When No Means No!

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Like a child, there are some things you ask for knowing full well there’s little to no chance you’ll get them.

But it doesn’t stop you asking.

And so it was when I approached my wife with a ‘brilliant idea’ for the promotion of SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK.

Before I relate the gory details of what this piece of inspired thinking precisely looked like, let me lay bare a little of the lead-up.

Regular readers will recall that back in May SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK’s usually asleep-at-the-wheel promotions department deigned that our little Honda Jazz (2006 model) should commence cruising the streets with the addition of a SWS bumper stick attached to its rear window.

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When we traded in our twelve-year-old silver surfer for the automotive hi-tech beast that is the Mazda CX-5 (HERE)  my wife naturally thought that would also spell the end of having to drive a car around with an embarrassing, scrubby rear-sticker attached.

And she was right! 

What she hadn’t bargained on was the fact that by the time we ended up selling the silver surfer just two months after the promotional sticker somehow made it past her usually rigorous screening process and onto the rear window, I’d already gone to ‘next level’ in my mind as to what sort of advertising exposure a car might be capable of delivering for SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK. 

And when I say ‘next level’ that’s exactly what I mean. 

Has anyone noticed how the eye-candy rating of road vehicle advertising signage  has risen exponentially over the last few years? What was once the exclusive domain of trucks and the rear ends of tradies’ utes has wildly diversified so that now thousands of cars on our roads come emblazoned with palettes of splash colour hocking everything from computer repair services and real estate companies to personal fitness training, hair salons, divorce lawyers, pet washes, timber mills, pest exterminators, beauty therapists, locksmiths and even fish and chip shops.

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One could be forgiven for thinking our roads have become a living, breathing, traffic- congested yellow pages. It started back in the day with those trendy teeny-bopper radio stations that would employ a mini-fleet of what used to be generically called 4WD’s but now go by the name of SUV’s to parade about giving away rubbish prizes in vehicles so colourful you’d think they’d been painted by pre-schoolers fuelled up on red cordial.

Then, maybe a decade ago, council buses upped their game and joined in on the creative –

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CaptureWith this impressive history in mind, I had myself, a week or so ago, a moment of goddamn epiphany. “I want a piece of that!”  I said to myself and then repeated it several times to emphasise the point.When that happens and I’m hosting a thought that refuses to evaporate over the next 24 hours, I know I have to do something about it.

And so I did, but coming face first up against an immovable object in the form of my wife who’s way more sensible then I am can tend to put a dent in your resolve. I can’t be sure whether “You’re not serious?”“That’s not happening” or “No way” were the first words that came smoking from her mouth after I’d explained my brain-wave but they all added up the same  “No means no” + “You’re not gonna win this one no matter what impressively worded reasons you wanna throw up”. 

It’s all a bit of a blur now since I got pretty much thrown to the canvas within the first 15 seconds and blacked out soon after, but I think she added something like – “You don’t even have a business to advertise.” I thought much later to relate my fool-hardy entrepreneurial attempts to GO PREMIUM! (HERE) but since that turned out to be one of the lesser shining lights of this blog’s history I thought better of it.

Before my attempts at reasoning were shut down altogether I believe I also mentioned about the hallowed SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK being my hobby. This regarded-as- provocative statement was greeted with disbelieving laughter followed by the uppercut rhetorical “Who does that?” – meaning, who goes to all the trouble and expense to outfit their car with look-at-me advertising wrap designs plastered all over to promote… their hobby!

Well… besides the whacked-out car owners pictured below… I guess nobody!

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Which all adds up to the fact you won’t be seeing this car on the roads anytime soon…

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Ps. Which is not to say I’ve given up on the SCENICWRITER’SSHACKMOBILE idea completely.

There was talk a while back of us maybe getting a second car sometime in the future. Second car means second bite at the cherry, negotiation-wise. In truth I probably have no greater chance at convincing my wife of the merits of driving around in a ridiculously adorned car advertising my ‘hobby’ then the first negotiation whipping dished out to me but I want to still vainly cling to the belief that anything is possible (even when it’s not!),

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Pss. Not willing to walk away completely empty-handed from the ‘family car doubling as moving billboard’ negotiation, in the end I was able to come to bring about some small concession – and by ‘small’ I mean something that would make a shrink-wrapped leprechaun proud – to my admittedly overblown marketing dreams.

I have been granted permission to adorn a different vehicle with a glorious high-gloss, all-weather SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK sticker. And that vehicle is none other than… my bicycle! This was considered the action least likely to cause embarrassment to other  family members. “Fair enough” I say through gritted teeth.

And so, for the moment at least, pedal power is going to be my ticket to ‘high visibility’ promotion of SWS. This may have put a temporary spoke in the wheel of my plan’s to mount a bigger stage, advertising-wise, but hey, everyone’s gotta start somewhere. Right?

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Psss.

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For the Love of Books

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I’ll admit it.

I’m a sucker for lists.

I could nominate a list of reasons why this most venerable of media formats is so appealing but since NEW YORKER magazine has already done that (HERE) there’s really no need.

Instead, for an insight top-up I offer this heavy duty quote –

“Lists or listicles as they are now sometimes referred to, spatially organize  information and promise a story that’s finite, whose length has been quantified upfront.

This creates an easy reading experience, in which the mental heavy lifting of conceptualization, categorization, and analysis is completed well in advance of actual consumption—a bit like sipping green juice instead of munching on a bundle of kale and celery sticks. And there’s little that our brains crave more than effortlessly acquired data.”

Maria Konnikova – author of MASTERMIND: HOW TO THINK LIKE SHERLOCK HOLMES (2013)

With that out of the way it’s time to move onto our main act.

Favourite books? I’ve had a few. And so have others, including these celebrities –

celebrity novels 2Celebrity novels

This ribbon-cutting post is dedicated to the unveiling of my list of 50 favourite books. The oldest of the books listed dates back to 1897 and at the other end of the timeline there are four books included published in 2017. There are also a couple of titles mentioned I last read back in childhood but whose fond memory has lingered for so long they literally begged to be on the list. Non-fiction books well and truly take centre stage.

used to be

Each and every one of the books admitted onto this list I have poured myself into their pages and they into me. I have scoured these books. Many of them I have read more than once. I have read until I was almost cross-eyed and the words merged into nonsense. I have lived their pages in breathless rapture and spent, in some cases, a lifetime studying the characters, both fiction and non-fiction. These are my favourite books –

Click (HERE) to go straight to it.

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Ps. Before you do, check out these shenanigans –

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OZ COMIC CON is on in Brisbane this weekend.

If you want a schedule of events GO HERE

When One Becomes Two

 

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I’m expecting my second child.

The birth is only a few weeks away.

I couldn’t be happier.

My first child is counting down the days as well, with a mixture of excitement tinged with resignation knowing they will no longer be the sole focus of my attention.

And before this sleight-of-hand analogy gets carried any further let me make it clear -when I say second child I’m naturally meaning second BLOG.

Because really the pet project I’ve tendered to these past two years, known affectionately as SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK, has in many ways seemed like my own offspring. It talks like me, thinks like me and courtesy of gallery pictures, looks like me. By jove it is me! – just in another form.

Only now it’ll have a little brother. Or is that little sister? Better make that ‘relation’. Here’s what’s happening…

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A secret I’ve rarely shared is that from childhood I have been a life long dedicated fan of the 1960’s television series LOST IN SPACE. I lived, ate and breathed every frame of every episode of this space-age wonder of the small screen from roughly the age of eight. I might have had Charlie’s Angels’ posters on my wall growing up but my true heart belonged to the Robinson family, eeeeeevil Dr Smith and of course the robot!

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I have the box set. I have the robot figurine. I have the. What I don’t have is an outlet to express my admiration and mad devotion to this old-time show. Enter inspiration in the form of American wonder blogger Lady Emily Rose. She operates a spectacularly good site called KNIGHT OF ANGELS. (VIEW IT HERE) It boasts a literal treasure trove of fandom-based literary style writings on books, films, television and music. She holds a particular fondness for another 1960’s sci-fi tv series you may have heard of – STAR TREK. This year Emily began her great re-watch of all 79 episodes and is chronicling her thoughts as she goes – episode by episode. (READ THEM HERE)

The standard of commentary on KNIGHT OF ANGELS is first-rate and I wondered if I could aspire to something in a similar vein. STAR TREK (originally aired 1966 -1969) and LOST IN SPACE (originally aired 1965 -1968) were at one time direct rivals aired on competing US tv networks. I thought I owed it to my old flame then to raise the flag in its name and pay homage.

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With the launch set to take place early next month everything is being carefully prepared and assembled. What’s not in place is a name. The new blog is currently going by the working title of LOST IN SPACE ULTIMATE. Since that name could possibly be construed as having a slightly boastful ring to it, I think I can do better. 

This is where I need your help!

Below you’ll find a list of possible names under consideration for my new venture. I would  love ♥ love ♥ love if you’d deem to drop into the comments box below what your pick or picks of these might be. Here they are, in no particular order –

BLUE PLANET LOST IN SPACE

LOST IN SPACE MILLIONS

LOST IN SPACE HUNTERS

LOST IN SPACE AWAKENINGS

LOST IN SPACE FIRESIDE

LOST IN SPACE ASSIST

LOST IN SPACE FLARE

RECON LOST IN SPACE

LOST IN SPACE RISING

LOST IN SPACE CORPORATION

LOST IN SPACE FLIPSIDE

LOST IN SPACE REWIND

REVOLUTIONARY LOST IN SPACE

LOST IN SPACE DEPARTMENT

LOST IN SPACE GENIUS

LOST IN SPACE PREFERRED

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Thankyou!

 

 

Remembering September 11

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This coming Tuesday is the 17th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks in New York.

Still deeply embedded in the American psyche every bit as much as the assault on Pearl Harbour was for a previous generation, the literally horizon-transforming events of this catastrophic day (it happened on a Tuesday) rewrote forever the socio-political landscape our world inhabits. 

This post is intended as a personal recollection of my memory of that day and it’s aftermath.

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Back in the year 2001, I was in the first of what would turn out to be three glorious years of living in Tokyo, Japan. I was working as an English instructor and thoroughly enjoying being in a foreign land. Life was all green tea and ramen noodles, removing ones shoes before walking inside, sleeping on tatami mats, adding ‘san’ to everyone’s name, wearing a collar and tie on the subway to work and snow in the winter time.

I remember the morning of September 11, 2001 clearly. I had just walked into the shared lounge room of the ‘Gaijin House’ (accommodation housing non-Japanese) I was staying in when a fellow Aussie  (I don’t recall his name but I do distinctly remember he had a beard and enough size to play front-row for the Brisbane Broncos) began pointing to the over-sized box television switched on in the corner of the room, saying ‘Check this out!’

We stood shoulder to shoulder for the next few minutes trying to make sense of what we were seeing in the news images flashed before us; two strangers bonded together ever so briefly in a moment of horror and disbelief. I am quite positive anyone over the age of 30 would be able to recount in similar detail exactly where they were on this day – when they first heard the news of the history-defining attacks that ushered in the ‘war on terror’, and in doing so, redefined both what a battlefield and a weapon could be while at the same time forever shattering the boundaries between war and peace.

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Not long after the events of September 11, 2001, alternative theories began to circulate about how the World Trade Centre Twin Towers (first opened in 1973, with construction commencing in 1966) plus Building 7 of the complex collapsed, possibly by means other than the hijacked planes crashing into them.

Various investigations commissioned by official organisations, including one in 2002 by the American Society of Civil Engineers and another in 2005 by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology concluded the Twin Towers suffered massive collapse due to the impact of the aircraft, and resulting jet-fuel ignited fires, ALONE.

These investigations were not enough to satisfy conspiracy theorists who claimed (and continue in some cases to claim) that the skyscrapers could not have been brought down in the pancaking manner in which they were by the impact of jet planes flying into them ALONE.

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The most popular alternate explanation for the massive structural failures experienced by World Trade Centre Buildings 1 & 2 is that their collapse was assisted by (and in the case of Building 7 – completely due to) controlled demolitions (ie. the buildings were pre-wired to explode). This theory gained momentum when it was reported explosives’ residues in the form of nano-thermite material (produced only by military industry manufacturing) were identified in dust samples taken from the area that became known as Ground Zero after the tragedy.

This hypothesis is tied to the incredible preposterous notion that the U.S government in the form of the George W. Bush administration had a complicit hand in planning and staging the cataclysm for reasons ranging from the need to destroy incriminating financial records contained within the buildings to a plot to benefit from a stock market insider trading scheme to the need to initiate war with the Middle East to manipulate world oil prices.

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Far more plausible explanations of the physics and architectural factors that conspired to bring down the three skyscrapers (all built using late 1960’s/early 1970’s construction methods) that day can be found –

HERE (4 minutes)   or  HERE (6 minutes)  or  HERE (2 minutes)  or  HERE (4 minutes)

That’s a lot of videos I know,  but if you’re still not convinced of the implausibility of the controlled implosion argument and far-fetched conspiracy theories in general – ones that  require hundreds if not thousands of people to keep a secret for life (in which case you’re likely also a flat earth theorist who believes the moon landings were filmed on a Hollywood movie lot) – then dang it, you may as well sample a bit of the lunacy for yourself by clicking…

HERE

Ps.This post has strayed somewhat to the serious side simply because of the nature of the subject plus the fact this coming Tuesday is a very sedate and weighty occasion. But given I’ve openly pledged before my intention to keep things for the most part light on these pages, best I end with this…

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While I was in Japan I purchased a SPIDERMAN comic.  It featured an all black cover and a storyline centred on September 11. I recall at the time I had some vague idea that if I kept the comic long enough, one day it might be worth considerably more than I paid for it.

Recently a valuation on ebay revealed that my investment plan for monetary growth of this once-off collector’s item is most definitely on track  – it’s just it looks like its gonna take roughly 200 years longer to cash in for a half way decent pay day than I’d thought.

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Pss. On a completely unrelated but no less commemorative note I give you my Top 4 Burt Reynolds movies –

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