A ‘Verse Full of Scum begins today

Actually, I almost forgot, but thankfully my sense returned in time. How could I even begin to forget such an important day?

Yes, today is the launch of my serial novella A ‘Verse Full of Scum. If you go to the Serial Novella page (fourth button down on the left) you’ll find the first of thirty four chapters has been uploaded. You can left click and read in your browser or right click and save as if you want to download the pdf file for later.

I’ll post a new chapter every Monday, so set your bookmarks or use the feedburner for an RSS feed or email notification every time there’s an update. Leave comments or send emails as I’m always keen to hear feedback.

Lastly, be sure to tell all your friends about it. Send them a link to the page (http://www.alanbaxteronline.com/a-verse-full-of-scum) and see if you can get them hooked. Share the love.


It annoys me, so it probably annoys you too

It really bothers me when people have no idea when or how to use a certain kind of punctuation, so they overcompensate. There’s a lot of it about, but probably the two worst offenders in this category are apostrophes and quotation marks. Well, actually, the apostrophes and quotation marks themselves have done absolutely nothing wrong. It’s the idiots that misuse them that are the problem.

The amount of times you’ll see a sign that says something like:

CD’s only $5

or a big notice that reads:

“Fresh Fruit” daily!

It’s as if they’re deliberately trying to convince you that the fruit isn’t really fresh. It’s “fresh”. You know, “fresh”, nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

It’s a never ending fight and there are even those people that suggest that when something enters “the common lexicon” that it becomes acceptable. In other words, if enough stupid people band together, they’ll be able to take over the world. Once again, the lowest common denominator starts setting the bar for the rest of us. That’s why buses have signs on the driver’s window that say “Don’t enter or exit bus through window.” Why the hell would anyone need a sign like that? It’s because some bloody fool tried to enter or exit his bus through the window, fell and hurt himself and subsequently sued the bus company. Now they have to put up a sign to avoid further litigation. One idiot costing the company a fortune in stickers saying something that anyone with half a brain cell knows already.

This general acceptance when enough people jump onto the bandwagon is what gives us words like irregardless. Can you believe that the spellcheck function on Firefox doesn’t pick up irregardless? Although, ironically, it does highlight spellcheck and suggests separating it into two words. It’s almost as if all hope is lost and the idiots are going to win. But don’t give up the fight. All the time the resistance is strong we can keep the correct use of language and punctuation alive and kicking.

I’m all for the evolution of language. Language has always been an organic and fluid thing that moves and adapts with the times and is an ever more beautiful creation. But there’s a difference between accepting the emergence of new words like email and himbo and letting lazy, ignorant people get away with etymological murder.

A good friend of The Word, Michael Fridman, recently pointed me in the direction of these guys that are fighting the good fight. They highlight the ridiculous use of quotation marks in the beautifully titled blog The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks.

Also out there are people highlighting the misuse of apostrophes. There are blogs such as The Abuse Of Apostrophes In Everyday Life and Apostrophe Abuse, which are great for having a laugh at the most bizarre instances of apostrophe weirdness, but probably more important is the Apostrophe Protection Society. These guys, rather than just mock the misuse of apostrophes actually go out of their way to educate people on the correct usage. And you know what? It’s really not that complicated. If you’re unsure, go to the Apostrophe Protection Society website and have a look. Better to be educated than castigated.


A Word from my sister-in-law

I got this email from my sister-in-law, Bogna.

Speaking of amusing signs, here’s one we saw in Bombala, on the way between Lake’s Entrance and Broulee. They have a war memorial swimming pool in town, which is in itself quite amusing. I imagine that the council decided they couldn’t afford both a swimming pool AND a war memorial, and someone came up with the ingenious idea of combining the two. There are a number of signs outside the entrance to the pool. The one on the left says “Lest we forget” and then explains that the swimming pool is a tribute to those who served in defence of their country. Obviously it is intended to be a respectful monument and should be treated as such. But take a look at the sign on the right – I have provided a close-up. Classic.

Here’s the photo:


Now, I can’t help but follow one line of thought when I see something like this: Just how many times did this happen that they needed to put up a sign? Is Bombala famous for its diarrhoea-inducing qualities? Or do people in that neck of the woods have some strange old folk custom where they think swimming is a the panacea for digestive ailments? Perhaps it’s best not to know.


There’s been a change

But hopefully none of you have noticed. If you look at the address bar of your browser, you’ll notice that this site is now at the url www.alanbaxteronline.com rather than where it used to be at www.alanbaxter.info. This has happened for a couple of reasons, but primarily because a lot of sites like MySpace started to automatically delete any sites with a .info address. Probably because they were preceded by things like tightasianasses(.info) or casinomillions(.info) and the like. I suppose I can understand their thinking, but as my perfectly legitimate site was also a .info address it became a sudden pain in the arse.

But I’m not one to stand in the way of progress. Like a reed, I’ll bend in the wind rather than be snapped like an old oak tree. So I went out seeking a new name. A new address. A new online identity. I asked lots of friends and family what they thought might be a good idea for a domain name. Obviously, alanbaxter.com would be ideal, but it’s not available. My namesake won’t give it up, the selfish bastard, so I needed something else.

I had a lot of responses from people. There were a number of suggestions that used my name in various ways, such as:


The problem with things like alan-baxter and alan.baxter is that the dash or the dot are likely to be missed and then the potential site visitor doesn’t make it and stops bothering. He would, of course, end up at alanbaxter.com. I’m not giving that tight bugger any traffic. (Don’t you dare go there now for a look! You’ll be disappointed, as it’s a really crappy site.)

Told you.

Anyway, a few people were suggesting www.realmshift.com and then just link that back to alanbaxter.info. The problem there is that realmshift.com is already gone (check it out, it’s also horrible) plus the name is a little bit specific. RealmShift was my first novel, but I don’t want it to define me forever more as a writer. I plan to move on. The sequel will be out in the next few months.

A few people focussed on the fact that I’m a Kung Fu Instructor, even though this is all about me as an author. In the words of one friend, “I was thinking more along the lines of an overall attitude to life” when he suggested alanbaxterkicksarse.com. Nice sentiment. Another suggestion along those lines was alaneatskaratestudentsforbreakfast.com, but that’s just too inflammatory. Some that bridged the gap between writing and Kung Fu were things like thoughtsofthetiger.com or wordsofthedragon.com. I quite like these, but referring to myself as a tiger or a dragon is a little pretentious. Even for me.

Then came a selection of suggestions based around the dark, fantastical and horror styled nature of my writing. Things like:


And so on. Some of these I thought were quite good, but I just couldn’t get away from the seeming pretentiousness of them all. I mean, Robert Jordon has managed to mesmerise the world with his Wheel Of Time saga. His ability to write the same book twelve times and sell millions of copies is astounding, so he can get away with a website called dragonmount.com. But I’m just a lowly fantasist, trying to get noticed in the world. Calling my internet portal prosemaster or dragonquill smacks of being a wanker.

Interestingly, I also got a lot of suggestions for fuckyoumyspace.com or a variation thereof. There do seem to be a large number of people out there with deep seated MySpace issues. I’m sure there’s a support group somewhere. You can probably find it on Facebook.

So, in the end, I went with the simple, clear and (hopefully) effective alanbaxteronline.com. Be sure to update your bookmarks and, for any of you out there that link back to me, I would greatly appreciate it if you could update your links. There’s as redirect on for now, but it won’t last forever. My email address is also changed. It’s now alan(@)alanbaxteronline(.)com – without the ( )s obviously.

And finally, I want to thank my good friend James Frost. I’m no net wizard, but James is. Without his help this would never have happened so smoothly, if at all. In fact, without James’s help, this site would be very crappy indeed. So, cheers Jim. If anyone needs any help with their business IT needs, you can check out James at his site Bring IT On Consulting.


I told you I was going to be busy

But there’s always time for a funny sign. We went out to the Marconi Club in Bosley Park to do a Chinese New Year performance last night. While we were waiting to start I noticed this sign.

You might want to think twice about leaving your preschoolers with these guys while you throw away the mortgage on the poker machines. At least give them a better chance. If you’re not sure what I’m on about, here’s a close up:

And as I make a part of my living as a Personal Trainer, I won’t accept any jokes about the gym staff being responsible for the Preschool and its signage.