2021 – That’s a Wrap!

2021 saw SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK publish some of its most personal posts ever. It was that kind of year. Here’s a broad strokes look-back…

National Trivia Day (January)

Pro Chess Gender Gap (January)

Reasons I’ll Never Write A Novel (February)

First Love – Endless Love (February)

Top Ten Favorite Films of the 1960’s (March)

The Last Lighthouse Keeper (March)

Fruitless Frappe (April)

Brisbane KISS Concert Here I Come! (May)







Favorite Films of the 70’s (September)

National Book Awards (October)

Book Jacket Blurbs (October)

Outwitted. Outplayed & Outdone Your Honor (November)

Reader’s Bookcase Photos (November)

Bank Vault Lock-ins (December)

Best Book Covers of 2021 (December)





NIGHTCRAWLER (2014) (Recorded from Television)

RICHARD JEWELL (2019) Seen on ‘Movies on Demand’ in a Cairns Hotel Room

Mottos used by SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK during 2021 –

** “I Do this for the Money, Prestige and Power” Said No Writer Ever.

** It takes an Awful Lot of Time NOT to Write a Book.

** Good Things Are Coming

** Entertain Yourself

** Three Scoops of Word Whack

** Antidote to the Novel

** Arts Talk That Will Not Be Tamed

Broadcaster Larry King (January)

Actor Hal Holbrook (January)

Captain Sir Tom Moore – aged 100 (February)

Actor Christopher Plummer (February)

Australian Music Promotor Michael Gudinski (March)

Former Australian Rugby League Captain Tommy Raudonikis (April)

Australian TV Host Bert Newton (October)

For eighteen days back in October/early November, the country held it’s breath as we waited for news of the disappearance/abduction of four-year-old Cleo Smith who vanished from a family campsite near Carnarvon in Western Australia. Incredibly, this story had a happy ending that sent headlines around the world and resulted in this triumphant and all-round heart-fluttering picture…

Merriam Webster Dictionary Word of the Year – ‘Vaccine’

Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year – ‘Strollout’

Dictionary.Com Word of the Year – ‘Allyship’

Oxford Languages Word of the Year‘Vax’

Collins Word of the Year ‘NFT’ (Non Fungible Token)

Collins Word of the Year Runner Up‘Pingdemic’

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Scenic Writer’s Shack Word of the Year ‘Metox’ (to take a break from self-absoption)

Best book read by SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK in 2021 – MY FRIEND FOX (published September 2021) by Heidi Everett. Read a personal recommendation HERE.

If there’s a better, more poetically written book out there on the subject of mental health – from the ‘patient’s’ point of view – I’ve not read it.

Marched through 37 of ’em this year. Best time? You’re looking at it in blue. Best location? That’s an easy one. Cairns Esplanade. Hands down.

This salute to the need for recognition appeared in the October 22, 2021 edition of NEW YORKER Magazine.

Around this time of year, every man and their neapolitan mastiff is telling you what their favorite reads have been, over the previous twelve months. These guys included –







That’s it. There are no more words for 2021. SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK will return in 2022 – bigger, better and bolder, with some truly nut-cracking surprises in store. Until then…

I did say “No more words” didn’t I? I meant after this. ‘Cause there’s one more thing I need to tell you. And it happened at my place just this morning. I put up a world map on a wall in our kitchen, handed my wife a dart and said “Throw this and wherever it lands—that’s where I’m taking you when this pandemic ends.” Turns out, we’re spending two weeks behind the fridge.

Best Book Covers of 2021

LAST YEAR they were magnificent.

The YEAR BEFORE THAT set the standard.

And now it’s time to go edgy, free-spirited and giga-awesome all over again.

In what can sometimes resemble a sea of tin-plate dinghies, these book covers are all daringly different cruise ships.

Cue the eye candy…

(A) Approaching headlights through a rainbow-tinged fog? Throw in the title and the reader’s got a genuine mystery on their hands.

(B) The torn paper / speech bubbles effect looks raw – kind of like how ‘To be honest’ feels.

(A) Bad-paint-job dripping clouds over a standard suburbia scene? Something’s up in this neighborhood.

(B) It’s a package wrapped in brown paper for a novel titled THE DELIVERY. Get it?

(A) Given the title, I guess the publishers would have been well in their rights to feature some breed of grass-chewing goat on the cover. A crucifix-stealing black crow on the other hand is way more intriguing.

(B) A book whose pages reach out to grab the reader – or at least point at them – while not holding but balancing a gun. Clever weird that.

(A) Icons. Icons. Icons. Bonus points for sneaking in a pair of breasts.

(B) Scores big in the insanity department this one.

(A) Love everything about this ‘big reveal’ concept – including the small title.

(B) The story of the Three Little Pigs? No, naturally enough it’s the story of family, feminism and treason – and I’m not sure I’ve ever heard those three words mentioned in the same sentence before (though they probably have somewhere).

(A) A few simple, hand-drawn lines can indeed be so evocative.

(B) Green tears get me every time.

(A) Look up ‘visually popping book cover’ in the dictionary and there’s a good chance you’ll come across this image. I bags the top floor penthouse.

(B) Look at those teeth! So white. So straight. So… letterish. As covers go it’s a weirdy but a goody.

(A) Redder than red. With 1950’s housewife hands thrown in for extra whack.

(B) Reminds me of the old joke about a zebra crossing. The U.S flag stands atop of a yellow cone hat. I wish I knew what the other flag was.

(A) And a cheeky touch it is.

(B) Positively dripping with creativity. Sorry.

(A) Take a happy pill they said. While you’re at it take a few. In fact, down a whole face full. Then put it on a book cover. Top it off by humorously titleling it ALL’S WELL. That’s what they did.

(B) A rip-snorter of a cover with cutting-edge originality to burn? Tick.

(A) A book cover in the form of a scratch-off card? Novel indeed.

(B) It looks like a screen protector for an iPhone. But the real question? Is that an exhausted stick figure or a dead stick figure lying on the table?

(A) Facebook with hyper-realistic water droplets! What a mood.

(B) Take one simple image — a pattern of poppies on black— and make it disquieting by slicing it into sections and misaligning the edges.

(A) When do letters become old-skool string marionettes? When they look like this. The real genius though, is the inclusion of the shadow created by the words “a novel” (and no other shadows).

(B) When something that looks like its from granddaddy’s old back shed makes it onto the cover of a newly-published novel, well… I think in some parts they call that ‘rustic charm’.

 (A) The tri-color text against black? Tacky. The cocktail girl? Tacky. The ’70s food ad font? Tacky. The whole thing? Iconoclastically brilliant.

(B) That falling eye gets me every time I look at it.

(A) Nice profile. But which is her better side?

(B) The genie is out of the bottle. And so are the fireflies. Whoever left the cap off has got some splainin’ to do. Or did the super ‘bright’ insects somehow jimmy it themselves?

An Inside Job

Lockdowns, as pandemic-stricken cities across the world in recent times know all too well, are few people’s idea of a good time.

Equally, lock-ins have got to be up there on the universal ‘least enjoyable experiences’ list.

That’s ‘lock-insas in the sealed-bank-vault-possibly-die-from-suffocation meaning of the word.

Yet these people have lived to tell the tale.

Here are their stories…

On the afternoon of August 26, 1947, Bruce Heydon and Andrew Thompson, employees of the Repatriation Department located in Perry House in Brisbane’s CBD, had been placing records in the strongroom when the door accidentally closed behind them.

Unfortunately there was only one key, and that sole key was in the possesion of the trapped men.

The fire brigade, police and ambulance were summoned to the scene to effect the rescue. It was decided to use a oxyacetylene torch to cut a hole through the door so the key could be passed through to the rescuers.

As a precaution the building’s sprinkler system was first turned off to avoid damage to the building and its records.

“Through the first small hole, he said he could see the Town Hall clock, and when the torch finally cut a hole large enough to allow the key to be passed out, the two trapped men chorused ‘You Beaut’“, reported the local newspaper, The Courier Mail, at the time. The men’s ordeal lasted an hour and a half.

The experience of trapped bank clerk Charles Di Giacomo in Peterson, New Jersey, Us. on March 8th, 1923 was far more traumatic.

Just prior to closing time, Di Giacomo had been filing documents in the strongroom when his colleague jokingly called out to him to hurry up or “I’ll lock you in”.

As a prank the colleague pretended to close the vault door, only for it to actually close and automatically lock. The airtight strongroom was set on a time lock and would not reopen until the next morning. The pressure was on to rescue Di Giacomo before he suffocated due to lack of oxygen.

Teams of rescuers labored for five hours, attempting to drill their way in through the roof. When they finally broke through, Di Giacomo was found unconscious. He later recovered in hospital.

A time-honored tv trope is having two or more characters locked in a bank vault (or walk-in freezer, meat locker or some other small, contained space) where they’re subjected to extreme cold, lack of oxygen, or both. Death is usually imminent. The characters talk a lot, often coming to a greater understanding of each other. Rescue comes in the nick of time.

HAPPY DAYS did it in a 1977 episode when Richie and the gang get locked in the hardware store’s basement vault. GILLIGAN’S ISLAND had the castaways trapped in a cave. LOST AND SPACE saw bitter enemies Don and Dr Smith briefly entombed together in a final season episode featuring an underground cavern.

For true creativity in the ‘bank vault genre’ however, one need not look any further than the one-of-a-kind 2017 movie THE VAULT.

Starring Clint Eastwood‘s daughter Francesca (most recently seen in the M. Night Shyamalan supernatural beach movie OLD), THE VAULT is a horror movie but not as you know it; a bank robbery flick but unlike any that have come before it.

Two sisters plan a bank heist with OCEAN’S ELEVEN detail. Things turn sinister when they reach the basement vault, however, only to encounter truly evil supernatural forces.

For proof Mel Brooks has done it all in the world of entertainment, one need look no further than his membership of the rarer-than-rare, known-by-its-letters club EGOT. Translated, that means Brooks has been awarded an EMMY (Television) – a GRAMMY (Music) – an OSCAR (Film) and a TONY (Theatre). Now, at the age of 95 comes his long awaited autobiography.

Reading not your thang? Bit late now, you say. Oh well. Eavesdroppers can listen in HERE