LESSONS FROM A ROAD TRIP

Karratha to Perth: 1600 kilometres.

Date of son and daughter-in-law’s wedding: slap bang in the middle of the school holidays.

Length of time we’ve had shiny new SUV: two weeks.

Of course we drove.

The plan was relatively simple: we’d bundle ourselves into the car, blast through the 11-hour drive from K-Town to Geraldton in a day, stay overnight, then hit Perth on day two. Coming back, we’d take things slower: stop at Geraldton again, stop at Carnarvon on day two, get home on day three. Take the time to see a tourist trap or two on the way. We’d have Lord 15’s best mate in the car with us, so turn the trip into a bit of a sightseeing experience rather than a race. And with the extra space we’d have, and the lack of a luggage limit, get some big-arse shopping in in the meantime.

And so we did.

Along the way, though, it turned into an important rite-of-old-man-passage. Because I learned some things, and those things are going to herald some changes. Continue reading “LESSONS FROM A ROAD TRIP”

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL, PART TEN

Over at Facebook, I was tagged in a meme that required me to list three things that made me grateful, every day for three days.

So I thought I’d list them here, too.


  1. I’m grateful for my art. It has provided me with friendships, income, travel opportunities, and was the vehicle by which I escaped the soul-destroying depths off despair I was slowly being crushed by while working in the Public Service. I’ll never be famous, I’ll never be remembered, and I’ll never be considered at even the middle of the tree, but my art has been the thing that has kept me from disappearing into the obscure midst of my mediocre family tree, and I’m grateful.
  2. I’m grateful for a reasonable income. Yes, we struggle, and we juggle finances on a fortnightly basis, but I’m aware that we do so from a level of decent comfort. My children go to a good school, my wife is able to study, essentially, full time, and we have room to both expand our horizons and entertain our hobbies & indulgences. We never suffer, and having both come from backgrounds of grinding poverty, Lyn and I have only ever wanted our children to appreciate a good upbringing.
  3. I’m grateful for the respect of my peers. I get little of it at work, and I rarely feel like an author doing good work, so when a fellow artist expresses their respect or admiration for the work I do then it usually comes as an enormous, and humbling, surprise, because, to be quite honest, I generally don’t know what I do to merit it. I’ve undervalued my work for so long– it’s only in the last fortnight, for example, that I’ve decided to set a minimum fee for appearances, despite doing them regularly for the last 12 years– that I’m always a little stunned when others do value it. And grateful, because sometimes, I doubt I’d go on without it.
  4. I’m grateful for my readers. Despite all the mechanical hoo-ha-ra that goes into writing, ultimately it comes down to entertaining a stranger with the power of your imagination and your words. Anybody who comes back for a second helping, or who picks up my work because they like the cut of my snippets, is someone who has chosen to invest their time and imagination into my maunderings. It’s a weird kind of long-distance love affair of the mind, and I’m thankful to all who take it on.
  5. I’m grateful for my children. As you’ve probably noticed if you’ve read this Facebook page for long enough– by which I mean half a day or more– my kids constantly entertain me, fill me with wonder, and enrich my life by keeping me innocent, impish and focused on doing good for others who need me in their life. Whether it be my naturally-arrived Miss 12 and Master 9, or my inherited bonus kids Cassie, Aiden and Blake, granddaughter Little Miss 2, grandson Little Man
  6. I’m grateful for the quickness of my mind. I’ve mentioned before that my father’s mind is failing, and it’s killing me to watch a charming, erudite, quick-witted man struggle for words and concepts he used to fling about like gossamer. I love being funny, I love being deliberately unfunny to spark a funny exchange, I love to tease, to argue, to explain, to build worlds and concepts out of nothing more than my vocabulary and my ability to knit words into never before-seen shapes and tastes. All my other gifts belong to the people who bestow them upon me. This is the only thing I have going for me that is purely mine. If it ever begins to desert me, I don’t know what I’ll do.
  7. The care and love shown to Master 9 during his illness by people who have no other investment in it than they are his teachers, or our friends. From just-because gifts, to messages of support, to structuring his classroom, people have gathered round him for the 14 months of his illness and provided him with an atmosphere of caring and support that has done wonders for his morale and self-esteem. To Kris, Kim,Grant, Lilysea, Mark and countless others, my gratitude.
  8. Free education. I went to a shitty High school in the 80s, when my pre-Child Support Agency divorced mother raised two teenage boys and covered a mortgage on a single mother’s pension and a $30 a month in child support payments, and thanks to a nominally free education system I still managed to claw my way through 4 years of University. Now, it’s going to cost tens of thousands of dollars to send my children to a good high school. Much as I would love to do my Master’s degree, I simply can’t afford it. My wife’s attendance at University each semester is a matter of financial negotiation. My eldest sons struggle to hold down shitty part-time jobs and find enough time to attend to their study obligations. If I were starting my educational career today, I’d be working at K-Mart full-time, because that’s the best that people like me could have hoped to afford. I’m grateful that free education enabled me– and subsequently, my children– to escape a lower-class existence through education.
  9. A stable political system. Yes, Tony Abbott and his Ant-Hill Mob of witless cronies are a blight on our culture, and yes, we can argue back and forth about the relative merits of our chosen allegiances until we’re blue in the nads. But nobody shot at me today, and I own my house, and my children are safe and my wife can wear whatever she wants and get herself a tertiary education, and any meal I’ve missed since I was at Uni has been by choice, and I have freedom of travel, speech, religion and thought. And I’m an artist, and a well-paid member of the permanent workforce. I’ve never been conscripted, I’ve never fought in a war, or against my own people. I’ve never been gaoled for my beliefs, tortured, or disappeared. My neighbours don’t spy on me. I’m safe, and warm, and comfortable and educated. And I’m grateful.


And, things being what they are, here’s a little bonus extra grateful content:

10. Above all else, I am grateful for the presence of Luscious Lyn in my life. We have been together almost twelve years now, which boggles me to think of, and in that time we have faced innumerable struggles, traumas and hardships, but throughout it all she has been the pivot around which our family revolves. She has brought me unparallelled joy, belief and support, and whatever happiness I have managed to gather unto myself has been, in large part, because she is beside me, pointing me always towards positivity and joy. I cope, and occasionally flourish, because of her. I am a better person because of her.

And for that we should *all* be grateful.

HAPPY EIGHTEENTH, AIDEN

A huge shout out to our eldest boy Aiden, who turned 18 during the week. I first met Aiden when he had just turned ten, and have seen him grow from a quiet, withdrawn and shy boy into a young man with such strong values, and such a mature and honourable attitude to life that I have long been proud to call him my son (we don’t do halves or steps, and I’m glad. I want to be able to stand alongside all of my children without the artificial minimisation that comes with a blended family).

I look at him now– a young man with a plan to follow a career in land management, his high school years behind him and a path through TAFE mapped out, with a young family of his own that he loves, about to leave the family home and begin his life as a man in his own right, and I am filled with pride, and hope for his future. And I am comfortable in the knowledge that whatever mistakes he makes from here on out, and whatever setbacks he may encounter, will come from his attempts to do the right thing, to be an honourable and humble man with the needs of those he loves uppermost in his mind.

You are already a man who makes me glad to call myself your father, Aiden. Happy birthday, son.

NOVEMBER WAS A MAD OLD MONTH, MY FRIENDS

Ahhhh, the best laid plans of mice and Lee are aft to gang aglay all over the frigging place.

See, what I was going to do was post regularly about my progress through Nanowrimo, pausing only to ruminate upon the occasion of my 40th birthday, and congratulate my favourite 5 year old in the whole world on turning into my favourite 6 year old in the whole world. And indeed, those things did happen. But along the way, the world changed ever so slightly.

Well, let’s be honest, the entire household has been turned upside down, inside out, and arsehole to breakfast by this:

 

Allo, babeeeee. No, wait, I’m the babeee!

Luc Aden Jeremy Triffitt, my first grandson, arrived in the world at near-as-dammit 11pm on the 11th of the month, having caused his Mum and Dad to finish the last mouthful of my birthday dinner and say “Well, that was nice. Can we go to the hospital now?” He was a tiny, tiny little thing on arrival– 3090 grams and 49 centimetres long, and is a tiny little thing now: at the pool this morning, two old ducks who were cooing over him had to be persuaded that he wasn’t actually only a few days old.

He’s been with us three weeks now– parents Aiden & Georgie have neither the spondoolies nor the age to live in their own space, and he is a beautiful, smiley, snuggly little bugger who has the good grace to cause everybody ructions and then fall asleep peacefully within about 90 seconds of me picking him up. Needless to day, he and me are the best of buddies 🙂

So, this the world, Luc. Try not to break it, and be back for tea.

SO VERY CLOSE YET SO VERY VERY FAR…..

Outside the Bunbury art gallery there’s a seating area, covered by a pergola whose roof is slanted at something like 60 degrees. I point at it as we cruise past.

ME: Check it out. Rodin’s “Ski-jump”
AIDEN: (Deadly serious) Why would he need a ski jump? He’s got wings.

I swear, I had to pull the car over so we didn’t crash.

 


Merde, I have dropped mah beret!

THEY’RE NOT FISH! FISH DON’T HAVE PAWS!

A couple of months ago, inspired by his friend Kaneda’s Wall-o-fish and with the prospect of inheriting a free tank from a mate, Aiden very politely enquired as to whether he’d be able to keep a couple of fish. We said yes. So he duly brought home said free aquarium, filled it with water and filters and things that made bubbles, and plopped a couple of fish from the local pet store into their spacious new abode.

They died.

We felt pretty bad for the poor kid, so Lyn took him down to the pet store to see if we could get him some less exotic, easier-to-care-for fish. Something a little hardier, more suitable for a beginner, something in the order of goldfish, that he could use to learn about fish care while still experiencing the joy of having brightly coloured fish floating about. Apparently, these fish are called ‘mice’.

I fucking hate mice. But Aiden was thrilled with his purchase, so now we had two mice. We emptied the water out of the tank, replaced the things that made bubbles with things that could be run upon, and bought mouse food. And all was well in the land, at least until the mouse realised that loosely-fitting lids that don’t clip on like they’re supposed to might be all right for fish but are really no match for creatures that can stand on their back legs and run away into the night, giggling (Well, making squeek squeek noises and saying “What shall we do tonight, Brain?”). At which point I gently intimated that perhaps he might like to consider a cage that was not quite so unutterably non-mouse proof. A mouse cage, perhaps.

Enter the inimitable Grant Watson, who had just such a cage going spare, and would we care for it, as he was just going to elbow it otherwise? We certainly would, and took possession with thanks. And a damn spanky one it is too: two spacious cages connected by a series of interlocking tubes, with all sorts of cool mousey entertainment devices for running up and down on, drinking from, and generally lazing about like the mouse equivalent of a supermodel being asked to get out of bed for less than 10 000 blocks of cheese a day. Aiden was at his dad’s for the latter part of the school holidays, so in his absence Blakey put it all together, we transferred the mice into it, and *then* discovered that it was too big to fit on any horizontal surface in the house. (except the dinner table, but there are some centrepieces I do not consider suitable…). Aiden was due home in a few days so we put it on the patio table, with the idea that we would all work out a solution when Aiden got home.

Apparently, a plastic and wire cage is really not that much of an impediment to a hungry cat.

Now, we felt really bad about the loss of the mice: they’d been in our care, and we’d rather cocked it up, despite our best intentions. We let Aiden know what had happened, expressed our regrets, and promised him that, when he returned, we’d take him out and get a couple of replacements. Aiden was cool with it: he understood, and all was well in the land. Yesterday, I returned home from work, and his mum greeted me with the words “Aiden, show lee what you bought at the pet shop today.”

Rats. Two rats.

Aiden is thrilled. Erin and Connor are thrilled. The rats are thrilled. Why wouldn’t they be? They’re currently in a whopping great mouse cage on the desk in Aiden’s nice, warm bedroom. Everybody’s thrilled.

FISH! I said he could have FISH! Since when are rats a form of fucking FISH?

*Incidentally, said rats are named ‘Plague’ and ‘Famine’. Nice…

LUCKY LUCKY LUCKY JAMMY JAMMY LUCKY JAMMY………

Wanna know what Aiden’s been doing? Huh? Do ya?

Riding elephants, swimming with dolphins, skurfing, eating exotic fruits, shopping like a beyatch…. He’s on holiday, the lucky little bastich: his best friend invited him to travel to Singapore with his family, and that’s where he’s been ensconced in an umpteen-star resort on the coast for the last week.

I’m as jealous as hell, particularly as it’s been pretty much constant downpour here in exotic frikkin Clarkson since his departure. But he is, by all accounts, having the time of his life, and he deserves it– his school grades are excellent, he’s brilliant to have around the house, he’s a fantastic brother and son, and even with the 20+ year age gap I’d consider him one of my funniest and most articulate friends notwithstanding the special nature of our Bonus son/father relationship. He’s an amazing kid, and deserves an amazing adventure.

Of course, I’ve still turned all his furniture backwards in his room and hidden dead fish in his underwear drawer. Some things are traditional……

NIGHT’S EDGE…

…was a fun two days away from the world. Rather than bore you with a detailed Con report (If you’re like me, detailed reports of Cons you didn’t go to leave you a wee bit disinterested), some random personal highlights:
*Two days away from the world, in a hotel room, with Lyn. People should be glad they saw us at all…

* The Wacky Weapons of WWII panel with Paul Kidd. I don’t know Paul socially, but he and I seem to work really well together on panels. It may have something to do with being two geekboys with rampant senses of humour. But it was a funny panel, a very funny panel indeed.

*A spur of the moment pool tournament between me and the boys, in an empty bar during two hours of panels we didn’t fancy attending. For the record, Blake Henry Triffitt, aged 13, is a bloody shark.

*Aiden Triffitt, Mobile Daycare. Three sets of friends brought their under-3s to the Con, and at several moments, Aiden took it upon himself to look after the kids and give said parents some adult time. Nobody told him to, nobody even asked him to. Aiden simply decided that he wanted to help, and what’s more, he was brilliant at it. And to me, it’s a measure of how trusted and respected he is already, at age 14, that the parents in question handed over their babies and then turned their attentions away without constantly checking to see if their kids were okay. They just knew that they were.

*Aiden and Kaneda Go Large. I’ve joked before about how Aiden is turning into ‘One of Ussssssss’. But I will remember this as the Con when he stopped turning, and simply was. We allowed Aiden his freedom, within the usual parental limits, and he didn’t let us down: attending panels on his own, wandering the convention space on his own merits, consorting with the friends he has made by himself (And while many of those friends are also ours, not once did I feel they hung out with him, when we weren’t around, out of anything other than genuine friendship towards him), and interacting with the convention environment as a member in his own right, rather than just ‘Lyn & Lee’s boy’. And when he attended the Saturday night party wearing his pal Kaneda’s hat and boots, and announced that they were heading down to the fan lounge to practice their stunt falls, a Fen was born 🙂

*The Legend of Mothers Sarah. Okay, Kylie as well, but that buggers the Manga reference….. I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for the teensy-tiny people. So I loved seeing babies Nora, Vincent, and Ellie at the con. And much kudos to a monumentally-heavy Callisto for getting through the two days with body and emotions intact.

*The all-in jokefest that started out as a panel on how to survive the apocalypse and ended up as a discussion on whether we could create a horse-drawn internet in time.

*A brand new Grant Watson comic book. My inner Grantfan says Yay. My outer Grantfan agrees.

*Dinner with friends and general attendance. I’ve been away too long.

At this stage, Swancon is theoretically possible, but financially problematic. But unlike last year, I at least want to go.

BIRTHDAY

I turned 37 on Sunday, and didn’t really care, other than that my family showed their love for me by making sure I was well rewarded, and I was able to bask in the glow of their happiness. The boys, especially, blew me away, taking money from their Con budget to sneak out and buy me three DVDs when I wasn’t looking, despite the fact they’d been told that there would be no more money once they’d spent their lot. Having already bought myself the present I desired (a potentially magnificent rare protea longifolia (piccie down the bottom of the page) sapling currently dubbed The Fifty Dollar Stick), it was a touching gesture that genuinely left me speechless. I have a wonderful family, and at the risk of sounding all tree-huggy about it, I’d much rather spend a day in their happy company than be showered with all the gifts in the world. Not that I’m giving any back….

Many thanks also to my good friend Stephen Dedman, who not only presented me with a copy of Men And Cartoons by Jonathon Lethem, over which I’d been seen to lust, but led the assembled crowd in a chorus of Happy Birthday at the end of my last panel, causing me to lapse into embarrassed mumbleness.

And thank you to the long list of friends, colleagues, and facebook pals who have contacted me to wish me a happy one. A happy one was had, everyone. (Incidentally, big slaps on back to Simon Haynes and Chris Barnes, fellow no-longer-unique Remembrance Day birthday boy writer types)

But, as has become my tradition, at least mentally, I now present thee with the by-no-means-comprehensive list of famous people wot I have outlived. To whit:

THEY DIED AGED 36, POSSIBLY WITH BOOTS ON

Marilyn Monroe; Diana, Princess of Wales; Georges Bizet; George, Lord Byron; George Armstrong Custer; Veronica Guerin; Doc Holliday; Blind Lemon Jefferson; Casey Jones; Phil Lynott; Bob Marley; Maximilian Robespierre; Henri Toulouse-Lautrec; Gene Vincent; and Nathanael West.

This is, of course, hardly an exhaustive list. Feel free to contribute your own favourite dead 36 byear old, and we’ll start the cloning process.

SOLD!

It’s been an interesting year, as far as story sales have gone. What with other projects and Real life ™, sales have somewhat resembled a cowboy riding a falling nuclear bomb. That is, they’ve been Slim Pickens (Zap! Pow Kapiiingggg! Comedy GOLD!)

Ahem.

Aaaaanyway, the good news is that I received an email from Stuart Mayne of Aurealis last night, to tell me that they’ve accepted my urban Peter Pan fantasy story Never Grow Old. Which makes me happy indeed. It will appear in issue 40, which is due to be born in December. Never Grow Old marks my 5th sale to Aurealis. If the magazine were the Luftwaffe, that’d make me an ace, and I’d get to wear a little square of coloured cloth on the breast area of my t-shirt when I go to Cons.

Damn I’m in a strange mood today.

AHWA MENTORSHIPS ON AGAIN

Marty Young, happy and disturbingly attractive severed-head honcho of the Australian Horror Writer’s Association, contacted me during the week to sound out my interest in being involved in their mentorship program again next year. Given the fantastic time I had working with Mark Smith-Briggs this year, my reply was an immediate and enthusiastic Yes!

This time around, I’ll be making myself available to work with short stories, and scripts of up to 45 minutes length. No official announcements yet, but applications are likely to be open as of January 1st for mentorships to begin sometime towards March. I’ll let you know as details become available.

REMIX MY LIT

Also from the cool project front comes my participation in the Remix My Lit project. Several established authors will have their stories ‘remixed’ by up and coming new scribes, and the results, as well as the original stories, will be made available using a Creative Commons license, for people to read and to remix themselves. A dauntingly-talented list of writers from a wide variety of genres, including our own Kim Wilkins, has already signed on for what should be an awful lot of fun. More details are available at the website, and like always, I’ll keep you posted as details present themselves.

A BIG SHINY FLOWER AT THE END OF THE POST

Ooooohh, gardenporn 🙂

TRYSERRA TOPS

Named by my five year old daughter, impetus provide by my 14 year old Bonus son…. I’ve opened a cafe press store to provide a home for all the silly one-liners, cartoons, scribbled pictures of dinoasaurs, and sundry ideas that we think someone might like to have on a t-shirt.

So, as the title says: Tryserra Tops.

There’s a link over there 44444444444

Right now I’ve put up one item, but I’ll be adding more as I get the time, and letting you know, including some dinosaur designs and the odd bizarre thing involving Daleks.

JOKE OF THE DAY

You can blame Aiden for this one:

Q: What’s the difference between 100 dead babies and a Ferarri?
A: I don’t have a Ferarri in my garage.

Thengyew, thengyewwww…..

WELL NOW, WASN’T THAT FUN?

Now, treat this is apocryphal, because I’m quoting from memory, but the story goes that by the last 60s, Robert Silverberg had developed a reputation as a pretty gun wordage-for-hire man. If you needed 5000 words of alien invasion story with a twist ending by Tuesday, RS was your man. Critical acclaim wasn’t heading his way overmuch, but you know, he was making a living and it was all good.

Then he and his wife went out for dinner one night, and came home to find they didn’t have one. A fire had taken the lot, including every piece of work past, present, and future that Silverberg had in his files.

Faced with the loss of his career, Silverberg decided to treat the event as a beginning, rather than an end– an opportunity to put his mid-level days behind him and write the kind of SF art that he’d been itching for, but had never had the space to try. From that decision came the Silverberg who wrote Thorns, and Tower of Glass, and The Book of Skulls, and well, go ahead and pick your own favourite Silverberg novel of the 70s.

So why am I telling you this? Guess where I’ve been for the last week. No, go on: guess.

Yup. In Why-didn’t-I-back-up-my-hard-drive hell.

Booted up last Friday, ready to roll on all the stuff that needs rolling upon (except Luscious, of course. She’s in Brisbane until next weekend. I’ll be rolling on her when she gets back) and…… nothing.

No booting. No little Microsoft dooby-doo-doo to welcome me to my desktop. Nowt.

I’ve lost it all. All my files, all my music, all my writing, all my photos. Everything. The Corpse-Rat King is gone. The 80 or so short stories in progress are gone. The movie script is gone. The final edited draft of Napoleone’s Land is gone. 4 years of photography, almost all gone (I’ve got some of Connor and some of Erin and not a lot of much else). After a week of progressively harder scouring of my disc with no success, my IT people have loaded me up a fresh hard disc, a few basic programs, and what percentage of data they did manage to save.

No, I didn’t back up. Yes, I deserve the angst.

I am left with: a previous draft of Napoleone’s Land that I discovered while cleaning my office this week. By my best estimates, it’s 2 drafts old, minimum. But hey, at least I have it. 6 short stories I had printed out to line edit. Producer Matt’s email address.

Onwards and upwards, eh?

NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS, HERE ARE THE CONGRATULATIONS!

Typical: spend a week without a computer, and everybody starts having cool days. So:

Big woohoos to Aiden, who turned 14 on the 2nd. An envelope with a ticket in it doesn’t look like much of a present, but a night at the Walking With Dinosaurs Live show next week is as close to the perfect gift as we could have given him. And, you know, we got him God of War as well. I’d ask him whether he likes it, but he’s too busy playing to talk.

Of course, now he’s 14 we’ll have to sit down and have that little talk. It’s about time, too. Maybe he’ll be able to tell me where babies come from….

Talking of which (oh yeah, baby, they gonna call me Mister Segue!) I’m over many moons to welcome Indigo Winter Lindsay to the circus: 4th daughter of my oldest friend Seanie and his lovely wife Terri, who joined us at 2.30 on the morning of the 8th. Remember: boys are icky, horses smell like poo, and dinosaurs rock! Now go ask Daddy for a trust fund.

Soundtrack: Get Shorty, The Soundtrack
Reading: BPRD- The Universal Machine Mignola, Arcudi & Davis

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE I INTEND TO JOIN THEM IN CHANGING

When I started writing, I wanted one thing: to sell a story. I did it, and I liked it, and so my thoughts turned to something else: selling more stories. I did that, too, and I liked it. And in the process of selling more stories, I met people, and became involved in their lives, even if only in an editor-supplicant relationship. I attended convetions, and writer centres, and began email conversations, and joined mailing lists, and posted on LJs, and got into arguments, and became a public figure, and was asked to help organise things, and became distracted, and received hate mail, and had demands made on me and my friendship that I had not welcomed, and demands that I welcomed, and became further distracted, and gossiped, and was gossiped about, and read flists, and wondered where the time was going, and dealt with bruised egos, and dealt with my own bruised ego, and placated people, and inflamed others, and was asked to help organise other things, and made appearances, and somewhere along the line…

I’m not enjoying this anymore.

I have made some wonderful friendships in the last 4 and a bit years. I’m lucky to know, and like, and hopefully be liked in turn, by such people as Stephen Dedman, Dave Luckett, Grant Watson, Kate Eltham, Rob Hoge, Geoffrey Maloney, Russell Farr… there’s a long list.

But somewhere along the line, this field that I came into because I loved reading it and because it was fun, has stopped being that way.

When I started, it was fun to write, and it was more fun to sell, and it was even funnererest to see my name in print. Now I’ve moved so far from what I enjoyed that I have seriously entertained giving the whole thing away in the last couple of weeks. It would not be a million miles from the truth to say that it is the presence of Conflux on my personal calendar that has stopped me from doing so.

However, things will be changing, come dawn next Wednesday, when I return to the world.

The LJs are gone. The volunteering, likewise. The mailing lists: gone. Getting involved: gone. If I am your friend, don’t worry: I’m not going that far. But if you’ve enjoyed seeing me somewhere on the net being all argumentative and opinionated, better, if you’ve enjoyed trying to find my knees so you can take a cut at them: gone. If you’ve got this fabulous project that just has to have my name attached to it or you will die: thank you. I appreciate your faith in me and my name, and should it be a real project, with a publisher on board and a certified release date and/or a professional relationship involved, then I am a writer and we will do business, but I am no longer in the business of faith, so you’ll have to provide me with a little more than sweet smells and promises.

What was fun, when I began, was writing, and selling, and seeing my name in print. And it is that to which I shall be returning.

TWO DEFINITIONS OF FAMILY

Had two social occasions over the weekend, which provided a perfect reminder of the familial world in which I wander.

Saturday night we attended a party to celebrate PRK and Tori on their engagement. When I wasn’t busy looking after Connor, I found time to relax and enjoy the company of some of the closest members of my self-appointed village. I even managed to provide entertainment for Tori, Calli & Luscious when PRK and I shared a kiss, just for them 🙂 Dinner and a show…

Whether I enjoy their company at times or not (and vice versa), these are the people with whom I choose to surround myself. It’s an important point. I don’t open up well, and most people I know see the performer rather than the man underneath. It’s a neat way to give the illusion of familiarity without having to risk anything. Often I risk something, and bear the scars later. But John & Sarah, Ju, Sheldon, PRK & Tori, the Sunday Night Crew as a whole… nah. It may be rough on them sometimes, when I’m dealing with black dogs, or generally just being the shit I can be, but on Saturday night I was relaxed enough to remember that you choose a village for very good reasons, and one of those reasons is that these are the people with whom you want to share something of yourself.

And these are the people who reward you without effort, when you can wander at will through a house, and turn a corner to find this:

A daughter, a friend, a rug is cut

When friends enjoy what you bring in to the world, not because they have to but because they choose to, you’re doing all right.

On Sunday we travelled to Whiteman Park to meet up with my relatives for a picnic lunch. My Aunt and Uncle were over from Nottingham and Dad had organised for us to spend some time together before they flew back. I’ve met Uncle David and Aunty Celia maybe three times since I came out here in 1975. They’re nice people, but on the ladder of familiarity, 3 times in 30 years ain’t a big relationship.

However, something that has become apparent to me in recent days is that your definition of family can be as flexible as you choose it to be. Two nice people who I barely know can be family because my father, who has known his sister all his life (duh) tells me so. And I will happily accept it, because it is a paradigm we choose to share, and because it results in pleasant afternoons in the park with good conversation and a game of kick to kick.

And who am I to argue, when both my Bonus Sons, who I have known for less than 4 years but with whom I have a relationship that bodes no steps, or halves, or complications, insist their Uncle and Pop (and as far as they are concerned, my brother and my father are Uncle and Pop: no steps, or halves, or complications) get out on the grass with them for a kick to kick, so that I am part of a group that consists of: my father, who I have known all my life; my brother, who I have known all his life; two boys with whom I share no biological link other than mutual love; a daughter to a wife who is no longer alive and who shares no biological link to her older brothers; and a son I have with my wife, who shares only half his biology with both sister and brothers.

And not one of that group bothers with steps, or halves, or complications.

A MIND FOR ALL AGES

I cannot comment. All I can do is quote:

AIDEN TRIFFITT: I’m not telepathic, but I am tele-apathetic. I make other people stop caring…

THE HORIZONS EXPAND AGAIN

I’ve grown bored with my reading practices in recent days, and, what with being too skint to buy books, have decided to pull out some of the dust-collectors on my shelf and actually read those books I said I’d get around to reading one of these days. As much as possible, I’m steering away from the heavy SF/F feel that has dragged me down in recent days.

Started with Chuck Palahniuk’s Lullaby. A safe bet: I generally enjoy Palahniuk, and he does things thematically and stylistically which we as genre writers consider ourselves dead clever for being the only ones to gte away with, whilst not falling under our banner, so it’s nice to remind myself that such a trick can be done. I didn’t think the book was his best, but still, it was a good way to get into a new swing, and enjoyable to read.

Second off the rank this week, Tom Robbins’ Jitterbug Perfume. Gave up after 80 or so pages. Just can’t bring myself to enjoy a writing style that considers itself clever for deliberately ignoring all the basics we consider indispensable to the craft, then makes sure to point out to the reader how they are being ignored.

As of yesterday, started in on Barry Hughart’s Bridge of Birds. And how engaging and delightful it is, brimful of characters and with a style and grace I haven’t encountered for quite some time. Stephen Dedman’s been recommending this book to me at regular intervals for a couple of years, and he’s right so far.

Don’t know what’s nextr, but I’m not planning to buy much of anything at Conflux due to continuing skintness, so I think I’ll be staying with my new reading habit for a while longer.

ALL TOGETHER NOW: AWWWWWWWWWWWW

Connor, because his reputation as cutest baby boy in the known universe isn’t already complete, has started to say “Battersby”. Just so’s you know, the three most gorgeous syllables in the world are ‘Ba-ah-peeeeee”.

And when I put him down for his nap this afternoon, he looked up at me from the cot and said “Nigh nigh Da-dee”.

I lost the power of my knees…

A BIG WEEKEND

So, speaking of Conflux, the programme has been released in something approximating its final form. Like all Cons, it’s subject to last minute catastrophes and changes of plan, but you should expect to see me talking it up at the following times:

Friday, 2pm: Back to Basics: Cover Letters, Manuscripts, and Rejections. Active pros and semi–pros in writing, editing, and publishing talk about the dos and don’ts in submitting your stories. With: Lyn Battersby, Trudi Canavan, Cory Daniells

Saturday, 1pm: Choosing Your Monster. Which monsters are over-used? And which are still untapped resources of evil for your stories? Can we still get something new from werewolves and dragons, or have these been ‘done to death’? How do you go about building a new kind of monster? And is the worst kind of monster really the monsters we keep inside ourselves? With: David B. Coe, Stephen Dedman, Rjurik Davidson

Sunday 12pm: Book Launch Through Soft Air. With the fabulous Dave Luckett saying a few words in my defence.

Sunday 1pm: Writers and Illustrators of the Future. Initially established in 1983 by L. Ron Hubbard, the Writers of the Future Contest was aimed at discovering and then publishing deserving amateur and aspiring speculative fiction writers. Now one of the premier writing contests in the field, it has a record of bringing writers to the attention of publishers and helping launch their professional careers. Find out more about the contest from past winners, and its companion the Illustrators of the Future Contest, and how the contests provide a means for new writers and illustrators to make their mark. With: Sean Williams Cat Sparks, Richard Kerslake

Sunday 4pm: All Aliens, All the Time! Stories Without Homo Sapiens. Aliens, androids, and anthropomorphy: what’s the appeal of stories without humans? What are the challenges for writers? How do you present a view that is both alien, and understandable? And how do you go about making analogies in an otherworldly world? With: Andrew Williams, Rjurik Davidson, Michelle Marquardt, Joan D. Vinge.

Monday 10am: Writing 101: What New Novelists Have Just Found Out and You Want to Know. You’ve written your book and now you’ve sold it—your problems are over, right? Er… These new novelists spill the beans and tell you how to prepare for a whole new world of pain (and pleasure). With: Katie Taylor T.J. Arryn, David Carroll.

Monday 2pm: Clarion South: Learn how to be a professional science fiction writer. The Clarion South Writers Workshop has been described as the most important opportunity for writers of science fiction and fantasy in the southern hemisphere. Aspiring writers of fantasy and science fiction learn from Australian and international pros in an intensive “hot-house” environment. Attend this panel to find out how to apply, how to get accepted, and how Clarion South wil change your life. With: Kate Eltham,Rjurik Davidson, Cat Sparks, Lily Chrywenstrom, Sean Williams

In addition, I shall be channeling the ghost of Martin Livings at the launch of his brillfabliest novel Carnies at 12pm on Saturday, following which I shall be accepting my dead chick (otherwise referred to as the Australian Shadows 2006 Award).

Luscious fetishists can see the object of their admiration at:

Friday 1pm: Ghosts in the Attic. The ghost story is a staple of the horror genre. What’s its appeal? Which are the best early ghost stories? How has it evolved in the past hundred years? Who’s writing the best ones now? With: Robert Hood, Leigh Blackmore, Ellen Datlow

Friday 4pm: Cross-Pollinating or contaminating? This panel discusses fiction that crosses genres – fantasy/romance, horror/mystery, science fiction/fantasy and more. When does it succeed? When does it fail? And what are some great examples of cross genre works? With: Ellen Datlow, Jack Dann, Simon Brown, Robert Stephenson

Sunday 1pm: Sci Fi Women: Where are They Now? How has Rose Tyler changed the role of the female companion in Doctor Who? Has the new Starbuck changed the possibilities for women on TV? How are other women treated in Battlestar Galactica? What about women in Farscape? Stargate? Firefly? Andromeda? Babylon 5? With: Jonathan Hardy, Zara Baxter

See you there, non?

A HOUSE FULL OF BODIES

It’s been a loud and hectic week, this past week in the Batthouse. We’ve had the Triffkids for the last week of the school holidays, and it was brilliant. Things may be loud when all 7 of us are in the one place, but the benefits of having a large family make every moment worthwhile. We didn’t do much this holidays, apart from a few activities centred around a bit of news I divulge later in the post, but the act of just hanging out with such intelligent, vibranht, enjoyable kids leaves me feeling froody.

The days after taking them to their dad’s place are always a bit low for us, but it was too good a week to hurt for long.

WHY MY WIFE HATES MY BONUS KIDS

On the other hand, I’m a bit worried about Luscious. Blakey went to a friend’s place for a party mid-week, so she let Aiden & Cassie see a movie. More to the point, she let them see Sky High. A Kuuurrrrtttt movie! And Aiden’s far too young to look at Linda Carter and have rewarding flashbacks.

It could take years for the scars to surface….

HOORAY FOR THE A-BOY

Aiden had his trophy presentation for soccer during the hols. We thought he was in with a real shot for Most Improved Player, given how far he’s come since the start of the season, but he was gazumped by (wait for it) the coach’s daughter. Now, I haven’t seen her play before this season, so I’m not suggesting that the fix was in, but I’m just going to mention that you can read all my entries about Aiden’s progress and decide for yourself whether anyone else could improve that much in the same team…

Anyway, we couldn’t be more proud of him. He loves the game, and the medal he received didn’t leave his neck from the day he got it until it was time to leave. It was a deserved reward for a young man who gave everything to playing a sport he’s grown to love, and I’m a very punch-pleased Bonus Dad. And here’s a gratuitous photo so’s I can show off 🙂

Call him, Hiddink. He’s waiting……

You know, no sooner does the A-boy take up soccer than the NSL changes its name to the A-League. Talk about your destiny!

BEST LINE OF THE HOLIDAYS (or SPOT THE DELIBERATE MISTAKE)

BLAKE (11 years old): Who’s John Lennon?
AIDEN (Much older, and more mature, ie: 12): (In mocking tones) You don’t know who John Lennon is?
BLAKE: No
AIDEN: Duuuuuuh. He sang “You’re The Voice”.

And much Coke was sprayed…..

WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE THE FOXTEL WAY

I love having so many documentary channels. The History of Science Fiction and HG Wells docos last Sunday night gave us enough excuse to invite Martin and Dr Izz over for din-dins and watching. We had a fabulous time, as we always do in their company, and I was especially pleased to learn that Isabelle is fascinated by Wells, something we share.

I find myself searching for ways to catch up with them before they depart for England at the end of the year. I’ve also decided that it’s all a clever plan on the part of Martin to increase his overseas sales– frustrated that he can sell to Australian magazines but not American or British ones (another thing we share…) he’s going to go over there, send stories back here, and they’ll count!

Cunning devil!

BUY MY UNWANTED CRAP!

This Saturday, from 10.30 to 3.30, at the Leederville Town Hall on Vinent Street, Swancon are holding a Geek Trash & Treasure as a fundraiser.

Luscious and I will be there, with the fruits of our book/comic/video cleanout. Nothing over 2 bucks, come on down!

ADVENTURES OF AN ADDICTED BOOK BUYING GUY

Luscious and the kids met me after work today, and we went into Fremantle to have a picnic and play in the park. But we needed to buy drinks, so we found a teeensy little bookstore with a coke machine….

And I found Walking with Dinosaurs: The Evidence and a hardback copy of Tales From Earthsea for ten bucks each. And we bought the drinks and left the shop inside 90 seconds of entering.

I am BOOKBUYMAN!!!!!!!!!!!

PROUD HUBBY TIME

As if it should have ever been in doubt, Luscious’ brilliant story from ASIM 17, The Memory of Breathing, has been picked up for Year’s Best Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror 2005.

In my humble opinion, it’s the best horror story of the year, and if it doesn’t make the Aurealis Awards short list at least, it’ll point out what a load of bollocks that particular award is. I’m an amazingly proud hisband right now, all the more because it’s so obviously a deserved recognition for a wonderful writer who has yet to hit her straps. When she does, nobody will be talking about me any more.

Of course, no one does now, but that’s not the point. Well done, my darling. You deserve it.

ON THE ROAD AGAIIIIINNNNN……

Well, here’s an announcement.

We’re moving.

The house is on the market, there’s a sign out the front, we’re leaving exotic Huntingdale and moving North of the River to facilitate the arrival of Aiden into our midst on a permanent basis. We’re looking at Clarkson, for any Perthites with a road map and sense of adventure. We’ve had half a dozen people through the house since Thursday, and we’ve not had an open house yet! The agent thinks that we’ll be hard done by if we don’t sell the place within 4 weeks.

It’s weird: I’ve a lot of emotional investment in this place, having bought 2 children home here, as well as my late wife Sharon and my darling Luscious. Almost all the plans I’ve made these last 5 years have involved being here, and inside 2 weeks of making the decision, half the house is packed away, and we’re one person from being out the door and never seeing the place again. I’m eager for somewhere new, excited at the thought of finding a house that Lyn and I can call ours from the very beginning, and yet there’s a tiny part of me that’ll want visiting rights. “Please, can’t I just see the patio every alternative weekend?”

On the other hand, it’s hard to argue with an appraisal that gives you a 240% profit on what you paid for the place 🙂

It was either this or a peaceful life. Pictures and advertorial as soon as I upload them.

A DOCTOR WHO JOKE WITH SPOILERS

Warning: if you’re one of the three people in this country not watching downloaded versions of the new Doctor Who series, look away now.

Thanks to the kindness of friends (and I can’t help but think it was their way of contributing to snapping me out of my depression. If so, it worked) I have a shiny DVD filled with the 1st seven episodes of the new Doctor Who series. We sat down with the kids and watched them on the weekend. We had to: the boys wouldn’t go back to their father’s house until we did 🙂

They’re all pretty damn good, but episode 6, Dalek, is perhaps the best episode of Doctor Who ever made. They’ve done with a single Dalek what nobody in 26 years was able to achieve with whole armies of the buggers: turn it into a genuinely terrifying machine of war. Based loosely on an audio play (I think) called Jubilee, the plot can be narrowed down to Single Dalek stalks entire compound of heavily armed and scared shitless humans. The story is by turns frightening, tense, and filled with such pathos and tenderness that you find yourself with tears in your eyes at the possible fate of a giant pepperpot with a latex muppet inside.

It gives nothing away to tell you that at one stage, in order to gain knowledge of his enemies, the Dalek accesses and downloads the entire internet in less than a minute.

Cassie’s comment? “My God. How much porn must he be watching?”

Dalek Porn. Don’t think visually…

I AM SERIOUS, AND DON’T CALL ME SHIRLEY.

How frustrating! Martin brought the comedy classic Flying High to the Sunday Movie Night (It is a comedy classic! It bloody is!), but the disc went spla part way through and so we didn’t get to see the whole thing. Mind you, as someone pointed out, Martin and I could probably have recreated the rest of the movie in 3D, so constantly were we quoting along with the action 🙂

I was having weird time traveller comedy moments all the way through: laughing at jokes that were 15 minutes away from being on the screen, as my memory ran ahead of what was being shown…

The biggest pain is that I now have to rent it out, and Flying High 2, so I can watch it properly.

THERE IS NO SAVING HER

What’s sadder than watching Big Brother? Watching it on the TV and at the same time having the webpage up on your laptop and scrolling through pages reading about it.

THE BLUE REVOLUTION CONTINUES

A lucky 2-all draw on the weekend, but we’ve got another point in the bag and remain undefeated. The mighty Bassendean Juniors juggernaut rolls on.

Aiden got some quality minutes under his belt, played as a striker in the first half and in central midfield in the second. He even got in a good, crunching tackle and made a header!

You know, the Premier League season has just ended, and clubs will be looking for holding midfielders…

POTATO PROGRESS

The boys and I placed the second tyre on the potatoes on the weekend, leaving a few shoots above the rim as the vaguely-remembered Better Homes & Gardens magazine had advised (I think). I went out to the backyard this morning, and those shoots are already high enough that I could put the third tyre on.

I think I’m raising triffids…

PISS OFF, DOROTHY

A tornado! A frigging tornado! A frigging tornado ran straight through Maddington, turned left, came down our street, destroyed the roof, fence, trees, and backyard of the guy across the street and left us completely alone!

Okay, some tubby girl and her dog knocked on the door and asked us if we’d seen a witch anywhere, but I just gave her 5 bucks and told her to see a counsellor. But a tornado! A frigging tornado!

Un-fucking-believable.

SMOOOOOOOTTTHHHHH….

Had a job interview yesterday, and as we were blacked-out because of the tornado, (A tornado! A frigging tornado!) I wasn’t able to shave, running razors across my face in the dark being one of my least favourite activities. There was only one thing for it: off to the barber’s.

I’ve been married twice, and each time wanted to have a proper shave at a barber’s on the morning, only to find it was unfeasible for various reasons. I tell ya, I was missing out. That shave was smooth, and I got a bit of an understanding as to why women and local gangsters in crappy mafia movies spend so much time and money on getting their hair and faces done. It ain’t cheap (44 bucks for the shave and a haircut) but the sense of confidence it gives you is worth a packet. This self-pampering business is seductive.

REVIEWY GOODNESS

Go here, and read a review of ASIM 17, in which the reviewer talks Luscious up like it’s going out of business. And it’s all deserved, too 🙂

AND PRESENTS TO BOOT!

A fabulous Mother’s Day yesterday. Lyn made out like a bandit: two herbal candles from Blake, a round red ornament from Aiden that was immediately dubbed “The Eye of Sauron” (and is my personal favourite), a gorgeous bath set from Cassie she made up herself out of things she knew Lyn would like, and all the kids combined to get her a 6-cup coffee plunger ( necessary!) and a 3-pack DVD set of the documentary series Empires, covering the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians.

We topped it off with lunch at Chatters, an Asian restaurant adored by Lyn and the kids, before we had to drop the children back at their father’s house.

Sometimes, the very perfection of an occasion can be what makes it terrible. Having to drop the kids off after such a wonderful day was twice as painful as normal. I can’t wait to get them back on Friday: we need a big weekend of fun, and they’re co-opted 🙂 After all, PRK‘s 30th birthday party is on Friday night, and the kids and he love each other’s company, so there’s a good start!

PAUL KIDD NEEDS TREATMENT

See? Told you so. I’d ring for the therapist myself, but I was too busy laughing my ass off.

THE MARCH TO GLORY CONTINUES

Three-two, threeeeeee-twwoooooooo…….

Take that, Kingsley. Who wants a piece of Bassendean Juniors, huh? Come on, who wants a piece of us? Huh? HUH?

Just give us the cup now and be done with it…

As an aside, one of the loveliest things about going to Aiden’s matches each week is his assertion to anyone that will listen that Connor is his lucky talisman, and that the team wins because Connor is on the sidelines. His showing off his little brother to his teammates is so damn cute!

KUNG FU HUSTLE AND BIG BROTHER

Thank God PRK bought over an insane Hong Kong film called Kung Fu Hustle to the Sunday Movie night last night, otherwise all I’d have had to entertain me was the opening episode of that piece of low vileness, Big Brother. Lyn loves it, which is the only reason I’m not stalking Dreamworld with a high-powered rifle right now. There is no lower example of the depth of human increptitude than this show. All involved should be burned at the stake so even the alien archaeologists can’t clone them.

There’s a much greater difficulty in good movie nights than bad. Everyone has a roughly similar view on what makes a movie bad, and how that can be entertaining. But what makes for a good movie, well, that’s a little more… personal. Which is why we’ve seen movies like Volcano High and Return To Oz in recent weeks, movies that leave me cold or indifferent, but which their owners love; and why movies I’d watch for pleasure, like Titus or Pi, have remained firmly shelved. One man’s meat is another’s two-hours-of-rhyming-couplets-kill-me-now

Kung Fu Hustle, on the other hand, is so deliciously bad I was in tears from beginning to end with uncontrolled laughter, as were the rest of the crew. I needed it Perky, I really did…

ONE MAN, AND VEGETABLES

We did the shopping for the vegetable co-op yesterday. Seven shares, meaning everything had to be bought in multiples of seven. Off we toddled to the Malaga Markets. Lyn had control of the pram, so I had the task of taking boxes to the checkout to pay for them.

So I’m standing there, a bloke on his own, a large box of vegetables in front of him.

Halfway through emptying said box for the checkout girl, I become aware of just how many eyes are watching…. seven broccoli… fourteen bok choi… twenty eight mushrooms… seven bunches of spring onions…. I don’t see anybody with him….

I love confusing the normals 🙂

INTERVIEW ARCHIVE

Ben Peek’s interviews have been archived by Tabula Rasa, for the amusement of alien archaeologists of the future.

Mine is here.

Luscious’ is here.

Then you can read everyone else’s 🙂

WHEN WRITERS COLLIDE

A fabulous dinner was had on Saturday night, when Martin Livings, Dr Iz, Shane Jiraiya Cummings and Angela Challis joined us for wine, apricot chicken, and double entendres. Apart from much shop talk (all but poor Iz being writers and/or editors of one stripe or another), and a bowl of chocolate mousse large enough to bathe in, the highlight for me was watching Lyn and Angela form an instant bond of friendship that had Shane and I wondering whether we were going to have to fight for who slept on the couch!

Another dinner is on the cards, and soon. I haven’t enjoyed an evening so much in a long time.

REAL LIFE (TM)

It’s been a tough couple of weeks, kids. It started when the court case hit another setback- the pre-trial conference which should have been held on the 5th of this month (meaning the whole thing would likely be over now) was pushed back to the 26th because (wait for it, you’ll love this one) the opposing lawyer forgot it was on and so didn’t tell her client. Now I could talk all day about the levels of shitbaggery involved in a stunt like that (oh, how I could talk), but after three years, all it leaves me is depressed.

Connor is teething, and hasn’t slept properly in weeks.

A relative presented me with a letter so vicious, so filled with hate and bile that the only recourse it gave me was to contact them and suggest we no longer associate. I am insecure about family as it is. Having one turn on me in such a fashion did nothing for my state of mind.

A major market rejected me, and in the next couple of days I found two friends had been accepted by that same market. Those friends are brilliant writers. But I’ve been blocked for so long, and struggling with motivation and need for writing, that the whole thing set me on my haunches. I’ve barely written a new word since January, and for someone who needs to write as much as I do, it’s like suffocating.

Some fucker snuck up to our house in the middle of the night and stole the large jade plant and pot that we keep by the front door.

Erin has been unsettled, wetting her bed on a couple of occasions, and waking up multiple times each night crying and needing attention. Coupled with Connor’s nights, neither Luscious or I have slept two consecutive hours for well over a month.

I dared not like a movie some friends liked (The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, fyi) and some of the reactions of people who did like it have had me wondering why I bother with fandom at all: I started out to be a writer, and somehow fell into fannish things along the way. Sometimes I can’t remember why.

I live in pretty much constant pain, the result of a car accident two months before Erin was born. I see a chiropractor on a regular basis, which generally does the trick. This last month, it hasn’t. Because I can only afford to visit him every three weeks, at best, it’s meant that I’ve been in a hell of a lot of pain for most of the last 4 weeks. To give you an indication: I cannot change my son’s nappy without it hurting. I cannot sit on a couch unless I am supported by the arm and back, and when I get up, it takes three separate movement to do so. I cannot sit in any other kind of chair for more than 10 minutes without pain. I saw the chiro on Friday, and experienced the first pain-free period in over a month. It lasted two days.

I’ve got an infection in my mouth and the bastard just won’t die!

So apologies to anybody who’s missed the dancing, juggling monkey-boy performances in the last little while. Lyn’s got me on a course of St John’s Wort and Ginkgo-Biloba, a natural depression remedy that doesn’t leave you feeling like a warmed-up zombie, and which has brilliant results for her when she has to deal with her own black dogs.

With any luck, normal dancing and juggling services will be resumed soon.