Melbourne Writers Festival: Last Night At The Festival Club

Last night’s free showcase at the Festival Bar was a great night to wrap up the Melbourne Writers Festival with the highlight being Angela Meyer and her SPUNC spectacular.

Whilst I mainly went for the SPUNC Spectacular, I enjoyed the other events last night as a relaxing wrap up to a great festival. Michael Nolan and Jane Sullivan opened the night with discussion and an audience Q&A but the audience were a little quiet, with only a few sticking up their hands.

I almost commented but was glad I waited when Michael gave away books to those who would stick up their hand next. I scored a short story collection by someone whose name I can’t remember but the publisher name, Difficult Women is a bit hard to forget.

What I commented on was how I liked China Mieville’s sessions the best and not because I’m in love with him, but that it managed to attract a younger audience. I think I saw people nodding along with me, which I think is a good sign.

Angela Meyer of the awesome literary blog, LiteraryMinded showcased various small press publishers and journals over three nights, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday night. They were all part of SPUNC or the Small Press Underground Networking Community.

Last night featured Page Seventeen, Vignette Press, Sketch Media, Going Down Swinging, Ford Street and Tactile Books.

I was especially interested in the first four as they were all journals and therefore all potential places to submit my work, but Page Seventeen and Vignette Press are definitely in my sites at the moment after last night.

I also got to speak to Angela Meyer face to face, instead of just commenting on Twitter and her blog. I think I probably do it better behind a computer screen and hope I didn’t make a total fool out of myself even if I might’ve appeared awkward.

Once again, I was recommended to go to the National Young Writers Festival in Newcastle. It sounds like more of a young writers networking place.

Poet Ezra Bix, Angie Hart and Zerafina Zera in the APRA Songwriter Speaks session, and the Bedroom Philosopher, Justin Heazlewood wrapped up the night in entertaining and hilarious fashion.

Movie Review: This Is England

This Is England is powerful and well done film, though the hidden complexity of the characters could’ve been explained further.

This Is EnglandSet in 1983, This Is England is about a 12-year old called Shaun, whose father died in Falkland’s war and after being bullied, is taken under the wing by a gang of skinheads. The troubled kid seems to be taken along with whoever is more dominant in his desire for acceptance and ends up in the middle of nasty men full of violence and dangerous ideas.

I suppose the film is chiefly about how people with troubled lives can turn to the far-right, but I think the writer placed too much emphasis on his fatherlessness than other factors. There’s a complexity to some of the characters that wasn’t revealed like how some of them refused to go along with the harder Nazi, Combo and why some did.

Combo was a deep character whose motivations were quite hidden, but who you could easily hate above all of the others. And besides Combo’s rant, and a speech from a leader in the National Front, their personal problems seem to overshadow any political motivations. This seemed to make the movie weaker, I thought.

Unlike Romper Stomper, the violence in this movie was much more subtle, which gave it more realism and power whilst allowing the more violent scenes to contrast and pack a bigger punch.

Technically the film was beautifully produced with an excellent soundtrack but the movie would’ve been stronger if the characters were more developed and that probably meant discussing more of the political motivations for turning to Fascism and less to do with their personal problems.

[Rating:3]

On The Train This Morning

It’s been hard to get into a motivated mood this morning, no thanks to fucking Melbourne public transport ticket inspectors.

Melbourne Train Zooming PastI arrived at my train station later than I wanted this morning and the ticket machine was too long to be able to buy a ticket without missing the train, so I got on and did what I’ve done before; explain to the guy at the gate that the line was too long and ask, “Can I just buy a ticket at this end?”

He took me to the ticket inspectors where I was fined. I wasn’t trying to even cheat them, even though with their service, do Connex even deserve to charge us to be squashed in like sardines on late trains? There was no discretion; the officer was just like a robot without any consideration of my circumstances.

Transit police do feature in one of the pieces I have drafted for Capital Comes Dripping (see yesterday’s post) so perhaps this experience can be inspiration for this piece. They’re not going to like what I have to say about them ;)

New Project: Capital Comes Dripping

“If money, According to Augier, “comes into the world with a congenital blood-stain on one cheek,” capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.”Capital Vol. 1, Karl Marx.

That quote from Karl Marx sums up the violence and brutality that feeds and sustains the system of capitalism. When I first heard that quote, I bristled at how accurate, to the point and evocative it was.

In my own writing, it’s something I aim to do. I want to highlight the brutality, violence and injustice of capitalism through horror and dark writing.

So, after mentioning this ‘project’ that I’ve been working on that includes ‘All Fascists are Zombies!’ I want to announce that Capital Comes Dripping is the working title for a collection of short fiction, flash fiction, poetry and other writing that I’ve been working on and want to focus on for some time to come.

This collection will most probably include the novella, ‘All Zombies are Fascists!’, ‘My Boss Sucks’ and other things I’ve been in the middle of working on already, plus some new stuff as well. I hope that the collection will also manage to cover the various horrors of capitalism that inspire my writing.

Part of my reasoning for putting these stories in a collection and not just sending them to horror and political magazines is that I hope to reach a wider audience. Being published in a horror mag will only result in being read by horror fans, and being published in the progressive literature mags will only be read by the kinds of people that usually read those magazines.

I still hope to have some of my work published in these publications, and plan to include these in the collection as well. It will help promote my writing, increase my chance of the collection being published and overall, be a real confidence boost to myself and the work on the collection.

But publishing the pieces as a collection would also give the themes a much stronger impact as some will interlink in some ways and some themes will be covered in multiple pieces.

I also feel like the short story collection is underrated (something I want to blog on) and have found that some small press publishers in Melbourne are willing to publish collection from emerging writers. There is also the option of self-publishing which I am seriously considering.

I’ll keep everyone updated on the progress of the various pieces and the collection as a whole. And in the off chance that any publishers have read this post and the idea sparks their attention, you can always contact me before I eventually contact you ;)

P.S. Don’t forget to check out my rant against right-wingers against healthcare reform in the US that I posted this morning.

US Healthcare Reform And Conservative Bullshit

Well it looks like Obama is going to back down on his prized healthcare reform for Americans. By the healthcare companies rallying right-wing idiots, they’ve shifted the debate and it’s become utterly insane.

SocialistWorker.org has some great articles on it including ‘Surrendering to the status quo‘ and ‘Right-wing thugs and corporate “reforms”

I’ve seen the blogs, the tweets and the news from all of these conservative idiots opposing healthcare reform because they don’t want government in control as if they’re going to have the power of who lives and who dies, etc. – all the while they’re outside of town halls with assault rifles. I know who I’m more scared of.

It’s all an utter load of shit.

And at its core, it’s hypocritical. These right-wingers don’t want their tax money to be spent on something as horrible as healthcare for everyone, instead of the current system where healthcare is only given to those who can pay for health insurance that profits rich executives as the head of these companies.

But they’re more than happy to hand their money over to waste money on weapons and the military to go overseas to blow this shit out of people in the Middle East. That really is giving the government power over life and death, and usually death. But these conservatives saying nothing about that.

To them, government healthcare equals government killing people, and killing people in wars equals saving people. They’ve got it the wrong way around.

Of course, these right-wingers jumping up and down are making themselves out to be bigger than they actually are and Obama is using them as an excuse to placate those rich fuckers who make money off of whether or not people get healthcare.

Writing Update: Editing 'My Boss Sucks.'

Following some feedback regarding my story, ‘My Boss is a Vampire,’ I set it aside for a few weeks to work on other stuff and work out what needed to be done whilst waiting on some more feedback from a friend.

As part of my monthly goals, I wanted to write an outline of the piece to make it clearer and I finished that on Monday though when I finally got the rest of the feedback back from that friend, that outline isn’t work much.

I wasn’t hurt or shot down by the critique this time. It was honest, framed positively, and I agreed with everything it said. She took the two pieces and told me what worked in both of them, which gave me some direction on how to combine the two and make the best possible story.

This morning, I opened up those versions and basing my new version on the second version, I played Frankenstein, cutting and pasting bits and pieces to combine the story.

The only thing I’m unsure about is getting the voice right as the first version supposedly had a stronger one.

I usually dread editing and it’s one of the harder parts of writing for me, but I enjoyed this and really feel the piece is better. I’ve moved the start of the story and changed some of the rationale of the antagonist.

I’ve also renamed it, ‘My Boss Sucks,’ and am reading it aloud tonight at my new writer’s group. I’m a tad nervous, so wish me luck.

Terror Trials: Breaching Civil Rights And Keeping Cops Unaccountable

The Age’s coverage of the terror trials against five Somali men is sensationalist, takes things out of context and misses the real issue of attacks on civil rights.

I know this is the second time today I’ve accused the media of being sensationalist but it really does seem like the media are clutching at straws for a story.

A headline on theage.com.au reads, “Melbourne terror suspect ‘hates Australians’” and is clearly meant to incite some idea of us being collective ‘Aussie’ victims or some other rubbish. But the quote was taken from federal agent David Kinton, who said:

‘‘Mr Aweys is, I suppose (the) common theme is, hatred towards Australia and Australian people and anyone who doesn’t follow Islam,’’ he said.

Whilst the headline seems to imply that the suspect said it, it’s just rubbish coming from the mouth of some ASIO thug.

But what sparked my attention was when it said:

Aweys’ lawyer Rob Stary asked federal agent David Kinton whether investigators had planted a covert operative amongst the group of accused.

Agent Kinton will seek legal advice as to whether or not he will answer that question and may claim public interest immunity so he does not have to respond.

Under the draconian anti-terror laws, suspects aren’t given the right to silence which is a clear breach of civil rights. But ASIO thugs are allowed to shut up in the “public interest.” They want immunity from admitting to more breaches of civil rights.

This is a fraud, makes them totally unaccountable and shows their unwillingness to admit there’s some serious dodgy shit at play, all in the interest of scapegoating young Muslim men and defending their bloody and unpopular war in Afghanistan.

It would actually be in the public’s interest if these anti-terror laws were scrapped because they’re a clear breach civil rights. It would also be in the public interest if ASIO were more accountable and couldn’t do whatever they wanted behind a hysterical smoke screen.