BIBLIOPHILIA: THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

  1. The only places to purchase new books in Karratha are K-Mart and the airport. Karratha does not have a dedicated book store.
  2. The actual best bookstore in Karratha is the Tip Shop, which has an extensive collection of thrown-out books of variable quality for ten cents each.
  3. Even so, it’s hardly a bloody Mecca as far as book buying goes.
  4. Let’s not even talk about graphic novels.
  5. Luscious, the kids, and I spent the first week of these school holidays with our adult kids in Toodyay.
  6. We spent about half a day in Perth and a similar amount of time in Fremantle.
  7. Book stores.
  8. Luscious is 5ft 0 tall.

 

Book stack

 

HAPPY AUSTRALIA-FOR-MOST-OF-US DAY

I love living in Australia. I love being Australian. I get highly shitty when anyone plays the “You’re a pom, you’re not a real Australian” card on me. I’ve been resident in this country since I was 5, a citizen since I was 11. I watch the world. This is, in many ways, a truly great, great country in which to live.

So wouldn’t it be nice to make it great for everyone? Not just in the relative political, judicial, and social safety we enjoy without thinking about; but emotionally and (though I hate to use the word), spiritually, as well. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a day we could all feel that good about, without having to really consider the implications? If, instead of hearing somebody say This date causes my people pain because of these reasons, the response was less Strayaloveitorleaveitturnbacktheboatsfootygobackwhereyousecamefrom and more How can we help lessen your pain? ? More, I don’t know… Australian?

Wouldn’t it be nice just not to have to argue about it, because we could simply. just. agree? Continue reading “HAPPY AUSTRALIA-FOR-MOST-OF-US DAY”

AWAY, AWAY, WHERE ONLY MEMORY CAN FIND YOU… AND PHOTOS…. AND GPS… AND WHEREIS… AND, YOU KNOW, PRETTY MUCH EVERYONE KNOWS.

I don’t know when you started your year, but for me, this is the first weekend of 2016.

For the first time in six years, I’ve actually managed to have some proper holidays, and while New Year’s resolutions are fine and dandy and wonderfully worthwhile things, I’m damned if I’m going to remember what they are when I’m sitting in a Kripsy Kreme at 10 o’clock at night with a vanilla slice doughnut in one hand and a fuck-off-sized banana malt milkshake in the other.

In other news, we spent a week in Melbourne, and yesterday I recorded a 1.7kg gain at my Weight Watchers weigh-in……

Nominally, the trip happened because the kid’s grandparents took them away for a week, but it was really a chance for me to exhibit at my 2nd Lego exhibition, the incredible Brickvention, where something in the region of 26,000 members of the public descended upon the Royal Exhibition Building to view the works of Lego artists from all over the country, for Lyn to catch up with her cousin Sue, and for us both to catch up with our good friend Grant Watson. Plus, you know, Melbourne.

Let’s start with the Lego, shall we?

BRICKVENTION

I’ve been niggling abut getting over to this massive exhibition for a couple of years now. Brickvention 2016 took place at the Royal Exhibition Building, a beautiful old building next to the Victorian Museum. The 2-day exhibition is preceded by an AFOL day: an entire day set aside for seminars, mutual admiration, frenzied discounted-sets buying, fan auctions, lectures, drinking and an enormous game of Dirty Brickster. The day started at 9am. We arrived in Melbourne at 6am. It’s fair to say that working a full day, then going straight to the airport to catch a red-eye flight, then dropping your exhausted wife off in the middle of a strange City by herself while you fuck off for 12 hours of self-indulgent Lego activity is not a practice I’ll replicate next time I do this event.

I have a very loving wife.

The AFOL day itself was a lot of fun. Registration was accompanied by a goodies bag that would be the envy of most of the professional conventions I’ve attended– a backpack stacked with free Lego, including an exhibition-exclusive set designed by Australian AFOL Shannon Sproule; branded high-quality water bottle; exhibitor t-shirt; and a range of vouchers designed to make me feel welcome and pampered. Bloody worked, too. Once I’d picked up my goodies and signed up for some of the ore interesting events, I sahayed into the several-thousand square feet building to admire the astonishing skills of the other builders, and meet my co-exhibitors.

Due to distance, unfamiliarity, and weight restrictions, I was making perhaps the smallest contribution of any exhibitor: a 32×32-stud module towards a Micropolis collaborative build. Micropolis refers to a tiny-scale modular City built collaboratively by any number of contributors: the Brickvention version contained contributions from Queensland, South Australia and Victoria as well as my spaceport-in-a-backpack. I placed my little offering at the edge of the city, met and chinwagged with Cherie and Shaun Patrick, Queenslanders who had made the journey down to be a part of the build, then spent the rest of the day wandering around in my own little world, taking photos, going back again and again to the commercial stalls for just one more custom-printed block or baseplate, and generally geeking out like a geeky little geeker geek.

After meeting Luscious for dinner, we both trooped back to the hall to show Lyn the much-more-impressive-than-her-husband’s works on display and to finish the night off with Dirty Brickster, a round-table game that involves unwrapping mystery Lego packages and then madly stealing them off each other while the rest of the crowd hoots and hollers in mock outrage. Having picked up a sweet submarine set at 20% off earlier in the day, I set my eyes on a duplicate that was unwrapped late in the game, and came away with it in a state of high glee, the calls of ‘Dirty Brickster’ loud in my ears as I casually swiped it from the person who’d swiped it from the person who’d swiped it from the person who unwrapped it. Stolen three times, the set was officially out of the game and under my chair: a great part pack of colourful elements that will find their way into a spaceship MOC very soon.

Saturday and Sunday were spent behind our display table, answering questions and chatting to the unending stream of visitors who attended the public exhibition, bar a couple of hours on Saturday when I snuck out to join Luscious at the National Gallery’s Hamer Hall to see visiting naturalist Steve Backshall on stage, a pre-paid performance that was a much-anticipated highlight of the trip. And then, after three days of full Lego immersion, it was all over, and I said goodbye to new friends like Damien Saunders and Paulius Stepanius, and old ones like Sue Ann Barber, and headed out into the night for four days in the supposed cultural capital of Australia with Lyn.

Before that, though, we’re going to need a gallery:

Brickvention! After 7 hours on a plane, a 45 minute walk from the hotel, and 27 hours since any form of sleep, I make it!
The Royal Exhibition Building is a modest, understated little thing…
Modest. Understated.
It’s hard to decide what the design brief for the lights were, but ‘giant, fuck-off’ seems to have been mentioned… 
40 feet above our heads, someone has folk-arted flowers on the ceiling. Which begs the question: who even decides to haul a Nanna that high, and how do they do it?
My modest little contribution joins the table.
The full Micropolis display, with my module on the right side. 7 contributors from WA, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria, including Sue Ann Barber, Cherie and Shaun Patrick, and Tim Burdon.
Every exhibitor received a brick-built badge consisting of 1×6 bricks with their name and the exhibition year engraved upon them. Here, AFOL Tim Matheson models a multi-year badge that might just have taken the whole concept over the edge……
Scottish builder and author Warren Elsmore takes us through his work.
Dirty brickster…. dirty brickster……
So many displays, even a dedicated NoLSO (Non-Lego Significant Other) like Luscious can find one she wants to be seen with.
A mildly popular event……
And what of the displays themselves? Here is a small (and I mean small) selection of what was on display. Where I know the name of the artist I’ve denoted it, but nonetheless, mad skills abound. 
Even in brick form, the Lancaster is a thing of beauty.

Ryan McNaught’s Titanic. An absolute behemoth about 6 feet high and eight long, with unbelievable detail and narrative moment in every inch. 

He also contributed this. I’m sure he processes tax forms or something equally boring in his spare time…

As if that wasn’t enough, Ryan also undertook a live ‘mystery build’ with patrons over the two days, creating these life-size, wearable and sittable, versions of the classic 886 space set. Talented sod.
Audrey, by Tim Burdon.
A classic space diorama by Donna Mee and family, from Tasmania, that had me drooling in nostalgia lust.

 

SHIP is an acronym that stands for Seriously Heavy Investment in Parts. Any questions?
God, I love spacecraft. 

Classic Space SHIP. I actually heard my inner ten year old squee.

More airborne beauty.

M-Tron. A space series that arrived after I had moved on from my childhood collecting. That colour scheme is insane.
Greebling: the addition of small detail designed to give texture and visual interest. Got it?

 And what of Melbourne itself? Well, that will need a part two, tomorrow.

OFF INTO THE WILD BLUE… THEN GREY… THEN SNOWING… THEN BLUE AGAIN…. THEN HURRICANES…. WTF, MELBOURNE? YONDER

So, here we are, sitting in the airport, waiting to board. The mail’s been put on hold, the out-of-office message is programmed into the email account, Blakey-boy has taken up his house-sitting position with our fridge and our remote controls and the pin for the adult channel….

Off to Melbourne for a week. I’ll be lurking about Brickvention for the weekend (many, many pictures to follow) while Luscious rests her foot and catches up with family and clothes shopping, then we’ll be swanning around for the rest of the week spending egregious amounts of holiday cash on restaurants and theatre shows– the Midsumma Gay and Lesbian Festival Leopold and Loeb bio musical tickets have already been booked– and generally being windswept and interested.

See you when I get back.

IF THIS POST IS LATE IT’S BECAUSE I’M STILL ON BALI TIME

You’ll have to forgive me if I seem distracted: two weeks ago I was standing at the bottom of a forty-foot gorge, having clambered a hundred feet upstream to stand at the base of a fifty-foot high waterfall, halfway up a mountain in the middle of an Indonesian island.

By which I mean, I was in Bali.

Let’s be honest: when Luscious organised the trip with her brother and sister-in-law, I was on the ‘un’ side of enthused. Nothing I’d heard about the island made me want to go there– everything pointed to a filthy third-world shopping mall fit only for drunken AFL end of season piss-ups and surfer dope-a-thons with bonus dysentery and bombings to deal with assuming you didn’t get picked up for not noticing the baggage handlers’ dope stash in your carry-on.

Turns out that’s just Kuta. And I’m happy to admit just how wrong my preconceptions were, because we found a whole lot to love.

For a start, we managed to avoid the plastic beer-haus atmosphere of Kuta by staying at a villa just outside of Seminyak, rural enough that there were multitudinous rice paddies dotted in between the buildings. As our driver explained, the Balinese grow three types of rice for different purposes– white for eating, red for ritual meals, and black for religious festivities– so a significant percentage of the rural environment is held over for growing the crop, something we saw in spades on our next-to-final day when we took a trip up-country to the Old Balinese Kingdom capital of Pejeng to view the National Archaeological Museum.

Before that though, there was a stunning range of experiences: the traditional Aussie-in-Bali market shopping, including a visit to a series of stalls run by a family who lived side by side with their stalls inside an old unused temple; a roadside fish pedicure, with Luscious, Master 10 and I sitting on a bench with our feet inside a whacking great fish tank having our peds nibbled by a swarm of teensy tiny catfish; a hand-in-hand walk along a shell beach with Luscious (I’m a softie. Sue me); the trip up-country through the artist’s enclaves at Ubud to view the Museum; a day spent screaming and laughing at the utterly insane Waterbom Waterpark; and to wrap it all up we spent the final night of our stay on a night safari at the Bali Safari and Marine Park, where tigers with heads wider then my shoulders climbed the caged truck in which we stood to feed less than 6 inches from my face.

By the time we stumbled, exhausted and sunburned, onto the plane home, the Battchilder had already started a list of things we’ll be doing when we return. I’ve got one of my own.

The view from the entrance to our villa. Staying away from the plastic FcknOZYEAH! facade of Kuta was the best thing we could have done. It gave us a chance to explore some genuine– or at least, genuine-looking– culture without getting caught up in the ugly shopping mall/beer hall environment that was my impression of Bali, and which finds its full expression in Kuta. Lyn’s brother and sister-in-law found the villas, and they were an inspired choice: close enough to town to provide access to cafes and shops, but far enough away that we could experience a side of Bali closer to real than I expected.
The common kitchen area inside the villa, just around from the pool and air-conditioned, semi-detached bedrooms. It was hell, I tells ‘ee, hell!

Breakfast, round one. Every morning, a fresh platter of fruit to begin the day. It sounds like a simple thing, but we were so enamoured of it that we’ve brought the habit home with us, and it gives us a huge life each morning. Of course, the $6-each-in-Australia dragonfruit have gone by the wayside, dammit…

The ruins of a beach side temple, ten minutes walk along from the ultra-Western hotel restaurant we ate at one day. I’ve a fascination for abandoned, ruined buildings such as this. There’s such a forlorn beauty about them, such an air of quiet despair. It speaks to something inside me. Also, I totally nailed the photo, which is a rarity in itself. 
Master 10 and Miss 13 go the full Aussie-in-Bali native route: hair braiding and pedicures all round. The girls were particularly taken with the idea that a boy would get the full set, but that’s what Master 10 does– break down perceptions and bring delight. 
Another view of the hair braiding, included purely because it amuses me to see the girls having to stand on the couch to reach the top of Miss 13’s head 🙂
Anyone looking at my hard drive would think I was obsessed with Balinese traffic. Because I was. I spent shot after shot trying to get the perfect image of the slow-motion insanity. This comes close. More often than not, a two-lane road would host three to four vehicles on each side, plus a complete mosquito fleet of a dozen or so scooters: all moving in harmony, all in synchronised motion, no accidents, everyone just flowing along at 30 kilometres an hour ignoring any sense of road rules or logic. Balinese traffic is the perfect democracy. Decided by, educated by, and policed by the people themselves. It’s balletic, and I loved it. Also, check out the statue: can they do a fucking roundabout or what?
Fish pedicure. Tiny little catfish nibbling away at your feet for half an hour, while all you can do is sit on a bench with your feet dangling in the water and watch the world go by. You simply must try it. 

Master 10 gets his first nibble. This is what the trip was all about for me: that sense of joy, and discovery, in the arms of my family. 

Also: my wife’s an utter babe. A babe at an horrendous, FcknOZ bar that specialised in misogyny, sexual crassness, and a view of Australians that does us no credit at all. But it was good for a laugh, until we realised our kids can read the ‘specials’ board as well as we can, and it became time to get out and shop.
But the point is: Wife. Babe. Mine.

We spent one day hitting the market trail, because we wanted to do the traditional Oz-in-Bali shopping thing. This was my highlight: a set of stalls inside the owner’s house inside an abandoned temple. Magnificent buildings piled on top of each other so that I lost all interest in cheap wallets and board shorts and simply wandered from corner to corner marvelling at the statues and the beauty of the architecture. It was Bali in a nutshell: once you picked away at whatever thin veneer of tourist accommodation faced you, you found unlimited beauty and tradition. That was the Bali I wanted, and I found it in abundance.

Another view. This is someone’s house. Their stall inside their house

An hour from Seminyak, past Ubud, we discovered the village of Pejeng, which just happened to be the capital of the Old Balinese Kingdom, and which is now the site of the National Archaeology museum. It’s not very big, and there are few exhibits beyond a collection of Chinese, British and Indian crockery that hints at trade links with mainland Asia and Europe going back to the 9th Century, but it’s worth it for the architecture– again– and these magnificent stone sarcophagi displayed in the gardens. 

Faced with such history, what’s a fat man to do but strike a Man of Destiny pose and hope his shorts don’t fall off?

On our last night we visited the Safari and Marine Park, and took in a night safari. On a night filled with highlights, having a tiger with a head wider then my shoulders eating a hunk of meat less than  inches directly above my face will go down as unforgettable. Damn the wobbling truck: I have no good photos. This is the best. There’s something awe-inspiring about being so close to so much raw, natural power. How anyone could want to hunt animals is beyond me. We cannot allow such beauty to leave the world.
Balinese dancers play with fire in a dance show that incorporated stilt-animals, shield dancing sword fights, and a magnificent, booming drum performance. It was a show my children will remember their whole lives, and was a perfect way to finish our time on the island.

And here they are: the falls I’ve failed to get out of my system. halfway up a mountain in the centre of the island, at the bottom of a forty foot ravine, with a hundred feet of stream and rock to traverse to stand at their base. Unspoiled (or, at least, as unspoiled as possible) natural beauty; the very definition of ‘far from the madding crowd. Luscious, Master 10 and I climbed down, and Master 10 and I made our way to the foot of the falls, where we simply stood and marvelled at the sheer wonder of it all. For a moment, I recovered a sense of peace.

If there is one picture I had to point to in order to define our time in Bali, it is this one. Master 10, all four feet nothing of him, at the base of a fifty foot waterfall deep in the heart of the island, far from the traffic and the markets and the noise and the people. A tin adventurer stunned into a moment’s immobility by a sense of wonder at the natural world around him, dwarfed by all the physical aspects of his environment but with his mind and soul expanding with every moment. 
We left Bali with an overwhelming urge to return. There is so much we haven’t seen, such a deep culture we’ve barely scratched. We came armed with half a dozen Indonesian phrases, hoping they would see us through, only to discover the Balinese language itself and the delight shown by the people when we spoke the two or three phrases we picked up– and what does it say about our culture of tourism that native peoples should be delighted when we learn just a few simple words in their language? 

THIS MAY BE THE LAST THING I EVER WRITE, SO I BETTER MAKE IT A GOOD ONE

Holy Meatballs Mother of Brian, do I ever need this break.

You don’t need to have read too much of this blog in 2015– indeed, there hasn’t been very much of it to read– to know that I’ve felt under the hammer, and pretty much squashed by the hammer, for most of the year to date. Things just haven’t let up for the last 3 months, and between work, editing, family life, moving into a new house, and all the other million and one bits and bobs that strike you in the face as you walk through the days, I’ve become increasingly stressed, and increasingly fragile. Thankfully, I’m beginning to emerge from it, but there are still a few lingering weights, and I need some time out from underneath them.

Edits of Magrit are progressing at what might kindly be called Hella pace: I’ve been over the manuscript 3 times in the last 2 months at the behest of my editor, and I’m reliably informed that there’s only one more before the book will be ready to go to the typesetter. It’s due to be published in early 2016: come to the launch and I’ll happily underline for you the one line remaining from the original manuscript…..

Yeah, it’s a much better book, but we both know you only come here for the comedy kvetching.

I’ve also, out of the insanity of my heart, committed to a new artistic enterprise: namely, building an enormous diorama for a public Lego display in October called, wait for it, Bricktober! The concept is fabulous, if I do say so myself– a shuttle dropping crowds off on a moon surface to visit a shrine to the Unknown Spaceman. Only downside is, the shuttle itself is approximately 4 times bigger than anything I’ve ever built before, never mind the actual shrine. It’s going to look great…… assuming I finish it…… assuming I have the skills…… assuming I haven’t bitten off way more than I can chew……

Yeah, I’m not afraid to admit it: I may have been the
teeeeeeeeensiest bit over-ambitious……

This isn’t even mentioning work, which is, you know, work.

Which is why the next six days are necessary. Because tomorrow, we fly out to Bali for the first time, armed with instructions on how to navigate the Waterbom water park, and which shops in Discovery Mall are best for teenage girl clothes shopping, and when best to take the Night Safari (hint: at night), and me insisting all the while that I want to go to the Archaeology Museum, dammit! and sketchbooks and notepads, and camera, and damned if I don’t intend to come back sun-browned, exhausted, refreshed, recharged, and with enough material to get me writing again and not stopping until the Christmas holidays because fuck it, I’m sick of where I am and who I’ve become and it’s time to get back to getting on with it.

Also, Luscious has never flown overseas, Master 10 was Master 3 Months the last time we flew anywhere for a family holiday, and it’s bloody well time.

I’ve got a Thumbnail Thursday and Fetish Friday posts booked in the interim, but as far as live words go, this is me over and out for the interim. I shall return, with photos, in April.

CON REPORT: BATTCON 13

It was a good weekend, so it was: three days alone in Margaret River with the delectable Luscious Lyn, with no plans beyond writing, enjoying the view, and sampling the local produce. Having been excluded from recent Eastern states conventions by dint of skintness, we decided to dub the whole thing Battcon, and act like we were at a convention of our own.

Which, from my experiences, usually involves getting pissed as a weasel, facing fan abuse because I don’t like the same shows they do, and buying a metric fuckload of books I’d never find in the shops.

So, in the best Con tradition, here’s my Battcon Con report, with pictures.

FRIDAY

Had the good luck to share a drive down to the Con hotel with the guest of honour, involving some fantastic conversation and only slightly dodgy music choices. Arrived at the hotel at just after 7. The opening ceremony was brief, but took in all the best Con traditions.

Battcon opening ceremony. By ‘opening’, I obviously mean the first bottle.

After a light dinner….

…. we wandered down to the video room and perused the roster for the video stream.

Settled on a comedy entitled Exeter: Space Douche, and spent the evening laughing at a time when Science Fiction was unabashedly misogynistic and racist. Unlike now, thank goodness.

SATURDAY

Decided to take in breakfast at the Margaret River Bakery, based on fifteen-year old memories and recommendations from friends. Escaped injury when a jumble sale exploded during the meal.

After a quick visit to the Con Art Show, which was sponsored this year by the Margaret River Art Hater’s Association….

…we popped down to the Dealer’s Room…

…where we browsed shelves filled with the finest Australian authors, including such well known Aussies as Tim Winton, Tim Winton, and, uh, Joe Abercrombie.

 Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Ummmm!

After that, it was down to work. My goal for the weekend was to finish Disciple of the Torrent, an 8000 word story I had promised to deliver by a week after Battcon, and which I had written to the tune of 350-odd rocking words. 3500 words later, the day was pronounced a success.

I can’t remember if these were taken Saturday or Sunday, but I present them as proof that work was completed. By Lyn, obviously. me, you’ll have to take on trust.

After recovering from an exhausting spa session with a quick walk on the beach, we headed out to the nearby Con bar for Happy Hour drinks and dinner.

This is a French martini. It’s made by combining vodka and raspberry liqueur with pineapple juice and topping it off with a twist of lemon peel.

This is a second French martini.

This is a third.

This is a fifth. Somewhere in there was a fourth, but frankly, you should be impressed that I was even capable of holding a camera at this point, never mind counting to five.

After dinner, it was back to the hotel room, and a chance to watch a nature documentary for research purposes.

SUNDAY

After breakfast it was back to the dealer’s room, this time to scope out the merch!

After filling up on essential con items like souvenirs, choc-coated licorice, chili-chocolate peanut brittle and more chocolate, it was back to the room and back to work.

Another 4500 words, and bugger me, but Disciple of the Torrent was declared closed! Following a hard-driving and keenly contested intellectual debate entitled “Which end of the spa do you want?”, we ordered some room service– in best Con tradition, some of the worst fucking food we’ve ever eaten– and took a moment to gloat over the Con swag we had assembled:

Booty!

Then, with only a million billion trillion bottles of wine to console us, we once more delved into the best SF has to offer via the video stream.

MONDAY

Alas, it was time to leave the Con behind and trundle back to the world of children, day jobs, and fucking day jobs. But not before we dropped into the winery just down the road from the Con hotel.

And the one just out of town. And the one just the other side of Bunbury.

A casual day of wandering up the coast, watching Luscious Lyn engage in wine-tasting geekery, and generally just behaving like itinerant gypsies later, we picked up the kid and became normal people again.

Such is life.

But to prove that a picture tells at least one word, and that word is often ‘Whoops’, here’s a random gallery of images from the weekend. Enjoy.

Lyn Battersby, totally sober, your honour.

 

Margaret River graffiti humour. They’ll work on it… 
Where country people think the internet lives.

My wife is gorgeous.

 My wife is gorgeous.
 My wife is gorgeous.
My wife is gorgeous.

 

And what self-respecting Con would be complete without a gratuitous selfie?

HEAD POPPING UP LIKE A NERVOUS MEERKAT

Technology continues to defy us at the Batthaim: the two weeks of radio silence promised us by our new ISP is stretching towards its third week, and customer support continues to be a contradiction in terms. Luckily, I have five minutes of free access via our son doing something clever that involves my phone, a modem, and a pentacle on the dining room floor, so hey presto! Blog post.

Rather than give updatery goodness in self-contained pockets as per usual, let’s just rattle a long one off and hope we cover everything. To whit:

HEALTH IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER.

By which you know I mean this son of a bitch:

I’ve blogged recently about my Dad, and the problems he’s been having with his memory. Well, turns out he has a thing, and that thing is called Primary Progressive Aphasia. Put simply, he’s losing his capacity for words, which will eventually result in a loss of all verbal function, as a result of his brain physically shrinking inside his head. It’s permanent, essentially non-treatable, and will talk a long, slow, terrifying 7 or 8 years to have full effect. As Dad tells me, if I point to a desk, he might be able to tell me it’s a desk, or he might know it’s that wooden thing you sit behind on the thing when you do work and stuff, and there’s probably a word to describe the thing, but sorry, he simply doesn’t know it. My Dad’s a charming man, funny, intelligent, articulate. All that’s going to go away, in front of his eyes.

And our youngest, the Mighty Master 8, has been throwing up consistently for the last fortnight unable to keep down solid foods of any kind. Initial diagnosis was that a food allergy had burned a hole in his stomach lining, so he went on a liquid diet while doctors extracted 5 vials of blood and ran every allergy test they could think of. All of which came back negative. We’re now at the stage where he’s even throwing up the jelly he’s allowed to eat, and we’ve progressed to therapists, specialists, and even a chiropractor. Updates will be posted as we find things out, but right now, Lyn’s exhausted, he’s exhausted, and everyone’s trying to make the best of it while being worried like worried people.

THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG-DISTANCE WRITER

So, last weekend, everyone in the Australian SF Universe besides Lyn and myself attended the Continuum convention in Melbourne, having travelled there by rickshaw from Canberra’s Conflux convention, which they also all attended and we didn’t.

I’m not normally that fussed about missing Cons. I have enjoyed the eastern States ones I’ve attended, and would like to attend more, but I’m a guy with a large family, larger mortgage, and a day job that allows me little time off for extended trips. Plus I’m pretty much always skint. So, you know, I’m comfortable with the idea that it’s never going to happen. But this year it really bummed me, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Maybe it’s just loneliness build up. Writing communities in the eastern states seem to be quite tight-knit, whereas my experience of the Perth community is that it’s far-flung and tends not to gather all that often, and I’m ambivalent about the local Cons for the most part.

I’m also in an odd place, writing-wise. My agent is in the US, and has a large roster so doesn’t contact unless he has something worth talking about: a sale, or a contract or whatnot. He doesn’t get in touch to tell me he’s hopeful. Which is fine: I knew that going into the relation ship, and accepted it, so I’m aware that the two projects I have with him will be discussed when they either hit pay dirt or he releases them back to me. My publisher is in the UK, and we’ve formally reached the end of our contract: I’ve delivered everything I was contracted to deliver, and they’ve done everything with it they said they were going to.

But that kind of leaves me in a limbo on non-communication: I’m not talking to anyone right now, for the first time in about 2 years, and it feels weird and unsettling. The only actual writing I’m doing is an 8k novella for a speculative project that won’t net me any money but will expose me to the innards of electronic publishing, and everything else is editing, which i find a very insular and isolating part of the writing process.

Maybe that’s why having my Facebook page clogged up with pictures of shiny happy writer types drinking and laughing together has given me such a case of the Thierry Ennuis lately. And maybe that’s why we’re turning the kids over to their grandparents this weekend, and heading out of town for three days: Lyn needs a break from full-time carer duty, we both need to feel like writers, and so Margaret River is the site of the first ever…..

BATTCON 13

Yep, Battcon 13, the inaugural Convention of Writing Battersbys, with twin guests of honour Lyn and Me. Taking place in the spa-suite and bar of a Margaret River hotel. Here’s the draft program:

FRIDAY
7pm: So this is Margaret River, huh? Where’s the Bar?
Late: Sho this Margit Riv, ishit? Whesh my fucking room?

SATURDAY

8-ish. Maybe: Breakfast?
9am: Writing.
1pm: Suppose We’d better have some lunch.
3pm: After-lunch writing—does it really exist?
3.30pm-5.30pm: The spa culture, and how much wine is appropriate while in one.
6pm: Round-table discussion—is this meal really worth 40 bucks, and can we take the bar back to the room?
8pm: The role of alcohol in creative thinking
Late: Whesh my fucking room? Oh crap, I’m in it.

SUNDAY

8-ish: Breakfast? Bollocks.
9am: Breakfast with the authors.
10am: Okay, time to Start Writing!—Ways to kick-start that writing project you’ve put off all weekend
1pm: Authorial lunch and wine-tasting.
3pm: Okay, time to Start Writing!—Ways to kick-start that writing project you’ve put off all weekend
6pm: Round-table discussion—You’ll never be a top level author with that attitude, at least not until we open another bottle.
8pm: Barley or the Grape? Creative dichotomies in a liquid culture
Late: Sleeping in the spa: a shyminium… shimilimpim…. Shlymfucking talk! About… where’s my bed?

MONDAY

8-ish: Breakfast. Absolutely breakfast.
10am: Check out.
10.30am: last minute shopping and stocking up on wine.
12pm: Lunch or leave in time to pick the kids up from school?—a debate
12.05pm: Lunch
1pm: The art of phoning the children’s grandparents
4.30pm: Kids, grandparents, and apologies: an author’s guide
6pm: Dead Dog party. 

We wouldn’t be doing it, with Master 8’s health the way it is, if the kids’ grandparents weren’t insistent we do, and we didn’t trust them so implicitly, but they are, and we do, and the break is most necessary. So we’ll be seeing you Tuesday, by which time Connor will be fully fixed, the internet will be returned to the Batthaim, I’ll be a world-famous author with publishers pounding on my door demanding I work for them, Tony Abbott will have drowned in a vat of his own pus, unicorns will roam the high places eating Jackson’s curse and shitting rainbows, Forest will have found a loophole in the rules and been awarded permanent EPL status, and I’ll weigh 80 kilograms and have all my hair back.

Right?




WELCOME TO MY SLIDE NIGHT…

A few moments from our week in Adelaide.

Adelaide Zoo: beautiful woman with elephant idol.

Happy couple with 75 year-old Chilean flamingo.

Adelaide Musuem: our friendly and helpful staff are always on hand with information and advice on where best to run.

The world’s happiest shopper rests after visits to several antique clothing outlets


HMS Buffalo: proving that it’s not the least bit tacky to turn a convict ship into a restaurant

The elegant and dignified Mrs Kate Fischer learns that when I say I’m going to blog a photo, I mean it 🙂

The Fischers: 3 days of marriage and still happy.

Hahndorf: Das goooooood beer.

Good beer, good conversation, and the prospect of harrowing theatre about the last thoughts of a murderous career Nazi. Life is good.


South Australian Air Museum Restoration Room: Flat-pak jet fighters

FROM ADELAIDE, WITH LOVE

So we’re back, after a week in Snoozing-By-Sea. An enjoyable week, for the most part, and we saw and did much which we previously had not seen nor done: the coach ride through Monarto open-range zoo; eating (and drinking) a traditional German lunch in the traditional German tavern in the traditional German town of Hahndorf; the behind-the-scenes tour of the restoration room at the South Australian Air museum; lounging about in the grounds of the winery wherein we were ensconced; theatre (an astonishing one man performance called Goering’s Defence, with Oor ‘Erman ruminating upon his life upon the night of his execution); stand-up comedy (an hilarious and raucous show by Dan Willis, relating the way Ferris Bueller’s Day Off has influenced his life); trying to find something to eat in the CBD after 5pm (hint: 5.01, Adelaide is closed, go home now…)….
See the smattering of representative photos later.
However, the reason we chose Adelaide for our delayed-by-three-years honeymoon, rather than somewhere more exotic (like Balga or the right hand lane of the Kwinana Freeway), was the chance to witness the wedding of two people who rank right at the very apex of the loveliest people we’ve ever met: Jason and Kate Fischer (nee Schenscher) have delighted and warmed us for just over a year now, and it was a beautiful morning spent on the beach at Noarlunga watching them commit their lives to each other. When two such unique and special people ask you to be a part of something like this, you book your flight and go, is what you do.
Happiness is…
To you both: our love, and our hopes for a long and wonderful life together.

Mr and Mrs Fischer

AQWANAUTS

So what do you do when Number Wansan has bogged off to a party, you’ve got nothing to do until you head off to your own party, and the house is full of Number Toosan, Thrisan, and Wangul?

Bundle them in the car and run ‘em down to AQWA, where Erin can discover a new obsession with Leafy Seadragons (and why the hell not?), Connor can discover an intellectual equal in a performing seal, and the rest of us can attempt to take photos of fast moving fish with a camera that rates about whythefuckdidwebuythispieceofshit on the scale of goodness.

Some photies:

Pretty, isn’t it? It’s the 2005 Aurealis Award for Best Horror Short Story, and I won it on Saturday night at a wonderful ceremony in Queensland. Luscious and I flew in from Perth to attend, as she was nominated or Best SF Story for her brilliant work The Memory of Breathing. Sadly, it lost to Trent Jamieson’s Slow and Ache, which can be found in the brand new Aurealis 36. The issue also contains my Australian Shadows nominated story Father Muerte & the Flesh, as well as Kim Westwood’s AA nominated Terning Tha Wheel, so it might be described as ‘a fair old read’…

A huge whoop of congratulations are accorded the Western Australian contingent, who cleaned up: Juliet Marillier winning the Best Fantasy Novel category; Grant Stone for being accorded the Peter MacNamara Award and about bloody time too; and most especially, our very good friend KA Bedford, whose novel Eclipse took out Best SF Novel. I’m afraid I let out a very audible “Yessssss” when that one was announced 🙂

We spent the weekend as guests of just about our favourite couple in the world, the sweetly divine Rob Hoge and Kate Eltham, who treated us like visiting royalty (they tried to crash their car into a pole in Paris and kill us, then they shot us and started World War One), and it was wonderful to catch up with so many faces we don’t get to see anywhere near often enough: Chris Lawson; Sean Williams; Rob Hood (hope the wrist is better, Rob); Cat Sparks; Geoff Maloney; Trent; the list is a long one, and includes some new friends who greeted us with warmth and fellowship: a big halloo to Robert E, Heather, Kim, Rjurik, and Nikki & Damon.

Perhaps the best part of it all was being presented my award by Jason Nahrung, a friend of mine now for a couple of years and someone I couldn’t have been happier to shake the hand of in my moment on stage. Jason has been an unfailing support and pal– he interviewed Lyn and I a couple of weeks before the trip and I always have the greatest feeling of pleasure after being in his company. To receive my award from someone for whom I have such affection made it just that little bit sweeter.

Truth to tell, everyone in Queensland makes us feel so goddamned welcome we’re always slightly guilty when we leave. It’s a subtle plot, I’m sure of it. One of these days we’ll be gassed in our beds, and wake up in a village with them all, and no way of escape…

As always, Brisbane means shopping. Can’t tell you yet if the best buy was the Jack Skellington head ceramic cup; the 4-pack of Invader Zim figurines (Beaver Gaz is our favourite), or the amazing spray-painted art piece we picked up from a street artist who was packing up because it was about to rain and gave it to us for barely anything just so he wouldn’t have to leave with it. Time will tell.

NO WORDS ARE NECESSARY

My darling wife, getting ready for the awards night. Is it any wonder I’m utterly smitten? Simply the most beautiful woman I have ever known.

FUN FUN FUN

It’s no secret that I’m a museum and art gallery geek. Brisbane art gallery has one of the goldurn funnest displays I’ve ever seen. Since November 2004, they’ve been encouraging the general populace to pull up a seat and take part in creating a growing city, made from white lego blocks. We had a go last year with the kids, but this time we set aside half an hour and had a serious crack at adding our creations to the city scape. Like all good art it’s interactive, forces its audience to think, and defies any sort of accurate description, so a couple of photos might give you some idea.

The first is my creation, with a couple of other buildings in the background.

And this one, just to give you a sense of scale. According to the docent, they’ve gone through six layers of buildings since last year, and some of those spires at the very back are nearly six or seven feet tall. It’s the kind of thing that makes me wish I had a job in Brisbane, simply so I can take a day off and really build something…

“So. What do you think the working class are doing?”

BRISBANE CUISINE

This place was around the corner from Rob and Kate’s. This was as close as I dared venture.

TODAY’S COLOUR IS MONDEGREEN

For some reason, there were a rash of Non-English speaking moments over the last few days. Firstly, outgoing AA director Lea Greenaway, who tortured her description of Richard Pitchforth as someone who fertilises new ideas, by telling us that he’d always been full of fertiliser; then backed it up by admitting they’d mis-spelled Shane Dix as Shane Nix in a previous programme, and that while she was sure Garth and the family would love to take credit, Shane had always been a Dix.

Then I shared this conversation with my darling:

Lee: How are you feeling?
Lyn: (Yawns)
Lee: Is that your answer?
Lyn: Yes. I thought I’d let my mouth speak for itself….

And finally, we were entertained this morning by Erin’s rendition of “Postman Pat, Postman Pat, Postman Pat and his bright green cat…”

Must check the colour on the tellie.

IN OTHER NEWS ENTIRELY

Monstrously huge happinesses and congratulations to our friends Sean and Terri, upon the arrival of their 3rd daughter, Emmaline Scarlet, on Sunday morning. We’re over the moon with joy for you, guys.

AND IN HOUSE NEWS……

We have bathroooooooooommmmmssssss!!!!!!!!!!!

SWANCON

We’ll be at Swancon this weekend, where the collection should be launched, as long as the publisher can get copies to us in time. if not, I’ll be conducting The Anti-Launch, where you can win copies of magazines in which I have appeared, and play some silly games into the bargain. At least one copy of aurealis 36 will be available, which means you’re likely to be the first person in Perth besides us to scam a copy.

Come on down. Say hi.

Song of the moment: Silence. Everyone else is asleep.

A WRITING MEME GAKKED FROM SEVERAL PALS

…ask me about anything I’ve written, and I’ll tell you the genesis of its title.

WOOHOO! MY ALL-TIME FAVOURITE LEVEL!

The Dante’s Inferno Test has banished you to the Fifth Level of Hell!

The river Styx runs through this level of Hell, and in it are punished the wrathful and the gloomy. The former are forever lashing out at each other in anger, furious and naked, tearing each other piecemeal with their teeth. The latter are gurgling in the black mud, slothful and sullen, withdrawn from the world. Their lamentations bubble to the surface as they try to repeat a doleful hymn, though with unbroken words they cannot say it. Because you lived a cruel, vindictive and hateful life, you meet your fate in the Styx.

Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

Level Score
Purgatory (Repenting Believers) Very Low
Level 1 – Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers) Very Low
Level 2 (Lustful) Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous) Very High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious) Very High
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy) Extreme
Level 6 – The City of Dis (Heretics) Extreme
Level 7 (Violent) Very High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers) Very High
Level 9 – Cocytus (Treacherous) Very High

Take the href=”Dante Inferno Hell Test

THIS TIME TOMORROW….

We’ll be on our way to drop Aiden off at his father’s. Then we’ll swing by to pick up my brother, who’ll then drive us to the airport.

Much anticipation building!

WELL, WE’RE BACK

Can I sleep now?

That was one seriously hectic week, dudes and dudettes. As most of you will be aware, I didn’t win the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Short Story. That honour was shared by Richard Harland and Louise Katz. I did, however, have a blast at the after-ceremony cocktail party, and schmoozed my little arse off.

To cut out the boring bits (actually, there were no boring bits. Even the word games the kids came up with on the bus rides were fun), highlights and lowlights:

LOWLIGHTS: Only 3: 1. Sleeping in a single bed with Luscious. I’m too fat and crippled to be able to do that anymore. Which is a bugger, because I used to like it. Ah well, the wall of our bedroom probably still has a print of my back on it… 2. Losing that goddamn award. Yeah, so I’m a petty, small, vindictive bastard, but I wanted it, and I’m jealous as all buggery that I was beaten to it by a couple of worthless hacks who aren’t fit to lace my drinks… (Richard and Louise are actually bloody talented, and deserved their awards, and as anyone who knows me will tell you I didn’t expect to win it, but you know, they pause just before they read out the names, and you can’t help holding your breath… Anyway, Richard and Louise are thoroughly deserving winners. Now I really have to win the next one…) 3. Having our DVD camera stolen. Luscious talks about this on her blog, so I shan’t go on about what we lost, but it was still a pisser.

HIGHLIGHTS: Too many to mention. The Awards Ceremony, even if I didn’t win anything. The after-ceremony cocktail party. Watching as the three baldest men in SF had their picture taken together- Sean Williams, Rob Hood, and Connor Battersby. I will so be posting that one when I get a copy! Catching up with so many good pals I don’t get the chance to see often enough, such as Donna Hansen, Sean Williams, Rob Hood and Cat Sparks, and especially the truly fabulous Robert Hoge and Kate Eltham, and my co-mutual-admiration-society-president Geoffrey Maloney. Catching up with so many cool people I’d only e-met before, including the likes of Trevor Stafford, Stephen Thompson, Kaaron Warren, the luvverly Kirsten Bishop (who gave me the coolest version of her book The Etched City, complete with corrections in the author’s own hand), the super-luvverly Kim Wilkins, who was this close to stealing Connor and running (much to her partner’s nervousness), and Josephine Pennicott. Hanging out with Ellen Datlow and the room-o’-writers at the seminar the following day. What a scary assemblage of talent that was. I have some work to do: there were a lot of people much higher in the food chain than your humble blatherer, and it was a reminder of just where I stand in the order of things. The museum. The science centre, where I learnt just how fast I can throw a cricket ball (not too shabby, after so long out of the game). The swimming beach. Toscani’s. Listening to Cassie spend almost an entire week trying to pronounce Toscani’s properly. Movieworld. Going backwards down the Scooby-Doo ride, trying not to scream like a girl (I don’t do roller coaster rides), giving up, and screaming my arse off. Listening to my 3 year old daughter cackle like a witch all the way through the Batman thrill ride. Connor puking on Marilyn Monroe. Shopping. Much shopping. Watching Godzilla Vs MechaGodzilla at Rob Hood’s Godzilla panel for Fantastic Queensland’s Summer of Speculative Fiction. Debating with the boys all the way home as to whether Godzilla is a good guy or a bad guy or just a bloody big lizard with cool powers. The delight and excitement on Luscious’ face when she finally found the perfect shoes for our wedding. Catching up with Clarionite pals Shane Jiraiya Cummings and Lily Chrywenstrom. There’s more…

MOVIEWORLD: Okay, so it’s over-priced, and believe it or not, there isn’t as much to do as Adventure World here in Perth. BUT: the kids went mad, and for that alone it was worth the 2 hour wait for a bus after the park closed. Now, I’m not saying I bought into the madness, but given that I hate Scooby-Doo and I don’t do roller coasters, who’s the fat guy with the bald spot in the photo? (The photo, mind you, is how I learned I have a bald spot…). A long, hot, sunburn-filled day that saw us staggering under the weight of merchandising, rolls of film, and with grins like insane tourist types. Which we were 🙂

Quote of the day: “I didn’t tell him to do that so I had an excuse…” Me, trying to pacify the Marilyn Monroe impersonator as I rubbed his vomit off her thigh.

MY SON IS A LUCKY, LUCKY, LITTLE BUGGER: Kim Wilkins, Cat Sparks, Marilyn Monroe, Kate Eltham… I can name about a million fan boys who’d kill for that kind of hugging action.

DID I MENTION THE SHOPPING? Brisbane is much cheaper than Perth when it comes to the important things. Like comics, and books, and all the other crap we came home with. Personal shopping highlights: the $1 packets of Yu-Gi-Oh cards we got for the boys; 2 Hellboy graphic novels that pretty much complete my collection; the Buddy Christ figurine; shoes for both Lyn and Cassie for the wedding; Maus book II (finally!); book 3 of Evan Dorkin’s Hectic Planet series, more books than you can find in my local library, discovering Comics Etc. and Underworld Realm, Lyn’s hot Goth boots (runs off for cold shower, returns. Types more slowly due to shaking hands), The Dead Kennedy’s Frankenchrist and The Cramps’ Look Mom, No Head albums. There’s more…

Told you we did a lot of shopping.

WHY DO I LOVE THE CRAMPS?

Some titles from the Look Mom, No Head table of contents-

Two Headed Sex Change
Blow Up Your Mind
Bend Over, I’ll Drive
Eyeball In My Martini
Hipsville 29 BC

Any questions?

THE BIGGEST, SLOPPIEST THANK YOU IN THE WORLD

Sometimes friends go beyond the call of duty for you, and in doing so give you something truly precious. Our Brisbane holiday will be a happy memory for all of us, yet without Robert Hoge and Kate Eltham it would not have happened at all. Robert and Kate are the convenors of Clarion South, and made available the convenor’s apartment so that our entire family had accomodation for free. Without such a kind and generous gesture, we could not have afforded to take our family of 7 on such a trip. Our gratitude knows no bounds. Thank you, Robert and Kate. We’re in your debt.

TAKE YOUR WORD COUNT AND…

So I didn’t write while I was in Queensland. So sue me, I was on holiday!

I’ll be doing a lot of work next week to catch up. Promise.

WOOHOO AND A HOLIDAY TO BOOT

Received news during the week that my story Tales of Nireym that appeared in Orb #6 has made the shortlist for this year’s Aurealis Awards. Suppose I’ll have to rewrite that question in the quiz now…

Anyway, apart from the coolness of being shortlisted, it’s meant that we’ve had to cancel our Albany holiday with the kids in January. Awwww. But only so we can replace it with a Brisbane holiday with the kids. Wheeee!

TALKING OF ALBANY

Luscious and I took the opportunity of a kid-free weekend to head down to our favourite country town for a couple of days and book into the hotel where Connor was conceived. Luscious’ idea, and a brilliant one it was too. A couple of days away from the rush and rumble was just what we both needed. I even came away with a story idea or two, so who knows? I might get another story out before I die after all.

4 WEEKS!

Connor is 4 weeks old today, and still beautiful. He was such a long and painful time coming, it’s hard to believe 4 weeks have passed already. I can’t take my eyes off him.

Which makes driving interesting 🙂

A SHORT POST BUT…

I was going to put something long and rambling down in which I talked about the year past and the year to come, but in between cleaning the house for Christmas (we’re hosting the family on Boxing Day) and shopping and cleaning the house and getting the patio ready and shopping and organising family members and cleaning and not sleeping because of the baby and getting the patio ready and not sleeping again……. I can’t be shagged.

Have a fun season, and I’ll catch up with you all next year.

HOLIDAYS!

The kids are home for the school holidays! We finally get them back, even if it’s only for 2 weeks. We’ve had some primo fun already: a trip to the zoo, mask painting, kid-gym visits, lunhes out, movies… the great thing about having them back is the chance it gives us to engage in some kiddie-fun stuff ourselves– not like I ever need an excuse to act like a 10 year old, but you know 🙂

SPIDERMAN 2

Went with the boys to see the 2nd Spiderman installment last night. Damn fun movie! The fight scene on top of (as well as inside and on the side of) the train ranks as one of the best fight scenes I’ve seen in a long time. The main cast have matured into their roles since the first movie, particularly James Franco, and Alfred Molina must go down as one of the most inspired casting choices of the year. His Doctor Octopus is layered, meaningful, and shaded in subtle human tones, as far from the cardboard cut-out school of villiany as you’d like to get. A thoroughly enjoyable movie.

BAD BAD BAAADDDDD…

At the other end of the spectrum are the movie nights that Cheshire and I have been discussing to replace the Sunday night Big Brother eviction parties when that particular spectacle draws mercifully to a close.

The idea is to gather a collection of movies within a specific range of awfulness. We don’t want movies that are so awful they’ve become fond classics (Plan 9 From Outer Space, Robot Monster et al) or movies so awful that they remain simply unwatchably awful (The last 2 Matrix movies, anything by the Farrelly Brothers). Cheese, brother, that’s where we’re at: America 3000, Ice Pirates, Deep Star Six… post your suggestions on the message board, and we’ll send round invites for the first Cheese Spectacular!

LIBRARIES ROCK

Our local library is running a bunch of workshops for ids over the holidays, and we’ve booked the kids in. Yesterday they spent an hour making scratch pictures. Tomorrow it’s suncatchers. Next week they’ll learn how to cartoon and send secret codes. Coooolll…

A SLIGHT CHANGE OF PLANS

Our last day in Brisbane today. We spent yesterday in the company of Geoff and Diana Maloney, a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon with two delightful people. We’ve decided to spend as much time as we can, when we get back, persuading them to come over to Perth so we can return the favour.

On the subject of which, we’re heading home tomorrow, rather than going to Canberra and Conflux. The Luscious One had to go to the hospital last night because of some bleeding, and was diagnosed as suffering from a haemorrage (? Durned non-spellchecking public access terminals) in her uterus. It’s resulted in a threatened miscarriage, and we really just want to get home and surround ourselves with family and familiar doctors.

The next two weeks are critical, but if we get through them okay, things should be fine. Right now there’s a 50% chance we’ll lose the baby we call ‘Nemo’, but we’ve seen him/her on an ultrasound, and we know s/he’s healthy, so we’re hopeful.

SWANCON

All gone now. It had its ups and down for me this year. I felt somewhat disconnected from everyone, a combination of neck pain and real life getting in the way of totally immersing myself in the Con. However, catching up with Tim Powers again was brilliant, as was the reaction to the Alternative History Game Show: they were hanging off the rafters, and the whole thing was riotous. I’m repeating the performance next year, so I’ve got 11 months to come up with a set of even-more-bizarre historical tricks to play. A whole bunch of people told me they had pictures of the thing afterwards: please send!

Other highlights include winning a whole bunch of stuff at the Swancon 30 launch, including a poster each for all the kids; being referred to as “annoyingly prolific and talented” by the annoyingly prolific and talented Stephen Dedman, and as having a “coruscating imagination” by the astonishing Dave Luckett; watching the overwhelming public support for Lyn’s issue of ASIM– at least one member of the Con walked up to her out of the crowd and said it was “the best issue they’ve ever done, and the only one he’s read the whole way through.” The Luscious One was beside herself with happiness after THAT one 🙂 ; and getting a loooonnngg round of applause when swancon 30 announced our wedding will be at their Con! (To quote my stepdaughter Cassie: “Can’t you two stop being nerds for just ONE minute?”). The Aurealis Awards Ceremony was an unintentional highlight: it’s hard not to laugh when not a single winner is at the Convention, and you’re left with a series of people accepting awards on behalf of others. And watching poor Shaun Tan try to work out different things to write as we cornered him and made him sign a big pile of books for the kids was fun, too (Aiden is a HUGE Shaun Tan fan, and when he found out we were going to see him, bailed us up and said “Buy! Meet! Sign! Got it?” We got one, Aidey!!!)

All in all, it was a reasonably good way to start the holiday. Other people will undoubtedly have longer con reports out by now (I’m typing this on the public terminal at the hotel, so can’t be bothered paying 2 bucks per half hour to spend ages reminiscing). Go check them out.

BRISBANE

…is hot, muggy, and has the most annoying public transport in the world. Saw the Maritime Museum this morning: very cool. The restaurant at the hotel is cheap, and delicious– it’s hard to hate a city that has so much fish on the menu 🙂 Off to the Queensland Museum this afternoon, before meeting with a few friends from the Vision Writing group at dinner tonight. More sightseeing tomorrow before we hope to catch up with the excellent Brisbanian writer Geoffrey Maloney. We miss the kids like crazy- this is one of those cities that seem built for kids, with playparks and cool stuff all over the place. We’re well on the souvenir trail for them, and we’re sending them a postcard every day: this morning’s one came from the Museum of Brisbane, and tomorrow’s we got at the Maritime Museum. It’s all go…

It has inspired at least one story idea though, so I may have something in first draft form by the end of the week. It’s just that there’s this one building I can see from our hotel window, and it just doesn’t belong with all the other buildings…

AND A SALE!

Sold Silk to All-Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories. And they said there’d be no market for haunted time-travelling barrage ballon stories… 🙂 I’m 3000 miles away from the photocopied submission guidelines taped to my office wall, but it strikes me that it might be the last sale I need for SFWA membership. which would be cool, too 🙂

Off to the pool deck now. 🙂

HOL HOLS

What a fabulous weekend we had. Three days of wandering round Albany playing tourist, eating and drinking at our leisure, and generally getting away from all the troubles and tribulations of being full-time writah dahlings 🙂

Big highlight was Whaleworld: the former Albany Whaling Station, which has been turned into a whaling museum, in ways which have to be experienced to be believed. Interactive dioramas, multimedia displays, a 3D cinema… the Luscious One and I spent about 5 hours there and walked away with a hatful of souvenirs. The place was just amazing.

And on the souvenir front, this happy little fat man is now the proud owner of some fossilised ferns, a fossil lamonite, a section of whale tooth and another of deer antler, and happy of happies, a book about Arthur Philip, governor of the Botany Bay Colony, that I picked up in a museum entirely NOT dedicated to anything remotely oceanic! And they say being a nerd never pays 🙂

We’re going back. We’re taking the kids. Albany is just too cool.

I SHALL FWEE BWIAN!!

Went and saw The Passion of The Christ today, with Luscious Lyn. Hmm, what to say? Even as an athiest the story of Christ interests me. After all, this is one of the major mythological signposts of Western Civilisation, so even from a purely anthropological standpoint (ie: why on earth do people BELIEVE this stuff?) it fascinates me. So it’s a task of some note that director Mel Gibson has managed to make the last 12 hours of Christ’s life so damn boring.

The Passion suffers tremendously for being made by a director so in love with his subject matter that he sacrifices his filmic instincts in order to give us as faithful a rendition of biblical writings as he can. I had really hoped to be given an insight into Jesus the man, from someone who has a devout understanding of his own faith. Instead I was given a succession of poster-like images laid end upon end, as if Gibson is hoping to portray truth through endless dioramas rather than an examination of characters in conflict. There are moments of brilliance. Gibson is too good a director to abandon his instincts entirely. The scourging is possibly the most horrific scene I’ve ever seen on film, to the point where I (a jaded and cynical filmgoer all too aware of the filmic process) found myself wanting to leap to my feet and shout “For pity’s sake, stop!”, but they’re few and far between in what stands in my mind as a brave film-making experiment and heartfelt expression of belief, but ultimately a failure as a motion picture.

Pity, because I was REALLY looking forward to it. It did prompt a long and wide-ranging talk between Luscious and I on our different beliefs (put broadly: she does, I don’t) and so in that sense it was a successful creation, but it’s just not a very good film.

Oh, and I didn’t find it anti-semitic at all. Just thought I’d mention that, seeing it seems to get mentioned a lot in regards to this movie. It didn’t feel likeGibson was laying the blame at the feet of the Jews, rather that he was just trying to be faithful to the source text.

DITMARS

The shortlists for this year’s Australian SF “Ditmar” Awards were announced this weekend. I was slighty disappointed not to see my name amongst the short story lists, although a lot of my good friends got guernseys, which is always cool to see. I was, however, blown away to see that I’ve been nominated for the William J. Atheling Award for Review or Criticism (Say THAT in one breath!) for my reviewing work at Ideomancer. I was even happier because I hadn’t thought to nominate myself, so a whole bunch of people have obviously been to the site, and read my stuff while they were there. It’s a bit wanky to say it, but this time it’s true: just being nominated is reward enough. Actually winning the gong (I don’t stand a snowball’s…) would be astonishing.

GOOD WITH THE BAD

Had a mixed result from recent submissions today. Borderlands have rejected one story, but bought The Imprisonment of Marianne, a story set in 1920s Dublin, involving a ghost, a prison cell, a teenage girl, and a bargain struck. They want it to appear in their 4th issue, pending a minor rewrite of the ending. This is my 3rd sale to them: they’re turning into a nice little market for me.

I also received a critique of Jaracara’s Kiss from good friend and uber-excellent writer Stephen Dedman in the e-mail. Well, I asked for honne (honest truth) instead of tatamae (false truth that pleases the ear), and boy, did I get it. There’s a gulf in class between Stephen and myself, and after I stopped crying I was really appreciative of the glimpse into how a writer of his class thinks. There’s a lot of work to be done!

ARRRRRRRRRRR….

Pirates of the Caribbean came into the shop two days early. Woohoo! Picked it up today while we were out at the flicks, and I can’t wait until friday when we have all the kids together so we can watch it as a family. I just have to search the house to make sure there are enough bandannas to go round, savvy?

HANGING ON THE TELEPHONE

Had a pleasant surprise tonight. Lyn’s youngest, Blakey-boy, is 9, and has a slight speech impediment. He has his first session of speech therapy tomorrow, so Luscious Lyn rang him (he’s at his Dad’s at the moment) to let him know we’re thinking of him. And the B-Boy asked to speak to me! We chatted for a couple of minutes and I got to tell him about the cool prezzie we picked up for him in Albany. I love Lyn’s kids, but I’m always very conscious not to try to usurp their Dad’s place: I love being their friend and their Stepdad-in-all-but-the-bit-of-paper, and I’m just stoked beyond belief when they show me they love me too. Happy little fat man dancing.

NEXT ON THE AGENDA…

Got through most of last week’s tasks, so I’m mostly happy with how the week went. Particularly happy with progress on the novel. A few personal things to get through, which wouldn’t interest you at all, but writing-wise, the week ahead promises:

Line editing two of Lyn’s stories: The Memory of Breathing and Return to Civvy Street. These are two damn good stories. Look for them when they inevitably make their way to a magazine near you. They’re going to knock your socks off. Talented gal, my Lyn.

1 draft each of Mikal, Father Renoir’s Hands, and Love Me Electric. Getting closer to going out.

Reading my new Arthur Philip book. Lots of luvverly research for Nouvelle Hollande.

Preparing the map and timeline of La Perouse’s voyage for the novel.

Critiquing all this month’s stories for the KSP group next weekend, and a couple for the Online Writer’s Workshop so I can post a new story.

That should keep me going…

NEW WEBSITE STUFF

Spent part of yesterday updating my website, neatening it up, adding song lyrics on a couple of pages, and updating my non-fiction, poetry, and reviews to my bibliography page. Check it out and let me know what you think. I’ll be doing some more over the next week or so.

WE’RE ALL GOING ON A (SHORT, POST-) SUMMER HOLIDAY

Heh. Funny how these things happen. Fabuloso-groovo couple Callisto and Cheshire have bogged off to Sydney for the Mardi Gras, and we’ve been following their fun on their respective blogs. The other day they mentioned they were spending a few days in Adelaide, and what with it being a kid-free weekend, and Virgin advertising $99 flights, we were bang-up for nipping over there and surprising them.

Curses and blah! The Virgin $99 flight is a complete crock, and we can’t afford the full whack flights. But having decided how much money we could afford to spend on this insane little holiday, and having set our wizened little hearts on going away somewhere, we’ve booked 2 nights in a spa-suite in Albany instead 🙂