dark am i, yet lovely, a lily among thorns, majestic as stars in procession

dark am i, yet lovely, a lily among thorns, majestic as stars in procession

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

6 Days, 6000 Words

When You Talk To Me,
It's Painful
Been Loving You For So Long,
Only Know Your Name
Had to stay up till half one in the morning to make the word count last night, which suggests this rate can’t last very long at all. Out on a limb from today having to invent prose from scratch, and the outline from months ago hardly holds water anymore. Story is about to take a new direction. It’s about to enter the ‘setting’. It’s an idyllic institution, of sorts. Could not make a habit of intense writing like this, because it’s hard not to repeat yourself. I could easily cut 3000 words out, because some of it is rambling – long paragraphs of personal first person narrative describing feelings, thoughts and emotions. Not anything happening, nobody talking, no descriptions, nothing.

The idea is to have the story strike out in a radical direction in the second phase, darting straight into a scene of characters with loads of dialogue and action. So the word count is set to dry up, but I’ve sketched a quick second outline. By outline, what I mean is 20 minute spider graph. Most importantly, I’ll have the book on my mind, and everything I ponder will be judged on merit for inclusion. No need to carry a notepad in my back burner, because everything about Escaping Hazel is sticking. Becoming tied up in this has been like slipping into an old, comfortable jacket, but now it gets a bit tricky.

Eating: Potatoes, chicken, rice, raison and cinnamon bagels, malted wheats, tuna and mayo on wholemeal bread. Listening to: YouTube favourite playlist, including popular music from female artistes such as Nicole Scherzinger (Poison), Lady Sovereign (Guitar), Pink (Like a Pill), Anastasia (Time), Amy MacDonald (Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over), Cheryl Cole (Parachute), and Nelly Furtado (Maneater). Brushing My Teeth With: Salt Water, grit, and finger.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Strong Start to New Book

Started typing up the first chapter of the new book on Thursday. Managing a 1000 words a day so far. Strictly typing, some might say that’s not much. Can usually average between 2 - 4000. The thing is, I’ve found myself rewriting as I go, and having to really think about the copy. I started this story exactly a year ago to this very day, and things have changed since then. Oh, I’m not putting that in, I think, but then have to make something else up to compensate for it. So I’m very happy with 1000 words a day. Every pen merchant under the sun would settle for that [apart from Dean Koontz, who pulls entire titles out his ass].

The challenge comes when I will have to make up the second chapter from scratch in a few days. With an outline, this might not be a problem. It might even be faster. As long as I write every day, I don’t see why I shouldn’t reach at least 500 words, which I would still very happily settle for. That’s the key – doing it daily. Lose the flow, and it means rereading over it all to help slip back in. Long gaps are good for letting the plot thicken in the real-time subconscious, but not when typing the draft up.

Whenever I read about writer’s harping on about their own work, it feels to me like they are squirting their smallness all over me*. They talk as if their characters really exist. They talk like they are creating something in the real world, not just arranging letters on paper. Get over yourself, I think. But the story behind the story is probably more interesting than the story itself, and most of all to whoever wrote it.

I’ll never be at the stage where NEIL GAIMAN is, taking before & after pictures of himself at his writing desk, pre- and post-shower & shave. This is not ME, ME, ME, oh no, never never never. Not unless success sweeps me off my feet and there is an actual demand from people all over the world to see me at the desk in my dressing gown. Even then, I’d wear a Hannibal Lecter mask, to make it more interesting, or goofy joke shop teeth. I'd have to get a dressing gown, too.

What this IS, however, is HAZEL, HAZEL, HAZEL. I’ll tell you that now for a fact. All I know for sure, so far, is that when she’s not in holographic form, she wears either a business suit or chunky black steel toe-capped boots. Whichever, she’s on my mind, and I have faith that she’ll come good.

*A quote from John Siddique, poet.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Termite Monastery & All the Same


Termite Monastery took maybe 2.5 hours. To remake, it would take less than 1 hour. It’s the first piece this year. Writer’s Block is a myth compared to Potter’s Block. It doesn’t even come close. There has to be a certain frame of mind involved before being prepared to shape something respectable from a lump of clay, especially hands only with no extruder involved (extruders make clay worms of varying thicknesses which can be wrapped or weaved into interesting shapes). As is common, there was a point when it was nearly scrapped and scrunched up to start again, but anything is salvageable because it’s a trial and error process. The clay does exactly what you want. A.D

DB TINK: Sample of latest song (bottom). The keyboard is running out of voices. What we have here is two versions of the same track, separated by 5 years and a better unit. Play old one first (top), but watch your ears don't pop. It was never DB Tink's purpose to create perfectly sounding tunes - nor harsh and screechy either though, ha! He only recorded stuff any old crap way so as not to forget the melody. He's saving them for when he has the right mike, and a belting machine. Give him a studio, and he’ll give you the world.

A Keyboard and Personal PC computer are 2 heavy contenders for desert island objects. What would you wish for if you were stranded on a desert island for all eternity: pool table, packed larder, expresso maker, doll house, toilet roll, go kart, the complete and unabridged commentaries of every test cricket match ever played as an audio book, a life size bronze cast of Laurence Llewelyn Bowen......or a better genie?

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Madness on the M6

The sun is coming out. The weather is changing. The clocks are going back next week. It’s just that time of the year, after the doldrums following new year, when things begin to pick up, don’t you think?

What could be better than a walk in the Lake District? It was sweet. Fond hours along a nature trail with only the pleasing sight of RAF planes navigating by, rather than queues of static motor car traffic.

A nice day. A nice walk. Done. But on the way home...

A car – the very next car in front of us, on the motorway, doing 60 at least – drifts out of the left hand lane. I didn’t see that bit, to be honest. I just heard Julie saying “F*ck!” in that special tone of seriousness reserved for things that truly surprise or shock us. Now, Julie NEVER swears. The very first glimpse I got of the accident unravelling right in front of us was of a car rolling onto the grass beside the motorway and bouncing off a farmer’s dry-stone dyke.

The absolute key detail* is the blond female hair I saw coming out of the open sunroof as the car rolled. A car, flying through the air upside down, and blond female hair cascading from the sunroof. Then it came to rest and the second detail my mind recollects is the passenger, a man, get shook back into his seat like a doll.

Our speed takes us past them but then we pull up. I didn’t want to get out the car. I didn’t want to see. I’m not one for blood and gore. If her hair was hanging out the sunroof, then her head could have been too. That girl’s head could be like an egg for all I knew. One thing for sure, it was a damn serious crash. Off and rolling at motorway speeds is always going to be a serious crash.

It all happened so quick. And in slow motion at the same time. Weird.

I was expecting blood. I was thinking crimson. The idea that the car might explode never occurred to me, but the thought of a messy-bodied woman tangled in metal held me back for a good ten seconds at least before stepping out. The responsibility of being first on the scene is massive. It’s also horrible. You don’t know what the nuts to do.

But this girl is out before me. There’s a scratch on her finger and that’s it. Her passenger, her dad, is also unmarked. She is absolutely unscathed, considering. I’ve just seen her get tossed about, upside down, with her hair billowing out the sunroof, off the motorway, off a wall, and she’s just like, huh, totally fine. Completely fandabbydozy.

She’s shocked, oh you bet she is, doesn’t utter a single word, all distant and vague, but she’s actually on her feet, she’s stood up, looking girly and pretty and blessed and alive. A cut finger, nothing more. I wanted to hug her. I actually wanted to hug her. I did a kind of mild manly half cuddle with one arm and said something along the lines of “Well in love, I could see your hair blowing out through the sunroof, I’m glad you’re okay, you’re lucky to be alive, put the lottery numbers on this week.”

Eventually she sat and by the time the ambulance arrived she was breaking down into tears. Until then she remained blank and staring and in shock. Perhaps she did bang her head, and to be honest I don’t see how she couldn’t have banged her head (view picture), what with her head more or less dangling out of the sun roof as her small car’s flipping every which way but loose. The driver’s side is caved in. She must have been flung towards the passenger side when that happened.

We took her number so I should be able to find out what happens at the hospital, but like I say, the girl was standing up with a scratch on her pinkie when she should have been stuck red and dead. She cheated death. She told it to do one. Her name’s Emily, and here’s to her.

Passing a separate wreck several years back, I remember seeing a potato on the road, which had come clear of some shopping bags. This car was upside down on concrete, and the driver had already been whipped away in a body bag. Absolute key detail.

Monday, 21 March 2011

4 Movies a Day Keeps _______* at Bay

Some covers just say it all, don't they?
What’s the most movies you ever got done watching in a day? I’ve been a fan of slipping straight into another one as soon as one finishes, and now and again I’ll even watch three, come bedtime, but Sunday was fixed with not three but FOUR movies, one of them even fleshed out with adverts on Channel 4.

They were FAIR GAME, TAKEN, THE SUNSET LIMITED, and SHOOTER. I almost turned the last one off after 90 minutes to watch something else, but stuck with the last quarter determinedly. The first one nearly got switched after just twenty minutes, but Naomi Watts can be very persuasive.

The Quentin Tarantino related his habit of watching three movies a day once in an interview, so ever since I considered this behaviour standard practice. Perhaps he has much better reason because he makes them, but still. If they’re decent movies, it’s time well spent. There’s a lot of crap about though. A ton of crap. The moviefilms I watch are carefully selected. Sometimes the title and/or front cover is usually enough, but if in doubt I like to see who’s in it, or try to glean a few plot details. If I ever watch a trailer in full, it means that I’ll never watch the film.

I distinctly prefer NOT to know the premise of a movie before I watch it. The less known, the better. Very rarely one knocks you off your feet anymore though; perhaps they had more effect when you were growing up because you were more emotionally receptive?

If it’s got Val Kilmer and Dakota Fanning in it, I’d much rather be pleasantly surprised by their sudden screen presence than by their names appearing at the beginning. I’d rather wait until the end for the director’s name too.

(One of the movies consisted of two men sat in a room talking about faith for ninety minutes. Not to most people's tastes I'd imagine, but right up my street).
Sky News reported that Colonel Gaddafi’s forces have been ‘degraded’ by the recent coalition assaults. Degraded? What did we do, rush over there, line up all his troops, pull their underpants down, take some pictures, and post them on the web?
DB TINKERBELL has found a new muscial avenue. Doesn't happen very often. In fact, only twice - once when he discovered Trance, and once when he discovered Symphonic Metal. How does your musical history pan out? Do you have special songs that trigger special memories? A kind of music that speaks louder than the rest? How tough would it be narrowing all you like down to your fav top ten songs? The bounce-bounce-heavy track below has brought the Asian download chart into vested consideration. Kicks in at 48 secs.

* reality, boredom, writing, cleaning, fingerbanging the neighbour's cat

Friday, 18 March 2011

Ceramic Cocktail

This cup was accidentically fired prematurely (hence the blank white handle). It took about six or seven hours, believe it or not, to get to this stage (with another 2 or 3 hours anticipated to be left), and the gritty, grainy, patchwork appearance was slightly unexpected. It was meant to be the cup to end all cups, but apparently not. Somebody recommended nail varnish to finish it off. Can anybody advise where a good cheap nail varnish can be purchased? Don't say 'girlie store'.
The most pleasing aspect of the cup so far are the faint white squiggles to the left of the handle there (click to enlarge).
The above is a wall ornament (Sumerian Wheel). The Sumerians were an early civilisation, BC. I don't think they invented the wheel but it was an era when the development of writing was getting into flow. The best thing about this wall ornament is the lovely flash from the camera - not bad for a measly 2.0 megapixel. What I don't like is how faint that shade of olive green paint looks on the wall (Dulux, that, not cheap basic line gunk. Yes, Dulux, who claim to have over 15,000 colours in their range of paints. 15,000? More like 2 - bull, and shit).
One good thing about having useless handmade artifacts clogging up precious living space is being able to photograph them whenever a hint of sunlight threatens to spill over us. There are all sorts of combinations to be strived for. The ultimate goal is to glue everything together into one super structure and sell it for £75 billion outside The Royal Pavillion (transport WILL be a problem, no matter how much bubble wrap you've got). Seriously, what would you prefer, an alignment of ornaments displayed on a shelf/in a cabinet, or a single zany knock-out sculpture dominating a single corner of the room? Answers on a postcard please ladettes and batty men to 77 Skid Row, Belch Avenue, Endsville, no later than the 32 of Neverember, 2012.

The Ceramic Devision
Wheel of Life

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Skull Land

"Webster was much possessed by death and saw the skull beneath the skin; and breastless creatures under ground leaned backward with a lipless grin."
What a miserable image and rotten timing to coincide with the recent natural disaster in Japan...

"From the sea is where we came (said a lady on the radio last night) and to the sea is where we go..."

About the only jolly tidbit to reach me from the other side of the world so far in this most recent of cataclysmic events is how a BBC News reporter pronounced the TSUNAMI as a ‘TOON ARMY’. I did allow myself a quarter of a giggle at that, so I did. The thought of a countless herd of Newcastle United hooligans running riot 10km inland is enough to reduce any country to its knees.

I recall Roy Chubby Brown making a joke about the last great wave in 2004. Something about looking for his hotel and then seeing it float past him!

Aside from that, there really is nothing much to say or feel, apart from the usual mixture of awe, pity, and condolences. What is alarmingly obvious is how the cost of the economy and the stock market is rather more crucial than the human loss, which seems only to be addressed as a mere afterthought.

The most radical footage I’ve seen so far is a man calmly standing on top of his truck as the wave threatens to smother the motorway. All he can do is watch. It’s impossible, from the helicopter camera, to determine if he is just about high enough to be safe or not. Therefore, I gather, he has absolutely no clue if he will live or die. It’s close, though. It's too fookin' mighty close to be true. We're talking 50/50. We don't see his fate. How much must you pray and wish and cross your fingers in a fix like that? Talk about nail biting. Talk about hair raising...

another wallop from mother nature leaves us reeling, though there's little time to cue the big picture, because after the loss, and the tears, we pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off...there's plenty of work on

Sunday, 13 March 2011

My Reading History

I remember reading a creepy illustrated children’s story in juniors. I liked it so much I copied it out word for word in pencil under the stairs because at that time stealing had not entered my small honest brain.

I also remember reading some leather bound adult espionage book, in one of those readers digest type dust jackets. This took my mind somewhere else for the first time.

Later, in English class seniors, Mrs Rogers complimented one of my short story assignments to the whole class and told them I could be a writer. Soon as she said that, the deal was sealed.

I remember reading Stephen King’s Insomnia when I was 20 and working out how many books I would have to write by the time I was forty to be anywhere near as prolific as him.

Reading James Herbert’s Others in my early twenties changed everything. It was and forever will be the best story I have or shall ever read. Dean Koontz’s Fear Nothing is the most atmospheric.

The rape and murder of a woman by a gang in Bag of Bones by Stephen King sticks out as a potently powerful scene. Amazingly, he added humour to it.

Of late, my preferred reading is short story anthologies, because you can briefly breeze in and out of so many different styles. The Mammoth Books of Best New Horror (pictured) are excellent.

Horror is the best because it is the mother genre. It has romance, comedy, the lot.

(I just this minute discovered James Herbert has a new book out called ASH after four years since the last. Get in!)

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Blogging Desire

It was the summer of 2007 that I decided I wanted to blog. I was watching Mulder from the X-Files (David Duchovny), star in Californication, a new series about a hip, womanising Los Angeles writer. X-Files was good, but I’d never been much of a fan, so when I looked at Duchovny, I didn’t see Mulder. That’s important, because familiar typecast actors have it all to do.

Take Danny Dyer. You might see him as a TV presenter who fronts those hard knock shows late at night, but I see him strictly as an actor. For a while, he was gold, proper talent, but for me, now, he’s done too many films in too short a space.

Some writers complain when their scripts get optioned and made into movies, because the end result doesn’t match their original vision. I’d be absolutely keen for someone to rework some of my material and do whatever the hell they liked with it – as long as it didn’t involve Ewan McGregor.

The best movies, the real gems, almost always feature unknown actors – faces you haven’t, at the time you watch them, seen before. A movie could come out tomorrow starring Russell Crowe, and it doesn’t matter how good it is, or what it’s called, because it’s just another Russell Crowe movie. You get me?
Mulder’s good in Californication. He lives the life. He blogs. I could do that, I thought, because it’s just rambling with words, expressing yourself like in a diary. Of course, there’s blogging, and there’s blogging, just like there're movies, and there’re movies.

After just over a year doing it, there have been too few personal entries. I’ve been making an effort trying to keep me-time to a minimum, stressing over pictures and colour and presentation of external subject matter, when most people on the web are talking a load of shite. It’s time to start talking shite myself. And if you think I've been talking shite already, then you ain't seen nuthin' but nuthin' yet.

Pish. Tosh. Piffle.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

The Difference Between Maradona & Teddy Sheringham

Based on 100% Factual Truth!!! Re-reported by
The Anonymous Journalist.

Working for the press is like being a cop in some ways because you develop a natural instinct for people. You know, hunches and gut feelings and first impressions and all that palaver. Now I don’t know hack about football, I just get given a high profile name and an address and turn up with my Nikon, who plays for who and all the rest of it doesn’t really interest me.

Diego Maradona’s residence looked very hush-hush. All the cars in the garage, all
the lights off, all the curtains drawn, very quiet. Now I know we paparazzi have a bad reputation, and I’ll be the first to admit that we do hound people, we really do – we intrude upon their private lives and cause all kinds of inconveniences for them and their loved ones, but come on here, that’s not much compromise for the benefits of super stardom, is it? It’s give and take. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, is what I say.

Anyhoo, this Maradona guy starts shooting at us with an air rifle from 25 paces. He actually had his gun cocked out the window taking POT SHOTS at us! Drunk, coked up, in front of his family and the world’s cameras, SHOOTING at us!

Now Teddy Sheringham, when he opened HIS front door at 7am and saw us gathered there at his garden gate, was in a different league. I was expecting bow and arrows, thinking all these footballers were like Maradona, but know what he did, eh, did you hear about what he did? Bring out a tray of tea and biscuits on his finest china for us is what he did, like he was some kind of waiter in a cafĂ© and we were paying customers. How much of a lesson is that to all those lens-haters out there? TEA AND BISCUITS ON HIS FINEST CHINA. Meat pie, sausage roll, come on Teddy, give us a goal!’

Diego REALLY did shoot at the press and Teddy REALLY DID offer the press tea and biscuits. I saw it with my own eyes on the news! A.D

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Koestler Fiction Visuals

Digital Accompaniments for some of this year's best short fiction
I prefer to devour a short story in a single sitting to take it in properly. Some of them might take you along into the tale from start to finish, so you become familiar with the narrator/writer/characters (Erwin James is this kind of author – it’s like being a kid and sitting on Granddad’s lap as he reels off an engaging saga). Others might lose you in the first paragraph but leave you with a single lasting image or impression come the last.
Prison writing, eh? The bad are very bad, but the good are awesome. I get the feeling that some of the KOESTLER entries were written besides cell bunk beds by individuals screaming out their intent quietly through a pen onto the page, tight lipped, soul burning. They are trapped in a place (mentally and physically) where their best option is to let the ink flow, full steam ahead, with turmoil and/or passion on tap and enough time to channel it into something constructive. Something talented. Something meaningful.
Prisoners and secure patients are forgotten about in society. Lock them up, shut them away, out of sight, out of mind. That’s how we like it. This is them reminding us that they are still there, in a structured, disciplined, creative fashion. They are given an annual opportunity by Koestler to dump their artistic voices out into the airwaves and I have privileged access on the other end of a direct line.
Forget Dickens and Shakespeare. This is the kind of dynamic stuff that I’d much rather be reading. People hurling their voices at you from whatever cycle of oppression or retribution they happen to be in; desperate voices, calm voices, demanding to be heard, coated in adjectives, sprinkled with verbs.
“Writing is all I have, a lament and a boast.”
William Orlando
...so impressed with the top stories...had to arrange these visuals to accompany them...live on a little longer...
Art Till Death

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

A Stealth's Path

Peak sequence in the movie Skyline (below). It’s very brief but very densely packed. Take people out of the question, or life in general, and it’s hard to see where a emotional response is going to come from within cinema. The next step is so obviously machines, at least in the sci-fi world of tomorrow’s future.

The point here is to identify with the Stealth aircraft in this clip. There’s obviously a pilot inside, but it seems to have a personality all of its own. People talk about supercars being objects of beauty, and belonging in galleries, not on the road; the same goes for this particular kind of propulsion aircraft. It is an absolute marvel of human engineering, craft and design. The thing is slick and sleek and sublime and downright beautiful. It looks mean and ruthless at the same time. Among the ugly alien machines here, it even looks cute.

It’s a character. That’s the nail on the head. It’s a bleedin’ character. You’re on its side. You’re rooting for it. It’s all alone, with the odds stacked against, trying to forge a narrow path through the enemy lines towards the hostile Mothership. If it can just get through, to have one single shot, one single chance. It’s your only hope, your last line of defence against the invaders. Mankind depends on it.

There’s no going back. It has one mission. Like a nose-bombing kamikaze. It’s own life has gone > that’s history. The only thing in question is whether it can hit its target...