Saturday, 27 February 2010

The Power and the Glory

The back-slapping season is well under way as the Lovees continue to congratulate themselves over how much attention they’ve received and how much money they’ve earned and how clever they all are.

It was ever thus, dontcha think?

We (the plebeians) await the next set of awards (laurel leaf) from the Academy (the Senate) being passed on to the actors and directors (the gladiators).

Since the first coin was, well, coined we’ve paid handsomely for our entertainment. Fame, money and power (sex, drugs and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches) await those who are particularly successful in their endeavours in this arena. We elevate them in our minds as people who are demi-gods. We quiver in their presence. We hang on every syllable that slides from behind their perfect dentistry.

But they are just people, people.

Anywho, I digress. What I wanted to say that was while they wipe sweaty palms on each other’s backs some of the people who are vital to the whole process will be missing. Ignored even.

I’m talking about the writers of course.

Walter Kirn penned the book that was the inspiration for one of the year’s most celebrated movies, Up in Air, starring George Clooney and nominated for six Oscars… but Kirn hasn’t been invited to the Oscar ceremony.

Twitter rage ensues.

According to a New York Post report, Kirn “took to Twitter to bitterly complain that he wasn’t invited,” writing on his Twitter page “Caution to writers: Don’t expect that because you write a novel that becomes an Oscar-nominated film that you’ll be invited to the Oscars …. Novelists are like oil in H’wood: they drill us, pipeline us, pump us and then burn us.”

Sadly, it was ever thus.

William Goldman author of “Adventures in the Screen Trade” (which is required reading for anyone interested in scriptwriting) noted that even when he was nominated (and won) the Oscar for writing the script for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, he was missing from the invite list. Crazy innit? Are there any other industries where the innovators are given such shoddy treatment?

I’m guessing that until we writers move from behind our computer screens and get our faces displayed on the large screen (and into the minds of the plebian) nothing will change.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Oscar Material?

My three regulars (god bless you) will know that I've been wondering about the hu ha around the movie, Avatar. Yeah it looks great, but the story, characters etc are all a wee bit third rate. Yeah, and I'm the guy with no movies and no awards under my belt, so what do I know?

I was delighted to see that the peeps at BAFTA were clever enough to pass on the hype and go for an actual, like excellent movie. Wonder if the box-office will sway the Oscar judges?

Anywho, I came across this mash up of the Avatar trailer and Fern Gully. See if you can spot the join...

Friday, 19 February 2010

Kiki's Smile

This is one of those moments that just stay with you forever. Amazing.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

A Novel Approach

You’ve had two books published to critical acclaim. Your next manuscript garners exciting reviews from commissioning editor and your peers...but you can’t gain any concrete interest from a publisher so it remains a stream of words in a digital file.

Here’s what a couple of respected names have said about the book concerned...

“A genuinely original take on noir, inventive and funny. Imagine, if you can, a cross between Flann O’Brien and Raymond Chandler.” – John Banville, Booker Prize-winning author of THE SEA

“A GONZO NOIR is unlike anything else you’ll read this year … Laugh-out-loud funny … This is writing at its dazzling, cleverest zenith. Think John Fowles, via Paul Auster and Rolling Stone … a feat of extraordinary alchemy.” – Ken Bruen, author of AMERICAN SKIN

Sound brilliant doesn’t it? But the publishers are saying the book lacks commercial appeal. And a writer with a track record and a proven readership goes without a contract.

What do you do in this situation? Do you give up on a book that you know is worthwhile or do you try and come up with a fresh way of bringing it to the market?

Well, Declan Burke is planning on doing just that. Rather than have his work wither in a file he has decided to self-publish with a difference. Print-On-Demand gives writers a chance to see their work in print for a relatively modest outlay, but what Dec is doing with it is testing the waters before any money is spent. I’ll let him explain this in more detail....

“Generally speaking, self-publishing involves a writer investing his or her own hard-earned money in having a book published, and then hoping that enough readers will buy the book to make it worth his or her while. Generally speaking, I tend to go about things backasswards, so I’m going to invert the conventional model and ask the readers to put their money where my mouth is. It’s a variation on crowdfunding, in which a reader pledges a certain amount of money to see the book published, and in return receives a copy of the book when it sees the light of day.”

I’d love to see this succeed. For more details why don’t you visit Dec’s excellent blog and see for yourself. It can be found at

Monday, 15 February 2010

Spooky goings on in May Contain Nuts...

I was reading John Irvine’s latest offering Twisted River this afternoon. Hard copy. BIG book. Anywho, the section I read was a comic set-piece where the main character was trying to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre on a very large lady. A large lady who was faking a choking fit in order to get the hero’s hands on her. As those of you in the know ehm, know this involves getting behind the poor bastard who’s choking and clasping your hands in front of them and with a sharp jolt squeezing them just under the ribs. The victim in the novel was so large breasted our hero had to lift her boobs out of the way before he could get near her ribs. So far, so amusing.

The point is that shortly after reading this I went in to the feed page of this blog to see who had been reading my pearls of wisdom and where they had come from. And get this. Somebody from Cardiff landed on May Contain Nuts after searching the following words on google...”the Heimlich manoeuvre was invented.”

After me...1,2,3....wooooooooo.

What on earth is going on? What kind of coincidence is that? There is NOTHING on this blog that would justify such a visit. So what the feck is going on? Is google totally off key? Or are we all connected in ways we are not aware of? And what does it mean? What is the significance of this event? Should I be driving in my car looking for choking people out in the streets? After all with great power comes great responsibility.


Just to test my theory I’m off to read the next section in Twisted River which concerns the hero’s 12 year old son, who clocks his father’s lover with a skillet, thinking she’s a bear. Which doesn’t say much for the hero’s taste in women. And then I’ll report back. Try not to get too excited at the possibilities, people. The world is our lobster.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

It's Valentine's Day - in case you missed it...

The last time I was in Paris it was around about this time of year and everywhere you went in the main drags (you can't really call a Parisien boulevard a drag, Michael) there were large posters everywhere with poems on them.

In the spirit of this offering I thought I would include a poem in my blog today. I don't normally like to put poems here, in case they get stolen - like, who would want to but you never know -however this one has already been published.

I was commissioned by Margaret Thomson Davis to write a series of poems for her novel Red Alert from the point of view of a young woman who was going to art school. Anyway, the poor lass had a hard time...but did it all turn out well? Long enough for her to fall in love, but after that...I ain't saying.

Here's one of the poems in the series I came up with for Margaret...

Inside She’s Dancing

Every step she takes this morning

lands on a cushion of air.

All they did last night was kiss

and today he flavours everything

her mind touches.

His voice sounds in the rumble

of a passing car. The valerian blue

of his eyes watches over her

reflected in every window

from here to there.

A boy with short, brown hair

gelled to spikes, holds his mother’s hand

while crossing the road. She sees him

in the way the boy’s eyes tug at his mum,

checking she is still there.

The boy gives a little kick with each step

as if the promise of a future

nips at his heels.

An old man at the bus stop, round

like Santa. Him in fifty years. Cheeks

bunched in a grin, wearing an apple blush

like him last night when he brushed

her right breast with his arm.

Caught herself smiling at the old man,

wanting to know

how they carry the years,

yet doesn’t want to spoil the dance

of every blood cell through the chambers of her heart,

like millions of tiny breeze-blown flowers.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Nut News

A newspaper recently reported on a study that had reached the conclusion being stupid could lose you as much as seven years from your life expectancy. Begs the question; could a fairly intelligent person who suffers from a long string of occasional blond moments expect to have his life shortened by say, three and a half years? And yes, before I reached a state of permanent follicular challenge I was blonde, so you can stop calling me a colourist. Question 2, how can I, ehm I mean how can this theoretical individual combat this? Dose up with Gingko Biloba? Watch endless re-runs of University Challenge? Or should he just bitch-slap both his parents for giving him excess stupid capacity?

On the whole stupid thing, the Chilean mint issued a new coin recently. A 50 peso coin. And a life-expectancy-challenged individual designed the coin with the name of the country reading CHIIE.

( For all those people reading this whose days are running out it should have read CHILE.)

What about animals not blessed with a human sized brain? Do they lose out on their numbered days? The reason I ask is that a seven-point buck was found dead in Viroqua, Wis., in November. After losing a head-butting contest with a cement-statue stag. Ramming contests are common during mating season, and the cement buck was about the same size as the dead one - thus explaining the confusion but unfortunately for Mr Seven-Point weighed about three times as much.

This is me smiling with GLEE ‘cos I get to report on more stupidity. And there ain’t nothing more satisfying than stupidity sparked by political correctness. The Telegraph reported the other day that an English primary school has banned Valentine's Day cards from the premises because of concerns that young pupils spend too much time talking about boyfriends and girlfriends.

Ashcombe Primary School in Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, has told parents that cards declaring love can be “confusing” for children under the age of 11, who are still emotionally and socially developing.

In his February newsletter, Peter Turner, the head teacher, warned that any cards found in school would be confiscated.

Before I check into my usual knee-jerk state when it comes to all things PC... allow me to run with this. Does the teacher have a point? Should we also ban Xmas cards on the basis that someone is bound to get left out and then feel socially excluded? From there it’s only a hop, skip and full-throated jump to banning birthday parties. Surely, the potential for exclusion is much more noticeable here. If you’re the child who is not invited to the party of the year how bad are you going to feel that you didn’t get to overdose on e-numbers and cake? How stunted is your emotional and social development going to be? The potential for disaster here is surely of biblical proportions.

Is my tongue so firmly pressed against my cheek that it’s about to go into cramp? Or have I just lost six months of my life?

Sunday, 7 February 2010

The one where he takes the baton from Marley and runs with it...

The latest blog from Marley Delarose - you can find the link down the right hand side - no the other right - got me thinking...

Imagine this: it’s Valentine’s Day. You are with your loved one. You’ve gone for the works –long-stemmed roses, a beautifully wrapped gift (you got the girl in the shop to do it because you’re handless), champagne, romantic meal – heck, you’ve even flossed AND you’re wearing clean underwear.

You’re girlie is looking HOT, HOT, HOT and she’s wearing that perfume you like – the perfume that made you realise you are actually attracted to nice smells. You’re holding hands across the table and you’re enjoying the skin on skin thing. A little too much. With your index finger you trace a circle on her palm. You draw a line from her palm to the inside of her wrist. She gives you that smile. The blood starts to leave your brain...

...the waiter arrived with your starters. With a wry grin your girle strokes your ankle with her foot. You bite your lip and spoon at the soup. Well, the dishwater masquerading as soup. You make a mental note that going for a posh-sounding starter doesn’t really impress anyone.

The conversation moves on while you both eat. You make fake appreciative noises. So does she, but her noises sound a lot more interesting. Erotic even. (Who knew a man could read “sex” into so much?)

As soon as the plates are cleared you move back to the wrist-stroking thing. It was clearly working. For you at least.

You remember the last time you ate in here and how long they took between courses. You are not a complete philistine and you realise this is because they are cooking your meal from scratch and BONUS it won’t come covered in breadcrumbs.

You have time. What could you do with this time? You spot a couple walking back to their seats from the back of the restaurant. The toilet area. You think; that’s sweet. They’re so close they even time their pee breaks together. Then you notice the smile on his face and the way she strokes her hair and smoothes her dress over her hips as she walks. The penny drops.

You lick your lips. Your brain is losing its blood supply. You look at your girlie's cleavage. You have a thought in your mind that’s going to take a hippo in a thong to dislodge.

Before your meat and two veg arrives you HAVE to play hide the sausage.

You look at your girlfriend. You raise your eyebrows. Hers bunch together in a question.

You’re thinking (never a good thing) that because it’s Valentine’s Day you should be romantic. You should frame the suggestion in a way that’s going to melt her heart. Particularly as the last time you went for a public affair the rash from the sand-rub took a month to go away.

So you raise one eyebrow and say...I love the way we can talk for hours. Maybe it’s time to take our communication to another level.

She says, “Eh?”

You raise both eyebrows this time and as you do it you jerk your head forward as if adding a shout to the gesture. She has a half-smile as if to say, WTF dude?

By now there is no blood in your brain whatsoever and you’ve just noticed the table is a couple of inches higher at your end. (Actually you’d be amazed if this was the case because it would take like a shitload of money and a drastic medical procedure to gain this effect.)

You loosen your collar and say, how about it, babe? Except it comes out from between clenched teeth and it sounds like – howahbohtitbahybbh.

Now she’s leaning back in her chair, her arms are crossed and she’s wearing a different look. The one she wears when she’s about to phone emergency services.

You realise that you and Subtlety are such distant relatives that you are at least second-cousins three times removed and you’ve only heard about cousin Jean’s daughter’s son because he auditioned on X-Factor. You give up and go for the direct approach.

You say. "You and me. The toilet. Now."

You realise that you may have spoken too loudly and turn your head from side to side afraid that someone nearby overheard.

And THAT’S when you see the sign. It reads thus –

“Have you given any thought to moving beyond the bedroom? Our toilet cubicles are available between courses. Enjoy”

Your chin is resting on the table. It’s allowed? It’s acceptable? Pubic fornication has been given approval?

Your libido is like a balloon that’s been pushed against a lit cigarette. You don’t want to do it now. Acceptable public shagging! Where’s the fun in that? You’re now sitting with your arms and legs crossed and wearing a petted lip the size of a lilo.

Time to fess up. This is not a wee fantasy of mine. There is a restaurant in Toronto, Canada called Mildred’s Temple Kitchen and their advertising pitch for Valentine’s Day this year is just as you read it above.

“Have you given any thought to moving beyond the bedroom?” And according to the manager there will also be a French maid service to make sure everything is “going smoothly and kept clean”.

This is me wondering what their version of “clean” is. But that’s a whole other blog.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

You're doing what?

The TV is off tonight. Yes, I’m having a TV free evening. Go me.

What prompted this? It feels like recently I’ve come in from work, made my (delicious and nutritious and mostly fat-free, preservative-free and taste-free) dinner, answered my emails and then vegged out in front of the HD Ready for a couple of hours before going to bed.

What a boring existence. But I’m trying not to feel bad about it. The newspapers are full of articles about how this is the most depressing time of the year – after the excitement of Christmas, in the middle of the worst of the winter and before the sun makes its fleeting appearance in the spring it’s only natural for us to feel out of sorts. Maybe I’m suffering from SAD. Maybe I could get a spray-tan. A day-glo orange look would perk me right up, no?

Don’t worry. Ain’t going to happen. I’d rather pierce my eyelid with a fishhook, attach it to the roof and hang about for a couple of hours until my eyelid has been stretched enough to cover my entire head, while I sang "How’s that for a hoodie?"

Did I just take that too far?

AND I’ve been neglecting my blogging duties of late. Please forgive me. I could cite the pressures of work and the fact I have books to read and review and poems to critique and shite TV to watch and good TV to watch (I am officially a Gleek) and a goddamned book to finish. So I will.

As if you give a flying foxhat. Just give me some blogs, you lazy basturt.

What’s been going on in the life of MichaelMalonepoetandauthor?

I spotted a hair growing out of the top of my right ear yesterday. No. Wait. It was like three inches long and pointing straight up like a follicular version of the Eiffel Tower. Where did it come from? It wasn’t there the night before. Can a hair really grow three inches in a matter of hours while I sleep? And why is it on the outside of my ear? And why is there only one at a time? Can you imagine if there was hundreds? I would have like a Mohican on each ear overnight. MAD.

And this is where it gets REALLY interesting. No. Wait. When I tried to pull it out, it snapped back into a curl. Like a follicular version of a pig’s tail. How cool is that?

Wuhoo. I have a curl. My cup runneth over.

Ehm. Do you think I should turn the TV back on?