caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
2015-08-07 09:51 am
Entry tags:

Nature's Bounty

(This poem is brought to you courtesy of one too many forage enthusiasts being Wrong on the Internet about the merits of nomming on random bits of black nightshade, which totally hasn't killed them yet - how do you like them beans, Mr Fancypants So-Called Expert!?!?)

Nature's Bounty

The food we find in hedge and ditch
Is not to everybody's taste -
But still, it forms a treasure which
The Wise will hardly want to waste!

If okra you cannot afford
But mucilage be your delight,
The common mallow, much ignored,
Boils down to slime, so that's alright!

Or if the nectar of the vine
Is something that you've lately missed,
The daisy makes a kind of wine,
And that will also get you pissed.

Ah! Now the daisies drown your brain,
And mallow lubricates your guts,
On Nature's aid you call again!
(I'm sure I heard you cry out, "Nuts!")

So why's a Wimpy in my hand?
Because it's natural, right and good -
And this the Wise will understand,
'Cos I just found it in the wood!

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
2015-08-05 09:27 pm
Entry tags:

And Dream of Sheep

(This actually, or at least oneirically, happened the other week. No sheep were harmed in the production of these Zs. May contain traces of poetic licence.)

And Dream of Sheep

I swam to surface, from the deep
And dodgy currents of a dream
Which I fell into, counting sheep
To rustle later by the gleam
Of moonlight on the haunted moor...
(The honest count was such a bore!)

...I dreamed my mafiosi kin
Had come to sponge a sandwich lunch.
They plotted sheep-related sin
While we spread peanut butter crunch
And whetted knives to carve the beef,

Who kept distracting me from what
I absolutely had to do -
To write a fairy-story, that
Would necessarily come true,
And overthrow the Government,
And crown a King who wasn't bent.

I wrote it up between the beers
And sandwiches. The sequel came,
And so I joined the mutineers
Who rose in the Republic's name!
I would have left it there and then,
But I'd already sold Book Ten...

...To daybreak's edge across the moor
I ran from fifty feral lords
Who wished to dunk me in my gore -

Since this has come of counting sheep,
I'll try a nightcap, next, for sleep!

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
2015-08-04 09:21 am
Entry tags:

Waiting for Download

(Disclaimer: This poem is a work of fiction. Any actual or fancied resemblances to real people, products, events, phenomena, or yawning voids in the very fabric of customer service are purely coincidental. I WISH!)

Waiting for Download

I buy a game, or just a tool
From someone on the internet -
And very shortly, you can bet
That I'll be flustered like a fool.

There's first the purchase to get through.
Because the checkout from the site
Is modelled on an all-in fight
With hordes of monkeys throwing poo.

At last to take my cash they deign,
And then I have to verify
That I am not a Russian spy
And promise never to complain

In case their download steals my stash
Before my promised bits arrive.
"I do!" The wires have come alive!
I'll have my program in a flash!

A big downloader! Whoop-di-do!
It upsells me the Brooklyn Bridge!
"Fuck off!" I cry - and hit the fridge
For pizza while the bits crawl through

The lines, like ants on treacle trails.
I eat the pizza, read a book,
Write twenty sonnets, catch a crook,
And fall asleep. The download fails.

I talk to umpteen helpline drones,
And do it all again, upon
The chance I knew not "Off" from "On".
Their best advice is "Roll the bones

Until by lucky chance you win!
Our server runs on MS-DOS,
And no-one knows, or gives a toss,
What kind of state it's gotten in.

"Thank you for calling!" "Thanks a lot!"
I write a script to roll the dice,
And come back home, to this advice:
"Get stuffed. We know you're just a bot!"

I take a month's vacation time,
And type in captchas all day long,
Until - this hour shall live in song! -
THE DOWNLOAD ENDS!!! And so, my rhyme

Shall end! ELEVENTY, IN LIGHTS!!111!!!!
I've got it! - Oy! What's this? "Please wait: needs to update.
Downloading: Ninety terabytes...."


My avatar called from the Moon
To say my app is starting soon.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
2015-08-03 09:08 pm
Entry tags:

The Gardener's Rubaiyat

The Gardener's Rubaiyat

The garden's getting brambleful again.
The Rat Command has launched its Spring campaign.
I bring out my machete and my cat -
And then the clouds deliver this month's rain.

Where once were roses, now their rambling kin
Rise up to hug me, kissing cheek and chin
And leaving bloody lip-prints, which my wife
Is wont to cite as evidence of sin.

These doghouse days deserve a manly shed,
To keep my tools, and (at a pinch) my bed.
Alas! It's been co-opted for a lair
By That from which the Fighting Rats have fled.

The floods flash past, and leave but dust and drouth,
And memories of moisture in the mouth.
The Shed-Thing humps my building on its back,
And shambles off to seek the shady South.

My corky cactus tells me what to do,
And sails to seek the deserts, where it knew
A kind of loving in those five-year storms -
I storm, "Screw this!", and build a barbecue.

The slugs have found the Stella. Kenny Brown
Is chucking drunk. The Rat-King wins renown
By rustling all the grill-steaks while we row.
The cat applauds. The heavens burst. We drown.

The garden's full of brambles, bine and all.
My wife and I discuss our plans for Fall.
What beds we work on won't be out of doors!
The careful toads build ramparts on the wall.

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (three katherines of allingdale)
2013-12-12 09:38 am

The Bridge to the Bridge of the Night

The Bridge to the End of the Night: 475 words of, eh, bridging passage, summarizing a long and often hair-raising afternoon's conversation, whose details I don't want to dump upon the reader beyond giving the general context and flavor.

The voice of this story, like many others in the Kateverse, comes out rather more archaizing in the first draft than it probably ought to be on completion. There's a quote with Katy talking overly like Katy-from-her-own-legend, and I'll want to amend that on the first-pass revision I'll perform on the Prologue once I've finished it.

The theme of the uttermost bridge pervades this tale in various guises, and I think the climactic scene I'm leading up to here is going to contain its first appearance, or at least its strong foreshadowing.

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (three katherines of allingdale)
2013-12-10 06:00 am

There's a Skunk at My Picnic, What Am I Gonna Do?

The Bridge to the End of the Night: 750 words, and the second scene finished. Prologue is now three scenes. Selkish politics has been talked. Katy giving advice to people determinedly loyal to their lords is always going to be the skunk at the picnic.

Now I've set up what's about to happen, all I have to worry about is writing the pay-off.

caper_est: The Liberty Bell strikes! (liberty)
2013-12-02 03:16 pm

Feconomics! A No Shit Manifesto

"These revolutionary posts will change the economic platitudes of a generation!" - Daily Stenograph

In these recessionary times, there's one thing that's never been in bigger demand - armchair economic punditry! Whether it's cutting through the forest of futilitarian facts with the trusty machete of timeless folk wisdom, or whomping up a super sciencey argument for why Master should be counter-intuitively congratulated for giving the dog a good kicking, we are living through a paradigm-asploding age of unprecedented economic explaininess! Could this unquenchable public demand for Genuine Knowledge Advantage™ ironically become the very consumer-spending kickstart that bumps our anxious society out of the surly slough of a quintuple-dip depression!?!!!

Sadly, nope.

"What is this shit?" - Ickenham & District Sciolist-Intelligencer

And that is why we need a new kind of popular economics writing - I call this Feconomics, with an eye to the failure of popular oeconomics writing to occur anywhere anyhow ever. It absolutely ought not to be confused with any other movement which may sound accidentally similar. The subject matter of Feconomics!!eleventy!!!™! is divided, like my arse, into two parts:

(1) Such economic notions, simplifications, and slogans as make useful foundations or provocations in the academy, and thereby make the roses grow; but in the workaday world serve no purpose except to foul the turbines at which they are projected. These are mostly deployed to make complex problems sound trivial.

(2) Processed economix food product - real, pure, clear-quill Frankfurtian bullshit. This is mostly deployed to make a complex and intractable problem out of the fact that some bastard is kicking your dog.

"This Goat Thinks Your Economic Clichés Are Killing You" - Clickbait Platinum Preferred Reviews

So. There may be a few posts coming along with this tag, as I happen across the raw material from time to time.

Feconomics™. Because we're up to our arms in it...

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (three katherines of allingdale)
2013-12-01 10:26 pm

Nor Back Into Storyland Giants Have Fled

The Bridge to the End of the Night:  1,150 words.  It seems the Prologue is two scenes, not one - problem propounded, problem resolved, or at least problem resolved to be attacked from a newly promising angle.  Well into the second scene now.  The long summer evening is paling over smoky-tenemented Sellawick, and Katy's partner is showing us his mettle.  Even I sometimes forget just what he is and can be: I've seen him in no such mood since that day on Maltby Edge, two dozen years in his future, and two years ago for me.  I do believe I've missed him.

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (three katherines of allingdale)
2013-11-30 10:35 am

The Stardust She Shook from Her Shoes

The Bridge to the End of the Night: 590 words.  Katy is annoyed by astrology, and we get our first hint of how much even the 'happy' part of her genuinely happy 'ending' cost her.  There are reasons she is so adamantly defending the fairly nice life she has against the fairy-tale fulfilment she walked out on at the end of her Deed.  And I'm beginning to see another reason she is going to do the decisive thing she does at the end of this Prologue.  It's not in her nature to refuse this particular call for help - but she can't afford to get sucked back into any of this ichor-and-starfire nonsense, either.

Which is why she is going to set up this story - and ultimately be more affected by it than she can now imagine - without actually being a part of it, beyond this section and the Epilogue.

Hard set-up is hard.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
2013-11-27 09:44 am

O, Weary Wull's to Katie Come, the Deils at His Heels

The Bridge to the End of the Night: 500 more words last night, of the bookend-story which comprises the Prologue and Epilogue. A respectable merchant's wife of Sellawick finds out what two uninvited visitors want from her. It is not exactly insignificant. There may be no rest for the wicked, but there seems to be even less leisure for the good. A rough draft of a tense and dangerous conversation, which I shall certainly redraft as soon as it's finished. At the moment I just need to get it all out onto the page. It's good to be working with old friends again!

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (three katherines of allingdale)
2013-11-17 07:24 pm

State of the Kates

In Elder Days, in years of yore, I was revising this set of cuneiform tablets collectively titled Three Katherines of Allingdale, and posting the odd shard about it to this journal.  At the beginning of this year, I was comprehensively stuck, and turning to other projects until some idea or other worked loose.  My life then performed several unscheduled triple back somersaults before landing in a marvellous better place (waves to [personal profile] green_knight across table).  And now the long-awaited missing clue to the Kateverse has finally turned up, and I'm writing in it again...

Okay.  Three Katherines in its first draft presently consists of The Deed of Katy Elflocks, a fairy-tale novella with which I'm almost wholly satisfied; and Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland, a chunky low-fantasy novel which brings all the chickens home to roost thirty years later, and with which I'm not satisfied at all.  I'm unsatisfied although, or more likely because, I think Killer-Kate has the elements of being the best story I've ever told.  The issue is that there turns out to be far too much backstory essential to its unfolding. 

A grand epic fantasy driven by timeless destinies and history-mastering heroes might get away with skating lightly over a generation or two, even if great matters and dreadful reversals have occurred in the interval.  This is not such a story - although it is partly about its greatest hero's lifelong struggle to keep stories like that from happening anywhere around her, for much the same reason that she works to keep  plague, famine, and other similar disasters from the door.  In the first draft, I put the history into the story as it touched it, and the resulting datadumps proved both unlovely and hard to redact.  In the abortive second, I tried to wrap the true story artfully around the tale not directly told, somewhat as Tolkien did to The Lord of the Rings and the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen.  I got some myriad words in and bounced hard, either because I'm no Tolkien, or because Three Katherines and the untold 'Tale of Foxfires' are no such a pair of stories, or I don't know what else.  That left telling the Tale of Foxfires in full.  I've attempted this several times in the past, and broken every time upon the undeniable fact that it is a messy history rather than a proper story of its own.  What to do?  I was out of ideas I hadn't tried, so I let it lie fallow for a bit.  Now again, I think I've got it.

I've identified the actual stories I think need telling in the gap.  The real key was discovering that some of them have no direction to the Foxfires matter at all, and that Katy Elflocks as a character spends far too long completely out of scope.  So my new, improved, revised version of Three Katherines should end up looking something like this:

1) The Deed of Katy Elflocks - Novella; essentially complete for many years.
2) The Bridge to the End of the Night - Novella; set several years later, telling of a border-quarrel and what came of it.  Work in progress.
3) The Wain of Winter Stars - Novel; set immediately afterwards, following an exodus from slavery and war into regions dubious and uncanny.  Not yet written.
4) Crown of Foxfires - Novel; set ten years after the Deed, telling of the fall from grace of two heroes, and a contention for a kingdom.  Exists in scraps and many incompatible versions.  Will have to be completely rethought, now that the extraneous matter has been hived off into its own tales, or else placed in question.
5) Roger Rock Candy - Long novella or short novel, set about eight years later, telling of an ill-fated peasant uprising and what lay behind it.  Not yet written.
6) Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland - Long novel set twelve years later, telling the last great deeds of all three Katherines and their comrades, and how a new popular rising changed the days of the Northdales, and brought all ever-afters home.  First draft finished; in need of much revision, and probably no little shortening.

And that is where things stand at the moment.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
2013-03-05 09:01 am
Entry tags:



I get the poems like I get the stammers.
The words won't speak - they break - I have to sing them.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
2013-03-04 06:17 pm
Entry tags:



Three tall words can stand
When three legion small deeds back 'em.

caper_est: Sharpening the quill (writing)
2013-01-04 08:58 am

Jim On The Barricades, Katy In The Woods

The challenges of redrafting Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland's Yuletide arc over the real-world Yuletide seemed about as tempting as going five rounds with Rudolph and the gang atop the roof-tree, so I didn't.  Back home today, and back to the need to make it make sense.

As a diversion I've been working on a short fast attack novel, provisionally titled The Land of Lemonade, and set in a contemporary extended London in which William Hope Hodgson was a journalist, Princess Louise's legacy is more significant than Queen Victoria's, and the No Tail Paal Pail is food*.  Current wordcount: 5,400.  This yarn shares a world with Carbonek (see previous post), and explores the hyper-liberal urban counterpart to the arch-conservative cosmic defence employed by Sabrina Cottislowe and her countryfolk in Least Britain.  I came up with Carbonek first, but Uncle Jim Harries of Lemonade is so much more dynamic a protagonist than Sabrina's friend Blogger Bill, he's carrying it away by a mile, even now while he's still stuck in pure reactive mode. 

This would be a good one to finish.  I even think I understand the plot.

*  But these are SECRETS.  You didn't hear them from me!

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
2013-01-03 11:39 am

Poor Billy's Almanack, Wk I

Jan 1st.  Tu.  Resolution Day.  New year, new beer.

Jan 2nd. W.  Absolution Day.  Consider the sloth, whatever.

Jan 3rd.  Th. 

When obliged to negotiate with King Kong, the most important constraint on one's freedom is not that his first name is King.

Jan 4th. F.  On this day a professional health scold shall perish from a vast excess of vinegar in their blood.

Red sky at night, call the Fire Brigade, already!

Jan 5th. Sa.  Twelfth Night.  On this day shall the Government impose an emergency ban on vinegar.

Something must be done.  This is something.  Therefore we must do this.  (Sir Humphrey Appleby.)

Jan 6th.  Su.  Epiphany/Ystwyll. 

A hunted fox or a Tesco wren/ Is no good game for maids nor men.

Jan 7th.  M.  Work is the curse of the drinking classes.  (Oscar Wilde.)

If I had a penny for every quote attributed to Oscar Wilde, people would say I was just as witty as he was.

caper_est: A cartoon virus. (meme)
2012-12-31 11:53 am
Entry tags:

Locus Meme

Via [ profile] birdsedge:

Meme - The Locus best of lists. Bold the ones you've read, italicise the ones you gave up on and leave the ones you haven't read yet.

Massive listosaurus: )

Okay, that was interesting...

caper_est: I dreamed all knight... (dream)
2012-12-17 07:43 pm

Students Who Summon Nyarlathotep For A Bet

Are BARRED from my dreams until with strange aeons, even Death shall die. And they shouldn't get up their hopes too much then, either.

Apparently the Crawling Chaos looks a lot like a network manager I used to know, only with charisma upgraded to Maximum Evil, and bringing the Apocalypse instead of the Inconvenience. Also he ate somebody's brains in front of them, which apparently one can do if one has the top level cheat codes, and which I am fairly sure that the Nameless NM never did in any strictly physical sense, or on purpose if it comes to that. Moreover Nyarlathotep committed many other breaches of the rules of cricket, including the one about not sending ravening mobs through the streets after me; and generally degraded the quality of my unplanned nap quite a lot.

The less arseholish student and I eventually stuffed him and the Hasturpocalypse back into their box by timey wimey wish-lawyery woo. Nyar hah!

Nonetheless, I feel no urge to revisit this or any potential spin-off scenario at any time in the foreseeable future.

Dream rating: Two poppies - the second being for technical excellence, and actually having something approximating a plot, which ended better than could have been expected. The three poppies not awarded are for all the myriad ways in which the experience was otherwise objectionable.

I sign off in haste, to read a great big sugarload about kittens and Drones Club doings before my just bedtime.
caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
2012-12-14 08:24 am
Entry tags:

Giving General Conversion Tables For Things Not Given

A first and merely qualitative attempt:

Degree of concern disclaimed

Acoustic Unit

Scatologic Unit

Erotic Unit
Significant Hoot Shit Fuck
Detectable Whinge Fart Stroke
Extreme Holler Sewer Orgy


1) The use of toss for stroke is henceforth deprecated, due to its popular abuse as a synonym for the larger unit. It is probably not worth bothering with at all.

2) The levels of indifference within each magnitude category are conjectured to be approximately comparable across scales, but accurate determination of the conversion ratios awaits a fully comprehensive survey of the socio-linguistic-apathetic landscape, and:

3) Nobody gives that much of a Care Bear.
caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
2012-12-12 10:40 am

On First Finishing Mira Grant's Newsflesh Trilogy

On First Finishing Mira Grant's Newsflesh Trilogy

Seldom I've dabbled in the realms of red,
Or splashed my cricket bat with sanguine stains:
Who once the zombie genre sore disdains
Not lightly is amused by dudes undead.
At whiles attempts most valiant I'd read:
Bill Swears and Alden Bell took noble pains,
Yet none, meseems, did nosh upon my brains
Till Mira Grant scooped mine from out my head.
Then felt I like stout Rudyard Kipling when
Of all the well-worn ways to tribal lays,
He stumbled on that lost Threescore-and-Ten,
That closes hidebound books, and opens eyes
To all they asked - nor craves we read again,
But do, and do! - and cry, "When will we rise?"


Keats' original can be found here, for those unfamiliar with it. 

[ profile] wswears's Zook Country* and Alden Bell's The Reapers Are The Angels are the other good books reffed above, and indeed are the only other literary zombie-fests I have so far finished.  Not even unmentionable-smashing ninja Bennet sisters have otherwise managed to carry me along with the Brainsss Brigade.  This is probably because I get my RDA of shambly zombie goodness by 5.30 most mornings, courtesy of my trusty shaving mirror - but I digress.

For those unfamiliar with Mira Grant (alias the excellent contemporary fantasist [ profile] seanan_mcguire), what more can I say? Go on, get some read on you!

 * ETA:
Which first persuaded me that a zombie apocalypse book could also be a right good read, and in whose absence I might never have tried out the others.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
2012-12-11 09:36 am
Entry tags:

The Personal Astronomer

The Personal Astronomer

I always think of you as William Herschel,
The fields of heaven spread before your eyes,
And you screwed tightly to your telescope
Discovering Uranus.


(The old ones are always the best.)