The mystery of what switched off the heating has finally been solved! It's a ‪‎miracle‬!


Santa's Last Stand, Part 3

Santa’s Last Stand (Part Three)

Part Two here.

Me Ma didn’t answer him. She’s still asleep, you could tell by her breathin’. I couldn’t believe that Santy knew me Ma, but when I think about it now, a lot of men know me Ma. I’s very quiet then as he stood up straight again. Then I think he must’ve seen me in the corner of his eye, lookin’ at him from the door, but he didn’t say nothin’ to me. He started actin’ more like Santy, playin’ it up for me.
Ho ho ho, he says, in a deep voice. I think he puts on an act for the kids most of the time. He reached into his sack and then I could see it comin’ out in his hand. Blood Lust 2! He put it down beside the Christmas tree and says ho ho ho again. I’s very quiet then. He reached into his sack and he pulled out a Steven Gerrard Liverpool jersey! Number 17, his old number. Gerrard’s me favourite player but there’s all these stories goin’ round about him movin’ to the Blues. I hope he stays at Anfield. He says he doesn’t want to move. He likes bein’ captain too much. But if he does move to the Blues he’s a Judas and I won’t like him any more. Santy stopped bendin’ down at the Christmas tree and went over to the mantelpiece where the can of Dutch Gold was waitin’ for him. I turned round and creeped back out the door. I snuck back very quietly to the stairs. I heard the hiss of Santy openin’ his can. I’s goin’ to get as much off Santy as I could for Christmas. I snatched the axe off the wall and I peeped in and seen Santy holdin’ his head back as he drank the Dutch Gold, his throat bobbin’ in and out, in and out, as he swallowed mouthful after mouthful. Now’s me chance to strike, I says to meself. I ran at him and swang the axe and Santy didn’t know what hit him. He let a roar out of him as the axe struck the back of his head and his hat came off a little bit but stayed on his head because the axe stuck the hat to his head, and there was dark hair there instead of white hair. There was a spurt of blood and a spray of beer burst out of his mouth and then he fell forward and the Dutch Gold rolled across the carpet, goin’ glug glug glug and Santy was makin’ a gurglin’ noise as he lay on the carpet. I picked up the sack and looked in to see all the toys and I pulled the first box out and it was a shoebox but there was nothin’ in it. I checked another box and it was empty too. There was old newspapers wrapped up into big balls in the sack too.
Who’d want an empty shoebox and an old newspaper for Christmas? I says to meself. I made so much noise rummagin’ in his sack and Santy was gurglin’ so loud that we woke me Ma up. She looked around the room in a bit of a daze, with her eyes half shut, and then she saw Santy lyin’ there next to the tree with all the blood and her eyes opened really wide and she let a scream out of her and she stood up and screamed again, and she put her hands on her forehead and looked at me and she screams Oh Jaysus Jim what have you done? And I tried to make her see that there’s nothin’ to worry about because Santy is only make-believe and he’s not real and anyway, but she just kept screamin’ and cryin’ at me, not makin’ any sense because she was in a fit of hysterics, bawlin’ her eyes out and bawlin’ at me.

The End

Santa's Last Stand Part Two

Santa’s Last Stand (Part Two)

Part One here.

Me Grandda was in the army, and he used to chop down trees in Wicklow and Wexford. He kept his axe and he gave it to me Da and Da hanged it on the wall. That was ages ago, before Da went away. The dwarf’s axe is much fancier. It’s got jewels on it and everythin’. When you use it in the Old West you can throw it coz the others have revolvers but you can’t throw it any other time. It’s a great way of killin’ Mad Dog McClellan coz the blood spurts out the top of his head when you do. Me Ma had a surprise for me on Christmas Eve. We’ll stay up and wait for Santy, she says. So she got a can of Dutch Gold out of the fridge and left it on the mantelpiece for Santy and she had her wine while we waited and we watched Santa Claus the Movie.
I’s very excited waitin’ up for him, but the movie kept me mind off things. After the film, it was dark and I looked over and Ma was asleep on the couch. But I looked at her more closely and her eyes were a little bit open and I thought she’s lookin’ at me. I put me hand in front of her face and waved and her eyes didn’t follow me hand. There was some spit dribblin’ down her chin from the corner of her mouth an’ anyway. So she was asleep. Now’s me chance to play Blood Lust, I says to meself. So I snuck up to me room and I got Blood Lust 1 and brought it back down to play it. I’s quiet as a mouse because I didn’t want to wake Ma. And then I seen him before I came back into the living room.
Standin’ at the fireplace. Old Mr Nicholas his very self. With a big brown sack over his shoulder burstin’ with toys. Dressed in his red suit with a big black belt an’ his beard as white as cotton wool. I was rooted to the spot with the excitement and I didn’t say a word. He was standin’ near me Ma. He bent over so his lips were near her ear. Barbara, he whispers, Barbara, where’s Jimmy?

Go to Santa's Last Stand, Part 3.

A Ghastly Festive Tale...


Santa’s Last Stand (Part One)

I scored me second goal at football practice one evenin’ when I looked in the sky on the other side of the goal and there was Santy’s sledge, trailin’ sparks of magic behind it. It flashed by very quick, an’ I’s the only one who seen it before it vanished. I couldn’t see Santy hisself, or his reindeers, it was too far away. But the coach says it was Santy. I says why is it Santy when it’s not Christmas yet? He says Santy has to collect the toys hisself from all over the world before Christmas. There are some toys like the normal toys we have in Ireland that the elves make but there are other toys made from goat-hair and that, that he has to get for the other kids. That’s what the coach says. So he collects the toys for the kids in Mongo Bongo but he makes the others. But that wasn’t the last I seen of Santy. After I scored me second goal we finished up. I’m the best striker on the team and nearly the best goalie. But when the real match comes, sometimes I don’t play as good. There are too many people lookin’ at me, makin’ me nervy. In the real match when the ball comes I kick it away straight up the field instead of takin’ it up a bit meself or whatever. That’s why I’m not a striker when we play the real matches. I don’t want the onus. That’s what me Da used to say. I don’t want the onus on me of messin’ it up. I know it’s people lookin’ at me coz I’m the same with me video games. I’m really good at Premier League Soccer and Blood Lust when I’m on me own but when there’s someone lookin’ at me I don’t do as good. I wanted Blood Lust 2 for Christmas. That game is ace. The animation is rapid. Me mate Darren has it. It’s got Dr Leonardo Pollack and Aurora Silvas in it just like Blood Lust 1, but this time you can play Hitler in World War 2 and Professor Moriarty when you’re in the nineteenth century and Vlad the Impaler when you’re in the Middle Ages. They can all help you. But you can’t travel with the villains. And you can call more weapons.
And all the people have their own skills. So it’s much better than Blood Lust 1. Darren traded in Blood Lust 1 and Premier League Soccer for Blood Lust 2. There’s a bit in Blood Lust 2 in the labyrinth where you have to slay the ogre Aijus Mite-Eetyoo. The next level is the Middle Ages but there’s cheats to get you straight to World War 2. If you use the battleaxe that you get from the dwarf when you’re slayin’ Aijus Mite-Eetyoo and you hit him just the right way then you go straight to World War 2 and you get all the weapons. The axe is a fancy axe. It’s not like the axe we have.

Read Santa's Last Stand, Part Two here.

The Thirteenth Step: Zombie Recovery by Michele W. Miller Review

Book review: The Thirteenth Step: Zombie Recovery

Audiobooks also available here (UK) and at the Amazon.com presence here (US).

The humor is subtly satirical, the horror starkly brutal, and the writing impresses. If we're to judge a book by its cover, the novel's title plays with the concept of Twelve Step recovery and the negative associations of the number thirteen. That's a great start.

There are any number of rules to writing.

Michele W. Miller smashes two of them brilliantly in the opening chapters of her novel, The Thirteenth Step: Zombie Recovery. For a start, Pixar's fourth rule of their 22 is as follows:

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

Miller opens her novel at a New York lottery winners' press conference. Although not quite in the middle of things - as Homer would advise - the norm here is already not the everyday. A syndicate of tax auditors winning the lottery is exceptional.

Another rule is to make your characters memorable. Miller introduces a number of characters in a wonderfully original manner: Through the use of mnemonics employed by another character so that he remembers the winners' names. Jim is slim, so he's Slim Jim, and so forth. Great stuff, we're thinking. Miller is doing our work for us.

Set-up complete, Miller kills them off like they're nameless, expendable stormtroopers, as a zombie apocalypse rains hell on the press conference. The realism of the events - and the surrealism of the zombie attack - are both terrifically handled.

Not-entirely-likable social observations before the attack - made by the lottery's public representative - are given greater weight with the ways in which some of the victims meet their ends.

I highly recommend the audiobook. It's the first full novel I've given a go (other than books that pre-date the digital age). I feared I wouldn't be able to devote my attention to it, but I am surprised at how easy it is to follow. It is more than ably narrated by Gabrielle deCuir.

Super stuff. Buy the book on Amazon here.

FONY Studio Exec Aimee Paschendale reaches out to World Famous Civil Rights Leaders


Kim Ju-On: The Grudge 2 bares his fangs
In a move of unparallelled brilliance, cyber-terrorists working for North Korea's Kim Ju-On: The Grudge 2 have hacked into the FONY Network Entertainment Network's network's network's network, to leak a series of emails that characterize studio executive Aimee Paschendale and movie producer Scrote Rudder as racist, snarky and inappropriate. In one email exchange between people and other people, with the subject SNORKLER WANTS TOM FUCKEN CRUISE, Aimee Paschendale describes Oscar-nominated actor Leonardo theDaVinciCode as "despicable" in turning down a jobs offer.

Michael Airbender was discussed for jobs, but screenplay scribe Aaron Snorkler said he had never heard of Michael Airbender. Aaron Snorkler wanted Tom Cruise for jobs.

In another thread of emails, Aimee Paschendale asked Scrote Rudder what she would discuss when she met President Obama at a fundraising breakfast at Jeffrey Katzenburger's house. Katzenburger is the K in Spielgurb, Katzenburger and Geffin of SKG fame.

"Will I ask him if he liked Django?" she asks, to which Scrote responds:

"12 years."

The pair go on to list 7,531 films that feature Black actors in the subsequent exchange.

Aimee Paschendale has reached out to world famous civil rights leaders Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. However, as these details emerged, they suggest that lessons have not been learned.
President Obama: Disappointed.

As one Internet wiseacre tweeted: "I didn't know you could do that. Aren't those guys busy right now, with all the real shit going on? More importantly, can I do that? I'm borderline racist myself. If I had Don King and Michael Dukakis on my speed dial, I'd be reaching out to them too!"


Unfortunately, the two-part tweet fell deadborn from the press.

Politics Letters Page

In the first of our series of Politics Letters Pages, we have chosen the cream of the crop of correspondence from our hundreds of daily readers on the subject of - you guessed it - letters!

Dear Editor,

I didn't even know they had held an election in Afghanistan till I saw new Afghan president Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai on television last night. I often have a headache thinking that I have to study up on new leaders in the world. Luckily, however, ca plus meme change, il fait pleut c'est meme chose.
We have new president Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai above.
And lo and behold! We have former president, Afghanistani Hamid Karzai below!
Hiya!
It is very generous of the people of Afghanistan to elect a lookalike as they continue their long transition to internationally-sanctioned rule.

Not only this, but "Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai" sounds the exact same as "Afghanistani Hamid Karzai", at least to my eye! Luckily, I can still mumble "Hamid Karzai" in conversation without fear of being thought out-of-date - and mumbling is one thing I'm good at.

Not to steal focus from anything else that's going on in the world, but I wonder what your other readers think?

Yours sincerely,

Bill Cosby

How to Foster Cats Responsibly

Here are the top five (5) recommendations for responsible cat fostering from People for the Eu Thanizing of Animals :-()

1. IF THE CAT STANDS NEAR YOU NOT LOOKING AT YOU, IT MEANS THAT HE OR SHE IS INTERESTED IN YOU. THEY MAY BE GROOMING THEMSELVES WITHOUT A CARE IN THE WORLD, GLANCING AT YOU OCCASIONALLY AS IF YOU'RE A TOTAL ****HEAD, BUT IT OFTEN MEANS THAT THEY WANT YOUR ATTENTION AND THEY'RE PLAYING HARD TO GET.

HOWEVER, IF YOUR CAT IS NOT AROUND, DO NOT GO LOOKING FOR THE CAT, FIND HIM HIDING IN A CARDBOARD BOX IN THE CLOSET, AND THEN CUDDLE HIM FOR THE NEXT HOUR.

2. THE BEST WAY TO FIND A WONDERFUL NEW HOME FOR YOUR MOGGY IS TO "PAINT THE BEST PICTURE". USE PHOTOSHOP TO REMOVE ANY UNSIGHTLY MARKS ON THE CAT, OR TO MAKE THEM SEEM LESS EXCITED THAN THEY USUALLY ARE.

THE BEST PETS ARE THOSE THAT ARE "NO TROUBLE" TO THEIR OWNERS - SO DON'T BE AFRAID TO USE GRAPHICS PACKAGES TO GIVE THIS IMPRESSION.

HERE'S AN ORIGINAL PHOTO OF TWO CATS BEING FOSTERED:
BELOW IS THE PHOTOSHOPPED VERSION OF THE SAME PHOTO, WITH THE RED EYE AND OTHER DETAILS FIXED SO THAT THE CATS SEEM LESS DEVILISH AND MORE "CHILLED".

3. IF YOUR FLATMATE IS A CHEF FROM NEAR WESTERN RUSSIA, AND YOU ARE IRISH (WITH A THICK DUBLIN ACCENT), DO NOT JOKINGLY TELL YOUR MISBEHAVING CAT "I'LL BURST YOU!" IN FRONT OF THIS SAME UKRAINIAN CHEF.

YOUR CHEF FLATMATE OF NO FIXED NATIONALITY WILL TAKE THE PROMPT TO "BORSCHT" THE CAT AS A COOKING INSTRUCTION. YOU MAY FIND ON RETURN HOME FROM WORK THAT THERE IS NO CAT CLIMBING ON YOUR KEYBOARD OR CHEWING THROUGH YOUR WIRES, BUT INSTEAD THERE IS A TASTY, FELINE-BASED STEW SIMMERING IN A POT ON THE COOKER.

4. THERE IS LITTLE FINANCIAL REWARD IN CAT FOSTERING, SO USE THE CAT LITTER TRAY TO PRACTICE YOUR GOLD PROSPECTING SKILLS.
SIFTING THROUGH CAT LITTER FOR POOP BEFORE DUMPING IT IS A LOT LIKE GOLD PANNING - YOU SHOVEL UP THE LITTER WITH A SPECIALLY DESIGNED SHOVEL WITH HOLES, AND YOU SHAKE GENTLY TILL YOU GET THE "NUGGETS". ONCE YOU HAVE THIS EXPERIENCE BEHIND YOU, YOU CAN MOVE TO THE ALASKAN WILDERNESS, AND START YOUR EXPLORATIONS FOR RARE EARTH METALS.

5. FINALLY, IF YOU FIND A STRAY CAT, PLEASE GAS IT RESPONSIBLY.

A couple of theories that might help with character...

Character development is important. Check out a couple of theories that may help to inspire and motivate both your writing and develop your characters.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs


Abraham Maslow on needs is good for some writing and character motivation. I hadn't heard of this guy. The needs are very fluid and there is a lot of overlap, but they might work to drive your character's arc forward.


In Maslow's hierarchy, you have basic survival at the bottom - your hero may be starving, or he may be homeless on a wintry day. His basic need might be to survive at some point in your story, and ensure that all of his physiological needs are met. Sexual need is addressed by Maslow here too, under physiological requirements (to keep the human race going) but this could feed into a higher need.

  



Safety needs are next: The need to feel secure and unthreatened.

Love and belonging is there too, in the middle of the pyramid. Again, this links into sexual needs. So a love interest would fall into this category. Indeed, if a husband of the heroine is threatened or kidnapped, it could feed into any of the other needs.

Esteem is next. Your protagonist might hurt the honor of a villain. Your heroine may suffer from low self esteem and crave praise from others as a result. Your protagonist might wreak revenge on a villain whom he had to associate with growing up, as payback for reducing himself to work alongside him, while he bullied the main character and destroyed people.

Self-actualisation. Like the Ancient Greeks, your hero has the wherewithal to be the best he can be, and he's maxed out on wisdom and self-knowledge. He tasted the fruit in the Garden, but he's made his peace with the Man Upstairs,  and he's now a fully rounded man, purged of flaws. Or whatever.


EMW Tillyard's Elizabethan World Picture


The other theory is for historical characters and perhaps people in a narrative who are very Old Skool in their beliefs.

Tillyard's Elizabethan World Picture. Tillyard was a lit critic and he used his picture so that modern audiences could appreciate Tudor drama. Shakespeare may have subscribed to some of Tillyard's sentiments, but really, it's a theory that was formulated in the mid-twentieth century. I would be reluctant to impose a mindset on the people back then, other than to say that God probably played a more vital and daily role.

But it's a superb, basic notion that can be applied to a character of that era - any Christian (or Abrahamic) believer, perhaps. But it could well apply to a great swathe of humanity, from the Dark Ages to the late nineteenth century and beyond.

Its hierarchy basically works like this:
God
Angels
Monarch (King or Queen)
Man
Animals
Plants
Rocks and metal and bits and bobs

Everyone should know their place. Macbeth steals the throne; people on the up tend to get smacked down in Shakespeare. The idea is found everywhere, from Frankenstein to Jurassic Park. But an eighteenth century monk might hold similar views, and teach novices the same for thematic relevance in your historical fiction.

Both theories are going out of fashion, but I feel they are excellent ways to improve anyone's writing.

Anyway, that's about it. (And look up all that stuff yourself, coz I'm probably wrong on most of it.)

#amwriting

Top 10 Phrases Nobody Should Use At Work...Ever

Nobody likes a cliché! Are we all on the same page about that? Here is a top 10 of phrases that we need to omit from all of our workplaces expeditiously.

1. Touching Base
[I am just] touching base [with you on] = "I am contacting you to ascertain something"

What to say instead:
"Hey, how's the project coming along?"

2. Run this up the flagpole
Let's run this up the flagpole = "Let's get feedback from management / personnel / market research about this"
What to say instead:
"Let's get feedback from management slash personnel slash market research about this."

Photo by Irene Chaney

3. Proactive
Can you be proactive about this?
This means making sure that all of your ducks are lined up in a row.

What to say instead:
"Can you be a little more liney with your ducks, row-wise?"

4. Synergy
Making sure all of your energy is lined up in a row, and flowing in the same direction.
What to say instead:
"Let's all be very energistic, proactively speaking, lined up and row-wise! Yeah!"

5. Deconstructed couscous.
"Deconstructed couscous" speaks for itself. It says "Hellooooo...I'm a dish from the Maghreb, popular in Greece, and by golly I'm postmodern - I've been deconstructing here under your desk for the last two years, in that tupperware bowl you've been looking for! Forgot about me didn't you? YOU! IDIOT! GET ME UP OUT FROM UNDER HERE AND INTO A LAB, PRONTO! AND GET ME A HOTLINE TO YOUR WORLD LEADERS!"

6. Pink Nelly
"Where is Pink Nelly?"
The nickname for work colleague Nathan Johnson.
What to say instead:
"Where's Nathan?"

7. Estonian Momma
An overweight girl from a former Soviet satellite.
[Have you seen that] Estonian Momma [working in the store room]?

What to say instead:
"The girl from Eastern Europe in Stock Control is clearly clinically obese!"

8. Paradigm Shift
Any proposals for radical change in the work culture are "paradigm shifts".
What to say instead:
"We need to hook Mother Duck by the beak and change the direction of all of our ducks."

9. Changing the goalposts
Objectives or targets that move, for example: "[The client] changed the goalposts [mid-project.]"
What to say instead:
"The client cooked the mother duck, and now he's gone running off and all the ducklings are following him in a different direction."

10.  "Let's line up all our ducks in a row."
This phrase - and any of its variations - is the worst phrase of all to use.

Lingofest Dublin On This Weekend

Quick till I tell you: There was a free-to-attend event on in the Bistro Bar of the Workman's Club on the quays at one pm today, Sahhherdeee, 18th of October. There are more than a few events taking place over the weekend, and the performance poetry in the packed-to-capacity little upper room of the pub was top notch. Check out the full programme here in PDF.


The first spoken word festival in Dublin, the Lingo Festival, takes place over this very weekend. The organisers make the claim that Irish spoken word (which I suppose is spoken Hiberno-English) is on a par with any other spoken word on the planet. I'd be in agreement. We have a tendency to transliterate our native tongue into Ang-ul-a-zay, so we do to be sure.
For instance, you will hear an Irishman say "I've a fierce thirst on me" if he's worked up a hankering for a pint of the cool black sour alcopops with the creamy head on it.

This is a transliteration (is that even the right phwackin' word?)* of the Irish "Tá [noun] orm", (which is "is / to be [noun] on me," "there is [whatever] on me". We use prepositions like verbs in Irish. So something is nagging AT our conscience, we have a terrible hunger ON us, blah blah blah, blooh blooh blooh! We do other stuff too. It's not quite as direct as the more germanic Anglo-Sassanaigh peoples speak. One part poetic, one part paddywhackery. So if you have the desire in your head to be sounding like a paddywhackin' Irishman, you'll want to be putting in a few more prepositions than is required for the effect.

No sign of a lack of concision at the event this afternoon. Bern kicked things off with some super music and poetry. I only caught her last piece, a song featuring the River Boyne, plastic paddies, and some terrific lamentations that were both profound and parodic in their patriotism.
Photo courtesy of Bern.
She covered a lot of ground in that one song, from folklore that pre-dates Christianity to the Great Recession. Very impressive. She had a certain Diane Keaton quality about her too. Check out her Facebook page for details of other gigs and her music.


Corman Lally performed. His poems were superbly delivered social commentary. One great piece took the Americans to task for claiming Irish heritage - another "plastic paddy" dig, perhaps - through President Obama's discovery of his Moneygall Offaly ancestry.
Clara Rose Thornton is an American in Ireland. A fellow Chicagoan, one hopes that she was not too offended by the Obama-bashing before she took to the stage. Although there was no muffling at the event, she was a clear and confident performer among a soft-spoken bunch, and she has the talent to reinforce her charisma. Clara has a sense of both meter and theatre; her work, absolutely tremenjuss on the page, is even better when seen live. Although there was plenty of humour from the poets, there was little glib about Thornton's work. Just a Show is available to view on Vimeo, to give you an idea of the sorta thing she does. Her poetry added an international element, ending things on a definite and powerful high.

If you can catch any of the Lingofest events in Dublin tonight or tomorrow, go go go!


*No. No, it's not.

Wowza! I recommend Raven's The Living, The Dead and Americans

The launch of Black History Month Ireland took place at European Union House, Dawson Street on October 2nd 2014. Its principal organiser, Zephrynus Ikeh, hails from Nigeria and he has been working assiduously to get the thing together for the last few months.

Zeph's had a successful run of BHM in the Rebel County for the last few years, but it's gone national for the first time with the launch in the capital.

I had the pleasure to meet a chap from California who's privileged us Irish for the last few years with his presence on the Emerald Isle. Raven performed some poetry at the event. He has a buke of poems out, and it's pretty frickin' marvellous.

Quick disclaimer: Loath as I am to discuss my own experience as a reader in such a review, I am not a big poetry buff. I took my first bash at a poem on here earlier this year. So "I just know what I like."

I like this stuff.

Some of Raven's work is socially-based, addressing issues like race.

There's also much to admire in the wordplay of much of the work here. Each poem is peppered with gems - even the shorter pieces have at least one fantastic image or line. There ain't a dud in the bunch, although I have my favo(u)rites so far, and this review could never do any of them justice, as each poem would require a closer reading than I have thusfar given any one of them.

Split in three, with The Living, The Dead and Americans making up the headings for each section, the eclecticism of Raven's inspirations is enticing: There are pieces that have a pastoral bent, poems featuring buffalo and cattle, poetry citing suburban or city settings, the Holocaust, and much else. Animals, insects, fruit, and the natural and rural worlds populate much of the content.

The Irish author Michael Collins - living in the States - has a collection of stories called The Meat Eaters. It features a gruesome tale involving suitcases full of Irish meat entering the United States. While much of Collins's work focuses on the American experience, Raven discusses rashers (bacon) and bangers (sausages) like an Irishman. Rich imagery and analogies occasionally focus on meat in the collection, be it of Irish or American origin. With the imagery sometimes of slaughter - or at least seemingly pejorative - there are a few beautiful vegetarian options here!

The erudition is worn light, but the scribe clearly has an awareness of the stuff what the English Lit professors go on about in college. Flourishes that could be regarded as postmodern, with paraphrasing or referencing of other poets sit alongside a wonderful use of homophones that invite ambiguity or beg questions.

One can tease out certain lines or phrases, and any number of superficially-clever puns or rhymes, for far deeper insights that could be grounded in any number of schools of thought - and that's just the stuff I notice from my edumacation which focused heavily on the Western tradition. There's far more to it than that - or less, depending on how you choose to read each piece. That's one of the best things about it. It does what the best poetry ought to do. And I'm sure I am only coming away with half of what I could from each piece. As I said, I'm a poetry thicko! But it is a fantastically rich collection. And ultra HQ stuff - no empty calories here.


You can buy the book now from Seven Towers:

http://seventowers.ie/product/the-living-the-dead-and-americans-by-raven/
Surprise Family & Friends alike with a / ! Laugh at their confusion! Hurray!

Five Annoying Facebook Status Updates

Baby pictures

My first sonogram
My first t-shirt
My first walk
My first potty-poo
My first go away and stop posting baby pictures



The "Hey, Cancer Awareness" Update!

You liked someone's status about having a dose of the squirts and then you are PMed by them saying you have to post the exact same status about the squirts or else having big breasts or blah blah blah. Coz of cancer.


The "I know I'm ugly" status update:

You know the ones:

"I scared away the ducks!"


"My nose is so big, it needs its own congressman!"

"I know I'm ugly when it's raining cuz when I look at a girl, she lowers her umbrella so I can't see her face!"

"Darren punched me in the heD 7 times yesterday, and told me I was a descousting lump! Can any1 help me pls? It's the first time he did it since he fractured my scull last year! I've even lost all the baby wait but he's up to his old trikcs again, courawsing nnd boosing! Send help. x"

The I'm-smarter-than-you post

Some people post what appears to be intellectual material. But any post that makes you feel inferior ought to be challenged. The result is a healthy anarchism, undermining authority via Socratic dialogue. Asking questions of any such a structural hierarchy - insisting on a burden of legitimacy from the smartass - can be undertaken via a series of replies or "smackdowns", whether those comments address the semantics of the post-er's statement, or seek more ontological clarifications.

Pets
Remember when Make-love-to-your-pets day used to be just once a year?
Now, a day isn't complete without a cat photo or two. For the effect.
Stupid cats. BARK! BARK!


Not to mention those stupid foxes too! MEEEP MEEEP!

AMAZING INVENTIONS AND THE CREATIVITY BEHIND THEM 2

<Facebook #SATIRE tag FACEBOOK THIS IS SATIRE OK SO PEOPLE MIGHT READ IT THEN OK THANKS>

Creativity is found everywhere. Why, only last week I saw an old man coming up with a stick to batter a barking dog which had been chained to a tree in the neighborhood. The old man is in jail facing trespass and animal cruelty charges, and the dog's owner is also awaiting prosecution for animal cruelty and neglect!

Let's look at some creativity now!  
2. The Post-It Notes story:

We all know the story of the woman who ran out of post-it notes, and cleverly scribbled the words "BUY POST-IT NOTES" on her forehead.

Later, she was in the stationery shop with a confused look on her face.





Just some of the ingredients in Post-It Note adhesive.


Guess who reminded her that she had a reminder on her own head? The shopkeeper! And that's how the forehead stamp was invented. It's been calculated that two cents from every forehead stamp goes towards its inventors, the forehead woman and the stationery shop owner. Today, they are both multimillionaires.



</Facebook #SATIRE tag FACEBOOK THIS IS SATIRE OK PEOPLE MIGHT READ IT THEN OK THANKS>

Oscar Pistorius facing manslaughter charge

Paramedic athlete Oscar Pistoffallovus has been cleared of murder but has been found guilty of manslaughter. He will be subsumed by a conglomeration of media commentators later today.

The leaky-faced snot goblin had trouble listening to Judge Thokozile Masipa, because his ears were covered in snot, as she cleared him of murder but decided that he had done something wrong. An ex-girlfriend - who said he was one nasty mofo and she hid his gun from him - shouted for people to wipe away the snot as the verdict was read out.

"One time," she said, "I hid his blades so that he couldn't run after me. Without his blades, he can only manage a stumpy half-effort at trying to catch somebody. But with his blades, he'll chase you down, and then he'll ride your ass, and then he'll spit you out, and then he'll bury you."

During the course of the trial, they performed a series of psycho and physical tests on Oscar Pistoffallovus, including an encephalephaluppagus, which is Latin to scan his brains.
The tests mean that the electricity in Oscar's brains was undermined by steroids making him mad as hell. He was found to be on the spectrum on the bell curve of profound anger, but crying like a gimpy snothead in the dock. Look at his snots. I HATE YOU OSCAR!



AMAZING INVENTIONS AND THE CREATIVITY BEHIND THEM

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Creativity is found everywhere. Why, just the other day I was reading about the man who came up with the gun to shoot Pope John Paul II in the intestines in 1981 in St. Peter's Square! Why did I do that? Because this historical event features in my latest novel - as part of the creative process!

Let's look at some creativity now!

1. The Minestrone Soup / Kit Kat Kontroversy!

Have you ever bitten off both ends of a finger of Kit Kat?
And dunked it into a cup of minestrone soup? The story goes that you can suck the soup up into your mouth through the Kit Kat, like a straw. You would expect this combination of savory and sweet to be disgusting. You wouldn't be wrong!!!

But when pregnant Michelle Marshall decided to do it, mad as she was on her taste-bud pregnancy hormones, husband Joe Nestlé hit upon an idea. Although he was not related to the Nestlé people who make Kit Kat outside of the United States (where he is known as Joe Hershey), he switched out his wife's minestrone soup with coffee - a beverage more conventionally associated with chocolate eating.


And he asked the Kit Kat people for the royalties while he sat in the boardroom with all of the corporate bigwigs, sucking on his fingers as they stuck them in their coffee, telling him "It'sh delishush!" That's why you have to pay five cents every time you try Joe's clever coffee-based trick. It could also be where the expression "Cup of Joe" comes from. But it's not!

Come back for more creativity in an indeterminate length of time!!!


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Who is the best vocal mimic? You decide!

Millions of people know that Puppy Lover Donny Osmond's speaking voice sounds very similar to Lord of the Dance Michael Flatley's speaking voice.

If Donny put a very slight Irish twang into his voice and tapped his feet a little on a wooden floor, he could probably be mistaken for the Irish dance lord over the phone. But Donny not only REFUSES to explore the possibility of mimicking the top dancer - he's NEVER even been ASKED!







Believe it or not, Riverdance hot-footer Michael Flatley is a "dead ringer" vocally for singing legend Donny Osmond - but only when they're speaking.

However, it's rare to find him neutralising the Irish twang he's acquired in order to sound like the crooner. Why? Because nobody has told him he's a fine "Donny Do-Over"!


So which one do YOU think is the best impressionist? Leave a comment below!

Guardians of the Galaxy: Best Marvel Myoovie ever

Who TF had really heard of Iron Man before Iron Man? I mean outside of the comics' fans? Or Captain America? Spiderman, Batman, Superman, and the Hulk, yebbo, bebbo! But anyone else? No. Go away out of that garden, Tony Stark.

GotG is a fantastical space opera - the special effects are syoopoib, enhancing the twists and turns of the technology and plot, such as weapons of which the viewer ain't aware til they're seen in action.

I'd argue that the twists are more impressive than Tony Stark's hundred 'n' then some Iron Men in the third movie, although those bots service the plot better. Privacy invasion metaphors and industrial theft plots of the Avengers movies notwithstanding, the Guardians movies could well become the most impressive Marvel franchise to date. The movie's humour is strong, and all of its elements combine to make it well worth a cinematic viewing. After a quick calculation, I give this movie 8 out of 8.



To the Anonymous Posters to my blog...

I appreciate your visits, but anonymous posts do not get through.

There is little point in you posting any comments at all - anonymously. This is not a filter that I have established: This is likely to be the default filter that Blogspot has established.

Given the nature of the comments, I presume that you don't read much of the content of the blog itself. You say "This is very helpful / interesting / insightful / informative" below a post, when in fact it is (supposed to be) entertainment.

And now, here is a dancing man with eyebrows:


How to write Fantasy Check List

Here is a 

How to Write Fantasy Novel

 Checklist




1. Writing fantasy-genre sentences takes a lot more work than writing normal sentences.

"If thou h'ain't put in the work, then don't deign to twerk!"
-Duchess Miley of the Mulletted Four Bears



2. A character can be named many, many times, and any confusion is the reader's fault. Trolls will know a character by one name, dwarves by a different name. Remember nobody is all things to all men. So King Kalsius may be known to the pixies as Clumsy Clodhopper The Man with the Heavy Feet, because of his heavy, metal armor boots.

As in:
"Hello, Clumsy Clodhopper!" squeaked Mr Babbles.
"Shuddup already! I'm a king and I'm trying to impress my mistress here!"

3. Make sure that you have guilds, masters and apprentices, and characters that have occupations in keeping with these guilds and apprenticeships. Master builders need their masonry apprentices, and their sculpture apprentices, and these apprentices require backgrounds that make for good dramatic irony!

Example:
When your apprentice was a child, he killed a goose so that his destitute family would not go hungry. But he believed the goose was a swan. He went on the run, fearful that the swan was royal property. There is dramatic irony in the reader knowing that he killed a goose rather than a swan, and that he has lived a life on the run for no good reason. But how he came to become an expert stone whittler? 

                                                                                       That's up to you!

4. In fantasy writing, you can never have too many seamstresses in a scene. If you are confused about writing a scene in the fantasy genre, ask yourself one question: "Could this scene do with another seamstress?" The answer is invariably Yes. Turn as many of your monsters into seamstresses as possible. Nothing says more in terms of depth of character, than a double-jobbing monster, living in her cave, as a seamstress.



5. Make your emotions real, but make sure the story moves forward if you supply a map, with a lot of sprinting over land.

Some of the most emotionally-riveting scenes in Lord of the Rings involve Shelob the dirty big spider, Orcs, Samwise and Frodo. But there's a map, and those little hobbits are stuck at one spot on that map for all of that emotional trauma! This is very frustrating for those fan-boys who love their cartography but don't appreciate good writing!

If you supply a map, make sure your heroes and all of your characters are running at full tilt, all of the time, whether being general-anesthetized by spiders, captured by orcs, visiting a tavern for a dram of mead, or undergoing other emotionally-exciting or conversational stuff. The orcs can carry your heroes for extended periods on a litter or a stretcher, sprinting along.

And don't forget any inn-keeper's tavern will be more than capable of flight if he's got any magical skill at all. Remember too that calling an innkeeper "crafty" says more about the range of beers he stocks than about his personality.

6. And now, a Grammar Tip with hashtags: 
Eats Shoots and Leaves: A real forest is full of LEAVES, but a #fantasy forest is full of LEAFS. #amwritingfantasy


Let's get that fantasy novel written! Good luck! And God's peed...all over the floor. How you gonna get that immaterial wee out of the carpet? Use your imagination! It's entirely up to YOU!

What do you do with a Gifted Child? (PART TWO)

___________ONLINE MAGAZINE
 CONTINUED FROM PART ONE

After a cab ride from Poighte Regional, we got home. Across the intersection from our house is a Homestore-24. Little Seevers emerged from the cab and snapped out of his catatonia. He didn't want to go home. He ran across the street - two cars collided to avoid the little guy, the afternoon sunlight bouncing off the tips of his Baby Jordan laces - and I had to give chase, waving my apologies to the married couple and the family of four in their cars, more interested in checking themselves for injuries than looking to see where Seevers was going. I caught him and he bit me and kicked me. I had to let him go.



Our luggage was still on the sidewalk across the street, so I let him run into the safe environment of Homestore-24, and I sat at the kerbside, watching the suitcases. I phoned his father - he is actually my wife's husband - and I told him to come and help with Little Seevers. I checked my email, correcting essay papers and annotating a peer review while I waited for Seevers to emerge.

Ten minutes later, Seevers sprinted from the Homestore-24 with an ax in hand. A checkout clerk followed him out and Little Seevers swung the ax twice in two big whumps, disabling the man in both legs.

Seevers looked at the ax, and looked at the man on the ground, bleeding out from the kneecaps. Then he looked over at a sycamore along our tree-lined avenue. His eyes sparkled. He'd figured out how to use the ax. He charged at the tree and started chopping.

A crowd gathered. Oh good, I thought. It takes a village to raise a child.

I was going to ask one of the people staring at Seevers to go and fetch my luggage across the street. But some of the onlookers were pulling out their phones, looking at me in disgust.

"I've already called my baby's father," I explained."My baby daddy?"

The police arrived. By this time, Seevers had built up a bonfire and distributed it with a mathematical evenness under a number of parked cars, lighting the wood with gas fluid and matches he had retrieved from the store.

He had also managed to lob his sneakers into the middle of the intersection: Even at three years of age, he was a very gifted tosser. But he was even faster in his bare feet, in his gifted way. It took five police officers and three Tazers to bring him down.

A policeman came up to me and asked me what I was doing as he instructed me to stand up while he readied his handcuffs.

"This is perfectly normal because my child is an autist savant. Autistic," I explained slowly in a non-academic drawl I had learned on the local club scene, as a car exploded. "Do you understand? It's my truth! And Little Seevers's father is on the way. Anyway, I'll take him home to bed now that he's unconscious."

"Ohhhh! Autistic!" the officer nodded. "My nephew does stuff like this all the time!"

We fistbumped.

"But you know, you should really be better able to take care of your child," the policeman said, judgementally.

"But you're not going to arrest me," I explained to the officer, getting out my Twitter.

"Of course not!"

The five policemen departed.

Then my wife's husband arrived, and carried Little Seevers home while I brought in the luggage.


So I was almost arrested because of my gifted little boy! I guess the message here is if you feel the need to intervene when a child is screaming, just let the child scream it out, whether you're in the shopping mall, or even at the tennis court! If you want to get involved, do so without judgement because you don't have all the facts! It's a challenge to every decent human being's soul. Just remember to bring down your Rawlsian curtain of ignorance over any such incident, just as I bring down the curtain now, on my #wunnerful #personalessay.

What do you do with a Gifted Child? (PART ONE)

__________________ONLINE MAGAZINE












By Melissa Hartley-Smythe

Moms get a bad rap. Whether they're leaving their kids in the car for a job interview, or leaving their kids at the kindergarten to get a facial, it doesn't matter: There will always be someone to judge mothers, always with the handcuffs, and the arrests.

My little guy Seevers (3) is autistic. We were on a flight home to Poighte (pron. Puffty), New Hampshire from a two-week visit at my parents' in Yubbadoo Creek, Montana.

I was already very highly-strung and feeling quite writerly, and emotionally intelligent, because little Seevers was making clear to me that he did not want to get on any damn airplane. He screamed at the Southwest Airlines check-in staff so loud that two desk employees required ear napkins to wipe the blood off. Then, after the manager came over, I had to tweet about the fact that they were not going to let Seevers board before we were finally let on the plane.


When we were seated on the plane, it became clear to me - despite my protests - that I would be five rows back from my son. This meant that if Seevers needed to bite somebody, he would be biting a total stranger. The man in the seat next to Seevers was reading on an iPad.

"Whasss...tat?" Seevers said, as he reached over and touchtyped the iPad at speed with both sets of fingers, shutting down five apps so quickly with his prematurely-gifted hand-eye coordination that the man lost two weeks' worth of work.


I want to stress that I'm not a bad person. Just a few weeks ago, I went on a date with an N-word. When I say N-word, I don't mean African-American, just to be clear. I mean a full-on N-word. From Rhodesia! You can read about it in my next column: "I slept with a 14-year-old: How come these black kids look so old?"




Anyway, I found my frustration building as the man looked at Seevers and said:

"This is an iPad."

"I know," said Seevers. "See how I accessed your switcher dock and killed all your processes?" His little eyes sparkled at the wonder of the technology.

"That wasn't very nice," the man said, and I could feel my eyes burning with hatred for his condescension. "Do you want to fix it for me?"

No, said Little Seevers, but just in his mind, and he stared out the window and went into his "cutester catatonia".

Read Part Two here.