Whatever season you celebrate, or don’t, here’s to a safe and happy one, and to achieving whatever you set out to do in 2020.
Whatever season you celebrate, or don’t, here’s to a safe and happy one, and to achieving whatever you set out to do in 2020.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
Ah, one of my favourite times of the year, the pre-Christmas cookapalooza.
Today: balsamic cherries, Caesar dressing, glazed ham, roast chicken log.
Tomorrow: Egg nog, apricot bellini base, slow-cooked loaded potatoes, key lime pie, lemon meringue pie
Christmas morning: Mango salsa
It’s that time again. When songs about frolicking in the snow make a mockery of your heat-stroke. When everyone spends the day shoveling down roast everything with lava gravy instead of acting sensibly and filling a paddling pool with ice cream. When the average age of the family playlist is ‘deceased’.
Balls to that.
Christmas isn’t white, Bing Crosby was an alcoholic child abuser, and the Elf on the Shelf is a streak-of-piss little snitch who should be knee-capped and fed to the pigs.
Who’s up for some real Christmas music? And I don’t mean the saccharine puke extruded by the likes of Wham and Mariah Carey. I mean real music: something with guts and rhythm and an authenticity that doesn’t make you want to gun down everybody in the shopping centre.
5 for Friday: Contemporary Christmas Songs
Back in the long-distant past, my best friend Seanie and I bought each other a second-hand book for Christmas each year, because we were skint and it was a fun way to do it. The idea was to find a book that the other party would never buy for himself, but open opening the gift would say “Oh, yes. perfect!”
When Luscious rejoined Christmas a couple of years back, we revived the tradition. It was a nice way to do something individual, and thoughtful, and bought into our mutual bibliophilia. Last year, we included Ms 15 and Master 12, and made it a Secret Santa.
And this year, we expanded, drawing in our adult children and their partners, and organising things so that each couple contributed something for our two grandchildren, so that they ended up with the biggest swag of all. I assigned a name to each family member. We stuck to a $20 limit. Every book had to be second hand, and conform to the gift-giving “perfect!” philosophy that Seanie and I set 25 years ago.
Last night, we gathered at our house. I make a bucket of eggnog, Luscious made a bucket of macaroni cheese, everyone added to a bucket of chips and dip and nibblies and chocolate. And we settled in to receive our books.
So here we are: three generations of Triffbatts, with our Secret Santa books. This is how traditions start.
Christmas is one of those subjects that makes ripe pickings for a cartoonist. So to say Happy Robanukah to y’all, and because I plan to spend actual Presentapalooza Day liying under the table half-cut singing rude songs about your Nanna, here’s a couple from the vaults, a day early:
Over at the Angry Robot website, I’ve joined in their 12 Days of Christmas series of guest posts with a missive discussing my somewhat… convoluted… relationship with that time of year when we teach children that it’s okay for a drunk, fat stranger to force cattle to pull heavy loads across millions of miles without rest, feed or palliative care whilst he commits several million B&Es to leave gifts for small children without anyone ever once mentioning the concept of grooming….
You’ve been with me long enough to know what I’m like. Won’t it be fun exposing the Angry Robot readers to my way of thinking? >:)
The whole post is here. Go, read, comment, scare the shit out of the Angry Robot overlords when they realise how many of us there are……
Hope it’s been a good few days for you all, no matter how (or not) you celebrate (or not) the period.
It’s been a mix of most excellent (in my best Bill and Ted voice) and catastrophic here at the Batthaim. We’re currently neck deep in plastic dinosaurs, little egg-shaped iPod speakers, fishing rods, watercolour pencils, jewellery and reading material (I myself received a much-needed new wallet and a funky biography of Charles Manson), and the children are running around like mad things with their cousin Tanika who stayed the night after coming for a barbecue with Lyn’s brother Roger and his partner Cassie last night. Christmas is always a balancing act between our desire to give each other cool things and Lyn’s religious convictions (which include not acknowledging Christmas or birthdays), so we end up usually just having something that can best be described as “Present Day with Food splurge”. It seems to work well enough.
Which is all balanced by our airconditioner blowing up a few day ago, our reticulation system blowing up a few days after and our garage door deciding yesterday to come off its hinges and get stuck to the point where no human agency can move it. As it’s currently shielding the work car I have to get back to work on the 4th, this is just a teensy bit of a problem. Annnd also an indicator that I’ll be spending 2011 as poor and under the cosh as 2010.
Be that as it may, I do have something in the gift department for you all: the Christmas edition of Terra Incognita, Keith Stevenson’s fantastic SF podcast series, features not one, but two stories: my own In From The Snow, and my good friend Jason Fischer’s extraordinary Undead Camels Ate Their Flesh, which features Jasoni singing the Undead Camels song.
That’s right! Jasoni singing! How can you pass that up?
Go. Listen. Enjoy. And here’s to a happy and profitable 2011 to you all.
…from the interwebs for a few days, anyway.
Enjoy the season, everyone. Enjoy, enjoy enjoy. Here’s to a giant ninja assassin daikaiju monster robot year for me in 2009: y’all can have whatever year will fill you with froody! 🙂
We don’t do the traditional capitalist Western Christmas thing at the Batthome: Lyn’s religious beliefs are such that she does not partake, so those of us who do, do it in as compromisey a way as possible so that we all get a taste of what we want from the season. This year, Erin and Connor are spending the day at their Nanna’s house (who Christmasses LARGE), while Aiden is at his Dad’s (it’s his turn). Lyn and I will be enjoying each other’s company alone, with a side trip to her brother and sister-in-law’s place to eat, drink, and play with our neice for a couple of hours. Come boxing days, the Triffbattlets return, and we settle in for a day of justusness.
So to all who partake, in whatever form of seasonal celebration you choose, may it be happy and fulfilling and full of frood. And to those who choose not to partake, best wishes to you too: imho the right to choose not to partake is as important as the right to join in, and I hope that the coming week is a good one for you.
And to all of you, thanks for dropping by this year. I’m taking a few days off, so big walloping ones for a killer 2009, everyone.
I have a cheese platter, a four-pack of Guinness, and a beautiful wife. I’m gonna go and enjoy them all now 🙂
From that paragon of cool, Jason Crowe, a timely warning for Christmas present-buying men.
Think long, think hard.
Well, it was supposed to be a quiet one, but by the time we’d dropped children off, picked children up, lunched with friends, unwrapped presents, quaffed, imbibed, hung out, yakked, cursed the heat and put batteries into all the toys, it was… pretty usual, really, despite the lack of Christmas decorations and the associated stress of balancing the requirements of an atheist, a returning Jehovah’s Witness, and a bunch of insane children.
And don’t you just hate it when you turn up at a party and some bitch is wearing the same dress as you? How about when you and your Bonus Son buy each other exactly the same present? Kudos to Lyn for keeping a straight face while Aiden and I swapped gifts: a house with two Face of Boe action figures is a house with two happy nerds indeed!
For the record, I received a biography of Dave Allen and a beautiful garden ornament from my sweetie, and ate more chocolate than any three premenstrual women I know.
Happy fat man.
NEW YEAR’S EVE
What could be more cruisin’? Hanging out at the new (and beautiful) abode of Martin and Dr Izz along with good pals Shane and Angela, piles of pizza before us and nowt else to do but chat, drink, chow down, curse the memory of 2007 and talk up our chances of a successful year ahead. It was the perfect way to raise a middle digit to the year just gone, and remind ourselves that good friends are better than bad family, any day.
10 SONGS FOR AN ALTERNATIVE XMAS SOUNDTRACK
You know, and I know, and that guy over there knows, that Christmas carols suck the farts out of dead pigeons. But you know, and I know, that for some reason known only to themselves, shopping centres and every relative you have that holds a party you’re forced to attend despite the fact you’re quite happy with the fact that you haven’t seen them since last Christmas don’t seem to understand the suckage of these vile and saccharine odes to Bing Crosby’s ongoing need to fund his child beating activities. (Heya, Bing. Don’t ever change, you lovable and heart-wearming dead guy, you, dooby-dooby-doo)
So, by way of a public service, and in an effort to get some rock and roll (not to mention discord) into your family drunken-street-cricket shenanigans this year, allow me to present Battersby’s 10 Songs to beat Rudolph to Death With list.
1. Apocalypso- Mental As Anything. Santa gets drunk while the world blows itself up. Yeah, baby!
2. Happy Xmas (War is Over)- John Lennon. So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Got shot? Wow, bummer.
3. Oi To The World- The Vandals. Smelly punks try to be sincere about playing nice at Christmas. Head-bangy and snurky all at once.
4. This is Christmas- Slade. Everybody else gets loaded and shouts Christmas songs at the top of their voice to cover up the fact they don’t remember the lyrics, why shouldn’t Noddy Holder?
5. Santa’s Beard- They Might Be Giants. Someone pretends to be Santa in order to move into the narrator’s house and prong his wife. Sounds like a lot of hard work to me.
6. Do They Know It’s Christmas?- Band Aid. Feed the world and destroy the ozone layer getting your hair ready for the film clip. Here’s a tip on how you can feed Africa- take the buffet table away from Simon Le Bon.
7. Detachable Penis- King Missile. Has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas in any capacity, but just watch Nanna choke on her plum pudding when she realises what it *is* about.
8. Men’s Room, LA- Kinky Friedman. A sensitive, soul-affirming song about a man having a conversation with the picture of Jesus he’s just about to use to wipe his ass. First time I heard it, I laughed an entire Christian out my nose.
9. Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis- Tome Waites. So all-encompassingly depressing it could be a country and western song. Suicides skyrocket during Christmas. Play this for your family and watch them join the statistics.
10. The Little Drummer Boy- Joan Jett. Leather clad lesbian rockers who make songs about innocent boys beating drums give Lee a hardon.
Let me know how you get on…
THE SHORTLIST OF THE YEAR
Congratulations to everyone who copped a mention in the Aurealis Awards shortlist for this year. You can see the full list here. Pats on back and manly hugs especially to pal and fellow West Australian Shane Jiraiya Cummings— a little validation for some struggles in the face thereof, I hope.
ANOTHER OF THOSE “IS IT JUST ME?” MOMENTS
Watching the ridiculous amounts of time and effort expended by work acquaintances (I shudder to use the word ‘colleagues’) in putting up acres of christmas decorations over every square inch of ceiling, cubicles, and filing cabinets, can I be the only one tempted to inform management that I’m a Satanist and demand equal representation…?
“Hey! Hey, you! The dumpy middle aged woman in the elf hat! Yeah, you! Find somewhere to hang this upside-down Jesus-taking-it-from-a-goat doll, would you?”
OVER…… IT’S ALL OVER……….
I think she likes it. (Camera-toting hubby breathes sigh of relief)
Lunch. The verdict? Buuuuuuurrrppppp….
Song of the Moment: Hungry Like The Wolf Richard Cheese
WHO AM I TO ARGUE?
CHRISTMAS TOYS FROM HELL
“Mummy, I don’t like the way Santa touches me…”
I HAD TO USE MY LJ NAME TO GET THIS, BUT…..
Nine andrewsarchus coupling? Ohhhhhhhh *boggle*….
Check it out. If nothing else, at least we’re not talking about writing 🙂
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL FACES IN THE WORLD
Connor suffered a nightmare yesterday morning and woke me up, screaming and crying my name. I went in to his room and picked him up, whereupon he immediately reached out and locked the death-grip-hug around my neck, and snuggled his face hard into my chest. This was one boy who wasn’t going to take well to going back in his cot. It was just before 5am, so I brought him into bed with us. He slid across me chest into the crook of my arm, wriggled about a bit, and fell back to sleep.
Disturbed by my re-entry, Lyn rolled over into the crook of my other arm, wriggled about a bit, and fell back to sleep.
So there I was, on my back, wide awake, arms around my beautiful wife and beautiful son, and enough light in the room to see them clearly. And they looked so peaceful, so restful, their faces unlined and clear of worry or upset, their hands resting against my chest so lightly, their skin so soft and smooth against my arms, that it was impossible for me to go back to sleep. I was entranced, looking from one face to another, until the alarm went off an hour later and the day began.
It’s the loveliest morning moment I’ve had to myself in a long time.
UP IT GOES!
The Christmas Tree went up on the weekend. Lyn and her kids didn’t do Christmas for years, so the raising of the tree is a big moment for them, and, you know, Erin and Connor are 5 and 2 🙂
Every year we create a new decoration to hang: in 2004 we made a star & bauble-shaped hanger, last year it was little crackers, and this year I made a bunch of frames from pop sticks, which we decorated and drew a picture to fill. Cassie chose not to be with us, for the first time, and she’s got some apology ground to make up after a performance and a half on her last visit, so there’s still a frame and paper waiting for her. But the rest of us gathered around the textas and glue, and enjoyed our annual craft moment.
And then the tree came out of the shed, and the box of decorations, and the kids slowly and inexorably lost their minds 🙂 Erin had brought home a big bag of self-made decorations from school, so the paper plate wreath and the cardboard streamer had to find homes, as well as the tinsel and the extruded plastic cheery things. The dining room was cleared of table and chairs. The branches of the this-is-not-coming-to-Brisbane-with-us tree were folded down. And then the riot began– candy canes and crackers and tinsel and picture frames and climbing Santa figurines and the hat for the top because we don’t do stars and angels and the teddy bear and the wire reindeer and the ceramic Santa kicking the soccer ball and baubles and the indescribable scribbly things and the other ceramic Santa bouncing the basketball and Connor’s eaten one of the candy canes and oh well I guess we’d better have one as well and the hangers and the danglers and the balls and the wire things and this one’s broken and when did we get that one and wait a minute wait a minute! Move that one and that one there and step back everyone and……
And you know what? It looks great 🙂
Aiden unwraps his new Hitler action figure with optional red party wig
Still life: loonies with tree
Still life… wait, we did that gag, didn’t we?
Shove the lid on, wrap the box, and who can we send them to?
Song of the moment: Jump, They Say David Bowie
Reading: Endangered Species Gene Wolfe
WHAT I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS
There seem to be a few Christmas wish list posts popping up here and there: I want this, get me that, validate me in this way…..
So, because, you know, I combine sheep and ego in equal measure:
I want an agent, and I want all my children, blood & bonus, with me for one day of peace and happiness. I want the world to leave us alone for one day.
IT WON’T MAKE ME READ ANY MORE OF HER BLOODY AWFUL BOOKS
Song of the moment: The Equestrian Statue The Bonzo the Dog Doo Dah Band
Reading: Still on that Marquez-edited gathering of fantastical ephemera. Odd little thing that it is.
BATTBOY CATCHES UP
Okay, a bunch of things since the last post, so yoiks and away:
XMAS, THE MAKING OUT LIKE A BANDIT SEASON
So what was the point of packing away all the kids toys, when everybody just goes and buys more for them than we’d packed? My God, did the kids make out this year. My personal vote for cool present– the ant farm we gave Aiden, which uses not boring old dirt and earth but translucent blue gel developed on a space shuttle mission in an attempt to manufacture viable food sources for astronauts. Of course.
I did quite nicely myself, as it happens: 2, count them 2 volumes of the collected works of Theodore Sturgeon (Luscious and Fantastic Planet, I love you), a make your own Neanderthal head kit (from the kids. They know me so well.), the LP player for my computer I’ve been coveting, a CD/MP3 player for the car (all I have is a tape deck in my little green runabout)…. and in a long -standing tradition (ie: we did it for the first time this year), Lyn and I decided we would give each other a second-hand book as part of our presents, so I recieved the Best of SF&F.
Yay for me 🙂
Oh, and a couple of days before the event, Luscious came back from the video store with an ex-rentla copy of Finding Neverland for me, and a couple of days after, walked in and presented me with the DVD of War of The Worlds (NOT the Tom the Weenie version, tyvm!). Just because.
She loves me.
BATTERSBY ON THE WEB
The ultra-groovy and luvverly Anna Tambour has asked both Luscious and I whether she can post a story at her website. So as of this very moment, you can go here and read my story A Stone To Mark My Passing. Originally published in the CSFG anthology Elsewhere, it scored a mention in the Datlow/Windling Recommended Reading List, and is one of my better tales, imho. Go, read, enjoy. Consider it a taste of the coming-who-knows-when collection, where it will also appear.
Lyn’s story Simeon The Monkey will be up soon, and I’ll let you know.
ANOTHER NICE MOMENT OF RECOGNITION
On top of my Aurealis Awards nomination comes the news that Father Muerte & The Rain has been selected for inclusion in Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror: The Best of 2005. Pater Familias will cop a mention in the Recommended Reading list. Lyn’s brilliant story The Memory of Breathing will also be reprinted in the book, so start saving, Battfans.
SO SOON, SO SOOOOONNNNN……
You know how most drownings actually take place in sight of shore?
4 days until the new house is ours. 4 daaaaayyyyysssss…..
A NEW YEAR, A NEW SET OF RESOLUTIONS TO BREAK
Okay, so I’m going to: lose 10 kilos, write 10 stories and attempt to sell as many, write and sell a new novel, and I’ve set an amount of money I want to earn over and above my regular wages to contribute to the mortgage.
A nice task I set myself is to start each year by beginning a new story on the 1st of January, no matter what projects I’m already working on. Yesterday, I had 2 ideas while showering (I do some of my best work in the shower…), so Escapees and The Adding Machine have been added to the universal consciousness. I’ll let you know when they’re done.
WE’RE NOT GOING TO A PARTY, OR WHAT WE DID ON NEW YEAR’S EVE AND AFTER
So neither of us wanted to go to a party, we were both feeling peopled out and just wanted to stay at home, and Lyn felt the need for a personal shopping break. And while she was out I packed a million and a half boxes and was feeling pretty good about my work. And she bought herself 3 tops and a skirt for 70 bucks.
Which is why we ended up at PRK and Tori’s NYE gathering after all 🙂
It was fun, for the most part, although the two halves of the party who didn’t know each other seemed unable to share more than a few words before the inevitable butting in of mutual pals distracted everyone. Still, I had fun talking music with Sheldon, Chesh & the Perky One, and because of the kids we left late enough to have had a fab time and early enough not to feel drained. Apart from one pillock who needs a talking to I can’t be bothered to give them, it was a casual and entertaining night, and damn good for my spirits.
Yesterday, halfway through the afternoon, bogged off with packing and in possession of hamburgers and buns, we rang up Calli and Chesh and spent the early evening eating home-made burgers, chips from the chishunfip shop and downing cold drinkies. Which was pretty near the perfect way to end the day.
The older I get, the more I want my social gatherings small, intimate, intelligent and casual. And that’s just what I got yesterday. Aaaahhhhh.
LUNCH WITH LILY
A pleasant afternoon was spent in the company of Lily Chrywenstrom today, long time pal and editrix of the stylish magazine Fables And Reflections. Apart from using the occasion to thrust a story upon her, Luscious and I enjoyed the chance for a delightful conversation over lunch, and then the three of us wandered over to the nearby Elizabeth’s and went bookshopping. There’s something quite intimate about shopping for books with other people. You get a glimpse into their psyche from an angle you might not otherwise see, and any sharing of passions is an intimate thing. And booty was rescued from the cruel clutches of the shelves– I walked away with an old Kitchen Sink Press graphic novel entitled The Upturned Stone, a biography of Elizabethan mystery man Dr John Dee (Is that a Muerte plot I feel unfolding?), and a copy of Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary.
I am a happy fat little Bierce fan tonight, my friends.
Back to work tomorrow, but at least it’s only a 3 day week, what with having Friday off for house moving purposes.
Song of the moment: Wuthering Heights Kate Bush
Happy birthday to our darling Erin, who turned 4 on Monday, and who made out like a bandit! Although we might have to revisit how often we eat out: when asked what she wanted to do for her birthday, the immediate reply was “Sizzlers!”, so out we trooped on Sunday for massive plates of serve-yourself, ice-cream, and all the cool drink we could imbibe.
What stops Luscious and I in our mental tracks sometimes is the knowledge of the individual ways in which each of our children are special in our lives: in Erin’s case, she is the thread that brought our two families together and made them one. It was the love she showed to Lyn & the Triffkids, and the love she engendered in return, that gave us the platform to become the family we are. She may be a typically stroppy, headstrong and frustrating 4 year old sometimes, but she deserves all the love and goodness that comes her way.
And she even does a good job of cleaning up her room…
All her dreams come true: a present bigger than her entire body.
ON A HIGH
It was a week for being proud of children. Aiden graduated primary school, and we went along to his graduating ceremony on a bitterly cold and windy evening to see him accept his memorial cup and photo. Now every time he drinks hot chocolate he’ll think of his former classmates….
The differences between the boy I met almost 3 years ago and the young man he is rapidly becoming are palpable. Aiden is only 12, but he is a man in the making: strong in his opinions; unique in his likes and dislikes; with a gentleness and maturity I find rare in the adult world, never mind in the milieu of the pre-teen, where such qualities are as often derided as rewarded.
I was overwhelmed with pride to see him take the next step along his path, and Luscious was teary the whole night. My only disappointment was in not being able to souvenir a poster of the boy himself, created by his Year One ‘buddy’ (the school has a great little system where the older kids take responsibility for a teensy person, and help them adjust). Still, we managed a photo, so here ’tis:
Do the right things and one day you may be immortalised in cut-outs
TWO YEARS COUNTS AS A TRADITION
So last year I bullied the wholefamily into sitting down together and creating a Christmas decoration to hang on the tree. This year I got as far as “Shall we make ou….” and they’d started.
Here’s a hint: if you buy a new tree, make sure you take notice of the size. Seven feet is significantly higher than six, especially if you have trouble refraining from singing “Hi Ho Hi Ho” every time you see your family standing together. Guess who got all the high jobs?
The tree is up, it looks brill, and I love watching everyone gather round and put the decorations up. Last year’s stars and this year’s bon bons define what Christmas should be about for me: a sense of reward for seeing your family through another year, and the knowledge that whatever happens, you are together.
But boy we had to move a bunch of furniture to fit the sodding tree in. Thank god the new house is bigger…
Attack of the Christmas Midgets!
EVERYTHING IS MOVING UPWARDS
Walking has been achieved. Walking a lot has been achieved. The C-Train is mobile!
THE WAY THINGS CHANGE
Was a time that paying off my mortgage would have been a big thing. It was the one thing I had pencilled in from the day we started the compensation case. Well, the money came in, we dumped it on the mortgage, the next day all trace of it was gone from our bank records, and….. nothing. No sense of achievement, no satisfaction, nowt.
Things have moved on too far, too fast. This house is a relic of a past from which I am dedicated to removing myself. A new house, and a new chapter of my life, awaits. All my energies, hopes, and desires are aimed towards the future. It’s a good future, damn it, and I want to be there, with my family, my writing, and with all the baggage left in the past where it belongs.
SSSSHHHHH: SECRET SQUIRREL
This is weird: I made a sale the other day, and I can’t tell you about it. It’s my first sale under a pseudonym, and I’ve got a damn good cone of silence going over this name, so I plan to keep it.
Maybe some clues when it’s published….
BRAZIL, CROATIA AND JAPAN
Oh crap. We’re screwed. At least we won’t have to beat Uruguay to get to 2010.
Song of the moment: The Piano Has Been Drinking Tom Waites