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, 28 November 2012

Medusa Fight

Monday, 26 November 2012

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Simon Armitage

Simon Armitage came onto my radar on The Review Show, as did Tom Paulin and other critics. I picked his book up in the library one time and read an impressive abstract paragraph or so. Just a few lines, but they told me more than enough. I thought two things: who the hell is this guy and where the hell has he been, because so many poets are penning verse which for me takes itself too seriously, tries too hard to be clever clogs literature, and worst of all commits the cardinal sin of not even rhyming. I swear, poetry can be an excuse for just making mad bull crap up with zero regard for the rules we learned at school. Since then I’ve read one of his poetry books whole. One standout poem in particular, Horses, M62, about horses on the M62, was a fave.

When you hear someone speaking/reading, all keen and eager on the first or second row, you are usually distracted by their physical presence (not to mention surroundings). It can be like meeting a celebrity. You take in their posture, their clothing, their jewellery, everything down to their cotton socks. You don’t mean to, but it’s natural. You kind of focus on the lips especially, because they are always moving.

And in doing this, the message can be sidetracked by said distractions. There’s really no need for any of this with Simon. I recommend, if you get to hear him read, to close your eyes. You should close your eyes for him if you close your eyes for anyone. You want to clearly hear every word. Not just with your ears, but with your mind. Listening to Armitage recite with your eyes closed is like being in a very funny abstract movie. Honestly, it is. What a blessing there is a poet out there who can let the words do all the work for him. All the personal image and public persona thingy is a hindrance, to be frank. The words are all it is ever about and if they are magical and hysterical then the mouth behind their stylish cadence becomes almost irrelevant. The person is merely the vessel.

What a privilege to hear undiluted talent spill out from someone so effortlessly. As he said himself, it is all about exposure to people better than yourself so you can raise your own bar to or above their standards. Amen to that amigos.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Ceramic Comeback

It’s been a long six months without making anything. The simple reason is that the idea of clay dust in the kitchen doesn’t exactly push my buttons (sometimes the thought of clay is like the thought of secondhand cigarette smoke*—don’t want to be anywhere near it). Not exactly got a studio in the basement with excellent ventilation either. There’s still half a bag of clay underneath the sink that has been there since the cows came home, untouched, but because it is well wrapped up, and sellotaped in places where the bag has torn, it’s surprisingly still soft and ready when I am.

Finally something was jammed together this week in a couple of hours. Don’t think anything more than three hours has ever been spent on the construction of one piece (painting can take longer). It was not going very well and that familiar urge to suddenly splat it on the floor and start again appeared, but then it found itself and became something just as suddenly. Part of the process is accidental, working with whatever grooves come to light while you are forging a general shape. One thing for sure is that these curvy groovy hand-builds really are unique, as attempts to recreate them exactly the same have failed miserably. A cast would be needed for that, and the idea of plaster anywhere about my person is even worse than clay, and almost as bad as cigarette smoke.

The designs continue to evolve naturally without ever having any real planning. Sculpture is about fingers and clay, not architectural drawings and steel frames. Alien objects by working class hands.

*no offense, smokers, been there.

As you can see in the 2nd picture down, forget fancy glazes...

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Hannibal The Cannibal in AA


Simon Bestwick

Simon Bestwick’s story Dermot features in a Black Static magazine from last year, #24. It concludes with an encounter in a police cell which for personal reasons struck a tender nerve. You think you have these fears, born and bred along with you, and then you hear another writer talk or you read another writer write, and they bump it all on up to higher levels of fret, certifying your concerns. You walk away thinking well thanks a lot for scaring the pants off me, how much do I owe you for the privilege? In the past it’s been said on here that horror is the mother genre because it can have everything, lightness shines brighter in the dark and all that sweet n sour stuff, but when the horror sticks to horror and that horror is a credible horror, only hinted at beyond local shadows instead of being thrust down your throat behind a cheap mask and fake blood (cue teenage screaming), then sometimes you question what the hell kind of a genre you have your face buried in. Perhaps the Holy Bible would be better—a form of prescription reading, for healing, perhaps. Any Jehovah's Witness pamphlets knocking about? A copy of The Watchtower? Anything?

Simon has interesting thoughts on what may lurk inside the woodshed, so to speak, although when it comes down to far-out beliefs, even he chuckles at the idea of certain individuals ‘morphing into velociraptors’. He has, aside from unsettling imaginings about the inner workings of fictional police stations, some keen related observations on conspiracy theories. He brought to light something along the lines of this: It is more debilitating for the human mind to see no pattern where there is one rather than create a pattern where there isn’t.

Horror IS NOT the best genre...didn't you know? 
CROSS-GENRE is the best genre.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Ramsey Campbell - Coincidence

Ramsey 'The Master' Campbell's Recenty Used story is also in Black Static #24. In it his central character ambles along hazy hospital corridors containing fog. Ramsey is a keen advocator of coincidence, so he won’t bat an eyelid when he hears that this incurred a similarity regarding one of my own stories from 2006, Emergency Servery, in which a hospital corridor is also described as a kind of ghostly spectral pipeline between one world and another. No doubt it’s been done umpteen and a half times before. In fact, a number of years ago, he admits to having wrote the exact same story as someone else without ever being aware of it beforehand. My own teenage opus was about three people who wrote the exact same books. An almost identical chunk of my novel Slithering Lake from nearly ten years ago now ended up in a movie called Slither (would you stop banging on about it?). But where do plagiarism and coincidence divide?

Never underestimate the frequency of coincidences. Ramsey has brought to bear the sheer overpowering odds of the collective consciousness. We are all getting our ideas from the same places. We are all tapping into the same emotions. And there are so, so many of us. Connections are bound to appear abundantly. It’s all about levels of consciousness. Ramsey has been published since he was 16 and had a lifetime in books, so nobody should know much better about it than him. He sent his first book to a publisher when he was 11 or so, his only copy, written in crayon—and they sent it back, bless ‘em! In a portion of his latest work, which read like an episode of Big Brother gone absolutely barking mad, a car alarm goes off whenever a certain character gets an erection—is that genius or what? Don't you wish you'd thought of that? 

P.S Ramsey has never read a single line of Dan Brown’s books. Nor me.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Black Gloves...and Asylum

 Ever since reading City in Aspic by Conrad Williams in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 13, abandoned black gloves have been popping up all over the place, and now that you've read this, they more than likely will do for you too, if not already. Must be some kinda curse thing. Don't freak out about it, just make sure you take a snap of the more interesting ones. It is always wise to check if there is an actual hand inside, though. If there is, dial 999. If it moves, run.  
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There's a movie called ASYLUM (1972) consisting of several shorts. The first one is called Frozen Fear and in it a man is confronted by what just may well be a severed hand wrapped in paper. The severed hand belonged to a dismembered body in his freezer; his wife, if remembered correctly. He killed her to be with his mistress. He is calming his nerves with a nice warm whiskey while waiting for his mistress to pick him up from the crime scene and depart for a better life, when all of a sudden this body part is there disturbing his peace, having rolled on up from the basement like something out of Evil Dead 2 (1987). What follows is quite possibly the best reaction to anything in any horror movie ever: He doesn't scream, he doesn't squeal, he doesn't scram. What he does is...well, skip the vid to 6 minutes and 30 seconds to find out. Check the eyebrow as well.