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 🙂

IT’S BEEN A WHILE

Yeah, it has, hasn’t it. Much Real Life ™ has been the cause. Anyway, moving on….

TWO THOUGHTS THAT OCCUR TO ME WHILST WATCHING MATT JAMES ON THE CITY GARDENER

1. Cor, I love the gardens he creates

2. Why, in 5 years of high school guidance counsellors, did nobody ever offer ‘celebrity gardener’ to me?

THE HIDDEN SECRET OF THE MELBOURNE CUP

It’s just a fucking horse race.

BATTERSBY’S OBSCURE ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS FOUND IN THE DUSTY CORNERS OF POPULAR CULTURE: THE FIRST IN A SERIES

Where: The Best of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Ballantine Books, page 378
Answer: No, it was Keith David.

FOR I HAVE BOOKS!

Reading has been high on the agenda at the Batthome in days recent: a plethora of books have come our way, courtesy of contributor copies and the good folks at Powell’s. To whit:

My contributor’s copies of Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror Volume 20 and Year’s Best Australian SF & Fantasy Volume 3 are here, both of which contain Father Muerte & The Flesh.

Daikaiju III, the last of Rob Hood & Robin Pen’s outrageous and fun Daikaiju series stomped into the house as well, containing Beached. Lyn’s story Born of Woman is a highlight of DII, so pick them both up at the same time and see how differently we treat the same brief.

And thanks to the Lords of Paypal, The Best of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet now sits upon my reading table. By turns outlandish and delightful, this is rapidly becoming my book of the year, filled with a terrifically entertaining array of weirdness. It’s certainly the most I’ve been engaged in a book since reading The Book of slipstream earlier in the year.

MOVIE PROGRESS

Contracts arrived, were signed, and sent back. Now we wait for the Director to read the script and decide on what (if anything, he says with an air of utter naivete) needs changing. The project remains at a fork: we still move forward, although, should the producers fail to attract a shooting budget, and the film not reach principal photography stage, I could still walk away with nothing but a large chunk of the year chalked up to experience.

Dear God, I’m a simple man…….

CLARION 2009 TUTORS ANNOUNCED

Durnit: I had a blast at Clarion South 2007, and it stands as a highlight of my professional career. But I’ve not made the cut as far as being invited back to teach again next time out. That, however, is my disappointment. You, on the other hand, should be very excited indeed by the ‘greatest hits’ lineup of former tutors who have been announced as your guides through the emotional and professional bombardment that will be Clarion South 2009. In no particular order except the actual order in which they’ll appear, they are:

Sean Williams
Marianne de Pierres
Margo Lanagan
Jack Dann
And two entire weeks of Kelly Link & Gavin Grant.

Call me biased, but to me, that’s a genuinely exciting line up.

A CRYPTIC MESSAGE OF LOVE TO TWO OF OUR LOVELIEST FRIENDS

Star Wars on the accordion to you both, guys. We miss you.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY BEAUTIFUL BOY

Connor turned 2 yesterday. He wasn’t with us: it was his weekend with his grandmother, and he doesn’t get them overly often. But we made sure to have cake with dinner when he came home, and he’s sharing a party with Erin next weekend (it’s her 5th birthday in a fortnight) which we’re going to make a big, fun, special occasion.

I’ve talked before about what a miracle Connor is: how hard it was for me to agree to have another child in the wake of Erin’s birth; how we almost lost him a couple of times during the preganancy; the pain Lyn experienced carrying him to term. And the problems he’s encountered since his birth have been a constant source of fear: he’s undergone an operation to correct a crossed eye; he’s suffered language problems and a multitude of serious fevers. His health is not the heartiest. He suffers periods of interrupted sleep, and night terrors are regular visitors.

And yet, he’s fearless, which simply increases mine– how to explain the nervousness when he engages in his favourite game of climb onto the back of the couch and see where the full blooded leap takes me? Or when his begging to be lifted up succeeds, and his first act upon reaching your chest is to throw himself backwards, laughing, full of trust that you’ll catch him before he crashes upside-down into the floor?

How to explain the delight of rolling around the bed with him in a big hug, laughing and nuzzling his neck? Or playing fingerpistols? (point finger, make shooting noise, fall down dramatically, laughing) Or the giggle that rises unbidden when chasing his squealing form around the living room in an impromptu game of chasey? Singing the chorus to “We will rock you” together, complete with clapping and dancing? Or watching him watching the finches in their cage as if each fluttering movement was the most exciting event in the world?

Every moment with him is a burst of emotional extremes. He makes my heart pulse. so happy birthday, my darling, beautiful boy. And thank you, because you do not know what it is you have changed in me.


Moments after birth. So hard to get here, so much to come.


2 years old today. My little boy.


With his Mum. Cheeeeeeeessseeeee!

WHOOSH, SWISH, NEEEEE-OOOOWWWWMMMMMMMMM……….

Broadband has been connected. Don’t things move more quickly? 🙂

The only down side is that, now we can use the phone and internet connection at the same time, we have to answer the damn phone when it rings instead of using the answering service to screen calls.

Oh well, it’s a small price to pay. Whooooooosssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhh………………..

I AM ARTMAN!

Hard work all weekend to get things ready for the birthdays party. Part of which involved a project I’ve been leading up to for some time: the conversion of our second shed into a cubby house for the kids. They had a beautiful big wooden one at the old house, which we had to leave behind, and I’ve been determined to offer a replacement as soon as I could.

So much of yesterday involved cleaning the shed out, de-crawlyfying the space, adding the necessary garden bench, blackboards, toy chest and posters. And then, because there is no punishment I will not inflict upon myself, the painting, humphing about, and placement of 8 concrete slabs into a path to the door.

900-mill square concrete slabs are heavy.

But Artman must have his day. And I’m quietly pleased at the result (quiet: adj. talking about it on a public weblog with a potential audience in the millions.)


Weeee’re off to see the wizard….

Satisfaction is cleaning up the patio in the evening and hearing the kids shouting “Onnne, twoooo, threeee…” from the cubby house end of the garden.

AND INTRODUCING MY FAITHFUL SIDEKICK, CRAFTBOY!

Not to be outdone, Aiden threw himself into a science project this week that involved presenting a paper on a dinosaur of his choice, as well as building a visual aid.

Casting aside all offers of aid (because, sometimes, dinosaurs are too cool to share), he disappeared into his room with the deadline looming, and returned with this: presenting (from left to right) Ornithochirus Marks II and I.

I hope he gets them back when they’ve been marked. We can hang them over the patio 🙂

Pssst: your frame is showing…

Song of the moment: I’m The Urban Spaceman The Bonzo The Dog Doo Dah Band
Reading: The Book of Fantasy Jorge Luis Borges (ed), Take The Joy Jane Yolen

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.