Walking and wordage: week 2

Waves on a very full Lake Wendouree show the wintry wind is still blowing in spring.

Two weeks into the walk and words September-athons, and the legs are doing all the work.

Steptember reports an average of about 12,500 steps a day at the halfway mark, which is better than I’d expected (the goal is 10k a day). There have been a couple of windy days but fortunately gaps on the rainy days to keep the mileage up. Let’s see if the weather holds!

The other team members are also on track 🙂

If you’d like to donate to help support people with cerebral palsy, you can do so here

The wordage for Writers Victoria’s #30kin30days has, as expected, not improved.

A couple of book reviews, D&D game planning and general tiredness have meant very little creative energy has been expended on Project Whimsy, although the writing prompts have made me aware of just how much research is needed for even this most basic of stories. Deep sigh and move on.

If I can make some calm air, I’ll return to plotting and character development this month, with an aim to write a skeleton next month. I’m still hung up on the ending. The original thought was a tragedy but now I’m wondering it that’s just the easy way out…

 

Good things come in threes

Herewith, three groovy recent outings that put a smile on my dial:

totes80s21. Totally 80s. Sure, the tour is well over now, but I enjoyed this greatest hits parade far more than I thought I would. Great to see Real Life’s David Sterry, for starters; Wa Wa Nee brought the keytar; Katrina of the Waves rocked out. The main draw, though, was ticking off a bucket list item to finally see Berlin‘s Terri Nunn in action. The set list for Berlin: No More Words, Metro, Masquerade, Animal (yes, still making vibrant music!), Dancing in Berlin, Take My Breath Away, Sex (I’m a). Such a happy vibe, I was smiling from the moment the second song of the night, Safety Dance, got the crowd grooving.

2. Ghostbusters. The remake. Seen it twice now and it’s very cool. The climax feels a little pedestrian (maybe that was just the echo of the original) but to see these four women work together so capably — not an arse shot in the whole movie — is such a delight. Sign me up to the Holtzman fan club. I like what the flick said and how it said it and I had a lot of fun at the same time. Neat cameos, too.


 
3. Pokemon Go. I blame/thank my wife. She loaded it on my phone. And then I went to the city and saw the augmented reality overlay the game provides and it was, like, wow. And then last night we’re parking (because Ballarat turned on the wind machine) and we’re surrounded by other people parking because there are three PokeStops with lures and the critters are spawning like crazy and it’s fun and it’s kind of communal fun — I haven’t seen that much life in that street on a Monday night ever. I also like that public art and graffiti and historic sites are PokeStops so these sites are drawn to your attention. How much attention you pay as they spin and disgorge goodies and critters is up to you.

Anyway. Today is a day to consider some good things and share the word. May you too count good things.

Sharing the love — little heart warmers

2016 has been a bit shit in a lot of ways, hasn’t it? Loss and meanness and downright ugliness. But, as Heart would say, or sing, rather, what about love?*

Well, recently my writerly community was gathered in Melbourne** celebrating their love of the written word, in various literary and visual forms, and my wife and I were off at the other end of Ballarat taking a quiet anniversary weekend out. Here’s a picture: let’s call it Love 1.

Worldmark Ballarat resort

If you like willows and lake reflections and red bricks against blue sky, you’ll find more pictures here.

On day 1 of the weekend, we ate dumplings at our favourite dumpling house (Fu Man Lou) and then went on a ghost tour***, the tickets for which had been given to me for my birthday. That’s love right there — a gift from someone who “gets” you. For the record, the tour started out pretty well, in a haunted Victorian-era bakery subject to flooding, but kind of went off the boil as the night wore on and the cold set it. Too much sauce, not enough substance — unlike the dumplings. Nom nom nom. Funnily enough, the site of the dumpling house was also the setting for one of the ghost stories. What the hell, Love 2.

The second night, we went to Catfish Thai. Oh my, times a bunch. Seven courses, each one delectable. We had a window seat looking over this old brick place and next to it a wall covered in winter ivy — noice. Wonderful restaurant, great service, divine tucker, with a bill best suited to special occasions. Love 3.

And then, as there are on anniversaries, wee small gifts of affection: a Plague Doctor Bird! My beloved secured this months ago, a fabulous work by KJ Bishop, a damn fine writer who also is a dab hand at gardening and sculpture. Round it out with a Batman mug: Love 4!****

Plague Doctor Bird

The weekend wasn’t entirely without its “literature”, of course. We slummed for a day and watched Anomalisa, a disappointing film from Charlie Kaufman about a dude not coping with his decisions in life and hurting everyone; the well-constructed and quite engaging, and infuriating, The Big Short; and a surprisingly entertaining Trainwreck. Claymation annoyance, effective rom com and political statement: Love 5. The wine and cheese gets the movie marathon over the line. Also, do check out a card game called Sushi Go! Great for pairs or groups, quick and easy but not without its strategy. It’s Australian, and, I’ve just found out, was the subject of an Indiegogo campaign: more love!

And, as readers of this blog might realise, I finished off that weekend by sharing that other love of mine: my vampires. But that’s enough about that.

As shit as it all gets, we’ve got nature, and art, and each other. It’s worth taking the time out sometimes to remember that. Love out.

* New album out next month! (New versions, a couple of new tunes *drums finger* still no Oz tour, but.)
** We missed youse all!
*** We did their Ararat ghost tour a few years ago and it was brilliant.
**** In return, there were poppets. We love poppets 🙂

Greetings from Ballaratia

gargoyles at the front door

Five weeks or thereabouts since this blog troubled the interwebs. I guess moving home and waiting … and waiting … for the internet to be connected will do that.

So what’s happened since the boxes went into the truck and came out the other side, here in steamy Ballarat, in the shade of a hill I’ve christened Wendouree Tor?

Well, my pals The Isle have released a funky little ep, Moment, offering a nice mix of electro stylings. Bowie’s new album, The Next Day, ain’t half bad if the streaming’s anything to judge by. How to Destroy Angels have released their first album, Welcome Oblivion, and it’s a cruisy end to the world if ever there was one.

We saw Einstuerzende Neubauten mix-cartons, and it was a crack, seeing them producing all those sounds from what looked like an abandoned dairy farm on the Palace’s stage. I really dig their gentler stuff, but it’s quite amazing how they manage to make music out of all the rattling and banging. And singer Blixa has an amazing voice.

Tonight, we anticipate hearing new Tea Party material. Oh gosh!

Elsewhere, Aurealis magazine is releasing its duo series with publisher Dirk Strasser and the inimitable Jack Dann leading off. The Aurealis Awards date has been announced — May 18 — with a record field under consideration. Should be a hoot. And the Ditmars and Chronos awards are now open for nominations.

Very pleasing to see the Queensland Literary Awards hitting their stride, too, attracting serious financial support and — gasp! — the State Government funding charmingly parochial fellowships. This from the dudes who axed the awards as their first act in power. Interestingly, a Queensland writer was awarded a life achievement by the Australia Council late last year: Herb Wharton got his start by entering the David Unaipon Award, one of those cancelled by the government and saved by the new awards. Did the AC draw attention to this? You betcha. Because you can’t tell someone like Premier Campbell Newman they’ve acted like a twat enough.

But what about The (other) Rat? There are more stars here and far less buses than in the city. We’ve found the Bunnings and the supermarket and a half-decent chipper and have been very pleased indeed to be in the delivery zone of Pizza Capers (bourbon chicken FTW!). The Courier lands on the front lawn each morning and we scavenge restaurants and events and community groups and places of interest and stick them on the fridge. One day, their time will come.

But first, there’s the last of the boxes, the matter of central heating (winter, it is coming…), acclimatising to the commute and starting to think it might be time to resume the edit of the work in progress. And then there’s that overgrown back yard …

New year, new home, new books!

website clipping of ballarat

When I’ve told people we’re moving to Ballarat, there are two comments that usually follow: ‘Why?’ and, ‘It’s cold, y’know. Like, freezing.’

To the latter, the simple answer is, y’know, coats. But the former is a bit more long winded, to do with property prices in Melbourne, and how Ballarat is as close as we could get to spitting distance of the big smoke, and how it’s got a uni and a writers’ centre and a literature festival (hey, it’s Victoria: what town doesn’t have a literature festival? or a market…), and so on. I liken it to being on the Sunshine Coast and working in Brissie, without the coast. Or the ranges, for that matter. Okay, so it’s got a train and it’s got two lanes of divided road with a respectable stretch of 110kmh in between, and it takes about same amount of time, traffic (an hour and a bit) and rail gods (90 minutes and a bit) allowing.

Ballarat’s a tidy town, brimming with neat cottages and such, and history oozing out its mine shafts. No river to speak of, but lots of culverts, and a very fine lake with swans. I’m told it has a very good Irish pub, obviously that friend’s first memory of a previous visit, and a very fine bakery, too — my friends have broad tastes, clearly. Plus — OMG — an absinthe bar!

Kirstyn and I are looking forward to exploring the place, and the surrounds — for instance, the Pyrenees wine district, which I’m told does a very drinkable shiraz, which is what I want in a wine region. Oh yes. AND we’ve spotted a cafe with a view of the cemetery from the al freso dining area — w00t!

By the end of February, we’ll be Ballaratians. Some might pronounce the former Ballah-ratt-e-ans, but I’m thinking of going for Bal-ah-ray-shuns. I guess Rats could also come up. B-Rat is just far too street. I’m stopping now.

So, a new address, our own patch of suburban dirt with a line already dotted out for a future chook pen, I believe. Excitements!

To go with the new house, new books (though the books came first, to be honest), one apiece: my outback vampire road-trippin’ blood-lettin’ romp, Blood and Dust, and Kirstyn’s dark tale of family secrets, an amazing game of make believe and how what you wish for can be a tad detrimental, Perfections. Both are available now in digital formats (all of ’em) thanks to the small but passionate team at Xoum.

There will be some kind of ceremony to mark the arrival of these two yarns into the wilds, but it’s been delayed by the move. One thing to be said for e-books — no packing!

house with Hills hoist

A Hills hoist of our own

 

The First 30 and other poems

the first 30 by graham nunnThe First 30 and other poems, by Brisbane’s Graham Nunn, arrived in the mail today. A wonderful collection of thoughtful, sparsely drawn, emotive poetry dedicated to the arrival of his first child in November last year. At the front there are love poems to other people and places — the opener, ‘A Brisbane Affair’, I could relate to well — and elsewhere there are other chords being strummed, too. But in this otherwise fairly pacific collection there’s this one poem, written for the unborn Thomas, that carries this line: Crows sing ill omen and the flame tree turns to blood. It’s freaking awesome, isn’t it?

Graham launches The First 30 and other poems on Sunday at Queensland Writers Centre at the State Library of Queensland.