My Core Beliefs


There comes a time in everyone’s life when a person feels comfortable believing what they believe, knowing that others around them may not necessarily share the identical view.

Part of this comfort can take the form of a kind of wisdom; a wisdom that freely admits there are things one doesn’t know about a particular subject, or the world in general, but  still happily allows one to cling to what they wish to believe anyway. With me? Sort of?  It’s a feeling that might be bumper stickered to – “I’m the one behind the wheel. I don’t need to know how a car engine is built to drive this thing.”

In case you missed it, that was the philosophically scented portion of the post. I’ll admit it went dangerously close to getting all serious for a moment there, which, if that actually happened, would have spelt big trouble for me. See, I’ve instructed some trusted minders to drop me from a great height the day this blog ever gets to sound too serious (mind, the protest-post about loud music speakers at ParkRun a while back went dangerously close), full of its own importance, or, banish the thought, ‘preachy’.

Anyway, here’s a list of my core beliefs, arranged in no particular order, that came to me the other day when I was thinking on this subject for a reason I no longer remember. In fact, best scrub the term ‘core beliefs’, since that could be mistaken for some kind of fake-as-a-$3-note corporate-speak term you might hear from one of those annoyingly upbeat life-coach types, and replace it with the far more low-key ‘things I’ve come to believe’.

Watchout. Possible lifehacks incoming…

core beliefs

  ♠    Having dreams is what makes life tolerable.

  ♣    Some days ‘people skills’ means not resorting to beating anyone with a stick.

      Never seriously tick off the person who cooks your dinner.

  ♦     There are two reasons to distrust people –

         (1) You don’t know them.

         (2) You know them.

 ♠     On success:  At first they’ll ask why you’re doing it. Later they’ll ask you how you did it.                                                                                                                          

 ♣     Kindness when no one’s looking is as good as it gets.

 ♥     Sometimes you need to dig in the dirt to find the places you got hurt.

 ♦     Drive carefully ’cause 60% of people are caused by accidents.

  ♠    Speaking about core values is a little like watching footy on the couch – a person very possibly won’t truly know what some of their deeply held beliefs are until they’re handed the ball and have to run with it.

♣     And lastly, if you want to stay on speaking terms with your liver, avoid the Mumbai Scotch.                  

That’s it. And now you know.

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Ps. Thanks to singer Peter Gabriel for the one in red.

Pss. THIS SEND-UP VIDEO  brilliantly satirizes people and corporations fond of overly- seriously espousing ‘core values’.

Psss. For all those who’ve ever gone the spray tan, this bonus read is for you.

CLICK HERE  (This story is supposed to be titled AFTERGLOW btw not OVERGLOW)

Pssss.  Meanwhile this past week in Birmingham UK

A filmgoer has passed away due to a freak accident inside a Gold Class cinema.

The man’s head became wedged in the footrest of his luxury seat. Paramedics had to be called after the customer dropped his mobile phone between the new Vue Cinema Gold Class seats at the end of the film and became stuck when the electronic folding footrest clamped down on his head as he bent down to pick it up. The man suffered a cardiac arrest while staff at the cinema tried to free him.

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Gold Class seats at the new Vue Cinema in Birmingham, UK.

I say this without the slightest hint of flippancy – I have never experienced Gold Class cinema and have no immediate plans to do so. Dying from boredom induced by watching certain movies (not trying to be the critic – it just comes out!) is likely a far higher health risk for me.

Psssss. Returning lastly again to the subject of core values (eye-roll ok), SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK pledges it will recognise and celebrate excellence no matter what the field – publishing, cinema, theatre, fine art…. or horseracing. Congratulations go to the equine Queen of Australian horseracing WINX for recording her 17th consecutive Group 1 win (a world record) and 24th consecutive race win at the Golden Slipper Stakes in Sydney last weekend.

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BONUS FACT: Unlike many elite racehorses, WINX does not have a particularly long stride – her stride has been measured at 6.76 metres (22.2 ft) compared to nearly 8.5 metres (28 ft) for Black Caviar and Phar Lap. Instead, her success has been attributed to a “freakish” stride rate that allows her to take 14 strides every 5 seconds, compared to 12 for her rivals. Once again, now you know.


A Swing and a Miss


This little recon didn’t go exactly according to plan.

But I had a lot of fun trying.

The idea was to test the theory it’s easy to start a rumour simply by saying “I’ve heard a rumour”.


The target was my local golf club. I emailed them asking if they’d confirm or deny stories of ghostly sightings on the 13th hole. Perhaps they saw through (pun intended) the whole cheesiness factor of the number 13 association. Or maybe they were just too busy checking potential member’s bona fides and making sure the irrigation systems were go to worry about otherworldy matters. Whatever the reason, I didn’t get a bite so the experience was less pleasure swollen then it might have been. At best I can put myself down as a prankster of erratic brilliance.

Here’s the email I sent (twice)

Dear Glenn and Brett,

My name is Glen Donaldson and I am a local author living in Forest Lake. Over the last six months I have been putting together a book concerning Brisbane ghost stories. The research phase of this project has led me to hear some interesting and little known tales of unexplained events that, according to some, might allow for explanations involving possible supernatural elements.

One such story which has come across my desk involves the Oxley Golf course.  I am wondering if you are able to shed any light on its veracity. According to the tale, which I have heard from a number of sources including a married couple who are both current members of the club, a woman was shot dead by her estranged husband on what is now the 13th hole sometime around the early 1960’s. Her body was found four days later when a caddie noticed it in thick bush at one end of the course. Now there are claims of people hearing a gunshot and a woman screaming on the 13th green even though there is no one there. It has been so clear it has prompted people to call the police.

Recently I spoke to two dog squad instructors at the nearby Oxley Police Academy who, though they could not confirm knowledge of complaints of gunshot sounds or women screaming having been lodged, did admit that they too had heard the rumours of a tragic back-story surrounding the 13th hole. Both mentioned to me (with little attempt made to disguise their amusement) they were at least aware of the ‘local legend’ of after-dark sightings of a woman in a white dress spotted by motorists using the access road that runs along the back of the course and the Academy.

I understand this is not the type of inquiry you might ordinarily receive. If you are able to provide any information you may be in possession of and willing to share connected to knowledge of these supposed happenings, I would be most interested to hear from you.

Sincerest regards,

Glen Donaldson

Forest Lake

Ph: 3372 3958


As you can see,  the email was jointly addressed to the General Manager and the President. This photo gallery of the Board Members (with last names blanked by me) shows what looks to be a bunch of well-red, good humoured (ClICK HERE TO SEE MICHAEL DOUGLAS & SOME VERY HUMORLESS GOLFING TYPES) mostly middle-aged males (it also proves, despite widespread belief to the contrary, that Anglo-Saxon first generation Aussie names are still alive and well in this country)  so I’m thinking that though my email didn’t warrant a response, it may still have raised a mild giggle or at the very least a plucked or unplucked eyebrow somewhere inside the office. And that, if it did happen, makes it all worth doing.

And on the subject of ghosts, I reserve the last word for that most renown French patron of the arts The Marquise du Deffand (1697 – 1780) who once famously said –

 “Do I believe in ghosts? No, but I am afraid of them.”

Brisbane Ghost Stories

Ps. I actually sent a version of the prank email to three different Brisbane golf clubs (including one that’s positioned right next to a lunatic’s asylum  psychiatric care facility which, given the opportunity for ‘strange and unusual’ happenings in that general vicinity, I thought was my best chance of getting a response) but didn’t get a bite from any of them. Who said golfers are serious types?

PPS. Your bonus read this week is a fascinating article about the 1937 futuristic novel SWASTIKA NIGHT by British writer Katharine Burdekin (1896 – 1963).

Click  HERE  to read it.


PPPS. The creative folk at the Australian Writer’s Centre ran a caption competition this week. They asked their readers to provide a caption, in 25 words of less, to the photo below.


My bit of bees wax was –

Michelle’s new apartment had next-to-no leg room, gave her spinning migraines and always had dirty laundry lying about on the floor.

Think you can do better?

‘Cause ya can!

Comments box if you wanna play…




Not Strong Enough

CaptureExactly how many misspent words would it take me to lose 80% of my readership?

That’s the question I’ve asked myself, given the fact a sizeable portion of the audience for this blog is female and I’m about to talk at length on the subject of war movies, and one war movie in particular.

12 STRONG is a newly released movie starring Thor (Chris Hemsworth) based on a non-fiction book published in 2010 called HORSE SOLDIERS by New York Times bestselling author and journalist Doug Stanton ( ) It relates the true life account of  a small band of Special Forces soldiers who secretly entered Afghanistan following 9/11 and rode to war on horses against the Taliban.  


The 2010 book on which the movie was based and the Horse Soldier Statue that stands today in Liberty Park in Lower Manhattan, New York overlooking the September 11 Memorial.


As a movie spectacle, this film is packed with wall to wall intricately choreographed battle sequences and enough deafening bombs and custom-built assault rifle gunfire to satisfy the most seasoned combat film aficionado. From a technical point of view it’s all very solid.

Yet 12 STRONG ends up being at best an almost-good film due to the presence of extremely thinly drawn characters and the lack of any real tension or twists or turns in the storyline.  A disappointing lack of depth and nuance will prevent most people from engaging emotionally during any point in this film.

Instead, for most of the time the experience of 12 STRONG is like being made to watch someone else play a first-person shooter video game; one in which they’re tasked with blowing away wave after wave of faceless enemy in a pathos-less exercise in aim and shoot.  The bad guys in the story are the tens of thousands of turban-clad, 2001-vintage Taliban fighters. Yet apart from a brief showing of news footage depicting the collapse of the World Trade Centre Twin Towers and a scene where a Taliban leader executes a woman found guilty of educating girls over the age of eight, there’s zero attempt to make you believe the enemy are a force of evil desperately in need of vaporizing and deserving of one’s loathing.

That’s called lazy filmmaking and the result is a strictly by-the-numbers attempt at injecting  something fresh into the 9/11 narrative. If you crave seeing an excellent military flick, one that is equal parts thriller genre as well, get yourself a DVD copy of 2017’s THE WALL, starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson (KICK-ASS & KICK-ASS 2).

Set during the Iraq War, it tells the story of two American soldiers pinned down in a cross-haired game of cat and mouse with an Iraqi sniper. There’s no Chris Hemsworth but its got rocket-launchers full of something completely missing from 12 STRONG –  tension. Real, nerve-jangling. edge-of-your-seat tension.


If that’s still not enough to get your cammo ‘n combats on – try any of these beauts for size from my list of all-time fave war films-





Ps. Military not your thang? Then thanks for waiting patiently. Today begins the first of an occasional series where I relate the plot of a novel that sounds in some manner interesting.

Most of us have had the experience of ploughing through a book we were enticed to read by the intriguing sounding back-cover blurb only to encounter a story much longer than it seems and plots and characters that induce sleepiness.  So I caution… these are storylines that sound interesting, at least to me, while the experience of actually reading the book may be a somewhat different thing –


A woman wakes up in hospital with no memory but is told she’s been in an horrific car accident and was apparently driving recklessly. Witnesses assume she was out of her mind on drugs; blood tests show otherwise but provide absolutely no clue as to what caused her to be running traffic  lights at high-speed as though fleeing for her life.

Until now she has enjoyed a quietly affluent life in the suburbs with an adoring husband. She seems anxious to recover and regain her memory, but strange things keep happening. 

There’s a neighbour who was once a friend but now is not, and her husband may not be all he seems. Then a body shows up, not far from the site of her mysterious accident.

This novel is reputed to contain multiple twists and apparently the final one is a doozy.

Goodie Goodie Gumdrops!

CaptureCongratulations, though they be late, go to this year’s Motion Picture Academy Award winners. The ceremony itself, hosted for the second consecutive year by comedian Jimmy Kimmel went without a hitch. This is more than can be said for the  shenanigans of last year’s ‘Envelope-gate’ when La La Land was mistakenly announced as Best Picture ahead of MoonlightREMEMBER THE HORROR HERE

But this post is not about who won and who didn’t, as such. This is dedicated to the far  weightier topic of what lay in the much talked about, much coveted ‘Goody Bag’ that each of the top 28 nominees – for those in the Best Actor and Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Actress and Best Director categories – received. Yes it’s all a bit after the fact now, but if nothing else this post will help console the Aussie cheer squad of Oscar nominee Margot Robbie by showing although she didn’t win, she still, as they say, came out a winner.

Although not officially sanctioned by the Academy, the Goody Bag tradition has been around for at least the last 16 years and in that time has evolved to a shower of riches on a truly epic scale for people you might be forgiven for thinking are spoiled enough already.

Each Goody Bag (if you’re unsure why I keep bestowing the term with capital letters – you’re about to find out) was this year worth around $138 000. They are put together by marketing firm Distinctive Assets. Here’s a sample of what was inside (gaping is considered a perfectly acceptable response) –






plus a literal stretch-limo full of other trinkets, luxury bits ‘n bobs and assorted pampering paraphernalia.


A mere morsel of the Distinctive Assets swag bag.

All this got me thinking what a SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK sample bag might look like –

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Definitely, I’ll admit, a carob-coated experience (if ever there was one) by comparison.

Ps. After her recent interview on 60 MINUTES it’s confirmed I now have a new favourite politician. New Zealand’s Prime Minister (elected last November) Jacinda Ardern presents as natural and unguarded, funny and genuine. She now officially replaces my previous favourite politician, former Australian Treasurer now Ambassador of Australia to the United States Joe Hockey.

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PPS. Two weeks ago I highlighted the issue of runners playing loud music without the use of earphones at Saturday morning ParkRuns. Seems someone enjoys playing the right royal media tart… SEE HERE

Noiseman Cover

PPPS. Before moving on finally from Academy Awards talk, time for me to nominate my all-time favourite movies that have won the Best Picture Oscar. I’m not one who’s  traditionally found myself attracted to the sort of movies that usually win this accolade but these ten are the exception. Throw in TITANIC (1997) as well…





When Fashion Meets Icecream


Here at SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK, it’d be a safe bet to think you won’t read many posts dedicated to discussing clothes’ fashions.

The closest I’ve come to going all Carla Zampatti, Zimmermann, and Givenchy was when I posed the question back in October (HERE)  “How old is too old when it comes to wearing band t-shirts?”

 Even more out of sorts on these pages would be the idea you’ll ever see me weighing the merits of stripes vs leopard spots when it comes to ladies handbag designs.

Here goes then, with the aid of a few deep breaths and some old-school finger-crossing, a couple of ribbon-cutting firsts.

In a move that takes outfit matching and colour co-ordination to giggle-worthy new heights, the good folk at Streets Icecreams have teamed up with some apparently high-end, big name fashion design brands  – Bec & Bridge, Romance Was Born and By Johnny(has anyone actually heard of any of these ‘big names’ ?) to unveil three new ‘limited edition’ Magnum icecream flavours they’ve dubbed their, wait for it… “Fashion Collection”.

The artistically designed wrappers, looking every bit like something Australian artist Ken Done might have painted on a whim back in the 1980’s, have been paired with everyone’s must-have (tee hee) indulgent summer accessory: an insulated clutch, custom handbag designed to carry the precious Magnum from freezer to the beach without melting. If you can’t find wonder and amusement in all that, like you’re looking at some newborn’s grasping fist, I say you’re not really trying.


If you’re gonna get brain freeze, at least do it in style.



Mouth-watering fashions anyone?



How come this idea didn’t make it into the 2001 Ben StillerOwen WilsonWill Ferrell fashion industry send-up movie ZOOLANDER or its 2016 sequel?



The new standard in summer accessorizing??



Designer handbags for your icecream? So obvious it’s brilliant!



Ps. What’s next in the world of fashion I recklessly, courageously & not to mention brazenly ask…

thong jeans & car mat skirts?


Ps. Wouldn’t think ice-cream – with or without the matching clutch handbags – would have been a big seller at this year’s Winter Olympics but congratulations must go to South Korea for staging a most successful 17 day event, ending with the closing ceremony last Sunday.

Across the two weeks I’m pretty certain I watched more figure skating then I have in my previous five decades put together and thanks must go as well to the event organisers and athletes for helping to keep me at least ‘psychologically’ cool while viewing during Brisbane’s merciless heatwave that raged during that time.

Acclaim is due also to the producers and marketers of the iceskating biopic I,TONYA (starring Australia’s Margot Robbie) for truly inspired timing to coincide with the World’s attention on all things frozen sports.

Of 92 participating countries, Australia finished 23rd on the medal tally. The Top 10 country medal hauls were –


The next Winter Olympics is in 2022 ( it feels vaguely science fiction-ish even typing that date!) in Beijing China.

Wanna be witness to a truly breath-taking example of someone getting back on their feet after a confidence-crushing failure?   CLICK HERE

PPS. Before I leave the subject of icecream altogther it would be remiss of me not to mention Brisbane’s annual Icecream Festival being staged at West End on Saturday March 10th. Understandably it’s been dubbed Brisbane’s ‘Coolest’ Festival.


PPPS. This post has been proudly brought to you by SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK  SNACK.