It’s that time of year again: time to look back on a year of… uh… and celebrate… that thing… that… you know…
Actually, 2017 really was a year of is that all? If not for Luscious’ breakthrough, and our impending Pilbara adventure, I’d have a hard time remembering the year at all, and we’re still in it.
Really selling this year in review post, aren’t I?
1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?
Travelled to Singapore, and experienced the culture of that odd little City. Served as Established Writer-in-Residence at a residency. Undertook a school visit for Luscious.
2. Did you achieve your goals for the year, and will you make more for next year?
I can’t remember what my goals were, but chances are, no.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No. KEEP THEM CLOSED!
4. Did anyone close to you die?
No. KEEP THEM CLOSED!
5. What countries did you visit?
Apparently, it is a country for old men, because they let me in. Also, as above, Singapore.
6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?
Drive and focus. Of course, I’d better have them, or I’m going to have to go back to the workmines for a living…..
7. What dates from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
2nd of December– the day Luscious received her job offer, and we knew we were going to Karratha.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting through it, and seeing the 18 Month Plan come to fruition.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Not writing through all the upheaval. Letting my career slip towards becalmed.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Doers’ constantly’ count? Suspected DVTs, mystery swelling, bronchitis, RSI… and they’re only the ones I remember right now. Physically, I was a wreck this year. It would have been easier to die and start over.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
A standing punching bag we bought on a whim while at the shops one day, complaining about or general lack of fitness. It’s become something we batter about in short bursts every time we pass it, and we’ve developed a workout routine for which it’s a central pillar. Two minutes of continual high-speed left-right jabbing is a pretty damn good cardio workout.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Luscious, who continued to push towards her teaching qualification and placement, despite constantly being fed incorrect information, the replacement of her mentor with a teacher only 6 months more qualified than she was, and losing promised support on a regular basis. She excelled in her studies, ripped it up in the classroom, and impressed the teachers at her school to the extent that she had a litany of positive references and practical help in answering the advertisement that got her a job. It was a massive achievement, and a sign that the woman I met– who had been told she would never achieve anything in life for over 30 years– is the intelligent, capable, skilled dynamo I always knew she was.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
If I just say ‘America’ and ‘The blue half of Australia’, would that cover it? The US is even more a dumpster fire (see what I did there?) of ignorance, bigotry, murder and hatred than it normally is, and the truly depressing thing has been observing just how many Australians conform to that xenophobic, homophobic outlook.
14. Where did most of your money go?
I’m not entirely sure. Lunch out, I think.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My hated manager taking maternity leave, and being replaced by a manager for whom I have the greatest professional and personal respect. Then the absent manager extending her maternity leave so that she won’t even be back in the office by the time I leave.
And leaving, to go on a great adventure in a region of the State I’ve never visited, and which will enable me to work in isolation and peace, while remaining connected to the people I want to stay in contact with electronically, so I can control the flow of my interaction with the wider world.
Yeah, it was that kind of year.
16. What song will always remind you of 2017?
You may be starting to detect a theme……
17. Compared to this time last year, are you: i. happier or sadder? ii. thinner or fatter? iii. richer or poorer?
i. Happier, thanks to late-year goodness,
ii. Fatter. Much fatter. This will have to change. Health problems abound.
iii. Poorer, but not as poor as we’re going to be over the next 2 years. Funnily enough, that’s not a bad thing: we waste money, and Luscious and I are both dedicated to straightening our financial wonkiness.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
My art. What’s the point of fighting if you let the thing you’re fighting for escape you?
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Struggling. With work, with myself, with my chemical landscape.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
We’ll be spending the 23rd doing the family thing with all the kids and grandkids, including our vast family-secret-Santa-bookswap. Christmas day itself, Luscious and I are likely to spend curled up in bed, reading our new books, with a platter of goodies between us that we’ll pick at throughout the day.
21. Who did you meet for the first time?
Several artists, including the supremely talented Tony Windberg. My fellow KSP fellows and several lovely members of the Gosnells Writers Circle. Several peers and writing students from Asia, the US and Europe. A whole bunch of people who will probably be miffed that I forgot to include them in this section. Bright side: think how 17,000 Karratha residents are going to feel when I forget most of them next year…
22. What was your favourite TV program?
The Good Place, especially Season 2, Episode 5 (The Trolley Problem), which was one of the most sublime combinations of comedy, drama, and ethical contemplation I’ve seen since the high days of MASH.
Honourable mentions to Stranger Things Season 2, which maintained the brilliance of Season One while adding new wrinkles, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which is a standard police procedural comedy that the Yanks are rather good at turning out, but is a fine example of the form.
Brickbats to every Marvel TV show that wasn’t Jessica Jones, which set out to prove that JJ was a blip in an ocean of unremittingly joyless and badly constructed mediocrity. Couldn’t even finish The Defenders (a comic book I’ve loved since childhood: I was bang on in the centre of the demographic, man!) and barely started Iron Fist (double ditto). Utter tripe, and worse, boring tripe.
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Not hate, but I view so many of my countrymen with contempt at the moment that it’s hard to turn on any news program without wanting to declare myself an independent protectorate.
24. What was the best book you read?
Not one book, but two.
Wicked Beyond Belief: The Hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper by Michael Bilton is a forensically detailed examination of the police campaign to catch Peter Sutcliffe. Sutcliffe himself hardly appears– in his opening, Bilton states that the man himself sickens him, and that he will do nothing to add to his notoriety. Instead, he picks apart the crimes and the frenzied, fumbled, and at times blitheringly incompetent police work that surrounded him.
Somebody’s Husband, Somebody’s Son by Gordon Burn is an older book, and is bvest read after Bilton’s volume. This book focusses squarely on Sutcliffe, as well as the family life and oddly compelling figures that made up that family. Burn’s writing is incisive, and creates an emotionally exhausting portrait of a deeply disturbed individual (his later book on Fred and Rose West, Happy Like Murderers, is one of the most emotionally devastating books I’ve ever read.) Somebody’s Husband… is an acknowledged true crime classic, but it is elevated by partnership with Bilton’s book: taken together, they give a stunningly complete portrait of the crimes, the people involved, and the culture that surrounded them, not least by acting as point and counterpoint– each book filling gaps in the other, and providing dark mirrors that immerse the reader completely in the twin narrative.
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
2017 was a dreadful year for finding new music. Most of my musical listening is done in my car to and from work. This year, the established JJJ morning pair were replaced by new presenters: I gave Ben and Liam six long, depressing weeks before deciding their bland, sophomoric Nova-lite patter really was the full extent of their skills, and going back to my iPod. I dropped back in three or four times throughout the year, but nothing ever changed. They remain one of the worst radio shows I’ve ever experienced.
As a consequence, my exposure to new music has plummeted this year. Anyway, I fully expect they’;l soon be off to the kind of radio station where they’ll team up with somebody called Fatso or Bobby or something. And I’ll have more daytime in front of the radio, so hopefully normal service will be resumed. In the meantime, I’m becoming more of a K.Flay fan each time I listen to her, so this is about as good as it got for me.
26. What was your favourite film of this year?
Blade Runner 2049. No contest. A stunning visual epic with a soundscape to match, and a worthy sequel to my favourite film of all time. So many things could have gone hard sideways with this film, but even the casting of Ryan Gosling and his 1 1/2 facial expressions was used perfectly.
Otherwise, my film experiences were somewhat mediocre. Most of the blockbuster films that we saw were, at best, okay. Wonder Woman was significant for what it represented rather than any quality as a movie: it was fairly run of the mill once you got past the gender political storm it stirred up. Thor: Ragnarok was grossly overrated, and a hot mess that satisfied in no direction– neither as funny as it thought it was, or as exciting, or epic. It just was… there. Justice League was, well… when the best thing in it is a somewhat problematic attempt to make humour from the portrayal of a superhero as some sort of (pardon the pun) comic book autism comedy sidekick, you’ve got problems.
In fact, outside of Blade Runner, the best things I saw this year were a series of 2000AD-based fan films on Youtube. Search/Destroy and Judge Minty are produced by a fan company, yet have costuming, SFX, and narratives that put many cinema releases to pure shame. They are fantastic slices of the 2000AD mindset, and the JudgeMinty feed is firmly ensconced at the top of my subscription list.
As to the worst, there’s no contest here, either. The Emoji Movie is so bad, so utterly without any worth whatsoever, so disgracefully cynical, that I can’t even be bothered giving it my usual slightly-obsessive-insult-about-Adam-Sandler version of an award name. It is, literally, the worst movie I’ve ever seen. The winner of the The Emoji Movie is The Worst Piece of Shit Ever Filmed Award is The Emoji Movie.
27. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
47. There was a long lunch with family and our closest friends Kim and Kris. Nice and restrained.
28. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
29. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?
Increasingly ragged. So looking forward to next year when my entire wardrobe will consist of tee-shirt, shorts, and beard.
30. What kept you sane?
Luscious. End of.
31. What political issue stirred you the most?
Directly, the wasteful, hateful, and unnecessary fight to stick Australia’s overt homophobia back under its rock and allow same-sex marriage to be as normal and unremarkable as it should always have been. I have too many friends who have been harmed because of this divisive blight not to feel a small measure of it. The Lieberal hatemongers who forced us to vote on whether our fellow citizens should even think of enjoying the same rights as the rest of us should lie a long time in their cold, shallow, unmarked graves.
It is to be hoped that the criminal, and fascist, treatment of helpless refugees under the same watch will reap its own rewards in the criminal courts.
Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017.
Time to move to a better space.
Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
I had to leave my life behind
The story’s told
With facts and lies
You own the world
I live the life
I left behind
I live it wide
Through layers of time
You can’t divide
My children too
Their graves are safe
From ghosts like you
With roots entwined
I live the life I left behind
— Nevermind, Leonard Cohen