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Week 322 – On A Hot Summer Night Would You Offer Your Throat To The Wolf With The Red Roses? Shang-A-Lang And The Greatest’s Greatest Line.

Les McKeown
Jim Steinman

Another week has come and gone and we’re still receiving plenty of submissions.

The site looks healthy and we’ve all got a spring in our step and a happy disposition. Or in my case a limp and a sarcastic persona.

I’ve just seen that Jim Steinman and Les McKeown have died. That is sad.

If you don’t know who McKeown was, he was in one of the most successful boy bands of the seventies. And that was when boybands at least played instruments and didn’t dance around like a bunch of pricks. The Bay City Rollers will always be played at weddings throughout Scotland until the end of time.

Jim Steinman was responsible for one of the most perfect albums ever.

‘Bat Out Of Hell’ didn’t have a weak song – Seven pieces of perfection. The other albums that I would put in the same ball-park would be ‘The Adventurers’ ‘Sea Of Love’ – Gary Moore – ‘Still Got The Blues For You’, Elton John ‘Too Low For Zero’ and ‘Aerosmith’ ‘Pump’

I have probably mentioned all this before but I think it is something that we can revisit.

From the albums I thought on the most perfect books that I’ve read.

Stephen King’s ‘It’ (My favourite book of all time)

Glen Cooper’s The Library Of The Dead (So inventive and so obvious on who would use the premise but you just don’t see it)

Lorenzo Carcaterra’s ‘Sleepers’ (I saw the film first and when I read the book I was surprised how few pages it had – I expected something about four hundred pages. Not one word was wasted.)

Campbell Armstrong’s ‘Jig’ (So skilful, knowledgeable and something that couldn’t work as a film.)

David St Claire – The Devil Rocked Her Cradle (An exorcism story that was more story than exorcism)

Mark Frankland – ‘The Cull’ (All about how a minority can terrorise a majority. And if the unlikely come together, anything can be achieved.)

Joseph D’Lacey – ‘Meat’ (A unique look at why the bible would have been re-written)

I’d be interested to know if any of you have read any of them.

This brings me to a point.

When we initially comment on the stories about how we feel, with some of them, we are miles apart but that means nothing, we need to discuss and respect each others points of view.

It’s the same with these types of lists, they should all be personal and surely if we took a thousand people, very few would have a common thread.

What I would hope for is honesty. There’s really some weird snobbish acceptance which causes folks to say things like

My favourite book just has to be ‘Madame Bovary’ / ‘War And Peace’ / ‘Sense And sensibility’ etc, etc.

Now if any of these are genuinely your favourites, that is absolutely fine. But never say ‘Crime And Punishment’ if it is actually ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’. Own what you enjoy and admit it!!

Okay – I maybe should have added ‘Showaddywaddy’s Greatest Hits 1976’ or any Gary Glitter album in my perfect albums list – But they weren’t perfectly perfect. Showwaddywaddy was a homage to the fifties and, well, Mr Glitter had a slight image problem. The image of him being a sick paedo fuck was quite correct!

…And I forgot about the weirdos who state that their favourite non-fiction book is the bible. Now that is maybe a bit unfair as serial killers need inspiration too.

…Or is it instruction??

Okay onto this week’s stories.

We had four old friends and a new writer.

Our subjects this week include; grief, a homer, as good as it gets, saving a life and voyeurism.

As always our initial comments follow.

First up was one of our most accomplished story-tellers.

Dave Henson got us up and running with his twenty-second story for us.

He was published on Monday with ‘Whacky Ideas

‘A bit weird, but I really enjoyed this.’

‘There are many hidden meanings within.’

‘Dave is such an interesting writer.’

The legend that is Tom Sheehan was published on Tuesday.

Odyssey Of A French Swordsman‘ was Tom’s one hundred and thirty second story for us. I see that number and still can’t believe it!

‘As a piece of historical fiction, this is very good.’

‘I can see how the historical list worked.’

‘Tom showcasing his usual skill!!’

We broke the back of the week with the ever present, Yash Seyedbagheri.

His fifteenth story for us was next up.

On Wednesday we had I Love You, Man

‘It’s an odd piece – Good but odd!’

‘The loneliness is so apparent.’

‘Desperation and despair comes through.’

Our only new writer of the week nearly finished us off.

We welcome Hugh Todd, who gave us ‘An Audience of One ‘. We hope that he has fun on the site and most importantly, we want to see more of his work.

‘I took a liking to the MC – He was a very well written character.’

‘Hugh had the confidence to let you assume the ending.’

‘Nice little twist, well worked in.’

And we finished off with Martin Toman who has graced our site on four occasions.

Rebirth was his offering for us on Friday.

‘Great pace.’

‘The farmer was such an appealing character.’

‘Somehow this had a grain of hope all the way through.’

That’s us all done and dusted for another week.

And here we go again.

I think I’ll mention another guy from my past (I may have mentioned him before!) as well as wee religious Miss Anderson who had a lot of faith on some guy called…

Jesus fuck! – His name has escaped me.

This section is inspired by the said Miss Anderson and an absolute gentleman called Billy Capperauld who never gave up. Billy worked with all those wee fuckers between sixteen and twenty-one who I just wanted to slap. He never gave up on them and he was always there ‘Chipping away at them until something positive stuck’

So even though I do get disheartened, I will think of those two stalwarts and repeat myself for literally the millionth time. (A wee nod there to ‘The Big Bang Theory)

Please comment!!

And if you don’t, tell us why? Have you social problems? Have you no fingers? Can’t you express yourself? Do you not want to judge? Do you feel that you will be judged??

Or more than likely – Is there just no fucker there!!!!

And for god sake, Leila’s cats are mocking her for not having any Re-Run friends. So many have promised and very few have delivered!!

If you want a shot at this – Just pick a story that you’ve enjoyed and send a spiel or an introduction for it. Throw in a few questions for the writer and we’ll publish exactly what you send us.

Please guys, let me have faith in Billy and Miss Anderson – Let me think that their repetition wasn’t delusional – Let my pleas get through and I can toast both of them with:

Billy Capperauld / Miss Anderson – Not delusional – Determined!!!

Just to finish.

I see on this day in history Muhammad Ali was done for refusing the draft.

I just loved his quote, ‘I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet-Cong. No Viet-Cong ever called me ‘Nigger”. (Jesus fuck – I even hate typing that word!!)

I just think that we can write basically what we want, well as long as we get the pronoun correct for the Outraged Fuckwit Brigade. (Those bastards will always be on my Radar) But we don’t always have the freedom to say NO!

Depending on where we stay – We can’t say NO to being conscripted. We can’t say NO to jury duty. We can’t say NO to be counted in a census. We can’t say NO to voting. And of course, in Scotland, we can’t say NO to the offer of a pint!!

Good on Ali. The man was a legend. But I think that line said more about his courage, pride, perception, awareness, humanity and scruples than anything else that he ever did.

Hugh

***

I can honestly say that one of my favourite books is Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier – I can see it on the book case from where I’m sitting right now It’s one of the few that I have read repeatedly. The House on the Strand is another of hers that I have read several times and I think it handles the problems of time travel better than any others I’ve read about that subject. I love much of Stephen King’s stuff and I think my favourites are Lizzie’s Story and Duma Key. He also did a great short in Four Past Midnight – The Langoliers. Of course there are tons of books that I have really enjoyed – all of Sir Terry Pratchett of course Monstrous Regiment particularly – the thing about favourite books is that the longer you think about it the longer the list becomes. I was once moved to tears on the bus to work reading Bamboo Doctor by Stanley S. Pavillard and another that I found quite enthralling and very moving in parts was The Physician by Noah Gordon.

As for music I’m afraid I am far from your knowledge and eclectic taste, Hugh. I was a Beatles fan in the sixties and still love their music, not the very early stuff because, though it was fun it’s dance and scream music really, but things like Norwegian Wood, This Boy, Something, and then I’m afraid I strayed from the straight and narrow and found a liking for Country and Western. Sorry but there we have it. I’m pretty much over it now apart from Willie Nelson and I have discovered Bruce Springsteen – late to the party but in fairness we were in the Middle East for a long time and most of what you could get were pirated ABBA tapes!! You do make a really good point though, Hugh. None of us should have to hide what we like behind what we think other people expect us to like. All books are written by authors who’ve sweated blood to get the words on the page (well not literally – that would be messy) so if you enjoy chic lit then great – if cowboy fiction is your thing – there’s nothing wrong with saying so. Great post this week. It made me think. dd

Image:- Justin (aka Jsteinfan), CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/, via Wikimedia Commons

Roland Rosenbauer, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

23 thoughts on “Week 322 – On A Hot Summer Night Would You Offer Your Throat To The Wolf With The Red Roses? Shang-A-Lang And The Greatest’s Greatest Line.”

  1. Steinman was an artist. Paradise by the Dashboard Light is a opera unto itself. He was involved along with Ry Cooder in the music of one of the greatest bad films ever: Streets of Fire.
    My Best Books:
    The Haunting of Hill House: Shirley Jackson
    The Stand (cut version): Stephen King
    Heart of Darkness: Joseph Conrad
    So Long, and Thanks For All The Fish: Douglas Adams
    Watership Down: Richard Adams
    In Cold Blood: Truman Capote
    To Kill a Mockingbird: Harper Lee
    The Years With Ross: James Thurber
    Charlotte’s Web: E.B. White (sue me)
    Childhood’s End: Arthur C. Clarke

    LA

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    1. Hi Leila,
      Thanks as always.
      There is something at the back of my mind that I’ve seen ‘Streets Of Fire’. I’m sure I hired it from a video shop so that shows you how long ago it was. Diane Laine, springs to mind!
      An interesting list. The only one I’ve read is ‘The Stand’ – I don’t think it was the cut version as there were literally a million pages. (Exaggeration and being literal should never go together!)
      I’m sure that King used the name Flagg not only in this one but also in ‘The Eyes Of The Dragon’
      Hugh

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  2. I did enjoy reading Crime and Punishment years ago. Also several novels by Hemingway. In my really early days, nothing could beat Spider Man comics. Can’t leave out Catcher in the Rye. In a more contemporary vein, We Need To Talk About Kevin is pretty compelling. In my own writing, I aspire to weird but enjoyable, so thanks for that.

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    1. I found Catcher in the Rye puzzling – didn’t really get it I don’t think. We need to talk about Kevin was totally engrossing wasn’t it. Excellent writing I thought. Hemingway – I enjoyed though I have only read A Farewell to Arms out of his huge cannon. Have you read the Dog in the Nightime one?

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    2. Hi Dave,
      I would say that ‘Weird and enjoyable’ is a belter of a compliment!!
      Not so much when I was young but even to this day I really do enjoy a comic strip called ‘Beau Peep’, I once had all the books but a leaky roof has destroyed them. I think I’ll need to visit ebay!
      Two guys worked on the strip, Kettle and Christine and they had me in stitches, Roger Kettle was the writer and Andrew Christine was the cartoonist. Sadly he passed away last year.
      Thanks as always my fine friend.
      Hugh

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Leila,
      Hah! I couldn’t even have told you that was the character’s name.
      Maybe the same applies to those who have never owned a Toyota but call their kid ‘Yaris’!
      Hugh

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  3. Nine Stories by Salinger and the stories of Raymond Carver changed my life. I’ve read some a dozen or more times. Also Jack London’s short stories, Anton Chekhov, Bukowski and the stories of Canadian WP Kinsella.. ‘The killing of Colin Moosefeathers’ is classic. Novels .. there’s dozens of excellent ones ‘The Stranger’ by French guy Al Camus changed my perceptions and I agree with Irene on In Cold Blood and Mockingbird.

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      1. Yes, it’s an excellent book, kind of relevant to these times. Irene also mentioned “Watership Down,” which is a great book. I can’t read big books these days, too heavy to turn the pages. Have to stick with the short stories, and online everything is very light. Here’s another good one.. “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey, and lots of stories by Kurt Vonnegut and Ray Bradbury. Kurt’s a great writer, and funny.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Harrison,
      I would need to think if anything has changed my way of thinking. So much can mean a lot to me but I’m not sure I’ve ever had a pivotal moment through reading or listening.
      When I analyse that, I think my reasoning is that the moment to change will be when everything changes for the better and as it hasn’t, then I’ve never seen or read that inspiration / epiphany type idea.
      Thanks as always.
      Hugh

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  4. Great lists and thank you for future reading ideas. The comments about Catcher in the Rye are lol funny and true! Can you add to the list Toni Morrison (all but esp The Bluest Eye), Flannery O’Connor short stories, Gillian Flynn (Sharp Objects, disturbing but you whip through it), all Kerouac the wild free-spirit, Dickens for social commentary eg Tom-All-Alones in Bleak House, F Scott Fitzgerald, Jeannette Walls “The Glass Castle”. Am trying to enjoy Proust but have to read some sentences several times and don’t think I ‘get’ it, like the experience with Catcher in the Rye. Although his madeleine description is pretty cool, connecting scents and tastes of food to memories. But maybe this isn’t what Proust meant at all lol I’ve no idea!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there,
      Thanks so much for your comments.
      The list is growing and it doesn’t matter what is in them, what matters is every person gets some sort of enjoyment from the books. So no book is any better than any other, if you enjoy them or are happy working at them, looking for meaning or understanding, that is the way that it should be!
      Thanks again.
      Hugh

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  5. I could not agree more with your comments about the self-righteous fuckwit brigade.

    People over the years have tried to boil down the essence of a ‘good book’. To my mind, the common denominator (can I use any more cliches?) is aesthetic experience, for want of a better phrase.

    This sensibility may be subjective, but this discrimination informs our taste.
    Sadly, I fear the UK is importing the American tendency to judge books on political and moral considerations.

    Blake Bailey has had his highly praised biography of Philip Roth cancelled. Mr Bailey’s offence was two-fold. He was deemed not critical enough of Roth’s notorious sexual misconduct. Moreover, Mr Bailey faces allegations of sexually inappropriate behaviour.

    In turn, my concern is two-fold. Mr Bailey has yet to be arrested or charged – let alone convicted – for any crimes.
    Second, should the allegations prove true, my unfashionable response is ‘so what …’

    Writing this does not trivialize sexual assault. I just fail to see the relevance of such behaviour to the appreciation of writing.

    Jimmy Page and David Bowie, to name but too examples, were notorious for shagging underage groupies in the ’70s. We may frown upon such behaviour now, but it doesn’t diminish my love of Led Zeppelin and Ziggy Stardust.

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    1. Hi Stefan,
      Thanks so much for your comments.
      You have brought up a few interesting and worrying points.
      I don’t know too much about either authors mentioned. But I’ve always said that accusing an innocent is just as bad as committing by the guilty. And you are right, false accusation without either proof or judgement to the contrary is a very dangerous route to go down. Salem was a cracking example of that!
      What I would say about a biography is, surely the writers opinion shouldn’t be a factor? If you are writing the facts and opinions of those around the subject then that is fair enough but surely you shouldn’t be letting your voice into the work? If you want to write something in support or condemnation, that is something different. So if you are writing facts through research how can you be questioned on your opinion of the subject??
      But with what I have seen, even though association is not a reason to be crucified, it can be used in that way. It could get to the stage where every one of us who were interested by a darker subject could be pointed at and accused. Christ – The History Channel would have to shut down and their audience all rounded up whenever there was a documentary about Nazis on!
      What scares me is that there is so much now-a-days that is under the PC / acceptable banner which is nothing more than censorship. Debate and recognising and reasoning is a damn sight more healthy and constructive than banning and ignoring.
      Even when you look at your comments and mine, you will get some sensitive stating that we are pro-this or anti-that, where-as we are just saying as we see.
      Sadly in these days, freedom of opinion and freedom to question are becoming very fucking selective!!!
      Hugh

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  6. Dear Hugh,

    Thanks for your thoughtful response.

    There does indeed appear to be an elevation of abstract equality at the expense of concrete liberty. I find it bizarre that the self-professed ‘left’ appears most complicit in this turn. The likes of Michael Foot and Tony Benn would be horrified.
    Giles Fraser wrote most eloquently on this subject: https://unherd.com/2021/04/how-the-left-gave-up-on-freedom/

    You folks seem to have it even worse north of the border. The virtuous St Jimmy of Krankie and the holier-than-thou Humza Yousaf are unrelenting in their mission to tell you Scots what’s best!
    https://www.spiked-online.com/2021/04/26/where-are-scotlands-free-speech-defenders/

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    1. Hi Stefan,
      Both articles are very interesting and worrying.
      I haven’t a religious bone in my body but I do believe that everyone has a right to follow their religion and worship in whatever way that they want. No-one should be interfering or bending interpretation of law to stop this.
      I think everything is getting clouded due to the quoting of the generic ‘That’s not PC.’
      Of course every opinion has a place as long as these opinions don’t manifest into overkill. PC has been quoted as a negative against ideals, ideology and most worryingly, free speech.
      I worked with someone who would look at something and scream ‘Health and Safety’ without stating any reasonable or logical concerns. I find the same with many who scream, ‘That’s not PC’.
      What I really do find ironic is there are many folks who would disagree with the ‘Free To Disagree’ idea but by doing that, they are disagreeing and should therefore be embracing!
      All these comments and we haven’t even touched on double standards – That would be another ten pages at least which would generate ten times that amount of complaint.
      The subject is fascinating but we are on a very rocky and dangerous road.
      Hugh

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