Monday, January 27, 2014

Wake Up, Phil

An excerpt from my review of INTERZONE #250 (TTA Press) here:


Wake Up, Phil by Georgina Bruce
“‘If only you knew,’ said Throom. ‘If only you knew how many chances you’ve had.’”
It seems unlikely that the author intended Throom to be a morph of Theramin, but it seems appropriate if she did so, especially in the context of the overall gestalt. The untouchable executive doctor in a corporation, a corporation that vies with another corporation, each seeking the slavish loyalties of its staff. This is on the face of it the clinching satire finale of Stufflebeam’s “I can’t escape my job” opening salvo. It is also a compelling and engaging absurdist narrative that sometimes approximates a painting by Picasso but is mainly a 1950s/1960s SF novel where townships work diligently at their own employments in the face of alien invasion or cerebral counter-clockworlds like Yoachim in reverse, and homely and housewifery things mixed in with the crazy fantasies or with a theramin music backing to various Forbidden Planets to where these wholesome nuclear families travelled to fraternise with robots or replicants or just playmates or puppy dogs,
There is a character in this last story – a writer called Phil – middle-aged and portly and wearing Hawaiian shirts. I hope this is not a spoiler but, for me, and perhaps for me alone, this is Philip K Dick. But there you go – the light bulb’s finally gone out. Good job I had two.
“Built-in obsolescence meant that Callihounds would die after seven years.”

Friday, January 17, 2014


Elenor knew she had three dolls that she called Dandy, Mandy and Andy – because, well, she liked names like that, rhyming, flowing like a river. If she had more dolls she would have called them Handy, Shandy and Pandy – but then she remembered that Pandy was Andy’s surname in that old kids’ programme from Fifties TV called ‘Watch With Mother’, something Elenor was old enough to have experienced in real-time.

She was old enough, too, to have dolls to play with again, though she refused to acknowledge she was now entering her own second childhood. Picture Book on Mondays. Andy Pandy, Teddy and Looby Loo on Tuesdays. Bill and Ben and Little Weed and the House That Did or Didn’t Know All about It on Wednesdays. Rag, Tag and Bobtail on Thursdays. The Woodentops on Fridays. Nothing on Saturdays or Sundays. The rest of daytime hours had the Test Card or Welsh speaking programmes – and Elenor lived in England...

Dandy suddenly sat up and said: “Stop daydreaming about the past, Elenor.”

Elenor was startled. None of the dolls had spoken before. Perhaps she was a doll herself, one that didn’t rhyme or flow like a river. Dandy, Mandy, Andy and Elenor. Didn’t really go, did it?

She felt tears pricking at the corners of her eyes. Mandy was now stirring. These were things that were happening that shouldn’t happen - a human being like Elenor being watched by dolls to see if she still moved.

“Are you OK, Elenor?” asked Mandy.

Andy had begun to crawl on all fours towards Elenor.

“Can I do anything for you, Elenor?” he asked. “You look as if you need a hand.”

Elenor strained her eyes to look down at herself. She couldn’t have seen her hands because they were hidden under a cushion as if they were ashamed of being hers. Her dress was down to her ankles and, of course, she couldn’t have seen her face, being behind the face itself – and the angle of the mirror over the fireplace couldn’t reflect her at all, it seemed.

Then Looby Loo suddenly came into the room. And all the dolls froze. They couldn’t be seen to be alive. Maybe the house knew something about it. Its mirror, too. But that was that.

Looby Loo dragged Teddy across the carpet by his ear. And placed him next to Elenor. Except Looby Loo never called her Elenor. She called her Bandy. And when Bandy was tilted in a certain direction, her eyes opened wider to cry but it all spilled instead from somewhere below the dress in whatever direction her legs went. A silent Woodentop with a  river of misplaced tears.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mr Rinaldo's Bath

Mr Rinaldo enjoyed having a bath more than anything else he did. He lived in a large Victorian building, where the plumbing wasn't up to very much, full of draughts this time of the year coming through the sash windows and creaking floorboards, and the bath itself was a huge one on rusted claw feet of a larger-than-life mutancy of appearance, and he found it difficult to climb into and even more difficult to climb out of that bath. He often cringed at the brown running lines of yellow or brown that made its once white innards more like the skin of a diseased zebra than anything else.
The hot tap croaked upon turning but did allow in a good flow of scaldingly hot water at a generous, if stuttering, pace. Naturally, he had to ensure that his later turning on of the cold tap worked equally well as the hot one - otherwise he would become nothing better than a boiled lobster, if that's not too hackneyed a phrase to use. The trouble was that the cold tap was not very dependable and often gave up the ghost even before it had croaked. Then, he would be left with a good hour or so sitting on the edge of the bath in his stringy dressing-gown to allow the water to cool to a level hot enough but not too hot. But once in, he was in.
He loved his ducks, he loved the soap he collected in all manner of carved shapes, that would now be blurred by the lathering Mr Rinaldo loved smarming himself all over with. He loved his scrubbing brush, too, now a bit worse for wear, its bristles having become more like the bottom of a newly dredged quarry. But it did set his skin tingling and his teeth on edge simply to look at it and anticipate its first contact with his skin.
The water swished and swilled around him as he luxuriously allowed its warmth to take away any memory of the chill in the air. There was one mystery however that he had never solved. However much he loved creating waves with the gentle pumping up and down of his knees, the waves were never satisfying enough. But he knew a wave would not be a wave at all if it was strong enough to spill water over the edge of the bath. That would be a self-defeating wave. A wave to be a satisfying wave needed to be strong enough to lift up the loose bits of his body but not too strong so as to drain the bath of water. Tonight it was cooling anyway, and he would soon be forced to struggle out, torso turned and knees down to assist leverage.
No, the actual mystery was of a wave that occurred in his bathwater without him causing it. Often he would relax, sprawled out as far as he could, only the barest amount of face left above the water like a nosy island, resisting the onset of the bathroom's chill that the water was now absorbing, and he remained still for at least five minutes, stock still, until he felt the mysterious wave swirl gently over and above him till it splashed across the face with a cheeky slap. He never knew how that wave had generated itself. He often joked that the bath on its outlandish claw feet was actually a living creature itself. But that didn't hold water.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Celebrity Big Brother - January 2014


THIS is where Marion starts her reports about CBB Jan 2014 on a Big Brother thread that has already garnered more than 575,000 views.

Some of my own on-going comments from that thread may be shown below:

7 Jan 14
Agree about even Lionel being infected now himself by sleaze. Horror, too, at the thought that there is going to be another secret room scenario! How does Marion know these things?
There no longer seem to be straightforward loving Sapphics. The modern woman, judging by some of these women, seems to take it from where she can just for fun or as Luisa says 'for a good time' that was spoilt by Dappy's blatant self-fumblings in the bath with them.
This is one of many social lessons to garner from BB, my only excuse for watching this year's increasing sleaze, other than enjoying Marion's reports more, by having watched the programme she is commenting on! :)
Liz, meanwhile, is an interesting Beatrix Potter character.

8 Jan 14
The other HMs mght as well pack up and go home right now. We are in for three weeks of anguished inner turmoil of lee and Jasmine.
Thing is, though, we have one hope. I don't think Jasmine is so much damaged as disturbed. Lee may have bitten off more than he can chew.
Evander was the one small oasis of calm as he quietly read his Bible. I hope thay have supplied him with silver crosses and garlic too.

Brilliant report, Marion, but the programme itself is all rather dreary. But thankfully the sleaze has diminished or been hidden.

10 Jan 14
Marion wrote:
Nominations came next. Sam, Linda, Lionel, Ollie and Dappy were all spared being put up. Jim, Liz, Evander, Luisa, and Jasmine will face the public vote tomorrow. The most interesting nomination was Liz's - she nominated Evander because he doesn't believe animals have souls. Sh's an original!
I noticed Jim called Linda a 'dangerous woman' during his nominations.

11 Jan 14
I agree about Liz. And it is fascinating how she constantly hand plaits her hair when nervous or appears to be nervous, which is all the time. A great game player or someone who is genuinely nervous and paranoiac from experiences in the girls' school playground. She must have inner strengths, though, to be where she is.
12 Jan 14
The row last night between Dappy and Luisa was a classic BB combat and, whether contrived or genuine anger (and here I believe it was genuine), the nature of the row goes beyond the initial substance of its igniting and becomes something the participants can't let go. I suppose that is like not so much rows in real face-to-face life but more particularly those that develop in recent years on-line. The sense of being publicly watched (on BB or, more parochially perhaps, on-line) may have something to do with that modern phenomenon.

13 Jan 14
Marion wrote:
Casey has a face where feelings live, with eyes that empathise.

I actually decided last night that Casey is my favourite housemate and the one I currently hope will win. She has the makings of a wise woman with a wise woman's tones.
I think Lionel regretted his behaviour at the pole-dancing club. Joining in is one thing, but joining in with such filthy relish was quite another thing. I loved the playschool role-plying scene, meanwhile, which took place next door. Another factor that lent weight to my Casey choice.

14 Jan 14
Poor Liz walked into a minefield. She nominated Jasmine for being so beautiful that she made Liz feel suicidal. Later she said that she wanted to say something nice in her nomination. But Jasmine instantly turned a rather weak joke into a melodrama. Her father committed suicide, she said. she wept quite a lot in the toilet, declaring hatred for Liz. Later she spoke of carrying the guilt all her life, that somehow she felt responsible. And now Liz was threatening suicide because of her...
Even later, when Liz was making hamfisted apologies, she piled on more guilt trip. Interestingly, it was reference to her beauty which seemed to irk her more than her father's death. Why, it was just like racism to be nominated on the grounds of an appearance she could not help. Racism. Right, Jasmine. You'e a victim and a martyr.
poor Liz stammered and gulped and talked about her own self esteem issues. It transpires that she is anorexic. Not that that would trouble Jasmine while she crucified Liz.

Above is a remarkable example of the Big Brother interaction between two vulnerable people (aren't we all vulnerable?) telling us a lot about the human condition: sorrow and scorn, unsaid and said thoughts, true and untrue intentions - quite beyond the fauxmances and the silly games.
Meanwhile, I never liked Jim as a comedian. But I like him now.

15 Jan 14
I think Casey tries hard to ignore the Lee and Jas shenanigans, whether real or fabricated shenanigans. I have been interested by the word 'disrespect' especially when used as a verb, as many BB contestants have used it over the years, as Casey did about that couple 'disrespecting' her. It uniquely combines a common-as-muck and sophisticated tone.
I loved the 'annoying room' concept and congratulations to the BB backroom people for constructing it. However, the 'democracy' game itself was boring and silly.

16 Jan 14
The best thing Jasmine ever did. Lateral thinking at the last literal moment.

17 Jan 14
A significant show last night. I think Lee is claiming that Casey - off-air when they were quasi-evicted outside the building - scolded him for not playing the show-mance game. Well, it's one word against another, and Casey looked genuinely aggrieved at hearing what Lee had been saying and she seemed to feel genuinely combative about it while Lee looked desperate. The gap in her front teeth is, by the way, her biggest asset.
As to the late Frank Carson's dressing room - well, it will now go down in show business history as a sort of crossover point of all ley-lines. Its mere mention carried by Luisa from Jim to Linda, I guess, was dynamite for this whole show. We shall see.
It seems that Jasmine's Choice of the Saved (Casey and Linda) were two central pivots in Things to Come.
I expect Liz will go tonight. The Goth of Gossip will then return to her confessional columns in the real outside world and she will now have plenty to write about. Hopefully she will have input on what went on in Frank Carson's dressing-room or, at least, what it symbolises for Adam Weishaupt and the Illuminati.

18 Jan 14
Well, Jim apologised, as he should. Back in the running now.
Casey has been fauxmance-framed. Or Lee has? Lionel (who I was surprised to see go) thinks Lee is the injured party. But as far as I can see it is circumstantial evidence and perhaps we will never know. I certainly prefer Casey to Lee!
Dappy is dappy, after all. Luisa too clever by half.
Meanwhile, who is Sam?

19 Jan 14
A torrid, 'Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire' type of night last night. The only consolation is to read Marion about it all, outshining Liz Jones and Edward Gibbon in every way.

20 Jan 114
Marion wrote:
  Liz had to judge the house fashions and some of her comments were priceless - the bedroom is like an explosion at Primark. .

Liz actually said 'an explosion at a Primark factory' -- and also that Luisa's hair extensions meant there are 'now a lot of bald Indian women walking about' or words to that effect.
This could be seen to be highly offensive! And someone has already mentioned this:

Luisa's nipple-lobe bling - well, I wondered why I was watching this tonight. Jim to win.
(I liked the acting by Ollie and Sam - the first time I've really noticed these two contestants).

21 Jan 14
Marion wrote:
But the Queen of the evening was much despised Liz. She was in the bath when Luisa approached her, tasked with making Lz laugh. But Liz would only talk of her dead cat, dead of fluid in the lungs and all her fault for neglecting him. Luisa was sympathetic at first but clealy thought it was all nonsense. Liz went on to discuss her anxieties - her Mum might die while she was in the house; she might drive into a tree if she had a car; her body dysmorphic disorder; her boyfriend probably off with another woman; she's full of tears; she might drown in the bath...all delivered in perfect deadpan. She was like an Alan Bennet Talking Head. Oh, Liz is much underestimated! That was the funniest scene of the series.
Luisa wanted to drown her in the end.
Luisa couldn't get a joke in edgeways and was caught of balance by the litany of woes. [...]
I wish so much that Liz could be saved on Wednesday. She is clearly an acquired taste and we are only just beginning to 'get' her. I am even wondering if that tale she told about being a virgin till she was 32 was true - the deadpan expression so evident tonight was present then.

Indeed. She made it known that she has 69 million readers!
I agree, too, that Liz's speech in the bath was the funniest thing in the series, if not in the whole of BB ever! (Luisa, bless her, was a brilliant stooge in this regard, whether she had already sussed the whole nature of the task or not).
22 Jan 14
Luisa had a moment of truth. On viewing the house, she came to realise that while she likes Linda, Linda comes across as a bitter moaner; and whie she doesn't like Jim, he is far funnier and entertaining.
Jim talked again about Yewtree and what it had cost him - Luisa saw that Linda just wasn't buying his tale ,confirming Jim's point that some people would always smell smoke as far as he was cocenred.
Interesting moments, but I found the whole Arctic task boring.
Meanwhile, I'm wondering if Liz's deadpan pronouncements have ever been serious since day one. She should win if she's got 69 million readers as she claims. They're all probably dogs, though.

23 Jan 14
Marion wrote:
Luisa and Dappy were pulled up for talking nominations and were sent to clean the bathroom fastened in together in a twinsie. It was remarkably unfunny although they tried to spice it up by accusing one another of imnappropriate touching. Been there, seen that, done that.

I don't think it was as simple as that. BB have turned a blind eye to nom talk until now. This was an excuse to get them into a twinsie because they sense Luisa is desperate not for love but for sex. And Luisa then became, on the face of it, a female sexual predator, because Dappy indicated he didn't like being touched 'there'. This was an experiment (intentional or not by BB) that might have shown that women predators can be worse than men ones, but women tend to get away with it, when neither should get away with it, of course. This was later borne out to some extent by the others talking about getting them both alone together in a room to quench Luisa's appetite for what they called "Dappy's D**k".
We weren't shown much about the twinsie incident however, and I may be wrong. A bit like the piecemeal, partial presentation of Hazel and Daley last year, except this was ostensibly a bit lighter-hearted than that...

The show reached a peak with Lz giving the litany of woes in the bath. We xhall not see the like again this seies. There is a definite Fall of Empire feeling abroad, a whiff of fin-de-siecle. Thje brightest part of the show was the re-run of the bath scene during liz's eviction.


24 Jan 14
I've never liked Ollie, from what I've seen of him. I do like Sam, although she hasn't tried hard enough to project herself over the whole show. Or perhaps that's a good thing? Yes, that's a good thing.
I like Jim, too, and Dappy.
Noticed Dappy nommed Luisa. A sadness has arrived in that relationship...
I've gone off Casey.
Never liked Linda or Lee. Yes, Marion, both to go tonight.

25 Jan 14
Not sure I really like any of them. Marginally, Jim as my favourite, but if I could have heard myself say that before I saw him on this BB show, I would have been astonished! (He is dead right about Linda.)
Sam as second favourite. She does have some style, but it's a style that's so sleek it slips through the bars of personality like an amorphous half-spectre.

26 Jan 14
Classic Marion reportage, thanks. It certainly helped keep me up to speed as I unavoidably missed last night's programme.

27 Jan 14
I thought at first Emma gave Lee a hard time in the interview, but by reviewing Marion's report of the facts, I sense that Emma probably didn't give him a hard enough time!
The frozen moments of the room's visitors moving and talking in a time-stream while the others became bound-by-a-moment-like-a-dead-monument-of-once-ancient-hope seemed very Dickian SF. Pity the frozen ones couldn't be more frozen and that they hadn't surreptitiously adjusted their bodies' comfort points after the clock struck.

28 Jan 14
Yes, generally this has been a fascinating, if sometimes worrying for society if these are celebrities, type CBB. Better than I expected and better than most previous series. One learns more from these things about fiction and truth than we do from much literature. Still, I prefer books, if leavened by such wonderfully eye-opening, eccentrically-'typoed', non-book excursions with Marion as guide. The awesome Alsiso of our times.
Two nights to go, and Jim to win.

29 Jan 14
A bunch of crab apples fallen off a tree that still think they're apples good enough for Tesco.
Jim's the winner, as he should be. An enjoyable, frustrating series. Thanks, Marion, as ever. The Alsiso Whizzo!


Friday, January 03, 2014

The Broodband

I arguably coined these words and expressions: ‘zeroism, egnisomicon, egnisism’ in conjunction with PF Jeffery (1967), ‘whofage’ in conjunction with PF Jeffery (1973), ‘agra aska’ (1983), ‘weirdmonger’ (1988), use of ‘brainwright’ in modern times (1990), Salustrade (1992) use of ‘yesterfang’ in modern times (1997), ‘wordhunger’ (1999), ‘nemonymous, ‘nemonymity’, late-labelling, veils-&-piques’ (2001), ‘denemonise’ (2002), ‘megazanthus’, ‘weirdonymous’, ‘chasing the noumenon’ (2003), ‘wordonymous’, ‘wordominous’, ‘the-ominous-imagination’, revelling in vulnerability (2004), ‘a woven fire-wall of words’, ‘the synchronised shards of random truth and fiction’, ‘nemoguity’, ‘vexed texture of text’, ‘fictipathy’, ‘nemotion’, ‘the hawler’, ‘the angel megazanthus’, ‘klaxon city’, ‘horrorism’ when used as a word for the philosophy of horror fiction (2005), ‘publication-on-reading’, ‘antipodal angst’, ‘the tenacity of feathers’, ‘a writer’s mandala’, ‘wordy weird’, ‘nemophilia / nemophobia’, ‘magic fiction’ as the obverse of the more common expression ‘magic realism’, ‘weirdtongue’ as the ‘name’ of a language, ‘Glistenberry’ as an alternative name for ‘Glastonbury’, ‘tonguage’ as a ‘conscious’ language, ‘yester-eggs’ as a term for Proustian ‘selves’, ‘the parthenogenesis of reality from artifice’, ‘all is for the pest in the pest of all worlds’, ‘Baffles’ as fables with muffled morals (2006), ‘fanblade fable’, ‘abutting the if’, ‘word clones / word clowns’, ‘bumps for books’, ‘rite of review’, ‘cone zero’, ‘a basket of coinages’ (2007), ‘small press cover ark(ive), the baser pulps’ ‘orrorfaces’, ‘the wheel culture’, ‘netogenic’, the first fiction about a ‘drogulus’, ‘Innerskull’, ‘meganthus‘ (2008), ‘CERN Zoo’ in literature, ‘Real-Time Reviewing‘, ‘ligottum‘, ‘the pit and the pessimum‘, ‘ligottus‘, ‘fubbcuckle’, ‘extraneity creep’, ‘pillowghost’, ‘intowards’, ‘powderghost’, ‘nightmare’s moat’ (2009), ‘THE TENSES’, ‘scream munch’ as another word for ‘captcha’, ‘skight’ – threepenny bit, ‘invitations from within’, ‘novellatory’, ’Ress’, ‘Venn Dreams’, ‘Tearsheet Doll’, scanbuncle, A Götterdämmerung of Guts , Holistic Horror (2010), SFtopia, Salustraders / Overspacers, Novellarette, Inquel, Gaddafery, Jungian autonymity, sudracide, an impesto novel, trendbaffler, our planet as reliquary, fictionatronics, Lovecraftianisation, “To know the worst is also to know the best“, vignellarette, “Nothing is controlled by logic other than logic itself.”, nightgators, Horror Genreators, dicksplay, roman littoral, ghostalt, poltergeistalt, horrasy, Horrasy: The Horrastic and the Heuristic, srednibution, srednidipity, Lovecraftian indescriptivities, bememorise, alephantiasis, reva-menders, metapomorphic, rarifiction, neoloquism, Was the God Particle born instable? (2011), angelivalent, literal-meaning dreaming, the ‘Higgs boson’ of Horror, The Weirdonomicon, Aickmania, shortcomings harnessed are stronger than strengths unused, privacy-trawler, disarming strangeness in connection with Robert Aickman, Fiction is like currency: belief is everything, oblique concomitant / oblique contaminant, age at the edge, A writer should make clouds shine even if the world’s sun has gone, The Call of the Silly, pastilential, eschairtology, e-born, read-tangler, ghorror, the authorial cloud, grosmance, quixotiose, most placating is playacting, ‘friendly fire’ fiction, dilemmachination, absurface, aeontonomous, HobbYiSt / Hobbit, aeontonomy, Horror Without Victims, fuckerlode, Earkth, Pronoun Horror, The Ives of November, PreMonday-ition, NoV – No Victims, an amid-life crisis, God created Ground in His own image by adding ‘run’ to His name, Old boots are always better than no boots, truth is never brash, End tring, Tendring is Trending, HorNET Nest, The empty future expects our arrival soon, if you fit, wear yourself, The Worldwide Cliff (2012), quantitative kamikaze, The Ohm Resistor of Literature, Only real books can be left anonymously on chairs, The Sibling Thing (as monster), lachrymonics, Cold Sororist, Gangster Gongsters, Cathrian, Cathrianity, Cathrechism, the optimum delusion, dogstone as a form of ‘found sculpture’, iDEATH as a form of internet implosion of self, Judge me on my works, not on my request thus to judge me, dyschronous recurrence, Belarhombus, the Palimp’s Zest, abseil-surdity, paradoxilogically, Devolved Fiction, fratrinity, bock-hide, the Ligottian lurch, denouement or deligottiment, Does a Seraph suffer from Harpes?, AickMANN, RTRcausal, irrealoscopic, a Myth Pitch, Versionary SF, pallianthology, Historation Comedy, Holy Grailtrack, Born Ancient, Bringing the Dead to Book, urbographical, genius tempus, sabbaticess, the life-insider, the God in the Goblet, tsunami of humani (2013), broodband (2014).