Cheeseburger Gothic

Might have made my favourite chair redundant

Posted Tuesday by John Birmingham

Took a hit from a migraine this morning, so all progress on the books came to a halt. Dropped a couple pain killers and retired to my office recliner to let it pass. Strong pain killers, fell asleep. Woke up two hours later with head ache gone. Replaced by terrible back pain.

This is a disaster.

I've spent so much time at my standing desk that I can no longer skive off and sleep in my office chair.

Man, I loved that chair. We had some good times together.

13 Responses to ‘Might have made my favourite chair redundant’

Dino not to be confused with mumbles...

Posted Tuesday
You and your Migraines JB.
I wish I had a cure.
Have heard from others as well about them.
Did you have a crumpet?

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damian has opinions thus...

Posted Tuesday
I know the feeling. I've fallen asleep countless times in an old sub-$100-new officeworks chair, but it's developed an equilibrium where the casters catch and it tips... and balances perfectly with just two casters on the ground. Scares the hell out of my wife when she finds me like that, apparently about to go over backward and snoring. So I really need to put the thing out to pasture, aka kerbside throw out.

One of these days the reno projects will make room for a decent piece of mid-20th century classic (which IMHO beats a fanceh aeron). But for now there's just the couch.

Blarkon mumbles...

Posted Tuesday
Nothing beats an Aeron. It's like saying that adding "character moments" improves a work of literature more than "adding splosions"

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peteb is gonna tell you...

Posted Tuesday
It's the chair, it knows you've dumped it for the lectern, this is payback ...
I nearly like that ...

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Blarkon mutters...

Posted Tuesday
How do you get back pain from an Aeron?

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Wednesday
It wasn't the Aeron. It was the other one. The recliner.

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ShaneAlpha swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Tuesday
Perhaps you should consider buying an Executive Hammock?

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted Tuesday
Oh, you'll get over it. The same thing happened to me with my Evil Genius Bent on World Domination chair. I just loved falling to sleep in that chair while stroking a Persian cat. It was just so damned relaxing and I always woke up refreshed and ready for evil.

Then, one day - well, you know.

I do still miss that chair. And the secret lair. And the minions. But I've moved on. And so will you.

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Big Willie Style has opinions thus...

Posted Wednesday
Did you check the chair for porcupines first?

Dave W would have you know...

Posted Yesterday

When I'm sitting in a chair, I reckon that the prick is on the chair, not in it.

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Halwes swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Yesterday
Off topic but Sam DeBritos article today in the SMH protesting the murder of children in the Middle East is hard hitting and controversial. I agree with everything he says but I don't think I'd have the guts to say it. I'm waiting for the feds to detain him without trial for promoting terrorism.

Dino not to be confused with asserts...

Posted Yesterday
I have always wanted to meet Sam.
Maybe we will share a cell.
Won't be able to talk about it though.
If you get arrested and detained for, I think it is 2 weeks, by 'national security' it is illegal to tell anyone about it.
cause of nashinal sekuyrity.
'It's a secret"

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Give me back my $170

Posted Tuesday into Blunty by John Birmingham

Global warming a scam? Excellent. Can I have my money back then, Mr Treasurer?

At Blunty.

Or, a personal fave, genuine complaints from the CIA cafeteria.

2. Condiments are serious business

“Please put back the individual packets of ketchup, mustard & mayonnaise. The large pump boxes of these items are not convenient to use, causing frustration & are not liked by many people.”

The above quote is merely a brief excerpt from a long and deeply impassioned rant praising the superiority of individual packets and detailing the brutal struggle of using the pumps. This poor employee even had to go through the strenuous effort of putting down his food and drink just to be able to obtain his condiment of choice. Clearly the CIA must act immediately to end this humanitarian crisis.

10 Responses to ‘Give me back my $170’

Lulu swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Tuesday
Your problem is likely that 2014 isn't an election year in Qld. It is in Vic, so my last water bill included a $100 bribe from the state govt's "fairer water bills initiative" (or some such). It seems to be $100 per household, regardless of size, so as a single person living in an apartment, that $100 is enough to cover approx 8 months of water.

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pi has opinions thus...

Posted Tuesday
Some serious butt-hurt goin on in the comments of blunty.

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Anthony is gonna tell you...

Posted Tuesday

the CIA Cafeteria complaints really stunned, shocked and amazed me...


The CIA employs vegans???

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted Tuesday
I adore large pump boxes.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted Tuesday
In all fairness, even the small ones are good. What matters, really, is the combination of the two.

insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Tuesday
medium?

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w from brisbane mutters...

Posted Tuesday
I have an unhappy history with condiment sachets.
Both in getting them open and also in avoiding wearing the contents.

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Anthony asserts...

Posted Tuesday

At the risk of sounding Dinoish and paranoid, I'm not sure I'd trust the sachets. If they got them mixed up they might explode and blow your hand off.


Dino not to be confused with asserts...

Posted Tuesday
Anthony,
'and paranoid' is a tautology.
The only wetwork I ever did was in a cafeteria.
Knocked a glass of water over.
It was so embarrassing.
Locating the invisible.

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Dino not to be confused with has opinions thus...

Posted Tuesday
I need the cash JB.
Seriously.
As for the 150 I owe ya I'll pay ya when the Qld Gov'mint does.
Or before.
Probably before.
I am good for it.
Just wait a little longer...

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Mad Max Trailer

Posted Monday by John Birmingham

Looking splodey awsm.

25 Responses to ‘Mad Max Trailer’

Blarkon puts forth...

Posted Monday
Non stop low plot post apoc splodey action

insomniac would have you know...

Posted Monday
OT, but is this how it starts?
space lizards

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Bondiboy66 mumbles...

Posted Monday
Fabulous! One thing though - how come he has The Interceptor at the start of that clip? Did he reassemble it after it got blown up in MM2?

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drej mumbles...

Posted Monday

Think I read somewhere this takes place between 1&2.


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Barnesm asserts...

Posted Monday

With the big tanker it looks more Mad Max2 than Mad Max1. I expected Mad (Tom Hardy) Max's voice would be more Baney.

Certainly it doesn't look like the Lord Humongous will be gravely dissapointed in this one.

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Rob puts forth...

Posted Monday
I need to see a Battletruck remake too. But because its a kiwi film it might require hobbits.

Anthony would have you know...

Posted Monday
barbecued?

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ShaneAlpha mumbles...

Posted Monday
Sorry Guys, it's a re-boot. It doesn't fit into the original time line at all.

However, the guy in the masky thing with the teeth,Hugh Keays-Byrne, played the Toecutter in the original.

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Greybeard is gonna tell you...

Posted Monday
But then I watched the Hercules trailer and the Superman vs Batman trailer and...

This is truly a great time to be alive.

tqft would have you know...

Posted Monday
I have just a seen a possibility of not just a King Kong reboot, but to be possibly followed by King Kong vs Godzilla.

Sudragon puts forth...

Posted Tuesday
With or without Jaegers?

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w from brisbane swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Monday
I was hoping for a Mad Max/Happy Feet mashup.

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Dino not to be confused with would have you know...

Posted Monday
Captain,
I look forward to this film.
I have calculated that there is a less than 37% chance that you are cooking Osso Buco tonight.
Whereas I am.
Australia is very good at Post Apocalyptic and even Apolyptic Films.
I read a couple of years ago about the dead man they found in SA that started ASIO.
Apparently Australia had no ASIO before 1948.
Systems at 96%.

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HAVOCK21 puts forth...

Posted Monday
Not sure I like the idea to be honest. Its like fkn with an original I guess. Jury is out IMH EXPERT FKN Opinion.

OT

Here http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/door-opens-to-buying-foreign-submarines/story-e6frg8yo-1227003572522

whats a bet this become a HMAS HAVOCK. What class of sub was it JB apart from FKN AWESOME to the power of Havock.

Ah Yes.

Hey, have ya seen this. QUIET ROOM WIKI

Savage class Sub.

http://quietroom.wikispaces.com/HMAS+Havoc

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Rob would have you know...

Posted Monday
its a shame that Tank Girl the movie was so dire.

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sibeen asserts...

Posted Monday
I'm sorry, but this is just fucking dire.

I checked out the lead actor, one Mr Tom Hardy, and to my horror discovered that he is an Englishman.

What. The. Fuck. A pom playing one of Australia's most beloved characters. Do the producers have no bloody shame.

Is there not some form of caveat that can be placed on cultural icons?

I'm trembling with rage here!

Are they not aware that you need an American, playing an Australian, to fill out these roles.

Fucking boofheads!

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Tuesday
Hey, at least it wasn't Collin Firth.

yankeedog mutters...

Posted Tuesday
Denzel Washington as Mad Max. You're gonna reboot, may as well do it up big!

Sudragon asserts...

Posted Tuesday
You realise it was filmed (mostly) in Africa?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted Tuesday
Well, what do you expect? It is too expensive to film in Australia now.

Peter in the bleaches is gonna tell you...

Posted Yesterday

Nah, it rained out near Broken Hill and the desert turned green. It was meant to be filmed in the area MM2 was filmed in.



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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted Tuesday
Yes, yes, yes. Looks like George Miller gets to go back to his best work (before that awful Thunderdome) and spend a whole lot more money.

In addition to being a truly great film director, Miller also happens to be a dinkum dentist.

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Interview advice from Ira Glass

Posted Friday into Writing by John Birmingham

Glass is responsible for This American Life, one of the world's great radio shows and podcasts. He gave an interview to Lifehacker which is worth reading in it's entirety, here. But this extract, on how to organize an interview, is pure gold for students and young journalists. There are few jobs I find less appealing than transcribing interviews and picking out the best bits.

Let Ira show you how it's done.

When I come out of an interview, I jot down the things I remember as being my favorite moments. For an hour-long interview usually it's just four or five moments, but if out I'm reporting all day, I'll spend over an hour at night typing out every favorite thing that happened. This is handier than you might think. Often this short list of favorite things will provide the backbone to the structure to my story.

Then I transcribe the tape or have it transcribed by someone. Getting every word right isn't as important as having something on paper for each sentence that's been said, because to make radio stories, you edit by the sentence. For some reason in the radio biz we don't call these transcripts, we call them tape logs.

Then I print out the log and mark it up. Every possible quote I might use, I write a letter next to, A, B, C, etc. As I do this, on a single piece of paper, I make a list for myself of the quotes. So when I'm done, there's not just the tape log, there's a piece of paper with tiny handwriting on it, listing the quotes "A - he describes the old house, B - what it was like the moment he came home, C - his sister warned him," etc. Any quote that's especially promising gets an asterisk. Any quote I'm sure I cannot tell the story without gets two asterisks.

The point of this is that it gets all this inchoate material—the sound you've gathered—into a form where you can see it all on one page. You see all your options. It's in a form where your brain can start to organize it. Also, writing the list sort of inserts all the quotes into quick-access RAM memory in your head in a helpful way. I find that the important first step to writing anything or editing anything (half of my day each day is editing) is just getting the possible building blocks of the story into your head so you can start thinking about how to manipulate it and cut it and move it.

Listing the quotes this way is also important because a radio story, unlike other kinds of writing and even other kinds of journalism, is usually structured around the quotes. You organize the beats of your plot around the most compelling moments you have on tape. (Though I learned this from a print journalist so I guess it's applicable there too.)

Next I stare at my one-page list and think about what would be a fun or compelling beginning. (Okay, I've been thinking about that since I decided to do the story but now it's down to brass tacks: what actually works on tape and what are the many things that I tried that failed?) Usually there are two or three decent options for the beginning of the story and one or two obvious possibilities for how to end it. Then I think about what really are my very favorite moments and what doesn't need to be in the story. And then I sketch a structure based on my letter code: okay, F is the opening beat, then do C and D and then jump to M and N and end on G. And then I write. Usually my list will include a few extra beats that I'm not sure if pacing will permit. When I get to that spot in the writing, I'll know whether to include them or cut them.

This technique lets you go from many hours of interview tape to a concise, workable structure very quickly. It's hard to imagine how you could do it more efficiently.

9 Responses to ‘Interview advice from Ira Glass’

jinx mumbles...

Posted Friday
This is almost identical as the process for pulling multiple cameras and hours of interview together to make a scene for a reality tv show.

You start with comprehensive field notes;highlight your favourite bits, go through the interviews and transcripts; label and highlight them out, then string out the basic order of these highlights in an edit (or for us old schoolers - on paper). Leave a couple of options in case you need more info, humour or whatever and then refine refine refine.


NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted Friday
Jinx, behold the subtle beauty of single camera ENG. It's the journo's job to wade through the non-sequiturs, disjointed ramblings, double negatives and agenda driven drivel most often spewed by those pushing a barrow, hence available for a comment.
Me I just put my batteries on to charge and go out for a smoke & tune up the weather girl.

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Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted Friday

Great stuff, He should also cover the problem when you have an interview subject who is as responsive as a rock.

Greybeard is gonna tell you...

Posted Sunday
Then the secret is to find a topic to unlock?

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damian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Friday
What about the problem where the interview subject is just a cock?

[*rhyming challenge*]

Barnesm would have you know...

Posted Friday

You have a great gift for rhyme.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted Saturday
I love you people, but sometimes you confuse the hell out of me.

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Dino not to be confused with would have you know...

Posted Friday
I have only done one interview in my lifetime.
Sent it to various MSM's. Only a couple even replied.
So people are willing to trust their flying lives with this guy but what he thinks is irrelevant?
Anyhoo they have decimated Qantas(Why is there no 'u' in Qantas?
Answer: Cause Qantas doesn't give a fuck about you/u!)
Any way all Praise fro the Libs/Nats.
No CSIRO or Climate bullshit to get in the way of running the cuntry...

Dino not to be confused with swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Friday
Goin' to bed.
Friday night and tired.
The Theory of Gravity, Newtons or Einsteins, I will continue to support tomorrow...
I have studied them both.
Engage when you have some balls or ovaries.
Otherwise ignore and watch the Soccer, or as they say, Foodball...

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Ghost in the machine

Posted July 24 by John Birmingham

A sad, lovely story via Beeso.

16 Responses to ‘Ghost in the machine’

Albion Love Den asserts...

Posted July 24
Lovely. Right in the feels.

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Spanner has opinions thus...

Posted July 24
I have to go. There appears to be something in my eye.

Dick mumbles...

Posted July 24
Ditto

Greybeard has opinions thus...

Posted July 24
Yep. Must be catching.

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Surtac puts forth...

Posted July 24


Great story. Another fine example of hauntology at its best - history recorded anonymously in supposedly obsolete technology.

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HAVOCK21 reckons...

Posted July 24
OH GOD!

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted July 24
Really liked that. Very pure.

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Therbs reckons...

Posted July 24
Great little story, nicely told.

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Barnesm asserts...

Posted July 24

I wonder how long before that happens to one of us with our Facebook page? There was an eisode of Black Mirror Season 2 where a woman had a similaum of her husband build from his online presence that responded as he would when she was online.

It is indeed a brave new world.

Spanner is gonna tell you...

Posted July 24
Black Mirror was some of the creepiest, smartest distopian furture screen writting I've come across in a long time.

Dave W ducks in to say...

Posted July 24
I liked that particular Black Mirror ep. The pig-f%%%ing one and the Cartoon character running for election ones were okay. The prison sentence one was truly terrifying and therefore gets 4 hovercrafts from me.

damian mumbles...

Posted July 24
I already get the occasional bit of auto-facebook stuff from a dear friend who died a little over a year ago. Mostly it's a bit weird rather than touching.

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Bondiboy66 puts forth...

Posted July 24
Wow. So much story in so few words. Very poignant.

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Lobes would have you know...

Posted July 24
I had to unfollow Roger Ebert on twitter when he died because some associate kept tweeting from his account and disconcerting me.

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BrianC mutters...

Posted 11 hours ago
Stupid allergies acting up.

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Sometimes it's better to stop writing

Posted July 23 into Writing by John Birmingham

I've been writing this third book in the Hooper series to a plan. Something like the story board technique used by film makers. When you're trying to keep three interlinked narrative arcs and all their various sub plots in sync, you don't really get a choice in that. Or I don't anyway. Maybe Stephen King and George RR Martin do.

Anyway, I reached a point in the third book yesterday where the characters had dragged the story so far off plan that I had to admit defeat and go back to the blue print. I could have plowed on, hoping that writing a few more chapters would help me get back on the one true path, but that didn't work with Weapons of Choice and I paid for it all the way through that series.

So yesterday, rather than power on through another two or three thousand words that would take me even further off course I decided to stop writing and start thinking. Specifically I decided to think about the original chapter blueprint and what I needed the characters to do if I was going to get to the resolution I had planned. It meant compressing eight or nine chapters worth of action into three, and four days of narrative 'in-story' time into five hours.

That's not a bad thing. The first fifty thousand words of Hooper 3 cover about five hours of action. It would leave the book feeling lumpy to have the second fifty thousand jumping through the better part of a week.

This morning then was all about redrawing the blue prints. It can feel like a wasteful distraction, or even a disruption to stop lime that when you're in the middle of a writing exercise, but it's worth it. The hours I spent doing this over the last day will save me weeks of chaos at the end of the project.

35 Responses to ‘Sometimes it's better to stop writing’

Sarah Mayberry has opinions thus...

Posted July 23
I do this, too. I am a plotter (as opposed to a seat-of-the-pants writer), but sometimes I get dragged off course by things that the characters do or say or by what seems like a good idea until it turns into a freaking cul-de-sac of story death. When that happens, I read what I have already and wait for my gut to tell me where I went wrong. There's always a place where I made a decision and things got blurry. I have learned that cutting out chunks/rewriting is simply part of the process sometimes. Even though the stuff on the cutting room floor kills me.

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Dan would have you know...

Posted July 23
My PhD is a bit like that too, JB. Constantly revising the scope of inquiry to ensure it finishes as a (relatively) refined version of that drunken brain fart I had that one time...

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WarDog puts forth...

Posted July 23
Writing software can sometime be like that too. Generally it means that I need to down tools for a while, stare at the sky or even have a nap, then re-evaluate in which direction the value lies. Tossing aside a lot of work used to be painful, but now I find it quite cathartic.

Software development has the added luxury of good source control tools, so I can easily park a branch and switch back to various commit points (all nicely annotated). Or even merge in some parts that are still worth incorporating.

I find there is often value in letting myself plough down a path. It turns up interesting things that end up having high value at some point.

pi has opinions thus...

Posted July 23
Same same WarDog. I have a hobby in developing genetic algorithms. My development has gone in loose correlation with education that I do, and things i read that provide new avenues for thought/development.

Long ago I made a conscious decision that I wouldn't 'hold on' to old ideas or code. For the most part, the only thing I hold on to is the version number. If it is a good idea I've used in the past, I will apply the idea, but not the code, to a complete re-write. I'm currently at about version 25 of my platform, and it has been re-incarnated into five different development languages. The latest is C, but I'm also pretty happy with some parts of Java. Pruning the tree, for me, is essential to the process.

If you want to write good tight code, re-write it again and again and again from scratch. You'll learn quick-smart what's wasting your time, that's for sure.

robW is gonna tell you...

Posted Sunday
You are so right. I was in publishing before moving to video/film and software. At the time I was doing paper there was nothing like version control...except a stack of folders in the corner. Then there were an impossible number of copies. I don't know if publishing has an svn solution thee days, but if it doesn't, there are probably a few sheckles to be made adapting github or etc to the field.

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Rob would have you know...

Posted July 23


sitting at my desk is like that too. sometimes I plot for hours achieving nothing, mostly I sit trying to come up with pithy comments for this here blog.

insomniac puts forth...

Posted July 23
Rob, are you sure you're not me?
I also get cranky if I'm late for work because it eats into my goofing off time.

Rob mumbles...

Posted July 23
they keep paying me. I keep showing up. Somebody is enabling this behaviour.

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John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted July 23
Damn it, I thought I was special.

pitpat would have you know...

Posted July 23
You are special, very special, not that there is anything wrong with that. Like a sunflower on a frosty morn or an offshore breeze on a perfect point break.

NBlob mumbles...

Posted July 23
Pitpat, JB rides a shark biscuit. He wouldn't care about an offshorey.

w from brisbane puts forth...

Posted July 23
Yep, when JB says he likes to boogie, he's not talking about music.
Not that there is anything wrong with that!

HAVOCK21 is gonna tell you...

Posted July 24
OH YOU ARE FKN ..>SPECIAL ALLRIGHT!!!!

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted July 23
Writing is hard. Much harder than what I do. And I sincerely mean that.

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DarrenBloomfield would have you know...

Posted July 23
"...but that didn't work with Weapons of Choice and I paid for it all the way through that series"

That little teaser has me intrigued. Like to hear that story one day

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Therbs reckons...

Posted July 23

I wondered how tightly you plan out chapters and plot lines given that good characters have a way of making up their own shit if you don't keep an eye on what the fuckers are up to.

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NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted July 23
After reading this @ lunch I tried to apply your policy. For the record, my boss thinks you're an idiot.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted July 23
Perhaps I might interest him in my compulsory napping policy.

damian asserts...

Posted July 23
I find myself going to meetings 5 minutes early for a quick power nap till the others arrive.

It seldom works, some fucker is always early.

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Dino not to be confused with ducks in to say...

Posted July 23
Me too(Although amateur vs Professional)
Ran with a great scene, gradual buildup to violent action.
Then got stuck.
Didn't know where to go.
'Lost the Plot'.
But I am good at that... real good... do it a lot!

NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 23
*crickets*

Dino not to be confused with asserts...

Posted July 23
You are sooo mean NBlob.
Just for that you will not be receiving an autographed self published first edition of my first book due out in 2037.
So there!

NBlob would have you know...

Posted July 23
*Wiggly fingers, wiggly fingers.*
2037
Book? What's a book?

*Wiggly fingers wiggly fingers.*
2037
A Post-apocalyptic 8 year old in the burnt out shell of burger joint tears the 3rd last precious page for kindling.

*Wiggly fingers wiggly fingers.*
2037
Greybeard, in layered rags, leaning heavily on a sinking staff festooned with small animal bones crosses a sand dune to windward and plucks bleached, bloated coverless carcass from the sands ground of of our future.

*Wiggly fingers wiggly fingers.*
2037
One of seven, 3 taloned unobtainium hooves of Human Pacification unit 455:63:9 presses lightly on a remainders table in a long empty bookshop.

*Wiggly fingers wiggly fingers.*
2037
Those darned kids in the combi van discover the answer.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted July 24
And if not for those fucking kids, I would have gotten away with it. Not just some of it. All of it.

Greybeard would have you know...

Posted July 24
Layering is very fashionable at the moment. Or so I'm told.

NBlob asserts...

Posted July 24
The bandicoot skulls, not so much.

damian has opinions thus...

Posted Friday
They work when you layer with rat skulls and possum skulls

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insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted July 23
Actually at uni I had an essay where I started out with one viewpoint, followed it logically from one step to the next, until I realized I was going to end up at the opposite viewpoint, so I stopped writing and handed it in. Grade = A

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pete ducks in to say...

Posted July 23
Get up, go outside, smoke a joint, get the neural pathways back into order, and get the fuck on with it ... how is this hard to do?

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HAVOCK21 is gonna tell you...

Posted July 24
its called FK KNUCKLING ABOUT!

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Barnesm mumbles...

Posted July 24

This sounds much in the same way as its better when you stop hitting yourself with a hammer.

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DarrenBloomfield puts forth...

Posted Monday
on a separate, but related, topic. Does the Pomodoro technique work for you? Any tips and traps?

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