Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best of the Best 2009

Top Things of 2009 (in no particular order)

Books (not all released 2009):

Little Brother - Cory Doctorow
Beggars in Spain - Nancy Kress
Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson
Startide Rising -David Brin
The Ragged Astronauts - Bob Shaw
Parable of the Sower - Octavia Butler
Old Man’s War - John Scalzi
Revolutionary Road - Richard Yates
Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
The Brief but Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz


District 9
300 Days of Summer
Star Trek
Let The Right One In


Absu –Absu
Marduk – Wormwood
Beherit – Engram


Absu (Dublin & Bergen)
Aura Noir
The Rotted
Day of Suffering Festival in Purple Turtle


Fallout 3
Call of Duty - Modern Warfare 2
Elder Scrolls –Oblivion
Was Mass Effect this year?
FIFA 08 (Yes – I am that far behind)


Hilbo. Everything.
Drinking with Voivod in the Garage in Bergen. Dreams can come true!
Making the Longlist for the Aeon Award 2009 (two counts)
Marky getting thrown out of The Garage
‘The Marky an the Petey went to see The Pope in Rome’
Fulham V Roma Stadio Olympico
Interviewing Proskriptor from Absu
Hugging Gaahl (‘The most evil man in Norway’- Gorgoroth)
Downpour in print (Thanks Dee!)
Fulham V Everton at Craven Cottage (inc. walking along the banks of the Thames on the way to the game laughing at the scousers)
BMW 5 Series V Hardanger Fjord
‘Show me your Genitals’ and the Great Scotch Egg Hunt at 2D in Derry including PenGwen
Finally getting to meet the Albedo boys
My Liver V Russian Standard featuring pyjama playground raid, Where’s the poop deck? and Garda Intervention
Sneaking off on Marky an Hatchet in that London to have breakfast and look in The Forbidden Planet (heh heh)
Marky V Hatchet’s Coke (two counts) (still funny)
Meeting Grutle (Enslaved)
Rediscovering Fibbers
Independents Day
Ireland V France (in Croker) Getting a Keano chant going and Mark getting an annoying driver reefed by the polini
Ireland V Italy (in Croker)
Adopting Tony
Micra V Fiesta
Ireland V France (in the Longstone. I don’t hold anything against Henry) & South African Police Toffee Apple Torture


Exit Ciaron
Not making the Shortlist for the Aeon Award 2009 (two counts)
Three rings of death (but quick replacement Xbox)
Back to the chalkface
Holding the fort at 2D
Bad year for people’s health
No toilet on Matthew’s coach

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Father Michael and the Little Fellah.

Christmas Story

Greetings readers and followers! Here is a story that I wrote in '98. It was never published, despite my best efforts. Maybe the writing is a little off, or maybe the story didn't appeal to editors. Funnily, though, I've always really liked it. At the time, the piece represented me at my best. I had been reading Robert Nye, and had been down to Kerry for a weekend with Richie and Marky, both of which influenced the style and course of the story.

Here goes...

Father Michael and the Little Fellah.

Peter C. Loftus.

07/05/1998. is said that of witches, they can effect multiple nefarious transformations upon their denigrators, harassers and inquisitors. Manifold are the properties purchased by their dark art - lycantrophy, transvection, divination, animal magnetism, sortilege, enchantment, scotomancy, oneiromancy, prestidigitation, necromancy, thaumaturgy and others- too foul and insidious to list. The Hag can prepare philtres, read the Mystic Tarot, bedevil the poor dumb beasts of the forest, milk the axe, effect translocation and commune with the black goat himself. They drink the blood of the innocent, and Satan and all the Sabbath lap the milk from their breasts.
Be it also known that witches can vomit at will swarms of frogs and flies, and all manner of pins, needles and insects. They collect the hair of the newborn to line their bonnets. Insulted, or rebuffed in their sluttish pursuits, they have the power to remove the membrum virile of a man, and to transport it, squeaking like a hatchling, to the nest of one of their familiars. The membrum, then, is thought to have a life of it’s own independent of either witch or victim...

From the writings of St. Theobald the Lame, circa 1665 A.D.

Bautregaum, Dingle Peninsula, 1934.

Father Michael awoke at some unearthly hour. Gofannon Mab Don was going hell for leather somewhere between the plates of his narrow skull. His mouth was like the inside of a shoe with a corpse’s foot in it. He tried to look around, but his eyes were forged shut as if he’d been the three rounds with Trousers McGinty.
So, Father Michael stayed there for most of the morning... right where he was. His thin body curled on the bed like that of a whipped greyhound, spindle-shouldered and shivering. Thin hair plastered itself across his mottled scalp like an afterthought. Between the greasy clumps, his head looked like the bloated stomach of a drowned rat.
“Eeeehhhhhh,” he moaned, his voice straining from his head, breezing from within, through the broken windows of his teeth. He sat upright on his squalid cot, wondering if his throat was bleeding or was that a twig of bracken he’d swallowed. He smelt sour, used, defeated.
Goat-eyed, he surveyed the desolation. A chamber pot lay on it’s side, its contents strewn across the wooden floor and halfway under the rug. Gagging, Micheal rose and sprayed detritus between his fingers as he ran for the door.

The outhouse wall was cool against his burning temple. The mountain towered behind, weathered shoulders of granite showing through the brown wash of heather and beards of scree. Clouds that were neither rain nor fog rested on these shoulders, looking for all the world as if they’d no intention of ever moving on. Steady drizzle descended.
Micheal felt the call of nature for the morning water and reached down into his breeches for the little fellah. The salty tang of a trapped sea-breeze wafted by, rattling the shutters. He felt around. He dropped his trousers and bared his skinny weasel’s arse to the world. Absence! Nullity! Holy Father! The little fellah was gone! Micheal slipped gratefully into the warm abyss that rose to greet him...

When first Micheal awoke, he had things to be doing. He had to groan a bit, and sleep a bit and get sick and faint in the outhouse, with his skinny weasel’s arse on show to all the world.

Now he’s asleep, and Mrs. Kielty is dragging him back into the house, muttering imprecations to seven saints, two angels and the Holy Mother Herself. Now we get to see why Micheal fainted, which is to say, what happened to him last night and where the little fellah went. We’ll leave Mrs. Kielty there, berating the Virgin of Knock and the various powers and thrones. We’ll leave Father Micheal there too, slumped on the floor like an empty glove puppet and we’ll have a look at last night.

The shebeen was pounding to the music of fiddle, pipes and bodhran. Porter swilled from swung mugs and washed to the floor to be trampled with laughter. Smoke palled heavily from pipe and peat.
Father Micheal sat beside The O’Dowd on a high stool. The O’Dowd, red with good cheer, was wiping the counter-top.
“...if you could just see your way son, just a drop for to take that damp out of me,” and here Father Micheal wrapped the collapsed ruin of his gob about a toitin, “...sure you’d be saving the life of me, and you can be sure that I of all people can have accounts squared up for you bf...” Father Micheal coughed, sending up a great consecrated wreath of spittle, smoke and consumptive particles.
The O’Dowd, in a good humour because the wife was sick in bed with the ague, obliged.
O’Herlihy, the thin-lipped school-master (more widely known as That Bastard), sent over a large one, in the hope that Father Micheal would advance more rapidly in his cups, and thus advance more rapidly to his bed. O’Herlihy was a great lover of logic. Unluckily for him, Father Micheal was a great lover of rhetoric, and he had the ear of God and the turned backs of O’Shea and his sons to practise on. Eventually, however, Father Micheal took it outside and staggered off slantwards towards “the best bed in Ireland.”
“I hope he doesn’t feckin’ mean my bed,” shouted Tommy Ryan, “the feckin’ Missus will kill him!” The shebeen was swallowed in an uproar of laughter.
Father Micheal sloped off into the night on legs that wouldn’t straighten fully when he walked, lurching like a circus dog. A great cosmic bone dangled before him.

The night was like the inside of a cauldron. Seething rain boiled up the sides of the mountain, vaporous and wild. It whipped, flogged and lashed at the poor Father as he made his way along the road. Poor auld Father Micheal was feeling the rain, the night, the drink, the whole thing with an extraordinary sensitivity, a sensitivity that can only be found in an empty vessel, in a cup which calls unceasingly for refilling. Micheal was that cup. Drives, impulses, desires and hunger warred across the holy man like the demons of Saint Anthony. But Father Micheal was no saint, and deep within, a deadly and devious adversary was shaking off the mantle of sleep and girding itself for battle.

The widow Casey sat there, like a spider in a web, with woolen threads depending from her in every direction. One long foot tapped at the floor as she worked and her pointed, waxwork head rocked back and forth on top of a stiff black collar. Grey strands spiralled her head, as she, a gossamer crowned dowager of all Arachnia worked her weave.
Thud! Thud! Thud!
The room reverberated. The door shook on its hinges. Dark creatures scuttled in the creases and features of the widow. Eyes, suddenly feral, swung in cadaverous sockets. Shadows, massive and threatening shifted. The light in the room now flowed freely, unhindered by unnatural means as time realigned.
“SSSssshhhh!” said the widow, an alabaster finger to thorny lips. Familiars settled, with much grunting and farting.
“For the love of God woman, will you ever let a good Christian man in out of the rain before he drops with exhaustion?”
“Maybe not,” she whispered, a smile that is deadlier than a plague on her face. Tiny titters sounded from the corners.
Thud! Thud! Thud!
The widow rose from her chair. Lenghts of wool floated from her hands, shorn. In one silent surge she stepped across the room, ripped open the door and had the priest inside. Father Micheal stood there, dumbfound, soaked and inebriated. Flaxen Tom farted gently from under a chair, and titters echoed in the shadows.
“What is it, Father?” asked the widow.
“Sweet Lord above, I nearly drowned down below there on the road,” answered Micheal. “I had to get in to the warmth for a second before the life was sucked from me.”
“Indeed,” replied the widow, having decided that the least that she deserved for her troubles was a bit of fun. “And can I offer you a quick dram to help the cold away?”
“B’God ye could, and thanks.” Father Micheal had slowly come to his senses. The warmth of the room and the exertion of the night came together to make him feel woozy and light-headed. As he sank into a chair, the widow shoved a rough mug into his gnarled talon. He drank deeply, liquor running down either side of his mouth in a trailing moustache.
The widow watched, her eyes a mirthful bridge across twin pools of pure spite as the sodden priest slipped deeper into oblivion. For Father Micheal the battle had been joined. Soused, he tried to make small-talk with the widow, trying to ignore what he and the widow could both see. On the mantlepiece, Frank shifted in his jar; a toad that was once a man.
“I thought, y’see that I might drop in to see how you were doing of late.” He was trying in vain to distract himself from what he was about to do. He was trying in vain to dress it up for her so she wouldn’t know what he was about. But she did. And she poured. And Father Micheal slipped closer and closer to the demon’s stinking maw. He poured his heart out. He poured his tears out. He took his beads out. And then, when Widow Casey turned her back to fetch the jug, he took his dick out. Drunk to the gills and weeping with self-hatred he bared himself of all. She turned around, and there he was, holding the little fellah in the cradle of his hand like a tiny fledging. He looked at it, sobbed meaningfully, once, and then looked at her, his eyes brimming like those of the Lord Jesus himself. Forgive us our sins. He had lost the battle. The widow grinned like an unsheathed dagger. Sprouts and Ginger giggled in the shadows.

Father Micheal stirred, and tried to sit up. As sudden as a rapture it had come to him... the shebeen, the drink, the rain, the lust, the widow, the lust, the drink...and then... Father Micheal leapt up, pushed the protesting Mrs. Kielty off and dashed back to his room as if all the sins of a thousand sinning, fornicating priests were after him. He pounded up the staircase. He kicked at the dog like a lunatic as it capered down the hall towards him. He stamped into the bedroom, slammed the door like a madman and dropped his trousers. Oh yes- the sacred scepter was gone! Micheal’s face crumpled, and became a crying theatre mask with eyes the shape of upside-down bananas and a mouth like the rip in a mother’s heart with the loss of an only child. His body shook as he stood there and shivered, keening without sound or water.

High on the side of Bautregaum mountain was a nest, tucked into a crevice in the lichened rocks. Three hungry mouths wailed there, day and night. Hail, sleet or shine, the mother worked, ferrying back gobbets of fish flesh. Three hungry mouths waited there ,day and night. Three hungry mouths agape. Three hungry mouths and one fleshy gobbet that was not of fish or bird, but man. Four hungry mouths, chirping and mewling, high on the side of the mountain.

Racking coughs siezed the little priest. He lay there, on the floor of his room, with his hands between his legs, ingnoring the entreaties from without. He was completely bald there, bald as an egg. The skin there was smooth and it curved slightly between his legs. The delerium tremens convulsed his frame as he rose and squatted to pee, from his arse into his chamber pot. His head swam. His vision became a conjuror, at once beguiling and elucidating.
“Oh Jesus, God,” he croaked. “I never meant to touch was the drink!”
Father Micheal spent the afternoon and night in a daze, as his enfeebled body tried to burn out months, probably years of alcohol abuse. Drop by drop, with each tear of sorrow, and each welling of sweat, it came out. And as it came out, each drop became a victim, a sin or a demon, and each drop tormented and tortured him to the very limits of his endurance. He fell asleep.

At ten past four in the morning, Mrs. Kielty awoke abruptly. Pat leapt up out of bed, his arse bare, and grabbed a rake from the wall. Inside in the big house there was a hoarse scream. “Jesusgodi’monlyflesh!!!”
“Well, Jez, he must be taking a right auld turn above there,” said Pat. Then, looking down, he saw where the missus’ hand was, grinned and jumped back into bed.

Father Micheal awoke in a tangle of sheets, glassy-eyed and glaring. A slick sweat covered his whole body. He knew now how Jesus had felt for those forty days in the desert. Torment reached levels where it became a fantasy, pain and pleasure ground together under the one heel.
Father Micheal was there now; sexless, palsied, hallucinating... disbelieving his fate. If he had really once been a man, well then the widow could help him, perhaps restore him. He would go to the widow and ask her forgiveness.

Crows wheeled above the steep incline of the valley, almost motionless in the still air. The sky was a uniform grey. Stirring sea-breezes toyed with the bracken by the rutted roadside, along which the tiny figure of a man was making his way. In a nest on the mountainside, hungry hatchlings mewed.

The road swam and blurred before Father Micheal’s eyes. Mumbled snatches of the Breastplate of St. Patrick played along his lips. Before long, the little priest reached the turn off to the widow’s. How innocous her house looked, nestled there between the granite scree and patches of heather. Smoke unfurled lazily from the chimney.
“There you are!”
He hadn’t noticed her there in the field above the road. At her side, a white goat watched him sagely, chewing a wad of nettles.
“Er... yes, er, good morning, Widow Casey.”
“Well, well, aren’t we the mannered one today, Father?”
“Er... well now, I’m sorry about all that messing and whatever, but could I have the little fellah back by any chance?”
Her laughter sang like garotte-wire. “Is that what you call it in the church, then Father?”
“Er... well, ‘tis.”
Again she laughed. “Well I suppose that’s as good a name for it as any.”
“Well? Could you see your way clear to restoring the little fellah to me by any chance?”
“Sure didn’t you come all the way up here in the first place to give it to me?”
Father Micheal wasn’t too sure that he was actually having this conversation, but he answered anyway. “I did.” It was a very straight answer.
“And now you say that you want it back already after only two days? Is it mad ye are?”
“Yes you’re mad, or yes you want it back?”
“Yes I want it back.”
“And what would you do with it if I gave it back to you?”
“Nothing!” The widow was genuinely amused, and her eyes twinkled as she spoke. “Are you sure you wouldn’t just try to give it to somebody else, now, somebody like young Lucy Kirwin? Are you sure you wouldn’t try to give it to her and her abed with the consumption? Or maybe you’d want to give it Mrs. Kielty’s niece, what’s her name... Maggie?”
Father Micheal’s mind reeled. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing... Lucy Kirwin... Maggie... how did this woman come by such knowledge?
“I never,” he said, and felt like a child lying, when your father’s eyes bore into you and you know he knows the truth. The widow threw back her head and released a gale of laughter that startled the goat. It threw her a sulky glance and went off to find some dock leaves.
“Father, I’ll be honest with you. I gave your little treasure to one of my friends above on the mountain, to repay her for a favour she did for me. If you want to climb up there and ask her for it, you can. You have my permission. She’s up there to the left beside that clump of rocks. She’s a blackheaded gull. I have to tell you though, it’s not worth the bother. You’re a better man without that thing.” So saying, she turned her back and glided off into the house.

Father Micheal took one look at the mountain, screwed tight his resolve, and set off. The place that the widow had indicated was about two hundred feet above the road, perched atop a rocky slope. Father Micheal spat out his toitin, put his hands in his pockets and set off.
The going was relatively easy for the first hundred feet or so. After that, however, Father Micheal grew short of breath and it seemed as if the rounded granite shoulders of exposed rock towered above him. His chest heaved and laboured, a punctured bellows in infirm hands. The breath wheezing out of him tasted coppery, and he had to spit to make sure the was no blood in it.
Eventually, he reached the top, and was surprised and enlightened by what he found there. Hidden from view from below by a ring of erratics was a perfectly calm corrie. He scrambled across the lichened rocks, losing his footing in his haste to get to the miniature lake. A brief scurry across a narrow stretch of water logged grass, and there it was.
Jagged walls rose on three sides from the perfectly still water. From twenty feet or so up, they were covered with veils of pristine cloud. With muted tones, several small inlets fed the tarn, causing not a ripple on its still surface. Father Micheal felt elated, exhalted to have found such a place. It proved without a doubt the glory of God’s creation. How could the world below toil on in such mealy-mouthed pettiness, when such rapture abounded, such beauty to be found on one’s door step?
“Jaysus above, I must be going mad for the want of drink,” he mused to himself. “Where’s that feckin’ bird?”

In the end, it was the bird that found him. It had been watching him from above on the misty rock face, as he puttered about, stumbling and cursing. Eventually, something had to be done.
Father Micheal was looking up at the cloud layer when it happened. One minute he was minding his business, and the next, he was on his arse in the icy waters of the lake, with something cawing and pecking and clawing at his scalp. He screamed, once, briefly, and was rewarded by the receding sound of flapping wings. The shout rebounded at him from the rocks on every side. Freezing water was licking at places it could no longer harm, the reflections of the craggy peak above torn and scattered. Father Micheal watched as the gull alighted on an out of reach spur of granite, preening itself with a smug air. It flapped it’s wings twice, in a strange, victorious little dance, then dissappeared, back into some unseen crevice. Father Micheal surged from the pool.
“Ye feckin’ hoor! Ye dirty bastard! Ye dirty feckin’ hoorin’ bastard!”
Flecks of spittle flew from his thin lips as he roared, unmercifully, and rose from the waters like a geriatric titan. Weeds and mud decked him from waist to foot. Stones flicked from his hands to crack and skip about the rockface. Arcs of dull water flew from his arms as he threw. But it was too late. The surrogate mother of his penis was safe inside.
Father Micheal scrabbled his way back down the mountainside, his bony behind bouncing from boulder to boulder. He was soaked through to the skin, in doubt as to his own sanity, three days without a drop and short one virile member. Something was very wrong.

Over the next few days Father Micheal stayed on the dry, and some semblance of normality began to return to things. Now that he was sober, he was able to get up at a reasonable hour, and the parishoners were astonished to receive house calls from him. They were amazed at the change that had come over their hitherto derelict man of the cloth. He was a man transformed. They talked in low voices over hedgerows about how he had brought old Maisy a basket of turf, and about how he had visited poor sick Sean McGiolla every single day. They talked about his all new shaven face, his fresh white collar and his warm and sympathetic way. They also talked about his pasty complexion. And his eyes, the eyes of an insomniac, hollow and haunted. When he stood still, he shook like a reed in the wind. Something, they said had happened to that man. Something indeed, and only Father Micheal knew it, but the whole story was far from an end.

It had happened about a week after the lake episode. Father Micheal was relaxing in his easy chair after a hard day of visiting the needy, and planning his Sunday Mass. A good pipe was clutched in his right hand. Through the open window, he could hear some boys laughing and slagging as they walked past, on their way home from an afternoon of fishing. Hand lines and hooks rattled against tin tobacco boxes.
He was jerked from his reverie by the sound of something hitting the window. He jumped from his seat, and leaped to the window, expecting to find a fish from the boys there. The boys were gone however, lost against the brown of the mountain side. There, stuck like a slug to the windowpane was the little fellah. Micheal staggered back with a gasp, cracking the back of his skull against the window frame. Bare inches from his face, his erstwhile appendage clung, it’s black slot glistening wetly. A bonnet of foreskin waved like the fronds of a sea anemone. Jaw agape, Father Micheal looked on in a kind of curious outrage. Was the thing trying to communicate with him?
In a sudden burst of speed, the phallus bunched itself and darted past the astonished priest, and into the room. He turned and grasped at it, as it shot past him and under the table. As he reached for it, his head struck the hanging lamp above the table. It jarred, shook, and juddered from side to side, throwing the room into a disarray of warring light and dark geometries. In a flash of presience, that spoke of their shared past, Father Micheal lurched forward, to slam the door to the hallway. The boom echoed through the house, as he leaned back against the door, catching his breath with relief. The light began to return to an even keel.
And there it was. Between his feet. A glistening slug-trail, leading from the room.

The next few days were a nightmare. Father Micheal couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t break wind without an appearance by the phantom phallus. It was systematically haunting him. On Wednesday, it had slimed up his brogues, and left a web of snotty tracks across his kitchen window. On Thursday, it had hitched a ride to Sean McGiolla’s in his pocket, darting out furtively when he reached for his handkerchief. It had still made it home before him to have a bath in his milk jug. Mrs. Kielty had nearly had an anuerism when it spurted her, and Father Micheal had spent an hour trying to calm her down before he’d sent her home.
Every time that he sat down to plan Sunday’s Mass, the mickey would arrive and begin it’s mischief, overturning the ink pot or dripping from the cieling down onto his neck. Whenever he tried to catch, crush or kill it, it displayed a clairvoyant skill in strategic withdrawal. The two, priest and prick settled quickly into a routine. Hour after hour the impeturbable member tirelessly improvised new ways to harass the priest, who stubbornly fought back by one; pretending not to notice, two; pretending not to care and three; by working himself to distraction on Sunday’s sermon.

Through the course of the last week, Father Micheal had gone through a lot of changes. Reality had changed completely for him. Father Micheal was, to be honest, a wreck from the whole thing. The Sunday sermon loomed large on his agenda. He was going to clear the slate. He was going to clear his conscience.
He was going to talk about sin. Sin, and humanity, and the humanity of sin. He was going to talk about forgiveness, the heavenly boon. He wanted to talk about rejoining the flock, and prodigal offspring and great celestial letting off. Why, why, WHY had God let this happen to him? He was one of the boys, a soldier of light. Why had God forsaken him? He was sorry. He’d been punished by the widow, and was ready to go back to normal. As he wrote, a drop of sticky drool hit the back of his hand. He was sorry.

In the end, it became obvious to the little priest that he wasn’t going to get the sermon written. He’d just have to wing it.

Sunday came, bright and airy. There was a fresh breeze coming up form the sea and clouds sped quickly across a sky the colour of eggshell.
Father Micheal rose with the dawn and rode off towards the chapel with his head up and his knees out, his black bessie creaking and complaining.
In the silence of his room behind the nave he washed and robed, blessed himself and prayed. From a shadowy rafter the penis watched, uncertain. He’d never seen his old master so composed. The little priest gave no indication that he noticed his observer. The murmur of people began to grow out in the hall.

When Father Micheal took to the altar, it felt like his first time all over again. The crowd hushed like a sea becalmed, and watched expectantly. Almost all of the village was there, except of course for the bedridden and a certain widow. The whole of the Kielty clan was there, and the O’Dowds, with a dozen young boys, all red-faced like their old man. The O’Herlihy was there with a gob on him that would sour cream, and Tommy and all the rest of the Ryans were there. Off to the left were the Kirwins, Lucy staring up at him, wide-eyed and consumptive.
Taking a deep breath, Father Micheal launched himself into the mass. Now, in them days, the mass was mostly in Latin, and it took until nearly lunchtime on a good day, so that by the end the men were all dying for a pint and the women were all wriggling from side to side on arses gone flat from the wooden benches. After only forty minutes, however, Father Micheal stopped, cleared his throat, and ran a beady eye over the congregation. The men had just regained their seats, faces shaved, yet rugged from outdoor labour. Honest men. Well, some of them anyway.
Dried flowers nodded at the brims of the ladies hats and children squirmed.
“Now today,” began Father Micheal, and that was as far as he got, because there, on the back of the bench behind Lucy Kirwan was the maggot, it’s slimy eye opening and closing in imitation of Father Micheal’s mouth. An explosive cough racked the diminutive priest, booming out past the celebrants. When he looked up, the phallus was gone, and John Kirwan was staring at him with strange, stern eyes. “Today,” he resumed, “we’re going to talk about two of the most lethal mortal sins, lust and lechery. Now lust is a dark and terrible thing that can tear any sound man in two, deprive him of his senses ,and leave him...” his voice trailed off. The phallus was making it’s way from one side of the church to the other, by way of the centre aisle! Of all the brazen cheek of that bollocks! “...and leave him...” The mickey had him mesmerised. It bunched and stretched with each inch, like a maggot or centipede. He just couldn’t believe it. “...and leave h-h-...” The nerve of that thing! What if anybody saw it? He looked down at the sea of faces. He felt like a schoolmaster. They were all open mouthed. like hatchlings in a nest, all awaiting revelation. “And leave him damned and alone in the most fiery corner of the inferno.” He finished the sentence with a confidence in his voice that he didn’t actually feel. What if they couldn’t see the mickey because it didn’t really exist? What if the widow Casey had put some kind of a spell on him to make him believe that she’d stolen his lad? After all, who else had even noticed the feckin’ yoke?
He restarted his sermon with renewed vigour. “Yes, LUST! And what of the twin sister of lust which can drive any good man from the path-LECHERY!” As he spoke, he tried to keep track of the movements of the prick. At the moment, it was rattling one of the stations of the cross. Father Micheal didn’t care. It could rattle whatever it wanted.
“Now any man, being only mortal and only made of flesh, and not of stone or ice, will crave the comfort of a woman’s body...” On the top of Mrs. McGonagle’s hat were two wax plums, ripe and rosy. And from these plums there jutted such an obscenity that Father Micheal gasped. There, puffing itself upright was the erect member, standing proudly to attention.
It waggled lewdly from side to side as it tried to maintain it’s balance. Its slit was beaming.
That was it! It looked as if it was getting it’s thrill out of all this talk of lechery and lust. It was getting aroused by it! Father Micheal’s face bore the expression of one who had locked horns with a demon. Inside, he was smiling. There was only one way to outsmart the tempter. He had to face himself, and quash that part of him that was the demon.
He began again. “But what I really want to talk about is redemption, redemption and prodigality, for those who see that they have erred and are ready to make amends and return to the fold. I want to ask God now, in all his beneficience to redeem us, all of us...every one of us who has, myself included, ever broken His Laws in thought, word or dee...”
Heads turned. People shifted in sudden alarm. Eyes lifted to the rafters, not to seek the coming of the Lord but to seek the coming of an owl. Old Ma Kirwin leapt with a scream, trying to gather up all of her skirts in a hurry. Across the aisle, Maire Ni Bheolain mirrored her action, and something sleek and fleshy fled from under her heels. In one voice, a scream echoed about the small chapel. With the bump and crush of confined bodies, souls spilled out of the seats and landed in a panic in the aisles. Nobody was unaffected. Father Micheal had a silent scream frozen to his lip, all joy and terror and insanity and triumph. Legs waved like stamens from blooming corollas of underwear. Children shrieked, children cried, children laughed. Then, suddenly, with a bellow and a lurch Tommy Ryan was out of his seat. One heavy boot came down, cutting short the cry of the beast. There was a clap and a splat, and that was the end of that. Father Micheal fell to the floor, clutching himself, lost to the pain of rupture. And the rapture of pain.

Out by the door, they were crowding around Tommy. Children streamed past, out into the sunlight. They were patting Tommy on the back and shoulders.
“B’jesus,” he said, “Sure wasn’t it like a boiled rat?”

Monday, November 30, 2009

The End of The World – But Not As We Know It

There are many ways the world as we know it might end. Plague (man-made and natural), nukes, asteroid impact, alien invasion, collapse of the global economy, agents that destroy petroleum and its by-products, electrical storms and even conspiracy by machine intelligence. You name it. It could even be a soft apocalypse (the term is copyrighted – so don’t even think of nicking it for your indie band) – a degeneration that takes centuries but still reduces humanity to scavenging troglodytes.

I have always loved discovering, along with the protagonist, relics of the world that came before – a burnt out car, a copy of Gone with the Wind or an old wind up turn-table with a suitably nostalgic disc ready to go (We’ll Meet Again etc. - Why is it never something like Falco – Amadeus?).

The ‘I am Legend’/Omega Man set-up, copied by more zombie films than I can count is especially satisfying. A lone survivor, maybe with dog in tow, roots through the dusty shelves of a supermarket for tinned ham, or tries on a shiny new tracksuit at the sporting goods store. Maybe he (or she – the genre has ample female leads) meets a survivor and takes them back to the hideout for a bit of jiggery-pokery with a view to repopulating the planet with their hideous mutant offspring.

Sometimes we encounter the after-the-apocalypse-roughly-half-of-society-suddenly-decides-they-want-to-be-punks set-up. The music would probably be better than pre-apocalypse, but lets face it, most punks are wankers who think spitting makes you look hard/interesting and that a meccano bike with a flame thrower on the front is a good way of getting around. Geebags. The set-up, however, works as an excellent device for the writer and audience to work out their angst at being trapped in a world full of proto-Morlocks. It makes for difficult reading because it confronts us with our greatest fear. No! Not ourselves! I’m taking about those other assholes (ie. everyone NOT like us, gentle reader) who want to make a balls of everything just so they can run around with spears and play with angle grinders. William Golding was right!

Anyway. Enough of that. Here is my list of the Top Ten Post-Apocalypse Novels:

1. Earth Abides. George R Stewart
One of the great works of speculative fiction of the 20th Century. Intelligent, compelling and moving.

2. Mockingbird. Walter Tevis
A hopeful and deeply satisfying tale of a futuristic idiocracy and the struggle of both man and machine to escape the world they have made.

3. Where Late the Sweet Bird Sang. Kate Wilhelm
A lyrical, poetic novel that introduced concepts on the subject of cloning that manage to appear cutting edge nearly four decades after its first publication.

4. Parable of the Sower. Octavia Butler
Followed by Parable of the Talents. In the future, our greatest enemy will be tosspots with the angle-grinders and spears. But the stars will remain our destiny! Far out! Featuring a protagonist that is more complete than 60% of ‘real’ people.

5. Emergence. David Palmer
So the kid was a genius, black belt, fully-qualified doctor capable of flying a plane? Who would have known?

6. The Amtrak Wars. Patrick Tilley
Yes, all of them. The guilty pleasure of the bunch? I read through all five in about two weeks and can’t remember any of it. Other than that I really enjoyed it. (But that was about 17 years ago! And I probably should have been studying at the time).

7. The Postman. David Brin
Is Mister Brin the most intelligent writer currently putting fingertips to keyboard? Probably. Don’t let the Costner connection put you off.

8. The Stand. Stephen King
Yeah I know. Sorry.

9. Davy. Edgar Pangborn
Lusty & funny. but I ran out of patience with it a bit towards the end.

10. This is The Way Ends. James Morrow.
I’m cheating! I just bought this one but didn’t start it yet! Bet it will be good, though!

Also rans:

Lucifer’s Hammer by Niven & Pournelle. The ultimate disaster movie put to paper.

Snow by Adam Roberts. If his books ended as well as they started he’d be 70% better than he is. If you know what I mean.

Honourable mention:
Fallout 3. We are not worthy. I still dream of Super Mutant headshots. As soon as my Xbox comes back from the fixing people, I will be there once more for the game of The Year Edition.

Planet if the Apes by Pierre Boulle.
Yous maniacs!
For the movie version: Charlton Heston 1 (Get your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape!), Mark Wahlberg 0.

Yeah, it was a pretty dodgy film overall, but how compelling was the central premise?

The Girl in the Blue Bikini by Me
Longlisted for the 2009 Aeon Award. Like nothing you have ever read. Features Jessica Alba.

Do not read even if you are in prison and are afraid to go into the yard in case Mr Big takes a fancy to your fresh little ass:

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller. Undecipherable muck. Not just uninteresting, but annoying to boot.

The Road by Cormac Mc Carthy. Absolute shite. What point does it serve to have a novel without the slightest redemption? What purpose does a study of unremitting despair serve? Is it just apocalypse porn? Plus, unfettered by the likes of plot, character development or meaning, McCarthy gets to concentrate on language to the exclusion of all else. It might be the kind of thing that makes Booker Prize judges jizz their jim-jams, but I warn you! Stay clear!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Cockney Orcs

Hilbotron and I have had a few Lord of the Rings nights lately and we had a couple of questions*:

The first question is why did the Mordor orcs have a cockney accent?

I know using real world accents provides a short cut for the creators to give us somewhere to hang our prejudices and stereotypes on, and can only hope those cheeky cockney chappies don't mind the comparison.

Personally, I would have given the Mordor crew Cork accents:

Come on lads! Lets get this little langer back to the tower, like!

Then Saruman's orcs could have had a Dublin skanger accent:

Stoooaaary bud. I'ne doin a nixer for Sarumaaaaaaaaaan, y'know?

The second question is this:

Why did the elves insist on straightening Aragorn's hair? Every time he went to sleep somewhere elvy, they snuck in during the night with tongs and blow-drying spells, so that each morning we awoke with 'a bit of a Noel Edmonds' on (that is not a new way of describing morning wood).

Better than the dwarves I suppose. They only put goat dung in your beard.

*(All views expressed in this blog belong to Astrodog. My Hilbotration Unit cannot be blamed or held responsible for any of the opinions expressed).

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Calling all Artists!

Considering the fact that all the other Longstoners are artists, you may wonder why I'd be looking for even more people to work with. The answer is simple enough really - it takes a relatively short time to write a script or story that can tie an artist up for months, meaning that I generally have a backlog of scripts, stories and ideas.

So, I'm looking for people to work on projects of various types and sizes. I mainly do sci-fi, with a bit of horror and fantasy on the side. I don't really do superheroes, but when I do, I prefer things like Concrete and Madman rather than the standard Marvel fare. (These are my favourite comics along with stuff like Adrian Tormine and Craig Thompson.)

I am open to collaborating on pieces, so that the finished work will reflect both of our interests and play to what the individual artist prefers to draw or is best at. We could use existing scripts, or come up with new ones. It might be useful for those wishing to build some first-class sequential work into their portfolios.

As far as publishing and distributing goes, I'm happy to work at every level, from photocopying and stapling at home, to full colour production. All expenses and profit would be split 50-50, although I retain all rights on all characters, concepts, plots etc. (This is open to negotiation if we are using characters, plots and settings the artist approached me with in the first instance. My aim in stating all this is not to be a pedantic pain in the hole - I just want to have things clear and up front!).

I warn you, though! Being indie producers, we are unlikely to make any money! Personally, the whole thing for me is about exercising my creativity, increasing my profile as a writer and hopefully coming up with something that people will find stimulating and enjoyable. So, if you think you'd like to get involved, leave your email in the comment box and I'll give you a call!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cool Stuff

Every now and then, you stumble on stuff that is so cool that just just can't help feeling all is well with the world and life is worth living etc etc.


Music - Junior's Eyes by Black Sabbath
Film - District 9
Books - Cryptonomicon


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Down with the The Singularity

The tyrannosaur stumbled down the beach, his scaled feet sinking in the fine dayglo pink sand. This was heavier going than he had expected. Plus, his back was itching. He needed a cliff-face or stand of coconut trees for a good scratch. No sooner had he thought it than a large bowed palm tree appeared in front of him in a cloud of nanodes.

Tony sighed with relief as he scratched. These little t-rex arms were definitely not built for administering a good scratching, that was for sure. Just then, the force-field surrounding the beach shimmered, stretching and bending the starlight beyond.

A smile hung in the air, then Kurzweil the cat wafted in on his intellicarpet...

You might recognise the name Kurzweil. He's the guy who predicted a technological singularity in around 30 years, when the exponential increase in the power of computing will result in machines with the transcendant intelligence to herald a new era for man and machine. No problem there.

There are those who feel that there will be a biological singularity too. This one is even further in the future, and postulizes 'post-humans' with the power to transcend the limitations of flesh. These post humans might no longer require bodies, or may have the power to download into fantastic, fabricated bodies - to be a dinosaur, survive a vacuum or finally become immortal, trying out different bodies with each incarnation. I suppose, given time, anything is possible.

My problem with the whole singularity thing isn't with the theory. It is all exciting stuff! My problem is with the fiction that goes with it. Of course, writers should be free to let their imaginations go as nuts as they want, and little allows that better than the singularity theory. But when characters can do whatever takes their fancy - and writers can indulge themselves unreservedly, we run into difficulties. The whole thing becomes too metaphysical. It becomes a cartoon. Where is the dramatic tension when characters have complete control of their environment? How can we relate to these characters or the settings? I do admit that some writers can pull it off. Check out Greg Egan's Diaspora, for example. However, having just thrown WJ Williams Implied Spaces in the bin on top of A Fire on the Deep and Dan Simmon's Ilium, I'd have to say Egan is an exception to the rule.

If you want to read more of Tony the T-Rex's story, maybe you should check those authors out. You'll be on your own though. I'll be in the corner reading some John Scalzi or Cory Doctorow.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Achievement 10 G - Liver Abuser

A combination of things made me want to get as drunk as possible last Saturday: my upcoming redundancy and general money worries, the fact that I'd just been to the funeral of someone 3 or 4 years younger than me, the fact that my house was full of friends and laughter, and the fact that I'd just finished my first short story in about 4 years.

So I decided to drink a full 75 cl bottle of Russian Standard vodka.

The results were as follows (in roughly chronological order):
Cautioned by the police for using the local playground,
Sudden bouts of bellowing,
Fits of rolling on the ground,
Fits of rolling on the gound with no trousers on,
Loss of coordination leading to suprise collapsing,
Red carded to bed by Hilbotron.
The next morning:
Vomiting orange acid,
Prayers to thank Baby Jesus that I stayed out of hospital,
Watching 3 hours of Rick Stein's Seafood Odyssey.

I would have said yesterday, in the throes of my hangover, that drinking so much was incredibly stupid and irresponsible and that I would never do it again. I certainly would not recommend it.

However, now that the remorse has passed, I'm not so sure. Maybe I would do it again.

One thing I can say for sure: Do not try this at home kids!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Even When You Win, You Lose.

Up until last weekend, I was playing Dead Space on Xbox 360. Hilbotron had a great laugh watching the mixture of fear and nausea on my face as I snuck along flickering corridors, blasting necromorphs and cursing my chronic lack of ammo. I’m glad somebody enjoyed the experience! You see, since Sunday last, I have hung up my plasma cutters. I have been cut in half, decapitated and watched my disembodied foot float across in front of my face in zero g more times than I care to count. I have been ambushed, harried, chased and otherwise abused for over 16 hours, and have finally had enough!

To be honest, I only made it so far because I was cheating. Every chance I got, I used codes to refill my ‘stasis module’, allowing me to freeze enemies so that I could shoot off their limbs in slow motion. Nice. On top of that, I had been following a walkthrough (Props to Mahalo once again!) that tells me what comes next in each room. It worked well enough, and probably saved me some laundering of underpants, but ultimately, it has proved my undoing. Because now I know what is ahead of me, and I don’t fancy it one bit! ‘In the next room you will face 5 fetus necromorphs, 4 explosive limb necromorphs, 3 black crawling necromorphs and 4 black necromorphs.’ Am I going in? Fook that! Not today Sir!

So… in a roundabout way cheating has undone the game for me. I normally wouldn’t know what I’m facing and would continue so that I found out, but now that I know, I am staying put! It’s not the first time cheating has spoiled a game for me. That was with Age of Empires 1 on PC. My civilization was still building pyramids and walled cities, but I was being harassed by enemies every step of the way. Until I found the ‘Corvette and Rocket Launcher’ cheat. I kid you not! Oh, the fun of racing over to my enemies’ settlements and peppering them with missiles! The joy! Next thing I knew, I had wiped out every enemy in the game. I explored a land that was mine from coast to coast. I sped up time and built the biggest pyramid possible. It took all of ten minutes. Then I was bored. My game was finished. I couldn’t start another, because I knew the first time anybody attacked me, I’d get the scent of blood and call up the Corvette again. How could I resist?

Games work on the principle that sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. The uncertainty calls us back every time. Will I survive the next level? Will we win the match? Will my hand be enough to take the pot? If a cheat is powerful enough, it removes that uncertainty. Would you go to the bother of training weekly and showing up for every game if you knew you’d walk over the opposition and romp to victory? Would you feel proud of yourself as you hoisted the cup? Be honest!

But why is this topic relevant? What does it tell us about the human condition and our lives today? Simply this: how many friends do you know who have been made redundant lately, or can’t find work in the first place? How many are struggling to feed their kids, keep up their mortgage payments so they don’t lose their house, or keep the banger on the road? How many can’t afford simple necessities like booze, comics and DVD boxsets? Loads, that’s how many! And what are these people pinning their hopes on? That’s right! The Lotto! The golden ticket that will help them clear the visa, get a decent motor, fix the stupid gas boiler, get a non-recession hair cut (if you don’t know what that is, count yourself lucky. Ask Tiny Shazam!), tell your bosses to stick their pay cut, or get the hell out of Ireland for the next 50 years.

Unfortunately, the Lotto is just another cheat. Anything over 1 million is pretty much enough to hockey the uncertainty principle. Enough to break the game. Will I pay my rent? Yes! Can I afford to take a holiday? Of course. Can I stay at home all day and work on my alcohol dependency? Yes, if you like! Where’s the fun in that? Your life would be like a roller coaster that only went up, and never came down again! We need the trials, the tribulations, the tests and the tears to make everything else worthwhile, to make it mean something. We need to strive, or all our wins are hollow victories. A Lotto win is just a Corvette with a rocket launcher, and however much we think we need it, we don’t. Far better to play the game, and take life as it comes.

Having said that, tonight’s jackpot is heading for 3 million. I’m going to do three lines with Lotto plus. Can you blame me?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Things to Spend Your Redundancy Money On

5.The house. In last place. The most practical and therefore stupidest thing to spend your money on. Rip out your tired but perfectly serviceable kitchen, feck it in a skip and pay 14 grand for a new one. If you still have money left, replace all your old wooden eaves with shiny new plastic ones. Why not double glaze the house while you’re at it? You’ll be broke, but you’ll feel like royalty as you slide your new drawers in and out.

4. Flog your personal hobby horse: Your choice of beer, smokes, horses, hookers, ceramic dolls or whatever takes your fancy. Kit a room out as a study to start your novel (‘It’s a futuristic rom-com, similar to The Da Vinci Code, but based around the Book of Kells’). Buy a 1971 VW Camper Van and take it to pieces in your shed. Kid yourself! ‘I’ve always wanted to do it, and now I finally have the time!’

3. The following:

1 x Glock 9
3 x Boxes 9mm shells (150 total)
1 x 15 inch Jungle Master Hunting Knife
1 x Titanium Baseball Bat
1 x A12 Assault Shotgun
48 x 12 gauge shotgun shells
4 x Rolls Scotch Tape
36 x 10 inch plastic ties
4 x ball gags
3 x M18 Smoke Grenades (Red)

If you’ve just been made redundant, you can probably find a good use to put these to. Maybe you could pop back into the office to collect your P45 or ‘say hello’.

2. A games console. Xbox 360 is a good bet. Strafe away your aggression and stress on Nazis, commies, aliens, gang bangers and many other virtual nasties. GTA and some of the role-playing titles can take 60 hours plus. Time is the only thing you’ll have a lot of, so go nuts.
You might consider a Wii, too. What with all the snacking, comfort eating and desperate alcohol consumption, your weight will be on a steady upwards curve, so this might be a prudent purchase. Plus, for the guys, it’s more female friendly, so easier to get the missus’ agreement on.

1. A one way ticket to anywhere. By now you know Ireland is shot to shit. You are sick of Cowen, Bertie and Harney. Sick of being robbed every time you buy a drink or set foot in a restaurant. Sick of the scumbags hanging around the end of your road. Sick of the weather. Sick of the shite public transport. Sick of Gerry Ryan. Sick of Northsiders. Sick of Southsiders. Sick of the lack of amenities. Sick of paying € 50 for a visit to the doctor.

There is only one option left. Go and live somewhere decent.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Super Comics!

Hi All,

Longstone Comics 2nd Anthology was released this week:

Check out the lovely cover art by Dee! It is available from Forbidden Planet , Crow Street and Sub City, or from us throught the Longstone Comics website. Everyone in the group has contributed to this one, and we see it as a great step forward!

Our second release, Downpour, will be in shops from next Wednesday. It is a kind of psychic vampire story, where individual histories take the place of blood. I will be very proud to stand beside Dee next week at the 2D Festival in Derry and tell you more about it!

Superhilbo has also released her first collection - check out her blog for more details. It is cheeky, great fun that will have you laughing out loud.

In these days of gloom and recession our stories and artwork serve as an escape and an outlet for all of the Longstone Crew. We hope you enjoy them and that they serve you in the same way.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Agadoo (Blue and Flickery... A Corollary).

(You should probably read 'The Future is Not Orange, It is Blue and Flickery' before you read this one, since this is a follow on of sorts).

So we know that communications are going to suck in the future. Sound becomes video becomes hologram, and nobody has ever seen that working properly.

If we follow the same evolutionary line of thinking for personal portable music players we run into the same kind of trouble. The sound part has been done many different ways; cassette, CD, Mini Disc (glad I never got one of those!) and now MPeg3. Once we introduce the sound and visuals, we move on to MPeg4. Many of you already have devices with this capacity.

But what about sound and hologram technology?Wouldn't that be MPeg5? Now where have I seen a portable device that can play sound and holograms? Mmm, let me think....
I know! R2 D2! That's it! R2 D2 is an MP5 player!

Compared to an iPod Classic, R2 D2 is a little on the bulky size. You couldn't wrestle him to the top of a 56A bus. Granted, he has to be that size so that Kenny Baker could fit inside, but still...

Things look even bleaker when we think about how much holodata R2 D2 could actually store.

Help me Obi Wan... You're my only hope is about the same length as Agadoo doo doo, push pineapple, shake the tree. You'd have to really like the song to bother. At least you could loop it...

Agadoo doo doo, push pineapple, shake the tree.

Agadoo doo doo, push pineapple, shake...

Agadoo doo doo, push pineapple...

Agadoo doo doo, push...

Agadoo doo doo...

Check out the drums at 0.24!

The Future is Not Orange. It is Blue and Flickery...

Greetings all!

I am writing over my concern about the future of communications technology. We have seen in numerous sci-fi movies how the humble voice method will be supplanted by video technology. Yep, picture screens where you can see the caller's face. Wow! High tech! Star Trek have had that system since 1966!

So what comes next? Hologram communication! Even wower! I can't wait to use that to ring in sick to work. But wait! Have you ever seen it in operation? Of course you have! Star Wars uses it all the time!

Nute Gunray (Trade Federation Viceroy): What's that? Darth Sidious wants to reverse the charges on a call from Naboo? Naboo? that means he's really...

Can anybody think of one single instance in any movie when the teleholo (is that what it's called? If not, I call dibs on the name) caller didn't appear blue and flickery and the image didn't keep breaking up? Nope, didn't think so.

So communications in the future are going to suck even more than they do now. You'll have a hand-held unit with GPS version XXV so the government can track you to the millimetre and sellers know everything you buy or consume. Your boss/friends/partner will be able to Google where you are in realtime, on real maps, via satellite. No more sneaking out for overpriced coffee! No more ' I'm just staying in with the missus', when you are out with your real friends and no more furtive visits to 'Abrakebabra'. The shame!

You'll have the Internet, of course, so everybody can look stuff up, which will save them the bother of actually knowing or learning anything. Say goodbye to pub table quizzes. They have already gone. The unit will also be an access key to all information about your life - from school reports to when you last took a dump and what the fibre rating of said excreta was. So next time you lose your phone, you'll become a social, financial and political non-entity and have to go on the run with Sandra Bullock. Luckily she's nicer in real life than her films would have you think. Worst of all... as you try your best to fall asleep on the maglev to work, you'll be sitting next to a trio of school girls giggling over a tinny, flickering hologram of High School Musical 43 'Krump Off Uranus'.


Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Adam Sandler Guide to Making Movies

There are two rules you need to remember if you want to be a successful movie-maker like Adam:

1. Kissy kissy
2. Talky talky

1. Kissy kissy.
In order to establish our protagonist as an all-round good egg worthy of the audience's sympathies, you must have them behave in a friendly manner towards elderly people and children in the first 2o minutes of the film. You could have them help an old lady pack oranges into a brown paper bag at the grocery store, pitch a baseball for a loveable street urchin or shout a personal question about an pensioner's health across the street. 'Hey Mister Shapiro, how is your prolapse?' or something of that nature.

There is no other way to make your protagonist likeable, so if you fail in this, your movie is doomed. Ever wonder why nobody liked Tony Montana?

2.Talky talky.
Mercilfully, all Adam Sandler movies end sooner or later (even though you might have thought 'Click' would go on forever). When ending a movie, there is no need to wrap up the plot or think of a clever reversal. Simply have the character stand in front of a crowd, admit to all of their shortcomings and ask everyone's forgiveness, forbearance and understanding. They are bound to understand and release your inheritance for spending, grant you custody of a child or support whatever earth shattering outcome you desire. Easy as pie! And it works in real life too!

There are only two films where Adam has not followed his own rules: Punch Drunk Love and Reign over Me. The fact that they are his best movies cannot be explained using modern critical techniques.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Birthday Boy

It is my birthday on 24 April (possibly today or tomorrow depending on whatever time the server this blog is on thinks it is now...).

Anyway, I saw DJ Spiral's CD for 4.99 in HMV today, if anyone is looking for a gift idea. It had been moved from the retard section to the 'It's so cheap, you'd buy it just to prove how good you are at getting a bargain bin'.

I would also like a spider monkey trained in burglary (if he comes with a tiny rucksack even better), a wind-powered ice schooner crewed by elf maidens, and a black Harrier jump jet with artwork of the great god Cthulhu done on the wings in no less than 4 colours.

I don't have an ice cream van, but if you are getting me one, I'd prefer one like they had in The Man from UNCLE where all of the cornettos were really grenades and the music gets faster and faster the faster you drive.

If you are buying me drugs, I like Ibuprofen and Ventolin (Salbutamol, please, not that other muck).

If you are buying me liquids, I like that cream-coloured fabric softener. I like gravy, Horlicks and Stella Artois, especially if it is in one of those continental glasses with the stem.

When ordering a cake, remember, a light sponge with strawberries and cream is the way to go. I am partial to cakes where the main body is a swiss roll designed to look like a steam engine, and I prefer Shin Chan to Spongebob (although I like the grindcore remixes of the spongy one on youtube). Please nobody get me a cake with a dead hooker in it like you did last year (you know who you are and you know it was stupid).

I think penis shaped pasta is about as funny as Tommy Tiernan (see for more on this), so don't get me that. I think advances in internet speed have rendered porn redundant as a birthday gift, so that is out too. I don't need it anyway, since I learned those transcendental tantra tricks from Cosmo. Ommmmmmmmmm!

Don't bother getting me a card - make one yourself ( a real one, not an e-card). Even if you think it looks shite, I will be touched by the fact that you made the effort. If you do buy me a card, get me the Cliff Richard one where he sings 'Congratulations'. By opening and closing it at the right time, you can make him say 'Cun... Cun... Cun'. Dirty beggar! Great fun. Try it in your leading high street card seller tomorrow and see! You will amaze your family and colleagues and win more friends than you had thought possible!

Liposuction vouchers and Transformer costumes are also accepted, especially if the latter are home-made.

Peace out homies!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Third Bond Movie to Feature Daniel Craig

Following a discussion with the TinkTank ™ (that is, Space Cake, Hilbotron and Kong Nip) last night, I am in a position to make the following projections regarding the third James Bond movie to feature Daniel Craig.

We believe the movie will be set in India, based on the current interest in Bollywood, Slumdog Millionaire etc. It’s been a while since Bond has been there, too. There will be scenes set far to the north of the country in the foothills of the Himalayas (so they may well make it into Nepal). They’ll need some desert to do the obligatory scene where he walks through an arid wilderness in full evening wear, (and a posh hotel for him to turn up looking all dishevelled). There will most definitely be a ski/skidoo chase of some sort. Micro-light gliders may make a welcome comeback. By now, even the most myopic of producers will be aware that they have exhausted the boat chase and free-running rooftop chase. Snooze-O-Rama!

The plot will most likely be about an Indian power company that finds a renewable power source (maybe something where water is a by product – Woohoo!). Should they release the technology or use it to hold over a billion people to ransom? What would you do? I’d recommend Babs Broccoli give Ian McDonald a call. His novel River of Gods might give her a few ideas. Pakistan may also be used – (what kind of movie would it be if we didn’t have a crazed warlord with a world class collection of nukes?)

The Bond girls will be:

One from India - probably Deepika Padukone. We know she can kick and bite when she needs to. No Kardashians for this one, please. The role will require a beautiful actress, not an overrated gypsy.

One from Australia – a blond doctoral student who made the breakthrough. Not Nicole Kidman! She hasn't been good since To Die For.

The movie will be called Time Enough for Tears, or something like that, thanks to the fact that the project is called the Vishnu Project. The Pussyflap Dolls will do the song. (I’d prefer if they gave Cradle of Filth a shot).

Most likely, M will be annoyed with Bond for not following the rules. Like we aren’t bored with that one… With a bit of luck, John Cleese and gadgets might make a comeback.

That’s about all we have to say on the subject.… the film won’t be much of a success, and will probably lead to Daniel Craig getting his marching orders. Poor Daniel… he wasn’t that bad…

Let us know your suggestions and comments!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Lying Letter Home

The letter of Prester John, written back in the day, is an early medieval example of the ‘lying letter home.’

Dear Mum, wrote Prester John:

Our land is the home of elephants, crocodiles…white and red lions, white bears, crickets, griffins (spoofing right from the start…), tigers, lamias and wild men -- men with horns (heh heh), one-eyed men (anyone for tennis?), men with eyes before and behind (he is probably referring to maths teachers here), centaurs, fauns, satyrs, pygmies… giants, cyclopses, and similar women ( whatever they are).

Our land streams with honey and is overflowing with milk (historians believe PJ was living beside the Glanbia dairy on the Dublin road in Drogheda). In one region grows no poisonous herd, nor does a querulous frog ever quack in it; (the placid nature of the frogs in this region does much to recommend it ).

At the foot of Mount Olympus bubbles up a spring which changes its flavor hour by hour, night and day, (unfortunately, John noted elsewhere that he visited at a time when the waters tasted like Placenta-Pro, a Japanese soft drink made from 100% horse placenta). If anyone has tasted thrice of the fountain, from that day he will feel no fatigue, but will, as long as he lives (which was expected to be anywhere from an hour to 12 weeks if the griffins and pygmies didn’t get you), be as a man of thirty years.

In one of our lands… are worms called salamanders, which can only live in fire. They build cocoons like silk-worms which are unwound by the ladies of our palace and spun into cloth and dresses. These dresses, in order to be cleaned and washed, are cast into flames .. .(I have tried this method with a pair of Hilbo’s Penny’s pyjamas and the resultant flames were hot enough to crack the fire grate. Never again.)

John’s letter gave untold numbers the excuse they needed to escape their nagging wives and foray east and south into the wilderness. Funny enough, none of them ever found the mystical and legendary kingdom.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Wikspert -

(noun) - somebody who obtains information from Wikipedia and passes it off as their own.

- somebody who obtains information from Wikipedia and uses it an attempt to impress others.

The Quick and the Dead Redux

Seems like I'm always banging on about zombies these days...

By now, we all agree that slow zombies are the real deal. Huzzah! Fast zombies are out! Alas, no sooner have cleared that issue up when we are faced with a new debate:

Biological zombies Vs. Infernal zombies.

Resident Evil and 28 days later have taken the zombie mythos further into the realms of being a plague or virus bred phenomenon. These type of zombies are the result of gene-tampering and military research into viral warfare and mutagenics. They spread the disease through their bite, their claws and their infected blood. So when young Billy tells Sarge he won't make it home and coughs black blood straight into Sarge's face, we know Sarge is a goner too. Nice.

However, exceptional individuals like Astrodog, who spent their teens playing D&D and listening to metal, know better. Zombies are undead creatures with supernatural origins. They have either been raised by necromancy, drafted as warriors of Our Lord Below, or the result of a housing shortage in Hell. And that's the way we like it.

The Copenhagen Interpretation, Why I hate ordering in Restaurants, and Why you can’t tell God what to do.

As most of us know, quantum mechanics is the study of atomic and subatomic systems. Within these systems, we find a range of tiny particles, such as protons, electrons, neutrons, photons and neutrinos. Imagine you are squinting at an atom of carbon. Can you see the six electrons flying around the nucleus? Didn’t think so! They could be anywhere!

Particle physicists describe the probability of the location of such particles as a wave function.
This is, in effect, a set of the locations in which the particle might be found. Sounds pretty lazy, huh? It is more natural for us to believe that everything is observable and has a definite position.

But what happens when we actually observe the particle? Now we know where it is, so the wave function is no longer useful to us. The set of locations collapses into a single location. A dot. This theory of the collapsing wave function is known as the Copenhagen interpretation.

So what has this to do with ordering in a restaurant? When I look at a good menu, there could be up to a dozen things I want to try. A set of menu items, arranged in my mind like a gastronomic wave function. All possibilities are equally tantalizing, equally probable. Belly of pork dripping with pear jus, steaming lobster glaring in beady-eyed recrimination, paella pretending it is not just leftovers in rice, cruel and tempting jalfrezi scattered with landmine chilies, overrated sea bass drizzled with cheap olive oil and the ever-present, dumb slab of cow arse with choice of sauce.

I ride the wave like a rollercoaster. I send the waiter away three times. I demolish all of the bread and ask for more. Finally, I opt for the safe bet, boring old cow arse. The wave collapses. Out of all those dazzling possibilities, I have chosen steak for the 172nd time in my life. The disappointment is crushing. Maybe I shouldn’t have ordered at all.

Now, Einstein would argue that you can’t play dice with God. Things are as they are and all those possibilities never really existed. The electron was only ever in one location. I was always going to order the steak. Niels Bohr (who was from Copenhagen and therefore probably knew more about this than anybody) told Einstein to shut his cake hole. ‘Don’t tell God what to do,’ was his response.

I believe you should be able to tell God what to do. After all, he’s our God, isn’t he? I’d tell him to get his ass into the kitchen and get me a plate of everything. With mustard, gravy, strawberry sauce, and a fried egg on top.

The Quick and the Dead

Has anyone else noticed the latest trend in zombie films? The dirty feckers are getting faster! Used to be you could walk backwards away from them and pick them off with a twelve gauge. Or put a box in their way. They'd be so busy looking at you that they'd trip over it like the brain-mashed gobshites they are. Or you could just sit in your 'jacked helicopter and laugh as they took the tops off their heads walking into the rotors.
Now they all can all cover ground like Linford Christie on nandralone. Allegedly. Some of them have even been seen jumping onto the roofs of cars and adopting a frog-like pose for some strange reason. Anyway, the point is, that you'd never outrun them. Your only chance would be to see them from miles off and start running in the other direction. And the boarded up house would need to be only 30 or 40 metres away.Most people would hold that the fast zombies are scariest of all.
You can't outrun them, and so if you end up anyway near them, one of your party is a goner. At the very least, someone will incur a bite in the arm and turn at the start of the third act.My thesis is that slow zombies are actually scarier, and to find out why, we need to examine the metaphors involved. In short, we must ask: What do zombies represent?
Fast zombies operate in much the same way as gang members or psychopaths. Chase and kill. They play on our fear of a generic 'attacker', intent only on harming us and with whom we can't reason. To be afraid of such attackers is entirely natural and universal. However, it is not a fear that is 'activated' or called to mind frequently. How many times a day does an average person in Western society dwell on their fear of attackers? How immediate is the fear that is subsequently felt? How much does it mean to you in your everyday life?
Slow zombies play on a different fear. They amble around shopping malls or stand on their own in rooms trying to remember what it was they used to do. You can evade them for a while. You can board yourself in, outwit them or cut a path through them as long the ammo holds out. Doesn't seem too frightening on the surface, does it? But they will never stop. They are inexorable, and in the end, will overwhelm by sheer weight of numbers. Whatever you do, the slow zombies will triumph. Therein lies the metaphor. Slow zombies represent the great unwashed, uncaring masses you share the world with. This is a group that is constituted differently for everyone, making the fear individual and immediate.
For some, they are the people who wear tracksuits when they aren't going to the gym, the stoaaarrrry bud shitehawks of Dublin, the Bush voters of America, or the faceless business leaders who do all for profit. Whatever. You've probably just thought of another three groups who fit the bill. Chavs. Jocks. Westlife fans. Shoe-bangers (you'll have to ask me in person who they are!) Yes. Your fellow citizen who knows the world isn't the way it was supposed to be but just got new curtains and is going to pull them and watch Celebrity Roshambo 4? If you like. It is an easy list to populate.Remember: There are more of them than us. They always win.
Isn't that scary?