Killing your creations – Langoria is evolving

I’m at a traumatic stage in drafting Langoria. It’s time to start killing bits of it. Well, not actually killing things, but certainly cutting good bits of writing that simply don’t fit any more with the direction that I’ve taken the story. So, hard as it it, well it’s actually getting easier, I am taking out in big swathes.

However, on the bright side, most of this writing is at the start of the manuscript where I was feeling around a bit.  I expect much less to be in need of disposal the further in I get. The second half of the story is a lot tighter, and, quite frankly, much more exciting and better written.

This also showed me how slow the start of the manuscript actually is at present. I have cut at least 80% of chapter two as it slammed the brakes on after setting the scene. There is stuff in that chapter that still makes me laugh out loud, but that doesn’t fit with how the story evolved. Humour is less a part of it now. Of course, now I need to make sure that nothing I take out leaves a hole in the plot later on – but I am on top of that.

So back to it. Killing your creations, or at least parts of them, is an essential part of redrafting. See y’all later.

George

Voter’s Manifesto

This is not my usual satire and light-hearted stuff , but I am increasingly pissed off with politicians so this is my Voter’s Manifesto…for all politicians. I don’t care which party you are in.

Dear Politician,

I, a voter, am fed up with you lying to me and taking me for granted. I am not impressed with your constant whining and lack of accountability, your insistence on blaming others for your mistakes and trying to pass blame down the line when you should take responsibility. You constantly break election promises, give in to cheap short-term opportunism at the expense of making long-term decisions for the good of the country, and demean me with short slogans rather than explaining your policies properly. I am fed up with hearing you all behaving like children bickering in the schoolyard, being bullies, and treating us like servants of the economy, rather than acknowledging that the economy is there to assist in the running of a country.

So, this is my simple 7-point manifesto,

1.  If you spend your time demeaning your opponents with personal attacks , I will not vote for you.

2. If you try to hold others to standards that you have not met yourself, I will not vote you.

3. If you break election promises, I will not vote for you.

4. If you sign away sovereign rights on trade deals, you are disempowering yourselves and the public who vote for you, so I will not vote for you.

5. If you make policy u-turns just because there is some short-term political gain rather than for the long-term benefit of the country, I will not vote for you.

6. If you refuse to answer interviewers’ questions and just dribble on about what you want to say, I will not vote for you.

7. If I think you are taking my vote for granted, I will not vote for you

that is all.

6 questions for all aspiring politicians

Our politicians often become the brunt of criticism and sometimes have abuse hurled their way. We all like to stick the knife in as they continually make us grind our teeth and shout at the television. Still, there are always people who aspire to these lofty heights, so if you have ever thought about becoming a politician I have some advice for you. It is, to be sure, a fine and worthwhile career choice; however, before you leap into the quagmire of politics you should ask yourself some very serious questions. Think carefully about the environment into which you are heading and the likelihood that you will chewed up and spat out very quickly. I know that you will be feeling a fair degree of uncertainty and so I have devised a few questions that will help you decide whether you are made of the Right Stuff for politics.

Q1 – Have you ever made a mistake?

 It is a well-known fact that very few politicians have ever made a mistake, so if you believe you have made a mistake, no matter how trivial, you are clearly unsuitable for a political career. If you have never made a mistake, ever, then you have the right mental make-up to start thinking about standing at the next election.

Q2 – Have you lost your grip on reality?

 Being remote from reality is essential for a politician – it makes decisions far easier to reach. There is no chance of becoming lost in the myriad of opinions and inconveniences that is the everyday life of the common person. If you know what the average weekly wage is, the cost of a loaf of bread, or how many people are currently suffering from mortgage stress (and what that actually means), then you are already filling your mind with too much information about the real world. You will most likely to reach a state of mental paralysis. How can you possibly come to a decision if you are trying to balance out the needs of all the community?  It is far better to choose a small but influential group of stakeholders and concentrate on keeping them happy. Once you have done this you can make quick and un-researched statements to the media whenever required. If you are a Minister, you may also be able to make quick and un-researched policy decisions. Surrounding yourself with staff similarly removed from the demands of the real world will help, as they will support you by not asking difficult questions.

Q3 – Do you lack moral and ethical substance as a person but have the hide of rhino?

 A good set of morals and ethics are a hindrance for politics as they may cause you to have sleepless nights and start to believe that you need a better grip on reality. You may even begin to think that you need to know more about the underprivileged and the challenges that they face. If you believe that this may occur then do not, I repeat, do not enter politics under any circumstances – you will very quickly be reduced to a burbling and rambling idiot when confronted by skilled politicians. I suggest you go and hug a tree instead –  at least the tree will not stab you in the back at the first opportunity.

Q4 – Do you have some skeletons in the closet?

 No self-respecting politician is without a past that involved something dodgy. If you haven’t been shagging prostitutes, defrauding business partners, assaulting people after a few drinks too many, had, or still have, an addiction of some sort, or been a member of a political organisation that skated on the limits of legality, then you will need to remedy this. You have two options – you can either delay your entry into politics until you have achieved some of the aforementioned, or you can work on them during your first few years in the job.

 Q5 – Can you make bad decisions in the face of overwhelming evidence and common sense?

This is a core capability for all politicians, but becomes more important as you rise through the ranks. The ability to ignore all evidence and fly in the face of common-sense when called upon to make a decision is a valued skill in Parliament. I have included a chapter on this later in the book.

Q6 – Do you have nagging inner voice telling you that you are destined for greater things

If you do, you are probably in the early stages of narcissism and have begun to believe that people actually do want to listen to you when you speak.  You may even believe that people value your judgement on current events.  If this is the case, then being a politician will provide you with the opportunity to test out this theory. You could have an audience of millions of people to talk to and, if you are smart you will surround yourself with numerous spin doctors and assistants who will convince you that the reaction of the masses to your ill-thought-out drivel is positive, no matter what they actually think. When this happens you will no doubt become convinced that your true greatness has finally come to the fore.

If you find that that you have answered yes to the all questions above, then I am pleased to tell you that may well have a long and successful political career ahead of you.

 

This is an extract from my book More Gravy Please! – a politicians manual.

One Day of Rage – Part One

The alarm kicked me out of bed at 6am, the dead synapses of my brain reborn, revived for a brand new day, take the crash cart away, it’s not that bad, just another work day, another Monday, for fuck’s sake.  Just another waste of time, some sort of unrecorded crime that involves me being cooped up in a room where robots sit and pretend they give a shit about the thing they do, whatever it is they do, I don’t care, why should I care, it’s their own personal nightmare. I have my own dreams, no matter how far away they seem so I’ll join the commuters anyway, ready for the coming day, thinking about the play between want and need, the balance between greed and a satisfying life.

And here I am on a Monday morning, another Monday morning, turning on the early news only for some guy to sit there on the screen just talking at me, he makes no sense, talks about celebrities and other disasters, he just drones on and on, just sits there wearing a smart suit together with his plastic smile; it’s all just superficial style.

So what’s next on the agenda, oh yes, that’s right, a sugar-filled excuse for breakfast, masquerading as something healthy, just making some corporate junkie wealthy off the increasing waistline of society. Eat more shit, it’s good for you, it’s tasty, nice, there’s no price you have to pay, at least not immediately, just put more of it away and you’ll be fine, except for that waistline, that shortness of breath, the fact that your bringing yourself closer to an early death. But what the hell, everybody else is doing it as well, except for those fitness and health obsessives, who strut past on the footpath, with their tight bodies flaunting my inadequacies – bastards.

Anyhow have to catch the Number 60  bus, where I get hassled by some guy already drunk at 7:30am, his red eyes, almost mesmerise as he makes lewd comments, while I try to stare out of the window, ignore him, deplore him, hope that I don’t turn into him, as suburbia goes by, as time passes all too slow. And just across the way there’s this man I see a lot, he just sits and stares seemingly unaware of what’s around him, he doesn’t move much, not as such, I think he’s dead or some sort of zombie or in the clutches of some possessive demon. His name’s Geoff, Geoff Munro. He expired on the Number 60 bus sometime between 1997 and 2005, but nobody noticed he’d died, apparently. Serving the sentence of the terminally dulled, he was inoculated against colour, against fun, against life, time has dimmed the light in his eyes, he was allocated standard issue fatigue for a job that he came to despise; no innovation, no compromise, permanently gasping for untainted air, relentlessly throttled by process, watching the clock until home-time arrives. Geoff Munro still rides that same bus, same time, same seat, same people, unaware he’s no longer alive. At least that’s what it looks like to me.

I mean look at all of these people, maybe some of them are zombies, corporate clones, or most probably wannabe’s, but most likely zombies. The stories had to come from somewhere, didn’t they?  Haiti, apparently. I think most people secretly believe in zombies, at least those aren’t already brain-eating, drooling consumers of what the media and corporations are secreting into our psyche through stealth. It’s those sunken staring eyes, dead pale-looking skin, and the fact that I’m pretty sure I can hear them moaning under their breath – it’s a dead giveaway (pardon the pun!). And those that aren’t yet zombies are on the way there, I can see them wearing their headphones, looking hypnotised by whatever they are hearing, undoubtedly receiving messages to indoctrinate them. Something like Work hard and die! or Motivation ruins lives or perhaps Boredom is the new black! Or perhaps even Resistance is useless, buy more shit, it’s cheap and nasty and you’ll feel better for a little bit, until you die in fit of self-induced consumptive paralysis.

Outside, suburbia still passes me by in a series of monotonous, off-the-shelf gardens and standard issue houses, and my resolve hardens that this will not be me. No, I am going to escape from the approaching rapture. I’m going to fly, capture that free-thinking spirit that I know lies within, even if the government thinks it’s a sin to have an opinion, a dissenting vision of what this world could be, so listen to me, even though I’m currently buried beneath bills and expectations, I will prevail in this life-long fight to be me.

Presentation from Hell…you all know about this

Crowley decided that he’d rather suffer from bubonic plague than listen to Dan speak, or perhaps Ebola or an acute case of appendicitis. The man had the innate ability to anaesthetise the most active of brain cells in the most stimulating of environments. He could have single-handedly prevented the Renaissance. Artists would have thrown away their paint and brushes for the last time; thinkers would have had their brains dulled to nothingness; scientists would have stopped playing around with their gadgets. All of these wonderful people would have lost all motivation, realised the error of their ways, crumbled under his attack and slunk off back to their disease-ridden villages to once more grow potatoes and barley and wait for death to relieve them from the pain of existence. Or they might have simply slit their wrists.

Dan could make fifteen minutes last for three hours, drain the colour out of the most beautiful image, or suck the life out of a whole vibrant city. He was a weapon brought out by the executive team whenever progress or common sense was threatening to overcome mindless, mundane incomprehensible policy and process.

This was the Branch meeting from hell – or perhaps he’d died and gone to hell without realising it. There was no escape and Crowley could feel his heart beating faster with the tension. It was almost unbearable. Dan was droning on, and on, and on. In fact, Crowley’s brain was dissolving. He fancied that he could feel it starting to dribble out of his ears. Dan tended to do that to people – he had all the charisma of a festering turd.

Crowley found himself wondering whether he would be able to retain his ability to function logically long enough to locate a cyanide pill that would put him out of his misery before he lost all brain function, reached a vegetative state, and became a burden to the taxpayer.

A glance at the alternately blank, desperate, or tortured expressions on the faces of his colleagues re-assured him that he was not alone. There should be some sort of law against this sort of cruelty, particularly as it happened every Monday morning. Who had meetings on a Monday morning?

A spreadsheet currently adorned the screen on the wall – the latest slide in yet another PowerPoint presentation. Come to think of it, there should be a law against gratuitous use of PowerPoint presentations too. Dan was going through each column of the spreadsheet in excruciating detail.

Crowley snapped, pulled out his gun, and shot Dan between the eyes; at least he would have done if he’d had a gun to hand. A life sentence with hard labour would be a breeze compared to this. Or maybe his colleagues would be able to convince a jury that what he had done was purely in self-defence and in the interests of everybody in the room. Surely a reasonable jury would agree if he brought along a recording of the event. They’d probably dig up Dan and shoot him again, just to make sure.

I’m taking less photos

I have been taking fewer photos since I went digital a few years back, almost none these days. For some reason the action seems to be less of a challenge now, and consequently less meaningful. This probably says more about me than it does about digital photography. I think what the problem is that, while digital technology has made taking photos easier, it has taken the pleasure away. Before my trusty SLR (Manual) suffered its untimely demise in the middle-east, I had a limited number of exposures available, and this made me think carefully about what I wanted to take a photo of, how that picture would be constructed, and what might be happening in the future. Some of my best photos were from the Snowman Trek in Bhutan where I had 360 exposures for 28 days – this focused my mind and made the challenge very enjoyable. The other thing about slide film is that it is a very honest medium – you get what you take. There is limited scope (at least for the amateur) of ‘fixing it up’ or adding effects.

Digital can be a lot more forgiving. Also, I think, the instant gratification of see your digital photo, takes away the anticipation and, in my view, devalues the image. Take one, delete it, take another, still not good enough, delete it etc. This also tends to make you spend your holidays looking through a lens rather than actually taking in the view. It doesn’t suit me, but then I did mention that this article may say more about me than digital photography. I seem to recall that there is some research to say that this is affecting people’s memory of their trips.

So, at the risk of appearing backward, and also grumpy, I have pretty much stopped taking photos. Perhaps I should see if I can get my old SLR fixed  – I think this is the only option, because I am intending to go to Antarctica and I think photos are essential, but I really would like to take film. I think there is at least one place here in Perth that still processes it. However, if push comes to shove, I will probably end up taking a digital camera, but I will be spending more time looking at Antarctica rather than taking photos, because at least then the images will be imprinted on my brain rather than a memory stick. Now I’m going to go back to my cave and start rubbing sticks together to make fire…anyhow, below are two of them photos from Bhutan

 

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Instant Expert!

I think I have gained, or am gaining, a significant new skill. I am becoming an instant expert. And you know what? This is really useful. I know all about everything.

The immigration debate? Yep, I know all about that. The economy and why it’s not working? Yeah, that too, there’s nothing I don’t know about that, just ask all my friends and colleagues. If you want a history lesson on the causes and potential resolution of conflict in the Middle East look no further – I’m here. Then there’s the recent Australian cricket team’s stunning loss to Pakistan. I know all about the reasons for that capitulation, believe me!

But that’s not all. It has recently come my attention that I am an expert on the ways to transmit Ebola and various other nasty tropical diseases. I can confidently critique your latest novel or film about this too. I know it all. And if it’s the history and causes of such diseases, then I’m your man. In fact you can include banking, ball games, and even brain surgery. Add in art, theatre and comedy too, and I think you get the picture.

One thing that I have noticed is that in addition to my undoubted expertness on everything, I have become quite grumpy. Do being an instant expert on everything and a level of grumpiness go together? You bet they do! And I would know, being an expert in this sort of science. It’s akin to my in-depth knowledge about climate change.

So there it is. Out of the blue, I have become clearly and indisputably, unfailingly, an instant expert. And even more interestingly I am completely self-taught! The magnitude of this achievement astounds even me, and I should know, because I’m an expert on education. Why did I ever go school – what was the point?

I think I need to have a couple of drinks to process all of this information, and be in no doubt, I’ll get some quality brews, because I know all about beer…and wine (or should I say whine?). I’m an expert on it. Of course I would be.

So anyhow, I’ll see you next time.

George.

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