired necklace.

It started out as a pair of earrings I saw whilst out shopping, which I was drawn to  because they reminded me of the Night Vale logo:

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But the earrings were so big and heavy, I couldn’t imagine them being comfortable to wear. So I bought them and some necklace making stuff from Ebay and two lovely Night Vale necklaces were made! I’m quite proud of them, as I’ve never made jewelry before, although I think if I did it again, I’d make it with purple cord instead of black. And maybe with thicker cord.

Goodnight listeners, goodnight.


Batman 23.1 The Joker review

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It’s villain’s month for DC and how could I resist an issue starring the guy who got me started down the road of comic books, Mr J. himself?

If the New 52 Joker has left you pining for his fresh-faced looks of old, this is just what the doctor ordered. Writer Andy Kubert also brings some of the pathos of Alan Moore’s Killing Joke Joker to his take on the character, with flashbacks of Joker’s childhood. (Gaggy the monkey hand puppet, by the way? I want one!

A cute story of fatherly love between man and gorilla, this issue exactly captures the manic energy of the Joker. One of the things that interests me most about his character is that he’s a cartoon in world of illustrations. He’s unpredictable, sinister beneath a veneer of fun, and has a complete disregard for safety. In one panel, he and his adopted gorilla son, Jackanapes, are stealing cookies from a girl scout, a couple of panels later they’re shooting down helicopters, no discerning line drawn between the two. He is mad and dangerous, but there is also something strangely innocent about him. The page that truly summed up his character for me was Joker wearing an apron, spooning baby food into the a young gorilla’s mouth whilst two people in the background lie murdered. Very disturbing, very Joker.

I don’t see how this story’s going to have much of an impact on the DCU, and the conclusion felt a little rushed and forced, but it was good fun.

The colours in this are beautiful, all those greens and purples and pops of orange. Clarke’s flashback panels are slightly sketchy and have a Tim Burton-esque feel to them, yet they sit well beside the brighter present day panels. The artwork is strong, simple but not overly so. Visually, it’s an appealing issue.

It might not be for everyone, but I think Joker fans will want to add it to their collections.


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