Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Lost in transubstantiation

Just days after promising a resurgence in crustaceanist blogging, I’m back to announce another hiatus. I’m going to Japan tomorrow and will be back on Sunday morning. Just in time for the great Canberra blogger picnic.

But please... let no one else say: 'hey, it will be just like that movie...with you know, that funny guy, and that girl. And they're, you know, lost.'


Here’s a question picking up on a few blog posts of late: is Canberra bloggery increasing or does it just seem that way. Are we on the egde of a new golden age of prosperity?

Also, let me nominate Mark as Canberra’s loveliest blogger.


Sunday, November 28, 2004

By the light of a silvery moonbase

I’m a bit of a fan of B-grade horror and SF films. The other night I noticed that channel nine was screening a film called Moonbase at 2:30 am so I strolled on over to IMDB to see if it was worth taping.

It turns out to be your basic tale of a disgraced astronaut seeking redemption in charge of an obscure moonbase waste disposal unit which is about to be taken over by a handful of homicidal escaped convicts.

The comments about this film aren’t kind. From one commenter, ‘rsoonsa’:

‘The plot involves an escape of life sentenced prisoners from a space station penal colony to a waste landfill upon our moon and their various attempts to obtain passage back to Earth, with some few capable players present who are execrably directed by first-timer Paolo Mazzucato, whose production team wastes effort upon such as holographic pornography while ignoring a pressing and basic requirement for the creation of states of suspense and of impetus.’

Which is all good fun until you see a later comment entitled ‘A note from the director...’. Yes, Mr Mazzucato himself weighs in:

“IMDB: While the following is not exactly a review, I think "equal time" is warranted when you do post a review that is so flawed. Your consideration is appreciated.

Regarding rsoonsa's "critique":

I suppose if one chooses to work in the sewer of low- budget production he should not take offense when his efforts are referred to as excrement. And perhaps you are correct in opining that with "essentially no budget... special effects of space opera warfare (will) appear only clownish." It might have been nobler, on my part, if when handed the script for "Moonbase" and asked if I wanted to direct the film, I had flatly refused on the grounds of the implausibility of the story and the impossibility of filming it for the meager budget allotted. But in the real world, those who seek to create something, anything, have to seize the opportunities afforded to them and do their best within the parameters set by the given project”

He then proceeds to offer paragraph after paragraph of defence of the allegedly implausible science behind ‘Moonbase’, including the fact that all exterior shots in space should be silent, the possibility of the establishment of an orbiting station at a stable point within the moon's orbit equidistant from the Earth and the moon, and the ‘problem of Earth's accumulation of garbage and the proposition that some future government might consider dumping refuse in a lunar crater out of view on the moon's far side.’

Jeez, lighten up, dude.

Still, I feel for Mr Mazzucato. ‘Moonbase’ is indeed his only credit as director (alongside a scattering of writing, art direction and ‘miscellaneous crew’ credits). And that was released in 1998; he hasn’t directed anything since then (in fact, he doesn’t seem to have worked at all since 1999).

He evidently invests something of himself in his film career and the products of his labour, only to see some random internet dude who happens to catch his one and only movie on late-night cable slam it into oblivion.

As he says: ‘You don't have to like it, I just wish you didn't get so much glee from tearing it down in your own "execrable" fashion.’

That’s the internet for you: recording what would otherwise have been private thoughts and feelings permanently so that somewhere, somehow, someone will be hurt by them.

I give the final word to my man, Paolo, a man who tried hard to tread the fine line between art and the commercial dictates of the motion picture industry to produce a little cinematic gem that might stand the test of time:

“Now, regarding your objection to the holographic stripper...well, okay. Let's just say sometimes the people who have to sell the end product request a little skin. And as my producer explained to me: It's the golden rule; He who has the gold, makes the rules. In my defense I will point out though, that I reworked that story point and the climax in Act 3 so that the holographic nudity was not entirely gratuitous.”
Well, that’s alright then…

(And it was pretty execrable by the way...)

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Nick is winner, loved

‘Nick is winner, loved, generous wise’ is how my novelty personalised socks – the pride of the South-East Asian garment manufacturing industry – describe me. Oftentimes this boast from my feet is an idle one.

But tonight it just happens to be true. I am winner, loved. For I have completed by nanowrimo novel two days ahead of schedule (why I rushed to complete it early is a hoary tale for another blogpost.) Suffice to say, I’m great.

That’s right, I have pumped out a 50,000 word novel in the last 28 days. (Actually it’s 50,079 words. And funnily enough I have more or less tied off all plot threads in the novel and have come to a reasonably satisfying conclusion – which is either evidence of the brutal Soviet-style efficiency of my writing or padding in the extreme.)

For those who want to congratulate me, I say: go right ahead.

For those who want to ask me: what it’s about, this novel of yours, I say: aw jeez, I hate that question.

For those who want to ask me: can I read it, I say: aw jeez, I guess so. The proprietor however accepts no liability for losses or damage incurred.

And finally, for those who want to ask me: is it any good, I say: see the answer to the third question. Then you’ll probably know more than I do.

Your regular crustacean blogging will shortly be resumed.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Bastard poms landed us on the wrong beach!

Jack: What are your synapses?
Archy: Springs. Steel springs.
Jack: What are they going to do?
Archy: Hurl me down the word-count.
Jack: How fast can you write?
Archy: As fast as a leopard.
Jack: How fast are you going to write?
Archy: As fast as a leopard.
Jack: Then lets see you do it.

33 000 words down, 17 000 left to do in eight days including today (three and a half hours left!). I have to finish on the 28th rather than the more traditional end-of-the-month marker, the 30th, because I'm off to Japan for work on the 30th and I need the 29th to get ready.

So the next 8 days will see me charging the Turkish machine-gun nests of my own imagination in a rematch of Gallipoli. This time, it's personal...

This has been your official nanowrimo update.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Taste my desperation. It doesn’t taste like strawberry icecream

Well, this is the end of week two of the nanowrimo rock festival in my brain and I’m sitting pretty (or as James Thurber would have it, in the catbird seat, God bless you high school English) on just over 25 000 words. Which is exactly on schedule for those of you without calculators.

But there’s a storm cloud on the horizon (see! I am a writer! Only a true original talent could have compared an impending writer’s block to a black wall of bad weather. It’s never been done before.)

The kind folks at nanowrimo HQ pop out a weekly pep talk. Here is how they describe first day of week two:

“If there were a zodiac sign for each cycle of the noveling escapade, Week One would undoubtedly be a magnificent galleon at full sail. Week Three would be a road-tested marathon runner, smiling as she catches her second wind. And Week Four would be a lone figure silhouetted against the setting sun, arms raised in triumph.

Unfortunately, Week Two would be represented by a pack of rabid weasels hurling themselves from the treetops onto a group of screaming campers below.


Because Week Two is when you'll likely begin having some second thoughts about your participation in NaNoWriMo. It's the point when the effects of sleep-deprivation, mind-wearying creative output, and a shortage of leisure time will combine to create the infamous Week Two Wall.”

Actually, the week two wall was made of foam and tasted like mango as far as I was concerned. (Though I love the weasels metaphor and will steal it at some point in the future.)

And here’s how the muthas describe week three:

“You just spent two weeks paying your noveling dues. And Week Three is when payback begins.

And how! This week, the whole thing gets easier. The words will come more fluidly, and your characters will finally start pulling their own weight, solving plot dilemmas and spicy personal dramas in surprisingly readable ways.”

Trust me to be contrary and counter-cyclical (how I love that word – it’d be worth doing a bachelor’s degree in economics just to be able to use that word every day) but I’m starting to hurt right now.

Tonight’s quota is no playful monkey slapped off its perch. It’s a 200kg mountain gorilla (much like the enourmous silver-backed male we saw in Melbourne Zoo three weeks ago about which the Dude said to me: Gettit!’).

And it’s playing knucklebones with my kidneys and pancreas.

So, in the interests of teaching the quota primate who’s top of the evolution tree, I beg your assistance.

Insert plot developments in the comments box and I SWEAR* I’ll use them.

*offer not valid in conjunction with any other offer or in South Australia or if I don’t actually feel like it or if your idea is really crap.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The loneliness of the long-distance punner

I have nothing to declare but my genius and a few soft apples which may or may not be harbouring fruit-fly. Also known as drosophilia, which sounds like a nice name for a girl if you're so inclined.

Well, it's 11:09 pm and I still have 500 words to write before the quota monkey gets off my back and takes a quick nap until 12:00 am when he gets up and flings faeces once more at my tiny screen. Curse you quota monkey, why can't you be more like those freaking bonobos?

Yes, this is a nanowrimo post. My word count stands at 18 222 (believe me, I know because I hit that word count function more often than I press the space bar.)

On the good news front, I rediscovered Andy's CD from the great Canberra blogger CD swap. It was in the car, not in the stolen bag. Yay! It really is a fine compilation. Pulp's 'Babies' may be one of the finest tracks written by a skinny Englishman with bad teeth (and there are plenty of those).

OK, quota monkey, we do one more round. This time you my bitch.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Crime doesn't pay (very well and there's no super plan)

Last night we were burgled. I went to bed at about 1:30 am, woke briefly at about 2:30 thinking that I’d heard a noise, listened for a moment then went back to sleep. (In the past, I’ve got up upon hearing strange noises. Last night I didn’t – chiefly because I thought the noise was outside.)

In the morning, Wifely found that the burglar had taken things from the empty bedroom he entered and from the hallway, before leaving. He (presumably it’s a he) didn’t venture any further into the house.

At first we thought nothing of significance had been taken, only to find that my wallet had gone, along with my bag which contains my MP3 player (including the only two CDs I’ve received from the great Canberra blogger CD swap – the other two are, shall we say a little tardy). Bummer!

When the police arrived, Wifely asked if it would have been better if somebody had got up when the burglar was in the house. Immediately and in unison, the two young cops said: ‘Yes.’

Wifely said: ‘So if you disturb them while they’re still here, then they’ll bolt, will they?’

One young cop: ‘Generally, generally, yeah. Sometimes you’ll get a nutcase.’

My humble view is that the police may need to re-think their automatic support for the ‘get up and interrupt a burglar’ strategy. Just saying, that’s all.

Later that afternoon, I got a sudden jones to get into the novel I started reading two days ago. (The Da Vinci Code -- no snobbery please, it was a birthday gift from an in-law and I'm contractually obliged to read it). I realised it was in my bag with my MP3 player for bus-trip distraction. Bummer again.

Later still, I’m working on my nanowrimo novel when my mind turns to the two notebooks with my scribbed ideas in them. The novel is at about 13 000 words after almost a week and I’m starting to stuggle a little. A fresh idea injection could be just the thing. Guess where the two notebooks were? The insurance company can reimburse me for the $5 cost of the notebooks but they can’t replace the ink.

This is what pisses me off most about crime like this. The burglar got away with a small amount of cash (about $40) and an MP3 player that’s probably worth about $100 at the back of a pub. But the cost to the victim in terms of psychological distress (a criminal walked through our house while me, Wifely and the Dude were sleeping!), of irritation (replacing all the plastic cards and other emblems of modern life in my wallet) and of genuine loss (of things like the notebooks) is enormous.

Mr Burglar, if you read Canberra blogs in between hits of smack: mate, you’re a jerk.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Southern fried electoral chicken

Something that I’m surprised I haven’t read in connection with the Kerry loss in the US presidential election is that once again a Northern Democrat has failed in his bid for the Whitehouse. The last Northerner to occupy the White House, from Massachusetts no less, was Kennedy. Johnson (Texas) succeeded him and won in 1964 but did not contest the 1968 election. Carter (Georgia) won in 1976 and Clinton (Arkansas) in 1992 and 1996.

For the Democrats, that’s just 4 victories in 40 years, and all Southerners.

Gore, a kind of Southerner from Tennessee kind of lost in 2000, though he won the popular vote. The parade of losers before him:

Michael Dukakis (1988, Massacusetts)
Walter Mondale (1984, Minnesota, hammered 525 – 13 by Reagan)
George McGovernn (1972, South Dakota, hammered 520 – 17 by Nixon)
Hubert Humphrey (1968, Minnesota).

The simple message here is Democrats don’t win much and Democrat Northerners (after Kennedy) don’t win at all. And for God’s sake give Massachusetts and Minnesota a miss next time.

Everyone is wise in retrospect but maybe the best pick would have been smooth-talking Southerner John Edwards, despite his inexperience. Give him the nod in 2008 (probably against McCain or Jeb Bush), make sure he uses the word ‘God’ a lot and he may be in with a chance…

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Post with no name

OK, blogspot, now you're just making me look stupid. Aren't you? Feel better about yourself, do you, to lay somebody else low....?

Curse you, blogspot and President Bush, villains both

I have no mouth and I must scream.

I have no mouth because blogspot just erased my freaking US election post. After many days of trekking across a vast desert on a horse with no name to find ink for my quill to scrawl my disbelief at the US election result, a blogspot shaped tornado swept over me and sped off into the distance, taking my hastily penned scroll with it.

It was a nice little post which featured tortured extended metaphors about pigeons, pendulums and sunbeds (I swear!) but it’s gone now. The horse read it and liked it but he has no name.

Pigeons, Pendulums and Sunbeds (Bush is returned)

Two words: speech & less.

I have to say, I didn't see that coming. I was convinced that Kerry would win and those freaking exit polls -- playthings of the devil -- seemed to confirm it.

It's possible that Kerry might still finesse his way through Ohio and across the line but it doesn't look good.

Back in the bad old days when a Kerry victory was not inevitable (and way before those bad old days returned on November 2), I was thinking that a Bush re-election might not be such a bad thing: that Bush's pigeons, warped, stinking things that can't fly straight, would come home to roost for him and result in the destruction of the Bush/Rove/Delay wing of the Republican Party (and that electing Kerry might just have brought those same stinking pigeons winging their way to him in the same way Kennedy's Vietnam pigeons shat on Johnson).

But, jeez, how much self-destruction can one blogger foresee? Barely have I come from predicting that the Coalition in Australia will destroy itself now that it faces no native predators, when I find myself having nought to take comfort in but Bush's theoretical groundward trajectory.

All self-destruction all the time, here at Crustaceans...

But I do believe in this, I think. Everything comes in cycles. Pendulums swing and then they swing back. Conservatism is enjoying its moment in the sun while liberal types cower in the shadows, dreaming of sunbeds and sangria. But it won't stay that way forever. And the pendulum does not begin swinging back until it has reached the furtherest point of its swing.

Enjoy your poolside sunbed, President Bush, because even now a pigeon of your own making is headed your way with a pendulum in its beak. Or something.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

In your face, blank screen!

My word count for nanowrimo is now a tasty 5,005. This means that I’ve done 10% of my ‘novel’ in just two days.

If I can keep this up, I’ll be able to offer up the biggest piece of crap the world has ever seen in just nine more days!

Blogging will be light for the rest of November as a consequence….

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