[So here’s that scifi romcom story I had in Desktop magazine a little while back. You can download a .pdf of it for later-on-readableness or read the whole 2737 words now. Your choice.]
10 characters for the title, 55 characters for body text and a thirty-by-thirty thumbnail – that’s all you get on a station ticket reader. Plenty of space for the logo and a brief note about your ticket status. Not so much if you’re trying to squeeze a poem on there. To be frank, and with sincere apologies to any poets out there, you gotta do some radical surgery if you want that poem to fit.
The screen pixelates a little as the drone zooms its camera in on the platform, then comes good. I can make her out in the crowd from her bottle-green coat and her pigtails. She’s standing in line behind two other commuters, waiting to scan her ticket. Just in case she needs to recharge, I’ve got a 500-char version with a 150-square pic loaded up and ready for the recharge machine. The poem reads better at that length, but the ticket reader is just the first hack. I’ve built in some redundancy.
I met Kim a year and a half ago at Aaron’s birthday party. I’d seen her around campus but never spoken to her. She was going on a placement to Korea so there was a kind of no-strings-attached air about everything. By the time she was ready to leave I drove her to the airport. Six months later I was waiting for her at Arrivals. It all happened pretty quickly from there on.
My tablet bleeps and a new window pops up to show the text and images as they’re appearing on the ticket reader’s screen. I concentrate on the camera feed. There’s no sign she’s noticed anything – her body language is all commuter as she wanders onto the platform and reaches into her bag for her phone. I switch off the reader and ticket machine poems and scroll through the task list for the social media stuff.
I got the poem online – googled up a poet with a blog whose stuff was kind of sweet and easy to read. I didn’t want to nick something – I wanted something just for us. So I outsourced. If you want something done right you hire a professional – that’s what they keep telling us at school. I figure that’s true for art as well as programming.
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The lovely folks at vox bendigo, the official blog of the Bendigo Writers Festival, were kind enough to agree to post my wee meditiation on the naming of Bendigo the other day – the one that appears in Jutchy Ya Ya #48, that is.
Seeing as how deep that town’s ties are to the scribe-god of Babylon, it seemed to me perfect for a blog about Bendigo and writing. Happily they agreed.
Anyway, here’s the link.
So a while back those crazy kids at if:book Australia were running this remix project called Lost in Track Changes where five writers were asked to write something and then also remix or respond to the things the other five writers wrote.
They also ran a little side-project called Open Changes where Emily Craven from if:book wrote a thing and then anyone who wanted to could remix it and submit it in the comments on that story. The best four things would then be posted online to be used as prompts in the following week by anyone who wanted to join in, and then the best four of those things would be used as prompts in the following week, and so on for eight weeks.
Anyway, long story short: I wrote a thing for Open Changes in the last week of the project, and it got picked. Given that there was no week nine, it didn’t get posted and remixed, but it did get included in the final iteration of Open Changes, which was a big-arse poster that featured the things that all the successful writers wrote, all designed to look like a tree and shit.
No, really – check it out:
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I’ll let Mr Morrison be after this, I promise, but I just wanted to get a few things off my chest. This comic is so heavy with references to 1986’s seminal game-changing Watchmen that it’s hard to see anything else in it, including plot or character. Basically you’ve got the superhero characters that DC Comics wouldn’t let Alan Moore use in Watchmen mimicking the plot of Watchmen by effectively taking the place of the characters Alan Moore ended up using instead, as though Moore had actually been allowed to use those proscribed characters in the first place. Which is neat in an easter-eggy kind of way except that 1) the comic they’re referencing is 28 years old and 2) Watchmen has loomed so large in contemporary superhero comics for so long that pretty much anything interesting that could have been said about it has already been said.
Outside the Watchmen references there’s not much else going on of interest: a lot of heavy-handed symbolism (a bazillion references to infinity and the number eight that include the layout of the comic itself), characters who know they’re in a comic (something Morrison drops into almost everything he writes, but which he doesn’t actually ever do anything with), a staccato arrangement of scenes that resemble a narrative, and parallel monologues that vaguely resemble dialogue, overlaid with a brusque cynicism and casual approach to violence that comes across as just plain mean or cruel, especially for a writer who has in the past made arguments for superheroes as moral compasses and comics as living worlds.
Quitely’s art is lovely, as always, straddling the line between realism and cartoonishness in an eye-catching manner. The opening scene’s depiction of gobbets of blood and teeth pouring out of a man’s face after being shot in the head seemed a disappointing waste of his talents, though, and the intensely large number of panels per page (often choked with speech bubbles) used throughout the comic left me squinting more than gazing in delight at his work.
Being a list of things I found in the interwebs that I thought were pretty good and all…
Only When Relevant…
The always excellent Luke Pearson wants to know exactly when someone’s Indigeneity is relevant and when it isn’t – and who gets to decide, anyway? This is definitely worth reading through to the end, especially for the neat graph.
Existential Comics – Candyland
I’ve never played Candyland, but now that I’ve seen Camus and Satre play it, I kind of want to.
Entire Screen of One Game
“you can’t win the game. it exists only to destroy your mind.” And yet you must play it.
Murdering A Book
Warren Ellis trumps the book-as-sculpture metaphor with something much more apt: something along the lines nailing bits of wood to a giant mutant tapeworm that you pulled out of your arse. Except it’s funnier when he says it.
Nilsson sings Skidoo (video)
And then there was the time Harry Nilsson sang the entire closing credits of that one movie.
Tagged with: Australian media
, harry nilsson
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Posted in i would like to recommend these people's writing
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Pictures by the remarkable Neale Blanden, words by me. First published in Torpedo #6.
The cartoon reaches deep into a pocket, deep into a hole in the pocket, into “hammerspace”, and retrieves a huge pair of scissors. His mother, who lives there, hands him what he needs. Touches the tips of his fingers.
A few of the poems in this, Lockwood’s first collection, are highly prosaic, long-lined stanzas stretching out over many pages, puntuated by what seem to be subsidiary poems within the body of the larger poem. There are a number of shorter poems here too, but the longer pieces make the strongest impression with their deep Whitman / Ashberry-esque explorations of surreal premises that use intelligence and humour to co-opt and dissect the conceits of received wisdom, cartoons, storybooks and schoolbooks, pursuing the implication of things like what it is to be an ink drawing, or what it would mean to live inside a whale, to profound conclusions. These poems are weird, unsettling, confident and beguiling. There are no poems here that directly speak of lived experience, but in her deep consideration of bizarre scenarios Lockwood unearths resonant emotions that will stay with you long after you finish reading.
Buy Balloon Pop Outlaw Black from Octopus Books.