26 March 2013

Misunderstandings are important

My last little piece of horoscope vandalism.

This week, it feels prophetic.

It's not the most popular on Horoscope Vandal, but the ones I like the most never are. My judgement must be shot.


19 March 2013

A Defence of Orwell

This article started when I was listening to The New York Times Book Review podcast while doing the dishes. I was amazed at what I heard. The self-proclaimed Orwell expert suggested that Nineteen Eighty-four and Animal Farm were outdated. The dishes splashed, though I’m not sure if any broke.

The irony of an esteemed outfit like The New York Times Book Review getting Orwell so very wrong just after I’d written a defence of established literary critics (inspired by Dorothy Parker) was not lost in the dirty water. The result is a defence of my beloved Orwell (in the style of Dorothy Parker) called Satirical Doublespeak? published by Trebuchet Magazine.


I love Trebuchet Magazine – only they delight in my absurdist humour; only they rejoice in following the peculiar clues and twisted turns that sometimes come forth from my guts in the form of tofu and pink rubber gloves.

Who else would fall for a pre-review analysis of Total Recall through elementary and culinary themes?

Who else would rejoice in a defence of Orwell in the style of Dorothy Parker that is informed dirty dish water and calls to task a self-proclaimed Orwell expert from The New York Times?

Trebuchet, Trebuchet, Trebuchet. Visionary folk ;)

Read the article:

Read Satirical Doublespeak? as published by Trebuchet Magazine on 18 March 2013


Read a version with all the hyperlinks and references on my other site.

13 March 2013

Dot, dot, dot, goose.

When I was writing my thesis I found a book by Peter Wogan and David Sutton called Hollywood Blockbusters: The Anthropology of Popular Movies really interesting. Like me, they were interested in how media can be a form of myth. The distinction between simple story/entertainment and myth is important to me because it shows their role in creating and mediating collective beliefs.

So, I was mucking about on the internet to pursue these ideas and started following Peter Wogan's site - Blockbuster Anthropology. In the way of the internets Peter Wogan got in touch with me and actually gave me some really interesting insights for my thesis. I was doing something with myth that my university had turned away from and so it was a real life saver to have someone who could see where I was going with it. Dot, dot, dot.

He also answered a question I posed on this blog - when does that ever happen?? Normally no one answers my questions! Goose! - about whether it is odd to put marks on my face before I get down to writing and whether it really could make me more productive.

He kindly connected me with an article that explained the science of why clothing affects cognition.

Dot, dot.

To dress up or not dress up? The answer is: dress up! Yay!

Here is Le Gateau Chocolat one of the best dresser-uperers you will ever find:

There has to be a link here with performance. And there is sure a link between performance and myth. Dot.

I like the way the internet can connect. I watched a speech by Steve Job's recently. He talks about having faith in something - fate, karma, anything. That can be hard in a science-based world, but I think it makes the role of myth, the collective beliefs we know but can't necessarily see, even more important. Dot, dot, dot.

He also talks about having faith that the dots will connect. Things like this make me more confident that the dots will connect, that there will be some kind of drawing or image that is recognisable at the end of it all. Our life's drawing, our death's drawing, a series of connected dots.

There is order to the chaos. I mean, the chaos made us and we are ordered, right? Ha, ha, ha!

Dot, dot, dot ... x

05 January 2013

Shaping a story to look like suitcases, cloches and pencils

In 2012 i learned a lot about making words into knots. I have since started to try turning these knots into something recognisable, like a jumper or a crochet rug or a beanie.

So far I'm knotting towards a suitcase cabinet like this:

(Those of you who saw my flat in North Adelaide might recognise the suitcase theme,
the one above is by the artists duo James Plumb).

And a 1920s crochet cloche like this:

But mostly a mixture of mayhem and elegance like this:

x Rock

17 December 2012

Changing Bleedin' History


I forgot to share with you an article I wrote about changes to the santiary hardware in Judy Blume's classic book "Are you there God? It's me, Margaret" that I wrote for the wickedly womanly and wonderful For Books' Sake.

Yes, yes, Judy Blume tweeted me and told me she didn't think the book was historical and should be relevant in these matters.

While my opinion is of course not as interesting as that the much esteemed (loved, adored, admired) author's, I respectfully disagree. It transcends. My favourite line from the article is this one:
"Across the globe women are calling out god for approving a fundamental evolutionary design fault when not equipping us with Mooncups from the outset."
It flows with the theological theme of the book ... (so sorry about the puns ...)

Hearts all and spooky pictures to all,


(NB: This is pic was for the AFP gig in Vancouver back in October or September or some time earlier in the year. It was R.O.C.K. I hung out with @mugsyface and @justifiedbagel - their twitter names say more than I can. Thanks for the great night cads.)

03 November 2012

Does this happen to anyone else?

I try to be scrupulous about attribution in everything and everywhere - even the most mundane places, in part because I write things and then have NO IDEA that I’ve done so.

This is an example that I just found on a post-it note on my desk.

I am scrupulous about attribution, in part because I write things and then have NO IDEA that I’ve done so.
This is an example that I just found on a post-it note on my desk.
A number of things lead me to believe I wrote it, such as, it:
- Was on my desk and in my handwriting;
- Contains corrections;
- Lacks quotation marks; and
- Lacks any attribution.
- I have no memory of it at all - writing it or otherwise; and
- I think it’s pretty good, which makes me even more skeptical that I am the author. 
Does anyone else want to claim it?
Perhaps more importantly, does it happen to anyone else?
Here it is in a modified form:

“And I felt it like my guts had become a dusty vacuum cleaner bag. Disturbingly empty and yet full of barren problems and waste.”

A number of things lead me to believe I wrote it, such as, it:
- Was on my desk and in my handwriting;
- Contains corrections;
- Lacks quotation marks; and
- Lacks any attribution.

- I have no memory of it at all - writing it or otherwise; and
- I think it’s pretty good, which makes me even more skeptical that I am the author. 

Does anyone else want to claim it?

Perhaps more importantly, does it happen to anyone else?

Here it is in a modified form:
"And I felt it like my guts had become a dusty vacuum cleaner bag; disturbingly empty and yet full of barren problems and waste."

20 October 2012


I spent my morning sending emails and tweets and making tumblr posts and facebooking about that Dorothy Parker article.

It's kinda weird.

I think it's understandable to feel weird about it (it also makes me feel more comfortable to explain that it makes me feel weird - there's something in that, like covering my tracks: I know I put soil over my footprints, but I never expected you not to notice so all is ok ... you know?).

Sharing is an odd thing in itself. Writing something. Making something. It has to be given and then people can do what they want with it. You write it, you show it. Done.

Now, the sun is out and I'm off for a jog. Hopefully all weird feelings will be shaken out.

Book on the go (is it any wonder?):

Looking dishevelled even before getting out (annoying!):

Rock-et-ship xx

PS What is it with the modern DISLIKE OF PARAGRAPHS??? What is it? When did it come? What purpose does it serve?

More Dorothy Parker

I'm pleased to announce more Dorothy Parker.

The fabulous people at For Books' Sake have put up an article I wrote called: What might Dorothy Parker say about book bloggers?

I love For Books' Sake. If you haven't checked them out, you should.

Also, I made a new and more proper website (because I feel the urge to be more new and proper) and put up a little background info about the article - go have a looksy. Tell me what you think of the new site.

Must finish her book of columns before it's due back at the library.

Rock x

PS If you like the article I'd love it if you'd share :)

10 October 2012

Dorothy Parker on Book Bloggers

From my reading of Dorothy Parker's 1928 column for The New Yorker I think she would probably feel kind of similar about book bloggers as the chair of the Man Booker Prize judging panel.

Here's the piece in the Guardian that talks about the chair of the Man Booker prize judging panel who suggested Book Blogging, like literary Rotarians, are a threat literary criticism.

Here's where I read Dorothy Parker's opinions - old-school style:

Parker, Dorothy. (1970) “Literary Rotarians.” The Constant Reader. The Viking Press; New York. Originally published in The New Yorker, 11 February 1928.

I'd love to scan it so everyone can read - anyone know the legalities of that?


23 September 2012

Library Notes

I jotted this down while in the Library flipping through a magazine called Writers' Digest ages ago and just re-found it in my notebook. 

That page now has a big tick in the corner, indicating that I've pulled any necessary pearls of goodness from it and put the in the place they belong. 

Sometimes I print stuff like this out and frame them and put them around my workspace. Sometimes I trust they will stay in my head ready for retrieval at the right time. Sometimes I write up notes and file them for real in the style of an anally retentive admin person (which I have been). And now this little piece of smarty-pantsness is finding it's home right here. The daily aim of the author is to write:

(NB: That's by "Satran" not "Satan." Which is kinda boo, 'coz Satan would be wicked. But also kind yay, 'coz Satran is a cool name for sure.)

28 August 2012

be a martian. be a freak.

Hey freaks

Let me tell you of a good thing. This article about Ray Bradbury in the NY Times is a good thing. Here are some great quotes from it:
"Bradbury didn’t just extrapolate the evolution of gadgetry; he foresaw how it would stunt and deform our psyches."
And this gem to end:
"It is thanks to Ray Bradbury that I understand this world I grew into for what it is: a dystopian future. And it is thanks to him that we know how to conduct ourselves in such a world: arm yourself with books. Assassinate your television. Go for walks, and talk with your neighbors. Cherish beauty; defend it with your life. Become a Martian."
Fuck yeah! I've always said that in dystopian fiction the good people are with the freaks or the freaks are the good people. I think there is a natural connection with cabaret through this angle because the best cabaret performers are the freaks - just the way it is. Got a good voice? Brilliant. Not a freak? Too bad, you're probably not gonna cut it. I have an article in me that explains it but there are many things in the queue before it will be freed.

In other matters, there is more (and better) horoscope vandalism here: Blackout Horoscopes.

I gotta say too, this blog is so weird for me. I never know who visits or why. Like, this week, the post on Jane Eyre is Not Dead is going off. Why? I mean, I have no idea. No idea at all. I wish someone would tell me. It's the working title of a short story, in case you're interested.

If you can bring yourself to leave a comments it would be great. Tell me why your visiting and even who you are if you're bold. Otherwise you're just a big hazy blob, which is freaky and therefore good, but I'd like to see or hear or know the freaks too.

Rock x

I think this is pretty good advice for all people at all times.

02 August 2012


Greetings comrades!

I read a cool book recently - Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. He does blackout poetry.

I'm a bit sick today so I had a go on the horoscope page of a very classy magazine. It was an interesting way to see how the language of these magazines (like advertisements) tell us what to do. I hate that.

Try it yourself if you like, steal it - he doesn't mind. Here's what I came up with:

And the whole page in all its glory:

Being creative in new ways is fun.

On that, I feel like I'm starting to understand how to read the creative map - learning latitude and longitude and contour lines. There are so many twists and turns in the process itself. One minute you're walking steadily down a gently sloping path lined with fresh berries and you're head is down and you're focussed and happy with your progress. Then, suddenly you look up and notice the berries are gone and the path is steep and the sun is belting down and it's quite hard to get a good footing. It can take a while before you realise that to go on you need to put on a hat on, refill your water bottle, tie up your laces and that then you can walk on again. Sometimes it just takes a moment, but sometimes it takes a few days. It's the process, perhaps the process of doing but certainly the process of learning.

Check out that book. It's all about how we use the things that inspire us in our work. That it's something to embrace and celebrate, not something to hide. I really liked it.

Ciao for now freaks,


29 June 2012

Nouveau Dystopian Wave

I don't know if this term Nouveau Dystopian Wave is an accurate way of describing what's going on with Dystopian fiction at the moment, but I suspect it might be close to the truth.

Wave might not be a good word. Perhaps Turn is better?

The Nouveau Dystopian Turn ... ?

Anyway, I wonder about this because I am getting a book in the post from Dystopia Press. Who ever would have known such a thing exists? I think it's GREAT that such a thing exists.

I love the enthusiasm for Dystopian fiction at the moment. I think it's healthy and brave. I think that it helps to make us think about being responsible human beings that recognise we can impact on each other and the environment we live in. I went into some of the reasons why in The Dystopians' Guide to Positive Thinking, but ultimately I think that this new enthusiasm for Dystopias is good for us and I think that it's great that we are in a milieu in which something like Dystopia Press can emerge.

Yesterday I was listening to the ABC's First Tuesday book show and they were discussing Nineteen Eighty-four. Glen Duncan, the guest who brought the book to the show, said this about the book:
it's very that a book becomes the last word on its subject matter and I think this is one of those books. It's very difficult to imagine sitting down and saying, 'I'm gonna write a dystopian novel about totalit... Oh, wait, no - no point.' There's no need for another ever because this has the whole lot.
I was totally astounded!

The idea that Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four is the last word on the subject of dystopian totalitarianism is mad. Art goes on. Ideas go on. In fact, Nineteen Eighty-four itself was not loosely based on Zamyatin's We. Orwell acknowledged this but he also clearly thought he had something to add. To think that Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale didn't add something to concepts of dystopian totalitarianism. To think that Bradbury didn't add anything. Or Vonnegut. There is a reason why The Hunger Games was so popular - because it had something to add. (Note for the misogynists: Yes, something serious, even though it's main audience is young women). I'm in the midst of Lauren Oliver's Delirium and it has something to add.

I hate the idea that everything has been done and we should all sit back and let it be. No way. What sort of a world would that be? Bring on The Hunger Games, bring on Delirium, and bring on Dystopian Press. If you want tips for good contemporary dystopian fiction check out this article on For Books' Sake - the comments have good tips too.

I'm looking forward to what this new press will bring. I hope it's bold and brave and brilliant.

I can't wait to read the book they send me in the mail. I LOVE getting shit in the mail.

Thanks Dystopia Press - you've a fine name and that's a damn fine start.

Rock Dystopians, Rock ... xx

27 June 2012

Don't recall Total Recall? Don't fret!

Hello again friendly blog followers

So, I'm learning lots and lots about getting things published. Like:

1. It's hard to get paid; and

2. For every piece of great editing there is a piece of perplexing editing. There will be no opportunity to make sure all the editing is the good type before it is published.

But, enough admin!

My latest article - a hippie/punk dystopian fusion about coming to terms with the Total Recall remake - has been published by the fabulous Trebuchet Magazine!

The article is called "Total Recall, Cheese and Tofu: An elementary and culinary guide to not fretting about the remake."

It is a little bit absurd, but also a little bit serious.

It is about the convergence of Total Recall with Blade Runner and the short science fiction stories of Philip K. Dick - "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" and "We Can Remember it for you Wholesale" - which the films are based on.

It is about reconciling a love of the cheesy-ness of Arnold Schwarzenegger with the artistic achievements of Blade Runner.

It is about accepting a remake of something you love.

Share it with dystopian freaks and Arnie lovers!

.... Rock xx

13 May 2012

On "The Dystopians' Guide to Positive Thinking"

Yesterday, For Books’ Sake - a UK feminist book site - put my article The Dystopians’ Guide to Positive Thinking on their site. Here's the background to how it came about.


Most people who visit this site know I spent last year ruminating on the purpose of dystopian fiction. Why do people read it? What does it mean? Why was half of Occupy running around in masks or holding signs with dystopian imagery and themes? In the end I had 15k words of academia about dystopian fiction as a form of modern myth. I felt like I’d learnt quite a bit about it, perhaps not as much as other people might have learnt but at the end of it I knew more than I ever could have if I didn’t spend a year on it. Most of the good stuff I learnt seems pretty straightforward on the surface - as all good ideas do, hey? Yet they are the result of diagrams and mega-post-it notes and arrows that were made and rearranged and discussed and discarded to get to the final theories. As my friend said: “you just throw shit at the wall and see what shit sticks.” She was right. I just threw shit at the wall and some of it stuck and it turns out that was the interesting stuff.

As soon as I was done I knew I was done with academia for a while, but I also knew that other people might be interested some of what I’d written so I planned to write a series of essays/articles summarising the more interesting points. Then … well, I put that aside (of course) because, you know, other stuff happened, especially the book which I wanted to be focussed on (it’s going well by the way - little by little everyday).

Then a couple of things happened to get my arse on to it and get the essays done. Firstly, The Hunger Games stuff happened and I realised just how confused and bemused (or patronising) a lot of people were about what dystopias meant and how privileged I was to have had the time to explore and consider it. Secondly, I read an article by David DeGraw on the “silent tyranny of consensus” in the latest (May/June 2012) edition of Adbusters (I can't find it online - I think it's just in the hard copy mag for subscribers - subscribing to Adbusters is something you won't regret).

I’ve spent a lot of time looking at dystopian imagery throughout Occupy Wall Street, I have my theories about what it means - the symbolism is clear, but I think it resonates more deeply on a structural level. I’ve written and thought a lot about it (including a late night texta session on scrap paper called the “No Message Manifesto” - fuck it’s good, but it needs both a good editing and CON-TEXT) but nothing that can be published or shared. All this was part of the conversation DeGraw is having and I realised I had a responsibility to share those thoughts and contribute them so others could consider them, or dismiss them, or ignore them, or fall desperately and unendingly in love with them, or whatever they wanted.

So, it is with this sense of responsibility that I wrote the first essay - The Dystopians’ Guide to Positive Thinking - in a series of articles that will come under the banner of The Dystopians' Guide. It is not directly about these wider questions that Occupy stimulated. It is a grounding, it is a first step.

I like that it was a feeling of responsibility made it happen. I was very serious about political responsibility in my late teens and early twenties. Then I fled it and the boxes it put me in (or I put myself in, who knows/cares?). I’m so glad I fled when I did though - I had stuff to learn that I could only find on the high seas. I had to learn how to be connected without being in a box, of either my own or another’s making. I’m not just saying this to share, I’m saying it because I think one of the central ideas of dystopian thinking is about finding connections while also maintaining self.

I think recognising where connections can happen but not forcing connections where they don’t happen is a central message in dystopias. I think it is similar to what DeGraw is talking about in relation to consensus and it’s one of the reasons dystopian imagery so saturates Occupy. I think there is as much to learn in dystopias about how the resistance (to use a dystopian term) is organised as there is about how totalitarian regimes enforce - though when we think about dystopias we tend to focus on the latter and not notice the former so much. I think that these kind of stories resonate more deeply than we sometimes realise, and I think that they are far more meaningful than they appear on the surface. I need time to explain properly ...

... in the meantime The Dystopians’ Guide to Positive Thinking is the first step, the grounding, the foundation, some context ....

Please have a looksy if you’re interested and comment if you have something to say. I love to hear people’s contributions so let me know what you think either in the comments on the article or in the comments on this post or you can drop me a line by emailing thedystopians (at) hotmail.com.

Ten thousand special thanks to the good people of For Books’ Sake for seeing the benefit in an article like this and publishing it. I'm so grateful and happy and pleased.

Until next time friends ….

... rock x

PS The next Dystopians' Guide is going to be The Dystopians' Guide to Body Hair. Oh yeah! If you have any references to body hair removal from dystopian fiction that I should know about then hit me with it. Also, if you have amazing ideas for publications that might be interested in publishing things of this nature, please tell me. I'm a bit clueless in this respect. Hopefully this will get my stride going before tackling The Dystopians' Guide to Decision Making

30 March 2012

explanations: jane eyre is not dead

I have fielded a number of enquiries about what this whole Jane Eyre is not Dead thing means.

It is the title of a short novella in-progress-iana by moi-iana. Here is an extract which explains the title:
"Unlike most people, Jane Eyre never died. Jane was blessed with eternal life because she was once unlovable and then, impossibly, loved. When Rochester declares his ardour, Jane achieves the impossible: she becomes as alive in the twenty-first century as she was in the eighteenth. She makes herself live forever: an extraordinary feat for a delightful but nonetheless, rather ordinary, girl."
Another small part from the same piece is also on this blog under the title of A Bowl Half Full.

The image is the result of a fit of procrastination.

28 March 2012

like a journal entry only less able to be destroyed by burning

Today I received Payback by Margaret Atwood in the post thanks to a hard fought competition win on twitter. My thanks to the wonderful folks at House of Anansi Press for that. I can't wait to get my hooks in it. Here it is:

In other important news, delicious coffee was drunk from a beer mug:

I also finished this book:

Her Fearful SymmetryHer Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

As a dedicated fan of The Time Traveler's Wife, I was quite looking forward to Her Fearful Symmetry. Like that book Her Fearful Symmetry was a complicated tale but the threads were not tied together in the way that makes this type of literature so satisfying and which Niffengger achieved so comprehensively in The Time Traveler's Wife ....

My next reading missions are:

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

It's been a long time coming!

And then:

I picked up a copy of this collection of futuristic (dysopian?) short stories at the Words on the Water Writers' Festival on the weekend. 


This blog entry is more like a journal entry than my standard fair. I'm not sure whether to apologise, or blame the menses, or just stride on as though it is the most natural thing in the world.

Do help me make it more ok by telling me what you got up to, or linking to your journal-like blog entries, or counselling me not to do this again. Many thanks in advance :)

16 March 2012


Back to the Blog
Wow, I haven't visited this blog for months, yet I just looked at the stats and people are still visiting. What brings them here is one of the mystery of the internets. There are still a lot of visitors looking for dreadlock socks - always makes me giggle.

It seems to me that a blog is useful for me when I have a mission. It was great when I was trying to organise my thoughts about dystopia for my honours thesis.

The Mission
Now, I have a new mission and so it looks like the blog is being revived. It is a writing mission. A big writing mission. The kind of writing mission I've been desperate my whole life for but have never been in the right headspace or space for.

Though I have already written about 10k words towards this mission, today is important. I've been writing my whole life - I often say "I have the old suitcases full of notebooks to prove it" -and it is the truth. I have sooooo many stories of about this length, or outlines, or beginnings. I'm particularly fond of writing the beginnings of stories - the creating of mood, the references to secrets that will be illuminated, establishing a rhythm for language - but have never had a history of writing the middle or the end ...

It seems to me I do have positive form for accomplishing life missions, but only when I become a dedicated student of whatever it is. Like, when I stopped smoking I became a student of tobacco, taking notes and reading books. It was the only way I could do it. I think perhaps writing a novel is similar. I need to get deep and dirty in it. Become a fucking scholar of it. Everyday writing to learn. Everyday studying those who I like who know it better than I do.

When I wrote my honours thesis, I wondered how I would ever have the tenacity to write, revise, complete something that takes soooooo much hard work and effort with no deadline in front of me and no grandmother who would be dreadfully disappointed if I didn't do it (university stuff motivates her like nothing else). I remember sitting looking at my thesis, sick to death of it but having to go on. The truth is, I've always done things I didn't expect I could do and every time I did it by deciding that I would do it and then becoming a dedicated student of it.

Thus, I present myself as a dedicated student of the art of writing novels.


I know already that I will be consulting works by two of my favourite authors - "In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination" by Margaret Atwood and "Aspects of the Novel" by E. M. Forster. Elements from the latter have already made it into the first 10k words and I'm determined to keep them in. I would disclose the nature of the influence now, but it's Super Secret.

[Yes, in the background there is a fire (it's cold here!), a globe (I plan to never live in a house without a globe again, this one is a good travel size though I do covert a big stand-alone library size one), and a little piece of Molly Crabapple's "Week In Hell"].

Mythology of the Near Future
For those of you who were following the course of my honours thesis I ended up calling it "Mythology of the Near Future" - a title inspired by J. G. Ballard's short story collection "Myths of the Near Future."  I had planned to turn the big and overly-academic thesis into a number of shorter and to the point essays on topics such as:

  • the role of dystopian fiction in dialogues about the intersection of myth and science;
  • the politics and power of uniting on what shouldn't happen rather than requiring agreement on what should happen (#occupy came up a lot in that); and,
  • how myth binds people together and how in secular societies dystopian fiction is a myth that binds (again #occupy came up a lot).

I still plan to do this, but having done the assignment I found I couldn't look at it again for a while. Once the virgin draft of this Current Mission is completed, I might put it aside for a bit and have a re-look at them.

In the meantime, good people of the internets, it is well past time to ....

... rock x


06 September 2011

famous blue pants

It's been a great long while since this blog has seen any action as I've been working hard on my thesis. Buuut, here is a little mega-post-it-note arrrrrt in case anyone is interested.

Smiles' blue pants are the star. Click on them to see them biiig.

Rock ... x