Perspective.

So, what are the rules of life?

I guess, when it comes down to brass tacks (that’s an old-fashioned saying, youngsters, cause, I’m, like, a bit old and stuff), there aren’t really any. Or are there? I’m sounding suspiciously ambiguous and much less wise than I originally thought I would, but bear with me…  

Now I know there are moral and ethical guidelines that we should (but often don’t) apply, and, for those of us who are religious, there are rules for that, too. There are rules established by our upbringing, familial environment, school (don’t run in the halls!), our friends (NOT your Facebook friends, the actual, real ones who don’t talk to you, and never seem to ”like” your Fb posts), our workplaces, the government (you will pay tax and then die, but not necessarily in that order), the local gym we may or may not attend (it feels good to be a member of a gym, even if you don’t use it: “Hey, I just joined the gym.” “You look fantastic.” “I haven’t gone yet.” “Well, it’s obviously working for you.”), the shopping mall (must…buy…more…DVDs of series I won’t have time to watch, but which will look good on my DVD shelf), the label on that opened jar of pickled gherkins you were planning to eat that have been in the fridge for at least three years—the list goes on. All overlayed on each other and forming some sort of reasonable and realistic basis for us to live by (or unreasonable and unrealistic basis, depending on which side of the fence you sit).

Maybe that’s a bit simplistic (but don’t call me simple!). But, then, I’m a simple guy (I said don’t call me simple! What are use-by dates, anyway? They’re suggestive, not obligatory. I wonder why I keep running to the toilet all the time? Can’t have been those gherkins, they were in the fridge…) 

Are there really rules for life, though? I mean, it’s easy to say there are lots of rules that we have to adhere to (paying tax, for instance, for those of us unfortunate enough to. There was a time when I did, but now that I’m a student layabout, I cruise through tax time. Much like I cruise through every other time). But who’s to say that everyone does (for instance, the guy who is arrested for tax evasion at the airport, after the airport fuzz see through his poor attempts to explain the great wads of cash in his overnight bag and his failure to pay tax for the last ten years). 

Those are just rules for playing the game of life (remember the Game of Life? I used to play it with my family as a kid. You almost always ended up as a millionaire. How does that work, exactly? How come I’m not a millionaire in real life? The Game of Life said it would be so….Damn you, Hasbro!!!!!). What are the rules for being alive, for living as good a life as you possibly can? For being counted as a good and valued human being, when all is said and done (rather than being counted as a census statistic, which is usually what we are. Unless you’re homeless–then you’re an estimate).

I suppose only you can know that. Only you can really know if you have done the right thing, led the right life and done right by yourself and others. Everyone has their own moral compass, established by a lifetime of learning and challenges. So, when you get to the end, and you’re knocking on that big white door, hopefully you’ll know if you’ve satisfied life’s rules, or not. And if not, the Big Guy might give you the thumbs down (if he’s feeling so inclined). Or not (that’s what Grace is all about, after all).

It’s all just a matter of perspective.

Advertisements

Remnants. A poem.

Remnants
Rusted and decayed

Painted with dust and tears
And hues of better days

Faded now, weathered
By sun and rain in countless ways

Of waxing moons and waning dreams
Captured in a photograph
Like a long forgotten elegy

Spiderwebs cling to frames
Trailing silken memories
Trapping moments
Yesterday today

But all these remnants
Soon pass away

Like shadows
Without light

Dog Walk. A poem.

I walk the city
Dog by my side
Past a canvas of history
Vanity and pride
I smile when she stops
To deliver her scent
Onto every pallid corner
Near every park bench
Climbing up hills
And following paths
Through dim alleyways
And the greenest of parks
All records held previous
Will fall when we go
Every kilometre counted
Towards a new long term goal
I walk the city
This dog by my side
And my love for both
It seems cannot die

Elegy. A poem.

Where do I walk
Now the fields are burned
And ash rises high in the sky
The sun a red blur behind mottled clouds
Each ray a spotlight on misery
The bodies of the dead
Charred and blackened
Breaking beneath my feet
Whispering as they crumble
The killing fields where once we walked as one
Now the battle’s done
No victors here
No spoils of war
Just black fields of broken hearts
And dust to dust
A requiem for our shared defeat
In the aftermath, none have won
In the new world your will is done
And I walk alone
Eternally broken

Drifter. A short tale.

I am shapeless, without form or feature. I float in the ether between worlds, a wisp of aimless consciousness, searching for convention. Twisting, turning, the eddies of astral winds cycling like water down an infinite drain. Drifting in and out of reality, an incorporeal whisper.

I sense a gateway, hovering above me, yet below. I reach with fingers of mist-like curlicues, wondering if there is depth beyond the vision. I look through into a vast horizon of potentiality. But the way is just out of reach, tauntingly distant and seemingly insubstantial.

I drift on, the astral breeze pushing and pulling me away from here and there. Perhaps another day…

Alien Covenant. A movie review.

No spoilers! Not real ones, anyway…

I just saw Alien Covenant. I was a bit concerned that it might be all promise and not deliver the goods (a bit like the rather crappy Prometheus that preceded it). But guess what? I was pleasantly surprised. Alien Covenant was good, it filled in the story behind the additional canon Prometheus introduced, and actually made that movie better as a result.

The colony ship Covenant is on its way to Origae-2, where 2000 colonists in suspended animation will start a new life. On the way the ship intercepts a transmission of human origin. They identify the planet it’s coming from as being suitable for colonisation, and make their way to the source of the signal. Landing on the planet, they find it eerily deserted. Then some of the crew members breath in alien spores…

That’s the set up for Alien Covenant. Ridley Scott returns as director, and as expected the visuals and set designs are spectacular. Michael Fassbender returns in dual roles as David (the android from Prometheus) and Walter, an android accompanying the mission, and gives a suitably nuanced performance as both. The human colonists are the usual selection of lesser known actors, with little to care about when they are inevitably killed in various gory ways. This movie belongs to the enigmatic David, and Fassbender’s performance.

Alien Covenant manages to resolve a lot of the issues caused by Prometheus, the movie that divided audiences with its bizarre logical leaps and glaring continuity problems. The pathogen, what happened to the engineers, the different early forms of the Alien progenitors, how the final Alien xenomorph evolved, what happened to the alien ship that took off at the end: all these questions are answered.

Unfortunately, the humans in Alien Covenant are still just as stupid as they were in the previous movie. Walking onto a new world without some kind of breather to protect against bacterial and viral infection? Come on, that’s almost as bad as running in a straight line from a wheel-shaped spaceship rolling towards you… And yes, you just knew someone was going to get killed in the shower. What is this, Friday the 13th?

Alien Covenant was fun, a little bit creepy at times, but not very scary (we’ve seen the Aliens enough by now). It answers the questions you probably asked when you saw Prometheus, improves that movie as a result, and sets up a potential sequel. Not perfect, but good stuff.

Rating: B+

The Yoke. A Poem.

The yoke weighed heavily
I toiled the fields of my responsibilities
I saw others dance and play all day and night
And I was filled with envy
And I longed to cast it aside
So that I too could be free

And one day I did
I cast the yoke unto the dirt
And my load was lightened
And I joined the dancers in their revelry
But while I danced into the cloying darkness
By the empty light of a sullen moon
My fields grew fallow
And my crops failed
And the subtle pangs of hunger
Slowly turned to starvation

So I picked up the yoke again
It was much heavier now
With the added weight of my failings
On top of my responsibilities
And I toiled once more
Long through the day and deep into the night
Where before I had danced with reckless abandon
Underneath a cold and sullen moon
But my fields remained parched and fallow
And my stomach remained empty and my tongue dry
And as I wasted away, a mere shadow of the man I was
I realised my mistake

Because you cannot always pick up where you left off

And there is always
A price to be paid

Digital Destiny and the Crux of Divergence.

This is a short uni piece I wrote some months ago. It was the second appearance of Alpha Girl, Beta Max and Me in my writing, and the feedback from those uni posts was what lead me to becoming a blogger. I’ve removed the uni academic references from this version.

 

(“So, what are you doing now?” says Alpha Girl, housemate and self-professed Steve-hater.

“I’m writing my latest micro-novel on Twitter,” I reply, reclining on the lounge and not taking eyes off my iPhone. “It’s an existential philosophy in 140 characters, with an unnecessary M.Night Shymalan-twist ending.”

“Writing? I didn’t even know you could read.” She obviously forgets I now steal her newspaper every weekend to read the movie reviews.

“Can’t read? What do you think I do in my room all the time?” I say.

“I shudder to think.”

“You might be surprised to know that I’m currently reading six novels and I’m enrolled in two uni writing courses.”

“Two uni courses? Will they get you a job?”

“They’ve improved my writing.”

“You’ve nicely avoided the question.”)

Advances in technology are opening up opportunities for writers to expand their story-making into new art forms. The digital realm (hereby referred to as the electro-microcosmic frontier, or for those who prefer a more minimalistic approach, the internet) has allowed writers to experiment with various ways of utilising animation, sound and divergence (not Veronica Roth’s novel) to provide innovative experiences for readers.

The course notes indicate some writers might face a certain level of anxiety due to the “bewildering array of tools to generate multimedia”. As a result, they might be hesitant to take up these new art forms.

I’m a bit of an IT geek, always have been. This may be partly due to some mysterious aura I give off, like a bad deodorant that reminds you of a seedy night club venue. When I was working, people would come to me to ask me for help with their computers. I would stand there and ask the inevitable “have you switched it on and off”, then show them how to switch it on and off and receive profuse thanks when the computer magically started working again. In my semi-retired life, my friends still ask me the same things. I have worked on an incredible array of systems and programs over the last 25 years. I pick up new IT easier than Superman juggles elephants. I have desktop publishing, programming and graphic design skills and can use such arty programs as InDesign, Paint Shop Pro, Illustrator, Fireworks and PowerPoint, to name a few. I’m ideally placed to take advantage of this opportunity.

I love art in all its myriad forms. I love electronic media. I love the invention and ingenious possibilities brought by their combination. I draw in my spare time, I compose music; I’m a bit of an artist already. But I don’t want to take on a new form of writing. I want to be a “straight” novelist and short story writer (my apologies to any LGBT readers who may feel I have used that term in a discriminatory fashion – that was not my intent).

Old fashioned? Maybe. But I’m a strong believer that if you invest yourself in a new art form, whether it be a flash poems, generative texts, micro-fiction, or shadow puppetry at the pub, you need to invest yourself wholly. And I don’t believe I would be committed to these new forms enough to do anything more than make a cursory attempt. I guess I just wouldn’t want to be known as a “dabbler”.

And do I think that digital culture may replace novels? Not really. The novel goes through cycles of popularity, much like any other form of entertainment. All it takes is a new Harry Potter and suddenly the world is filled with a gamut of new book readers. Digital media often tends to be free, but along with freedom comes a huge breadth of content, some of which is of questionable quality. But that’s the same for anything, digital or not. I think there is a place for all literary forms.

As long as there are stories to tell there will be people to read them, no matter where they are or how they consume their content.

(“So, what are you doing now?” says Alpha Girl.

“What he always does,” says housemate Beta Max. “Contemplating his navel.”

“Oh, ye of little faith.” I reply. “I’m writing the next smash hit screenplay, composed entirely in Haiku verse. Every character recites their lines of dialogue in syllable structures of 5-7-5.”

“You are such an idiot,” says Alpha Girl.

“You won’t be saying that when Hollywood is at the door for the rights.”

“I wish you’d go out the door. And not come back.”

“Love you, too.”)

The Question. A poem.

It’s a question
One we all ask ourselves
When no one else is there to ask
When we think God is no longer listening

When we feel low
When we feel empty
When we feel betrayed
When we are hurt and in pain

Why?
Why me?
Why is this happening?
Why are you doing this?

But while all questions deserve answers
Answers are not always forthcoming
Because life is not a Q and A session
Life is not a simple straight line
Life veers and sways like a fraying rope bridge over a bottomless chasm
Life gives and life takes away
But whether you believe in God or not
Life is what it is

You can answer the question
And you can make the decision

To move on

Chris. A poem.

He shined
On every stage
A voice that made you
Take notice
A guitar
Burning and churning
Changing lives
Through music

But inside
Thoughts and pain
Burning and churning
Shadows and rain
Low
Black hole sun
Dragging down
Crushing him

Who could see
What would come
To be
To take a life
So unexpectedly
Into the superunknown
Exit stage left
Now rest

Lion. A tear-filled movie review.

This review contains spoilers.

I never got the chance to see Lion in the cinema. In some ways, I’m glad I didn’t. Not because it’s a bad movie, but because it’s a movie that guarantees I’m going to cry, and I don’t want to be going to the movies with a mate and tear up (it’s a bloke thing). If I ever have a girlfriend again (and if you’ve ever read one of my dating posts, you’ll know the odds of that seem ever remote), then I will gladly accompany her and blubber away like a baby.

I borrowed my Mum’s copy (as you do when you’re poor) and watched it by myself (why don’t you go to the cinema by yourself, I hear you say. My life is sad enough already without going on my own, thank you very much).

Lion is, without doubt, the best movie I have seen all year. That’s a pretty big statement to make, so I guess I better back it up.

Lion tells the story of a five-year old Indian boy called Saroo (played by newcomer Sunny Pawar), who is separated from his brother and ends up on a train that takes him thousands of miles away from his Indian home town to Calcutta, where he is lost. Eventually he is relocated to an orphanage, and from there is adopted by Australian parents and raised in Tasmania. Later on, he discovers he can track down his mum and brother by using Google Earth, and does so.

The story sounds pretty straightforward, but it doesn’t prepare you for the sheer emotional rollercoaster this movie puts you through. From the squalor and heartbreak of the living conditions of Saroo’s family, to the plight and serious abuse of street kids in Calcutta; you are overwhelmed by incredible anger and profound sadness, and I was on the verge of tears throughout the first act in India. Saroo’s adopted brother is profoundly affected by the abuse he’s received, and this is a theme carried through part of the film’s second act in Australia.

Dev Patel is magnificent in the role of the adult Saroo, who suffers from PTSD as a result of the separation from his family. His adoptive parents are played by David Wenham and Nicole Kidman (in possibly the best role I’ve ever seen her in. In Australia, Nicole falls into two camps: ‘national treasure’, or ‘can’t stand the frigid cow’. I quite happily sat in the second camp, until I saw her in this movie. Wonderful performance, glowing with warmth and intensity).

As expected, Saroo finds his mother and is reunited. Tears all around.

It’s not a perfect movie: there are times when the pacing drags, the secondary characters are often underdeveloped. But the cinematography and music are excellent, and the leads more than make up for anything else that is lacking.

I found this movie mentally and emotionally overwhelming to watch. But it was also profoundly uplifting. I challenge anyone to not feel for the characters and their situations. This is a movie you should see, even if you hate tear jerkers, if only to remind yourself that you are better off than you think you are.

My movie of the year. If I judged movies based on the number of tears I shed while watching, it would be movie of the decade.

Borrower.

This is a uni piece I wrote a few months back. It was actually the first appearance of Alpha Girl, Beta Max and Me. I’ve removed the academic references and included one of my discussion thread responses from that week. NOTE: This was back when I used social media. Nowadays I only use it to promote my blog, which makes me even less well informed then I used to be. 

I haven’t read a newspaper in well over a year. It’s not that I don’t like newspapers; it’s not like I don’t have a ready supply of them each day. It’s just that I’m not really bothered to read them when I get my news through social media and television.

(“Are you on Twitter again?” says Beta Max.

“No,” I reply, quickly changing to YouTube.)

So, I was a little surprised when I read the Insider Movies section of the Sunday Telegraph and found a number of well written movie reviews by Vicky Roach, the reviewer in residence.

(“Why are you reading the paper?” says Alpha Girl.

“Research,” I reply.

“Why can’t you be normal like other people?” she says. I extend my tongue.)

When I read through Critical Review in my uni course notes, I thought to myself: “this is a bit clunky – I don’t recall reviews being this structured.” Identification of work, Context, Description, Assessment, Identification of reviewer – it all seemed a bit robotic to me. I got to the bit about “blending the elements”, and was somewhat relieved. Heaven forbid I’d have to write a review in such a stilted way.

So, back to the newspaper: Ms Roach reviewed four movies: Passengers, Assassin’s Creed, Rosalie Blum and Paterson. I really enjoyed her approach. She was knowledgeable about the art form (script and director techniques, for instance), had a good understanding of the plot and themes of each movie, and raised relevant points and criticisms insightfully. Her comments about Assassin’s Creed succeeding on a “kinetic level”, but failing to deliver in the end due to the character’s “moral ambiguities” and a lack of viewer investment in the outcome, struck home with me as I was planning to take my son.

(“We’re still seeing it,” says my videogame-loving nerd.)

Ms Roach obviously loves the film medium. You can tell from the way she crafts her reviews. (I love women who write well about things they love, especially when it’s a subject I know and love as well. It’s a bit of a turn on. Um, that probably was more than you needed to know.) As expected the smaller “art nouveau” films like Rosalie Blum and Paterson rated better than the big budget movies. Is this a thing with reviewers? “I will always take art over fluff!” I happen to like a little fluff with my art.

(“It’s like chocolate, marshmallow and vegemite sandwiches,” says Beta Max. “They shouldn’t work, but somehow really, really do.”)

Each of Ms Roach’s appraisals captured the essence of the five ingredients of a review, including context and a witty summation of each movie in the legend (for example: “French crowd-pleaser sure to leave audiences blum-struck”, with an attempted pun, no less). I especially liked the intro headline for each movie, in punchy prose – for Passengers: “Sci-Fi romance has too much space in its plot”. For Paterson: “Story of a secret poet has its own rhyme and reason”.

So now I have to read the newspaper every week, just to check out the movie reviews. And maybe read some of the other stuff: news and the like.

(“Are you finished with the paper” says Alpha Girl.

“Not much longer,” I reply.

“Buy your own,” she says.)

 

One of my responses to the discussion thread:

Hi

I, too, like short reviews. I think it’s a measure of a “real” reviewer to be able to do a review in a short format and not leave anything out; to be able to capture the essence of a movie, book or CD in a short, almost perfunctory way.

I have to admit that I’m not good at short. I think I’m a bit verbose at times (read: boring). Maybe I should try writing reviews as Haiku – that way I’m deliberately restrained by the form:

Assassin’s Creed film
Started well but ended bad
Little investment

Could be onto something here. I’m just going to rush out and patent the Haiku movie review concept.

Cheers

Steve

John Wick: Chapter 2. A Movie Review.

No spoilers here!

I loved John Wick, the Keanu Reeves actioner from a few years back, about a retired assassin who returns to the business after some local mobsters steal his car and kill his dog. The movie features plenty of martial arts and Gun Fu action, with Keanu doing many of his own stunts.

The sequel has just opened in Australia (why so late? I don’t know. I prefer movies being released at the same time worldwide – less piracy that way). Chapter 2 continues on from the first, with Keanu reprising the lead and with a new dog (acquired at the end of the first film). He is approached by an Italian mob boss closely linked to the society of assassins Wick used to work for. He calls in a marker that helped Wick retire from the business. He wants Wick to kill his sister in Italy, so he can take her seat at the High Table that heads up the assassin society. I’m not going to spoil the movie any more than that, but will give my general impressions.

John Wick 2 kicks ass! This movie has a bigger budget than the last and it shows. The action and stunts are bigger, the story bolder and broader, production values have improved, more backstory is provided for the assassin society (which is more expansive than you’d think), and new characters are introduced that will carry over into Chapter 3 (yeah, it sets up a sequel).

Reeves’ stoic performance suits the character. Wick’s motivations are pretty basic: finish the contract, avenge his losses, survive. And he does these with aplomb: lots of killing with guns, knives, cars, hand to hand, and pencils (yes, you read that right). Remember the 1980’s, when people used to comment on how many people Sly Stallone and Arnie Schwarzenegger killed in their movies (alright, you’re probably too young to remember, but it was a thing)? Well they’ve got nothing on Keanu in this. Wick also gets run over (multiple times), stabbed, shot, tossed down stairs, and generally made a mess of. 

I thought John Wick 2 was pretty awesome. If you like action movies that cut to the chase and get on with it, with dramatic action and stunts, guns and cool fight scenes, this is the movie for you.

Versatile Blogger Award Nomination – Woo hoo! Cheers and thank you 😊

Having just gotten over the excitement of being nominated for the Awesome Blogger Award (read about it here), I was surprised and excited to find I’d been nominated the next day by Sonyo Estavillo from https://lilpickmeup.com/ for another, the Versatile Blogger Award. I’m only able to post this now as I have been doing assignments, seeing movies, posting other (shorter) stuff, researching blogs to nominate and generally screwing up my life (as I usually do each waking moment of my day).

Being the humble person that I am (NOT!), I was delighted to receive this nomination and thank Sonyo from the bottom of my heart (which is not bottomless, but it’s pretty deep – see what I did there, not quite hidden double meaning. Sometimes I just impress myself. And only myself. I told you I’m not humble).

So before I dig myself deeper into a hole of egomania countered by self-deprecation and self-loathing, let’s talk about the award rules and who I’ve nominated…

The Rules:

The rules say to thank the person who nominated you (also providing a link to their blog), nominate 10 blogs you feel should be awarded, and then share seven interesting facts about yourself.

The 10 blogs I’m nominating for the Versatile Blogger Award:

My apologies if you’ve already received it or don’t feel like participating.

 Seven Interesting Things About Me:

I’m not sure if these qualify as interesting, but what the hey, I’ll give it a go:

  1. I’m very fit, if I do say so myself – I work out regularly with free weights, 4-5 times a week, including walking, bike riding and other stuff (yes, I post about it, too. Last one was here). I do Wing Chun Kung Fu (you can read about that here). I’m healthier now than I have been at any other time in my life (including my very active 20’s). Unfortunately, the offset of that is I’m probably going through the unhappiest time in my life, but the exercise helps to keep my depression in check, so it all balances out…sort of.
  2. I always have about ten books on the go at any one time – I loooooove to read. Goes hand in hand with the writing thing. How do I keep up with them all? That’s a good question. Bookmarks, mostly.
  3. I loooove RPGs – what’s an RPG, I hear you say? To answer that, click here. I DM a group regularly, and it’s lots of fun. If you’ve never played, give it a go. You will be pleasantly surprised at how fun nerd stuff can be. Yeah, I’m a big nerd. A fit one, though.
  4. I like to make up stupid nonsense words – Certainly not to make myself sound smarter. More to make me look stupidlier (yep – new word). Which isn’t hard.
  5. I am a full time mature-age student with next to no social life – What’s this? A student with next to no social life?! Unheard of! Well, it’s true. On top of my ongoing depression I have loads of anxiety issues. And not many friends. See, this blog has cheered you up already, because you secretly realise you’re so much better than me. See? My blog is a ‘feel good’ blog.
  6. I am a true romantic – yeah, it’s true. Walking on the beach at sunset. Romantic candlelit dinners. Spoiling my partner (when I have one). I’m particularly good at buying presents (it’s a real skill, y’know). I cry in sensitive movies. I love blokey stuff, but like girly stuff, too. Yes, I’m as confused as you are about that. Maybe it’s some male menopause thing…
  7. I loooooooove movies – If I could live permanently in a movie theatre, existing on nothing else other than popcorn, I’d be as happy as a pig in you-know-what. I would have a little batch of bedding and a shelf of books (for when the movies aren’t showing), and be that lovable hermit over near the wall who never leaves. Come to think of it, that sounds more like something from a Stephen King novel…

Hmmm. I’ve just realised this is starting to sound like some sort of dating blog (Noooooooooo!!!).

Once again, thanks Sonyo for the nomination! Much appreciated!

Cheers 😊

Angel. A poem.

I dreamed that my Angel walked with me
And we talked at length
A gentle discourse about books, music and coffee

And on the hill beneath the spire
We explored each other shyly
Espousing our thoughts in their entirety
And we kissed each other meekly
Thinking how wonderful this could be
Stomachs churning with dancing butterflies
Wondering if a love so true could lie

I dreamed that my Angel walked with me
But it was just a dream
And dreams belong to sleep

Not the most positive person. Who, me? That can’t be right…

Yesterday, someone (no names, to protect the anonymity of potentially guilty parties. Alright, it was outrightallie) accused me of being ‘Not the most positive person’. I was, of course, outraged by this incredibly hurtful personal slight, and promptly went through my backlog of posts to see just what she meant.

Okay, so she has a point.

Hmmm…When I started this blog, it was because people in my uni courses found my light-hearted discussion thread posts witty and amusing. I wanted to keep writing on a regular basis, so voila! Instant blog and some funny posts. Over time, as I became more and more depressed at my astounding lack of talent and how unfunny I was, I lapsed into a case of serious ‘Bloglow’. (It’s a real medical condition. In the Ukraine. And Canada. Oh, alright, I made it up.)

(NOTE: That bit about my blog causing depression is not true. Unless you’re a reader of said blog. I actually suffer from long term depression. But it’s nice to blame something…)

So, I guess I’ll have to try to be more positive in future.

I have outlined a ten-point multi-point pointed plan of point attack below, to address this:

  1. Write more positive poetry – I only write poetry when I’m depressed, so that’s a no go.
  2. Write funny stories – Sometimes my stories are funny, so that’s a tick.
  3. Post knock knock jokes – That is so much a Dad-joke thing. Nope.
  4. Predict the future in a slyly controversial and yet light hearted way – No, my future is pretty bleak, no matter which way I look at it. Next!
  5. Post political blogs – Although I used to be highly political and opinionated, I hardly ever watch TV, read news or pay attention to anything happening in the real world, instead choosing to live the life of a hermit writer (just to clarify, that’s not a type of crab. It’s an alleged writer, who lives like a hermit).
  6. Talk more about the weather – Come on, how can that not be funny?! I have just as good a chance of predicting the weather as highly trained weather people do.
  7. Write more ‘Alpha Girl, Beta Max and Me’ stories – I can do that. I just have to open my door for an endless source of inspiration. And abuse.
  8. Post life-affirming quotes – Aghhhh!!!! I’m sorry, all you bloggers who already do this, but posting a positive quote from a book is not my bag. I like my content to be original (oooooooh…first shot fired in the controversial blog debate).
  9. Make more lists – Eventually I’m bound to list something that will make my blog funnier…
  10. Write more blogs about depression – No! I just said positive, you idiot!
  11. Learn how to count properly – I can do that. Doesn’t help my blog positivity rating, though.
  12. Still need to learn how to count properly – alright, already!

Well, I tried. I guess you’ll all have to put up with me being not the most positive person.

Hey, maybe you are too! We should start a club. We’ll call it the Not the Most Positive Person club. Or NTMPP, for short (Damn, I thought that acronym was going to work…NoT MaPP? NiT MiPP? NNNNN-TeM-PiP, I know, the Not MiPP Club. Okay, maybe not).

Cheers 😊

P.S. I know outrightallie won’t take my preposterous allegation seriously. At least I hope not. Next Post: Steve Still Standing Sued For Libel!

P.P.S The picture above is my attempt at being positive. A raging, burning sun, possibly about to supernova. I might need to work on that…

Awesome Blogger Award Nomination – What the?!

I’ve just found out (well not really just, but almost just) I’ve been nominated for the ‘Awesome Blogger Award’ by outrightallie. Outrightallie’s blog is awesome, and I’d nominate her back, but she already has been, and if I did so again she might get stuck in a reality-distorting and paradoxical blog award feedback loop. Or not.

This was quite a surprise, as I didn’t think anyone actually read my blog (yes, I have a few followers, but I just thought those likes were ‘courtesy’ likes – you know, like on Facebook, or as I like to call it Fakebook–when you have friends who aren’t really friends, who like your post even though they have no idea who you are or what you’re talking about. I don’t do Fakebook anymore, except to promote this blog. Could be because I don’t have any real or fake friends…). What I will say is that I started this thing a few months ago to push myself to write every day, and so far, I’ve managed to generate a whole lot of crap (a reverse-adage: quantity over quality). Okay, it’s not all crap—some of it is decent. Sort of.

So that’s a rambling way of saying thank you outrightallie for the nomination, which you can find over here (enticing clickbait).

So, who created this award?

It was created by Miss Maggie over at Dreaming of Guatemala. This is a direct quote from her blog about it:

 “This is an award for the absolutely wonderful writers all across the blogging world. They have beautiful blogs, are kind and lovely, and always find a way to add happiness and laughter to the lives of their readers. That is what truly defines an awesome blogger.”

Here are The Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Include the reason behind the award.
  • Include the banner in your post.
  • Tag it under #awesomebloggeraward in the Reader.
  • Answer the questions your nominator gave you.
  • Nominate at least 5 awesome bloggers.
  • Give your nominees 10 new questions to answer.
  • Let your nominees know that they’ve been nominated!

Following are the questions outrightallie posed for me to answer. I hate answering questions. I like the aura of mystery. Actually, it’s because I’m afraid my life is not very interesting and if people find this out they may read my blog even less than they already do. I will answer because my social skills (as you may have noticed) need some work and this is good practice.

Who do you look up to?

My best mate is a pastor at the local church. He is a keen surfer and is a down-to-earth optimist, who I only found out recently is an introvert. This is surprising as I have known him since kindergarten and assumed he was an extrovert. I guess I wasn’t actually paying much attention all those years. Could be because of my terrible social skills.

What do you want to accomplish in the future?

I want to meet the woman of my dreams, fall in love and have a complication-filled life bordering on wonderful. Failing that I want to be able to live in a place where I can own a dog who will love me unconditionally despite my obvious lack of social skills.

Oh, and finish my novel and become a published author. Not self-publishing. I seek legitimacy through multinational-corporate publishing houses that care nothing for the reader or the author, and in so doing I’ll receive a huge advance that will never be recouped as my book will lapse into obscurity in the first month of sales, become remaindered and sit on my shelf as a reminder of my failure as a writer. Or something like that.

If you have 1 million dollars, what will you do with it?

If I were a narcissistic drug-user I would say “lots of ice”, but as I’m not: I’d buy myself a nice house (where I could own a socially awkward dog that matches my personality), donate much to charities (did I just write that to make myself sound noble or do I really feel that way? Guess you’ll never know…), buy a better car (I own a bomb that gets me from A to B, in attempted style, if coughing and spluttering were in style) and self-publish my novel (didn’t I just say I wouldn’t do that? Yes, but if I had a million bucks, who cares?).

I guess I’d settle back and make music and write every day. Oh, that’s what I do already. But without the million dollars.

Are you a traveller who looks for budget or luxury on your holidays?

I’m a mature-age student eating up his minimal life savings with ongoing limited income who wishes he could travel. Big sigh. As you can see, I’m quite the catch. And that’s not counting my numerous mental health issues, hang ups and years of emotional baggage.

Of course, that’ll all change when I’m a famous author. Or singer. Or millionaire (see previous question).

What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?

I’d like to change the laws of physics and thermodynamics so superheroes are possible. And become one. Nothing major, just an infinitely powerful goody-goody type.

Oh, and world peace (but did I say that because it’s expected of me or because, as a superhero, I would eliminate all nuclear weapons and become absolute dictator? Hopefully, you’ll never find out…).

If you could offer a new-born child only one piece of advice, what would it be?

I know you love Christmas, but Santa is just your parents buying and hiding presents and lying to you for the first decade of your life. That’s your first life lesson. Trust no one. Especially anyone who teaches life lessons based on Santa Claus.

Oh, you said new-born. I guess my advice would really be: “Coochie, coochie, coo.”

What are you most grateful for?

My teenage son, who, despite his rampant disrespect and failure to listen to any of my ever-wonderful and incredibly wise life advice, is the best thing that ever happened to me.

It’s possible he doesn’t listen to me because of that discussion we had about Santa Claus.

What is your happiest childhood memory?  What makes it so special?

Learning all the swear words (including that really bad one) in kindergarten. Before that I never realised they existed, as my parents and friends didn’t curse.

My foul language has been the only constant in a world full of uncertainty.

If today was the end of the world, what would you do?

Become a narcissist, smoke loads of ice and nominate every blogger in the world for this award. No, not really. I guess I’d complain to anyone who’d listen that “I was only two weeks from retirement”.

If you knew you were going to die one year from today, what would you do and how would you want to be remembered?

Okay, let’s get serious.

I’d steal a million dollars (see earlier question), build a shrine to foul language on a hill overlooking the capital, hitchhike around the country accepting lifts only from people riding scooters, create a website with only one word on it (“What?”), try and read War and Peace in one non-stop, caffeine-fuelled sitting, watch every season of South Park, write a new version of Genesis for the Bible incorporating the latest cosmology and dark matter theory (subject to the okay from the Big Guy, of course), teach guitar to fifty chimpanzees and see if they can compose a Led Zeppelin-inspired guitar orchestra piece (the musical equivalent of Hamlet, say), and tell my Mum, Dad and son how much I love them. That last one I don’t do enough of.

I guess I’d want to be remembered for the good things, and not the stupid screw ups I’ve made over the years. Like this Q&A, for example.

Nominations and Questions to Answer

Here are some cool blogs I’m nominating. Further below are my questions for them to answer.

  • Nicolesundays – https://nicolesundays.wordpress.com/ (I am actually envious of how funny this girl is. My witicisms are but a pale shadow of her humourosity. That’s a genuine word I just created.)
  • Message in Stanza – https://messageinstanza.wordpress.com/ (I’m sure she would like this award nom. If not, she can write me and complain.)
  • SerotoninVoid – https://serotoninvoid.wordpress.com/ (I know we’re supposed to nominate happy blogs, but happy is not really my thing. I like what I like.)
  • Flash-365 – https://flash-365.com/ (I don’t know if he does awards, but he should. His flash fiction is awesome.)
  • Mindfump – https://mindfump.com/ (I don’t know if Mindfump does awards either; when I visited his site today my browser crashed. But if you do get there, it’s a great blog.)

And now, the awe-inspiring questions:

  1. Why did you start writing? Was poverty a preferred life choice? And if you have money, don’t brag— it’s unbecoming.
  2. If you could work in a trade, would you prefer to be an electrician or a plumber? Instead of a writer, I mean.
  3. What was the last book you truly hated? And how did you inform people it was bad? Are you the sort who quietly smoulders, or the ‘shout it from the rooftops’ kind?
  4. If you had a time machine, which evil dictator would you hunt down and exterminate?
  5. Now that you’ve changed history with your irresponsible actions, what exactly has come to pass? And will you need to change it back?
  6. If you had to pass a urine test, would you substitute someone else’s? If so, whose and why? What exactly have you got to hide?
  7. Have you ever played a tabletop role-playing game? Do you even know what a tabletop role-playing game is (hint: it’s not sexual)? If not, just pretend you do, without checking wikipedia, and make up an answer.
  8. If you could invite three horrible people to dinner, who would they be? The dinner’s not for you, it’s for your arch-nemesis.
  9. Who is your arch-nemesis, and why would you subject them to such a horrible dinner? Have you no shame? Who really has an arch-nemesis, anyway?
  10. If you had a choice between world peace and world peach, would you assume it was a spelling error or would you choose ‘world peach’ because you were trying to be cool and didn’t want people to think you weren’t hip to the new terms the kids use nowadays? You must answer in the form of a Haiku (a 5/7/5 syllable Japanese poem. But you knew that already, didn’t you?)

I think this was the longest blog I have ever written. A lot of work. I have uni assignments due tomorrow, y’know.

And yes, my spelling is English, not American, so stop picking.

House Sitter – epilogue

My friends got back from the cruise, unfortunately two of the five were sick for most of it (doh!).

Following are a couple of things I learnt while housesitting in the center of town:

  • I love living in the center of town (everything is sooooooo convenient)
  • I don’t cook when I’m living in the center of town (restaurants are sooooooo convenient)
  • Dogs are very therapeutic (dogs give unconditional love. Why can’t humans be like that?)
  • I love walking the dog for miles and miles and miles and… (l lost a bit of fat and put on a bit of muscle – all balanced out weight-wise as muscle is heavier than fat. And I don’t have much fat anyway, so I’m trimmer now :p )
  • I’m very productive when I’m on my own (ten songs completed in eight days – yeah!)
  • The counter to that is I get depressed more (story of my life…)
  • You never do everything you wanted to do (CBD shopping? Nix. Meet women? Nada. Party on the town? Hah!)

Now: uni assignment due this Friday. Time to get my arse into gear.

Have a great day 🙂

House Sitter #8 – productive week

I’m house sitting for one more day, recording songs I’ve written over the last year.

Wow! It’s been a great run. I’ve finished recording nine of my songs, and I’ll work on another this afternoon. 

Addendum: Finished ten songs! Woo hoo! 🙂

My friends return from their cruise tomorrow. The house is in good order, the dog has been walked excessively (hope this hasn’t raised her expectations lol), and I’m feeling pretty positive (when I’m not dwelling on crap).

I’ve got some uni assignments due over the next few weeks, but once they’re done I’m going to mix and master these babies and get the album published (I’ll post about it as it happens).

Productive week!

Have a great day 🙂

Saturday Night. A poem.

Streets afire with love divine
Taking names and stumbling feet
Liquor-fuelled lust surrounds
Like ships that sail on silken sheets

Uproarious dinner conversations
Filled with gentle goodbyes
And enthusiastic hellos
And iPhone intermissions

A cello paints the night
In shades of blue and grey
Pining for the one that flew
Internal circumspection played

Each over-revved car drives by
Panthers stealthy, by light they slept
Reanimated by the sunset lie
To hunt abroad for civil prey

And here I am in bed, alone again
Listening to the many voices
Of Saturday night retreaded
And wondering why I am here by choice

House Sitter #6 – arranging awesomeness

I’m house sitting for the next three days, recording songs I’ve written over the last year.

Worked on ‘Light the Way’ last night and this morning (walked the dog, rang Mum and wished her a happy Mother’s Day – hey, I already got her a card and present). The song has turned out great. I added some distorted guitar and layered vocals to the chorus and it now kicks ass. 

Next, a stripped back folky acoustic number called ‘Believe’. I haven’t played this one much. I think I’ll add some piano and maybe orchestrate some strings for it. 

I often change the arrangement for a song when I record. I’m happy to say that most of the time the song ends up the better for it.

Have a great day 🙂

The Laid Back DM #4 – ‘Tales of the Yawning Portal’ Leaves me Yearning for Something Better

I received ‘Tales of the Yawning Portal’ the other day, after ordering it from the Book Depository. I’d heard that Wizards of the Coast (WoTC) were updating some of its best known modules to 5e, and was looking forward to it.

Well, I’ve been reading it for a few days now. And all I can say is – WTF WoTC?! Let me explain.

‘Tales of the Yawning Portal’? They couldn’t come up with a more inspiring title? And the titular tavern is featured in TWO pages of the book. Why bother with it at all? It’s supposed to be a linking device for the adventures. But guess what? It’s not! It’s just…there. Maybe it’s a plug for a future Yawning Portal adventure. It’s fantastic that the Undermountain dungeon (Which adventurers can access via the tavern) is mentioned so many times in those two pages, but it’s NOT IN THE BOOK. Yawn!

These adventures were some of the best, and most dangerous, of all time. One small problem: they are all dungeon crawls. There is no variety. They are all dungeons, with no wilderness, urban or role playing components (okay, ‘the Forge of Fury’ has a tiny bit of wilderness). I love some of the old modules (I own the AD&D (1e) ones featured), but come on! A dungeon crawl is a dungeon crawl – but seven of them? 

And ‘The Sunless Citadel’ is boring (sorry, all you people who loved D&D 3e). ‘Tomb of Horrors’ is still spectacular. ‘The Forge of Fury’ and ‘White Plume Mountain’ are great.

Supposedly the adventures were selected so that you could play the book as a campaign. But why bother? In the same line WoTC suggests using them any way you like, as fillers. And there are no real reasons for linking them as a campaign, except for the first two adventures (which followed each other in D&D 3e), other than the fact your PCs should be at the required level by the next chapter.

And why make some of the maps so small? Would a map to a page for some of the earlier dungeons be such a big ask (some of the later dungeons have maps to a page).

There are heaps of monsters included in the back, many of them from ‘Volo’s Guide’ (I guess it didn’t sell as well as they expected).

In WoTC’s defence: the adventures have been converted well. The artwork is great. I still dislike not having monster stat blocks in the room descriptions. A monster name in bold is NOT ideal. I know WoTC wants to sell more ‘Monster Manuals’, but shortened monster stat blocks are used by other companies producing 5e adventures, so why can’t they? And like all WoTC’s offerings, the text entries for each room are always too wordy. When I’m running an adventure I don’t want to have to drill through loads of text to get the information I need.

In summary, I was a little disappointed by this offering. Yes, some of the dungeons are great. But after so many great campaign releases, overall this was a bit of a let down. And I wish they’d left the Yawning Portal tavern out of it. I would also prefer they excluded the seminal ‘Against the Giants’ adventure, and released it with ‘Descent into the Depths’ and ‘Queen of the Demonweb Pits’, all together, the way it should have been. In fact, maybe they should have released that collected edition rather than ‘Tales of the Yawning Portal’. 

If you’re looking for some killer (literally) dungeon crawls, then this is the book for you. If you already own most of these adventures, save your cash and do a manual conversion instead.

House Sitter #5 – walking daze

I’m house sitting for the next four days, recording songs I’ve written over the last year.

Lots of dog walking today. As well as food shopping, clothes washing, dish washing (too many washings!). Clocked up over 10kms of walking (not washing).

After dinner I’ll work on a new song called ‘Light the Way’. I’ve decided to take what was a straightforward acoustic pop song and make it more upbeat and funky. 

We’ll see how it turns out.

Have a great night 🙂

Baggage. A poem.

I took you on, baggage and all
Your overstuffed luggage
Way over the weight limit
My own baggage was carry on
Small and non-descript
Since then my luggage has grown
To the size of an elephant
And I’m the only one who can carry it
Far too costly and expensive
So I’ll carry it on my own
From now on
Alone

House Sitter #4 – out of the dumps

I’m house sitting for the next five days, recording songs I’ve written over the last year.



Right. No depression today, I’ve got things to do.

I revisited the songs I screwed up yesterday, saving one from evisceration. I rebuilt it with the motto “less is more”. Also finished the vocals on another track I started a few days back (‘FHL’).

Recorded and completed a new folky acoustic number in 3/4 time I’ve called ‘Sempiternal’. Four tracks (back to basics!) of acoustic guitar and vocals. It’s come up very nicely.

Now, off to get a haircut, visit my parents and see what my son is up to.

Have a great day 🙂

Dregs. A poem.

I tried to get up
But the black dog held me down
Every movement was too hard
Every thought a leaden weight
Black dog growled
And I submitted, giving up again
The bed was my cage, my brain the lion tamer
“Just who do you think you are?” he cried, cracking the whip again
“This is who you’re meant to be,” I heard him through my pain
And I lay there and wept, because some truths are hard to accept
And the black dog lay upon me, a smile/a snarl on its lips
“Today is not your day,” it said. “Perhaps tomorrow, or the next.”

House Sitter #3 – dark dregs

I’m house sitting for the next six days, and recording some songs I’ve written over the past year.

Aghhh! Woke up this morning terribly depressed (as I sometimes do) and demotivated (Why? When you suffer from depression it just happens). I couldn’t get out of bed until just before lunch.

To top it off I revisited some unfinished songs, got to the point where I was going to scrap one altogether and started a new one that I’m really not happy with. I’ll delete those dregs as soon as I can get motivated enough to.

So, a wasted day. Still not feeling much better. May go back to bed. Can’t – have a Wing Chun Kung Fu lesson tonight. Hopefully that’ll cheer me up…

Doh! 😦

House Sitter #2 – the 2nd song. Sort of…

I’m looking after a friend’s house in the city for the next seven days, and I’ve decided to record a number of songs I’ve written during the past year.

After walking the dog this morning, my laptop (the one I use for recording which runs a normally very stable version of Windows XP) decided to have a hissy. So much for recording this morning. Had to download new audio codecs and install them to fix the problem. Then did some reading and had lunch. Oh, the motivation!

Luckily the friend who was supposed to be looking after the dog turned up, but doggie is still with me during the day. No worries, I like her company (the dog, that is).

Managed to lay down all the guitar tracks for my song ‘FHL’ this afternoon. Tonight is D&D night (or, alternatively, nerd heaven), so that’s all for today. I’ll finish the track tomorrow.

Hope your day was great!

Cheers! 🙂

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: