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 🙂

MY ‘JUST BECAUSE’ PRESENT

How much does she love me? Luscious returned from a shopping trip on Saturday morning, and presented me with a gift because “You never ask for anything, and we always ask you for things.” Awwww. And what did I receive? A damn cool book entitled Celluloid Serial Killers: The Real Monsters Behind the Movies by Paul B Kidd, an exploration of serial killer movies and the real-life serial killers who inspired them, and vice versa.

And bloody good reading it is, too.

A FAT MAN AND HIS DOLLIES

So what did i get for Xmas? What was my brilliant, jaw-dropping pressie?

I got dollies.

Seriously. I got a couple of dolls.

Now, this is what I mean when I talk about the best thing about gift giving being the zing, the AHA! moment.

That excellent Tasmanian writer Tansy Rayner Roberts has a sideline. Deepings Dolls, a company that specialises in hand turned wooden figurines with the most delicately applied painted costumes you’ve ever seen. They’re elegant, and delicate, and visually quite beautiful, and I’d never in a million years think to buy one for myself.

But Lyn did. What’s more, she really thought about it, and so, on Christmas day, I found myself not only holding a couple of dolls, but holding the main characters from Napoleone’s Land: Napoleone Buonaparte and his teenage bride, Mary Pitt, the illegitimate daughter of the English Prime Minister.

One-of-a-kind orders, not on the website, absolutely unique wooden figurines designed and created for me alone. Nobody else in the world owns them. They are mine alone.

Honestly, is that not the most brilliant present you can think of someone getting?

A fat man and his dollies.

Napoleone and Mary.

N&M in close-up.

ON PRESENTS, AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GIVING AND RECEIVING

Well, I gotta tells ya, I love receiving presents. Receiving presents is tops. But when it comes to my family, what I really love is finding presents. There’s a moment, when I’m standing in the shop, and I’m either there for a clearly-viewed purpose or just because I had a vague idea that something would be within these walls, and I see the perfect gift for one of my family and the thrill of AHA! zings across my skin….. brilliant.

This year, we made out like bandits.

The sushi kit I gave Lyn, the make-your-own-brain kit for Aiden, Blake’s CSI facial reconstruction kit, the PS2 version of the Playboy Mansion game that Cassie’s been begging after for two years and is now old enough to actually have, Erin’s Dora the Explorer toy computer, and Connor’s…… well, everything, really. He is two….. everybody got something that dropped the jaw, lit up the eyes, and resulted in a chest-hug and happy-squirm. The gifts were many, and varied, and some of them were bought and some of them were hand-made, and all of them were greeted with thanks and hugs and the occasional kiss. Christmas may be grossly commercial, and designed to skin your flint, but the truth is that it’s really what you make of it, and we managed to make it about giving this year.

And then there were the books.

Last year, Lyn told me the story of her childhood book. I told her how my best friend Seanie and I used to buy each other second hand books for Christmas when we were poor struggling Uni students. And we looked at each other, and a light went on over our heads. And we decided that we would buy each other a secondhand book every Christmas: something used, and loved, and on a subject that the other wouldn’t buy for themself but will find cool when they get it.

It’s not the getting, it’s the finding.

So this year, I received a book listing the 100 things that influenced Australia most throughout the 20th century (and ohhhh, the arguments I could have….) , and Lyn recieved Gladiatrix: Story of the Unknown Female Warrior, an examination and discussion regarding a European archaeological find wherein lies a female warrior figure unseen in any other ancient grave site.

Next year, who knows? It’s going to be fun finding out, though.

SHE WUUUBS ME!

Is it Sarge? NO!

So I sit at my writing desk the other day, Lyn sits next to me, and it quickly becomes apparent that she’s waiting for me to notice something. Particularly when she starts to say things like “Have you noticed?”

For no reason at all, other than she knew I’d love it, my darling wife had picked up this Hong Kong Phooey doll at the shops, and snuck it amongst the gallery of ephemera and weird shit hanging from my desk.

How cool is that?

He’s got style, a groovy smile, a bod that just won’t stop……

BONUS/FATHER’S WEEKEND

Oh, you poor fathers who only get a single day 🙂

Like every other event at The Batthome, we seem to stretch Father’s Day over all the available time, which is why it’s taken the whole weekend so far.

Yesterday saw a trip to the museum (to satisfy my inner and outer geeks); lunch under the sun; time to continue work on my Doctor Who story during the evening (with much begging from the boys to read it when it’s done); the best Doctor Who episode so far; and Luscious’ wonderful home made soup for dinner.

Then this morning I was forcibly made to sleep in while a Full English breakfast was prepared, consisting of bacon, sausages, hash browns, cheese-covered tomatoes, eggs, beans, and croissants. Then I was presented with cards from everybody and a copy of Eric Sykes’ autobiography If I Don’t Write It, Nobody Else Will, which I was allowed to read whilst lying in a bubble bath.

Now Luscious has taken the littlies to the gym, and the Triffboys have gone off with their Dad to celebrate his Father’s Day, so I’ve got more time to write, plus there’s a roast dinner in the offing later on, followed by Prehistoric Park (It’s an utterly ludicrous show, but a lot of fun) and The Proposition.

Loving it 🙂

HOW TO DRAW A BATH AND QUOTE OF THE DAY

I was born in a cold part of a cold country, so I like my weather cold and my baths hot.

There’s a secret and highly specialised way to draw the perfect hot bath, but seeing as it’s only us, I’ll let you know how it’s done:

Don’t fill the bath all at once. Pour in about six inches or so, as hot as you can stand it. Get in. Once your body has adjusted to the heat, fill up some more. Again, give yourself a minute or so to adjust, then pour in some more. And so on. Four rotations should be enough, with a minute or so to adjust in between. Do it properly, and the only cold water you use will be in the first pouring. The rest will be pure hot tap.

There are few things more satisfying in life than putting your hand in to pull the plug out after more than an hour of soaking, and twitching at the heat. Having steam come off the water as it drains is proof you’ve done it right.

Half an hour or so after getting in this morning, Luscious despatched the kids across to the park to play and brought a chair into the bathroom to join me in reading. Before I could warn her she sat down and plonked her feet into the bath, prompting today’s quote of the day:

Jeez! I’ve stewed apples in colder water than that!

I’m not fat. I’m melting…

Song of the moment: Tubular Bells Mike Oldfield

OVER, ALL OVER….. ONLY FOUR YEARS UNTIL THE NEXT ONE!

Well, I’m back to normal sleeping times now that the World Cup is over, and the Italian National Diving Team have got their hands on The Trophy The Brazilians Didn’t Leave in a Rubbish Bin (Liddle World Cup in-joke for the true believers…). Altogether: Fabio Grosso’s an arrrrsseeehooollleeee………

Truth to tell, I’m kind of disappointed they played France. I was hoping Portugal would make it. Wouldn’t it have been a laugh? 11 players all falling over simultaneously in different parts of the pitch, clutching theiur ankles and screaming as if they’ve just been shot with a howitzer, while the ref stands at the centre circle, holding the ball and trying to tell someone that the game hasn’t even started yet?

Maybe it’s just me…

Anyway, I was pleased to get what I would consider a ‘true’ final: exciting, controversial, and amidst all the hoo-ha, filled with some damn good football, not that anyone seems to remember that, so badly has the Zidane/Matterazzi spectacle absorbed us all. Finals are often rather boring, with both teams determined not to lose, rather than win. The 3rd place playoff is usually where all the action is: 2 teams with nothing to lose, playing like dervishes. It’s usually the best game of the tournament, and it went close again this year. But the final was all I’d hoped for, and of course, we had that head butt.

My opinion: stupid man, that Zidane. It appears that Matterazzi may have called him the “son of a terrorist whore.” Is that worth losing the World Cup over? Your dignity? The respect of your team-mates, your country, and the watching world? His final match, and the possibility of holding aloft the greatest prize in world football, pissed away because a thick-headed Italian defender make a comment about his Mum. Has that never happened to Zizou before? I mean, I loved my Mum, but she’d have kicked my head in

Still, it’s all over now, and we can settle in to watch the great Juventus sell off sale begin. Ahhhh, Serie C never looked so good 🙂

$1.40 A LITRE AND THE IDEA OF DOUBLE VALUE SHOPPING

Petrol prices hit the $1.40 a litre mark during the week, which has made the Luscious One and I re-examine our shopping procedures. All those supermarkets in our local area, offering 4c off this and voucher that… more and more these days, the idea of value-added shopping lies uppermost in our thoughts, what with being skint and needing to stretch everything as far as we can. Do we shop at Coles, get our 4c off petrol plus Fly Buys? IGA gives you 4c, plus they’re part of the Super Savers scheme, and you can get multiples of 6c vouchers if you shop wisely. Action give you points towards a $20 voucher to spend on fruit and veg, plus the obligatory 4c off per litre…

Yesterday I found myself nixing a proposed trip to the Wanneroo markets to buy fruit, because by the time we got there, the cost of petrol would have made the trip a false economy. Because we were only going to buy fruit and nothing else.

So I’m interested: are we the only ones who are beginning to think this way? Or is it just the poor? The family-burdened? Or are we all beginning to change the way we view our shopping needs?

If so, what are steps are you taking?

SHE LOVES ME, SHE LOVES ME…. NOPE, THAT’S IT, SHE LOVES ME

For no reason at all, just because she loves me, Luscious popped into a second hand bookstore and presented me with a hardback anthology called Analog’s Golden Anniversary Anthology the other day. Poul Anderson, Asimov, Bova, Fredric Brown, SPrage De Camp, Dickson, Heinlein, Oliver, Schmidt, Sturgeon, Van Vogt, Weinbaum and more: 380 pages of golden age goodness.

When you consioder how utterly meh Analog has become as a magazine, it’s sometimes a welcome surprise to be faced with the assemblage of talent it used to collect.

I feel a wallowing a’comin’…..

FALLING OUT OF LIKE

I made a strange discovery during the week: I realised I don’t like someone who I had always thought I liked. Normally I realise when I’ve started to dislike a person, or I dislike them upon contact. But I realised, as I thought “I like Person X, but…” for the umpteenth time in relation to something they said, that I’d been saying this to myself a lot, for a long time, and the truth was, I didn’t like them after all.

I have no wisdom to offer about this. It’s just a weird feeling, is all.

A QUICK STOCKTAKE IN THE INTERESTS OF INSPIRING ME TO GET OFF MY ASS AND FINISH SOME OF THESE DAMN THINGS

So I’ve been doing a bit of kvetching (or in Battersby Household Speak: there was kvetchage. which I add only because I think it sounds funny…) because I’ve got no projects on the go, and nothing in the trunk, and nothing is coming up on the publishing front, so I was a wee bit becalmed. You may have noticed…

Apart from two stories doing the rounds, all I’ve got out is Napoleone’s Land, which sits with agent and publisher; The Ballad of Henry Renfield which awaits publication in the Monster Noir anthology; and Manuscript Found Upon The Body of a Hanged Soldier, a story I completed almost a year ago for the approaching-mythical-status Fading Twilight anthology. None of these have concrete publication dates, so it was anybody’s guess as to when I was going to see print again. What’s more, I didn’t have anything I was really working on, so it was anybody’s guess as to when I’d have anything finished.

SO: Luscious is out tonight, the kids are in bed, and I’ve read all the new posts on the The World Game site. My eyes fall on a stack of half a dozen notebooks I’ve got sitting above my desk. I’ll just have a squizz through them see what’s in there.

What I find, after I’ve transcribed all the pieces into Word, are the beginnings of 30 stories, totalling over 20 000 words!

I’m going to list them, which might bore you to tears because it’s no more than list of titles and word counts. But consider it a public shaming: once it’s written down, it’s in the public sphere, and then I’ll have to do something about them. 20 000 words, and he moans about not having anything…. whining maggot.

So, they are:

The Squire 1259
The Escapees 134
Squall 69
Mr Snopes 4058
Most Divine of Winds 236
Magwitch and Bugrat 892
Lethologica 340
Indian Jim 158
In From The Snow 2672
The Corpse-Rat King 3688
Chirsmast 65
Adding Machines 103
A Good Year For The Roses 2227
Where The Jungle Ends 245
Forever Amen 151
One Last Sacrifice 736
Still Life 209
Six Seconds 122
Building 191
The God of Insects 200
Clones, We’re All 221
Dudley Awesome, Super Guy! 311
Down Amongst The Teensies 264
A Fork In The Sky 1450
Domitian’s Statue 349
Father Muerte & the Bells 82 (Yup, I had the start of a Muerte story, and had forgotten it. Bad author! No biscuit!)
Workbench 459
Playing With Jimi At the Tower of Babel 204
The Undertaker 305
Beyond The Fence 407

There you go. 21 807 words of beginnings. And given I have a second novel to get the hell on with, and I know I have a file full of first pages I should pull out and transcribe, and Iive just been contacted by a newly formed small press publishing company asking if I’m interested in writing a 40-50K novel for them, I really have no bloody excuse any more, do I?

Next time I’ll just post some nice pictures of the family, to make up for getting all angsty and self-indulgent, I promise.

Song of the Moment: Generals and Majors XTC

PREZZIESSSSSSSSSS!!!!!

Luscious is asleep, the baby is asleep, Erin’s happily camped out in front of The Angry Beavers. So:

Christmas Day was a blast. It started early- Luscious went into the living room at quarter to5 to feed Connor, only to find the boys wide awake in front of the cartoons, big grins on their heads. Their reason? “We’re excited”. And it went uphill from there! Everybody loved their presents, there was much playing and mucking about, and in the afternoon we journeyed to Ray & Donna’s place (Lyn’s brother and sister-in-law) for a swim in the pool and super-yummo Christmas nosh. Hey, there are definite advantages to having a brother-in-law who’s a chef by trade 🙂

On the present front, my darling presented me with my 2nd favourite movie of all time, Name of The Rose, on DVD (Having already got me my favourite some time ago), we having agreed to call our Albany trip our Chrissie present to each other. And just to prove how sensational my 5 kids are, they gave me a damn cool Dr Karl book, and (gift of gifts!) a 1/10 SCALE POLY RESIN STATUE OF THE TARDIS!!!

They love me 🙂

Right now it has pride of place on top of my desk next to my Beaker-killer Dalek. (There’s a joke behind Beaker, involving my introduction to Lyn’s family, and the nickname Ray and his brothers had for someone. Email me for details 🙂 ) For my birthday I’m hoping to get a 1/10th scale BBC quarry to put them all in…

OKAY, WE’RE IN…

Finally, the move is over, and the cheap-ass, slack as crap, less-brain-cells-than-a-PE-teacher removalists have crawled back under their rock. Hey, they managed to break my computer desk and the Indian pipe Luscious bought me for my birthday last year, so I figure I have shooting rights. This pack of morons had tricks like double-packing the cutlery but not wasting a single piece of paper on wrapping my flat-screen computer monitor, so you know we’re not dealing with the deep end of the gene pool here. And they ripped us off, the bastards.

Lucky I’m not bitter about it or anything.

Anyway, we’ve turned the living room into a big library with a couch and TV, the cable’s been connected (spent most of yesterday watching Invader Zim, and Batman:The Animated Series, and Johnny Bravo, and I Am Weasel and Catdog, and… well, you get the idea), the patio guy’s working out a quote for hard-roofing the patio, the curtain people are coming later this week… it’s all go.

Want to extend a big “Youse is a legend moit” to Sheldon, who came over way early on Saturday morning and worked like a Trojan to help us unpack, and Chesh & Calli who came round a bit later and helped with the mammoth task of emptying the house of a million boxes.

ON THE SUBJECT OF TROJANS

Watched Troy the other night for the first time. Would have thought it impossible to turn The Iliad into a boring pile of crap, but there you go. Never underestimate the powers of Wolfgang Petersen and Brad Pitt when it comes to stinky-toilet cinematic experiences.

I LOVE MY FAMILY!

It’s my birthday on Thursday. Luscious and the kids couldn’t wait that long to give me my prezzies.

The kids got me a watch. To understand how excited I was by this you have to have been with me when I’ve taken my phone out for the umpty-thousandth time to check what time it is. I’m a constant time-checker. It’s a sickness. Hey, it could be worse. I could work in IT.

Anyway, this watch is beautiful, a magnificent analog (Call me old-fashioned; I prefer hands) in silver and gold. It’s far too beautiful to belong on my hairy old wrist.

And Luscious, well, what can I say. A weird and wonderful statue (the present, I swear!) made from nuts, bolts and screws, of two robot-type people wearing glasses and playing soccer. Very hard to describe, but it’s odd, disturbing, and impossible to look at without finding something to comment about. In other words, perfect 🙂

I’m a lucky guy with a great family. And yes, this is an utterly diabetes-inducing post, but hey, it’s my birthday 🙂 Well, in two days, but you know…

WHAT, AND LEAVE SHOWBIZ?

Everybody in Perth SF is waiting to see the Angriest Video Store Clerk TV show. Creative force Grant Watson emailed me today and asked me if I wanted a bit part as a light-bulb worshipping Siberian Yak Herder.

How can a guy say no to an offer like that? 🙂