Thursday, 30 June 2011

Trash Talk

During an If You Can’t Beat Them Join Them moment, the May Contain Nuts team (that would be me) decided to offer you some celebrity gossip. For “gossip” read “any old shit”. For “celebrity” read “who are they again?” (I would provide photos to help with the old identification thing but I really can’t be arsed.)

Shocking news backstage from the U.K. X-Factor auditions. Gary Barlow aka Gazza, aka the used to be chubby one, aka the one who knows how to wring every last £ from a pop song ... has said that there is actually very little real talent out there. Britain gasps with shock and has a sit down with a wee cup of tea and some custard creams. Nonetheless, his “spokesperson”added, we will still manage to find a bunch of girls who can’t sing and bring them together and try to persuade the nation they are The Next Big Thing. They’ll also probably find a bolshy lass from a council estate, a yoof who’s working his way through an asbo and a novelty act with big hair and two left feet that Louie will offer a record deal (particularly if they are from the oul’ country).

Gwyneth Paltrow, actress, gleeful singer(ish) and fashion designer (of a sort) has dinner with business mogul Sir Philip Green. Apparently they talked about all kinds of stuff.  And ate and drank stuff. In the photos taken by a very helpful waiter – and sold to the tabloids for a week’s wage – Sir Philip is looking very tanned. Gwyneth not so much.

Harry Windsor, just in case you is not totally up to date, he is like, 2nd in line to the, like, king-hat thingy. Oops, MCN is forgetting Charles. Anywho, Harry Ginger, son of Princess Di (there, our circulation figs go through da roof) is dating a (get this) underwear model. Ooooh. Granny Liz says – we are not amused. One needs to sow one’s oats, but puhleeze not with a gel who takes her clothes orf in public. Florence Double Barrel Name, aforementioned underwear model, has links to the aristocracy, which is nice, but all things considered that won’t get her an invite to Braemar for drinkies of a winter’s evening.

In other news, Katie Price wants implants in her bum. A “source” close to the celeb says she’s worried that if her giant tits spontaneously deflate she’ll be left with a figure like a boy. Peter Andre is totally considering botox (try a paper bag mate), Cheryl Cole has gone blonde and is retiring from showbiz (wait, no she isn’t. Oh yes she is. Oh no she isn’t.) And in a piece of news in which we get to celebrate our inner bitch when we really should be leaving this troubled celeb alone, reports say that Amy Winehouse managed to get through an entire song. She’s hoping she can bring the bathroom mirror and hairbrush on stage with her for the next gig.

And finally there are a whole host of celebrity birthdays today but due to a lack of verification (don’t these people make this shit up?) we’re not going to publish them. We wouldn’t want to be accused of inaccuracy.

Right, I'm off to have my tongue surgically removed from the inside of my cheek.

Until next time ...

Sunday, 26 June 2011

#amreading - Beautiful, Naked and Dead by Josh Stallings

Moses McGuire is depressed, hard drinking, ex-con, and ex-military, and he’s on the edge of suicide. When he gets an urgent phone call from the one woman in the world he considers his only true friend, Kelly, a waitress at Club Xtasy in East L.A., the "titty bar" where Moses works as a doorman, Mo puts all thoughts of doing himself in on the back burner.

Kelly is in some kind of trouble and needs Mo's help. But Mo, being as damaged as he is, and trying hard to overcompensate by playing pseudo daddy-hero to the women at the strip club he sees as lost little girls, bungles the one time that his heroism really matters. Instead of running straight to Kelly when he realizes she's not at the club, he stalls, has a few drinks and allows one of the other dancers to give him a quickie lap dance.

By the time he gets there, he finds that he’s too late. She’s been brutally tortured before being murdered. Moses manages to pull his self together and decides to track down the scumbags responsible for killing her. He sells his motorcycle, buys an old Crown Victoria, and a goes on a road trip - a no holds barred, take no prisoners, kill em' all, rampage.

Did I like it?

Lemme give you a hell yeah! Loved it. This excellent stuff, right out of the top drawer. It’s hard to believe that Josh Stallings hasn’t been picked up by one of the major publishers. He writes like a dream, his action is tense and unpredictable and his characters utterly convincing.

This is visceral stuff, not for the faint of heart and an indication of the talent that the mainstream publishing houses are losing out on while digital grows in strength.

Fans of noir fiction take note. Josh Stallings is one to watch out for and he deserves a huge audience. Get yourself onto to his site and buy a copy of his book. Like, NOW. £2.83 for a kindle copy is ridiculously cheap. What you waiting for? Get over there already.

Josh Stallings is your average ex-criminal, ex-taxi driver, ex-club bouncer, film making, script writing, award winning trailer editing, punk.   Over his time in Hollywood he wrote and edited the feature film “The Ice Runner,” a Russian/American co-production. “Kinda Cute for a White-Boy” an independent feature he directed and co-wrote with novelist Tad Williams, won best picture at the Savanah International Film Festival. He also wrote “Ground Zero Texas,” a best selling Sony video game with Edward Neumeier (writer of RoboCop).   His first novel BEAUTIFUL, NAKED & DEAD is garnering great notice from readers and reviewers alike.   OUT THERE BAD (Moses #2) will be published early summer.  He is currently working on the third Moses McGuire novel.  He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Erika, his bullmastiff Nelson, Lucy the lab pit mix and Riddle the cat.

You can read more about Josh Stallings at his website HERE!!!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Things the wee fella says ...

It’s that time – time for the pearls of wisdom that drop from the mouth of my 13 year old son like, well, pearls.

Conversation #1

The wee fella said – after I gave him a good morning hug as he approached the breakfast table (well, THE table. I don’t have a table for like, every meal) – Daaad, your breath stinks – pause – and your teeth are yellow.

Me – that was harsh.

The wee fella grins – it’s called tough love – grins even wider and finishes with – Bitch!

Conversation #2

It’s my latest health kick (for the record I’m 24 pounds lighter since Easter. Go me!) and I give myself one day per week off the healthy stuff and eat absolutely anything I want. On this occasion I had a pizza – grand pan, meat feast – from a well known pizza chain. I’d mention them by name but I want some freebies first. (You know who you are. See my agent. Please.) Washed down with lashings of cola. From another well known company. Same rules apply, Company Beginning with P.

I was munching into said pizza and fancied a wee top up to my cola. The cola was in the kitchen. I couldn’t be arsed going for it. I never ask the wee fella to be my gopher as I used to hate it when I was a kid. Besides, in the few occasions I have made such a request he moans like I’ve asked him to do a shift up a chimney. However, I had my sloth on and thought I would give it a go.

Me – could you fill up my glass, son? (I point helpfully to the cola bottle visible through the kitchen door.

TWF – (grunts, stands up) S’pose.

Me – after he has poured a paltry two fingers worth – thanks.

TWF – Why didn’t you get it for yourself?

Me – I wanted to see if you would do something for me.

TWF – I do something for you every day, Dad. (BIG grin) I give you a reason to live.

Monday, 13 June 2011

The Last Meal

I was walking along the wooded path with Bob. He was tracking the scent of something or other in the long grass. Clearly it was something that couldn’t decide where it wanted to go as he was moving back and forward with no discernable pattern.  My mind was drifting in a similar pattern. As it has a wont to do. Often on these occasions it drifts to writerly things – a description, a plot device or even a metaphor. On this occasion it was the later that sprang into my mind and I instantly dismissed it ‘cos it was rubbish. I can’t remember it exactly, but it was something along the lines of  - like a dog attacking it’s last meal.

I mean, how the feck would a dog know it was its last meal? Sheesh. I gave the old sub-conscious a ticking off. What was I supposed to do with a crap phrase like that?

Then my mind tracked on to the subject of last meals. Convicts on death row get them, if the novels I’ve read are to be believed.  So, would a con “attack” his last meal? Would he/she even enjoy his/ her last meal? What would I want for my last supper? Fillet steak, chunky chips and a mars bar on the side? Foie gras? (I’d be beyond being p.c. after all) Amuse bouche? One thing’s for sure I’d want to taste every one of the desserts on the menu and wash that down with LOTS of chocolate. Until I was sick.

But would I? Would I be able to eat anything? Wouldn’t the thought of my impending execution put just a bit of a dampener on my appetite?

(If you ever see me out walking the dog and I’m wearing that distant – and yet intelligent expression, you’ll know that my mind has taken me down some very strange paths indeed.)

What about you dear reader? The end is nigh via an injection of toxins. Would you have an attack of the munchies and what would you have? Or would you only be fit for gnawing at your toenails?

Friday, 10 June 2011

It's a Bob Blog

Now that I’ve been a dog-owner for nearly a year now (10 months actually  –eeesh, tempus fairly fugits, innit) I thought it was time to offer the wisdom I have accumulated to my three regular readers in case any of them are thinking of getting a mutt.

# thing 1 – big dogs take a lot of walking.

#thing 2 – big dogs take a lot of feeding.

#thing 3 – big dogs that take a lot of feeding fill poop sacs with alarmingly large poops. Think, enough to fill 
one of Jordan’s bra cups.

#thing 4 – if you take only one poop sac on your walk, said dog will do two poops – you take two sacs, he will do three. His ability to poop then grows at an exponential rate depending on the number of sacs on your possession.

#thing 5 – the poop that exceeds your ability to scoop will be done in the most public place possible.

#thing 6 – you will adopt an interval training routine which will involve you running at exactly this point. You will stop as soon as you are out of view. You will catch your breath. Eventually.

#thing 7 – the dog will always poop at the furthest point from a bin leaving you the pleasure of carrying the “article” for the longest time possible. You will swear he is smiling as he watches you carry it.

#thing 8 – you will catch walkers who are non-dog owners (What the feck is that all about? Walking when you don’t have to?) staring at your full poop sac with a long look of mild disgust.

#thing 9 – you will catch this look and give the bag a bigger swing while saying, with a huge smile, ‘You should smell his farts.’

#thing 10 – when buying jackets you don’t need to check yourself in the mirror because you no longer care what they look like. You live in Scotland so your priority is now wind and rain proofing. And enough pockets to carry a sufficiency of poop sacs.

#thing 11 – your jacket should also be dog-drool resistant. That stuff stains and gets EVERYWHERE.

#thing 12 – dogs really do reflect their owners. A friendly dog is always with a friendly, chatty owner. A crabbit, unsocial dog is always with an arse.

#thing 13 - boy dogs will always wait until you have visitors before licking their boy-bits. You will try to ignore this but the loud slurping noise makes it difficult.

#thing 14 – your teenage son will count the resultant erections (the dog’s, silly) and announce to all and sundry the number for each day.

So go forth, people and give a dog a good home. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Here's a mixed bag ...

I haven’t been chatty much on this here blog of late. Sorry. My three regulars may be starting to worry about now so I thought I should stop by and say hi.


Books as usual are on my mind, so here’s a glimpse of what’s on the top of my To Be Read pile ...

Horns by Joe Hill

Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with one hell of a hangover, a raging headache . . . and a pair of horns growing from his temples. Once, Ig lived the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned American musician, and the younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, Ig had security and wealth and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more - he had the love of Merrin Williams, a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic. Then beautiful, vivacious Merrin was gone - raped and murdered, under inexplicable circumstances - with Ig the only suspect. He was never tried for the crime, but in the court of public opinion, Ig was and always would be guilty. Now Ig is possessed with a terrible new power - with just a touch he can see peoples' darkest desires - to go with his terrible new look, and he means to use it to find the man who killed Merrin and destroyed his life. Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. It's time for a little revenge; it's time the devil had his due.

To borrow the cliché – the apple didn’t fall far from the tree – a quick scan of this in the bookshop and Joe Hill promises a talent every bit as formidable as his old man. (If you don’t know who I’m referring to, find a pic of Joe and then guess.) Horns offers an intriguing premise worked by someone with one of the most interesting “voices” in fiction. I loved his earlier book “Heart-shaped Box” and I’m REALLY looking forward to reading this.

Now for a horn of a different hue ... (did you like my attempt at a link? Did ya? Did Ya?)

Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes

The blurb ...

Young marine lieutenant, Waino Mellas, and his comrades in Bravo Company 
have been dropped into the mountain jungle of Vietnam, combatants in an increasingly desperate war. Standing in their way are the North Vietnamese, the monsoon rain and mud, leeches and tigers, and disease and malnutrition. 

As racial tension and competing ambition build, the group threatens to crack at any moment. When the company is surrounded and outnumbered by a massive enemy regiment, the Marines are thrust into the raw and all-consuming terror of combat. The experience will change them forever.

First sentence ...  “Mellas stood beneath the grey monsoon clouds on the narrow strip of cleared ground between the edge of the jungle and relative safety of the perimeter wire.”

Down these Green Streets: Irish Crime Writing in the 21st Century – edited by Declan Burke charts the evolution of the Irish crime novel since of the inception of the Irish state through a series of essays, interviews, personal testimonies and short stories. This collection offers a unique insight into the phenomenon of Irish crime writing, which Fintan O’Toole describes as “arguably the nearest thing we have to a realist literature adequate to capturing the nature of contemporary society”.

The editor, Declan Burke has gathered together some of the most fascinating voices in modern literature – they all just happen to be Irish. Included are John Connolly, Tana French, Alan Glynn, Declan Hughes, Arlene Hunt, Ken Bruen and more.

Fascinating just about covers it. Can’t wait to read more.

No More Mulberries by Mary Smith

This is a bit of a departure for me but as I know the writer and I’ve heard her talking about the book AND she was on the telly this week I got me a copy.

The blurb?

Miriam loves life as a health worker in Afghanistan but her marriage to her Afghan husband, Dr Iqbal is heading towards crisis.

Ignoring his anger at her attending a teaching camp as a translator without him, she travels into a remote region hoping time apart will help her understand where their problems lie.

As she undertakes a journey into her past, to confront the devastating loss of her first husband, Miriam realises how her own actions has damaged her relationship with Iqbal.

Set in the rugged grandeur of the Hindu Kush foothills, No More Mulberries is about love, commitment and divided loyalties.

I’ve only had a quick glance so far but I’m already impressed with the quality of the prose, the complexity of the characters and the sense of place offered in the first chapter. And Mary’s a lovely wummin (and she was on the telly) so go buy a copy already!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

It's fresh review time over at ...

Yup, peeps, it's that time of the month again. Eeeesh, where does the time go when you're reading all these books?

Here's the review I did for the excellent Tony Black's Truth Lies Bleeding - with some (coughs) minor changes. I must have been half asleep when I sent the original off to CRIMESQUAD. (And those minor errors are gonna bug me for a lifetime - and no I'm not going to point them out to you.)

Anywho, on with the review - 

The blurb reads like this ...

Teenagers find the mutilated body of a young girl in a dumpster in an Edinburgh alleyway. The police are stumped at all the questions this raises. Who was she? Where has she come from? More importantly, who killed her and why?

Inspector Rob Breannan, recently back from psychiatric leave is still shocked by the senseless shooting of his brother. The case of the girl in the dumpster looks like the best way for him to get back into work and on track with his career.

As luck would have it events don’t quite go to plan. Brennan has enemies within the force, a habit of getting into trouble and what he discovers about the murdered girl blows the case – and his life – wide open.

What did I think?

As a fan of Tony Black’s Gus Drury series I was desperately keen to see what he would make of the police procedural and I am happy to report I am delighted with the outcome.

Reading the blurb and I could see a couple of tripwires. The loner cop and worryingly misogynist murders of young girls are ten a penny in modern crime fiction, but I needn’t have worried because Black hurdled these with ease.  Yes, Brennan is your archetypal loner but he is so well drawn and sympathetic that this never becomes a problem. And the issue of the murdered and mutilated girl never feels exploitative. This matter is treated with sensitivity and compassion, both for the recently deceased and for the bereaved family.

Another area where Tony Black excels is in his depictions of those living on the edge of the law. There is no soft edge to these people. Every flaw is stripped of shadow and every bad deed gets punished.

The city of Edinburgh receives the same treatment, as Brennan and crew journey through its ancient and new streets, in among a world of tourists, in search of uncomfortable truths.

Truth Lies Bleeding is fast, sharp and brilliantly plotted. It’s only just turned spring but if I read a better example of the police procedural this year I will be amazed.

There's more - much more - crime and thriller goodness over at CRIMESQUAD. Get yourself over there for a look-see right now.