Friday, September 28, 2007


Been feeding my appetite for TV shows I used to watch as a kid, thanks to a generous soul who's provided me with an episode of a programme I've been after for a looooong time.

The Adventure Game took a trio of 'celebrities' each week and put them through a series of intelligence tests. Later episodes became cult classics for features like the Rangdo (an alien shape-changer who has taken the form of a grumpy aspidistra) and the Vortex, a challenge that ended with more than a few of the competitors being 'vaporised'. The episode I got hold of is one of the earliest however, so those treats will have to wait for another time.

The basic idea is that the three competitors are time travellers visiting an alien world. Unfortunately the planet is populated by tricky locals who have pinched a crystal vital to powering the humans' time machine. To get it back, they have to prove their ingenuity and mental agility.

It was shot in 1980, so it's obviously pretty basic by today's standards, but when I was little the challenges were beyond fiendish. Now, nearly 30 years later, they all seem a bit of a breeze ... which begs the question why do the contestants make such heavy weather of them?

The guest stars on this particular show are a children's TV presenter, an actress who's now on Emmerdale (I think) and ... oh, someone else long since erased from the annals of TV history. The opening challenge involves getting across a booby-trapped floor (above). Only one shape and one colour are safe - you can tread on any shape if it's the safe colour and any colour if it's the safe shape. Get to the far end, key in the right shape and the right colour to unlock the exit and away you go. It was all straightforward enough from where I was sitting, but the team only made it across by blind luck. Later tests are characterised by fade-outs every two minutes as the editors chop out interminable sequences of the players scratching their heads and looking bewildered.

So assuming I can lay my hands on more such nuggets of TV gold, I guess I'll be watching for an entirely different reason to when I was small - to see just how dense celebrities can be. Failing that I can just stop watching and go back to proper, 21st century TV instead.

Dancing With Big Brother's Star Ice Singers, perhaps.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What Dreams May Come

Great rejoicing this morning when my contributor copy of In Bad Dreams arrived. And a very smart-looking tome it is too. I'm now skimming through the book I'm halfway through reading so I can get stuck into the new arrival properly.

On the down side, I woke up this morning partially deaf in one ear.

Well, you can't have everything, can you?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

'Resistance Is Useless!'

All right, you can stop now.

After weeks, nay months, of people pestering me to get a Facebook account, I've finally decided to cave in and set one up. (Pauses for Reality Chick in particular to do her victory dance). The final straw was when my wife signed up - if there's no escaping it around the house now, so be it.

I'll be sorting it out tonight (or maybe tomorrow), so if you're one of the site's campaigners have your invitation responses ready ...

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a boozy couple of hours with a former cop sparked the old creativity and I've been tweaking an idea for a new horror story. Prospective editor Mark D is living it up over on the east coast right now so I've got plenty of time to iron out the creases before he has to see it.

Hmmm. Might be nice to work on something that need a deadlines now and again - I'm missing that feeling of blind panic.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fight For Your Right To Party

Sorry if it's been a bit quiet round here lately. A sudden influx of wage-work and the need to sort out some fiddly jobs I've been putting off at home (fixing the chameleon circuit, that sort of thing) has meant there's not been a lot of writing time. That said, the break's done me good, and a rather interesting story idea has been fermenting in my week off-duty. With a bit of luck we'll see how it turns out later ...

Meanwhile I've been catching some interesting glimpses of my children's futures in the last couple of days. My boy's developed a fascination with The Italian Job (the original, not the remake), and is even now watching the the heist sequence over and over again, re-enacting it with his toy Mini on the back of the sofa.

Born in Australia he may have been, but the English in him is shining through.

As to my daughter ... well, she decided the other day that she wanted to have a party at the park for her friends. And the best way to make sure it happened?

Yup. She organised a petition for the parents.

She's six. Six.


Monday, September 10, 2007

It's Not What It Looks Like ...

Ever had a moment when you've suddenly realised that, to an outsider, what you're doing looks extremely dodgy indeed ...?

Yesterday we had a belated birthday party for my son, an opportunity for him and some friends to run around the local park in the sunshine and go nuts on sugar.

It almost didn't happen at all, the poor little guy having spent much of the previous night throwing up, victim of another one of those viruses that propagate in daycare centres the world over. Come the morning of the party, he was tired and drained - as was I, after catching only about two hours sleep from looking after him. Fortunately, while I bore the kind of haggard, bags-under-the-eyes look you normally get from heavy partying or long-term substance abuse, he bounced back and the party went ahead.

And very nice it was too. Smiley little people playing on swings and running about like loons as smiley big people looked on, happy in the knowledge that the kids would be going to sleep very early that night.

My daughter decided to exercise a little creativity, meanwhile, by designing a pinata for her and her pals. Loading a bag with lollies, she tied it to a branch and proceeded to belt it with a stick. Sadly the bag she'd chosen was made of the kind of gauzy-but-tough material you find in fine-weave net curtains - while you could clearly see the sweets inside it, you could thrash at it 'til doomsday and it wouldn't break.

I'd just untied the bag and was in the middle of explaining the problem to my daughter when my boy was brought to me, busting for the toilet. Seems that after my up-all-night health care effort I was now the go-to-guy for all his little needs.

Thing is, the toilets are right on the other side of the park, so by the time we'd walked there he was wriggly and desperate and I was even more tired and put-upon.

And that, Your Honour, is why I was spotted looking seedy, with a bag of sweeties one hand, dragging an upset little boy into a public convenience ...

Ah, parenting.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Rough with the Smooth

A wiser head than I (he knows who he is) once said that as far as reviews go you have to make your choice early: either read them all, regardless of which side of the line they come down on, or read none at all and insulate yourself completely. If you can't take it on the chin, stay out of the ring.

I choose to read them all, and longtime blog followers will know I've been pretty fortunate so far, with almost everything I've written getting a postive rap. Well, that had to change sometime, didn't it?

The first two reviews of In Bad Dreams, while reasonably good for the book as a whole, have been less than stellar as far as my yarn's concerned. One critic was disappointed by the ending - although she did think the story was suspensefully written at least. The second kicks it round the block, calling it cliched and poorly penned.

Ah well. You get that.

I still expect you all to buy it, though ...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Hold the Chaser

I've posted before about top-notch satirical comedy show The Chaser's War on Everything, so you already know I love it. Well the team from the show have surpassed themselves this time, driving a motorcade through several checkpoints at the Sydney APEC summit and getting within one block of George W Bush's hotel ...

... then having someone jump out of the vehicle dressed as Osama Bin Laden.

Eleven crew, including two of the show's frontmen, are now languishing in cells. NSW police minister David Campbell is quoted as saying, 'I'm extremely concerned people would take the sense of security so lightly'.

Presumably he's talking about the Chaser boys, not the police who let them through.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Birthday Presence

Today's my son's 4th birthday, so I took the day off work to spend some quality time playing with a certain little guy:

And when I'm finished, I'll let the boy have a go.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Right Writer Rites

Learned yesterday that my old-mate-turned-professional-writer David Bishop has had some well-deserved recognition for one of his short film scripts. Woo-hoo!

He'd also got me thinking a little earlier in the week about the rituals and superstitions writers observe when they finish their projects - his post from the previous day mentions his own job-done celebrations.

Sad to say that I don't have a 'smoke one cigarette once the manuscript's complete' rite for when I complete a job ... which makes me feel like I'm letting the profession down a little.

Perhaps I've never cultivated a signing-off process because finishing a job isn't as significant to me as starting it: it's easier for me to complete a job once I've been given it than it is to be given it in the first place. But then that would mean the closest I get to a writing-related tradition is the ludicrous whooping, dancing about and other child-scaring behaviour I do when I get commissioned for a project ... If you'd been around our suburb on Thursday morning, you'd have seen it first hand.

Hmmm. If any of the other authors who drop by here (you two know who you are) fancy sharing their writing rituals, feel free to pop up on the comments page with the details. Maybe I'll get some ideas for one of my own.