Release Day: Owl Stretching

Owl StretchingToday’s the big day: Owl Stretching is out now! Get in on the rollicking tale of ‘Shamans Vs Aliens’ and take a road trip across a slightly futuristic New England all the way to Mount Auburn Cemetery. 🙂

You can buy the book at Immanion, get your local bookstore to order it, or buy it online. An ebook version will be forthcoming. If you can’t afford it, consider suggesting it for your local library.

As always, likes and agreeing with tags will help get the book noticed. Reviews even more so, so if you do read it and like it, I encourage you to leave a review or a rating at Amazon (or wherever you purchased it) as well as Goodreads or any other book rating place.
And let’s all sing our unofficial theme song: “Rotate Your Owl”


Accidental shaman Rothschild (“Ro”) Parker has a lot of problems on her hands. Her best friend Simon just woke up from a ten year coma she may have caused, her spiritual guide is a 300 year old magpie, and the planet’s just been taken over by a group of aliens who hot-rod around eating anyone who stands still long enough to be a meal. Besides, she’s got a dead cat to bury.

In Owl Stretching, Ro has to juggle her guilt for Simon’s lost decade with her desire for spiritual and sexual exploration, a looming alien invasion and the growing suspicion that she’s about to re-enact the Descent of Inanna. Worse yet, her spiritual guide tells her she’s going to have to become a leader of the resistance. What resistance?! If guns and lasers prove useless against these invaders, what good will a steady drum beat do? All Ro really wants is a nice cup of tea. Combining mordant humour with mythic exploration, Owl Stretching shows that the inner worlds are every bit as mysterious—and dangerous—as the far reaches of the cosmos.

UPDATE: Amazon still doesn’t have it available 😦 but you can order it direct from Immanion.

Tuesday’s Overlooked A/V: Do Not Adjust Your Set

I’m looking forward to Holy Flying Circus tomorrow night, the documentary on the fight against the Python’s Life of Brian. I know I’ve likely seen a lot of the footage already, but I’m sure it will be enjoyable nonetheless. Good example of how bonkers people can get over something they assume will offend them. At heart, Brian is a very moral film, which focuses on the all-too familiar foibles of human behaviour. Ah, but if you’re reading this you likely already know that.

Something you might not know about is Do Not Adjust Your Set, one of the many training grounds for the future Pythons, like The Frost Report and At Last the 1948 Show (source of the original Four Yorkshiremen sketch). DNAYS featured Michael Palin and Terry Jones (who had also worked on The Complete and Utter History of Britain) as well as Eric Idle. This was a kids show, which is kind of stunning (although if you look at a lot of the mad kids show at the time, perhaps not quite so odd) so a lot of the humour is very nonsensical in the Goons/Spike Milligan/NOBA vein of absurdity. You can really see the connections between the Pythons and what came before them.

Of course one of the key reasons to see DNAYS is the Bonzo Dog Band. Why anyone thought they were safe for children, I don’t know. The ginger geezer Vivian Stanshall and the delightfully daffy Neil Innes headed a rotating roster of musicians but those two were really the magnets. I’ve gone on at length about both of them, so if you don’t know them yet, you should stop reading right now and just go look at the videos widely available at a certain tubish site.

A fave moment, appropriate for the season: the Bonzos sing “Monster Mash” for your delight.

As usual, find the whole roundup of overlooked a/v over at Sweet Freedom.

Publishing News & Connecticut Bound

Over at Night and Day, The Spectator’s Arts blog, I have an introduction to erotic fiction that will give you some  steamy reading for this rainy day. Simon always gives me such interesting assignments; I find it amusing that the newspaper is so conservative and its Arts blog so liberal. Of necessity, this is only a taste of the genre. As I write in the preamble,

A beginner’s guide to erotic fiction cannot help but be incomplete. One cannot do justice to such a broad body of literature, so I have selected a bouquet of offerings that will provide novices with a sampling of the breadth of the field, from which they can explore further…

I’ve neglected to mention also having a story accepted for publication, “The Wyandotte Haunting” which includes…

ghostly chickens?

Could it be true? Yes, perhaps. That’s a couple of Wyandottes in the photo, whom I snapped at the Altamont Fair last year, or was it the year before? There’s a little nod to one of my inspirations, Ramsey Campbell. More info as it becomes available: a collection from Pill Hill Press (home of my zombie Western “High Plains Lazarus” too). The essay on Gilliam’s Tideland has finally settled into place (ay yi yi, there’s a story), but the main thing I’m hastily working on at present is The Triumph of the Carpet Beetle, my non-fiction collection. More as that gets closer to release (soon, soon — we all know how pleased I am with tedious and painstaking tasks 9_9).

I’m off to Connecticut today, lunch with M. Marko, dinner with Sue Crowley, then evening at Elena’s (assuming they get safely home from their travels). In the morning Elena’s cartooning class, then a visit with the QoE before returning to Elena’s. I wanted to be sure to have a chance to see everyone before I headed off to England. Life is a bit of a whirlwind lately (only lately?!). So little time, so much to do!

A Wet Weekend

Too many late nights; too little sleep. Far too much rain driving back from Massachusetts.

Last night it was Neil Innes at the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA. Here he is wearing his moustache in order to sing in French (okay, mostly in a French accent). Yeah, phone pic so the quality isn’t good. But we had a good time. I went with my pal Peg and we had a nice Thai dinner before the show and then laughed and sang a lot. Innes had the crowd in the palm of his hand from the start, getting folks to sing along on the chorus of the first song (well, second if you count the two line of “Urban Spaceman” he sang), which was “Alone, alone, alone.” Yes, it was like that all night as he switched between guitars and a uke and a Steinway. He stopped in the middle of the first song on the piano because the pedal made the piano move. “I should be a professional and just go on,” he told us, “But it frightened me!”

We were of course all sworn in as Ego Warriors (second time for me). Well worth the drive and a whole lot of fun. He expressed amazement that the Rutles have been around for 30 years now and that there are Rutles tribute bands around the world. “It should be a verb.” He talked about the Bonzo days and got the crowd enthusiastically providing the “band shouts” for some of the old 78s songs that Band loved to resurrect. While most of the songs veered toward amusement, everything from his work with the Pythons to a clever song about the web 2.0 life, he also took time to sing a more thoughtful song about losing friends. 65! Hard to believe. He finished up with a song in praise of his age and left us all with a lot of smiles.

Saturday was a little more sombre as we said good-bye to Kathy Clegg. Funerals, like weddings, can bring out family tensions, but the event brought out a lot of wonderful memories of Kathy’s warmth and hospitality — she did love to have a houseful of people. There was a big crowd of people gathered to remember her fondly.

Python Reunites!

The surviving Pythons will be reuniting in NYC on October 15th for the premiere of a new six-part doco series that will be airing on the IFC channel October 18th-23rd. In addition to the documentary and timed to 40th Anniversary of the creation of Monty Python, The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) will award The Pythons with a Special Award honoring their outstanding contribution to film and television.

“This is the documentary I always hoped would be made – something so complete and so faithful to the truth that I don’t need to watch it,” said Terry Jones.

The complete Python troupe – John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and even the late Graham Chapman – will attend this official Python reunion event, which will include a screening of the theatrical version of the Original IFC documentary Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer’s Cut). Following the screening, all five surviving members of the Monty Python team will sit down for a Q&A discussion and will be presented with a Special Award from BAFTA to honor their outstanding contribution to film and television.

Monty Python: Almost the Truth (Lawyer’s Cut) will be told in six parts, airing one-hour each night during IFC’s “Python-a-thon” beginning October 18, 2009 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT. IFC will also air Python feature films including Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, and Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl.

This six-part series features interviews with all the surviving Python members, along with archive representation for the late Graham Chapman. The Pythons tell their life story and reveal deeper truths alongside the more tried and tested Python history lessons. The documentary also features comedians and contemporaries including: Eddie Izzard, Olivia Harrison, Steven Merchant, Dan Aykroyd, Tim Roth, Lorne Michaels and Seth Green, among many others.

A select number of tickets will be available to fans online at in mid-September.

[h/t to Todd! yes of COURSE I’m trying to get a pass to this]

Owl Stretching

Pop over to Radio Wombat, the podcast blog, for the latest reading: Owl Stretching. It’s a snippet from the novel I’m revising at present. The name may or may not stay: Python fans will probably recognize it, but most people will find it obscure. It does have a purpose, but I’m guessing most publishers would want to change it. Then I will refer to it as the novel formerly known as Owl Stretching.

London Recap, Part Two: Not dining with Mr Jones

Friday afternoon I hit the Andy Warhol, “Other Voices, Other Rooms” exhibit at the Hayward Gallery at the Southbank Centre. The guidebook lists its contents as “21 films, 1 clouds installation, 40 screen tests, 6 videos, 42 tv-episodes, 16 drawings…” and on and on. I’d never really thought about the direct link between Warhol and Capote, but it’s impossible to miss here. That shared hunger for absorbing the rich and famous drove them both and, one might predictably say, cost them both a lot, but what’s amazing to see in this jumble of time capsules and ephemera as well as the completed work is just how rich a vein they both mined. Rather than a shallow wallow in pursuit of acceptance (not that it wasn’t that as well) there’s an endless fascination for what fame is and what people will do to achieve it.

The hunger seems to be at an all time high at present, which amazes me. I’d love to be able to make loads of money with my writing, but I’d prefer that people express no interest in the person behind the words (besides, I am incredibly dull, always talking about the blackness of black pudding, for instance — you would be bored). Warhol had a genius for touching that hunger in others and expressing it in often macabre and funny ways. I’m going to probably write about these exhibits elsewhere, so I won’t go into deep detail here, but the surprising things were the tv soap project which was very funny for being little more than bickering, the fun snippets that filled the tv-scape and the simple delight of the Silver Clouds installation — mostly because there was a window so you could watch other people go through the room. They tended to just push the mylar balloons out of the way and walk into the gift shop (the latter surely the capstone of the exhibit). Playing with the giant balloons was a delight, though.

Saturday was Rothko day at the lovely Tate Modern, my favorite museum. The turbine room was filled with bunk beds and monstrous thingees as part of Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster’s TH 2058, but as many reviews had said, it was better in idea than execution. I liked the giant dino skeleton, the big spider, and immense apple core, but it wasn’t quite enough. Scale alone isn’t enough (big is big, though). I’m not sure what was missing, but it never really affected emotionally and that’s a miss.

How was Rothko? Amazing, utterly amazing. Repetition and variation — things that obsess me, too — are keystones of his later work. Immenseness of scale and depth of color — so many of his paintings had been brought together for the first time. I guess I’m still not ready to write coherently about these works. They’re hypnotic. Rothko’s paintings strike directly into my subconscious. I don’t know many painters like that.

Saturday night I had been invited along to the BFI by my pal Hamilton, where Terry Jones was holding a Q&A after a screening of Holy Grail as part of the Time Out 40th anniversary. While waiting for the film to start we saw Anita Pallenberg and James Fox come out of the screening of Performance that preceded it. Waiting in line for Jonesy was Richard “Moss” Ayoade, who is much taller than I imagined and was sheepishly surrounded swooning girls. We were supposed to be joined by John “No Knuckles” Hind (left in photo), but since he is apparently notorious for always being late, we left his ticket at the box office and found our seats.

It was a delight to see MP&tHG on the big screen and with such an enthusiastic crowd. Peter Greenaway’s Dear Phone preceded it and seemed an odd match, but there was a humorous post-modern angle to it, so that’s some kind of link, I suppose. Jones complained that there were too few laughs at the end of the film, but the crowd clearly disagreed and enjoyed quizzing him about the film-making process (surprise, Terry Gilliam was a perfectionist even then) and his thoughts about current comedy (he likes Eddie Izzard). We finally caught up with Hind in the cafe afterward, where he told us regretfully that we had missed the chance to tag along to dinner with T Jones (Hind knows him and has a brief cameo in Meaning of Life). Ah, well — so it goes. Messrs Hind and Hamilton nonetheless made sure that I was adequately entertained until closing time.

Next up: Bacon and Brookses (and back to the National Gallery)…