BECAUSE I’M A FILTHY, DISEASED PLAGUE RAT, OKAY?

It’s probably no secret, to anybody who still cares enough to read this blog, that Real Life ™ has become a tad-bit overwhelming in recent days, which is one reason why entries on this site have become few and far between.

This week, for example, I find myself the latest beneficiary of the Spicy Flu Lottery.

Yep. Despite being triple-vaxxed — and literally on the day Luscious and I were off to get our fourth shot — I tested positive for COVID, and have been bed-bound since Friday afternoon.

Still, in the spirit of silver linings everywhere (All clouds have silver linings. It’s where acid rain comes from.) it will give me a chance to drop an entry or two in this long-neglected journal, and enable me to finish a few projects that have been hanging over my head for a while.

For example, I’ve finally managed to get my Diploma of Graduation from Mime School…

THUMBNAIL THURSDAY DIPS INTO THE SHALLOW WELL AGAIN

Somewhere there should be a law banning the use of these Russian dolls in comedy, shouldn’t there?

And combining one with the good old psychiatrist stereotype? What comedic genius came up with that sizzler?

Oh, yeah. The one not currently experiencing a career in comedy or cartooning.

I can’t promise Chris Lilley isn’t planning something. But only if he can do it in blackface.

“I just feel like I have all these personalities inside of me, fighting to get out.”

THUMBNAIL THURSDAY IS THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME

Whaaaaat? Big game hunting and domestic violence? What’s not to love?

Yeah, so this comes across like a 4Chan community production of Rebecca. It seemed funny many years ago, when I was a much simpler creature, and self-awareness was just an entry in the dictionary. In the interests of completeness, here it is. But yeah, it’s not a joke I’d make today.

“Oh, that? That’s the first Mrs Aldenheimer.”

AN ALLY IN BRICKS

I’ve told the story a few times: of how, at my first Bricktober, I was upbraided by a Blue-Rinse Avenger for daring to have two gay aliens (two alien minifigs standing face to face…🤷‍♂️) in my display, and how ever since I’ve made sure to display the rainbow colours in one form or another, just to have them there in case the right people notice… and the wrong people 😜

This year, due to the constant disruptions of moving and new jobs, and a massive lack of time, I’ll only be participating in the Micropolis build. But, despite the difficulties of part choice and palette compromises, I’m still trying to get something in there. This flower hedge, for example, in the garden of a mega-church-looking building…

THUMBNAIL THURSDAY DOESN’T MISS THE WANKERS

Ten years of working in arts administration, and oh gods, how many of these types did I come across.

Pro tip: if you dress like you think an artist dresses, talk like you think an artist talks, and patronise like you think an artist patronises, you still ain’t an artist. And if your job is to distribute money to artists, and you earn more from it than they do, then go fuck yourself. (Looking at you, pretty much the entirety of the Australian arts funding structure).

“Artist? Oh darling, where’s the money in that? I’m in arts funding.”

THUMBNAIL THURSDAY WOULD PROBABLY MATE WITH A DALEK, JUST SAYING.

Look, I love archaeology and I love paleontology just as much as the next guy… provided the next guy is actually and archaeologist, or paleontologist, or eight year old boy. But we can all agree that a whole lot of the art involves creating a narrative, and that involves what can best be scientifically termed as, well, you know…… guesswork.

Still beats being a teacher, though.

“We’ve yet to establish the reason for this long, quite flimsy horn, but we assume it was important for display during mating season.”

SAME THING WE ALWAYS DO, BRAIN…

All the Gods pass through here. The walls are thick with photos: Odin, back in the two-eyed days; Zoroaster poking two fingers up behind Zarathustra’s head; Kali with her arms around Mister Vitelli. A lot of Gods with Mister Vitelli. He might own the place, but you’ve never met a bigger starfucker in your life. And Mister Vitelli has lived several.


Four weeks ago, I started an online writing group — The Ministry of Reformation — with the brilliant Chuck McKenzie for the purposes of encouraging a group of writing friends who had fallen away from our regular habits (for whatever reason) to simply pick up our keyboards and hit a small, achievable target each week, to be the intervention we all needed just to sit us back in front of a screen and recover the words we all miss so mightily, no matter how few we capture at each sitting.


Declan pulled his jacket closer round his shoulders and kicked his way through the mud towards the pressing shed. The vines surrounding him were stunted and blackened by sleet. They wouldn’t bloom for countless months. Declan shivered. He’d lost track of time while he wandered aimlessly along the rows. He had no purpose, no drive. Nothing is as useless as a vintner in winter, he rhymed to himself, striking a rap-star pose and then sighing self-consciously. Time to head back to the homestead. Hot chocolate and a Jason Statham DVD, that was what he needed. The opposite of the thinking that threatened to drive him into an office job every time he stopped to contemplate what too many more weeks of this blight would do to his savings. He reached the end of the row of vines, and turned towards the small cottage tucked away at the back of the vineyard.

            “Hello,” he muttered.


In 4 weeks I’ve managed to complete Vitelli’s, a short story that’s sat unfinished for well over two years — that’s the first excerpt, up the top — and put 1500 words down on something that feels like it’s going to be a novel, but is definitely unlike anything I’ve ever attempted before. At the moment, it’s shaping up as a thriller very much in the LeCarre mould of retired bad-men-on-the-side-of-good being drawn back into games they thought they’d left behind. It’s called The Retiree for the minute, and that’s where the second excerpt above comes from.

I’ve no idea how well any of these projects are going to go; whether they’ll end up being remotely sellable; if I’m even capable of pretending to scale the tiny heights my writing career reached before everything fell apart. But I do know that I couldn’t go on as I was, blocked and miserable and depressed at the mundanity and featurelessness I had devolved into. So this group, as gentle and minimal as the targets we’ve created and the interventions we perform are, has become uncountably important to me over the last month.

If I can keep producing something, I can at least believe I can get back onto the treadmill, sell the odd story, perhaps a novel again, and lay the foundations of a second attempt at being something more than just a middle-aged nobody doing his five days a week while he waits for retirement and decline.

Second chances don’t travel in herds, and this is the best shot I’ve had at one for a while. It’s only four weeks, but the signs are good.

So it seems to be working for me, at least, is what I’m saying…


He hung up, finished his cold meal, paid, and left. As he swung out of the parking area he pulled up to a rubbish bin. He pulled the sim card out of his phone, snapped it in half, crushed the phone beneath his heel, and threw the whole mess into the bin. Then he drew the car onto the highway and drove away, keeping respectfully to the speed limit the whole time.


THUMBNAIL THURSDAY HAS A STUNNING WORK ETHIC

Okay, I remember exactly the scenario behind this one. Way back in the day, I worked for the Commonwealth Employment Service — the Government’s job search provider, before they privatised it and sent the whole system to utter shit. I was banished to a small job centre in Armadale, at the unpopular end of one of the train lines, to sit on the front counter and hopefully die as quietly as possible without making any sort of fuss.

Which I did. Online comics for 8 hours a day, spoiled only by the fewer than half a dozen poor jobless who hadn’t yet worked out that they’d get much better service, and many more jobs, if they went a stop or two up the line.

Nobody cared. Nobody noticed. And nobody in that particular office was under any illusion that they weren’t just marking time until the next thing came along. Which it duly did: the destruction of the CES, and reassignment to the absolute hellish landscape of the Child Support Agency, from which I never really recovered. But 8 hours a day of webcomics was pretty damn good 😉

Oh, and for those of you aged under thirty. That’s a computer monitor. That’s what shape they used to be. More or less.

“Damn. I always run out of comics before I run out of day.”