Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Listorama: Facebook status updates vol 20

BetaRish (is):

Sing all you citizens!

Last day of term

Hello St Petersberg

is waiting for a kiss on a balcony

At Pulkuvo. Goodbye St Petersberg

Hello jetlag

Here we go again…

Ever lover on a mission, shift your known position into the light

is a dream I keep having

Does tunesasthesia exist?

feels like he’s swallowing razor wire

is a neologism…

has started. He might finish

is logarithmic

wants you to groove me

will see you in the next one

is a kitemark of quality

is waiting for Malachite and Asturias

is copper-bottomed and nickel-plated

is waiting for his insatiable one

is trying to live in tetrameter

is looking for preference class

needs a permanent, portable dropbox

is a sous-sherpa

The cosmic good cheer is already leaking away down the stormhole of the galaxy

will live those days tonight

is waiting for the hammer to fall

is trying to fool himself that fullness is a state of mind

is a curatorial conspiracy

is waiting for Jack of Jumps

is looking for something witty or profound to go here

will be dancing later

is slicing up the magic hour

is Jack of Jumps

is moving with the lights on

is going down the word mine again

is on a ship called Dignity

is wondering how he’ll reach 39 lines

lacks the fundamentals

has one in the Cannes. Mostly thanks to Laila Milborrow, Paul Pearson and Natalie Powell

is still on the line

is failing to resist temptation

is categorising

is suffering from Asturias deciding playtime started at 4.30am

is barmecidal

thinks there should be something to it

is in a state of independence

is all you need

will be learning about clean energy later

is slightly off the beat

and the tale of the plaster-removing kittens…

is in the fun chair

is skying

can’t decide between being a regretful tortoise or a grateful hare

Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself

is combobulated

is sporting craquelure

is in a cwtch

is gathering

would like to start a band called ‘Healy’s Eyebrows’


Monday, July 25, 2011

Poetry: Days of Roses

More self-glorifying. Most pleasingly indeed, I've had something published over at the fine blog that is Days of Roses. Thrilling times. Go see etc.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Poetry: Gratuitous self-promotion alert

In that I was one of the runners up in the 2011 Cardiff International Poetry Competition. The award ceremony featured a lovely, if windswept, open top bus tour around Cardiff, followed by dinner at Harry Ramsdens. And, yes, the cheque has already been spent.

The other seven poems are marvels, and well worth your time. And for those who might be interested, mine was inspired by Richard Brautigan, and especially this New York Times blog post about him.


Monday, July 18, 2011

The best description of pop music ever

A weekend spent reading a lot of popmusikkritique, including Kevin Cummins' Manchester: Looking for the Light through the Pouring Rain, which was elegiac, and Nik Cohn's Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom, which is also elegiac, but with more energy, and possibly the best definition of pop music ever:

To this end, he [Frank Zappa] assembled his Mother freaks and loosed them. On their first album, cutting a track called The Return Of The Son Of Monster Magnet, he went into the studio with a small army of auxiliaries and the whole lot of them banged, strummed, pounded and thrashed any musical instrument they could lay their hands on, the total effect being a bit like a small army banging, strumming, pounding and thrashing any musical instrument they could lay their hands on. It worked, what's more. It made you wish you'd been in there yourself, banging and thrashing with the rest of them, and so it carried a sense of real release, exorcism.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Will writers be allowed to interview themselves any more?

I ask only half in jest. The thought was prompted by the Paris Review blog t'other day, examining, amongst others, Nabokov's habit of 'self-interviewing' - in this context, having received and answered the questions in advance. As the post says:

Even when he appeared with Lionel Trilling on a “live” taped interview on a 1958 program called “Close Up” to discuss the controversy surrounding Lolita for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Nabokov reads his responses—on television—from his index cards.

The Paris Review interview with Nabokov from 1967 starts by saying:

The interviewer had sent ahead a number of questions. When he arrived at the Montreux Palace, he found an envelope waiting for him—the questions had been shaken up and transformed into an interview. A few questions and answers were added later, before the interview's appearance in the 1967 Summer/Fall issue of The Paris Review. In accordance with Nabokov's wishes, all answers are given as he wrote them down.

My point is: would this sort of approach to interviews be allowed now, in our current media climate of radical transparency? We've seen the imbroglio that Johann Hari has found himself in for illuminating the answers of his interviewees by quoting themselves from elsewhere - a minor sin, it appears to me. But could a writer, or indeed any other sort of interview, now ask that they could take a 'Nabokovian' approach to interviews, a performative one essentially, without being excoriated for having something to hide?


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Commercial: Google+ equals what?

I'm cross-posting this from Geoff's blog, as I had a hand in drafting it...


So I’ve only just blagged my way on to Google+, and no I won’t go on about how hurt I am that it’s taken this long for me to get an invite.

Of course its early doors, and you can’t come to a proper judgement until there some sort of critical mass of people on there. But with over 10 million signed up now, that shouldn’t be too long now.

First impressions? It looks good, a lot better than Google products tend to, some lovely functionality going on, and clearly it’s going to be a big player.

But (and you just knew there was a ‘but’ coming) there’s one big flaw that I can see with it so far. It’s asking you to think deeply – and far more deeply than we’ve been trained to do – about stuff that you really don’t want to think too deeply about.

Consider the quick update you want to write or the whizzy new video you want to share. Instead of just whacking it up, Google+ is asking you now to think explicitly about who it’s right for. Do they happen to be in the right circle? Do I have to create a new one just for them?

The point is those circles could soon have to resemble Venn diagrams, balkanizing your mates, and bringing an artificial complexity to something that should be simple.

But, I hear you cry, isn’t that like the real world? It is, to a point. But we behave like that instinctively offline, and I doubt the extent we want to learn to behave like that online. (And as a side note, has anyone actually +1’d a search result yet? It’s like the algorithm has got all shy and bashful, and instead of confidently presenting results now wants a reassuring pat on the head.)

I don’t think, unlike Rish, that Google don’t get social. On the evidence of Wired’s behind the scenes piece, they’ve now got enough people in place who do. But they clearly are trying to do something outside their comfort zone: make something sticky, where people want to spend time hanging out. That’s a big shift for them.

And my instinct is that this, unlike Gmail, Adwords or Android, isn’t a game changer. It’s a catch up. Google+ equals a ‘me too’ offering. And that sort of sum rarely adds up in the long run.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wanted: Copy ninja

I’m looking for a copy ninja.

Or rather, archibald ingall stretton, the integrated ad agency where I work, is looking for a copywriter to join its current happy band of scribes.

The lucky chap or chappess will get to work on a range of different briefs including emails, websites, SMS messages and DM, for clients such as O2, EDF Energy and Skoda. Smile winsomely enough, and there might be some more conceptual work available too.

You’ll probably be looking for your second job. You may even be a middleweight ninja, if I can muddle metaphors even more.

You’ll be comfortable working in media offline and on, handle long copy expertly, short copy deftly and be ruthless in your proofing. Experience applying tones of voice will be useful too. Of course you’ll be a scribing for all things social too.

If that wasn’t enough, we’re based in the heart of London’s trendy media adland, have a roof terrace and are all lovely.

Naturally I don’t want to wade through a gazillion CVs. So, instead, send the tweet or text that you think will most convince me of your copy skills through the usual channels.