Finding Damo

The story of a man, his job, two cats and the meaning of success.

Archive for the category “Pondering”

Evolution of an opinion.

don't deserve to be robbed

A convtroversial picture to get a conversation started.

I know I’ve been away for a bit. It’s because of the picture above. I created this because it was something I was genuinely interested in knowing the answer to: why is this image different from the “Still don’t deserve to be raped” images going around the Internet and social media? My contention: I never want to blame the victim for things that happen. The reason why bad things happen to people is because there are bad people out there who don’t care about human rights. However, knowing that there are evil people in the world who do the wrong thing even with all of our laws and protections in place, isn’t it a good idea to make yourself less of a target?

That was my opinion. So I created this picture. I posted it privately on Facebook, only to my friends. And I invited conversation. I wanted to go through the conversation and post a summary of what was said. But I honestly think that the conversation shows the explanations and crossing of lines better than my summary ever could. So I’m posting the whole thing, names changed to protect the opinionated. And no, I don’t believe the picture above is a good picture to put out there. But as one of the conversationers says: the more conversation out there, the better. Just don’t use it as an excuse.

The conversation:

Male1: I wouldn’t recommend posting it. It won’t change anyone’s mind, because it is such a sensitive issue that people feel strongly about.
This particular example only applies to some people and those victims don’t need to be reminded of dumb decisions made at the time, and it discounts that, short of wearing a bubble, women are at risk anywhere.

Damian Perry The number of times it comes up, and I think “There are so many screwed up evil people in the world, with such screwed up senses of morality, that this argument is less valid than you would expect”.

Damian Perry But yes, I’ve been very hesitant in even putting the picture together

Female1 The picture sort of implies that being a girl wearing “sexy” clothes, or even just walking somewhere alone is a stupid thing to do. The guy in the picture looks like an idiot, who would do that, really? It implies that the parallel message of “still doesn’t deserve it” (with women and rape) is a message of the women doing something dumb and that being the result.

Damian Perry Yeah, and that’s why I’m trying to feel through the situation here rather than in public with people who will, hopefully, forgive me for saying something ridiculous.

Damian Perry Nobody deserves to be raped. Nobody deserves to be robbed. However, there are bad, evil people in the world. If someone walked down an alley with bad people around and (to be less ridiculous) was fiddling with his iPhone, we might say “you idiot”.

Damian Perry Nobody deserves the bad stuff that happens, but bad stuff happens, in these cases because of the bad people. Knowing that there are bad people, is it worth taking the precautions to avoid the bad situation?

Female1 I think the point of the rape issue is that even with precautions many women are still in danger. It’s not always the ones who are flaunting themselves, they could be fully dressed, and conservatively, but still be just as at risk.

Damian Perry Ah. Have I been misreading these pictures then? I thought it was “even if I’m dressed sexy (or naked) I don’t deserve to be raped.”

Female2 This is not the blog I was looking for but it’s close. The difference is is that whilst most men don’t feel entitled to someone else’s money / shiny thing, they are increasingly feeling entitled to a woman’s body Everyday Feminism link When even the ‘sane’ men start questioning misogyny in our society it’s pretty frightening to women. I have no answers, I’m just trying to tell you it’s not the same.

Female2 Ok. Think of it like this. You rob me – I am immediately the victim regardless of circumstances and you are the evil person.
You rape me – I am immediately judged on my clothes, where I was, did I fight back etc etc and you may be misunderstood, you may have not understood no. Etc.

Female3 You’ve got two issues within the spectrum of the rape culture thing, I think – the straight up idea of women being assaulted in lurky places, and the “dressed in tooth floss does not equal rape me” factor. And as someone whose had enough street harassment to varying degrees to want to retire from society forever, I actually find this parallel offensive for the same reasons Female1 has mentioned. Feminism and issue aside – don’t you dare post this because the shadowing on that face and money needs some serious revision.;)

Damian Perry I wanted to create a painted version of the guy to take away any copyright issues of stealing faces and bodies from Google and Photoshopping them, but in the end it was taking too much time for something I wouldn’t be allowed to post anyway, so I just gave up and posted it as is. Sorry Female3!

Female3 That’s what I wanted to hear, Damo. I can deal if its a mock up. I’ve been doing print ready files all day today and feel ready to set adobe on fire.

Female2 It might be more on the money to have a big, macho looking dude telling some cops that he was robbed and them saying – but what were you wearing? Women of the jury?

Female3 I like that idea better. there’s just something about putting a comically dumb man’s face on the issue that sits badly with me..

Damian Perry I’ll repost with the original guy’s face but it didn’t seem to fit

still don't deserve to be robbed seriousFemale4 I am unsure of the message you are trying to imply. Particularly with your comment of taking precautions. The point of the rape pictures is that often in sentencing, and general attitudes of the community it’s the victims responsibility to not have gotten so drunk or not have behaved so provocatively. It is about changing community attitudes that shift the blame from the victim and educate men that consent must always be sought.
To be honest, if I saw that as a blog post I would find it offensive as it implies that women and girls should be taking responsibility through their choices. It is as you said a very sensitive issue.

Damian:

Damian Perry From that article: “The clothes we wear do send messages to the world – if they didn’t we would all be content to wear the same thing. Learning how to decode and respond to the messages being transmitted by a woman wearing a low-cut top is a skill many struggle to ever master.

Again, this is not to argue that a scantily clad woman deserves anything she does not want, and that includes lewd comments and judgment. But women are definitely aware of the attention a nice bum in hot pants will attract, and are generally careful of the context in which they don them. Nightclub: yes. Workplace: no.”

Damian Perry And yes, posting this as a blog could give some people an excuse to use it against women, so I’ll leave it alone. All of the “still don’t deserve…” pictures are trying to reclaim some of the rights that women have lost.

Damian Perry Another point from another source, is that women need to take risks so that they can feel empowered. They need to be able to wear what makes them feel good, even if it does sexualise them, and walk home alone, even if it does put them in danger.

Damian Perry So yes, the picture does say that women should be taking some responsibility through their choices. Not because women are to blame for the things that happen to them. But because there are some evil bastards out there who don’t care that they hurt women.

Damian Perry But I’ve been convinced that posting it would do more harm than good, because we need to live in a world where women will take risks and feel safe and empowered, rather than living in a world where everyone wears loose sweaters and won’t walk anywhere alone, feeling unsafe in their own world.

Damian Perry I like to believe that most men are good, if slightly ignorant. These are the men who can be educated. But not all of them can.

Damian Perry “In the social utopia we all know will never eventuate, of course women ought to be able to do as the chant says: ”Wear what we want when we want.” But in the real world we live in, that is a dangerous motto to live by.”

Damian Perry “Sexual assault counsellors often post leaflets in the toilet cubicles of Melbourne’s busiest nightclubs giving tips to women on how to stay safe : appoint a friend to watch out for your group, make sure your phone is charged, always have a cab fare etc. This is practical advice that does not spark a movement suggesting the counsellors are blaming victims of sexual assault. But in cautioning women against placing themselves in the sort of situations that can make them more vulnerable to rape, are they not saying the same thing as Mr Sanguinetti?”

Damian Perry This is what I’m trying to say. Not to be offensive, just honestly wondering.

Female5 Interestingly… I was on holiday with a gf whose image (choice of jewellery, dressing up in the day time, her choice of window shopping) gave the impression that she has lots of money. Actually she has expensive taste and appears to be a bit “precious”. To me, she looked as though you could easily take advantage of her. On the very crowded train my choice is to appear organised, knowing which stop to get off, looking alert and confident. .. and she loudly says “where are we? What stop are we getting off?” While fixing her lipstick.

She’s MY friend and I made judgements based on her behaviour and appearance that she was vulnerable (“pick me” in a evil persons language)… I feel bad for even thinking it… I’m used to changing my exterior when I Feel vulnerable… and this includes living on a “rape timetable” as one male friend called it. He said: I couldn’t imagine having to live on a rape timetable, be home before dark, don’t walk- take a cab etc. .. I don’t even think about it as a man.

And therein lies another layer to a delicate issue.

I love the point above re: clothing and image communicating… 🙂

For me: I choose to reduce risk of harm. I will change my image, appearance and energetic vibe to camouflage or hide. I will change my behaviour including timing of outings to ensure my behaviour does not say “pick me” in evil language. .. although of course, I shouldn’t have to. Xo

Female3 I can’t comment on this anymore. Damo I am pleased you wanted to discuss this but I think you’d do well to leave it, as you said.
Female5 has a valid point about images and appearances, but that argument makes me tired. A vast majority of rapists are people you know, statistically friends, family etc, and sexual assault perps have been found to care less about skanky clothes and more about vulnerability (I.e drunkenness, Female5’s friend having no idea where she was, being alone). I’d source that but I’ve just woken up and have forgotten where it’s from. I got sexually assaulted on a tram because I had my hands full, carrying stuff home from university. I dress like a mountain potato. If you want to discuss it, maybe approach the issue from the concept that women don’t owe men anything, and vice versa. Safer to do, easier to talk about.

And I agree about the original image – he’s kind of leery, but I can’t say how.

Male2 It’s a discussion we can never have, because all it takes is for someone to say “so it’s the woman’s fault she was raped?” and the rational argument about taking responsibility is over. I’m sure Godwin has some law about it

Male2 Maybe you could make a meta-poster with a picture of yourself creating the original poster. I’m sure there is a great caption you could put on it but can’t think of one right now

Male3 There are so many nuances of the argument that this picture does not address that it becomes a bit pointless. For example, if you had 100 men like this, would one of them be giving all his money to anyone that walked past, and maybe 10% have gone to the alley(nightclub) with the express purpose of finding someone to give their money to, and would the guys in the alley have spent their formative years watching other guys give their money away for free on the internet, would a couple of the guys have gotten so drunk that they gave all their money to someone that they didn’t really mean to and wake up wishing they could get it all back? Is the alley in fact the right place for this scene? Don’t just as many crimes occur in lounge rooms, bed rooms, etc.

Male3 I should also mention that we are not constantly bombarded by popular and social media with content that reinforces the idea that our money belongs to the world, it should be a certain size and shape, and you should post pictures of it online on an hourly basis for the enjoyment of others.

Damian Perry Well, I’m glad that I posted it, just to get so many varied and interesting reactions. But, yes, we do constantly get bombarded with popular and social media content telling us to give our money away, and we do take thousands of pictures of our money (or what we spent it on) to post on Facebook.

Damian Perry And I KNOW that there have been nights where I’ve gotten drunk, woken up the next morning to find that I’ve given my money away and desperately wishing that I hadn’t done it.

Male3 And I guess therein is also part of the problem with the analogy. You may place a different value on your ‘money’ to someone else and the emotional attachment you have to your ‘money’ may be different. It doesn’t give anyone the right to take your ‘money’ but if enough people place little value on it then it creates societal expectations. Add in booze, drugs, mental illness and just plain bad people and you would do well to put your money away and perhaps use something else to make friends. Friends who will still love you when your ‘money’ isn’t as young as it used to be :o)

Female2 When I was at uni my psychology professor said that he once asked his male students to line up at one blackboard and female students to line up at another and write what they do every day to make them feel safe. They could not repeat what another student had written. That was the only rule. The sexes were split fairly evenly. The guys eventually filled up maybe a third of their blackboard. Mostly it was locked their door, make sure that they didn’t leave ovens on etc.
The women filled their blackboard and some of the white board and while it had some of the same stuff as the guys it also had things like don’t make eye contact after dark, don’t walk home alone when the sun goes down, don’t give the taxi driver our real address, etc. He said that women are brought up with a siege mentality, that we were taught how to survive the attack as well as to minimize its happening. He couldn’t then during the exercise, and while telling us about it, begin to imagine what living in constant fear all the while knowing that whatever happened it would always be viewed as our fault. He said that until men decided as a group that this was unacceptable and that no female regardless, was to be thought of as a product to be owned, and until females believed that they meant it the status quo wouldn’t change.

Damian Perry There’s the statement that explains all of the pictures. Finally I get it. Now: would taking all of this conversation, drawing it into a cohesive whole, leaving off attributions (unless you want them) make a good post that would justify an exploration of the picture? If you say no I won’t bother, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who had this picture in their head.

Male3 Do you follow Collective Shout Damo? They bring up some interesting material including the recent Wicked Campers controversy. This is an interested read along the same lines as Female2’s post:

If we reject you

Female2 I don’t mind Damo. The more discussion there is about this subject the better I think. You can’t change someone mind with silence.

Male3 My real problem is this “men must decide as a group it’s unacceptable”. We have. It’s against the law. It’s prosecuted when it’s reported. I don’t know a single man who would condone this behaviour and if I did I’d slap him. To paint all men as complicit in every occurrence of sexual assault is as ridiculous as painting all men as accessories to every murder, robbery, car jacking etc.

Female2 But that’s your group and who you know. I would always presume that people that I hang out with, the people they hang out with would think mostly like me. But do you immediately think predator arsehole when you read about a woman laying charges against a football player or do you think – what was she wearing?

Damian Perry I think that I and my friends are pretty good. I also know some of the conversations we have in guy nights, just as a joke, that prove the exact opposite. I’ve tried to pick up girls in bars and nightclubs (when I was single) which is, according to one of the articles above, a no-no. Men as a group might be outwardly ok with it being unacceptable, but the point is that we all still have our inner apes.

Male3 I try not to judge without knowing the facts. That’s a job for the courts.

Female6 In regards to those we call ‘famous’ getting charged with a crime and society asking who’s really to blame. It’s hard not to question motives when some ‘victims’ wait for so many years. As for people flaunting money, power, fast cars, boobs! Yes you have the right to but it will always draw attention and not necessarily from the right people. I do believe most people are good but there are still dirtbags out there that choose to go against social norms

Female2 See. The way you wrote victims just upsets me. Think of the most traumatic thing that ever happened to you. Make sure that there was a shit load of guilt and self-shame associated with it to make it really work. Then think about how long it would take to tell someone about it. Now think if the person who did all that to you was known to others as good person. How long do you think it would take you to come forward now? Just because you think you are a strong enough person now doesn’t mean they are in the same place. I know a person who wet herself in 5th grade in from of the class. I can bet you she doesn’t talk about that at all.

Female6 ‘Victim’, a word I chose to incorporate a vast group of people. I am a victim of several crimes and I own that word. Being a victim clarifies that I am in no way to blame for what others chose to do to me. I have never felt shame or guilt over any of it and have always come forward. I’ve worked with girls about that age in the same situation, it doesn’t have to be like that and schools aim to teach children to be more accepting these days. Hell, we use to get belittled for blowing our noses in primary school!

Female6 Female2: what are your thought on the siege mentality that your psych professor demonstrated? I would love to live without it and feel safe enough to go to gigs on my own but there have to be some up sides right? It means we should kickarse at risk assessment!
I guess it can explain helicopter parenting. I’ve heard it blamed on Gen X growing up with Stranger Danger that we are terrified of letting our children do anything. Hence why so few kids walk to school or play outside or any activity that a parent can’t hover over.

Female6 Ok, I’ve think this is what I should’ve said all along.
I am glad to live here, I can wear what I want, when I want and stand up for myself when I do it without fear of persecution. Most people will still come to a woman’s aid if she needs it.

Male3 We were at Fed Square on Sunday with our kids then read later about an attempted child stealing. Nothing wrong with reasonable helicoptering! I think part of the ‘blame game’ is also a way of risk assessing. Is there something that person did that, done differently, would have reduced the risk of becoming the victim of the crime. When we establish that we establish the risk to ourselves and also establish how we can protect ourselves and our family from becoming victims.

Female2 I think it’s like anything. Too much is bad. Focusing totally on nothing but your safety means that you will miss out on a lot of awesome stuff, not focusing at least a little means ‘bad’ things can and will probably occur.
What we forget is that towns used to live under siege for many, many years sometimes and the people would get used to the sounds of warfare and just get on.
Heightened awareness is not a bad thing.
To me what has changed about stranger awareness is that WE are more aware of the dangers. 50 years ago no one thought a thing about letting your kids run mad, the dangers were still there but we didn’t talk about or acknowledge them. Now we have pulled the bogeyman out of the closet we are not sure how to deal with it.

Damian Perry Holy crap this became a very in depth discussion.

Male2 It’s certainly a lot better than some other discussions i’ve ever seen on the subject! A rational discussion on a sensitive subject is a rare and wonderous thing.

Male2 Some parallels between the MH17 shootdown here… lots of comments like “how dare you blame Malaysian Air! The people who shot it down are at fault, not the pilot who flew a plane where shootdowns were known to occur”

Male3: http://www.news.com.au/…/story-fnki1jcy-1226995419163

 

Conclusion

Don’t blame the victim. Don’t blame the victim. Don’t blame the victim. There’s no other way around it. Men will never really understand how women feel, but through discussions and actually listening to what is being said, we can start to get an idea.

That’s out and about now. I can get back to some slightly lighter topics.

Advertisements

Small Talk

weatherEvery morning I greet the crossing guard with a wave and some sort of comment on the weather.

“Nice weather to be out in the fine morning sunshine!” or

“You’re earning your pay this morning!” or

“You’re still here? Thought you’d have blown away the way that wind’s going!”

And yes, Pippa, I put the exclamation marks in on purpose.

Small talk. In this situation, it’s perfectly ok. I don’t want to engage her further than that, because then I’d be the idiot standing in the middle of the road while the school traffic is passing through. A comment that lets me acknowledge that I appreciate the job she is doing for us, without getting into a conversation that causes road rage.

I was listening to Tell ‘Em Steve Dave – a podcast by some of the guys on Comic Book Men, and –

kevin smithOK. The Comic Book Men is a TV show – I don’t think we get it in Australia – set in the Secret Stash. The Secret Stash is associated with Kevin Smith. Kevin Smith did Mallrats, Clerks, Chasing Amy…

Caught up yet? Then there’s your homework.

I was listening to this podcast and (insert research here)

Some people hate small talk. And fair enough, if people are just going to look up at the sky and nod thoughtfully before going off on a diatribe about the weather. But small talk doesn’t have to be boring, it just has to be small. What we need is a list of topics that can be knocked off in about a minute without a huge amount of prior knowledge, that make you seem slightly more accessible to strangers and that won’t cause people to actively avoid you in the future.

growthSome topics just should never be brought up at all:

“Hey, did I miss something? When did they allow women to vote?”

“That Pope guy, he’s something else isn’t he?”

“You really have to see this growth that came up on my lower back!”

“I just got a new cat. I have a photo album here on my phone with 250 pictures. Wanna see?”

Others are perfectly acceptable, if taken in the right context, but are still considered borderline. These are the ones that I tend to use when starting a conversation because you are much more likely to achieve an interesting conversation:

smurf“Hey, if you had to be a smurf, which smurf would you be?” (I’ve used this on dates. It doesn’t work)

“You have a minute. Plan the perfect murder.” (This is worse if you keep saying “Nope, that didn’t work” whenever they suggest something)

“What does it have in its pocketsess?” (I say borderline, because this could work really well with certain literary types – or just anyone who watches movies now. *sigh*)

There are also some conversation starters that might seem innocent enough but are so full of potential mayhem that you should probably leave them off the list until you know someone better:

“Where’d you get that bruise?” (no, not really)

“Tell me about your family.”

“Such-and-such is an idiot aren’t they?” (Such-and-such will always be related to whoever you’re talking to)

But in general, there are a few topics you can bring up in public that will knock off a minute or two in a long elevator ride, at a bus stop or in the hairdresser’s chair. Try one of these:

“So, where’d that plane end up?” (or anything that is based on a headline from the most popular tabloid newspaper that week)

“Have you seen the size of that line? What’s going on?”

“Hey, sports are great, aren’t they?” (or something more specific if you know anything about sports)

“Been here long?”

“Did you know the moon landing was faked?” (actually, maybe that’s just me)

And of course, the old standby:

“How’s that weather?”

School is Hell?

First up: WordPress got annoyed at me because I haven’t logged on in 180 days. I have no excuse. This year has been one of extreme lack of creativity. I’ve still achieved a great deal, but I’ve actively avoided anything involving writing. This is the first year since I learned to write that I haven’t written any number of stories. And I think my brain needed the break.

But now my brain is itching to create again. I’ve already started extending some chapters of Finding Damo and outlined a few short stories and plays. Come the summer (if Melbourne experiences summer at all this year) I’ll be up to my eyeballs in creative juices and spitting out new stuff left right and centre.

Can you believe that I just taught a class on not using clichés?

The overt reason that I stopped writing was the below entry. I wrote it. I planned on using a heap of pictures I drew over my high school years. I wanted to discuss it with a couple of people who had joined me in the hell that was Kyabram Secondary College.

And then I left it. I’d thrown out the pictures. The responses from my friends confused me.

And now 180 days have passed.

At about 90 days, I wanted to just post something. But by that time, anything that I wrote would have to be spectacular to justify the delay. A number of what could have been very interesting blog entries have died because they didn’t match up to the gap.

But now I’m done with school for the year. My brain itch is forcing me to write. I have a dozen topics I want to discuss. So I’m going to post this entry, fantastic or not, pictures missing, and then get on with my life.

So, here goes:

School is Hell.

I wonder if anybody actually enjoyed going to high school. Primary school, for the most part, is fun. There’s a heap to learn, and the teachers usually present it in a way that involves making posters and dioramas. Even the bullies don’t hit as hard.

I’ve been thinking almost constantly about my feelings towards high school. If anyone asks me how my high school years were, I instantly respond with “Oh God. I hated them. Worst years of my life. I was bullied constantly from year 8 onwards. It was Hell.”

In Year 8, a knob called Stewart decided to draw on my pencil case with a permanent texta. I didn’t want him to and knocked the texta away, causing it to draw a line across his shirt.

“You bastard. Don’t you know that our family is poor and I can’t afford to buy a new shirt?”

And that, to me, was the catalyst. His friends jumped on his side. And suddenly school was a horrible place to be.

And to be sure, that statement is a bit reductive. Is reductive a word? I’m sure that there were a number of reasons, slowly building, that would have had me excommunicated from my social circle around that time. But at the time, it seemed like a pretty slim excuse to get me thrown out of my friendship group.

They jumped on my “attack” on this kid as an excuse to ditch me, and it spread through the year level.

The best thing that could have happened to me was my trip to Canada in 1989. Dad worked out an exchange and we were going with him. A year’s break from Kyabram was just what I needed. The students even had a (grudging) going away party for me when I left at the end of Year 8.

I’m getting to a point, but hear me out.

When I was in Year 10, my issues were more with a couple of absolute tools than with the school in general. One moron who promised me that he would “push your head through the wall and watch your brains leak out.” His name is Joel and I’m really hoping he’s in prison being stabbed with a shiv. He’d lay in wait for me, so that I had to take the long way around the school buildings to get out without him seeing me.

The other was a dropkick whose name I really should remember. He would casually push me around for the hell of it. He was… Shannon*? He was a burly lad with a good following of hangers-on and a desire to make my life difficult. Issues with him came to a head when I was on the Central Australia camp. He pushed me to the ground because the concept of me was annoying to him.

* 2018 edit:  You can see in the comments the one I received from Shannon. I honestly remember being friendly with Shannon. I know I have a couple of friends who he wasn’t friendly to. I remember being pushed to the ground. The guy was a year older than me, was an arrogant sod. Apparently not Shannon. So, sorry Shannon, for slandering you in my blog. I need to find my drawings and Central Australia placemat to find out who was on the trip. No more random namedropping without proof.

Hamish was a good friend of mine in Primary School and Year 7. Seeing as I’d come from a catholic school and moved into the state system, he was my link into the group of friends I had in high school. His turning on me was one of the more hurtful things that happened to me. Honestly though, he turned out to be an absolute dick, so I’m probably better off without him. I caught up with him at a night club when I was in university with Scott something-or-other, another “good” friend from those early years. They were belligerent and bullying, something I thought I’d left behind from school. But neither of them actually accomplished anything with their lives, so I’m not overly fussed by their opinions.

So, the point: I have some incredibly strong negative associations with school. But if I list all of my memories of school in two columns, I’m pretty sure my positive associations will be stronger than the negative.

Let’s give it a shot, remembering the fact that these are all pretty specific, and you might be lost. Bear with me. I’m unburdening.

Damo’s list of school memories, separated by positive/negative bias:

 Negative

  •  Bullied by Joel. of course, this went on for most of a year, so it’s up there.
  • Bullied by Shannon someone.Not a major memory. just that one incident on camp that sticks in my mind.
  • Ostracised by friends in year 8.
  • Calculus
  • Zoe Kennedy – always looking to pick on a kid for something.
  • Mr Ryall, who I annoyed on a Biology camp and who took it out on my brother. He’s a lot nicer now, btw.
  • That evil cow… what was her name? She was doing the production instead of Lance Twentyman (he’s another blog completely!). And we just bumped heads from the beginning and it ramped up as  the production went on. And I’m sure, through a teacher’s eyes, that I was a difficult prima-donna, but she was evil.
  • The Year 10 city camp. A couple of kids got done for shoplifting. One girl got pregnant while her friend watched from the bottom bunk. And my friends weren’t talking to me after my breakup with Shereen.
  • All the zits and the medication for the zits. And the mood changes caused by the medication for the zits.
  • Fighting Jason – the only fight I’ve ever been in in my life. It lasted less than 10 seconds. I didn’t win.
  • Attempting to sing Time Warp at a school social and the DJ turning off the music and kicking me off the stage.
  • Being put into a remedial PE class.
  • PE class in general.

And that’s pretty much it. There is probably a lot more, hidden away and popping up as I remember, but considering my dislike of the institution, that’s a pretty short list.

 Positives.

  •  The Year 7 Pram Drag – we always ended up being completely covered in mud.
  • School productions. Again, this is probably a different blog. A happier blog. But highlights included:
    • Bats – dressing up as Dracula
    • Pippin – King Charles
    • Roll Over Beethoven and being a member of Kiss and the Beatles.
  • Vanessa Walker, who I’ve never been able to find through cyber-stalking, but who was a vibrant, happy personality, and who left at the end of … Year 7?
  • Shereen and Nat and that group. Happy, cheerful, fun-loving people.
  • Amanda and Grant and that group.
  • Justin Thompson, Jason Morris, Jason D and Lyle, who were my main social group in Year 11 and 12.
  • Craig Grummit, who introduced me to Queen and showed me what you could do with computer programming.
  • Debating
  • Georga Evans in Year 8 and Year 10. And linked to that:
  • Being asked to be a deb partner, but better still:
  • Not having to actually be a deb partner (she had to have an operation on her foot).
  • English class.
  • Literature. With Julienne Sinclair – an absolutely marvellous individual.
  • Biology and our two male Guinea Pigs that were meant to breed.
  • Photography class – for the week I did it.
  • Getting copies of Wired World of sport on copied cassette tape.
  •  The computers – the first IBMs I’d worked on. I hacked the password and replaced all of the software links with games.
  • Maths tutoring with Mick Walsh.
  • Graphic design and my In Line for the Dole Queue VCE top design (which wasn’t taken up).
  • Going out in Shepparton.
  • A VCE Info Tech weeklong camp looking at Technology and my first taste of the Internet.
  • The school library, which was a haven and a constant source of books.
  • Playing foursquare.
  • Chatting with Nick, who was weird but very knowledgeable.
  • Piano lessons with Sharon Leppard.
  • Home economics. Learning to cook is something I will never regret.

The positive list is way longer than the negative list. I had some very positive experiences at high school. Being bullied is hell for anybody. And it coloured my perception of high school for years. But now I can look at the experience as the growth experience that it was. I’ll never forgive the idiots who felt the need to torture me through high school. But I can now realise that it wasn’t all bad.

Epiphany!

Post epiphany:

I emailed this to a couple of people I went to high school with to see if they had the same perception of what I was going through. This led to a very interesting conversation. Part of that was “You realise that nobody’s going to get anything out of this, because it’s all incredibly specific?”

The rest of it is below. Names removed to protect the innocent.

Friend 1: I asked him what he remembered of my experiences in High School, as I might have blocked out some of the worst stuff.

“We went to high school?” he said. His experience was as traumatic as mine. He was surprised and upset to find out that I’d had this experience in high school. He told me about his own experiences – beatings and pranks and humiliation throughout primary school that still upsets him. He went to a school reunion hoping that things had changed to find that these people were just as ignorant and juvenile as they had been in primary school.

He has good memories of high school as well, but they are also overshadowed by the crap that happened alongside them.

I went to a reunion. I think it may have been 10 years. I enjoyed myself immensely. Most of the people I didn’t want to see didn’t show up and the people that were there were all very nice. It was a pleasant evening. The people at the reunion were people who didn’t get involved in the bullying. Of course, they didn’t actively stop it, but that’s pretty standard for high school.

The other comment from my friends was that it was good to know that even though we were in our own bubbles, not knowing what was happening to the others, that there was someone else out there who knew how we felt.

And finally, that it was sad that we travelled together through this journey, but also completely alone.

Send more exorcists!

This blog started off being something strange and quirky and quickly became a quite deep conversation on religion. Ive done studies into the Church and the Catholic faith over the years, being a Catholic school teacher. Ive taught Religious Education and try always to approach it from the point of view of acceptance and tolerance first, as the best priests Ive known have also preached. Below are some of the thoughts Ive had. The scholarly writing Ive put together has always gotten me into trouble, but it seems to be based on solid research and interpretation. Enjoy. Or dont.

Draw Something 2 ExorcistSend more Exorcists!

So the pope apparently tried to perform an exorcism on a disabled man during an appearance (1, 2 3). Exorcism experts say that he was reciting prayers for ridding a person of evil spirits. The pope’s peeps insist that he was only praying over the man, as he usually does when meeting sick people.

However, a spokeswoman for the church in Madrid says that exorcism is real and there is a plan to train up more exorcists to fight the devil in Spain. The devil came down from Georgia and just kept on going.

I posted this on Facebook and a friend immediately came up with these statements:

“Hmmm… I might give Madrid a miss until they have their demonic possession problem sorted out.”

‘Or maybe it’s a trap? “Our demons are hungry. Please send more exorcists.”‘

Catholics are weird. I should know, I am one. But the church in general, being the starting point for the Christian religion, has just held onto all of the things the other flavours have given up on.

Celibacy for leaders of the church.

Disappeared in most denominations when they realized that it was completely untenable and caused more problems for the community than a holy man who dared to love someone else apart from God.

Reconciliation (confession)

People sin. A sinner can’t get into Heaven. But if you have a priest absolve you of your sin, that’s all good. Tell the priest what you did. He’ll give you some Hail Marys and Our Fathers, and send you on your way, blameless as a newborn child.

That’s an insultingly simplistic view of the rite. You have to want and ask for forgiveness. You need to repent. And if you’ve wronged someone, often the priest will suggest as part of your penance that you tell the person and ask for their forgiveness as well. It depends on the priest. But for years, I went to confession, sat in the booth, very aware that the priest knew exactly who I was, and confessed that “I took the Lord’s name in vain. I had impure thoughts. I fought with my brother and didn’t respect my parents”, took the penance of prayer and went on with my life. I’m pretty sure confession only works when you’re confessing to a priest you don’t have to deal with every Sunday as an altar boy.

That reminds me of a joke, the punchline being: “A Mars Bar and a can of Coke”. You’re not getting any more out of me here, that’s for sure.

No women priests.

I’ve actually done research on this one. And although hundreds of church leaders and scholars came up with a different interpretation, I can’t find any reason why women can’t be priests. So, to finish off, here are some excerpts from an essay I wrote on the subject:

Modern scholars and Christologists interpret the Gospels and the life of Jesus from the basis of their own world views. There is no such thing as objectivity. Our world is not Christ’s world and our culture is not His culture. Having said that, we can still take valuable lessons from the words and deeds of Jesus. We can definitely use his actions as written in the Gospels to provide examples on how to react to certain issues in contemporary society.

In society today, one of the greatest issues is the equality of the sexes. The equal treatment of men and women in the workforce and in the minds of the people. Part of that equality should be the ability for both men and women to be ordained in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church makes an illogical argument for not ordaining women and ignores the message of Christ’s actions as set down in the Gospels.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994, p394) tells us that women cannot be ordained because:

“The Lord Jesus chose men to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose the collaborators to succeed them in their ministry.”

Taking the argument that anyone not chosen by Christ* cannot be ordained as a priest can lead us in a terrifying direction. No Asians were chosen. No people of colour. No disabled people. The negative argument is far too limiting. We need to look at the intentions of Christ and his Ministry, as well as the world that he lived in.

The Jesus Christ of the Gospels was all-inclusive. He dealt with and welcomed thieves and tax collectors, prostitutes, the sick and foreigners.

And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:3)

He had a special place in his heart for children.

But Jesus called for them and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. (Luke 18:16)

Most importantly, he always treated women equally to men. In a society where women “had no official place in religion”**, the Gospels make a point of mentioning Jesus’ interactions with women, especially in Luke’s Gospel. Women were clearly important in Jesus’ eyes.

Jesus called upon women to be disciples, as well as men. His message was that the call to discipleship and the “message of the kingdom” was to come before “social and family patterns” (Notes, p33). Women such as Jesus’ mother, Mary Magdalene, Mary and Martha and Joanna were called to follow him and pass on the message he was preaching. More significant is the fact that it was Mary Magdalene and a number of women who brought the Good News of Christ’s resurrection to the Apostles***. The angels at the tomb reminded the women of Jesus’ words, “that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” (Luke 24:7) The women went to the apostles and others to tell them. It is hard to claim that women cannot preach the Good News when it was women who were the first to do so.

And, being that this is a blog with research, here is the research that I did! Proud of me?

News Sources

Man in Pope Francis Exorcism Story Says He’s Still Possessed by Demons

Did Pope Francis perform an exorcism?

Pope Francis denies performing exorcism on wheelchair-bound boy in Rome

 Bibliography

  • *“The Arguments from Scripture” London, UK: Women Priests. Accessed 16 April 2007. Available from http://www.womenpriests.org/scrip_ac.asp
  • ***Carrol, Elizabeth (1975) Theological Studies 36, quoted in “Women and Ministry” London, UK: Women Prists. Accessed 16 April 2007. Available from http://www.womenpriests.org/classic/carroll3.asp
  • **Goosen, G & Tomlinson, M (1994) , Studying the Gospels: an introduction, Newtown: EJ Dwyer (Australia) Pty Ltd.
  • (1998) The Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version, London: HarperCollinsReligious
  • Hall, Rev G (1996), Course Notes, Certificate of Religious Education (NSW), CEO Sydney

The Bucket

This last weekend was my first wedding anniversary. This has nothing to do with this entry. However…

We went to a French restaurant. I didn’t remember ever going to a French restaurant until my sister reminded me that in Canada my parents had to stop my brother from ordering the snails. This restaurant didn’t offer snails. It did offer steak tartare. So that was my order of choice, knowing that I wouldn’t eat it normally. And then the waiter (cool French accent tinged with Canadian) told me the specials, which included…

banquetasterixWILD BOAR!

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to dine on the same food as Asterix and Obelix, so steak tartare would have to wait for another day.

During the course of the evening I brought up the concept of a Bucket List. It seems that everyone has one. A list of things you have to do before you kick the bucket. I have previously brought up the idea of a post-bucket list – a list of things that I want to achieve after I have kicked the bucket.

But I haven’t really discussed the things that I want to achieve beforehand.

In a blog that deals (in theory) with the concept of success, this seems very remiss. And so, I present to you: THE FINDING DAMO BUCKET LIST.

Some of the things on this list are a tad outrageous. Some are completely normal and there’s no real reason why I haven’t done them yet. I want to have a number of items on the list that are achievable. Otherwise, why have a list at all?

A very funny man by the name of Michael Workman (FBTW) made the point that our lives would be a hell of a lot more fulfilling if we swapped our bucket list with our list of daily chores. And so, if we had a bit of spare time left after learning Swahili, we might manage to get some washing done.

I want to do all of the stuff on this list. If I get something done, I’ll let you know. I won’t make it the main focus of the blog. There are hundreds of Bucket List blogs out there. But I thought it was worth a once off. The list will be maintained as a separate page on Finding Damo, and I’ll update my achievements there (for the one or two people that are interested). Until then, however, a look inside the strange wants of Damo, in his search for success in all forms.

finding damo bucket list FINDING DAMO BUCKET LIST

 Fashion

  • Own a purple suit.
  • Make a penguin costume for each member of the family.
  • Make a troll costume.
  • Replace an eye with a computerised copy – an iBall, so to speak.

 Food

  • Snails
  • Witchetty Grubs

 Travel

  • Scotland
  • Ireland
  • England (the rest)
  • France (the rest)

 bucket picturesCreativity

  • Publish a comic strip.
  • Write an app.
  • Make a short film.
  • Make a feature film.
  • Have an amateur play produced (outside of school) – 1 act or full length.

 Fame

  • Get paid to act
  • Achieve, or at least be nominated for, Teacher of the Year.
  • Be an extra
  • Get a novel published (I already have short stories published – thanks to Alfie Dog)
  • Have a YouTube clip go viral
  • Have a play produced professionally

 Learning/Reading/Watching

  • Pull a car apart and put it back together.
  • Learn to play the guitar
  • Learn to play the harmonica
  • Get back up to speed on the piano
  • Read War and Peace
  • Read Gone with the Wind
  • Read Les Miserables

Family

  • Be involved in the creation of biological offspring

Obviously, I am a man of simple needs. Let me know if you can help me achieve any of the above!

Imagination and the post-y generation

tripodLast night we went to see Tripod: Men of Substance. It was a vaguely depressing show, as the boys (men, now) addressed turning 40 and sixteen years of performing. Shereen thought it was hilarious. I looked at us, 16 years ago, drinking at the Prince Pat and watching Tripod doing Open Slather. Each of them had their own coloured shirts. It was fresh and funny and we’d drink too much and stagger home afterwards.

This show started at 8.45 and we were home by midnight. Sad sad sad.

I’ve always liked Tripod. They write for my generation and my type of person. There are references to Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars and Commodore 64s. One of their songs last night was called “Waiting for the Game to Load” after putting the tape in, typing load and pressing play. Ah, the memories.

People magazine

Builders had good taste

At one stage they commented on having to go to the tip to get porn. When I was a pre-teen living in Kyabram, we used to hunt down building sites. There we would find the builders’ stash of People (tame) and Picture (less tame) magazines. I had no idea that there was anything stronger available until  high school and my introduction to working life as a paper boy. With 20 boys and 1 adult supervisor, suddenly we had illicit access to a whole new class of porn –Penthouse and Playboy at the tame end, Hustler and other plastic-baggers catering to whatever your particular fetish was at the other end.

But still, getting access to it required a bit of effort and some ingenuity. And of course, you had to outsmart your parents in the hiding. A regular rotation shift of location and the occasional emergency ditching to a friend seemed to work.

Now of course, the Internet has killed all creativity in that area. I teach a Cyber Safety unit at school. When I talk to the students about safe and unsafe uses of the Internet, I almost always have to take notes, as they list off incredibly thorough listings of sites with free access. Of course, they don’t tell me that these are porn sites. I ask them for popular web sites and they will say something like “Oh, I’m always on RedTube, sir, do you know it?” and then watch my expression closely. I have mastered the blank expression, but often I don’t need it. These students know more about free porn than I ever will (holding out wedding ring).

I got really side-tracked here from where I was going in this post. What was I going to say?

Oh yes, imagination.

Tripod’s other little gem was that boredom is the catalyst for imagination. My brother and I never got up in the morning thinking that today was the day that I would almost cut off his thumb. We would eat breakfast, sit around a bit, and then say “OK. I’m bored. What do you want to do?” And one of us would remember that there was a hatchet in the back shed, and a stack of wood that could be cut up. And of course, Justin would have to hold the wood still. And then there was the hospital trip and another experience arising out of boredom and imagination.

I’m not saying it right.

We would sit around, nothing better to do. And then Justin would point out that we could jump off the roof, onto the trampoline, and from there to the cushions and mattresses from the caravan. Mostly, he was right.

This is why I’m not in sales.

OK, last try. Dad would bring home a video camera. It was a massive thing, with a shoulder strap to hold the player, attached by a cord to the camera itself. We would spend hours creating film. We figured out how to do stop motion and would drive chairs around the backyard. We realized that if the camera was on a tripod (not a Tripod) we could do special effects, turning Elise into Dad and making people disappear. We would do David Attenborough specials through the wilderness of our backyard, and rope in our friends to create advertisements for made up soap and pet food. We let our imaginations run wild and rarely came back to earth.

bored is good

bored is good

I’m not even sure that teenagers today would get Calvin and Hobbes. “Is he playing some sort of a computer game?” “Is it something like Inception?”

Of course, there are still the precious few – those children and young adults who can live inside their minds and find the hidden worlds that exist all around the bored and the inquisitive. And imagination exhibits in other ways. The special effects that abound in today’s movies are incredible. And someone had to imagine that. Computer games are pushing the boundaries between interaction and storytelling, to great effect. Only two percent of novels are published, which means that for every novel on the bookshelves, there are … um, more (199?) that have been written, but not published, which is an amazing output of imagination. Imagination isn’t dead.

But:

Kids who spend all of their time playing Clash of Clans. Kids who don’t know the meaning of boredom due to being given iPods at the age of four. Parents who turn on the tv or the computer or the console whenever a child says “I’m bored.”

These people are giving imagination a damn good thrashing. I’m sure our creativity is diminishing as a species. And what does that mean for humanity as a whole?

It’s the dreamers, the bored and the curious who have gotten us to where we are today. If nobody is allowed to be bored, they won’t dream, they won’t have a need to ask “What will happen if I mix these two…” BOOM.

And may the gods help us then.

PS. A side not that I couldn’t fit in anywhere else: Film studios need to get past remaking films from other countries and other decades, or adapting nostalgic television into nauseating and forgettable cinema.

PPS. Today was the bored. Next week will be the dreamers. Does that mean I now have to write a curious blog post about skinning cats?

PPS. Finding Damo word count tomorrow. I’m also writing a new one-act play.

 

When you can’t say something nice…

A quarter of the year has gone by. Finding Damo has been dead silent. There are a number of reasons for this, but the main one is: I forgot the first rule of being a writer.

Write.

30 Years of DiscworldThat being said, I have been incredibly creative over the past few months. As publicity officer for Nullus Anxietas IV, I’ve written a couple of scripts, a couple of articles, many many press releases, maintained four different social networks and sang Who Will Buy (from Oliver) with completely different words (for Dibbler). I’ve done a lot of film work. And I worked with Pippa to create a Discworld cake that would feed over a hundred people. With gluten free extras.

My family loves having me around again. Shereen called herself the “Convention Widow”, so when I am home, I am loathe to hide myself in a room to write.

I have also (shock horror) spent a good deal of time doing my actual job. I’m teaching History for the first time in five years and in my brain, Australian History has always been “marked for Deletion” in case anything more important entered my head – like for example a quote from a Harry Dresden novel. Whoops, there goes the Eureka Stockade! Gone.

So I’m filling my head with useful facts, getting the Golden Pen writing club back up (stay tuned for more short stories because of that one) and trying to field a successful debating team.

And with the debating competition come the debating topics. Ah, the wonderful topics. Always something to comment on. Should we ban streaming classes in schools? Should stay-at-home parents be paid a wage?
Why don’t we just let sports figures take whatever drug they want?

ooooOOOOOooooo. Excellent topic.

It just begs to be taken to the illogical extreme. Sports people are doing drugs. The ones that aren’t are obviously at a disadvantage. Why not just let everybody take performance enhancing drugs, level the playing field and look forward to an infinitely more entertaining sporting experience?

There is, of course, the matter of rich nations immediately having an advantage (that’s where the good drugs are), especially in international events like the Olympics.

But really, I’m more interested in events like Football, boxing, wrestling. Events where we can expand the sport beyond the limits of our puny human bodies into something truly awesome.

Just imagine it: the Pharmaceutical Games. Who cares what that athlete’s name is? He has nothing to do with how well he’s going to perform!

bayer contestant“Coming into the arena now is the Bayer contestant. Whoa but he’s a beauty. The medical boffins have turned him into a mean (literally) green fighting machine. I’m assuming that has something to do with his chlorophyll count. Dr. Heckyll, would you care to comment on your creation?”

“Yes, Jim. Thank you. As you have guessed, we have genetically modified this specimen to take energy directly from the sun. It no longer has to worry about anaerobic pain, as individual cells are constantly fed oxygen from every pore on its skin.”

“And how do you think it will compete against the Johnson&Johnson competitor? Oh, he’s coming out now. Wow. He’s almost twice the size of your creation.”

“I’m not worried in the slightest. The J&J beast is big, but they haven’t had a winning fighter since the Blob, back in ’28!”
If you weren’t worried by little considerations such as ethics and the well-being of competitors, sport could be something I might even tune in to watch! Who cares about fairness in sport? Sport was created as a way for lords to observe the fitness of their soldiers outside of proper warfare. It was war without the death (mostly). In that situation, the person who wins is better and the reasons why they win stop being so important. Fairness? Pah. All is fair in love and sport!

I think the Death Race model is one of the better ones. Take convicts who have been sentenced to death. Give them the opportunity to win their freedom in the arena. Make them sign their body over to whichever pharmaceutical company came first in the draft. And let them have a field day.

Of course, we could never let these hulks loose on society afterwards. But they don’t have to know that, do they?
Where’s the drawback? I see no way that this could go horribly wrong, only to be resolved in around 120 minutes of bloody action!

I think I should take a break now. Gain some perspective. I’m back on the weekly blog schedule, and have some keen insights in store for 2013.

BTW, I’ve started writing again. This week was a one-act play and a short story. Finding Damo (the novel, not the blog) is calling to me. I’ll post word counts next week.

Happy Easter everyone!

Hippy Gnu Ear

A year ago, plus or minus a day, I began a blog. It had a modest goal: to define success, make me famous and tell the life story of Damo – a completely fictional man who just happens to have done a lot of the same things that I have done.

2012And with this modest goal, Finding Damo has been modestly successful. In my first month, I mused upon doing good deeds, conspiracy theories, first love and dating. As the year progressed I talked about the death of my father and the existence of the loch ness monster, my family and friends, writing and spiders. I wrote an entire short story over a number of days, with lots of lovely cliff-hangers. In 2012, I wrote 52 blog entries. I won’t say that I wrote one a week, but the average is pretty good.

And people started reading the blog. At first it was just family and friends. But now, there are a core of random strangers who have latched on and stroke my ego with their kind words. For the year, the blog had 4,000 views, which isn’t going to kill the server, but does keep me interested enough to continue.

I started Finding Damo for a number of reasons. The first was a desire to create an online presence where I could start to make a name for myself before hunting out a publisher. It also allowed me to get into the habit of writing on a regular basis and to practise structuring my thoughts in a way that other people could understand. Believe me, this has been the hard part!

Secondly, I was inspired by a number of people who had successful blogs, and stole the idea from them.

simone2One of my best friends in the world (and I mean in the world – she lives in London) writes a blog called Simone Scribbles. She put me onto Word Press and her blog began as a way to keep in touch with her English friends while she was in Australia. Her prose is incredibly readable and filled with humour and wry observations on life. She’s definitely worth a look.

goodies undiesOne of my first followers is a friend from childhood – Katy. She writes a blog called Ragged Blossom Handmade. It is a series of marvellous ideas on how to recycle clothing and other throwaway items into something new and interesting. She also puts up recipes. Gluten free, very tasty recipes.

remote remotedFinally, my cousin Anna writes a blog called the Fun Activities Catalogue. I know that people say this all the time, but I have never laughed so hard at a blog – professional or otherwise – than I have at Anna’s antics as she tries to relieve the boredom. Asking people on chat roulette about their music choices and getting revenge on her amorous and noisy neighbours are two of my favourites.

But enough about them. This is about me.

This last year was a stupendously busy one. In one year I:

  • Got married
  • Bought a house
  • Edited and submitted a novel for publishing
  • Had two short stories published online (go buy them).
  • Wrote and directed the College musical.
  • Became the public relations officer (official people botherer) for Nullus Anxietas IV – the Australian Discworld convention. This involved, at various times:

And in the twelfth month, he rested.

But now I’m bored. And in the spirit of New Years’ Resolutions that will be completely ignored within a month, I present:

Finding Damo’s list of things to do.

  1. Get an agent. I want this bloody novel published.
  2. If nothing has happened by mid-year, work on self-publishing Dwarves in Space.
  3. Help run Nullus Anxietas IV.
  4. Get back into acting.
  5. Write a serious play.
  6. Submit more short stories for publication.
  7. Write 1000 words a week on Finding Damo. Hopefully more.
  8. Get back to a weight where I can comfortably do up the neck button on my shirts.
  9. Tell gluten, dairy and sugar to “Get thee behind me Satan!” (there has been a certain amount of backsliding over the summer break)
  10. Make the fish-pond habitable for fish (almost there).
  11. Make a troll suit.
  12. Create a video and have it go viral.

I’m also going to start a bucket list, place it on its own page on Finding Damo, and try to knock some of them off.

So, another busy year.

To all those who have been hanging on so far, thank you and a very Happy New Year to you. Now, go and tell your friends! Here’s to 2013 and the survival of the many apocalypses!

There was supposed to be an earth-shattering KABOOM!

Dwarves in Space.

I’m in the study of my new house, looking out at a magnificent garden and wondering why I’m not outside. At the moment, all that is stopping me is the deadline of sending my novel out to be published. And all that is stopping me there is the lack of a title.

For years, I have been calling it Dwarves in Space. And then a few people commented that it was a ridiculous title. So I changed it to “Don’t stop the world, I want to get back on.” which was very indicative of the story, but was, in the words of my friend and mentor, Danny Galvin, “a pun on a book from before you were born. Nobody will get it.”

After an incredibly long brainstorming session at Mum’s place, we ended up with the title Starstruck. Boring, but catchy. Not too punny. The problem is, you’d have to read it to get it.

And so, when I started farming it out to editors, I changed it back to Dwarves in Space!

And then I had Geoff Brown go over it – he did a great job of picking out the worst grammatical flaws and story faults, but didn’t notice that even though the Eagle was lying on the side of Mount Olympus, it was also flying King Roland back to the city for the end scene.

Oops. Minor spoilers.

My favourite quote from him was as follows: “I think the title leaves a lot to be desired, and doesn’t show the true richness of the story.”

So I’ve been madly trying to find a name that does show the true richness of the story.

Feel free to help. Here’s my brainstorm: https://bubbl.us/?h=14817/21f3cb/83C1g3DlojTJw

I’m trying to find a title that is epic, that links fantasy – with its elves, wizards, dwarves and magic – to spaceships and starcharts. It’s a comedy, so I’d hope the title demonstrated that somehow.

Not much to ask for, you must admit!

If nothing comes to me, I’ll have to hope that Penguin’s promise that “All manuscripts are carefully read and assessed,” is true, and they read it on its merit and maybe suggest something better. Who can tell?

I’m telling you, this has been an epic journey just in the writing. Let me tell you a story…

Many MANY years ago, I decided to go to a psychic. She was incredibly good at teasing out details and surprised me with a number of predictions that she couldn’t have known about. She is the reason why I didn’t get my motorcycle license. She also told me that I’d write a novel “something to do with the wizard necklace you are wearing” and get it  published. I’d been thinking of a novel about wizards and dwarves on a spaceship, and the havoc that would ensue as they tried to learn how to fly the ship. I got home and started writing.

The next phase of this story takes place in Japan. I was dating a girl named Kallie, who was a great reason not to be at home. I left early each morning and went to a cafe. I drank coffee, smoke cigarettes and wrote for four hours a day. In the ten months I lived in Japan, I knocked off ninety-five percent of the novel. And I was very happy with it.

 

And then I started reading books on publishing, and the first thing they said was “you won’t get published without having some short stories published first.”

And I met Sara Douglass. Well, I re-met her. She was my History lecturer at university, and she was an incredible writer and an incredible lecturer – full of life and humour. And I don’t want to speak ill of the dead, but her advice to me was “You will never sell anything that’s a mish-mash of so many genres.” That put me right off.

So we fast-forward ten years. I’ve had a few short stories published, I’m well into my next novel, and I’m ready to go on … ahem… Dwarves in Space!

Pippa has been invaluable in this part, going through the manuscript with a fine tooth comb, telling me over and over to work on my female characters, and pointing out grammatical errors that make me ashamed to say that I teach English for a living.

And I’m sure that much of the reason that I haven’t tried to have it published before now is, I am deathly afraid that after spending more than a decade with my baby, it will be rejected. But that’s not enough of a reason any more. OK. Here we go people. I’m pressing the send button!

Post-Bucket List

So, as I’ve mentioned before, I was hunting down life insurance. Well, I’m now insured. Take all the pot-shots you want, my family is covered.

Oh, unless I get bowel cancer. Apparently one person in my entire family getting it means that I’m too much of a risk to get it as well, so I’m not covered for that.

Never mind, I’ll just have to make sure any critical illnesses I get aren’t that.

I wonder whether becoming a zombie counts as a “critical illness”. I’m sure I couldn’t effectively do my job. What would zombies teach? Biology? Physical  Education? I’d be unemployed and almost unemployable. Maybe McDonald’s. “Would you like brains with that?”

Dead, but still poking around. That reminds me. Awhile ago I posted on Twitter a “post-bucket list”. A list of things I want to do once I’ve kicked the bucket. Everyone has a list of things they want to do before they die. I thought I’d be a little more ambitious.

This list came out of noticing that a number of dead friends and relatives were still popping up on Facebook. “You haven’t chatted to this person for awhile!”

Yes. They’re dead, you insensitive multi-national corporation!

But anyway, the list:

  1. Delete my Facebook account. Although, I might post a couple of status updates first.
    1. “Man it’s hot down here!”
    2. “Oh look, Elvis!”
    3. Damian has poked you… with a chilly, ghostly finger.
    4. Make a clay pot with Demi Moore
    5. Haunt someone. Kevin Smith was talking about a friend who saw her brother on the wing of a plane, saying that he was at peace. I think I would have something more interesting to say. “You know, there are all these tiny lights. So pretty. And they’re getting closer… Oh, oh no. Stop! Get off me! AAARGH!”
    6. Brainssssss
    7. Participate in a séance – from the other side.
    8. Melvin Death…
    9. … and then Fear the Reaper.

Hmm. It’s not a long list. Oh wait, one more:

  1. Go to my own funeral.

I know it’ll be good. I’m pretty sure anyone who would bitch about me at my funeral is pretty much happy to bitch about me in front of my face. But I am very aware that I haven’t written a will. Or an obituary. Or my epitaph. Or prepared my Death Press Kit.

“My what?” you ask. My Death Press Kit, I answer. “Yes, but I think that needs clarification,” you say. Well, yes. Fair enough. Let me see if I can find an example…

Schoolgirl Sheniz Erkan farewelled as friend urges bullying victims to speak out

Hmm. Microsoft Dictionary doesn’t recognise the word “farewelled”. Ah well, it is the Herald-Sun. Here’s the picture:

See? Pretty. Obviously a phone picture, so it fits the Social Media aspect. She did a good job. Or her parents, or whoever sent the papers her photo. Or whichever reporter hacked into her Facebook account.

On the other hand:

Megrahi, Convicted in 1988 Lockerbie Bombing, Dies at 60

You look at this guy and you think “yup, sleazy, obviously a killer. Hope he rots in Hell.” Or maybe that’s just me.

See? You need a Death Press Kit to ensure the papers know how to deal with you after your death. So, to make things easier, I have some photos for various occasions:

Traveler and philanthropist Perry dies after decades of community work

Perry, shamed teacher, dies alone after extended scandal

Conspiracy nut Perry dies in accidental piano incident

I don’t really want to write my obituary yet. I think that’s a blog in itself. I’ll leave you with the Death Press Kit and try to relax after the earthquake that’s scaring Melbournians to death. Gods. I remember Japan. These things happened every week. Still, I better make my sacrifices to the Ancient Ones.

Oh, that reminds me, and speaking of terrible Death Press Kits:

Suspected Maryland cannibal ranted about ‘human sacrifices’ on Facebook

This guy didn’t pick his Death Photo.

This guy killed and ate a guy who was living with him, including his heart and brain. The response from the on-campus co-ordinators:

“He noted the university has a zero-tolerance policy toward violence and a student in such a situation would likely be suspended or expelled.”

Ummm…

However, where I really think they were stretching for evidence:

“In February, Kinyua posted a question on Facebook, asking fellow students at historically black colleges and universities if they were “strong enough to endure ritual HBCU mass human sacrifices around the country and still be able to function as human beings?””

OK. The man was a looney. He killed and ate someone. But if I was indicted for every call to human sacrifice I placed in a Facebook status, I would never again see the light of day!

Let’s see what I can find.

  • “Today, I invade England!”
  • “Happy Invasion Day!”
  • “So birds are dying all over the globe and now there is a cow that’s given birth to a two headed calf. Is anyone else worried?”
  • “OK. Got an hour to finish the Multimedia class. That’s 3 minutes per student!”
  • “Sorry Paul, I have a social group on Wednesdays. Knock em dead!”
  • “is apparently NOT the killer, but is incompetent.”

See? I’m stuffed. Ok. Back into hiding. See you next week.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: