Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hard Days, Knights.

I'm in pain.

I was at the ANZAC day game and watched Essendon lose.  Badly.

For the longest time I've given Knights the benefit of the doubt, but no more.  It's time to go. And I'm not one of those that thinks Sheeds should still be there.  He was past his date at the club and should have left in 2001 or so.

We've supposedly been rebuilding the team for about 9 years now. C'mon - the pyramids were built quicker than that.  Although I suppose those ancient Egyptians didn't have a draft and a salary cap. (They did, however, have large whips.)

But Knights has had some success. He successfully ran McPhee, Lloyd and Lucas out of town, got rid of Lovett (which was acceptable as his off-game antics are more trouble than they are worth) and set about creating a game plan that is so cunning it doesn't actually have a plan.

To me, and many other fans waiting patiently, the plan appears to consist of... wait for it ...  (should we have a drumroll?) ... here it is ... "kick as many goals as you can and don't bother about defending because then we'll be so far ahead they'll never catch up."  Wow! Pure genius!

Except for one small point.  We don't kick many goals, and in fact were goal-less at quarter time last Sunday. And then went on to lose by 65 points.


I have another cunning plan.

Let's get rid of Matthew (it's not so much a plan, as a 'vibe') Knights, and bring in someone who actually  has a plan.

Monday, April 26, 2010

An Hour A Day.

And so I'm back in the wonderful world of Jonathan Carroll. He's a magic realist (with a dark underbelly) and he reminds me of Murakami (I love Murakami too - but I've heard Carroll doesn't like his work) with touches of John Irving in there too. 

He's an author I've never really heard people mention, and for the longest time I figured I was the only one who read his stuff. Recently I shared one of his books with a friend, and discovered that he loved his work too - and couldn't understand why he'd never heard of him. I fell into his work. Way back in the mid to late 80s, I picked up two of his books from a discount bin - simply because I liked the covers.  From then on I was hooked, and read as much of his stuff as I could.  When I lived in Japan during the 90s, I kind of lost track of his publishing, but about a year ago (when I was finally able to sort out my library and unpack many boxes) I worked out what I was missing and started picking up those books. Which is where I am now - reading a Jonathan Carroll I've never read before.  And, as usual, I'm loving it.

I haven't spent too much time over at the Writer of the Future forums recently. But I did notice the other day that Brennan Harvey is a current finalist. I don't know the full history, but Brennan no longer hangs out at the forums - which is a bit of a shame.  I quite enjoyed his posts. But he has a pretty cool website happening, and I wish him well with the final judging.

I'm still entering WOTF, but reading Carroll this week, and scrolling through some of Brennan's blog entries, has inspired me and spurred me on.  I realise I need to write more often - and write more words. So I've decided that as of this week I'm devoting a certain amount of time every night to get more work done.

And yes, I still have two stories on hold out there with publishers. One of those has told me when he'll get back to me (which is very very fair - it's for an anthology and the reading period is still open), the other (after many months) isn't even responding to my (extremely polite) emails.  Grrrrr.

It's frustrating, and brings you down at times. Someone told me about an editor who gets annoyed when writers query before six months, even though his magazine has a policy of a two month turnaround.

I guess he doesn't write and submit. I know I don't submit to him anymore.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ooooh, And The Storm Is Threatening...

Last night I watched storms race across our night sky.  For several hours lightning lit the clouds - about once every thirty seconds.  It was beautiful.

My dogs had a bit of a bark every time the thunder rolled.  One of them because she doesn't like thunder, the other because the first one barked. They kept this up for an hour or two, even after I went to bed.  Fortunately I was so tired that it really didn't matter.

You see, last night the real storm that was brewing was at work.  We had parent-teacher interviews, and although I managed to miss the really bad weather, I went into it wearing all the waterproof gear I could.  I certainly expected a downfall from a couple of parents.

Some of my colleagues were hit full on.  Apparently these days it's the teacher's fault if the student decides not to do any work in class. The child is no longer responsible for his/her own actions (or inactions).  The teacher, however, is fully to blame if the kid fails.

It's interesting how karma always comes around to bite you on the bum.

I teach English - a more interpretive kind of a subject.  I mean, with maths and so on there is usually a right or a wrong answer.  With English, it's more about stating a contention and then having to prove it.

But here's a little clue for you all. There's a science to English that can be expressed in a simple formula.

Not paying attention in class + doing no work = fail.

Hmmm - now that wasn't so hard, was it?

You want to pass - then do the work.  And stop blaming others for your lack of effort.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Success, But Not For Me.

I belong to a casual collective of writers who occasionally meet up and talk about writing. (and the weather, and music, and film, and politics...)

One of these writers has recently had some success as they've sold a few short stories. And good luck to them, congratulations and so on.  I'm really pleased for them - they deserve their success.

(Yes, I know 'they' is for more than one person, but I'm trying to keep this genderless.)

But what I don't like is how this person thinks they are now Stephen King. They think they've finally made it.  They keep talking about how they've only taken the first step, but their comments and attitude suggests otherwise.

Now this is a person I actually quite like, but recently I've tried to avoid them. They tell me about how I can have success too by writing a particular way, to hang in there, and to just do what they did.  And to make it worse they're telling everyone that they're a professional writer.  Even seeking (and giving out) tax advice on making claims and deductions for writing.  All on the basis of a sale of two stories.  Hmmm, I spoke to my taxation friend who advised me that the Tax Office is not happy with 'hobby' claims unless you're earning substantial revenue - over $5,000 or so.  I don't know who their advisor is, but I'd tread carefully.

I know in this person's heart they're just being encouraging and supportive, but since they are lording it up so much and in everyone's face, it's coming across as superior and condescending.  I thought about pulling them aside and having a quick chat about it, but I'm not that close to this person and there are better people to do it. And then someone else did speak to them about it.  And was told they were just jealous and bitter.

Hey, if you're going to have success, remember you might need to use those same rungs later on the way down the ladder.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Back In The Day.

Been watching some great stuff on DVD.  Lots of shows that I didn't bother watching on TV because of the way the networks treat us.  They have a great deal of contempt for viewers - they play with the schedules, chop and change the times, cut episodes, and then drop stuff leaving us high and dry.

But it's also made me think of some of the shows I remember enjoying years ago.

Back when I was a kid, I loved McHale's Navy, My Three Sons, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Julia and The Odd Couple.  I haven't seen any of these in a long time, and I'd like to think they hold up well.

When I was older I loved The Wonder Years, Northern Exposure and Twin Peaks.  But around that same time there were a couple of comedies I remember seeing that I enjoyed late night.

Again I wonder if they've held up.

Doctor, Doctor was the cream of the crop at the time, Sledgehammer was another I liked, and then the short lived The Famous Teddy Z.

I need to try and find some of these and see whether I still laugh at them.

Oh yeah, and Newhart.

Maybe one day they'll be people out there feeling nostalgic for Two and a Half Men.

They'll be the insane people that talk to themselves and drink their own blood.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

It Was 40 Years Ago Yesterday...

To say The Beatles broke up because of Yoko Ono is a little simplistic.

From all I've seen and read egos seem to be to blame.  Paul became leader because Brian had gone, and the others resented that. John didn't want Paul to be leader - but couldn't work up the effort to actually do anything himself. George was tired of being treated like the kid brother. Ringo, of course, was Ringo.  If The Beatles had stayed together, he'd have still been there drumming.

And Yoko was there, gazing up at rebellious John.

But as a relative of mine recently said to me, they should have just worked through it and continued making music.  The sum was always greater than the parts. He then echoed Larry Norman, who sang:

The Beatles said, "All You Need is Love"
and then they broke up.

Who knows where their music would have headed if they'd stayed together.

We'd certainly have had the best songs from their respective solo albums (plus ones we don't know, as their lives would have led different paths and the experiences would have changed.) Of course, there's always the chance they would have been terrible. (Think later Rolling Stones).

As the character said at the end of Fanboys, as he's about to see The Phantom Menace after a 15 year wait, "What if it's crap?"

But at least John and Paul were always each other's filters.  And John would have told Paul that Bip Bop was just plain silly, while Paul would have toned down some of John's more scathing attacks. (As well as (hopefully)  preventing Yoko from appearing with her own songs. We're all Water????  Ugh!)

But what's done is done, and the past cannot be changed.

At least we still have Please Please Me to Let It Be, and all the stuff making the rounds for collectors.

But somewhere, in another universe, Paul, John, George and Ringo are getting on stage to belt out some old and new tunes.

And I wish I was there.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Back On The Shelf.

Decided to go into IKEA yesterday morning,  We had the cheap breakfast there, and then went shopping.

We went to get a couple of bookshelves but I've never yet been there and not bought more than we planned to get. And I can honestly say we've ever bought anything at IKEA we didn't really need or use. And so it happened again yesterday.

This morning, I put the shelves together, attached them to the wall, and finally unpacked a whole stack of books that have been languishing in storage for the longest time. It was wonderful to see some of those books again - many I'd completely forgotten about. Books should be out, not hidden away in boxes or stacks.

So I've got a lot more reading to do - lot's of treasures were rediscovered, as well as a few that need to be thrown out. I have no idea how some of them ended up in my library. But they'll be gone soon enough. I'll get a bag together and send them off to a charity shop. 

I mean, really a biography of Kylie? Possession of a book like that should be illegal.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

If I Had A Hammer.

School holidays are with me and so I've had the past week off. Not that I've had too much time to relax. I've been marking school assignments, trying to get some writing done and doing stacks of jobs around the house that need doing - sanding, painting and, utilising all the woodwork skills I can muster, attempting to hammer nails in straight.

My wife and I are currently working on the rooms we plan to be our 'studios'.  A bit of writing, a bit of painting, a bit of music - heck, even a pool table. It's a lot of work to get them up to scratch, but the place is coming along and looking all the better for it. And one day soon I'll be able to sit back and relax to enjoy the fruits of all this labour.

But it hasn't all been work. I had some friend come over a couple of nights ago to play cards - not poker, but 500s.  Whereas poker is based largely on luck, 500s is based largely on skill. (and having the right partner) I much prefer the four handed version of the game, but due to our numbers we had to play with six hands.  Of course we used the correct 500s deck - much like the regular ones, but this one has cards that go up to 13.  Still looks odd when you see them.

So we had a casual evening of wine and food and playing cards - and talking lots and lots of crap.

Maybe I should have got those guys around during the day to do some DIY for me.

Now that would have been smart.