Upstart Photographer – Black and white photography is da bomb.

Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if we were frozen in a moment of time, just like a photograph. Would we feel trapped? Would we experience emotions, needs, the impact of physics and quantum mechanics, the way we do in the real world?

Okay, I’m rambling. I wasn’t sure how to start this post.

Anyway, on to the pictures in all their unprocessed glory.

Shoreline - stevestillstanding.com

Above: This is an old photo, before better camera lenses and improved clarity. The colour version is nicer (I’ve used it for one of my Poetry headers), but the black and white gives it a haunting dimension, I think. Well, it’s certainly murkier. Message to self: stop taking photographs while drunk.

Not my dog - stevestillstanding.com

Above: This is my son’s dog. He’s called Jet and he seems entirely suited to black and white photos. Well, he’s not complaining, anyway.

Twisted - stevestillstanding.com

Above: I took this shot on a nature walk. I love the twisted and seemingly evil nature of this tree, especially the way it’s silhouetted against the others. Maybe it’s just waiting to betray them? Maybe it’s a metaphor… You may have seen this one in my short story / flash fiction header.

Cheers

Steve 😊

The Not-So-Burning Bush. A short tale.

I haven’t written a flash fiction for a while. Here’s my poor attempt at romantic fiction.

Cheers

Steve 😊

I was ensconced in the bush, its leaves and branches irritating and scratching my face. Completely hidden, I craned my neck to hear what was said, while trying to maintain some sort of focus on Jenny. I could see her back through the foliage.

“…and I just couldn’t believe what she was telling me, y’know? Like, the guy she’s been going out with has been cheating on her for weeks, and she knows it, and she’s still seeing him. Is that pathetic, or what?” The other girl nodded and they both laughed. A few more words and her friend left for a lecture across campus. Jenny sat on the bench near the tree I was hiding in, started checking her iPhone.

At that moment, a sparrow landed next to me on a branch near my head. It was so unexpected that I yelped involuntarily, spun, fell through the bush and collapsed on my back on the pavement next to the bench. My head hit the concrete with a crunch, and I’m sure I saw stars. Yes, just like in cartoons.

Jenny swore, startled by the sudden miracle of a man from a not-so-burning bush. She stood over me, looking concerned (I assume for my potential medical condition, and not for any perceived mental condition). “Jacob? Oh, my God, are you all right?”

I was swearing. “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.” I rubbed the back of my skull, tried to get up, decided I felt better lying there. “I take that back. No, I’m not.”

Jenny kneeled next to me, unsure of what to do. Students walked past, amused, bemused, uncaring, or a combination of all of the above.

Jenny raised an eyebrow. “What were you doing in that bush?”

“I think I might have a concussion…” Avoidance is the better part of valour, so someone once said. I think it was me, just now.

Jenny frowned as it dawned on her. “Were you stalking me?”

“No, I was just…resting in the bush. For a moment. Getting my bearings. Bird watching. I love trees.” Lying on my back, rubbing my painful head, coming up with terrible excuses. I was the cover model for lame. “Yes, I was stalking.”

She crossed her arms, tilted her head in that delightful way she did when she was being judgemental. “Oh, my God, that is so creepy. And I used to think you were cute.”

“You thought I was cute? I had no idea.”

“Obviously, or you wouldn’t be hanging out in bushes, spying on me.”

“Would you like to get a coffee, or something?” In hindsight, probably not the best time to ask, but I was hurt, desperate and concussed, covered in leaves, scratches and embarrassment. Probably could try for the sympathy vote. Or an insanity plea.

Jenny laughed. She laughed so much she had to wipe away tears. After about a minute of further humiliation, she smiled. “I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but okay.”

“Really? You just caught me stalking you like some crazy guy.”

“Oh God, you really are an idiot, aren’t you? I said yes, already. Shut up, get up, and let’s get that coffee, before I change my mind.”

Jenny helped me to my feet. I stumbled a bit, grinning all the while.

“Am I going to regret this?” she said.

“Maybe,” I said. “Maybe not.”

We both smiled.

Leibster and Versatile Blogger Award Noms—thank you, thank you, thank you!

Thanks so much to Follypen, who nominated me for both the Leibster and Versatile Blogger awards.

You can find Follypen’s wonderful site at this link: https://follypen.wordpress.com/

I’m gonna cheat a bit (as I sometimes do with Award-thingies) and refer you to a previous nomination of mine for some faintly amusing Leibster award answers and questions:

Some Leibster Award Goodness: I’d like to thank the academy…

I’m going to cheat AGAIN and direct you to some of my previous posts for Versatile Blogger Award nominations for some not-quite-so-controversial and possibly-funny-but-who-am-I-to-judge questions and answers:

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

Versatile Blogger Award 2 – Thanks muchly!!

And if you don’t want to read humorous stuff, how about some of my depressing poetry instead:

Steve’s angst-filled and depressing poetry (isn’t it about time he got a life?) 

Thanks again, Follypen! I know this is not the best response but I’m so time poor at the moment that this is all I could do (excuses, excuses!)

Cheers

Steve 😊

It’s a mystery why I’m nominated, but I gratefully accept!

Trudy K at Pinching Words has nominated me for the Mystery Blogger Award. Thanks so much, Trudy! As usual I ‘m always a bit flabbergasted at why I get nominated; equally happy and bemused. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate it—I do!

As to this award, there’s some indicia I have to list:

The Mystery Bloggers Award

It’s an award given to amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates, it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging and they do it with much love and passion.

Okoto Enigma

I didn’t write this. I’m feeling a bit embarrassed right now. But thanks for the kind words, Okoto, and thanks for thinking about my blog, Trudy!

The Rules (with my responses in italics):

  • Put the award logo/image in your post

That fancy, flashy logo is adorning my post above!

  • List the rules

Hey, they’re right here!

  • Thank whoever nominated you and include a link to their blog

Thanks Trudy! Trudy has a wonderful blog of poetry and writing, please check it out at https://trudykblog.wordpress.com/.

  • Tell your readers three things about yourself

I’m going to cheat a bit on this one. I did another award post a few days back where I listed stuff about myself. So, here’s a link to that one.

  • Nominate 10-20 bloggers you feel deserve the award

I listed a bunch the other day, so I’m gonna cheat and refer you to the earlier list.  

  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog

So much work in these award things!

  • Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice with one weird or one funny

Sorry, I only ever do weird in award posts. My questions to my nominees:

  • If you could make a meme about yourself, what would it be? Would it be funny or straight-laced? Do you think it would go viral? Well, you’ve got dibs on yourself, haven’t you?
  • Now that your meme is out there clogging up the internet, it gets stolen and used for evil purposes! Bwah-ha-ha-ha! What do you do? Steal an experimental superjet and track down the villains who did this? Shake your fist at your computer screen and vow vengeance? Write your own personal virus to destroy the internet so no one can use your meme for evil ever again? Well that’s a bit selfish.
  • Zombies have broken into your house. Do you defend or sacrifice your housemates? If you don’t share with anyone I’m afraid you’re the main course. Sorry.  
  • One of the Zombies has a T-shirt with your personal meme printed on it. You know for sure you never received any royalties for that. Do you tear it off the zombie, pin it to the wall and question it about where it got the T-shirt? Or do you sit in your room in a huff, refusing to let the zombie in?
  • It turns out the zombies are actually your friends after a big night out (yeah, hangovers can be killers—see my fancy double meaning there?). Do you kick them out after scaring you to death? Realise that one of your friends is the evil anarchist who stole your meme and question them all like Poirot or Holmes? Kill them all, just to be safe? Hey, I never said you liked your friends. One of them is an evil supervillain who stole from you, after all.

My answers to Trudy K’s questions:

  1. Which song gets under your skin?

That would have to be Cole Porter’s I got you under my skin. Just to be literal. I actually play this song when I busk and gig. Yep, for real.  

  1. A leadership style which describes you best is?

At the moment I have no staff, so I’d say laissez-faire (yes, it’s a legitimate management style). When I was an actual manager I believed in empowering my staff (and still do) and was consultative. With a little bit of autocratic thrown in for good measure (because if you’re the boss, why not).   

  1. Blogging for life?

Damn straight I will! I currently have little else to do in my sad and misbegotten world.

  1. Do you believe in God?

Damn straight I do! The Big Guy Upstairs and I are Sympatico. We’ve got this bromance thing going on. He’s got this cool book. I read it and was hooked.

  1. Shopping or the beach? Why?

BOTH! Beach when I’m broke (which is most of the time, nowadays) and shopping when I’m not (so, not a lot of shopping nowadays). Ah, the heady life of an amateur poet/writer. It just gets better and better.

Thanks again Trudy K!

Cheers

Steve 😊

One Lovely, Bloggly, Nomination!

I would like to thank the lovely Kiera(n) Fortasse for a Lovely Blog Award nomination! Whilst I’m not really too sure what it all means (a lovely blog, that is, but you could include life in that statement as well), it does mean a lot to know that someone likes me (yay!).

Thank you, Kiera(n). Please visit Kiera(n)’s blog and say hello by clicking here.

‘Ere are ze rules (tried to make it a bit classy by sounding French. FAIL).

  • Thank the person who nominated you for the award
  • Share seven things about yourself
  • Nominate 7 other bloggers and inform them

At least it’s not 15 questions, like the last one I answered
 

Seven Things About Me (or Much Ado About Nothing)

  1. I read far too many books at the same time. Yeah, that’s right. Too many books. It’s one of my few (read: many) foibles. I often have about ten on the go at a time. Some people are sex addicts. I’m a book addict. (I’d love to be a sex addict but that would involve having someone to have sex with. Other than myself, I mean.)
  2. I like to draw fantasy maps. “You crazy cartographer, you!” Okay, that probably wasn’t the first thing that came to mind when you read that. More like: “He’s such a freaky nerd.” Yeah, well, you’re one, too. Otherwise you wouldn’t be blogging. So there (sticks tongue out in a very mature manner). You can check out some of my maps here. Nerd.
  3. I’m a pretty good guitarist and singer. So, got dibs on yourself, eh? I guess so. If you’re so good, why don’t you play us a song? Because, I’m shy. Actually, it’s more like I’ve got a lot on my plate right now. But eventually I’ll post some music. I’ve actually released seven solo albums, so I guess I’ll post about them sometime. Don’t hold your breath, though. I’m writing poetry, instead. Oh, alright. Here’s an old song of mine on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/track/2m3uMJPbTrJJ7FipkKWlro
  4. I love taking photos, but I’m a lazy photographer. I love my iPhone 8. I recently upgraded and now have a phone camera with a nifty optical zoom (only 2x, but hey, better than nothing). I take photos of stuff. Nothing crazy or illegal. Trees, buildings, statues, dogs. Boring stuff. Did I say boring? I meant INCREDIBLE!!! Didn’t sell that real well, did I? You can check out some of my photos here.
  5. I walk and swim regularly. I also work out a lot. I’ve got a pretty good bod (or so I’m told). So, why am I not having sex RIGHT NOW? Because, as a Christian, it’s not the done thing when you’re single. Yeah, I’m a Bible basher/thumper. But I believe everyone has the right to believe what they believe, so I’m not here to convert you. I’m pretty liberal, that way. Don’t believe me? Check out one of my poems about the Big Guy Upstairs, right here.
  6. I’m a mature age university student. Approaching middle-age is like a spaceship crashing into the sun. Is it hot in here? Must be male menopause coming on. Oh, I love uni, by the way. It hasn’t made me any smarter, but it does fill in my time. When I’m not thinking about sex, that is.
  7. I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. Should I be a poverty-stricken writer? I’m already a destitute poet (I’m assuming you would have read some of my poems by now. But, if not, click here so you’ll know what I mean). I would REALLY like to retire but being broke isn’t conducive to retirement. I worked for about 30 years and I know I’ll have to go back to work at some point, but for now I’m shooting the breeze. I could make a gross sex-related joke right now, but I won’t. Because I’m classy, that way.

 

Nominating Seven blogs! If you’re blog appears here, smile! And get to it.

One Woman’s Quest – https://vjknutson.org/

Movie Babble – https://moviebabblereviews.com/

Crumpled Paper Craneshttps://crumpledpapercranes.com/

Firewatersitehttps://firewatersite.wordpress.com/

Little Fearshttps://littlefears.co.uk/

Nicole Sundayshttps://nicolesundays.wordpress.com/

The Board Game Shackhttps://theboardgameshack.wordpress.com/

Thanks again Kiera(n)!

Cheers

Steve 😊

Upstart Photographer: colour is back!

Black and white photos? Love ’em! But every once in a while I like brilliant and vibrant colour.

Here’s a few shots in their trimmed, yet unfiltered glory. I’ve included some narration, as I’m a big fan of David Attenborough. Mimic his voice as you read. It’s more like a documentary, that way.

I love the textures in the sandstone of this wall. If you prefer roads, however, just turn your device on its side.

As you know, I like to skew my shots. As a photographic hack, I like to think it’s a bit arty. But it could be I just skew naturally. Possibly as the result of my daily bottle of vodka.

Purely for medicinal reasons, of course.

I love the sea, and would gladly make my home on the beach if I didn’t get arrested for vagrancy (especially if I’m found clutching my medicinal bottle of vodka). And the wifi there isn’t so great, either.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

The Sale. Every Episode!

The Sale was an unplanned, episodic story I wrote for my blog over a six-month period. Following is a complete list of every episode, so you can read in order from the beginning.

Enjoy!

Steve 😊

Part 1 – The Door

Part 2 – The Butler

Part 3 – The Host

Part 4 – The Knife

Part 5 – The Kitchen

Part 6 – The Secret Door

Part 7 – The Bedroom

Part 8 – The Guest

Part 9 – The Ladder

Part 10 – The Basement

Part 11 – The Lab

Part 12 – The Fight

Part 13 – The Maze

Part 14 – The Hall

Part 15 – The Dog

Part 16 – The Climb

Part 17 – The Trapdoor

Part 18 – The Daughter

Part 19 – The Confrontation

Part 20 – The End

PS You may notice a varying tone between episodes; the story changed stylistically as I wrote each instalment, but I think it worked out well, overall.

The Good Son.

My son, God love him, turned twenty this year. It’s hard not to think of him as a teenager, though, as he still lacks that special something that signifies him as an adult. No, not body hair; he’s got more than enough of that–inherited from his grandfather, who’s known as the ‘silverback’ (yeah, you guessed it. After the gorilla).

It’s common sense I’m talking about. That undefinable understanding about how to get by in life, how stuff works; that sort of thing. No, not how the internal combustion engine works, because even I don’t understand that. It’s about the basics:

  • actually looking for stuff, rather than saying “I can’t find it”, then letting Dad locate it and it’s there right in front of his face
  • realising that water pressure builds up in a hose when you shut off the pistol end (and yes, it will pop off when you drop the pistol on the concrete, thus spraying water over everything because the pressure was on too high to start with)
  • don’t wear Dad’s good leather sandals to wash the car
  • don’t hit Dad up for cash when I’ve just been talking about how little of it I have
  • paying attention to what you’re actually doing and not getting distracted by the nearest thing (I swear he has the shortest attention span known to man)
  • understanding that YouTube is NOT a source of reliable news
  • knowing how gravity works (yes, son—water flows down, not up)

Just a few examples. From this morning.

And while my son may resent being treated like a kid, he often brings it on himself, because he still thinks like one: no responsibility, no cares, no job, no drivers license. Yep, his mother (my first ex-wife) and I still drive him everywhere.

It’s our fault of course. We’ve mollycoddled him (as many parents do when they have an only child), spoiled him (as all parents do with their kids) and not let him learn from his mistakes.

I believe that he will develop some common sense, in time. Like when he’s forty. Maybe.

Oh, well. I still love him to death.

But he’s still not having that cash.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

The Sale. Part 20. The Final Instalment.

The police lights twirled, casting brightly coloured fireflies against the mansion walls. Police wandered back and forth from the house. Everywhere you looked was yellow crime scene tape, cordoning off the building and grounds into their own little worlds where masked crime scene investigators in loose overalls prodded, bagged and played. The rain had stopped and the moon gaped full and garish from behind indifferent clouds.

The main police interviews were yet to come, but there was enough initial discussion when they arrived to realise this was a major case. The media hadn’t taken long to show up, and the street was full of television crews and reporters conversing with tripoded cameras.

Aisha sat beside my gurney after I was loaded into an ambulance. The EMS had triaged me and now joined the driver in the cab.

As the doors closed Aisha smiled and gripped my grimy hand. She’d managed to wash, although her hair was still stringy and matted with dried blood. A large bruise swelled on her left temple. A hefty woollen blanket enclosed her like a shawl.

“Hey,” I said. “You clean up pretty good.”

“As do you. If you like that beaten and bloody, ‘just stitched by the Doctor’ look,” she said, a tear forming at the edge of her eye. We both sniggered, but the act stimulated every cut, bruise and wound on our bodies, forcing us to stop. The suspended IV bag rocked gently back and forth as the ambulance picked up speed on its way to the hospital.

“We made it,” I said.

Aisha sighed. “But what now?”

“Lots of police interviews and stuff, I guess. I’m willing to bet money that Silas had more salespeople buried in his backyard. Could be the story of the year.”

“I meant about us. I don’t know about you, but my head’s screwed up pretty bad.”

I grimaced with the pain of my shoulder and jaw. “I guess we’ll just have to work through it.”

Aisha glanced away, wiping the tears from her eyes. She stared back at me. “Thank you.”

“For what?”

“Helping me get out of there, stupid.” She chuckled. Her tears recommenced their race down her cheeks.

“You saved me more times than I did. I’m just glad it’s over.”

Aisha leaned over and hugged me. I yelped from the pain, and she righted herself. “Oops. Sorry.”

“That’s okay,” I said, grinning through the pain. “No sale for either of us, tonight.”

Aisha smiled and held my hand tighter.

* * *

The ambulance driver was a young woman, no older than late teens. Her shoulder-length red hair bobbed as she threw the vehicle into another bend. The blood-stained body of the EMS next to her shifted lazily on the seat, head lolling back and forth with each turn.

“My mother was killed by a vacuum cleaner salesman,” said the driver, emphasising every word through clenched teeth.

The ambulance forged onward. The rain started again, the swollen drops a volley fired at the dark and sullen road ahead.

The End?

Missed earlier instalments? Click here to read more.

What is The Sale?

The Sale was an unplanned, multi-part short story I created to challenge myself as a writer. My intention was to write an episode as often as possible, generally (but not always) ending with a cliff hanger, then work out how to solve the issue and continue the story.

Only you can tell me if it’s successful, or not. I hope you enjoyed my little experiment.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

The Sale. Part 19.

The revolver was shaking in Silas’s hand as he pressed it against my skull. Water streamed down his face, mingling with his tears. I closed my eyes tightly. I could hear a rush of breath escape Aisha’s lips.

The hammer clicked. Again. And again. Nothing.

I opened my eyes. Silas was inspecting the weapon, his teeth gritted. He swept the useless pistol at my head, but I rolled away, avoiding the blow.

Aisha screamed, raised her knife and charged the huge fellow. Silas didn’t miss this time, clocking her above the temple and sending her stumbling and stunned to the grass. I tackled the big man’s legs and he gave way. As Silas hit the ground I started crawling my way up his body, but a well-placed shoe heel hit me directly in the mouth and knocked me off. I could taste salt and iron as sweat and blood mingled with saliva. I spat and rolled across the lawn away from him.

Silas climbed to his feet, the butt of the revolver in his hand, cursing and crying. Soaked with rain, he looked like a giant silhouetted scarecrow against the whitewashed house wall.

“Junifer,” he sobbed. “My Junifer…”

I kneeled next to Aisha, who groaned and held her temple. Her face was painted in blood, her hair hanging in strings down her back and chest. I grabbed the knife from the grass beside her.

“Give it up, Silas,” I said. “You can’t stop us now.” I rose up, bent over in pain, shaking from exhaustion and blood loss. “We’re going to the police. Your little house of horrors is done.” I smiled at the melodrama of it all.

“No,” he replied with a grimace. “It’s you who’s done.” He ran at me, flailing the pistol butt as he did. We connected. We both fell. Silas grunted.

“Nicely played,” he said, wheezing. The knife hilt extended from Silas’s chest—he gasped for breath as a murky blood stain grew beneath his shirt. Then he was silent.

Aisha clawed her way over to where I had fallen. “John,” she whispered, the drumbeat of rain punctuating her words. “Is it over?”

I lay my head back as she placed hers on my chest. “It better be,” I said. “I don’t think I can get up.” The rain continued its obsessive caterwauling on our shivering bodies. Aisha and I laughed; the manic laugh of insane asylum inmates, just prior to admission.

To be continued…

Missed earlier instalments? Click here to read more.

What is The Sale?

The Sale is an unplanned, multi-part short story I created to challenge myself as a writer. My intention is to write an episode as often as possible, generally (but not always) ending with a cliff hanger, then work out how to solve the issue and continue the story.

Only you can tell me if it’s successful, or not. I hope you enjoy my little experiment.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Sunshine Blogger Award. I don’t think I’ve ever been accused of bringing sunshine, unless it was out of my…

Thanks, Mairi, for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger award. Please check out Mairi’s cool blog, Hitting 60!

It’s always nice to be nominated, but it takes me so long to write a post about it – DOH! I may be a mature-age student with little to do, but I have only limited time in which do little. If that makes sense…

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to bloggers who are inspiring and creative (or, in my case, depressing and morbid). Once nominated, a blogger is required to:

  • Thank the blogger for nominating them and link back to their blog (Tick!)
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you (Aghhh! More work! See my answers below…)
  • Nominate 11 other blogs and give them 11 questions to answer (Because I’m lazy I’ll nominate some, but I may not make the total number. Does this mean I’m disqualified?)
  • Notify your nominees (Aghhh! Even more work! Can’t they just read my blog post?)
  • List the rules and display the sunshine blogger award logo in your post (Aghhh! Yet more work. Oh, alright, I’ll do that bit. I suppose it’s the least I can do…)

My answers to Mairi’s questions

Do you believe in God or another deity?

I sure do! The Big Guy Upstairs (as I like to refer to Him) and I have been in cahoots for about four years now. Every day is an adventure and every day is a blessing. Even when I’m depressed (which is often).

Don’t believe me? Check out this poem in His honour.

Are you a quick thinker or a deep think?

I’m a bit of both. And a bit of neither. I’m usually in two minds about that sort of think (see what I did there? I’m so funny, I crack myself up).

How long does it take you to write your average sized blog?

Depends on the size of the average-sized blog. A poem usually takes me about 10-15 minutes. About the same amount of time it takes me to deliver my ablutions.

Yep, I write most of my stuff on the loo. Not joking.

Why do you blog?

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: I have no life.

Actually, that’s not the real reason. The real reason was to use it cathartically and to encourage me to write every day, as I’m a lazy writer. It’s worked so far.

How many books do you read a year?

I’d love to say 100, but it’s more like 40-50. I’m slowing down in my old age. Uni and life gets in the way.

What was the last book you read and when?

I’m currently reading a number of books: The Zom-B Chronicles (Darren Shan), On Writing (Stephen King), The Making of a Poem (Mark Strand et al), Reaching Toward the Heights (Richard Wurmbrand), Stories of Your Life and Others (Ted Chiang), The Book of Joy (Dalai Lama/Desmond Tutu), Cultural and Media Studies: A Semiotic Approach (Thwaites et al), Batman Rebirth: Volume 1 (Tom King) and the Star Wars: Age of Rebellion Role Playing Game core rule book.

I’m also reading a few e-books on my iPhone: Slow Horses (Mick Herron), Skykeep (Joseph R. Lallo), and The Language of Bears (John Eidswick).

And, of course, the greatest book of all: The Bible (The Big Guy Upstairs).

I always have a number of books on the go at any one time. It’s exhausting.

What country are you blogging from?

The great and wonderful land of Australia, where the skies are always blue, and the people are too (well, I am, anyway).

What is your current profession?

I am a humble, slovenly, misanthropic, mature-age student with a penchant for writing half-decent poetry. I just published my first e-book of poetry, so I suppose I can call myself an author, now.

Do you have a hobby outside of work and blogging?

I love playing table top role playing games. I love working out (HARD!). I love walking other people’s dogs (HARD!). I love writing and recording music (HARD! I mean, not hard as such, actually more laidback…). I love spending time with my son (although that’s not really a hobby).

I love being miserable. Oops, shouldn’t have said that last one; now people will think I’m depressed, or something.

How many times do you laugh a day?

Not as much as I used to or would like to. But I get a few in here and there.

Were the above questions thought provoking?

They certainly took me long enough to answer. Who made up the rules for this thing, anyway? How about five questions, next time. Or better still, two.

My Questions for Nominees to Answer:

  1. What’s your favourite aeroplane story? Or airport story? Or failing both of those, your favourite time on a bus. (Oh, come on, you must have travelled on a bus at least once…)
  2. When you get up in the morning, do you blow your nose? No? Wow, you must get quite a blockage up there. How do you breathe at all? Are you a zombie or something?
  3. Now that we know you’re a zombie, how do you prefer your brains? Straight from the skull or with some kind of relish?
  4. If you were in a zombie apocalypse, which best friend would you want to have with you? (Make sure all your friends get a chance to read your answer so they can snub you when they find out it isn’t them).
  5. Okay, so now we know you have no friends. Are you a basement lurker or do you have your own place? If you have your own place, I know a guy who would make a great room-mate.
  6. How many more of these questions do I need to make up?
  7. Are we there yet? If you answer no, you should describe the scenery you are seeing RIGHT NOW outside your window in the form of a 39-line Sestina.
  8. There once was a man called ‘Backstabber’. He had some problems with his _________ . He bent over once, ended up with a ________ , and finally went back to his _________ . Fill out the spaces in this inspirational limerick. Make sure it’s funny (HAH! There’s a catch to everything).
  9. If you are a depressing person, are you on meds? What are they and where do you get them? Send some to me so I can test them out. If you’re on non-prescription drugs, send those as well. (REMEMBER, KIDS: Say NO to drugs.)
  10. I’m running out of ideas for questions. How much more of this to go? Not there yet? Damn!! Make up your own question.
  11. Ever been nominated for an award before? You have now. Enjoy my nonsensical questions. And write something interesting for this non-question.

My Nominees (Sorry, I’m tired. These wonderful blogs will have to do):

Thanks for making me work so hard, Mairi! Now I really am tired.

Cheers

Steve 😊

The Sale. Part 18.

Junifer Vasilikov limped closer. In the moonlight we could make out a ghastly, bloody smear covering her features. Her hands were empty. “My mother was killed by a vacuum cleaner,” she said, wearily.

Aisha leapt to her feet, knife at the ready. I stood up and we faced Crazy Junifer, together. I raised my hands in a conciliatory gesture.

“Junifer,” I said. “We don’t want any trouble. We just want to leave this place.”

The mad woman’s eyes were wide, her tears mingling with dewy raindrops. Every few moments she would quirkily brush her hand across her wet, stringy hair, as if something annoyed her there.

“My mother…” she said, the words almost a whisper. Junifer lowered her head. She stood trembling.

“Junifer,” said Aisha. “Please let us go.” She lowered the knife to her side and extended a shaky hand.

Junifer sobbed. The light rain was drizzling, now, and our clothes were wet through. Aisha looked at me sadly, indicating to go around the poor woman. I stepped to the right.

Crazy Junifer leapt forward, screaming like a banshee and clutching at Aisha. The two grappled, twisting around as I watched in abject horror. Then Aisha pushed Junifer away.

A trip. A scream. A nauseating crunch. Junifer had fallen down the open hatch next to the house.

Aisha stood in shock. “I didn’t mean to—is she?”

I knelt and glanced over the rim. At the bottom of the ladder, Junifer’s body was twisted, broken and deathly still. A pool of blood grew around her as I watched.

The rain’s intensity had increased, the sound of each drop a hammer beat on the mansion’s roof and walls.

“NO!” screamed Silas. I looked up; he was standing over me. He must have come around from the front of the house. His face was a contorted cacophony of pain and rage. Watery rivulets cascaded down his forehead and cheeks. His eyes were wide with fury.

“I’ll kill you,” Silas screamed.

To be continued…

Missed earlier instalments? Click here to read more.

What is The Sale?

The Sale is an unplanned, multi-part short story I created to challenge myself as a writer. My intention is to write an episode as often as possible, generally (but not always) ending with a cliff hanger, then work out how to solve the issue and continue the story.

Only you can tell me if it’s successful, or not. I hope you enjoy my little experiment.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

The Sale. Part 17.

The climb down was a blur of motion and fear. The air was musty, mouldy and laced with the smell of our sweat-soaked and angst-ridden bodies. At the bottom of the ladder, we stood before the exit panel to the basement storeroom. Aisha gripped the knife tightly, ready to stab anyone who might be waiting on the other side. In the gleam of the flashlight, her bruised and bloodied face was contorted and twisted in a psychotic melange. My expression wasn’t much better. In our torn and dirty clothes, we resembled vagrants without a street corner.

The storeroom was bright. Both exit doors were open. We cautiously tiptoed to the lab entrance. On the floor were smeared blood and strands of sticky hair—the remnants of the fight with Junifer. Her body was nowhere to be found.

The lab was as it was before, less Silas and his omnipresent revolver: the steel tables with built in restraints angled at forty-five degrees; the sideboards filled with test tubes and equipment; an array of vicious looking implements obviously designed for torture; the ever-present smell of antiseptic. I searched the room while Aisha stood watch at the doorway. There were no guns, but in the rear, in a space behind an aluminium storage cupboard, a steel ladder to a trapdoor in the ceiling.

“Aisha,” I called. “I’ve found a way out.” I blinked back a tear, palpable relief in my voice.

She ran over. “Go,” she said. “I’ll be right behind you.” We hugged shakily; the pain of our wounds was sneaking back now the adrenaline was wearing off.

I climbed. At the top the hatch was locked with a simple sliding bolt. It worked it loose and pushed the trapdoor upwards.

Fresh air licked my face. A light rain dusted the grass as I stumbled over the rim into the dark night. I fell to the ground. The moon reflected off the whitewashed house wall behind me. Aisha collapsed next to me. “We’re finally out,” she said.

A twig cracked.

A dark figure stood several feet away, silhouetted against the moon, long hair flitting like Medusa’s snakes in the breeze. Each word it spoke was emphasised through clenched teeth. “My-mother-was-killed-by-a-vacuum-cleaner,” said Crazy Junifer.

To be continued…

Missed earlier instalments? Click here to read more.

What is The Sale?

The Sale is an unplanned, multi-part short story I created to challenge myself as a writer. My intention is to write an episode as often as possible, generally (but not always) ending with a cliff hanger, then work out how to solve the issue and continue the story.

Only you can tell me if it’s successful, or not. I hope you enjoy my little experiment.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Guide to the Unrequited Love Affair

Unrequited Love. That thing you have when you don’t have a thing—Clayton’s love (okay, only oldies may get that joke). Here’s a short guide on how to do it:

  • Fall in love with a person who is far too good for you, or is unobtainable. This could be a ‘love at first sight’ thing, or it could be a love that develops over time. Like a bizarre rash or a mild fungal infection.
  • Realise they are far too good for you, so avoid them whenever you can. Make sure you beat yourself up about not being good enough for them.
  • Learn to be miserable most of the time. If you’re already depressed this will simply reinforce how badly you feel about yourself.
  • Try and organise your time so you can run into them by chance. This will fail miserably, of course, because you have no idea what their schedule is as you were previously avoiding them and thus don’t know them that well.
  • When you do run in to them, make sure your conversation precludes any indication that you like them. Once they leave, beat yourself up about how stupid you are. Be miserable.
  • Realise you don’t know really know the person you’ve fallen for and that your conception of them is an idealised fantasy. Beat yourself up some more about how stupid you are.
  • See your unrequited love in public with another person, assume they are together and beat yourself up about it. Find out later this is not the case. Beat yourself up about how stupid you are.
  • Write poetry to reflect your passion and your sad and sorry state of mind. Realise your unrequited love hates poetry. Ensure that your unrequited love never sees your poetry.
  • Spend sleepless nights agonising over why you love this person and how you’re not good enough for them. Be miserable.
  • Find out the person you love is now in love with someone else and write more poetry to address how badly you screwed up. Get used to being miserable. (Oh, you already are. No worries.)

Note: No stalking! It’s weird enough that you’re in unrequited love with a person you don’t know that well, but don’t push it over the line into creepy/illegal territory. 

Come on people! Now you know how to fall in unrequited love, get out there and get to it! A whole new world of infinite yearning and morbid sadness is waiting for you!

Of course, you could try another tack, which is asking said person out and seeing if they say ‘yes’. But that would be too simple for your overly-complicated and insecure mind, wouldn’t it?

Cheers

Steve 😉

The Sale. Part 16.

At the top of the stairs, another corridor: four sets of doors, two on each side. Aisha smiled grimly. “I know this part of the house. The bedroom I hid in is the last door on the left.”

“The secret passage,” I said. “We can take the ladder down to the pantry and double back around behind Silas. We’ll be closer to the entry.”

There was a crash as the door at the bottom of the stairs slammed open. “Come back here!” screamed the aging butler/mad scientist/serial killer. A bullet impaled the frame next to me. Aisha and I rushed through the door she indicated and shut it behind us. We grabbed the dresser and dragged it to block the doorway.

The room was much as we’d left it. The panel of the secret passage stood open across from the antique four poster bed Aisha had lain under for a day.

The entry door rattled against the dresser, Silas cursing as he pushed. We ran for the passage, closing the panel behind us.

“We have to move quickly,” said Aisha. “Or Silas will work out what we’re up to and be down in the pantry before we get there.” We moved hurriedly through the tight and musty passage, my flashlight beam reflecting off floating dust motes and stringy, hanging cobwebs.

“Then let’s go down to the basement. He won’t be expecting that,” I said.

“Are you crazy? Last time we did that, we almost got killed.”

“We might be able to find a weapon.”

“I seem to remember you saying something similar last time. And we have a knife, now.”

“I was thinking more like a gun.”

“I’m sure Silas leaves AK-47s lying around everywhere,” Aisha said, raising an eyebrow. “If we do find something, I hope your shooting isn’t as bad as your throwing.”

“Hey, it was a heavy flashlight.” I paused and grinned. “If we get a gun, maybe you should handle it.”

Aisha’s strained laugh died as we reached the top of the stainless-steel ladder. I went down first, shoulder pain searing with every movement, gripping the Maglite in my mouth.

“I don’t want to even think about how bad this could turn out,” Aisha said.

I mumbled unintelligibly and kept climbing down.

To be continued…

Missed earlier instalments? Click here to read more.

What is The Sale?

The Sale is an unplanned, multi-part short story I created to challenge myself as a writer. My intention is to write an episode as often as possible, generally (but not always) ending with a cliff hanger, then work out how to solve the issue and continue the story.

Only you can tell me if it’s successful, or not. I hope you enjoy my little experiment.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Some Leibster Award Goodness: I’d like to thank the academy…

Hey, hey, hey! Thanks so much to littlemissbearpaw for nominating me for the Liebster Award! I am honoured, humbled and somewhat stumped, as always, as to why I got nominated. But thanks for liking my stuff, anyway!

The rules for the Liebster Award are:

  • Acknowledge the blog that gave it to you and display the award
  • Answer the 11 questions that the blogger gives you
  • Give 11 random facts about yourself
  • Nominate 11 blogs and notify them of their nomination
  • Give these blogs 11 questions to answer.

My answers to littlemissbearpaw’s questions:

  1. What is your favourite blog post that you have written provide link and why?

My blog posts are my children: it’s too hard to choose which is my favourite. They get envious and squabble amongst themselves when I do.

Maybe I could use this to my advantage. Use their self-loathing, petty jealousies against them, turn them into an army to take over the world. BWAH HA HA!!!!

Oops. Sorry, got a bit distracted, there.

  1. If you could travel to any time period which one would you go to and why?

I would travel back to yesterday so I could finish the things I was supposed to do then, and thus have today free. Then tomorrow I’d have to go back in time again to today, to finish what I didn’t get done, today. And then I’d have to…

Damn these paradoxical time loops! Like fruit loops, only not as sugary sweet…

  1. What is your favourite holiday and why?

Being a lay-about, mature age student, almost every day is like a holiday.

Except for all the manic depressive episodes that bring me back to earth…bummer.

  1. What is your favourite holiday treat?

Occasionally, I like to eat. Nothing in particular, just food. A bit of gruel and some water. Maybe an occasional crumb of bread.

Actually, dark chocolate. Mmmmmmmmm…

  1. Do you read? What kinds of books? Which is your favourite?

I’m a big reader. Not exceptionally tall, but reasonable size. (Oh, I’m so funny. Not.)

As to books, my fave of the moment is Breath, by Tim Winton. I reviewed it a few weeks back (shameless plug for blog and link!)  

  1. What is something you ‘nerd’ out about?

How much Star Wars has changed and how much I despise the big corporate mouse for making a mockery of my childhood. Damn you, Disney!!!!!!!!!

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (in the style of poorly acted Anakin Skywalker’s initial Darth Vader Scene in Revenge of the Sith)

  1. What is your favourite kind of weather and why?

I like rain, as it matches my mood and provides me with lots of inspiring and morbidly depressing ideas.

And it’s wet. Which provides me with all sorts of sexual innuendos to fuel my sexual innuendos.

  1. What is your favourite Christmas memory?

When the whole family got together to celebrate Christmas.

Now the family is separated by distance, injustice and the tragedy of years, and it’s just not the same celebrating with friends and strangers. But it’s something, at least.  

  1. What is your go-to comfort food?

My go-to comfort food is…food. But never junk. I’m a health nut who works out four times a week, after all.  

Oh, and dark chocolate.

Did I mention that earlier? Maybe I’m reliving my previous day? I must be a Time Traveller!!!! Oh, wait, no I’m not.

  1. Introvert or Extravert?

Introvert who manages to manically leap into extrovertedness (yeah, I like to make up words) when he’s coming out of a major depressive phase.

I thrive on loneliness and longing. Oh, that’s not introverted, that’s just sad. My bad.

  1. Do you have special plans or a direction for your blog in 2018?

My plan is to be alive.

Aside from that: more sadness, longing, whimsy, plaintive moaning and bitter regret. And the occasional joke. And maybe a few sexual innuendos.

Sorry, but eleven is too much hard work, so here’s less than eleven blog nominations and less than eleven questions:

 Noms:

 Questions for Noms to answer:

  1. How far can you throw a ball? What do you mean, ‘what size ball?’ Just a ball. This isn’t a freaking physics dissertation.
  2. If you could throw a ball at anyone, who would it be? Why? I don’t know, maybe you don’t like them. Or maybe you think like a child and it’s the only way to get the attention of that girl/guy you like.
  3. If balls ruled the world, what kind of world would it be? Ball-like, I assume. But I’m not answering the questions, you are.
  4. What’s the biggest ball you’ve ever handled (is that a sexual innuendo? Possibly). Was it heavy? Soft? Hard? Round? (Okay, this question has just gone totally sexual innuendo. You can choose to skip this if you’re offended,)
  5. If you were to invent something, using only balls as your main component, what would it be (Trick question? Or not?).
  6. Why does this person have balls on the brain? Lack of insight? Run out of ideas? You tell me.

Thanks again, littlemissbearpaw!

Cheers

Steve 😊

PS My spelling is English, not American, which is why there’s an occasional odd ‘U’. That’s life. Just when it’s going well, the odd f’U’ appears when you least expect it.

An upstart photographer.

I used to take LOTS of photos. Well, I did when I was happier, better travelled, less single and less skint. I take less now. That doesn’t stop me from loving the odd bit of amateur, upstart photography.

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Nowadays, it’s easy to take photos. There’s no wait or development cost involved (unless you have a real hankering for excessive numbers of photo frames around the house). Digital photography is a Godsend for those of us who love to capture moments (and, unfortunately, a narcissistic one for those who prefer to constantly photograph themselves). And the cameras in phones are better than ever.

IMG_0534_cropped.jpg

Lately I’ve been out and about in nature, attempting to get teenage Padawan nerd-in-training a little fitter. His Xbox controller only provides so much exercise, after all. Along the way, I’ve taken a few snapshots, some of which you would have seen as headers adorning my recent poems.

Here are some of them in all their memory-chewing, unfiltered (i.e. natural light with no effects applied), slightly cropped, grace.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

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P.S. Yes, some of my shots skew to the left. That’s a thing I like to do, and not a sign of early onset Alzheimer’s or stroke 😉  

IMG_0597_cropped

 

Paradox. A poem.

I am me and me is the quantum of you and me and you and I

%$&#

HATE

This

World Earth Terra Planet People Society Civilisation Virtuality

So

Much.

BUT

I was me but I’m not sure who I am now maybe I’m not who I think I am

%$&#

LOVE

This

my World your World their World our World whose World no World

So

Much.

Shopping with the Olds

I went to the mall with my aged parents to do some Christmas shopping.

Note to self: find some excuse next time to avoid going with aged parents to the mall to do Christmas shopping.

I don’t dislike my parents–I love them very much. All the more so because they’re allowing me to live under their roof until my property settlement is finalised. In fact, I don’t mind sitting with them in a car or at lunch and hearing them squabble over the smallest and most ridiculous things, as long-term married couples do.

Here’s some other things I don’t mind, either:

  • I don’t mind adding my mother’s mobile phone number into my dad’s phone directory because he didn’t realise he deleted it and doesn’t know how to get it back.
  • I don’t mind that my father buys innumerable pairs of underpants every time he goes out (he has a draw full of new, unopened, old man undies, and insists on getting more. Just in case of an underpants apocalypse, I guess. You can never have too many pairs of undies when the s$&@ hits the fan at the end of the world).
  • I don’t mind that my Mum insists on telling me how to drive, even though she can’t drive herself.
  • I don’t mind that by lunchtime I’ve done most of my shopping and they’ve bought one pair of socks.
  • I don’t mind that dad asks me to buy him the new Simon Scarrow book for Christmas, then goes and purchases it anyway without telling me, literally ten minutes after he asked me to get it.
  • I don’t mind that my mother argues with me over the price of a DVD box set I’m planning to purchase as a gift, because she thinks I’m too poor to afford it.
  • I don’t even mind sitting in the backseat on the long drive home as my parents have an extended phone conversation with a friend on loudspeaker without ever acknowledging to them that I’m there.

Shopping with the olds. I don’t mind it at all.

But I think I’ll go shopping on my own, next time.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

The Novel-writing Locomotive.

My novel is (once again) back on track.

How many times have I said that? It seems every time I slip the rails I have some new excuse (for a list of the latest ones, click here). Coupled with my short attention span, my novel-writing train has jumped the tracks every few weeks, as if it was passing regularly back and forth over the NSW/Queensland state border where the rail gauge changes*.

My rescuer (or track repair crew, depending on which metaphor you prefer) is my delicious new iPhone (even though it’s not edible, it’s the next best thing. If they introduced edible iPhones I’m sure I’d be first in line to buy them and ravenously consume them**). I’ve downloaded MS Word onto my phone (which is an iPhone 8 ‘large’. Or ‘big’? Whatever they call the giant version. I personally like iPhone ‘humongous’, but that sounds both compensatory, and a bit too Mad Max, I suspect). I’ve moved my novel’s Word files to the cloud and now I can write anywhere. Yes, even in my favourite writing venue, the water closet***.

I admit this is not particularly innovative—I’ve been writing poetry this way for months, using the notes facility on my phone which auto backs up to iCloud—but I just wasn’t managing my time effectively enough to write on my laptop (I use it for my uni work, but I generally need a break afterwards. A looooooong break. Longer than a Kit-Kat, anyway).

So, I’m back to writing in small doses (that’s generally how I best interact with anything and anyone—you can only take so much manic or morose Steve at a time. That includes me dealing with me). And small doses is better than no doses.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

PS Why use Word on iPhone in place of Apple’s Pages or a writing-specific app? Because I already started my novel in Word, it retains all the formatting without having to convert it between apps, and it has a neat little ‘fit-to-screen’ word wrap button that Pages doesn’t. Technical Steve 😉

*Yes, in Australia we have different rail sizes. Yes, it’s stupid.

**Mmmmmm…I’m patenting that scrumptious idea.

***Dunny, loo, crapper—to all you uncultured larrikins.

Haiku Friday. Three freaky haikus.

Message
I got a message,
anonymous, confusing.
“Don’t wait up,” it said.

Nerd
Glasses, weird hair cut,
quirky disregard for all.
“Grab a seat, player!”

Dog
All dogs love me so.
Must be my cool aftershave.
Or meat in pocket.

.
Haikus, those wonderful little 5/7/5 syllable Japanese poems, are usually serious.

I decided serious is not for me, today.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Superhot. A poem.

My iPhone
is an older model…by a lot.

The outside’s looking dated and she’s slower than she was.
I’m thinking of trading up, because

the new model
is superhot.

Was a time when I couldn’t take my hands off her,
when my fingers traced her delicate contours.
She was at my beck and call.

Some kind of mystical allure, of that you can be sure.

But lately she seems a little…old hat.
Dressed her up in fine new clothes
and that seemed to work a bit,
but the magic, my friend, is long, long gone.
Now, this is all I’m left with.

So, I’m thinking of trading up

to a new model
that’s superhot.

One I can show off to all my friends,
because I like the way I look to them
and showing how

deep

I’m not.

Bad Reader, Bad!

I’m a bad reader. Not a bad reader, as in slow or illiterate, but bad as in I read 10-12 books at a time and as a result often find myself returning to a book, months after I started it, wondering what happened previously. I think this has something to do with my short attention span…hey! Look, a pretty butterfly…

What was I saying? Oh, right, books. One of the books I recently returned to after a four month absence was Justin Cronin’s The Twelve, sequel to The Passage and the middle book of his super-cool post-apocalyptic vampire trilogy. If you haven’t read this yet I urge you to stop doing what you are doing RIGHT NOW, jump on a bus/train/plane/teleporter, get to your local bookshop, find they don’t stock it, argue with the shop assistant about why they don’t have the quality literary works you want in their store with them saying “look I just work here”, go back home in a bad mood, order it on the internet, wait two weeks for it to arrive waterlogged after the postal worker drops it off in a rainstorm and it’s  too big for the mailbox, dry it out in front of your old heater which sparks and nearly burns your house down, peel the pages apart, ring up the internet book seller and explain why you want another copy, they tell you they can’t as it was the postal service’s fault, you tell them huffily “that’s the last time I buy anything from you” (as you make another online purchase on their site), then read it. It’s freaking awesome and worth the hassle.books

It’s a bit easier trying to remember what you read months ago with fiction then with non-fiction. With non-fiction I may as well start the book again as I can’t remember what it was about after being away from it for a week, let alone a month (aaah, A History of the Renaissance. That was something to do with…the three musketeers? Stealing art. Lasagne. Wormholes. Or something).

I know what you’re thinking. ”Steve, why don’t you just read one book at a time?” Oh come on! That’s like saying only eat one colour m&m (and as obsessive compulsive as I am, I like all the colours. Wait a minute–maybe if I only eat all of the same colour at a time, the packet will last longer…). I like variety in my reading. And despite my claims that I do nothing all the time*, I actually have a lot going on** with my uni courses, music, gaming, TV watching, workouts, eating…okay now that I read that back, it sounds like I’m a bit of a layabout with time on my hands.

New leaf! Even though I have a lot of books on the boil, I will endeavour to finish this one before going back to another! Wow. Who would have thought reading a book from start to finish would require so much work…

Cheers

Steve 🙂

*This claim is completely unsubstantiated. Or would be, if I had the time to substantiate it. Or unsubstantiate it. One of the two. 

**The term, ‘lot going on’ is completely unsubstantiated.

Avoidance? I think not, my friends, I think not.

Sooooo…today, I had to do paperwork for my long-suffering and very overdue property settlement (like a promised rain storm after years of drought, it shimmers like a mirage in the heat haze…sorry, got distracted. That happens). Seeing as how I’m very focused (Yes, I won the ‘Far Too Focused’ award at work three years running from 2003-5) on getting things done, an over-achiever (I won the ‘Far Too Much of an Over-Achiever’ award at work three years running from 2006-8) and certified obsessive compulsive (no, missed out on that award. Was beaten by Jenny Falucci. Damn you, far too overly obsessive compulsive award winner Jenny Falucci!! There’s a place in obsessive compulsive Hell for people like you!*), I saw that considerable pile of paper and…did other stuff.

After a workout (no biggie there, I usually exercise every morning, part of my overly excessive compulsiveness), a three kilometre walk (no biggie there, I often walk in the morning, but not compulsively. I do it because I want to…along with the lunges and calf raises. That’s right, biatches, feel the burn! Oh, that’s right, I burned. I guess I just burned myself. I get distracted easily…), shaving my head (it was time to get a haircut, and as a universally known cheapskate and all-around poor person I preferred doing it myself. Did I say prefer? I meant no one else is good enough to do my hair. What little there is of it) so that I now look like a criminal (not my wisest choice, especially after buying a year’s worth of illegal hair wax, but at least when I’m arrested trying to sell large volumes of illegally voluminous hair wax to balding crackheads I’ll look just right for the mug shots), compulsively re-arranging my room (yes, I live in a tiny room, I’m over it now. But it’s so small…), marathoning Brooklyn Nine Nine compulsively (season 2 to be precise. Maybe I should watch season 1 first? Hey, it’s not Game of Thrones, I can live with that), I decided to write this blog post. That was possibly one of the longest sentences in history. Or was it…

Now, really, I should have focussed on getting that paperwork in order. Time is ticking and I would like to get the property settlement finalised this year (think of it as a time bomb, just waiting to go off—in my ex-wife’s face!! Yeah! How do you like them apples! Oh, sorry, got carried away…). I’ll have time after this. Although my guitar is looking very lonely on its stand and I haven’t picked it up since about one minute after I got up this morning…

Okay, it’s now ten minutes after I almost finished this post. I played guitar (okay, I noodled around. That’s jamming with yourself, which is sad in itself, but also not achieving any real outcome. Like playing a song, for instance). There’s this thing called ‘avoidance’. If I was a pop-psychologist (which I’m not) as opposed to a gynaecologist (which I’m not), I’d think the painful memories of my ex-marriage (which they’re not) were making me avoid doing my paperwork (which I’m not. I’m just lazy). Which I’m not, I’m just lazy. Oooh, déjà vu, anyone?

I think I might do some D&D stuff instead (what’s D&D you say? Click here). Where was I? Short attention span. Hey, my guitar looks a bit lonely over there…

Okay, just finished playing a guitar concerto in B minor (okay, no I didn’t, I just noodled. But I sounded really self-important for a minute there…). Now that’s over, perhaps I’ll give this avoidance thing a little more thought. Do paperwork?

Hey, my guitar looks lonely over there…

Cheers

Steve 😊

PS  Why the cat? Because I could. HAH!!

* Let me set the record straight: Hell is not for overly obsessive compulsives. Just those who steal awards from me. That’s right, Falucci, I said STEAL. That award was mine!!

The Real News. A short tale.

Here’s a post I did for a recent uni course. The course is over so I can post it now. The idea was to take a news story and extrapolate what it was about.  

IMG_0818

A man attacked a woman in a Victorian Shopping Centre. Although the news story was light on details, it was inferred in the report that the two may have known each other.

I am not a fan of these types of news stories, especially when there is no further information, meaning any further claims (i.e. via Twitter and Fb feeds, also mentioned in the article) are generally hearsay and conjecture. Having said that, this is a creative writing course, so I am going to make some wild and potentially bizarrely inaccurate conclusions.

I think the man (whom we shall refer to as Escobarn, to protect his identity) was a spurned lover, and he used an axe as he was a firefighter who trained with axes regularly at the axe throwing range. He was a neighbour of the woman (forevermore known as Juliannis), and they had known each other for years, secretly harbouring a passionate desire for one another and a shared love of axe wielding. Juliannis was saved by Escobarn when her backyard BBQ mysteriously caught fire while she was cooking one evening.

Little did Juiliannis know that Escobarn had rigged the BBQ to catch alight, thus setting his torrid plan in motion. After a very brief (3-minute) affair, Escobarn stole the six-foot marijuana plant Juliannis was growing in a patch of her backyard, hidden in a small grove of trees. Despite his short comings (yeah, that’s a pun), or perhaps because of them, Juliannis, suspected her short-term lover of the robbery. She was desperate to recover the tree as she had a huge gambling debt with Father Macc at the local Church Bingo.

Juliannis called on Father Macc for assistance. Father Macc utilised some of his geriatric bingo toughs to beat up Escobarn and return the plant. Unfortunately, the toughs all died of old age before they could complete the job. Escobarn, upset about the dead people on his lawn, took his trusty axe to Juliannis’ place of work. The rest is news history.

There are a number of crimes perpetrated here, some real, some wildly fictitious: Attempted Murder, Cultivating an illegal drug, Illegal BBQ tampering (carries a 20 year sentence in Australia. We’re very attached to our barbies), Illegal Gambling (depends on the type of bingo – this particular one was  body parts trading and money laundering), Geriatric Gang Violence, Public Littering (dead bodies on a lawn are an offence if not cleaned up).

There are many crimes committed in the big city. This is just one of them. Or ten.

Regards

Steve 😉

Another Award! Oh, I’ve got this one before. That’s okay, I’m very humble…NOT!

Actually, I am a bit humble. But only a little bit. Carly at message in stanza has nominated me for the Real Neat Blog Award. Thank you, Carly, you are very kind and obviously very wise (I said I’m a bit humble).

The rules:

  • Put the award logo on your blog
  • Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs
  • Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you
  • Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs
  • Notify your nominees
  • Ask your nominees 7 questions

Here are my answers to Carly’s questions:

If you could learn any type of dance, what would it be?

The merengue, because it sounds like meringue, and I like a dance that you can eat.

Do you like board games? Or are they bored games? If you like them, what’s your favourite one and why?

I love board games. I love table top roleplaying games more, though (my favourites are listed here). Currently, my favourite board game is Firefly, an adaptation of the fantastic TV show of the same name. Don’t know it? Click here for more).

If you could be in a different job, what would it be?

Something where I actually earn money for my work. I do a lot of work currently for nada. Zip. Zilch. Just for love. Awwwww…(the sound of a tiny violin)

What is your biggest phobia out of these options: heights, spiders, dark, or being late somewhere?

My biggest phobia is being discovered as a fraud – DOH! Didn’t mean to tell you that.

Mountains or beach and why?

Why, because it rhymes with sky, and I’m in a cloud watching mood.

If you die tomorrow, what would you like your last words to be?

“Rosebud”. Already taken? Okay, probably “Aggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!”

What would you like your last meal to be including beverage?

I assume this is the last meal I have before I die tomorrow. Hopefully something that I can pass tomorrow morning so that when I die my bowel is empty (yep, kids, that’s right. When you die the muscles in your rectum no longer work to hold in your poopies. Know what that means?)

Have you done karaoke before? What song did you karaoke to? What did your friends think of your performance?

Sure have. Won a karaoke competition singing a rendition of Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind, one of my all time favourite songs. I won a jug of beer. My friends, already pissed, were suitably impressed. But they would have been even if they weren’t drunk, because my Billy Joel impression is awesome.

Coffee or tea and why?

Both. ‘Cause that’s the kind of guy I am – indecisive.

What inspires your writing the most?

My crappy life. And sometimes my not so crappy life. No, basically my crappy life.

And here are my questions for nominees:

  1. If you could torture a person with one terrible song, who would you torture and what would the song be? Better yet, how exactly would you torture them using the song? Are you really that nasty a person that you would torture a person?
  2. You’re a writer. I could ask you how you got started, but it would probably be as dreary as my own story. So tell me what your best ever story is. So I can steal it.
  3. Digital or analogue? Come on, don’t tell me you don’t know what I’m talking about? Oh, all right, ‘analog’, for you Americans.
  4. Time flies when you’re having fun. Rewrite that cliché using ten words and the truth. Or a lie, if you have to.
  5. You meet your favourite cartoon character. Who (what?) is it, and what does it do to you when it meets you? If it isn’t funny, give up now.
  6. Time or National Geographic? If you’re too young to understand what I just said, give up now.
  7. You have the power of magic. What type of magic is it and why? If you answer all technical and stuff we’ll know you’re a total nerd. If you don’t answer with all the technical specifics we’ll all know you are officially boring.

Blogs I’m nominating:

Behind the White Coat – https://doctorly.wordpress.com/

The Showers of Blessing – https://theshowersofblessing.wordpress.com/

Kismet – https://chungwipff.com/

Dorky Mom Doodles – https://dorkymomdoodles.com/

SerotoninVoid – https://serotoninvoid.wordpress.com/

 

Thanks again, Carly! Very much appreciated.

Cheers

Steve 😊

The Sale. Part 11. A short series.

Aisha froze and dropped her phone. The screen cracked on the concrete floor as it bounced at her feet.

Across the large, concrete-walled room was Silas, the aged and insensitively tall butler. He was no longer dressed in his servant togs, having changed to a white lab coat and matching trousers, and accessorising with a .38 snub-nosed revolver. Pointing right at Aisha.

Being only partly cowardly, I rushed in front to shield her. Having done so I realised perhaps it wasn’t the wisest course of action. My eyes widened. “What the…”

“Indeed, John,” said Silas, smiling like a James Bond villain. “No need for subterfuge, now. Welcome to my laboratory.” He swept his arm theatrically. Behind him, tables with assorted test tubes and other devices; some impressive looking metal tables with restraints, angled at forty five degrees (for easy access, I assume); various nasty looking serrated tools (for easy torture, I assume). The air smelled faintly of antiseptic. Aisha swore.

“You’re probably wondering what all this is about,” said Silas.

Aisha smacked her forehead with her open palm. “Don’t tell me he’s going to soliloquise.”

“Every good villain needs to outline their plan,” said Silas, smiling broadly.

“Screw that,” said Aisha. She ran back into the store room to the other metal door. I stood there stupidly with my hands up. Silas removed a clicker from his pocket and hit the button.

There was a buzz from the handle-less storeroom door we’d checked out earlier and a mechanical whirring of gears. The door slowly opened.

“My mother was killed by a vacuum cleaner.”

Wild-haired and wilder-eyed Junifer Vasilikov stood in the open doorway, the gleaming butcher’s knife extending from her white-knuckled grip. Aisha backed up until she bumped into me from behind.

“I’m open to ideas at this point,” she said.

To be continued…

Missed earlier instalments? Click here to read more.

No Sleep for the Wicked. A poem.

Close my eyes
Sleep the sleep of angels
Until l can’t
Rude awakening
Brought back to life
Defibrillated from dreams
And held
Status update: insomniac
Mental tides
Washing over tired eyes
Why won’t
You let
Me sleep
Damn brain
3:00am meeting with the board
Micro managing
My many personal investments
My kingdom for a hammer
To knock me out
(In a placid way, of course)
So I can ski those dream snow slopes again
But no
I guess not tonight
So many sheep
To keep me company
10,20,30,100,1000
Bah
I hate sheep, anyway
Don’t check Fb
Blue light reinforcement
Night is day
I find the vale of dreams
Eventually
And then the alarm
Harsh reminder
Snooze
Too short
Late for life
Grrrrrr…

The Sale. Part 10. A short series.

Climbing down the ladder we came to the ground floor, with the passage leading to the pantry. “Should we stop here?” said Aisha, taking the iPhone out of her mouth and shining the torch light up the dingy corridor.

“I really think we need to check out the basement.” I tapped my foot impatiently on the rung above her head. “We don’t know if Crazy Junifer is waiting in the kitchen.”

Aisha looked up at me and frowned. “She could be anywhere.”

“Can we just get going? The faster we get to the basement the faster we can get out of here.”

Aisha started moving downwards again, her iPhone back between her teeth. I could hear her mumbling in the dimness. Within a few minutes she had reached the bottom and lowered herself to the floor. I came down after her.

“How’s the phone charge?” I said.

Aisha checked. “Not good. It’s down to 22%. That torch app uses a lot of power.”

“We need to find another light source. There must be a light switch somewhere.”

The basement was larger than expected, maybe thirty feet to a side. The light from the iPhone pierced the darkness, revealing numerous crates and boxes stacked against the walls, along with what looked like furniture under dust sheets. The ladder was at the centre of one wall. Directly across the room were two doors on separate walls. I could just make out what looked like a light switch near the first door.

We walked over. The door was made of steel, with thick bolts rimming the edges. There was no door handle. “Well that’s just perfect,” said Aisha.

I flicked on the light switch. A neon globe sprung to life in the ceiling. “Let there be light,” I said.

“I hope you’re a better salesman than you are a comedian,” said Aisha. She checked her phone for signal (none), then switched it off to save the battery. I pushed on the door, but it didn’t give.

“All right, mister ‘let’s check out the basement so we can get out’, what now?” said Aisha.

I started checking the boxes. After opening a few, success. “Flashlights,” I said, holding aloft two medium-sized Maglites. I tested each and tossed one to Aisha. “Just in case.”

She was standing at the second door. It was the same make as the other, but had a handle. “Looks like we can either try this, or go back up the ladder and try the pantry,” she said.

I walked over, smiling. “My vote’s to try that one. This house can’t get any worse, can it?”

Aisha shrugged. She opened the door.

Then things got worse.
To be continued…

Missed earlier instalments? Click here to read more.

The Sale. Part 9. A short series.

We made it to the floor access. The iPhone torch light reflected off the shiny ladder, floating dust motes and hanging cobwebs.

“We’re going down there?” said Aisha. Her face wrinkled in dismay. “I don’t know. It’s bad enough I’m in a dark passage with some stranger…”

I slapped my forehead. “Oh, sorry. I’m John. Forgot to introduce myself.”

“That’s because you were too busy screaming like a little old lady.”

“Yes, well we can’t all be heroes, can we?”

“You’re also a hog.” She snatched the cellphone away and shone its light down the ladder recess. “So we have to go down there?”

“It leads to the pantry and further down to the basement. There may be a cellar door we can get out.”

“And who made you the leader?”

I rolled my eyes. “I just want to get out of this house.” I sighed. “All I wanted to do was sell a vacuum to the lady.”

Aisha guffawed. “You’re a vacuum cleaner salesman? What, you couldn’t find a real job?”

“I’ll have you know I’m pretty good at my job. Now if you’ve finished humiliating me…”

She wiped tears from her eyes. “I’m sorry. I’m in sales, too. I sell make-up packages.”

It was my turn to laugh. She crossed her arms and frowned. “I make a good living, thank you very much.”

On cue, I stopped. “Well, I guess we’ve both been put in our places.” An uncomfortably pregnant pause followed while we assessed the state of our lives and our current predicament.

“This Vasilikov woman must be luring salespeople,” said Aisha.

“Maybe,” I said. “But something doesn’t feel right. I only away because Silas—the butler—led me here. Then he disappeared. Plus, the ladder is stainless steel, but the butler said the passages and the house were here since the Civil War, so the original ladder much have been replaced at some point. It doesn’t add up.”

“The butler helped you? I had to find my own way through this freak show house. If I hadn’t run upstairs and hid under the bed, I don’t know what would have happened. That butler was gone as soon as Vasilikov came at me with the knife.”

“Like I said, it’s suspicious.” I pointed to the top of the ladder. “Going down?” Aisha nodded.

“Ladies before gentleman,” I said.

“You’re no gentleman,” mumbled Aisha as she climbed down the ladder, iPhone in mouth.

To be continued…

Missed earlier instalments? Click here to read more.

The Sale. Part 8. A short story.

I flung myself off the bed, seeking to extricate my lower leg from whatever was grabbing it. My effeminate scream echoed through the room.

“Oh, shut up,” cried a female voice from below. My leg was released and I huddled against the wall under the shuttered window. An attractive African-American woman in her mid-20’s pulled herself from under the bed and stood. She was dishevelled, dressed in what looked like a tie-dyed hippie dress.

“Who are you?” I said, eyes wide in disbelief.

“I’m Aisha,” said the woman, smiling. “Sorry I scared you. You scream like a girl, you know.”

I rose, looking suitably miffed. “What the hell were you doing under that bed?”

“Hiding from the crazy woman,” said Aisha. “I guess you’ve met her, otherwise you wouldn’t have reacted like you did.”

I relaxed somewhat. “How did you get here?”

“Long story,” she said. “But we need to move, because your girly screams have probably informed  her where we are.” She paused to look me up and down. “I don’t suppose you have a gun or a knife on you? All I’ve got is my cellphone. I can’t get a damn signal, though.”

I deadpanned. “Yeah, I’ve got a few knives tucked into my shoe and a machete down my underwear for just such an occasion.” She rolled her eyes.

“Can I see the phone?” I said. She hesitated, then handed it to me to inspect. It was an iPhone with about 50% charge left. No phone bars, no reception. Strangely, no internet either.

It was at this moment that I realised Silas the butler was nowhere to be seen. The secret door was still open, but he had disappeared. My brow furrowed and I raised an eyebrow, Spock-style.

“There’s a secret passage over there,” I said. “You can tell me your story as we go.” I walked to the opening.

“That’s my phone, you know.”

“There’s no light in the passageway. I need it to see where we’re going.”

Aisha seemed to be in two minds, but decided to follow. “I hope to God you’re not some serial killer.”

“Can’t be worse than Junifer Vasilikov,” I replied. I clicked on the phone’s torch app and climbed into the passageway.

“Is that her name? So she’s some Russian chick?” said Aisha, following. I slid the wood panel into place.

“I guess so. Hey, you didn’t notice the butler standing at the passageway entry a few minutes ago did you?”

“No, I only saw your legs.” Aisha noticed how dank and dirty the corridor was. “Hey, you better not be leading me into trouble. I’ve been hiding safely since last night.”

“You seem pretty okay for someone who’s been hiding out in a strange house for 24 hours.”

“I carry lots of snacks. I’m more annoyed about no internet. You know how dull it can get under a bed?”

To be continued…

Missed the earlier instalments? Click here.

Training Without Calves (or, Cows With Guns)

See what I did there? Okay, well it sounded funny at the time*.

I have been lying in bed recovering from my torn calf for the last week and a half (grrrrr…). Being the fitness-addicted idiot that I am, I decided that it was time to get back to exercising before I went stir crazy. Here is the routine I worked out to ease myself back into the big stuff:

  • 3 sets of sit ups (40 reps per set) – core/abs
  • 3 sets of push ups (15 reps per set) – chest/arms
  • 3 sets of bicep curls (10 reps per set) – upper arms
  • 3 sets of tricep extensions (10 reps per set) – triceps
  • 3 sets of dips (10 reps per set) – chest/triceps
  • 3 sets of bent over rows (10 reps per set) – back (make sure you are supported so there’s no weight on the offending leg)
  • 3 sets of pull ups (10 reps per set) – back

I do warm ups/stretching before starting. You will note this is all upper body (I’m a fitness idiot, but I’m not stupid). Avoid leg work for a few weeks (if you regularly work out you will know it is an in-joke that most gym heads avoid leg work like the plague, so it shouldn’t be too hard…). Remember: If you have a torn calf, do NOT stretch your calf unnecessarily while exercising – you risk tearing it again. If you feel any strain on said calf (it will ‘moo’ at you – just kidding), cease and desist immediately.

This work out is pretty easy considering what I did prior to my injury (you can check out some of my workouts here), but I’m taking it slow to start with.

Ahhhhhhh…I’m feeling better already (the calf’s not, but you know what I mean).

Health Warning: I’m not a doctor (despite past girlfriends assuming I was a gynecologist), so if you aren’t used to training, or if you have torn your calf, make sure you consult with a real doctor (no, not your workout buddy at the gym) before attempting any new training routine.

 

* Didn’t get the reference? Do yourself a favour and check out ‘Cows with Guns’ below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQMbXvn2RNI

Awards! Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em

I have been nominated for the Real Neat Blog award by Alma at Bookish Endeavours. Thank you, Alma; I most graciously accept your nomination in the most pretentious and snooty way possible (I bow, like that guy on Sleepy Hollow. It was cancelled. Oh, I’m sorry everyone, too soon?).

Being as unaccustomed to fame (and the lack of it) as I am, I have decided to post this award with my many (read: few) others, answer your delightful questions (in a pretentious and snooty way) and nominate several other worthy blogs.

The rules are simple: two go in, only one comes out. Or something like that.

Oh, sorry, that’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (showing my vintage, there). Back in the days before Mel Gibson imploded.

Actually, the rules are more like this:

  • Put the award logo on your blog
  • Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs
  • Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you
  • Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs
  • Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog, etc)
  • Ask your nominees 7 questions

I’m worn out already. You have to remember, I’m laid up in bed with a torn calf muscle. It’s not fun. And I’m feeling my age for the first time in my life.

So here are the questions I have to answer. If you have seen my previous answers to awards (here and here), you’ll know I tend to go on a bit.

My nominees and my questions are further below.

 ANSWERS!

One fictional character that you hate and why?

Alpha Girl. She is my arch nemesis-sis-sis. Say that five times fast. I dare you.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

If I was normal, I’d say flying or something like that. But as I’m not: an automatic umbrella that pops out of my head when it rains. Or when I see people I really don’t want to talk to.

Actually, I’d like the power to light my own farts, but instead of a little flash, a huge firestorm would erupt. Okay, that’s a bit stupid. I’d be burning down everything in sight. Maybe it could work like a flame thrower? More selective with targets, that sort of thing.

Maybe I should quit while I’m ahead.

Marvel or DC?

When it comes to comics: DC all the way. Their Rebirth initiative had me at ‘Hello’.

When it comes to movies, DC and Marvel. They each have different styles – DC is a bit grittier, Marvel’s a bit funnier. Yes, it’s possible to love both, people!

Pretzels or bagels?

Bagels aren’t that big in Australia. Not in size, I  mean, but popularity (imagine if bagels were tiny little things – how would you butter them?). I love pretzels, but I’m talking about the little ones, not the big ones you guys in America have. We’re all topsy-turvy down here.

And do not say ‘down under’, or I will be forced to decapitate you. With a tiny, razor sharp bagel.

What is your go-to coffee order?

Long Black. Very unpretentious. I drink coffee for the taste of the coffee. Adding milk, chocolate, caramel, crème, egg, enchiladas, dog biscuits (or whatever they add now) is just spoiling it.

The problem with drinking long blacks is it’s easier to tell when the barista has screwed it up.

“I love the smell of coffee in the morning. Unless you’ve burnt it, damn you!”

How did you decide that you’d be starting a blog on WordPress?

I was a sad sack who wanted a public place where I could post sad stuff about my sad life. It was cathartic.

And sad, when you think about it.

One movie that you can re-watch?

I have so many…Alien, Blade Runner, Star Wars, The Accidental Tourist, Man of Steel, Memento, The Dark Knight, Unbreakable, Arrival. The list goes on…

I would hate to be in a movie. Maybe I am. Maybe my life is actually a movie, and I’m just the understudy (do they even have those in movies? No, that’s plays). That would explain a lot.

NOMINEES

https://lilpickmeup.com/

https://nicolesundays.wordpress.com/

https://dpadjoy.com/

https://littlefears.co.uk/

https://thelonelyreaderblog.wordpress.com/

https://bennettoblog.wordpress.com/

QUESTIONS (for nominees to answer)

  1. If you were a pizza, what type would you be? If you answer ‘plain cheese’ you should give up blogging altogether. Just saying.
  2. You have just won the gold medal for mawkish pretentiousness. What’s your speech? It has to be in the third person, just to make it more obnoxious.
  3. You have a choice to save the world, or save your pet. Which do you choose? If you don’t have a pet, you may save your favourite DVD. But not the DVD player. That’s going just a bit too far.
  4. If you were to make a movie about someone famous, who would it be and who would star in it? If they starred as themselves, would the production implode in some kind of freaky mirror-dimensional paradox? Or would they multiplex into multiple versions of themselves and play all the parts? I don’t know, you’re answering the question.
  5. Desert island: you can take one thing. Yes, it can be your girlfriend or boyfriend. But if you had a choice, would you take them? Maybe there’s only enough food for one. What happens then, huh? And if the two of you only had each other to talk with, how long would you last before it turned into The Hunger Games? Didn’t think that one through, did you?
  6. Have you heard of that old BBC show The Onedin Line? If you say yes, you’re lying. Yes, it’s an actual show. Google it. I’m not doing all the work, you know.
  7. What’s your favourite colour (that’s English spelling, not American). Why so boring a question? Because I haven’t finished. Now that you’ve told us your favourite colour, imagine the world in only that colour. Everything! Walls, floors, cars, people, dogs, cats, fields, countries, sky…how long until you absolutely hate that colour, eh? Burn!

Thanks for the nomination, Alma!

If you liked what you read (or even if you didn’t), please support my narcissism by following my blog. I don’t make any money out of it, but it keeps me from being sad(der). All it takes is a click – save a depressed person today!

Cheers

Steve 😊

The Sale. Part 7. A short story.

The musty corridor receded into the darkness. Silas, holding his lighter aloft, turned and beckoned me to follow. I trailed him as he crept forward, sweeping dusty cobwebs from the way as he went.

Before long we came to a ladder marking the end of the passage. It led up into the dark and down through a square-cut hole in the floor to the depths below. “We have a choice, sir,” said Silas, glancing up and down. “Which way do you suggest?”

I eyed the ladder, touching the rungs gingerly; they were cold, metallic. “This ladder is made of metal. And it’s not rusted.”

Silas peered more closely. “So it is, sir.”

“Looks like stainless steel,” I said. “Not the sort of material available in Civil War days.”

“Curious. Perhaps it was added at some later date.”

Something wasn’t adding up here. “I don’t even want to think about what’s below this house. Let’s go up.”

“After you, sir.”

I  smiled. “No, I insist. After you.”

Silas climbed creakily up the ladder, awkwardly cradling his lit lighter as he did. He climbed more slowly than he walked, each rung a superhuman effort. I started up after him.

Eventually Silas reached the floor above: another dim, mouldy corridor receding left and right. More cobwebs. I pulled myself up and stood beside him (his prodigious height made me feel like a dwarf).

“So many choices, sir.” He smiled, showing whitened teeth.

“There must be a way out somewhere,” I said. “Let’s try left.”

The left corridor ended after twenty feet. “It’s the back of a secret door, sir.” Of course it was the back of a secret door. What else would I expect to find in this crazy house?

“I can’t hear anything, sir.”

“Then let’s get out of here.”

The door opened into a master bedroom, illuminated from above by a chandelier. It was lavishly appointed (if a bit old and worn) with a four-poster bed, antique cupboards and dresser, with floors of  polished wood. I slipped over and tried one of the windows. It slid open, but the shutters beyond wouldn’t budge. “The shutters are jammed.” I tried another. Same thing. “This one, too. What the hell is going on here?”

Silas looked suitably vacant. “I’m not sure, sir.”

I sat on the edge of the bed. “How am I going to get out of here?”

Cold fingers grabbed my lower leg. I screamed.

To be continued…

The Lesson. A poem.

Fitter than I’ve ever been
Big, tanned and super lean
All it took was one little tear
And suddenly I’m geriatric
Limping like an old man
Bent over and wizened
Amazing how an injury
Can make the years catch up
A vision of my future?
Perhaps, perhaps not
I guess I’ll warm up more next time
Before I walk the dog

Copyright Means Rent.

This was a submission for a uni course I recently finished, answering a question about Australian copyright law.  I included Alpha Girl and Beta Max because copyright law is pretty dry, and I don’t actually say that much about it here.

When I undertake university courses I see questions like this all the time, and think to myself “I’ve just read the subject matter, do you want me to parrot it back?” Perhaps I’m being a bit petulant, because I know we have to demonstrate that we have a working knowledge. So, rant over.

It is vitally important that authors today (or their agent, if they wish to employ one), have a working knowledge of the legalities of copyright and contracts. I know in some of my previous posts I have facetiously commented that “I’m lazy and would rather have the agent do the work on the legal stuff”, or words to that effect. Reading the week 8 study guide notes sparked my interest, calling to mind my times working in public policy, interpreting and clarifying legislation.

(“Did you just say you worked in policy?” says Alpha Girl, torn away from her magazine and ongoing role as permanent lounge fixture. “I thought you were too stupid to work anywhere—isn’t that why you laze around the house writing blogs all day, instead of getting a real job?”) 

Knowing your rights as an author in terms of the publishing, sales of rights and distribution of royalties are important to ensure you aren’t ripped off, for want of a better term.

(“You’ve been ripping me off for a while, now,” says Alpha Girl, under her breath. “I know ‘writing’ is your excuse not to pay more rent.”

“I can still hear you,” I reply.)

I found the section on What copyright covers interesting. Plagiarism is something that we are constantly reminded of as students, and I like to know that my own work is protected just as others are. Moral Rights and Fair Dealing (along with PLR and ELR) were aspects I wasn’t familiar with prior to reading the guide.

I found the most interesting section to be the Author Contract, and could see why the author’s (and/or his agent’s) knowledge of the contractual process could be so important – not only in regards to retaining rights in international territories, but also to include clauses on remaindered works to ensure options for buying old stock (as no royalties are available on them), Scope and Quality (the power of knockback!) and Subsidiary Rights (on-selling rights into other media).

(Beta Max bounds in after a hard day at work and equally hard session at the pub. He smells of stale sweat, alcohol and Winfields.

“What you working on, bro?” he says, staring over my shoulder as he opens a beer can.

“Copyright law,” I reply. He switches off, leaps over the back of the lounge and plants his butt on the cushions, spilling beer in the process; we both laugh. Alpha Girl scolds him with her rolled-up magazine.

“So, does that mean you’ll make money from your writing, now,” she says, scowling at Beta Max all the while.

“It means I know about contracts and protecting my work, just in case I get signed as an author,” I reply.

“So much for extra rent,” she says, rolling her eyes.)

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