Monthly Archives: May 2008

Mongolia BBQ anyone?

May 29, 2008

I’m a fan of a blog called Passive Aggressive Notes. The title is pretty self explanatory, but just to clarify: painfully polite and hilariously hostile writings from shared spaces the world over.

A recent post there combines some of the best examples of poor quotation marks usage, illogical reasoning, incredible grammar and brilliant turns of phrase along with the expected passive aggressiveness. I had to share.

Bathroom emergencies, Pot Luck and Big Jobs.



So dumb it’s clever

May 28, 2008

This is a bit of a stretch for inclusion here at The Word but I can’t help it. It’s a clever use of words, so I’m calling it valid. If anyone knows where this originated, please let me know – I got it in an email from a friend and it really made me laugh. It’s one of those nerdy, clever things that’s surprisingly entertaining.

Graphical Representations of Popular Songs

To be fair, not all of these songs are that popular. They just lend themselves well to the concept. Like this one for example:

Whatever happened to Right Said Fred anyway?

I don’t really care where Rick Astley went. I’m just glad he’s gone.

Love is a feature of the large majority of songs, naturally. Here are two very important concepts:

And talking of love, here’s something a little more controversial:

I can’t explain why exactly, but for some reason these last two are by far my favourites:

So there you go. Sorry about that, I just felt the need to share.


A ‘Verse Full of Scum – Episode 16

May 25, 2008

It’s a bit late, but it’s still Monday. I’ve just posted up Episode 16 of A ‘Verse Full of Scum. In this episode Ghost meets a rather repulsive prophet that gives him some interesting news.

Click on the Serial Novella button in the lefthand sidebar to get to today’s episode.


The true story of Star Wars

May 24, 2008

No one believes for an instant that George Lucas had all the episodes of Star Wars planned out from the very beginning. In the same way that no one believes the Wachowski brothers when they try to convince people that the original Matrix movie was intentionally an exploration of Buddhist and Taoist philosophy, mixed with a variety of western existentialist’s thoughts. Do they? Come on, seriously. The Wachowski’s came up with a great story and were then happy to agree to all the nerds that analysed it after it was made. Shame they shafted it up the exhaust pipe with two awful sequels, but there you go.

In the same way, George Lucas made a great movie in Star Wars, borrowing heavily from Akira Kurosawa’s movies and drawing extensively on his unversity knowledge of hero mythology. He made a ground-breaking film that was life changing for millions, myself included. On the success of it he slowly became the sequel and merchandising king of the universe.

Ewoks aside, he made two pretty brilliant sequels, with some people even suggesting that The Empire Strikes Back is a better film than Star Wars. (I will not call it A New Hope, so don’t even start – yes, I’m old school.)

Subsequently his life changed dramatically, he became obsessed with the idea of symbiosis and by the time he came to making the prequels, he was a different man. A much worse man. A really annoying man, with hints of the racist about him and a way of making entire movies based on a video game that he has yet to release. A really bad game, therefore a bloody awful movie.

But I digress.

The point is, if you can remember back that far and have even bothered to stick around this long, no one believes that he had all the films planned out in advance. But it seems that Lucas is incapable of uttering the words, “I’ve changed my mind.” Back in the early eighties there was talk of there actually being nine films in the series, with the original Star Wars being the first of these nine. And this isn’t idle schoolyard gossip. My family was personal friends with one of the primary cast members of the Star Wars movies and it came from him. (No, I won’t drop names.) Even so, Lucas has recently said that there was only ever going to be six films and he has now made the very films he planned to make all along. Bollocks has he. He changed his mind numerous times along the way. Which is fine, if he could only admit it.

I mean, seriously, midichlorians? Where the hell did they pop up from and then disappear to if he had them planned all along? They absolutely should have disappeared. They should never have even occurred to Lucas, if he had any desire to see the credibility of his myths maintained, but there you go.

Anyway, wonder no more. With thanks to The Word reader and good friend of mine, James Frost, who passed on the news from slashdot, all can now be unofficially revealed. You can read all about this whole subject in a free e-book. From slashdot:

“How exactly did George Lucas develop the script for the first Star Wars? Why were the prequels so uneven when the originals were so good? Did he really have a masterplan for six, nine, or even twelve episodes, and why did the official Lucasfilm position keep changing? And just how big an influence were the films of Akira Kurosawa on the whole saga? Michael Kaminski’s The Secret History of Star Wars, Third Edition is a free, thoroughly unauthorized, e-book that brings together a huge amount of literary detective work to sort fact from legend and reveal how the story really evolved. Download it or have your nerd credentials revoked.”

Bloody marvellous. You can download the free e-book in question here. I’m off to get my copy now.


A ‘Verse Full of Scum – Episode 15

May 18, 2008

Just a quick note to let you know that Episode 15 of A ‘Verse Full of Scum is now up on the Serial Novella page.



Truth stranger than fiction again

May 13, 2008

One that definitely sits in the “Truth is stranger than fiction” file is this story from the Sydney Morning Herald website today.

Apparently a man has got away with a suspended jail sentence after he posed as Darth Vader and attacked a Jedi Church. Yes, there is so much wrong with the preceding sentence that it’s hard to know where to begin.

Apparently, Arwel Wynne Hughes wore a garbage bag as a cape to round out his Vader disguise (in fact, as his entire disguise) and attacked Barney Jones and his cousin, Michael Jones. Barney, aka Master Jonba Hehol (seriously, I’m not making this up) is the founder of the Anglesey branch of the Church of Jediism in Wales, UK. The church apparently has 30-odd members. Presumably this is a small slice of the 390,000 people that claimed the Jedi religion as their faith in the 2001 UK census.

Interestingly, Hughes’ weapon of choice was not a light sabre but a metal crutch. Not very becoming for a Sith Lord, really. He did have a strong defence however. When asked why he had done it, he claimed to have drunk “the best part” of a ten litre box of wine and had no recollection of the incident.

Now, I know this may just be my own English sense of the absurd showing through, but the funniest part of all this in my mind is that this whole incident would have occurred with Welsh accents. And best of all, I’ve found the video.

The guys that were attacked were filming themselves performing a “light sabre” battle when the Sith Lord attacked, so the whole thing was caught on tape. By far the funniest part of all this is the Jedi Knight at the end saying, “Aaah, really quite painful.”


Here’s the Sydney Morning Herald report that I originally read. (Thanks for the heads up, Pete!)

And here’s the video footage on the BBC website.


A ‘Verse Full of Scum – Episode 14

May 11, 2008

Back on track with the publishing schedule of A ‘Verse Full of Scum.

Episode 14 is online now – click on the Serial Novella button on the left to have a read.


I’m an idiot

May 6, 2008

Remember yesterday I mentioned that I was going to see Neil Gaiman at a Q & A session in the city? Turns out it was a reservations only event. I should have known really, given how popular he is. I’ve had the thing noted down in my diary for weeks, but never thought to check if I would need a ticket or a reservation. Oh well. It gave me a chance to have a wander about in Kinokuniya, which is a pretty cool book shop. That just cost me money though, as I can’t wander around a book shop for long without buying things. Books mainly.

As a consolation I met my wife for an Indian dinner. It was very nice, but not really the same as possibly getting to meet Neil Gaiman. Maybe I should just revert to my old punk ways and remember the maxim “Burn The Bible, Kill Your Idols!” Yeah. Who needs ’em.

Gaiman’s doing a signing in Dymocks in the city at lunchtime today, but I have to work. Then he’s off to some other city. I suppose some things just aren’t meant to be. Maybe next time.

I was cheered up when I saw some signwriting hilarity today though. Remember the “Go USA!” guy. Here he is:

Well, I think we’ve found his mum:


The page 123 meme

May 5, 2008

Michael over at a Nadder indirectly tagged me with this meme. The meme concept has been a pretty popular thing with bloggers recently, getting more popular all the time. For those that have no idea what a meme is, here’s a definiton for you:

a cultural unit (an idea or value or pattern of behavior) that is passed from one person to another by non-genetic means (as by imitation); “memes are the cultural counterpart of genes”

Or, to put it another way, meme is a fancy word for “stupid viral idea propogated deliberately by bored bloggers and their ilk”. But some of them are quite entertaining. Michael didn’t even bother to tag people directly, just pointing out to anyone with a blog to consider themselves tagged once they’d read his post. How lazy is that?

Anyway, this particular meme is an old one, but it’s also quite a good one. And it’s book/story related, so I thought I’d include it here on The Word. It goes like this:

1. Pick up the nearest book;
2. Go to page 123;
3. Post sentences 6 to 8;
4. Tag 5 others.

Obviously, point 4 is the viral aspect of these things, but at least it doesn’t promise that my wildest dreams will come true if I do tag others or that I’ll die a horrible venereal disease related death if I don’t. As this particular meme is so old, I’m not going to bother tagging anyone, but you can always have a go yourself if you’re interested, and post your results if you have a blog to post them on. And yes, that approach does make me even lazier than Michael.

So, what are sentences 6 to 8 on page 123 of the nearest book to me? Well, the nearest book was The Doll’s House, which is volume two of the Sandman graphic novel by Neil Gaiman, that I’m reading again. You know what? These Sandman stories are still bloody brilliant. Neil is going to be in Sydney tonight and I’m going to see him at a Q & A session in the city. I think I’ll get him to sign volume one of the Sandman books if the chance presents itself.

But I digress. Page 123 of The Doll’s House only had one panel with dialogue and two lines of it, so there was no sentence 6 to 8. Trust me to find a way to upset this meme. So I reached for the next nearest book.

That turned out to be We Can Remember It For You Wholesale by Philip K Dick. This book is a collection of short stories by Dick, being “Volume Five of The Collected Stories”.

Page 123 of this volume occurs during a story called Your Appointment Will Be Yesterday, a truly bizarre tale of time. The story talks of an invention that created two times, Hobart Time and Standard Time, with half the world running forwards on Standard Time and half running backwards on Hobart Time (no jokes about Hobart and going backwards in time, please.) It’s a story that is really hard to get your head around, as with many of Dick’s yarns, but it’s a brilliant piece with some truly inspired ideas in it. Well worth a read. Here are lines 6 to 8 of page 123:

“Your Mightiness, this man is the inventor of the swabble.”

“What’s that?” The boy glanced from one of them to the other, scowling with suspicion.

What’s the swabble? You’ll have to read Your Appointment Will Be Yesterday to find out.


A ‘Verse Full of Scum – Episodes 12 & 13

May 5, 2008

OK, so I promised that above anything else I would ensure that regular episodes of VFoS were posted every Monday without fail. That’s the problem when you make a promise with no conditions – life gets in the way and makes a liar out of you before the promise has even cooled off. I was sick yesterday and didn’t get onto the computer, so I didn’t post the latest episode on time.

Sorry about that. But I’m a generous soul. To make it up to you I’ve posted the next two episodes today. Episode 13 is a very short one anyway, so not only have I made up to you the delayed posting, I’ve also stopped you from feeling cheated next week. It’s almost as if I planned it this way… but I didn’t. I was just sick.

Click on the Serial Novella button to the left and enjoy.



The website of author Alan Baxter

Alan Baxter, Author

Author of horror, dark fantasy & sci-fi. Kung Fu instructor. Personal Trainer. Motorcyclist. Dog lover. Gamer. Heavy metal fan. Britstralian. Zetetic.

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