Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Leaving the Library

I wrote this post in the summer of 2014, describing my move out of library work. I'd had my first job in the village library as a teenager, our village not offering much else to anyone too young to sell alcohol. I worked in the field for nearly ten years. And eventually, I felt compelled to leave it. At the time, I felt like writing this up but wasn't so sure about actually posting it. But now, I don't see any particular harm.

So until a few months ago, I was a library assistant, although as far as most people are concerned, I was a librarian.

I had a Saturday job in the village library as a teenager, and for one reason or another I decided to try a library traineeship after university. I had a profitable traineeship that showed me a wide range of library roles and tasks, helped me understand what I wouldn't like to do, and highlight the bits I did enjoy. From there I was lucky enough to find a full-time library job (I know!) in an academic library, and stayed there for six years.

I left my job by choice, for a number of reasons that I'm going to talk about a bit. The job had ceased to inspire me, which made it hard to meet my own standards. My role changed considerably over that time, both in great leaps and subtle shifts, which was a major reason for my change of heart. There were some personal issues, which aren't especially useful to talk about, so I won't. And I had, for these reasons and others, taken a long hard look at the future and seen something resembling the hopelessness-inducing fens of Mordor.

First, some relevant background: when I took the job, it was made clear that there was a plan to merge the library with several others into a new cross-disciplinary library, and that various changes and rationalisations would take place towards that goal. Largely due to the financial crisis, this did not in fact happen. However, due to a mixture of irreversible steps already taken (such as selling our premises) and top-level decisions to which I was not privy, something had to be done. As such, we ended up first sharing our librarian with another department, then sharing staff, and eventually merging the librarians into a new joint library in new premises. This was, of course, a pretty stressful and significant set of changes, and it involved some of the same work that the original plan would have called for.

Put me to doing

One of the main factors leaving me dissatisfied with the job was that the variety and scope of my job decreased significantly over the course of the years, which is precisely the opposite of what I'd expect.

Early on, there were a large number of one-off projects to work on: old donations to process, videos to digitise, some collection management changes, and most importantly, the conversion of the entire stock to Library of Congress in preparation for the expected merger.

I was also the only full-time library assistant, and between than and a prominent desk, I was the de facto receptionist, spending a lot of time interacting with readers or other visitors. The library layout meant everyone passed by me on their way in. I got to know many readers well, and showed a friendly informal face to reassure the more nervous new arrivals, and encourage them to actually approach us with problems. Between visitors, I worked on my projects, or did some of the many backroom tasks like checking new purchases, updating the catalogue, marking up new stock, replacing worn labels, taking and analysing statistics, collecting requests from the basement stacks, arranging rare book consultations, checking and fixing the photocopier, and so ad nearly infinitum.

How times change.

One by one, most of the projects were concluded, until only the conversion to Library of Congress remained. By that time, we had merged, giving us two librariesworth of stock to deal with, and essentially zero room for shuffling. There was also a constant suggestion that the remaining work would be outsourced, so we were regularly pulled off the project, each time drifting back to it when we ran out of other jobs or when certain sections became over-full and relocation was inevitable. No new projects arrived to fill the gap, leaving a net reduction in both workload and interest. Some were very repetitive, but they had added to the overall variety of the job, and some offered interesting problem-solving.

Meanwhile, the layout of the new library placed the enquiry desks in a side room, usually bypassed entirely by readers, who didn't build up as much of a connection with us. Library visits didn't seem to increase much, since although the new library combined two departments, its new location reduced its attractiveness as a drop-in centre between lectures. The new library was much simpler: its layout was much more straightforward, and several confusing sections had been reclassified or sent elsewhere (such as the antiquarian books), so readers needed less help finding their way around. There was no basement stacks to fetch books from, everything now being open-shelf, which was a great help for readers but did cut another of my tasks. Shelf-ready books took off, and suddenly new books didn't need any processing. E-books and scanning became widely used, cutting loans and shelving, while self-issue machines allowed readers to borrow books without staff intervention. More recent students also seemed more comfortable with a lot of library technology, since a modern catalogue has a lot in common with the Amazon interface. The reduced need to consult staff again weakened the rapport between readers and library staff, reducing enquiries and making the job rather less sociable; though readers did still come to the desk, the relationships seemed generally more distant.

Overall, I noticed a massive reduction in the variety of what I was doing, and in the amount of work overall. At the same time, during the merger, staffing actually increased significantly and remained at its height. From being the sole full-time assistant, I was now one of four. There were still only two enquiry desks, so those of us with slightly more admin responsibilities tended to end up in the back office. In my case, I was often scrabbling around for work, and many of the tasks available were extremely repetitive jobs of minimal interest.I found it quite exhausting to be always thinking of things to do, and felt guilty when I wasn't able to find any work to do. At the same time, I had less sense of accomplishment, less satisfaction from solving puzzles, and less social contact with readers to keep things interesting. I felt myself surplus to requirements, and frankly bored.

None of this was really anyone's fault. Technology had advanced, and reduced the need for traditional library work along the way, while younger readers were comfortable using this technology with minimal help. Old projects had been finished off, and no new ones had come along. The library was leaner, better-organised and more efficient in various ways that helped readers. The layout of the new building meant readers no longer naturally flowed to the enquiry desk. Changes in the market (like shelf-ready) shifted traditional library jobs over to the supplier. The outcome happened to be that most of my work melted away. I was no longer necessary.

Money, money, money

Shallow as it sounds, I'd be dim not to also be concerned about money. As a library assistant on Grade 3 of the UK Universities payscale, I began somewhere in the £18k region, and over six years I progressed to around £20k between annual increases and adjustments to the payscale, almost hitting the cap. In the city where I lived, this was enough to rent one room in a small terraced house shared with two others, in a nice enough area, and to go food shopping without worrying, which is not to be sniffed at. However, there was simply no way that I could ever afford to live on my own, bar getting a tumbledown flat above a takeaway in the worst part of town, which would in no way improve matters.

My housemates were nice enough, but at the age of 30 I was sincerely longing for a place where I didn't have to worry about access to the bathroom, could cook complicated meals without worrying about inconveniencing housemates, no cleaning rotas were necessary, and I had enough room to actually put all my stuff away just once instead of moving it from floor to bed and back. Where housemates wouldn't plan a big date night and occupy the kitchen for three hours, using every utensil in the house. Where I wasn't covering extra housework because my cohabitees had serious health issues. Where I wasn't worrying about getting bills paid for three and then reminding people to pay me back. Where no partners would suddenly move in for months at a time.

The problem was not just my current circumstances, but the increasingly evident issue that nothing was going to change. Rental prices would not suddenly drop. My salary couldn't increase much further. There was a small possibility of getting a slightly higher paid job (Grade 4), which after a few years could conceivably stretch to a single flat somewhere less desirable. Librarianship is a traditionally female profession, and I've always been convinced that this, plus the fact that you actually talk to people, explains its low wages. In universities, and particularly in old and hidebound universities, there's a sense (with evidence) that it used to be a job for the wives of academics to keep them busy and earning some pocket money. In reality, work at the library desk is pretty challenging, at least if you're going to be any good at it, and most library staff I know also do a considerable amount of administration, some data analysis, website management and ad-hoc pastoral care at the very least.

Though it's in no sense scientific, typically the response from other staff learning about library grading is a kind of shocked bewilderment. One friend stammered that they thought only the door staff were on that grade.* Another didn't believe the university was allowed to actually recruit to it. I was briefly seconded to an administrative team, who looked poleaxed when the fact emerged during a meeting; given what they'd asked for in a secondee, they'd assumed I must be on at least a Grade 5, like every single person in that department. I had to break the news to them that even a deputy librarian in charge of day-to-day operations only just scraped it.

* Door staff also do a valuable and demanding job, especially evening and night porters. I hope they get paid better than I was. They deal with a lot.

Any further promotion was essentially ruled out by the library world's arcane insistence on a split between Library Assistants and Librarians, reinforced by the ever-growing trend for certification. It's rare indeed to see a librarian post that doesn't call for Qualified Librarian status, a professional qualification which requires either an undergraduate or Masters degree, which will set you back around thousands of pounds and around a year of your life. Between my own observations and the experiences of the many people I know who have taken the qualification, let us say I am sceptical of its merits.

A further barrier is offered by the existence of chartership, a privilege shared with seven other professions in the UK, in most of which professional incompetence can result in mass fraud or death.

Essentially, to improve my quality of life significantly while remaining in the field, I would have to pay to complete an unwanted postgraduate degree in the hopes of getting a proper Librarian job. From what I know of the field, this would involve giving up most of the interesting parts of the job, in order to spend the time writing presentations for management, attending meetings and analysing budgets. Another route is moving into a technical field, such as cataloguing or electronic resources. These are all laudable things, but of approximately zero interest to me as a full-time job. I got into librarianship because I like humans and providing practical help. Unfortunately, reader services is not an actual career path where you can learn, progress and become a highly-respected professional, in the same way that cataloguing, staff training or electronic resources management are.

Much simpler, from what I can see, to move sideways into administration. It probably won't be quite as interesting, and many of my well-honed skills will go to waste. Intuiting where a book will have been misshelved based on shelfmark systems and historical patterns; remembering the names of several hundred readers and what they talked about last visit; using library software; extensive knowledge of classification systems.

Look to the future

The last of the major factors was an increasing concern about what will happen in the library world. The disappearance of all the work I used to do is a pretty good indicator of current trends. A lot of work that library staff used to do can now be done by readers, or even via assistance apps. Traditional complexity is tending to melt away, with software falling in line with modern norms and become more user-friendly, and libraries reorganising in the face of modern ideas about how buildings can be used. Staff mediation is reduced by the (laudable) abolition of old restrictions and red tape that obstructed readers.

Other work is being outsourced, increasingly easy now. Books can arrive shelf-ready. Electronic resources can be managed by an agency or as part of a conglomerate. Cataloguing can be done by agencies, or records downloaded. Even collection management can be farmed out to specialist firms. A lot of remaining jobs are fairly low-skill, and I predict that desk jobs will tend to be downgraded over time - it's certainly what I would have done to my job, with the best will in the world. There's pressure on opening hours in many places too, both public and education libraries, which encourages rotas and casual staffing. I expect an even starker division in future, with a MacDonalds-like team of low-paid desk staff called in to keep the place nominally staffed, handle shelving and work through simple lists, while specialist staff handle technical jobs that can't be outsourced. And there's no shortage of willing staff: library jobs seem appealing and get hordes of applications, which will surely keep those McJobs filled.

There's also a lot of pressure on libraries in general. Budgets are readily cut and rarely expanded. Public libraries close, university libraries merge. Many people don't use libraries much, now that books are easily and cheaply available, thanks to a thriving online second-hand market. All of this makes me expect yet more job losses to come.

Partly because of these pressures, and partly because of the specific demands of the profession, few library jobs are full-time. Some are tied to dates of term, others work only evenings or weekends, or every Thursday for six hours. Few seem to be permanent. Rotas aren't uncommon, making it hard to work multiple jobs. Part-time, contract-based and poorly-paid? You're spoiling us.

This does not look like a profession in which I can feel secure. I have reached a point in my life where I would like to feel secure.

I'm sorry, Libraries. I really tried to make this work. It's not me; it's you.


So, how's that working out for me?

I spent six months abroad studying intensively to improve my language skills. This proved interesting, but basically useless; the supposed demand for language skills doesn't translate into many actual job openings. There are undoubtedly lots of situations where they're useful, but very few jobs that either ask for them or are willing to pay for them. I've seen a few asking for fluent speakers of X, which I can't claim to be, mostly in roles liaising with the appropriate countries or translating documents.

After nine months of unemployment and sporadic freelancing, I finally managed to land an administrative role on my roughly 100th application and my tenth interview (this is not hyperbole). It's on Grade 3, but housing's cheaper where I live now so I did get my own flat. And then a load of fuckwits voted for Brexit, so the economy went to hell, and my chances of climbing the pay scale are currently zero.

Nice one, genius.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Prowaltyssyn

As lane skeeal Innsmouth çhyndaait aym, ta mee goaill beggan aash jeh skeealaght.

Ec y traa t'ayn, ta mee prowal eieyn bentyn rish croo lioaryn-l daahengagh. She obbyr ghoillee t'ayn er y fa nagh vel cummal fondagh ec lioaryn-l; t'ad caghlaa rere y lhaihder-l t'ou uss jannoo ymmyd jeh, as reddyn elley. S'doillee agglagh eh croo, myr sampleyr, daa chollooghyn. Ayns lioar jeant jeh pabyr, ta daa ghuillag ayn as t'ou jus cur Gaelg er y nane jeu as Baarle er y fer elley. Agh cha nel duillag brash ec lioar-l!

Dy noddym jannoo obbyr vie jeh, t'eh foym cur lioar-l ass ny skeealyn ta çhyndaait aym, lesh teks daahengagh as noteyn bentyn rish y ghrammeydys as reddyn elley. Veagh shen ny share da sleih jannoo ymmyd jeh, foddee.


With the rest of Innsmouth translated, I'm taking a bit of a break from that.

Recently, having seen how much translation I've done, I've been pondering the idea of creating parallel text ebooks. It turns out to be very difficult. Ebooks don't have two pages to use the traditional printed format of one page per language, and it's hard to give them any fixed layout at all - they adjust to the e-reader you're using and the user's settings.

If I can do anything with it, I'd like to turn my translations into an ebook with parallel text and annotations, which might be more accessible than the website.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Yn Scaa Harrish Innsmouth: Yn Eiraght

She fliaghey meein ny mairagh ghooisht mee ass y neealloo v’orrym ‘sy yiarrey crouwagh shid, as rish snapperal magh dys y raad roym, cha dooar mee lorg coshey erbee ‘sy laagh oor. Va’n soar eeastagh ersooyl myrgeddin. Heeyn seose mullee vrishtey as speekyn lieh-lhieggit Innsmouth dy lheeah ‘syn çhiar yiass, agh cha chronn mee bioag erbee ‘sny reeastyn gortey ooilley mygeayrt aym. Va’n ooreyder aym bio foast, as cowraghey magh dy row eh lurg munlaa.

Cha row rieaughid ny haghyr dou baghtal ‘syn aigney aym er chor erbee, agh dennee mee dy row red ennagh graney bentyn rish. Begin dou scughey jeh Innsmouth drogh-scaagh—as myr shen ghow mee toshiaght prowal y niart shooyl aym, fo arkfeh as skeeys. Erreish da tammylt liauyr, gyn scansh da annoonid, accrys, scoagh as shaghrynys, hooar mee dy dod mee shooyl; as hie mee roym dy moal er y raad laaghagh cour Rowley. Roish yn oie va mee ‘sy valley veg shen, feddyn bee as reaghey eaddagh cooie dou hene. Hie mee dys Arkham er y traen oie, as mairagh loayr mee dy liauyr jeean marish fir-oik ny reiltys; v’eh orrym aaloayrt y clane ayns Boston myrgeddin. Ta fys ec y theay er ard-eiyrtys y resoonaght shen nish—as, son cadjinys, dy row shen jerrey y skeeal! She baanrys ta jannoo orrym nish beggan er veggan—agh foddee, ta scoagh smoo—ny yindys smoo—sheeyney magh.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Widdershins 'sy Ghaelg!

Naight greesee! Wahll, dooys aghterbee...

Erreish da tammylt agglagh (t'eh orryms son y chooid smoo), ta lhieggan Gaelg y caslys-skeeal Widdershins: Sleight of Hand ry-gheddyn nish myr PDF nastee, çhyndaait ayms. As ta, ta kied kenjal Kate aym son y lhieggan shoh!

She skeeal yindyssagh t'ayn, lane contoyrtys as aitt, as ren mee my chooid hare shen y chowraghey 'sy Ghaelg myrgeddin.

Gura mie ayd da kuse dy chaarjyn hug coyre dou 'syn obbyr.

Exciting news - for me, at least...

After a really excessively long time (mostly my fault) the Manx edition of Widdershins: Sleight of Hand is now available as a free PDF, translated by me, with the very kind permission of the author Kate.

It's a really excellent story, full of adventure and fun, and I did my best to portray that in the Manx version.

Thanks to those friends who gave kind advice in the work.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Arraghey thie

Gow-jee my leshtal nagh screeu mish tammylt! Ta mee er ve shirrey arasane noa (dy cruinn, fer gyn fir-chimmee 'sy gharey!) as eisht gaarlaghey dy arraghey thie. Ta mee garraghey jiu, as cha bee eddyr-voggyl aym rish amm - meeghyn, foddee, cha nel treisht erbee aym ayns lheid ny colughtyn - myr shen cha s'aym tra vees caa noa aym dy screeu.

Ta mee er çhee cur jerrey er Innsmouth, myr shen, bee meer ry-gheddyn...

Friday, 29 July 2016

Listening Project: July

So I'm supposed to listen to this little lot:

  • Green Day - American Idiot
  • Scissor Sisters - Scissor Sisters
  • The Killers - Hot Fuss
  • The Chemical Brothers - Push the Button
  • Athlete - Tourist
  • Keane - Hopes and Fears
  • Scissor Sisters - Scissor Sisters
  • Doves - Some Cities
  • G4 - G4
  • 50 Cent - The Massacre
  • Stereophonics - Language. Sex. Violence. Other?
  • Tony Christie - Definitive Collection
  • Natalie Imbruglia - Counting Down the Days
  • Basement Jaxx - Basement Jaxx: The Singles
  • Akon - Trouble
  • Bruce Springsteen - Devils & Dust
  • Akon - Trouble
  • Steve Brookstein - Heart and Soul
  • Faithless - Forever Faithless – The Greatest Hits
  • Gorillaz - Demon Days
  • Oasis - Don't Believe the Truth
  • Coldplay - X&Y
  • James Blunt - Back to Bedlam
  • McFly - Wonderland
  • James Blunt - Back to Bedlam
  • David Gray - Life in Slow Motion
  • Katie Melua - Piece by Piece
  • Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better
  • Sugababes - Taller in More Ways
  • The Prodigy - Their Law: The Singles 1990–2005
  • Robbie Williams - Intensive Care
  • Westlife - Face to Face
  • Il Divo - Ancora
  • Madonna - Confessions on a Dance Floor
  • Eminem - Curtain Call: The Hits

June opining

The Killers - Hot Fuss is fine, perfectly servicable rocky sort of stuff, but doesn't grab me somehow.

The Chemical Brothers - Push the Button is okay to have on in the background, but pretty dull.

Athlete - Tourist feels very nondescript to me. I'm not sold.

Doves - Some Cities is weird and experimental and I don't like it much.

G4 - G4 was too hard to find. All I got was a cover of The Circle of Life and I mean, that's a good song, but you're not getting credit for it.

50 Cent - The Massacre starts off with a profanity-ridden song about how 50 Cent is amazingly hard and sells drugs and waves guns around and doesn't care what anyone thinks. Happily it turns out I don't care what he thinks, so that works out nicely and I save a lot of time (I did try another couple of tracks, equally pointless).

Stereophonics - Language. Sex. Violence. Other? is pretty hard to hear, but the music is at least pretty pacey and moderately varied. I do generally like being able to actually hear the lyrics though.

Tony Christie - Definitive Collection is unavailable.

Natalie Imbruglia - Counting Down the Days is a little repetitive, but I find I really like her voice and it's quite nice relaxing stuff to have on as I write.

Basement Jaxx - Basement Jaxx: The Singles isn't uncatchy musically, but it's staggeringly repetitive.

Akon - Trouble has a logo written in unconvincing fake blood, so that's not promising. The actual music isn't particularly like that as far as I can tell. It's kind of okay? I can't really make out the lyrics in half of the songs. Lonely seems okay, a little repetitive but at least it's a bit different. Journey I genuinely enjoy, although it's one of those songs that seems to demand a bit of attention - it's not a running song. In general I think the second half of this CD works better for me than the first. I Won't is also decent.

Bruce Springsteen - Devils & Dust is very samey. It's fine to have on in the background, and I can nod my head along to the songs well enough. I'd have to listen to this more carefully to pick much out, because I think Springsteen is very word-focused, and I don't really have time for that right now.

Steve Brookstein - Heart and Soul is kind of hard to track down, and appears to just be a load of covers. His voice is okay.

Faithless - Forever Faithless – The Greatest Hits counts as a compilation album, and I'm skipping those.

Gorillaz - Demon Days again has at least one singer who seems intent on making it as difficult as physically possible to make out anything he's saying. They seem musically interesting although the lyrics of each song seem rather repetitive. It's sort of vaguely fun but I definitely won't be going out singing any of these because I've no idea what's happening.

Oasis - Don't Believe the Truth I find much better than some of their earlier stuff; it's still pretty odd lyrically, but it's an enjoyable set of tracks with some solid melodies.

Coldplay - X&Y was a decent album that I didn't especially register because I was writing.

James Blunt - Back to Bedlam was an album I thoroughly expected to hate, because man James Blunt came in for a lot of stick and didn't impress me at the time, but I actually quite liked this and now I'm wondering whether there was ever anything wrong or it was just fashionable to dig at him? Was it simply the relatively high voice - in which case Scissor Sisters and the like have eclipsed him? Sheer overexposure? I did a bit of research and also found suggestions that his music seems a bit more aimed at the female market, which historically does get people a lot of stick because society (see: musicians that mums like are for rolling eyes at, musicians that dads like are simply out-of-date).

McFly - Wonderland is perfectly tolerable.

David Gray - Life in Slow Motion grates on me - for some reason I find his voice really annoying here and I have to move on.

Katie Melua - Piece by Piece is a nice chilled album with songs that are pleasant to listen to, and I might even end up singing along to with a couple more listens. I intend to find out.

Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better doesn't really strike me as particularly interesting. The song sound quite similar to each other, even down to the beats.

Sugababes - Taller in More Ways is that one with Push the Button, which I have heard approximately 89 billion times. This does not make it bad, just overexposed. It's still catchy. It's a decent album on the whole, the songs seem both catchy and moderately interesting in topic and lyrics.

The Prodigy - Their Law: The Singles 1990–2005... I don't really get it. It's okay, but a bit all over the place?

Robbie Williams - Intensive Care sounds entirely 100% like Robbie Williams, but in one of his more generic moods.

Westlife - Face to Face sounds like Westlife should. It has You Raise Me Up too. This is fine. It's not life-changing or anything, but I enjoy it.

Il Divo - Ancora is classical music and therefore excluded.

Madonna - Confessions on a Dance Floor just wasn't really interesting somehow. It was very repetitive-beat-y and lacked interesting melodic or lyrical patterns. Not her best work, I think.

Eminem - Curtain Call: The Hits has a couple of decent songs, but it's a hits album so that's expected. A lot of it's just not interesting.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Yn Scaa Harrish Innsmouth: Y Raad Yiarn

Sleetçh mee stiagh ayns halley yn ‘astee treigit aym, as cur tastey jeean da caslys-balley y yilley groseyragh lesh y lostan poagey. She roshtyn y shenn raad yiarn va’n cront preaysagh aym nish. Cha by vie lhiam goll erash tessen goal foshlit Washington, chamoo shooyl my heear er South Street, as ish ny straid lhean agglagh gyn fastee. Heill mee dy beagh eh sauçhey goll roym dys Babson Street, as eisht my heear cour Lafayette. Veagh eh orrym goll mygeayrt boayl feayn elley—agh cha nhegin dou goll tessen eh—as eisht my heear as my hwoaie reesht er linney camstram trooid straiddyn Lafayette, Bates, Adams as Bank, bentyn rish clash ny h-awin ‘sy fer s’jerree, derrey roshym y stashoon treigit tholtanagh honnick mee voish yn uinniag.

Hie mee magh reesht, as goll tessen dys çheu yesh ny straiddey son dy skeetal stiagh ayns Babson gyn vaght my dod mee. Cheayll mee kiaullane ayns Federal Street foast, as lesh cur shilley bieau m’oi, er lhiam dy vaik mee falleays faggys da’n thie haink mee ny hrooid. Va mee gimney scapail Washington Street nish, as ghow mee toshiaght lieh-roie dy kiune, croghey er aigh nagh duittagh sooill arreydagh erbee orrym. Rish corneil Babson Street, ghow mee aggle lesh fakin dy row cummaltee foast ayns thie dy row, rere ny curtanyn ‘syn uinniag; agh cha row sollys erbee aynsyn, as hie mee shaghey gyn cragh.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Listening Project: June

The leftover May playlist

  • Avril Lavigne - Let Go
  • Justin Timberlake - Justified
  • Kelly Rowland - Simply Deep
  • Massive Attack - 100th Window
  • Norah Jones - Come Away with Me
  • Linkin Park - Meteora
  • The White Stripes - Elephant
  • Madonna - American Life
  • Blur - Think Tank
  • Stereophonics - You Gotta Go There to Come Back
  • Radiohead - Hail to the Thief
  • Evanescence - Fallen
  • Beyoncé - Dangerously in Love
  • The Coral - Magic and Medicine
  • Eva Cassidy - American Tune
  • The Darkness - Permission to Land
  • Muse - Absolution
  • Dido - Life for Rent
  • R.E.M. - In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988–2003
  • Blue - Guilty
  • Michael Jackson - Number Ones
  • Westlife - Turnaround
  • Will Young - Friday's Child

Actual June stuff!

  • Katie Melua - Call Off the Search
  • Norah Jones - Feels like Home
  • George Michael - Patience
  • Usher - Confessions
  • Anastacia - Anastacia
  • Guns N' Roses - Greatest Hits
  • D12 - D12 World
  • Keane - Hopes and Fears
  • Avril Lavigne - Under My Skin
  • Faithless - No Roots
  • The Streets - A Grand Don't Come for Free
  • Scissor Sisters - Scissor Sisters
  • McFly - Room on the 3rd Floor
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers - Live in Hyde Park
  • Anastacia - Anastacia
  • Maroon 5 - Songs About Jane
  • The Prodigy - Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned
  • The Libertines - The Libertines
  • Natasha Bedingfield - Unwritten
  • Embrace - Out of Nothing
  • Green Day - American Idiot
  • Joss Stone - Mind Body & Soul
  • R.E.M. - Around the Sun
  • Ronan Keating - 10 Years of Hits
  • Robbie Williams - Greatest Hits
  • Il Divo - Il Divo
  • Eminem - Encore
  • U2 - How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb

May Opining

Avril Lavigne - Let Go is pretty fun. It does feel curiously dated, perhaps because in my head Lavigne is intimately tied up with the brief surge of skate-themed subculture towards the end of my secondary school days. Still enjoyable though.

Justin Timberlake - Justified isn't especially working for me. I find his voice a bit annoying, and his lyrics rather cliched (not that it can't be said of plenty of the others). The music seems repetitive.

Kelly Rowland - Simply Deep is a mixed success. She's a good singer with a pleasant voice, in a style I'm not familiar with, but I don't especially like the actual songs either lyricswise or musically. Perfectly tolerable album on the whole.

Massive Attack - 100th Window is probably the kind of thing you'd really like if you are into experimental meditative stuff, but I am not really. I tune it out very quickly and realise I have missed it all.

Norah Jones - Come Away with Me didn't grab me initially, but after a while I warmed to its fairly chilled style and soothing vocals. Not something I'd sing along to though because I just can't sing in that looser style.

Linkin Park - Meteora is not a huge departure from the sort of music I like, but it's just too shouty. I can't really hear what they're singing and I'm not about to try singing along to it (my voice gets knackered easily).  The less shouty bits are okay.

The White Stripes - Elephant. I don't entirely know what to make of this. It doesn't stick firmly to anything that I recognise as a specific genre. It's decent, but not my favourite thing. I could probably get into it with enough time though. I'm realising that one of the issues with liking newer music (yes, I appreciate this is from 2013!) is simply exposure. You get into things as a teenager because you tend to hear the same songs a lot - your social group plays them, and often you've bought just a few albums so you listen to them repeatedly, and in my case I was listening to rather repetitive local radio. Even things you don't particularly care for to begin with, or are at best ambivalent about, will grow familiar and comfortable. As an adult you tend to have less time for that, and I'm going to be listening to most of these exactly once, so there'll be no time to mellow to them.

Madonna - American Life feels surprisingly unassuming for a singer I think of as relatively brash. I actually quite like this one; it seems at times like it's blurring the lines between pop and indie.

Blur - Think Tank isn't really doing anything for me.

Stereophonics - You Gotta Go There to Come Back makes literally zero impression on me. I listened to it all and now I can't remember a single thing about it.

Radiohead - Hail to the Thief is tedious.

Evanescence - Fallen on the other hand seems like very much my thing. I have heard a bit of this before, but it's got the strong guitar rhythms and compelling vocal flow that I find perfect for running and so forth. There's some nice more melodic sections as well. It is a bit repetitive at times, but still, I should probably buy this.

Beyoncé - Dangerously in Love is a pretty accomplished display of singing, but I find the music repetitive and the lyrics rather uninspiring. It doesn't seem much of a change from what people were singing 20 years earlier - not that the content of music has fundamentaly changed, but it surprised me a bit given how famous she is for having changed stuff, I thought? Maybe this album isn't representative? Or maybe it's just about being more confident and explicit? I dunno.

The Coral - Magic and Medicine feels a bit dreary, although musically it's not bad. I quite liked Bill McCai despite it being quite depressing. Pass it On is sort of catchy. Rest is basically just okay.

Eva Cassidy - American Tune is reasonable croony stuff, but not easy to find online. I have to be in a particular mood for this sort of thing.

The Darkness - Permission to Land is very silly (especially the videos, which are just splendid) but has that driving quality that I prize in my rock. I remember I believe in a thing called love but not the others. One due another look when this is over.

Muse - Absolution is better than I remember Muse being; I listened to them a bit as a teenager but grew to find them too dissonant and unmelodic. This was decent, although not especially memorable.

R.E.M. - In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988–2003. Gosh, there's a lot of these collected works of established artists on here... it's not helping me much in discovering newer music! That being said, although I do recognise some of these songs, I'm favourably impressed by the album. It feels creative linguistically and musically, and is a pretty compelling listen.

Blue - Guilty seems perfectly tolerable, even pleasant, but few of the songs make any impace. It's flowed over me without me noticing it much. That's a mark of quality to some extent - it's not annoying - but talk about damning with faint praise. That being said, Where You Want Me attracts my attention for some reason.

Dido - Life for Rent I've owned for years and am fond of, so I don't need to listen to it here.

Michael Jackson - Number Ones is okay; a lot of the songs I've already heard, and the others are a bit nondescript. I confess to not listening to the whole thing, because a) it's a bit monotonous and b) it's really freaking long.

Westlife - Turnaround is another compelling album. I think What do they know is the most striking track here; it feels weirdly ambiguous, with what I read as an unreliable narrator to the realities of the relationship involved.

Will Young - Friday's Child is fine, perfectly decent, pleasant to listen to.

June Opining

Katie Melua - Call Off the Search is a fun listen, with nice chilled-but-catchy rhythms and a very pleasing voice that harmonises nicely with the jazzy melodies.

Norah Jones - Feels like Home is chilled and easy to listen to, although I feel like it would be intrustive if I had company over - I find this sort of music often irritates me in cafes for that reason. For this, though, it's pretty solid.

George Michael - Patience doesn't do very much for me. I don't find the music very interesting and it seems quite a repetitive album (ironically, I am losing patience with it).

Usher - Confessions seems repetitive (it's not very easy to tell when songs change over) and not very musically interesting either. That being said, I do like his voice. It all seems to be about being awesome and rich and sexually dominant? Save it for your mates in the bar, I mean, y'know?

Anastacia - Anastacia is quite fun - slightly generic rock, yes, but I'm finding it very swayable-along-to which is an important consideration for me.

Guns N' Roses - Greatest Hits is as good as you'd expect. I'm not especially knowledgeable about the group, but they're a popular hard rock group for a reason, and these are some of their best songs, and I like rock. Of course I like it.

D12 - D12 World. I have trouble with this one because I can't really make out the lyrics in many songs, which is (to my ears) the main point of this sort of music. There's just a beat and some muffled muttering. This is partly because I can't turn music up very loud because the neighbours complain, and there's some background noise here too, but the audio itself isn't great. The lyrics I can hear seem to be about sexual violence. I decide to abandon this album.

Keane - Hopes and Fears is a pretty good album. It reminds me of Coldplay to some extent but a little more accessible.

Avril Lavigne - Under My Skin is another solid offering with some decent rocky stuff, although there's a surprising range of music in here within that broad category.

Keane - Hopes and Fears turns out to be lots of stuff I've heard without any idea who it was. I quite like it, to the point where I might buy it.

Faithless - No Roots has at least one decent track on it - the first - but I couldn't find the others.

The Streets - A Grand Don't Come for Free is depressing and musically uninteresting. It's almost exactly like being on a bus next to a couple of lads chatting about their Friday night and playing with ringtones.

Scissor Sisters - Scissor Sisters is good stuff. Incomprehensible, but somehow head-noddingly catchy.

McFly - Room on the 3rd Floor is a sort of mix of generic boyband pop and a slightly rougher, more indie edge. Although I remember them being cause for contempt in my youth, they're better than I remember. There's a little bit more going on in the music than there needs to be for generic pop, and also (intentionally, I'm sure) they do give off an air of actually enjoying themselves, which is quite refreshing.

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Live in Hyde Park is decent, but somehow I never quite got into the RHCPs. I mean, they're fine, and some of their songs are fairly catchy, but I think either they're a little too impenetrable for me, or too repetitive despite the playing around the guitarists do.

Maroon 5 - Songs About Jane is another one of those albums that makes me go oh, THAT's who that song was. It's okay.

The Prodigy - Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned isn't recognisable to me as music.

The Libertines - The Libertines isn't particularly interesting to me for some reason.

Natasha Bedingfield - Unwritten is reasonably fun.

Embrace - Out of Nothing is a pleasant and fairly listenable album, though some of the later tracks are a bit noisy.

Green Day - American Idiot is solid good stuff by a band that generally offers reliable cynical rock that's good to run to. I should buy this.

Joss Stone - Mind Body & Soul is okay? I find her style of singing rather intrusive, it's got that almost-shouting vocal quality. It varies by song whether or not this bothers me. It's otherwise reasonable enough.

R.E.M. - Around the Sun is okay, pleasant to listen to.

Ronan Keating - 10 Years of Hits is actually getting ignored under a new rule: the point of this project is to listen to new stuff, so albums of music from the past are not especially constructive.

Robbie Williams - Greatest Hits ditto.

Il Divo - Il Divo is getting skipped because it's classical music. I don't care why it's in the charts.

Eminem - Encore didn't particularly impress me - the songs felt more self-indulgent somehow and less... important? I dunno.

U2 - How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb is a steady album from the group; sounds very much like a U2 album (you might say a little unimaginative?) but relatively thoughtful somehow.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Listening Project: frantic catch-up and May

The March and April playlist remnants

  • Stereophonics - Just Enough Education to Perform
  • Ash - Free All Angels
  • Destiny's Child - Survivor
  • R.E.M. - Reveal
  • Shaggy - Hot Shot
  • Radiohead - Amnesiac
  • Travis - The Invisible Band
  • Usher - 8701
  • Destiny's Child - Survivor
  • David Gray - White Ladder
  • Atomic Kitten - Right Now
  • David Gray - White Ladder
  • Staind - Break the Cycle
  • Slipknot - Iowa
  • Jamiroquai - A Funk Odyssey
  • Macy Gray - The Id
  • Dido - No Angel
  • Kylie Minogue - Fever
  • Steps - Gold: Greatest Hits
  • Michael Jackson - Invincible
  • Steps - Gold: Greatest Hits
  • Westlife - World of Our Own
  • Robbie Williams - Swing When You're Winning

The April playlist

  • Stereophonics - Just Enough Education to Perform
  • The Chemical Brothers - Come with Us
  • Enrique Iglesias - Escape
  • Sting & The Police - The Very Best of Sting & The Police
  • Barbra Streisand - The Essential Barbra Streisand
  • Nickelback - Silver Side Up
  • Céline Dion - A New Day Has Come
  • Blue - All Rise
  • Doves - The Last Broadcast
  • Moby - 18
  • Ronan Keating - Destination
  • Eminem - The Eminem Show
  • Oasis - Heathen Chemistry
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers - By the Way
  • Bruce Springsteen - The Rising
  • Eva Cassidy - Imagine
  • Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head
  • Atomic Kitten - Feels So Good
  • Paul Weller - Illumination
  • Elvis Presley - ELV1S
  • Will Young - From Now On
  • Foo Fighters - One by One
  • David Gray - A New Day at Midnight
  • Blue - One Love
  • Westlife - Unbreakable: The Greatest Hits Volume 1
  • Robbie Williams - Escapology

May

  • Avril Lavigne - Let Go
  • Justin Timberlake - Justified
  • Kelly Rowland - Simply Deep
  • Massive Attack - 100th Window
  • Norah Jones - Come Away with Me
  • Linkin Park - Meteora
  • The White Stripes - Elephant
  • Madonna - American Life
  • Blur - Think Tank
  • Stereophonics - You Gotta Go There to Come Back
  • Radiohead - Hail to the Thief
  • Evanescence - Fallen
  • Beyoncé - Dangerously in Love
  • The Coral - Magic and Medicine
  • Eva Cassidy - American Tune
  • The Darkness - Permission to Land
  • Muse - Absolution
  • Dido - Life for Rent
  • R.E.M. - In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988–2003
  • Blue - Guilty
  • Michael Jackson - Number Ones
  • Westlife - Turnaround
  • Will Young - Friday's Child

Wow, that's a lot of songs...

Opining

Stereophonics - Just Enough Education to Perform had some tracks missing. I vaguely remember this though. It's pretty miserable stuff, but there's some nice melodies there and it's kind of touching.

Ash - Free All Angels has some decently rocky songs going that I could imagine running to. The washing machine in the (real-life) background was an unfortunate negative factor for this album, but I don't think it prejudiced things too far. I'd definitely be up for listening to this one again. I don't remember these people at all.

Destiny's Child - Survivor doesn't hugely impress me. The vocal are a bit repetitive for my taste, as in, singing the same handful of lines repeatedly. The music has some catchiness but I find that vocal repetition a bit irritating. On the other hand I do get the impression they're good singers, so it's just that this style doesn't particularly work for me. I've also got to admit that I find the songs themselves blurring together - they're not vapid in the way stereotypical pop was, but something about them feels very one-dimensional to me. I suspect I am not the target audience.

R.E.M. - Reveal has melody that catches at me quite well. I'm not initially convinced by Stipe's voice, although technically he seems fine, so it's presumably just a personal taste thing, and I notice it less with listening. I think I might actually get this one.

Shaggy - Hot Shot is unexpectedly good. I was only vaguely aware of one song from years ago, and remembered it as kind of shallow, but there's surprising depth to some of this stuff now I listen again. It's reasonably catchy as well, although not that many of the individual tracks leap out at me.

Radiohead - Amnesiac is deliberately weird and experimental, and I can't really be bothered with it.

Travis - The Invisible Band is pretty classic Travis - listenable, not very cheerful, but fairly easy to put on and get on with things.

Usher - 8701 doesn't really do anything for me at all. It fades away into the background, but that's about it. I can't readily make out the lyrics, they seem repetitive and musically uninteresting.

David Gray - White Ladder has a slow, thoughtful feel to most of its tracks. They're not particularly adventurous melodywise, but they seem pretty relaxing company. The lyrics are unexpectedly gloomy (a bit Travislike, I suppose, only less weird) but okay.

Atomic Kitten - Right Now seems pretty generic. I suppose basically this is the kind of thing that was all around in the days when I listened most to music, and it's effectively part of my pop baseline. It's fine - it doesn't annoy me in the way a lot of music does, it's easy to have on without bothering me, and there are some tracks that I find myself tapping along to.

Staind - Break the Cycle is probably the first band I do not remember at all. They're decent actually; the rocky feel is more my usual sort of thing than a lot of what's come before, and there's some quite striking lyrics in here. On the downside, it's the tempo-shifting style of rock that I can't run to, which is a big downside. Also: reminds me of Nickelback.

Slipknot - Iowa seem to really need some kind of cough syrup I think? Occasionally I can make out an occasional lyric, but otherwise it sounds to my prejudiced ears like they are practicing drum riffs while waiting for the last of the band members to arrive. I skipped through a large selection of songs and couldn't tell the difference between them. No.

Jamiroquai - A Funk Odyssey is very listenable, although I can't remember a single thing about it. Am I too mean? It's unintrustive and pleasant, in the coffe shop sort of way.

Macy Gray - The Id has a voice that I find annoying and I move on.

Dido - No Angel I actually own. I listen to it anyway, for form's sake. I still like it. We are still well in "stuff I am at least vaguely aware of" territory, just at the turn of the 21st century. Once I hit university things will start to change.

Kylie Minogue - Fever is catchier than I expected. It's still repetitive pop, but it's okay.

Steps - Gold: Greatest Hits is a hits album so it's a) going to be better than average, and b) going to include stuff I've heard before. Both are true. It also has some truly preposterous videos (the one with devil costumes is particularly hilarious, but I think the ice queen one probably tops it). I remember Steps being a source of mild embarrassment, and some of their stuff is pretty cheesy; on the other hand the cheesy stuff is often catchy and danceable, and there's some more interesting stuff here too.

Michael Jackson - Invincible is sort of interesting in that it's varied and a bit experimental; there's some nice segments in here. However, overall it feels a bit nodescript to me.

Westlife - World of Our Own. I have always quite liked Westlife; I know they're a boyband, but they actually work well together and I find the music itself is interesting enough to overcome the slight disadvantage of pop-style repetition. The vocals always come through loud and clear (with the sole exception of the song that, tragically, proved not to be the "Shine On, Imaginary Beaver" of my glorious imagination), they don't over-rely on repetitive beats or three-chord progressions, they're just generally good at what they do. This is much of the usual.

Robbie Williams - Swing When You're Winning is a good example of something I only want in small doses. He performs well and I like some of the songs, but it's not something I'd want to own. It's something to actively listen to rather than chill out to, if that makes sense.

Phew! I made it that far, at least...

Catching up on April

The Chemical Brothers - Come with Us is some kind of experimental electronic. It's not melodic enough to relax into intellectually, but it's too irregular and disrupted to be a pounding beat sort of affair that just catches my mood. It sounds like something that might be on in some kind of rave club? I dunno, I've never been to one. A few of them are sort of catchy in places, and I find I can do some things with it on in the background, but it wouldn't be a first choice.

Enrique Iglesias - Escape is... I need to go and buy this, just wait there.

Sting & The Police - The Very Best of Sting & The Police is a perfectly good album, but I've already heard every song on it so feel there's no need to do so again.

Barbra Streisand - The Essential Barbra Streisand is really freaking long you guys. On the other hand, she's a good singer and I'm kind of sappy, so this one works for me (in small doses). The music and the lyrics are both relatively varied within songs, which is nice compared to some of the newer albums, but it must be recognised that this is very much not "new music" that I'm listening to here, it's nostalgia for the people with money in their pocket in 2002.

Nickelback - Silver Side Up is rather noisy (in terms of drums, distortin etc.) but the songs tend to change gear in the Meat Loaf vein that I prefer, rather than being relentlessly the same throughout. Too Bad appears to be a song about poverty and a broken family, which is relatively unusual. And I liked How You Remind Me already. Unfortunately, although the main lyrics are intriguing, in the later songs we're back to seeing repetitive choruses padding out a couple of promising verses. Okay, but not amazing. I mean, I can get behind just some pounding guitar in a general sense. I think the most interesting song otherwise is the last: Good Times Gone, which is a little less grungy and has a different sort of tone, though that too gets grungier as it goes on and loses the almost country-style promise of the opening.

Céline Dion - A New Day Has Come is fairly cheerful, which is nice. It isn't intrusive and has quite a soothing air to it. I might actually want this one, even though Dion seems to get a lot of stick in general.

Blue - All Rise. Ooh, I remember this one! I even remember this song. It was... vaguely interesting? Yes, it is. I like the mixture of musical styles here, and they're non-boring for a boyband. Not all the songs manage to be memorable, but they're pretty catchy on the whole. I note they have a few hits on this list and I can see why. Wonder why I never got into them? Um, possibly because listening to boybands at my (boys') school was not really in favour.

Doves - The Last Broadcast is nebulous and weird in places. Once the songs settle into vocals they're not bad, and easy to have on in the background. It doesn't seem like the sort of thing I'd bother to learn, and it's not easy to make out the lyrics anyway, but it's inoffensive.

Moby - 18 reminds me of Isobel Campbell from Belle and Sebastian. That's... not entirely a good thing. There's some very similar music in there (Great Escape for one), and although it's completely inoffensive it also tended to slip away from me.

Ronan Keating - Destination seems like a decent, not especially distinctive album. I'm happy enough listening to it; it has a bit of that "film soundtrack" note to it that tends to make the songs a bit forgettable. However, I quite like some and suspect that I could pick them up if I wanted.

Eminem - The Eminem Show is unexpectedly listenable, and at times pretty interesting. The wordplay and rhyming is good and I can see why people like this. The themes aren't really to my taste - the ones about life are good, but the more self-aggrandizing ones don't do much for me and it's very profanity heavy, including what seems like some questionable attitudes to women.

Oasis - Heathen Chemistry made no impact on me whatsoever, other than a vague awareness that something by Oasis was playing.

Red Hot Chili Peppers - By the Way is fairly chilled listening. I like the sound of their voices, although I'm not sure what any of it is about.

Bruce Springsteen - The Rising is a good album. Although relatively repetitive musically, there's a sort of emotional strength behind some of the songs that helps them catch my attention, while others are just pleasant listening. I say this even though I haven't really thought of Springsteen as someone I have time for - Born in the USA bores me to tears.

Eva Cassidy - Imagine doesn't really do much for me. I'm not particularly keen on her versions of the songs I know, and the others wash over me.

Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head sounds very Coldplay-like, but the only one that really registers with me is Clocks, which I quite like.

Atomic Kitten - Feels So Good is a slightly unmemorable album, and I can't find most of the songs anyway.

Paul Weller - Illumination is fine. I've never even heard of him. He's got quite a nice voice, but his music is repetitive.

Elvis Presley - ELV1S surprises me a bit. I've not particularly paid much attention to Elvis before, and wasn't especially impressed by what I heard, but you know what? This world-famous, intergenerationally-popular bestselling musician is actually pretty good. Who'd've thought?

Will Young - From Now On is tolerable but slightly wet pop. He does a reasonable job on Long and Winding Road (though I prefer it without the random off-beat ooohs) and Evergreen is okay, but otherwise it doesn't leave much impression. I wouldn't mind hearing it in the background.

Foo Fighters - One by One. I mostly missed this band when I was at school - presumably my mates weren't into them. I'm not particularly struck by anything here. The singing style makes it quite hard to make out the lyrics, and the music seems repetitive.

David Gray - A New Day at Midnight is oddly pleasing, even though I don't particularly like his voice. I'm not sure why. I can't always make out the lyrics, but the music itself appeals to me, and there's nothing actually wrong with his singing. I'm swaying.

Blue - One Love is okay.

Westlife - Unbreakable: The Greatest Hits Volume 1 is a nice collection of feelgood songs. Man, I kind of miss Westlife.

Robbie Williams - Escapology is good, I like it. He's a good musician and this is an interesting, and sometimes weird, collection of songs.

May!

Nope, didn't make it! Maybe next month... but I hit the end of 2002, which is progress of a sort. Wish I'd started earlier in the year though...

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Yn Scaa Harrish Innsmouth: Er Çhea

Rish shallid, chum mee my ennal sthie as farkiaght. Hie eashyn shaghey, as er lhiam dy yeyree soar eeastagh jiooldagh yn aer dy doaltattym. Eisht ren ad cronkal reesht—gyn scuirr, as sheer-niartaghey. Hoig mee v’eh orrym arraghey, as hayrn mee boltey y dorrysh kianglee twoaie çhelleeragh. Niartee mee son brishey y dorrys; va’n cronkal ardjaghey foast, as by hreisht lhiam dy beagh eh keiltyn sheean ny h-obbyr aym. Fy-yerrey ghow mee toshiaght builley er y phannylys thanney reesht as reesht lesh y yeaylin hoshtal aym, gyn scansh da pian ny craa. Ren y dorrys shassoo ny smoo foast na yerk mee rish, agh cha scuirr mee jeh. As er fud ny h-obbyr va’n feiyral gaase.

Fy yerrey, vrish y dorrys. By vaghtal eh dy cheayll adsyn çheumooie lheid y tharmane. Daase y cronkal dys bwoalley raghtal, as eisht va sheean baggyrtagh ogheryn ry-chlashtyn ayns dorryssyn halley ny shamyryn faggys dou. Roie mee trooid y barney noa, as boltal y dorrys halley roish my dod ad çhyndaa yn ogher. Eer rish shen cheayll mee ad prowal dorrys halley y treeoo hamyr—ish as uinnag eck lhiggagh dou roshtyn y mullagh foee—lesh ogher ylghlaish.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Listening Project: March and April

I started a pointless project to listen to every UK No. 1 Hit of the past 15 years, of which this is the second part. It's somewhat delayed on account of going overseas for a while and not having time to faff about with this.

I have a few tracks left from 2000, and also 2001 and 2002 to cover. No pressure.

Friday, 11 March 2016

The Customer Satisfaction Saga, volume II

As I recently related, my bank has begun asking me for feedback on my banking experience. I assumed this was a one-off affair.

I was wrong. Last week I paid in another cheque. When I returned, the email awaited me, its link glowing bright with witchfire.

Something stirs within my breast.

How satisfied were you with the overall service you received?

4

What could we have done for you to rate it a five?

We've been here before - last time I wrote you a romance novelletta on the topic. You only ever ask me for feedback when I've been paying in cheques - I don't know why.

Now, I don't know about you, but I personally find the amount of joy and satisfaction I can receive from paying in cheques is limited. Like washing up, buying milk or laying waste the cities of degenerate empires, it is merely another bit of routine day-to-day business to be dealt with. Sometimes it is quick and painless; sometimes it requires spending half my lunch hour walking across the city and the other half walking back, interspersed with a lunch-hour-obliterating twenty-five minute wait behind someone with only a rudimentary understanding of the concepts of money, consumer rights and personal hygiene.

We have, in this weak and decadent society, perhaps grown too accustomed to convenience. We have high expectations; and thus, it is only when those expectations are not met that we feel any emotional response. Attaining swift and efficient customer service merely renders that service invisible; it does not overjoy. Only when standards slip do our hearts stir, and that with the contemptuous rage that sends red-blooded men in screaming hordes against the walled citadels of the very gods.

What, in any case, does it mean to be a five? To what might we compare it? I have spent fuming hours in queues waiting for the simplest paperwork to be completed; I have had long, delightful conversations full of wit and charm (little of it mine, alas) in otherwise customer-free premises when my time was plentiful. To be sure, the absence of queues is pleasant, but this seems rather the absence of a negative than the presence of a positive factor. The human mind has these little foibles.

On the other hand, I have sat with friends on long winter evenings, evoking gales of laughter that delighted my heart; I have climbed determinedly to the heights as the evening drew near, and watched the sun set on the timeless waters far below me; I have stolen the kiss of a maiden with a gleam in her eye; I have crushed my enemies, seen them driven before me, and heard the lamentation of the women.

As you can see, it is conceptually difficult to establish how precisely one might allocate an arbitrary five-point scale across the staggering breadth of human experience, and more specifically, how one might then achieve the treasured five within the extraordinarily narrow experiential window of "paying in a cheque".

Curiously, it is usually when some mishap befalls us that active satisfaction (that is, a positive upward deviation from the average) has the opportunity to come into play. The possibility of the negative brings with it relief and gratitude that the challenge has been overcome. When the challenge seems small - such as the requirement to type two or three dozen numbers in accordance with the figures writ upon a scrap of parchment - the gratitude for services rendered is also small. Man is, after all, fickle and uncaring.

And so to the hypothetical. How might that five have been achieved? Why, then, as we have demonstrated, through the greater service demanded of greater obstacles.

Had I perhaps been beset by the lackeys of Ratshar of the Red Hand, scourge of the west, as I spoke with Lucy; had she sprung from behind the counter, seizing the blade of one of the fallen, and fought at my back until the floor ran an apple's depth in blood and there was no more killing to be done; had she hurled herself at dread Ulric Broken-Eye as he fell upon me, drawing his gaze and granting me one vital moment to turn aside his mighty axe; had she taken up one of those curious little pens with the chain attaching it to the base, and wielding it as an improvised garotte, cut off the vile incantations of Nagoth-Var, lich-lord of the Kingdom of the Serpent, as he sought to rot the very flesh from my bones - then, mayhap, the fabled five would be yours.

But that is another tale, for another time.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Er barelyn lioaragh: rang-oaylleeaght / On book reviewing: types of review

Go here for English

Er y yerrid, ta mee er geau beggan traa smooinaghtyn er barelyn lioaragh. Lhaih mee art ny ghaa, as tweet ny ghaa, hug orrym y smooinaghtyn shen. Cha noddym loayrt er y teihll foalley, agh er yn eddyrvoggyl, ta'n chooish shoh ny bun arganeys ennagh, as ny keayrtyn t'ee cur ferg er sleih. Er lhiam dy vel scanshyn mooar ayn bentyn rish bun-eieyn er dooghys as dean baghteyrys.

Cha noddym cur freggyrt feeu da lheid y chooish chramp, er chor erbee. Ny yei shen, by vie lhiam screeu beggan* mychione eddinyn baghteyrys, caghlaaghyn aght dy heiltyn barel lioaragh, ny deanyn oc, as cre'n fa ta mee screeu barelyn 'syn aght reih aym.

Friday, 4 March 2016

The Customer Satisfaction Saga

So a while ago, I paid in a cheque at my then-local bank branch. It was an extremely ordinary experience. I walked to the bank (having, admittedly, had to take a bus several miles to find a branch), joined a short queue, and went to a counter. I handed the staff a cheque and my account card, and asked her to pay the former into the latter. She did. I left.

A few days later, I was invited to complete a survey about my experience. This intrigued me, and so I did. I hadn't realised cheque-paying-in was considered such a pivotal moment.

What followed, sadly but inevitably, were a series of questions that proved surprisingly difficult to answer. Sadly I no longer have access to the actual questions, but I recall most of them being about rating things on a 1-5 scale, from the friendliness of the staff to how much I felt they cared about resolving my problem. Had I taken any leaflets with me? (I had not). How pleased was I with the time taken, with the facilities, with the hairstyles of the staff?

Eventually it all got a bit much for me, and the inevitable dam burst, right about here:

How satisfied were you with the overall service you received?

4

What could we have done for you to rate it a five?

Look, don't feel bad. There's only so enjoyable you can make paying in a cheque. There's really no opportunity to turn that into a memorable and anecdote-worthy occasion, short of taking the opportunity to set me up with another single customer in what will be the start of a passionate and enduring romance. THEN maybe we'd look back on this cheque-paying-in experience fifty years from now and tell our grandchildren how Anna changed our lives that day. We'd raise our glasses to the wedding photo on the mantlepiece (digital by then of course - not just the photo, but the mantlepiece, and probably the whole house) where Anna stood beaming beside us, still wearing her nametag, now promoted to Senior Romance Executive.

I mean, you have my contact details, and a massive customer database full of eminently-matchable transaction histories. The option's still open to you, is what I'm saying. That five is within your grasp. Reach out, and seize the future.

I have, as yet, received no reply. I understand some of these algorithms are very complex, and a lot of banks seem to have very old computers. I remain optimistic.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Listening Project 2016: February

I started a pointless project to listen to every UK No. 1 Hit of the past 15 years, and here it begins.

We begin with albums from 2000.

The February playlist

  • Shania Twain - Come On Over
  • Travis - The Man Who
  • Gabrielle - Rise
  • Oasis - Standing on the Shoulder of Giants
  • Travis - The Man Who
  • Santana - Supernatural
  • Moby - Play
  • Tom Jones - Reload
  • Whitney Houston - Whitney: The Greatest Hits
  • Bon Jovi - Crush
  • Tom Jones - Reload
  • S Club 7 - 7
  • Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP
  • Richard Ashcroft - Alone with Everybody
  • Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP
  • Coldplay - Parachutes
  • The Corrs - In Blue
  • Ronan Keating - Ronan
  • Craig David - Born to Do It
  • Robbie Williams - Sing When You're Winning
  • Madonna - Music
  • Radiohead - Kid A
  • All Saints - Saints & Sinners
  • Texas - The Greatest Hits
  • U2 - All That You Can't Leave Behind
  • Westlife - Coast to Coast
  • The Beatles - 1 dagger

Friday, 19 February 2016

Yn Scaa Harrish Innsmouth: Thie Ghilman

S’doillee dou cur ennym er yn ennaghtyn v’orrym rish y chooish ghroamagh shen. Cooish cheoie, cooish voght; arraghtagh, atçhimagh. Va skeeal y yilley groseyragh er my aarlaghey son lheid y taghyrt, agh ‘syn ‘eill hene v’eh boiragh anveaghee quaagh. She skeeal lhiannooagh v’ayn gyn ourys, agh va jeeanid as atçhim keoie shenn Zadok er chur anvea orrym. Nish v’eh geyraghey as covestey marish yn ‘eoh v’aym er-dyn toshiaght er y valley shoh as y scaa shaghnagh mollaghtagh er.

Veign creearey y skeeal reesht ny s’anmey, foddee, as feddyn aynsyn cree cochaslys shenndeeagh ennagh; cha baillym nish agh gyn smooinaghtyn er. V’eh çheet dy ve anmagh gaueagh —va’n ooreyder aym taishbyney 7:15, as va’n barroose cour Arkham faagail Kerrin y Valley ec hoght—myr shen ren mee eab dy reaghey my smooinaghtyn, shirrey aigney kiune as jeantagh. Hooill mee dy tappee trooid straiddyn follym, shaghey mullee scartey as thieyn tuittym, cour y thie oast raad va mee er dashtey y valeese, as raad yioin y barroose.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Listening Project 2016

This year, I'm not doing Reading Project. Not because I don't have too many unread books (I do), but because I didn't succeed last year, and also because shelf space is currently less of an issue due to ebooks.

However...

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Shalee lhaih 2015: coontey s'jerree

Go here for English version. Note, this is rewritten from scratch, not a direct translation.

Jerrey 2015

Jerrey nah shiaghtin jeig as daeed dy lieh ny Shalee Lhaih. As jerrey ny Shalee Lhaih mygeddin. Owatta!

Hoshiaght: cha daink lhiam ee. V'eh foym giarrey ny lioaryn ry-lhaih aym dys 50 er y chooid smoo. Va 159 aym hoshiaght, er lhiam; mysh 159 aghterbee.

Ta 65 aym nish. Myr shen, cha rosh mee y dean. Caillt!

Fark orrym! Dy jarroo, ta foddey ny smoo aym. 'Sy vlein agglagh shoh, chionnee mee ymmodee lioaryn son blass taitnyssagh as beggan aash (verrym "follit" orroo). As hooar mee lioaryn elley nagh row er y rolley hoshiaght. Trooid as trooid, va 150 lioaryn elley aym rish jerrey ny bleeaney; shen 309 lioaryn.

Lhaih mee 82 lioaryn ass y carnane lioaryn aym. Agh ny smoo, lhaih mee 85 lioaryn elley. Cha nel mee er screeu baghtyn orroo, er y fa nagh row ad 'sy çhalee. Agh, ga nagh vel mee er gooilleeney y shalee, s'taittin lhiam gra dy vel mee er lhaih 167 lioaryn ayns 2015.

Shoh beggan staddyssaght:

  • 105 manga (77 follit)
  • 28 "bea cadjin" (11 follit)
  • 9 teihyssyn skeealaght (0 follit)
  • 14 far-skeealaght sheanse (2 follit)
  • 63 aitt (54 follit)
  • 48 skeealyn ayns scoillyn (36 follit)
  • 61 chooish ghraih (50 follit)
  • 29 'syn Çhapaanish
  • 1 'sy Vretnish
  • 0 'sy Ghaelg (atreih!)
  • 30,000 duillag (er y chooid sloo - cha row coontaghyn duillag ry-gheddyn ec dagh ooilley lioar)

As shoh ny baghtyn:

  • Hug mee 5* da 15 lioaryn (10 follit)
  • Hug mee 4.5* da 11 lioaryn (3 follit)
  • Hug mee 4* da 72 lioaryn (42 follit)
  • Hug mee 3.5* da 29 lioaryn (6 follit)
  • Hug mee 3* da 26 lioaryn (21 follit)
  • Hug mee 2.5* da 6 lioaryn (3 follit)
  • Hug mee 2* da 4 lioaryn (0 follit)
  • Hug mee 1.5* da 1 lioar (0 follit)
  • Hug mee 1* da 1 lioar (0 follit)
  • Hug mee 0.5* da 1 lioar (0 follit)
  • Cha dug mee baght erbee da 13 lioaryn nagh lhaih mee

Lioaryn share lhiam 'sy vlein shoh chaie:

  • Barakamon, straih manga liorish Yoshino Satsuki, chammah's y fo-straih Handa-kun. She skeealyn bea cadjin t'ayn, bentyn rish ellyneyr penneyrys ta garraghey dys ellyn beg çheerey; ta Handa-kun soilshaghey magh ny laaghyn scoill echey. T'ad nyn jees lane dy aitt, lane dy vioys as kenjal taitnyssagh.
  • Straih Imperium liorish Jody Lynn Nye. Ta aght schlei ec y ven shen, as ghow mee ram soylley jeh. T'ee screeu ard-charracteyr doillee lane vie, as ta skeeal cramp goll er anchoodaghey dy aashagh.

Lioaryn smessey 'sy vlein shoh chaie:

  • Fall, liorish Lady Beela. Ta Baarle lane vrisht ec y lioar shoh, as cha nel y (skeeal? çhaghter? eie?) aynjee baghtal chamoo fondagh.
  • The Night Land liorish William Hope Hodgson. Cha dod mee lhaih y lioar shen er chor erbee; she glare ymmodee-chramp t'ayn, trome çhiu, as hooar ee barriaght orryms.
  • 聲の形 liorish 大今良時. Ghow mee toshiaght er y chied ym-lioar. She ard-charracteyr groamagh t'ayn, gyn grayse erbee, as hooar magh mee dy nee skeeal groamagh t'ayn myrgeddin. Rere baghtyn elley, ta'n straih mychione surransee shirrey caarjys jeh tranlaasee oc. Boghtynid.

Lioaryn scanshoil elley:

  • The Wirral Home Guard, liorish Alfred Jaeger. Coontey jeh bea 'syn Arrey Thie screeuit ayns 1945. V'eh ennaghtagh dy liooar, aghterbee.
  • Aria/Aqua liorish 天野 こずえ. She skeeal far-skeealaght sheanse kiune t'ayn, cooie son beggan aash.
  • The Hill of Dreams liorish Arthur Machen. Dy verragh peiagh erbee coontey jeh'n lioar shoh dou, cha veign jerkal rish goaill soylley jeh. She skeeal quaagh t'ayn, agh ta niart as blass bea aynsyn gyn scansh da'n cleayn lettyragh.

Fockle s'jerree

Cha bee'm geiyrt er y çhalee shoh ayns 2016. Cha daink lhiam ee, hoshiaght, myr shen cha nel bree aym. Cha nel mee son aayannoo shalee chaillt fo vlass failleilys. Foast, by vie lhiam cur bree erbee t'aym cour shalee ennagh elley. Chammah's shen, ghow mee toshiaght, ayns ayrn, er y fa nagh row monney reamys aym; va'n çhalee shoh my lhiettal veih kionnaghey ymmodee lioaryn elley as broojey ny skelllooyn aym. Agh ta mee er narraghey dys lioaryn-l mysh 100% nish, as myr shen cha nel y brod cheddin ayn. T'adsyn soie gyn boirey er y cho-earrooder aym.

S'treisht lhiam dy bee 2016 ny smoo kenjal na 2015. Aigh vie.


English version

End of Reading Project 2015

Week fifty-two-and-a-half has come to an end, and with it, Reading Project 2015. Finally!

So baldly, I didn't manage it. I aimed to cut my unread pile down to no more than 50 books. I began with 159 (or thereabouts, as I slightly lost track!).

I have 65 in the pile now. Which is to say, I failed.

Hang on, though. It's much worse than that... due to a horrendous year, I ended up buying a ton of extra light reading (both parsings are accurate). These are marked as "extras" below. And I kept finding yet more books lying around, and was given a few. Altogether, 150 additional books made their way into my hands, for a total of 309 books.

I read 82 books from the pile, but I actually read another 85 newly-acquired books. I didn't review these, as they weren't part of the project. Although I didn't make my goal, I'm pleased that I read 167 books in 2015.

A few statistics for the record:

  • 105 manga (77 extras)
  • 28 "slice-of-life" stories (11 extras)
  • 9 anthologies (0 extras)
  • 14 sci-fi stories (2 extras)
  • 63 tagged "comedy" (54 extras)
  • 48 set in schools (36 extras)
  • 61 romances (50 extras)
  • 29 in Japanese
  • 1 in Welsh
  • 0 in Manx, sadly
  • 30,000 pages (minimum - quite a few don't have pagecounts in my library software so I can't include them)

And my verdicts:

  • I gave 5* to 15 books (10 extras)
  • I gave 4.5* to 11 books (3 extras)
  • I gave 4* to 72 books (42 extras)
  • I gave 3.5* to 29 books (6 extras)
  • I gave 3* to 26 books (21 extras)
  • I gave 2.5* to 6 books (3 extras)
  • I gave 2* to 4 books (0 extras)
  • I gave 1.5* to 1 book (0 extras)
  • I gave 1* to 1 book (0 extras)
  • I gave 0.5* to 1 book (0 extras)
  • I left 13 books unrated because I got rid of them without reading.

My favourite books of the year:

  • Barakamon, a manga series by Yoshino Satsuki about a calligrapher who moves to a small island. It's full of life and quiet fun. Its spin-off, Handa-kun, is equally fun presenting his time at school.
  • The Imperium series by Jody Lynn Nye. I'm coming to love her writing; the characters here really worked for me, and I found this take on the "spacefaring empire" trope very compelling.

My least favourites!:

  • Fall, by Lady Beela. This graphic book (hardly a graphic novel) has a vague and ill-articulated premise that's probably something to do with love or whatever, I'm not really sure? It's apparently trying to be meaningful and symbolic, only I couldn't tell what was going on because the English is flat out appalling. I'm pretty tolerant of the odd linguistic slip, but I too have my standards. This book genuinely should not have been published.
  • The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson. Apparently a sci-fi horror story of some kind, but I couldn't get past the contorted prose and weird viewpoints of the first chapter; coupled with a setting that I can't place anywhere on the historical-mythical-fantastical spectrum because of said writing, I was baffled and headachey and gave up.
  • 聲の形 by 大今良時. I prefer my characters to have at least one redeeming feature, and my stories not to consist solely of people doing bad things to each other. Synopses of the series sound like the whole thing is about people seeking reconciliation with people who were horrible to them, because... reasons? I don't care.

Other significant books:

  • The Wirral Home Guard, by Alfred Jaeger. A surprisingly moving account of life in the Home Guard, written just at the end of the war.
  • Aria/Aqua by 天野 こずえ. This quiet, low-key sci-fi story is very soothing for me.
  • The Hill of Dreams by Arthur Machen. I wouldn't expect to like this book if anyone described it to me, and it's definitely weird, but there's something powerful and true-to-life about it despite the literary tendences.

Final thoughts

I'm not going to repeat this next year. For starters, I didn't succeed this year, and that would make it feel less a new project than a second attempt under the taint of failure. Also, I'd like to spend a bit more of my energy (if I'm allowed any in 2016) on other projects. Finally, part of the motivation for RP2015 was simple physical space issues with my books. I've been moving comprehensively onto e-books, and although I've acquired a huge number of extras, almost all of them sit quite happily on my hard drive. The push to read stuff and clear space - and perhaps more importantly, to discourage me from just buying up more paper books - has dropped off considerably. It's just not as necessary now.

I hope this year will be kinder than the last.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Shalee lhaih 2015: shiaghtin 52

Go here for English version. Note, this is rewritten from scratch, not a direct translation.

21d - 27oo Mee ny Nollick

Jerrey nah shiaghtin jeig as daeed ny Shalee Lhaih. Shoh ny lhiah mee yn çhiaghtin shoh chaie:

Wizard's Holiday (Diane Duane)

Shoh ym-lioar elley 'sy 'traih fansee baljagh da'n aeglee. Atreih, hooar mee fy-yerrey nagh row eh er y rolley ry-lhiah aym... She skeeal anaasoil t'ayn as ghow mee soylley jeh. As y straih shoh bentyn rish ymmodee seihill rere sheiltynys, by vie lhiam fakin skeeal ta dy jarroo bentyn rish seihll elley as joarreeyn myrgeddin. V'adsyn anaasoil dy liooar. Er y laue elley, cha nee lane skeeal t'ayn; shimmey cooish nagh vel feayslit ec y jerrey, as t'eh kianglt dy baghtal rish y nah skeeal. Myr shen va blass neuchooilleenit er as cha mie lhiam shen. My she straih t'ayn, as cha nee yl-lioar, share lhiam dy vel dagh ym-lioar lane 'sy hene. Ta shen cur feaysley ennaghtagh dou, as chammah's shen, ta mee cliaghtey lheimmeyragh jeh lioar gys lioar elley gyn tort, myr shen t'eh ny sassey dou cooinaghtyn y skeeal t'ayn...

Fockle s'jerree

Lhaih mee 1 lioar agh cha nel eh er y rolley, va 64 aym yn çhiaghtin shoh chaie, myr shen ta 64 faagit dou nish. Shegin dou lhaih 14 lioaryn ayns 0.5 shiaghteeyn. Boghtynid.

Screeuym art s'jerree ta cur goontey giare jeh'n lane shalee, as myr shen.


English version

21st - 27th December

The end of week fifty-two of the Reading Project. Here's what I've read this week:

Wizard's Holiday (Diane Duane)

Another volume of the urban fantasy series. Alas, after reading it I found that (inexplicably) this volume alone is not on my to-read list! It's a good story and I found it interesting, particularly because it explores the "other worlds and aliens" aspect of the series, which is relatively unexploited given that's a major part of the premise. See also: Who, Doctor... The aliens and the other world presented were interesting to deal with, and I liked seeing the other family members get more spotlight too. On the downside, this volume explicitly leads into the next; as well as the overt not-exactly-cliffhanger at the end, there are unanswered questions raised by the story. I personally sighed about that, since I feel in a series like this (not a quadrilogy or whatever) each volume should be self-contained in terms of plot. That's not a theoretical point, it's just how I like things to work; partly because it's more convenient given my butterfly reading habits, and partly because I want closure.

Afterword

I read 1 book that wasn't listed this week, I had 64 last week, so 64 are still left over. I have 14 books to read in three days, which is clearly not happening.

I'll be writing a wrap-up post to give an overview of this reading project.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Shalee lhaih 2015: shiaghteeyn 50 as 51

Go here for English version. Note, this is rewritten from scratch, not a direct translation.

7oo - 20oo Mee ny Nollick

Jerrey kied shiaghtin jeig as daeed ny Shalee Lhaih. Shoh ny lhiah mee yn çhiaghtin shoh chaie:

Veg. Wahll, lhiam mee manga noa, ram bloggaghyn as y lheid, agh ghow mee aash jeh'çhalee shoh - as failt!

Fockle s'jerree

Lhaih mee 0 lioar, va 64 aym yn çhiaghtin shoh chaie, myr shen ta 64 faagit dou nish. Shegin dou lhaih 14 lioaryn ayns 1(.5) shiaghtin.


English version

7th - 20th December

The end of week fifty-one of the Reading Project. Here's what I've read this week:

Nothing! Well, lots of blogs and things, and a bit more manga, but primarily I was taking a blissful rest from the project.

Afterword

I read 0 books this week, I had 64 last week, so 64 are left over. I have 14 books to read in 1.5 weeks.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Shalee Lhaih 2015: shiaghtin 49

Go here for English version. Note, this is rewritten from scratch, not a direct translation.

30oo Vee Houney - 6 Mee ny Nollick

Jerrey nuyoo shiaghtin as daeed ny Shalee Lhaih. Shoh ny lhiah mee yn çhiaghtin shoh chaie:

Veg. Wahll, lhaih mee meeryn ass ymmodee lioaryn, agh cha lhaih mee lane lioar erbee. Hoig mee dy dod cooilleeney'n çhalee, agh... begin dou scuirr jeh dagh ooilley red elley, as lhaih dy tappee gyn cur monney geill, as verragh eh strooys orrym. As va strooys dy liooar orrym mleeaney, chaarjyn. Myr shen, ta mee jus lhaih dy meein as shen myr t'en. Cha nel bree erbee ec yn çhalee shoh; cha nel eh orryms ish y chooilleeney, she teaym hene v'ayn. Ren mee streppey dy jeean dy cooilleeney gyn scansh da trimshaght as cooishym cramp as boirey. Agh cha daink lhiam ee. As shen myr t'eh chammah.

Fockle s'jerree

Lhaih mee 0 lioar, va 64 aym yn çhiaghtin shoh chaie, myr shen ta 64 faagit dou nish. Shegin dou lhaih 14 lioaryn ayns 3 shiaghteeyn.


English version

30th November - 6th December

The end of week forty-nine of the Reading Project. Here's what I've read this week:

Lots of bits of books, but no complete books. I realised that, although I probably could complete the Reading Project, I'd have to basically throw out everything else I want to do, and focus exclusively on reading books quickly and without much time to digest. And what's the point? It's been a stressful year already; there's no reason to give myself additional stress for a project that doesn't fundamentally matter. So I've chucked it in and I'm just reading for pleasure.

Afterword

I read 0 books this week, I had 64 last week, so 64 are left over. I have 14 books to read in 3 weeks.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Shalee lhaih 2015: shiaghtin 48

Go here for English version. Note, this is rewritten from scratch, not a direct translation.

23oo - 29oo Vee Houney

Jerrey sheyoo shiaghtin as daeed ny Shalee Lhaih. Shoh ny lhiah mee yn çhiaghtin shoh chaie:

バクマン y.l. 5 (大場 つぐみ, 小畑 健)

Ny smoo 'syn aght cheddin, dy firrinagh. Y red smoo douys 'sy lioar shoh, shen cowraghey Nakai. Ta'n lioar son jannoo feniagh jeh: fer ta lane soit er aaghoostey y coorse keirdey echey, as ta lane vaiht ayns cooish ghraih lieh-chioneagh marish Aoki. As dy jarroo, t'eh streppey dy chosney caa elley myr ellyneyr. Agh dy jarroo, t'an aghtey echey boirey orrym er dy fa dy vel blass stalker 'sy chooish: t'eh graih echey er Aoki as cha nel eh goaill rish yn aigney eck. Cha noddym jannoo briwnys dy nee drogh-aghtey t'ayn, agh ec y traa cheddin, er lhiam dy vel feysht ayn tra ta'n skeeal shoh dy voyllaghey myr shoh. Dy jarroo, ta skeealyn gilley dy cadjin cur trimmid er surranse as daanys myr Firrynys, as foast shoh y caa ynrican echey son raa ellynagh. As ta fys aym myrgeddin dy bee Bakuman cur briwnys elley er aghtey Nakai rish jerrey y skeeal. Agh ayns shoh, cha nel eh baghtal, as shen kyndagh rish freggyrtyn ny karracteyryn elley son y chooid smoo. T'adsyn ooilley gra "agh, she Red Deiney t'ayn as shegin da jannoo eh"; cha nel fer erbee smooinaghtyn "chaarjyn, ta Nakai ny hoie çheumooie jeh thie ben scarr jeh as graih echey urree, gaghinaghey son caa elley as treishteil dy jean eh meeinaghey e cree liorish surranse. Shen neuchooie."

Fockle s'jerree

Lhaih mee 1 lioar, va 65 aym yn çhiaghtin shoh chaie, myr shen ta 64 faagit dou nish. Shegin dou lhaih 14 lioaryn ayns 4 shiaghteeyn.


English version

23rd - 29th November

The end of week forty-eight of the Reading Project. Here's what I've read this week:

バクマン v. 4 (大場 つぐみ, 小畑 健)

More of the same. The main event in this volume is Nakai's effort to reignite his manga career after a major setback. I was actually a bit concerned by the portrayal of Nakai in this book. The story essentially treats him as making a heroic effort to convince Aoki to give him a second chance as her co-creator. And to an extent that's true, but he's also locked in a completely one-sided crush on Aoki, and that adds worrying elements to this. The thing is, he's obsessively pressuring Aoki to accept him, motivated by a messy mixture of romantic feelings and desire for success as a manga team, and refuses to accept her decision to part. It's not easy to distinguish his actions (essentially guilt-tripping her, while making a big show of his manly humility and endurance) from just plain old being a stalker. He won't accept her decision, he's certain they could work out if she'd give him another chance, and he's sure that if he just proves to her how much he loves her cares about their work, she'll take him back. And she does. I know that it's a story, and a boys' story at that where this kind of macho stuff is lauded. And I know that the line isn't quite as clear-cut in this case, because she's also his only real chance at artistic success. And I also know (having read the story before) that Bakuman will take a much firmer line with Nakai and his behaviour later in the series. Nevertheless, I felt like here it was a little dubious, and perhaps most because the reactions of the other characters were generally "he has to do this Man Thing" rather than anyone going "dude, you're sitting outside the house of a woman you fancy begging for another chance and hoping to soften her heart through suffering, that is not okay."

Afterword

I read 1 book this week, I had 65 last week, so 64 are left over. I have 14 books to read in 4 weeks.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Shalee Lhaih 2015: shiaghtin 47

Go here for English version. Note, this is rewritten from scratch, not a direct translation.

16oo - 22h Vee Houney

Jerrey shiaghtoo shiaghtin as daeed ny Shalee Lhaih. Shoh ny lhiah mee yn çhiaghtin shoh chaie:

バクマン y.l. 4 (大場 つぐみ, 小畑 健)

Ta'n skimmee gaase ny smoo 'syn ym-lioar shoh, as myr shen ta possan dy ellyneyr ny s'lhea 'sy chooish. S'cosoylagh ve nee possan smoo saympleyragh t'ayn myrgeddin, smooinaghtyn dy ghow shin toshiaght marish tree gillyn scoill ard-cheeayllagh. T'eh cur ram geill da mynphoyntyn y çhynskyl manga, agh by vie lhiam shen dy firrinagh. Ta'n skeeal croghey er oirr credjaltys gyn tuittym foast. Ta beggan bree bea çheet my vlaa ayns ny reagheyderyn myrgeddin. Er y laue elley, ta bree Kaya er skellal roish çhelleeragh, as cha nel wheesh persoonid ayn nish. S'kenjal eh dy vel ee baighey bree ayns obbyr ny gillyn, agh cha by vie lhiam dy ren ee treigeil dean e hene erbee dys cooney lhieuish. Ta leshtal 'sy skeeal, agh er lhiam dy row blass lajer reih reagheyderagh ayn; cha nee eiytys dooghyssagh aigney Kaya hene t'ayn.

As mish my ynseydagh Shapaanish, s'doillee eh toiggal y skeeal shoh dy cruinn; cha nee focklaght ta bun y chooish, agh ennaghtyn. Shimmey anchaslys beg bentyn rish ennaghtyn, ymmmyrkey as cosoylaght ta goll er cowraghey liorish grammeydys cramp. Cha nel eh my lhiettal jeh toiggal bun y skeeal, agh y blass t'er ny keayrtyn.

The Wirral Home Guard (Harold Jager)

She lioar veg neuchramp t'ayn - ny lioaran, bunnys. Ta blass formoil meeammyssagh urree, as ga dy vel blass scoillaragh ayn myrgeddin, rish lhaih eh chreid mee dy row yn ughtar aaloayrt ny cooishyn shoh dou 'sy thie lhionney, bunnys. Va bree gleashagh ayn, soilshaghey magh bea ayns 1944, chammah's feniaght chadjin as fuilliaght hene-scryssagh y theay. T'ee screeuit lane vie; va Jager dooishtey bree ny buill dy lajer, son mac yn ard erskyn ooilley, as va firrinys ny skeealyn lane loaghtagh. Ta trimshaght neuimraait ny hrooid y liooar, agh foast ta maynrys ry-akin ayns sheshaght chaarjyn rish traaghyn doillee, as ayns currym jeant dy biallagh. Dy jarroo, va beggan troo orrym nagh ghow mee ayrn 'sy çheshaght shen, ga dy nee boghtynid eh shen - ta mee booisagh nagh row y feme orrym! V'eh foym cur y lioar shoh gys Oxfam erreish dou lhaih eh, as rouyr lioaryn aym, agh dennee mee dy row eh orrym freayll ee as cur ee dy ammyssagh 'sy skelloo reesht. Va aigney orrym dy yannoo curteish, bunnys. She lioar imlagh as neuheiyagh t'ayn, as y lioar smoo gleashagh lhaih mee rish foddey.

Fockle s'jerree

Lhaih mee 2 lioar, va 67 aym yn çhiaghtin shoh chaie, myr shen ta 65 faagit dou nish. Shegin dou lhaih 15 lioaryn ayns 5 shiaghteeyn.


English version

16th - 22nd November

The end of week forty-seven of the Reading Project. Here's what I've read this week:

バクマン v. 4 (大場 つぐみ, 小畑 健)

This volume brings a welcome broadening of the cast, giving a broader (and perhaps more typical) range of manga artists to follow. It's a little heavy on the details of the industry, but to be honest I quite like that. The story hovers on the fringes of credibility, and I liked the way Yuujiro is humanised more in this story. From a learner's perspective, this is a bit hard to follow, not because of the vocab but because a lot of nuance regarding emotions, attitudes and probabilities is imparted through complex syntax. It's not necessarily a problem for following the story, but working out exactly how people feel about things is tricky. Kaya had lost a fair bit of her oomph this time, and turned into a bit of a tagalong. It's nice that she's invested in their struggles, but having her drop her own ambitions to be supportive didn't sit too well with me, despite the excuses. It feels like an editorial decision rather than a natural outcome of her character.

The Wirral Home Guard (Harold Jager)

This is a short, simple book - almost a pamphlet really. It is written with irreverent formality, and although it takes a somewhat scholarly tone, I can almost hear the author recounting this all. I found it quietly moving, a small reminder of what it was like to be alive in 1944, and the everyday heroism and self-effacing endurance of so many ordinary people. It is surprisingly well-written, really bringing out a sense of place, especially for a local like me, and evoking the reality of the stories he shares. There is a lot of unspoken sadness in here, but also a lot of joy in the hard times shared with good friends, and in the sense of duty done. It even makes me feel a little wistful not to be part of that cameraderie - though I can only be glad I didn't have to. I was planning to send it to Oxfam (too many books), but I felt the need instead to respectfully shelve it. It was a little hard not to salute. This is, humbly and unobtrusively, the most moving thing I've read in a long time.

Afterword

I read 2 books this week, I had 67 last week, so 65 are left over. I have 15 books to read in 5 weeks.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Shalee Lhiah 2015: shiaghtin 46

Go here for English version. Note, this is rewritten from scratch, not a direct translation.

9oo - 15oo Vee Houney

Jerrey sheyoo shiaghtin as daeed ny Shalee Lhaih. Shoh ny lhiah mee yn çhiaghtin shoh chaie:

バクマン y.l. 3 (大場 つぐみ, 小畑 健)

Ta tree cooishyn ec bun yn ym-lioar shoh: scansh aggindys dy ynsaghey jeh sleih elley; y scansh t'ayn eddyr ny by vie lhiat screeu (ny jannoo) as ny ta cooie myr cooid earishlioar er lheh (ny myr obbyr er faill); as cormid beaghee as obbree. As ad ard-jeean dy gheddyn conaant er straih-skeeal 'syn earishlioar, t'ad jannoo eab er ard-chaghlaa dys obbyr yiow lhaihderaght smoo. By vie nagh dooar ad bac shallidagh, agh lhiettrimys mooar - cha lhisagh eh ve aashagh da fer ta screeu skeealyn folliaghtagh inçhynagh goaill toshiaght er skeealyn caggee.

Ta cooishyn graih nyn mun arganeyn 'sy lioar shoh. S'doillee da Saiko toiggal nagh vel manga hene dean ynrican Shuujin, foddee; as cooish ghraih lane whaagh echeysyn, cha nod eh toiggal aght sleih elley. Er lhiam dy vel y skeeal shoh dellal rish ennaghtyn mie dy liooar, as y keayrt shoh t'eh bentyn rish ard-deanyn garraghey dy tappee rish aase, as streppey dy hoiggal ny h-arraghyn shen as goaill rish reddyn myr t'ad nish. By vie lhiam chammah yn aght jeean ta Kaya gobbraghey dy chiangley marish Shuujin, ga dy nee fer aeg corvianagh t'ayn gyn tort, wheesh currit da'n dean echey nagh vel eh cur monney geill da ennaghtyn sleih elley. Agh foast, t'ee ennaghtagh dy liooar, as cha nel aigney eck dy lhiantyn rish gyn failt.

Fockle s'jerree

Lhaih mee 1 lioar, va 68 aym yn çhiaghtin shoh chaie, myr shen ta 67 faagit dou nish. Shegin dou lhaih 17 lioaryn ayns 6 shiaghteeyn.


English version

9th - 15th November

The end of week forty-six of the Reading Project. Here's what I've read this week:

バクマン v. 3 (大場 つぐみ, 小畑 健)

In this volume, there are three main themes: the difference between what you want to write and what can get published in a specific magazine; the importance of willingness to learn; and work-life balance. The artists run into their first major hurdle when, eager to get into publication with unbecoming haste, they try a radical shift in style to something more populist. I was pleased to see that this was presented as a genuine obstacle, and not something to be shrugged off. Meanwhile, Shuujin's relationship causes tension with Saiko, who struggles to grasp the idea that manga might not be Shuujin's exclusive focus. The interplay between the characters always pleases me; here it brings out the way priorities change rapidly during adolesence, and the struggle to come to terms with those changes. I like Kaya's sensitive, yet determined attitude to getting together with Shuujin, in the face of Shuujin's unthinking self-absorption.

Afterword

I read 1 book this week, I had 68 last week, so 67 are left over. I have 17 books to read in 6 weeks.