Saturday, October 11, 2014

And Now a Word from Our Sponsor. Not.

Of course I don't have a sponsor, even though I've long dreamed of being a toyboy to some rich, eighty-year old woman with a heart condition and no dependants. Maybe if I were an athlete I could get the ACME Steroid Corporation to fund my frivolous excesses. But no. So instead please humour me awhile while I blow my own (slightly dented) bugle.

I promise I won't try to sell you one of my books, OK? (See note at foot of post)

Get to the point, Dolan, I hear you mutter impatiently.

Now here's the thing. Last year I signed up to a literary suicide pact with a writer based in Virginia by the name of Fiona Quinn. 


Yes, I'm getting there. Stop sighing. And put that gun away. It might be loaded.

Well, Fiona and I decided in a moment of madness to co-author a novel. This was in spite of the fact that we had never met - and still haven't - and we had the inconvenience of eleven hours of time-difference between us. (The scientists among you may wish to point out that if the Earth were not in fact spinning, we'd all float off into space like that handsome grey-haired guy in the film Gravity; so maybe time zones are a good thing. Having sat through two hours of Sandra Bullock's acting, I remain torn on this point.)

After several months of Skyping and whizzing chapter drafts back and forth across the crackly ether, I can announce that the love child of this unusual union will soon see the light of day. How soon? I hear you ask. On this, for the moment my lips must remain more firmly pressed together than the knees of a nun at a Michael Buble concert. But soon, all right?

Fiona and I are, however, sufficiently confident that our offspring will not be born with two heads to start bleeding out some details of our endeavour. Starting with a cover reveal.

If it makes your eyeballs rotate, it's working. Here's the blurb which hopefully will make the rest of you rotate.

Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul
But I do love thee! And when I love thee not
Chaos is come again.

Sean hears voices in his head.
Travis snorts cocaine.
Teagan thinks she’s the next Lady Gaga.
Avery has the boss from Hell and a mother with dementia.
And Goose thinks he can catch a serial killer.

‘Chaos is Come Again’ is a psychological suspense, a mystery, and a love story – loaded with irreverent humour, and viewed through the lens of obsession.

WARNING: This book contains references to Judas, a dwarf and a performing monkey.

Now, as the saying goes, Watch This Space.

Come to think of it, that sounds like a good summary of Gravity. Over to you, Sandra.

NOTE: This doesn't count as trying to sell you one of my books. Not according to my lawyer.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Tight Trousers and Asteriods (Not Hemorrhoids)

OK, let me confess. I'm a fan of Liv Tyler.

As if that weren't shameful enough, I like Aerosmith too - a group of not-so-gracefully-ageing rockers who feature Liv's dad on vocals.

These are the only two reasons I watched 'Armageddon', a ludicrous Bruce Willis/Ben Affleck action movie about an asteriod on collision course with Earth. Liv was in it and Aerosmith provided the theme song.

It works for me. Does it work for you?

If so, feel free to sing along. If nothing else, it will embarrass your kids. And that's never a bad thing.

Click below and feel the love. Or something, anyway.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

No Free Lunches, But Free Murders

There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but just occasionally there is a free murder.

And here it is.

After a sudden rush of blood to the brain - an unusual happening, since my blood usually heads in a southerly direction when I get excited - I decided to offer A POISON TREE free on Amazon Kindle from 30 September to 4 October. This is called the Drug Dealer Strategy. You know the game. I get you hooked on this one and you rush out and buy all the other books in the 'Time, Blood and Karma' series.

At least that's the theory.

Here's the blurb to bait the hook.

“You kill my wife and I’ll kill yours.” You must admit, as a proposition, it has an alluring symmetry to it. 

It is 1999, and as the Millennium approaches, old certainties wither. For family man, David Braddock, his hitherto predictable world is undergoing a slow collapse. The people closest to him seem suddenly different. As desires and aspirations tangle around each other like parasite stems, betrayal is in the air. 
And so is murder. 

If you're tempted, just click on the appropriate link below and one click later it's yours free, gratis, and for nothing.

Sounds too good to be true? Yeah, it probably is.

Want a cigarette, by the way? Anything else I can do for you?

Amazon US click HERE

Amazon UK click HERE

It's also available free on all Amazon's other worldwide sites in case you happen to live somewhere exotic. Lucky you.

Friday, September 26, 2014

New Answers to Life's Ultimate Questions? Hell, No

'The Grand Design', by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow (a physicist at Caltech and sometime writer for Star Trek, in case you were wondering), promises much. Specifically the blurb proudly announces new answers to the ultimate questions of life.

Hmm. OK. Well, leaving aside the fact that I'm no nearer to understanding women after reading this - which for me is one of the ultimate questions of life - I'm also still somewhat in the Dark Matter on other stuff too. Maybe this is not surprising. Professor Hawking's first foray into popular science writing was 'A Brief History of Time', an international phenomenon, which tons of people bought, some read, and maybe a few understood. I personally found the experience of reading ABHOT like fishing - my line was out there, but I only caught sprats, not the big ones. They all got away.

However, inspired by the author's cameo appearances on the US sitcom 'The Big Bang Theory', I thought I'd give the wheelchair-bound genius another go.

TGD is certainly written in a more accessible style. Maybe Hawking's Star Trek co-writer had something to do with this. In fact, it was a wee bit too accessible; too many weak puns and asides, and a rather superficial skim over the profundities of quantum mechanics for my taste. Hey, I'm no genius (except at making excuses maybe), but like Oliver Twist I wanted ... well ... more. For me, it read like 'Quarks for Dummies'.

The book kicked off with the three major questions troubling humanity, or at least those of us who aren't worrying about where our next meal is coming from or whether we're going to get short or blown up today.

Why is there something rather than nothing?
Why do we exist?
Why this particular set of laws and not some other?

Here's the answer to the first two questions: "Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing [in the manner described in Chapter 6]. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist." Are you convinced yet? You'd better be because that's all the authors have to say.

As to the third question, the answer is that that there is an infinite number of universes, each with different laws and we just happen to live in this one. (This is just a theory, by the way, as impossible to prove as the existence of God)

Perhaps I'm doing the authors something of a disservice. The mathematics sitting behind much of today's theoretical postulates is hideously complicated, and certainly well outside the scope of a book of this nature.

I'm just left with an unsatisfactory feeling, like I'd expected to go out with the Prom Queen and instead ended up with her rather plain friend who wasn't much of a talker. Not only that, but we didn't even go to the Prom. We just ate pizza and watched a couple of science fiction movies.

Don't misunderstand me. There are some excellent popular science books out there that will leave you in awe. This, alas, isn't one of them.

Now where shall I put this pizza box?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Looking for an Honest Man

Ever feel like the bottom is dropping out of your world?

(By the way, if the world is dropping out of your bottom, that is an altogether different situation, and one best addressed through pharmaceutical means or through the purchase of a substantial cork bung.)


Yup, the stuff those old Greeks used to dish out.

Aristotle, Plato and Socrates tend to get most of the top billing - maybe they had a good agent - but of all the miserable old bastards of the Hellenic World, I think my favourite is Diogenes.

Diogenes of Sinope was a strange bugger, whose original writings unfortunately have not survived the centuries, but his ideas have, courtesy of his fans and followers.

Diogenes was kicked out of his home town for adulterating and debasing the currency, and at one stage he got himself kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery. While living in Athens, he made a virtue of his poverty by begging and sleeping in a large ceramic jar in the marketplace. He was probably the first 'cosmopolitan', declaring himself a man of no country, rather a citizen of the world. Diogenes is most famous for wandering around during the daytime with a lamp, claiming he was looking for an honest man.

 In later life, he became a tutor in Corinth, where his philosophy of Cynicism became one of the foundations of the Stoic School.

These days, 'cynics' tend to get a bad press, but ask yourself: When was the last time you met a truly honest man?

Today's blog has been brought to you by Curmudgeons International. Free membership is available to all Miserable Old Gits, excluding politicians or anyone who thinks Miley Cyrus is pretty cool (or even pretty).

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Kilts and Ballot Boxes


Only a few days before the people of Scotland vote on independence from the UK.

They have my sympathy. From my vantage point in South East Asia, it seems to me that our cousins north of the border have no more information now about what independence would mean than they had when this whole campaign started. From the Nationalist (“Yes”) side, they have appeals to Scottish pride and tradition, and statements about how Westminster is squandering the oil money; while from the Union (“No”) side they have veiled threats about currency and economic meltdown. But very few facts on which to base a rational decision.

The 1707 Act of Union glued England and Scotland together. It was supposed to end hundreds of years of bloodshed between the two countries, and was pushed through at a time of hardship for the Scots following the disaster of the Darien Scheme – a ‘get rich quick’ scam based on Panamanian trade, which wiped out a huge proportion of Scottish capital. From the English side, it was meant to secure a Protestant succession in perpetuity: Albion would give Scotland a financial bailout and access to colonial markets, and in return there would be no more Catholic kings.

So much for history.

Frankly, I don’t care how the vote goes. It won’t stop me – an Englishman from the North East – from celebrating Burns Night or from buying whisky. It won’t stop me having Scottish friends (with whom, btw, I generally have more in common than I do with those soft, wimpy Southerners). My general opinion is that nobody should belong to a club in which they no longer want to be a member. But what of the Scottish people who want to be part of the UK, but instead find themselves citizens of a new country? (An acquaintance of mine has a girlfriend who hails from the Crimea. He jokes that recently he went to bed with a Ukrainian and woke up beside a Russian.)

So how will the vote go?

If I want to find out how any event is likely to pan out, I always ignore the ‘experts’ and commentators, and instead have a look at the William Hill betting odds. These guys are pretty shrewd, and their business depends on their getting things right (usually). They currently think there is a two in five chance of the Scots voting for independence.

I might put a tenner on it. It’s a better return than the Bank of England is offering.