Friday, April 20, 2012

"Azif" Nominated for SJV Award!

Some awesomely cool news: my short story "Azif", published in issue 4 of Fantastique Unfettered is a finalist for the Sir Julius Vogel Award. The award ceremony will take place at unCONventional in Auckland, 1-4 June 2012.

Furthermore, the relief anthology Tales for Canterbury, which features my story "Extract", has been shortlisted in the Best Collected Work category. Congratulations to the editors, Anna Caro and Cassie Hart. This was an amazing project, and the nomination is well deserved. And by the way, there is still time to get your hands on a copy of the anthology and support a worthy cause.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Growing Green Suff

The only things I ever tried to grow, and had minor success with (in that they actually sprouted, in a porcelain dish) were beans. And that was for a school project. You know, the one everyone does at some age because they never carried around and cared for an egg.

Recently, I decided that, come hell or high water, I was going to try and grow herbs. Well, in truth, it all started off with a cactus Jen had been given at her previous job in Wellington. The little blighter, a tiny peanut cactus, got pretty mauled when we moved up to Auckland. It looked pathetic. Jen was ready to trash it. But, having heard how hardy cacti are supposed to be, I took pity on it, and decided to see if I could nurse it back to health.

Not only did the cactus pull through, but once it got itself rooted into a new pot and routine, it started growing like a champ. Being a peanut cactus, it grows little arms, which drop off when they become to heavy, and promptly take root wherever you out them. Pretty.

My green cconfidence at a new high, I decided to take the plunge and try my hand at herbs. I used to have a big herb garden in South Africa, and I do miss not being able to get them fresh when the need calls. Problem is, we live in a rental at the moment, which in some amount of months will be demolished to make way for a tunnel. Yay.

Solution: herbs had to be grown in pots. No problem! I have started off with coriander and rosemary. Typically, I seem to have chosen two of the finickiest herbs to grow, but what the hell, I love a challenge. Out of the first batch I sowed, only one of each sprouted. The coriander grows really slow, but looks healthy. Rosemary's getting up a bit quicker and looks good too. I have sown more and eagerly await to see their green little faces poke above ground.

My other challenge is growing cacti from seed. I have done some research and sown them in a small pot, covered by a plastic bag to keep in moisture. They sleep in the hot water cupboard and are out during the day to get light and airflow.

I've also started researching organic fertilisers. Egg shells are now being kept and mashed into a fine powder as a source of magnesium. Used coffee grind will be dried for several trace minerals. Next time I get to a beach I have to collect and dry some seaweed. If you know of any others, please do mention them, I'd be grateful for expert opinions!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Crossroads and Christians

Whenever we take a particular road back home, Jen and I drive past the The Intersection, a Baptist Church on a street corner close to where we live. There are also both Methodist and Presbyterian churches called The Crossroads in other areas of the city.

This made me think about the symbology of the cross as representative of the Christian faith, which led me to the mythic interpretation of intersections. It's kind of ironic that the supernatural relevance of crossroads now serves as a symbol of being saved, when it's original meaning, having its roots in magic and folklore, indicated the potential for the complete opposite.

The significance of crossroads and intersections as a place where deals with the Devil or other demonic entities can be made is a longstanding tradition. Remember Robert Johnson? Yea, his deal didn't end very well.

What I find intriguing are connections between the symbolic cross and the symbolic crossroad as metonymic extensions of one another. All this makes me miss Religious Studies, my second major in undergrad school. The fine line between symbolic representation, and what different faiths believe had really happened, can drive you screaming up a wall and manifest 360 degree head turns. But I wonder if religious institutions are aware of some of the origins behind their appropriated belief systems. I should just phone up the Baptists and ask them when the next meeting is, and at which intersection. And should I bring a spade and a black cat bone.

Artwork: Jay N Davis: "Devil at the Crossroads"

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Because some days you just feel like all the Zen you've accumulated throughout your life is mocking you and your self-control has crawled into a deep, dark, dank hole, never to return. I'm not even going to bother framing this in any kind of narrative, because it will suffer. Bullet point rage is the name of the game.

Consider yourself given a great big fuck you if you fall under any of the following categories:

  • People who own cats and don't deflea, neuter, or spay them.
  • People who don't care about the environment as indicated by the Mcdonalds garbage dumped in the middle of the road.
  • People who eat Mcdonalds, KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hutt and a host of others on a regular basis, thereby supporting multinationals and facilitating cruelty to animals, the ecological destruction of the planet, and putting small business owners out of work.
  • Drunk, annoying men.
  • Drunk, annoying women.
  • Annoying children.
  • People who don't read to their children.
  • You think the entire neighborhood wants to listen to your shitty, bass-heavy music.
  • People who burn their wives on deserted New Zealand roads.
  • People who go into schools/universities and shoot students.
  • People who force their religion on others.
  • Schoolyard bullies.
  • People who reject their kids because they are gay.
  • Rick Santorum.
  • Schoolyard bullies. I already said that? It's worth saying again.
  • People who advise others not to study Humanities degrees.
  • People who ignore the world around them and refuse to see the reality they live in.
  • People, mostly. Very few exceptions.

I'm sure I'll come up with more.