Saturday, August 29, 2020

Cold Hard Shoulder.

I've written about Ben Atkinson before. I first met Ben a year or so ago, and then was fortunate enough to start working with him shortly before lockdown. We've become good friends, and share interests in music, theatre, technology and the arts.

During lockdown, Ben spent time in his home studio and recorded a number of songs he wrote during the past ten years. While Ben's main interest is in country music, and he has run a weekly country music radio programme for many years, the songs he recorded have eclectic influences. The topics, ranging from lighthearted digs at local government through to the tragedy of war, reflect Ben's life, interested and view of the world around him.

Ben asked me to record some guitar parts for this album, and I am honoured and priviliged to have made the final mixes. We had a lot of fun recording my parts - a few laughs, some great food and lots of sweat - it was a terribly humid evening when we went into the studio, so forgive any bum notes as I had a tough time keeping the guitars in tune.

Ben is donating all profits to the NHS. The album was launched last night, and is available as download, on CD, and even vinyl.

Thanks, Ben.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Camping for Boys.

I've always loved camping. As a kid I was a Cub, then a Scout, and finally a Venturer. My dad was a Scout Leader, and I was lucky to go on some of the Scout camps when I was only a cub. 

It's been a long time since I've done any real camping. In fact it was the turn of the millenium - a mate and I went bush for a week while the world wondered whether the Y2K bug would destroy civilisation. We had no electricity, did much of our cooking on campfires, and had a wonderful time.  There was no internet on phones, no real phone connection anyway, and hardly saw another person. We talked, listened to some music on the car radio, and just chilled.

It was a wonderful week.

I have recently been thinking about a weekend my Dad and I went camping when I was young. He'd promised to take me away, but when Friday rolled around he wasn't feeling well. I think I might have pushed him a bit, but we went and had a fabulous time. I remember being up bush, with our tent. He let me wear his commando style hat, which thrilled me no end. The most vivid memory I have is waking up in the middle of the night. I got out of the tent, and dad was sitting by a huge, roaring fire. It was completely dark otherwise, and silent, and we sta on branches and watched the flames. We probably spoke, but so many years later I have no idea what we spoke about. I just know I felt safe, and comfortable, and at peace.

Why has this memory popped up now? I have no idea. But it pleases me to recall that weekend.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Me and Stevio Down By The Schoolyard.

I had some good friends in high school, but I don't really know what happened. Within a very short time we'd all lost touch. Of course that was well before the internet and we all moved out into other worlds. These days I'm only really in touch with one of them, and that's infrequently and second hand through his wife on social media. Hey Steve B, thanks for all those years of friendship through school. I'd love to be in touch more often.

But what about the other other Steve C? What became of him? And Doug P? We used to play cricket and tennis and hangout after school. Doug D? I rememebr standing on the lunchtime soccer ground and talking about Bob Dylan. Keith F? Another Beatles fan. You gave me my first taste of Sgt Pepper and All Things Must Pass on cassette. Neil S? You lived just around the corner and I have no idea where you went. Tim G? I caught up with you once a few years ago and never heard from you again. Paul W? You left our school and moved to Sydney. A mad keen Carlton fan and a good writer.  Where are you? Arthur C? We were good friends, and I have no idea where you moved to. Michael H? You got in touch with me at work many years ago, and asked me to call you back. I felt terrible because I lost your number on my desk and waited for a return call. 

And Johnny R? I search online for you from time to time, and can't find anything about you. We spent so much time together - fishing, listening to music, eating toast in the middle of the night.

I would love to hear from you all. I'd love to know what you're doing, what happened, hear some memories.

In fact, I'd be thrilled.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Snapshot 2020.

The Australian SF scene has now been snapshot for the sixth time. Every few years since 2005, a series of interviews is conducted with authors, artists, publishers and others involved in Australian SF.

Snapshot 2020 is currently being published, and my interview was released this morning. While the past year or so of writing and publishing has been quieter than usual for me, I have had publications. Due to other commitments, writing is currently on the backburner. But I am still making plans, still making notes, and will emerge at the end of the year ready to write more frequently.

Explore the site. Check out the interviews. Read mine. And links to my previous interviews can be found under 'Steve's Links' in the menu on the right of this screen.

Thanks to Tehani Croft for taking on this mammoth task.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Positivity in a Weird World.

There's no doubt things are very strange at the moment. The world seems to have gone mad, people have gone mad, even the  birds have gone mad.

COVID 19 has changed the world in wasy we couldn't even imagine only a few short months ago. I rarely go out, don't have visitors, work from home, and try to imagine how things will be. The world seems quieter. There's less traffic, aclearer skies, and more birdsong. Are they just encroaching further into urban areas because there are fewer cars and less pollution?  I have no idea. I know I just enjoy hearing them more than usual.

I had a birthday last week. Some family visited, socially distanced of course, and we had a great time. Lindsey organised a barbeque and there was plenty of food, great laughs and I was honestly thrilled with the presents I received.

But it is draining, seeing all the negative news. It's tiring working from home. I long to socialise with my workmates, my friends, have a drink with them. And not sit at the computer all week. I honestly want a clear deliniation between work and home.

In the meantime I try to share positive things in social media. On Facebook I post things I like - daily. I started the say we started working from home, and I honestly had no idea I would still be going three months later. And now there's talk we might be here til the end of they year or beyond.

Be positive, be understanding, be kind to each other, and stay safe.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Time is Never Time Enough.

A lot of people seem to be talking about how much time they have to read, or to watch Netflix, or simply to take up a new hobby. Sometime I wish I had that much free time.

I am extremely fortunate to be working in an area that is in demand. I commenced this role in Digital Education only a few weeks before lockdown. Not only did I have the learning curve that accompany most new jobs, but we had a short period of time to get programmes online, and to do it while working from home.

I'm thrilled I am part of a supportive and encouraging team.

I have learned a lot in the past couple of months, and I continue to learn everyday. Which is great, it is setting me up well for my future. I have a broad range of new practical skills to support my experience and education. And it all looks great on a CV - not that I have any plans to move anywhere soon.

I am pelased I have been furloughed, or placed on leave. But wouldn't it be nice just to have one extra day a week off?  Then maybe I could start watching some of those series on my list.

Oh well, back to work. I have an issue with some videos that won't upload properly.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

All Mixed Up.

My reading selection has been a real mixed bag recently. A couple of Spec-Fic books and collections, some rock biographies, a memoir from a fan who visited a band while they were recording, and some non-fiction. I'm currently reading some short stories by Victoria Hislop, and I'm really enjoying them. A great selection of vignettes set in Greece.

I've also been ripping through some magazines. The Fortean Times, Popshot Quarterly, Mojo, and an odd little journal called the Teatles. This is not a misspelling, and it is about the Beatles, but mostly drinking tea. If this is your thing, as it is mine, follow them on twitter.

In between all this, are the academic journals, articles and texts I'm reading for my studies. As you can imagine, they are a right hoot to read - especially after a long day at work. But it needs to be done, and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Every now and then I get an itching to read an old classic. At the moment most of my books are stored away, which saves me from pushing these to the top of the TBR stack. But there are a few I want (and need) to revisit. It's incredible how different these books can be after many years. But for now it's Victoria Hislop in Greece. Somewhere I've never been, but somewhere I will visit one day.

Next on the list, however, is some old fashioned fantasy from Andy Remic. About time I dug back into a world not like our own.