Echo the sound of silence

General Geekiness

So I’ve left She Thinks Too Much quiet again. A pity, really, but there have been some fun, exciting things brewing here.

Firstly, Far Off Places Issue II is underproduction and in my care! I’m again doing the layout (and some illustration, which is also part of a project a friend and I are working on). I’ll do a preview of my illustration when the ‘zine goes live. Also, if anyone is interested in reviewing it, email submissions[at]faroffplaces.org and I’ll send you the promo link.

Secondly, I started another blog! It’s called She Dresses. It’s a style blog for those transitioning from student life into the workplace (such as for internships, etc) and it will be updated at least once a week. There are only two posts at the moment, but I’ve got plenty to write about.

The Boston Marathon Bombings and Social Media

General Geekiness

Shortly before 3 on Monday, 15 April, I looked on Twitter. The BBC reported that there were two explosions at the Boston Marathon’s finish line. A quick Google search revealed nothing.

45 minutes later, my dad sent me a text message letting me know the same thing. Friends in Scotland started sending me messages, ‘Are you okay? You weren’t in Boston today, were you?’ Friends in the Boston area used Facebook to let their friends and family know that they were safe. It was a relief, the ability to look at a specific friend’s page and see the word ‘Safe’ as a status update.

The outpouring of support to the victims, to the first responders. The video of fans singing the national anthem at the Bruins game. Tears, relief, all present in the days immediately following the Marathon bombing. Steven Colbert’s hilarious and touching tribute. The words Boston Proud, Boston Strong.

When the FBI released the images of Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev on Thursday afternoon, within minutes their faces were plastered across Facebook. A friend shared a photo that a citizen photographer had taken that captured both of thems, crisp, clearer than the ones released by the officials.

Friday morning. I woke up before seven, having tossed and turned a bit. I grabbed my phone, and jumped on Facebook. My alma mater (a Boston college) had a post saying that the college was closed for the day. I learned about the assassination, the shoot out, the ensuing man hunt. The car and license plates. That Dzhokar Tsarnaev was hiding in a boat, on land, in Watertown (and the ensuing ‘I’m on a boat’ jokes). Most importantly, that my friends were okay.

Social media is a powerful, powerful tool, spreading stories of heroism, images of national security, and messages of hope (rather than kids asking for a puppy). Sadly, it took a tragedy to see just how positive, powerful and effective it is.

This is what social media is good for, the rapid sharing of information. People watching out for each other. It was embraced, not only by the common man and journos, but by the police, the feds.

Facebook gets a bad rap. There’s the narcissism, the ill-thought drunken photos, that friend who posts memes left, right and center. The images of the bombers spread quicker than any meme I’ve seen. It’s a positive use, a ‘keep your eye out.’ You can’t run for long when the entire nation knows your face, and as it has been made clear (by, naturally, memes and viral videos) that you don’t mess with Bostonians.

When you can’t find a gig shirt you like, design your own.

General Geekiness

(C) Bethany Wolfe 2012

When I was at the two Morrissey gigs last weekend, I saw plenty of Smiths and Morrissey shirts. I felt a bit out of place, wearing a teal shirt in Manchester and a black and white one in Edinburgh. A Morrissey gig is the one place that if you aren’t wearing a shirt or badge you are ‘that guy (or girl).’

In Manchester, I had my sketchbook, and spent the time before the gig drawing pictures. One t shirt I saw and liked was just his silhouette, filled with song lyrics. I liked the silhouette. Amy has a cool shirt with the gladioli (a favourite prop of Smiths-era Morrissey) and I thought I’d combine the two.

This is just the first draft, I’m hoping to smooth out his profile and fix the quiff a bit.

I really want to get this screen printed. I’ll have to play around with the placement. I’m thinking having it really large on a v-neck shirt.

Critiques?

My aMOZing Weekend

General Geekiness

Whilst queuing for Morrissey’s Manchester gig yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice that there was an open McDonald’s on the premises of the Manchester Evening News Arena. A bit strange, given that we were waiting to see Manchester’s most famous vegetarian.

“I’m not a veggie,” I said to my fellow adventurer/Morrissey fan Amy. “But I haven’t eaten meat in over 24 hours in preparation for my pilgrimage.”

Though I flippantly termed our trip to Manchester as a pilgrimage, in a sense, it was. Though Amy had been to Manchester before, it hadn’t been with a Smiths fan. We didn’t have much time in Manchester, arriving yesterday late morning and leaving first thing today. We did, however, have enough time to make a couple of important stops.

First on the list was the Salford Lads Club. The Lads Club is not, as I originally assumed, a strip club. Instead, it is a rec center, like the Boys and Girls Club.

The Salford Lads Club is about a 30 minute walk from the city centre, located in Salford. It’s down this row of little brick houses. Tucked just off of a main road, it’s one of those places you wouldn’t know was there if you weren’t looking for it.

Salford Lads Club has since cleaned up a bit since the famous photograph was taken. Throngs of fans go there each year, to take their photo like The Smiths, Amy and myself included.

(C) Bethany Wolfe 2012

Inside the Lads Club, there is a room dedicated to The Smiths. This could potentially be a bit overkill, but working in its favour was the small size of the room. It was a squash court, now a shrine to The Smiths. The entire room is covered with images of The Smiths, of fans standing outside the Club (I’m going to be sending the photograph of Amy and myself), of articles pertaining to the Smiths, paintings of Morrissey, and notes from devoted fans.

(C) Bethany Wolfe 2012

(C) Bethany Wolfe 2012

Being of an artsy bent, I left a note of my own–complete with a picture of Morrissey. My note is the yellow one with the drawing in the above picture. By no means my best picture of him, but pretty good for five minutes with a ballpoint pen! I would love to return in a few years and see if the note has been glued to the wall.

After leaving the Salford Lads Club, we wandered to the arena. Amy and I had floor tickets, so we wanted to make sure we were there early.

We weren’t in the first thirty, but were definitely in the first 100 people at the arena. We watched as more and more people piled in, complete with quiffed hair, Smiths or Morrissey shirts, big glasses. I looked rather out of place in my teal top and black cardigan, decidedly unhipster (or, at least, unlike the rest of the fans my age). Whilst waiting, the BBC interviewed a few people. I wasn’t, but I think I ended up in a few shots–I was drawing pictures of Morrissey to pass the time.

Finally, it was time to enter the arena, still a good hour and a half before the show was due to start. The excitement was palpable. I couldn’t help but jump up and down, shaking with enthusiasm.

When Morrissey arrived on stage, there was a great ‘rush and a push’ as what felt like the entire floor lunged to the stage. Everything I said about Balkanarama being the most insane concert situation I’ve been in has been taken back. Morrissey, playing in his home town, wins.

The floor was a hot, sweaty, undulating mass of bodies, of arms, of getting far too close to absolute strangers. Yet it was incredible. Everyone was there for Morrissey, everyone was (mostly) respectful, and it was mad. Though, as a very tiny girl, the second row probably wasn’t the best place for me to be, I’m rather bruised and battered and very thankful to still have some of my painkillers from my back injury!

Morrissey himself was on top form, physically a bit out of shape (the man’s 53 years old, we can cut him some slack), but his voice was just as powerful as when he was in The Smiths. Whilst he doesn’t bound around the stage anymore, his stage presence is dignified and commanding. There’s such passion in his singing.

I’m to see him again tomorrow night in Edinburgh. Am hoping to get front row this time. I do imagine that the crowd may be a bit more subdued than Manchester.

And as a final note…Morrissey biscuits at Salford Lads Club.

(C) Bethany Wolfe 2012

Appraising the Year to Date

General Geekiness

It’s March now. Beautiful, sunny March. My second semester is half finished, leaving me surprised, wishing I could turn back the months, to go back to December 30th, when I returned to Edinburgh, refreshed and ready to enjoy a short holiday before classes began again.

But now it’s March. The hectic part of my semester started last week, our Innovative Learning Week, where I learned how to do some minor hardware hacking and play with a nifty device called an Arduino. Then a PhD workshop (yes, I am planning on starting a PhD in either 2013 or 2014). After that, I locked myself in my building, coding my life away, taking breaks only to eat, sleep, and swing dance.