Archive for culture

Fickle Now Seems To Be The New Essential

Posted in Scandalous!, Writing and Things Literary with tags , , , on December 19, 2011 by AF

Once upon a time I posted to my blog pretty much on a daily basis – sometimes even more often. I also used to check the blogs I liked the best several times a day. Now it all seems to me to be changing and I’m not alone in that.

Recently, as I’ve visited other blogs in my blog-roll, it appears that fewer and fewer are posting on a regular basis. So, apart from the odd half dozen to whom I can remain faithful, I’m going to have to search out new people to add to my list. Consequently, since I seem to often enjoy those sites written by female bloggers, that means I’m going to be off seeking new women to follow around. At my time of life! I ask you! Is it too much to ask for a little constancy in these modern, fickle times of ours?

Of the eighty or ninety blogs I once followed diligently via RSS, about a third have disappeared altogether over time and less and less post regularly. What do you think has changed? Is it now essential to be fickle and seek out new places to find interest? With the increase in so called online dating, which should often in reality now be called online hooking up for the night, so it appears that everything else has gone the same way too and my impression is that the only current constant is the steadily decreasing value of fidelity, be it with respect to matters relating to sex, friendship, or any other sort of relationship.

What is changing? Is the instant gratification offered by the internet and buying online now permeating all aspects of modern life?

😉

So, How Do You Like It?

Posted in Scandalous! with tags , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2011 by AF

What? Sex of course! Ah, no! Not in that sort of detail! Too much information! I’m referring to the written sort…

Anyway, the reason I ask is that I’m a guy and I’ve been around the block a few times – well, a lot of times – so I’m pretty uninhibited and I kind of feel that anything consenting adults enjoy doing privately with each other is their business and not my concern – except in my stories, of course, and that’s the point. Myself, I’ve certainly sometimes enjoyed some pornography and I can find it quite… er… interesting. However, whilst porn doesn’t particularly shock or disgust me (though I think some of it can be pretty gross) and I understand the common male attitudes to it, I do usually get quite quickly bored by it and, for me, it’s written erotica that is much more exciting – especially the very sexy, story driven stuff.

Now, additionally, the majority of my readers seem to be women (as far as I can tell) – at least, those who comment are generally of the female persuasion. As a result, I thought I’d see how many of you would complete a simple, light-hearted poll and provide a little more info about your likes and dislikes regarding erotic moments on the written page.

Go on. I promise I won’t tell – just tick as many of the choices as you feel are appropriate to you…

Of course, the poll is just for fun and it’s naturally anonymous – unless you want to tell me more in comments below, but that’ll be our secret, won’t it? Oh and I promise I’ll do my best to protect your identity when it appears in the next book or short story…

😉

Need A Laugh?

Posted in The Blog Spy with tags , , , , , on October 12, 2011 by AF

Okay, I’m done with serious for a while (probably a long while) and I know I’m often in desperate need of a laugh myself – it helps to stop me bursting into tears after watching TV news and such like…

Anywaaaay – The Blog Spy has been about again and here’s an offering from a great blog. I do think this website is often just plain hilarious. There are quite a few writers who post there and this is an article by “unknownmami”, a very funny lady.

Naturally, as always, this might just be down to my quirky sense of humour, but I bet it makes a few of my readers giggle at the very least.

The blog is the excellent “Aiming Low” blog, which incidentally describes itself as “perfectly mediocre” (though it’s anything but, to my mind), and you can see the post that most recently amused me right here.

Take a cup of coffee with you when you go over there because I think you might find yourself browsing around there for a while, once you finish laughing at the post in question.

I hope you enjoy.

😆

Free Women?

Posted in People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , on October 11, 2011 by AF

I’ve vacillated almost endlessly, unable to decide whether to post this, or not. I suspect some people I respect will misunderstand me or my intentions. In the end, though, I’ve decided that I should stop being a coward and say it, right or wrong, so here goes…

For once I want to be serious. Jeez! I know! It doesn’t happen very often, does it? Look out for a blue moon tonight and watch out for the odd flying pig too.

However, to my mind, the question mark in my title does say a great deal about the subject of this post. Are women free, or liberated these days? Well, particularly in some cultures, just as was true thousands of years ago, some plainly are. Also, it’s perhaps a far greater proportion now than it once was during recent centuries – in the West at least. But I have to admit that I don’t think that most are all that free at all.

Then again, some would argue that relatively few people of either gender are free in any real sense of the word, but I suppose the question most women would really be asking is: are women today at least as free as their equivalent men of today? I suspect the answer to that question when asked in general terms is still a resounding NO.

Before I attempt to explain why, I ask you to please take a good look at a great article from a clever and talented lady. It makes some entirely valid and well argued points. It’s also something with which I entirely agree in principle at least. Conversely, I almost totally disagree with it as well, on a very different level.

I know – that’s as clear as mud, isn’t it? I guess I’d better pause here whilst you go for a quick read of the excellent article right here

Done? Okay then. Now, if you’ve looked at the post in the link, then I hope you’ll understand when I say that I can’t disagree in the slightest with the sentiments at least and that I think all the behaviour and phrases quoted are clearly of an unpleasant nature (certainly when used publicly) and not a way in which I hope I would ever regard or behave towards any woman. Nevertheless, the comment quoted as being from Charlie Sheen (for instance) only serves to demonstrate that he apparently knows practically nothing about real women and very little about sex either, but then some people have extremely limited imaginations. In any event, he’s only playing up to the role he’s picked for himself (or that has been picked for him) in the eyes of his ‘fans’.

Equally, I should point out that it’s not all one-sided and I don’t much like the way some women refer to men and stereotype them either, but (as the rather graphic saying goes) shit happens and I’m not going to lose any sleep over it, or dignify people like that by giving a damn about them – they are what they are – usually rather stupid and pretty ignorant, in my opinion.

The simple and absolute fact is that some men hate women and some women hate men. No one can change that truth by legislating, or complaining, or anything else (unless you’re prepared to shoot them of course), because they think what they think and every time you highlight their behaviour, you simply increase their importance. Most people are not that pathetic, so why would you care about a stupid minority of insignificant jerks? Marginalise them and they and their ilk will eventually become almost invisible.

There are women’s issues that desperately need to be addressed, such as equal pay for equal work and real equality of opportunity regardless of gender, though childbirth is a factor to be considered in some cases, whether anyone likes it or not. This post is not the place or occasion to discuss the subject in detail, but these days and for most women, the decision to bear children is just that – a choice. I can see no reason whatsoever why an employer should be forced to manipulate reality in order to try to ensure that such a choice does not affect the career prospects of the individual. I believe that positive discrimination is just as evil as negative discrimination.

All that said, although I write fiction, there is a recurring theme in much of what I produce, particularly in my sci-fi stories and it’s that most women of the future are strong and liberated. In my tales, whatever their individual hang-ups and insecurities, future women have largely achieved equality and even superiority at times by one simple means – as a gender, they DON’T GIVE A DAMN what any man thinks! Of course, I’m not talking about personal relationships, those are always excepted, private and should be what suits and is developed by the individuals involved for themselves. Outside of that, I’m a passionate believer in the equality of women, but I’m also sure that they’ll never achieve it if they remain dependent on men being nice to them, frequently not saying what they think and allowing it to occur because it’s some kind of decent thing to do. It simply won’t happen!

Men don’t care much what women (as a whole gender, rather than as individuals) think of them, but women on the other hand are all too often demanding that men in general should view them differently from the way they do. That is not only unrealistic and doomed to failure, it’s a dreadful weakness and they will not succeed in achieving their goals until they manage to move on from that and cast off the shackles of such limiting ideas.

So, there you go. I say again, I think the article in the link is superb, but I do think it also highlights a weakness in the female cause. That, for what it’s worth, is my opinion. Still, no one ever took much notice of my views in the past, so I can’t imagine that anything will change significantly on this occasion.

😐

I Can’t Get Close To Some Women

Posted in Writing and Things Literary with tags , , , , on October 10, 2011 by AF

Surprisingly (you might reasonably think), for once I’m not talking here about the fact that various desirable sexy icons from the world of celebrities don’t even know I exist (why would they?), or even about some failing that prevents me from forming meaningful relationships – on a bad day, I wish!

No, this post is actually a statement of my unbounded admiration for some (many?) successful female writers in particular.

As an example of this, take Molly Greene. To me, she and others like her are simply awesome. I cannot imagine how she manages the vast amount of work she appears to get through in an average day, month, year. Discussing building a following on Twitter (an excellent article that you can find here in full or just go to her blog and read everything she writes) as a way of gaining publicity and therefore increasing sales, she revealed a good deal about her ability to juggle life that amazes me. The same thing applies to the great friends she names in the article.

This is how she describes herself:

“Novelist, author, writer with an extensive real estate background. Has appeared in the National Association of Realtors® Magazine, the San Diego Association of Realtors® Magazine, Apartment Association magazines throughout California, Scotsman Guide, and Reader’s Digest. Author of the booklet “For Sale By Owner.” Mystery novel “Mark of the Loon” will be released late 2011. Currently working on a sequel, “Rapunzel.” Serial remodeler, rehabbed and sold six homes, several by owner, without an agent in purchase or sale. Currently remodeling number seven!”

Really? When the heck does she find time to sleep, eat, be normal? Come to that, when does she find time to write – anything?

I know that women are famously wonderful at multi-tasking and some of her better known author friends and others do frequently guest post (which must be a huge help – any offers?), but I can’t achieve anything close to that level of output. On top of that, I’m just a tad jealous of how well written, thoughtful and full of excellent tips and advice her articles are.

I guess the truth I have to face is that, as a mere male, I’ll never get close to women like Molly Greene in terms of work and, even if I did by some freak chance get close to one such as her on a personal level, she’d probably scare the hell out of me!

Ah, well… such is my lot, I fear…

😉

I Guess I’m A Fan

Posted in Writing and Things Literary with tags , , , , , , , , on September 5, 2011 by AF

In my opinion, the apparent (public) personas of Jennifer Lopez, Kim Cattrall and Cameron Diaz (amongst a few others) make them three of the sexiest women on the planet today. On top of that, I generally think that Marilyn Monroe (who was anything but the dumb blonde she usually portrayed) must probably have been one of the sexiest women to ever walk the Earth since humanity began – so I suppose that makes me a fan of these women, though I don’t much like that term. For sure, I do often rather idolise sexy women with attitude and these females of our species all fall well into that category – in my mind at least.

Of course, many of you may disagree and even detest (or at the very least not much like) my choices and their work. But then, that’s the point, isn’t it? This is an example of my personal taste and not everyone likes the same things. However, the fact is that when people go to see a film starring these individuals, or if they read a book by a well known author, view a picture by a famous artist, or go to a concert by Kylie Minogue or some similar superstar, the majority of the people involved are already “fans” of what that artist provides and adulation by the audience is therefore almost guaranteed.

So, that leaves us with something of a conflict: Whilst diversity is the basis for the success of our species, finding those with a common attitude is the key to individual triumph for many and particularly for those who do the sort of things people like me do – things “artistic”. If you’ve already made it big, that’s quite easy since the mere mention of your name will enable tens of thousands (hopefully even millions) of people to instantly recognise the type of work you do and know that they like (or dislike) it…

But what of the rest of us? If you have the odd few million pounds or dollars tucked away, a TV advertising campaign will almost certainly make your fortune. But then, if you have that sort of money spare, why would you bother, unless it’s solely for vanity’s sake?

Naturally, not all of us are the next William Shakespeare (I know I’m not) and many of us wouldn’t even want to be, but that doesn’t mean that a lot of us don’t create half decent work that many would find enjoyable – if only we could get known by those members of the public who would buy what we produce if they even knew we existed and had experienced our creativity. Of course, Twitter, FB and the like are good platforms for self promotion, but is there really that much point in advertising your work to other writers? A few may buy what you do; a few may be good enough to review your work and speak kindly of it; a few also read everything they can get their hands on and may then tell others. But the truth is, I suspect, that what we are often forming on such social sites is what amounts to a pretty limited and often quite elitist mutual admiration society.

The big book stores and the whole conventional publishing industry acts as a sort of “fan club” for writers and other artists and presents their work to the world at large – sadly, since they are primarily businesses, they (quite naturally and not unreasonably) only do that for the already successful, those who have formerly achieved fame (or maybe infamy) and the lucky few these omnipotent beings decide will, by hook or by crook, be the next big thing…

There must be a better way for everyone else, but I’m damned if I know what it is…

😦

Follow The Indie Route?

Posted in Writing and Things Literary with tags , , , , , , on August 16, 2011 by AF

I can understand those who favour the Indie route to publishing and there are two main reasons for that…

Firstly: Who wants to hang around whilst dozens, perhaps hundreds, of agents wait three months to not even bother to read your submissions, query letters and so on? And many publishers seemingly won’t even open mail that doesn’t come from an agent.

Authors tend to be independent thinkers (the literal meaning of “Indie” is independent if you don’t know, as I didn’t until a while back), so it’s hardly surprising that they are not immediately enamoured of the stranglehold that the system has had on their livelihoods.

Secondly: The conventional agent/publisher setup has more and more moved towards making their authors do most of the work anyway and many authors now have to find, arrange and then attend their own book signings, lectures, talks, do their own advertising and more – so why would they want to give away ten to twenty percent of their meagre royalties to someone who’s doing damn all for them?

However, there is also a third reason: The publishing world has changed only in the last few years – very rapidly and dramatically. We are witnessing a revolution that has resulted from the rise of the Internet and the sudden explosion in communications that has engendered a desire for eBooks. What was once a fad, a niche, a trickle, has now almost magically turned into a mighty torrent in which conventional publishing is often close to drowning as it is carried along by the current. Of course, Amazon did much to kick it off, but now many of the big guys are scrambling to climb aboard and some of them have pretty certainly left it too late.

The problem that I see with all that (and it’s where I kind of think the big publishers have shot themselves repeatedly in the foot with their past arrogance and greed, which threatens to make them ultimately irrelevant) is that the Indie scene is not just about independence, but almost a way of life where often only the most diligent and tenacious of its believers are likely to succeed.

The reason I say that is because a whole lot of writers want to do just that: write! They don’t have any desire to be entrepreneurs, salespeople, marketers, advertisers and all the rest. By their very nature, writers are usually creative people and they are mostly happiest when they are just writing in the hope that someone, somewhere, will read what they turn out.

However, I suppose they could always seek a person or company who would be their agent in this and who… Ohw… Goddamn it!

😉

There Always Seems To Be Sex In Everything

Posted in Writing and Things Literary with tags , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2011 by AF

That’s: there always seems to be sex in pretty much everything I write – blog posts, books, short stories – even my Sci-Fi novels. I guess that says something about me, do you think?

Ah, well… Why not, eh? After all, it’s what makes the world go round for most of us, isn’t it? Let’s face it, without sex, we’d probably all still be single cell organisms. Worse than that, it would appear that I’d have nothing to say about anything – and I do like to write, even when relatively few people read it.

In fact writing and sex have a lot in common for me: I adore both activities even when I don’t get paid for doing either of them! Mind you, money’s important – sex anyone?

However, on that score and in the true spirit of shameless self promotion, some of my novels are now coming out as eBooks…

Seductive Chance, my story of an artist who discovers all sorts of things about himself and women over a two year or so period is now available for Kindle on Amazon. It’s a bit of light-hearted fun with quite a lot of sex in it too (of course).

The women in the book tend to be fairly strong and decisive (and naturally pretty horny), whilst Mike Farmer, the male lead and narrator seems to spend most of his time full of self-doubt. He’s a nice guy at heart and pretty quiet and unassuming, just like me I guess… Hah! Okay, okay… not at all like me, then!

The Superior Gene: Book One – Jason, Source Of The Gene is also there (books 2 & 3 of the trilogy should also be up there in the next few weeks/months). The Superior Gene is a Sci-Fi adventure story that is set mostly in the next century. It is of course rather darker in places than my fun romances, but it also has its lighter side too. However, it in part describes an Earth where women have finally realised that it doesn’t matter a damn what men think. Naturally, that means there’s quite a bit of sex in it too. Now there’s a surprise, eh?

Even if you don’t buy either of the books (though it would be lovely if you did, of course), just take a peek at them at least, will you? Will you really? Please… Pretty please?

😉

Is There A Better Way?

Posted in Scandalous! with tags , , , , , , , on July 8, 2011 by AF

Naturally, I’m talking about sex and relationships. Yeah, I know – what else? However, it’s not just me and my quirky way of looking at things that has triggered this post (for once).

More or less by accident – well via Twitter actually – I came across this post from “MyDevina” who describes her blog as, “a fun, flirty, irreverent look at being sexy, single and over 30”. The post in question got me thinking, yet again, about relationships, friendship and all the rest and my eternal query, do we demand too much from each other and, indeed, from ourselves at times.

It’s a good post and it makes sense if you have the time to pop over and take a look at the full article here. The gist is that we sometimes have a tendency to compare the new partner in our life with the old one – perhaps not always as generously as we should. I guess that would be: if only he/she had been different, or things had worked out another way. Thus the piece highlights the fact that it can on occasions be hard to let go of the past and also suggests a few pretty logical reasons why. Like I said, it’s a good post…

Nevertheless, the part of the post that particularly sparked my thoughts was really just this bit near the beginning: “During our official relationship we were not best friends, and our sex life was good but lacked some trust. After our breakup – and time passing – we became best friends and our sex life was awesome.” Of course, MyDevina is absolutely right and it does take time to develop a “oneness” – a mutual understanding that can result in incredible closeness. Even if your new significant other is going to turn out to be the much talked about and (certainly for some of us) perhaps mythical soul-mate of your life, you’re not going to immediately have that sort of intuition with someone you don’t yet really know, are you?

To me, there are a number of conclusions that could be drawn from all that. In the first place, one could, of course, say that best friends have better sex, but we know that’s not true because strangers who meet in the night can have awesome sex and best friends might want entirely different things in bed anyway. I think that a generosity of spirit is far more important – wanting to give pleasure as much as just wanting to selfishly enjoy it (mixed together with a hefty dose of experience and knowledge of the mechanics involved for the opposite sex of course). That, though, is an attitude that best friends are more likely to feel and exhibit, don’t you think?

However, more importantly in my opinion, is the question this raises about relationships and our expectations from them. One thing that many women go on about endlessly (not unreasonably and I’ve mentioned this before) is the subject of honesty. I have often wondered if the reality isn’t that, if we could all be totally honest about our wants and desires without pressure from others, preconceived ideas about artificial “right and wrong” conventions and what we should have, feel and expect, most women simply want something very different from a relationship than most men. I don’t mean by that just physical side either – not just the old cliché “he only wants me for one thing”, though I don’t see what’s wrong with that either – it’s solely the dishonesty involved that makes it unacceptable, in my opinion. The difficulty with that is, of course, the guy who’s totally honest and says at the outset that, “it’s just sex and I don’t want to wake up in the morning next to you” isn’t going to get laid very often, is he? Or at least not with the average woman he might find attractive when they have both grown up with their current fixed ideas about conventional relationships.

But, as I said, it’s not just about the sex. Doesn’t the piece I quoted suggest that, when you’ve gone through the initial relationship bit and it hasn’t worked out, but you actually like the ex, then the pressure’s off? Thus, you can at last be yourselves – both of you! Gone is the (self inflicted) need to pretend that you feel or want something different from what you do because you know it’s what the other wants and, if you actually had something special together, even though it wasn’t all each of you wanted, that part where you were great together can flourish and become wonderful.

Everyone’s different, of course, and so is every relationship, but aren’t our preconceptions and the conventions we have grown up with and acquired since, the real problem with many if not most relationships that don’t work out long term? Do we in fact just expect too damned much from others and even from life itself? Perhaps the perfect life – the “American dream” if you like (for my friends in the US) – is just an ideal that most of us will seek and not actually find. If you have found it, then good luck to you and my advice for what it’s worth is to hang onto it for dear life. Do, though, just take the time and trouble to “read between the lines” to make sure that your partner really does view your relationship in the same light, whatever he or she says – honesty cuts both ways!

😉

I Got To Wondering

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2011 by AF

That’s wondering, as distinct from wandering, which I also have a tendency to do, but then at my advanced age, what do you expect?

Anywaa-aay… I got to thinking about all the various conventions and attitudes by which we live – they are certainly many and varied around the world, but how do they develop? What first made people in parts of Asia start to believe that showing the soles of your feet was somehow “rude”? Or, come to that, why throwing a shoe (or was it shoes?) at the then President G. W. Bush of the USA was so insulting (apart from the possibility of hitting him on the head and knocking some sense into it). That is something that occurs all over the place, but it is much more an Arab (and perhaps Asian) thing than any other since it is apparently they who mostly tend to consider shoes as “dirty” or “unclean”.

I suppose, though, that the strangest and most wildly varying attitudes around the world are those that we have towards nudity and sex (you knew I’d get around to my favourite subject sooner or later, didn’t you?)…

In the so-called developed world, the UK is a bit on the puritanical side at times, though we seem fascinated by the sex lives of others, most notably celebrities. Nudity also seems to worry us too, but again not that of others – especially when it comes to pictures of pretty young women in newspapers like the Sun. The Germans will apparently, as someone once said to me, strip off anywhere and in front of anyone, though I can’t say that fills me with a huge amount of anticipation, with the notable exception of Heidi Klum and a few like her. The French? Who knows what the French really think about anything? The Latin countries, like Spain and Italy in particular seem to me to have a very healthy attitude to nudity and sex, neither of which usually phase them in any way and they are both usually regarded as part of life’s rich pattern – a nice and enjoyable part – and that sounds about right to me.

Arab countries and others who follow the Moslem faith are generally way out of date (to my way of thinking), but then so are most of their more rigid attitudes to women. Their often total ban on even a husband and wife showing affection towards each other in public seems to me to be simply archaic and, in truth, outright stupid. Again, though, that’s just my opinion and I confess that there’s not much that I properly understand about Islam – although what I do know does nothing to encourage me to study it further. Yet the fact is that many, if not all, of our ingrained attitudes that are not the result of simple superstition and myth probably have their root somewhere in one organised religion or another – and each to his own on that one! What people believe about their preferred deity is personal and none of my business… except…

Well… where do American attitudes to nudity and sex come from? It seems to me (quite possibly wrongly) that their approach to those subjects is chock full of contradictions. Their (laudable in my opinion) position on free speech and freedom of expression allows that almost anything goes and yet their underlying mind-set appears to be one that exhibits cultural insecurity in the extreme. There are (I understand) strict and precise rules about the amount of “butt crack” that can be shown along with gasps of shock-horror if a woman should go topless on a beach (I realise that some of these things may vary from state to state) and yet just about anything is seemingly for sale in nightclubs and strip joints, lap dancing clubs and so on. I mean, where does this dichotomy come from?

Sorry, but I really don’t get it! If you believe in a benign and loving deity, then surely you have to believe that sex was given to humanity for us all to enjoy, or it makes a total nonsense of your own beliefs. If you don’t believe, then what the heck’s your problem with what has clearly driven our very creation and further growth into the modern human race?

Anyone want to explain? 😉