Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Random memory as a blogging placeholder

I've been thinking that I really should blog about an important and troubling topic. But it was not quite important or troubling enough to actually make me put skin to key.

So in the meantime, I offer you this random memory from about twenty years ago which struck me this morning as I crossed at a pedestrian crossing (pedestrian!? It was dull as dish-water!):

As a teenager I was watching a war movie one night, one of those harrowing Russian front affairs full of the futility and brutality of armed conflict, an anti-war classic (but not so classic that I can actually remember what it was called). By the end, I was practically sobbing, my chest heaving, my eyes thick with pain. My God! I thought to my young self. My God! (Because I was and am a repetitious creature, a repetitious creature) What a sophisticated and emotionally deep person I am! So visceral has been my disgust at the idea of war that I'm having an *almost* physical reaction to it. Am I sensitive or what?

And then full-blown flu symptoms appeared the next morning...

But, you know, I really am very sensitive.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

This could be a coded message

This could be a coded message:

"I removed 8 organically-grown carrots from the fridge. Although they had been purchased quite recently, they were somewhat limp which my colleauge observed. She said that I possibly had not stored them correctly. I said that I had put them in the vegetable crisper. What else was I to do? She said that her grandmother had stored them point down in sand. But that was because she had to make them last the whole winter. Where was that, I asked. Europe, she said. After she left I coarsely peeled the 8 carrots and then ate them with spring onion dip. When the carrots ran out, I spooned the remains of the dip ("cream cheese, shallots, sour cream, onion, garlic, lemon juice [etc]") into my mouth with a tea spoon. It was initially delicious but ultimately cloying."

This could have been a coded message.

But it wasn't. In the words of John Berryman, this did actual happen.

It's also remarkable that the label says "spring onion dip" but that the principal ingredient is "shallots."

If it had been a coded message I expected it would have said: "Go on my signal. And wear cotton."

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Self e-steme

Because this is a new blog and I’m not yet down with the cool kids and their cool memes dispensed like raspberry life-savers behind the bike sheds at lunch time, I have to invent my own meme. A meme that starts here and probably ends here. A static meme or a ‘steme’ as I like to call it.

Because this is a literary blog (so we’re keeping up the pretense one more day? –ed. Yes –not ed), this is a literary steme.

Literary steme

So you like books, huh?


And, like, words and stuff?


Stupid question really cos books are full of words, aren’t they?


Along with pages and glue and stuff like that.


Is it true that book-binding glue is made from horses’ hooves? I read that somewhere.

I don’t know, sorry. Maybe once but I doubt it today.

Maybe I read it in a book. Ironic, huh?
I guess so.

Are books still important in today’s digital age?

I guess I should ask some kind of follow up question like: ‘why?’

Yeah, 'why' is usually used in memes like this to round out an answer and prevent silly one-word answers.





OK, moving right along. What’s your favourite page number and why?

Page 39 because of an inside joke from a novel I once enjoyed.

Yeah, that is better. Fuller, richer, longer. Like a giant-size violet crumble.


What was the name of your first English teacher and why?

Mr Bach, because that was his father’s name. Last name I mean. Mother’s too probably.

So you want to write books, do you? And why?

Yes, because I like writing and it would be nice to do it full time.

I once saw a TV show where someone asked ‘why’ of a computer and it span that question around in its electronic head unable to find an answer until it blew-up. Amazing, huh? Do you think that could happen in real life?



The past participle of spin is ‘spun’ not ‘span’.

What? Oh, that’s a word thing, is it? You writers crack me up.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Things I've learned

Things I've learned this weekend, because its important to keep learning all through your adult life.

(1) Canberra isn't unspeakably cold and then nice for a week and then unspeakably hot. It's unspeakably cold, nice for two days then unspeakably cold again before lurching frantically into unspeakable heat (I'm taking this last one on faith because it hasn't happened yet).

(2) Being the first stand-up comedy act in a roomful of drunk kids [by which I mean, late teenagers, early twenties, people up to their fifties and so forth -ed] is not a rewarding nor an enjoyable experience. It does not teach you anything about people, about comedy or about life in general. (Actually I already knew this but it's nice to be reminded once in a while).

(3) My kids won't eat mashed potato no matter how much freaking butter, cream or salt I put in it. Nor will they eat all their snow peas or carrot (both raw and steamed). They will however eat their calippo ice-block and their packaged yoghurt because I am a weak, weak man.

(4) The capital and largest city of the Republic of Djibouti is called Djibouti. Thanks Wikipedia! (I just wanted to end on a life-affirming and upbeat note. Consider your life affirmed and beaten up).

(5) Bonus lesson. Delegated parenting works. If boy (6) wants an ice-block, then I say he can have one if girl (3) eats two snow peas. Then I lie back and let nature go about its gory business!

[Obligatory writing note in pathetic deference to the alleged theme of this blog: Tonight when the kids are asleep, I'm going to continue writing my sitcom screen play. Hopefully.]

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When I grow up I want to feed the monster

I’m one of those people who has always been obsessed with the question of what I’m going to do when I grow up. It’s a question I’m still asking myself at 37 after 15 years in the workforce (it’s called that because I’m forced to work).

And its frankly depressing that I am still asking that question. I had hoped to be freakin’ fulfilled now, career-wise, leading a purpose-driven life full of meaningful sweeps of the hand and clear-eyed visions of a better tomorrow. But I’m not.

This is why I’ve returned to writing, something that I’ve vacillated to and from over the years.

  • Writing is the answer!
  • But no, it’ll never work, you’re not good enough and no one reads novels anyway!
  • Dayjob is the answer! Dayjob is solid and dependable and really quite interesting when you come down to it!
  • No, it isn’t! Dayjob sucks! Dayjob will never make you happy! You don’t care enough about the kind of things Dayjob needs you to care about!
  • Writing! Writing is the answer!
I’ve reached this point in my life where I’ve realised that writing is the answer even if I’m not good enough and even if no one reads novels or whatever the hell I’m going to write. I just don’t have any other option of a satisfying way to fill every goddamn ticking day (apart from intercourse and pasta salads, of course. But those take, what? Twelve? Fourteen minutes?).

I had a what-I-want-to-do-when-I grow-up moment about 10 years ago when I saw a documentary about the making of the sitcom Roseanne (which was really pretty funny and maintained some strong character arcs). It was called Feeding the Monster and was about the awesome difficulty of consistently bringing teh funny week-in week-out for seven seasons or whatever. This room full of (mostly) men eating pizza and writing funny scripts to a fearsome deadline had tremendous appeal to me.

So why aren’t I doing it? (And why do I eat pizza so rarely?). See above I guess.

Anyway, as I sat in a meeting in Dayjob this morning, full of people full of a passion that I can’t find it in myself to share, and as I doodled ideas for something I’m working on (good ideas too!), I was struck again by the aptness of this metaphor.

When I grow up I want to feed the monster. But the growing up and the feeding begin right now.

Because when it comes down to it, don’t we all have a monster within us? A dark cave-dwelling beast with fangs and poor hygiene that must be tossed scraps of metaphorical rotting meat to prevent it from tearing your (metaphorical) head off? (Or at least, I have a monster. You might have a kitten or an alpaca or something. But they still need to eat, right?)

Monday, November 17, 2008

In the beginning, things had barely started

Of all the exciting ways I could think of to start a new blog, this is certainly one. Albeit a little way down the list.

I used to blog in the before-time, as Nick Crustacean (on when crustaceans attack) and as Nick Cetacean (on whale sushi). I got sick of it for one half-arsed reason or another. It kind of boiled down to me being sad that I wasn't more popular. Huh.

Anyway, in the intervening period I separated from my wife and struck out on a bold new life of my own (which is not entirely unlike my previous life only with considerably less wife in it). I also decided that I really need to write (novels, screen plays, the back of laundry boxes etc) otherwise I'm just going to experience considerable interior sadness in sad-sack paid employment.

I'm still in said paid employment. Only now I'm a serious writer.


This blog is a kind of web log, if you will, detailing my attempts at writing, seriousness and not being sad.