So this is the new year (resolutions of 2009) by Nox

What is a new year’s resolution? Why do people seem to make such a fuss over it? Moreover, how come the only time we ever hear about these resolutions besides at New Year’s is when they’re broken?


A New Year’s resolution is a goal a person sets for themselves, something they want to improve or achieve in the year, after reflecting on the previous year and realizing their mistakes, priorities, or what they would like to better in their lives or themselves. Usually, there are the generic ones such as cure cancer, bring world peace, stop world hunger, etc., but here at Two Beats Off we’re not trying to win a beauty pageant. Therefore, here are our New Year’s Resolutions!


My New Year’s resolutions are always completely and utterly ridiculous. Some of the ones I achieved last year were getting a better haircut and completing a Final Fantasy game. This year, I might be a little more serious though. This year, I aim to make sure this zine keeps going one way or another, because well… TBO is kinda cool. There’s the usual ‘get fit’ one, because no matter what, I’m always unhappy with my appearance. There’s a special condition for it – being female. I want to make sure I get into a good university, so actually studying would be a good one, instead of relying on just sheer luck and talent. I want to finish a novel this year, considering I have about three half finished ones on the go. And, because I can’t not make a geeky one, learn how to play Dungeons and Dragons properly!


I always find it difficult making resolutions, but here goes. This year, I want to start doing things again. I feel like I put things off too much and waste a lot of my time. I want to make good use of it. I want to look back and feel like I’ve achieved things. I’m also going to try be less of a commitmentphobe, and stop pushing people away because I’m scared of where it might lead. I don’t want to be a coward. Finally, I want to get a job, go to uni, and I want to start a band. Here’s to ’09, baby.


I have a few things I would like to do this year. Mainly, I plan to let go of one particular hopeless cause I have been clinging to for too long. On a different level, I’m going to try to be less introverted. I think I’ll take more chances. I decided I play it too safe and honestly, it gets quite boring. This year I would like to see Chicago, New York, and Denver. Also, I plan to be less of a heart breaker. It’s bad karma you know? Seriously though, I will be more cautious around others. Finally, a quick run down of lesser things: read a lot of books from my list, sing louder, write more, keep my straight A streak, keep up with my friends better, and hopefully get a baby turtle named Ringo.


fightclubsandwich was unavailable to comment at the time, so we’ve decided that we’re going to give her some. Whether she likes them or not. So, we reckon that she’ll want to start or join a punk rock knitting circle and make jumpers filled with revolutionary stitching, be able to co-ordinate better with Ripper when they go to gigs, start a band and write some kick ass fiction.


I’m not an advocate of New Year’s resolutions. I’ve always held the belief that if you really want to change yourself, you’ll change it now, and in my experience, most people manage to keep their resolutions for about five minutes. However, it’s nice to feel like you have a clean slate and a new year for a ‘new you’… or at least a ‘slightly improved you’.

Now, I am an angry person, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Henry Rollins makes a living out of being an angry person. Anger is a good thing, it’s a healthy thing. Good things have come from being angry; revolutions have changed the world we live in!

The problem is, too many of us – myself included – don’t use this energy and passion constructively as often as we could. It’s far too easy to sit around and complain at length and volume about something we disagree with, but not use the opportunity to change or better ourselves or the world around us.

So that’s my New Year’s resolution – not to be a less angry person, but a better angry person!

But, we decided to get you involved this time, and we’ve had some pretty cool responses. So, here’s our readers’ New Year’s resolutions!

Richard’s resolution:

My resolution is not to make a resolution. That way I can break it immediately and not have to worry about it, while having a laugh at all resolutions’ expense.

Hab’s resolution:

To learn to control my drink. I think a few people can vouch for that!

Alice’s resolution:

To bag myself a surfer. It could happen, you know.

Ben’s resolution:

1) Quit masturbating (I failed this one on the 2nd January)

2) Get the girl, get the job, get the car

3) Get fit for summer.

Hannah’s resolution:

Find a rich man at university… or marry Fernando Torres!

Mike’s resolution:

To quit that nasty oxygen habit I have… no, really, I want to learn to be more
understanding of people this year.

Heather’s resolution:

I want to learn to dance, because I’m a big fan of Strictly Come Dancing and I think it would be sweet if I could pull off some of those moves. Also, quitting smoking would be good.

James’ resolution:

Read more books. It might be a smart idea, considering I want to go to Oxford University!

Megan’s resolution:

I want to find myself a wench. It’s been too long since I had a girlfriend!

NaNoWriMo – Only The Insane Need Apply

It’s only the 4th of November, and already, NaNoWriMo has consumed my life.

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is an event thought up by Chris Baty in 1999. It takes place from the 1st to the 30th of November. Out of the huge amount of participants (number in total), three out of six TBO writers (myself, fightclubsandwich and ninthandash) are taking up the challenge this year, and we’re already finding it difficult to hit the daily average word count.

You might be thinking “Wait, word count? What does that mean?” It means that you have to complete a 50,000 word novel (although they never frown upon more) in thirty days.

And now you see why we’re crazy.

In order to hit the goal, you have to write 1667 words a day. It’s not impossible, and I’ve been hitting that target or beating it over the last couple of days. In fact, in order to catch up, I wrote over 3000 words yesterday. But, this took me around two to three hours when I was meant to be doing a history essay. I stayed glued to my pen and paper instead of talking to my friends during lunch time. I know that during the course of this month, I will be staying up late into the night in order to catch up. The novel doesn’t have to be perfect, which is something that many NaNo writers stress about. After all, you can call NaNoWriMo the first draft. You’ve then got time to perfect it and turn it into that best seller. In fact, many NaNo writers have used their NaNo novels and become best sellers in America.

So, all of the stress and tears and self-deprecation for what? The gratification of knowing that you’ve written a novel. The feeling of completing something on such a massive scale in such a short time span is incredible. I’ve written a novel once before, but over the course of around a year. I couldn’t believe how I had managed to put so much effort, sleepless nights and cups of coffee into a piece of work. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be exactly the same with NaNoWriMo. Except with a few more cups of coffee and sleepless nights.

We all have our vices. Mine aren’t sex, drugs and rock and roll, they’re video games, caffeine and literature. So for the next thirty days, goodbye, free time and hello, unpredictable characters, a faulty plot and overstyled dialogue. I can tell I’m going to love every minute of it.

Kraken by China Mieville (a review by Charlotte)

From the very first instant of encounter, from just its purple, tentacular beauty, Kraken is an intense experience. I fancy it would stand out even in the Vatican Library, the Library of Alexandria, and probably also the library of Lord Dream of the Endless. Find it, glowing, between the Necronomicon and the Gospel of Jesus. More concisely, it’s pretty. Pretty pretty pretty. Cold shower pretty.

The curtains rise with the spotlight on Billy Harrow, curator and specimen preserver extraordinaire, roped in to give a tour, the centrepiece of which is a magnificent Architeuthis, a giant squid. It is a remarkable specimen, most especially, as Billy, having worked on the process, knows, for its virtually flawless preservation. It also happens, contrary to all logic and laws of nature, to have utterly vanished.

For a chapter you get the sense of being in the middle of nothing more peculiar than a mystery thriller that is perhaps a shade eerier than it has any right to be, but before you start feeling secure, Kraken explodes out around our intrepid hero and starts to get seriously, well, weird. In short order, we meet a cast of thousands, ranging from supernatural crimelords, their hired brains and their hired brawn, to the Met’s supernatural squad, to a Marxist shabti who traded toiling for some forgotten pharaoh in the Field of Reeds for organising a union strike of magical assistants. Those that aren’t after the Architeuthis (and by extension, Billy) for whatever nefarious reason are nonetheless dragged into the squiddy fray.

The impossible squid/no squid is just the first of the breakneck inversions that riddle the plot and are played out by a cast of characters as myriad and varied as that of the real London. Inevitably, this means you’ll occasionally feel your favourite ideas and characters won’t have the playing time you would have liked. Above all, Officer Collingswood needs her own book. It could consist purely of her hurling ever more inventive profanities at the reader and I would still sell my brother to pay for it.

Another aspect of this is that the ending comes as something of an anticlimax, with all the grand plans failing and a simpler, barely foreshadowed course of action saving the day. While I was perverse enough to enjoy what happened, there was a definite blink-and-you-miss-it quality to proceedings. Really, though, I doubt anyone who gets within the last quarter of Kraken will still be reading for the conclusion – the journey there is too interesting. And more apocalypses need to be averted through wordplay and logical argument, if only to screw with the Hollywood special effects departments.

Plot and characterisation and all that shit aside, my favourite thing about Kraken is that China Miéville is the biggest fanboy of all time. The very words bubble with superhuman enthusiasm, in their Latinate polysyllabicism, their Hellenic technicality, their Anglo-Saxon bluntness that comes both as gallows humour and a punch to the guts. In practice, those who go into raptures over the man’s vocabulary are matched by those who just wish he’d get to the bloody point, but damn it’s a vocabulary.

The core of the novel is a spirit of I Think This Is Cool, Let Me Show You which is infectious and endearing. And, William Hope Hodgson’s ‘The Hog’ turned on its head (Cutest. Demonpig. Ever.) and run through I Can Haz Cheezburger? Literature has been working towards that moment since the Epic of Gilgamesh.

In conclusion, I can only advise most strongly that if you read only one New Weird- apocalyptic-detective-weird -political-thriller-mystery novel this year, you should make it Kraken. Or at least tell me which other one you find.

On The Road by fightclubsandwich

There is an odd smell about the gallery section of the Barber Institute Of Art, kind of like chocolate that’s been half melted and the mixed with wax. I have no idea what the actual source of the smell is, though. The gallery part is up a curved staircase, and the curved staircase is at the end of a very fancy corridor which has very high ceilings and very tall doors, but is not in anyway intimidating. The whole place is very marble and shiny, and there are lots of leaflets about future events to be taken, all over the place, and when I leave later, back down this same marble corridor, there’s very live, very fancy piano music coming from behind one of the very tall doors. This music may also have been playing when I entered the building, but I was listening to Jawbreaker, which drowned it out. I obviously chose Jawbreaker in order to “psych myself up” about what I was going to see, but when I started to ascend the stairs, the sound of jazz wafted down my way, and I decided that this maybe set the scene a little better than Shield Your Eyes. (I don’t have Boxcar on my iPod, though it would clearly have been the obvious choice)

The actual display itself was kind of lean and modest. The room was very small, and the walls were all white, and there weren’t nearly as many people there as I had expected. I think I might just be a huge geek, really, and my geekiness caused me to over estimate the appeal that this artefact had to the majority of students on campus. I won’t go on the first day it opens, I had thought to myself, there’ll be so much crowding, so many queues! I went to see it on the second day and saw something like five other people there. Admittedly, it was lunch time.

There were three very long, narrow glass cases in the middle of the room. The centre one obviously held On The Road itself, the ones on either side of it held supplementary materials, like various editions of the book, both British and American; articles about it, when it was first published, and copies of Kerouac’s other works, including one that was signed. That, more than anything else – for some reason – made me sad about Kerouac’s death at the age of just forty seven. Not only is that far too young an age to have died, it’s frustrating to think that he was never even alive in my lifetime. It was very odd considering just how many of my favourite authors are long dead (that’d be most of them) but thinking about it that way only really gets me at random moments, it stabs me like a needle and really bothers me. I had such a moment there, at the Kerouac display.

So, the actual scroll? Every single aspect of it is impressive. My eyes got caught on lines I remember reading in the book, “in their eyes I would be strange and ragged like the Prophet who has walked across the land to bring the dark Word” being one of my favourite parts, that I was hoping I’d see, but never really thought I would be able to pick out, when I saw it for real, but I did pick it out, and it felt terrific. The whole thing is very long, and there’s this aged amber tape holding the reams of paper together. It just reminds you how old, how historical this is, this is an artefact. There are crossings out too, in his own hand, in pencil. Not all of his handwriting is totally readable, but you can see how he changed it so that Sal lived with his aunt and not his mother- the word mother is crossed out a lot, and replaced with aunt. In reference to what I was saying earlier about picking out memorable lines, you’d think that the opening line – one of the most memorable in most novels – would be one of the easiest to find, and to remember it and make the connection between the Penguin Classic you have in your bag and the piece of history looming before you. But the opening line is utterly different, because of course, he changed Neal Cassady’s name to Dean Moriarty to make it less autobiographical, and changed the death of his father to the divorce of his first wife for reasons that can be explained either politically or sociologically.

On The Road is really remarkable for the way it was written – over the course of three weeks, under the influence of lots of coffee (hell yes) and based upon real, autobiographical stuff that Kerouac got up to. As strange, – but at the same time obvious – as it is to think that the computer’s take over of the typewriter as the most convenient way to write in the twenty-first century means an end to such artifacts as these, we have to remember that On The Road is in no way typical in its form, it really is special. As a landmark literary artefact, the scroll follows the original, handwritten versions of the likes of the Bronte sisters, or Dickens, and to go back even further, the extraordinary elaborate illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages. Now that we’ve chosen new mediums to write in that save our words as pure information and memory, (like this column you’re reading right now, oh wow!) and have all but discarded traditional, physical forms, I think it’s really exciting to think about what artefacts we’re going to be treasuring – years from now – as physical connections to the writers of today. Will we start keeping tiny things, like J.K. Rowling’s hair slides, or Audrey Niffenegger’s socks? I can’t help thinking about how monks kept bits of the body parts of saints after they died, as relics. What if you went to a library and they said “oh yeah, we’ve got Will Self’s hand in a glass case, wanna see?”

The cases in the exhibit were quite low down, which frustrated me. I’m something like five foot five, and they were about hip level, so I had to crane my neck downwards to read the scroll, not to mention that because of the very long, narrow, rectangle shape of the cases, you have to stand beside the thing at a right-angle to the words, so you have to turn your neck a lot to read it. This makes it a very awkward and uncomfortable thing to look at, and it starts to hurt a fair bit to pore over for too long. Luckily, the exhibit is completely free, and so close to my house, and the places I go every day, that I can go back whenever I want.

If you are anywhere near the Birmingham area, I compel you to go. Really. GO. You will not regret it. There is a train station on the campus itself, (the uncreatively named “University Station”) which is only five minutes walk (ten, maybe if you’re really slow) from the Barber Institute. If you’re remotely interested in Kerouac’s work – or books and literature at all – it’s a really remarkable thing. You will be impressed. You will be inspired. You might have an orgasm. If you miss out on a chance to see something so amazing, you will just be miserable.

I Hate Karl Lagerfeld by fightclubsandwich

At first, I found this article difficult to start. My focus would spiral madly away into this weird confessional bit about how fashion is kind of a difficult business to identify with, being composed as it is of a glut of giant moneyspinning corporations, the rules they make and the rules they follow, and then clusters of individuals and subcultures and the rules they make and the rules they follow. It all got rather horribly complicated, until it dawned on me that it didn’t have to, this is a simple enough topic so why would it need a complicated introduction?

I hate Karl Lagerfeld. You see? Simple!

All fashion journalists seem to think of Karl Lagerfeld – the current head of Chanel, for those who might not know, and hey why should you? – as some sort of eccentric German grandfather figure of the design world, like Dr Emmett Brown from Back To The Future but with less gadgetry and more shoes. In a hyper-serious industry like fashion, his quirkiness is the only injoke. This is perhaps the first reason that I do not like him. Nobody likes an injoke that they are not part of, and the callous broadcast of injokes to the lives of people who “weren’t there” and thus do not get it is teeth-clenchingly irritating. Here at TBO, for example, we have plenty of injokes amongst the staff, but we are aware that they are of no interest to the average reader who was not present for the joke’s birth. Consequently we keep our damn mouths shut.

My main problem is that after doing my research into this joke, I still don’t think he’s a good one. I refuse to enjoy or even tolerate his “quirky” quotations, which, to the sensible mind, are not so hilarious or witty as they are bratty, banal or just plain cruel. In terms of the latter, how about the suggestion that “fashion is the healthiest motivation for losing weight”? Or “Luxury is for the rich, not the nouveau riche.” The smugness that saturates such brush-offs is, in my opinion, unbearable. Uh, hello, when has it been okay to use a phrase like nouveau riche in a context devoid of sarcasm without getting punched in the mouth? Oh, there is a world outside of the fashion industry? Poor people live there? Oh how quaint! I don’t get how anyone could find such comments endearing. I am under no illusions; if I met Karl Lagerfeld under whatever circumstances, I have no doubt that he would be cruel and dismissive of “my kind” so why should I give him the time of day? Snobby people deserve the loathing of those they look down upon because it evens the playing field, they need to be reminded that hating others is not a mark of sophistication and superiority, that we can hate you back.

I suppose I also despise what Karl Lagerfeld represents, as a part of the fashion industry. I got kinda interested in clothes through my mother, who taught me to sew and knit, but it was only when I first attended university – leaving a school with a set uniform to wear every day – that I really started to see any practical application to any of it. “Oh wait, people actually wear clothes, in the real world. Oh no, all my fellow students dress really well!” Of course, by the time I reached university I was already stuck in my weird-geeky-stubborn-misfit-y niche, so I got interested in fashion with a pre-set distaste for authority. Maybe I’m just repulsed by the idea that Lagerfeld’s persona (rather than his actual merit as a designer) is enjoyed predominantly by those cliquey types who consider themselves “insiders”, in a way, with some kind of acute awareness of how the highest echelons of the industry works. This only gives feed to the idea – in paranoid brain like my own – that their joke, their common knowledge is a way of keeping us out. It’s a party to which only the people who care and the people who are in the know get an invite.

Lagerfeld seems to enjoy painting himself as some kind of pastiche of an authoritative figure. Is the whole point of his persona an indication that in the sprawling mess of the fast-moving fashion world, the idea of an iron fist to rule it all is absurd? Nah, I wouldn’t credit him with an actual sense of humour. I mean, come on:

“I built up my own reality. I created something I can cope with in life. I enjoy luxury and being the centre of my own intact world.”