Dead Set: zombies and Big Brother

I’ve always though the Big Brother artificial reality shows were daft, but finally, here they are in a context I can appreciate. The Brits have done a gorgeous job of setting up a bunch of BB cast and crew (some real, such as host Davina McCall) caught up in a zombie apocalypse in Dead Set. It’s gritty, visceral viewing, well crafted and superbly acted, and very clever. And in true British fashion, short and sweet and to the point. Tasty indeed! Here’s a trailer.

Archives: Hurts meet fat-draining gang

Courtesy of The Guardian, two weird things that aided my procrastination today:

1. A Peruvian gang, labelled after a homicidal mythical critter called a Pishtaco, has been accused of killing people and draining their fat for use in cosmetics. Read it here.

2. And secondly, a YouTube clip, below, (“It’s even got a Spandau-style sax solo while the video features a gorgeous Edie Sedgwick-alike who appears to be dancing to a completely different song.”) uncovered by 80s-lovin’ Sean Williams. The Guardian has this cool article about the Manchester band, Hurts, who are solidly set in the 1980s. Ah… the haircuts, the synths, the dance… I say again, ahhhh.

Ahem. Twilight. And on Being Human

While in New Orleans in October, I was asked by the Aussie ABC Online to offer some thoughts on the popularity of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga and the state of the vampire mythos today. The article has appeared here, in a preview of the latest movie’s opening.

If ever there was a city in which to talk vampires, it’s New Orleans, or at least the French Quarter, with its uneven, gas-lit sidewalks and classic architecture, and the legacy of Anne Rice never too far away.

Meanwhile, my local cinema is filled with Twilight posters, standees and even a merchandise table that includes, I kid you not, an umbrella for $50. Can someone please make it stop now?

Fortunately, as some kind of counterbalance, however unbalanced that balance might be, there are shows such as Being Human: cleverly scripted, well acted, an engaging take on the supernatural trying to co-exist with the mundane. The premise sounds a little like a gag — a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost all live in this house and… — but it’s not a laughing matter. Think Ultraviolet in a sharehouse. Yummy. Maybe there’s hope after all… even if it doesn’t have a brolly.

Here’s a taste, about how the show approaches its bloodsuckers:

And a trailer for Ultraviolet, truly superb viewing if you can get your hands on the series.

australian dark fantasy and horror, volume 4

australian dark fantasy and horror volume 4

The good folks at Brimstone Press have announced the table of contents for their latest volume of Australian dark fantasy and horror, collected from the 2008 crop, and — big smile — my story, “Smoking, Waiting for the Dawn” (one of several to be included from Dreaming Again), is in there. It’s rubbing shoulders with some mighty good yarns:

“The Last Great House of Isla Tortuga” by Peter M. Ball

“The Claws of Native Ghosts” by Lee Battersby

“Pale Dark Soldier” by Deborah Biancotti

“Heere Be Monsters” by John Birmingham

“Teeth” by Stephen Dedman

“Her Collection of Intimacy” by Paul Haines

“A Guided Tour in the Kingdom of the Dead” by Richard Harland

“Moments of Dying” by Robert Hood

“Just Us” by Pete Kempshall

“Painlessness” by Kirstyn McDermott

“The Casting Out” by Miranda Siemienowicz

More details here.

Jeff Martin, back in Australia

Cool news to come from the Armada gig at the East Brunswick Club last night: Jeff Martin, Canadian songwriter of note, previously of Ireland, has landed in Australia as a full-time resident. Although the travelling troubadour said he didn’t know just how much time he’d get to spend here.

The gig itself, being recorded, was damn fine, although the amount of inane crowd chatter during and between songs could be a headache for the final cut.

Martin, with Wayne Sheehy on percussion and Jay Cortez on bass (and other bits ‘n’ bobs, such as mandolin and harmonica), was in fine fettle for the two-hour performance in a hot, cramped venue offering superb sound. Seated mid-stage throughout in black shirt and jeans, he paraded a host of instruments during the night, including a hurdy gurdy, esraj, oud (won in a Cairo poker game) and theremin, as well as mainstay Gibson guitars, a classic Les Paul and an Australian-made 12-string.

The set list, similar to last year’s tour with familiar banter, ranged from Tea Party favourites such as Sister Awake and The Bazaar, to his signature solo tune, The Kingdom (album review here), again dedicated to Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires, and Armada tunes. He again offered crafty blends of NIN’s Hurt and Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart, and Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love.

One highlight was Coming Home, given extra gusto by his announcement of a move to Oz, and the closing encore song, Black Snake Blues, with Cortez on slide guitar.

In Sheehy and Cortez, Martin has found ideal complements, and, combined with the regularity of his touring, must bode well for the Armada’s future. Or so I hope.

How to write a novel (the Justine method)

In her acceptance speech at the World Fantasy Awards ceremony this year, Margo Lanagan paid tribute to a blog post by fellow Aussie writer Justine Larbalestier about how to write a novel. Given I’m meant to be doing just that at the moment (writing a novel, that is), I looked up that post, and found it helpful indeed. Here it is. I’ve used the spreadsheet tracking method and it’s uncomfortably illuminating!

I also thought her expurgated version held quite a lot of truth.

Enjoy, and then get to it…