December 24, 2009

Angel, Me and the Three Kings of Orient Noir

First, thanks to Harry for the title pun. Such things are expected and forgiven at this time of year…

Absolutely*Kate, Commander-In-Chief of Harbinger*33 (it’s coming!) has been kind enough to post a story of mine, A Room at the Star, over at the Bijou. What’s more, I’m privileged to be double-featuring with Angel Zapata, who has another Magi-oriented story on the same bill, entitled El Dia De Los Reyes {The Day of the Kings}.

Please read, enjoy and have a safe and serene Christmas, Holiday, Hanukah, Kwanza, etc.

Peace and Love.

December 10, 2009

Holidays? Humbug! It’s Christmas!

Nothing like clustering around the warm glow of your monitor to enjoy this clip a few dozen times over the Silly Season…

Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters

While Clyde McPhatter’s groundbreaking contributions as a soul and R&B vocalist have gone generally undernoticed outside of music circles, his fervent voice and passionate delivery influenced such artists as Smokey Robinson, Ben E. King (one of his heirs in the Drifters), Aaron Neville and Jackie Wilson (his successor in the Dominoes).

“He was one of the first guys I ever listened to,” Robinson said shortly after McPhatter’s death in 1972. “When he first came on the scene with Billy Ward and the Dominoes, he was The Man.”

“Anything Clyde sings is a prayer,” Aaron Neville told Goldmine’s Bruce Sylvester. “When I was growing up, I don’t care what else was going on in the world - Jim Crow, all the other stuff - you could put on Clyde McPhatter and it would all disappear.”
(© The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Inc)

November 25, 2009

Light Fantastic

I used to consider myself a fair photographer, even learned (and forgot) all the darkroom basics and did a bit of experimentation. I might even dig some out and post them. Hard to remember when I lost interest, but I’m sorry it happened and I recently dug some old rolls of film out of my fridge (that had been there for nearly thirty years!) and got into it again.

These were shot on Ilford FP4. Note the enhancement of the grain (click on the images), caused by long storage and delayed processing. The processor and I were both amazed at the density of the images and the contrast in most. At least there wasn't any fungus growing in the rolls. This film has been in and out of seven or eight fridges since about 1980.

Now for the real deal…

National Geographic's International Photography Contest 2009

Andrew and his friend, a young sperm whale named Scar, were swimming together off the west coast of Dominica. The two of them became "friends" after Andrew saved Scar's life. (Photo and caption by Peter Allinson)

This is from a selection, chosen for an article in The Boston Globe, from National Geographic's International Photography Contest 2009

Be amazed...

November 11, 2009

A poem for Armistice Day

Foot Soldier

I have killed with the blade, with the halberd and pike;
with the flintlock, the pistol and spear.
I have marched with my enemy’s head held aloft,
and I’ve crawled and lain screaming in fear
on battlefields bloody and flooded with waste,
where humanity’s bounds were rejected;
I have prayed to a God who could not give a damn,
granted mercy where none was expected.

I have fought in the desert, in jungles and swamps;
I have died in the mountains and plains.
The veldt and the forest surrender my bones,
and the farmers return my remains.
Under cannonade, bombard, mortar and strafe,
on beaches and rivers and streets
I have fought against madness as surely as shell,
to advance as good reason retreats.

I am digger and skirmisher, tommy and grunt,
I am rifleman, dogface and pawn;
I’m the first to go forward, the last to withdraw
the one for whom all mothers mourn.
I’ve learned some sad truths as I marched through time
to the trumpet and snare drum’s rattle,
but only one truth need be carved in our hearts;

All soldiers die on the first day of battle.

© 2006, 2009

November 07, 2009

Where's my Trumpet?

Somebody clued me in to Every Day Fiction a while back; an interesting site, where they publish a new story every day (and pay) and where comments on stories are encouraged, though I’ve noticed you're not expected to be too critical, or people can get a bit snarky. I guess having spent years now in critique groups I’ve come to expect criticism, as long as it’s constructive.

Anyway, I subbed a story called Dog People (which started life in a challenge on Critters Bar) and it’s going up on November 16. Yaaayyy! Well, it’s exciting for me, I sub about as often as I get out…

I see that Bob Jacobs and Aaron Polson have stories coming up too, so I know I’m in good company.

October 23, 2009

A flash of brilliance…

I’d never heard of flash fiction before I joined an online writing group (the much-missed workshop section of East of the Web, back in 2005). I soon learned that it was the backbone of online publishing, the length and style most sought and, as a result, the hardest to do well. Whatever you believe to be the optimum length and structure, the more one reads the more obvious it becomes that it the best flash pieces rely on luring the reader in, setting up certain expectations and then reversing or twisting the result, all in a few hundred words.

Every now and then one comes along that leaves a lasting impression; you keep going back to it, admiring how well it worked. The unfortunate thing is that, with so many writers contributing to so many blogs and e-zines, even a good one can disappear from view too quickly.

Do yourself a favour and check out Extinguished by Laurita Miller, posted on her Brain Droppings blog a few weeks ago. To me, and the other thirty people who’ve left comments, it has everything: a great voice, setting, mood and a killer ending.

October 20, 2009

Erin Cole's Countdown to Halloween

This should be fun! Erin Cole, on her Listen to the Voices blog, is hosting a series of 13 horror stories by different authors from the 19th of October through to Halloween.

The first story, Michael J. Solender’s Orange Dot, will have you seeing spots in front of your eyes. And your mailbox…

September 30, 2009

Richard Ridyard & Stolen Words

What a good thing Adam had. When he said a good thing, he knew nobody had said it before. ~ Mark Twain

A rather nasty case of repeated, blatant plagiarism has turned up on the net, exposed by prolific (by my standards!) US writer and fellow 6S denizen Angel Zapata. Full details are here, on his blog.

The perpetrator's name, Richard Ridyard, appears to be stolen as well, being the name of the former editor and director of the South Yorkshire Times, who died in 2003 at the age of 88.

Apart from anything else, it’s a good read, beginning with Angel’s preparedness to be understanding:

“Initially, I was taken aback. Could someone have stolen my work? Is it a case of unconscious plagiarism? Maybe the author really liked my work and wanted to do something similar. I was upset and dumbfounded. I decided more research was required.

What I found was frightening.”
And it is…

Not only was this person stealing from his fellow online authors, mostly in the horror genre, but from established writers like Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft.

The accused author's stories are being pulled from online sites with a haste which attests to how seriously publishers are prepared to take this issue. Good on them.

September 29, 2009

Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes, and she's gone.

The Beatles' 'Lucy in the sky' dies
September 29, 2009 - 7:24AM

The woman who inspired The Beatles' legendary song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds has died aged 46 from an autoimmune disease, the charity that supported her has announced.

Lucy O'Donnell was at school with John Lennon's son, Julian, when she was three and it was his picture of her in 1966 that inspired the classic song.

According to various biographies of The Beatles and O'Donnell herself, the young Julian took the picture home to his father and explained: "It's Lucy in the sky with diamonds."

The song, which featured on the Fab Four's 1967 album Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, caused huge controversy at the time because of its psychedelic theme and supposed reference to the drug LSD though its initials, a charge always denied as pure coincidence by the songwriter Lennon.

Julian Lennon and O'Donnell - who became Lucy Vodden after her marriage - resumed their friendship in recent months after she became ill with lupus, the disease of the immune system that led to her death last Tuesday.

"Everyone at the Louise Coote Lupus Unit was dreadfully shocked by the death of Lucy," said Angie Davidson, campaign director of the St Thomas Lupus Trust that helped Vodden during her illness.

"She was a great supporter of ours and a real fighter. It's so sad that she has finally lost the battle she fought so bravely for so long."

The trust added that Lennon and his mother Cynthia were "shocked and saddened" by Vodden's death. -- AFP

September 28, 2009

Aaaaarrgghh! &@#$*% Lulu! (Monday vent)

I haven’t logged onto Lulu for over two years. All I want to do is buy a copy of Shot Glass Stories.

I put in my password. Nothing. Blank page. I asked to be reminded of my “forgotten” password. Eight times. Nothing. No emails.

So I decided to open a new account. After three goes at choosing a “store name” (even though I don’t want to open a store), I’m told that there is already an account with that email address. My email address. Yes, it’s my account, idiot website!!

There is no way you can send them an email enquiry without logging into your account (not that I could find on their site, anyway), which means if you can’t log in, you can’t find out why not. Now I will have to open another one with a different email address.

I feel better now…

September 17, 2009

Goodbye, and thank you...

Mary Travers

Ellie Greenwich

Patrick Swayze

Henry Gibson

We Got A Review!

David Hebblethwaite, on his site Follow The Thread, has given us (the creatures of Critters Bar) a very positive review for Shot Glass Stories and Other Small Indulgences (see previous post). That I now choose to characterise him as clearly discerning, erudite and perceptive has nothing to do with the fact that he cited one of my stories as “quietly powerful”…

Again, thanks to Sophie Playle for putting this little book together. She’s written about the experience on her blog, and is expected to make a full recovery.

September 14, 2009

Jim Carroll has died, died…

Actually, he died on September 11, ensuring that those who recall his work will never forget his day of passing. And yes, I know everyone’s using that “People Who Died” joke, but it seems appropriate; the song was about the staggering number of his friends who had suffered early and violent deaths, and now… hopefully he is with his friends. If we could be certain this was to be our fate, Death would hold no terrors.

You’ll find his NY Times Obit here. I never thought of his music as “punk” – I always thought punk’s blank nihilism devalued it too much, and The Jim Carroll Band was anything but blank. Here was a man whose output was so exciting and provocative that Andy Warhol and Keith Richard sought him out. I played those records a lot back then, never could part with them.

I must admit I’m not closely acquainted with his written output; I guess I’ll find my copy of Basketball Diaries when I unpack the twenty or so boxes of books still languishing in the garage after our last move. But I spent a bit of time today checking out some of his poetry and writings on the ‘net, and it was a good way to pass some time. He was hailed as a great by no less than Alan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and Patti Smith, which makes him an artist’s artist – they are the ones you need to read, so go Google-cruising if you don’t know his work and you may be pleasantly surprised.

And put his music on while you do…

Shot Glass Stories and other Monday stuff.

Sophie Playle, a fellow denizen of Critters Bar, recently got it into her head that it would be a good idea to publish a selection of 200 word stories culled from the weekly challenge that we have been holding on our little workshop site for a couple of years now. As it turns out, she was right (well, we think so anyway) and the result is Shot Glass Stories, a compendium of short stories told in (or within) two hundred words.

You can get it as a free download here on Lulu, or if you like the old-fashioned feel of a book in your hands and print in front of your eyes, you can buy a copy for a very modest price.

If you’d like to spend a few minutes reading a fine piece of writing that will stay with you, read this wonderful story , by Quin Browne, a capital writer who rarely uses them, and who makes Six Sentences a place I should really get back to more often. That old thing about Time speeding up as your life unspools…? It’s true.

And now, because I’ve had this song stuck in my head for days…

August 12, 2009

The Scariest Graph You'll Ever See...

In 1983, 50 corporations controlled the vast majority of all news media in the U.S. At the time, Ben Bagdikian was called "alarmist" for pointing this out in his book, The Media Monopoly. In his 4th edition, published in 1992, he wrote "in the U.S., fewer than two dozen of these extraordinary creatures own and operate 90% of the mass media" -- controlling almost all of America's newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations, books, records, movies, videos, wire services and photo agencies. He predicted then that eventually this number would fall to about half a dozen companies.

This was greeted with skepticism at the time. When the 6th edition of The Media Monopoly was published in 2000, the number had fallen to six. Since then, there have been more mergers and the scope has expanded to include new media like the Internet market. More than 1 in 4 Internet users in the U.S. now log in with AOL Time-Warner, the world's largest media corporation.

In 2004, Bagdikian's revised and expanded book, The New Media Monopoly, shows that only 5 huge corporations -- Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch's News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly CBS) -- now control most of the media industry in the U.S. General Electric's NBC is a close sixth.

--Media Reform Information Center, Links and Resources on Media Reform

(Borrowed from an article on The Existentialist Cowboy's site.)

August 09, 2009

Writers and Restraints (or, Badinage and Discipline.)

I often worry a bit that we writers who frequent those odd dens of insecurity called workshops sometimes demand too much adherence to “rules” – fair enough, to learn and know them is important, and to be aware of what certain editors demand is wise, but quite honestly I think we’re making a rod for our own backs (cliché, sorry) if we run every single phrase through the mill of correctness.

No other expressive art form (music, sculpture, visual arts) demands such rigid subservience to a set of rules that are sometimes arbitrary, often archaic and frequently ill-defined.

A fellow writer, who I know from several workshop sites, and whose work I like and respect, has become almost fanatical in his loathing of adjectives and adverbs, ruthlessly hunting them down and strongly suggesting their removal. He is in some writing workshop where, apparently, all members are being taught to write “properly” and “expressively” and where, I imagine, they will all end up sounding alike.

Obviously, some adherence to the rules of grammar is advisable in order to avoid confusion and to convey ideas with clarity, and I wouldn’t respect anyone who claims to be a master of their craft while maintaining an almost total ignorance of the tools of their trade, but life is messy and often that’s the most truthful way to write about it. My advice is – write clearly, write honestly and write humanely; everything else is dress rules for the madhouse.

August 03, 2009

Monday Morning "Look What I Found On YouTube" Segment…

Okay, so John Scalzi and other people found them, after other people found them, but they helped steel me for the week ahead.

(Actually this isn't off YT - they didn't allow embedding)

July 30, 2009

Meme To Me – The Picture Thing

As the few wanderers who stray into this blog know, I’m not great at regular blogging, but there’s a meme going around that caught my eye. Literally. Probably because I like using pictures as story prompts.

Catherine Gardner, over at the Poisoned Pen, got it from KV Taylor, who got from… never mind, you can track it if you like.

Here’s the deal:

1) Post ten of any pictures currently on your hard drive that you think are self-expressive.

2) NO CAPTIONS!!! It must be like we’re speaking with images and we have to interpret your visual language just like we have to interpret your words.

3) They must ALREADY be on your hard drive - no googling or flickr! They have to have been saved to your folders sometime in the past. They must be something you’ve saved there because it resonated with you for some reason.

4) You do NOT have to answer any questions about any of your pictures if you don’t want to. You can make them as mysterious as you like. Or you can explain them away as much as you like.

The hardest part was finding just 10 among 1.5 Gigs of images. I'm posting them all in one hit because I'll just forget otherwise. I can explain most of them...

July 05, 2009

Sarah Palin for President!?

I know there are many, many souls in the world who actually think this a good idea. The frightening thing is that, if she learns the tricks of the trade, she might just pull it off.

Given the speech she made the other day, she still has a lot to learn about remembering what you were saying at the beginning of the sentence…

I leave the last word to Voltaire (1694 - 1778):

To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered.

She might just make it...

June 28, 2009

A Death Less Obvious

“Sky has passed over and Ya Ho Wha is waiting for him at the gate. He will soon be home with his Father.”

In amongst the recent departures shocking and stellar (Michael Jackson), prefigured and less stellar (Farrah Fawcett) and purely fictional (Jeff Goldblum) was that of a man who, arguably, had a greater influence on popular culture than all of them but who remained a figure beloved only by the cognoscenti and those who do actually remember the 60s.

I first noticed that Sky Saxon had died while reading Mick Farren’s blog the other day.

From Bruce Weber’s Obit, NYT, June 26, here

“Sky Saxon, the mop-haired bass player and front man for the psychedelic protopunk band the Seeds, whose 1965 song “Pushin’ Too Hard” put a Los Angeles garage-band spin on the bad-boy rocker image personified by the Rolling Stones, died Thursday in Austin, Tex. He was thought to be 71.”

The truly impressive thing is that he played his last gig on Saturday night and was admitted to hospital on Monday. That, surely, is a rock ‘n’ roll death.

I remember hearing The Seeds not long after puberty and the discovery of real rock music coincided in the early 60s. Finding anything that wasn’t commercially-oriented was tricky in those days, especially here in Australia. I disagree with Mr. Weber in that I thought the Seeds, musically, had a more "dangerous" edge than the Stones, but they certainly prefigured punk, and they remain one of the bands that musicians have been name-checking ever since as a major influence. Just wish I’d managed to keep all my records from those days.

June 27, 2009

Three Years in Prison…

"Three Years in Prison will be served by Lee Monroe Crider, 40, who pleaded guilty to grand theft when he appeared in a Sacramento court charged with stealing a bike belonging to the Tour de France tour de forcer, Lance Armstrong."

Meanwhile, closer to home…

“A WOMAN who admitted to shooting her husband and chopping up his body might be out of jail by the end of 2011 after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

Joyce Chant, 57, was originally charged with murder, but after a jury was unable to reach a verdict earlier this year she admitted to killing her husband after he produced a gun during an argument in their violent marriage.

Justice Roderick Howie sentenced Chant to a minimum of three years and five months' jail for manslaughter and 10 months for interfering with human remains.”

I know that Justice is ultimately just an artificial construct designed to maintain social order and provide a means of punishing wrongdoers, but if Architects used the same standards of “judgment” there wouldn’t be a building standing.

May 26, 2009

I wrote poems for the late Mrs Jones

Hmm... A limerick is a really pissy way to kick-start my blog, but it's something at least.

As I rendered the flesh from her bones,
I wrote poems for the late Mrs Jones.
These I read to her head
as we cuddled in bed,
in my most Vincent Price-ian tones.

January 29, 2009

Short note from a possible future…



I haven’t written anything by hand for a long time, so pleased forgive this scrawl.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. I used to think I knew what that meant. I used to believe that freedom meant not having to live in fear. I went along with all the Constitutional Modifications because I believed they were a worthwhile idea. For a while, the efforts of the Security Bureau bore fruit – many, many Latent Terrorists and Potential Disrupters were weeded out and dealt with accordingly.

The Latent Terrorists were either executed or deported to their country of origin, if it was still capable of supporting life. As we know, after the War a lot of things changed. It was explained that, for a while, it would be necessary for society to be more closely monitored. That’s what Eternal Vigilance means. Juno, my daughter, was born around that time. Today she will be drafted into the Adolescent Edification College that has been allotted her.

I still keep my online journal, of course. The bots report anyone who does not log on and file a report on their Blog at least once a day, and all text is scanned. But I am finding it harder to do, to keep writing the same things in a different way, to show that I am a good citizen by reporting on the actions of at least six of my neighbours every week; the bots report anyone who uses the same text string more that twice in one week. It is even harder to smile as I go out every day, after filing my Journey Proposal, and to nod at the neighbours, knowing that they also are watching me. But I am now writing this journal on paper, the way we used to, because after Juno told me about the garbage bins, I found it hard not to feel terrified every waking moment.

“Daddy,” she said – she knows she is supposed to call me ‘Father’ or ‘Pa-parent’ – “Daddy, on our street, seven waste receivers are now missing. I just counted them.”

Just that. I grabbed her roughly, for which I am ashamed, and for which I could be reported, and said “Juno, you must never, NEVER been seen counting anything! You know what happens if the cameras see your lips moving in a public place!”

Seven bins. Seven families. I know, I counted them too. I know that I am responsible for one of those missing bins, not placed on the yellow laser scales at eighteen thirty every Tuesday like all the others in the street. I just thought that the Carsons should be a little more circumspect about the music they listened to. It wasn’t on the approved list. They were sent for Re-Edification, which is a good thing, but they should have been back weeks ago. No one returns anymore.

I am worried. I thought it was our place – the people - to be vigilant, in order to guard our freedom. But it seems the guards turned their vigilance inward for too long. I am beginning to wonder if the price of that vigilance is eternal slavery.

This is as much as I can write – it’s far too dangerous to continue. I believe the new street cameras can detect the sound of pen on paper (writing in private is disapproved), as well as monitoring for Undue Motion after twenty-one hours.

I hope that whoever finds this note understands and explains to my daughter, if she still lives, that my subsequent actions were not those of a terrorist, that I was a freedom fighter despite what the history blogs may dictate.


Read by Matt Ward…

January 15, 2009

The 2009 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, and some baaaad writin’!

You must remember this...

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

--Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

Apart from its lasting and affectionate link with Snoopy’s literary efforts, (and the bit after "torrents" where it sounds like a weather forecast), that infamous opening sentence has come to be associated with an annual literary fun-fest known as The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, in which entrants are expected to submit the worst self-penned examples of an opening sentence that they can come up with.

I entered last year and failed miserably. This should feel like a good thing, but the competition to produce wretched grammar, mangled syntax, crap metaphors and just plain shithouse writing is possibly even fiercer than that found in “quality” arenas. It is claimed that over 10,000 entries were received last year.

The 2009 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is underway – if you enjoy the occasional lapse into truly bad writing, especially when it comes to an opening sentence, here’s your chance to shine. Or just have some fun. Details are at the bottom of the page and “The official deadline is April 15 (a date that Americans associate with painful submissions and making up bad stories). The actual deadline may be as late as May 30 (the 2009 results will be released by mid-June).

Somewhere on the lengthy page is a link to an even larger collection of truly awful writing submitted by followers of the Bulwer-Lyttons, as the contest has become known. It’s here, and contains some extraordinary passages (all of them published and presumably paid for), including this mind-boggling description of sexual congress:

"And then he was fully socketed to her, like a pipe wrench in a crock of warm chili."

Read and enjoy, and start working on your worst opening sentences, because the first prize is US$250.00.

January 11, 2009

The Fine Art of the Insult

Dick Cavett, in his NYT blog, begins “I haven’t ever found any great writing on that wonderful and often unappreciated art form, the insult.”

Cavett points out the value of the witty insult over the prosaic with this example:

There are two kinds of insult. “I was bored by your book” is one kind. “Your book? Once I put it down, I couldn’t pick it up,” is the other.

He goes on to cite several choice examples from writers he has known (and remember, this man wrote for Groucho Marx).

This prompted me to dig out an old Reader’s Digest I’d kept since 1979, which contains excerpts from Nancy McPhee’s “The Book of Insults” (the sole reason for keeping it…) There are few things more enjoyable and satisfying than a clever insult. Wit and savagery combined produce some of the most quotable chunks of language available. There are now several such books available, as well as a massive online resource.

A good insult can be direct and pointed…

I don't think you are a fool, but what's my opinion compared to that of thousands of others.

He does the work of three men: Larry, Curly & Moe.

He always finds himself lost in thought - it's an unfamiliar territory.

It can be direct, pointed and lengthy…

A hack writer who would not have been considered a fourth rate in Europe, who tricked out a few of the old proven 'sure-fire' literary skeletons with sufficient local colour to intrigue the superficial and the lazy. ~ William Faulkner on Mark Twain

Coleridge was a muddle-headed metaphysician who by some strange streak of fortune turned out a few poems amongst the dreary flood of inanity that was his wont. ~ William Morris on Samuel Taylor Coleridge

He was ignored till he began to smash the parlour furniture, throw bombs and hitch together ten pianolas, all playing different tunes, whereupon everyone began to talk about him. ~ Henry T. Fink, American music critic, on Arnold Schoenberg

…or it can be convoluted, even obscure:

... a gap-toothed and hoary ape, who now in his dotage spits and chatters from a dirtier perch of his own finding, and fouling; coryphaeus or choragus of his Bulgarian tribe of autocoprophagaus baboons. ~ Algernon Charles Swinburne on Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Theatre has a fine tradition of insults:

We used to have actresses trying to become stars; now we have stars trying to become actresses. ~ Sir Laurence Olivier

I always said that I'd like (John) Barrymore's acting till the cows came home. Well, ladies and gentleman, last night the cows came home. ~ George Nathan

As does Art:

I've heard that he dreams his paintings -- little wonder that he complains he can't sleep.

It resembles a tortoiseshell cat having a fit in a plate of tomatoes. ~ Mark Twain on J. M. W. Turner's ‘The Slave Ship’

This is not amusing, it is dismaying and disheartening. The other day, someone attributed to me the statement that 'the human race was nearing insanity'. I never said that but if anyone is trying to convince me that this is 'modern art', and that it is representative of our time, I would be obliged to think that statement is true. ~ Kenyon Cox, American critic, in Harper's Weekly (1913) on Henri Matisse's painting The Red Studio'

The famous poster artist, James Pryde, was invited to attend the unveiling of the statue of the Great War heroine, nurse Edith Cavell. When the covering was pulled off, the crowd stood in stunned silence. “My God,” said Pryde. “They've shot the wrong person.”

And, of course, Literature, which one would expect to contain the most finely-crafted examples:

Groucho Marx: (Groucho? Oh well…) From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it.

Samuel Johnson did not say: "Your manuscript is both good and original. But the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good." But he would probably have liked to.

This novel is not to be tossed lightly aside, but to be hurled with great force. ~ Dorothy Parker

This poem will not reach its destination ~ Voltaire, on Jean Baptiste Rousseau's ode 'To Posterity'

Ah! Meredith! Who can define him? His style is chaos illumined by flashes of lightning. As a writer he has mastered everything except language: as a novelist he can do anything, except tell a story: as an artist he is everything, except articulate. ~ Oscar Wilde

Wilde alone generated enough of these less than bon-mots to fill several books.

Of course, this is far from a lost art. To finish up, here’s a couple at the expense of soon-to-be Ex President G.W. Bush:

This is a guy who could not find oil in Texas. ~ Al Franken

What is his accomplishment? That he's no longer an obnoxious drunk? ~ Ron Reagan Jr.

Keep this form of expression alive – go out and insult someone today! Leave one here if you like… just make it clever and funny, please.

January 02, 2009

A Feline Limerick

Existentially, cats are a riddle –
Opinions divide down the middle;
Can a creature with class
stick its tongue in it arse
yet be fussy about where it might piddle?

(Oh, and Happy New Year! All the best for 09 and beyond...)