Why hello there! I know, I know, it’s been a while. I’ve been absent from the internet. But it’s okay, I haven’t actually been eaten by a rabid bear, even though that’s what all the tabloids have been saying. Nor have I been EATING rabid bears, as the even less reputable tabloids are claiming. I’ve just been busy living life 2.0 in HIGH DEFINITION WITH SURROUND SOUND! as well as making up very extremely long lies (aka writing novels). I’m sure you’ve been kept busy what with all the robots landing on Mars and trampires to keep you entertained.
In any case, as Jesus once said to Thomas, “I’M BACK BITCH!” What’s more, I have this shiny new website that you are currently consuming with your retinas. I hope that you like it and take on it picnics and dance around with it in some sort of jubilant montage like this:
All the content from my old blog What Rhymes With Chaos? will now appear here, but will also continue to be archived at my old typepad. To celebrate the launch of the new site, I thought I’d give you all a present for FREE because that is my favourite price. It’s a little novelette (or long short story if you prefer, no one can ever seem to agree on the definitions of these things). It’s the kind of story Edgar Allen Poe may have written if he worked in an office, took tea breaks with Kafka and Stoppard and had an unhealthy fascination with amatoxins and Tom Jones. If you like it feel free to let me know. If you don’t then JUST SHUT THE HELL UP WHY DONTCHA! I’m just kidding. I’ll still love you (just a little less).
As a teenage music nerd, my bedroom walls were perennially populated by posters featuring various scowling dudes with guitars looking down on me lying on my bed losing myself in my headphones whilst devouring Rave magazine. Growing up I always thought that being a music writer would be the most inconceivably, unbelievably, incontrovertibly cool job imaginable. Years later, I moved into my first Brisbane sharehouse with two wonderful girls, one of whom was just starting to pick up speed as the lead singer of now superstar act the Grates. Her then boyfriend wrote for another local music mag, and it occurred to me for the first time that music writers were actual people who existed in the real world and breathed and ate and drew on the fridge and used the bathroom when you really, really needed it.
It wasn't until late last year, when I'd accomplished the infinitely more arduous task of having my first novel published that I got around to signing up with Rave. In the short time since then I've reviewed countless gigs and albums and squeezed in just a handful of interviews. As a writer, it's been a fun challenge to pump out tiny bite sized non-fiction pieces at a high rate of frequency, as opposed to my primary concern of churning out massive 80 – 100k word fictional behemoths every few years (if that.)
I was devastated when I received news that Rave was shutting down, and not only because of the fact that I will now have to start PAYING for gigs like a total loser. Rave provided valuable exposure for local bands and artists, great opportunities for local writers and photographers and, perhaps most importantly, was an entirely independent operation. Independent media is important; the beauty of working for Rave was that we didn't have to serve anyone's agenda. My editors would occasionally ask me to change a few things here and there, but this was more for content quality than because we were beholden to some corporate giant with vested interests (just look at the whole Rinehart/fairfax debacle at present). Clearly music journalism is nowhere near as important as political journalism, but journalistic integrity is of fundamental importance in terms of filtering what and how information reaching the masses and and we are currently seeing a dangerous erosion of its values which the loss of important independent media sources will only exacerbate. Thank Christ operations like New Matilda and The Conversation are still afloat.
Here are a few highlights from my time with Rave; bands I would never have otherwise heard of, concerts I might never have gone to, interviews with amazing people I would otherwise have never met. Thanks to all the wonderful writers, editors and photographs and bands that I've worked with. This city is filled to the absolute bursting point with obscenely gifted artists and it's been an absolute blast working with a team dedicated to celebrating this this talent. See you at a gig sometime!
INTERVIEW with Jo Nesbo
WILLIS EARL BEAL – acousmatic sorcery
BIG DEAL – Lights Out
STEVE SMYTH – self-titled
This week, I'm going to give you some advice on romance. Now, I know what you're thinking. It's either A) How did I end up at this page when I was looking for videos of cats playing keyboards??? or B) Why on earth would J. M. Donellan be qualified to give relationship advice? He seems to just post about getting dumped all the time.
I have no answer for A) but in regards to B) I'm hardly going to be the first amateur to deign to impart ill-founded advice. I mean, the Situation wrote a fucking book with advice on dating, I'm pretty goddamn sure I'm more qualified than he is. Not least because of the fact that I realise that a book should consist of more than just 133 pages of narcissistic, misogynistic ranting. And fashion tips.
Sure, love can be a beautiful thing. But let's face it there are plenty of times when it can also be gross, stupid, frustrating, painful and sometimes, just really fucking inconvenient. Maybe they're your housemate. Perhaps you just have the wrong anatomy for their romantic preferences. Or they just said the sentence "I don't know who David Bowie is." Maybe they're dating your best friend and the three of you hang out all the time and once in a while you'll all have a little too much to drink and he/she will suggest you all head into the bedroom together and by the time you realise they were only joking you're already half undressed and then you have to pretend like you were only joking too but they both know you weren't and it gets super awkward and even worse they've seen they embarrassing tattoo that you keen meaning to get removed…
1 IMAGINE THEM AS YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE POLITICIAN
Simple but effective. If the politician in question is ugly and/or the wrong gender for your preferences, even better. Just imagine someone who really sums up everything that's wrong with politics and modern society in general, someone like, oh I don't know…
2 DEVELOP A NEGATIVE PAVLOVIAN REACTION
Sounds weird, I know, but weirder than tying all your hopes, dreams and happiness to one single human being who is just going to end up decomposing in the ground some day? I think not. Keep a packet of something disgusting in your pocket, like canned chrysalises for instance. Every time you see or think about your soon-to-be-not-loved one, shove something putrid into your facehole. Once you associate the object of your desire with squirming, crunchy larvae, IT'S BYE BYE ROMANCE!
3 INTRODUCE THEM TO YOUR PARENTS
I know this is often what people do when a relationship is going WELL, but this is primarily due to the fact that people are idiots. By the time dear old dad asks them for the sixth time if they got that nose ring because they were hoping to more closely resemble a swine or just to antagonise their deadbeat parents you'll know that all hopes of a happy, successful relationship are dead in the water.
4 THINK ABOUT THE LAST TIME YOU BROKE UP WITH SOMEONE
Bear in mind all relationships end, the only variables are when and how badly. Just try and picture that last time, when you listened to the 3 Smith Kings of Misery (Elliott Smith, The Smiths and Robert Smith) on repeat and lived on a daily intake of three bottles of cheap red wine and a family sized block of cadbury chocolate. Actually that last bit doesn't sound too bad, but then there was the bawling over summertime photos, the dividing of possessions, the places, songs, books and movies that were forever ruined. Yeah, that's right. You've got all of THAT to look forward to. Maybe in three months time, maybe three years, maybe three decades but whatever the case we all know that breaking up with someone feels like having your heart torn out of your chest, ripped in half, spat on, then forcibly reinserted via your colon.
So there you have it. Next time you start falling in love and it's going to be the worst idea ever you can thank me for reminding you that's it's the worst idea ever. Send me a thank you email. Maybe with a photo attached. Perhaps a facebook friend request.
Are you single?
My Dearest Queensland, I have just returned from a weekend swimming in your resplendant blue waters at Stradbroke island, followed by two nights in the majestic sunshine coast hinterland, only to return to Brisbane and discover that Campbell 'I hate the arts so much you'd think they strangled my puppy' Newman has scrapped the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards. Bewilderingly, he has deigned to do this during The OFFICIAL YEAR OF READING. Did no one send him a memo? Perhaps they did, and he didn't read it. After all, he has publicly stated that he's 'not into studies and plans.' Not sure how he managed to get an engineering degree, if that's the case…
The money he's 'saving' is a paltry $224 000, an amount that is miniscule in terms of a state budget, but means a great deal to the arts. We are talking about BOOKS here! In the words of George R. R. Martin (via Tyrion Lannister): "The mind need books like a sword needs a whetstone." Newman, it would appear, is all too happy to have some very blunt swords at play.
The loss of the Premier's Literary Award is a devastating blow to the QLD literary community, and if there's one thing I've learnt from a misspent youth reading too many fantasy novels, revenge is a cycle which always ends in joyous victory of good over evil with no sideline ramifications whatsoever. That's why I am, today, right now, announcing the Inaugural Premier's Obituary Award. Whoever can create the most amusing protest (of any kind) against this atrocity, or Mr. Newman in general, will receive:
+ ZEB AND THE GREAT RUCKUS (Um…it doesn't have a cover design yet…)
1 x copy of Reading Madame Bovary The last (ever!?) book to win the Premier's Fiction award
1 x signed copy of my first novel A Beginner's Guide to Dying in India
1 x signed copy of my forthcoming novel Zeb and The Great Ruckus (Due for release later this year).
20 x new release CDs from both major and indie labels. (From my other job as a music reviewer. Selection will depend on what the hell they give me).
All of this will be hand delivered by me. I'll even make you dinner if you like. (Although I am a terrible cook.)
Email your entries (photos/word docs/media files/whatever you’ve got) to jmdonellan(AT)gmail(DOT)com by June 30th. The winner will be decided on August 30th.
OR: WHY I BASE MY VOTE EXCLUSIVELY ON A PARTY’S CIVIL RIGHTS POLICIES.
Congratulations QLD! Your new premier has a lucky elephant. So presumably everything is going to be just fine! (Not making this up he really does call it his lucky elephant.)
The economy is in permanent flux, that's the nature of the beast. Complaining about the economy being unstable is like complaining about water being wet, ice cream being fattening or commercial radio DJs being moronic neanderthals with all the musical and cultural knowledge of a intellectually impaired iguana with early onset dementia. That is simply their inherent condition.
However, when a government brings in improvements to civil rights, an action, by the way, that can be achieved quickly and at very small cost to the state, then that action becomes very hard to repeal. Newman has made the claim he is going to overturn the civil union act. I'm going to go ahead and bet that he's done that merely to chase the hate vote. Overturning such a recently introduced law would be arduous and, more importantly, unnecessary now that's won this round of game of thrones.
We need to recognise that the myriad changes that a government can bring in during their three year term in regards to employment, taxation and even infrastructure are of course all very important, but civil rights policy should trump ALL of these. Every. Single. Time. Governments and financial conditions come and go. But the rights of every citizen to be treated equal, to have access to uniform rights and privileges and to enjoy the multitudinous opportunities that being a member of this nation and this state should entitle you to, regardless of gender, race, sexual preference or religion, should be indelible and unassailable.
People like to use the term 'rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic' I think a more apt metaphor for this situation would be arguing about the Apollo 11’s interior decoration whilst ignoring its trajectory.
"Hey Buzz, whaddya think, should we put the put the coffee table over by the drapes or near the ottoman? Whassat? Ah…I dunno just make a left at the stratosphere and head for the big white hunka rock I guess?"
GOVERNMENT INQUIRY INTO THE PROPOSED GAY MARRIAGE BILL please go and voice your opinion.
Dearest Academy Floral
Thanks so much for your suggestion for me to send more flowers to my now ex-girlfriend for Valentine's day. And yes, you are right. That first bouquet I sent back in September did indeed ‘WOW!’ her. The problem is that the flowers I had delivered to her have now withered and died and been tossed into the nearest trash receptacle.
Much like our relationship.
For a brief period which future literary historians will doubtlessly refer to as ‘J.M. Donellan’s “SWEET MOTHER OF GOD WHY IS EVERYTHING SO UTTERLY AND INCOMPREHENSIBLY HORRIBLE ALWAYS AND ALL THE TIME?’ period I was temporarily transformed into a quivering and mildly alcoholic wreck spending most of my time lying on the floor listening to the Cure’s Disintegration on repeat and consuming a weekly average of twelve packs of oreos.
Thankfully I’ve now more or less recovered, reduced my oreo intake to a much healthier and more sustainable pack a day habit and returned to an emotional state of which Oprah would be far more approving. After all, as the old cliché says, there are ‘plenty more fish in the sea.’ (The fact that the search for love is so frequently compared to tricking a small water dwelling animal into spearing a hook through its face and then subsequently forcing it to asphyxiate in one final furious fit of fatal convulsions before removing its outer layer and internal organs before cooking and consuming said animal does, however, somewhat concern me.)
I suppose I COULD still send her more flowers, but that would seem kind of weird and pathetic. I am both of those things of course, but I’m trying to pretend like I’m not. So far I am attempting to accomplish this by doing push ups every morning, but I’ve been doing this for literally DAYS now and I still don’t have rippling biceps so I’m not really sure what the point is when I can just be my normal scrawny self with absolutely no effort whatsoever.
I’m sure your message was well intentioned, but the fact is, for a great many people Valentine’s day is just a reminder of the fact that they are tragically alone. It’s a day when single people feel like the entire world has conspired to say LOOK AT US! LOOK AT WHAT WE HAVE! LOOK HOW MUCH HAPPIER WE ARE THAN YOU!
"Not as much as I wuv YOU my little muffintop on stuffed crust pizza base with double cherries on top and a side of bacon fondue pudding!"
In conclusion, unless you feel like adding a ‘deliver large box filled with vodka, cheesecake and Stevie Ray Vaughn’ albums to your Valentine’s day package options I don’t think I will be interested in your services.
In fact, after I finish writing this email I am going to instigate a campaign to have National “I Am Still Single Because I Refuse to Settle Down with Anyone Who Won’t Make Me Supremely Happy and Allow Me To Do the Same for Them in Return in Order to Allow My Already Astonishing Levels of Awesomeness to Attain Even Greater Heights” day. This will basically involve a host of astoundingly wonderful single people getting together to drink vodka, eat cheesecake, air guitar to Stevie Ray Vaughn albums and indulge in guilt-free make out sessions in the utilities closet. Feel free to attend.
Good Morrow to you, Sirs and Madams of the Big Six consortium of publishers! I trust you are well. Before I tell you about the EXCITING!!!! opportunity I am offering you today, I have to ask, are you ever concerned by the fact that your informal collective moniker sounds like some kind of crime syndicate? On the other hand, it is also reminiscent of the Bionic Six, which was one of my favourite cartoons as a kid. Do any of you have superpowers, (besides an almost impregnable stranglehold on the publishing industry that is)?
I know that Oprah's retirement last year must have been a sad day for you, seeing as she directly influenced so many people to consume your books in drool inducing quantities. So I'm here with some news to cheer you up! I am offering YOU the EXCITING opportunity to publish my third novel. That's right! This is not a dream, so quit stabbing that fork into your leg! I, J.M. Donellan, renowned New York Limes Best Smelling author, am currently accepting proposals for contracts to publish the bizarrely titled Adonis Comma Coma.
Now, granted, this novel does not feature diet tips, games involving thrones, vampires, or girls with dragon tattoos who play with fire. I'm saving all of these for my forthcoming novel Diet Tips from the Vampire Girl With a Dragon Tattoo Who Played a Game of Thrones With Fire. That'll sell a billion and ten copies, no question, but in the meantime I offer you the opportunity to place Adonis Comma Coma under your metaphorical wings. Or literal wings if you have them, maybe that's one of your superpowers.
Adonis Comma Coma is a dark comedy about a synaesthetic nurse named Freya who is hired to look after the comatose Elijah, the golden child of the wealthy and eccentric Vincetti family. However, it soon becomes clear that Elijah may not have been the prodigious saint that everyone made him out to be. Meanwhile, someone is disposing of the Vincetti's corporate rivals in a series of imaginatively violent executions. Strange events are transpiring in the curiously over fortified room of the Vincetti mansion, and it may or not have something to do with a woman who claims to be Marilyn Monroe…
Applications should be made in the form of interpretative dance, magical cake, fireworks display or self-indulgent guitar solo. Winners will be chosen based on talent, enthusiasm and endurance.
If you are interested in this EXCITING, LIFE CHANGING opportunity, then don't think JUST ACT NOW!III I'm looking for someone to offer me a contract with 80-90% royalties, a jetpack, the complete set of Garbage Pail Kids cards, a performing monkey and a limo with accompanying driver named something like Ahmir or Vikram with whom I can share heartwarming exchanges about the differences between our cultures that can later be presented in a delightful montage set to this song:
I look forward to receiving your dance performance, fireworks display, magic cake or guitar solo.
My Dearest Brisbane City Council,
I hope that the first days of 2012 have treated you well and that you are recovering from your collective hangover, which I imagine a government body experiences as a sort of hive mind shared headache coupled with an inexplicable desire to eat copious quantities of Tim Tams.
Recently on Waterworks Rd, which I have lived near, next to and occasionally underneath for the last five years or so, a giant camera was installed. Now, I understand that speed cameras and the like are important, but the plethora of digital monitoring devices installed along this street over the last few years makes me concerned that I might be secretly filmed as part of a potently uninteresting reality TV show entitled 'Guy Who Gets Increasingly Irate About Vast Numbers of Cameras and Then Writes a Dumb Letter About it.'
This new camera is particularly striking because, let's be honest, it looks like the penis of a giant robot. Now, I certainly don't want to give the impression that I'm the sort of backward individual that thinks transmogrifying our streetscape into some sort of digitally omniscient panopticon is a BAD idea.
Nor would I ever make the outrageous accusation that waging a war on street art, ostensibly in the interest of maintaining the aesthetics of this fair city, is a violently incongruent campaign to run whilst simultaneously installing thirty foot steel pillars that resemble giant robot penises. That said, although I've never been one for hyperbole I think it would be no exaggeration to say that this is literally the ugliest human structure ever erected by any human anywhere in all of history. I have never in all my days seen anything more hideous, and I once saw a picture of Nicole Ritchie without makeup.
Now, I'm aware that you must receive countless letters from concerned citizens that are all complaints with no solutions. But today is your lucky day! In addition to my complaints, I am going to offer you some potential solutions to this problem and completely waive my usual consultation fee of $500 per hour and a very large piece of cheesecake.
Clearly the camera would be costly and inefficient to take down, regardless of the number of complaints urging you to do so. But there is nothing to stop you dressing it up a little! Who knows, this monstrous symbol of constant citizen monitoring could be just like that girl with the ugly glasses in all those terrible teen movies that turns out to actually be a ridiculously hot girl who despite her remarkable intellect had never once thought to wear contacts and let her hair down.
1 TURN IT INTO A GIANT MAYPOLE
"Oh what a gay old time we are having dancing in ridiculously impractical clothing around this giant robot penis!"
No one really knows the true origin of the maypole. Some say it was a stick that was originally intended for the burning of particularly colourful witches, others claim that maypole dancing was an activity invented by a antiquarian marketing company that wanted to increase sales of poles, ribbons and maypole related accessories. Though its origins are shrouded in mystery, one thing's clear: everybody loves a maypole!
2 TRANSFORM IT INTO A HUMUNGOUS YEAR ROUND XMAS TREE
Wasn't it sad when Christmas was over? After months of gleefully watching credit card debts expand, enjoying irate shoppers shoving each other out of the way and listening to weird uncle Frank's annual Christmas rant about how boat people and gay marriage are the leading cause of heart failure amongst middle aged conservatives we had to put all the decorations away and return to our dreary non-Christmassy lives. But what if we could make that magic last all YEAR LONG?! A giant xmas tree camera tower is the obvious answer.
3 MAKE IT INTO A MASSIVE TESLA COIL
The main thing that you need to know about the Tesla coil is that it is amazing. You think a giant camera is going to encourage safe driving? Just think about how great it would be if that camera could also SHOOT LIGHTNING. Plus Waterworks rd. would constantly resemble the set of a B grade science fiction movie, and who the hell wouldn't want that? IDIOTS, that's who!
This concludes my complaint letter. I hope enjoy the rest of your day, and I look forward to seeing the completed maypole, Xmas tree or Tesla coil installed within the next 5-10 workdays.
Yours Since Clearly,
I hate shopping. And not just because I'm an 'anti-consumerist hippie.' I hate trying stuff on, I hate waiting in queues and I hate the fact that stores play insufferable techno music with a high BPM that is specifically selected to impair your impulse control systems.
"You know, I thought that $149.95 for a polo shirt was a little pricey, but now that I've had a Bleach-blonde German guy yelling at me for a few minutes over the sound of what appears to be a few dozens synths being massacred by a chainsaw, I realise it's actually a really great deal!"
Around Christmas time, shopping transmogrifies from a mild ordeal into a kafkaesque nightmare soundtracked by horrendous carols on incessant repeat and a horde of holiday shoppers who, I'm quite sure, were friendly, muffin baking, herb-garden-planting suburbanites just a few weeks ago but have now become furious, salivating bargain hunters who occasionally use capsicum spray.
I'm no scrooge though, I like giving presents and bearing witness to that heart-warming half-smile that just screams "Are you kidding me did you seriously think I would like THIS?!? Witness the wrath of my obviously feigned gratitude and appreciative hug!" This year, however, I decided to do 100% of my shopping online through ethical retailers. This means that not only do I skip the queues, irate holiday shoppers and twenty minute search for a car park, but the gifts I get give a little something back to the developing world.
Think about it, if you buy a $120 Adidas handbag for your sister, extremely effeminate dad, or horrendously anthropomorphised poodle and they don't like it, you've not only blown your hard earned cash, you've also contributed profits to a corporation that uses child and sweatshop labour and has a history of sexually harassing its workers.
"OMG! Are you, like for real! ?! That TOTES does not go with this outfit!"
If you do your christmas hopping at an ethical retailer and your loved one throws their gift in the bottom of their cupboard for all eternity, at least you've given some money to working communities in the developing world who will be paid a fair wage and use environmentally sound practices. Doing it online means you can even shop in your underwear whilst listening to the Ramones. Which I suppose you could do in the store as well, but it might come across as a little weird.
"Yeah I'll take one of those wallets, a diary, these candles…oh wait! GUITAR SOLO!!!"
Here's a list of some of the leading ethical gift stores, feel free to suggest others.
AND A MERRY WHATEVER THING YOU BELIEVE IN TO ALL!!!