All the films, books, graphic novels, and TV I shoved into my brainhole in 2021, all in one easy place to make mockery and derision easier.
Don’t say I don’t think of you.Continue reading “2021: THE LISTS”
All the films, books, graphic novels, and TV I shoved into my brainhole in 2021, all in one easy place to make mockery and derision easier.
Don’t say I don’t think of you.Continue reading “2021: THE LISTS”
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?
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.”
It’s traditional, at this time, to publish my end of year list. But as a) it’s more than thirty items long, b) I’m currently lying in a chalet in Fremantle, a long way from my computer, and c) I’m typing this on my phone, that one’s going to have to wait.
Instead, let me end this year of neck-deep shite with a list of goals for my first year back in Perth for almost half a decade. To whit:Continue reading “2020 PLUS A TUTU, TOO”
Okay, a two-week holiday in far-off Perth has been achieved, complete with hoovering up Lego and graphic novels, meeting my new granddaughter, hoovering up books, Christmas, seeing our adult kids, hoovering up as many kebabs as my body could stand, hoovering up as many piece of pop culture shite as I could get my hands on, playing with my grandkids, and generally just slobbing about like Dave Lister if Red Dwarf was Australian and remotely worth watching any more.
All of which means, I’m in a much better place than when I last posted. To whit, let’s talk about the TV, films, books, and graphic novels I couldn’t bring myself to list when I posted my end of year review!Continue reading “2020 ADDENDUM: THE LISTS”
Yes, I haven’t blogged in the very longest time, but let’s be honest. It’s not like anybody really cares, or anything I say is contributing to the improvement of the Universe. Who cares, really? I’ve long since passed into irrelevance and the obscurity from which I briefly lurched.
Anyway, 2020, eh?Continue reading “2020 YEAR IN REVIEW: LET’S NOT, AND SAY WE DID.”
Time for me to review the year that was. Let’s be honest: this isn’t going to be a cheery gagapalooza of cheeriness. 2019 was a terrible year, where everything was overshadowed by one moment so deeply traumatic that we will be struggling with its aftermath and connotations for years to come.
But bad should be recorded with good. That is why we journal. To lay down our own truths, and share our lives, no matter where they take us. I mean, that and nob gags, obviously.
So, read on if you wish, forewarned and
foreskinned forearmed: this year contains more on the truths side and less on the usual level of nob gags. And let the wind grip the ashes of 2019 and blow them into the ocean.
Or, at least, that’s how it feels.
Let’s recap, shall we?
At the start of the year, I was a month away from being released from a job that had turned sour and toxic. I was vastly overweight, crippled by stress, and deeply unhappy. I hadn’t completed a full piece of writing in well over 2 years, and hadn’t completed a novel in closer to four (and that one had been stillborn: a melange of bad writing and awkward choices that simply refused to come to life and be sellable).
Then, of course, we moved to Karratha. Luscious took up a position teaching at the High School. I tra-la-la’d out of the job with nary a look back (How well was I respected? My going away gift was a book of art from the Kimberleys (I was going to the Pilbara, several hundreds of kilometres away), and my Director, who knew me since my first day, could only comment on the fact that I occasionally swore when asked to make a speech about my achievements over the 8 years of my time there). I started teaching relief at Luscious’ school a day or two a week, sat down to write, and opened up my recipe books and my copy of House Husbanding for Dummies.
How’s that worked out for me? Wouldn’t you like to know?
It’s that time of year again: time to look back on a year of… uh… and celebrate… that thing… that… you know…
Actually, 2017 really was a year of is that all? If not for Luscious’ breakthrough, and our impending Pilbara adventure, I’d have a hard time remembering the year at all, and we’re still in it.
Really selling this year in review post, aren’t I?
Can anyone explain what the hell just happened? I mean, I know we had a year, and all, but what the actual fuck? Who gave 2016 red cordial and fizzy lifesavers the moment it woke up?
Anyway, if I can dodge the rain of dropping celebrities long enough, here’s a quick attempt to sum up my year in a slightly longer form than just shouting “dumpster fire!” while pouring liquid lava up my orifices.
Ms 15 glided her way to a report card that I might be able to equal if I cut up all of the report cards I ever received and glued the best bits back together again.
Luscious finished her University degree with a grade point average that resulted in her being invited to study (it seemed) every post-graduate course her University has ever offered, and saw her awarded a paid internship for the graduate diploma she’ll be completing next year.
Master 12 fought and scratched and pushed his way past illness, extreme bullying, and an incompetent and weak school administration to make his way back into the school system and graduate primary school surrounded by school friends, teachers who backed him, and a school that understood his situation.
My bonus daughter Cassie stayed strong like a mother bear in the face of a toxic and dangerous partner, and managed to extricate herself and her children in such a way that her kids remained safe and protected the whole way through. The war continues, but she wins battle after battle, and her strength is amazing to watch.
And my nephew, who came out at age 15 with grace, dignity and maturity, secure in the knowledge that his identity is strong. He’s a hell of a kid, and I’m proud of him.
Overall, it feels like we’re in a good space, and ready to add the final pieces to make sure 2017 works its arse off for us.
Also, a whole bunch of very cool Lego people (IT’S A THING!), including the incomparable Shannon Sproule, Damien Saunders, and Paulius Stepanas, the last of whom helped me laugh my arse off through the most ridiculous game of Dirty Brickster I’ve ever witnessed
Hint: she’s graceful, and dignified, and looks like this:
Stranger Things was delightfully wonderful, packed tight with fantastic performances from a collection of young actors who absolutely nailed every aspect of every moment they were given. The plot was pure fantasy brilliance: by turn delightful, creepy, outright terrifying and emotionally gripping. It was a tour-de-force on every level.
But just pipping it, for me, was Netflix’s let’s-fuck-up-the-superhero-template-and-see-how-they-like-it Jessica Jones. Incredibly bleak, powerful, fraught, and unmissable. I was hooked from the beginning and had to carefully ration it lest I run out of season before I ran out of messed-up feels.
Outright hatred? Let’s mention my daughter Cassie’s former partner Ashley: an abusive coward who threatened the safety and welfare of her and their two children under the age of five. Room 101 is too good for him– he should be expunged.
I didn’t read anything that was truly atrocious this year, largely because I stuck mainly to graphic novels. But Brian Michael Bendis’ run on Guardians of the Galaxy was the last word in blandification, turning Dan Abnett’s wonderfully screwy and charming collection of lunatics into just another pale B-Grade Avengers clone.
But my number 1 pick, when Hottest 100 time comes around, is Illy’s joyful Catch 22. I’m not the hugest hip-hop fan, but this balances all the right components perfectly. It’s tuneful, catchy, with a great turn of phrase, and compulsively singable. It is, quite simply, my favourite song of the year.
Honestly, three weeks ago, when I watched Doctor Strange twice within 24 hours, I’d have said it was the most enjoyable film of the year by the length of the straight, At the time of writing, having watched Arrival last night, for the second time in just over a week, I’d say toss a coin. Either or. Or, to quote Chris Hemsworth’s hilarious Kevin from first runner-up and Fuck-You-Whiny-Fanboy delight, Ghostbusters: Potato, tomato.
Doctor Strange. Arrival. Go watch Ghostbusters, too. Whichever one, I don’t care. You’ll thank me.
And this year, I’m adding a new award to my filmic list. The Those Who Can Do-y Award, which I’m awarding to the much-maligned Suicide Squad. It might be because I’ve been a fan of the Squad since I was knee high to something that isn’t quite knee high, but damn it, I bloody well enjoyed this movie, despite every critic in Christendom parping on about what a despicable piece of shite it was. Well I enjoyed it, and I pre-ordered it on Blu-Ray, and I enjoyed the extended cut even more than the theatrical cut, and I’m giving it an award, so fuck you, headless ghost of Roger Ebert!
I may be working through a few issues at the moment.
The Shut Up And Die Already Will Ferrell Award for 2016? I can’t remember if I saw the terminally tedious and overblown snoozefest The Martian this year or last: either way, I’d rather get the 19 hours I spent watching the damned thing back than talk about it, so I’m giving a great big bear trap to the filmic gonads of Batman versus Superman: Dawn of Justice. Not even naming this film’s mother Martha would have made me like it. And if you get that gag, you know.
You. Just. Know.
28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
American elections. Australian elections. The rise of fascism (Fuck you with your ‘alt-right’. If it marches like a Nazi, and salutes like a Nazi…) in my own country and across the Western world. The Henna Nazi’s return to the Australian senate like some zombie boil that refuses to be lanced. The destruction of arts funding in Australia. The rise and rise of Donnie Drumpf. Having to listen to that freaky little piss-stain Malcolm Roberts talk. Ever. The climate of fear, bigotry and outright terror that friends, peers, and people I admire are living through simply because they do not conform to the outdated and ignorant world view of people who wear suits on Sunday or tie a flag around their shoulders like a cape when they get pissed on National Nationalism Day of Your Choice.
Take your goddamn pick.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Perhaps my favourite part of Christmas this year were a pair of new traditions: firstly, this was the year when our adult children hosted the family get-together for the first time, meaning we took ourselves off to Aiden and Rachel’s place the weekend before the big day for a slap-up meal, present exchange, and general love. Which was just utterly lovely. And second, there was the Secret Santa book exchange:
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale is a true crime classic on par with my absolute favourite of the genre, The Maul and the Pear Tree by TA Critchley and PD James. Its examination of the murder at Road House, its dissection of the criminal justice and policing systems of the 19th century and the formation of Scotland Yard, and its exhumation of the life and character of its star turn, the feted detective John ‘Jack’ Whicher make it a gripping, un-put-downable classic.
But even more prevalent than that was a trio of strong female voices that really shaped the musical soundscape of my year.
Adele first came to my attention with her theme for the generally awful movie Skyfall. Her theme is an anthemic classic that went on to high rotation, as did her widely-known single In Too Deep.
My fancrush on Courtney Barnett started last year, when I discovered Pickles In the Jar through the Hottest 100. I followed that up with the even better Elevator Operator, and haven’t been able to get it out of my head since.
But, like pretty much everyone else on the planet, Florence and the Machine was my big breakout this year. Starting with Ship to Wreck, then the utterly sublime Delilah, and ending with Queen of Peace, her incredible voice and theatrical arrangements really were the sound of my year. Wonderful, wonderful stuff.
The drinks are cooling, dinner’s on the simmer, and I’m about to close down my innahnet for the duration.
I’ve decided against resolutions for the coming year: truth is, it’s been hard, at times, to keep my nose above water this year, and the idea of doing anything other than trying to get my personal and professional lives on track in 2015 does not appeal. So, rather than set up a wishlist I’ll spend a year feeling bad about not achieving, here’s a short list of things that’ll be nice to have happen, and a list of things I was glad to have happen in 2014.
As to the year just gone, here’s a few of the good things:
Time to look back on 2014, and like SOCO in an abattoir, carefully pick through the mountains of shit in the hope of discovering something worthwhile.
Apart from that, this was pretty much a rinse-and-repeat kind of year.
I’m moving house in January. Let’s just see what a new neighbourhood and new financial situation bring before we make any rash promises.
Or nowhere, take your pick.
And, as a pair, Luscious and Master 10. Apart from an abortive attempt to enter the school system, which lasted less than 4 weeks, Master 10 was all but housebound with Rumination Syndrome for the past 18 months. Together, he and his Mum tackled this enforced isolation with a combination of positivity, focus and determination to maintain a quality of life that left me stunned in their faith in each other and the size of the obstacles they conquered on a daily basis: so much so that Master 10 graduated year 4 in mid-November, a full month early. In between times, Luscious maintained a full external load of University study, never dropping below a Distinction in any assessment, maintained a functioning household, and still found time to fit writing in around the edges.
As I began to burn out under the strain of a stupidly high-pressure job and the need to shore up a stuttering writing career, I have watched in little short of awe as they continued to confound despair, illness and ongoing stress to have the kind of year that would make any husband and father weep with pride. They have been my inspiration, and more often then not, the only thing that dragged me out of my bedroom to work in the morning. Faced with their sheer brilliance at life, I have been shamed into attempting the minimum many times more than I wished to.
I have an incredible family, but even more so, they are superb people.
Nope. We can’t.
Master 10 conquering his Rumination Syndrome and insisting he be enrolled in school for 2015 was the most brilliant thing in the world to witness. As of the time of writing, he’s 12 weeks recovered and counting.
And here’s the thing: I don’t even like it. And somewhere, this year, I forgot that. Because, when it comes down to it, I’d rather kick a football than tweet. And I’d rather read a book than a status update. And while I recognise the irony of announcing all this via a blog post, the truth is, I don’t care: why am I happy to live in a house without terrestrial TV but can’t live without fucking Twitter, of all the useless wastes of my psyche? My balance is gone.
So I’ve canned my Twitter account. And I’ll be going through all my little social media accounts that I don’t use, don’t care about, and am better off without. And if I end up with only this blog– which I’ve been maintaining for over 13 years and is, more often than not, a conversation I have with myself than any brilliant, all-encompassing social connector– and my private Facebook page, wherein I keep in touch with those people I don’t get to see in person and those hobby groups that only exist on-line, well, I’ll probably be all the happier for it.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
That said, the best thing we discovered this year was nothing of the sort. Last Week Tonight gave a forum to the brilliantly incisive John Oliver, this weekly HBO satirical show presenting him as the outsider who can say the things that established Americans like Stephen Colbert and John Stewart and their mainstream channels can only hint at. And oh, how did he say those things! From incredible skewerings of the Olympics, FIFA, US policing methods, and pharmaceutical lobbyists, to wonderfully absurd campaigns to rescue horny space lizards (and wouldn’t it be wonderful if I was making that up?), Oliver took a format on the verge of saturation, destroyed it, and built it in his own, flame-mouthed image. It was so clearly the best thing on TV it makes you wonder why we can’t all be like that.
If you’ve not experienced, here’s how he covered the subject of our own Unca Jugears, the dumbfuck we have to apologise for every time he opens his mouth:
4. Wrong Direction, British India.
Good old-fashioned tuneful pop music with fresh lyrics and a sense of sweaty urgency. It’s not breaking any new ground. It’s just good, clean fun.
3. Uptown Funk, Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars. What can I say? I love a big band sound, I love funk. And nobody does it better right now than Mark Ronson. All the sounds and rhythms he perfected behind the likes of Amy Winehouse are in full, ahem, swing here.
2. Maybe, Carmada. I’ve loved electronica since the days when Thomas Dolby and Howard Jones were wandering around sounding like nobody else around them. Not often, but every now and then, a track sticks, and sticks hard. I’m well into this one right now.
1. Cosby Sweater, Hilltop Hoods. Yeah, so I’m old enough to remember when hip-hop wasn’t about hitting women and being a scumbag. Rhythm, message and a sense of fun: there’s no school like the old school, and this is just one hell of a fun, shape-throwing old school hip-hop slice of goodness. It’s also my favourite song of the year.
The Battbox played host to a number of crackers, as well: Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll, Andy Serkis’ love letter to Ian Dury, was memorable for a stunning central performance. Ditto Eric and Ernie, a BBC Made-for-TV effort that cast a sympathetic and nostalgic view back at the early days of the beloved Morecambe and Wise. Longford was emotionally exhausting, The Enemy a labyrinthine and twisted look at a broken psyche that was a most unexpected pleasure and the best thing the terminally inconsistent Jake Gyllenhaal has done in years. Europa Report was the best SF movie I saw this year, supplementing its low budget with a superbly tight script and flawless performances, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was stunning in its brutality and visceral performances.
But for me, Ralph Fiennes scintillating adaption of Coriolanus, transporting the action of Shakespeare’s play to a modern, Balkan setting, was my film of the year. A superb cast at the top of their form– Fiennes and (particularly) Brian Cox have never been better– performing one of the most underrated of Shakespeare’s works, in an adaptation that enhances the scripts’ strength and pares away its weakness to leave a perfectly filmic treatment…. while the 1999 Titus remains, to my mind, the best filmic adaptation ever of a Shakespeare play, this is only slightly less worthy, and easily on a par with Ian McKellen’s brilliant Richard III. It’s a stunning achievement.
This year’s What Did You Expect, It’s an Adam Sandler Hate Crime Stinking Turd Sandwich Award goes to Blended, which is just the latest… well, the hint is in the title.
Well, this is the end of it, I suppose, 2013. Can’t say it’s been entirely vintage.
There’s been good: As announced the other day, I’ve sold a children’s book and opened up a potential new market for myself. I saw my children continue to blossom into stunning young people, and Aiden moved out of home to continue his personal growth out in the wider world. Luscious found new skills and new levels of personal growth. And yet….
Master 9’s illness is well documented, and I can’t overestimate the effect it has had on us as a family. It touches every decision we make, every plan we undertake. Luscious, in particular, sacrificed almost all of her personal aspirations in order to care for him: setting aside her University studies; ceasing her search for employment; putting down her writing career for the duration. It’s only now, almost 8 months later, that she is beginning to think about how to incorporate some small measure of ambition into her life, now that his illness is so completely part of our fabric that we can deal with it automatically.
My day job has become simultaneously more complicated and a greater part of my daily thinking: new laws and an increased management responsibility have combined to severely curtail my own writing time, and I find myself more and more decided that what little spare time I have, I want to spend focusing on Luscious and the children rather than my own selfish ambitions. Our house continues to be a tiresome burden– a large, ramshackle mistake we should never have made– but with no financially-viable options, I have little choice but to invest a severe portion of my minimal spare time and spare income into its upkeep over the next few years. Either we sell up and move, or we reconcile ourselves to staying until the children are grown. We can’t sell, so the decision is made.
My day job is my day job, and it’s a good one– after aaaaggggghhh years in the Tax Office I know a good wicket when I’m on it, and I’ve been on it for almost 4 years now– but I’ve reached a position of stasis: I do good work, but I have no ambition to move further up the corporate ladder, so I either accept any changes that are imposed upon me or seek new employment, and I’m nowhere near ready to do the latter. And while comfort may be a good thing, being paralysed is not. There may come a time, one day soon, when I have to decide which one applies.
Our financial situation is, well, private, but I’ll go so far as to say that Thoreau was right, and we need to simplify, simplify, simplify. We have some hard choices to make, and there are days when I feel exhausted before I face making them. Put simply: we can’t go on like this, but what we can go on like is, as yet, hidden.
And, of course, I’m still fat, I’m still in pain, and I’m still not the man I thought I was going to be when I wanted to be one.
So what comes next?
If the story of my year has been anything, it has been one of growing disillusionment. I’ve found myself drawing away from speculative fiction, particularly as a reader: a quick scan of my Goodreads list shows that our visit to CrimeScene WA in October preceded a massive change in reading habit, and I’ve been swallowing crime books wholesale over the last couple of months. It’s a habit I’ll be continuing for a while, too: there’s only so far I can take myself as an SF author, and I can’t help but wonder, as I continue to be enthralled by the works of Walter Moseley, Elmore Leonard, James Ellroy and the like, whether I might be in need of an infusion of new skills, and new horizons.
Naturally, what I have attempted, are a couple of picture books. Because reasons, that’s why!
As it has been for a dozen years, writing seems set to be my refuge. I’ve started two picture books, and I’ll be completing them over the Christmas break. It’s time to finish the edits of Father Muerte & the Divine and get them to Agent Rich. And I want to have at least one adult and one children’s book completed in the new year, and be started on at least one other: I’ve not yet cleared my desk of speculative work, and in truth I may never do so– it’s simply the desire to expand my literary ambitions that I acknowledge. The best I can do is write as quickly, and as widely, as I can, and aim to move farther from my beginnings with each work. I’m too old and too busy to attempt to find another marketable skill– if I want to escape the mundane world, I’m going to have to write my way out of it.
It’s summer, and I’ve started walking in an attempt not to lose weight, but to simply inject some movement into my day– a desk-bound day job and a desk-bound second career do not make for an active lifestyle, and I’ve fallen too readily into torpidity as a way of life. I’m also addressing my eating habits: Luscious is a brilliant cook, and although I love to cook I find it all to easy to let her take the load and not contribute anything myself, making her carry the full responsibility for determining what we eat, how often, and in what ways. I’ve resolved to take more responsibility, to stop being the one to say “take a night off, let’s go and have chips”, to stop being selfish and undermine her efforts to keep us healthy. In short, it’s time to shoulder some of the load. Lyn always chooses the healthy option, but it’s my responsibility to back her up and put in a shift.
We have bikes in the garage, parks within walking distance, beaches surrounding us… it’s time I put in a shift there, as well. I have no intention of losing weight: I’ve tried that every year for the past five years, and all that happens is the month count decreases while the weight target does not, and as it gets more stressful so I crumple and give in. I’m just going to eat less and move more, and if weight comes off, all the better.
Financially, well, it’s time to face those hard decisions and make them. I’m naturally indulgent of my family: Luscious and I both had difficult childhoods, Lyn especially, and I very often use the desire to live a better lifestyle than we experienced as an excuse to satisfy my indulgent nature. It is, I think, time to grow up and start looking at bigger pictures than I have done in the past.
2013 was supposed to be a year of breaking out, until that plan met the enemy and couldn’t survive. 2014 will be a year of consolidation, of small changes in moderation. Lyn has already started: she can’t go back to Uni, not yet– we’ll be homeschooling Master 9 for another year at least– but she can enrol in short courses, and home-based education, and has already done so. The best I can do is follow in her wake, and gently nudge all those aspects of my life that have become trapped in the mud out of their ruts and onto drier ground. If that means I take steps towards a new horizon in 2015, then so be it.
As a final gift for the year, play clicky the linky to view a mix-tape of the 60 songs I highlighted throughout 2013 via This Is My Jam.
Here’s to 2014, y’all.
My year is almost done. Apart from some sporadic popping up and commenting, I’ll be closing the doors on the world next week for a ten day break alone with my family, to recharge the batteries that fall so desperately low by this time of the year.
So before I go, my thanks to everyone who helped make our journey through a difficult year that little bit more possible, and especially to everyone who took notice of our son’s health struggles and were there to jolly him up with Facebook comments, good wishes and offers of friendship that were invaluable to him and so uplifting to us.
And my most especial mention to our friends Lilysea Oceanesque, Grant Watson and Sonia Marcon, and Kim & Kris McMinn, who went above and beyond the call of duty by treating him as not just the son of people they knew but as a friend in his own right, and whose gifts and words of encouragement kept him from the brink of some very dark times. Your kindnesses will not be forgotten.
To everyone, a glass raised for 2014.
Less than a week ago I claim I haven’t seen a movie worth calling the worst movie of the year, not a single movie that rivaled 2012’s Dark Shadows as a bottomless pit of craptitude.
It’s almost the end of December. Almost time to close my eyes to my day job, shut the door on the world, and have as many as ooooooooohhhhh, nine or ten entire days of rest before I have to plaster a smile on my face and head out to do this shit all over again for another year.
Most people drown in sight of shore, you know….
So. 2013. Here’s how it panned out:
And so we come to the end of 2012, a year named after a shitty movie that replicated it in as much as it was overbudget, filled with bad science, was downright made of stupid, and made me want to stab John Cusack in the eye. Thus it is in a somewhat reflective and grown-up mood that I contemplate this year’s annual review. Some mighty highs, some pretty deep lows, some jelly beans found down the back of the coach that tasted okay once you got the fluff off, a dead guy in the boot that’s beginning to smell. And chips.
1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
Saw my novel in print, achieved promotion to co-ordinator level at work.
2. Did you achieve your goals for the year, and will you make more for next year?
I’ve changed this question slightly, from ‘resolutions’ to ‘goals’, as I think it’s a more positive approach, and there’s one change for me for a start– I’m going to try to be a little more positive this year. My general sense of humour has slipped alarmingly from ‘wry’ through ‘dark’ to ‘gallows’: I need to rein it back a bit.
Other than that, I actually did not bad this year. Most of my goals were writing-related, and despite problems with me weight (more on that later) and a promotion at work which has resulted in longer days, I still managed to successfully navigate the publication of my first novel and the completion of two more, which was pretty decent going under the circumstance.
So what’s on the cards for 2013? I’ve a list of 8 goals this year, covering professional, personal, and hobby. This is what I’m aiming for:
So. Tune in same Bat-time, same Bat-channel, to see how I get along.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My step-daughter Cassandra gave birth to a gorgeous little girl, Aisla.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Not close, after 5 years of estrangement between them, but Lyn’s mother Pat died late upon this year. Thankfully, they managed a small reconciliation in her final days, but really, no good came of it
5. What countries did you visit?
I tried to visit a country for old men, but there wasn’t one.
6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
A Happy wife. 2012 was rough on my beautiful darling, from her Mother’s illness, to a demoralising work situation, to serious health issues of her own that are likely to result in surgery some time in 2013. we sat down the other day and decided that, as of the 1st, all is tabula rasa: 2013 starts with a blank slate on all fronts, and the past can fucking well stay where it’s put. If we get to this time next year, and this one thing is achieved, the year will be worth it.
7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
28 August. Call me Captain Self-Obsessed, but the publication of my first novel was the highlight of the year.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Seeing The Corpse-Rat King hit print. It’s been a long time coming– too long– but becoming a published novelist, in the way I wanted to become one, was a big turning point in my life, one of those turning points I hope to look back on in many years’ time and say “Yeah, there. That’s when I started out on the path that got me here.”
Honourable mention to outmanoeuvring several more-qualified applicants to gain a promotion at work and become co-ordinator of my department after my old co-ordinator suddenly upped and left after 8 years. My manager cheerfully admits (too cheerfully?) that mine was the weakest application on paper, but my interview blew them away, and after 8-odd months in the job I feel like I might just be coming towards making the position my own.
9. What was your biggest failure?
The upkeep of this enormous white elephant of a house in which we live. I’ve lost 900 grams in the last 5 days sanding, patching, painting, and basically working like a reno-wallah trying to get the big bastard up to a condition where we can think about selling. a house this size was appropriate when we bought it three years ago, back when we had a small army and a trail of camp followers to house. But it’s now too big, too expensive, and too much like constantly painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge to keep it maintained for the remaining 5 of us.
A smaller house, with a garden I can enjoy, rather than constantly service, will be the aim.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
We have 5 people living in our house, and every single one of us has seen the inside of a hospital in the last 18 months. even now, I’m hobbling about on one foot after an accident playing basketball with Master 8 a couple of days ago. Health has not been good for either Lyn or myself.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
I’m tempted to say our new car, a nice downsize from our enormous gas-guzzling 6-seater Falcon with its myriad of mechanical issues to a neat, compact 2012 Hyundai i30 with its parsimonious appetite and nice level of comfort and space. But I’m going to plump for the $700 we spent on our space-age Dyson
Transformer vacuum cleaner. It’s the first decent vacuum we’ve had, and came at a point where we could afford to buy from the top shelf, and in this instance, we got exactly what we paid for. Just one of those pleasing moments where we could indulge on a necessity, and have been well rewarded.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Each of the members of my family, who pulled together to make a year in which both parents had full time jobs with long hours as painless as it could be, and as usual, my darling Lyn, who puts everybody before herself, and whose sacrifices this year really were sacrificial. The burden shall not be so great in 2013, I promise.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
In the wider world, the National Rifle Association in the USA, whose response to the latest gunning down of innocent schoolchildren showed a vile and reprehensible lack of basic humanity and love for the very citizens their existence is not only predicated upon but, in its purest form, happens only in order to serve in times of national emergency. They skirt perilously close to advocating the armed assassination of their own country’s citizens, and egregiously close to the behaviour of a terrorist organisation. It’s time they were disbanded, burned to the ground, and a new, saner organisation erected on their bones.
On a level much closer to home, the grandfather who lives less than fifty kilometres away and simply sent his grandchildren envelopes with money in them for birthdays and Christmas, and who left one of his grandchildrens’ names off the Christmas card, hardly covered himself in glory. That’s one slow decline in relationships that’s about to slip right underneath the radar.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Restoring some lifestyle we’d been missing, and more recently, paint.
Oh, and Lyn and the kids finally badgered me once to often about getting a dog, and now they’ve got one. As far as I can tell he eats money and shits happiness for my kids, so he gets to stay another year.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The Hobbit movie, especially as I am father to an 8 year old who decided to read the book for himself this year and then totally lost his shit when he started watching the trailers. I’ve been an uncritical Tolkein fan since I was his age: Sue me.
16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
No one song, really. Musically I had a rather disappointing year. I always try to discover one new band that excites me, but this year I couldn’t find one. The closest I got was a song by Gotye and a couple of distracted listens to Florence & The Machine: amazing voice, but I lacked the time to really explore it.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you: i. happier or sadder? ii. thinner or fatter? iii. richer or poorer?
Even-keeled, muuuuuuuch fatter, slightly richer in material goods but battening down for a period of proper, grown-up belt-tightening. And, I should mention, fucking exhausted! I can’t remember ever feeling so tired, so often for so long.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Achieving a decent work-life balance. It tilted a bit too much this year.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Working Saturdays, missing my kids’ assemblies, flaking out exhausted in front of Foxtel of an evening and letting it all wash over me and my beer/cider/moscato.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
Cooked the family a slap-up breakfast, did the presents thang, then lay on the bed with my Christmas books and my winter cider and me beloved wife while the Bigguns went off to their dad’s for lunch and sleeping over and the littlies went to their grandparents for lunch and more presents and sleeping over.
21. Who did you meet for the first time?
My new offsider at work, the lovely Donna, and quite a few Facebook friends and Goodreads buddies, most notably the esteemed Brian M. Logan, who I’m counselling through a sad, tragic addiction to a plastic football club. I also met, for the first time in the flesh, those splendid fellows Daniel Simpson and Anthony Panegyres at the KSP SF Mini-con (well, okay, I’d met Daniel before, but this was a proper, full-on, hail-fellow kinda meeting)
22. Did you fall in love in 2012?
I did, with the T-Rex Master 8 got in his giant Lego kit for Christmas. But the little bugger won’t share.
As always, of course, I am gushingly and diabetes-inducingly in love with my beautiful and wonderful wife, the Luscious Lyn.
23. What was your favourite TV program?
Again, nothing really jumps out, and this is probably a reflection of the year as a whole: a lot of stuff was absorbed/watched/listened to, but very little made any sort of lasting impression. Recently, the kids have discovered Monty Python’s Flying Circus, especially Miss 11, so I’m getting great enjoyment watching it with them, but largely because I’m watching them watching it.
Mock the Week and Russell Howard’s Good Week were the two comedy panel/variety style shows that had me rocking back in my chair roaring every week. They’ll be the ones I’ll be scrabbling to pick up in iView or similar now we’ve finally cut the Foxtel umbilical.
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
No, not at all. I had a largely hate-free year.
25. What was the best book you read?
Red Country by Joe Abercrombie. Demoralisingly, Abercrombie does an enormous amount of what I’d like to do as a writer, only better, deeper, and at a level I not only can’t match but at a level I don’t think I’m capable of matching.
Honourable mention to the Book of the New Sun quadrology by Gene Wolfe, which remains as utterly superb as it always has been, but is beaten back into second place by being a re-read rather than a new one; Pyrotechnicon by Adam Browne, which is a wonderful confection of a novel that lifts and gladdens the heart; and Shriek: An Afterword by Jeff Vandermeer, which is soaringly intelligent, literary, convoluted and decayed all at the same time. I gave all of them 5 star ratings on Goodreads, and if you haven’t read any of them, I lend you my heartiest recommendation.
Golden Turds for Wolfskin Volume 2 by Warren Ellis, a pointless and boringly stupid thud and blunder graphic novel whose shiny paperstock meant it wasn’t even good enough for wiping my arse on, and Tales from the Vulgar Unicorn, a Thieves’ World collection edited by Robert Lynn Asprin, although in the latter case the fault was undoubtedly mine for revisiting teenage reading, rather than the book: it is what it is, unashamedly and unapologetically pulpy and slapdash, and it’s me that has moved on to more sophisticated fare, not it.
If you’d like to read my reviews of these books, some of them are here on the blog (try the ‘reviews’ link in the cloud) or you can see them on my Goodreads profile.
26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
As mentioned above, I bummed out this year. No new music that really gripped me and turned my head. I spent more time in my iPod playlists than in listening to the radio. so I’ll go left-field and nominate This Is My Jam, a music-based social media site that I signed up to a couple of months ago, and which I’m hoping will lead me to discover new sounds next year.
27. What was your favourite film of this year?
Yeah, it was The Avengers. Loved it. Loved it with a giggling, bouncing fanboy love. Loved it with my kids next to me loving it, loved it again with just my wife, loved it all over again on DVD. Love love love.
Yes, I’m a big stupid superhero spectacle loving fanboy. Bite me.
Honourable mentions to Seven Psychopaths, the downright funniest and don’t-give-a-shittingnest movie of the year, with Christopher Walken delivering the single best one word line in all of cinema. And a telemovie called Holy Flying Circus, about the reception given to Monty Python’s Life of Brian and the stitching up of the Pythons by the talk show Friday Night, Saturday Morning, which managed to be affectionate, dispassionate, intelligent and fantastical in turn, as well as damned funny in its own right, and was an exceptional piece of small screen film-making.
The Polar Express Award for Making Me Want to Stab My Own Eyes Out went to Prometheus, a film so god-awful bad I actually had blocked it when I wrote the first draft of this review and only remembered it when I took Lyn to the DVd store this evening to find something to watch, a film so bad it could only make Grant Watson happy because now Alien 3 is nowhere near the worst Alien movie ever made: Prometheus is so bad it’s the three worst Alien movies ever made.
Dishonourary stabs in the eye to Dark Shadows, the first movie ever to make me wish Johnny Depp would just stop, take a deep breath, and stop (thankfully, if he really is playing Tonto in a new Lone Ranger movie, my practice at wishing he would just stop should not go to waste), and reinforced my wish that Tim Burton would Just. Fucking. Stop! and Total Recall, a movie in which Colin Farrell– an actor I have a bit of time for– acted like a man possessed, but couldn’t stop this most idiotic of remakes putting the ‘stupid’ in What The Fuck Did I Shell Out Good Australian Dollars for This Stupid Piece of Shit?
28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 42, and spent the day at home with my family constantly telling me I wasn’t allowed to do anything, just sit back and enjoy my day. So I did 🙂
29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
Falling-to-bits because I’d rather make sure the kids had decent kit.
31. What kept you sane?
Lyn, the kids, writing, cider.
32. What political issue stirred you the most?
The Newtown school shooting.
33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
Many years ago I set myself the goal of being a full-time writer by the time I was 45. I might not reach it by that age, but it remains a goal most devoutly wished.
34. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Dear sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?
Paperback Writer, the Beatles.
29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Membership in the Green Lantern Corps. And punching Ryan Reynolds in the face. The two may not necessarily be unconnected.
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011? ‘Concept’ is a very strong word…
31. What kept you sane? You can’t fool me. There ain’t no Sanity Clause.
32. What political issue stirred you the most? FIFA, racism, and the widespread corruption and general shittification of the sport I love.
33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011. We must cultivate our own garden.
34. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Delusions of grandeur, delusions of grandeur
I'm a dedicated follower of my own success
I can handle the glamour, I can cope with the stress
Deal with the doughnuts and please all the rest
I'm polite to the punters and sweet to the press
I just won a trophy from a radio station
I'm leaving my bat and my balls to the nation
I've got megalomania, I've got megalomania
To be a twinkle in the show-biz dream
To which effect I could connive and scheme
I dive into the dairy and I lap up all the cream
I'm up to the armpits in self-esteem
--Delusions of Grandeur, Ian Dury & The Blockheads
My little annual review of things, as per round-about-this-time-every-year:
1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before? Complete a sea change.
2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I had half a dozen or so goals that met with varying levels of success: Number one on the list of successes was ‘Change Jobs’, and waaaay down the bottom was ‘Lose 12 kilograms’. But that one is nothing new.
As to this year, well, it’s much along the same lines. I’ve two novels to edit and send out, and the garden and house renovations need completing before I decide I’ve been at them too long and give up. Weight remains an issue, as do my eating habits (wonder if they’re linked in any way?). But my big bucket-list item is to enter an art competition: I’ve been getting closer and closer to trying my hand at visual art for the last couple of years, and it’s time to set aside some space and see what I can come up with if I try.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? My son’s girlfriend Georgie, bringing little Luc into our house. And he’s gawwwwwwwwwwjuss!
4. Did anyone close to you die? No, but not for lack of trying.
5. What countries did you visit? I tried to get into the Country for Old Men but they told me to come back next year.
6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010? X-ray vision. Also, money.
7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 15th March, when I walked out of the ATO for the last time and realised how sweet air could actually smell. 22nd March, when I took up my new position as Arts & Culture Officer at the City of Rockingham and put the ATO behind me for good. November 11, when Luc decided to share my birthday with me.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Changing my job, and actually finding a position that not only fit my experiences and wants, but gave me a sense of satisfaction and self-worth into the bargain. I had given up on that particular dream, and still feel like I was pulled out of the grave just as I was ready to decide how best to lie down in it, career-wise.
9. What was your biggest failure? Not saving my step-daughter from herself.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? The family had a horrendous run of bronchitis mid-year, which landed both Connor and Erin in hospital and put Lyn, Aiden and myself in bed for a couple of weeks each.
11. What was the best thing you bought? Our air-conditioner shat itself and died the week before Christmas, so “those fans” is a contender, but I’m going to offer three things: for the first time ever I invested some serious money into buying a high quality water bottle and a high quality backpack. And we bought the entire run of Impossible Pictures’ ‘Dinosaur’ programs, including all the “Walking With…” documentaries and the Nigel Marven programs. Normally I wouldn’t count DVDs as gosh-wow-sensawunda purchases, but the effect they’ve had on Connor’s imagination can only be described as pyrotechnic, and it’s been wonderful to watch.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration? Aiden, who not only took on a responsibility that was not his to take on, and one that leaves any number of men twice his age blanching, but has done so with a sense of purpose and an integrity that would put most of us in the dark. He’s 17, and I fear for his future like any parent does with a lad of his age, and every time he hits a speed bump I flinch, but I can’t help but admire his soul.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? Cassandra’s (now ex-) partner, who proved himself a thug and coward of the highest order. Not only would I not piss on this piece of crap were he on fire, I’d happily start the fire.
14. Where did most of your money go? Fighting bushfires of one stripe or another.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? New house, new job, new part of the world: life in Mandurah just continued to get better and better. 2011 promises the chance to grasp our sea change fully. Bring it on.
16. What song will always remind you of 2010? Both Dancing In the Storm by Boom Crash Opera and Little Lion Man by Mumford & Sons. Not for any great philosophical reason other than that I occasionally get to garage one of the work cars while my boss is away, and I have an iPod car player, and I have a tendency to sing along to them as I drive home, playing them VERY loud indeed. Which, after years of bone-tired hour-long train rides home from the City, is a different kind of freedom indeed.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:i. happier or sadder? ii. thinner or fatter? iii. richer or poorer? Happier, fatter and poorer. I’m enjoying live a lot more than I have in the last couple of years, thanks to the new job; I’m very much the patriarch of my family and get to watch 3 sets of children experiencing different stages of life; and I’ve had some private satisfaction in my writing life as well. Not bad, as years go.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Hitting the beach with my kids, making art, rewarding my family with the lifestyle they deserve.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Fighting bushfires. Enduring abuse and criminal behaviour.
20. How did you spend Christmas? Quietly at home, balancing Lyn’s religious requirements with my need to go large on the presents and the eating. Cooked a nice breakfast and lunch and picked at leftovers for tea, and sat around complaining about the heat.
21. Who did you meet for the first time? Two new writing groups- the Rockingham Full Time/Part Time Writers Group and the Rockingham/Mandurah chapter of Nanowrimo. Several hundred employees of the City of Rockingham. Georgie and her family.
22. Did you fall in love in 2010? We’re all in love with Georgie and Luc.
23. What was your favourite TV program? Came across some funky and fun stuff this year. That Mitchell & Webb Look and The Armstrong & Miller Show are firm favourites, and have resulted in a ridiculous amount of quoting (It’s now impossible to say “Isn’t it?” in our house without a chorus of poncy British accents shouting “Isn’t it, though?” in your wake, and nobody can leave a room without hearing someone say “Kill them” as they go…). I introduced Lyn to The Fast Show, and now every announcement anyone makes is greeted with “Which was nice” or “Brilliant!”. We all became firm fans of Primeval, as well as a continuing affair with QI. Also the Walking with… series which we introduced our kids to in “chronological” order (beginning with …Monsters and ending with …Cavemen.) and followed up with all the Nigel Marven dinosaur shows, which resulted in 6 year old connor deciding to be Nigel when he grows up and turning his bedroom into the “Connor Museum”, in which all his dinsour toys now have their own shelves, complete with name tags, and you have to pay to get in… But number one on the viewing hit parade is Being Human, a supernatural drama of such high quality that it made watching the potentially-similar True Blood impossible, as the gulf in quality showed up how cliched, soapish and dull the latter was in spades.
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? Cassandra’s Ex. It’s been a long time since I met a filthier scumbag.
25. What was the best book you read? Spent more time away from straight FS again this year, and am continuing to enjoy it, with continued trips into James Ellroy’s neck of the woods, and people like Jon Ronson and John Gardner making the list. Discovered Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden books, and the joy of reading them completely out of order thanks to library shelves. But it was the year of Mieville, for me: read both The Iron Council and The City & The City for the first time and was (as always) blown away by the man’s language, his narrative muscle, and his plots.
26. What was your greatest musical discovery? Mumford and Sons were an early one, and remain on high rotation, and Peter, Bjorn and John have become favourites in recent times. And after watching documentaries on them, I’ve gone back and got far more deeply into the Easybeats and the Small Faces than the radio-friendly singles I’ve heard over the years.
27. What was your favourite film of this year? A damn good mix of movies this year. Highlights for me included Men Who Stare at Goats; Up In the Air; The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus; Inception and Despicable Me, any of which might have topped the list in any other year, as well as Daybreakers; Quadrophenia; The Boston Strangler, and Zombieland.
But top spot has to go to Toy Story 3: I dreaded the announcement of this movie, feeling that Pixar had lucked out by producing one sequel that was superior to the original, and that a) there didn’t seem much else to be told within the narrative, b) movies with numbers a high as 3 in the titles tend to be bad enough to drag the memory of previous films down with them and c) the Shrek experience showed just how quickly and disastrously bad that decline in quality can be. I needn’t have worried. It’s every bit as good as its predecessors, and perhaps even better: I wasn’t the only middle-aged man crying his eyes out at the hand-holding scene (you know which one I mean). Funny, dramatic, psychologically complex, and brilliantly human, all at once.
Special golden turds flung in the direction of Shoot ‘Em Up, which would have easily been the winner of the the Golden Compass Memorial Worst Movie of the Year Award, if not for the monumental presence of Lesbian Vampire Killers, which was not only an unutterable piece of shit but doubled its excremental bragging rights by introducing us to the drooling black-hole-of-talent that is James Corden, the latest in that seemingly-eternal line of ‘comedians’ wo think that jigglingly-obese monocepahilcs with permanently wet chins trying to get into the panties of pneumatic twenty something blondes is the height of comedic brilliance: a Benny Hill for the type of people who think Jackass is entertaining. Our teenagers are *still* paying off the karmic debt they earned for insisting it was hilarious and nagging us until we watched it. In February.
28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 40, and spent the day in quiet contemplation of my place in the world, and what I must do to achieve full karmic balance. Then I had cake. Then I waited while Lyn, Aiden and Georgie went to the hospital to have a baby.
29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? A flying jet car.
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010? My usual aging bum look.
31. What kept you sane? Sanity napkins. Also Lyn, my kids, and art.
32. What political issue stirred you the most? Tried to steer clear of politics in favour of living a family-oriented life. Don’t suppose Forest’s inability to sign a decent defender counts?
33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010. Balance is all.
34. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Lightning flash and everything is sharp and clear
I can see it all, I can see it all
And as the thunder roars, we’re raising up a storm
We can shout it down, we can shout it down
Gone are the days of complacency
Gone are the nights of indifference
Here we go, here we go for one more turn
We can shake, we can shake the trees and earth
We can spin, We can spin and not fall down
Hold on tight, we can both become unwound
You and I are going out
And we’re dancing in the storm
— Boom Crash Opera, Dancing In The Storm
A final tubery for the old year, the two songs of my year.
No fillum clip can I find for this one, but someone was nice enough to post the song with an image of the album cover:
And the greatest rock band in the world in all their glory:
So that was 2009.
Actually, as years go, 2009 was a pretty good one, a feeling prompted in large part by a massive sea change halfway through the year. 2010 will be the year of completing that sea change, all things being equal, so by the time I turn 40 in November I hope to be facing the last half of my life from a pretty damn good vantage point. However, it being the turn-over of calendars and all that, the Year In Review questionnaire must by needs be posted, so see if you can spot the hidden theme within (hint: it starts with ‘Mandurah’….)
1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before? Moved to Mandurah; bought a 2-story house
2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I have goals, rather than resolutions. I set myself half a dozen goals at year’s start and I achieved four of them, so I’m pleased with that. My big goal for the upcoming year is to lose weight—I’ve got to the stage now where it’s really beginning to affect my ability to do family activities, especially with the kids, and that’s just not good enough.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Right at the end of the year, my good friends Sean & Terri welcomed their new daughter Asha into the world, their fifth consecutive daughter proving once again that Sean has the most feminine sperm in the Universe 🙂
4. Did anyone close to you die? Nope.
5. What countries did you visit? The country of the blind, where I was proclaimed King, until they realised I wasn’t one-eyed, just short-sighted, so they made me Minister Without Portfolio and set me loose.
6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? Breakout success.
7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? May, when we moved from Clarkson to Mandurah. What started out as a decision to escape a suburb that was deteriorating before our eyes has turned into a sea change of life-altering proportions. Everything has been for the better. 14th December, when we learned the depths to which my brother has fallen.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Finishing Corpse-Rat King.
9. What was your biggest failure? My weight.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Stayed injury-free this year, which was a relief after last year’s run.
11. What was the best thing you bought? Our new house.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration? My family, for grasping the opportunity afforded by our big move and pushing ahead with their own lives so beautifully. Mandurah City Council, for beginning a domestic green waste recycling program that is simple and workable enough that it should be picked up permanently and should make a big difference to our waste programs.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? My brother, whose behaviour slid from being simply selfish and amoral right into the truly criminal, and whom I now have to cut loose. He’s simply run out of chances, and I cannot expose my family to him any more.
14. Where did most of your money go? The new house.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? The move to Mandurah.
16. What song will always remind you of 2009? Oh, Hark by Lisa Mitchell. Amazing stuff. Also Baba O’Riley by The Who, a rediscovery that kicked Lyn off onto a big Who jag that shows no sign of ending.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:i. happier or sadder? ii. thinner or fatter? iii. richer or poorer? Happier, fatter, and, if not richer, then at least our poverty is more organised 🙂
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Progressing my work circumstances towards where I want to be, rather than where I need to be just to get by. Put simply, I wish I’d realised sooner that my work no longer fits my life.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Waiting.
20. How did you spend Christmas? Spent it alone with Lyn, while the kids were at relatives’ houses. We all got back together on Boxing Day and did things at our own speed.
21. Who did you meet for the first time? Several new work acquaintances. Big deal.
22. Did you fall in love in 2009? Well, does my new suburb count? Parrots in the backyard, kangaroos hopping down the street at dusk, long sculptued lawns and garden beds I mean, come on!
23. What was your favourite TV program? QI; Dexter season 3; BSG seasons 3 & 4; Serial Killer Sunday; Moral Orel; and bizarrely, televised poker, which we started watching late one night as a laugh and became sadly addicted to for most of the year.
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? No, although I do hate what my brother has become.
25. What was the best book you read? Actually, I can’t think of a *really* good book I read in 2009. Most of the books I read by my favourite authors weren’t quite up to their best—I read Snuff & Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk, for example, but neither was as good as Rant; John Cornwell’s Hitler’s Scientists isn’t as good as Hitler’s Pope; it was that kind of year. perhaps the best was Necropolis, by Catharine Arnold- a history of London’s cemeteries and funerary practices that suffered from referencing too few sources too repetitively, but at least had a fascinationg central subject.
26. What was your greatest musical discovery? Lisa Mitchell- an amazing talent for someone so young.
27. What was your favourite film of this year? Where The Wild Things Are; Up; Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs; Battlestar Galactica: The Plan; In Bruges; District Nine. Word to Terminator: Salvation for the Golden Compass Memorial Biggest Piece of Shit of the Year Award.
28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 39, and it passed by without a blip.
29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Money in volumes I could swim through.
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? Fat Guy Casual.
31. What kept you sane? I am sane. It’s the rest of you that are mad. (They think I am crazy, but is it I who am crazy…..)
32. What political issue stirred you the most? I was fairly politics-free this year. My focus was largely on domestica.
33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009. Mandurah kicks Clarkson’s arse.
34. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
To keep in silence I resigned
My friends would think I was a nut
Turning water into wine
Open doors would soon be shut
So I went from day to day
Though my life was in a rut
‘Til I thought of what I’d say
Which connection I should cut
I was feeling part of the scenery
I walked right out of the machinery
My heart going boom boom boom
“Hey” he said
“Grab your things I’ve come to take you home.”
—Solisbury Hill, Peter Gabriel
There’s 5 or so hours left between me and January 1st. To be honest, I don’t give much of a rat’s: I’ve never once woken up on the morning of January 1st and thought “Oh my goodness, the world seems completely different to the one I went to sleep in. Lawks-a-lordy, what a fresh start this portends!” (Or, you know, words to that effect.) It’s a calendar thing, an arbitrary line drawn between ‘then’ and ‘now’, and whilst I guess I’m grinchish about it, there you are: I’ll still have to do the dishes tomorrow, and clean the bedroom, and staying up past midnight will only mean I’ll be tired and grumpy while I do them.
Still, as arbitrary underscores go, it at least draws people into examining the year just gone, and into making outlandish promises to themselves that they have neither the intention nor ability to keep. Let’s be honest: if you’ve never climbed the Matterhorn wearing only a yamulka and a willy-warmer before, being a year older and fatter ain’t gonna make it any easier. But, call ’em resolutions, or goals, or emotional signposts to a better me or whatever, we all do it, and so do I, and so I have.
It’s quite simple, really:
I’m too fat. I did well at the start of last year. I went from 110kg down to 93, and was feeling the benefits. Then I got complacent, I got lazy, yadda yadda whatever, and the wheels fell off. Onto my stomach. So, having proved I can do it once, I get the opportunity to do it again. 13 kilos by the end of the year. That’s one a month plus one, and will bring me down to 90kg, which is still too heavy but better than where I am. Plenty of exercise, better foods, better eating practices, you know the drill (More to the point, I do). And no booze, thanks to the gout, which will be easy, because I’m not that much of a drinker and I prefer my ankle to the taste of beer.
I’m not a novelist. Well, I could have been, this year, but in the end, Napoleone’s Land was just one hurdle too difficult to sell– the book was fine, barring rewrites, but the difficulty in getting publishers to look at a novel containing Aboriginal spirituality, written by an unknown white guy, defeated me. I’ll come back to it, no doubt, when I’ve got a credit or two to play with, but right now, my priority is to finish Corpse-Rat King and get it sold, and finish the first draft of another novel. I have five or six in various states of decomposition, from a 40K draft of Public Savants to 5K and a full plot outline for The Last Death of Vaz Te, to the TV script of Cirque that I could adapt… there’s plenty to be going on with. I’ll likely be around the interwebs even less next year than in 2008 (my google hits quartered over the course of the year), but that’s all part of moving on, I hope.
My house is not perfect. Don’t get me wrong, I love my house, and I love the life my family leads here. But it’s not perfect, as anyone who’s pulled up to the front garden can attest. And truth be told, I spend my money on the wrong things: for the price of that graphic novel I could have fixed that hole in the downpipe at the back of the house, and the price of that DVD could have bought a can of paint for the garden wall. If I do one thing a week, that’s 52 areas of my home I could improve by the end of the year, and 52 ways I can give my family a better lifestyle. I’ve lived inside a Work-in-Progress for too long,
And that, apart from a bunch of family goals that remain private property, is it, really. 2008 was one of those years where you endure the bumps because you can see the plain sailing beyond. Only three things will matter in 2009: my well-being, my writing, and my family.
2008: International Year of Meh.
1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before? Have a story podcasted. Nanowrimo. Visited Adelaide. Pitched a television series. Joined Twitter. Joined Kingdom of Loathing.
2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? No. I don’t do resolutions. Too busy running in place just to appear like I’m managing
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Jasoni and Kate, a little baby boy.
4. Did anyone close to you die? Nope.
5. What countries did you visit? Adelaide? No, wait, that’s not another country, is it? What is it again? Oh, that’s right: 1973!
6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? A novel sale.
7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Swancon weekend– having it forcefully presented to me how I was perceived by the local SF community enabled me to step back and concentrate on greater goals.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Pushing The Corpse-Rat King past 70 000 words– I think this novel, when it’s finished, will be the one that changes my career in a significant way.
9. What was your biggest failure? Failing to advance on so many fronts: personal, professional, and financial. I’d like to think that 2009 will represent a quantum leap for me.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Gout in my right ankle, although this year really was the year of the Connor injury– axe wounds, shovel wounds, underside of bicycle wounds….
11. What was the best thing you bought? Lawn for the backyard, which enabled us to put up a sandpit, and a swing set, and give our kids a proper place to go outside and play. Now the garden looks and feels like a place we want to spend some time around.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration? Lyn. No matter what fears she may possess, she always faces them head on– witness earlier this month, when my afraid-of-heights wife went abseiling off tall buildings with her work mates. Aiden, as well, for the continuation of his journey towards adulthood. I have never met a 15 year old more ahead of his age in terms of maturity, trust, and comprehension. He makes me immensely proud. Cassie continued her downward spiral for much of the year, only to start December by introducing us to her fiance, with whom she’s in love, and a whole new positive attitude towards her life that provided a cooling tidal wave of relief. My big hope for next year is to see her continue to set her life on the right path. Lastly, it’s worth mentioning the American voters, who were at least willing to take a punt on positive change. Fingers crossed it all works out for them.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? The Perth fan who came out of this year’s Mumfan awards and started to openly pimp herself for the award by listing her ‘achievements’ and loudly declaring how much she’d love to win the award some day, thereby pointing out her complete non-understanding of the award, as well as her level of egocentricity and shallowness. Subsequent behaviour has only confirmed it. The members of the local SF community who waited for the perfect opportunity to give me a kicking, then didn’t hold back when it arose.
14. Where did most of your money go? Ummm……. (turns about, looking for money)…. the garden, I guess.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Nothing much. It was a year of steadiness, rather than massive spikes of emotion.
16. What song will always remind you of 2008? Johnny The Horse, by Madness. Had a big impact on me, as the lyrics and general air of sadness that permeates the song really struck home.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:i. happier or sadder? ii. thinner or fatter? iii. richer or poorer? More content, and happier with my home life, although sadder about many other aspects of my life– work, Perth SF, et al.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Completing novels and pushing my career ahead.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Being distracted from my life goals. Focussing on the weights of the present rather than those aspects of the future for which I’m bearing them.
20. How will you be spending Christmas? All the kids will be at grandparents’ and/or other parents’ houses for Christmas Day, leaving Lyn and I to enjoy the day together. Boxing Day we’ll all be back together.
21. Who did you meet for the first time? The extended Fischerios, and sales staff across the Adelaide area.
22. Did you fall in love in 2008? Possibly developed a slight man-crush on the workshop area of the Adelaide air museum. But, you know, I met the love of my life when I met Lyn, so it’s easy to stay in love.
23. What was your favourite TV program? Top Gear. Blackpool. Dexter. Life on Mars.
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? Some contempt for certain individuals, but not outright hate. You save that for people who are worth it.
25. What was the best book you read? A toss-up between Happy Like Murderers- The True Story of Fred and Rosemary West and Bind, Torture, Kill- The Inside Story of the Serial Killer Next Door. Both stunning, revelatory works on a subject that abhors and fascinates me in equal measure.
26. What was your greatest musical discovery? Madness’ 1996 album Wonderful, which is. The Fratellis, whose first two albums have added swagger and bounce to our playlist.
27. What was your favourite film of this year? It’s been a very Hollywood year in the Batthome. Kung Fu Panda was a hoot, as was Iron Man, which wasn’t particularly great as a movie, but was certainly great as an excuse for my inner 8 year old to go utterly spaz. The Dark Knight was mesmerising, especially Heath Ledger’s performance. Special mention to The Golden Compass, which was such a towering pile of shit that it romped in for worst film of the year in January!
28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 38, and it was all low key. The kids’ birthdays are the big ticket birthday item round our parts– Lyn doesn’t do birthdays, and I get a lot more excited about the kids’ ones than my own.
29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Contentment in every direction. 2009 may provide this: 2008 was one of those years where you endure the bumps because you can see past them to the clear, flat plains ahead.
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? Oh, let’s just accept that I don’t have one and leave it at that.
31. What kept you sane? My family, their belief and love for me, and their delightfully deluded assertion that I know what I’m doing.
32. What political issue stirred you the most? The US election dominated everything, although I was interested to see how much of the supposedly right-on, leftie attention was focussed on Barack Obama’s skin colour. In a truly equitable culture, only his qualifications for the job would matter.
33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008. Don’t mistake a loose collection of people with similar interests for friends.
34. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. Well, it hit home hard enough that I place it permanently at the top of this blog, so the choice is farly obvious, in the end:
Would you believe he came out well
He had a bright inquiring mind
His family knew that he’d go far
If he applied his time
But he started out standing on corners
And talking out loud, too loud
You see he couldn’t believe in himself or the world
Or anything he heard
Will you remember his name?
—–Madness, Johnny The Horse
Gakked from my darling wife, the first of the end of the year round-ups:
Post the first line of the first blog entry for each month:
January: Check it out! The first issue of new magazine Sci Phi Journal, with stories by the likes of Stephen Dedman, Geoffrey Maloney, and yours truly.
February: It had to happen: the A-Boy turned 15 on Saturday, and for his present, we acceded to his desire to invite a whole bunch of friends to go paint-balling.
March: So we’re back, after a week in Snoozing-By-Sea.
April: According to Westnet, yesterday’s welcome-to-the-run-up-to-winter thunderstorms knocked out our local server, and they’ve no idea when it will be back on line.
May: The Katharine Susannah Prichard Speculative Fiction Awards 2008
June: One of the most outlandishly talented of my Clarion South students, Peter Ball (he of the unicorn porn physics) has a story up at Fantasy Magazine this week.
July: Goddamn, it’s been a year for losing genius’. Now George Carlin is dead, aged 71.
August: This Sunday, 17th August, at 3pm, the Chairperson of KSP, the CEO of the Shire of Mundaring and the Competition Judge – that would be me – will present the awards to the winners of the KSP Speculative Fiction Competition.
September: From their weekend trip to their Nanna’s, my cool kids:
October: Seanie, you’re my best and oldest friend, and you know how it is: some days, you don’t choose the music, it chooses you.
What does it all mean? Write your answers on the back of a brick marked What Does It All mean? and send it to anybody but me….