2021 YEAR IN REVIEW: THE LITTLE YEAR THAT COULDN’T, AND DIDN’T.

We all thought it would be better, didn’t we?

And okay, in many ways it was, but let’s be honest: 2021 was as difficult as 2020 had been before it, and in just as many ways was worse, because it was just like 2020 but this time we bloody well knew what was going to happen, and then we had to watch as all those fuckwits went ahead and did it anyway.

On the personal front, well, yeah. Things weren’t easy. But Big Decisions ™ were made, and Some Plans (pat. pend.) were begun, and this time next year I’ll have nothing but amazing successes and happinesses to report. Right?

Right?

Soooooooo…… anyway. 2021. Year in Review. Let’s do that.

Continue reading “2021 YEAR IN REVIEW: THE LITTLE YEAR THAT COULDN’T, AND DIDN’T.”

THUMBNAIL THURSDAY SAYS THE REPORTS OF MY DEMISE ARE GREATLY… MODERATELY… POSSIBLY… EXAGGERATED. MAYBE.

Yeah, so 2021 was a pretty bleh year in all the ways, including blogging at this here blog. I’m going to try to make 2022 a more active, proactive, and positive year in as many ways as I can, including getting behind the keyboard– that includes both writing and blogging.

Popular wisdom among the teaching fraternity is that the first two to three years are the toughest, because you’re still learning all the practical habits of the trade while having to sort through the reams of available resources to find the ones that work for your teaching style. I’ve done my three years. Hopefully its true. Either way, I need more than just that particular way of meeting rent to give my life some joy and fulfillment. When in doubt, go back to first principles, and first principles say: I’m an author. I’m an artist. I’m a rock and roll tyrannosaurus sex god from the planet Yeeha. Let’s start with those simple truths and see where I can go from there.

To whit, the first thumbnail of the final year of Thumbnail Thursday. How prophetic, how timely, how okay, yeah, for once I chose this one instead of letting the random number generator do the job. Sue me.

Here’s to a better 2022, everyone, no matter where you are.

THUMBNAIL THURSDAY WISHES YOU A BIG, FAT STOCKING RIGHT UP YOUR CHIMNEY

if my maths is correct — and if it isn’t, I’ll just draw another one when the time is right — I don’t have quite enough thumbnails left to run this feature through to next Christmas. After 200+ thumbnails covering the extent of my occasionally semi-serious, several-times-aborted, never-good-enough-to-really-consider-it attempts at fashioning something in the cartooning realm, I’m going to run out of thumbnails sometime in the coming year, and that will be that. Thanks for reading, and all that.

However, I still have four Christmas-themed cartoons left on my list, so rather than do anything clever with them, I’m just going to shove them all up here at once and wish you, from the point of view of this feature anyway, a final merry Christmas all at once.

May your stocking be full and your egg particularly noggy.

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THUMBNAIL THURSDAY BIDS GOODBYE TO ITS STUDENTS

The random number generator has absolutely nailed it again. Today, on the last day of the school year, when any number of my senior school students are out there, dressed in itchy shirts, trying not to scratch where the razor has taken the heads off the pimples on their necks (okay, my year twelves left at the end of last term, and my elevens four weeks ago, but you know what I mean!) it throws up this delightful little reminder of just how stupid and irritating job interviews can be. (Smiles at the memory of asking the last interviewer who asked me this one, “How long have you been in the position?”. I didn’t get the job…).

Five years. Way to know nothing about the employment market for the last twenty years, dude.

“Where do I see myself in five years? What is that, some kind of sick joke?”

THUMBNAIL THURSDAY GETS ALL META UP ITS OWN ARSE

I remember exactly when I drew this. It would be to the surprise of nobody to learn that it was when I was working for the Department of Staff Bullying at the City or Rockingham, and that I was at a management meeting regards some art and culture stuff I should have been left alone to do but, well… we all know how it ended. So, a little double-meta going on, here: a comment on some of those community artist types* that I worked with, and a pretty decent dollop of self-knowledge about mine own abilities in any artistic direction. Except for the expression on the dog’s face.

For some reason I’m always satisfied with the expressions I manage to get on dog’s faces…

(*There are two types of community artist types: those who love art, practice art, develop art, and whether they pursue it as a hobby or something more, respect and love the process. And those who think wearing dungarees and tying things into their hair means they’ve done all the hard work. Guess which type ended up running the arts groups I was dealing with at the time…)

“I just paint what I see.”

THUMBNAIL THURSDAY HAS A #METOO MOMENT

Someehow it seems appropriate that on the 46th anniversary of leaving England, the random number generator throws up a cartoon that pitches me right back to my short, pre-Australian childhood.

Even as a kid, Punch and Judy was horrific. Indeed, that’s part of its… I don’t know if charm is the right word, but certainly fascination.

It’s a grotesque, of course, a deliberate soft spot between what is acceptable and the dark mirror world where all is allowed and nothing is forbidden. As a tiny person on the cold, windy, pebble-coated beaches of — well, I’m not entirely sure, to be honest. The scratchy super 8 films in my possession don’t really make it clear, and both my parents are dead so they can’t tell me. Call it Bournemouth, or Brighton, or more likely as we were in Nottingham, Blackpool — the Punch and Judy show was right up there with riding donkeys and eating fairy floss as the maddest of mad shit my four year old brain could cope with. But holy hot damn, when you look at it objectively… depending on the professor, and the time, and just how closely parents and the authorities are watching, Punch is a coyote, a joker, an agent of chaos, or an outright monster from the same level of Hell that ‘gifts’ us Jimmy Savile and Denis Nilsen.

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MIXED MOVIE QUOTE: SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN OR MORE OTHER MOVIES YOU CAN CLEARLY REMEMBER WHILE WATCHING IT

So, yeah, we saw Shang-Chi, the 25th MCU movie — and second that didn’t feature the adventures of white guys fighting other white guys to solve white guy problems with money — last night, two months after everybody else in the world, which is par for the course around our parts. And, well, look: parts of it were fantastic. The dialogue is whip-smart. The acting is top-shelf. Awkwafina and Ben Kingsley steal all the shows. Michelle Yeoh. Enough fanwank to cause heart attacks in 30% of incels world wide. The single most relatable, understandable, antagonist in MCU movies. Michelle freaking Yeoh. And yet…

It’s too damn easy to count the bits of Black Panther, the bits of Doctor Strange, the bits of Batman Begins, bits of that Bond movie where he fights someone in a neon high-rise, bits of every other Marvel movie with no surprises, bits of Guardians of the Galaxy 2, there’s yet another climax where two giant bits of giant CGI fight each other… honestly, they’re all starting to feel the same, now. And it’s yet another Marvel movie that’s ultimately about shitty Dads causing shitty Dad daddy issues in kids that can only be resolved by spending billionaire dollars or punching Daddy really, really hard…. you know, like Howard Stark, Thanos, T’Chaka, Ego, David Banner, Odin, Adrian Toomes……

On the other, other hand, it’s quotable as fuck, so here’s a mixed movie quote that was amongst the easiest ever to create.

BRICKTOBER, BABY!

Not long now: this time next week I’ll be packing the car with over a dozen large carboard boxes containing my display — entitled Alien Archaeological Expedition, for those with a need to know — driving for 16 wincing-at-every-goddamn-bump-in-the-road hours to get my arse to Perth, and carefully piecing over a dozen large cardboard boxes worth of Lego display back together again ready to set up for two days of telling people that no, this doesn’t come from a set, yes, I did make it myself, no, it’s not bloody Star Wars, yes, I really did come up with it myself, and no, your dad didn’t see it on the shelves at Target, go check yourself…. (Believe me, there’s a bingo sheet.)

It’s Bricktober time!

A tiny taste of one corner of my display. Imagine a tonne of in-jokes like this, but 12 baseplates bigger.

Get your tickets, come see the very large display I spent seven months putting together, marvel at the brilliant things people way more brilliant then me did in less time for much greater effect, and say hi to me because gods knows I don’t have any other Lego enthusiasts or, you know, even actual friends up here.

I can’t wait.

MIXED MOVIE QUOTE WILL SEE YOU LATER, SPACE COWBOY

What with the live-action adaptation of the top-three-greatest-anime-shows-of-all-time Cowboy Bebop dropping on Netflix next month, and what with Luscious taking the girls out for a girly day out yesterday, I took the opportunity to sit down with Lord 16 and finally press play on the final piece of his Space Cowboy education: to watch the Cowboy Bebop: The Movie after loving our way through the 26 episodes we’d already watched together. (Him for the first time, me for the umpty-billionth and oneth).

Of course I love it, and of course he did too, and of course we’re going to be right there come November 19, and of course it remains on of the greatest anime shows, not to mention greatest space operas, ever committed to tape.

But, as is the way of all things, to watch is to mis-quote. So here we go with today’s Mixed Movie Quote. Let the good taste… uh… retire:

MIXED MOVIE QUOTE: THE TEACHING FILM LOTTERY

One thing about teaching: being forced to a) teach film analysis to students who, for a variety of reasons, may have seen fewer than ten movies in their entire life, and b) choose films that conform to very strict rules regards purpose and rating, certainly results in watching movies you would never approach under any other circumstance.

Two cases in point.

First, the good: It was decided to teach our year eleven students horror movie this year, and the film that satisfied enough of the criteria to be chosen was the 2001 film The Others. I am about as far from a Nicole Kidman fan as it is possible to get — I find her cold, unconvincing, and so stagey I’m never unaware that she is dame-of-the-stage ahhhcting (a problem she shares with Judy Davis) — and yet, despite some shonky Kidmanesque moments (her pronunciation of ‘coh-TENS’ for ‘curtains’ raised a giggle every. damn. time.), the movie turned out to be an absolute masterpiece.

It was also, surprisingly, extremely teachable, even to a gaggle of boofhead boys who want nothing more than for this year to just shutup and go away so they can get on with the apprenticeships they’re just filling in time before taking up. Who’d have guessed? Not me.

On the flip side of the lottery, unfortunately, was case study two: the as bad as expected. In this case, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, a Disneybland assemblage of forced jokes, vapid life lessons, cliched everythings, and terminal eyerolls starring no fewer than four actors who make me want to run screaming from the cinema at even the mention of their names. The year eights I am teaching, of course, loved it, the treacherous little shits.

Ah, well. Can’t win them all.

So, two mixed movie quotes, and on the basis that the one for The Others pretty much chose itself, I’ve not remixed them with each other for once. In order of preference, The Others first:


And Jumanji: Welcome to the Executive Blandification.