Inappropriate Stock Photo Of The Week: More Unlikely Employees

It’s the Irish Times again, folks. I said last week I thought I might have a problem getting away from this particular publication when it came to candidates for this dubious gong. I wanted to be wrong.

I wasn’t.

This week’s gem comes from an article which claims to give us guidelines for introducing new techology to skeptical employees. Oh, my Blog.

Inappropriate Stock Photo Of The Week: More Unlikely Employees

I have a few alternative headlines for the Irish Times:

1. FIVE VICTIMS OF SERIAL ATTACKER ‘THUMB-BREAKER TOM’ DELIGHTED TO HAVE CASTS REMOVED

2. LANGUAGE LAB STUDENTS UNAWARE THEY ARE BEING EXPLOITED BY STOCK PHOTO AGENCY

3. SKEPTICAL EMPLOYEES IN CULT TURNAROUND SHOCKER!

Now, despite the obvious supremacy of the Irish Times when it comes to stock photo abuse, I have to give an honourable mention to that guru of sandalled culture and egalitarian vegetables, the Guardian, which posted this gem last week.

Inappropriate Stock Photo Of The Week: More Unlikely Employees

Amid all the trouble in the world, this poor attractive man has had THREE MANAGERS. THREE. I don’t know how he can go on. The trauma! The hopelessness! The need to hold one’s modelesque head in DESPAIR!

I dunno about you, but this worker does not look “frustrated” to me. He looks bloody inconsolable. Way to go, Guardian.

That’s it for this week. Please feel free to suggest your own captions at will.

What If Authors Behaved In Real Life Like They Behaved Online?

What If Authors Behaved In Real Life Like They Behaved Online?

So listen, kid. We’ve each written a book, see. Now you have to read all of them and tell us why we’re brilliant.

Come with me now on a journey to explore a side of the Internet which is still driving me batty. I know you don’t want to be driven batty, but let’s face it, if you wanted peace, or even sense, you wouldn’t be reading this blog in the first place.

Picture the scene. You’re at a party. You know nobody there, but you’ve been assured that it’s a friendly bunch. There will be no question of you flowering the walls all night on your tod. You get yourself a frothy pink drink, and are soon approached by a middle-aged man with childishly pink cheeks.

Middle-Aged Ruddy Man: Are you a writer?
You: Well, I suppose you could say that. I’ve–
MARM: I’m a writer. I’ve written 3 books about cats on drugs. I have many, many 5-star reviews on Amazon.
You: Erm, congratulations.
MARM: “This book was nice.”
You: Excuse me?
MARM: That was one of my 5-star reviews. Another one said, “LOL, so funny! Cats on drugs! LOL.”
You: Why are you speaking in italics?
MARM: Because it’s important to emphasise things, in case people are too stupid to realise my achievements by themselves. I use italics for my award-winning stuff too, especially awards nobody’s ever heard of. So, have you read books about cats on drugs?
You: I can’t say I have, no. I did once read a book about –
MARM: You should buy my book. It’s LOL. Here’s my card. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, and my blog, which is all about my fascinating writing process. Make sure you leave a 5-star review. Excuse me, I have to go.
You: —

 

You swallow. It appears you’re not sure of the etiquette. You put down your frothy pink drink and get a nuclear-green one instead. A placid-looking woman approaches, wearing a cardigan the same colour as your drink. Her voice seeps into your ear before growing in volume.

Becardiganned Woman: BUY MY BOOK ONLY 2.99 AMAZON 5-STAR REVIEWS BUY IT NOW!!! EXCLAMATION POINT. FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER

She moves on before you can timidly ask her to stop shouting. An unshaven young man wearing a ridiculous fedora bumps into you.

Indoor Hat Man: Hello. I have been published in the Remote East-Southwestern Weekly Literary Review Paragraph and had a movie treatment optioned by Small and Broke Student Productions, LLC. My flash fiction has been published on several unknown blogs and last year, I started my novel, which I aim to get published before I’m 30 because it’s been my dream to be a writer ever since I was 6 months old. Props. Have you heard of genre fiction?
You: Em, yes. I read a lot of books.
IHM: Well, I write that and several short stories which I hope to finish one day, and will publish shortly after. H/T my Mom.
You: That’s nice. I write myself, actually. I–
IHM: Gotta go. Bye.

There is a brackish taste in your mouth. The green drink isn’t helping. You move to another table, in search of water, behind a lady with extremely pale skin and a remarkably short neck. She turns.

What If Authors Behaved In Real Life Like They Behaved Online?Pale Skinned Lady: Good to see you here!
You: Thank you! Do you know where I could get some water?
PSL: You can read about water in my book, Tortured Texan Tornado. It’s about men who just can’t get enough of pale-skinned ladies with short necks. Smiley face.
You: Um, okay. How is that relevant to drinking water?
PSL: What’s your point? You followed me.
You: Not intentionally. And not to hear sloppy segues into even poorer marketing techniques.
PSL: But you’d love my book. It’s award-winning 5-star reviewed.
You: FOR THE LAST TIME, I DON’T WANT YOUR BOOK, I ONLY WANT WATER!!
PSL: How dare you threaten me! Soooo defensive. And soooo anti-author. I’m sick of trolls like you.
You: How was that trolling?
PSL: Help! Bully! Buy my book!

You flinch, but she leaves without further instructions. You decide to find a bathroom. On the way, you see a small crowd gathered around a stoop-backed man, speaking from a podium. You recognise him. He is an author whose first book, The Doomed Wild, was an international bestseller.

What If Authors Behaved In Real Life Like They Behaved Online?Bestselling Author: So I dressed as an endangered snow leopard, and hand-delivered my manuscript to an agent I just happened to hear was looking for a book with a strong snow leopard lead character. He rang me back the following morning with a 6-figure book deal, and the rest, as you know, is history.
[The crowd feverishly scribbles notes. One or two are drooling.]
Bestselling Author: Any questions?
Crowd Person 1: Yes. How do I get published?
Bestselling Author: Well, I’m not sure I can answer that. I can only tell you how I got published.
Crowd Person 2: But what does that mean for me? Like, if I do the same as you, and dress as a snow leopard, will I get published?
Bestselling Author: I couldn’t possibly tell you. But my difficult second novel, The Doomed Author, explores the theory that –
[The crowd sighs. They pocket their notebooks and move away. The Bestselling Author looks resigned, like this is nothing new.]

It is at this point that you decide to leave the party because you hear there’s a self-congratulatory shindig for bankers and politicians down the hall. You’ll feel safer there. At the very least, you’ll know where you stand.

(And before you go berserk, I know not all authors behave like this. But so many do, hence the rash of online articles on this subject lately. Now comment away.)

Inappropriate Stock Photo Of The Week

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to a new segment called “Inappropriate Stock Photo Of The Week”. This highly covetable award is given to any publication whose lazy and ham-handed use of irrelevant, terrible or inappropriate stock photos for illustration purposes deserves both recognition and a good kick up the arse.

This weeks’ award goes to the Irish Times, who for some unfathomable reason used the following photograph to illustrate an article about unhappy employees, and how effective bosses are supposed to take steps to address their issues.

Inappropriate Stock Photo of the Week Irish Times April 2015

Gosh. So they want me to pose like an office worker, but I’ve never worked in an office… what do people in offices DO all day? Wait – I know! They make paper planes!

This woman is neither unhappy, nor an employee. And workplace disruption is never caused by paper planes. Sort it out, newly-paywalled and chronically cash-poor Irish Times.

Child’s Play: 5 Ways To De-Stress Adults And Make Tons Of Money

This week’s post is brought to you by the letters “WTF” and the news that 5 out of the current Top Ten Amazon bestsellers are colouring books… for adults.

Now, I’ve nothing against colouring books for adults: in fact, I think they’re a bloody marvellous idea. I first heard of them when I came across an article about intricate colouring books as a form of mindfulness therapy. Fantastic, says I to meself: I’m going to get me some of those, just as soon as I stop panicking about important stuff such as squeaky shoes, and dying batteries.

No, the “WTF” part is purely because if so many people are buying these colouring books that they now form 50% of the Amazon Top Ten, I’m wondering what other tricks we’re missing.

Remember when the Harry Potter books were rebranded in adult book jackets, to save grown-up blushes on the train to work? There is a whole market out there for adult kidstuff. And it’s time it was properly opened up.

So with that in mind, here are 5 childish things which could be redesigned for adults, in order to de-stress our lives.

1. Professional Doll’s Houses

As a child, with our Barbies and Action Men, we played at being anorexic fashion victims and warmongers. Good times! Now that you’re an adult, don’t underestimate the value of role-play. All you need is a doll’s house which is a little more specialised.

Just think of the fun you can have with your Doll’s Office/Factory/Courtroom! Easily customisable to your own place of work, through any number of the 16,000 available miniature accessories, and the scene is set. Throw backstabber Bob under his own forklift! Hang evil Steve from the industrial ceiling by his tie! Smile, as horrible Milendra receives her second written warning from HR! Marvel, as Doll You makes smithereens of the terminally incompetent Boss Doll! Hurrah!

… and that’s a good night’s sleep for everyone. You can thank me later.

Child's Play: 5 Ways to De-Stress Adults And Make Tons Of Money

The full set can be yours for the bargain price of $199.99

2. DARK SIDE Fun Rainbow Crayons ™

It is an undisputed fact that nothing can ever be taken seriously if written in crayon. Adults therefore can engage in the ultimate stress relief, by writing down their greatest fears – and their very worst thoughts – in crayon.

This special edition comes complete with introductory Beige, Grey and Pastel colours, for those adults not yet ready to write “EVERYTHING IS HOPELESS” in shades of valentine red, kryptonite green and headachey yellow.

Child's Play: 5 Ways to De-Stress Adults And Make Tons Of Money

A Lego House, made from Lego (lego.com) (ref: Lego)

3. YourHome Lego ™

Special customised Lego kits, filled-to-order based on the size and colour of your own house. Allows adults to rebuild their own houses, brick by brick, thereby feeling like they have more invested in their homes than negative equity and a grim future.

A therapeutic process, which also provides life affirmation through the inevitable Instagramming and Pinteresting of every single step of the build.

4. Everything’s OK Dough™

Now, there’s nothing wrong with normal playdough. It’s easy to see how adults would get a kick out of making whatever they wanted out of it, be that a voodoo doll, stress ball, or life-sized sheep. Ordinary kid’s stuff might suffice, but we wouldn’t make any money out of that. So we’re going to bring out a new range of light-reflecting playdough in the nuanced shades of the Farrow & Ball paint colour card (which will therefore be subject to seasonal change, thereby increasing sales. Yay!).

Child's Play: 5 Ways To De-Stress Adults And Make Tons Of Money

Everything’s OK Dough is toxic, and therefore not suitable for children, but it’s beautiful, so who cares?

Again, there will be a rash of Instagram posts as people pretend that it only took them 30 minutes to make that near-perfect replica of a Bonsai Tree. And, even though it actually took them 5 hours every night for a whole week to make, they forgot all their troubles while doing it… so everybody wins.

5. Manicure-Friendly Finger Paints

Whoever invented the paintbrush was the greatest killjoy ever to grace adulthood. There is nothing better than mixing things with your hands, be that a cake; sausage stuffing; soil in your garden; or good old dollops of blue and yellow.

Anxious? Streak that red right through the purple. Sad? Liven up that murky green with a massive squeeze of white from the tube and get to work. And we’ll make besquillions by selling acrylic finger paints which are both textured, and guaranteed not to ruin your expensive acrylic manicure.

******

So, there you have it, folks. An accessible alternative to expensive therapy. ™

What would you like to come back from your childhood, to soothe your troubled and jaded mind?

* Note on Trademarks ™: I’m kidding. None of this stuff is trademarked, to my knowledge. But it should be, right?

5 Cheeky Tips For Bloggers Embarking On The A-Z Challenge

 

5 Cheeky Tips For Bloggers Embarking On The A-Z Challenge

I’ve got something to tell you… every day

April is a month when thousands of bloggers embark on what’s called the The A-Z Challenge: where people blog on 26 near-consecutive days (every day except Sundays) – on a theme of their choice. It’s a fantastic exercise. It can get the blog blood flowing, prodding bloggers either out of a pit, or into a routine; and it’s a sure-fire way to either increase your audience, or get one in the first place.

Well, I’m not doing it. You’ll thank me later, when you realise how much blogging content increases next month, that I’m not going to be adding to it. I’ll be slow blogging as usual, but reading and cheering all challenge participants loudly from the sidelines.

And yet I’m going to do one bolshie post on this whole lark anyway. How dare she make pronouncements when she’s not even participating, you cry!

Because it never stopped me before, that’s why.

And so, as I sharpen my mouse in readiness to click on the content of others, here are a few tips from one of the people who might be reading you in April.

5 Cheeky Tips For Bloggers Embarking On The A-Z Challenge

Sow in April. Reap at leisure (Warning: Crop Not As Shown)

1. Use the opportunity to do something you wouldn’t usually do.

You’ll get away with murder in the A-Z month. Try something new. For some of you, that will be starting your blog in the first place. For others, it could be switching from blogging about household tips and world peace, to posting pictures of drunk-looking snakes, or paying tribute to the greatest dark alleyways of your environs. This is your chance: do something mad.

2. Understand that this is an exercise for you, not other people.

The A-Z challenge is a brilliant way of getting more hits, simply by virtue of providing more content to click on. However, whether you’re new to blogging, a seasoned old sea-dog or someone who fell off the wagon some time ago, and has been wandering the information superhighway since in a daze, you should probably accept that even regular readers don’t have time to get through so much content. Relish each hit for its own sake, don’t compare yourself to what other bloggers are getting, and move on.

5 Cheeky Tips For Bloggers Embarking On The A-Z Challenge

GoshDARNIT. Day 6, and I’ve already run out of “Things To Do With Unwanted Large Diamonds”

3. Pick a theme which at least has room to evolve.

It’s all very well picking “The 25 Things I Love Best About Bellybuttons…and 1 Thing I Adore About Earwax” as your theme, but if you run out of things you love about your appendages by the 9th of April, it’s going to be a catastrophe on the scale of that incident with the gerbil and the exhaust pipe.
[The solution is not necessarily having everything pre-written by April 1st either, because that doesn’t leave much room for engagement with your readers. And we can tell.]

4. Don’t blog about blogging (she says without the tiniest hint of irony)

Posts which start off with “well, it’s Day 14 and I’m still here” – “So, it’s Day 20 and I’m back even though I don’t have much to say” – or pretty much anything which starts off with purposeless interjections are going to lose me faster than an infant’s socks. Sorry.

5. Find some blogging buddies, and cheerlead their A-Z efforts in April.

Look up the list of bloggers doing the challenge, and call round. If you stop by someone else’s blog, they’ll come back and visit you too. It’s not rocket science. But it is a valuable window to have a little trawl on the Interweb and see if anything takes your fancy. This is your best chance to interact and discover; don’t squander it. And be bloody nice, or I’ll send the boys round.

 

And so, good luck to all participants: particularly the ones I know personally, because I’m a total snob like that. Go get ’em folks, and enjoy yourselves!

Dublin Literature Festivals: This Town Ain’t Big Enough For…. Any Of Them

Dublin Literature Festivals: This Town Ain't Big Enough For... Any Of Them

Literary Ireland. If Dublin’s the shoulders, who’s the arse?

Festivals are fabulous. In Ireland, we have 143 of them every week.

Some of them are small, such as the little-known Toenail Clipping Festival, which takes place in a short field in Leitrim on the first Friday of February at 11 o’clock.

Some are larger, such as the annual feast of St. Patrick, which has now managed to stretch to 2 days either side of the 17th of March each year, kick-starts the tourist season, tells the country to wake the feck up, and causes the island of Ireland to sink just a little into the sea as 16 million tourists arrive to paint odd things on their faces and drink more than the rest of the country does in a year.

Suffice to say there are so many festivals, new and long-established, that some of them are struggling to stand out amongst the crowd.

Book Wars

There are now 5  sizeable literary festivals in Dublin alone, all just a bit too similar and vying for space.

Dublin Literature Festivals: This Town Ain't Big Enough For... Any Of Them

The Dublin Writers Festival (DWF), which in 2014 celebrated its 16th year, must have been pretty hacked off at the Dublin Book Festival (DBF) coming along in 2005, surely trying to steal its thunder.

God only knows what either of them thought of the Mountains To Sea (MTS) book festival, which founded itself in 2009 in Dun Laoghaire, a southern administrative sub-division of County Dublin which often behaves like it would like independence.

And then came the Dalkey Book Festival, which although technically in the same administrative district as Mountains To Sea, decided it needed its own book festival in 2010, seemingly because at least 2 writers (and Bono) were living in its picturesque environs.

[Sadly, Dalkey’s greatest ever literary resident, the late great Maeve Binchy, is no longer with us. I would have no objections to an entire literary festival for Maeve’s body of work alone. People could eat in a pop-up Quentins, go to ‘50s and ‘60s-themed parties and take tours into the city centre on buses, joyfully transcribing the conversations of the charmingly ordinary folks around them. Now that would be a book festival worth going to.]

By 2012, it was obvious that Dublin didn’t have enough book festivals, so the Red Line Book Festival was set up by South Dublin County Libraries, in several different places so that they couldn’t be accused of being locationist (unless you live on the Northside).

By 2014, it must have been ugly. Picture the scene.

Dublin. An alleyway. Dusk. Rival gangs are patrolling the streets, looking for punters.

Dublin Book Festival: Get out of my way!

Dublin Writers Festival: No, you back off! You wouldn’t be here at all if not for us. We were here first.

DBF: That’s disingenuous.

DWF: Ooh! Big word. Did you look it up in a book? We write them, you know.

DBF: Okay, then: shitebucket. How’s that for a big word?

DWF: Ssssh! It’s Mountains To Sea!

Mountains To Sea: Like, hellllooooo.

DWF: Oh, for feck’s sake.

MTS: I’ve got some, like, reallllly cooooool stuff this year; it’s like, amahaaaayzing.

DBF [to DWF]: Do you want to deck him, or will I?

Dalkey: Hi Guys! OMG, soooo good to see you. Did you hear who we got this year?

DBF: No, of course we didn’t. Nobody ever does.

DWF: Hey – who’s this coming now? He’s all over the place.

Red Line: Howzitgoin’.

DBF: Ah here, you’re just taking the piss.

DWF: Screw you guys. I’m off to change my name. I’m going global, and you lot can all shag off.

MTS [to Dalkey]: Can he do that?

Dalkey: How should I know? I don’t even know what I’m doing.

***

With so many players on such a teeny tiny pitch, it became necessary to change the game. Which is exactly what two of them did.

So, What’s The Scene in 2015?

Mountains to Sea brought itself forward from September to March – nothing like being the first to kick-start the season. Getting in right after Paddy’s Day is a gutsy move.

But not half as gutsy as May’s Dublin Writer’s Festival, which has only gone and changed its name to the International Literature Festival Dublin (ILF Dublin, if you please). Just like the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival before it (JDIFF, it insists), it must believe that the solution to overpopulation is emigration: or at least in this case, staying where you are, but pretending you’re abroad.

And yet, there must still be room for an International Book Festival of Dublin and the Dublin International Literary Festival of Um, Literature. Does this remind anyone else of the Judean People’s Front? No? The People’s Front Of Judea, then?

Dublin Literature Festivals: This Town Ain't Big Enough For... Any Of Them

Of course we, as a population of festival-goers, ticket-buyers, course bookers and merchandise collectors, could fight back by arranging a big Dublin Festival of NOTHING.

This will be an opportunity for Irish people to go nowhere while nothing is happening, nothing is celebrated, and nobody cares. Mind you, if it proves so popular that a rival Dublin Nihilist’s Festival arrives on the scene, there’s going to be a LOT of negative energy.

What’s going on in your neck of the woods?

Why I’d Be Really Crap At Having An Affair

I’m trying to carry on three fairly intense relationships at the moment. Simultaneously. And it’s no fun, let me tell you. I don’t know how some reprobates can do it with ease. I think it’s way too much pressure, trying to do right by more than 1 loved one at the same time, and still have time to wash socks. Something’s got to give; and let’s face it, it’s never the socks.

To date, I’ve completed three novels, and each is now being as demanding as the other. I’m supposed to spend this year submitting the bejesus out of them, until I’ve exhausted every last option, before I even think about writing another one.

But I’ve been having some fairly hairy conversations with them of late.

First Novel: Hey. Psssst. Tara. Over here. C’mere ’til I tell you something.

Tara: Not now, First Novel. I’m still trying to fix the closing chapter on Third Novel and finish its synopsis, which is a pain in the arse.

Third Novel: Hey! You keep pinning everything on me, but I’ve been doing my best.

Tara: I know you have, love. It’s just that your last chapter absolutely sucks.

Third Novel: And whose fault is that?

Why I'd Be Really Crap At Having An Affair

Pick a random thought, and have a fight with it

First Novel: Stop hogging all the airtime, Third Novel. Shuddup. Listen, Tara. You need to send me out. Haven’t I already done right by you? You got me professionally edited. I did well in competition.

Tara: I know, I know. It’s just that you’re so – I dunno – 2010, or something. Can’t you try to be a bit more relevant?

First Novel: [sniffs] Who wrote the recession into me?

Tara: Yeah. Sorry about that.

Second Novel: Oi! Tara baby! Don’t listen to them. Look, you know I’m your best bet at that competition next week. Hands down. You should be concentrating on me.

Tara: Yeah, I do know that. But I don’t have the time to concentrate on you. You’ll have to wait your turn like everyone else.

Second Novel: Don’t you dare. I’ve been waiting patiently for 2 years now. All we have to do is lose weight around my middle, plug that gaping plot hole in Chapter 48, and I’m your ticket to greatness.

First Novel: No, I am!

Third Novel: Screw you!

Tara: Would you all stop shouting at me! I can’t do 3 submissions in one week.

First, Second and Third Novels [in unison]: COURSE YOU CAN, TARA! LOVE YOU TARA! WE WANT YOU TARA!

Tara: Oh, for God’s sake. What a load of sycophantic bollix. I have to go now. I have socks to wash.

So that’s life at the moment. A catfight between me and, well, myself, and that’s not counting the day job, which always wins.

But the novels are getting really whiny. Cheesed off with being juggled, picked up, put down again, and not even being given a nice satiny piece of underwear to show for it.

Who else is juggling out there? Is any of your work fighting back?