Monday, 30 March 2015

Portraits Of A Timelord.

Stick on a bit of the sublime Murray Gold and take a dander around this small gallery of portraits of The Doctor by the wonderful Daryl Shaw. Are they not grand? The masterful clean and gentle line work that encourages the eye to rest fuss free. The sketch work so deceptively simple but which nails The Doctor's personalities as each image melts into the other as you slide your eyes over them. All with a knowing confidence telling us we are looking at four faces of the same man.
             They really are a joy. I feel as though someone has opened a window in a fusty room to let in some fresh air. Really lovely.
              Many many thanks to Daryl for sharing these with me and allowing me to do the same with you.

Wee Fly Man.

        In the company of Agatha Christie The Doctor found himself caught between a Unicorn and A Wasp.
                                                What on earth would he make of this?

Saturday, 28 March 2015

We Are All Completely Folk'd Now.

Oh What A Night! The launch for the third book in Laurence Donaghy's Folk'd trilogy was a big success with a large turn out and a friendly crowd on Thursday night at the FPI store in Belfast. Laurence was particularly chuffed at the cosplay of his character The Morrigan. She will cut a bloody swathe through a blood drenched battlefield with her spear whilst I could tidy up behind her as she goes with my duster of Tir Na Nog.
             There is nothing more unsightly than a blood drenched body strewn battlefield.
             This trilogy of books by Laurence has really raised the bar high for anyone following in his wake. Let them be a rallying point for all the talent out there who have considered entering the story telling field and have found up until now they lacked the inspiration and the motivation.
               A new voice has truly risen in the North Of Ireland.
               But there is no reason he should be the only one.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Scarlet And The Black.

Criminals used to be such a cowardly and superstitious lot but now I suspect they are less so inclined. Things which cannot be downloaded to their phones do not exist for them. The mobile phone has done more to discourage belief in the supernatural than the Spanish Inquisition managed in its nightmare time. Although I suspect their feelings about being punched in the nose by a member of the extended Bat-Family probably have not changed. Batwoman herself was recently spotted on a rooftop on Anne Street Belfast. Rumours are she confronted the notorious Doctor Flaccid and his henchmen The Disapointments in a smelly alley way just off Corn Market...
              Well..Are'nt they all.
              Er,smelly that is..

Thursday, 19 March 2015

All Folk'd Now.

                                              Here are the details for the signing. Come on down.
                                                            There is no such thing as a stranger
                                                                      at a Donagjhy signing.

Reasons To Be Cheerfull.

Was hobbling down the street the other day when I felt something unexpected and yet welcomingly warm touch and almost caress my face. I looked up in surprise and saw it was the sun in a blue sky saying hello after being gone for such a long winter. Sol did not stick around long, just a brief reminder that he will return..
             Was reminded of The Laurel And Hardy Episode In The Good Old Summer Time.
             Ah,reasons to be cheerful.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Folk"d Tradition.

Its almost over. The wait for the third book in this fantastic series of books. Completely Folk"d by Laurence Donaghy is published this month bringing to an end a so far stunning trilogy of books. You know I sort of surprise myself by not describing them as fantasy books or urban terror novels or..well, you get the picture. They have a genre bursting quality which throws open its arms an proclaims I AM ALL THESE THINGS. Fantasy,horror(yep,lifted my bare feet of the ground during a particularly creepy moment.),laugh out loud funny and heart breaking as well. Yes, just like real life. And Laurence Donaghy always swears gloriously as a writer. Makes Malcolm Tucker sound like Sister Wendy (One is a fictional character played by the spell binding Peter Capaldi and the other is just a lovely human being who happens to be real.).
               It is going to be strange I suspect not to have another volume to look forward to. He has raised the bar so high with the first two I cannot tell you what a bitter sweet taste that final volume might have. As it is the second book left me in an Empire Strikes Back Fugue.Something happened which left me going Oh When Can I Read The Next Bit?
                I used to ask friends "what did people use to describe fantasy settings involving Orcs and dragons and elves before Tolkien?" You know when people use the term Tolkienesque. You say it and people get what you mean. At least during my lifetime they do perhaps because the books have always been around. After these books Laurence's work will creep into my mind when I am struggling to describe a situation where the fantastic becomes married to the very normal and sparks fly. Donaghyesque. My spell check just threw a hissy fit. It is only when you see the marriage of the fantastic to the ordinary you know just how fantastic the ordinary is.I remember reading the first book and finding it such a break from their usual publications I wondered if Blackstaff knew just what they had on their hands. As I got to know Michelle and Stuart from that publishing house I realised they did. They knew way ahead of time just what they had in terms of finding a writer like Laurence.
                  Blackstaff will be launching Completely Folk'd from the Forbidden Planet International Store on Ann Street Belfast on Thursday 26th March between six and seven thirty pm with the author himself in attendance. As the first two books were launched in a similar fashion it seemed truly fantastic to go for a third. Fantastic. It is a word that crops up a lot when I try to describe the work of Laurence Donaghy.
                  Well, as my old ma used to say If You Want A Rocket To Get To The Moon You Have To Put Rocket Fuel In It.
                  The doors will be open wide and all will be welcome.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Bloody Magic.

Just finished another book that puts forward another theory for and suggests another identity for the man behind the nickname for the most notorious and mysterious series of brutal and sordid murders known as crimes of Jack the Ripper. Like the best of such theories it is at once compelling and secondly colorful (If such heinous acts could ever actually be considered such. I refer only to the outre nature of the whole Ripperology conceit.) This book suggests the trappings of Black Magic Lore and its associated modern mythologies as a reason for the Whitechapel centric location for the murders. The routes taken by the victims and their killer painting an inverse affront to the christian God on the pavements of old London Town. Ivor Edwards relays information in an almost conversational style that makes the reader feel he is in some smokey pub snug listening to an old ex cop reliving his foggy days on the force, His theory is one that would lend itself to serious consideration if you are one prone to considering such things seriously. One of the most disturbing aspects of absorbing this dark lore is the notion that the more one learns about the city in which these crimes festered they may not have even been the very worst inhumane acts taking place. The stews and warrens of London at this time were a miasma and breeding ground for countless degradation. Yet the ghetto areas also provided a haven for many immigrants from Ireland, Europe and The Far East. In the hardest neighborhoods they struggled to make ends meet and lay the seeds  for a future Britain which is still taking shape all around us and which for good or ill continues to influence us. The notion of social reform and a way out for those born to walk its mean streets must have seemed as unlikely as flying away from it all to Neverland. The Nemesis Of Neglect John Tenniel named it in in his famous sketch. That Nemesis drifts through the pages of Ivor Edwards book even as he attempts to put a face and a name on the monster of the piece.                                                                                    Robert D Onston Stephenson is the name put forward to support the title of the book.  A familiar name and one I have seen in the frame before, He had been questioned by police at the time and was resident as a patient in a mental institution in the area at the time of all the canonical  Riper murders. He was a singular fellow who made a private study of the occult sciences and was said by those who knew him to project an aura f theatricality and mystery. He even knew Alistair Crowley which certainly suggests he moved in swarthier circles than many of his fellows. It is thought by some that he also murdered and dismembered his own wife before disposing of her boy in The Thames.
                 Edwards hits the pavements and counts the retraced steps of killer and victim conjuring his own theory into life. The old street maps are like veins of some dead beast on an autopsy table before you. In your minds eye you find yourself hovering above Whitechapel  watching the bloody craft of the Ripper take shape. The Minotaur in this Labyrinth is all too often imagined in an opera cape and a top hat like some theater fan or stage magician.. Poverty and despair wear altogether different clothes and the only magic in its story is very black indeed.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Sredni Vashtar.

Check this out on You Tube. An absolute gem. A young Tom Baker at the height of his powers delivers a Saki story in his most haunting tones. If you have ever felt I Could Listen To That Man's Voice All Night well here then is your chance to do just just that. Not all night, I exaggerate, but for just under twenty minutes feel yourself transported into a world whose architecture and foundations  are constructed of words beautifully and almost poetically contrived. In Tom Baker Saki finds an absolute translator of the truth of his fiction.
               Uncork a bottle of red,draw the curtains,stoke the fire and make sure the doors are locked.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Wagon Train to The stars

You know President Obama of the United states of america said to the world press "I love Spock." and then in his usual calm and dignified way, much like Mister Spock himself, went on to quite eloquently explain why. High above the night sky the NASA astronaut Terry Virts waved a Vulcan salute from actual space. All over the world science fiction fans and people from all walks of life and every creed and colour made known their own feelings at the news of the death of the actor, director, writer and singer Leonard Nimoy. That is quite a testament to the life of any man much less one who made his mark in the precarious world of mass communication and entertainment. Spock was indeed loved and not just by still serving American Presidents. This calm and yet commanding figure  who supposedly lacked emotions , or at least suppressed their influence, was still able by some televisual alchemy to exude such warmth, trust and dry wit. a figure who possessed real gravitas and who oversaw the well being of his crew mates with infinite paternal patience as they struggled like wilful children with their own emotions. Never more so than in the final original crew swansong The Undiscovered Country. Within that lovely movie the themes of friendship and bravery and courage are so well and movingly explored. In it our heroes are ageing, the universe as they know it is changing. The crew of the Enterprise must ask themselves if there is still a place for them and the values that guided them to the stars. These are earthly and familiar themes that many must wrestle with throughout their lives. Mister Spock's embodied many of those themes with his inner struggles so ably brought to life by Leonard Nimoy in a performance that would carry him through many different mediums over different decades.
             There are remote corners of this world where there are people who do not know what the internet is but who know who Mister Spock is. It is a wonderful comment on a fictional creation.
Mister Spock stood out even on a palette as broad as the one used as a template in the vast Star Trek continuity. That is down to the talent of Leonard Nimoy. When he was in a scene the other actors had to work hard to remain visible in frame with him as he could steal the moment with a wordless raising of a saturnine eye brow. There have been other on screen Vulcans since he first appeared but none have quite managed to pull this off.
               That would truly be like trying to catch lightning in a bottle.
                An act so hard to follow it is not even logical to try.
                Leonard Nimoy 1931-2015.