Friday, 26 August 2011

Top 10 job titles

I'm always envious of people with great job titles, or even just funny or unusual ones. So here's my list of the 10 best or funniest job titles I've heard of.

If you work your way up diplomatic circles* you could be Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary.

Not high-falutin' enough? My friend's great uncle helped to design the building of British ambassadorial buildings for the Empire** in the East Indies. His job title was: Chief Architect of the Eastern Hemisphere

But why on earth limit yourself to, well... Earth? NASA employ a Planetary Protection Officer. You may be wondering whether their role is to protect us from aliens or aliens from us. The answer is: both!

In a similar vein, Apple allegedly have this post: Senior Armageddon Avoidance Engineer. (It sounds scary, but having survived Armageddon once and accidentally missing it another time, I could be just the person!)

Back down to earth, a local authority in mid-Wales made the news last year by renaming lifeguards 'Wet Leisure Assistants.'

Councils are fond of strange projects, teams and persons. Mine has a Teengage Pregancy Strategy Group (who must sit in meetings where someone says: ''I know, let's get them drunk on alcopops and play Justin Beiber songs...") and the Older People's Modernisation Team - which presumably retro-fits grannies with gang tattoos and USB ports. But someone must be in charge. An Older People's Modernisation Team Leader perhaps?

Another council worker has done prize-winning work providing support to the victims of various kinds of intimidation. She's the Domestic Violence Co-ordinator.

A friend of mine was Grand Master of the Masonic Lodge - it made him sound rather dashing but I was very disappointed on attending one of their 'Ladies' Night' dinners when no virgins were sacrificed.

Applicants for the job of S&M Administrator might be disappointed, too, to find it refers to Sales & Marketing. I got that from Worst Job in the World.

I have never had a job with a particularly unusual or amusing title. I suppose I could cross out 'Library Assistant' on my badge and write something more off the wall: 'Senior Junior Under-lender' perhaps. What do you think?

If you DON'T have, and have never had, a groovy-sounding job title, you can generate one using this handy Job Title Generator

If you DO have (or have had) a groovy-sounding job title ... or can convince us that you have ... I want to hear about it!

* Not a euphemism... then again...

** Before they started on the Death Star, that is

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Nominative determinism

Nominative de-WHAT-ism? Nominative determinism

We've all had a dentist called Mr Paine, haven't we? Or come across Mr Bun the baker (ok, maybe not that last one.)

I used to work in a bank where there was a business account for Messrs Costall and Deer - I never found out what they did, but they sound pricey.

There's an article at The Behaviour Effect about whether people are influenced by their names.

A well-documented example of the phenomena is a legendary article in the British Journal of Urology by Splatt and Weedon.

I was on the lookout for books to illustrate what I'm talking about here, and came across: ‘A journey around the world' a cycling memoir, by David Sore.

We have a borrower who is always after Star Wars books (there's lots of them, you know!). His name is Luke Walker. I asked him if his middle name was 'Sky'. It isn't. It ought to be. I wonder if it is just co-incidence or he was influenced towards Star Wars because his name was so similar to the hero.

I've recall reading this post from the Inky Fool about cardinals and it reminded me of the aptly named Cardinal Sin of Manila - who I already mentioned in this post - which only one person read at the time. 8-( *sad face*

Anyway, it got me wondering if it would be possible to rise above your station through the clever choice of name? A sort of elective nominative determinism - which I'll be writing more about at some point, once I've collected enough silly names.

For example, who could resist promoting a Sergeant de Sturbance to Major, Private Punishment to Corporal or an Able Seaman T. Arch to Admiral?

What Masonic Lodge wouldn't be tempted to make Mr Flash their Grand Master?

And then there's the other side of the coin - have any of us been compelled to take up certain jobs or course of action because our names decreed it? Would someone called Mr East feel compelled to live in East Anglia? Would someone called Mr Naylor feel drawn to the hammer as weapon of choice?

More examples can be found at Ampers& but first, here's a bit of nominative determinism fun below from the 'I'm Sorry, I Haven't a Clue team' with late arrivals to the Vicar's Ball.

You can watch it while I contemplate whether to B. Silly with any of my characters names.

Friday, 19 August 2011

On Writing

Four things that happened last week have got me back into finishing my novel.

Having been accepted for Flashmob - one of Lancaster Litfest's publications I was invited to a professional development workshop for writers, which reminded me what my own priorities are, helped me set goals and reinvigorated me.

Before going there, I re-read the 60,000 words I've written so far of my novel (untouched for months) to see if it was worth pursuing. It was funny (it's ok, it's supposed to be) and readable and I got excited about it again.

Then, on the train to Lancaster I finished Stephen King's 'On Writing' - a book that is often highly recommended to writers by other writers.

It's a curiosity - part interesting autobiography, part no frills 'how to write' guide from someone who's work I find very readable. Like many writing manuals, the author has strong ideas on the best way to produce a novel, things you must or mustn't do. Fine if it works for him, but it's best to take from writing guides the advice you recognise as appropriate for your own way of working. Some great common sense hints and tips.

Key tips:
  1. Write
  2. Read
  3. Assiduously avoid adverbs.
These first two are pretty obvious but plenty of 'writers' don't do that much of either - I've been guilty myself.

And fourthly, I've been reading Elmore Leonard's 'When The Women Come Out To Dance' - an inpsiring masterclass in short fiction packed with sparely-written mini dramas, fascinating characters, evocative locations. (Elmore Leonard's top tips - which also have it in for adverbs - are at the top of this excellent Guardian list of Top Tips from Authors)

So that's what I'm doing when I'm not doing this.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Popcorn post

There's this movie meme going about - I got it from Dave who got it from Tim who got it from Annie - be sure to wash your hands or you'll be doing it too!

This sort of thing is a terrible chore when you're as indecisive as me. I started it after going to the pictures on Saturday night to see the last Harry Potter (ho hum) and just gave up on it now...

1 Movie you love with a passion.
This changes - it has been Pulp Fiction and Brazil, but I'm going to plump for Love Actually *blushes*

2. Movie you vow to never watch.
'Jackass - the Movie'

3. Movie that literally left you speechless.
'Threads' - unutterably harrowing

4. Movie you always recommend.
'Galaxy Quest' - it's a hoot, especially if you're a fan of sci fi. I've been recommending 'In Bruges' a lot lately, too - I didn't think I'd like it but it won me over. And 'Fargo'

5. Actor/actress you always watch, no matter how crappy the movie.
There are a few: Anthony Hopkins, Katherine Hepburn, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Al Pacino, Hugh Jakeman, Robert Downey Jr, Christopher Walken, Ciaron Hinds, Jean Reno - they just rise above the subject/setting/script

6. Actor/actress you don’t get the appeal for.
All those shiny rom-com types

7. Actor/actress, living or dead, you’d love to meet.
Not keen on the idea of dead actors and actresses turning up! And wouldn't turn away any living ones.

8. Sexiest actor/actress you’ve seen. (Picture required!)
I used to have a big thing for Richard Burton when I was 13 (what was that all about?) This is where my formatting goes to pot as I attempt to add several pics for your/my delectation.

People I've found surprisingly sexy: Al Pacino (in 'Sea of Love'), Ciaron Hinds (not that famous but he's got 'something' for me).

Plus the usual suspects: Antonio, George, Hugh

9. Dream cast.
See above. I love spotting all my fave Brit charcater actors in Harry Potter too - though seeing Cairon Hinds as Dumbledore's brother in the last one put me off him a bit!

10. Favorite actor pairing.
Can't think - maybe Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs (which they're remaking in Liverpool as 'Shut Up Ewes')

12. Favorite decade for movies
I refuse to choose

13. Chick flick or action movie?
Which do Coen Brothers come under? I hate action sequences for the sake of them but I like both if done well. The script is the important thing, not the genre.

14. Hero, villain or anti-hero?
Because none of this is real, I can choose the villain without anything bad happening can't I? They're often more interesting characters and I'm a sucker for the possible redemption at the end. So yes, I tend to side with Darth Vader, Phantom of the Opera, Hannibal Lector.

15. Black and white or color?
Either - depends on the movie. I've been known to turn the colour off if I'm watching something scary (also the sound).

Friday, 5 August 2011

Invisible, too

Inspired by the art of Liu Bolan, which I wrote about yesterday, I spent the night with my paints in an attempt to emulate one of his 'Hidden in the City' photographs.

Here I am, hiding in plain site in the library. I think you really will struggle to see me, so good is my camouflage.

Not bad for a first attempt eh?

And here's a bit of a poem about being invisible:

The other day, I became invisible:
stumbled into, trodden on and brushed aside,
pulled out in front of at junctions, roundabouts.
I tried smiles – which were returned unopened.
I raised my hand, but no-one let me speak.
I was stared through – not like I was a window,
but more a grey area or just a feeling
that has to be endured or struggled through.
I went home defeated, was not welcomed,
looked in the mirror. There was no-one there.

© Clare Kirwan

Thursday, 4 August 2011

China's 'Invisible Man'

I may have been a bit invisible lately, and a bit... erm ... patterned. But it is nothing compared to the Chinese artist Liu Bolin who paints himself to match particular locations so as to appear invisible in them.

These pictures are from a series called 'Hiding in the City' - each one can take up to ten hours to get just right.

It is both a way of protesting the Chinese government’s persecution of artists, and also about not fitting into society.

I wouldn't usually quote the Daily Mail (did I mention we have to keep it 'under the counter' at the library because it was getting stolen all the time?!?) but this quote is from an interesting article about him HERE: He said:

'Some people call me the invisible man, but for me it's what is not seen in a picture which is really what tells the story.

'After graduating from school I couldn't find suitable work and I felt there was no place for me in society. I ... had a feeling that no one cared about me, I felt myself unnecessary in this world.

'The situation for artists in China is very difficult and the forced removal of the artist's studio is in fact my direct inspiration of this series of photographs.'

I'm no expert on art, but I sort of understand the feeling. Do any of you have 'invisible' days too?

An online gallery of his pictures is featured at Eli Klein at least until the end of September