Thursday, January 29, 2009

Actually, 46 Per Cent Is Pretty Good...

Hmmm. The gushing praise I promised Robin for coming top in my recent quiz has come out a bit...weird. Any hint of light verse is conspicuous by its absence and the only gushing I’ve evidenced since the weekend involved spilling a glass of milk over Geoff.

I feel like a cheat.

So I must rush out and buy one immediately with some uneaten chocolate money from Christmas.

Meanwhile, here’s what I came up with as I struggled to find suitable rhymes for words like wonderful, multi-talented and sweetie...

Bobbin’ Robin
met a pieman
skipping to a place where poems
neither rhymed nor scanned.

Said Bobbin’ Robin
to the pieman,
‘How much for a beef and onion pasty, pal —
and do they come with mayo?’

Said the pieman
to Bobbin’ Robin,
‘Depending on size,
they’re two, three and five dollars apiece,
but the mayo is fifty cents whatever.’

Said Bobbin’ Robin
to the pieman,
‘It’s a shame you don’t have any for four dollars.
I’ve got exactly four fifty in change.
That would have been perfect.’

Said the pieman
to Bobbin’ Robin,
‘Yeah. Ain’t life a bitch?
So, what’ll you have?
A three ‘n’ mayo,
a two ‘n’ mayo or—’

Said Bobbin’ Robin
to the pieman,
‘Hey — problem solved.
Can I get a coupla two dollar pasties and a mayo?’

Said the pieman
to Bobbin’ Robin,
‘Sorry, but I only got the one two dollar pasty left.
Tell you what, if you don’t want to break into a note,
I’ll do you a two and a three for four fifty.
How about that?’

Said Bobbin’ Robin
to the pieman,
‘No. I gotta have mayo.
Look, here’s ten dollars.
I’m real hungry, so can I get
two threes and two mayos?’

Said the pieman
to Bobbin’ Robin,
‘In theory, yes,
but I only got a coupla dollars in change.’

Said Bobbin’ Robin
to the pieman,
‘That’s OK. If I give you twelve dollars,
you can give me five dollars back.

Said the pie man
to Bobbin’ Robin,
‘No can-do, sister.
All I got’s a bunch of ten dollar bills, see?
I just had a rush on Pie Man Specials.’

Said Bobbin’ Robin
to the pieman,
‘OK, I gotta ask.
What’s a Pie Man Special?’

Said the pieman
to Bobbin’ Robin,
‘Two fours and two mayos,
plus a fridge magnet with my
logo on it.
You interested?’

Said Bobbin’ Robin
to the pieman,
‘If it’s the only way I’m gonna get to eat,
I’ll take a Pie Man Special
and you can keep the change.’

Said the pieman
to Bobbin’ Robin,
‘Hey, I made those fridge magnets myself.
What are trying to do?
Break my goddamn heart?’

Said Bobbin’ Robin
to the pieman,
‘No. I just want my goddamn dinner.
Now gimme the pasties,
you big cry-baby.’

Said the pieman
to Bobbin’ Robin,

Said Bobbin’ Robin
to the pieman,
‘Look, do I have to get tough with you?
You’re getting more out of this than me, buster.
You’re selling me more pasty than I actually want
and making a friggin’ dollar on the fridge magnet.
So what’s your problem?’

Said the pieman
to Bobbin’ Robin,
‘Hey! What’s going on, sister?
First you diss my fridge magnets,
and now you’re saying I got some sorta problem!
What next? You beat me up and steal my wares?’

Said Bobbin’ Robin
to the pieman,
‘Nah. Keep your goddamn pasties.
I’m gettin’ me a pizza.’

Said the pieman
to Bobbin’ Robin,
‘Fuck you!’

Said Bobbin’ Robin
to the pieman,

Friday, January 23, 2009

Scrambled Eggs From Buboes Cooked

It’s odd, but as I’ve just been sitting editing the chapter whose opening appeared a few days ago on Evil Editor’s blog, a swelling erupted in my right armpit, and before I knew it, a freshly laid blog post had rolled down my sleeve onto the desk.

And here it is.

I had to crack it open, of course (with my dinky new Bubonic Blog Post Nutcrackers — a bargain from that also doubles up as a catapult), but that’s always the most exciting part, isn’t it? Running your fingers over the knobbly exterior and sniffing the goo (if there is any). Normally I can tell what I’m going to get by the pattern of the whorls, but this one was a nice surprise.

I’ve been wondering why I loathe editing so much, particularly as I’m susceptible to amending and chopping as I go along. Mainly, this is down to my ability to churn out utter gibberish if I unchain the homonculus of my subconscious (and I’m speaking here in gibberish everyone will be familiar with) and hide away his frisbee so he has to do something productive, like writing. Although I’m OK with fleshing out notes, I dislike having to chuck or rewrite semi-formed sentences or paragraphs, so invariably I wield the pruning scissors at the same time as cracking the whip over the words and directing them through the hoop. (Kiersten has a good post about metaphors and analogies over at her blog with a killer comment by JaneyV in the trail, btw — though why I mention this in the context of that last sentence is anybody’s guess, as it’s neither use nor ornament, let alone any form of symbolism). Once I have a rough draft and move onto the editing proper (revising, I suppose), I find all the cutting and pasting and word substitution and rephrasing a real drag, and over the past few days I’ve had an inkling into why this is.

My current guess (based on supposition and an omen c/o a donkey I saw in the tea leaves at the bottom of my last cup of Earl Grey) is that when things get to the nit-picky editing stage, it’s so easy to get lost off on the words — all the scanning for repetition and alliteration (which I like, btw), the rhythm and the word choices — and lose sight of the movie reel that prompted them in the first place. It’s almost as if the swapping and changing of the words does violence to the fictional beings hovering in that peculiar fantasy world between eye and page. When it gets really bad, I find myself staring down a long tunnel, trying to negotiate unruly has-es and was-es, as if the individual letters were climbing frames on a fiendish obstacle course. Meanwhile, the colours of the characters and the scenes they inhabit splat unseen against the outside of my visual bore holes like I’m looking through a couple of kaleidoscopes turned inside out. What I’m discovering at the moment is that the desire to carry on staring blindly at the page (a literal summary of a prior mental event) doesn’t seem to work for me. I’m better off making myself a big cheese sandwich and forgetting about the words altogether, rerunning the scene as a florid cartoon and seeing again what needs to be said rather than trying to re-think it all up in a linear glut of sigils.

Oh, and look — I got a free gift like you get in Christmas crackers. Whoopee.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

You Scored 46% And Came Top? Who Were You Up Against? Cretins?

News just in is that the winner of the Abysswinksback 100th Post “Have Your Say! Win A Prize!” Quiz — with a grand total of 29 points — is the delightful Robin S. Narrowly pipping Fairyhedgehog* at the post, Robin will receive gushing praise in the form of light verse at some stage in not-too-distant future, right here on this blog.

Meanwhile, for anyone led astray by the confounding selection of wrong answers, here are the ten correct ones:


Thanks for playing, one and all.

*I've checked my adding up at least twice, but if I'm wrong on this, I promise to send gravy.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The 100th Post Of Joy And Wonder

I’m pleased to announce that the winner of the Abysswinksback 100th Post “Have Your Say, Win A Prize” competition is none other than the delightful Shona Snowden, whose suggestion of a quiz wowed me so much, the hairs leapt off my legs and hid away under a cushion till I’d calmed myself down with a king size bowl of Corn Flakes.

So, Shona, if you want to email me your details, I’ll be more than happy to furnish you with my very best crap crap crap crap crap prize.

As for everyone else who chipped in with requests, your ideas were such fun to ponder that I’ve based the content of the quiz loosely on the material you provided.

So — to the quiz itself. It follows below in the form of a voice post, with supplementary text for those of you lacking speakers or ears. There are ten multiple choice questions worth a total of 62½ points, which all visitors to this blog are welcome to answer in the comments trail before the deadline of 11.55pm on Saturday January 17th. Whoever scores the highest stands to win a bonus prize of my choice of a limerick, haiku or joke written about them (or in the case of anyone from the UK, possibly gravy). In the event of I tie, I shall garotte the nearest zombie and pick out a winner by consulting the oracle of its decaying flesh. Call me mean, but clause 6.32b of the Abysswinksback Ludicrous Small print states that Ms Snowden, having already won a crap crap crap crap crap prize, is ineligible for this bonus, even if she scores the full 62½ points. But I’m sure she’ll think of a way round that one.

Fingers on buzzers...

For five points —

In the comments trail of the post that spawned this one, I said (and I quote) “I've not been called babycakes since the last time someone bit my cherry off.”

But was I being

a) Humourous
b) Ridiculous
c) Tortured
d) All three — and this one, even though it isn’t anything?

For seven points —

I’ve never engaged in mortal combat with any number of ninjas, least of all, none. But which British TV celebrity have I danced, eaten a curry, and escaped from a stag night in a big white car with?

a) Mark Lamarr
b) Vic Reeves
c) Sanjeev Bhaskar
d) Gok Wan

For nine points —

Geoff’s real name is, of course, Jessie Lettuce, on account of her being the scarediest of my original 90s trio of kitties. But what were her brother and sister called?

a) Vincent and Rosie
b) Plog and Moonie
c) Wuff Cat and Fluff Cat
d) Scowly and Tess

For eleven points —

I haven’t eaten pink blancmange for as long as I can remember, but if I had a huge tub of the stuff in front of me right this very minute now, what would I most like to do with it?

a) Dunk both feet in it.
b) Invite Girly of Whirly to ladle it onto my bared man boobs
c) Throw it at my next door neighbour’s stupid, stupid, stupid dog
d) Eat it

For two points —

If ever I fell in love with a mermaid while wearing a kilt, and she turned out to be a connoisseur of distinguishing body marks, and there was a tornado, and my kilt blew off, and we didn’t die, what would she see?

a) An embarrassing tattoo of a dragon (that looks like a bloody cabbage) on my right arm
b) A scar on my chin from a teenage accident involving a drunk hairdresser
c) A Cro-Magnon lump on the back of my head the size of a giant gobstopper
d) Ear lobes longer than my one remaining leg

For four points —

I’ve never encountered a Jabberwocky, and probably couldn’t gyre and gimble in the wabe if the Mumbulent Sporp threatened to de-widgermericulate me with the scroops of its pentabile wobb. But what do I call my kettle?

a) The Boileroonio
b) The Toile Dookey
c) The Stee Stow Stoo
d) The Ket Ket Kaboodlium


For 6 points —

In the film, Conan The Marauding Pink Fur Apple Potato The Movie III: The Entrail Swamp Of Gutbolus Ploop, what does Conan say to the twenty-headed hydra lich just before he slashes off all of its heads with a cheese knife?

a) This’ll stop your infernal singing, you hideous, scaly would-be Welsh male voice choir
b) Outta my way, I need a pee real bad
c) What kind of Underworld is this, can’t you afford a proper three-headed dog?
d) I’m Conan, I’m Conan, and fighting gives me a bone-on

For 8 points —

When the finger-severing aliens returned the digits they hacked from my hands and toes, they wrapped them up in a ladies’ handbag, which cheered me up no end.

But is this because

a) They threw in an free ogre’s thumb so I wouldn’t be mad
b) The handbag is a perfect repository for all of Geoff’s toy mice
c) Thanks to the butterfly effect, I found a five pound note walking home from the Digit Returning Alien Silo
d) I really am a pre-op transvestite

For ten points —

Which of the following is not a quotation from my soon-to-be-finished-thank-the-lord-I-think-I’m-going-to-die novel?

a) He held out an empty beer glass to catch her squirting fluids
b) All ship’s computers are fundamentally zany. It’s a genre thing.
c) Dann-Glarr stirred like a bowl of frozen Mulligatawny encased in solid concrete
d) This time, there was no mistaking it: the lumps in the gravy were alive, and slightly oversalted

For half a point —

Which of the following vile cocktails is the one I’d be most likely to keep down while watching the boiled egg eating scene in Cool Hand Luke?

a) Cappuchino and Coke
b) Lapsang Souchong and 7UP
c) Espresso and Tizer
d) Earl Grey and Dr Pepper

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Seven Days In, And The Screech Of Brakes Is Indistinguishable From The Roar Of The Engine

What a strange year this has been so far, with its flurries of snow, awkward new TV dramas and exciting microwave oven contents c/o Son Of Whirl’s thermal bedtime monkey.

In truth, 2009 has oozed from the tail end of last year like the innards of some poor dog splattered on the road by the stomping feet of revellers singing Auld Lang Syne, mainly due to all the business of my Dad’s death remaining unresolved. It’s taking me an average of a minute and a half to enter or leave my study at the moment, such is the obstacle course of unsorted boxes raided from his attic. Then there are all the letters to the various banks and building societies, the phone calls to well-wishers and relatives, and the life-draining hand-to-hand combat with the vampires of commerce sniffing at my Dad’s rotting flesh. I’ll be the first to confess that I’ve never signed my name to the list of the world’s most sensitive souls, but I do know what a heart is. One of the last things my Dad did was to switch phone company, and his new contract came into operation on the day he died, but in spite of him never making a single call (that’s lying in hospital gasping for breath for you), the miserable bastards are billing him for line rental. And this is c/o no default computer-generated statement, note. I rang the company concerned and told them and spoke to a real person. Truly, I despair. There may be a global financial crisis and we may all be in the same boat, but if this is the future of sailing, I’m jumping ship and swimming with sharks whose blood is mostly their own.

Sorry if I sound bitter and twisted — it’s because I am.


So, now onto some obscenely flippant stuff. Because that’s what you’re here for, right? Unless you’re a shameless mock kilt enthusiast — in which case, just email me.

Today, I managed to set all of the aforementioned bleakness of being to one side for a moment and get down to some serious writing on my WIP. Sadly, my Whirl socks were in the wash, so it wasn’t that serious, but I did wear a silly hat and warble like the horrid midget from The Communards. Actually, if truth be known, the socks themselves belong to Girly Of Whirly and have to be stolen from her knicker drawer before I’m able to draw upon my full range of superpowers. But I digress/confess/OK officer I’ll come right along. I’ve been concerned for some time that the second chapter of my novel is a weak link in the opening trio that may at some stage be demanded by a suitably wowed agent. When I read it through this morning, although I still liked some of its coarseness and wit, I realised I was sitting on 1600 words of backstory. Plus, the POV character is neither of the three MCs. Am I digging a hole for myself here? The more I read on, the more I thought exactly that, so I’ve reworked the scene with the transformational gusto of an obese mother of ten pumping iron, combining it with one or two other stray chapterettes to produce what I hope will be an engaging soupcon of narrative, to be slung neatly as enhanced and active backstory between chapters 1 and 3 in a way that ought to convey/foreshadow what’s to follow in the rest of the book. Yeah, I struggled with that last sentence too. (Oh, what to do with an ‘order of events’ in a universe of simultaneous glut). Upshot: I managed 500 words in 55 minutes (with likely subsequent work requiring a filling in of gaps rather than cuts, edits and rewrites), which is a shitload better than I was managing prior to Christmas, when whole LOTR-style generations of slugs could have been born and died in the time it took me to scribble a sentence. So the juices are squirting, so to speak, and when I can direct them through the tip of my pen instead of haplessly witnessing them streak from my tear ducts, I’m looking forward to tearing my way through my manuscript and finishing the fucker off. When Spring arrives and pumps me full of its usual adrenaline, the last thing I want to be doing is dragging a mule round between the daffodils and crocuses. Nah — come April, I want to get writin' me a whole new hoss.

As for the forthcoming 100th post, unless the laws of mathematics have been overturned like the cast of Cats dancing their way through the final number just as the future Captain Gallons Of Spontaneous Grease is bitten by a radioactive seborrhoea sufferer in the audience, I’m guessing it will follow this one some time soon. I’m very grateful to all of you who choose to spend the odd moment here for the plethora of suggestions you’ve made regarding the form of said post. What can I say? I’ll get back to you shortly with news. And if your heart has just skipped a beat, remember, it’s neither evidence of an impending heart attack nor the attentions of an infatuated anonymous telepath: one of you will soon be in receipt of a crap crap crap crap crap prize...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Have Your Say! Win A Prize!

According to my dashboard (on Blogger, not this zoomy whizzy thing I've been flying up and down the stairs in since Christmas Day), the post after next is number 100.

So — it's over to you, folks. Load me up with suggestions via this comment trail and I promise to go with my favourite — though I may, of course, misinterpret your meaning utterly.

And, yes — there will be a full honours Abysswinksback crap crap crap crap crap prize for this.

Think of this as my New Year Sale.