Monday, February 28, 2005

"Pull your socks up, Scotland"

Take a look at this from the Scotsman:

Jenny Brown, a former director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival [and now a literary agent], said: "In an age where readers are looking for feel-good novels, Scotland excels at feel-bad books."

She said the black comedy of contemporary Scottish novels - when even sex was "dark, perverted" - could be one reason they don't get made into films. "We would probably do well to cultivate other novelists with voices who are putting forward an alternative picture."

Now, a few questions (from a (half-Scottish) Englishman):
  1. What is art?
  2. What is writing?
  3. Is it a means of expression?
  4. Or is it a means of entertainment?
  5. Is Ms Brown encouraging her clients to write to market?
  6. (And by the same token, would she be asking Scotland's literary grass roots to write Star Wars fan fiction if that's what the public wants?)
  7. Does Ms Brown really, really believe "readers are looking for feel-good novels"?
  8. Does she wonder if her clients are seeing their agent in a new light, this morning?
  9. Why do more Scottish books need to be made into films (other than to get a bit more money in their pockets)?
  10. Oh.. is it because SHE would get a bit more money in HER pocket?
  11. Does she realise that HARDLY ANY novels actually get made into GOOD movies?
  12. And even if all film adaptations were great, how does that help Scottish literature?
  13. Consider this scenario:
    Ms Brown sits down and reads a few Alexander McCall Smith books.
    Ms Brown notices that they have a "feel-good" (*aargh*) aspect to them.

    Ms Brown notes that AM Smith is a Scot (ignoring the fact that he comes from a priveleged background and has spent a lot of time immersed in a totally foreign culture).
    Ms Brown sees the sales figures.
    Ms Brown comes to conclusion.
  14. Has Ms Brown been drinking?
  15. Has Ms Brown not been drinking? (ie: How much does she really know about Scotland? Even I've been in a few Scots pubs and I didn't notice much "feel-good" knocking around. A fair bit of "black comedy" though, if that's how you want to put it.)
  16. Scottish Culture or Scottish money. Which phrase means most to Ms Brown?
  17. "Scotland excels at feel-bad books". Er, but I thought excelling at something was a good thing?
  18. Did I miss something?
  19. If TRAINSPOTTING isn't about feeling good, what the fuck is?
They already have Allan Guthrie. How much more sunshine can Scotland take?

Thursday, February 24, 2005


I'm not getting enough random hits from google. So I need to do something about it. (Sensitive readers turn away now)...

fuck lesbian xxx tits bruen teens

Mega-traffic here we come.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The band had only one more song to play

Later in the week, if you're lucky, we will have another guest blogger here. His name is Danny and he is a talented web designer, working in a small English town. From what I hear, he is going to be talking about his favourite song - "The Last Waltz" by Engelbert Humperdinck.

Here is a picture of Danny, so you'll know him when you see him:


I added some blog links over there on the right.
You might dig them, you might not.
You probably will.
You'd better.
If you don't, these people will get you:

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Smile for the camera, fool!

Forget Kevin Bacon. I give you six degrees of Mr T.

First off, check out this bit of Mr T news (picked up off Sarah's blog):

AMERICAN cult hero Mr.T will star in a new comic book series published by St Albans-based APComics.

The comics company, based in French Row, this week said the first edition of Mr.T would be launched in the USA on Mr.T's birthday, May 21.

The Mohican-haired and heavily bejewelled Mr.T known worldwide for his roles in the smash-hit television series The A-Team and hit feature films such as ROCKY III, as well as solo television shows is overseeing the series as creative supervisor.

Mr.T said: "Quit your jibber-jabbering and buy my comic. I pity the fool who don't read it! It's gonna be pure gold!"
Now, as anyone who has read DEADFOLK knows, Mr T makes a very tenuous appearance (ie: Clubber Lang is mentioned). Right? So that's where he comes in.

Then, a while after Serpent's Tail buy DEADFOLK, they make me go off to meet this photographer, to get a few cheesy mugshots for publicity purposes. (I've only ever seen one photo come out of that "shoot" - the one on that used to be at the top of this blog before I slyly switched it for Ali and Pacino etc - so I assume in all the others I looked like this.)

With me so far? Now, where was this photo taken, you ask? Well, I'll tell you...

French Row, St Albans (see above).

Yes, in that dark alley behind me Mr T's adventures are now taking shape. So there's your six degrees of Mr T for you. (Er... one, two... No - one, two, thr

The plot against the plot (and how it must be stopped)

Justin Cartwright writes in The Guardian:

One of the television scenes I love most is Alan Partridge trying to sell some ideas to a TV commissioner: his most desperate is monkey tennis. Sometimes when I write a proposal for a book I feel I am offering monkey tennis, because a novel can really only be described in terms of plot, and plot, in the TV sense, is very low down on my list of considerations. Occasionally I imagine Jeffrey Archer or Wilbur Smith making a detailed plan: villain seen in red sports car in Antibes; briefcase switched in the Ritz-Carlton by beautiful girl in hotpants whose uncle is the deposed president of Nicaragua, car chase, mercenary in prison escape, etc, until the resolution: sun going down over villa, champagne flowing like water ... happiness guaranteed.
OK, a couple of comments:
  1. Plot does not preclude characterisation.

  2. Plot does not have to come out of a detailed plan.

  3. There is a thing up there we call "imagination". This is what we use to come up with plots which do not involve red sports cars, hotels on the French Riviera, and deposed South American presidents.
  4. The best kind of plot is barely perceptible. Maybe this is what "literary novelists" are aiming for, though they don't know it.

  5. Jeffrey Archer... Why Jeffrey Archer? Does anyone actually read Jeffrey Archer? Do we know he's as shite as everyone implies? It seems to be an unspoken truth that everyone in the whole world is a better writer than Jeffrey Archer. If a sheep stands up on his back hooves and yells: "Jeffrey Archer? Pfft, what an asshole. I'm a hundred times the writer he is. I'll kick his fucking literary ass..." he's going to be on safe ground, and no one is going to argue... because everyone knows Archer is a bad, bad writer. But who knows for sure? The people (for there must be some) who buy his books and read them cover-to-cover? Are they gonna call him out? Are they really? I think not. I propose that the Jeff-knockers (me included) are talking out of their collective anus - BECAUSE WE HAVEN'T READ HIM. All we know is he's a corrupt ex-Tory MP who got above himself. Way above himself. How dare he, eh? How dare an Englishman do that? But I digress slightly...

  6. What the fuck is plot "in the TV sense"? You mean the red sports car thing, right? So when you think "plot" you think "TV"? What?

Ah, why am I bothering? People who consider themselves "literary novelists" will always consider craft to be a minor thing, and that it's all about wrenching some obscure, inchoate, authentic material from your soupy subconscious and shaping it into something that looks vaguely artistic. Hey, I'm a wrencher myself. I wrench with the best of them. I don't know what I'd do without my soupy subconscious. But I put wrenching side by side with the craft. And the plot, to me, is a part of the wrenching. Plot can say as much about your unique self as dreary prattling about the daily minutiae of caring for a sick old mum. You're ploughing on with a plot and it's decision time: Do you go this way or thataway? Maybe you go somewhere else entirely. You can go anywhere, man. The plot is there to be used. And trust me - you don't have to get an off-the-shelf one with red sports cars. Look for one in your own brain soup. You'd be surprised how it raises your game.

I freely, openly admit that I'm not exactly an authority on the art of writing. But who is? Don't tell me some professor, reviewer, or "name" novelist. All I know is what I like to read (and a novelist who consciously eschews plot is not likely to be that).

Monday, February 21, 2005

A very public meltdown

Lisa - my supernaturally capable publicist at Serpent's Tail - has somehow managed to sneak my obscure name onto the programmes of a few top festivals this year. We're talking big time here (baby), like Bath in a couple of weeks, and at the start of June the big mamma of them all - Hay. I'm not quite sure how she managed it, and I feel like one of those illegal immigrants emerging from the Channel Tunnel, blanket over head, not quite believing they've got in. Actually I can just about work out how she did it:

Lisa the Publicist: ...Yeah, his name is Charlie Williams. He's had one book out, and another coming in--
Timothy the Festival Oraganiser: Who?
L: Charlie Wil--
T: The only Charlie Williams I know is that dead stand-up comedian. You know, the northern one who said "Ayup, flower" a lot.
L: Er... Ayup what?
T: That's right. Hey! You know what would be really cool? If we managed to get a real dead author here, speaking and everything. He could do a "live-but-dead" reading, and chair a discussion about the struggle faced by dead people in today's society - a society dominated by the cult of life.
L: Yes, that's... er...
T: Because he did write a book, you know, this dead Charlie Williams. What was it called again...?
L: Deadfolk?
T: What? No, that's a rubbish ti-- Hey! I remember now. It was called EE, I'VE HAD SOME LAUGHS. You can still get it, you know. On Amazon. Aaahh, imagine if we had the real Charlie Williams here, talking about the book, cracking jokes, and just saying "Ayup, flower" a lot. Imagine the press we'd get, having a dead guy. Or even just a ghost.

[Lisa does some googling for Charlie Williams of "Ayup, Flower" fame, picks up the phone...]
C: Hello, this is Charlie Williams, author of Deadf--
L: Hey, Charlie. It's Lisa from Serpent's Tail.
C: Hi Lisa.
L: So I was wondering, can you do a northern accent?
C: What, you mean like this: "Ayup, flower"?
L: That's great. But can you make it a bit spookier? Like, say, a northern ghost?
C: Erm... Well, how about: "Aaayyyuuuup, floooowwweeeeer"
L: Wow, that's amazing! And have you got any boot polish?

[30 seconds later...]
T: Hello, this is Timothy Sheight-Hawke, events organiser of--
L: Hi Timothy. About that idea you had...

Anyway, the Bath one is first up (March 5), and this is the one I'm looking forward to most. I'll be on some sort of panel at the Rondo Theatre, sitting alongside three great authors - James Hawes, Desmond Barry, and Niall Griffiths. I've read all of them and the thing they all share (other than being from or writing about Wales or the West Country) is VOICE. Hawes had it from the start in A WHITE MERC WITH FINS, Griffiths in the recently-read STUMP, and Barry in the bloody superb A BLOODY GOOD FRIDAY. Fuck knows how I'll bear up next to these giants of the narrative voice, but I'll enjoy being there just as a spectator, as if there were no seats left in the audience so I have to sit onstage, with my popcorn and regular Pepsi.

Hey - if you're in the West Country on that day, maybe you'd like to watch me go into a very public meltdown? Should be good.

Anyway, according to the preview these are our subjects for discussion: "drink, drugs, sex, riots, chainsaws, David Hasselhof, and the state of the nation". That just about covers it all, right?

They are the famous four

Many thanks to the FOUR stout fellows who joined my mailing list. Your email addresses will sit for all eternity in the patheon of stout fellows. But it's time to face facts: the list is not working.

Problems I have faced:

  1. No one joined.
  2. I can't think of anything to post about.
  3. I keep forgetting it's there.
  4. No one joined.
  5. There's a data duplication thing going on, since I can post news here and on the site.
  6. No one joined.
  7. No one joined.
  8. I can't remember my username/password to get into the thing anyway.
  9. No one joined.
  10. (Actually that's not true. I'm being unfair on the stout four. So...)
  11. Only FOUR PEOPLE joined.

There we go - eleven solid reasons to let it go. And so, with a heavy heart, and a tearful eye, I must break the news to you all that the mailing list is now defunct.

There - if you're not one of the Famous Four, you missed your chance. The chisels have been packed away, and there's no room left on the mountain.

Friday, February 18, 2005


My mind is out there in the clouds today. I'm picking up different ideas and fusing them and coming up with monstrous hybrids. Anyway, you probably missed the picture I had up here briefly, earlier on. Guess what the two fused ideas were.

But you won't see it. It's gone. I had to take it down (when I came down). It was just too... Do you know what a satyr is? Here, have a look at this great pic instead:

Thursday, February 17, 2005


Jim Winter wrote an interesting post about novel outlining on his blog. (Actually, I think he was responding to another post on someone else's blog. And for all I know that someone else was responding to.... etc)

Anyway, so Jim Winter was doing this interesting post on outlining. And of course, I came up with a theory... theory... theory...

For the record, before I wade in on my theorising, I do not outline. I have never outlined, insofar as an outline is some sort of document prepared before writing a novel which says what will happen at each stage, how it will end etc. The furthest I have gone down that route is taking a few notes which take me, in a crude way, up to chapter three or so. I might do this after coming up with an opening scenario, and an idea about what sort of territory I could venture into. From there on in it's travelling without a map, chapter by chapter, not knowing how the hell it's all going to end. This blindness will last right up to the last chapter.

Why do I do it that way?

  1. I cannot be arsed to do an outline. It's just more work
  2. An outline seems, to me, too much like a "project plan", some work-related document that makes me yawn just thinking about it
  3. That old chestnut: an outline is a story in itself. When it's told, I don't want to tell it again. Might be a cliche to say it, but it's true
  4. Writing is a trip. You drop acid, you want to go somewhere new and have a crazy adventure. Same with writing

There are of course drawbacks. I might get lost on my way to the end of a novel, and ultimately have to track back and cut a big chunk. But, frustrating as it is, I don't mind that. I take it that I was meant to go down that avenue and see that it led to a place I don't want (my character) to go. (I should also say I've got ten or so unfinished novels on my hard-drive, abandoned at 30,000 or so words. Sometimes I just get lost in the woods and die before I can get out. Think Blair Witch.)

Now, here's my theory:
Writers who like outlining prefer reading outlined novels. And vice-versa.

What I mean is, I can usually tell if a novel has been outlined. It's neat, it's tight, it runs like an Aston Martin. (If done well.) By the same token I can tell if it has not been outlined. Maybe it's slightly messy. It's a bit baggy in places. IT FLIES LIKE A FUCKING ROCKET. (If done well.)

Both types of novel have their place. And clearly both have a market. But I think the two are distinct, that the end product is a different animal in each case. And I think readers, like writers, can tell (subconsciously or not), and go for one or the other by preference.

So arguments go out the window, as far as which is better (outlining or seat-of-pants-flying). As a writer or reader you're predisposed to one or the other, and there's not much you can do about it. That would be like trying to turn gay penguins straight.

But, you know, it's just a theory.


I've had a complaint about Keith's recent guest-blog. Tavin writes in from Vancouver, saying simply: "Keith is a male chauvinist pig." However, she fails to provide evidence to back up this claim, and I can't find any myself.

Meanwhile Cecil in Port Talbot writes: "I just want to thank Keith for his stirling advice on pulling women. I did exactly what he said (right down to the bit about the mirror) and ends up getting off with a well fit bird at Cinderella's last night. Sadly she ran off when I chucked up in her handbag." Well done Cecil, and I'll be passing on the positive feedback to Keith.

He might also be interested in this, from Raquelle in Swaziland: "I think Keith is gorgeous. Especially that hat. Has he ever thought of being a model? He can wiggle his eyebrows at me anytime."

Finally, Danny from Mangel writes: "Keith is a wanker. I do all the bloody graft round here. Web desiner, he calls himself? He couldn't desine himself a bacon butty, let alone a web. But he gets all the credit, don't he. Even made us check his blog the other day for speling mistakes, saying he'd put in a good word for us with Monica at the paper shop if I did. But he never even done that. I went in there yesterday and all she goes on about is Keith this Keith that, how hansome he is and how clever, doing all that computer stuff... Well, I've had enough. Do you know what I say? Sod him. That's right - sod him good and proper. I ain't lifting a finger for him no more. I'm the fourmost web desiner around here, not him. I'm the one who can spell proper, and I'm the one who lent him that Rainbow record in the first place (which I ain't seen since). And I wants me dues."

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Blake Sighting

It seems Royston Blake - hero of Deadfolk - has been keeping active between books. From the "local sports" newsdesk...

On a damp pitch, which was very lively, Fringford were asked to bat and struggled to 125, with only Royston Blake making any real score (23).

(Fringford, of course, is twinned with Mangel.)

Monday, February 14, 2005

i need a girl who can keep her head...

hello. keith here from frotsoft, doing a bit of guest blogging like. the usual feller has asked us to put summat on here, spice it up a bit for him. and i got just the thing for you, it being valentines and that.

"all night long" by rainbow is widely reputed to be the best song in the anals of musical history. not only does it have a top tune and that, but the words is great and all. it's about a feller who's in a pop group, right, and he's at a concert and there's a bird in the audience who he quite fancies. you can't blame him though cos she's a bit of alright:

I saw you standing there by the stage
Your black stockings and your see-through dress

not bad, eh? anyhow, so he starts singing this song to her, telling her how fit she is and how much he wants to love her all night long, like. it's a master class in chatting a bird up, and i for one have learned a lot from it, playing it over and over before going out on a saturday night. i'll walk you through the different phases, see if i can't teach you summat.

You're sorta young but you're overage
I don't care cos I like you're style
Don't know about your brain but you look alright

see, what he's up to there is flatterising her. it's a fact well known that no bird can stand much flattery before putting out. so he's feeding her all the lines she wants to hear, making her the centre of his universe. so at this point she's well buttered up, like, but not quite ready for the jam. so he moves onto the next stage:

You're mind is dirty but your hands are clean
You're short of class but your legs are long
I can't stand to spend another night on my own

show me a lost puppy and i'll show you a bird with her heart bleeding. it's plain as the foot on the end of your leg: birds is soft, and they can't walk past a poor fucker in distress. so that's what the feller's doing here - making himself out like a lost puppy. "I can't stand to spend another night on my own" - aaah, bless him. (course, he don't ever spend a night on his own, do he, with chatting up skills like these uns.)

the classics
Hey girl would you like some wine?
What's your name? Are you by yourself?
Are you the one, what's your sign, can I take you home?

no self-respecting ladies' man permits himself to chat up a bird without feeding her the classics. he knows it, and so does she. she respects herself and all, and she'd feel cheap if she gave in without hearing them old favourites whispered all smoky in her ear. and of course, he saves the big one til last there - "can I take you home?" what you got there is him cleverly ending up with a question, lobbing the ball in her court, and thereby leaving her gagging for it.

so there you go - a lecture in love from one of the world's fourmost authorities. (don't say i never gives you fuck all, eh?) take these chicken nuggets of advice, go out there into the world, do yer stuff and see if you can't pick yerself up a beautiful lady before old saint valentine pisses off.

a word of warning
always practice in the mirror before going out. and remember: it's all about eyebrow movement.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Bit of a long shot, this...

...but fuck it:

Does anyone happen to have any contacts in the UK pub world? A pub landlord, perhaps? Even better - someone involved in a regional pub chain? You would be doing me a great favour if you did. (As long as you told me about it. If you had a contact and you kept quiet about it, you would just be sneaky.)

This is to do with promoting my next novel, which is to be called FAGS AND LAGER. (You can see what I'm getting at now, yeah?) Anyway, if you fancy helping me out, drop me a line and I'll be in your debt.

Hope you all have a top weekend. Reading, drinking, dancing, ah...

Enjoy looking at strange fish?

Then check out these babies. They don't come stranger.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

"Gimme that fuckin' shooter"

Watched SNATCH last night. What's wrong with it? Why does everyone slag off Guy Ritchie? I know he did a crappy one later (CAST AWAY, was it?), but I'm always hearing people turning their noses up at his first two. I don't get it. I've seen LOCK, STOCK... too and thought it was great. OK, so the London gangster trend is a bit passe, but LSATSB and SNATCH are still great films, in their way.

PROSECUTION: They glamorise violence.
DEFENCE: Bollocks. Muhammed Ali spent his whole life glamorising violence and they made him a saint for it.

P: They contain stereotyped cockney geezer characters.
D: So what? Stereotypes are there to be used. It's how you use them.

P: But why couldn't Guy Ritchie just stay away from Madonna?
D: Hmm...

P: He's just a mockney poseur. Everyone knows he was really brought up in a stately home in the counties.
D: So who's on trial? The work or the creator?

P: Actually I just looked on IMDB and SNATCH has a rating of 7.9, so this entire rant has been a waste of time.
D: But I swear I heard voices slagging it off. I DID. I HEARD THEM. I HEARD THEM. I HEA

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Stuff I've been absorbing of late

Bookwise: STUMP (Niall Griffiths)

A one-armed recovering alcoholic scouser is hiding out Wales, trying to get a grip on existence. Meanwhile a pair of useless scouse gangsters are slowly tracking him down in a crap Moggy Minor. You've got to read this book just for these characters. Very rarely in contemporary fiction do you get such a pungent depiction of the out-and-out crapness of daily life for a repentant drinker. Yes, the main (unnamed) character's life is shit, but you've gotta love him for the way he looks after his rabbit and grows his own veg. He's trying to make his way, with one arm, and it ain't easy. And you don't half feel for him.

The pair in the car are hilarious. They might have come straight of Central Casting at Brookside, but that show has been a dead a few years now and they've grown a few of their own pungent quirks. At one point Darren needs a shit and he stops the car, turns the roadmap to the page for Manchester, rips it out, and runs to the bushes. A nice touch.

There are very few genuinely invidual writers working in Britain these days, and Griffiths is one of them. The "what it's like for a one armed person" schtick might have been overplayed slightly, but that's the only fault here. I really liked this, and I'm going to read his other books now.

Whiskywise: LAPHROAIG

I am the only person I know who likes this particular single malt. Everyone else says it tastes like TCP (anticeptic). OK, so it smells a bit that way, but don't try and tell me what it tastes like. You never even put it near your lips, you tossers. You just sniffed it, went "uggghh - TCP", put it down, and cracked open a Bacardi Breezer. That smell is actually PEAT, and it swirls around my mouth and blends into my bloodstream quite nicely, ta. So you just stick to your Red Bull and Babycham.

Tellywise: DOUBLE DARE (by Dennis Potter)

I was walking around the house the other night, cigar and glass of Laphroaig in hand (celebrating a 200 word haul), when I noticed this on telly. I'd read about it a couple of times on the past - an early Dennis Potter effort. It's pretty much a straight play, none of the potteresque singing and trippy bits. But it fucks with your head nonetheless.

It's about a rather troubled writer who believes his life is actually a script he wrote, and everyone around him is acting (making matters worse for him, he keeps telling people what they're about to say). He's arranged to meet an actress (who he fancies) in a hotel bar, and he basically asks her what's the difference between having sex with someone on screen as an actress, and having sex with someone as a private person. What is real? Who the fuck am I? When I raise my hand, am I doing it to demonstrate that I can raise my hand, or am I doing it because my inner self really wants to? Bla bla bla...

It is actually a superb play, so make sure you catch it if you can. I'm just not up to doing it justice, here, on this frivolous blog thing.

(A side note - those 70s TV plays weren't half saucy.)

Waste-of-time-wise: PS2 GOLF, OR WHATEVER IT'S CALLED

Why am I always five years behind anyone else with these video game things? Oh, I know - I never actually buy them. I just wait for more hip people to shell out for the latest toy, then quietly take their old clunker off their hands. Ta very much, mate. See you in five years.

Earwise: THE LYRE OF ORPHEUS (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds)

Have I mentioned this one before? I think I did, on my old "clunker" website. Anyway, if you don't mind I'll just say (sing):

Eurydice appeared brindled in blood
And she said "Dear Orpheus
If you play that fucking thing in here
I'll stick it up your orifice"

It's actually the last two songs on the disc that I like best - CARRY ME and O CHILDREN - both gospely and whistful and you might want to nod off to them if he didn't say things like:

Pass me that lovely little gun
My dear, my darling one
The cleaners are coming, one by one
You don't even want to let them start

(Hey Philip - ta for turning me on to Nick Cave, quite a while ago now.)

Rockywise: ROCKY II

Anyone who stubbornly refuses to like Rocky, turn away now. On second thoughts - read on, you bastards...

I now know why the Rocky franchise petered out after Rocky 3. That guy up there - it's all about him. After Mickey died in III, the whole concept lost it's balance. Rocky was manifestly thick in the first two, and didn't seem too bothered about anything (besides chasing Adrian, and then the prospect of her catching "pet shop diseases" when he puts her up the spout). He's the cheerfully ignorant brute, in short. Burgess Meredith's grouchy old coach was his opposite - old, depressed, angry, worldly (in boxing terms), frail. Ah, it just works.

Then you get Rocky III, which is kind of a turning point. It's the pinnacle of Rockydom, mainly because it's just so full of conflict. Mickey is pissed off, Apollo is indignant, Clubber Lang is furious, Rocky is unhappy, Adrian is sexually frustrated... even Hulk Hogan is strangely subdued. But Rocky is still resolutely thick. However, you get his big disillusionment in this one - he finally sees the truth, and thereafter must carry the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Next came the downward slope of Rockys IV and V - Rocky carrying the weight of the world on his pumped-up deltoids. All angst, all conflict, all flash training montages, no humour. It just cannot be pulled off without Mickey, and flashbacks don't cut it. Also Dolph Lundgren and Tommy Morrisson just can't match up to Mr T's unshutuppable performance as the ROCKY III nemesis...

Still love em though. All five of them.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Blimey O'Reilly

O'Reilly's a celtic name, right? Good, because there's some celtic cheer in the air. Let's take the tour...

Edinburgh's Al Guthrie lands 2-book deal from Polygon for TWO WAY SPLIT and KISS HER GOODBYE, joining celebrated Polygonians Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall Smith. Congratulations, Ian and Sandy. But you've got your work cut out keeping up with this dude.

Galway's Ken Bruen lands similar deal from Transworld, for the next two Jack Taylor books PRIEST and CROSS. There is very little in this world that can stop Mr Bruen (since Steve Collins retired).

For fuck's sake...

Friday, February 04, 2005

I Wanna Know What Love Is

Hi. This is The Hoff, and my pet eagle, guest-blogging for Charlie Whatever-his-name-is. Check out this discussion of power ballads at the blog of Ray Banks (my unpaid PR). Why? Because you owe it to yourselves. No one can expect to get on in life without a basic knowledge of history's most influential musical form.

And don't forget - it was ME who brought down the Berlin Wall.

Thursday, February 03, 2005


Richey James Edwards went missing (suspected suicide) ten years ago. This man has long fascinated me. Can't say I've ever shared his taste in make-up, but what a song-writer... THE HOLY BIBLE (album number 3) was one of the best albums of the 90s. And look at the The Manic Street Preachers since he "left"... Quite honestly, they have turned to shit. For a short while his spirit lingered and they still had it, using up what remained of his lyrics in the album EVERYTHING MUST GO. But what since? You can't tell me "The Masses Against the Classes" is a return to form. It's a fucking parody.

No, ignore the "Manic Street Preachers PLC" we have today. Go back to THE HOLY BIBLE. It's a filthy, angry, glorious call to arms. People say it's bleak as hell, and basically a long suicide note from Richey. No way. He might well have topped himself not long after recording it, but these songs almost sound like celebrations.

Sure, the songs dwell on how shit everything is. You cannot deny that. Some themes at random:
loss of youth an how shit adulthood is
capital punishment
sexual depravity of world leaders
menstruation and, er, how shit it is

But when you present shitness with such panache as this it kind of gives you hope. You see beyond the brown, so to speak. Check this lyric from "Yes". Surely - surely - he intends some humour here?
And in these plagued streets of pity you can buy anything
For $200 anyone can conceive a God on video
He's a boy, you want a girl so tear off his cock
Tie his hair in bunches, fuck him, call him Rita if you want

No matter how bad things get, this "bleak" album always lifts my spirits. James Dean Bradfield's (often almost military) arrangement has a lot to do with this, coupled with his agonised, defiant voice. But I can't help thinking it's all about Richey. He's the shaman, dancing around and cutting himself and pouting for the cameras and taking on all the shit around him and ultimately, ten years ago, throwing himself off the Severn Bridge (allegedly).

Mind you, a friend of a friend of a friend reckons they saw him in a Swiss ski resort a couple of years back, working behind the bar.

The other reason Richey fascinates me - he went to the same university as me (Swansea). On my very first day I remember getting a flyer under the door of my "hall of rez" room - a gig by a new "local" band called The Manic Street Preachers. I didn't go. I had a toga party to attend to, or something equally forgettable. But I haven't forgotten that flyer.

Later I found out Richey had lived in the same building as me. I doubt our paths would have crossed, even if we had been contemporaries (he had just left as I was arriving). From what I've read in his (numerous) interviews, he hated all those pissed-up students who wasted their education. He was reading in the library all the time (for that you have to admire him)... or at his digs in town, writing "Motorcycle Emptiness" with Nicky Wire. Although I did like the library, I was more often getting pissed and puking in a gutter.

(But Richey, I was never one of those middle-classes wankers you so hated. I never got a penny from no one. Honest. Every penny I pissed up the wall came straight out of my overdraft. Does that make a difference?)

(Probably not.)

But those lyrics... I'll leave you with another (from "Die in the Summertime"):

Scratch my leg with a rusty nail, sadly it heals
Colour my hair but the dye grows out
I can't seem to stay a fixed ideal

Childhood pictures redeem, clean and so serene
See myself without ruining lines
Whole days throwing sticks into streams

4 real?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Don't know about your brain but you look alright

Later in the week, if you're lucky, we will have a guest blogger here. His name is Keith and he is a talented web designer, working in a small English town. From what I hear, he is going to be talking about his favourite song - "All Night Long" by Rainbow.

Here is a picture of Keith, so you'll know him when you see him:

Nice one

I wanted to say a big cheers to Victor Gischler for the positive words for DEADFOLK on his "World's Worst Blog", but you can't leave comments there. And I don't know his email address. So Victor - if you're reading - this is for you:

Also cheers to Charlie Stella, who gave DEADFOLK the thumbs up on his blog. I'll never tire of the buzz from finding that someone has got a kick out of something I wrote. So Charlie, here's a present for you:

Anyone else who dug DEADFOLK and told someone about it, this man is waiting to take your order: