VERY happy to be back in my stomping ground of Melbourne.
Just love the energy of the city and the schizophrenic nature of the place over the New Year Period.
In the city's central business district, there''s a great building known as the Nicholas building. It's full of artist studios, speciality and bespoke stores, and wandering around it over these last few days spotted these remarkable pins!
When I work out who actually made them, you'll be the first to know.
THE climate here in Australia is quite different to that which you can easily perceive in Europe.
People aren't on the high alert here in capital cities as they are in Europe - clearly because the perceived level of risk is lower.
That said, the Australian government, and the vocal right are still mostly immigrant unfriendly.
There were recent reports of a dying international student's wish to be joined by his family members and of how the request was denied by the immigration minister and department.
A huge campaign and public backlash has seen the decision reversed, and acted as a reminder that the Australian government on the whole, does not reflect the minds and wishes of many of its people.
THE team at Queerdeer were kind enough to have a chat with me about me and the Vinyl Tiger book.
As a thanks, I've made an excerpt (the Brooklyn chapter) available for readers.
Visit here to read more (and to support this wonderful site!).
Additionally there's a goodreads giveaway currently running for the paperback version of my book. You can find it here.
We have entered into that terrible window of the year when it becomes the norm to be subjected to Christmas carols. And crap Christmas pop sung by pop acts who caved and went straight down the filthy, hard cash route.
You know how some people have a psychological aversion to clowns? Well, I don't have that, but I have a very similar reaction when I have to listen to these kinds of songs. You know, the ones that you find behind the silver/red/white packaging that harp on about peace and good tidings when you know all the singers are thinking about are the dollar signs they can't see past.
I think I can trace all of this back to my days in retail, back when I was a university student. I used to have to listen to Mariah damn Carey's original Christmas album on loop, from like, October. The effect? If I hear sleigh bells now, it makes me want to slash the throat of the first reindeer that passes. I don't think that was Carey's intention you know, but we all deal with trauma in our own way.
Anyhoo, can something good come out of this kind of thing? Maybe? I mean, the Christmas spirit is strong, and was strong enough to bring Kylie and Dannii together on a record for the first time ever. There are still echelons of the gay gasp being heard in Australia and beyond. That 100 Degrees song sounds like it should've been on the Priscilla soundtrack, so how fitting that it seems to have inspired a drag, flash mob on Sydney's Bondi Beach. Watch it if you're up for a bit of a giggle and enjoy the ongoing Kylie/Dannii 'rivalry'.
Have to say it was good for a chuckle, and a timely reminder that Christmas is not about snow, eggnog and mistletoe, but rather, surf, sand and sun!
Lists, lists, lists.
They never stop. Especially in December when everybody has a list about the best this and the best that.
I'm not going to bother with that. But what I will say is that the best cover art of the year just has to go to Gen Hoshino's Yellow Dancer. What an amazing image!
It's like a post punk geisha who has specifically come to life for our time!
I love her! You could play I spy with this image for hours.
If you're interested in hearing something by Gen Hoshino then go here. It may or not be your thing...
READERS of this blog will know that I am one of the enlightened few who knows that when it comes to just about everything, Japan is superior.
Now, by everything, I mean everything related to popular culture.
The force is awakening and we're going to be hopping mad about Star Wars all over again. Which means that you're going to see more and more Star Wars merchandise over the coming weeks.
But let me remind you that if a novel idea exists, it exists in the Land of the Rising Sun. Because the Japanese are light years ahead of us when it comes to exploiting pop culture for all it's worth. And turning a pretty buck while they're at it.
Here are just a handful of the smart and quirky ways that Star Wars iconography has been put to use in my mother land.
Look at Vader playing nice in this old ad for the AU mobile service. Just wanna have a nice little snapchat with him!
I'm a complete nerd, and having studied Japanese art history, I love me a bit of rinpa or rimpa. There's something about a bit of gold leaf that just never goes out of style.
In the past, artists produced large format screens so that they could show the force of Buddhist deities in a series of myths and legends. These days, artists like Taro Yamamoto are paying tribute, but using more contemporary figures like Jedis in the same settings. But only in Japan could you organise for a couple of storm troopers to stand guard while the screens are used to promote the upcoming film.
If you ever go to Japan and are lost as to what to bring home as a present or souvenir, my philosophy is that you can't go wrong with a good noren. Noren are the lovely woven bolts of fabric that hang in Japanese doorways, whose designs are often symbolic of the seasons or events in the annual calendar. They're also used to signpost commercial businesses which is important in a place like Kyoto where electronic signage is often forbidden in the central, historic area.
Using the same screen printing philosophy, these amazing printed nassen, I think you'll agree, are a great mix of the Japanese aesthetic and certain iconic characters from the Star Wars canon. Nassen are like the relatives of noren. It's all about the unique textile and the dyes.
There are things that I'm sure you think of when you think of the word Italy. For some of you I'm sure your thoughts around different plates and dishes. Others among you will have ideas about warm, sultry Mediterranean nights and, um, Latin lovers. Me, well, especially during this period I tend to associate it with an ineffective postal service and constant banging the head against the wall the minute something beuracratic needs doing.
Well, cast aside your thoughts about pizza, pasta and olive skin. You can now associate Italy with breakdancing.
Yep! The world has a new champion breakdancer. He's Italian and he entered the Guiness Book of Records by way of a shopping centre.
All hail Stefano Maso.
SO, 2015 is nearly up and instead of making a list about the best things that did happen, I'm focusing instead on the best things that didn't happen again this year. Let's face it, it was a shitty year. But it could've been worse.
1. EVERYBODY STOPPED TALKING ABOUT MICHAEL SAM
OK, don't get me wrong. Michael Sam is F-I-N-E. Now, I don't know anything about the NFL, but after more than a year of reading about Michael Sam I'm still none the wiser. How is it possible that in this day and age so much media hype was devoted to someone who never got given the chance to do what he was trained to do? Instead he was reduced to a DWTS contestant, a possible Grindr user and a target for more blatant homophobia from industry and media alike.
2. FROZEN BECAME A DISTANT MEMORY
I'm chalking this one up to ice bucket territory. You know, global warming actually achieved something positive. I think Global Warming should've been Time's 2015 person of the year for making all the Frozen stuff stop. Not Angela Merkel.
3. GREECE'S AND EUROPE'S ECONOMIC WOES SUDDENLY DISAPPEARED
Speaking of Merkel, wow, what a difference a year can make. She went from being the devil to Europe's savior. That actually happened during 2015. But I'm really happy for Greece. Because if you trust the media, the Greek/EU financial crisis went the way of Ebola. It just disappeared. Seems like we can only handle one international crisis at a time.
4. BAE WENT THE WAY OF HASHTAG
Okay, I hate BAE. Really. Talk about the dumbing down of society. BAE is the literary equivalent of your Facebook friends who post unquantified research that makes all kinds of claims. You know, like yoghurt cures cancer or that sprinkling dirt on your toast reverses Parkinsons. BAE turned out to be 2015's hashtag. Glad people stopped using that. Except Merlene from Project Runway. I loved her for doing it.
5. WE STOPPED TALKING ABOUT BEN AFFLECK'S PEEN
Instead we focused on how much of a dick he is.
See, we can make progress as a race.
What are you thankful for.
THANK goodness this year is almost over. I just can't anymore!
I've run out of patience for everything this week!
It's like my brain has decided it's already December 31 and the year is over.
Of course I have lists and lists of things that I'm happy about that have happened in this last year, and I'm also looking forward to the next few weeks and the year ahead.
But, let's face it. This year was, for the most part, a giant turkey. The world's not in a great place.
It may seem to you like there's little to be thankful, but actually, I've got a heap of them. 2015 may have been a shit, but it wasn't all bad!
I'm not going to bore you with a top ten list of the best things that have happened, though. I'm going to remind you of the things that didn't happen as they did in 2014. I mean, as a race, we are moving backwards, but culturally at least, we made some tiny progress.
Small mercies, people. Small mercies.
Here are the first five things that we should be thankful for not having recurred in 2015.
1. GLOBAL WARMING MADE THE ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE DISAPPEAR
Oh and thank God for that one. If I had to see one more idiot getting their thrills on ice I would've had a stroke. Seriously, I'm all for a good cause, but it seemed like 2014 was full of lost causes who just wanted to be the centre of their own attention. Thankfully we are approaching frightfully high temperatures around the globe, and ice has finally become a commodity that we can't afford to waste in these useless, self-centred kind of ways.
2. SELFIES GOT A BIT OF A STICK UP THEIR A**
I love to invent a new word every now and then, but I hate selfies. And I hate selfie sticks even more. But you know what I hate even more than that? Celebrity selfies and the media crapping on about how selfies was the word of the year in 2014. Well thank god that ain't the case anymore. I don't think I can handle yet another douche-bag with a camera.
3. THE KANYE WEST AND KIM KARDASHIAN SIDESHOW SOLD LESS EVERYTHING
Speaking of douche bags. 2015 looked like it was a step up because we didn't have to put up with a Florentine wedding, a Vogue cover story, a baby, a beef with Taylor Swift (but we got one with Beck), or Kim Kardashian's ass, like, everywhere. But, not sure if this one counts or not because instead we've not only had to put up with Kylie and the other Jenner , but also Caitlyn. And they all still have something to sell that nobody is that interested in.
4. YOUR ITUNES ACCOUNT WASN'T DIGITALLY RAPED BY AN UNWANTED U2 ALBUM
Speaking of selling something no-one was interested, U2 couldn't even give away their Songs of Innocence album and get people interested. They couldn't even force feed that stuff without making everyone chuck or *delete* it. Nobody tried that automatic download shit again. Not even Adele. We progressed as a race.
5. PEOPLE STOPPED WHISTLING HAPPY
OK, I don't know where you are, but where I am, they still play that shit on the radio. It's inescapable. But at least people have stopped whistling and singing that shit all the time. And although we had to endure that hat, at least we didn't have to endure Robin Thicke this year. I blame Pharrell for that brief hot minute where RT was everywhere. So did the courts.
I've got my next five ready and waiting... but you? What are your thoughts?
THE team at the Becausetwomenarebetterthanone have been kind enough to let me do a guest post on their blog.
In addition to some info about one of the themes of the book and about moi, there is also a short excerpt from Vinyl Tiger which is now available in paperback form.
As a thanks, the blog are offering up a free ebook version of my novel to one lucky reader.
Visit the blog to find out how to enter, and to discover other M/M fiction and authors that you may not have otherwise had the chance to discover yet.
Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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Dave hates SPAM so he won't trouble you with any of his own. He promises.