Sunday, 23 October 2016

The 100 Greatest Short Ghost Stories (part 2)

At these times, I am reminded of the warning words of one M.R. James:

"What tosh, by the way, critics do write. Here I find a passage quoted from one Loveman(2) who says "In Poe one finds (it*) a tour de force, in Maupassant a nervous engagement of the flagellated climax. To Bierce, simply & sincerely, diabolism held in its tormented depths a legitimate and reliant means to the end". This appears to me to have no meaning."
M.R. James, in letter to Nicholas Llewellyn Davies, 12 January 1928, reproduced by Jack Adrian and reprinted by Rosemary Pardoe.

More of my own "tosh" follows...

Thursday, 20 October 2016

The 100 Greatest Short Ghost Stories (Part 1)

There was a problem with writing up a countdown of the M.R. James Collected Ghost Stories. It was akin to open Pandora's Box, when I mentioned it to Mandy, she said "Yeah but he's not your favourite writer, is he?" She Who Must Be Obeyed is of course right, and I alluded to it earlier, but then this made my rather list orientated brain wonder how a ranking of *all* the great short horror I've read would look.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

M.R. James

What a year 2016 has been. Are we still here?

Jon Kaneko-James suggested that I do some Hallowe'en style writing, and, being out of practice due to ill health, I've reverted to the list. It been the October month, I was thinking about ghosts, as you do, and thinking about ghosts drags me, as usual, to M.R. James.

“I assume, of course, that the writer will have got his central idea before he undertakes the story at all. Let us, then, be introduced to the actors in a placid way; let us see them going about their ordinary business, undisturbed by forebodings, pleased with their surroundings; and into this calm environment let the ominous thing put out its head, unobtrusively at first, and then more insistently, until it holds the stage. It is not amiss sometimes to leave a loophole for a natural explanation; but, I would say, let the loophoole be so narrow as not to be quite practicable.”
M.R. James

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Euro 2016: The rest

Due to ill health, the conclusion to the Euro blogs have been nearly entirely undertaken by Jon Arnold on his lonesome. Much obliged!

Each of his bits were written the night the teams crashed out. Or didn't, in one case.


Friday, 1 July 2016

Euro 2016 Round of 16

Michael: So, it’s been a nice quiet week in UK-land, nothing of note happening, honest. We’ve only seen the Prime Minister resign (snap shot review – as bad as Lord North), the English and Welsh vote to leave the EU, the Scots in a bit of a quandary about where their future lies (to say nothing of Northern Ireland and poor old Gibraltar), and the ruined careers of at least three formerly leading politicians. I must say that Michael Gove’s knifing in the back of Boris Johnson was a moment of such political manoeuvring even I had to applaud the sheer ruthlessness.

We won’t mention Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party, because that will just depress folk.

I wonder if the imminent Scottish independence will actually transform Scottish football into something competent.

Jon: The weeks been “interesting” in the Chinese sense, but even that would be stretching things...

Michael: A moment of celebration for the fact that Michael’s favourite South American side, Chile, have won the Copa America two years running. What can I say, Alexis Sanchez IS World Class. I’m sure that result went down well in Argentina and caused no long term issues...

 I’m a hipster, I’ve liked Chile since 2008ish.

Gav: Thought you were going to say 1962!

Michael: Technically, I felt sorry for them in 2004, when they crashed out of the Copa America in agonising circumstances. 93rd minute, player strikes the ball, it bounces off the cross bar, right to a Costa Rican who runs up the pitch and scores the fatal goal!

Gav: Ouch. So, basically, they were Croatia?

Michael: Touche!

Monday, 27 June 2016

Euro 2016 Report Card: Group Stage eliminations

Michael: Jon, I’m working on that Euro thing now, honest.

Jon: Much like rather a lot of people at the moment!

Michael: Ever made a stupid joke that seemed really funny, then events sort of kill it? TV Tropes refers to this as a Funny Aneurysm moment, which refers to a plot twist in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. My “no chance of an early Brexit” gag about the English chances in the Euros certainly feels like one now!

We shouldn’t mention Brexit though, Jon’s a Welsh socialist, it’s been hard on him.

And given his wife is from Northern Ireland, the Euros might have been hard on him too!

Friday, 10 June 2016

Euro 2016 Group F preview

Michael: Will Griggs on fire, nanananananan....goddamit, Jon!

Jon: My work here is done.   

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Euro 2016 Group E preview

Michael: In the spirit of the recent EU “debates”, perhaps instead of an actual debate, we could debate Group E by separately taking questions from a panel of audience members that we don’t answer?

Jon: He’s laughing now. He won’t be laughing when Iain Duncan Smith becomes the next Prime Minister.

Michael: Nooooooooooo!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Euro 2016 Group D Preview

Michael: The transfer window is open. I’d like to transfer the current Glasgow weather to Mexico, and buy from some of the winter storms  from Trondheim in their place.

Jon: I’d just loan 5 degrees or so to Trondheim.

Michael: It’s 27C here! That’s about 20C about my comfort zone!

Jon: Not far off that here. Twenty odd degrees is good for me.

Michael: Chronic asthmatic Scot. Also, it hasn’t rained here for a fortnight. In Glasgow!

Jon: Bloody joke destroying weather.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Euro 2016 Group C Preview

Michael: In Group C, we find one of the heavyweights of European football, alongside a nation which had good results in the past but went into meltdown for a decade or two, a rising nation besieged by war, and an underdog who likes to bloody noses. Will the heavyweights prove their worth, or will avarice and injuries undo them? Will a country, once praised for attacking football, find their promising current generation provide new memories to go alongside those of old? Will a team find refuge in audacity, and turn a nation at war into one which fights for success on the football pitch? And will the underdogs, gone from the world stage for thirty years, pick up where they left off, with shock wins over bookies favourites, or will they find football has marched on too far in their absence?

There’s only one way to find out!