What I Did On My Holidays, 2017-2018, Day 12

Day 47. 97,476 words.

Today we hit Rottnest[1] for the day, starting bright and early in the morning with a ferry ride over. Uncle Jim came along with us and acted as tour guide, since he was quite experienced with visiting the place. And the weather, according to Mrs. Hatboy, was not as rough as the last time we had been across to Rotto in 2000.

[1] I was pleased to see, on the promotional video on the way to the island, that they had added a bit of a spiel about how the island’s actual name is Wadjemup. I never actually learned this while I was living in Western Australia, and was surprised[2] to find it out about it during my research for Bad Cow where the island – or part of it – retains an aura of holy ground because of the Aboriginal people.

[2] Well, not surprised, as such, because I knew most places in Western Australia already had names before white people arrived … but I was surprised it wasn’t more widely-known or mentioned anywhere, and that there was so much we just hadn’t been taught. Again, not surprising, exactly … but an unpleasant confirmation.

A lot has changed in 17 years, let alone the additional 15 or so since I went to Rotto as a kid with my family on my dad’s yacht. It really was something of a wilderness back then, especially once you got away from the main settlement around the ferry landing.

Now, you could practically walk from Fremantle to Rotto just by stepping from boat to boat. The bay was packed with them, and the settlement was a massive, hideous crowd.

We didn’t have the time – or, with Wump and Toop in tow, the energy – to get far from the settlement, so we went and had breakfast at the bakery, then spent an hour at a fun park some dude had set up on the beach nearby. He’d basically thrown a bunch of bouncy castles into the water and Wump thought it looked like fun so insisted on going.

I should have learned my lesson after Excape, but Wump wasn’t ready for the cold water and extreme diving experience. She wanted to leave after five minutes, but I had to pull a Dad on her and say I’d just paid $70 for a family hour, so she was going to have to tough it out. She did have fun after a while, because there were trampolines and things, but there was a lot of sulking and whining about kids climbing and jumping on the bouncy castles she was trying to sunbathe on.

There were even a couple of big half-inflated pillow things that a kid could go to the end of (provided he or she was dextrous enough to not flop off into the water), and another kid could jump on the other end and catapult the kid through the air. Jim and I tried and failed to stay on it, and in the end Wump and I settled for swimming back and forth and watching other people attempting to get it to work. When it did, and when the catapultee was a kid and the catapultor was an adult, the results were hilarious. Especially when the kid just went straight up and down again.

From there we walked to another little beach which was almost as crowded but at least we could get in the water properly. I don’t remember there being so many shark nets when I was a kid. Jim and I went snorkelling, and as I mentioned on Day 6 Wump had a go but was put off by the salt water, the poor fit of the goggles, and the loose teeth she had. Fair enough, I guess. We said we’d try again sometime later, in a swimming pool.

We walked back to the settlement (I carried Wump and Toop in turns, getting my share of exercise for the day), had lunch at the pub / restaurant with half a billion close friends, then wandered around and took it easy while Wump and Toop enjoyed a playground. Mrs. Hatboy got an obligatory quokka selfie (do continue nagging Mrs. Hatboy for more pictures by the way), and then we got on the ferry home. The kids were absolutely wrecked.

All in all a nice day, and I won’t need to go back to Rotto for another 17 years.

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Interlude: Samaritan

Day 46. 97,476 words. Today I have a ton of work to do, then tomorrow we have a bit of a department training day on the cards which should be a relaxing end to the week. After that, game night with some friends. And winter holiday begins! I’d forgotten what it was like to have normal holidays.

Yesterday we went to pick up the car from our mechanic, and went through the usual enjoyable ritual of him proudly showing me pieces of rusty or worn-down or otherwise perfectly normal-looking metal, and explaining that they’d needed replacing and it was a miracle the car was still running. And me nodding and saying “well done.”


Some of yesterday’s bits and bobs. Sure would hate to try to drive without one of those.

Anyway, our dear old trusty Volvo, who has been nicknamed Börge, made it through another annual check-up at minimal cost, and seems to be running fine. Which is good news because it means we don’t need to buy a new car this week.

On our way home from the mechanic, Mrs. Hatboy was ahead of me on the road and we were making our way through the little winding streets of the village (I was in my in-laws’ car, having borrowed it to drive both myself and Mrs. Hatboy to the mechanic’s in order to pick up Börge in the first place). We went past a BMW coming the other way and Mrs. Hatboy and I went to one side of the road. BMW went to the other side, and evidently went a bit too far because suddenly he was in the ditch.

For fairness and context, it’s hard to tell on this particular road because there are mounds of snow and no markers, but generally yeah, just scrape by and try to stay inside the ploughed bit. Mrs. Hatboy and I went as far as we could only our side, right up against the snowbanks. So it wasn’t really anyone’s fault. In fact, it was even easier for me to get past because by that stage BMW was two wheels deep.

Mrs. Hatboy, in the lead and not noticing any of this, carried happily on into the village. I parked (after driving past him, seeing his predicament and going “aah ha ha ha, you done fucked up”) and went over to help the poor dude, whose BMW had a rear-wheel drive and was basically just vzzzzzzzing himself deeper and deeper. I didn’t have a tow cable in the car, on account of it being my in-laws’ car as mentioned, and them having emptied it out completely in preparation for trading it in. So I made a few calls.

Eventually – and BMW was beginning to sound a bit anxious about how many people I seemed to know who owned tractors, and how many of them were either neighbours or family members or both[1] – a local swung by with a four-wheel-drive and pulled BMW out of the ditch.

[1] He was probably already nervous when I got out of my car and came over to help, actually, and the long-way-from-home-city-boy vibe probably didn’t help. I resisted the urge to ask him if anyone knew he was out here.

BMW was very grateful and made it rain with wads of cash.

No, he really did. My fellow villager was embarrassed at the amount and made him put half of it back – he even tried to give me some, when all I’d really done was park my car and stand on the side of the road scrolling through Facebook for ten minutes – but at least he got something for his trouble.

The moral of the story is, if you see a BMW driver in a jam, laugh at him a bit … but then help. Because he might be the one BMW driver with a sense of fair play.

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Interlude: Hugos 2018: Once More Unto the Breach

Day 45. 97,293 words.

I was delighted to see that some of my contributions had made it into the final farewell newsletter from the Helsinki Worldcon people.


Here, for anyone who missed out on the newsletter, is my reminiscence-story. Well done dreameling on the excellent photo (as I believe I said before). And the link under my name, in case you were interested, was a kind shout-out to my Amazon page.

They also very nicely linked to the Hatstand’s posts about Worldcon, and they also had a page about the Hugo Awards. As luck would have it, as a ticket-holder for 2017’s Worldcon, I’m still eligible to nominate for 2018 even though I’m not going.

And I have a couple of books that were published in 2017, so what the Hell.


If you were a Worldcon attendee, this is all you need to throw on your nomination ballot. Unless, you know, you feel there are other artists out there who deserve a fair shake. 2017 was admittedly a slow year for me.

As you can maybe see from that tiny screencap, I dropped Bad Cow, Human[1] and Deadshepherd in the Best Novel category, which means The Final Fall of Man gets one more shot at Best Series. I also dropped Gabriel Gajdoš into the best artist category for his covers as always. Also, if you’re looking for someone to nominate for Best Fan Writing, look no further than Mzzbee’s stuff.

[1] Technically I entered this to the ballot in 2017 as well, but a) it didn’t make the short list and b) it was published, officially, in January 2017 so it is eligible for the 2018 ballot. More than it was for the 2017 ballot, actually, since the publishing date on the first page doesn’t match with Amazon’s publication date.

Best of all, the Worldcon people have a wiki, and a google doc for Hugo suggestions. I added myself – here’s the Best Novel page, and here’s the Best Series page – which was a bit fiddly but hopefully worth it. Sadly I didn’t have time to add Gabriel and Mzzbee to their places but I will do it if I get a chance before March.

So check it out! And nominate me if you can be bothered. Or share the information around. Or just try to get through your Wednesday in one piece, basically. I can’t ask for more than that from my dear friends.

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Movie night: Korean Movie Extravaganza

Day 44. 95,500 words.

On Saturday I once again travelled to the Old Fahrenheit Place to meet up with dreameling, The Pas and – in this instance – Mr. Kalakukkos[1] for a movie night. The theme of the night’s movie selection was “Korea”.

[1] Look, we all have more nicknames than we need, okay? But it’s fine. We’re fine.

We entertained ourselves during The Pas’s many, many cigarette breaks, and while we waited for food and / or Mr. Kalakukkos to arrive, watching these cartoons. They were about True Korea, admittedly, not Korea. But they were surreal and disturbingly funny.

What followed was a very interesting set of movies unified by some great action and filming techniques, as well as some other things that were less immediately obvious, like Harry Potter references and bleakly regimented and law-abiding character tropes.


1: Train to Busan

This movie, which sounded like a war-era drama-tragedy[2], turned into a straight-up zombie movie quicker than you could say “watch out for that deer”. In an opening with amusing similarities to Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, the whole thing starts with a temporary roadkill. And it unfolds from there, dramatically fast and extraordinarily brutal.

[2] I would have been concerned, except this is Mr. Fahrenheit we’re talking about.

Easily the unexpected treasure in this movie was Dong-seok Ma, who was apparently the main actor’s personal trainer and was given his role in the movie as a friendly gesture. His bio somewhat backs this up but it doesn’t matter. He was brilliant.


“Are you prepared for fast zombies, or did you skip leg day?”

Of course we had the classic horror movie trope of the neglectful dad with struggling marriage, doing his best to get across country with his daughter to reunite with his wife, but that was a pretty minor part of the story. We had other delightful zombie-fodder in the shape of railway employees, school kids, army guys, and travelling businessmen. And a truly unprecedented sequence of stupid dick moves by panic-ridden members of the general public, which resulted in short-lived but glorious scenes of carnage.


Most of it, it has to be said, the work of this cunt here. Keep an eye on him.

For a statement on the general selfishness and frailty of the human condition and society in general, it was entertaining viewing. Goddamn excellent cinematography, and some of the nicest ‘fast-zombie’ characterisation and movement I’ve seen. I know a lot of people have issues with fast zombies, but I don’t mind them. Slow zombies are kind of dull.


These ones were not dull.

Highly recommended if you’re not completely over the zombie apocalypse trend of the past ten years yet.


2: The Villainess

This movie had even more great action, including a nice Doom / Hardcore Henry opening sequence that was straight out of Lucas Thorn’s Assassin of Dragonclaw. It was, on the other hand, extremely confusing.


You could just sit and watch the action sequences and enjoy it, but attempting to put together the plot was a bona fide Pas-buster. Our own ‘The’ Pas broke after about 45 minutes and just sat there laugh-crying into his jallu.

As near as I can tell, the plot went something like this:

A girl and her father are involved in some sort of shady dealings. The dad finds a jewel called ‘the white oval’, although that might have been bad subtitling. The dad is then killed by an organised crime ring and the girl, who was hiding under the bed watching, is found and adopted by Scarface. She is trained and initiated into the crime ring, although it seems as though she is on a mission – endorsed by the crime ring – to find the people responsible for killing her father. She marries, or pretend-marries, Scarface. Scarface later dies. The girl, while on a rampage through some sort of crime warehouse, is caught by some syndicate of assassins and taken to brainwashing school where she is taught to be a sort of Black Widow character like all the other girls in the school.


This is the school. Just to break up the wall of text.

She is pregnant and the syndicate hold her baby as insurance. She is released at the end of her training and is required to give ten years’ service before being allowed to live her own life. She moves in next door to Creepysmile, who is one of the surveillance desk-jockeys for the syndicate and is now her handler although he doesn’t tell her he works for the syndicate and she doesn’t tell him. They eventually fall in love and get married. On her wedding day she is sent on another mission (she’s been on a few by now) and her target turns out to be Scarface. She hesitates and he gets away. Then some more action scenes happen and she finally has a showdown with Scarface and he is revealed as her father’s true killer, then she kills him and then gets arrested I think.

All of this, incidentally, happens in jumbled-up order through my favourite narrative devices, the flashback and the flashback-within-flashback.


The Wikipedia page has the plot in more detail, I don’t have the will to live to figure out whether I was in the ballpark or not. Being drunk didn’t help.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun and really cool to watch. Confusing as Hell, but very cool.


3: Okja

After a break to order pizzas, get Mr. Fahrenheit Jr. into bed and watch half of Grimsby on Netflix[3], we sat back down to our last movie of the night.

[3] I may review this once I finish watching it, if I ever do; we were drunk enough to be highly amused by it but it is essentially just a new Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen is a master of the too-far, oh-God-no grade of low-brow humour and it’s good for a guilty chortle.

Okja was a strange movie, as you might expect bizarro actors such as Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal to take part in. Again, it was gorgeously shot and edited, the action and motion sequences were handled amazingly, and overall it was a very entertaining movie. Easily my favourite of the night.


Does she even make normal movies? Come to think of it, why would you?

Okja is a “super pig”, one of a new breed intended to lower carbon footprints, solve world hunger, and “taste fucking delicious”. The movie is a touching story about the super pig and the young girl who has raised her and is her best friend. Also there are hilarious animal rights activists, a TV zoologist, corporate businessfolk, and really disturbing glimpses into the psychotic minds of all of the above.


Plus Okja goes on several rampages and they’re all quite brilliant.

Prepare yourself for a bit of a harrowing ride, because apparently Koreans don’t do simple action movies or non-gut-wrenching endings. They make USian action movies look pretty dumb, actually – not that I don’t enjoy the Hell out of dumb on a very regular basis, but I’m just saying, it’s different. I mean, if Bruce Willis or The Rock were in this movie, they would absolutely have been trampled or swallowed in the first half an hour.


And it’s not a sad or depressing ending, before you get too concerned – but, if you give it some thought and reflection … actually yeah, it kind of is.

I won’t spoil it any further, but will just reiterate that this is a tough one to really confront, but a lot of fun to watch both visually and emotionally. It wasn’t enough to turn me vegan, but it’s right up there with those battery-farm guilt videos you see on social media. Don’t go into it if you’re not prepared to at least consider the vegetarian or cricket-based option in your future eating practices.

It was also interestingly close to my “cow plague” and associated recovery steps, which are introduced in Bad Cow and will continue through the Oræl Rides to War series. Perhaps one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much. This is easily a very-near-future or even present-day world I can see just by looking out of the metaphorical window.

It is also worth pointing out that there is apparently a post-credits scene that we missed, but it is just a bit more about the animal liberation guys. I was additionally amused to see that the movie was boo’ed at Cannes, most likely because of the Netflix brand. This just confirms my low opinion of the Hollywood glitterati and film critics in general. Imbeciles. Welcome to the future.

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Interlude: Irritable and stressed

Day 43. 95,223 words.

Crud, out of time for today so I won’t get a chance to review the movies we saw over the weekend. They were pretty cool, though.

Yesterday was a bit of a pain in the balls, with the kids having a miserable day and my bad mood making it worse. Got mildly screwed over in an attempt to buy household electronics, but it’s a case of us having old technology in our house more than the store or new technology betraying us (although the store did give me some pretty shit advice). Soon as I sell 500 more books I’ll see about upgrading our home entertainment. Until then, it’s shadow puppets.

Mounting stress and aggravation over the car situation too, but I guess I can just assume the worst-case will happen and go from there. The mechanic will fix some things but the car won’t be able to pass its annual check-up, costing us this month’s spending money. Then we’ll be looking at a new car with the current car’s trade-in value in the toilet. New car will run us up a smooth €200 per month in payments for the foreseeable future as well as emptying at least one of my savings accounts, which isn’t crippling but it sure would be nice to be putting that money into my savings account at the end of the month instead.

Still, as far as worst-cases go, it’s not terrible. I’m basically crabby about nothing, things are fine.

I might occasionally default to that stupid Online Millennial trope and wish I could stop being an adult … but as Wump and Toop are so keen to remind me, it kind of sucks being a kid too.

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What I Did On My Holidays, 2017-2018, Day 11 (Part 2)

Day 42. 92,330 words.

This turned out to be a busier day than anticipated what with that luggage anecdote from yesterday, so I decided screw it, I’m splitting them into separate entries and pre-writing myself a relaxing weekend. There’s also a Creepy and Hatboy story beginning to shuffle into the spotlight in my head and demanding to be written, so I’m not sure whether my travelogue is going to take a break or if I will do that first…

In fact, I’m considering writing the short story, releasing it on Amazon, and trying for the Hugos with it, because screw it why not. But I don’t quite feel right about selling short stories that way (unless Amazon lets me do it really cheap), plus ballots close in March so I may not have time to get the story done. It’s an … interesting one.

Anyway, after the victory at the airport, I was in high spirits and so when the guys from the Perth Highland Pipe Band sent me a message calling for short-notice pints at the local pub, Mrs. Hatboy and I dashed down there.

We had a couple of drinks (a beer, then a “minimal Pimms”[1]) at the Cottesloe Hotel, which I couldn’t remember visiting since the night all those many years ago when Shambles had been slipped something that made him practically paralytic, requiring us to carry him home – where, if recollection serves, he had a hallucinatory psychotic break and began wandering around like a zombie, and Mrs. Shambles blamed me.

[1] We were in the beer garden, which was now a paved and very stylish outdoor area, and the bar back there wasn’t supplied with all the “bullshit” required to make a Pimm’s properly. It wound up with just orange, lemon, lime and (I think) cucumber in it, which is a massively more bullshitted Pimm’s than I had ever seen before and makes me wonder what a “maximum Pimm’s” would have been like and if there would have been any room for actual Pimm’s in it. Anyway, the minimal Pimm’s was very nice.

The atmosphere was lovely even though we all had a bit of a laugh about the beer garden no longer being a beer garden, and what a bunch of old farts this conversation made us. Then Mrs. Hatboy and I had to run home to spend the rest of the evening eating and drinking a stunning amount of wine with some more friends from the old East Fremantle neighbourhood: The Lutzes.

It was another very enjoyable session, the Lutzes being good friends and excellent company. It was also amusing to sit there and listen to Mr. Lutz (my dad’s old pal) giving my dad shit for being the only “Leftie” in Cottesloe.

Mrs. Hatboy and I sat very quietly, so as not to accidentally let slip what actual Lefties looked like.

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What I Did On My Holidays, 2017-2018, Day 11 (Part 1)

Day 41. 92,330 words. Another movie session with the old guard today, but I won’t report in real time. Reviews, as ever, forthcoming. And no writing progress is likely.

Our first day in Perth was a busy one. We hit Claremont so Tinny could take Wump and Toop shoe-shopping, and then – since it was now the 3rd of January and the staff would all be back from holidays – my brother and I cruised out to the airport to try our luck tracking down my lost bag.

This, we decided, was going to be better than continuing to make fruitless calls and e-mails to the airport lost and found.

What followed was little short of a Homerian epic as we went from International to Domestic and back to the International airport again. It turns out there are whole rooms full of lost bags, depending on whereabouts between plane and carpark you lose your luggage, and what sort of luggage it is. Since ours was the non-tagged, non-hold luggage variety with no names attached (I know, stupid), we weren’t entirely sure where it would be so we followed the channels they suggested.

By the time we got to the Domestic Airport where the lost and found warehouse was, and had a semi-forbidden look at the assortment of bags to have arrived since the 22nd of December, we realised it wasn’t there. A final option, apparently, was to go and check with the actual airline, since they might have found the bag on the baggage carousel. We weren’t sure why anyone would find an unattended bag and put it on the baggage carousel, since this was cabin baggage and was never on a carousel … but we’d come this far so why not.

That was back at the International Airport, so back we went. My brother decided to just drive around the outside of the drop-off zone rather than pay for parking, so I went in.

The airline guy was apologetic but no help. His huge room full of lost bags was only for hold luggage with check-in tags attached. Nevertheless, he let me have a look through them and I confirmed that there was indeed no sign of our bag there. I do have to wonder just how easy it would be for people to take bags from this particular section of the airport, since security did not seem to be great.

As a final final effort, the guy suggested I try further down the corridor, where some obscure department had their huge room full of lost bags. So I went down there.

Long story short (too late, I know), our bag was there. I pointed it out to the lady on duty and she was sceptical because there was no name on the bag and no information in their system, no sign of where the bag had come from or anything (so no, we never did find out exactly where we’d left it). I told her there was a couple of boxes of novelty Marvel bobble-heads in there, if she just opened it up and had a look.

She called over her colleague and asked her to confirm for the record that she was opening the bag.

Then she did so, and still looked sceptical about the bobble-heads.

I added that underneath the bobble-heads, she would find about 35 unused spare colostomy bags. I lifted my shirt and showed her the one I had on. “They look like this,” I told her.

Scepticism, after putting up one Hell of an admirable fight, finally succumbed to its injuries and slipped away peacefully without regaining consciousness.

“Yeah, alright it’s your bag,” she said, and handed it over.



My brother and I returned home as conquering heroes, and the bobble-heads were duly dispensed. We also found that aside from my hoodie and Mrs. Hatboy’s scarf, the bag had also contained a pair of her shoes that she might eventually have realised were missing (“hey, I only have seven hundred and ninety-six thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine pairs of shoes, what gives?”), and a few other bits and pieces.

Also, I could happily report to Mr. BRKN that his bag was retrieved in good order. So that was nice.

I’d like to add a special thank you to the lost and found department at Perth Airport, particularly Kim the Landside Lost Property Administrator. You did an amazing job and showed great care and consideration for your customers, and you did it with grace and somehow managed to make it feel like we were the first people to ever lose a bag while travelling. Even though those rooms full of bags made it pretty clear we weren’t. Thank you again.

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