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Counting down the days… September 6, 2010

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It is now less than two months until November. Which means it is time to start getting into nanowrimo mode.

Watch this space for updates…

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Is there a man on the moon?* July 20, 2010

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Man on the moon

With a name like moonblue, how could I not mention the fact that today is the anniversary of the first landing on the moon. On 20 July 1969 there were in fact two men on the moon – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (oops, nearly wrote Buzz Lightyear. Guess who watched Toy Story 3 last week).  And floating in space, poor Michael Collins who travelled all that way and then had to stay in the car.

* A note on the title of this post for non-South African readers, and most likely, South African readers born after that famous day, the title comes from the song, Man on the Moon, by Ballyhoo. A song which has been stuck in my head all day, thanks to the djs on Algoa FM who played a series of moon related songs this morning.

Can you hear it? June 29, 2010

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No, this is not a reference to the vuvuzela chorus which is accompanying the Soccer World Cup. You would be hard-pressed to avoid those delicate tones anywhere in the country. As the playwright Mike van Graan noted in his play Bafana Republic : One man, one note.

But I am thinking about the World Cup. Again, it would be quite hard to avoid it in South Africa. Soccer fever has taken hold and it is difficult to talk about much else at the moment.

This world cup started off with a music concert, featuring top local acts such as Freshlyground, The Parlotones, Lira, Vusi Mahlasela and others, as well as international performers like Shakira, The Black Eyed Peas, John Legend, and of course, K’naan. While the official theme song might be Waka Waka by Shakira and Freshlyground, the song that everyone seems to be singing along to is K’naan’s Wavin’ Flag.

In the run-up to the world cup, several radio stations announced that they would be playing on African music for the month of the event. I thought that was a wonderful idea. How better to introduce the foreign visitors to the country than through its music. And to encourage the wave of “proudly South African” emotion.

Sadly, I scrolled down on the online article announcing this news. I really should not read the comments on newspapers, they usually just make me angry or irritated. Or depressed at the prejudice and stupidity of so many people. Needless to say there was a chorus of horror at being forced to listen to local music. What got me, apart from the negativity, was the automatic assumption that South African music would be bad.

Which made me wonder how often they listened to the radio. South African musicians are producing wonderful material. I will often be listening and enjoying a new song, and then find out it was a South African artists. Just this Saturday I was listening to the Top 20 on my local radio station and there were four or five South African singers represented.

So, as part of my world cup festivities, and proudly South African fervour, I decided to only listen to South African music for the month of soccer. Admittedly I have been watching tv more than listening to music (you know, that soccer they keep showing:) but when my cd player goes on, it is a local cd spinning inside.

The Parlotones and Freshlyground feature quite strongly in the line-up, along with Steve Newman, Tony Cox and Johnny Clegg. My most recent acquisitions are a cd by the Soweto String Quartet, which I am really loving, and a cd by the Boulevard Harmonists, bought at their show at the arts festival.

And of course, every time a certain cold drink advert comes on I launch into a song about flag waving. Oh oh oh oh….

So what is your soccer soundtrack?

Daily Dose of Sunshine May 18, 2010

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I walk to work. It is something I quite enjoy, particularly the homeward journey as it gives me a chance to clear my head and stretch my legs. The trip to work is a bit harder. Not only is it too early in the morning for me, but most of the way is uphill.

By the time I reach the top of the appropriately named Hill Street I need to stop for a minute to catch my breath. This also gives me a chance to read the board giving the headline for a certain daily newspaper. I have to admit that I have never read this paper, but if the headlines – and its reputation – are anything to go by it specialises in tabloid style sensationalism. (Which is why I will not mention the name, I would hate to get sued, or feature in one of their articles:)

I love reading the headlines. They get my day off to a good start. Everyone needs a daily dose of surrealism in order to maintain a sense of reality. Well, that is my opinion anyway. I am able to amuse myself for the rest of the walk wondering what the often cryptic headline actually means. Because so many of the headlines are bizarre, even when I actually know what it refers to, my imagination supplies much more interesting stories.

For example a recent headline roared: Reggae Test for Bafana. I had happened to watch the news on TV the previous evening so knew that the national soccer team had a match against Jamaica. But I rather preferred the immediate mental image of the soccer players in dreads having to sing good reggae before they were allowed on the team.

Some recent gems have included – Taxi boss crashes into himself – Gogo’s leave evil village – Win a taxi worth R300 000 – Death for breakfast.  And my personal favourite which claimed: Chicken bites cooks. That one almost made me buy the paper.

I am quite tempted to use these headlines as writing prompts and suspect they could lead to some very interesting, if slightly strange, short stories. Or even better, my next nanowrimo novel could be based on the daily headline.  I can just imagine what I would end up with.  Watch this space in November and see what the headlines have to say…

New Year Resolutions January 13, 2010

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Every year I make long lists of all the things I am going to do better, the writing I am going to do, the areas where I intend to improve.

On January 1 I was journalling and realised that I started this book on 1st January the previous year. I read over my list of resolutions and goals for the year. It was a rather depressing moment as I realised that I could simply transfer the list to this year with very few changes.

So, instead of setting myself up for disappointment or getting caught up in legalistic lists and impossible goals I will set a very simple goal for the year ahead:

To read, write and pray every day. And to do something social, something spiritual and something creative every week.

Happy New Year December 31, 2009

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2009 was not a very good year for me. Too much sadness and death. I am hoping that 2010 is better. And if the adverts on tv and radio are to be believed it is going to be an ayoba year (regardless of one’s opinion of the small sporting event taking place in South Africa next year, we will all be learning a new soccer lingo).

I am taking it as a good sign that the new year starts with a blue moon. With my username how could I not like that:). Apparently a blue moon at new year happens every 19 years. So if you are staying up to see in the new year, take the time to see the full moon.

And however you celebrate the start of the new year, please do it safely.

Nano News November 23, 2009

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As you might have noticed, there have not been any entries here this month.  So much for my grand plans to post daily updates of my nanowrimo progress.

Yesterday I reached 30 000 words. I am still behind, but if I can manage to write 3000 words every day I should finish in time. This would be good.

But even if I don’t reach the magical 50 000 words target, I will have a fat manuscript to work on. I have been carrying this story around in my head for many months, some parts of it for several years. Despite all my good intentions to write it down, something always gets in the way.

Which is where nanowrimo becomes so powerful. I have a month to be a novelist, to focus on my writing, to write furiously – and really fast. To get rid of my inner editor and stop worrying about wether what I am writing is good enough. If I wrote something, that is good.

And surprisingly good stuff appears, in amongst some very strange sections and several pages of writing so bad it would make me weep, were it not for being nanowrimo when quantity is so much more important than quality. If I had the luxury of long periods to think, to ponder the plot, I would become frustrated and irritated with plot and characters. But in the pressure cooker environment I can’t stop, or leave it until I feel like writing, or feel particularly inspired. Instead I just have to sit down and write. Which is when the writing starts to take over and things get really interesting.

Who knows what will happen in the next 20 000 words. I certainly don’t. But I am looking forward to finding out.

Shelf reading October 5, 2009

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Spring is in the air. So I find myself drawn to springcleaning. I have all sorts of good intentions about tidying my home, organising my life. There are cupboards to sort, piles of paper to deal with. But what have I spent the last few evenings doing – rearranging my bookshelves.

Certainly not the most urgent of tasks, which leads me to suspect a certain amount of work avoidance behaviour. But at least I am doing something, and with any luck after a few days of cleaning and sorting I will develop a momentum and move on to less interesting areas. Like sorting the sock draw.

Because I would much rather be messing around with books than actually working. When I was studying my shelves got sorted every year but since then the poor books have been confined to the same spot, merely moving around when read, or to make space for new arrivals. So a change was needed. Not to mention a good dusting and a bit of weeding.

Less urgent, but more interesting, was rearranging the shelves. This is not a small task as there are rather a lot of them. Some people decorate their walls with pictures. I use bookshelves. And am rather enjoying a change of scenery, seeing different covers in the most visible areas.

The old order was by genre (roughly). Science fiction on one shelf, poetry on another. Contemporary literature in one corner, classics in another, with spaces for history, criticism, general fiction, South African literature and so on. This was a useful arrangement in that it showed where the collection was growing but sometimes it could be tricky when books fit into multiple categories. Where would I put South African science fiction for teenagers? And something had to be done about the piles of newer books needing to find a space.

I am now, slowly, putting my books into alphabetical order. More or less. I have not bothered to sort out within each letter. I rather like the serendipity of mixing genres, of browsing through the shelf and finding a thriller hiding behind an autobiography. Or seeing very different authors sharing space, and imagining the conversations going on behind my back. So J. M. Coetzee sits with Angela Carter and Geoffrey Chaucer, as Michael Crichton exchanges stories with Michael Cope and Wendy Cope listens in.

The reason why it is a slow job has less to do with the amount of books, and more with the person doing the sorting. I keep getting distracted and find myself reading more than shelving as I am reminded of old favourites to be reread, of books still unread, waiting to join the conversation.

Moonblue’s Bookshelf October 5, 2009

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Hello world! October 2, 2009

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Moonblue enters the world of blogging!

I already hang out at bookcrossing.com and nanowrimo.org, two wonderful sites for readers and writers. This blog is a space for me to share thoughts on books, on writing, on the wonder of words.

Thanks for joining me.