I (sometimes) call myself Mr. Pondersome. I'm a rather wordy, weirdy person. I say hullo a lot. I write a lot more. While you're here, why not give some of it a read?

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Oh and Ah... (a.k.a. I Have Something Else to Add)

And here's a little something extra for being so patient...

It's another cut-and-stick random word artsy experimental piece, except it actually has a fluent theme: freedom of digital information. SOPA and stuff! I call it "Private Search Available", mostly because I couldn't think of a different title that didn't sound pretentious or narrow-minded.

You can find it here as well - http://speakeasysheffield.webs.com/ - along with some of my other work. The Speakeasy is an open mic night event that I regularly attend and often perform at. It's open to virtually anyone with something creative to say; be it in poetry, short story, skit or song. Come along sometime if you're in the area - you might just see me. My table's usually empty... [insert 'AWWWW' here].

Two Micro Stories and a Tongue Twister (a.k.a. Some Iddy Biddy Things to Keep You Going Whilst I'm Doing Goodness Knows What...)

Hullo all,

I'll keep this blog post short and sweet, mostly because that's all I have to offer at the moment (well, the short part is true for definite). I'm speedily careening towards the end of my third and final year of university and, whilst I'm not overloaded with essays and deadlines just yet, I am awfully busy sorting other stuff out. Tying up loose ends, and what not.

Anyway, in an admittedly feeble attempt to sustain your interest, I give you some creative things that I've recently been sketching out in my daybook. Don't worry, they've been spruced up, given suitable titles and everything.
The first two thingamajigs are what I guess you'd call flash fiction or micro stories. They started off as ideas for a 36-word micro story competition entry, but they didn't quite cut the mustard. The first is called "Lovers" (pretty self-explanatory, really) and the second is entitled "Musical Darkness" (you'd think the same but actually...no).
The third thing is a tongue-twister I've recently discovered (during a Language and Music lecture of all things). Go forth and try it out on your family, friends and neighbours, but do be careful. It has a rather biting, citrus-y twist...

Anyway, that's enough of the jibber. Time for the jabber:


She stirred his tea, wondering why she was even here.
He stroked her spare hand, wondering why she wasn't.
The ring winked away the morning and faded into afternoon.


Stood beside myself, I began to play the lute. For some reason I was the only one who could.
Fingers wiped clean on a trouser leg, I feebly plucked the string.
Blackness fell. Pieces slammed together.


'The origins of oranges.'

I'll be back soon. Promise(ish).

Thanks for reading,

Mr. Pondersome

Thursday, 1 March 2012

World Book Day - My Top 12 Favourite Books EVER!!! (To Date) - PART 2

6. "One Day" by David Nichols

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:'I can imagine you at forty,' she said, a hint of malice in her voice. 'I can picture it right now.'

He smiled without opening his eyes. 'Go on then.'

15th July 1988. Emma and Dexter meet for the first time on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways.

So where will they be on this one day next year?

And the year after that? And every year that follows?

Twenty years, two people, ONE DAY.'
MY OPINION: Yes! I've put a Romance novel in this list too! Have I lost my mind or just my testosterone? Well, neither actually. "One Day" is a very well put together book as it turns out, following the lives of two very believable characters. Oh sure, at times they both act like complete idiots but who doesn't in the tentative years between graduation and grown-up life? Plus I'm a really a bit of a soppy so-and-so when it comes down to it. However, I don't like the ending. I can't tell whether its because it seems a cop-out to me or because I've got a big ol' emotional bias against it; I just have problems with it. But on the whole, it is a must-read (not quite sure how I feel about compounding those two particular words together but I'll just go with it...).

5. "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft" by Stephen King

AMAZON DESCRIPTION: 'Find out what books and films influenced the young writer, his first idea for a story and the true life tale that inspired CARRIE. For the first time, here's an intimate autobiographical portrait of his home life, his family and his traumatic recent accident. Citing examples of his work and those of his contemporaries, King gives an excellent masterclass on writing - how to use the tools of the trade from building characters to pace and plotting as well as practical advice on presentation. And King tells readers how he got to be a No. 1 bestseller for a quarter of a century with fascinating descriptions of his own process, the origins and development of, e.g. CARRIE and MISERY.'
MY OPINION: Say what you will about Stephen King; you can't deny his passion for writing. This book has taught me a lot about how best to hone my chosen craft, thanks to both the wise words of Mr. King and the life lessons he shares through his semi-autobiographical chapters. What do you when your work keeps getting rejected? Read this book. How do you figure out just who your audience is? Read this book. How do you find the will to keep on writing, even after a traumatising incident? READ THIS BOOK! I'm serious; I highly recommend this book to all budding young writers, whether you care for the man or not. It's the most entertaining non-fiction 'How to Write Fiction' guide I've ever laid my hands on.

4. "The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse" by Robert Rankin

AMAZON DESCRIPTION: 'THE HOLLOW CHOCOLATE BUNNIES OF THE APOCALYPSE is set in Toy City, once Toy Town, but now older, bigger and certainly not wiser. The Old Rich, who have made their millions from the royalties on their world-famous nursery rhymes, are being slaughtered. One by One. Horribly. A psychopath is on the loose. He must be stopped at all costs. It's a job for Toy City's only detective - but he's missing, leaving Eddie Bear to track down the mad killer, with the aid only of his bestest friend, Jack, and a wide cast of truly unforgettable characters.'
MY OPINION: You ain't seen farcical literary digression till you've read a Robert Rankin novel. Again this book is very special to me because of the simple fact that it was picked by me, for me in the tender days of my youth. If you love the sickly sweet reverberations made by black humour violently colliding with beloved childhood makebelieve, then you will love this book. Despite it's tendency to dither at times then go completely off the rails at others, the story is brilliantly funny, the mystery angle is surprisingly sharp and the cast of characters are even more colourful than you'd expect of Toy City citizens (Eddie Bear being my favourite, mostly because he's as great as...). So give it a read. You'd be a 'gormster' if you didn't.

3. "Tales of the Unexpected" by Roald Dahl

AMAZON DESCRIPTION: 'A selection of short stories taken from Kiss, Kiss and Someone Like You, which are all typical examples of Roald Dahl's outrageous, macabre, impeccably timed and bitterly funny creations. Tales of the Unexpected includes, among others, the chastening tale of 'Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat', an edifying reminder of 'The Way Up to Heaven', the perils of sticking your 'Neck' out, why 'William and Mary' saw eye to eye, and how Mrs. Maloney led the 'Lamb to the Slaughter'.'
MY OPINION: If I could read a Roald Dahl short story each day for the rest of my life then I probably would. I first picked up this collection at a local Book Swap not too long ago and swiftly fell in love with the sheer darkness of Mr. Dahl's humour. Now don't get me wrong, I love his children's book too, it's just the adult stories he wrote have a lot more bite to them, a lot more bitter honesty. My particular favourites are 'Lamb to the Slaughter' (a common one among my social circle) and 'William and Mary', though I'd prescibe a large dose of all of them to anyone wanting to get stuck in with high quality short story writing. Out of all the authors I've come across in my lifetime, Roald Dahl has had the longest and firmest resonance.

2. "Watchmen" by Alan Moore

AMAZON DESCRIPTION: '"Watchmen" redefined superhero conventions and re-introduced comics to an adult audience with a gripping, labyrinthine piece of comic art. Rorschach, a half-psychotic vigilante must convince his ex team-mates, now middle-aged and retired, that he has uncovered a plot to murder the remaining superheroes - along with millions of innocent civilians...Even reunited, will the remnants of the 'Watchmen' be enough to avert a global apocalypse? With a powerful storyline masterfully told by comics supremo Alan Moore and beautifully rendered artwork by the talented Dave Gibbons - this is the one that started the graphic novel revolution and is definitely not one to miss!'
MY OPINION: A preverbial no-brainer. When I picked up the "Watchmen" graphic novel for the first time I didn't know what to make of it: it confused me, sickened me and fascinated me all at the same time. Then I picked it up again and things became clearer. Having picked it up a third time, I knew I could never be parted from this masterpiece ever again. And I literally haven't. Like "Simon Armitage: Selected Poetry" this book is never far from me. Alan Moore is the second writer who's hand I desperately want to shake (we'll get to the first very shortly...). Because of this book I've become obsessed with writing a superhero/masked vigilante tale grounded in realism of my own. Because of this book I've immersed myself in the sometimes psychotropic world of Alan Moore time and time again. Because of this book I've found a kindred spirit in the costumed vigilante Rorschach (well, sort of...). "Watchmen" is truly one of the Great Nerd Bibles. Or something similar. I'll let you be the judge.


1. "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman

AMAZON DESCRIPTION: 'After three years in prison, Shadow has done his time. But as the time until his release ticks away, he can feel a storm brewing. Two days before he gets out, his wife Laura dies in a mysterious car crash, in adulterous circumstances. Dazed, Shadow travels home, only to encounter the bizarre Mr Wednesday claiming to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America. Together they embark on a very strange journey across the States, along the way solving the murders which have occurred every winter in one small American town. But the storm is about to break... Disturbing, gripping and profoundly strange, Gaiman's epic novel sees him on the road to the heart of America.'
MY OPINION: Neil Gaiman: what can I say? He's my belated literary hero. I could literally devote one long-arse blog post to explaining just what the man means to me and I'd still be nowhere near to scratching the surface. Which is funny considering my radar only picked up on him a matter of years ago. I'd heard of him before but had never found reason to pursue his writing. And then I read "The Sandman" comic book series. A can of worms burst open. It really didn't take me long before I picked up "American Gods". Again, at first it bored me, then it baffled me and eventually it drove me bonkers with admiration. The long winding road of story, the rich cast of characters, the obviously close attention to detail of international mythologies. In short, Mr. Gaiman became my literary God after I finished those closing pages. And that's no mean feat. He is definitely the one man I must meet in my lifetime, definitely the one man I must shake hands with, definitely the one man I may consider lightly waltzing with...Well, maybe the third one's going a tad overboard, but the other two are absolute musts (just what is it with people warping this verb?). Given time I will meet Mr. Gaiman and thank him heartily for all that he has indirectly done to help me along as a writer and I'll be sure to have my trusty copy of "American Gods" to hand. Without a 'Shadow' of a doubt...(sorry, I'm contractually obliged to make at least one godawful pun in every blog. Well, actually that's a lie, but how would you know? Otherwise?).

And that's about it. I'll see you next time (whenever that turns out to be) with some actual writing. In fact, I think I have some poems I'd like you to see, somewhere around here. Let me just check...

World Book Day - My Top 12 Favourite Books EVER!!! (To Date) - PART 1

Hullo all,

Once again pardon my unseemly absence. I've been very busy working on all sorts of projects, some of which will hopefully help to promote my status as a writer and all-round creative chap.
Anyhoo, to make up for it, I have a new blog post (YAY!!!) except it's exactly that: a standard blog post (BOO!!!). Seen as how it is World Book Day 2012 today I thought that it might be fun to give you all a run-down of my top twelve favourite books. I'd say I chose twelve because 'I like to go one step beyond' but alas that catchphrase has already been taken. Plus I just like books too much to keep it to the standard ten.
Anyway, without further ado:

12. "The Mighty Fizz Chilla" by Phillip Ridley

AMAZON DESCRIPTION: 'Milo Kick is no longer Mum's little 'angel'. Five months ago something happened - something only Milo knows - that changed him into a 'monster'. Unable to cope, Mum sends him to stay with Cressida Bell, an old family friend, who lives by the sea. Gradually, Milo becomes obsessed with stories about wild Captain Jellicoe who lives in a nearby cave and who, in turn, has his own story to tell. It is a story that will change Milo's life forever. It is the story of Mighty Fizz Chilla.'
MY OPINION: Now this one takes me back. This was the first book I ever 'truly' read. I mean, I've read books before but they were mostly through recommendations by family and/or school. "The Mighty Fizz Chilla" was the first book I actually chose to pick up for myself. Despite noticing some narrative weaknesses and inconsistencies over the years, it still remains a memorable and much-loved children's book to me. After all, how could you NOT be hooked in by a cover like that?

11. "Simon Armitage: Selected Poetry" by Simon Armitage

AMAZON DESCRIPTION: 'This selection provides a perfect introduction to Armitage's work as well as offering a timely retrospective of one of the brightest stars of contemporary poetry. Made by Simon Armitage himself from his poetry to date, Selected Poems includes work from six published volumes, from Zoom! (1989) through to the poem commissioned for the Millennium, Killing Time.'
MY OPINION: The works of Simon Armitage mark my first timid steps into adult free-verse modern poetry. He's the first poet who I quickly came to respect, without the handicap of being long since dead. After picking up a GCSE Poetry Anthology, I was first introduced to his refreshingly punchy style with the poems "Hitcher" and "Kid". Needless to say the irony and black humour of both of these lured me well and truly in. Now I proudly carry Mr. Armitage's work around with me almost everywhere I lay my hat, though that could be due to the fact that he signed it not too long ago. VALUABLE COLLECTOR'S ITEM!!!

10. "The Men Who Stare at Goats" by Jon Ronson

AMAZON DESCRIPTION: 'In 1979 a secret unit was established by the most gifted minds within the US Army. Defying all known military practice – and indeed the laws of physics – they believed that a soldier could adopt a cloak of invisibility, pass cleanly through walls, and, perhaps most chillingly, kill goats just by staring at them. They were the First Earth Battalion. And they really weren’t joking. What’s more, they’re back and fighting George Bush’s War on Terror. Often funny, sometimes chilling and always thought-provoking, The Men Who Stare at Goats is a story so unbelievable it has to be true.'
MY OPINION: Okay, I'll admit it: in this case I watched the movie before the book and (surprise, surprise) I eventually came to prefer the book. Which isn't to say that I didn't like the film: in it's own way it became an entirely different beast though with a notably wobblier plot. However, I'm not wearing my 'Big Film Critic' hat today so I'll just say that it was both fun and shocking to spot all the bizarre yet real-life concepts that eventually became plot devices in the film. Add that to Mr. Ronson's very more-ish Gonzo Journalism style and you have one of my favourite non-fiction novels to date.

9. "1984 (Nineteen Eighty Four)" by George Orwell

AMAZON DESCRIPTION: 'Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow-worker Julia, but soon discovers the true price of freedom is betrayal.'
MY OPINION: Tell me who hasn't read this book and NOT had nightmares about it? Just me? Really? Can't say I believe that..."1984" is one of those classics that keep you paranoid to the end. Will Winston continue to get away with it? Will Big Brother ever find out? Just who CAN be trusted in this new dystopic world? Suffice to say, this book had me at the edge of my preverbial seat throughout. I even finished it at 4am one night just because I HAD to know what was going to happen next. If that's not a mark of truly brilliant literature then I really don't know what is. I didn't get a good night's sleep afterwards though, obviously.

8. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson

AMAZON DESCRIPTION: 'Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared off the secluded island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger family. There was no corpse, no witnesses, no evidence. But her uncle, Henrik, is convinced that she was murdered by someone in her own family - the deeply dysfunctional Vanger clan. Disgraced journalist Mikael Blomqvist is hired to investigate, but when he links Harriet’s disappearance to a string of gruesome murders from forty years ago, he needs a competent assistant - and he gets one: computer hacker Lisbeth Salander - a tattoed, truculent, angry girl who rides a motorbike like a Hell’s Angel and handles makeshift weapons with the skill born of remorseless rage. This unlikely pair form a fragile bond as they delve into the sinister past of this island-bound, tightly-knit family. But the Vangers are a secretive lot, and Mikael and Lisbeth are about to find out just how far they’re prepared to go to protect themselves - and each other.'
MY OPINION: This book came recommended to me by a friend who loves the Crime Thriller genre. Before reading "The Girl" I was only vaguely interested in murder mysteries; now I can't get enough of them. Though I started off reading the book with generally slow-moving interest, soon enough I gradually became engrossed by the intricate nature of both the plot and main characters, particularly Lisbeth Salander, as described in the title. If you love crime novels and haven't gotten round to this one yet then just what's been stopping you?

7. "Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Earth" by Grant Morrison

AMAZON DESCRIPTION: 'In this groundbreaking, painted graphic novel, the inmates of Arkham Asylum have taken over Gothams detention center for the criminally insane on April Fools Day, demanding Batman in exchange for their hostages.Accepting their demented challenge, Batman is forced to live and endure the personal hells of the Joker, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, Two-Face and many other sworn enemies in order to save the innocents and retake the prison.During his run through this absurd gauntlet, the Dark Knights own sanity is placed in jeopardy.'
MY OPINION: 'The lunatics have taken over the asylum...' and that's roughly the plot premise. Considering this is the first graphic novel on my list, I'd say I've been very well behaved. I absolutely LOVE graphic novels, comic books or whatever society dictates you should call them now, and "Arkham Asylum" has a very special place in my heart. The story is deliciously gothic and unsettling to a tee, the artwork is haunting in its unearthly shading AND it was the inspiration of my favourite videogame ever. Not too shabby for a glorified picture book, eh, literature snobs? Oh and by the way, BATMAN ROCKS!!!