Sunday, March 29, 2009

Did you know that our middle names have the same number of letters?

Inspired by and posted on Jono's post about the Sydney Writer's Festival:

"I like Writers Festivals for the hilarity of watching the middle-aged book-reading crazies, even after being told to keep questions brief, frame their own questions with a personal history that inevitably begins with:
  • a childhood somewhere regional, usually with a dirt thoroughfare somewhere in the background (a road, a hallway, even a bedroom) and an encouraging parent stalwartly raising many children single-handedly,
  • their own discovery of reading (sprinkled with author names so obscure and brilliant they never even wrote anything),
  • an education-based upheaval (encouraging teacher, lecturer, tutor, uni book-group/slash key party)
  • a personal upheaval (divorce, rat-bag kids, dissatisfying workplace, terminal illness),
  • a thinly-veiled hint at their own bottom-desk-drawer-based novel (this hint is poetry itself: nowhere can you condense all of the above history along with a rigid self-belief in its importance, a rigid refusal to let anyone but the author read it and rigid, poisonous ire at the entire publishing industry, from paper-mill down to Borders delivery driver, for its stupidity in rejecting said desk-drawer manuscript in one throw-away line: "I've even dabbled with the word processor myself ..."), and
  • the mandatory nudge-wink about some shared aspect of their own lives with the author's before finally, just as the chair is giving the secret signal to the sound techo to cut the mic and pretend it was a mysterious power-outage, the question itself tumbles out, all squished and over-baked and sounding like "So, where do you get your ideas?", but in the context of the previous 14 minute, inhalation-free monologue, actually meaning "You understand me. We are going to be great friends. Let's start now. NOW!"
My favourite Writer's Week moment was when Robert Fisk was roundly applauded after he told a man to go away and stop talking because the man had, after making a very long speech about how he and Robert Fisk could quite possibly solve all of the world's problems through a meeting of their easily-comparable minds and being politely interrupted, he grabbed the microphone off the next question-asker.
"I'm not finished!" he yelled into the microphone as he and the next senior-citizen bodily wrestled each other for the final three-and-a-half minutes of question time. This isn't an exaggeration - take about five years off those two fellows and they would have been throwing punches among the sunhats and signed copies. And this was after an hour-long, extremely fascinating and convincing talk by Robert Fisk, world-famous war correspondent, about the pointlessness and futility of violent conflict.

I love Writer's Weeks.


  1. I'd never heard of Robert Fisk, so clicked on the link to find out just who the heck he is. Now I know why I'd never heard of him. He doesn't write the kind of stuff I read. Fiction. Nothing deep and mind challenging for me.
    I used to think I'd be a writer since my primary school essays always got a good grade on them, later I'd make up bedtime stories to tell my kids, but that was as far as I got. Writing as a career just seemed like too much hard work and I'm all about the easy road.

  2. Lordy me, it doesn't have to be just writers' festivals. Anywhere that involves quasi-intellectual discussion (ie green living, community events, what the council's been up to) and if you see sensible shoes, dangly earrings or bi-focals LEAVE IMMEDIATELY or they will, as Franzy has pointed out, tell you their brilliant life story before asking a question.

  3. Should I point out that I wear bi-focals? No? Okay then.

  4. River - You're talking like I've read him? The book he was there to flog has 1100 pages! He was a good and practised speaker though - great to listen to (better than slogging through 1100 about fighting in the middle east). That's why all these Grandads With Not Enough To Do were there: they had read the book, formed their opinions and pictured standing ovations from the crowds for pointing out arguments that Fisk had never dreamed of.

    Kath - I'm often quite sad that I'm not around to listen to the ABC soapbox these days, because it's like a Writer's Week fist-fight every morning! My favourite callers are the ones who have solutions to problems of traffic and youth which all involve people just showing respect to their elders!

  5. Lordy, of course not, although somebody must have read his work. Probably all those Grand-dads with too much time on their hands.


An explanation of The Joy Division Litmus Test

Although it may now be lost in the mysts of thyme, the poll below is still relevant to this blog. In the winter of 2008, Mele and I went to live in Queensland. In order to survive, I bluffed my way into a job at a Coffee Club.
It was quite a reasonable place to work: the hours were regular, the staff were quite nice, it wasn't particularly taxing on my brain.
There were a few downsides: In the six weeks or so that I worked there, there was about a 90% staff turnover (contributed to by my leaving). This wasn't seen as a result of the low pay, the laughability of staff prices or the practice of not distributing tips to staff, rather it was blamed on the lack of work ethic among Bribie Island's youth.
However, one of the stranger aspects of the cultural isolation that touched our lives during our time "up there" was the fact that nobody at my work had heard of the band Joy Division.
The full explanation is available here.
But please, interact a little further and vote in my ongoing poll. The results are slowly mounting up, proving one thing: people read this blog are more well-informed about Joy Division than anyone who works at the Coffee Club on Bribie Island.

Have you heard of the band Joy Division?

Chinese food, not Chinese Internet!

Champions of Guess The Header

  • What is Guess The Header about? Let’s ask regular “Writing” reader, Shippy: "Anyway, after Franzy's stunning September, and having a crack at 'Guess The Header' for the first time - without truly knowing what I was doing mind you - I think I finally understand what 'GTH' is all about. At first I thought you needed to actually know what it was. Don't get me wrong — if you know what it is, it may help you. I now realise that it's more Franzy's way of invoking thought around an image or, more often than not, part of an image. If you dissect slightly the GTH explanatory sentence at the bottom of his blog you come up with this: “The photo is always taken by me and always connects in some way to the topic of the blog entry it heads up.” When the header is put up, the blog below it will in some obscure way have something to do with it. “Interesting comments are judged and scored arbitrarily and the process is open to corruption and bribery with all correspondence being entered into after the fact and on into eternity, ad infinitum amen.” Franzy judges it, but it's not always the GTH that describes the place perfectly that gets it. “The frequent commenters, the wits, the wags and the outright smartarses who, each entry, engage to both guess the origin and relevance of the strip of photo at the top (or “head”) of each new blog and also who leave what I deem the most interesting comment.” It generally helps if you're a complete smartarse and can twist things to mean whatever you feel they should mean - exactly the way Franzy would like things to be twisted." - Shippy Blogger and GTH point scorer.
  • Nai - 1
  • Lion Kinsman - 2
  • Will - 2
  • Brocky - 2
  • Andy Pants - 2
  • The 327th Male - 3
  • Mad Cat Lady - 3
  • Miles McClagen - 4
  • Myninjacockle - 4
  • Asheligh - 5
  • Neil - 5
  • Third Cat - 5
  • Adam Y - 6
  • Squib - 6
  • Mele - 6
  • Moifey - 7
  • Jono - 8
  • The Other, other Sam - 14
  • Kath Lockett - 15
  • Shippy - 19
  • River - 32