Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Musings #1

Today I have played with some thoughts that have been drifting in and out while I stared at an empty screen; this is the outcome:




Angry at some of the crowd, the mob, who turn their heads to your direction and scream


Obscenity laden drivel ,spewing from their guts and landing in your ears covering you in vile bile.


When will it stop, you say, as your head spins with rhetoric and caves in like a bullied animal.


You hide, from the media and all its cronies, who drone on at you as you pretend to be interested.


And then at the feeds that drip information vile and abusive into your social universe, depicting scenes that are not useful or intelligent.


When will it stop, we roar, as 24 hour news rolls the same ol’ crap over and over again, making the smallest headline into world-changing news.


And all the time we are expected to behave; be vigilant; be good, while our eyes are bombarded Alex-like by hate.


How can we live in world depicted to be so vile and yet we are all expected to just, get on?


Yet, with all the diatribe that exists the constant stream of thought within our tiny, un-computerised minds is to be at one with each other. United, like a family or a sports team, all for one and one for all.


If only media companies thought the same and fed us with something other than the terror, playing into the hands of corporations bent on tying the population down into mindless drones of commerce.


Without love we are nothing; without understanding we are stupid; without togetherness we are islands sinking into a murky ocean.


The human race depends on it, before we are destroyed by an elite feeding their saliva-riddled chops on money.


Populism is on the rise and the few are losing, little by little, we will stand together.


 


As I lay under the stars I dream of new beginnings; the blanket of sky hovers black over my brow and seeps into the pores of my skin; bringing an icy chill to the thrill of the night. I uncover my knees and express concern that they will no longer be able to bend to the breeze. I am a rock, unbecoming and unwelcome to nature. Believed to be real only in the mind of a soothsayer, and seldom seen as a saviour for all my faults. If you look closely you can see the scars that tug at my skin, they writhe around as if in a pantomime sketch, unruly and out of sync with one another. They tell my tale, that cannot fall from my lips, and utter phrases that dare not see the light of day. As I lay under the stars, the slow train of life comes to a stalling halt and snorts as if in disgust. It belches out a plume of smoke like a brave soldier taking a break from the slaughter. Think as one, we are told as individuals, and then they bemoan the fact that we are all the same. Yet we are different, and all deserve to be so in the eyes of the law and the land. The star falls dreamily over the canvas of darkness and reminds me of a tear dropping across your cheek. It winks cheekily before it disappears and then I am left alone, as one by one the stars fade and crash into itself, swallowed into the hungry awning above.
If there is a heaven would it be so greedy? I like to think so, because then we can say that there is a meaning to all of this epic understatement that sips coffee while we talk and walk on.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Remembering with Fondness: Look-In


Once upon a time, a long time ago, when the world was a very different place, there was a magazine called LOOK-IN.


For those of you who are not blessed with memories of this wonderful publication, let me explain.

In the days when we only had three channels to choose from on the television, there were two television listing magazines: the TV Times and the Radio Times. As an off-shoot of the TV Times, which was primarily biased towards ITV programming, a children’s edition was printed and this was called Look-In. It contained facts about your favourite music, film and tv stars, competitions to be won, and was chock-full off comic strip adaptations of your favourite tv shows, such as The Fall Guy, Metal Mickey and Sapphire and Steel. Each week, I seem to remember it being a Thursday, the magazine would be rushed home and I would delve into the world of tv and music.

I seem to remember that the issues contained a lot about Adam and the Ants, and if memory serves me correctly there was a comic strip of the man and his band.

It was also home to statistics of your favourite stars and I remember there was one about Mark Hamill and another about Harrison Ford. It was from this information that my dad created a life-size Indiana Jones figure, that still graces a room in my house all those years later. That would have been in 1984 as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was released.

Look-In was a fast and furious publication, also featuring the likes of Man About the House, Tiswas, Worzel Gummidge, The Six-Million Dollar Man, CHiPS and Battlestar Galactica. It was frenetic, and often as crazy as ITV’s flagship children’s show Tiswas, with printed versions of the Phantom Flan-Flinger throwing flans that splattered all over the pages.


Sadly, the publication did not last and in 1994, due to dwindling sales, it closed. But the magazine leaves a lot of memories  and if you Google Look-In, then you would be greeted by a splendid collage of many of the covers from the magazine.

Look-In was part of my childhood and is fondly remembered. Once I had grown out of it, sometime in 1985 and onwards, I moved on the more brutal and political 2000AD, briefly flirting with Battle Action Force in between.  2000AD would change my out-look on things but it was Look-In that got me started and the world was a much better place for it.
Zac Thraves is a storyteller and writer living in Kent; if you wish to book him to come along to your party, young or old,  or to give a speech at your local school then please contact him at zacharystories@outlook.com    


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Using Illustrations to Help your Writing

When creating a story and weaving a fabric for an imaginary world, there is nothing more potent for the imagination than an illustration. A well-drawn illustration can say the same thing as a thousand words, and the great thing is you don’t have to be a wonderful artist in order to sue this technique. 
The reason being that it is for you, it can be scruffy and messy and full of marginal notes and scribblings, so long as it makes up a plan for you that you can understand. 

There is a book entitled Wonderbook, The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction, by Jeff vanderMeer,  which is a series of essays by writers and artists that link the use of imagery towards planning your next page-turner. It offers hints and tips on how to break that imagination open and dive into the waters that are your mind. You can use sketches, mind-maps, scribbles or beautifully crafted portraits to help guide yourself into your new world and help create a backdrop that is convincing as well as being unique. 

Making your own illustrations to help create your world can be very important, such as using maps to set a clear indication of where places lie in relation to each other and your characters movements, how long it would take to get there, who would they meet along the way?

Before letting your imagination run wild there has to be some sort of plan to work to, and the use of mind-maps to arrange this plan can be very effective. Mind-maps are a very useful tool as it enables you, the writer, to link events and people together making it certain how everyone and everything fits together. 

Storyboarding is also something that can be quite useful, especially if you are painting a world rich with character development and action. It is a technique that has been widely used in filmmaking, notably by Steven Spielberg who admits that he is no artist. It can aid you in visualising the scene that you want to describe and can help with quick sentences that increase the pace of your writing. 
Illustrations do not necessarily have to be for the benefit of the person who is reading  your script, although that of course can be a bonus. But if you are a stick-person drawer at best, like me, and do not have the skills to quickly bash-out a sketch or two with wonderful dimensions and scope, pictures that you know will never make it out into the public domain to sit alongside your text, then feel free to let your imagination run wild with your drawings. It can help in expanding your world that is your creation, and gives you an idea of the type of characters you are creating as well as the environment around them.

Just don’t let this illustration time get in the way of your writing time, it should work together, in tandem, and used as an aid memoire; not as a tool to fill a sheet of white paper!
Wonderbook is available now at all good retailers including Amazon, give it a search.  
When creating a story and weaving a fabric for an imaginary world, there is nothing more potent for the imagination than an illustration. A well-drawn illustration can say the same thing as a thousand words, and the great thing is you don’t have to be a wonderful artist in order to sue this technique. 
The reason being that it is for you, it can be scruffy and messy and full of marginal notes and scribblings, so long as it makes up a plan for you that you can understand. 

There is a book entitled Wonderbook, The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction, by Jeff vanderMeer,  which is a series of essays by writers and artists that link the use of imagery towards planning your next page-turner. It offers hints and tips on how to break that imagination open and dive into the waters that are your mind. You can use sketches, mind-maps, scribbles or beautifully crafted portraits to help guide yourself into your new world and help create a backdrop that is convincing as well as being unique. 

Making your own illustrations to help create your world can be very important, such as using maps to set a clear indication of where places lie in relation to each other and your characters movements, how long it would take to get there, who would they meet along the way?
Before letting your imagination run wild there has to be some sort of plan to work to, and the use of mind-maps to arrange this plan can be very effective. Mind-maps are a very useful tool as it enables you, the writer, to link events and people together making it certain how everyone and everything fits together. 

Storyboarding is also something that can be quite useful, especially if you are painting a world rich with character development and action. It is a technique that has been widely used in filmmaking, notably by Steven Spielberg who admits that he is no artist. It can aid you in visualising the scene that you want to describe and can help with quick sentences that increase the pace of your writing. 
Illustrations do not necessarily have to be for the benefit of the person who is reading  your script, although that of course can be a bonus. But if you are a stick-person drawer at best, like me, and do not have the skills to quickly bash-out a sketch or two with wonderful dimensions and scope, pictures that you know will never make it out into the public domain to sit alongside your text, then feel free to let your imagination run wild with your drawings. It can help in expanding your world that is your creation, and gives you an idea of the type of characters you are creating as well as the environment around them.

Just don’t let this illustration time get in the way of your writing time, it should work together, in tandem, and used as an aid memoire; not as a tool to fill a sheet of white paper!
Wonderbook is available now at all good retailers including Amazon, give it a search.  

Friday, 17 March 2017

Hipsters, It's a Way of Thinking


In an effort to take a refreshed look at the business side of things when it comes to my ventures, I have been taking careful attention to the world of the Hipster; according to the internet, which as we know is far better and easier to use than a library, a Hipster means

1.    a person who follows the latest trends and fashions, especially those regarded as being outside the cultural mainstream.

Far be it for me to argue with Google, which is a font of all knowledge and you don’t have to pay for parking in order to use its services. I like the idea of hipster being outside the cultural mainstream, as that is where I picture myself being.

Now I don’t have a Hipster Beard, which probably should have the little letters ‘TM’ following it as surely by now it must be a trademark, or copyrighted by the Hipster community, if there is such a thing. I wonder about these communities that exist in the world, are they all gated and do you need to join a club in order to gain entrance?

But, I don’t have the beard and I don’t wear lumberjack shirts, which seems to be some sort of uniform for the hipsters. I do however own a pipe, and have a monocle which I wear at numerous occasions such as going out for a meal so that I can read the menu, glasses are so last year.

In my humble and obedient mind, Splintered Cinema is for the hipster generation, again if there is such a thing, it has upcycled material and chooses to screen classic movies rather than the latest blockbusters; locations have been diverse and thankfully have suited the movie that has been playing. The most recent screening, City Lights, was in a museum library which was wonderful. I was also glad that the screening appealed to young and old, meaning that Splintered Cinema can cater for all ages and I can’t be labelled as ageist, not that I ever have been but  you never know what is around the corner.

I like the hipster thing, the whole thing, apart from the braces which make my stomach look fat; but I do like this idea of going back to basics and feeling as if you are behaving in an anti-establishment/corporate way. There is no finer feeling in the world than going against the tide, and sometimes the tide is the system that we get caught up in, like a fisherman’s net that binds us tight and refuses to allow us room to breathe. We as a population are blindfolded by corporations and those that serve them, namely our governments, and there is something cosy about hipsters being the one of the trends that refuses to accept that situation.  Much like vigilantes and activists, hipsters have a role to play and now is the time to play it.

Is it time to wake up and smell the coffee? As long as that coffee does not come from Starbucks then yes, and it needs to be ground coffee, fair trade and not set at an enormous price for the privilege of it.

NB. I have no idea how this went from hipsters to anti-establishment to coffee. Isn’t the world a strange and beautiful place.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

I Remember You; a poetic short


In a slippery downward trajectory from where your face first appeared I remember you, cloaked in Gothic black and inked with your story, a tale of lows reacting to highs that some of us have never had the chance to reach.

I remember your story and the ending as if it was just a new beginning for us to entertain; within all of that lay a pool of uncertainty, tainted by fear and wallowing in unforgotten alienation.

Tattoo’d as if you had to hurry out the words before they would be unremembered.  Laying now on a single raft in the middle of the ocean, I can see the horizon as if it were a touch away, just out of reach but obtainable.

If there was a chance that we could meet again, start over and begin our conversation, would you take it? Back in the past when we had more to do than argue over the strength of tea, when it wasn’t unusual to gaze into each other’s eyes and face the steely wind as one.

Burning like the sun; a soul dying like a dead star reaching its final crescendo. I thought of you when it exploded, and a million tiny particles scattered across the universe. That is how we see each other, not an apparent couple who are attuned to the unfortunate way of appealing to others, but as an extinguished star, there but imagined, broken and yet put together with magical stardust.

If we could create an understanding with the universe then we could give the singing sparrows something to cheer about; instead we rely on daily dredge and upset Sunday papers to tell us what to expect of the world.

Notably, we are placed in a corner and expected to fight, then to stand and depict a scene that is beneficial for everyone. We have forgotten how to be individual, and must all sing from the same song sheet., but what if that little lone voice inside roars a disapproval? What if it suddenly becomes a necessity to overcome the emotions of wishing that everything could be the same and wanting to jump up and scream at the top of your lungs that you are you, and nothing can change that fact?

We are within reach of becoming unique, yet we are drilled to accept the mediocrity of a singular existence. I remember you, and all of the things that you said to me in your sleep. Those sweet nothings that gave me a cause to leap up out of slumber and become aware that you are more than worth the angelic lights that shimmer as you speak.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Poem: A Chance to Dream


In the hot bed of still life a chance was made into a dream

And within that realm of superficial ideology

Your breath tenderly touched my cheek.

Be liked-minded, they cried as I slept and

Revealed the innermost desires of your brain.

Hold forth and create an opportunity before

The end can justify its existence.

Yet by the power that lies deep within a heart

And the loneliness that enwraps itself around you

Can we not forgive to forget and learn to appease each other.

You cried last night, as I watched you sleeping and

A tear fell from my eye into the cup of your hand.

Within that grasp lay the hidden thoughts of

A thousand years; yet you let go, and released

It into the unknown, out, out to the far away land.

A soft bellow of pain fell from your lips

As if a razor had been cast across your hand

 And a glimmer of blood careered downwards

Towards the gates of hell that lay on the floor

Wide open and expectant, like a giant mouth

Angry for food like your eyes, full as

A moon on a crisp winter’s night.

If it wasn’t for the fact that there is love

Hanging in the air, a Chinese lantern,

Then you would not be able to see me

Untrue lies mask the depth that is in your sky

Unfortunate apparel clings to your skin as if

Wet with a natural disaster. Keep on the hunt

As Steed would do when in the room with Emma Peel,

And never give up the occasional smoke for

Freedom, which is no longer an existential reality.

So hang low, and allow your feet to drag for now,

In the distance there is a chance for another dream,

 And you can learn to drive towards it, at last

When you breathe.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Do You Remember Bubble-Gum Cards?


Way back in the 1970’s, in the age of power-cuts and strikes, when the world was a violent and poor place struggling for identity, there was a little company called Topps who produced one thing that brought light to  an otherwise gloomy world.

Bubble gum cards!

Yes, those eponymous relics from times gone by, now deemed to be far too unhealthy for the youth of today to enjoy, in the care-free Seventies and early Eighties this was what your pocket money paid for.


The set-up of the bubble gun card was quite simple: for as little as 10p you could get five cards from your favourite movie detailing scenes and reminding you of the excitement you had when the movie was screened at your local three-screen cinema, captions below the picture would explain what was going on and sometimes on the back you would get information about the film or a part of a giant jigsaw puzzle which would ensure that you had to collect them all in order to finish the big puzzle. To give you a little treat while gazing at the cards you would be rewarded with a piece of dusty bubble gum, a small stick that would generate very little bubbles but tasted nice all the same.

Each card would be numbered, giving you an idea of how many you had to collect, and the playgrounds of Seventies schools would become a hotbed of negotiations as you swapped any doubles you had for that all important one that you were missing.

The cards represented an A-List of blockbuster movies, the most famous of all being Star Wars; but we also had bubble gum cards for Star Trek The Motion Picture and Disney’s epic flop Star Wars rip-off The Black Hole, which I personally quite enjoyed and almost completed the card collection.


There would be some lucky so-and-so’s who had a father with lots of money who could afford to go the newsagent (yes, this sort of thing would never be sold in a supermarket, that was for food) and proceed to buy the entire box of cards, thus ruining anyone else’s chance of collecting the cards and also missing the point of the program, it was to generate excitement and teach children the all important aspect of sharing, coming together or uniting as a collective and rewarding each other by playing swapsies.

I hated those fathers who would buy the entire box in one hit; to me it was Capitalism gone mad and if I knew what that meant in those days I would have told them so.

But the bubble gum cards did not last; sadly they were replaced by a company called Panini who introduced stickers and sticker albums, I remember vividly almost completing my Back to the Future sticker album and my Gremlins one, but not making a dent in my Fox and the Hound one from the Disney film. The mid-Eighties saw the demise in card collection as I presume it was cheaper to produce stickers, and probably more profitable as you had to buy the sticker album to put them in; you were also lacking the reward of bubble gum for your loyalty to such companies.

I have noticed that cards are returning to the fore in the shape of Match Attax or something, predominantly using the WWE wrestlers but also incorporating Star Wars again in the hope of letting fathers see their product through rose-tinted glasses and buying them for the little cherubs. Albeit, these new cards have a hefty price tag, and still no bubble gum in our health-fixed world. So where do you find these box of cards, why by the sweet counter, where else. Needless to say that the if you still needed a fix of movie cards and bubble gum, you could always compromise and buy the two together.

Hubba Bubba.