Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book Review: The Great Escape

The Great Escape                   by Kevin O’Malley

Publisher:                    Bloomsbury Publishing Pty. Ltd.

Picture Story Book

The Great Escape, by Kevin O’Malley is a funny modern day telling of the olden day children’s fable The Tortoise and The Hare.

Lever Lapin is the greatest runner in the world. He writes a book about his greatness and boasts about his ‘Hare Raising’ feats. People idolise him, he draws crowds where ever he goes. On the other hand, Nate is a quiet unassuming tortoise who can’t understand what all the fuss is about.

Things come to a head when Nate is relocated from his table at his favourite restaurant to accommodate Lever. Unhappy with his new seat by the rubbish bin and tired of all the publicity Lever’s speed generates, Nate challenges Lever to a race.

The watercolour pictures in this book are outstanding and go a long way to telling the story on their own. Modern day humour jogs the story along and the ending is a clever play on words.

My only concern with this story is that the 3 – 6 year old age group this story is aimed at might miss the cleverness of the humour.

Reviewed by Jenny Eddy

Book supplied by Bloomsbury Publishing

Friday, November 11, 2011

Christ In A Lift

It had been a short, hectic day and I was glad it was over. There were some reports I had not gotten around to but that my manager said were “Time Sensitive” and of the “Utmost Importance.”
With her, everything was like that. Everything was of the utmost importance and everything was time sensitive. Nothing was ever under control, nothing was ever due when I got round to it and she never ever spoke in plain English like a human being.
I was considering why this would be as I got on the elevator and headed down and out.
On the 15th floor Jesus Christ got on and midway passed the 14th floor the elevator stopped. 
 Jesus Christ was 6 foot 1, had Greek features, hazel eyes, a beard that was cut so short that it looked more like a 3 day growth except for a goatee that grew an inch or two off the chin and he was well groomed.
“Oh man.” Jesus said as he fingered the G button impatiently.
“It’s stuck.” I said.
Jesus stopped hammering the button and dropped his hand to his thigh. He mumbled something under his breath which I’m pretty sure was, “ Why me, God?”
Jesus didn’t look at me but swivelled his head around scanning the inside of the lift, looking for a fault, I assumed.
Then he started to jump up and down on the spot, landing heavily every time, trying to knock the lift loose.
“C’mon, c’mon.” He said as he jumped.
“Whoa, man. Hey. It’s broke to begin with I don’t want to get stuck in a falling lift.”
“It’s just 14 floors.” Jesus said.
“Maybe to you, it’s a little more than that to me.” I sat down on the floor in case the lift came unstuck suddenly.
Jesus continued to jump.
“That’s not gonna help, man.” I said wishing he’d stop.
“God. That’s not gonna help, God.” Jesus stopped jumping and stepped toward the door, intending to pry them apart.
I grabbed his arms and tried to ease him away from the door. His arms were tanned and knotted up with the type of muscles you only got from hard, manual labour.
“Jesus, man. We wont be here for very long. What would you do once you got them open, anyway? Christ, just take it easy.”
Jesus let the doors go and started to move away but came back suddenly once I had gotten out of the way.
“What are you doing? You’re just gonna open these doors into an elevator shaft. We’re in a box in a tube. Opening these doors wont help.”
Jesus stopped forcing the doors and leaned against the back wall with a thud. “Whatever.” He said.
“Now that’s more like it.” I said relaxing a little but still standing between him and the door. “Let’s just relax for a bit.”
Jesus looked at me with tremendous disdain and said, “Relax.”
“Yeah. Relax. Take it easy. Hang out.” I said, trying to calm him
“Christ.” He muttered and let out a deep breath.
We stood in silence for a moment. I watched him and he watched the ceiling- not interested in me at all.
I noticed his shirt, which was white and had something written on it which I couldn’t make out. I came around to the front of him to make out what it said. As I did so, Jesus looked down at me.
“What’s your problem?” He asked.
“Your shirt, I was reading it.” I could see it now and I read it outloud, “’Religious Tolerance’, must be important to you.” I said, making small talk.
“It’s an oxy-moron. It’s got nothing to do with me.” He said finally.
I rolled my eyes and exhaled a lungful through puckered lips, “So…”I rolled back on my heels and cracked my knuckles in front of me.
Jesus pursed his lips and turned away from me, giving me the cold shoulder.
“What were you doing in this building, anyway?” I asked still trying to make conversation.
“There’s a real stubborn prick up on the 25th. He’s withholding some old lady’s pension” He said.
“Did you talk it out with him?”
“No.” Jesus seemed more impatient than angry.
“Is she gonna get her pension?”
“He will when frogs start flying out of his butt.”
“Is that just a saying or is that really gonna happen?”
Jesus didn’t answer.
“Oh.” I said. “Is that how things are done? With the state the world’s in, you help old ladies with their pension?” I asked. Wouldn’t God have bigger fish to fry?
“She prayed. The old and the desperate are the only ones We hear from anymore.” Jesus explained, bored. “I come down to sort her out and figured I might to take my body for a spin- you know, for a laugh- I’m on my way home and next thing you know I get stuck in this lift.”
I could tell he wanted to say, “With you,”but stopped himself.
As Jesus spoke he turned a little to face me and I noticed the slogan on his tShirt had changed. It no longer read Religious Tolerance but now God Is My CoPilot.
“Where’d you get the tShirt?” I asked pointing at the slogan.
“Heaven.” He said rudely.
I shook my head, “You aren’t exactly like they made you out to be.”
“What- from what you’ve seen in movies?” He asked, mocking me.
“From the bible.” I retorted.
“Listen-“ He paused abruptly then continued, “ That book was written a long time ago and I doubt you’ve read it.” Jesus said dismissively.
I squinted my eyes and pointed at him. “You don’t know my name do you?” I asked, offended.
“Look, mac, when I’m in this body, this damn meatsack, my motion is a little… limited.”
“So you don’t know my name.”
“So I have to catch the bus, so I get stuck in lifts, so I don’t know your name.” Jesus explained, then he added, “Excuse me if I don’t ask for your damn autograph.
We stood in silence for a minute.
His tShirt changed again to: 6.4 Billion Miracles is Enough
“Can you do any miracles?”I asked sheepishly?
Jesus tensed up and said through gritted teeth, “Do you think I’d be stuck here if I could?”
“What about back in the day- with the pyramids and Christmas and stuff?”I asked him.
“What about it?” Jesus looked puzzled for a moment then quickly looked exasperated, crossed his arms and turned away.
I wasn’t sure what his problem was at all.
Jesus restlessly turned back to the buttons on the lift and started hammering at them again. This time he noticed an emergency button and held it down.
A voice came from a tiny hole in under the number display, above the floor buttons. “Lift Assistance. What is the problem?”
“This lift is stuck.” Jesus stated simply.
“It’s showing operational on my board.” The female voice replied.
“Then your board is broken like this lift. Can you get someone to come and fix it, please?” Jesus said with contrived patience.
I saw Jesus shirt had changed again. This time to: What Would I Do?
“I can’t send anyone out there to have a look until someone reports a fault.”
“What do you think we are doing?” Jesus clenched his hands into fists.
“From the building’s management. We don’t accept reports from just anyone who pushes a button in a lift.” She replied matter of factly. It made a certain sense to me. There’s a lot of clowns out there pushing buttons.
Jesus squinted his eyes, “Are you gonna send someone down here or not?”
“Not until we get a call from your building’s management. You should call them.” The female voice concluded.
Jesus pointed his finger at the little black dot where the voice was coming from. “Do you know who I am?”
“Are you building management?” The voice didn’t skip a beat.
“No. I’m-“ I shook my head and mouthed the word No, at him. Jesus stopped abruptly, his shoulders drooped a little.
The female voice was not interested in who we were. “Call building management. Good day.”
And with that there was a 3 note ring that let us know this conversation was over.
Jesus stood there with his hands on his hips and looked at me, “Where’s your phone?”
“Where’s yours?” I asked defensively.
“What would I need a phone for?” Jesus asked.
“To call building management.” We both said together.
“Very funny.” Jesus said. “Where’s your phone?” He asked again.
“I left it at home.” I stated.
Jesus curled up into a little ball on the lift floor.
“Those things give you radiation.” I explained. “You can’t carry them around every single day of your life.”
Jesus remained on the floor in the fetal position with his eyes closed, hands cupped under his chin.
“Jesus?” I ventured.
“What?” He said into the elevators polished tile floor.
“What’s the point of it all?” I asked.
“The meaning of life?” Jesus opened his eyes and watched the floor.
“What do you care?” Jesus said and closed his eyes again.
“I don’t. It’s never really bothered me but I hear a lot of people ask and I figured I would be able to tell them the next time it came up.” I explained.
“Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly with your God.” He recited.
“Seriously.” I pressed.
“That’s the point.”
“C’mon.” I insisted.
Jesus sat up, “There isn’t any real point. That sack of meat you’re in doesn’t last very long at all- do you really think We’d attach any importance to it or anything you could do while in it?”
I didn’t understand at all.
Jesus’ shirt now read: Your Religion Offends Me.
“But what about all the Christians and preachers on TV? They seem to think there’s something to do.” I asked, still puzzled.
“You haven’t heard them. Christianity today is looking more like gangster rap- it’s - all about the bling.”
“Shouldn’t you look after your followers?” I got this not at all.
“They’re not my followers. And you bastards crucified me when I was trying to look out for you. Why should I give any of you a new car? Why do you want a new car?”Jesus asked the wall of the lift. He seemed just as puzzled as I was.
“Just to recap- Nothing we do really matters because we’re just passing through-“ Jesus nodded, “ and you’re not interested in your followers these days at all.” Jesus nodded again. “That’s about right, is it?”
“We still listen to prayer.” Jesus added.
“Old ladies and their pensions.” I remembered. Jesus nodded and let his shoulders droop a little.
“What’s going on, here?” I wondered outloud to myself.
“You tell me.” Jesus said.
The lift lurched back into life. Jesus stood up. The elevator descended to the ground floor and without saying goodbye we each went our separate ways.

Jeremiah Ganicoche


When I was 15, I saw my familiar spirit.
My room was in a bungalow in the backyard and most nights around that age I would stay up writing. One night I stepped outside to relieve myself in the garden when I heard a voice behind me.
I turned around and saw a huge black something. Big as a wardrobe and solid black. I wasn’t afraid, I didn’t even think it odd that someone was saying hello to me while I was relieving myself.
I focused my attention to my front to zip up and then turned back around. There was nothing there. There was nobody there and there couldn’t have been anyone there.
I took off. Ran straight inside the house to where my mum and my younger sister were watching Hey Hey It’s Saturday.
They asked me what was wrong but I couldn’t speak. I just stood near the heater for a long while, trying to warm myself and calm down.
“What’s the matter with you?” My little sister asked.
I couldn’t speak. What would I tell them?
My sister kept asking and I continued to say nothing.
My mother looked at me when Hey Hey had gone to a commercial. “What have you seen, boy?”
Struck dumb, I shrugged my shoulders.
“You’re as white as!” My sister said amazed.
“There was someone in the backyard. But they’re gone now.” I said pretty stupidly.
“What do you mean, like a burglar or something?” My sister asked, shocked. “We should go and have a look.”
“No, they’re gone. One second they were there and the next they weren’t.”
“Did they say anything to you?” My mum asked.
“They said ‘Hey,’ as if we were old friends. I said ‘Hey’ back, turned around and it was gone.” I explained.
“We should go and have a look.” My sister said.
“I’m not going anywhere. You can have my room. I’m not going back out there ever again.” I said.
“C’mon, let’s go.” My sister got up and so did my mum.
“It’s not there. It’s gone.” I told them, but they weren’t listening.
My sister led the way through the kitchen to the door. She tried turning the knob but it wouldn’t budge.
“He’s locked the door on the way through.” She told my mum as she unlocked the door.
We walked down the hall to the security door that led to the backyard. That was locked too.
“You came in so fast, how did you manage to lock both doors so quick?” My sister asked me.
“Nerves.” My mother said.
They walked around in the backyard while I went straight back to my room and turned on all the lights.
My sister and mum were satisfied that there was nobody and nothing there so they went back into the house. I followed them.
My mother picked up the phone and called her mother in Argentina. She told my grandma what had happened and then my mum said my grandma wanted to talk with me.
I had never spoken to my grandma before. I’ve never even met her. There is a photo of her holding me when I was about 8 months old but I don’t think that counts.
My grandma told me who it was I had met and what to say next time it came to me. I’m not allowed to repeat any of it. You’d think I was bullshitting you anyway.
From what my grandma said, I got the impression it was not for me. Someone down my family line had made some deal with something old in the jungle and it has followed my family’s blood from the jungle to the city and then across the oceans to me now. To it, I think we are an investment that hasn’t fully matured and when we do, it will collect.
The idea has lost it’s novelty after time, it’s just another responsibility. Something else I have to pass down to my kids along with my last name and my charisma. The only thing that worries me is the circumstances under which my child gets the same talk I got at 15.

Jeremiah Ganicoche

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Book review: Sektion 20


By Paul Dowswell

November, 1972: Germany is in the middle of the Cold War, pitting people in the country’s East against those in the West. Teenager Alex lives in East Berlin during a time when it was illegal to read books, paint, sing and do anything else creative that isn’t seen as benefiting the governing dictatorship. Sick of the oppression and the way everyone suspects their friends and neighbours of being spies, he decides to speak out against what he believes is a pointless war and the heavy handed Stasi—the state’s security force. But when he goes too far, a Stasi agent is sent to make Alex conform, or kill him. Alex and his family realise their only chance to survive is in West Germany, but getting close to the wall that divides the country in two, let alone over it, proves to be virtually impossible.

It’s hard to avoid clich├ęd descriptions like ‘coming of age story’, ‘political thriller’, ‘gritty realism’ and ‘page turner’, so I won’t try. Lovers of historical fiction, especially alternate history, will adore Sektion 20. The narrative is immediate and thrilling; the setting realistic, compelling and well-researched. The result: a piece of historical fiction I highly recommend to mature Young Adults who can stomach the unsavoury aspects of the Cold War, and those who enjoy chapters with cliff hanger endings.

(The novel for this review was supplied by Bloomsbury)

Review by Emanuel Cachia

Monday, October 31, 2011

Book review: Gamerunner

By B.R. Collins

Gamerunner follows Rick, a teenage boy living in the future where acid rain prevents people from going outdoors. Rick’s father, Daed, works for Crater—a virtual reality game developer that benefits from people spending the majority of their time, and money, in their games. Daed created the Maze as the ultimate game that can never be beaten. Rick not only tests the Maze for glitches, but also finds solace in the various activities and challenges within. And when a player comes close to completing the game, it falls to Rick to stop them.

Collins has created a detailed and believable setting where the greater population is scared of the outside world, Undone, and obsessed with the Maze. Sure the Maze isn’t real; but, it beats living in Undone.

Collins effectively uses the limited third-person point of view. At one stage, Rick eavesdrops on a conversation in another room. Although Rick can’t ‘see’ inside the room, sounds allow the reader to figure out what happens while Rick remains confused.

Whenever Rick is in the Maze, the narrator uses an awkward, repetitive sentence structure with very little punctuation. This is awkward to read at first, but after a few chapters it proves to be a great way to differentiate the Maze from the real world. Sharp, repetitive sentences remind the reader that although Rick would happily spend all his time in the Maze if he didn’t have to eat and sleep, he shouldn’t shun the real world for a game.

Corporate greed; dysfunctional father-son relationships; a dystopian future; and, humanity’s tendency to follow the status quo, rather than challenge it, are all explored in Gamerunner. While the setting, theme and plot are definitely dystopian, gamers like me will say, ‘Bring on the rain!’

(The novel for this review was supplied by Bloomsbury)

Review by Emanuel Cachia

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Book review: Chick ‘n’ Pug

Text and Illustrations Jennifer Sattler, 2010

RRP $14.99 paperback

Book supplied for review by Bloomsbury Publishing

Chick is a vibrant chicken who leaves the chicken coop to search for excitement. He immediately meets a sleepy Pug dog. The optimistic Chick believes Pug to be a hero, and never stops believing in his new friend, even though the dog seems happiest sleeping, scratching and yawning. Chick tries to instill excitement in the Pug, encouraging him to do fun dog activities like frisbee. The tension mounts as Pug finally springs into action to remove some “embarrassing” clothes that his owner has dressed him in. Chick is impressed to see his friend in action. The climax comes when a cat enters the territory. Chick hopes his Pug friend will save the day, but the Pug is worn out and goes back to sleep. Cheerfully, the Chick realises he will have to be the hero after all. The colourful illustrations perfectly capture the bright spark of the main character, Chick, and the laziness of the rotund Pug. The Chick is an inspirational character who makes things happen and believes in his friends. Young readers will enjoy the Chick’s unrelenting enthusiasm when faced with the obstacle of a hero who doesn’t want to be a hero. In the end, the Chick has to save himself from the terrifying cat. Readers with fat, lazy pets will find the Pug character lots of fun.

Book Review by Peta Keown      

Monday, October 24, 2011

I Don't Write Book Reviews Often But...

I just recently finished “The Lady of the Rivers” by Philippa Gregory. This is the third book in the “Cousin’s War” series she is writing, but is technically the first one in the chronology. Gregory is known for her wildly controversial novel “The Other Boleyn Girl” which really stretched the fiction side of historical fiction.

Personally, I enjoyed “The Lady of the Rivers”. Revolving around Jacquetta of Luxemburg, the great-grandmother of Henry VIII, Gregory used what very little information there is on a medieval woman whose significance would never have been foreseen in her lifetime to bring to life the story of a woman who loved passionately, used a strong head and managed to survive the tumultuous War of the Roses and accusations of witchcraft.

Gregory managed to tell a story of a girl who wanted love, and married her late husband’s squire in secret in order to keep her love. She told a story of a mother of sixteen children, thirteen of whom are thought to have survived to adulthood. She told the story of a woman who had a forbidden talent in a medieval court, and could have very well been burnt at the stake for practising it. And she told the story of a deeply loyal Lancastrian supporter, who loved her King and Queen until the day her daughter married their enemy and she became the mother of the new Queen. Gregory’s tale wove a highly engaging and wonderful woman in a book you just couldn’t put down.

Jacquetta was mother to Elizabeth Woodville, queen of Edward IV, and she was one of the witnesses to their highly secret marriage. Gregory’s first book in the series, “The White Queen”, was told through Elizabeth’s point of view, and it was enjoyable to see her from her mother’s point of view, from a newborn baby to a woman meeting the King, her future husband, for the first time. The books pages closed on the very same pages the first book opened on, giving a lovely sense of wholeness to the story. Jacquetta’s story is completed in Elizabeth’s book just as Elizabeth’s was started in Jacquetta’s. A fantastic read, leaving me wanting for the next book, “The White Princess”, about Elizabeth of York, Jacquetta’s granddaughter, and mother of Henry VIII.

By Amanda Wickham

How to Avoid Writing

I’m one of those writers that, when I am in the mood to write, I write. When I’m not, I find every way around it. It goes a little something like this:

I turn on the computer, and then go and make myself a cup of tea. I grab some biscuits to eat, because writing is hungry work. Then I log into the computer, but in the meantime, I need to clean up my room a bit, there’s stuff everywhere! Computer’s logged in, internets up. Gotta check my emails, sort them into files. It’s been a while since I cleared them, so I go through and delete what I don’t need. Then I’ve got to check facebook, post a witty status about settling down to write, check a couple of friend’s pages. Some humorous sites next, Taste of Awesome and Smartphoned are my favourites, along with all the web comics I read that have just updated. Amazon has sent me an email with the latest specials, so I need to browse Amazon right now, and then Amazon UK to compare prices.

Back to facebook. Someone’s tagged me in a picture and I need to comment. Then update again about writing, check who liked the last status. Oh, now it’s dinner time. Then dishes then walk the dog. Something good is on TV, so I need to watch that, because people will be talking about it on facebook. Back to facebook to talk about the TV show, and then I finally open a word document. But of course, I drastically need to do research at right that moment, so I go and pull every relevant book off my bookshelf, but get distracted by one that’s irrelevant. I flip through it, and another ten afterwards, before remembering I’m supposed to be researching. I take the books back to the desk, and it takes a couple of trips, because they’re hardbacks. But know I realise it’s late, and I have work in the morning. Writing can wait, I can’t write when I’m tired. So, I shut everything down and turn off the computer and go to bed, having successfully avoided writing for the night, but feeling like I’ve still made the effort.

By Amanda Wickham

Thursday, May 26, 2011

5pm: Soccer game!! Must be at stadium at 3.45pm, Alison will pick me up at 3.15pm!

Today, my mother was in a car crash down the northern hwy. I was angry at her for not being there before the game. To wish me luck. I was angry at her, for not beginning there to take my photo in the stupid lycra uniform. I was angry at her. And now she’s on cardiopulmonary bypass, having blood and oxygen pumped into her body because her heart has been displaced from the left side of her chest to the right.

They cannot save her. Her internal injuries are too extensive. Her pulmonary vein has been torn, which means she’s bleeding out - into her lungs. Her lungs have collapsed as well. She’s broken several of her left ribs. I don’t need to go on any further. There’s no repairing her.

She’s reminded me of my one and only doll - Molly. I had her for a year or so. She was my favourite toy. One day her head came off. We tried to put her back together. But there was no way to fix her. She was beyond repair. She had to go. She was my only dolly. There was no replacing her. She was gone for good. I wanted her more and more every day. I missed her, more and more every minute. I didn’t want a new one. I didn’t want the brand new Barbie set, with the house and car. I wanted Molly. But she never came back.

Derik and Debbie are discussing taking her off life support. The doctors say there is nothing they can do for her. I didn’t want her to be alone, so I remain here. Listening. I feel so stupid. It’s the last few moments of her life and I’m sitting on the other side of the room facing the wall writing in my diary. I cannot look at her. She looks so broken. I can’t comfort her. She must be in so much pain. I know I’m going to regret this but I can’t seem to find away to face her and acknowledge that gurgling breath I hear, are her last few. That this moment is going to be the last moment I have with my mother. I could say anything too her, tell her about all the times I snuck out or apologize for all the nasty thing I said – for being angry...

It’s my fault she’s like this. I shouldn’t have pressure her to see me play, I only got fourteen minutes on the field. I got called off by my coach – Ian. I was already angry at mum for not being there – so I was feeling pretty angry that I didn’t even get the first fifteen minutes on the field. I don’t think I’ll ever forget those few word’s he said or the look on his face. “Jovianne” He took a deep breath. “Your mother has been in a car crash, she’s not okay. Alison will take you to the hospital.”

It seemed like everyone already knew, I could feel all eyes on me. I glanced at Alison and she nodded. I grabbed my gear, and thought of every possible thing that could have happened to her. Having her heart displaced from the left side to the right never crossed my mind during the dreading. The thought of her actually leaving me for good, never seemed to be a possibility – a real scenario. The thought of her never being around in the future...

It’s funny how the adrenaline from that game was nothing, I mean nothing compared to the adrenaline of fear in that car ride. And it’s funny how I thought I was running my hardest in that game, but I don’t think I was moving so quickly in my life when entering that hospital. But the funniest thing of all was the fact that even though that may have been the fastest moving in my life it still wasn’t quick enough. I needed to stop time.

When walking through that door, I felt a part of me die. A really big part of me die inside. Seeing my mum like this. It’s inhuman. Every bit of her is bruised. Blood everywhere; it seemed to have spread throughout the room. Needles and tubes sticking out from all over her body. I can’t make up my mind. About what the worst part is... the gurgling of breaths because her lungs are full of blood or the waxy white skin which makes my mother look like a complete stranger.

I couldn’t help think what did she do to deserve this? This is so unfair! I believe in Karma and my mum does not deserve this. Me perhaps, but not my mum. I mean I’ve always been unlucky, but couldn’t my luck focus on me a little bit more?

Or maybe this was worse. Yes, this is definitely worse. I feel like screaming at her for some unjustified reason. I feel like screaming in general. “WHAT ABOUT ME? What about me, mum? What about me when you leave me? When you go to the light? You can fix everything? Well fix this for me! Because you’ll be ok when you go to the light, you’ll be fine. But what about me? Because I won’t! Because you’re the only one I’ve got. You’re the only one and I can’t face this world without you. Who’s going to watch out for me now? I love you mum, please, please just don’t leave me yet... I need you! I won’t be fine if you leave me. I can’t do this! Mum please mum, please don’t leave me because if you die, I’ll never forgive you. You’re all I’ve got! You’re all I’ve got!”

But I can’t say that, not only is that incredibly selfish but I want to say the right things “I love you, and I want you to know...” and talk about all the great times we had together. But I can’t. I can’t think about all the great times we had together. I can’t think. My body’s in shock. Serious, numb, disbelief. Someone could have hit me several times over and I don’t think I would have notice.

When the nurse came in to inject more morphine I wanted to ask “Doesn’t this belong on television?” or say “Ok April’s fools is on the 1st not the 17th, acts over!” but I can’t even speak.

I think I might go hold her hand, stroke her hair – tell her everything’s alright and that I love her.

Time of death – 11.32pm

Jessica Smith

The Power of the Imagination

Imagine the world without imagination. You cannot, because to do so you would need to employ the very power you are trying to erase. Imagination is a definitive part of our humanity, in much the same way as oxygen and liquor are. Yet by just asking the question indicates the kind of power imagination has, imagining a world without it shows us the answer most clearly, because without imagination mankind would not live life as we know it; we may be able survive but we would not thrive. It enables humanity to make connections and evolve towards, hopefully towards a better existence. Of course it would erroneous to assume the power of imagination is a source of pure good. Like most situations, using the imagination is wielding a power in which one can have a double edged sword that may be employed for good or evil. While it can be extrapolated from the most humble of beginnings to achieve amazing ends, it can also be used to devastating effect. To this end, the power of the imagination could be equated to the power of the beholder of the imagination, be they an individual or a collective.

In today’s society the true value of imagination is neither acknowledged nor appreciated. Most people devalue it and dismiss it as merely fiction or fantasy and in doing so they demean the word unjustly. When in reality we use our imagination many times daily.

Imagining is a process of generating an illusionary visual, or other human sense such as smell, taste, touch or hearing, within our mind. We are constantly, both consciously and unconsciously, picturing different situations. Typically, we picture our options and the possible outcomes of our envisioned acts and potentially decide whether to make out imagination reality or not.

The imagination is by its own definition almost impossible to define as it has no bounds, no form and exists solely in our heads. In essence, our imagination is our human capacity to mentally build scenes, objects and events, be they real or figurative, and project them into a cohesive story. Yet more exciting than the definition of imagination, are the repercussions of our imagination as it gives us the power to make daily decisions, push forward inventions and innovation, and to empathise with others whose experiences we have not shared.

One of the most influential and revelatory capacities of the imagination is that it enables us to understand and identify with other people even though we may not have shared their experiences anything to compare to the situation they describe. Humankinds ability to imagine ourselves in another’s place. It defines us as human beings. Ponder for a moment, how without compassion we would be as robots, indifferent to each other, like little islands floating separately and aimlessly. Imagination is the sea that connects us, it allows us to reach out and have meaningful interaction with each other and learn from each other, in essence, to grow. Through learning of each others different circumstances that we are able to understand one another’s plights and motives.

Imagination and creativity are intimately intertwined. To create is to mindfully make active choices that bring what we imagine from inside our minds into reality. Our imagination is a spark of thought creativity could be considered as what takes place after the seed of an idea has been sown. Creation is inventing, building, designing, and making things. Creation could be considered the “working horse” of our imagination. Being inspired by our imagination makes us innovate, which then motivates us to be creative. Experiments and mistakes help us in being creative, which in turn is an excellent way for us to broaden our imagination.

For creations to be original they must not be a replica of an object which the creator has already seen. If the object is a copy then no imagination was used. Although some creations have presuming qualities that make them similar, that does not mean imagination was not utilised. Every creation, from the simple exercise of making music from clapping, to incredibly complex inventions such as the super hydro collider, has required a certain amount of imagination in its invention. When examined in this light, it could be argued that all human endeavours could be considered creative. From the apparently unimaginative chore of washing dishes we have seen the design, and manufacture of the dishwasher. And from the seemingly innocent hobby of watching a bird fly we have witnessed the construction of planes and ultimately rockets allowing man to make that “one giant leap” and walk on the moon. Technology, writing, music, art, games, food and even our health and wellbeing are all areas that have been improved or developed as man has dared to dream.

Inventing is an evolutionary process which will continue throughout the ages. Why? Because inspired by our imagination there is a never ending discovery of recreating and designing that drives mankind to develop ever more new and fascinating endeavours. Wonder is human nature. Wondering triggers curiosity, curiosity triggers the imagination and the imagination is put forth into creation. A perfect example of this is music. Throughout the existence of mankind new forms of music have been continually created. It is possible to imagine a rhyme, beat, tune, certain sounds and then create them. Ludwig Van Beethoven arguably made some of the greatest music in history even after losing his hearing. His music has such a powerful impact on listeners it has people asking to this day how he could possibly compose it while unable to hear it. The answer to this conundrum is that he was able to “imagine”, i.e. hear in his mind, the sounds and arrangements therefore was still able to compose musical pieces that continue to be enjoyed by listeners today.

Our imagination manifests itself through many mediums, such as music, paintings and my personal favourite creative writing. It is a form of expression that paints a picture into our minds as we read and allows us to peer into the lives of other while also discovering the diversity within ourselves. Good writing can stir very powerful feelings, be they of empathy for others or inspiration within ourselves. You need only look to the writings of the Bible or William Shakespeare, even quotes from on the back of a toilet doors as evidence of this. Yet this is a power of which should be exercised in a positive manner, although that is not always the case. Indeed as often as it is employed for good, the power of imagination is used for ill. An example of this is when someone imagines their plane crashing and then becomes transfixed that would actually happen.

Our imagination helps us decide between choices. It moulds our beliefs and morals and in doing so helps create who we are. Often when plans go awry people claim they “did not think” as if that is an excuse for their behaviour. In reality, what they didn’t utilize was the ability to imagine the consequences of their actions or only chose to picture a single outcome.

Imagination pervades human interactions in many negative ways; a perfect example of this is lying. Lying is a skill in which the imagination allows the liar to come up with a different scenario of reality. Humans lie for a variety of reasons, from wanting to avoid punishment or conflict, to seeking approval, to maintain privacy or to regulate power. Mankind’s natural instincts push us towards these conclusions. We may also lie to seek approval from others or lie to gain power or respect. We are so used to lying, that whether we intend to or not, we do it on a daily basis, possibly without even noticing. Sometimes when lying to seek approval or attention, we begin to believe our own false images. This is considered to be self-deception. A recent good example of this was Heath Ledger trying to get into character for the role of the Joker in the film, ‘The Dark Knight’. He locked himself in an apartment for a month and pretended to be the Joker. He began to inhabit the lie that was the character of the Joker so intensely, that he absorbed the physical traits of the character such as a nervous tic and the consistent licking of his lips. His imagination prompted him to believe that in some small ways, he was the Joker.

Another example of the power of the imagination is the effect it can have, both good and bad, on the physical mind. The common theory that the brain cannot tell the difference between reality and imagination was supposably backed by research on the placebo effect. The placebo, meaning “I shall please” in Latin, effect is used in medical research which provides inert drugs, the placebo, to a certain number of people and the actual medication to others. In these trials, the doctors do not tell their patients if they are being given the placebo or the actual drug. Instead the patients are advised that the inert pill will change their current condition. Frequently patients in the placebo groups have reported similar results to those in the groups taking the actual drugs. On the other hand, Nocebo, meaning “I shall harm” in Latin, is where the patient disbelieves in the treatment and as a result, may experience no effect or even worsening of symptoms. These results indicate that the power of the imagination is so strong it can trick our mind and body into changing the expected outcome.

Those who do not make full use of their imaginations do not understand the justifications of other people’s actions. There are also those who prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all, choosing to remain comfortable within the boundaries of their own experiences. They do not dare to dream for better and do not understand that their actions, however minor they may be, could affect many. They do not think that they have the power to influence, change or impact others. They do not build, invent or make original things. They do not write creative pieces with meaning and value that tell stories or speak for others who do not voice. They may read, listen or watch but they do not have compassion for those who suffer hardship and adversity because they choose not to imagine, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. But life is difficult, complicated and it is beyond anyone’s control. The humility to know that fact will enable us to survive life’s vicissitudes. Those who do not exercise their imaginations but choose to live in indifference will surely not know what to do when tested by adversity.

Jessica Smith

Monday, May 2, 2011

Twenty Twelve, Doomsday?

Okay so everyone’s heard about the prediction the world will end on December 21, 2012.

Well, if you haven’t, here are some of the reasons why this could happen, the Mayan calendar runs out on that day. The bible has prophecies of Armageddon, which do not happen on that day, and there are some others about the war between good and evil, and 'God will use cosmic events as means of his judgment on the earth.' (so the solar flares from the sun.)

I personally do not believe that 2012 will be the end of the world. There has been many predictions of the end of the world such as the 'millennium bug', that never happened. No nuclear bombs seemed to go off, and planes didn't fall from the sky.

Though people may be saying these days, 'but it all adds up, this place said that and then someone else said it to and this adds up to that,' if you really want to, and you try hard enough, you can make anything prove what you want it to. Fact is, no one knows for sure, there may be some people that are dead set that it will happen and fair enough, I believe that it cannot be predicted, it will happen when it happens. Though people may choose to believe this, I don't.

Jessica Thompson

Obama-1 Osama-0

The worlds most wanted man has been captured and killed.

He has been responsible for a huge amount of death and destruction. When the news was heard across the world, as you could imagine New York and many other places saw this news as a time to celebrate. And why wouldn't they. This is a huge break through for the Americans, and many places, in the fight against terrorism. Though the celebrations were frowned upon and angered the Islamic community I doubt the people celebrating are going to care. This being such huge news it is thought that this could either be a big step forward or maybe anger others to act out. It could even have no effect whatsoever, either way people are celebrating and it is a great development for many people, also bringing peace to many people who have been affected by his attacks.

After the amount of death he has brought this should be a time to celebrate, though terrorist attacks will not be ended by this, this is a huge break through for everyone. The director of the Forum on Australia's Islamic Relations (FAIR) has called these celebrations disgusting and said that we should have 'more respect towards humanity, even if they're bad guys'.

If this isn't a time to celebrate when is? If we weren't looking for him to capture him and stop him, why were we looking for him? Of course the world will be a better place without him, many people will feel safer and though 'an eye for an eye may make the whole world blind' I believe that we can live with that. Especially if it means Osama is no longer in this world, causing fear to some and heartbreak to others. Our thoughts go out to those victimised by the September 11 attacks, and hope this brings some peace.

Jessica Thompson

Friday, April 29, 2011

Ed Guevara - Back and Better than ever

Just when the final embers laying beneath the Ed-Guevaraist cauldron seemed to have extinguished, outspoken political guru Ed Guevara has re-emerged from the passing shadows of obscurity with a new branch of philosophy and a warning for his political rivals.

Ed Guevara had a tough and testing 2010, during the course of the year he went through two messy divorces, was victim of an Ultra-Nationalist smear campaign, fell bankrupt, was arrested for urinating on a statue of John Howard, had his children kidnapped and brainwashed, and all of this was just in January. Guevara has spent the rest of the year in keen preparation summarising a detailed credo which is “full of revolutionary undertones.”

He calls his new philosophy “The anti-human manifesto.”

Guevara's new, yet to be revealed policies have already come under attack from the far right, who have been swift in their actions. Throughout the month of April, 2011, several anti-Guevaraist commercials were aired nationwide in an attempt to combat this new threat to the establishment. We've all seen the television adverts with their anti-Guevara mantras;


Anti-Guevara lobbyists have also been active in the printed media and several detailed and malicious statements have been published, one of them implying that Ed Guevara's eleven-month hiatus from the political arena was due to his ongoing alcoholism. In The Times it was reported;

“The eleven months that Ed Guevara claims to have taken off to draft his new philosophies was nothing more than a hedonistic and barbaric spree. Guevara spent the entire time locked in a hotel room; continuously intoxicated, day after day, on a path of self destruction.”

The day after these statements were made, Ed Guevara summoned a press conference and was quick to rebut claims that he is an alcoholic,

“Whadd'ya mean I am drink? I 'aven't drinkin' in ages!! This is outrage, I not [expletive] drunk!”

Guevara was unable to complete his rebuttal as at that time he had fallen down and was unable to be woken up by his associates. Guevara blames his political enemies for causing this spectacular incident, claiming to have had numerous lawn darts shot into his neck during the conference which rendered him unconscious.

In late 2010, Guevara released his first civic blueprint for the anti-human manifesto “Less rights for humans”, this slogan was later changed in December to “No rights for humans”, and again in February 2011 to “Death to all humans.”

Civics like these may upset the members of the public who have more of a “human rights” approach to life, but none the less, Ed Guevara is in full force, issuing a decree on April 3, 2011 stating that the term “Bloody massacre” will now be referred to as “Peaceful exchange of power”, and “Radiation poisoning” will now be referred to as “The happy sickness”.

Ed Guevara is looking forward to an event-filled 2011.

Written by Glen Trask.

The best

Before I begin I would like to voice my detest toward the censorship bureau for editing my piece in post-production, all of them can go and get [censored].

It is time, ladles and jelly-spoons, to gaze through the looking glass and drop your jaws in awe, for the very piece you are reading at this instant has been voted the best PWE blog entrant of all time!

Yes, that's right, across the board all teachers and students everywhere have emphatically agreed that this is indeed history's greatest PWE blog entry, and celebration has swept the nation. This majestic piece of writing has over night become the PWE blog's crown jewel and many believe that it will remain the greatest blog entry of all time. No less than seven public holidays have been announced in honour of this writing and it is sure to be showered in praise for years to come.

Reader, feel free to take pride in the fact that at this moment you are reading the number one PWE blog, this is a special day for you, please take the time to stop and process the flood of emotions you may find yourself feeling as you read this. This blog has become the undisputed flagship of the PWE blog and PWE itself. It has been evaluated and honoured by philosophers, scientists and politicians alike, I always knew that I was the best and this proves it.

Some, coming from a spiritual viewpoint, have claimed that the content of this very blog entry is that of a divine revelation, which, when considering the magnitude of awesomeness within this piece, is certainly plausible. Others, coming from a physical viewpoint, have tried to fit an equation that could explain why this blog entry is the greatest in history, they have all failed in their quest.

I hoped you have learned from this, and if you do not grasp it's nature – read again.

Written by Glen Trask.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rich people not worried about utility rates going up, show figures

A recent study done by the Australian Bureau of Statistics has shown that the rich and well to do are not the slightest bit worried about rising utility rates. Figures compiled in the study done by the bureau have shown that out of all people interviewed in the survey, the 43% who said they were not worried about rising utility rates all had a lot of money.

Toffee Nose Financial Services chairman Michael O'Brien has said that the figures also astonishingly showed that people who are struggling financially, and are already having trouble keeping up with bills, will still find themselves in a position where they're unable to keep up with bills, except in a worse off position. "I'm really taken aback by the findings of this research", said Mr O'Brien.

Experts have said that this research suggests that there is a possibility that people with a lot of money don't struggle to keep up with paying the bills and keeping a roof over their heads, whereas people with not much money might.

"What we have discovered is that in order for bills and rent/mortgage to be paid, it requires a financial transaction to be completed and a particular sum of money to be changing hands. People who happen to be in possession of that particular sum of money are 100% more likely to complete the transaction than people who aren't." Said ANZ chairman Clive P.Simmons.

People with money still able to pay bills

"The driving force behind this trend is generally people who don't have to break the bank to keep up with utility payments", according to Ten News financial correspondent Todd Maher.

"What the Bureau's research has shown, is that having more money readily available is a clear advantage when it comes to being able to live comfortably", he concluded.

The top 2% of Australian's who earn over $400,000 per year have been buoyed by the findings of the research, one exclaiming "Ha! cop that!". Another revealed, "Sorry? I can't hear you from up here, I'm joking, now run along peasant."

By Aron Micallef

A match made in aristocratic heaven

Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the past four months, you're bound to have heard of a small event happening in another country called the "Royal Wedding". It's an event that has been plastered on the front page of every form of media imaginable in every corner of the globe. The response from the public to this union of aristocratic matrimony has been somewhat of a mixed one. Some people just really couldn't care less, other have said "aww a wedding, how cute". Are any of these reactions wrong? Well no, there can't really be a wrong reaction when you're dealing with opinions. However I think a lot of people are catching a broken needle and completely missing the point.

The media would have you believe that because two people who happen to be rich, famous, privileged and royals are madly in love, and have decided to tie the knot that it is a wedding of importance and simply cannot be missed. For no other reason than the status that these two people happen to hold in society everyone should be jumping for joy that they have decided to spend the rest of their lives together. I call bullshit. Why should anyone take the time out from worrying about the daily pressures of their own lives and their own problems for a famous wedding? In fact why should anyone take the time out from these hassles to worry about any wedding?

In Australia, and indeed most country's around the world, it is perfectly legal for two heterosexual people to express their love for each other and everything that goes with it by reading vowels to each other and exchanging rings on a set date. However if an LGBTI couple wanted to do the same thing it's against the law. Government's and the media are jumping for joy at a conservative tradition being upheld and a new line of royals to prolong a monarchy. Personally I think this is just one of many copout's that the LGBTI community has had to face. As if it isn't bad enough that the general homophobic attitude in some parts of society is becoming more socially acceptable and as always, is backed up by governments, this is just rubbing salt in to a fresh wound.

I'm of the opinion that to deny gay marriage rights is state homophobia passed down from governments, with the hope that it spreads amongst the people they supposedly represent in parliament. Until an act is passed in parliament approving marriage between an LGBTI couple, under which they can be legally recognised, and there is true equality then personally I don't see why we should be excited about any wedding. It's hypocrisy, inequality, patronising to the LGBTI community and regressive. I find it ridiculous, as a socialist and equal love campaigner that in this day and age, we still have to explain to people that just because a couple isn't heterosexual then they're incapable of having any feelings for each other just as any straight couple would. Until there is equality in marriage rights I wont be getting excited about any wedding, let alone a royal one.

Should we help people end their suffering?

Death is always a sad process that affects the living, but if we can help people end their suffering, why shouldn’t we?

During the break I went to Sydney. This might not seem like very much to talk about, except I went to see one of my favorite authors, Terry Pratchett, live in conversation with Garth Nix at the Sydney opera House. I didn’t do any research into the subjects of the conversation beforehand, so I was surprised when the subject of euthanasia came up.

The basis of the issue was that there are laws in place to stop people having the choice to die and get help doing it. Only there is usually a good reason to make something illegal and there is no such reason as to why assisted suicide is illegal.

Sir Pratchett said that the only reason it isn’t legal is because the church thinks it goes against the bible’s teachings. I asked someone I know about it and they surprised me by agreeing with him and supporting his argument, it only surprised me because that person is my mum, her reasons were almost exactly the same as Sir Pratchett’s. If someone has a terminal illness that will slowly affect the way they live, if they aren’t physically capable of looking after themselves and they don’t want to be a burden to their family members, why shouldn’t they have the choice to be assisted in their death by a medical practitioner?

During the conversation at the Opera House he gave examples of people having committed suicide in disturbing ways. After that I now feel that people should have the right to have a peaceful death of their choosing, where they are guaranteed a swift and clean peaceful death, instead of hanging themselves in their garage, slowly being strangled by a rope.

(You can also look at one of Sir Pratchett's novels, I Shall Wear Midnight and this article for more information on the subject,
By Elizabeth Azzopardi

From Melbourne With Love

Bruce Smith was the best operative ASIO had; codenamed Agent Drop Bear, he was as suave and sophisticated as any Australian man could be. He could make sheila’s weak at the knees with just a single glance from under his Akubra, and every red-blooded man wanted to be him, and his generous farming rights. And while he operated and worked in the nation’s capital, Canberra, his real home was in Victoria, along the coast in Torquay, where he owned a holiday caravan.

It was on this day, Labour Day, that he was called by his old boss, John Howard.

“Ah, Agent Drop Bear, sorry to, uh, interrupt”

Bruce was in the middle of servicing a local sheila’s plumbing when a small screen rose slowly up from the head of the fold out bed in the wall, former Prime Minister John Howard and his bushy eyebrows filling up most of the screen.

“Don’t worry mate, was just finishing up here. Of ya go missy”

With a rough slap on the arse, the sheila was on her way. Wearing only his trademark Akubra he turned to address his commanding officer.

“So, whats the story Johnny?”

“Terrorists have made demands to, uh, blow up the Victorian Parliament”

“Sorry boss, can’t do it. Public holiday”

“But Bruce, we, uh, need you”

“Alright mate, but I want triple time for this”

Quickly throwing on his acid washed jeans and work-mans shirt, Bruce burst out of his caravan into the soft sunlight and got into his Hilux Ute, mentally preparing himself for the trip into Melbourne.


Taking the Princes Freeway through Geelong and up towards Melbourne, he cursed at forgetting his Citilink pass; he would have to send the bill to Johnny for reimbursement. Across the West Gate Bridge he saw Melbourne in all its high-rise glory, the sun shining off the towering buildings and the filthy Yarra River. He enjoyed the big smoke, but didn’t like the pushing and shoving and generally increasing rudeness of its inhabitants, but he still regarded Australia as the Lucky Country and was proud to serve it…as long as it kept him in VB and premium AFL tickets at the MCG.


Burning rubber up Spring Street, his Ute bounced off an errant tram track and sailed through the air, landing at the steps of Parliament. He leapt out of the ute just as an RPG sailed through the air, striking it and exploding, turning the car into a pile of scrap metal.

“Ooo, you’re going to pay for that mate. That was a 2008 model!”

Reaching into his jeans he pulled out a 9mm pistol and fired off wildly towards the man with the launcher. The man convulsed with the impacts and fell to the ground in a heap. Bruce rushed up the steps, gun in hand, ready to fight those bastard terrorists. Seeing no enemies outside he put his boot to the entry door and kicked it open.

“Don’t take another step, filthy capitalist!”

As the doors opened Bruce saw the situation: one guy with the Minister for Transport as a hostage.

“Or what, you little bugger?”

“I’ll kill this man!”

“He was doing a shit job anyway mate”, Bruce raised his gun and fired twice, one hitting the Minister for Transport in the head, the other blowing out the skull of the terrorist.


Waiting at Southern Cross station for the V-Line to Geelong, Bruce felt his phone vibrate. He reached in and flicked it open; it was Johnny.

“Hi mate. There were only two guys in the whole place. Security buggered up something shocking”

“Yes, uh, unfortunately. But did you, uh, have to shoot the Minister?”

“It was a bit of a cock-up, sure, but he deserved it”

“Fair enough, uh, Agent Drop Bear”

Written by J. W. Holland

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Get blogging!

I have been reading a lot lately about the need for writers to promote themselves. The pressure has increased significantly with the creation of the internet. It’s now easier than ever to promote yourself, but with that comes a greater need to do so.

Everyone is doing it
I started looking up some popular authors and found pretty much all of them have a website. It includes a bit about them, their work, and what we can expect from them next. But it doesn’t just end there. Many authors such as Scott Westerfield and Patrick Rothfuss also have a blog. I started looking up some not-so-well-known authors and found a bunch of blogs too.

Make the content valuable
Some writers have a strictly work only blog. Others, like Neil Gaiman, will use their blog to let you have a glimpse into their life. The topics covered depend on you, but the most important thing is to include information about your work.

A way to get discovered
Blogs can also be a way for some writers to get discovered. Yes, it’s rare, but it does happen. Tavi Gevinson began her fashion blog at age 11. Now 15, she is one of the world’s most followed fashion bloggers and is in the regular company of the fashion industries elite.

Don't be afraid to show off
They are also a great tool to show your versatility. Non-fiction writing may be what pays your bills but if you have a burning passion for fiction then why not put some of it up on a blog? Or show off your photography skills? Whatever it may be, it’s important to give potential clients or employers something that represents your work if they go looking.

So come on, get blogging and get your work out there!

Hayley Ashman

Monday, April 25, 2011

Let's write

Dear main character,
I apologise for not having thought of you much lately. I know I should give you a name, but honestly I feel sorry for you and what I'm about to put you through.

This is the start of a letter I wrote to the main character of my novel for young adults. I find that having to do exercises like this in class, even though I often don’t want to do them (especially not with a time limit) they are helpful when it comes to thinking about the novel I want to write as a whole. Perhaps one of the most difficult things to think about in your novel is the main story problem, what does your main character want and need most of all? You might think you know, but the problem you think of could be too small to last your character an entire novel. At the moment this is my problem, what can I set as my main characters problem?

But I need to think about the story idea as a whole; right now my story idea is a mess. Writers have this problem a lot. I’m not the sort of writer who plans out a story before they write it, I write scenes from different parts of my stories and stitch them together later. I’m not sure if I should try to write it because the more enjoyable you find writing your story the better. If you get bored when you’re writing, you should stop. Readers will notice if you get bored, especially young readers who don’t have the patience to read something boring; they’ll just stop and find a different book.

I guess the main dilemma is self motivation; getting to write what needs to be written.
‘The best way to start writing is to start writing (are you surprised?) Do not be self-conscious as you write down the first sentence that comes to mind. You may want to consider "free writing" initially. Once you have written a few paragraphs you can go back and then start judging your work.’

Read more at: How to Get Motivated to Write

By Elizabeth Azzopardi

Thursday, April 21, 2011

New-Age Pen

Usually, when I think of something brilliant and want to write it down, I struggle to find a pen or a piece of paper to record my inspired thought.

This may be due to two reasons:

1. my inspired thoughts often happen at strange times and places - no, not the toilet!

2. my inspiration, flashes of brilliance and WOW moments happen when I least expect them to.

Unexpected Places

I can be driving in my car, sitting on a train, or filling the trolley at the supermarket and POW! A great story idea,
opening line,
or snippet of dialogue knocks me over
begging for me to WRITE IT DOWN.

And we all know what happens when you don’t write it down ... sadly, like my secret stash of liquorice allsorts that I keep on the pantry’s top shelf out of my children’s reach, these brilliant thoughts somehow disappear before you know it and you can’t remember having them at all.

BUT unlike the liquorice, I can’t go out and buy another packet. Creative thought and inspiration doesn’t work like that, not for me.

Keeping a pen and notebook in my handbag isn’t a difficult thing to do, however I have recently found an even better way to avoid future ‘no pen and no paper’ moments in my life. I’ve started using the ‘notes’ app and ‘voice memo’ app on my iphone.

Technology is a wonderful thing, and although it will never replace the way I feel about a pen and paper, it is a great tool for getting down those early nuggets of writing gold.

By Anna Brasier

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Twitter fight with Catherine Deveny

A few years ago a friend got me onto Catherine Deveny. I spent a long while looking forward to her column in The Age and enjoying her appearances on Q and A. The thing that drew me to her was that we seemed to share a lot of the same thoughts. Women’s rights, atheism and a dislike for bogans were all I needed.

After a while I started to realise that Catherine isn’t quite as funny as I thought. By now I was following her on Twitter and getting a daily dose of the world according to Catherine was becoming a bit too much. It dawned on me that truly funny people pick on everyone. Catherine only picks on the people she thinks she is better than, and trust me, that’s a lot of people.

My friend had long ago dropped her from his Twitter feed but I was still hanging on when I saw Catherine tweet this: Fuck The Pope by @TimMinchin #blessyou. It’s a link to a video by comedian Tim Minchin that I will admit I have never watched. I couldn't get past the title and Catherine’s smug little #blessyou.

This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was suddenly furious at this vulgar woman who constantly criticises those who shove their beliefs down other’s throats but has no ability to practice what she preaches.

I shot out: @CatherineDeveny @timminchin I'm all for slamming shit religious practices, but what happened to respect? It felt great! But it didn't end there. To my surprise I received a reply: @shelikestowrite Respect is code for please leave us to discriminate with our religion approved hatred and phallocracy.

In the space of about a minute I had decided that Catherine Deveny was my enemy and that we were at war. I fired back: @CatherineDeveny No. It's code for have some maturity and people might actually hear your message. Now I was really revved up and texting my friends to log on and watch the battle. Turns out it was already over. I got nothing back. Not one little tweet.

I must say my life is a little better after this incident. I have since unfollowed Catherine and realised I may need to be a little more careful with who I choose to look up to.

Although she was probably just caught up in her ego, I do like to think I am the person that managed to silence Catherine Deveny.

Hayley Ashman

Monday, April 18, 2011

Step one ... get your writing out of the house.

The Easter break is a great time to unwind and enjoy the autumn sunshine.

Maybe you like to enjoy ...

  • a few lattes or drinks out with friends,

  • go to the footy and let off some steam at the opposition

  • lie on the couch with a good book and lots of yummy chocolate.
It is also a great time to get your writing out of your
or scribbled notes
and send it out into the BIG WIDE WORLD of publishing.

Writing? I did say writing, didn’t I? When, amongst all the reading, researching assignments, handing in work and eating chocolate do you get time to write, let alone send your work out there?

As a new and emerging writer the thought of one person reading your work, let alone many people reading your work is scary. However, if you want to be a writer, eventually someone other than your teacher or your mum, your boyfriend or your girlfriend is going to have to read your work.

A great way to start testing the waters is to try competitions first. Most competitions are free to enter, although some do ask for an entry fee - this ranges from $5-$20.

There are competitions to suit all styles,

  • fiction,

  • non-fiction,

  • poetry

  • sci-fi.
The best thing about competitions is that your entry is anonymous to the short-listing panel. They don’t know who you are and so when they read your story, they are looking at your work, not YOU.

This is a good thought to keep in mind, especially if you are unsuccessful.

It’s not you, it’s the story.

That leads me to another topic ... rejection; more about that another day.

You can find information on competitions from your local library, school campus, and the Victorian Writers’ Centre (VWC). The VWC has a log book full of entry forms which you can photocopy or ask them to mail out.

By Anna Brasier

Friday, April 15, 2011

More Holiday Homework

I lost my faith in humanity the other day. No, it was not some kind of profound experience I had where someone did something horrible to me and that sort of thing, you need to actually leave the house for that to happen. It was when I tuned into the radio and on came a song by techno/rap group 3oh!3 called "Don't Trust Me". It contains the lyrics, and this is no joke "I said shush girl/ shut your lips/ and do the Helen keller and talk with your hips". Three words, "WHAT THE FUCK?"
For anyone who doesn't know, Helen Keller was the famous girl who was blind and deaf and through the help of a committed teacher and carer, was still able to learn to communicate with others and lead a meaningful life. The story of Helen Keller is an inspirational tale of succeeding despite severe adversity, as 3oh!3 would have you think, she was a sexy deaf/blind diva who communicated through a series of girating and thrusting.
Are they serious? Or is it a tongue in cheek comment on the way pop culture references are used meaninglessly just to fill in lyric space in awful, awful songs. I'm guessing, since the song also contains the lyrics "don't trust a hoe", it would be the first option, don't exactly sound like the most lyrically profound group do they. Their music's shit too!
Meaningless pop culture references in lyrics by awful artists in an attempt to sound profound are all around these days. The Black Eyed Peas are a repeat offender. Although it isn't exactly an endightment on the artists themselves. They can't help being shithouse wastes of space.
The fault lies at the feet of the public who are actually stupid enough to like this crap. Matter of fact: if you like Kesha, Train, Black Eyed Peas, Ben Lee, Usher, or any other of the hundreds and hundreds of people who are simply out there who like an artist simply because "they're hot" (except Ben Lee, he's shit and hideous), you're part of the problem to which I earlier pertained, and more urgently and seriously, you're a moron.

Jackson Clarke

Jackson's post

I was required to submit to this blog. But at this stage I have absolutely nothing of any relevance or interest to say, so I guess it's the right time to be blogging. But enough with the jokes (that was a joke?), I guess I should say what I have been doing or thinking or whatnot, but my dilemma is I have not been doing or thinking anything. I have been dedicating my time to mastering the latest addiction of Grand Theft Auto (yes I meant to type "addiction" instead of "edition", another "joke"). I just clocked it and then remembere I have a life outside of this game, not much of a life but a life nontheless. GTA is kind of like crack, well not really but it's just as addictive, well not really but it seemed like a clever comparison when I started this sentence and I'm not going to edit my blog cos that's just crazy talk. Edit a blog? Whaaaa? I'm not editing my blog... You edit your blog if you love the idea of edited blogs so much. Just did a word check and I'm nowhere near the required amount. I could just repeat the same word over and over again the way I did for nanowrimo (another joke I would never cheat on such a thing), but I think these people actually read what people are writing on their blog. Part of the reason I don't use this as a means to incite racial hatred come to think of it. Damn honkys bringing me down! Sitting down listening to Mark Ronson sing the Bike Song. As you can probably guess it's about selling heroin to teenagers (geez what's with all the drug jokes this guy's got some issues). It's actually about riding a bike. Go figure. Just hit the 300 word mark and it's coming up to 2:30 on friday morning so I better be off to bed. Half my holiday homework requirement is now done. Am I a good student or what (no, not really).

Holiday Homework

For some reason I added to this blog but it pasted to the 2009 blog. If anyone would like to have a read they will find it in the 2009 blog.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Toast was never one to refuse a good bit of buttering on a lonely Saturday night, but tonight was different. He had gone to the ‘Breakfast Club’ to meet with the guys, have a few drinks, and then it was on to business. It always helped him to have a few drinks before a job. Forcing somebody to their final meal was never a pleasant thought, but what he did paid the bills and kept him in jam.

The girl who was all over his buttery knob tonight and he would have made Bacon himself go to the final meal just to get into her crumbs, but work had to take precedence. Toast excused himself from the bar, sculled his maple syrup, said good bye to his friends, who were busy showing off their fake browns to a couple of young eggs, and left the club. He set off south, to the Vegemite Pits and his grim task.

The Vegemite Pits had that yeast smell that made Toast’s crusts shudder, his memory reeling back to the old days when he was part of the Nutritionists morning line-up, doing stand-up comedy to all those young minds. He shook the feeling off and continued down the road, eager to get his job over and done with.

Toast ended up outside a dilapidated warehouse, with the words ‘Kellogg’s Sucks’ sprawled in bad graffiti on the side, that made his already bad feeling get much worse. Nothing ever good came out of a warehouse mission, least of all his crumbs. Equipping his Cereal Shotgun, Toast ventured inside, cautiously checking every corner and darkened area for anything that might pop out and make him drop a load of bread in his trousers.

He sensed movement behind him and whirled around with knife-like speed and brought his shotgun to bear, “Stop! Identify yourself or I’ll spread you all over floor”

“Don’t shoot Toast! It’s me, Pancake”

Toast lowered his shotgun as Pancake emerged from a dark corner.

“What are you doing here Pancake?!”

“I heard you were going after Cheese and I wanted to give you some backup”

“Alright fine, just don’t get yourself killed”

Toast reluctantly allowed Pancake to stay, and they both ventured deeper into the warehouse.


“I don’t know about this Toast, maybe we should turn back and go home”

“Stop whining Pancake”

Toast was busy looking through some of the offices in the second floor, with Pancake giving out his objections when he spied movement in what he suspected was the main office.

“Shut it Pancake!”

Toast, ignoring Pancake now, moved through the offices carefully, trying not to scrape his edges. He made it to the office and could clearly hear voices inside. He quickly peeked through the nearby window and made sure the target was the correct one; satisfied, he straightened himself up, milked his Cereal Shotgun and kicked in the door.

Toast let fire his Cereal Shotgun, smearing and spreading all who were in the office. When the smoke cleared he could see Cheese was now full of holes, as were his henchmen, Cubed and Grated. He turned around to leave, saw Pancake cowering in a corner, collected him up and went to the exit, back into the Vegemite Pits.

Written by J. W. Holland

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Welcome to our new blog!

Well, we're in Week 2 of teaching and already exciting things are happening all around the place. Last week saw our first Rotunda in the West event for the year: John Clarke and Bryan Dawe in conversation with Bruno Lettieri. We had our biggest ever crowd for this event with over 300 guests, and everyone seemed to enjoy the conversation and question time.

This week we have a new Rotunda in the West event: something different. We've worked with the State Library and City of Melbourne to run our first ever Summer Reading Relay on Thursday (3 March) from 12 noon to 6 pm, and then Twilight Panel on short story writing at 6 to 7 pm, in Experimedia at the State Library. (For those of you who may already know about this, yes, there has been a change of venue—we've moved inside the State Library because of the unpredictability of the weather.) Guest readers include Catherine Deveny, Kristin Henry, Ann Tonks, Steve Grimwade and Counillor Jennifer Kanis. We think this may be the first time an event like this has ever been run in the world, so come along and have a look. Entry is free.

Novel 2 students are getting ready to shortlist stories for the Ada Cambridge Prize, and we have our poetry bus coming up shortly. So, as you can see a great range of things are happening around our classes—these certainly lend the course a feeling of dynamism, and make coming to work and, we hope, school exciting!

Tracey Rolfe