Friday, 20 March 2015

Is BATTLESHIP the greatest movie ever made?

No. No it isn't. But that's not how this blog works, is it?

I'm watching it with Mrs. S. My second time, her first. The film, obviously. Not all the other stuff. I'm enjoying it and she's asleep. For the film. Not all the other stuff. But that, too, is largely irrelevant.

This, I think, is a post about the nature of art. Of course, everything I say is to be taken with a pinch of salt. But now, whether it's a piece of music, or a film, or a novel, consumers seem to have come to expect some shining kind of perfection. We live in a world of square food, with all the fat cut off, the bones taken out. It looks pretty. We've become squeamish and spoiled. If our graphics aren't crisp, we complain. If there's a typo, or a grammatical error, or an editor misses a trick in a book, we rejoice in complaining. A continuity error or two in a movie is a topic for a YouTube video.

Fuck off.

We're not supposed to be perfect. We're not machines. Humans aren't made of dub and bass, we're not CGI, and neither is art. It shouldn't be, either. Imperfection are what makes something touch us, because that's where it comes from. Sure, complaining is great. But if there's a discordant note in a song, it doesn't necessarily make it wrong, does it? I'm not saying it makes it great, either. But it does make it honest, and there's something about art that requires it to be honest, to have heart, and something inherently human about it. A machine can't make art. We can.

Amazon takes down a book because a bot doesn't recognise an author's style, or the difference between and en-dash or an em-dash. Music becomes saccharin, made by a machine. Dead pig gets rammed into a square can.

It's not art, is it? Hieronymus Bosch didn't create 'The Garden of Earthly Delights' in photoshop. Hemingway didn't run 'The Old Man and the Sea' through an editing program.

We're not supposed to be perfect. It's not supposed to be tidy. And Battleship is a CGI cheese fest. Fun for some, a pile of warmed-up shite for others. Maybe it's low-brow, for highfalutin types. Who cares? Fun's great and fine by me. Mass produced is essential in a world with seven billion people. Entertainment keeps us from becoming overwhelmed...but it's still no more than cereal for the brain, or batch bread.

Anyway, that's all I've got to say about that. Buy a book, eh? Just spent £2.49 on Amazon for a cheesy to make my money back somehow. ;)

Love you!

Monday, 16 March 2015

100th release by DarkFuse: Flesh and Coin.

Also available on Amazon where you are, or direct from

Release announcement here:

It's been a year, now, since my first release through DarkFuse. It was the biggest moment of my life in writing when I signed for three books with DarkFuse. With Shane Staley at the helm, Dave Thomas on editing point, and Zach McCain's fantastic cover art, they publish some names in horror I've been desperately chasing since I began writing the fantastic and horrific. 

DarkFuse have, over the years, published some of my favourite authors: Willaim Meikle, Tim Curran, Gary McMahon, Keith Deininger, Brian Hodge, C.S. Kane, Ronald Malfi, Greg F. Gifune. Some are authors I'm happy to call friends, Colin F. Barnes, Luke Walker, Eric Shapiro, even though we've never met, and many more besides.

It's proven to be the best move and stroke of luck for me. I don't doubt there's an element of luck in getting published, and I'm still chasing all of the authors I mentioned around the playground. But it's nice to know your publisher is there to give you a boost with nice touches like this.

Flesh and Coin is a Mulrones' story. There will be more, featuring or touching on that universe, and I finished two others in the last month, winging their way to DarkFuse now: Death by a Mother's Hand, and Highwayman. 

Anyway, that all probably effusive enough, for me. I need to go lay down. ;)

Thank you for reading my work. Thanks for supporting all of us with DarkFuse, too. Long may it continue. 


Oh, R.I.P. Highwayman. 

Here's the back copy for Flesh and Coin:

For some, dying is easy. For others, dying is their only hope.

Charlie Dawes lies in the Old Oak Hospice haunted by the looming specter of death, plagued by dark memories, stalked by a mysterious, faceless creature he knows only as the Shadowman, who won’t let him die…yet.

Cathy Redman, his only friend and a caretaker in the ward, spends her time reading to Charlie and comforting his pain. She thinks she knows him.

But when an inquisitive detective, a spiteful nurse, and a dangerous old Gypsy’s lives intertwine, Charlie’s true fate is revealed, and it has been sealed by…flesh and coin.

And, oh, love you ;)

Thursday, 5 March 2015

The Amphibimen

I was talking to a friend this morning, about some old art work for a story of mine (with a friend, James Goves) that appeared in a now-defunct magazine 'American Drivel Review'. Well...I found the magazine! It was Vol. 4, No. 1, Summer 2007 edition.

It's funny...all these things will never come again, but I don't think I've laughed as much as when we wrote the story, or when I saw the print and the illustrations. So, what the hell - here's the story, with the images placed as they appeared in the story. Sure no one will's for the greater good, after all...

The Amphibimen by Craig Saunders/James Goves

‘Nan only gave you a Prince Albert cause 'e left the original in there, and you caught it on your pole when you went a-fishing’.

At least, that’s what they told me. Nobody ever told me about the amphibimen. I just made them up.

Its was a lesson learned, though. Never fish with a pole. Or any other eastern Europeans. You always end up snagging your tadger on them. Look at Hitler. Obviously you can't, he's dead, and he evaporated when his bunker was nicked by a Albanian newt.

The preceding paragraphs are, you will note, merely a randomised vehicular introduction to the crux of the story…and it all begins with the newts. Perhaps the Albanian newts, with their trained dancing gypsies (who were also responsible for the rain lesions typically sported by the Georgians), across the border in Uzbekistan. No one knows why the newts declared themselves unfit for active service in the first place, as their method of protest - being hurled in the air by their gypsy cousins into passing rain storms, to be sucked up and fired back down on the evil Amphibimen on the Uzbek salt Amphiberies - was, purportedly, the most successful attack on the confused Amphibimen bar Diamante Joe Boomer's (so named for his diamante encrusted tubericle*) exploding-tupperware-frog decoy**.

The newt army had suffered heavy losses but Bale Bonce, the newt Commander-General, sat indifferently.

His command centre, a small class D polythene crack-mansion buried deep beneath the turbulent sands of Castleford (near the river of Top Notch) was protected by a swathe of hysteria*** and some fairly battle hardened mollythrops, a small, yet vivacious caterpillar with large sharp pointy nipples and elasticised arteries. The defeat at the hands of Diamante Joe Boomer still weighed heavily on Bale Bonce's mind. He longed for brighter, more aesthetically pleasing days and waited for the daily reports from his frog army generals of gloating victories against the Uzbek rationalists (so called because of their die-hard belief that everything was generally good and fine and there was nothing to get het-up over).

*Penile tuber sported by the Albanian insurgents of Albanian, which will only grow to full size when planted in the ground, although lengthy insertion time is not generally recommended due to the danger of 'rooting'.

**6.99 of their albanian 'esplots', available from Argos catalogue episode seventeen, the one where Batman first discovers his love of show tunes.

***Kissing cousins with wisteria, but less wistful. 

It splits both ways, his father, Baron Von Greenback, had once said to him, before supplementing the diet of a local French tourist called Pepe which had left him unable to perform his duties as chief gypsy trainer.

A curlew howled stiffly and Bale knew that the war had moved into a second phase. It would take an act of great courage to defeat the rationalists. He needed to speak with Gogo Lamoure, the African born Gaelic love child of an Ecuadorian Tree spunk and something Taupe.

The waters of Top Notch slopped plumply and a gate drooped aft.

Another newt spewed forth from an angry cloud. It was Paratroop Regiment's very own Handsome Silent Bob, the Cute Mute Newt with the Chute. 

Bale Bonce peered myopically through blunted eyes through an openable portion of the wall covered in glass, although it made little difference to him whether it was a wall made of brick or a wall made of glass. He would still be the same newt. The power hadn't changed him in the slightest. The crack made him hard, though, and sweaty. Which isn't as much as a problem if you're a newt. He tapped the pipe clean on the wallsill and reloaded, shooting himself squarely in the face with a blast of lustrous smoke and cabbage.

The mollythrop alliance had been a coup. No, hang on just one minute...

Later, he thought to himself.

Then, still later, not much happened.

Gogo Lamoure, all bark and no Tarpauline, (the chain smoking northern strumpet from Southend, who'd stayed behind to mend nets), who knew not where he was no more than Bonce CG did not know where he was, either, was not there. Silent Bob said he could find him.

"Mumarmu," he said, chest puffing out proudly with disentry, who he had eaten on the way down to the command tent.

It pleased him.

Outside, the never ending stream of migrating fluks came to an end. They were heading away from the conflict and had chosen a route that would take them close to some of the finest camel mines in the world. Though there were a small but growing group of bearded curlews that believed the best camel mines were more than likely buried beneath an ocean of fine mince somewhere near Moose Green, the famous landmark where Kongo 'Hang em high' Butt had defeated Chipper 'Dam Buster' Cloverhill during the war of the plentiful.

The memories were flooding Bale's mind with useless confetti like strips of paper and rose petals. he needed to clear his thinking and prepare for every eventuality. Being a newt had made him wet beyond his years and he longed for the day he could sit atop the thrown of lillies and sing to his beloved amphibimen the song of the newt.

I bore down upon the sea and up the river of glade

My sperm like body sprouting legs upon the land I wade

I cross the roads of manly built and steadily make my way

And stare with wonder as I farm and never forget about dray

For Dray was there at the very beginning and in my heart he dwells

And don't...

Silent Bob enters the chamber and Bale drifts back to the present from the past as he ponders the future. The command centre, no longer safe due to the threat of suicide lemmings, a favourite weapon of the enemy Georgians is to be evacuated. Silent Bob gestures.

The path to safety is beset on all sides by the iniquities of disgruntled newts and Bale sheaths himself before leaving his Spartan quarters, which may or may not appear to others as a tent.

Still they fold it up and leave tremendously.

Across the world, well, on the side of it...ok, the Urals were getting in the way. alright, goddamnit, it was the Rockies.

For fuck sake, leave it would you.

There were these mountains, right, somewhere in between Georgia and Uzbekistan, upon which perched the city state of Tazikstan and the ancient city of Samarkand, where the tigers lived in harmony with the gazelle in a kind of savannah choir, although *they* didn't sing, it wasn't a savannah and the people made a type of cheese from arse effluent, which they called anal-o-gee, although that's just an interesting aside.

Anyway, over there somewhere, there was this guy. and he thought he heard a song. It echoed from the mountains in a disjointed way


Across the mountains, the Dark Lord pulled the stub of his cigar out from under the eye patch, which served as his very own portable humidor when on campaign, striking a match on his coarse chest hair. 

He puffed. He reminisced. There was a song sung once, long ago, on a different campaign. A song sung by his nemesis, a worthy enemy. He thought of the man that had plucked out his eye all those years ago. The amphibiman...


His ponderings were often compared with a Yak’s nutsack. Cold and putrid with a fluffy outer casing and some interesting hieroglyphically endowed undertones that made mighty men more martyr-able.

The man stood like a statue that was alive and able to move. He swayed. First too and then fro. It made the worlds constant turning more bearable.

The day of the tiger and the gazelle and the occasional antelope and indeed the occasional table was long since past. It had been a glorious time of honour, betrayal, murder and love. harmony within harmony. Like the three degrees, only more acute. Reaching for another match he struck it contemptuously against the rough skin that now covered the area where his left ear had been, the cigar flared as the delicate flame licked at its blackened end. It reminded him of that battle. And of future battles. But it didn't remind him of anything else, so he pondered for a while trying to remember something else that may or may not have taken place under his very nose.

This reminded him of his nose. He had lost it at the battle of Newt on the River of Gorgeousness and a surgeon had tried to put it back on as they retreated across the Stream of Stiff Rebuttal and the Canyon of Lowly Esteem.

It hurt to think that Bale had survived the suicide lemmings. he loved the little fuckers like the furry little bombs they were but now was not the time to reminisce. He pondered on that for a while.

The mountains glowed fallaciously. He mused.

Outside him, his forces gathered atop an abutment made of glass, which in turn was made of sand, which in turn was made of stone, and so on, until we realise that the abutment and the castle and the very earth made everything and everything was made of it. But not quite. The forces were also made of other stuff, and could move, and they had guns, planes, helicopters endowed with sycamore coconuts, little smart bombs that refused to explode, and coconuts were mentioned again, but the coconut was a versatile weapon. It could also be used as a poison, if you could convince the consumee that it was impolite to crack it before eating, whence the target would choke upon their own teeth, which they had taken out earlier, so that they could reach higher and pluck fresh coconuts from the sycamores, which everyone agreed were the tastiest and not quite as hairy, although choking on one's own teeth whilst simultaneously standing on them was a heinous torture reserved for the snide and sneaky amphibimen's camel regiment, infiltrators and spies of great renown and impressively misplaced breasts.

A great wet wind whistled through the lower abdominal woods and thrust unsuspecting leaves into an early bath before the game.

The Dark Lord’s forces faced Bale’s Bonces across the pitch.

The game itself was to be a monumental success save for the fact that it would fail monumentally. 11 of Bale’s finest news stepped out onto a pitch of teet, the remnants of those coconut eating tribes people and the forces of darkness, sometimes called the dark forces amassed on the viral slop of deliverance.

I say amassed; there were eleven of them.

The goals stood gaping like large white post, topped with a longer post and covered on one side by a large unscrupulous net.

Silent Bob shuddered, but said little of note. Noisy Ben fornicated. Like a topless tifficle.

The lines were drawn. The newt groupie Marge spewed forth a week's worth of Bob's silent and infertile juices, the linesmen (the three-legged frog of Capstain full strength, Dave the Unremarkable, and Paulo, the Spanish Gigolothian marmaset) picked up their feet, trailing gooey, and the whistle refereed. Bob, long dissatisfied with his un-newt like inability to auto-felate, whistled, too, his lower jaw, tongue, larynx, adenoids and tonsils caught on a tree after an unfortunate singing accident for charity, as Gogo Lamoure swung him overhead, mistaking the multi-coloured newt for a clacker.

The lemming's wore a dandy kit of pink fillet au mignon.

The torture of inept gamesmanship was highlighted at the end of the first period of play, as they might have called it in a place called America that may or may not have existed at some point prior to our story. However, the newts of Castleford and the dark forces of coconut people and lemmings along with the creatures yet to be visited herein would say the first half, because they weren’t divvy. Paulo was swallowed whole by a giant lemming, as he had moved in to take a hard earned free kick.

The second half started without a plomb or a do, but they made do, so that was perfectly acceptable.

As captain of the newt team, Silent Bob had played a blinder (poor old Doggy 'No Sight' M'Luddy from the lower east vales. A former Camel mine forenewt, he had been injured in the great battle of aplomb and was now the subject of many visual jokes).

The teeth beneath the feet beneath the legs beneath the torsos beneath the heads of those on the field chattered endlessly but Bob heard them not. For he was mute and he was indeed deaf and he was also a newt and not subject to any rules of science or understanding.

Across the sea of rough distance in the land of Rednecktie a dark and lonely creature toiled, its spiny back creaking under the weight of the giant Coprolite turd it had carried for so long. It paused, sniffing the air, its three great long titanium nostrils sucking in giant dollops of air and ganja. The turd slid from his back and he arched arduously, stretching his giant lymph gland that was carried in a small alligator skin purse. 

He was Flagshite, the king of Gigolothian marmasets and his stepson, Paulo was in danger, in fact judging by the faint smell, an odour that must have travelled for hundreds of miles, his stepson had in fact been swallowed whole by what was probably a large suicidal lemming. And probably whilst he was running. It didn't make sense. But he loved it all the same.

Danger slooped through the air toward them through the saline saltiness of the volcanic ash of marmalade, where seven kinds of marmalade were made, and the marmasets lived and breathed.

On occasion, they went to the pictures.

Bale screamed fanciful insults at his team. The line crew was a man down, the fluffers were agitated and not doing their jobs properly, full as they were, and Bale's nemesis, short on names but long on missing facial bits chewed backy**** in the opposition team's half-time luncheon box.

Unheard by all, but more so by Bob, a dull thumping sound aroused in the distance; the Gigolothian Flagshite, prepping himself for action clumsily. It was clumsy because thoughts of his second wife snuck into his mind while he plumped himself, because he was in-flight entertainment, and Samuel (his fruitshake (but never coconut) bloodhound) was doggedly using Ali gay tour, his long-toothed Arabic purse, as an impromptu jazz mag.

Also, he only had three hands.

****Not to be mistaken for a wookie, a resident of an alternative universe which impinges little upon this tale.

The Amphibimen were loosing. Perhaps, thought Bale, it was time to bring on the mollythrops.

In the distance, there was air.

The lemmings, sensing the danger, scattered, some swimming, others just flouting. The Amphibimen loved it and then they too were sent sprawling into the 5 corners of the field and one or two into a small herring paddock.

Bale was old enough and wise enough to know what was happening. The King Gigolothian had returned and this time he was taking no shit.

The last time he had emptied the storage sheds of all the stored shit in the area.

A lemming hawked, Paulo spewed forth like a big green boogah, landing at the steps of precious little beneath the magnificent towers that were the great towers of the great tower of fung...tower.

'Game Over, for now!' Bale hissed malevolently and returned swiftly to his pigmy carried carriage, a swarthy complexion on his arse.

The caterpillar guards closed ranks and Bale was gone. The Amphibimen drew together to form a defensive polyp. The Lemmings swarmed, dancing like clouds on a poker table, miffed at their loss.

The one eyed, one eared, no nosed Dark Lord approached his troops. Shifting his stride from one leg to the other so that he actually went forward. It pleased him that he had mastered it.

The Gigolothian King plucked Paulo from the dirt and sniffed.
'Shit yourself there, boy?'

Paulo whimpered.

'Ce, papa.'

The mountains of pissfuckmanoo groaned under the stress of being huge and inanimate.

Mollythrops, newts, Amphipimen, lemmings, gummy camels, Gigolothians (of which there were but two), one whistle, three frogs legs with one body and seven autistic flids counting limbs quickly over and over, each time coming up with nought, looked up. The Dark Lord looked, too, despite shouldhaveknownbettering.

From above, a flock of anglers, ford anglers, who didn't fish and had never been to Norwegian shores but did have tyres and glove compartments, shat. The Dark Lords eye patch strove for purchase but the nose was gone. It threw out a speculative crampon, but forthwith discovered the dearthery*****of ears this year on the ear hatcheries. Nought resounded over and over in its head.

The eye patch struggled vainly, the gapping maw beckoned, and soft plop came and went and left an eyeful of shit behind. The juice was a violent and warring faction of boshtolopes, a leftover of a different time and indeed, probably, a different story. Whether they would get a mention again here is really not something worth speculating about.

*****Rather like a reverse hatchery, where things are not hatched, but dearthed, rather like a reverse hatchery, where things are not…

Bale speculated and knew this and so his retreat which would take him through the forgotten forest and the clockwork marshes and seminal floods of the lower east side and down past Venetian blind beach was well timed.

The Dark Lord, his eye patch squirming like a rabid flute, issued commands and the dark forces moved slippishly into place and they too moved on towards the forgotten forest, giving chase. The soft pounding of giant Gigolothian feet fading away as the Gigolothian king took his son-in-law Paulo across the waters without need to explain how deep they were or indeed how tall he may or may not have been.

Stifled by mundanity and bereft of useful anecdotes or storyline we jump, precariously to another time and place.

Waiting for almost an hour we conclude that little of note happens wherever this is and make a mental note to send an army of chickitopians here a little later to cause mayhem and generally cause muckabout.

Back here though, Handsome Silent paratrooper Bob, the Cute Mute Newt with the Chute and his troop of newt-paras sail slowly down a few miles ahead of the marching Newt army, the giant flying gypsy troop carrier roaring off in the sky. Bob’s sharp senses search for hidden dangers as he steers down into the forgotten forest.

He was surprised to find a forest here.

Doggy 'No Sight' M'Luddy, floats in, listening intently to any sounds of danger and then plummets into the side of a giant waterfall some 40 miles away.

And that, in a roundabout way, was the end of Doggy ‘No Sight’ M’Luddy, and also, in the way of traffic lights, signals the end of this woeful tale of war, sport, and differently able amphibious persons of indiscriminate sex.