150 Reasons to Smile

There were at least a few ways that came to mind when considering how best to celebrate SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK publishing it’s history-making 150th post – the one you’re now reading. They included –

Hiring a white stretch limo, taking myself off to a fancy restaurant and eating and drinking the night away.

Rounding up a bunch of my favorite subscribers/commenters and shouting them all to an open bar down at Pyscho Suzi’s Tiki Garden.

Letting out a long slow breath, like I didn’t even know I’d been holding it in, and nodding with a slight smile.

In the end I chose to go with the final option because – you know – understated. Rather than getting all paralytic at the bar and then ludicrously moving around a lit dance floor like my limbs were made of cooked spaghetti, this more low-key approach allowed me time to reflect and more properly take in the occasion, like this…

Part of that reflecting had me thinking about age and the feeling of reaching milestones. Once you’ve racked up a certain number of years on the planet some of us find it handy to have a list of ready-made snapbacks responses to those sometimes socially awkward inquiries – “How old are you?”. Now and again, goddammit, you may not feel like playing ball and spilling the actual number.

In those circumstances sassy retorts like these become useful –

Age is just a number and mine is unlisted.

I’m 9183 days, 3 hours and 22 minutes.

Age doesn’t matter unless you are cheese or wine.

Don’t you mean how YOUNG am I?

Thing is I haven’t had to put anyone in their place with use of one of these lippy wisecracks. I am completely happy for people to know my blog age. In fact, excuse me while I shout it from the rooftops one more time. I’m 150 posts old today!

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any merrier, a glorious email arrived in my inbox. An email from no less than Scott Morrison. That’s Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Or ‘ScoMo’ to his friends – of which I obviously am now counted among.

I nor anyone else should be naive about the elevated status such a ‘trophy’ well-wishing message can bring it’s receiver… so to heck with modesty. I will share it (proudly) with you all now –

Dear Glen,

Allow me to be among the first to congratulate you and SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK on the occasion of publishing your 150th post.

My staffers inform me that within blogging circles such a milestone, while modestly regarded, is nonetheless still compared to that first time in a couple’s relationship when one partner may inadvertently bear witness to a blushworthy moment of flatulance on the adored other’s part.

Awkward it may be, yet properly handled it is not cause for dissolution of the union but rather provides an unlikely bonding moment that signals the relationship is ready to proceed on to a more deeply human, exploratory and committed phase.

Having established a foothold in the hearts and minds of readers, so too SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK seems ready to embark upon the next phase of its mission to bring quality blog content to readers for the long term (shall we say at least ’till the next election?)

Having just a few days back also notched my 150th (150 meetings for the calendar month) – I believe I can relate somewhat to the feeling of satisfaction you are feeling now it is all over… er, I mean – the feeling of satisfaction now you have reached this important waypost.

Here’s to you and all that you have achieved and will achieve in the hopefully COVID 19-free years to come.

You’re an inspiration.

Liberally yours,

The Honourable Scott J. Morrison

30th Prime Minister of Australia


Ps. Forgive me for observing but I get the sense that SWS and LNP are both from the same political alphabet soup tin – if you get my meaning.

Perhaps my people can talk to your people (ok, I know it’s just you, so… my people can talk to you) come next election time about a little bit of ‘you scratch my lower lumbar I’ll scratch yours’ mutual favorable publicity.

I’ve had the odd back-rub in the past from both political friends and foes alike (even one from a duffer who claimed he was just removing lint from my shirt) and I know how beneficial they can be. Let me know if this sounds interesting.

Carpe Diem.

Our Scomo really is one big lovable and well-meaning teddy bear on a political stage crammed with moth-eaten cabbage-patch dolls – isn’t he? I treasure those congratulations from him, while choosing to overlook his obviously poorly advised and supremely self-serving postscript borrowed directly from the Political Manipulators & Scallywags handbook.

And now, as one is apt to do on occasions such as this, it’s time to travel back through the dusty blog pages of SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK history and nominate my..

MIRACLE AT THE DRIVE-THRU (Feb 2017) What made this trip to Maccas so memorable? Order yourself a Big Mac re-read HERE and find out.

THE GREAT WRINKLE MACHINE (June 2017) Well… someone’s gotta be the smarty pants! A prankster does what he does best HERE

CASE OF THE MYSTERY LETTER (June 2017) How exactly did I find myself reading a jail prisoner’s handwritten letter? The key to cell block A lies HERE

BAND T-SHIRTS – HOW OLD IS TOO OLD? (Oct 2017) Cool? Ridiculous? Ironic? You be the judge HERE

WHEN FASHION MEETS ICE-CREAM (March 2018) You won’t see Scenic Writer’s Shack speaking too often about ladies handbag fashions. But you might HERE

GOODIE GOODIE GUMDROPS! (March 2018) ‘Scenic’ bravely peers inside the Oscar nominees complimentary ‘Goodie’ bag and comes away floored, breathless and not a little hankering HERE

A SWING AND A MISS (March 2018) What do ghosts and golf courses have in common? Quite a lot if you believe Scenic HERE

THE GREAT VANILLA SLICE RIPOFF (June 2018) Scenic led the way with this daring foray into investigative journalism – exposing what could be labelled ‘The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Internal Pastry Layer’. Prepare to have all your treasured cake shop memories shattered HERE

WHEN NO MEANS NO (Sept 2018) Ok, so you try approaching YOUR wife or partner for permission to adorn the family car with wrap advertising about your beloved blog and see what response YOU get. Relive the pain of rejection HERE

INTO THE SNAKEPIT OF FRIENDSHIP (Feb 2019) Friends come and go but enemies last a lifetime. Right? Wrong? Sometimes? Plunge down the rabbit hole and mull it all over HERE

A big thank you to all the people who have followed this blog over any portion of the last three and a bit years. Writers write to be read, plain and simple. Without you guys there would be no ‘Shack.

A special gesture of appreciation is reserved for the readers and followers who go that one extra step and ‘like’ or, better still, comment on a post. Your engagement with topics lights up a part of my brain that makes me feel connected and fully awake. I call them ‘minty moments’ and I simply love them. Thank you again and please… keep doing it!

For the last six months or so Scenic Writer’s Shack slogan has been PEACHY NOT PREACHY. Have no doubts the commitment implied in that motto will continue to be upheld. Now seems like as good a time as any to unveil the new slogan which will help carry this blog forward for its next exciting stage – THE BEST IS YET TO BE WRITTEN. And I really do mean that. Here’s to the next glorious epoch… the next 150!

Ps. It may be SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK’S birthday but you get the presents! Click HERE for a very infecting affecting bonus read.

Lost in the Fog

Three years ago I wrote a short story about two lighthouse keepers. Amidst the confines of cramped quarters, one was slowly driving the other mad with his nightly tinkering of the ivories. I called it ‘PIANO MAN’. It was deemed good enough to be published in a literary journal and much to my delight they sent me two complimentary copies in the mail.

I mention this now since unfortunately this is likely the last positive words you’ll read here for the next short while. At present with movies, you see, I’m on what you’d call a roll. More like death spiral, actually.

After enduring the shotgun-to-the-face blast of boredom that was the Mel Gibson/Sean Penn starring THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN (HERE) you would have thought I’d resolved to treat myself a little more kindly.

Some people gotta learn the hard way. It seems one lesson in arthouse lethargy torture just wasn’t enough ’cause the very next weekend I’ve gone and lined up to see the William Dafoe/ Robert Pattinson film THE LIGHTHOUSE.

You want symbolism? Gee, Here’s some… I’m the bull heading full steam in the direction of something I thought was attracting me only to end up running smack bang into an immovable object of cast-iron ‘LIGHTHOUSE’ tedium.

Before things degenerate completely I should point out THE LIGHTHOUSE is currently being hailed, courtesy of a vast chorus of in-the-know voices, as some type of modern day masterpiece. Lovers of surreal avant-garde cinema have declared this a once-in-a-decade treasure of a film.

This type of once-in-a-decade is way too often for me, I’m afraid. 109 excruciating minutes spent with this – if you’ll pardon the expression – white bread yawnage story vomit was enough to send me

My chief gripe with THE LIGHTHOUSE, and films like it, can be summarized in just three words …


Being an arthouse movie, nothing bloody happens naturally in the most stylish of ways! I’m old enough to know by now when I see films bathed in praise like –

  • ‘technically immaculate’
  • ‘an audiovisual feast’
  • ‘haunting’
  • ‘striking’
  • ‘thought provoking’
  • ‘could not possibly look more beautiful’
  • ‘a gorgeous piece of film craft’
  • ‘heavily stylized’

I need to start running in the opposite direction as fast as my feet will carry me…

THE LIGHTHOUSE tells the story (and I use the term ‘story’ like a toddler uses a cigarette lighter… that is to say ‘recklessly’) of two early twentieth century lighthouse keepers who are ensconced in the claustrophobic confines of a lighthouse situated on a remote uninhabited island.

If living with your boss is not your idea of a good time spare a thought for Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson). He’s put up with the dirty moods, foul cooking and dictatorial ways of senior lighthouse keeper Thomas Wake (William Dafoe) for four long weeks, only to learn a raging storm has caused the resupply vessel with his replacement on board to no longer be on its way. The next ship is due in anything up to seven months.

It’s enough to drive anyone crazy, including, unfortunately the viewer. Because what I’ve just outlined, if you get right down to it, is merely a premise for a story. An actual fair-dinkum story story requires the accompanying infinite and intricate twists and turns necessary to take the viewer on the rollercoaster ride they think they’re paying their money to see. There is simply none of that here.

What there is is howling winds, long conversations over meals, drunken dancing, raised voices, creaking floorboards, more drawn out conversations over meals, repetitive dream sequences, blaring foghorns, a depiction of the daily chores and drudgery necessary to keep a coal-powered lighthouse going at the turn of last century, and yes, just what we needed… still more long exchanges over dinner-table meals.

By the end of it my mind was spinning on it’s own gears with boredom

and I was wishing I was some relative of Godzilla so I could do this to the whole agonizing and completely miserable saga…

Then again, when you sit down to a roast chicken dinner you can’t expect the taste of fish. Shot in glossy black and white, THE LIGHTHOUSE is an arthouse film to it’s core. That means, by it’s nature, there is an emphasis on the thoughts and dreams of characters rather than presenting a clear, goal-driven story.

I uphold the nobility of the idea of arthouse movies – what with their elevation of a director’s authorial style and their clawback against Hollywood’s cliches and traditional story telling elements. But I question why the end product has to so often end up being painfully self-serious, miserable to watch and an all-round trying experience.

One American newspaper reviewer of this film observed THE LIGHTHOUSE “has got nothing and lot’s of it” .

My thoughts precisely.

And because two lackluster films in a row have caused a tsunami of negativity to spill forth on SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK these past few weeks, movie reviews are now banned from this site until further notice. Let’s see how long that lasts...

Did I say 5th rate? Didn’t quite have the heart to write ‘15th rate fiction’ but, well… here’s my short story, PIANO MAN, from 2018. Incredibly, some nurturing but possibly misguided soul considered it good enough at the time to print publish in their literary magazine. No accounting for taste, right?

Last night, my world turned grey and my face along with it. I know now what happened was no accident. It was, rather, a most deliberate attempt on my life. In its aftermath I have set in motion a scheme to rid myself of this most horrible place and as well the person I have called my roommate these past five months – the treacherous old sea dog known as Captain Drake McNally.

The whole sorry ordeal was sparked some four weeks earlier when the Captain (I have always wondered whether this rank was real or imagined) deigned that we should welcome into our midst no less a fixture than a Steinway grand piano. Given that we were both working as the caretakers of a remote island lighthouse known as Owl’s Head, located some sixty nautical miles off the east coast of Wales, this presented some degree of challenge; most especially to the three intrepid furniture removalists tasked with delivering the polished wooden monstrosity.

The challenge, such as it was, involved lugging the thing up sixty-eight winding, crumbling concrete steps, every one of them encrusted in black scale and sea salt. Once in place, so began my endless nights of being forced to listen to the most awful attempts at music making any pitiful soul has ever had to endure.

After several weeks of this I wondered to myself if the hightop ‘concerts’ were not being done in such quantity and at such irregular times as to constitute an effort to irritate me and hasten my leaving.

Late one afternoon when I could stand no more, I politely asked the ‘Captain’ to take a break from his noise making. This was so I could get some rest in preparation for the coming nightshift. He did not take kindly to such a request. Later that same night, with a storm brewing in the west, I went outside to bolt the boat shed door.

On returning I found the lighthouse door locked. I hammered on it with my fists as waves smashed over the rocks behind me and the waters began to rise. I saved myself from drowning by eventually locating a rope and hoisting it high on to an outside ledge of the tower near the gantry.

I sit here now waiting for the supply ship to come. It is three days overdue. When it arrives I will bid this wretched place farewell, never to return. The painful sound of yet another of the mad Captain’s ‘performances’ of “Chopsticks” echoes down from his upper quarters as I write. Forgive me if I describe it as  like some kind of slow drip strain of syphilis for the ears.

With his fingers thicker than beef sausages, mention must come also it is by no means unusual to overhear the nerve-jangling sound of several keys being struck at once, adding to my torture.  Wax earplugs dull the pain. They and the last bottle of rum is all that sustain me. I pray my deliverance will be soon.

Ps. This short story appeared in the March 2018 edition of BALLOON’S LIT JOURNAL. If you’d like to read it directly from the on-line version of the magazine (because.. well…um…actually, come to think of it I don’t know why anyone would really want to do that – but just in case anyone did) click HERE.

Pss. I’ve long been in amazement at people given to populating their personal blogs with mundane holiday snaps boring-er than dry toast believing they are of interest to anyone outside of themselves and their immediate family.

So before I go ahead and do exactly the same I’ll at least have the courtesy to place a ‘Boring Content’ warning for all to see. Would it be too bold of me to suggest if more people did this the blogosphere would have every chance of transforming into a far more reader-friendly thing of beauty overnight?

The photo above left of Bruny Island Lighthouse was taken on our trip to Tasmania four months ago. I include it here as It’s now the last OFFICIAL pleasant memory of lighthouses I HAVE.

Psss. How’s this for serendipity? The screensaver we have decorating our computer screen showcases a different enshrinably beautiful nature scene every four days. The delish piece of eye-candy that popped up yesterday was this —