Friday the 13th (Part 2)


If this post seems vaguely familiar, like the feeling of trying to put a name to a face at a high-school reunion, it’s because we’ve shot the breeze on this topic before – back in April (HERE)

That’s the last time a Friday fell on the 13th of the month.

If you’re inclined to think we’re maybe a little hard done by having two old-school superstition-shrouded Friday the 13th‘s in the one year, spare a thought for the folk of 2009 and 2015 (ok so that’s still us!) ’cause in both those years there were three of the bad boys stalking the calendar. The next time the Friday the 13th trilogy appears is in 2026.


Got your slide rule ready? It might help.

To explain why the year 2015 had three Friday the 13th’s, concentrate on the word ‘Thursday’.

The year 2015 started on a Thursday.

Whenever a year of 365 days starts on a Thursday, it’s inevitable that the months of February, March and November will start on a Sunday. And any month starting on a Sunday always has a Friday the 13th.

A grand total of eleven FebruaryMarchNovember Friday the 13th years take place in the 21st century –

2009, 2015, 2026, 2037, 2043, 2054, 2065, 2071, 2082, 2093 and 2099


I’ve been accused before of being overly fond of multi-syllable words.

Friggatriskaidekaphobia (all 23 letters of it) by that account should have me flipping crazy cartwheels of joy.

That’s the word some linguist has coined to describe an irrational fear of Friday the 13th.

According to history-buffs known as folklorists, there’s no written evidence that Friday the 13th was considered unlucky before the 19th century. The earliest known documented reference in English appears to be in Henry Sutherland Edwards’ 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini.  Does he look that scary to you?


Friday has always gotten a bad rap.

In the Middle Ages, people would not marry – or set out on a journey – on a Friday.

There are also some links between Christianity and an ill association with either Fridays or the number 13. Jesus was said to be crucified on a Friday. Seating 13 people at a table was seen as bad luck because Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, is said to have been the 13th guest at the Last Supper.


My other favourite superstition is something known as The Curse of the Ninth.

This one’s an odd belief/theory connected with the history of  classical music.

In essence, it is the notion that a ninth symphony is destined to be a composer’s last; i.e. that the composer will be fated to die while or after writing it, or before completing a tenth. To those who give credence to the idea, a composer who produces a ninth symphony has reached a decisive landmark, and to then embark on a tenth is a challenge to fate.

Ludwig van Beethoven is the most famous example of a composer who died after achieving nine symphonies with other instances being Schubert, Dvorak, SpohrBruckner, Mahler and Vaughan Williams (depending on what music is counted as a symphony).

My first exposure to this bit of classical whackiness was an episode of MIDSOMER MURDERS called, oddly enough, THE CURSE OF THE NINTH.


 Ps. For those who think their life is already a never-ending string of inexplicable events, happy Friday the 13th anyway.


Pss.  12 boys and one coach makes 13!

Even Black Friday can’t cast a shadow over the good news story the world needed to have. What better way to end off this week then by showcasing what may turn out to be the news photo of the year –







New Car Smell


A few days back I did something I haven’t done in a long time.

I bought a new car.

Last time that happened was in 2006. Back then John Howard was still Prime Minister of Australia.

The step up from what we had to what we’ve now got isn’t maybe as dramatic as the top photo would have you believe. But that’s definitely how it feels. The images below tell the real story of the switcheroo that’s taken place.


It’s only a small exaggeration to say that going from our trusty ‘ol Honda Jazz with its dinky gearbox to the blinding high-tech majesty of the Mazda CX5 feels like time-surfing  the Stone Age to the Space Age literally overnight.

I know I’ve been hidden away living in a (man) cave, technology wise, these last twelve years – but holy pimpin’ rear spoilers how things have changed! Try and suppress your laughter when I say a keyless engine start and a press-button hand brake are definitely new rides at the Fairground for me.

Here I go then with what’s gonna sound like a really average car-salesman impersonation (I’ve talked the talk with more than a few of these characters over the last few weeks so I should be able to do this) as I list some of the features that, as far as bells and whistles go, put this car, at least to my mind, on a par with the International Space Station (bear in mind the hands typing these words haven’t owned a mobile phone since late last century so I’m maybe a little more easily impressed than your average new car buyer) –

  • radar lane-departure sensors
  • separate air-con controls for front and rear seats
  • moisture sensing wipers
  • dark-activated headlights
  • ultrasonic wave technology rear sensor connected to reversing camera
  • electronically warmed seats for winter time
  • voice-responsive built-in GPS
  • fuel-economy automatic engine deactivation at red-light stops 
  • wall to wall interior noise dampeners ensuring the ride is somehow eerily smooth and silent 
  • blind spot computerised monitoring alert
  • **ejector seat

It took our sales guy (Nalin) fully 45 minutes to explain the car’s ‘Instrument Cluster Display’ and safety features. I was sitting quietly and nodding like a member of parliament all the while. I think it might be a whole day seminar with complimentary buffet lunch provided for folk in the luxury car market.


What does the International Space Station (launched in 1998) and the Mazda CX5 (2018) have in common?  Quite a lot as it turns out.

As to what type of advanced kryptonite lies under the hood, let’s just say the two hobbled Shetland ponies that powered the 2006 model Honda Jazz have been replaced  with what feels like a veritable stable of Winx-calibre thoroughbreds.

Driving the new car the 18km home from the Toowong showroom felt for all the world like transporting a new-born home from the hospital. Displaying all the finesse and confidence of a nervous kitten, I’m pretty sure I came close to holding my breath the entire way.

After Nalin connected my wife’s mobile phone via Bluetooth to the car’s dash-screen, on our nerve-jangling journey home we took, with a mixture of giddy excitement and hesitation, our very first in-car speaker phone call. I think I’ll always remember that call. Those overseas telemarketers sure don’t waste anytime!

Now that our new best friend is safe and sound at home on our driveway, we can begin attending to the really important things, like trying to decide on the right word association to remember our new number plate – 051 YFR.

The 051 part is easy ’cause that’s my current age. But the letters have prompted a little more thought. So far the SWS staff writers have come up with the following possibly pretty lame memory prompts –












Understandably the plate I’d prefer to see on the vehicle looks more like this –


but artistry to that degree costs in the vicinity of $2500 from Personalised Plates Queensland (CHECK HERE). Unfortunately for the time being, the budget is now saying ‘No’ to all non-essential items.

Ps. Now I’ve decided to officially join the 21st century, it’s amazing the things one can begin to take an interest in that were previously off the menu. The very next night after buying the car, I watched the quiz program MILLIONAIRE HOT SEAT when this question popped up –

Which technology system uses in its logo two ancient Norse symbols ?

A. Wi-Fi


C. Blue Tooth

D. iCloud


Pss. FYI, the colour of the MAZDA MX-5 we bought is known as ‘Eternal Blue’. Just thought you should know that.

Psss. ** Joking about the ejector seat.



Top 50 Songs List – The Sequel


It’s been close on 12 months since I posted my original Top 50 Songs list.


I thought at the time making the list would be a fulfilling experience. To finally sort in some type of order so many great songs which had been buzzing around in my head for all these years like trapped horseflies banging up against a pane of glass looking for a way out, was, as it turned out, a truly joyous and cathartic experience.

Yet in some ways it raised almost as many questions as it answered in regard to songs it literally pained me to leave off the list.

How better to correct that problem then to make another list!






Benefits include –

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  • complimentary SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK sample bag containing –Capture 3Capture3Capture 3
  • membership card written in invisible ink readable only under UV lightCapture
  • cheat codes and answers to any quiz run on the site
  • a copy of the SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK mix tape containing all the favourite tunes of the site as listed HERE
  • loyalty card & the ability to accrue and redeem points based on number of views, likes and comments



  • unlimited usage of SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK HQ’s ping-pong table
  • high fives galore


Platinum Subscriber’s GO PREMIUM! Package is invitation only.

If your computer has been able to recognise and display the GO PREMIUM! tab on the home page menu, congratulations! That means you’ve already passed the first stage of the screening process for entry.

To fully qualify you will need the endorsement of two current members who propose you.

Upon admission members agree to abide by the Platinum Subscriber’s GO PREMIUM! Code of Conduct and Rules for Viewing which include a blanket ban on the wearing of denim while visiting the SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK site.


So what are you waiting for?

Go ahead today and start organising your application.

You’ll be on your way to opening the doors to an alternate world of blue ribbon VIPcontent and privilege.

Well-poured literary cocktails and an unspoiled view like no other will be yours for the enjoying.

Step up and reward yourself today.

GO PREMIUM! Where everything’s premium except the price.



P.S. Speaking of facelifts…

To avoid attracting the unkind label ‘Overzealous Promotions Daddy’, it’s probably best if some actual news content made it into this post as well, in addition to the more-than-ridiculous  ‘Go Premium’ call to arms

Call them sequels, reboots, comebacks, reimaginings or even offerings from the ‘there’s still life in the old dog yet’ manufacturing plant, these ‘oldies but goodies‘ are all set for reincarnation in the near future –


  1. The three surviving members of rock icon band LED ZEPPELINJohn Paul Jones, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page – have reunited to co-author an illustrated book due out in October to mark the band’s 50th anniversary.
  2. A new Crocodile Dundee movie starring Paul Hogan entitled THE VERY EXCELLENT MR DUNDEE will begin shooting next month.
  3. She had style! She had flair! She’s back? 90’s tv show THE NANNY creator Fran Drescher has confirmed she is in talks to reboot her signature show.
  4. 76-year-old ex-Beatle Paul McCartney will release his first new album in five years, titled EGYPT STATION in September.

And finally…

Congratulations go to this blog’s favourite politician JACINDA ARDERN – New Zealand’s Prime Minister and someone whose been spoken about on these pages before – on the occasion of the birth of her first child yesterday. She is only the second world leader in modern times to give birth while in office, the first being Pakistan’s then-prime minister Benazir Bhutto 28 years ago.



I’ve got a secret!


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It’s no secret I’ve got a secret and I’m gonna tell it to you.

You’re finally going to learn where I hid the money.

I know. I know.

You’ve heard this all before because I’ve been dropping teasing hints for some time.

No more hints. No more games.

The moment has arrived.

I grew up in the leafy green Brisbane suburb of Toowong.

One of the steepest hills of my old childhood stomping ground was the million-dollar views-once-you-were-on-top Miskin Street. Anyone looking to develop the bulging legs of an Olympic cyclist could do worse than make travelling up it’s God’s-gift-to-steepness bitumen a part of their regular training routine.

Near the top of this street, just before it connects to Sherwood Road, is a little tucked away laneway called Fewings Street. In the backyard of the 2nd house along, stood a wooden cubby house. Incredibly, it’s still there today, four decades aged, blanketed in green moss and barely visible amongst the overgrown thicket of vines and shrubbery.


Somewhere over that rickety hill-side fence is the loot.

Back in the late seventies, four pre-teen mates and I stored an air rifle inside a gap under the floor boards of that cubby house. It proved to be such a perfect, undisturbed hiding place that I returned some years later and placed a quantity of money enclosed in an old off-white hessian bankers coin bag in the same spot. And I can honestly say, to the best of my knowledge, that money is still there today.

How do I know? ‘Cause I checked. Only a little over three months ago. It wouldn’t be enough to retire on but with inflation over 40 years factored in it might just be enough to buy a new fishing rod. Or cricket bat. Or cheap electric leaf mulcher.

cricket bat

Overseas readers have hopefully worked out by now unearthing this long hidden ‘treasure’ probably wouldn’t be worth the trip. I say this with the tragic yet fascinating case of Japanese office worker Takako Konishi in mind. Back in 2001 she was found frozen to death in a snow-covered field in Minnesota U.S. It was reported at the time she had died while trying to find the money buried by actor Steve Buscemi‘s character in the 1996 film FARGOThough the truth of her death was somewhat less bizarre, this story grew legs and eventually grew to the status of urban legend.


I’m mentioning this now because having at last spilled the beans as to the location of the buried money, I wouldn’t want to be held in any way responsible for someone who, blinded by sheer greed and ruthless determination to get there first and claim the untold riches, ends up becoming entangled in a backyard jungle of thorny caterpillar vines and is never heard from again.

Nothing’s worth that fate. Especially not this nothing.

Ps. This week’s bonus read is the real story behind the urban legend of the Japanese woman who went in search of the money buried in the snow by Steve Buscemi’s character in the 1996 movie FARGO.



Pss. And then there’s these…

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Pss. Don’t think my little stash over in leafy Toowong would have made it into any of these volumes but you never know… (ok, you do know but I’m gonna say that anyway).

Capture 2

Psss. This week’s book recommendation is the 2014 published memoir of active professional treasure hunter William Carl Jameson (1942 – present). This guy’s encounter’s with rattlesnakes, drug runners, park rangers, mine-shaft cave-ins and poisonous centipedes all while on the hunt for hidden treasure is the stuff of Indiana Jones’ movies and all reputed to be true.

Capture 2

And one more thing…

Next week treasure of a different kind will be unearthed on SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK.

In just seven more sleeps a true one-of-kind revolution is set to unfurl on these humble pages that will force readers to bring into question everything they thought they once knew about SWS.

Spoilers aside, it’s no exaggeration to say the changes to the site set to be unveiled next Friday will have more landscape-altering effect then the 291–306 War of the Eight Princes, the 782–785 Saxon revolt against Charlemagne and the Cornish Rebellion of 1497combined!

That’s quite the promise I realise.

But I’m confident once you lay eyes for yourself on the head-spinning Beverly Hills style makeover, you’ll agree all the pre-launch buzz was worth it.

Until next week…


‘Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting!’


My current retro favourite thing to do on Sunday nights is glueing an ear, 1950’s style, to the radio (‘wireless’ if you want to keep it real old school).

The station of choice for me on these occasions appears to be more often than not the Brisbane chapter of ABC Radio.

There’s a talkback/arts, community & music focussed show with a fun, breezy tone that airs from 5:30-8pm. If that description sounds like it’s been lifted straight from the station’s own website – that’s because it has! The program is  hosted by Rhianna Patrick (pictured below). Rhianna is a Torres Strait Islander (where I lived for two years) who moved to Brisbane at the age of 10. Last year she was a speaker at the Brisbane Writer’s Festival. 

CaptureOn a recent Sunday night she invited listeners to ring in to talk about their favourite martial arts movies. I took up the offer, but by the time I was through waiting on the line the show slid into the 8pm news and I was left karate chopping thin air. Quite a few callers spoke in glowing terms of the three movies (and their sequels) pictured below –


It reminded me once more of just how ‘old school’ my tastes in so many things have become. Partly in rebuttal therefore and partly because for some strange reason it makes me feel for an ever-so-brief moment somehow absurdly powerful, I give you my Top Ten Favourite Martial Arts Movies –

Capture 1


PS. As a special treat, in all it’s crane-kicking glory, may I interest you in Steven Seagal’s infamous “Anybody Seen Richie?” scene from 1991’s OUT FOR JUSTICE.

Anyone who’s ever admired the resourceful genius of wrapping a billiard ball in a white handkerchief during times of danger owes it to themselves to click HERE

(Be aware this clip comes with more warning labels than a lead-lined canister of weapons-grade 239 plutonium, which should in no way make it any less entertaining to watch)

Pss. Staying with the martial arts theme (a little but not a lot)  – I was walking through a Big W store last weekend when a book on display caught my eye –Capture

Here’s the plot synopsis –

Sometimes love means having to broaden your literary horizons

Frankie Rose is desperate for love. Or a relationship. Or just a date with a semi-normal person will do.

It’s not that she hasn’t tried. She’s the queen of online dating. But enough is enough. Inspired by her job at The Little Brunswick Street Bookshop, Frankie decides to take fate into her own hands and embarks on the ultimate love experiment.

Her plan? Plant her favourite books on trains inscribed with her contact details in a bid to lure the sophisticated, charming and well-read man of her dreams.

Enter Sunny, and one spontaneous kiss later, Frankie begins to fall for him. But there’s just one problem – Frankie is strictly a classics kind of gal, and Sunny is really into Young Adult. Like really.

Written by first-time novel Melbourne authors and best friends Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus, this two person creative team both run and fund a fascinating community initiative called BOOKS ON THE RAIL.

Books on the Rail is made up of a team of Book Ninjas, all of whom leave books on public transport for people to take, read and then return to the rails for someone else to enjoy. It copies a similarly run program in London called Books on the Underground.

Books on the Rail is now Australia-wide, made up of over 1000 Book Ninjas, and is supported by some big name Australian publishers who provide books to distribute onto the rails.


Psss. Your bonus read this week is an article about the Hyman Archive in London which stores the world’s largest collection of magazines.


 or HERE

T Shirt Logo

And one last thing…

As a follow-up to last week’s impassioned manifesto regarding the impending vanilla slice apocalypse, thanks-with-icing-on-top must go to the loyal subscriber who treated me, real-world style, to one of these pastry (used-to-be) delights during the week. Reader dedication like that should not go unrewarded, so I declare this true-blue patron‘KING FOR A DAY’.




The Great Vanilla Slice Ripoff


Charting the sad demise of the vanilla slice from the ‘Chardonnay of pastries’ to the common cask wine of the pantry.

Prepare to be shocked, rocked and variously dismayed.

Get ready to bring everything you thought you once knew into question.

Brace yourself for an encounter with the misshapen truth.

In the tradition of trailblazing investigative journalism reminiscent of the glory days of The Washington Post or more locally Tracey Grimshaw & all the gang at A Current Affair, SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK, after months of exhaustive research in and around the coffee shops of Brisbane, is finally now ready to lay bare the foundation-rocking findings of its undercover probe into what can only be labelled THE GREAT VANILLA SLICE CONSPIRACY. 


Before the canon goes ‘boom’ however, let me establish some bona fides.

Vanilla slices and I have enjoyed a wanton love affair since as far back as when I was in the 6th grade. I can remembering ordering them from the school tuckshop and pretending to myself they were real food. Back then they came with pink icing on top and the custard (the colour of Maccas cheese) inside was quite gelatine which meant a vaguely plasticky feel (though still yum) when you bit down on it. And square, very square compared to today’s rectangular creations.


Nothing but old school.

So to the business…

Food manufacturers reducing the portion sizes of their products but failing to adjust the price is nothing new. Australians are well aware of chocolate maker Cadbury’s much publicized many sins in this regard over recent times. Last year in the UK the company that produces Toblerone bars was forced to confirm, after suspicions were raised, that in an attempt to increase their bottom line and give consumers less for the same price without it being overly obvious, they had increased the size of the gap between its triangular chunks (smart!).

I can now verify that over the course of the last four to five years, the vanilla slices served up in various Brisbane coffee shops chains have gone from containing two internal layers of pastry to one internal layer of pastry to now no internal layers of pastry (see top photo). Naturally the in-your-guts kicker is the standard price for one of these poor-excuse-for-a-vanilla-slice anemic looking imitations is the you’ve-got-to be-kidding-me extortionist fee of $7.90!


The charmless lunatic that is deflation – getting charged more for less.

Both Gloria Jeans and The Coffee Club (who use the same supplier for their pastries) are chief linchpins in the conspiracy. And a most silent conspiracy up until now it has been. When was the last time you saw vanilla slices front page news?  No one’s been talking about it but all that ends now. The More Thriller Vanilla (MTV) movement is born as of today. The goal of this people’s movement is obviously to have at least one, and in time, both of the internal pastry layers restored. MTV will not rest until it’s goals have been achieved and in the meantime calls for a boycott of the purchase of all internal-pastry-layerless vanilla-slices.

Save the whales?  By all means!

Save the white rhino?  I’m pumped!

But for the love of all that is holy in this world can we also save the goddam vanilla slice before it’s too late for that endangered species as well!


Ps. Usually when I get this pent-up I call for someone to hand me a vanilla slice to soothe me. Since that won’t be possible under my present self-imposed ban I’ll be forced to reach for my other go-tomusk sticks!


Pss. Your bonus read this week is from a person who likes (quality) vanilla slices almost as much as me.


Psss. Your recommended reading this week is a 2012 published novel titled LIFE, DEATH and VANILLA SLICES written by English comedian, novelist and actress Jenny Eclair (1960 –     ). LIFE, DEATH and VANILLA SLICES has been described as both funny and gut-wrenchingly poignant.


Pssss. As the photo below proves, VSD (Vanilla Slice Disillusionment) has spread to the top end of town across nations separated by vast blue water oceans. But allied power such as this can easily stop VSD dead in its tracks. I believe its time for those in positions of power to act before it’s too late. The economic rationalists responsible for this insidious erosion of vanilla slice standards may very well be planning to go ahead and remove the bloody top icing layer as well! And that would mostly definitely be a bridge too far.Capture

And one more thing…

Not sure what the standard of vanilla slices is in England but I know the person to ask should I ever wish to know. James is a schoolteacher who lives in the town of Reading (40km from Oxford) in the south-east of England. He’s the CEO and chief ideas person behind a very entertaining blog calling itself JAMES PROCLAIMS. (SEE IT HERE)

A feature of James‘ blog is his standing offer to supply meaningful answers to any question posed to him. Recently I availed myself of his services when GOOGLE could not properly assist me. Here’s what I asked –

“Do our idyllic childhood memories set us up for a life of disappointment when inevitably many aspects of adult life do not measure up to how we first conceived of them from our cocooned viewpoint as ‘babes in the woods’ or… are we all really on our own Wizard of Oz ‘Peak Behind the Curtain’ journeys where the ultimate goal is acquiring wisdom and understanding without being brought undone by the occupational hazards of accompanying bitterness and disillusionment?”


And here was James’ reply –

To be honest Glen, by the time I got to the end of that question, I had pretty much forgotten how it all began. I find that my attention span isn’t what it once was. Or is it? I don’t know. I can’t remember if I ever had much of an attention span. Probably not. More to the point, am I actually answering your question at all? Let me revisit the question again…

(Musical interlude while James goes back to read the question)

Right, I think I’ve got this. Adult life is inherently disappointing, and we are definitely prone to reminiscing about better times. But they never happened. Life was always rubbish, and the only reason we might not have thought that when we were kids is because we were stupid. Although, even as an infant I was a little world-weary in truth.


Author Interview – Jim Toomey


Back in 1979 as a glued-to-the-television-screen 13-year-old, I was watching Jim Toomey play drums in his band THE TOURISTS on COUNTDOWN – the Sunday night ABC pop music program that was a weekly ritual for a generation of Aussie teenagers of that era.

Jim recently published a memoir chronicling his three years touring with the band. Two members of THE TOURISTS went on to form British pop duo THE EURYTHMICS so his name is frequently mentioned in connection with the origin story of that band as well. I began by asking Jim how he feels regarding the possibly double-edged sword nature of that association –


Having your name forever linked with the formative years of two other musicians (Annie Lenox & Dave Stewart) who went on to garner worldwide fame throughout the 1980’s, could make you feel in some ways a little like the so-called 5th Beatle, drummer Pete Best (who played in The Beatles during their time as a club act in Liverpool before they rose to international mega-attention in 1963). Do you look back on those years (1977 – 1980) with THE TOURISTS as three of the best years of your life?

 Those three years were spent travelling the world and thoroughly enjoying the experience. The answer is really in the conclusion of the book.

What’s the origin of the book’s cover shot?

The cover shot was chosen by the publishing company. It was one of hundreds taken of the band.

What was the process like of finding a publisher for WE WERE TOURISTS?

I got turned down by one publisher and asked to do a re-write by another.
After some negotiations I finally signed with Austin Macauley in London
 I remember as a teenager watching THE TOURISTS on COUNTDOWN performing “I ONLY WANT TO BE WITH YOU” (HEAR IT HERE)  and thinking it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen and heard. Out of three albums worth of material, what would be your favourite TOURISTS song?
Tricky, but it would have to be Annie’s song ‘ONE STEP NEARER THE EDGE’ (HEAR IT HERE) on the album we recorded at Montserrat.

And your favourite EURYTHMICS song? (You can’t say ‘I NEED A MAN’ (HEAR IT HERE) ’cause I bags that one!)

 So many classic songs to choose from. Maybe ‘WHY’ (HEAR IT HERE).

I understand you taught English for a while in Japan (something I know a little bit about as well)  Could you tell us about that experience?

I lived in Japan for two years, an amazing experience. I wasn’t teaching English in the conventional sense. I was teaching English Conversation which meant I got to meet some amazing people. An amazing culture and amazing people.

You appeared in the movie PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 5: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES. Any upcoming film projects?
After getting the part in the Pirates movie I did auditions for TV ads and I play a drunk in a movie not released yet called IN LIKE FLYNN.

Are there any upcoming gigs for ONCE A TOURIST – the band you assembled for the launch of the book?

There will be some further gigs later in the year.


And finally, if you’re up to it Jim, some queries from the rapid-fire and unflinching QUESTIONATOR –

  • Do you have any tattoos? No
  • Best place you’ve ever lived? Brisbane
  • I love the sound of… music (not the  Julie Andrews movie!)
  • Whose look do you envy (you’re allowed to say Bruce Wayne, Doctor Who or even Donald Duck if you want to!) David Bowie
  • I wish my house had a … recording studio
  • I can’t live without… my MTV
  • Favourite quote? “We are only in it for the money”Frank Zappa (1940 – 1993)
  • Favourite movie? The Budapest Hotel

Ps.  On a completely unrelated note, your bonus read this week is the short story of an 88-year-old grandmother who decides the time is right to get her very first spray tan.



Incident at Chappaquiddick


Looking back with the 20/20 vision of an Oxford historian, it’s pretty clear July 1969 was a firecracker month in American antiquity on at least a number of counts.

On July 8th the very first troop withdrawals were made from Vietnam. 13 days later Neil Armstrong took mankind’s first steps on the moon. And the Manson murders, the crime that many attribute to killing off forever the carefree flower-power era of the 1960’s, were only a few weeks away. Somewhere wedged amongst all that upheaval and horizon-transforming change was the incident at Chappaquiddick.

This post is mostly intended as a film review of the movie CHAPPAQUIDDICK which has just been released in cinemas here in Brisbane this week. To pull that off effectively however, a brief history lesson, like it or not, must accompany the price of admission.

The events which occurred on Friday night July 18, 1969, and became known as the Chappaquiddick Incident, involved a single-vehicle car accident that occurred on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts.


The major difference between these two photographs is that today the bridge sides are protected by parallel-fenced guard rails. In July 1969 these were not yet installed.



A little after midnight on this date, a car driven by 37-year-old Senator Ted Kennedy (youngest brother of John F. Kennedy – the 35th President of the United States – and Senator Robert F. Kennedy) plunged off a narrow, single-lane wooden crossing known as Dyke Bridge into tide-swept Poucha Pond. The car sunk to the bottom of the water channel with the occupants still inside. Ted Kennedy, who was married at the time to his 1st wife Joan, was able to swim free but his 28-year-old passenger Mary Jo Kopechne was trapped in the submerged vehicle and drowned. 


Deepening the tragedy and scandal of the incident was the fact that Kennedy did not report the accident to police until ten hours after it occurred and the prevailing view at the time was he could have done more to try to rescue the life of his passenger. Kennedy pleaded guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of a crash causing personal injury, and later received a two-month suspended jail sentence.

The Chappaquiddick Incident became a nationally known controversy, and likely influenced Kennedy’s decision not to campaign for President in 1972 and 1976. Ted Kennedy went on to  have a long and successful career in politics, serving in the United States Senate for over forty years until his death from brain cancer in 2009. His memoir True Compass was published three weeks after his death.


 At the inquest into the death of Mary Jo Kopechne held in January of 1970, John Farrar, who was the captain of the Edgartown Fire Rescue unit and the diver who recovered Kopechne’s body  alleged that she died from suffocation rather than from drowning or from the impact of the overturned vehicle.
He hypothesised that Mary Jo Kopechne had survived for at least one hour after the crash by breathing in air that formed in an air pocket inside the submerged vehicle. He further concluded that had Ted Kennedy alerted authorities immediately after the crash happened instead of waiting ten hours to do so, Mary Joe Kopechne could have been removed alive from the car. This is the theory of the accident depicted in the movie.


I saw the movie CHAPPAQUIDDICK at Indooroopilly cinema last Saturday afternoon with around 16 other people in the theatre. ‘Engrossing‘ is one superlative that comes to mind when I search for how to recount the experience of this film. ‘Masterfully authentic’ and ‘sublimely nuanced’ are two others.

Australian actor Jason Clarke (DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, TERMINATOR GENISES, EVEREST) who cut his acting chops on HOME AND AWAY back in the early 2000’s, perfectly portrays the detached, born-to-privelage senator Ted Kennedy in a hairs-stand-up-on-the-back-of-your-neck-it’s-so-real Oscar-worthy performance.

Ps. Wanna travel back in a time machine?

Capture Then CLICK HERE or HERE or if you’re a conspiracy theorist HERE

Pss. A selection of the many, many books written on the subject over the years..


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Psss.  This week’s bonus read is an article written under the headline

Kennedy Clan Tries to Sink Chappaquiddick Film

detailing how pressure was placed on the producers of the movie from very powerful people not to release the film.


Letter from Her Maj – Again!


I truly feel like my ship – alright, under the circumstances, better make that royal yacht – has come in.

A letter from the Queen will do that to you.

Then again, once you’ve had one letter from Her Royal Highness the others after that tend to be a bit ‘meh’. Right?


Like popping bubble wrap or running your fingers through your hair after getting a haircut or even opening your eyes in the morning and realizing it’s Saturday, some things never lose their appeal.

Last time I received a letter from Queen Elizabeth II (HERE) (not to be confused with Queen Elizabeth 1 (1533 -1603) was back in October of last year on the occasion of SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK recording its 100th follower.

This time she’s bestowing her royal congratulation for  SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK notching its 200th follower. And while there’s nothing that can quite beat the feeling of that very first time, may I say that, like tennis ace Roger Federer recording his 20th Grand Slam career title back in January with his victory in the Australian Open Final, it’s a thrill you never tire from.


I’d like to show it to you if I may…

Dearest Glen,

It seems like only yesterday all the blessed here at Buckingham Palace were gathered around the royal fireplace warming ourselves with the news that SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK (is that how you say it?) had gathered, like goji berries in a blue ribboned basket, 100 dedicated and true followers.

And now to hear you have summoned 200 loyal subjects to your breast is indeed heartening news of the finest virtue. To mark the occasion I have commissioned a special certificate for you which you may place in your Throne  Room  Trophy Room, if you have one of those.

You may have heard that I have plans to retire from official duties sometime in the near future and hand over the daily slog reins of power to my son Prince Charles the Duke of Cornwall.

What you have heard is true and so I say that by the time you reach your next landmark of 300 loyal servants it is very possible that it is he not I who will give regards to your achievement. I would like to take this opportunity therefore, to again personally wish you every success for the future of your little endeavour.

With warmest wishes and kindest felicitations,

Her Royal Majesty

Queen Elizabeth II

Ps. Would it be too bold of me to enquire, should SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK at some point in the future reach the right royal milestone of say.. 500 followers, that you may consider upgrading the name to something a little, how should I put this, classier? Like maybe SCENIC WRITER’S PALACE ?  Just asking…

Ps. For this weeks book recommendation we go retro with a funny 1992 novel by English humorist Sue Townsend (1946 -2014) called THE QUEEN AND I. This book was adapted to become a stage play and the author penned a sequel titled QUEEN CAMILLA in 2006.

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Here’s the plot synopsis –

When a Republican party wins the General Election in Britain,, their first act in power is to strip the royal family of their assets and titles and send them to live on a housing estate in the Midlands.

Exchanging Buckingham Palace for a two-bedroomed semi in Hell Close (as the locals dub it), caviar for boiled eggs, servants for a social worker named Trish, the Queen and her family learn what it means to be poor among the great unwashed.

But is their breeding sufficient to allow them to rise above their changed circumstance or deep down are they really just like everyone else?

This book should in no way be confused with another title by the same name THE QUEEN AND I by Edward A. Weiss penned in 1979.


Pss. Sticking with the royal theme, the other morning I was awake at 1am sharpening my maths skills by attempting to calculate how many hours sleep I would get if I fell asleep ‘right now’, when, in desperation, I did what any normal person would do when they can’t sleep and switched on the television.

Fortunate enough to somehow avoid the info-commercials for exercise equipement and non-stick fry pans, I lucked upon an episode of a send-up comedy series on Channel 7 called THE WINDSORS which hilariously depicts the royal family.  Funny.  Real funny. 



Psss. ABBA back at Number 1 on the music charts? Mama Mia!  With news late last month the 70’s supergroup will be releasing their first new music in 35 years sometime during 2018, this is a definite cellphone-vibrating-in-your-pocket announcement  for the entertainment industry.

To those who say it’s comparable to Arnold Schwzenegger making a return to body building or Bill Clinton attempting to re-enter the Senate (or even one-of-a-kind Cher touring again.. no wait… isn’t she coming to Brisbane with a show in September?) I say – you can damage your washing machine if you put in too much washing powder but is that going to stop you from trying to stay clean altogether? As metaphors go that one’s probably up there with a 1970’s homemaker mixing their clothes whites with their washing tie-dyes – something you would never do – but since the group’s first new song is entitled “I STILL HAVE FAITH IN YOU” we’ll all just have to wait and see what comes out, as they say, in the wash.


Pssss. The bonus reads keep on coming and this week is no exception. The good folk at THE BOOK DEPOSITORY have put together a list of  95 OF THE BEST BOOKS OF ALL TIME. (SEE IT HERE) Making it onto the list was Raymond Chandler‘s classic 1953 hard-boiled (as opposed to soft-boiled) detective novel THE LONG GOODBYE. Chandler considered this work his best book and it was made into a film starring one of my favourite actors, Elliot Gould, in 1973.


And that concludes this week with what has indeed been another long goodbye from SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK.