Monday, October 31, 2005

Outbreaks of irrational violence

I am in love with foreign editions, "costumbrismo", and google's "translate this page" feature.

Dead people serve like letter of presentation for a novel, brutal author and amused, who gives a new color to the novel of intrigues Briton. If by something she emphasizes Charlie Williams is by his clinical eye at the time of portraying rural England, its customs and the form in which the villagers express themselves, combining of original way a fine humor, costumbrismo and outbreaks of irrational violence.

He's done it again

Magnus Mills, oft-namedropped by myself as the current main man of lit (of any stripe), has just cemented his position. He has well and truly sat himself down atop the podium of bookish excellence, tipped a sack of Blue Circle into a sturdy barrow, mixed it up gradually with water (taking care to maintain a good working consistency), and spaded the lot of it all around his seating area. That's not bad going, considering he sat down before getting started on the cement, when he perhaps would have been wiser to stay on his feet a bit longer. Of course, you may well be wondering what the hell I'm on about?


What starts out as a kind of tally-ho adventure story about two rival teams hoping to navigate their way across increasingly rough terrain towards The Agreed Furthest Point, slowly turns (in classic Mills fasion) into a study on life itself. In this case, communal life - how we live alongside others who we don't necessarily get along with, and what to do about it if you decide you cannot. The trick in this novel (needless to say, "trick" is not the word, but I'm in a hurry) is that, for the first half of it at least, we get to know the characters isolated outside their natural environments. We're interested in how they cope with the obstacles they meet, and don't even think about the kind of world they come from (and hope to get back to). We kind of assume it's a recogniseable world, much like our own (or the one we used to have, about 100 years ago), based on their speech and habits and apparent morals, but we don't know. And neither do we know the real reason for this race to The Agreed Furthest Point. But when these two things start coming clear, this becomes a dark novel indeed.

Pure and simple, I am overjoyed that we have Magnus Mills out there in the world, prancing around on his ancient horse, pen in hand, hacking down the nasty dragons of formula fiction and spearing the barbarians of boredom. He is an original. He is THE original. READ THIS BOOK.

And pay attention to the mules.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Turn Left at Greenland... and up a bit

I've got something on my mind today. And it's bothering me. Why are things and people from Canada called "Canadian"? Why are they not just called "Canadan"? Cuba has Cuban; Bermuda has Bermudan; America has American, etc... So why the hell do the people of the red maple leaf insist on inserting that "i" in there?

Is it just to throw people? Surely not - they have always struck me as such a reasonable people. Is it all down to a mistake? Was it a historical admin cock-up, and by the time anyone noticed (opening up the new office stationary) it was too late?

It was, wasn't it?

Look, it's NOT too late. If you just admit it to the world, we can all work together to welcome the word "Canadan" into our languages. It sounds a bit odd right now, but we'll all get used to it in time. Or we could just call your country "Canadia". Up to you.

Let me know.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

No Talia Shire?

Already we have a trailer for Rocky VI.

Heartboy Has a Horrible Day

God only knows how I found him, but this artist if great. Salty Dave is described on his website as "a Boston based illustrator, painter and drunk". Anyone know him? Hey, you're welcome to buy me one of his works as a present.

Anyway, please check out his amazing paintings. Pay particular attention to the "Clown Suicide" series, and the heartbreaking "The Agonizing Aftermath of Trust".

Monday, October 24, 2005

Hoffed off?

1. Hoff

Verb, pertaining to David Hasselhoff.

To be Hoffed - to be sent homoerotic images of David Hasselhoff in questionable outfits/poses with various props/animals. Considered an extreme insult, the most common form of Hoffing is done through electronic mail although various new and inventive methods have recently been discovered. The first ever hoffing is said to have taken place in 1997 in the town of Heidelberg in Germany where David Hasselhoff is an extremely popular singer. According to urban legend, a young male high school student sent the David Hasselhoff calendar (if you have never seen this consider yourself lucky) to a girl he had a crush on in an attempt to woo her. The attempt backfired when the horrified girl choked on a chicken sandwich which she was eating whilst opening the calendar. The act of Hoffing has since spread from smalltown Germany to the mainstream claiming thousands of victims. Although not usually resulting in loss of life, a Hoffing can lead to severe psychological trauma, temporary loss of motor function and 9 times out of 10 it will affect the Hoffee's up-chuck mechanism.

Many thanks [cough... splutter] to Jenny for the pointer. Those Aussie Yahoo guys are really showing the way forward.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Trust me. I know what I'm doing

Sledge Hammer with George Michael (left) and George Bush Snr. (right)

Remember Sledge Hammer? Wow, that was a great show. Sledge was one of the greatest cops on TV for a while, and what man didn't have a crush on the lovely Dori Doreau? Sledge Hammer is widely recognised as one of the most realistic police shows on TV, and was acclaimed for telling it how it really is for a cop. In fact it was so realistic it took me until season 2 before I realised it wasn't a reality show about an average American cop, going about his daily business. And then someone told me it was supposed to be comedy, and I lost interest.

Trivia Q: Which British pop legend of the early 80s did a cameo? (Er, not George Michael.) First correct answer receives a... erm... beer mat.

Monday, October 17, 2005

"Kick back and relax"

Anyone else have a problem with that phrase? "It's time to kick back and relax..." What an odd thing to say. Kicking back surely means aggressive defiance. When you're in a corner, and the other guy is about to finish you off, you kick back. Right? You don't put your slippers on and lie back in your recliner, mug of Horlicks in hand, picking up the remote and switching to Granada Men and Motors.

Or do you?

Is this people's idea of a fight-back, these days? Is this really what has become of our civilisation, in these sedentary times? I blame it on video games. To a whole generation of spotty adolescents with BO and baseball caps welded to their heads (and the men they became*), kicking back is what you do when the bad guy has got you down and your life bar is almost empty. It involves getting slightly excited, just enough to knock that mug of Horlicks off the recliner edge.

Next person who says "kick back and relax", you know what I'm going to do? Kick them. In the back. And then relax.

With a nice mug of Horlicks.

* Me included. (Commodore 64)

This morning I had...

...50 emails in my "Spam box", and 1 in my "Inbox". However, that one message was from a Lucius P. Delinquent, telling me about how I can buy "meds" for cheap. Presuming he meant "MEds", and not having any need for a Masters in Education (cheap or otherwise), I sent him Spamward as well.

Please, somebody, send me a non-spam email!

Masters in Education... Actually that's a (borderline) interesting point. I've noticed that a lot of writers are also teachers. Or a lot of teachers become writers, or vice versa, or whatever the hell. And it's usually English or Creative Writing that they teach (how many novelists are also Geography teachers? One? Two, tops?) I don't understand this. If you spend so much time holed up in a quiet corner, slaving over words on the page, the last thing you want to do is go in front of a bunch of brats and try to convince them how great words on the page are, when they'd rather be out taking drugs, stealing, or trying to have sex. Maybe I'm wrong. To be honest, even before the idea that I could write novels crystallised in my mind, I knew I could never be a teacher. I'd end up knocking some poor misunderstood thugs' teeth out and going to jail. And have you seen the way some of those 16-year-old girls dress? That is TROUBLE, and I'm staying away.

Mind you, I wasn't really keen on school when I was there. To be honest I was known as a "disruptive influence", and tolerated rather than nurtured, which is what the teachers should have been doing. They were all bastards anyway, and were more interested in busting me for minor crimes than educating me. If they only knew that I was MISUNDERSTOOD.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

6 Rocks from the Sun

At long last, Rocky VI has been announced. From The Guardian:

This time the story will open with Rocky Balboa in the middle of a lonely retirement. In an effort to cheer himself up and keep his hand in, he embarks on a few low-key bouts but becomes a media sensation when he's approached to go head to head with reigning heavyweight champ Mason "The Line" Dixon.

But Sly, didn't you read any of the treatments I sent you? What happened to the Balboa/Creed homosexual subplot (see picture below)? And what about the idea of Clubber Lang turning up as a top Al Qaida terrorist, so George Bush recruits Rocky (under duress - they are holding Adrian and Rocky Jnr hostage) to defeat him? It turns out that Lang's right-hand man is Ivan Drago, so Rocky calls up Tommy Gunn to make up the numbers, and it all builds to a huge four-headed slugfest in the Afghan desert. What about all that? As I told you, I ask for no payment. Just give me a credit.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


A Mr D. Mangel writes in from cyberspace (I swear this is real):

Hey whats up I was Just surfin the werb and I saw you were useing my name on your site and I was wondering if I could recive some compensation money, for all my pane a sophring.

To this end, I am launching the Royston Blake Pane a Sophring Fund, to provide aid to poor people like D. Mangel who have been damaged by Please donate freely. (UK taxpayer? Just giving will add an automatic 28% bonus to your donation at no cost to you.)

On a related note, I will be suing the Williams Formula 1 Team for several millions, for all my pane a sophring. Alternatively I will accept a driver spot, as long as I get to drive a Ford Capri. (I'm not playing second string to Mark Webber, though.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A Couple of Covers

Above you see the (provisional) cover of my next book - KING OF THE ROAD (due out 7th Feb from Serpent's Tail), and the Spanish edition of DEADFOLK, entitled GENTE MUERTA (due out some time soon, apparently, from Factoria de Ideas). Nice bit of incidental colour coordination there, no? Comments welcome, as frank as you like.

These are the moments I love, being a writer/blogger ("retired"). I get to actually show you something, rather than just waffling on about the writing (which I don't do, so I end up waffling on about irrelevant things).

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

It's Goodnight From Him

Ronnie Barker is dead. It's a long time since The Two Ronnies, Porridge, Open All Hours, and (don't forget) Going Straight, but all of them are right up there in the pantheon of great British comedy shows. I grew up watching him on the box, and he probably defines comedy for me better than anyone. A lot of people look at that old school style of enduring characters with gags and one-liners and call it obvious, crude, simplistic, and (*gasp*) un-PC. I say bring it on!

Interestingly, he never seemed to work alone in the high profile shows. There was always a sidekick to set him off - Ronnie Corbett, Richard Beckinsale, and David Jason. But despite the quality of those three he was never even close to being upstaged, nor would he (I'll bet my house) have dreamed of upstaging them.

Get yer KITT off

Observant Hoff disciples and automobile fetishists in Edinburgh would have noticed this last friday, and got themselves along to the university to stroke and fondle the "famous black car". Unobservant ones would have to make do with playing this (listening very carefully to the lyrics), or watching this.

Thanks to Al for the tip. Being a sensible Edinburgh boy, I'm sure he was there.