Inadvertent Mind Control

The poison I inhale is Marlboro,
but sometimes I buy Pall Mall
to save on the price of a carton of milk
and maintain my smoker's cold and cough through all the summer days,
Undermining my prospects in any number of other ways.

When convinced I requested Pall Malls I'm occasionally given
the Marlboro Golds.
While accepting the mistake as mine, alongside the error of
an expensive habit that has killed billions of my betters -
I will doubletake at the shop-assistant -
and whenever this happens, silently wonder
if my mouth says Pall Mall Blue,
but my eyes say Marlboro Lights.

He loves me SO MUCH! Doesn't he? DOESN'T HE!?!

Clara Rose Thornton’s Alternatives: Poetry Book Launch and Short Film Premiere

A Wednesday evening poetry launch at the Liquor Rooms 21 June was an eclectic evening of culture. While not at all madness, the event turned into quite a late midweek session for many attendees. This reviewer is left believing it was only yesterday, when it took place some days ago.
Clara Rose Thornton launched her book Alternatives at the Liquor Rooms, where she spoke of “the sheer diversity of talent in Dublin’s literary scene,” in a country that's “old-fashioned in a way that’s very very positive compared to my homeland the States, where not so many people read the newspapers or listen to the radio any more.”

Also premiering were two (two!) short fillums - one a video to accompany Clara Rose's poem Champagne, directed by Ailish Kerr. The video is terrific - with a Roaring Twenties aesthetic - capturing a performance from the poet on what appears to be a very stylish, mid-afternoon or perhaps very-late-night, hair-of-the-dog, champagne-fuelled bender.

The second movie was a short film about Clara Rose and her experiences in Dublin and elsewhere. 

The title of the poetry collection is a pun on “alter natives” – which Clara Rose claims as her goal, changing – albeit in some small way – the mindsets of ‘natives’ in the countries where she travels to work and perform. 

Other performers at the event included Raven, a Californian living in Ireland, with magnetic abilities to transmit his engrossing ideas through the spoken word. Raven’s own book of poems was reviewed last year here.

Paul Timoney was also on the bill. Through frivolity and profundity, he debuted a spoken word piece about an incident from growing up that was touchingly evocative of childhood sadnesses.

Andre K'por, originally from Bosnia, organises a show of culture each month at Sin É, just across the river from Wednesday night's venue. His impressive spoken word performance included some rap.

Clara Rose performed some of her own work, accompanied on guitar by an impressive Enda Roche, improvising alongside the poet in a manner that showed consummate skill and a light touch.

Anyway, most of these folks are on the burgeoning performance circuit around Dublin and Ireland. Check them out or book them for an event - each of them is super!

Writing Advise

Yes, I misspelled advice to annoy the folks and draw them in! Who's the fool now, ehhh? So why don't you cut back on the criticle eye, Little Miss Grammer Pants?

Anyhoo, I saw this question via Wayne Borean on Twitter. Go answer it yourself if you have any thoughts. Mine are spewed out again below.

Writing: I want to write a novel, but I don't have an appealing story idea, skill as a good writer, much free time, tenacity, much imagination, or observational skill needed to write a good novel. What should I do? 

I want to write my first novel but I have some issues and excuses to get started. Please suggest how should I cope with them and start writing.  

1.      I don't have a good/clear and appealing story to take a start 

Ehhhm...this is Ahem.
1. Whaddaya wanna write? Or write about? Do you know what your subject will be? When you say you don't have a clear idea, do you have any idea? Take the most interesting aspect or element of your idea if you want to make a start, and jump in. Recount that event or thought through writing, and go! Then, take things from there - either filling in the history of the incident, or what happens next, or both. And build the story around that idea, if you don't want it to be the START of the novel.

2.      I have no experience of writing fiction (esp. in English) 

2. This is not important. Don't be afraid to start. The only people who must know you're writing is YOU, the National Security Agency, Microsoft and the chubby South-East Asian fella with the funny haircut. Be brave. Write. You don't have to share anything until you're happy.

3.      I do a 10 hour technical job five days a week and left with little time to pursue my passion 

3. If you're working full time and you're inspired to write, you'll write, unless the technical aspects of your job are draining your brain each evening. If this is the case, try to write first thing in the morning or over the weekend. Find an idea that inspires you enough to get through it. Sometimes, WRITING jobs can be absolutely soul-destroying in terms of inspiration. But technical jobs can often be incredibly inspiring because they are limited in terms of "creative" brain use, and people write through lunchbreaks etc. Rather famous writers work as hospital porters or  schoolteachers.

Depending on your job, you may find that you're too drained to write. Just take notes and mine your head for thoughts. It's about the little things, and you can check over them when you're less tired. Conversely, if an idea is strong enough, you'll survive on four hours sleep over 48 hours in order to get something finished (like a chapter or a story).

4.      Every time I want to take a start I end up with nothing and it hurts a lot 

4. Again: You might need the germ of an idea. See 5.

5.      I don’t have a vivid/deep imagination and observation which is needed to craft a good story

5. Take a bad idea. Ask yourself: "What if?" In that scenario, no idea is bad. It's all in the execution and follow-through.

Go out over the weekend. You might see stuff like this:

1 A woman flees a cab without paying her fare. But what if...?
2 A night-club doorman refuses a man entry into a club. But what if the man he's just refused turns to leave, and both of them are suddenly held at gunpoint by a third individual, and a van pulls up and they're both pushed into it before screeching away.

3 A girl is too drunk to order another drink, head slumped on the bar. But what if...?
4 A man urinates in a garden on the way home. But what if the homeowner comes out...?

Take a walk. Say what you see, then ask What if? Check out people at the cafe or supermarket or in traffic or on the train. 

Open a pot of yogurt and describe what you smell and taste exactly. What could happen?

Go to the website of a hotel and describe its lobby or rooms from the photos. What could happen?

If you're a literalist, be as literal as you like. Start from real life. But just ask: What if?
Good luck.

Cat profiles with redacted cursewords...

Here is Calvin, or as he's also known, Mr. ****en Squishface. Mr Squishface is an almighty ******ks. He looks all cute and fluffy, with his beautiful fur, and his wondrous brown hind legs, but if you hold out a treat for him, your hand will be returned to you with missing ****ing fingers. 

Even though he's a chubby ****er, he has the claws of a ludicrously ****ing impatient, half-starved ****ing **** of a veloci****ingraptor.

Although he will strip hands of their flesh, seconds later he is still stupid enough to flop like a vibrating ****en cushion when you pick him up and turn him over in your arms, reacting like some class of dead ****bag.

An ostrich burying its head in the sand, the stupid f***en purring p****. 

What a genetic ****up.

Here is Max.

 Max is "The Human".

The spooky ****ing depth to Max's eyes indicates that - beyond question - there's a mother****er of a human under there. 

Some claim that Max is in fact the reincarnation of her Ladyship, Princess Diana of ****ing Wales! He certainly ****en screeches like he is. He greets his fellow humans with a horrific, high-pitched $*~#ing squeal that would tear the eardrums off a rabbit. His insistent squeals are reserved for human interaction; it is rare that he will speak with his lesser ****en feline companions in a similar manner. Adding to the creepiness, he is also a noble but diffident **** of a thing. He wouldn't say boo to a goose. Just don't go near him if you have a headache!

Enough of this ****ing ****!

More *****y cat profiles next time!

God Gave Me Butterfly Wings by Taylor Eaton: Review

As the title suggests, there's plenty angelic and heavenly in this collection of flash fiction (available at Amazon UK, and Amazon US too).

The occasional echoes of Márquez's magic(al) realism, or Liam O'Flaherty's short story His First Flight, suggest that many have mined similar seams. I don't know what Taylor Eaton reads, but her frequently dreamlike style and original choice of subject matter make this collection well worth a look.

Thematic drivers appear to be wings, the divine, and what we call Heaven. Eaton's surreal tack is often irreverent, very fast-and-loose when it comes to divinity, without ever crossing over into sacrilege. An expressive and assured voice throughout makes for some terrific lines, to the point that some of the phrases and sentences could well become aphorisms.

This image of a dead dragonfly completely misrepresents the magic of Taylor Eaton's collection, but what do you expect? I'm NOT a photographer!
One story reminded me of a sermon I heard at (a Catholic) Mass, about some kind of insect that would hatch underwater before pupating into a winged thing, breaking through the water never to return. As the priest explained it, the allegory went that the insects below water would ask their siblings to report back when they broke out, and let everyone below know what it was like out there. So a creature would break out and depart for what we would see as "Heaven" (above the water). Its brethren below could not understand why their fellows weren't reporting back to loved ones to tell them what was going on. It turns out that try as they might, the newly reborn creatures' wings and legs could not counteract the capillary action on the water's surface.

The book has numerous stories like the one above; they feature animals as often as they feature humans. This book's short enough to be moreish, and there's a richness in all of the stories. With a clever link from the last paragraph, and a hop and a skip, I'll add that I only hope Taylor Eaton will report back to the rest of us when she breaks out as the next big thing. Follow her on the Twitter, everybody! Coz she'll be superfamous!