Something Real

 

Repainted Thift Store FindYou often hear that to write well, write what you know.

A great example of this would be Stephen King. His stories feature real places in and around his home State. The places, and I think sometimes, the people are familiar to him. Real.

This is important. Both to save creative space for the really creative elements, but also to link the reader with something real. Something that they can believe it.

Sometimes just writing about a normal mundane thing can be the catalyst for something ‘other worldy’. Or you can add elements from your world to a regular activity to both explain or show-off the difference between the readers world and one in your writing.

Below I wrote about a day trip to a park with my kids. It is almost moment by moment exactly what we did with one some twist.

I haven’t extend the piece beyond that twist, at least not here, as that isn’t important for this post.

What is, is that I used the real to create a platform for the story to sit in. Real events, a real place IN THIS WORLD. Somewhere that I know so well I can write about it at home and see the place without any imagination.

I could have put in flying cars, or horses and carts to move it forward or backwards in time. I could have used an imaginary animal instead of dogs, or maybe instead of running my children could have cantered on four legs (or more!).

Those however would be extra clues for the reader to understand the world they are now glimpsing.

 

Today I took the kids out to a nearby abandoned quarry.

I had been told that the bottom of the quarry had long ago been filled with water. As I pulled up in my beat-up by reliable little blue shitbox. My wife had the ‘family car’ as she was visiting her spinning group and needed the extra room for her gear.

Signs near the car park displayed “Warning Deep Water” and “Falling Rocks” and “Drinking Not Advisable”.

The sheer cliff face opposite the gentle grass and garden slope was securely blocked from casual access by some cyclone fencing. I noted that the fencing went a length into the fairly still water.

The kids got out there scooters, and after a stern reminder, had their helmets on they went off to roll down the switch back concrete path to the water’s edge.

Immediately I regret not bringing the dogs. It was clear that this was a mecca for the local dog owners. They greeted each other, and the fur children mostly by name or at worse a nod and a smile.

I called out to the kids to mind the other walkers, but most seemed happy with the smiling girls flying along the path. The dogs were also well behaved and I was pleased to note as my two little ones waited at the corner of the switch back for their slow old dad, asked to pat a cute light brown terrier. The owner commented on how well my kids behaved and I said the same of her fur child.

It was peaceful at the bottom of the quarry. No breeze stirred the air and the traffic noise and city sounds had all but disappeared. I had to strain to hear the Nee Naa of a passing emergency vehicle, at least I assumed that was what it was.

I found a seat and enjoyed the moment of still.

My kids were still scooting up and down and small incline near a steel jetty. A father and son tried out a birthday gift remote controlled boat, I was surprised how far out the boat could go with the simple small controller. Mum types chatted while their fur children mock pounced on each other.

The sun was warm on my face, unusual this close to winter. The last day of warmth before autumn gave in to winter’s will.

It was about then I noticed the fisherman on the left said bank. He was close to the cyclone fence and casting out towards the middle of the lake. I wondered what sort of fish would be found in this isolated body of water.

There were water wrens diving and I even saw a cormorant, so I assumed there was some life in the dark deep water. I recalled by brother had stocked a dam with fingerlings of bass and trout on his farm. So thought maybe someone had decided to gift this water with some aquatic life.

Or else the fisherman was simply doing what I was doing, escaping from the bustle, noise and speed of a city just over the hill. Maybe he didn’t have a child (furry or otherwise) so a rod, reel and some plastic bait were his excuse.

The feeling of contentment within me had reached its crescendo. It was time to come back to my usual world. It was time to open the file.

I unlocked my phone, finger and iris scan, I was always slightly ocd with security. I had recently installed a screen protector which prohibited side viewing. This paranoia in turn made me a terrible person to live with and a sought after security adviser.

The file was in prominent position on my to-do list. I hesitated a sec, looked up. My conscious mind said it was to look again at the peace around me, my professionally side knew it was to check the surroundings. Nothing out of the ordinary, no one close enough to see my newly protected screen.

Pressing down I opened the file, her face appeared.

 

Quill and Axe is a creative writing and copywriting services. For more information email quoting Quill and Axe.
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Image from David Irvine, check out his work, it really represents what I mean using familiar art (at least the mass produced style is familiar) with the addition of something a little out of the ordinary.
You can purchase original art on his Etsy page.

 

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Building the story

writing-cycle-edit-focus

Sometimes you have a great idea. However, you only have one element.

Maybe you just have a scene, or a character, or maybe some dialogue, an exchange.

Below is a simple back and forth from a writer friend, he had a great exchange between two characters. But, it lacked depth.

“I feel I’ve seen you before.”

Her eyes, slightly-squinted,  were serious, eyebrows furrowed as she examined me.

“Yes, there’s definitely something familiar about you.”

I looked off into the distance, uncomfortable with the intensity of her gaze.

“It’s okay to look at me,” she said, but her words were deadpan and her eyes never wavered.

I squirmed a little more before she pulled back and broke stare with a wide smile. The shift in attitude alarmed me more.

“Perhaps our souls are related,” she said, reaching out and tenderly flicking hair from my face.

“The things you find in dark places. The things you never see coming because you’re only human.”

We talked about it and I reworked his original material to help him gain more insight.

“I feel I’ve seen you before.”

At first I didn’t realise she was talking to me. The noise in the bar was at the level I liked it, enough to distract me but quiet enough to have my own thoughts.

Turning slightly I recoiled at just how close she was. Her face was mere inches from mine. Intense serious eyes seemed to burn as she examined me.

“Yes, there’s definitely something familiar about you.”

I nodded, thinking that she was drunk, high or mentally disturbed. I sipped my drink again, trying to ignore the presence beside me.

The intensity of her gaze made me nervous. My eyes darted to the side, her shape was still there. I dropped a shoulder and turned to face deeper into the bar.

“It’s okay to look at me,” she said, but her words were hollow. Still I felt compelled to turn and face her. Those eyes, her eyes, stilled burned with a fire that the rest of her face didn’t reflect. It was as if only her eyes were alive the rest just a shell. Her eyes never wavered from mine. It was almost painful to stare back into them.

I squirmed a little more before she pulled back and broke the stare with a wide smile. The smile cracked her face and at once it came alive. The laughter lines appeared and she became mostly human.

The shift in attitude alarmed me more.

“Perhaps our souls are related,” she said, reaching out and tenderly flicking hair from my face.

“The things you find in dark places. The things you never see coming because you’re only human.”

As you can see I didn’t take anything away I just added some extra elements. The flow was the most affected. The beat was extended to keep the reader engaged.

This is a simple example of how a copywriter or another pair of eyes can add to the written word.

 

Quill and Axe is happy to help edit or provide revision services.

Quill and Axe is a creative writing and copywriting services. For more information email quoting Quill and Axe.
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Strangers

He looked at me. Pale eyes searching, yearning. His mouth was half open in lustfulness.

He mouthed something dirty, something sexual and appealing. I wanted to melt into him, to be swallowed whole by all of him. I wanted to be taken, rough and hard. I wanted to feel his breath on my neck, his body tense and tight as he climaxed.

But the moment passed. The train moved on, his carriage going north, mine heading south. Him into the city, me back home to my house. My cold, still, lonely house.


“What a laugh” Dave said, between his fits of giggles and rocking forward. “What a pisser!”

He was telling the story of the train ride in. By his account, if I let him go on, I might have actually fucked her through the windows.

“All I did was mime some fuck words” I said to the others. I turned to Dave “By the sound of it you got a boner over the whole thing, you perv!”

“Oh you’d like a big one from me eh?” Dave gestured the approximate length of his ‘big one’.

“Get off Dave, I’ve see ya after footy there’s nothing big there”

More jeers and gestures from the gang.

I tuned out and thought again about the girl on the train. She was cute in a bookish, geek girl way. Her glasses and hair were the kind you imagined a librarian would have. The cardigan a soft plain brown.

I really thought we had connected. If only I wasn’t such an arse about it.

“Fuck” I said then quickly covering my outburst. “I need a drink, my round” I headed to the bar more to clear my head than buy more drink.

She was at the bar looking straight at me.


I did it, I actually did it. I got out at the next station and headed back into the city. I don’t know why I just knew I had to go back. I had to follow and find that boy.

He was everything I hated about men. The short hair shaved at the sides, clean shaven but so very masculine. He wore fashionable clothes whose price tag would have given me head spins thinking about. He was as neat as a gay man but as crass as a jock. All the mix of things I hated in men, and boys.

He had actually mouthed obscene words at me through a train window. His tongue had mimed acts that I certainly wouldn’t do on a first, or maybe even tenth date.  

I was a strong independent woman. I didn’t need a man to define me. I didn’t need someone to fuck me. Yet here I was, in a club I had no right to be in, with people around me I hated and loathed. Watching him. Watching him and his mates.

I watching him thinking, while he ignored the crew around him. I saw him speak and walk away. Then he saw me.


Shit. Shit, shit shit I thought. What the actual hell?

“Hi” she said to me, putting out a hand. Before I knew it I was shaking it and returning the hello.

“Sorry about, you know, the train. That was fucking stupid.” She grimaced as I spoke. “Shit sorry I didn’t mean to swear. Oh crap” I managed to stop and stay silent.

“No, it’s OK. I just…my friends don’t swear much”

“Mine do” I said. “Do you want a drink?”

She looked around her. She looked awkward and out of place. Her long skirt, white blouse and cardigan were not the normal fashion for a place like this.

“Why don’t we go somewhere else?” I suggested. “Coffee?”

“Yes” she said. “That would be nice.”


Coffee. Coffee was safe. Coffee was easy. I could do coffee. I thought, then. 

What the hell am I doing here? I should be at home. I should be making dinner for one. My Kitchen Rules is on tonight!

I pushed that thought aside and suggested the well lit, frequently visited but crap tasting franchise coffee place down the street. The rules for a first date, public, open, escapeable and known. Not that I feared the young man, it just pays to be wary.

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Sound of Music

Live_band

“OK, let’s do this again.” Flame pulled a hand through her hair, like she wanted to pull all the frustration and angst out of her body.

Marshall’s sticks did a quick rapid-fire rata-tat-tat on the snare, ending with a loud crash. Blade shot a venomous stare toward the drum-kit, but Marshall was adjusting a nut on his floor tom.

“Enough!” Flame barked. “We have a gig in two days and we can’t even get the chorus change right”

he intro riff, repeating it twice. Then holding the last note he turned to catch the eyes of the bassist and drummer. A quick nod and he began again. This time the rhythm section joined in as one. Thumping open raw drums accompanied by the precise snapping bass guitar.

Flame closed her eyes as she stood cradling the microphone, swaying slightly as the music washed over her. Stuart’s guitar started to call out with it’s sharp notes, leading her to the start of the lyrics. The music enveloped her, becoming everything to her and everything with her was held in place.

The last note, perfectly in sync guitar, bass and drum, faded as Flame’s voice softly fell away.

“Fuck yeah” said Marshall. “That fuckin’ rocked”.

Blade even seemed to share a smile with his loud annoying friend, before the mask slide over once again.

Coming up from her revelry Flame turned to her band mates.

The wild boy behind the drums, almost jumping out of his skin with the energy and joy he had coursing through him.

The troubled sad bassist, had his head down, fingers running silently over the progression he had nailed with precision. He was almost startled and practised with disbelief that he had actually played the part.

Stuart seemed the least affect, his face turned away from hers, his body suggesting he was spent. Just as Flame was about to turn away she noticed the glistening tear fall from a dark eye. It was followed by more as tears streamed down his soft face, he turned to look directly at Flame. He face showed complete bliss, his tears pain as the pleasure left him.

Flame felt the power flowing in her, it was perfection. The song was ready, she was ready, it was her time to shine.

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100 Days of Creativity

Blank Pages

In early April I started a challenge. A 100 day challenge to be creative each day.

At first that seemed a little unstructured to me. 100 days of creativity? What kind of creativity? What can be defined as being creative? Drawing, writing, painting or building?

I needed something to define this if I was going to take this path.

So I decided to do 100 days of writing.

I set myself a goal of 500 words a day. Not a huge task, but also, what I thought, an achievable goal.

I invited some friends to join me, creative writers like me.

One accepted.

At first it was pretty OK, I had some good ideas to work on. Some commission work and an outline of a novel or at least long form story. I got 37 days under my belt until it all fell apart. I added a few more days after that, but I never got back into the swing.

My mate Zles was on a roll, he got to 60 days before his muse ran out of steam.

So what stopped us?

Partly, for me at least, I lost confidence in my process. I was talking with another writer about how I was building the story that was forming. He questioned my “write first” theory. This caused me to re-think my whole way of creating.

You see I didn’t have a plan for this story. The ideas I had changed after each new idea formed. For me the creation of the story – the whole – was being made by little ideas. Tested in a few hundred word bites. To me I wasn’t creating a final piece just pieces that could become a larger story.

I even posted some notes on the wall beside my desk – simple dot points that formed from the writing sessions.

This horrified the other writer. “What is the point of the work, the writing, if you might not use it?”

To him my experiment of writing each day needed to have more structure to it. A reason. He suggested a plan for the whole story, know that before you write anything.

To me this was stunting me, stopping my flow.

It was then that I doubted myself and the point of the 100 Day Challenge.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that planning is important and for the commission work I do follow a plan.

But for me the 100 Day Challenge was about writing. By stopping to plan I lost the muse that allowed me to bang out 500 + words a night.

Lesson learnt:

I work best when I can let myself write. But, that needs to be with some form of structure, a plan or at least an idea.

Also next time, I am going to aim for a short period of time. Aligned with a plan and some structure, I really could get some good value out of my personal creative writing.

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The Art of Creating

Working with a team to create a new world with new experiences can be great fun. I had the pleasure of working on The Tinderbox Book of Lore, a companion book to Red Genie Games highly successful first tabletop game, The Brigade.

The Lore book contains some background to the town of Tinderbox, including the locations found in the game, editions from the Tinderbox Times (newspaper), the playable Wardens as well as the recruits you can bring into your squad.

The team of Ivan Neville, artist Antonio “Nunoh” Jose Diaz Fernandez, the Red Genie Games team (Alex Wynnter and Ben Hoban)  and myself got to build stories about  the game and expand the universe of Tinderbox and The Vague World.

The part that interested me the most, aside from being able to create some short fast fiction, was the way we worked together to create elements that interacted and worked together.

Sometimes Nunoh would sketch a character who was just a name with some statistics or skills, and I could create a story around them. Or Ivan would mention them in an advert or story in the Tinderbox Times or mention something in a classified and I could expand that into a story about a character.

The integration and interaction between us was great.

In one instance I wrote about a giant, Kulari One Shoe. All I had was her name and some stats on what she does in the game. The following is the short piece I wrote to flesh her out some more.

Kulari awoke. Not in the way that a child does, not in the I’m up and ready to take on the world way. She awoke in the way that a mountain might wake.
Her body rumbled and shook. Sinews stretched and popped, bones shifted and ground together. Material of clothing built more like house cladding strained and bent, becoming pliable again.
The earth around the giantess groaned and creaked. The pavement moved in waves as her body moved to wakefulness.
Kulari had found this quiet corner sometime last autumn, she was tired and the warmth from the forge was comforting.
A giants slumber is never short, nor can it be stopped. For nearly half a year the laneway behind Chests-R-us was blocked from the east. It was just a fact of life, living with giants.
Shaking loose the small tree that had grown in the crook of her arm, Kulari rubbed two massive hands over her face. A small deposit of alluvial soil was knocked from her opening eyes.
Shifting from one side to another finally Kulari pulled herself from the crater formed by her slumber.
She looked around, bleary but becoming aware.
Her blinking eyes cleared into focus.
“Shit!” she said. “Where’s my shoe?”

From that Nuno created the following art.

Another example would be when Nunoh created a sketch for Selina Blackflow, a thief in the style of a cat burglar. Along with this Ivan had written a advert in the Times about a lost purse… putting these together – well you will see below.

The moon shifted behind a cloud again. Selina let out a small sigh, and thought for the hundredth time why had she chosen to be out on a full moon night.
She knew the answer, she needed the work. The job was pretty basic really, something she would normally not bother with. A small repossession, a redistribution of assets. Besides, she had reasoned, the Ignis family had enough, they wouldn’t miss a bracelet or two.
What she hadn’t bargained on was the barred window. Who barred a window on the third storey, with a 2 inch ledge? She thought. Reaching around behind Selina’s nimble fingers loosened a strap and extracted a taut piece of thin leather. Slipping the leather carefully between the window and sill she slowly slide the paper-thin steel stiff tool upwards. The bar began to lift.
A breath in, a breath out, with almost preternatural speed Selina flicked the bar up, flipped the window open and slipped into the room.
With casual grace Selina opened her hand and caught the tumbling metal bar. Selina allowed herself a small smile as she slipped her leather tool back into place.
The smile faded as her sensitive fingers noticed something wrong, something out of place. Where is my wallet? A sudden image of the wallet slipping from its place as she removed the thin leather thieves tool.
Too late to go back now, Selina resolved to search after she had completed the job. After all it couldn’t have gone far.

The world of Tinderbox is vast, the town while small has so many stories in it. It’s great that we as a team have been able to create these working together sharing and learning about this world together.

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Amazon’s arrival

amazon

Amazon executives have been quoted saying (paywall) it’s mission for arriving in Australia is to “destroy the retail environment in Australia”.

But is it really?

We have seen disruption here before. Uber has changed the way we think about car services, about regulation for taxis and chauffeur services.

Airbnb has changed the way we look at accommodation, other like couch surfer change how we see a spare room.

Streaming services like Netflix have changed the way we use the television in our lounge room.

These have changed the way the traditional business models work, taxi companies have to become more responsive to customer needs, accommodation providers need to provide a more rounded service.

Interesting isn’t it that these disruptive businesses are not focusing on themselves but on the customer (and in many cases the provider of the goods or service – the new small business operator). These services have only achieved success because they are answering a need and doing it better than the traditional.

Customer service has become the focus.

Sure it is still about being profitable all businesses are about being profitable, otherwise you might as well just give stuff away.

The distribution model Amazon uses and its’ sheer size and ability to move stock, is actually an opportunity for Australia’s small retail businesses to reach bigger audiences.

I know of many Australian retailers who are operating on sites such as ebay. Why build an e-commerce site when you can use the power and exposure provided by an established site like ebay? The same could apply to Amazon through it’s Vendor or Seller Central channels.

Content 26 has a great article detailing the difference between these options. Producers or manufacturers can sell to Amazon (become direct suppliers) or a retailer can be partner with the online giant and supply the products or services via the Amazon portal. Similar in many ways to how they operate on ebay.

But it’s not only joining the cult of Amazon that can work in small retailers favour.

The biggest risk to Amazon and greatest opportunity for small business is distribution. Australia is a big country with a small population. Fast delivery is only possible in the big cities, and probably only some or part thereof. The demand for product today, right now will remain. The small shopping centre or specialist retailer can still provided that product or service to their local consumers.

The issue isn’t what impact Amazon will have, it needs to be what changes will Australian retailers make.

The taxi industry moved too slowly to provide the sleek, customer focus experience Uber delivered.

Many smaller accommodation providers shifted or adapted to Airbnb’s model, the larger operators shifted focus to corporate and conference markets.

Free-to-air television have embraced Freeview and provide many streaming options, ABC iView is still the best IMHO,

What will retail do in reaction to this?

Will we see more of Gerry Harvey on the pulp current affair show, beating his brow and lamenting on the disruption to his industry. Will we see Australian retailers refocus and come back to providing the core needs of the consumer?

What are your thoughts?

Although not here yet you can get some information on selling your products or selling as a business/individual on Amazon.

Originally posted on LinkedIn 

Amanda Palmer – 2 March 2017

To some it might seem a surprise to say I had never seen Amanda Palmer live before, or that I really only have one of her albums (and an early Dresden Dolls one at that The Dresden Dolls). It wouldn’t surprise them that I found out about her from her relationship with Neil Gaiman. However, that was the second of three unrelated segues that lead me to following and ultimately seeing her live at the Gasometer in Collingwood.

The first time I saw Amanda was on an ABC music quiz show – you know the one Spicks and Specs, or it may have been one of former (or current) DAAS members, Paul McDermott’s game show(s). Either way it was her wildness that caught me. I think she mounted the desk and may have gyrated at either Paul or Adam Hills or another contestant. She may even have played the ukulele, it didn’t matter. I thought she was a fun addition to the show or shows. She was a strange American, who was a little out there and while it burned in my memory, I never did anything more than notice if she reappeared on a show and I could make a mental note to watch it.

amanda-spicks-and-specks

The second was the aforementioned inclusion of her name in Neil’s tweets, or his blog or whatever.  At first it was passing interest, oh look an author I like is in a new relationship, isn’t that nice. It had no bearing on anything else until I worked out it was the same person who appeared on those shows. Small world hey!

The third time the universe sent me the message that maybe, maybe I should take more interest in Amanda was her book. The Art of Asking. By this stage I was following her on at least one form of Social Media – she was after all a significant person in Neil’s life and besides she posted more than he did and hey I thought she was fun. I had seen her journey in writing the book, at the least the one she displayed to the World via tweets or instagram images. I didn’t really think it was something I would be interested in – at this stage I didn’t even have The Dresden Dolls yet. But something about the idea of the book caught me.

the_art_of_asking_book_cover

Then my wife suggested I buy a book from Audible as she had a credit on the account (we share an account) and The Art of Asking was somewhere on the front page or a suggestion list or maybe I actually searched for it. Whatever lead me to it, I bought it and suddenly Amanda was my companion to my daily commute.

The Art of Asking is a bigger post than I want to write right now, I have touch on it before in 2014, and I will again I am sure.

So waiting in the intimate performance space that is the open courtyard of the Gasometer (it may be the dinning area in a normal day – I am not sure) I thought back to how I even ended up here, how I ended up buying tickets one night because of a tweet or post about the shows from Amanda. How I hadn’t even brushed up on any more of her music.

Gasometer.jpg
Amanda first sat were the “International” sign is above (note this is NOT Amanda’s gig)

I was taking a gamble, it was a risk to come and see her show. Our nights out are limited and scarce. Not only do we need to budget for the cost of the thing, dinner drinks and all, but we need to include the cost and availability of a babysitting. It’s a big effort and one we usually have to move a lot to achieve. Yet here we were, a night out to see a show from a performer I knew was great but I didn’t have a strong connection to.

In saying that I have seen plenty of performers, bands and musicians I knew NOTHING about – like I literally knew not a single song! It wasn’t that it was the fact that a rare night out together with my wife was hanging on the fine string of we thought we would kinda like her show and music.

We were not disappointed.

From the moment Amanda appeared on the mezzanine level, equipped with her ukulele, as she mounted the railing/shelf propping herself against the wall and spoke, we were captured.

“I will do a request show” she announced. “Mostly because I am tired and thought this would be easier… of course I now have to remember songs that I don’t play often, so in hindsight this might be a harder show than usual” – or something to that affect.

Then she started with the first request, then moving around the mezzanine she sang Map of Tasmania, with her crotch perfectly place above ‘selfie guy’ – a more apt position could not have been planned. We joined in to support her vocals, “Oh my god…” you get it!

<Insert image from the selfie guy – IF I ever find it online… come on selfie guy post the damn image>

The she sang New Zealand  basically above us on the stair way. It was marvellous and so good to be able to see her up close as she talked to us her audience. We truly felt par to of the show – it added to it that we were choosing the songs!

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Action shot of @amandapalmer

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Moving some more she did her first cover Fake Plastic Trees, from Radiohead, it was such a great slow cover version. Added to the experience it was a song I really knew… Did I mention she was standing on a chair at this point – basically singing to the requester.

She went on to also cover Paul Kelly as one of her favourite Australian singer/songwriter.

It was after this she moved from the floor and joined her keyboard on stage, to become wired for sound.

It was at that moment I realised that she had been performing to this small crowd of about 100 with no amplification, not her voice or her ukulele. The crowd sang along (and I did to Fake Plastic Trees) but we were respectful of her voice. We didn’t drown out Amanda (even though there were only 100 or so of us, we could have), the crowd respected the artist and the artist respected us. Amanda walked though and amongst us, and through that brought us into the show. Not only in the requests but also by connecting with us, a glance, a smile or a leg over a railing to arc our head with her crotch. Her fearlessness was also a connection between us and her, the performance and the audience.

Once on the keyboard Amanda stepped it up a pace (or three) with some thundering songs like The Killing Type or Girl Anachronism. She still talked to us between songs, asking for requests, abandoning a few and discussing where the song came from or to stall for time as her mind dug up the chords or lyrics.

Amanda’s songs are stories, stories change over time, the author’s original intent adjusts, or the to reader (listener) own overlaid experiences. This show was very different to my usual gig experience. This was not an over produced cookie-cut show. This was raw, unique, an experience we shared with the audience.

One moment stands out where I stepped out of the hive mind and turned to Anji and I shared a knowing look. Amanda was singing A Mother’s Confession. I believe that almost every parent can relate to at least one or more of the incidents she sings about.

It was that kind of show.

I also remember thinking, especially when she did the couple of covers, about called out for a Cure song. I didn’t, I felt I didn’t deserve to over-rule the more die hard fans, the ones who knew all the lyrics or even the titles to the songs she was singing. However, it was right at the moment, the night was getting on, we needed to get back for the babysitter and I took a chance to go to the bathroom before the drive home. It was then, as I stood at the urinal, she spoke about one of her favourite bands and played the first few bars of Lovecats (here is a cover of In Between Days). My only blessing from that was that the venue was so small I heard everything perfectly clear in the bathroom, was wish I had called out for a Cure song instead of biting it back.

To sum up the show as a collaborative journey with lots of small eddies where you could be yourself, or step into your small tribe.

Amanda admits that she doesn’t necessarily write her songs in a firm structure – just a basic melody with some core chords that can ebb and flow. It certainly suits her, and to me at least from both the recorded versions I have listened to and the show I experienced last Thursday, it suits the experience that is Amanda Fucking Palmer.

2017 and beyond

So we are now well into 2017 and while I’m not doing this as a New Year resolution, it might have a similar theme.

First lets start with work. I was given an opportunity to look at what my team does and try to align it with another team, growing that team and improving the overall promotional power of the company. All good.

I drafted some notes and after a couple of meetings with CEO and Directors we came up with a amalgam of the two teams. Moving some people around, adjusting functions etc. Over all this meant that my position was not longer ‘high’ enough in the ranking to lead this team. Thus my position has been made redundant.

Yes I worked myself out of a job.

However, I do have an opportunity to apply for the new role, and indeed I am!

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Thing with working as a public servant I can’t just be ‘given’ the new role I have to apply and thanks (at least in part) to the Union it is advertised externally. Fan-friken-tastic!

So the end of last year and beginning of this I have been working on my resume and getting all my ducks lined up to apply for what is essentially my own job. Joy!

This got me thinking about my future both with this organisation and in the public service in total. I’m not thinking about moving on just yet, I mean I may be forced to if I don’t have a job, but it’s a thought in the back of my mind at least.

So positives (because you should always look at them and give them more credence than any of that negative shit) I have a kick-arse resume and I know I have put my all into this application so if I don’t get it, it’s NOT my fault.

[So if anyone is looking for an Economic Development Manager, Tourism Manager or Promotions/Marketing guy… let me know!]

In the summer break, well break from kids as the in-laws kept them for the two weeks (yes I know we are lucky) I rediscovered painting miniatures and have setup my computer desk to double as a painting space – simply move keyboard and mouse and I can paint away… then move painting to other end and up on boxes out of reach of little fingers to dry.

It’s something I can do anytime I want without needing anything more than what I have.

The time also allowed me to clean up my gear, throw away old stuff and make sure it all works and is accessible.

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My first real attempt in an age – Eldar (Space Elf)

I was also lucky enough to get my Dad’s old Dremel, he is not doing much handy work anymore and it was gathering dust in his shed. I plan to do some model working with it shortly – just need to paint the minis to go in the scene… something from Lord of the Rings me thinks!

Speak of which my parent celebrated their 50 Wedding Anniversary, it was great to be there in our recent trip for Christmas.

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Mum and Dad at their Wedding Anniversary lunch

The clean up of my corner space (my “Man-corner” if you will) allowed me to check out the shame guitar – the one I have put off finishing for so long. I clean it up and have moved it out of the dark and into the light.

Not sure if that is to shame me into finally getting the tuning pegs and finish the bloody thing. But it sure reminded me how nice it looks… and it is a shame it isn’t getting used even if that use is by a wannabe guitarist drummer like me!

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Really can’t wait to hear this baby…

The only thing that is holding me back with this is the cost of the tuners (and the fear I will stuff up the drilling and installation. So yeah… send money, a steady hand and confidence please!

Holiday.

It might be a dream at this stage, especially with the work situation, but we all need a good break away, a family adventure.

We have found the place to test our family ability to fly and travel in a foreign place.

Can you guess?

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Oh yes we are off to Hobbiton (and some other random places in New Zealand). I would like to try it in a motorhome !!! But that might be taking it all one step too far!

So there you have it, some of the things I am going to try to do this calendar year (some quicker than others and some more than once!)

As I said not a resolution more a plan.

Device Agnostic

I realised the other day that I am a device agnostic.

Or should it be called technologically diverse?

In any case I was driving between meetings and looked down at the passenger seat. ON it lay my personal phone – a Windows Lumia 950, my work phone – a Samsung J7, and my work iPad 4. I was covering all the major mobile computing operating systems.

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Lumia 950 – Windows 10
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Samsung J7 – Andrios
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iPad – iOS

On top of that I have a Chromebook (from which I am writing this) and a PC running Windows 10 at home. The only system I am missing is a Mac… but having one of those would be silly right?

Well maybe not.

To me, as a consumer, each of these devices, and the operating environments, offer me different alternatives.

I bought the Windows Phone as it has a great camera and does the majority of things I need a phone to do. It also came with an Xbox One which was an added bonus. This OS integrates with my home PC so it’s easy to sync data from one to the other.

My home PC is setup as a gaming rig as well handling all the other necessary ‘home’ related computer stuff, like streaming video and images to the TV via the Xbox, or surfing the web, or for Anji to run her business and the girls to do homework or play videos. We use it to store and upload out photos to our Google drive and more.

The Chromebook is light, it’s fast to load and does an amazing amount of stuff for what is essentially a web browser in a notebook. It is not for playing games but for doing stuff on the fly or web browsing or writing blog posts in the field.

For work, the Samsung Android device is easy to use for the basic on the fly emails, calendar and even some limited web browsing. It also acts as a phone really well! Which truth be told is the second main reason I have one – email and phone calls!

The iPad picks up the larger scale work stuff and is perfect for in the field details when talking with clients. We can show web stuff, PDF’s and other images, get surveys completed and take notes or email back data. We are getting laptops soon so that will help even more and allow me to do more in the field…

It falls apart with Cloud storage. I choose what platform I want to use to store data, be that a Windows server for my work email or Gmail for personal. I could have cloud storage on iCloud, One Drive, Dropbox or Google Drive. Yet the manufactures of these devices want me to lock into their particular brand. I get that to a certain extent however I am not alone in having multiple operating systems.

I use my Google Drive across all of these, aside from the Windows Phone, and that’s the issue.

I am the user, the one who interacts with these devices each and every day.

Nor is there anything wrong with me having a range of devices – however the sooner they allow me to access all I want across all of them the better the world will be. Or else we become slaves to the one system, the one way of doing things.

Mobility means we can shift our digital world to be anywhere. It comes with us as we travel for work or for play. It should also come with us as we travel between devices and operating systems.

At least that’s in my opinion…