Seal of Approval

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Last Sunday night a new show debuted on free to air Channel 10.

Don’t think I’ve watched anything on Ten since the time Paul Keating was Prime Minister of Australia.

The show is called SEAL TEAM and stars David Boreanaz, the guy who played FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth in BONES for a number of seasons. Naturally it features a lot of overconfident warrior types strutting around in Disruptive Pattern Camouflage Uniforms, (DPCU‘s in military parlance) flashing pearly white teeth and acting all snarky while going on ‘ops’. There’s lots of chest-puffing lines like “Let’s do this!” and “I got this!” and I noted a number of characters begin their sentences with “So..” cause apparently that’s considered a cool thing to do. The debut episode (the series aired beginning in September last year in the U.S.) adopts a framework of balancing on-the-ground military actions periodically intercut with whatever’s happening with the wife and kids back home related to the soldier’s private lives.

Television critics in the States have labelled SEAL TEAM a bland and forgettable military procedural. The first episode held my interest but Channel 10 would want to stick to the advertised time slot this Sunday night instead of allowing I”M A CELEBRITY – GET ME OUT OF HERE! to go 30 minutes overtime and by proxy forcing viewers to endure the last half of that program while waiting. Pain of that severity is not something even a special forces soldier should have to endure.

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It was around this same period last year I was talking on these pages (HERE  and                 HERE ) about a reality TV series on SBS that put a group of civilians through six weeks of torturous Special Forces training.

Fair to say I’ve read a few books as well in my time on Special Forces soldiery, probably  up around more than a dozen over the years including these recognized silver bullets of the genre –

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The most recent addition to this repository of ‘Above Top Secret’ literature laying bare previously highly classified military methods and missions is a book released last year titled THE OPERATOR. This is the third account I’ve read written by Special Forces soldiers present on the ‘capture or kill’ mission targeted at terror mastermind Osama Bin Laden back in 2011. What gives this latest book its mark of distinction is that it is penned by the soldier, Robert O’Neil http://www.robertjoneill.com/ who actually put the three bullets into the head of the notorious Al-Qaeda (remember them?) leader.

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Being somewhat of a ‘veteran’ when it comes to these type of reads, I can report these kind of books all follow a similar pattern –

  • Opening chapters detail the soldier’s childhood
  • Next comes reliving the agony of passing the tougher-than-nails Special Forces selection training
  • The middle section gives readers grandstand seats to a number of lesser known covert missions the soldier has been a part of
  • The best is saved to last when the operation the soldier is most famously connected with is recounted in all its glory

THE OPERATOR follows this blueprint to a T.  It’s middle pages include recall of two other famous sorties O’Neill was a part of  – (A) the 2005 mission to Afghanistan to rescue Lone Survivor’ Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell and (B) the 2009 mission in the Indian ocean to rescue Captain Phillips and his crew aboard a container ship hijacked by Somalia pirates. The account of the mission to kill Osama Bin Laden occupies less than 40 pages of the 360 page text.

Included in that 40 pages is the following ‘money shot’ paragraph regarding the circumstances of Bin Laden’s death –

“I turned to the right and looked through a door into an adjoining room. Osama Bin Laden stood near the entrance at the foot of the bed, taller and thinner than I’d expected, his beard shorter and hair whiter. But it was the guy whose face I’d seen ten thousand, a hundred thousand times. He had a woman in front of him, his hands on her shoulders. In less than a second, I aimed above the woman’s right shoulder and pulled the trigger twice. Bin Laden‘s head split open, and he dropped. I put another bullet in his head. Insurance.”

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O’Neil candidly recalls the personal backlash he suffered in the days and weeks after the mission when the Seal Team became known worldwide in the wake of the historic success of the mission. Much to his disapproval he was singled out for extra glory as the trigger man and felt jealousy and disdain from his teammates as a result.

As I’ve well and truly donned the cammo paint for this post I may as well mention the fact that of the two movies based on OPERATION NEPTUNE SPEAR (The U.S. Navy Seal mission to capture or kill Bin Laden) I’ve seen – the big budget, Oscar-nominated, Kathryn Bigelow directed ZERO DARK THIRTY  (17 U.S newspaper critics rated this film their # 1 movie of that year) and the no name, made-for-television (though I own a DVD copy of it) SEAL TEAM SIX, I would rate the no name, made-for-television SEAL TEAM SIX as by far the better film, and at a modest estimate ten times more engaging.

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Ps. A new ‘Special Forces’ (Green Berets) movie is due to hit cinemas soon starring Thor (Chris Hemsworth). It’s called 12 STRONG and you can read an early review of it       HERE  or see the trailer  HERE

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PSS. SEAL TEAM airs on Channel 10 again this Sunday night.

PSSS. Thankyou to everyone who responded with suggestions last week as to what this blog’s 2018 slogan ought to be. Indecision has seized me like an arthritic joint in the dead of winter with the result being readers will be greeted with a series of ever-changing ‘taglines’ below the words SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK throughout the year, beginning today.

 

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Tag Me!

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Go straight to the head of the class if you’ve ever noticed this blog has a slogan.

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Now that Season 2 of Scenic Writer’s Shack is underway, I’ve been thinking maybe it’s time for a little nip’n tuck in the tagline department?

Someone once observed (someone whose middle name was most likely ‘Marketing’) life isn’t about finding yourself – it’s about creating yourself. With that thought in mind I’m wondering if “Words. Wares. Woomph.” still carries the same woomph it did a year ago.

The issue came up at the inugural performance review meeting that Scenic Writer’s Shack was the focus of  last week. The suggestion was made that the slightly ‘Homemaker-ish’ sounding tagline that presently greets readers might be better replaced with something a little more dynamic and alive that didn’t sound so much like an unintended homage to Ikea or Costco (take your pick).

SkyHere’s a list of 50 new ones my usually asleep-at-the-wheel marketing department came up with. They’ve asked if I’d  test-audience them here now for the purpose of coming up with some type of shortlist to be put to the board of directors next month. While it’s  obvious some of these were conceived towards the end of the day possibly after injesting  magic mushrooms of one variety or another, there’s a few I reckon that might just have the right amount of X Factor or as they say in French ‘jene sais quoi’ to get them over the line.

Here they are, in no particular order –

Pulsating Word Ectoplasm

Weird, But Weird Is All I’ve Got

The Artist’s Urge

The Artist’s Purge

The Only Blog With No Vampires

Strong As An Ox And Twice As Hairy

A Fierce Dissapointment

Are You Even Listening To Me?

You’ve Been A Brilliant Audience

I Hate Novels

I Hate Reading Novels

Angles That Never Add Up

From The Hood

Bonkers! Bonkers! Bonkers!

Made With The Scent of Juniper And Witch Hazel

Proper Huge

Proper Mini Huge

So Stupid It’s A Pleasure to Be With

I Know Nothing About Sri Lanka

Everything’s Premier But The Price

Shelve That Idea

You Wouldn’t Take Driving Lessons From A Blind Fellow Would You?

No Hand-Eye Coordination Needed

If You Like Beyonce You Might Like Pink

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What A Funny Place Man!

Better Than Iron Man 2

Breakfast Is The Most Important Meal Of The Day

Daddy Donaldson’s Dulcet Dungeon

Daddy Donaldson’s Dolby-Surround-Sound-Equipped Dungeon

More Uplifting Than The Great Potato Recession Of The 1840’s

You Don’t Need To Audition To Get In

Pleasure Swollen Guaranteed

My Own Personal Ring Tone

Quite Mental

Go Get ‘Em Tiger!

Captain Highhorse

The Chronicles of Captain Highhorse

Better Than Sugar Free Breath Mints

Easy To Wind Up

Easier To Wind Up Than A Toy Soldier

Normally Peculiar

Ridiculous For Ridiculous Sake

Better Than The Shopkins Movie

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Take It or Leave It

Not Wearing Cologne

A Gardener Of Erratic Brilliance – A Blogger Of Even More Erratic Brilliance

100% Pineapple Wedge Free

Thinking ‘Here Goes Nothing’ Could Be The Start Of Everything

Standing Ovation   Normal Ovation

Tastier than Oily  H’ors Devoures

First Draft Only Draft

If This Blog Was A Toy It Would Be A Fidget Spinner

90% Bogan 10% Class

Show Tell Eat Sleep Pray Love

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If you’re done with the non-stop head-scratching that a number of those slogans no doubt induced, pick a favourite (or two) and let me know in the comments box below. In the absence of any guidance on the matter, and since there were actually 52 and not 50, as stated, I’ll have little choice but to opt for the non-static revolving sign system and choose a different slogan each week across this year from among the lot listed here.

And that could likely end up quite absurd.

Any one of these could be the game changer that helps propel Scenic Writer’s Shack to the top of the blog A-list (‘A’ stands for asinine) but I just need to know which one.

So please, go ahead and advise me!

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Ps. Not trying to influence anyone’s decision-making but just FYI – my seven year old daughter (she’s on my Board of Advisors so it’s right I listen) informed me her top three choices for a new slogan are –

Standing Ovation   Normal Ovation 

Show Tell Eat Sleep Pray Love

The Artist’s Urge

PPs. Unearth this week’s bonus read    HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Howzat for creativity!

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I promise this is not a post about the game of cricket.

If it were, I know I might run the risk of a sizeable portion of the readership of this blog (I’m thinking here mostly of female and overseas followers)  clicking off – maybe forever, never to return.

This is a post instead dedicated to saluting ingenious plot lines in television shows – one show in particular. Before launching into that however, and since I’m already on the general playing field, I thought I’d chance a comment directed at saying how much I  enjoyed this summer of cricket’s Ashes series.

For those unaware, The Ashes are a series of cricket matches played between Australia and England. They represent one of sport’s oldest rivalries, the first game being played in 1882. Australia won convincingly the 2017/2018 series 4-0 (one match ended in a tie). Overall, the gap between the two countries for victories is very narrow. Of the 70 Ashes series played down through the years, Australia have won 33, England 32 with five series being declared a draw.

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During this most recent summer of cricket, ABC Television had the good sense to run a cricket themed episode of MIDSOMMER MURDERS (a British detective series that’s been going since 1997).

The episode, titled LAST MAN OUT, featured a character murdered by the most unusual means. Fastened sucurely to the far end of an indoor cricket net, a bowling machine set on maximum speed then unleashed a procession of rockhard cricket balls – at ten second intervals – at the helpless victim, unable to move, in excess of 100 km an hour. A direct hit in the heart region is ruled the cause of death by the coroner in the show.

Not sure what a cricket bowling machine is?       ALLOW ME

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I recall sitting through some pretty creatively choregraphed deaths while watching the slasher flicks of the 80’s (including one where Jason Vorhees (Friday the 13th) picked up by the feet a teenage camper still in his sleeping bag and repeatedly flung him against the trunk of a tree, like you would if you were dusting off a carpet mat. But death by bowling machine? I guess compared to the sleeping bag method you could at least call it a little more ‘team sports’ or ‘high performance’ orientated. If you had to. Compare, that is.

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Ps. ‘Indie’ (meaning independent) book stores have been on the endangered species list for a number of years now, so imagine a small town with not one but five independent book stores. To find out where   CLICK HERE

Author Interview – Stuart Aken

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Alines

When it comes to mapping out futuristic worlds far beyond the imagination of most people, there are few who apply themselves to the task more creatively than English sci-fi author Stuart Aken. Hard at work on book three of his  acclaimed Generation Mars series and with a website boasting in excess of 23 000 loyal followers, Stuart has indeed been kicking some serious intergalactic goals in the world of science fiction publishing across the last few years.

He agreed to speak to me from his secluded bugalow hidden amongst ancient woodlands somewhere near the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, England on the condition I not reveal its exact location. Stuart, your secret is safe with me.

 I read recently a well known author say the reason they became a writer was so they’d never have to feel alone again. Can you relate in any way to that thought?

 Being alone is essential when I’m writing. Luckily, I have my own little study where I can cut myself off from the distractions of the world. But to be alone in life isn’t for me. I started writing fiction at the age of 19, and had a girlfriend then. Now I’m a tad older and my 2nd wife sits in our bedroom on the other side of the wall and delves into family history as I imagine my worlds and translate ideas into tales.

As a writer of science fiction novels how do you respond to the slightly old-school sentiment expressed in this cartoon about the genre?

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 Those readers who denigrate the genre miss out on some seriously good work. I always respond with the same question – “Have you read ‘Brave New World’, ‘1984’, ‘A Handmaid’s Tale’, or ‘Pincher Martin’?” Most avid readers have read one of these, or at least understand their literary reputations and I explain that all can be considered as science fiction.

CaptureIf Hollywood came knocking tomorrow and wanted to purchase the film rights to WAR OVER DUST who would be on your wish list to direct the movie based on your book? Let’s imagine for challenge sake Spielberg was unavailable due to filming the sequel to his CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.

If you’re denying me Spielberg, I guess I’ll have to settle for either James Cameron or Ridley Scott.

How ‘bout your choice of A-list actors to play the main characters from WAR OVER DUST of DaisaGabrielStefan – and Zaphod?

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Tell us your opinion of these classic sci-fi films Stuart –

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(A) LOGAN’S RUN – starring Michael York  (B) SATURN 3 – starring Kirk Douglas    (C) BLADE RUNNER – starring Harrison Ford  (D)  CONTACT starring Jodi Foster

Logan’s Run – Watched and enjoyed this foray into a future fraught with the problems caused by overpopulation. Of course, it was made too early to envisage the inevitable tragedies of climate change.

Saturn 3 – Not seen this one.

Blade Runner – A piece of genius, in the writing, the casting and acting, and the settings. I’d definitely watch this again. 

Contact – Not seen this one either. My education in films is sadly lacking!

You’re a commercially published short story writer as well. Could you fill us in regarding the background to the writing of this story from 2011. Would love to hear what the motivation was behind conceiving the maverick and downright convention-busting double comma title.

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 This is my only free book. I’m a believer in artists actually being paid for their work but the odd ‘taster’ is fine. This was produced as a Christmas gift to my readers. The original Frank Loesser lyrics have been much messed with by singers over the years, but the mood of the song matches the teasing content of the story very well. And the ‘But’?  Hopefully the story itself explains the need for that addition to the original first line of the song. The comma is the pause for effect.

Lastly Stuart, would you describe yourself as a late night, early morning or ‘anytime’ writer?

I perform at my best in the early morning, rising bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to pen my first words while the imagination is still in that dream-drenched state before full wakefulness takes over to drench me in reality. Late nights? I can, if I must. But the red wine’s generally taken over by then and I’m maybe a bit too much under the influence. Freedom of thought might just be a little too liberated for many people if I write with no inhibitions! 

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Ps. In light of the subject of Stuart’s latest novel series, it seems timely to mention this Saturday night SBS Television is premiering the 2nd season of the Ron Howard produced MARS drama series. Set in the year 2033, it tells the story of the imagined attempt to establish a colony on the planet Mars and the human dramas that play out within that setting.

Pss. Wanna see a trailer for the new MARS series?   CLICK HERE

All the fascination in the World

 

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‘Fifty shades of fascinating’ barely begins to cover it.

The high-definition, multi-angle level of interest – not to mention raw controversy – surrounding master director Ridley Scott‘s latest movie has baited a hook that’s been hard to look away from. 

The on-screen goings on are crazy-interesting for starters. This film depicts the real-life kidnapping back in 1973 of the 16-year-old grandson of billionaire oil tycoon Jean Paul Getty, who only seven years previously, had been named as the world’s richest man. More on that later.

The other aspect to this film bumping up its interest factor are the off-screen events surrounding the unprecedented recasting of one of the film’s major supporting characters. In case you missed it, just seven weeks ago the film’s producers made the decision to recast the role played by Kevin Spacey after the actor became the subject of a slew of historical sexual harassment claims from roughly a dozen independent and unconnected claimants.

This involved hiring another actor (88-year-old Canadian Christopher Plummer) to play Spacey’s role, requiring 22 scenes (400 shots) be filmed all over again. The crew is reported to have worked 18 hour days to complete the monumental feat which added $10 million to the film’s budget. Co stars Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams (ex partner of Heath Ledger) also agreed to come back to reshoot scenes together with Plummer.

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Filmmakers have had to reshoot parts of films before – two examples that come to mind are when Paul Walker died during a break in filming for FAST & FURIOUS 7 and when Oliver Reed suffered a fatal heart attack during a break from filming GLADIATOR (another Ridley Scott movie) – but reshooting a film to the extent that Scott undertook for ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD under the circumstances that prompted it and within such an insanely small timeframe, has never been done before. 

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As to the drama on screen, there’s flood-level amounts of that as well – all of it depicting in accurate detail the true life events of the 1973 kidnapping and ransom demand.

As history records it, at 3 a.m. on 10 July 1973, John Paul Getty III then age 16, was kidnapped from the Piazza Farnese  – a building that today serves as the French Embassy in Italy – in Rome. He was blindfolded, transported, and imprisoned in a mountain hideout in the southern Italian region of Calabria. A ransom note was received, demanding $17 million in exchange for his safe return. When that ransom message arrived, some family members suspected the kidnapping was merely a ploy by the rebellious youngster (who had been previously expelled from Boarding School) as he had frequently joked about staging his own kidnapping to extract money from his notoriously frugal grandfather John Paul Getty.

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A second demand was received, but had been delayed by an Italian postal strike.

John Paul Getty II asked his father, John Paul Getty, for the money, but was refused arguing that, were he to pay the ransom, his 14 other grandchildren could also be kidnapped.

In November 1973, an envelope containing a lock of hair and a human ear (the movie’s clever tagline is “Everyone wants a cut”) was delivered to a daily newspaper with a threat of further mutilation of the grandson, unless $3.2 million was paid: “This is Paul’s ear. If we don’t get some money within 10 days, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits.”

At this point the reluctant Getty Sr. negotiated a deal to get his grandson back for about $2.9 million. Getty Sr. paid $2.2 million—the maximum amount that was tax-deductible—and he loaned the remainder to his son who was responsible for repaying the sum at 4% interest. When it came to frugal, Dicken’s Ebeneezer Scrooge, Scrooge McDuck, Shakespeare‘s famous moneylender Shylock and let’s throw in Lady Mary Crawley from Downton Abbey fame as well, all had nothing on John Paul Getty Senior in the penny-pinching stakes. The kicker was –  SPOILER ALERT – after his release from the kidnappers John Paul III called his grandfather to thank him for paying the ransom but Getty refused to come to the phone.

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Anyone interested in further reading on this topic is spoiled for choice.

I saw this movie at Springfield Event Cinemas on the day it opened (yesterday) with 14 other people in the cinema. This is not a movie in any danger of setting box office records and if there’s such a genre as ‘Eccentric real-life billionaires’ biopics’ then I’d be inclined to say I preferred watching Leonardo DiCaprio portray American business magnate Howard Hughes in Martin Scorcese‘s 2004 film THE AVIATOR more, but ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD is a film well worth seeing if you have any interest in knowing more about the famous kidnapping or wish to see Christopher Plummer give an Oscar-winning acting performance.

Ps. **Changing topic completely** – It was around this New Year’s time two years ago musician David Bowie passed away. Bowie was apparently a voracious reader and in tribute to that fact his son (Duncan Jones) has now started THE DAVID BOWIE BOOK CLUB. The idea is to read a different book each month from David Bowie‘s Top 100 Favourite Books list he compiled back in 2013. Those interested have until February 1st to read the first book selected which is English author Peter Ackroyd‘s HAWKSMOOR (published in 1985).

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After February 1st a discussion of the book will launch on Duncan Jones’s Twitter page  https://twitter.com/manmademoon (he’s got a mere 328 000 followers).

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Pss. For anyone interested in seeing all the titles that made Bowie‘s TOP 100 FAVOURITE BOOKS list –

CLICK HERE

 

 

That’s a wrap!

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It is done!

SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK commenced life on December 30th last year with the following post –

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That means it’s now a year old and Season One is officially, as the movie types might say, ‘in the can’.

Not many of you have heard the story of how this blog came about, or how it almost had the plug pulled on it after taking just its first couple of breaths, so… on the eve of the first anniversary of SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK, allow me to share with you the events of that fateful morning back on December 30th 2016.

After a number of years as a practising sideline commenter on other people’s blogs, I decided sometime during last year’s Christmas holidays that perhaps it was time I acquired my own digital digs with an online space I could legitimately call my own.

In a fit of boredom fuelled equally by curiosity to find out if I had the technical smarts to create digital life in this form, I set about the task like some mad inventor with glassed over eyes in a dusty lab. Incredibly (to me!), within less than 20 minutes, the spawn of my creation was up and running and I was now father to a bouncing baby blog.

There is, however, something few people know. Something I have kept hidden all this time, the guilt of which has, in many moments, been an almost impossibly weighty cross to bear. For the first few hours after the birth of SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK I was consumed with the most dastardly thoughts of ending the life of this innocent newborn. Ending it in the most devastating and final way before anyone had a chance to lay eyes on ‘it’. Why? Because I was unsure of what I had done. Unsure if I wanted to step onto the stage of public opinion and allow my creation, and by extension myself, to be exposed to the harsh light of judgement.

And then, after several hours of this torturous indecision about whether or not to finalise the life of the creation I had just single-handedly brought into the world, a funny thing happened.

I got my first follower.

It was a High School teacher who lived 14 000km away on the other side of the world in Atlanta, USA. His name was Matt Pavlak.    (View his own blog here)  Bolstered by that initial interest and show of belief from one single other human being, I decided to spare the hours-old life of my kicking and writhing offspring (who at that moment was already attempting to curl its tiny fingers around my pinky) and from that day forward I’ve become hopelessly hooked on the feeling of attracting fresh sets of eyes and minds to what I’m writing.

Over the ensuing weeks and months new readers began to trickle in. By the time  October clocked around, I had 100 followers and a magnificent letter from Her Majesty The Queen to commemorate the occasion.    (Remember that?)

 

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Milestones are there to be marked and celebrated and so, having reached the first birthday of SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK and before the ribbon is cut on the 2nd Season, I thought we’d take a brief look back at some of the highlight ‘moments’ of the last twelve months on THE SHACK. God knows you guys have put up with some regular shenanigans here (and I promise there’s lots more where that came from) so in honour of the whole gloriously weird and cobbled together shebang, here’s the skinny on what’s gone down throughout 2017 –

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          – TV SHOWS –   

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Special Forces Ultimate Hell Week (Jan)

Inkmaster (Jan)

Million Dollar Cold Case (March)

Millionaire Hotseat (July)

Blue Murder: Killer Cop (August)

 

    –  MOVIES –

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Sing (Jan)

Moana (Jan)

Scarface remake (Feb)

Boss Baby (April)

Cars (July)

Terminator 2 in 3D (Aug)

Blade Runner 2049 (Oct)

Borg vs McEnroe (Nov)

The Teacher (Dec)

         – BOOKS –

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Mein Kampf re-release (Jan)

Face the Music – Paul Stanley’s Autobiography (Feb)

Roger Rogerson (May)

Chopper from the Inside (June)

Dissapearing off the Face of the Earth David Cohen (Sept)

Ms Runway & Australia’s Next Top Merino – Matt Porter (Oct)

Stephanie Chiocci & the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Chase – Matt Porter (Oct)

Lincoln & the Bardo – George Sanders (Oct)

The Search for Anne Perry (Nov)

Tell Tale – Short Story Collection by Jeffrey Archer (Nov)

The Hornet – Jeff Horn’s Autobiography (Nov)

Uncommon Type – Short Stories by Tom Hanks (Nov)

Unbreakable – Jelena Dokic’s Autobiography (Dec)

Tiny Tim and the Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge (Dec)

Billy Slater Autobiography (Dec)

A World Without Whom by Emmy J. Favilla (Dec)

What Would Nietzsche Do? by Marcus Weeks (Dec)

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              – MUSIC –

Jean-Michael Jarre’s Oxygen 3 album (Jan)

Beatles White Album (June)

My Top 50 songs list (June)

Ariana Grande’s Brisbane visit (Sept)

 

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– AUTHORS –

Matt Potter (August)

David Cohen (Sept)

Tom Hanks (Nov)

Jeffrey Archer (Nov)

Sue Townsend (Nov)

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  – OBITUARIES –

                  Bill Paxton (Mar)

                 Jerry Lewis (Aug)

                  Tom Petty (Oct)

            Charles Manson (Nov)

             Jana Novotna (Nov)

               Jim Nabors (Dec)

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– LITERARY EVENTS –

Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest (Mar)

Love Your Book Shop Day (August)

Brisbane Writer’s Festival (Sep)

Man Booker Prize (Oct)

Qld Book of the Year Award (Oct)

Qld Writer’s Centre 8 Word Story Comp (Nov)

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  OCCASIONS

Asteroid Florence Flys Past (Sept)

Halloween/ Brisbane Zombie Walk (Oct)

World Teacher’s Day (Oct)

Melbourne Cup (Nov)

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    THE ISSUES

Driving Tests (Jan)

Trump (Jan)

The Spirit of ‘Pay It Forward’ (Feb)

Cyclone Debbie (March)

Airlines’ Economy Minus Class (April)

Standard of Coffee Shop Service (May)

Same Sex Marriage Laws (Sep)

Cultural Stereotypes (Oct)

Phone Scammers (Nov)

Book Clubs (Dec)

Music Piracy (Dec)

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THE BONUS READS

Falling Like Dominos (Mine)Jan

The Rise & Fall of a Finger Dazzle Master (Mine)Feb

Done and Dusted (Mine)July

Unearthed (Mine)Sep

No Brain Pickers For Her! (Mine)Sep

Halloween Coming Out – Oct

Indigestible Books – Nov

Cupcake Mistake (Mine) -Nov

Piano Man (Mine) – Nov

Jumpin’ Jellyfish (Mine) – Dec

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      QUIZZES 

Famous Novel Covers (Jan)

First Billionaire Author (July)

Famous Novel Covers 2 (Sept)

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Weird! Wacky! Wow!

Awkward Author Photos (Jan)

Mad Magazine (April)

Opening Prisoners Letters (June)

The Amazing Anti-Wrinkle Removal Machine (June)

Inner vs Outer Beauty of Bananas (Aug)

Competitive Punning (Sept)

Band T-Shirts (Oct)

Letter From The Queen (Oct)

Old Quotes Notebook (Nov)

What’s Your Band Name? (Nov)

Hanging Out The Laundry (Dec)

Hamsters (Dec)

Like any year, 2017 came with its own variety of highs and lows – and I recorded a few of them on this blog. My car crash back in April with my seven-year old daughter inside at the time definitely served up one of life’s not so pleasant curve balls (no injuries sustained). But equally my first placed entry in the New Yorker Caption Competition in May was reason for celebration (considering it took me 105 consecutive weeks of trying!).

However there can be no doubt who the real star of SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK debut season has been. She of the wilting death stare – she of the elbows cocked, cage-fighter- worthy tough-walk – the one-of-a-kind stalking femme fatale of shopping centre carparks, the snarling and untamable devourer of innocent women and children – I speak of course of none other than Megan the Malpractising McDonald’s worker.

Anyone who’s been following this blog from at least as far back as July will remember my encounter with this evil-spell conjuring 18-year-old assistant McDonald’s manager based at Indooroopilly Shoppingtown and the wash up to the ‘inquiry’ that was launched to bring young Megan to account.

God that was a ride and a half! This ‘coke & fries’ flavoured little misadventure was the only topic during 2017 that somehow managed to stretch across three consecutive weeks of posting. If you’re reading this Megs, I have some none-too-original words of wisdom for you. Ready?  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Actually, who am I kidding? Those words are for both of us Megan!

As to the bare stats for the first year of SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK, check out these little sprouting turnips for size –

Followers by year end – 141

Posts – 67

Comments – 454

 Total Views  of Posts – 4004

Total Views of the site itselfclose to 2000

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Most Popular Month for Page ViewsJuly

Most Popular Day for Page ViewsSaturday

Post with Most Views – Quiz Who is Publishing’s First Billionaire Author? (July)

Post with Most Comments – What’s your Band Name? (Nov)

Post with 2nd Most Comments – Top 50 Songs List (June)

Shortest Post – The very first.

Longest Post – You’re reading it.

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While figures like these won’t put me in the league of Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez or celebrity gossip site TMZ any time soon, they are nonetheless MY figures, and at this particular juncture in time, I’m pretty proud of them. With in excess of 400 million blogs in operation throughout the world (with as much as 30% of that figure thought to include still registered blogs that have been abandoned after only weeks or months) I figure it’s only right I should leave some followers for the others. Right?

Now seems the perfect time to thank the people who’ve been along for the journey since back in January as well as those who’ve joined more recently. A special thank you must be extended to my already mentioned very first follower Matt Pavlak as well as the entire GASS crew. Without you guys I definitely wouldn’t have a blog, or if I did, it would be a very scaled down version of what is already a pretty humble little enterprise to begin with. I’d also like to acknowledge all the people from outside of Australia who have signed up to be followers of SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK as well as the professional authors who I’ve somehow managed to convince to allow their inbox’s to welcome my often rambling, pop-culture heavy posts. Last of all I’d like to thank my Mum who reads every post.

And with those words of recognition still rebounding pleasantly in your ears, if any of you are interested in signing up to my Platinum VIP Subscribers Package *, please just drop me a line! That goes for you too Mum!

Season One has been a lot of fun. I live in hope** that Season two will be just as wacky, just as trivial and self-absorbed and just as unflinching when it comes to tackling the big issues, like sorting why burgers and kebabs fall apart in your hand when you’re trying to eat them or why Siri can’t pronounce your name or identify a particular song title.

See you all on the other side (of 2017) for the mad-cap, (possibly) hilarious 2nd Season!

Capture 3* There is no Platinum VIP Subscribers Package. There is however a Gold VIP Subscribers Package and, sad to say, if you’re able to read these words now, you’re already signed up to it.

** I heard someone observe recently that “Despair is a walk in the park. It’s hope that kills you.” With that in mind, I will keep my expectations for SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK’s 2nd Season suitably contained.

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Ps. Don’t tell me you’ve waded through all that and you still want a bonus read? Alright, if you insist. This one is my lookback at another blogger’s year –

SEE IT HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you stomach it?

 

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If your favourite food over this Xmas holiday period has been seconds, then at least one thing is certain – you’re not alone!

‘Tis the season when lapsed exercise routines and eating like an entitled King or Queen is what passes as normal. Around this time of year a lot of folk could list their hobbies as eating and complaining they’re getting fat.

But not if you’re the little furry guy pictured in the first frame above.

See, he’s got a neat trick involving using a certain part of his body to store up to half his body weight. I’ll tell you where and which body part in a moment.

First though, for the benefit of Aussie readers where this animal is not found, comes the education-scented portion of this post. Hamsters are members of the rodent family and are commonly found in parts of Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the U.S. There are 26 different species and they are a common household pet as well as laboratory animal. Hamsters are born blind and hairless and continue to have poor eyesight during their lifespan. Back in 2010, automobile maker Kia released a series of commercials featuring hamsters driving around in a new Kia Soul while other hamsters ran in place in their wheels. TASTE THE SILLY HERE

Now you’re knowledged up about hamsters, back to the question –

Where in their bodies can hamsters store half their own bodyweight?

Answer?

Their cheeks.

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Ps. Seasons greetings from everyone in South Korea (Population 51 million)

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Pss. At this time of year many people release their ‘Best Books of the Year’  lists.

This first list is from the staff at local West End bookshop AVID READER

SEE IT HERE

The second list is from the staff at U.S online site LIBRARYTHING

READ IT HERE

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By the Numbers

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I used to like a tv crime drama show called NUMBERS.

Don’t expect many others will remember it.

Produced by Tony and Ridley Scott, the series ran for 118 episodes and six seasons between 2005-2010.

It had a great opening credits sequence which contained the following voiceover –

“We all use math every day. To predict weather…to tell time…to handle money. Math is more than formulas and equations. It’s logic; it’s rationality. It’s using your mind to solve the biggest mysteries we know”.

See it here

This is my lead-in to posing the real prime of this post, which is the question –

Do you know what number follows on after a million, billion and trillion?

Before you attempt an answer, check out this scene from NUMBERS, talking about internet security –

Press Play

Allright, ready?

Answer, as you just saw, is a quadrillion.

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Ps. If I had to nominate my favourite number it would be the number ’19’19 is a prime number made up of the first and last single digit numbers; 1 and 9. Number 19 is the number of beginning and end and therefore can be seen as a milestone of completion. 19 was the average age of the U.S combat soldier during the Vietnam War. The 19th Prime Minister (of Australia) was John Gorton, one of my faves (don’t ask me why!). On a personal note I’ll admit to having  fond memories of back when I was this age (though 19 is a true idiot’s age). My street address for the last decade has been 19 and a song I have loved for a great many years is Paul Hardcastle’s 19.        LISTEN TO IT HERE

What’s your favourite number.. and why?

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LUCKY NUMBERS GO RETRO! VIEW HERE

Ps. Ever found yourself in a jam and asked, “What would my favourite philospher do?” Some of you are looking at me strange right now I know, but for anyone who knows their Aristotle from their Plato or their Buddha from their Socrates, this may be the book for you. Written by English author Marcus Weeks, WHAT WOULD NIETZSCHE DO? considers a variety of everyday problems from the viewpoint of some very renown deep minds. We all seek advice from time to time so where better to go than 80 of the greatest thinkers, past and present, the world has even known. Topics include –

  • How to mend a broken heart.
  • Toilet seat: Up or down?
  • What to do if you’ve lost your phone.
  • Is Shakespeare better than the Simpsons?
  • Should I get takeaway tonight?
  • Why do I feel guilty walking past a beggar?
  • How do I get to be one of the good guys?

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The Art of High-Rise Laundering

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Never trust a person who hangs their laundry over the balcony of a multi-storey apartment block.

Unless of course they happened to be living in Hong Kong back in 1974.

In which case as this photo proves, it was perfectly acceptable.

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Back during this time, the island of Hong Kong, located off the southern coast of China, was still a colony of Britain. It wasn’t until 1997 that Hong Kong was handed over to the People’s Republic of China by the United Kingdom.

In the year of 1974, Murray McLehose founded the Independent Commission Against Corruption, in order to combat corruption within the police force. The extent of corruption was so widespread that a mass police petition took place resisting prosecutions. Despite early opposition to the Commission by members of the police force, Hong Kong was successful in its anti-corruption efforts, eventually becoming what today is regarded as one of the least corrupt societies of the world.

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Wanna see how to hang out washing the cool way? Then  CLICK HERE

Ps. A previous generation of word ‘enthusiasts’ (I could have said ‘nerds’ but I prefer not to) had the seminal Strunk ‘N White’s THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE as their go-to reference for all things language-convention related. Now comes a new word style bible for the internet age called A WORLD WITHOUT WHOM. Written by author Emmy J. Favilla who is credited as head writer for the New York based internet media company Buzzfeed (which has inexcess of 700 employees) who specialize in social and entertainment news with a focus on digital media, this book has been described as a witty take on communicating in the era of Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, email, texts and blogs.

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Pss. Your bonus read this week is a guest post I’ve written on the subject of writer’s notebooks for U.S based blogger Matt Pavlak’s site ACCIDENTALLY INSPIRED.

SEE IT HERE

How Music Got Free (Part 3)

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Piracy has plagued the music industry since its inception. In the context of copyright infringement, the term ‘pirate’ is more than 300 years old.

Yet as U.S author Stephen Witt makes clear in his book HOW MUSIC GOT FREE, the perfect storm of technological innovation that took place beginning in the mid nineties with the birth of the internet and later the mind-boggling advances in digital music compression methods along with the enabling of file-sharing and streaming, allowed for the plundering of an entire industry on an industrial scale never imagined as being possible before, by a generation of entitled teenagers and twenty-somethings that truly believed the idea of compensating artists for the music they created was unnecessary and the whole notion of copyright was an outdated legal concept from the 18th century.

Witt recounts how when Sony had its Walkman craze back in the 1980’s, the music industry sold tens of millions of tapes. Alongside the Discman craze that followed, the music industry also sold ten’s of millions of CD’s. So, doing the maths, the success of the MP3 player beginning from the late nineties should have also meant tens – no hundreds – of millions in sales of legally purchased MP3 songs and albums. The great problem was  it never did, principally because there existed (and still exist) multitudinous ways to illegally download the same items at no cost. Ten million iPods sold in stores should have meant ten billion songs sold through iTunes. Again, never happened. Legal digital downloads have grown since those first ‘free-for-all’ days of the late 90’s all-out attack on intellectual property rights and copyright, but nothing like what was needed to compensate the record companies amidst the death rattle of the compact disc which we have all been witnessing for the last few years.

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At the heart of HOW MUSIC GOT FREE lies a bigger issue that reaches far beyond the boundaries of the music industry. It is the idea that the internet can and perhaps should function as a store of all human knowledge and experience that can be accessed by anyone for free, leading to a thriving public domain and rapidly increased rates of innovation for which all humankind is the beneficiary.

Seen this ‘bigger picture’ way, one can more readily accept the notion that in the quest for the development of knowledge and ideas for the greater good of society in general, individual industries may need to be sacrificed in order that others thrive. To this end, whether one sees the forced ‘liberation’ of the recording industry as the work of idealistic revolutionaries or racketeering criminals is entirely a matter of point of view.

In the meantime, Stephen Witt has written a forensically researched book that lays bare in compelling year by year detail what may be regarded as one of the greatest criminal conspiracies in the history of forever to subvert copyright and in the process bring down an industry.

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Want more? I give you more.

Click here to view retro 2006 anti-piracy ad

Click here to view Bryan Brown 2017 anti-piracy ad

Click here to see how Stars are fighting back against music piracy

Click here to view a great debate on music piracy

Ps. Your first bonus read this week is a short story called COLD CALLING. Word of advice – you might want to have a stiff lemonade on hand for afterwards.

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READ IT HERE

Pss. Your bonus bonus read this week is an article from THE GUARDIAN about the theft of 160 very rare and old books from an East London warehouse earlier this year. The crime to date remains unsolved. Thieves broke in through a roof skylight and avoided a security alarm system to make off with books dating back to the 15th century. Books stolen include original works from Leonardo DaVinci, Galileo and Isaac Newton.

READ IT HERE