Tag Archives: humour

The Modern Rap Fan’s Guide to Rhyming

I have a minor obsession with poetic techniques, rhyme schemes and suchlike. I also love wordplay. This gives me a whole new level of joy when listening to rap music. I’m always like, ‘Fierce internal rhymes’ and ‘Did you hear the enjambment on that?!’ The fun never ends in my house. This is my quick guide to poetic techniques that are in vogue in the educational medium we call hip hop music. You’re welcome. drake

  1. The Drake: Actually reputedly invented by Big Sean (who is actually medium sized for an adult human), the technique is to throw something on the end to be the rhyming word or phrase – a word that isn’t integrated into the previous sentence. See ‘Forever‘:
    She insists she got more class, we know
    Swimming in the money, come and find me, Nemo
    This makes every line a punchline; it can be witty, irreverent, and is a good way to slip in a topical reference (perhaps to a clown-fish-based Disney film).  Kanye-Creative-Genius
  2. The Kanye: The key is to find as many words as possible that rhyme with your own name and insert them as end rhymes in an A-A rhyme scheme. See ‘Famous‘:
    For all the girls that got d*** from Kanye West
    If you see ’em in the streets give ’em Kanye’s best
    Well I’m Kanye impressed. This technique is self-referential, perhaps self-mocking, and a way to marry braggadocio and punning in a meta society. Also, it’s an entertaining way to practise rhyming – look up your own name in a rhyming dictionary and go to town.
    Gambino
  3. The Gambino: This chap did not invent the rhetorical question; he’s not even the most famous proponent e.g. What’s a goon to a goblin? or Can I get an encore? However he often combines the rhetorical question with anaphora, the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses, to have a cumulative, powerful effect: See ‘Heartbeat‘:
    Are we dating? Are we f****ing?
    Are we best friends? Are we something…
    See also ‘Bonfire‘:
    You want to see my girl? I ain’t that dumb.
    You want to see
    my girl? Check Maxim.
    And ‘III. Telegraph Ave.‘: 
    Can we just roll with the feeling?
    Can we just roll for a minute?
    Choose a start to a question then vary the ending to have a hectoring, bold effect.
    nicki-minaj-whats-good_nu0iffukzj1qzwh14o1_500
  4. The Minaj: Go full meta and just announce what rhyming couplet you’re aiming for and hope the populous are happy to go along with it. See ‘Only‘:
    My man full, he just ate, I don’t duck nobody but tape
    Yeah, that was a set up for a punchline on duct tape
    She’s actually great at assonance (no pun intended), consonance and internal rhymes, but her ‘I’m going to include something about this because it rhymes with this’ speaks to what we all know poetry really is.
    kendrick
  5. The Kendrick: Mix every linguistic technique with extraordinary realism, conscience and a bit of free jazz and be king of everything.

Of course these clever souls use a vast array of techniques; I’ve just picked out a few that I think you should all try to employ in the rhymes (or poems or novels) you’re secretly writing in your bedrooms. You know who you are.

Are there any other rap or poetic techniques that are tickling your brainboxes at the moment? Share please!

 

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What I Read on My Holiday

I’ve been away for a little while, holidaying here:DSCN0170

When I wasn’t promenading around the coast, I was sitting in a window seat, overlooking the sea, reading books, and relaxing like a sloth on a bank holiday. I generally like to read humour when I’m on vacation to sustain my good mood. Here’s what I read:

  • Queen Camilla by Sue Townsend is a witty, often silly sequel to The Queen and I. It imagines an inept republic wherein the Queen and her family are exiled to a rundown council estate. In this installment the opposition wants to reinstate the monarchy, but will the British public go for a royal family where Camilla is Queen? Another claimant to the throne also appears, Graham the board game enthusiast, putting a nerdy spanner in the proverbial works. Delightfully, Townsend also gives character and subplot to the royals’ beloved corgis and the local dogs, planning an uprising of their own. It’s proper fun holiday read.
  • A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French was unique in that I could take or leave the plot, but the characters were pure excellence. Chapters are told in turn by Dora, a facebook-obsessed, OMG-Mum-you’re-so-embarassing kind of teenager; Oscar, her younger brother, who emulates Oscar Wilde in everything from his speech to his cravat; Mo, their mother, a child psychologist who fails to apply the theory to her own kids, and is having a bit of a mid-life moment; and once, powerfully, Husband, who had been a background character for most of the novel. Oscar is undoubtedly my favourite. French has a fabulous talent for voice and comic timing.
  • Divergent, Insurgent and Allegiant by Veronica Roth I started reading the first as it’s the book the young ‘uns chose for the library teen book club. It’s not that they need me to talk much (I’m just the moderator/biscuit provider) but I prefer to have read it so I can nod along and ask the occasional discussion point. I think it’s an excellent YA book club choice as there’s plenty to talk about: Society has been divided based on personality types – so there’s psychology, politics, nature vs nurture, government control, family or group allegiance and all sorts of themes. By the end of the first I needed to know what happened next, hence the other two. Has anyone seen the film? Worth a watch?

What do you think of my holiday reads? What do you read on holiday? Comments warmly welcomed.

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Your Next Favourite Series is…

Trainee Superhero! It’s like a funnier Ender’s Game, but in better outfits. It’s like a gender-balanced Avengers, but with more realism. It’s a superhero tale, but utterly original. My favourite thing about it is the names: The trainer’s superhero name is ‘Past Prime’!

Here’s the blurb of Book One (which seems to currently be free to you Kindle folk):

traineeI was five when the alien saucers first attacked Earth.
They tore up mountains and cities for reasons that we still don’t understand, killing millions of innocents. There was nothing our military could do to break the aliens’ shields, and we thought it was the end for Earth. The superheroes saved us, fighting back using technology stolen from the saucers. The superheroes are the thin shield that stands between humanity and Armageddon, but it’s dangerous work and many of the brave souls who fly out do not return.
I was chosen to be a superhero when I was seventeen. It’s not everything I had expected: my heroes hate me, my trainers want me dead and my team are misfits and rebels with dark pasts.
But none of that matters. I may only be a trainee superhero, but this my chance to get my revenge.
Earth needs me, so I’m going to end this year in a cape or a coffin.

Book Two is out as well and I’m waiting eagerly for the next installment. Download it and enjoy!

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The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde

Well of Lost PlotsIn the third instalment of this comical series, Thursday Next needs a rest, so she signs up for a Character Exchange inside the Well of Lost Plots, where unpublished books reside. I was utterly delighted with that premise alone – who hasn’t day-dreamed about living inside a book? Unfortunately, the book Thursday chooses may well be scrapped for parts, her memory is being slowly eroded and a murderer is taking down fellow Jurisfiction agents (the police of the book world).

This is a book for keen readers and writers; the literary in-jokes and puns are a joy. I don’t want to ruin it by sharing too many, but the mispeling vyruses really tickled me, as did the fact that Godot seems incapable of showing up to a meeting on time, leaving everybody waiting. It’s eccentric, smart and chucklesome.

I have yet to read the rest in the series – I started in the middle as I was reliably informed that this is the best. Have you read it or any other Fforde novels? Leave me a comment below.

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Confessions of a Closet Groover

Today, dear reader, I’m going to tell you the secret of my (moderate) success. robot-dance-contest I’m not one to blow my own brass section, but I think I’m pretty OK at writing things. I got firsts in my dissertations and I have an ebook that sells relatively well (it’s half off at the moment – if you’re interested!). To get those results takes many hours of dedicated keyboard tapping. It can be really difficult to sit at a computer, focus and just keep typing interesting matter. The brain simply can’t deal with that level of constant concentration; that’s why I needed something else to do, for just a couple of minutes each hour: something completely different to free my thoughts, rest my eyes and avoid some sort of nasty repetitive strain issue. This is my secret weapon: The Three Minute Dance Break

"Guys? I thought you said you were all going to join in... well this is embarrassing.'

“Guys? I thought you said you were all going to join in… well this is embarrassing.’

Seriously, it works. For just three minutes every hour, stand up, do something that vaguely resembles a stretch you once saw someone do in a Fame parody, press play on your audio equipment and have a proper dance about. It relaxes your muscles, gives you a good stretch, stops you getting square eyes and allows your brain a rest ready for a new burst of creativity. This is probably best applied in the relative privacy of your own home; though come to think of it, in any library the people around will just assume that you’re the starting point of a Harlem Shake and feel obliged to disrobe atop the furniture to join in.

I know not everyone likes to freestyle so here’s my literary dancing suggestion: Dance like a mystery writer –  put in a twist at the end! 

It can be glorious for giving your brain the space to come up with new ideas – a great cure for writer’s block! For more well thought out tips on writer’s block, click here.

What do you think of The Three Minute Dance Break? Give it a try! I hear all the writers are doing it! 

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The Shakespeare Interpretations I’d Like to See

Happy Shakespeare’s birthday everyone!

I have been to see two productions of Romeo and Juliet in my time. The first was the Royal Shakespeare Company’s interpretation, romeo-and-juliettransposing this great love story to Fascist Italy. It was a moving production in black, grey, white and fierce red, with prison-like sets and breath-taking performances. The second was in a park of a summer’s evening, by a less-renowned organisation, which consisted of about four people trying to play all the parts. Much of the dialogue was shouted from behind curtains as actors frantically transformed from Tybalt to Lady Capulet. One of these productions moved me to tears, at the other, I had to work very hard not to laugh during the tomb scene. My point is, it’s not just the bard’s words that matter, but the whole production. Here are some I’d buy a front row seat in the circle for. 

Julius Caesar as played by the coalition government: ‘Et tu, Clegg?’

A gender reversed production of The Taming of the Shrew, wherein women would conspire to train men like ‘falcon(s)’ and say such questionable things as  ‘[I] am born to tame you’, and ‘Thy [wife] is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper, Thy head, thy sovereign’ while forcing their menfolk not to eat or sleep for several days. Let’s see how it looks when the silken Elizabethan shoe is on the other foot. 

midsummer-nights-dream-shakes-puckA Midsummer Night’s Dream should become A Midsomer Night’s Dream, set in the fictional, picturesque murder capital of England. It makes Puck lurking in the bushes just that little bit more sinister. Just imagine this on ITV1 of a Tuesday:

‘Thus I die. Thus, thus, thus.
Now I am dead,
Now I am fled,
My soul is in the sky.
Tongue, lose thy light.
Moon take thy flight.
Now die, die, die, die.’

A band of people in a remote location who must complete tasks to rejoin civilisation? It’s either The Tempest or ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’. I propose adding Ant and/or Dec to the former or Sir Ian McKellen to the latter, I don’t mind which. ‘Hell is empty and all the devils are here,’ again, really could apply to either.  

One more: Hamlet in Space. Think about it. 

Have you seen any memorable Shakespeare plays? What version would you like to see? Tell me in the comments! 

As Shakespeare said, please like and share this post – thanks! 

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Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart

Warning: The following review lovingly parodies the style of Miranda (I suggest you do a quick YouTube if that means nothing toIs-it-just-me-hardback-jacket1 you, or just continue with the prior knowledge that you are about to be discombobulated). Please note I don’t usually speak/write like this (well not very much like this).

Well a hello to you, my dear reader chum. Are we all sitting comfortably, ready for une petite book review-let? Previously in my life I did some amusingly kooky things and then read a book by a comedian called Miranda Hart. She has a sitcom that I watched all at once when I was poorly one day. I rather like it. ‘Is It Just Me?’ runs through a plethora (good word, plethora) of lifestyle issues and potential embarrassing scenarios. Much of the book is written as a conversation between Miranda and her eighteen year old self, so, given the parallel style that I’m going for, I’m going to tell my eighteen year old self about this book. 

Hello little Eve, what a delight to see you in all your preppy blondeness, how’s things? 

Oh. My. God. You’re me from the future! What are you here to tell me? Am I in grave danger? Do I have to kill and/or save Sarah Connor? 

Erm, no I’m just here to tell you about a book you’re going to read in the future. It’s quite funny, a really good bit of light reading. The chapters are really quick to dip into and they’re themed around the hazards and awkwardness of adult life, like hobbies, beauty, dating, exercise…

You’re from the future, and you’re going to tell me about some TV tie-in stocking filler? How did you get here anyway? Did you pimp a Delorean? Have you got a TARDIS?

You watch too much TV. I’m sorry to disappoint, but this is merely a convenient narrative device. 

Oh, lame. And I bet you watch too much TV too.

Point taken. Anyway, sit back and relax, little E, for now I shall tell you what I like and disliked about this book. 

Things I Thought Were Charming and Utterly Enjoyable, Please and Thank You Very Much, About Miranda Hart’s Gleeful Bookington

  1. The way she uses lists. There was a good amount of lists and they’re great for a quick skip through in a tea break. 
  2. The way she gives her lists over-long titles. Such fun.
  3. It ends really quite touchingly and inspiringly on a ‘follow your dreams’ sort of note.

Things I Enjoyed a Little Less Than I’d Enjoy a Jolly Ramble in the Home Counties Followed by a Pack of Jammie Dodgers and a Nice Sit Down 

  1. She abbreviates her term of endearment ‘My dear reader chum’ to MDRC, which my brain refused to read as anything other than ‘My Democratic Republic of Congo’.
  2. Eight pages are the transcript of an imagined conversation WITH HER DOG. (Caps for emphasis, classic Miranda style.)
  3. Some of the points were a bit generic and some of the anecdotes have been re-enacted in the sitcom, which I am already well acquainted with. New content much preferred, please and thank you. 

Is that it now, old Eve? Can you stop yabbering on about some book and tell me a bit about our future? What do we do? Has the five year plan been achieved with the degree and the job? 

Five year plan? My goodness, you’re like a nerdy Stalin. I think if I told you it might ruin things, butterfly effect and all, and besides, things work out. 

Well if you’re just going to be all mysterious, can you leave me alone so I can get on with my revision? 

That’s one thing, I will say – you should probably chill out – don’t work so hard! 

If I don’t work this hard, how would you be where we are today? 

What – drinking a cup of tea and amusing myself by writing fripperations on the Internet? I think we’d be all right. Do put some effort in to English though, that one will come in handy. Nice pashmina by the way. 

You too. Laters. 

drink-umbrellaThat is another thing I wasn’t entirely keen on in the book. When you bring in a character from the past, there is a huge temptation to overdo the ‘isn’t modern technology hilarious, ridiculous and miraculous when you explain it to someone from the 1980s’ jokes; in the business we call it ‘defamiliarisation’. But in general, it was a bit of a laugh. My favourite sentence in it was, ‘why does a drink need an umbrella? It’s already wet!’ 

In this book, Miranda says she never thought she’d write one, because she’s ‘not much of a ‘words’ person’, but she’s managed to assemble a fair few pretty competently. 

That is all, cheery byes, much love and enthusiastic waving. 

Have you read it? Did you think it was splendorific? Tell me in the comments! 

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The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

The Hundred Year Old ManCurrently 6 in the best-sellers list, I am reliably informed by Amazon that it has been in their top 100 for 247 days. I think, therefore, it is safe to conclude that this book is a popular sensation, and it definitely deserves to be widely read.

Alan Karlsson climbs out of the (ground floor) window of his room at the old people’s home to avoid his hundredth birthday party, looking for one last adventure. He certainly finds action as he is chased down by a criminal gang and the police as he goes on the run with his newly acquired accomplices, including an over-educated hot dog stand owner and an elephant called Sonya. We are also told about Allan’s remarkable life so far. Spanning the twentieth century, he unwittingly influences history and manages to meet many of the most important historical figures. Using real, publicly known people in a novel is often a brilliant device – the author can satirise and subvert expectations, based on common perceptions. The writing is amusingly dead-pan and gets funnier as the book goes on.  

There will be innumerable reviews of this best-seller, so for a change, I’m going to answer some of the handily listed ‘Reading Group Discussion Questions’ from the back.

  1. What do you think are the central themes of the book?  Age, friendship, morality, international politics (and its frequent futility/mutability), identity.
  2. Why do you think the author chose to make the main character one hundred years old? To give him a unique perspective, an excusable amorality and to explore the changing century through a single perspective.
  3. Did you enjoy the use of humour? Which moments stood out to you? Very much so! Allan comforting the ten year old Kim Jong Il; when he recruited a spy by holding up a large poster; the spoilt batch of bibles (which had to be discarded because a mischievous type-setter wrote ‘and they all lived happily ever after’ at the end); Allan drinking Harry S. Truman under the table.
  4. Was the end satisfying? I didn’t like everything that happened at the end, though things are tied up successfully and the very last page is highly pleasing indeed.

All in all, a very entertaining book. Have you read it? What do you think of it? Do you have different answers to the above questions? Let me know in the comments! 

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