Thursday, February 27, 2014

Where Are The Bee Gees When You Need Them?


    I hate it when my blog post pool is empty.  When all those half-baked ideas have been turned into novelty soufflés and every last sketch, note and doodle has undergone mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and been transformed into articles favourited by gazillions.

    So right now, I’m stuck with Vladimir Putin.

    As I threw on a dressing gown and slippers and made my way the study, his was the only image rolling round in my brain.  I tried to shove him from the cliff face of my cerebellum for fear that I might make some obscene joke and offend die-hard KGB men the world over, thus sealing my fate as a human being, let alone a writer.

    But the wily baldster wouldn’t budge.

    He tucked the heel of his back foot into one of my least used sulci and crouched, frog-like, in his Judo suit, muttering, “where in hell can I buy me some proper pants?”

    I wish this is how it was with the quality of my overall prose.  Come rain, come shine, come mania or black dog, how great it would be if everything I wrote shone the instant it leapt from my synaptic internexus to page or pixel, undaunted in its determination like a phantom gay-bashing Russian matriarch in his combat spanglies, dug in for the long run.

    I mention this because no fewer than two short story rejections winged their way into my mailbox yesterday.  I know that sentence would work much better had I said three or a dozen, but I haven’t written them yet.  So it’s kind of like a Catch-20Putin situation.  I need the beady-eyed closet trombone player to help imbue my words with the spunk of quality but his phantom presence commits me to writing this drivel instead of my next novel.  And the 20, btw, is the mark out of 10 he’s just given himself for flashing  his glitzy I AIN’T NO LADYBOY thong while perfecting his Nage-waza.

    Like I care!

    So — who’s been your writerly inspiration/nemesis this morning?




Monday, February 24, 2014

One Parrot Fiction #5



Click to enlarge, parrot fiends...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

How To Write Informative Blog Posts


    As of now, I’m the Archrodent of Techno Impro.

    My computer is up the duff, my laptop has been seized by Son of Whirl for nefarious purposes unknown (okay, maybe TumblrLOLing), my phone is onner the blink than a downtrodden housewife fluttering her eyelids at George Clooney during a chance meeting in the wasp sting ointment and trowel aisle of Poundstretcher, and, try as I might, I’ve never been able to compose a blog post on either the fridge freezer or the hoover, so strictly speaking I ought to be ferrockulated.

    But I ownz a tab, so I is gtg.

    Now all I have to do is say something interesting — not the easiest thing to do when you’re hacking away at a keyless & credit card sized keyboard with a rubber pen.

    Luckily, as I said, I’m an Archrodent, and Archrodents are capable of just about anything.

    Including thinking wazz this rubber-tipped nonsense, I’m having a bowl of bran flakes, three cups of coffee — and a shower.

    My informative post on how to write informative blog posts has been mothballed until  2078, by which time the arch of my rodent will most likely be the rigor mortis curve of an inverted spine in a shallow grave just south of Cambridge...


   

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sign Up For VACUOUS SHITBOX Now


    I may just have jumped atop the Wangoprattic Donkey by signing up for Tumblr.

    What is this site?

    On first analysis it looks like a killer opportunity to develop a crippling obsession for regurgitating other people’s innards.  Kind of like compulsive retweeting, only with pictures of cutesy kittens and other LOLfodder instead of 140 garbage-laden characters.

    But, hey — let’s give it a go.

    However the regurgitation tumbles and rumbles, it has to be better than signing up for Vacuous Shitbox.  Their promo says it all:




    As for the Wangoprattic Donkey (and the climbing atop of, thereof), the first reference I have for the use of this phrase is from the inside of an old cowboy boot I picked up in a junk shop in Salford in 1994.

    We all know that “climbing atop the Wangoprattic Donkey,” is synonymous with phrases such as “being a bit of a twit”, “doing something stupid”, and (in extreme cases) “signing your own death warrant”, and it’s obvious why this should be the case.  By their very nature, the terms ‘wang’ and ‘pratt’ are the stuff of ridicule, and of all the creatures God has spawned, donkeys sit high above platypi and wrinkly Sphynx cats as universally acknowledged Joke Fauna.

    But here’s the thing.

    The original Wangoprattic Donkey was owned by a crazy Edwardian spinster called Lady Demerara Cloothes — and here she is in 1904, almost atop him:




    At this stage, the donkey’s name was simply Pull The Cart You Fucking Moron! but when Lady Cloothes died and her Yorkshire estate passed on to a wealthy American family, the previously ill-treated equine found himself going up in the world.  A paid boy trimmed his hooves and shaved his scraggy fur, and his new owner renamed him Call This Darned Mule A Freakin’ Hoss?

    Here he is in 1912, on a lane just outside Harrowgate.
   


    How do I know all of this?  Because I discovered both photos in the junk shop cowboy boot — a boot that once belonged to Call This Darned Mule A Freakin’ Hoss?’s American owner, the shipping tycoon Walter D. B. G. B. T. C. P. E. T. D. P. E. G. P. B. C. B. P. C. D. T. Z. Schluberberger Jnr Snr Jnr III VIII IX.  On the back of both photographs, in handwriting confirmed as being that of Schluberberger, are written the words “Wangoprattic Donkey” — a reference that precedes the 1952 entry in the Oxford English Dictionary and the 2008 edition of Shit Whirl Has Clearly Made Up.

    So I’m Tumblin’ this, big time.

    Donkey pictures!  Major leagues historical discoveries!  Evidence of serious donkey shaving equipment prior to the Roaring 20s trend for horsehair skirts and dresses!

    Man, I’m on top of my social media game right now...


Friday, February 14, 2014

What Are You Reading This Weekend?


     The very nice people over at The Future Fire have posted a generous review of my latest short fiction offering, Bank of the Dead.


    You can find the review here.

    Trust it.  These people know what they’re saying.

     To celebrate my continued success in failing to be utterly panned by a single reviewer (apart from the one guy who bought a copy of Broken Vacuum Cleaner & MacKillop Series 2 Episode IV from the Nook bookstore and complained that it had "really stupid characters in an even dumber storyline" — which, of course, it does) I’m donning a silly hat and reading the opening paragraphs of Bank aloud for you to sample.

    If you like what you hear, do please download the story.  And if you download the story, do please offer your own review.

    It’s 75p/99c right now, but I’ll throw it onto KDP Select so that it’s available for free over the weekend.  Can’t say precisely when it will become available right now because syncing with Amazon is like getting two concussed monkey acrobats to neck one another in mid-air.


   So, maybe Saturday, rolling into Sunday...






Thursday, February 13, 2014

Say HI To The Nearest A-hole


    My obsession with all things tablet and internet continues.

    Yesterday, as I gadded gayly about the streets of my ex-monarch-friendly home town (and venue for one of Europe's finest comedy festivals), no less than three device-engrossed amblers nearly ambled the fuck into my face.

    Heads down, and connected to the virtual global village, their disregard for all things material within a hundred yards of their stooping forms bordered on Dr Strange at his ethereal and bound-by-Dormammu finest.*

    * So, yeah, Marvel — where’s the blockbuster film?

    These self-zombified shufflers held phones, not tablets, but the principle is the same: no one looks at anything anymore unless it’s beamed through a window on some (mainly Japanese) hand-held pile of crap.

    The worst thing of all about this slave-like navel-of-another gazing is the way that it’s transformed our lack of social interaction on trains and buses.

    In the good old days (before Michael Gove), no one talked on trains and buses and everybody knew that everybody else within eyeshot felt equally writhingly difficult and embarrassed in their own idiosyncratic squirmy way.

    Now, no one gives a toss.  I’m willing to bet that a good 98-100% of people who own a tablet or smart phone could now get on and off a train full of mutilated corpses and not notice a thing.


    THAT’S WHY I’M PROUD TO PRESENT MY REVOLUTIONARY NEW KILLER REVOLUTIONARY APP.

    If you own a smart phone or tab, you’ll know that these miracles of tech can connect to one another via the sneezyfluvirusosphere and beam information of no use whatsoever back and forth at the speed of a catapult-hurled wasp.  No one uses Bluetooth any more because it’s so crap — the walkie talkie you always dreamed of as a kid that turned out not to be a walkie talkie at all — but if you check out your Bluetooth menu now, you’ll see that it possesses a truly dinky redeeming feature.  If the names people give to their pets are stupid, the monickers they bestow upon their Nokias and Nexi are even more ludicrous.  Yesterday, on the flood-ravaged early morning standing room only heifer cart from Leicester to Brum, I shared a scrum with ‘suzie_K’, ‘Bieberluvva’ and ‘sattan’ — and what I really wanted to do was say HI.

    But NOT to the people whose devices were thusly named!  I could see them, and they looked like twats.

    No, I wanted to speak to their aliases, pseudo-selves and cyberegos in a “virtual close up is exactly the same as virtual a thousand miles away” kind of way.  What’s the point of chatting online to a stranger on the other side of the world when you can achieve the same result with someone a couple of feet away?  It would save a packet on all that cyberenergy and maybe then all those satellites could be turned into adventure rides.

    In my head, I knew I had the bare bones of Chatty Closey Stranger Thingy version 1.00, but something about the overall concept didn’t quite ring true.

    Then it dawned on me that maybe — just maybe — some of the people using my brilliant new service might want to meet up with their newfound stranger-dork buddies in real life, just like they do now with people in Peru, LA or Botafogo!

    Imagine that!

    By dint of close proximity and avatarial chance, you discover a whole new bunch of buddies — and it doesn’t cost an arm or a leg or a zillion quid to fly halfway round the world to meet them in the flesh!

    Call me a gifted eureka moment spotter, but as this thought winged its way before my mind’s eye like Jenny Jones snowboarding her way to an Olympic medal, I knew right away I’d found the pefect union of brand name and concept for what I’d previously dubbed Chatty Closey Stranger Thingy.

    Uh huh — I’m the guy who invented TALKING.




Monday, February 10, 2014

Why Alfred Hitchcock Is The Master Of Suspense


    Every morning I wake up, fully expecting Alfred Hitchcock to be lying there right beside me.

    But he never is.

    When I cross, half asleep, to the bathroom, the master of chilling suspense and mildly amusing cameo never waits behind the shower curtain, nor sits cross-legged, like some celluloid-crazy Buddha, on the loo.

    If the phone rings, or alerts spawn on my tab, not a single message is from Hitchcock.  And later, as I put pan to poultry in a frenzy of egg scrambling bravado, I hear no footfall of slippers on lino, no mutterings of murder, rope or architecturally challenged motels of slaughter.

    Every cupboard door conceals him not.

    Every tree, every plant in my garden, blooms by virtue of having sucked from the sod not a single atom of his cunningly interred corpse.

    And this constant, unfulfilled threat is scaring the bejesus to the very fringe of my soul — and yet, disturbingly, never quite the heck outta me.

    Truth is, Alfred Hitchcock is the master of suspense.  Where other film directors bore you with the gore, Hitchcock knows that when it comes to fear, less is definitely more.

    He’s here now, he’s around somewhere — and yet I never see him.

    He could spring out at any moment — and yet he never does.
   










    Hrrrrr.



Thursday, February 6, 2014

How To Tame Your Inner Priapic Cowboy


    You know how it goes sometimes.

    One minute, you’re happy to amble along and fit in with everyone else’s plans; the next  minute, you want nothing more than to ejaculate a gallon of warm baked beans over the face of an unsuspecting horse.

    It’s a dilemma known to all who are priapically rustled, and every last tad of that business about yoga and mindfulness is absolutely no help at all. All that ever comes from a marriage between the uncontrollably erectile and the deliberately prone is a mis-blancmange of the psyche.

    So what do you do when you find yourself dangerously “on the Eastwood”?  Uncontrollably “Up the Brad Pitter”?  Shamefully “more trunk-like than ‘The Ranger’”?

    Luckily, there’s an old adage from the world of Common Sense that’s almost tailor-made to solve this awkward conundrum:

    You gotta fight fire with fire.

    I’ve jazzed it up a little so it fits in with the cowboy theme, but essentially the message remains true (and remember, this is a writing blog, so the idea of a wanged-out chap-flappin’ cowpoke rustlin’ and hustlin’ for some hot mule action is merely a metaphor for the possessed, yet undirected, muse): * there is nothing to be gained from trying to tame your inner priapic cowboy, so don’t waste your time trying.

* Always precede important points with a ‘frog smiley & distracting asterisk’ combo.




Monday, February 3, 2014

How To Write Articles For The Tablet Generation


    Writing articles for the tablet generation is easy.

    It’s almost easier than breathing.

    You can do it.

    Right now!


    How you can do this right now

    Read on.

    It’s easy.   


    First off, have absolutely nothing to say

   
Everyone uses their tablet for wasting time, so the less you have to say, the more you will help them.

    So keep your articles short.

    Snappy.

    Vacuous.


    With plenty of spaces between lines, paragraphs and




words.

    ● And don’t forget the bullet points!

    It’s simple advice, but remember: your readers are simpler than simplicity itself and they will thank you for treating them like goobers.


    Repeat yourself as often as you can

 
    Ever forgotten a nursery rhyme?

    There’s all the proof you need that repetition works!

    Especially when allied to the concept of keeping things simple.


    And all of the other great, great strategies I’ve discussed●

    So.

    Far.


    Because remember no one actually wants to read informative articles any more.  Especially goobers with tablets.

    They want simplicity.

    Repetition.

    ● Bullet points.

    In short, they want to run their eyes over a series of words and feel like they’ve learned something worthwhile without having to expend any energy whatsoever.

    That’s where your articles come in.

    Simple articles that you write, complete with repetition and bullet points.

    Study after study after study shows that repetition and simplicity are the keys to success when it comes to writing articles for goobers.  If you choose your words carefully, people will keep reading — especially when you have nothing whatsoever to say.


    3) Bamboozle your readers with numbered lists
 


    No one reads essays any more.

    It’s too hard.

    Paragraph after paragraph after paragraph of wordsallmuddledupclosetogether that you have to think about???

    No way!

    José!

    So help your readers by using numbers.

    And lists.

    In ways that combine the two.

    Forget ‘beginning, middle and ending’, ‘premise’, and ‘concluding paragraph’.

    These terms are DINOSAURS!

    Instead, think ‘1 to 10'.

    It’s all you need to make your articles sing.

    But remember: take care at all times never to have anything to say!

    Your readers will SWITCH OFF!

    Or PLAY ANGRY BIRDS!


    So, again, from the top

 
   The keys to keeping your readers reading are simple:

    1) Use numbered lists or bullet points.

    ● Because paragraphs are dumb!

    2) Keep finding new and better ways to say NOTHING.

    3) Repeat yourself as many times as you can.

    4) Never forget your readers are goobers.

    5) Spring the occasional surprise.


    17) How to spring the occasional surprise without breaking the rules of simplicity, repetition, and all the other cool stuff






    Everyone loves a baby animal.

    Simple.


    Okay — what next?

    Now you’ve written your article, you have to put it out there.

    Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr — any place you can.

    Over and over and over.

    It’s repetition again, see?

    You don’t just need to write for your readers.  You need to feed them too!

    Just like the hamster!!!

    So tap into every social media and feed portal you can.

    Replicate your simple replications.

    Let ‘em have it — any which way, any all ways.

    Your stuff.

    Right there.

    Bam!



    On tablet after tablet.



    Your feeds: alerting your readers.

    Your articles: bamboozling their brains.

    Yet all the while saying nothing.

    Because nothing that sounds like something is

    What.

    Goobers.

    15) ●Want.