Dork Geek Nerd

"Rational romantic mystic cynical idealist"

Saturday, December 23, 2017

I was in a writing group

I was in a writing group. It was held in a seminar room at the uni but outsiders were welcome to attend. One of the English lecturers oversaw proceedings, donating an hour of his time each week. Sometimes, we'd improvise on a given topic, scrawling madly for half of the session. (No-one owned laptops then!) Most times, we'd bring along works in progress. Prose or poetry, never plays. We'd go around the circle, taking turns to read our compositions, then others would have the opportunity to comment. Finally, the lecturer would offer brief, constructive criticism and suggest relevant authors/poets we might wanna investigate.

The group was very liberal and very supportive. There was a young gal with a cool haircut and an endearing lisp who was just coming out and clearly appreciated the reassurance she received. There was a young guy who resembled Mallory's artist boyfriend Nick from "Family Ties" (another reference that'll date me), and who, though not a student, was all about things poetic. There were worldly, mature-age arts majors, and youthful engineers, scientists and economists who also happened to be lexically inclined.

I remember writing an impromptu piece about a borrowed BMX bike left outdoors to rust as a symbol of the corroding of a neglected friendship. I recall taking along a strange free-verse poem about how predestination meant the third of the heavenly host who fell were blameless pawns. (Pretentious or WHAT?) Scapegoat Lucifer's prison was an endless beach. "How do angels procreate?" asked the lecturer, enigmatically. "Inside the minds of humans," I replied. He seemed satisfied with that. Or perhaps he just realised I was beyond help :-)

One week, a woman joined us and monopolised the 60 min. reading a sci-fi romance. When she didn't return the following week, there was bitching about the fact that on top of denying anyone else the chance to read at the previous meeting, she obviously had zero interest in receiving our feedback on her speculative sauce. I didn't bitch. I knew the lady in question from the gaming society and we'd compare genre finds when our aisles intersected in the library. She was the only person in my early-20s circle who was already married.

Towards the end of the academic year, the lecturer in charge ran a poetry competition, with the winner to be announced at a formal dinner for writing groupsters at a local club. I dashed off a short entry in which a dude reflected on life through a bus window that was below average at best. On the night, a Highly Commended nod went to a quiet, diligent regular. We didn't get to hear her poem but were told it involved a violin. I imagined - not in a mean way - that the subject might be a quiet, diligent violinist.

The victor hadn't attended a single w/g session. He wrote about an unavoidable fight in a pub car park. It was excellent! The kind of offbeat-yet-believable work Triple J (that's an Aussie radio station, international guests) might have set to a soundscape and hammered for a fortnight. I'd borrowed Mum's trusty Ford Laser for the function and was able to give a few folks lifts home, including the unfamiliar bloke who'd won. When I saw where he lived, I realised he may well have known about unavoidable fights in pub car parks!

There was an unspoken rule that you took part in the writing group for two semesters, then "graduated" to make space at the table for the next band of aspiring bards, so there's nothing further to add...except that, in hindsight, the experience taught a naive lad as much about people as it did word choice or sentence structure.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Balloonacy or logic?

Speech/thought bubbles are one of many techniques used by lads' mags to add extra humour to a story. For example, an article about sex addiction might have a stock photo of an amorous-looking couple on a bed, with a speechie coming from the mattress saying, "Would it kill youse to have an early night?" OK, not my funniest hour, but you get the idea. Some editors are stricter than others on the use of such devices. I had an ed who wouldn't permit inanimate objects to be shown speaking or thinking. Animals could only have thought balloons, with the exception of parrots, who were allowed to give full voice to their opinions.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Halloween '17

It was a weekday, so I had to work. While getting ready in the morning, I chucked on the latest Halloween-themed episode of "The Purple Stuff Podcast", in which hosts Jay and Matt answered listener questions with their usual enthusiasm, knowledge and humour.
In the evening, I ate dinner, washed up, etc. while watching demonic possession yarn "Deliver Us From Evil" (2014), starring Eric Bana and Olivia Munn. It was all right. Supposedly based on incidents experienced by an NYC cop. [Cough] bullshit [cough]. At least it had an internal logic and a badass priest.
I'd been legit excited to read 2000AD's "Scream! & Misty" special, resurrecting series from two classic British horror comics, on the most appropriate night of the year. Sadly, the strips felt half-arsed and more like ads for future releases. Cracking cover, however.
Having not done any seasonal shopping, my sugary treat was based on what we had in the pantry. It was these ghostly gunslingers or nada. After four, I'd hit my limit.
Don't ask me why, but I also opted to replay the 10th Fighting Fantasy gamebook, "House Of Hell". Having beaten it back in the day, I came up short on this occasion. Anyway...extremely black, tricky map and the letter-association test (at the hands of a torturer) remains a piece of mad brilliance.
We began with a cute illustrated Marceline The Vampire Queen, so here's a different take on the character, pinched from the Instagram feed of beautiful South African cosplayer Kinpatsu. HH!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Two Sundays ago

Wandering the bushland campus of my first university in the mild spring sunshine, I spied:

* A "leave a book, take a book" hutch containing a number of worthwhile tomes...and a VHS tape by kids' entertainers Hi-5

* An older lady riding a motorbike without a helmet. (Maybe she was only travelling between buildings)

* That whole departments had moved, been amalgamated or disappeared

* A Terracotta Warrior statue like those found in the tomb of China's Emperor Qin. (Snapped a pic and stuck it on Twitter)

* Nowhere to buy vittles except a hole-in-the-wall cafe in a study room under the main library. (At my second uni, there'd have been proper restaurants and a minimart open, even on a Sunday)

* Posters advertising a fully catered retro videogame night held last month. (Wish they'd had 'em in my day!)

* Willie wagtails harassing or being harassed by Indian myna birds. (Couldn't tell which. Probs the latter. Invasive species and all that)

* Asphalt over the green slope where once I'd lain, lost in a Charles De Lint novel in the mild spring sunshine.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

22, 45, forever

When my parents wed at 28, it was on the understanding that my father was only agreeing to stay around until he was 50.

My mother says this was because he'd already worked a thousand jobs (across this country and overseas) and couldn't imagine committing to something forever.

At 73, they're still together. It's no exaggeration to say they are devoted to each other.

When Mum reminds him of the expiry date on their marriage, Dad jokes, "You learnt to cook too well."

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Distilled to its essence

She introduced me to whisky, but the taxi ride was so damn long it sobered our mood.

Her dog got sooky and insisted on sharing the bed.

The bathroom was overflowing with exotic hair products, like some sort of hair laboratory.

At brekkie, she asked, "How many toasts?" and I thought the pluralisation cute.

Ditto her powder blue jumper.

She let me call in pretend-sick from her landline, then drove me all the way home.

The only continuity would be the whisky.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

One-hour writing challenge - "Last Will"

The passenger door of the new white Mercedes-Benz was pulled open and a sweaty, unshaven fellow in dirty overalls jumped in and closed it behind him. The business-suited, perfectly made-up blonde woman in the driver's seat didn't flinch, despite the fact it was after dark and her top-of-the-range car was parked under a broken streetlight in a dodgy part of town.

“Did you get it?” she asked, with just a hint of urgency.

The man was still catching his breath. He didn't answer, but reached inside his overalls and brought forth a small rectangular object, wrapped in a piece of fabric.

“The money's already in your account,” said the woman, her voice all control now. She held out her white-nailed hands expectantly.

With an exhale that was part satisfied whistle, the man handed over the little bundle. “It's not that I don't trust you...” he began, unpocketing his phone and proceeding to log onto a foreign bank.

The driver registered no offence. Her gaze was fixed on her purchase. Unwrapping a piece of silk so old and worn it was almost transparent, she revealed a deck of cards that, while fully intact, somehow felt much older. She reached for the interior light.

“Hey!” said the man in the passenger seat, his messy brown curls glistening with perspiration. “That's not a good idea in this neighbourhood.”

“It would be an unlucky criminal who tried to rob me.” She was gently thumbing through the cards, studying the pictures, running a white-nailed finger over them.

“I've still got to get back to my truck in one piece.”

“I suppose so,” said the woman, switching off the light. “Before you go, tell me again how he died.”

“Not much to tell. Pneumonia with complications. He'd been inside for most of his life, from 18 to 63. Conditions aren't the healthiest. Plus, he smoked. Did well surviving that long.”

“That's a matter of opinion. And you say he was using these right up until his death?”

“Oh, yeah. We knew he did readings for people. Charged 'em for the privilege and gave at least half of the money to the top dog. Funny thing is...”

“Go on.”

“Funny thing is, I don't remember anyone asking for their money back. No arguments, no fights, no unhappy customers. Which is weird when those customers are some of the meanest humans to walk the earth, don't you think?”

“Leave me now. Run back to your truck. Wait three months prior to spending a cent of that money. Do not attempt to contact me again. Fail to follow these instructions and I'll make trouble for you with the prison and with that 'top dog' you mentioned.”

The passenger door of the new white Mercedes-Benz was pushed open and the sweaty, unshaven fellow in dirty overalls jumped out and closed it behind him. Then he ran into the night, clutching a phone that told him he was suddenly a rich man.

The business-suited, perfectly made-up blonde woman in the driver's seat raised a card to her perfect smile, then began biting off pieces, violently chewing and swallowing them. Despite the fact it was after dark and her top-of-the-range car was parked under a broken streetlight in a dodgy part of town, she sat there until she had consumed the entire deck.