Saturday, August 29, 2009

So then, what's next..?

South Korea needs to learn how to cook their food. What's with all the raw stuff?? The fish was good - even ate something people thought might've been whale (it probably wasn't, and I hope it wasn't cos it really did taste good). But the raw crab was a bit much. You had to suck the flesh out of the shell like drinking through a straw. And the still live shell fish...... urgh. Oh, and the fermented cabbage - phew.

Glad we had rice wine to force it all down with.

All up though, it was a good adventure; saw a bit of the island, experienced the culture, and discovered the people to be rather friendly (even if I had no idea what they were going on about).

So now then, seeing as how I've forgotten this is a horror blog and have been blabbering on about my somewhat chaotic travelling of late, I might as well harp on about what's next...

Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur to be exact. On Monday. And this one is only for 4 days. That'll make my 3rd big trip is about 6 weeks... (which is silly, really). But the good thing about this trip (apart from the 5 star hotel I get put up in - jeez I'm becoming a hotel slut), is that last time I was there I discovered a cool secondhand bookstore that had a monster spec fic section, and sold their books for the equivalent of AU$1.

Awesome. So I'm packing light this time in order to fill up my suitcase.

And even better? This is my last overseas trip til August next year, and that rocks cos frankly, I'm all a bit sick of cattle class...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Adventures of a horror writer pretending to be a scientist

It’s always an adventure when I head for the planes...

This time I find myself in South Korea for the IODP STP meeting, via a 4 hour stopover in Hong Kong, then to Seoul, and finally to Jeju, the island down the bottom of Koea where the 3-day meeting is being held (my trip to Malaysia has been postponed til Aug 31). The airport wait wasn’t too bad; I found a luxurious sofa/bed thingie shaped like giant lips and fell asleep for about an hour.

But my flight from Seoul to Jeju was cancelled. And because they couldn’t get a hold of me, I didn't find out til I was standing at the check-in counter. So I had to take a 40 minute bus ride across Seoul to Gimpo Airport to try get onto a flight there. Not good when you’re still wearing the same undies you were two days ago.....

And Seoul is a mad place; I thought it was just sky-scrapers as far as I eye could see til I realised they were high-rise apartment buildings. We were still 18km from the city. But the pollution!! At one stage, you see this massive bridge spanning a huge bay, but it fades out into smog halfway across (damnit again! I really do need to learn to take my camera everywhere). It’s 33 degrees, pretty humid, and as smoggy as hell. And again I’m so very tired...

These high-rise apartment buildings were all the same too; 15+ stories with a giant number on one side, each one like a great big letterbox number.

It’s a pity I didn’t get to see the city of Seoul itself cos it must be something - if you like that sort of thing (millions of people, traffic jams, pollution, noise...). Personally, I'm looking forward to the field trip on Sunday afternoon up the 1,950m Mt. Hallasan to see the lava tubes, but then I'm just a geek...

Still, all the aches and tiredness faded to insignificance when I reached my hotel in Jeju. I'm staying at the Hyatt Regency, and wouldn't you just know it? My room has a pretty cool ocean view. Completely unobstructed (the view below is looking away to the left).

Plus the toilet in my room has a wild looking control panel on the side of the bowl! Some of the options are: Air Drier; Front Cleansing; Rear Cleansing; Nozzle Position; Water Temperature.

I had to give these a go, no matter how tired I was.

I pressed the Rear Cleansing button... A small nozzle, about 10mm in diameter, slowly came out from the back of the toilet bowl. When it protruded about 15cm, it stopped, then sprayed a jet of water up into my face.

After drying myself off, I did what any sensible person would do and sat on the loo. I really had to give this a go.

Boy it tickled!

I'm going to try the Front Cleansing button tonight :)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Italian pizzas rule the world!

Italy was hot. I never realised how hot the crazy pasta munching place could get. The whole week I was there--except for one day--was in excess of 33 degrees C. But that aint all together bad...

So what did I think of the place?
I think I liked it. History smacks you in the face with all that you see; the food is wonderful (the pizza, damn and heck! Homer would drool for a week); the towns are chaotic and the streets madly narrow (too narrow for cars, in all seriousness, but do you think that stops them?); the wine flows like water, and the folks are direct and to the point, but forever saying prego (you're welcome).

See? That road just aint a road...

It's hard not speaking the language though. Makes ordering dinner quite a challenge and a real adventure. The number of times I sat there looking at the food, wondering what the hell I'm now supposed to eat... But you get that in foreign places.

I learned some Italian before I left home (hi, thank you, you're welcome, I'm sorry but I don't understand, I don't speak Italian, honestly I have no idea what you're talking about even if you talk slower), but everytime I tried explaining I don't understand, the strange rolling words would get tangled on my tongue, leaving me looking like a toad. My expression of complete ignorance said more than any attempted Italian ever could.

On the last night of the course, the class all went out to dinner, then to a pub hidden down one of those crazily small backroads of Urbino, the mad, labrynth walled city:

The bar was called 'The Bosom Bar' and nope, not one of 'those' places. It was just a pub, albeit one with brick alcoves and arched brick ceilings. And it was filled with people. The streets of Urbino were nearly empty but this pub was full. Obviously where everyone in town went to at night. It closed about 2am, when everyone spilled out into the tiny street, taking their drinks with them (it was then I understood why they were serving us in plastic cups). About half an hour after that, someone yelled "To the next bar!" and this motley collection of Italians and Germans, Begiums, Dutch, Columbians, Egyptians, Kiwis, Canadians, Poms, all friends and strangers alike, went as one big bunch of suddenly close people. It was mad. A drunken United Nations out on the town.

God knows how we managed to even talk to one another. So much beer and wine had flowed by then that we were all probably speaking our native tongues in perfect understanding!

I escaped at close to 3am, still having to shave, shower, and pack before my 7am taxi. Then began the homeward spiral; a taxi, a bus, two trains, another bus, a plane from Paris to Florence (and damnit if the Alps weren't covered by clouds), and one further train ride for good measure before I reached my destination in downtown Paris at around 11pm. Piece of cake eh? As my Belgium colleague was saying by the end of the course, Sweet As, Bro.

The Alps from the plane... ah, if only I'd taken my camera on the way over...

My hotel in Paris was 200m from Notre Dame, so that's where I arranged to meet Rosscoe, me ol' kiwi mate - only it turned out that the hotel was 200m from this Notre Dame:

Not this one:

Which was actually about a 10 minute taxi ride away...

Hmm... good start. But pretty much what was expected, to tell the truth :) We've been lost in NZ in the past.

Paris was a blast; that's one way cool city. Ross and I only had a day there, but from snails at midnight to gargoyles at noon, the place rocked. Oh, and the taxi ride around the Arc de Triomphe!! Fuck me. That is the most insane roundabout in the world! We'd spent the morning watching the traffic navigate the thing and worked out that traffic on the roundabout has to give way to traffic coming onto the roundabout!! Think about that for a while; it's just not going to work. The roundabout just gets busier and busier.

The taxi driver was great, although I'm sure his eyes flickered nervously when Ross asked him to take us round the Arc. But he did it, God bless him. And there were cars everywhere. Every-fucking-where. At all angles! Any space you see, you go for it, but if someone beats you, you slam on your brakes so you don't hit them. And the first chance you get to get off, oh boy do you take it!

Simple. If you're stark raving bonkers.

But now I'm home, and as cool as the trip was, and as great as it was to catch up with Ross, I'm glad to be home, although my jetlag is making me wake at odd times and fall asleep when I should really be awake. I'm supposed to be heading to Kuala Lumpur in two weeks time, then South Korea two weeks after that. And that's a problem, cos I really don't like long distance travel..... It's so nice of the airlines to give you a tour of First Class and then Business Class, before leading you into the cattle pens.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Such a long, long trip...

Well, that was a hell of a trip!

Thirty-nine hours spent on a plane, train, bus, or waiting to get onto a blasted plane, train or bus! Urgh. Hell, Australia is a long way away from here... The last leg was the worst; the 1 hour, 25 min bus ride from Pesaro to Urbino, at 6pm, 34 degrees C. Even I could smell myself by then. It was only because the bus was packed with people that anyone sat next to me, I’m sure of it (I did notice it was the last seat filled).

But I made it, and oh how I slept (so much for not packing sleep!). Same again last night; another 10 hours straight; I had 2 beers with the class after the course had finished for the day but declined the offer to head into the old Urbino town for dinner. Tonight, we’ve got dinner at the Summer School, where the course is being held (with panoramic views of the rolling hills – what an awesome place to go to uni), but otherwise we’ll be heading into the old walled township every night so there is ample time to check out this medieval place. And I’m looking forward to it.

But it wasn’t going to happen last night. Jet-lag and the beers had conspired against me by then. The idea of a 20 minute hilly walk—“it’s about 20 minutes,” they say—was so beyond me I doubt I’d gone even if they’d promised I’d see Kate Beckinsale clad in leather fighting werewolves up behind that mysterious giant stone wall.

Actually, that might’ve gotten me moving...

There was one cool thing about all the travel (besides me now being in Italy!), and that was the flight between Paris and Florence. We passed over the Alps, a truly spectacular mountain range; massive craggy peaks, some crested in snow, with great rivers scything their way through the ranges and glaciers rolling their ominous way down towards the towns cradled within the valleys. The peaks faded into the distance, first losing their details to a fine blue mist, then becoming indistinguishable from the surrounding clouds. I really have to take my camera in my onboard luggage on the way back, cos this is a sight that needs to be taken. It was breathtaking. I’m flying to Paris in the afternoon on my way back though, so the lighting may be completely different and the magic might not be visible, but we’ll see.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Italy, here I come!

All right then. It's off to Italy tomorrow, via 3 planes (24 hours travel time), 2 trains (3 hours) and one bus (1 hour)... Boy, it'll be an aventure just to get there!

I'm heading to Urbino, halfway up the calf of the big boot that is Italy. There's a week long Advanced Workshop on Dinoflagellate Cysts (work stuff) being held there, and I'm still wondering how I managed to talk my bosses into agreeing for me to go.

On the way home I'm spending 24 hours in Paris and get to catch up with me ol' kiwi buddy Rosscoe, who is now living in Oxford. Two lads from Hawkes Bay having a wine under the Eiffel Tower... how cool :)

Ross and I once got lost in NZ on our month long tour of the North Island; we couldn't find the ocean at one stage. So I'm a little concerned over our up-coming efforts in Paris. I can see us wandering the backstreets looking for this pointy thing that pokes up into the sky.... Our hotel is 200m from St Michel/Notre Dame, so at the very least, I should manage a cliche picture of me looking longingly at the gargoyes: 'Why was I not made of stone... like thee?'

Such a powerful and heartfelt line, that. Damn good movie, too.

So many sights to see over the next 9 days. I've decided not to pack sleep and will catch up on that when I get back. It's just a pity I don't have time to fit in a ghost tour, as I like doing when I go overseas (I'm heading to South Korea next month for more work, so I'll have to do so then). Still, I do plan on visiting the Catacombs of Paris (Catacombes de Paris - I'm practicing my French), and that should satisfy my macabre needs... maybe I'll stop in on Jimmy Morrison too, say G'day.

Oh, and some great news to head off on; my short story Black Peter has been accepted for publication in Tasmaniac Publications's Festive Fear anthology! Woohoo! A lot of secret thanks to make here (whisper-whisper, you know who you are...), plus some cudos to the boys and girls of the AHWA Crit group. Bring on December the 1st!

I've only subbed two short stories this year because I've been working hard on my novel. Thus far, I've had one acceptance, and my other story is still warming the slush pile. So at the worst, it'll be a 50-50 year.

I'll see if I can dust off the, er, dust, from this here blog and post something from the land of Pizza and Mafia...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Kill Santa

I should've posted this a lot earlier (sorry Steve), but let's go turn Christmas dark and spooky...

Tasmaniac Publications (and aint that just a cool name??) are accepting submissions from January 1st to June 30th 2009 for FESTIVE FEAR, the annual that showcases a darker, more sinister side of Christmas.

As it says on their website, 'Tasmaniac Publications announce the launch of an annual series, Festive Fear, in which we invite Australian writers to offer horror stories based within a ‘Christmas down under’ theme.'

So c'mon, let's take over Christmas and scare the b'jesus outta all those pesky wee elves... Heh-heh, let's terrorize the kids, too :)

"Santa? Oh Santa. No Johnny, you don't want to write a letter to Santa. It's best he doesn't know you even exist. Trust me there. That big ol' fat man sneaking into our house late at night? No, you really don't want that at all..."

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Year's Best (late, I know, but then that's me)

Yay! Just received -- well, okay, it turned up last week -- Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror volume 3, in which my wee tale 'The Wildflowers' appears.

ADF&H is the year's best Australian short stories, so to have my story reprinted here is way cool bananas! I'm stoked, very chuffed. I appear alongside some elite company- Rick Kennett, Deborah Biancotti, David Conyers, Sean Williams, Martin Livings - the list goes on!

'The Wildflowers' first appeared in Fantastic Wonder Stories (Ticonderoga, 2007). It's a great anthology, one well worth buying. But ADF&H volume 3 is what we're talkin' about right now, and you really, really, oughta get a copy of this, too.

Go me!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Beneath this gruff exterior lies a teddy bear...

I write horror; I kill people in my stories. I also investigate ghosts and monsters. Even spent a night in a haunted castle. But when I watched the clip of this Susan Boyle blowing away the world with a stunning voice, I nearly cried. I had goosebumps.

It was just so spectacular, so inspiring, and so damn wonderful!

I don't watch the show but I came across an article in today's newspaper. So I thought I'd best go investigate. Wow. Wow, wow, wow. That was cool.

Go Susan! You rock!

Check it out:

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Time Travel - yep, sure is possible

I'm off to Hawaii tonight at 6pm and will arrive at Honolulu at 6:45am. Same day.

It's a 10 hour flight (groan... hope they've got decent movies) but I'll end up arriving before I've even gotten out of bed. Which works out well for me because I'm awfully forgetful.

"Uh, hello?"
"Hey, Marty man, sorry to wake you."
"Who's this?"
"It's me--well, us. I'm you."
"It's Hawaiin Marty here."
"Listen, I know I don't exist in your world yet but by some quirk of the metaphysical, I've found a way to call you."
"You've forgotten to pack your underwear. Don't forget your undies when you pack today-"

Yeah, something like that. Though if you look closely it all falls apart...

I always leave packing til the last minute and then end up having to rush. Maybe I should go do so now instead of wasting time writing nonsense here...

Saturday, February 28, 2009


Sometimes even a mushroom needs love...

Maybe I should copyright that? (c) Marty Young. There.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Grim Tidings for Black magazine

Alas, so it has come to pass. Black magazine will no longer be found in newsagencies. And that is such a bummer. That bites the big one. Black filled a void in Australia and it was only getting better, too.

The wonderkids at Brimstone Press should stand tall and proud because they achieved something grand. And fortunately it's not all doom and gloom. This from the website:

[ BLACK: Australia's dark culture and entertainment magazine is moving to a free-to-read online format.

We are immensely proud that Black Magazine has been embraced by the Australian public and generated thousands of eager readers and fans. We are also proud to have published Australian exclusives previously thought out of reach for an independent press: a new short story from Stephen King, interviews with genre stars such as George A. Romero, Alice Cooper, M. Night Shyamalan, Jared Padalecki, and Jensen Ackles, and many Australian authors, and in-depth coverage of issues outside the realm of the mainstream media. We also published some brilliant fiction including Paul Haines' Australian Shadows Award finalist "Her Collection of Intimacy".

However, the magazine industry presents high risks and low returns for a small publisher, and the investment required in money, energy, and time in a period of economic uncertainty has proven too much for a two person management. After much consideration, we have reluctantly decided that issue #3 will mark the final print edition of the magazine.

The plan is to relaunch Black in 2009 as an online portal for Australian dark culture. A key component of this plan is to merge Black with Brimstone Press' award-winning HorrorScope website, which currently publishes book and movie reviews and acts as the news source for the Australian Horror Writers Association. Black Online will continue to publish many of the feature interviews, articles, and regular columns that appeared in the print edition. ]

There's more on their website you should check out, including a newsletter you really should sign up for.

Angela and Shane, you guys kicked arse. Hang on a sec while I put on a top hat.... Okay, there. Now, I take my hat off to you both for what you've created, and you have my full support in Black's new future.

Let's hope it returns to print sometime in the future...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Myspace on Facebook's blog twitters and flickrs...

How do you keep up? Facebook and Myspace and Live Journals and Blogs and Flickr and Twitter and oh dear God there's more...

Fortunately I'm IT-illiterate and don't know half of the web critters out there just waiting for a plump juicy bug like me. I think I'll stick to this rusty blog (and a website once I'm a big famous writer). So if I don't sign up or accept your request for friendship or post photos of me next to the pottie explaining how much of a relief it is to get THAT out, it's not cos I don't like you, it's cos I'm running just to keep up. I'd rather spend the time I do have free on my writing than updating various profiles on various websites for various people to whizz across on their way somewhere else--or perhaps nowhere else in particular. Just another star in the sky, watching meteors.

Shit, what did I have for dinner? Whatever it was seems to be repeating on me.

Wonder how many people are lost in the web? And the irony of it all? We share so many aspects of ourselves with the world, with a whole heck of a lot of strangers, and yet our physical selves close off more and more.

Right. That's it. I think I'd best pour myself a scotch and get rid of whatever else is twittering away inside of me before I sprout more nonsense...

Friday, February 13, 2009

My love/hate relationship with mankind

Sometimes I love being human. Most times I hate being human.

It's a shame it takes something as terrible as the Vic bushfires to bring out the best in us. But wow, how good can we be when the situation calls for it? I've been brought to tears by how compassionate people can be.

And it's equally as fucking terrible that during such times, the real assholes of humanity float to the top. To them I guess an opportunity is an opportunity.

Can you believe it? Looting. Fake charity collectors. At a time like this! And lets not even talk about the wankers that started the fires...

Urgh. Okay, got that out of my system. And I held back, too. You should hear me ranting and raving in the privacy of my study.

Okay, on a happier note. The key word--well, one of them--this summer is koalas. Some fantastic photos going around at the moment about these poor buggers coming to us for water. Cripes, it must be hot if they're doing that (I just hope they can tell the assholes from the rest). So let's end on a happy note:

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Danger! Zombies!

As bushfires rage across Victoria and floods ravage north Queensland (be safe, everyone), here's a little bit of craziness to take our minds from the real life horrors.

Wacky kids in Illinois have hacked into electronic road signs and changed the text.

Other signs have been changed to read 'DAILY LANE CLOSURES DUE TO ZOMBIES,' 'RAPTORS AHEAD - CAUTION,' and 'NAZI ZOMBIES! RUN!!'

Pretty distracting if you're driving, I imagine.

Officials aren't sure how they're gaining access to the signs, and for those of you curious about how you might hack into one of these electronic road signs once you do have access (not condoning anything, of course), a good place to start would be here.

But remember the boy who cried wolf? If we all go out and start claiming that zombies are coming when they're not, who will believe us when they really do show up?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Frightningly Awesome Past

How's this (taken from the website):
'STUNNED scientists have found the fossilised remains of the world's greatest snake - a record-busting serpent that was as long as a bus and snacked on crocodiles.

The boa-like behemoth ruled the tropical rainforests of what is now Colombia some 60 million years ago, at a time when the world was far hotter than now, they report in a study released today.

The size of the snake's vertebrae suggest the beast weighed some 1.135 tonnes, in a range of 730kg to 2.03 tonnes.

And it measured 13 metres (42ft) from nose to tail, in a range of 10.64-15 metres, they estimate.'

They had an artist's rendition too:

This thing, at its greatest width, would've come up to your hips.

...and you wonder why I get excited about geology. Yeah I'm a geek but it's also a horror writers' paradise.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Hawaiian Ghosts

So I'm off to Hawaii in March for a 4 day meeting. Kind of a cool place to hold a meeting, I reckon. It's for a new role I've taken on at work, meaning I have to attend 2 international meetings a year.

That aint so bad either.

So Hawaii. Aloha. Pipeline. Lava. Scantly clad women. Baywatch beaches. Dave Hasselhoff in speedos.

I'm looking forward to it. My first night there I'm off on a ghost tour of the island of O'ahu. Cool bananas! Get to hear some local tales of the supernatural, visit haunted locations, old graveyards. Should be a hoot.

Then on my last day, I've got a flight to the Big Island (Hawai'i) where I'll spend the day on a volcanic tour. Hopefully I get to poke flowing lava. Cool--perhaps slightly toasted--bananas!!

This year is shaping up to be an interesting one. It seems my passport will be getting an excessive workout with several O/S trips coming up for work. Still, the old dark fellow is pretty excited by it all. Old Darkling Muse, he's been a bit starved of late, but now the novel is done and off to editors and publishers, it's time to flex his wrists and bring him back to some semblance of life.