Tuesday, February 19, 2008

JUST DIE, ALREADY

Some months ago, when it came out on DVD, we rented and watched Rocky Balboa. Whilst it'll never be regarded as great cinema, it was at least a fitting end to the franchise, emphasising the 'little tailor' aspect of Balboa's character and making allowances for time, age, and a certain amount of nostalgia, not only in Stallone's portrayal of Rocky, but in the central message that, whilst age may weary a man, it can give him the wisdom to accept that the battles most worth winning are those closest to the heart. Amidst the formula there was warmth, and dignity, and even a little grace. Not great cinema, no, but as the credits rolled, there was no small satisfaction in the journey's end.

Tonight, we watched John Rambo, the latest and last of the Rambo series of movies.

John Rambo is shit.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

FundaMENTALly OVER
So, we did it: we packed the kids in the car, threw a picnic dinner in the boot, and ran a half hour up the coast to see Mental As Anything play a free gig on behalf of some building development or other that's going to turn the Two Rocks horizon into a Metro Brick wasteland.
The last time I saw the Mentals live was at the original Australian made concert at Subiaco Oval in 1987. 21 years...... where the hell did that go?
This time, the setting was a local park a street or so from the beach. A beautiful area, it was packed out with stalls, kite displays, and the sort of hand-made revelry you see at tiny suburban fairs thrown together by local councils because why the hell not, they've made a surplus this year. It was lovely: we made sand paintings, the kids got their faces painted, sweeties literally rained down from the sky as the kite displays revealed hidden self-operated pinata kite thingies.... We wandered, we sampled, everything was free, everyone was happy.

It ain't a day out if the faces don't get painted.


At 8 on the dot, a local support act took the stage. Erin and Connor dragged me up so they could have a look: their first concert experience, and they were instantly hooked. A single girl in her early twenties, with a guitar, a gorgeous voice, and a simple, balladic hook to her songs. Erin may want to be her when she grows up.


Erin Jane Battersby, this is your future.

The boys met friends. The boys disappeared. We didn't see them again until the music was over, and it was time to leave. It was that kind of evening.

The Mentals took the stage. Or, if I were to be precise about it, Martin Plaza and Greedy Smith took to the stage, along with three other blokes who were helping flesh out the retirement fund. No Reg Mombassa? No Pete Doherty? That's not Seagull behind the drum kit! Okay, okay, rest the inner fanboy for a moment. It's the music that matters. Give them a chance.

Fact number 1: I didn't drive for half an hour to watch a country and western cover band. When you've got a 30 year back catalogue, I want to hear your music.

Fact number 2: Cool as it was that they played Lyn's favourite song, Apocalypso would have been cool, too. Don't Take Your Love To Town has never been cool, ever.

Fact number 3: Greedy can no longer hit the high notes that songs like The World Seems Difficult demand.


Oh, come, Meester Smeeth. It's just a waffer-theen meent....

Fact number 4: Martin can no longer hit any note.

The undead corpse of Martin demands braaaaiiinnnssss......

Fact number 5: Stop. Just stop.

It was interesting to note that, whilst the core audience consisted of people our age who could remember the band in their prime, from our vantage point we could see that most who left early were from that self-same core audience. By the time the band had concluded their dozen-song set, most who remained were like ourselves, those who had teenagers roaming the skate rink and climbing frame, or who had a madly-excited six year old because she recognised Mr Natural from the iPod (Of all the songs, this was the one that stood up best, largely because its spoken word delivery demanded nothing from the band). Bizarrely, at the undead zombie second death of their career, they may have picked up a fan in Erin, who spent a significant part of the concert dancing near the stage with her Mum, and another significant proportion begging me to take her back up, whereupon she climbed on my shoulders to get a better view of the stage.


Fangrrl! Anything is worth it to see this kind of delight on your child's face, even Live It Up

As underwhelming as the concert ultimately proved to be for Lyn and myself (although I should point out that my darling was very bouncy and dancy for the first 4 or 5 songs, particularly as it contained Plaza's cover of Concrete and Clay), it was a wonderful evening out.

They played Concrete and Clay! They played Concrete and Clay!

As a father of a large family, there's no happier feeling than watching my kids, out and about, gaining first experiences, meeting friends, exploring new facets of their world. And as a husband, there's no better sight than a happy, vibrant wife, sharing her happiness with an adoring daughter. So the band's performance was a tired shadow of their former selves. So what? It is the music that matters, and we have that at home. And next time Erin hears Mr Natural in the car, we're going to remember something special together.

Woohoo! Past our bedtime! We win!!!!!


We drove home late, tired, full of sugar, and prepared to accept that you just can't revisit the 80s, no matter how much you tried. Tune in this time next year, when I'll probably be saying the same thing after going back to see The Uncanny X-Men or Pseudo Echo.....


Alright, Two Rocks! Thanks for letting us out of the freezer! Now, are you ready to mildly Europoooooppppp?


PS: I've just noticed how much that last caption looks like Europoop instead of Europop.
PPS: I stand by it :)

Friday, February 15, 2008

DREAMING OF CONTENTS

The table of contents for Dreaming Again has been released, and the book itself is, apparently, due to his the shelves in June. Until then, feel free to salivate over this little lot:

1. “Old Friends,” Garth Nix
2. “A Guided Tour In the Kingdom of the Dead,” Richard Harland
3. “This Is My Blood,” Ben Francisco and Chris Lynch
4. “Nightship,” Kim Westwood
5. “The Fooly,” Terry Dowling
6. “Neverland Blues,” Adam Brown
7. “The Jacaranda Wife,” A. G. Slatter
8. “The Constant Past,” Sean McMullen
9. “The Forest,” Kim Wilkins
10. “Robots & Zombies, Inc.,” Lucy Sussex
11. “This Way to the Exit,” Sara Douglass
12. “Grimes and the Gaijin Daimyo,” A. Bertram Chandler
13. “Lure,” Paul Collins
14. “The Empire,” Simon Brown
15. “Lakeside,” Christopher Green
16. “Trolls’ Night Out,” Jenny Blackford
17. “The Rest Is Silence,” Aaron Sterns
18. “Smoking, Waiting For the Dawn,” Jason Nahrung
19. “The Lanes Of Camberwell,” Cecilia Dart-Thornton
20. “Lost Arts,” Stephen Dedman
21. “Undead Camels Ate Their Flesh,” Jason Fischer
22. “Europa,” Cecily Scutt
23. “Riding On the Q-ball,” Rosaleen Love
24. “In From the Snow,” Lee Battersby
25. “The Lost Property Room,” Trudi Canavan
26. “Heere Be Monsters,” John Birmingham
27. “Purgatory,” Rowena Cory Daniells
28. “Manannan’s Children,” Russell Blackford
29. “The Fifth Star In the Southern Cross,” Margo Lanagan
30. “Twilight In Caeli-Amur,” Rjurik Davidson
31. “Paradise Design’d,” Janeen Webb
32. “The New Deal,” Trent Jamieson
33. “The Last Great House of Isla Tortuga,” Peter M. Ball
34. “Conquist,” Dirk Strasser
35. “Perchance To Dream,” Isobelle Carmody

It's particularly pleasing to see so many of my Clarion students make the list. New wave indeed! The chocolate river flows far and fast, my little grasshoppers! (Don't worry, normal world: only 16 or so of you are supposed to understand that)
JOIN US FOR THE APOLCALYPSO

Tomorrow night, we've learned, Mental as Anything are performing a free gig at Charnwood Reserve, Lisford Avenue, Two Rocks. The show starts at 8pm, but from 5pm they have free kids activities, a bouncy castle, face painting, and the like.

Luscious and I will be packing the kids up, throwing together a picnic dinner, and heading down to eat, dance, and laugh over how fat Greedy Smith has become.

Join us.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

INVADED BY A SOLD STORY

Good news today: Ideomancer has accepted my story Invaded By an Intimate Storyline which, amongst other things, features a cameo by one of my favourite Clarion South inmates, Michael 'The Patternless Man' Greenhut, as an RPG-playing intercontinental bomber tail-gunner.

Bet that gets at least one of you reading it once it's published :)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

AIDEN’S BIRTHDAY

It had to happen: the A-Boy turned 15 on Saturday, and for his present, we acceded to his desire to invite a whole bunch of friends to go paint-balling. A whole bunch of his friends, and his brother. A whole bunch of his friends, his brother, and me.

Fat men in all-over protective suits and heavy plastic face masks sweat. And puff. And get carpet burns from throwing themselves behind giant plastic barriers while teams of rampaging teenagers try to shoot the fat man’s nads off.

5 days later I’ve still got the bruises where the paint balls hit. Those bastards sting!

But it was a hell of a lot of fun :)

Happy birthday, Aidey-baby.

STUDIES IN AUSTRALIAN WEIRD FICTION

Ever-groovy Ben Szunskyj has announced the arrival of SIAWF Volume 1, and let me tells ya, the contents list is a doozy! To whit:

Essays --
"Lionel Sparrow (1867–1936): An Unknown Australian Writer of Gothic Horror" by James Doig
"The Weird Verse of Christopher Brennan" by Phillip A. Ellis
"Wandering Child: The Fantasies of Vernon Knowles" by Mark Valentine
"An Afternoon with Elizabeth Jolley, author of The Well" by Benjamin Szumskyj
"Shadows & Sexuality: The Horror Stories of Stephen Dedman" by Benjamin Szumskyj
"'Tim Winton's Take on the Weird: In the Winter Dark as Cross-Genre Fiction" by Phillip A. Ellis "A Bibliography of Australian Fantastic Literature to c.1960" by James Doig
"Brett McBean: An Appreciation" by Tim Kroenert
"Thrills and Excitement, Adventure and Action: Don Boyd, an Endless 'Myth-Cycle' Unto Himself" by Charles Lovecraft & Margaret Lovecraft

Interviews --
"Pater Horrere Familas: An Interview with Lee Battersby"
"The Terror From Australis: An Interview Leigh Blackmore"
"The Weird Talesman: An Interview with Terry Dowling"
"Harvesting Wild Grapes: An Interview with Phillip A. Ellis"
"Home is Where the Horror Is: An Interview with Steve Gerlach"
"Laughter From the Dark: An Interview with Richard Harland"
"Horror From the Outback: An Interview with Rick Kennett"
"Darkness Be My Scribe: An Interview with Marty Young"

Ongoing Columnist --
"The Ossuary" by Robert Hood. First article entitled "Ghosts, Monsters and Chainsaws"

Symposiums --
"Joan Lindsay's Picnic at Hanging Rock: A Fortieth Anniversary Retrospect" discussed by James Doig, Patrick Lee and Brett McKenzie
"Crosses & Shadows: Australian Christians Discuss the Horror Genre" discussed by Nathan Hobby, Tim Kroenert, Amanda Robertson, Lyn Battersby and Benjamin Szumskyj

It’s available now, so get the heck over to the site and order a copy of what’s shaping up as an important critical journal.

THE GREEN LANTERN IS NOW BURNING

I know you’ve been waiting: head over to Strange Horizons now, and you’ll find my poem I’ll Keep a Green Lantern Burning. Ta-daaaaaa!

TIN DUCKS AND DITMARS

Swancon, this year, is the National SF Convention. Which means that, apart from being eligible to vote for the Western Australian SF ‘Tin Duck’ Awards, members of the convention can also nominate and vote fro the Ditmar Awards.

So should it interest you to know, the Battlist of eligible works for 2007:

Beached: Daikaiju III
The Time Eater: Dr Who- Destination Prague
Father Muerte & The Joy of Warfare: Aurealis 37
Born of Woman: Daikaiju II (Lyn)


BUT, BUT, BUT……

Year 1 already? When did Erin get so big?

And how cute was it to see her bound out of her room at 6am on Monday morning, fully dressed in uniform and hat, with her backpack on her back, ready to go? Poor thing: the longest 2 and a half hours of her life…..