NYWF13

The Sturgeon General is reliving the good times at this year’s National Young Writers Festival, in post-industrial funland, Newcastle. 

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On Thursday 3rd October, The Sturgeon General will be launching at the Launch Launchpad, along with a host of other spectacular journals and exciting new books. SG editor Patrick Lenton will be talking, possibly lecturing about digimon and SG author Jack Vening will be doing a reading. It will be swell.

If you are around the festival, you can catch Patrick Lenton doing all sorts of readings and also teaching a workshop on how to write comedy.

Sturgeon General author Geoff Lemon is also doing things, such as reading out hate mail, and not running the entire festival this year. Well done, Geoff. 

Hope to see you there!

‘Sturgey’ the mutant military-minded fishman.

Raidis Estate launch wines

Our launch is on Monday! While I know I should be excited about the readings from the Sturgeon General authors and the special performance by MotherFather, really all I care about is drinking the amazing wine provided by Raidis Estate. They’ve been immensely helpful by sponsoring us with some of their best wines. I happen to know just how brilliant their grape extracts are due to visiting their vineyard a few years ago. I thought maybe I could attempt to excite you about their wine by looking up my tasting notes from my visit and comparing them to their ‘official’ notes.

Print

BILLY
CABERNET SAUVIGNON, 2010

Selected in the Top 100 Australian Wines and rated 94 points by News Limited National wine editor Tony Love.

wine_billy09

OFFICIAL NOTES: Caramel, spice, stewed berries, earthiness, cloves, mint, and leather all dominate the nose. The palate continues the complexity of the wine showing gamey characters and a sweet spice. Billy Cabernet Sauvignon is juicy and has good fleshiness and roundness on the palate.

STURGEON GENERAL NOTES: The scent of goats, mountains, pina coladas and reaching for the stars, all dance alluringly around the nose, occasionally reaching out to steal it like a drunk uncle. The palate features gamey characters as well as game characters, like Mario and to a lesser extent, Luigi. The Billy Cabernet Sauvignon is like someone punching you with fists of pure taste and you love it.

CHEEKY GOAT
PINOT GRIS, 2012

wine_goat_2011

OFFICIAL NOTES: The Cheeky Goat has instant aromas of apple, pear, cinnamon, spices, and floral notes. This wine has a lovely mouth feel and texture, good length, nice savoury spice with tropical fruit sweetness.

STURGEON GENERAL NOTES: The Cheeky Goat is like breathing in a mother’s love, a handshake with a stranger, sunshine on a robot, the sparkle of the moon in a ninjas eye. It tastes like nothing less than sexy unicorn dancing.

THE KELPIE
SAUVIGNON BLANC, 2012

wine_kelpie_2011

OFFICIAL NOTES: This wine shows great varietal characters of passionfruit, tropical, musk, herbs, and guava. There is complexity on the palate with pink grapefruit and good acid – making it refreshingly zingy with good mouth feel.

STURGEON GENERAL NOTES: There is a PUPPY on the label. A GODDAMN PUPPY. That is so cute. That is adorable. I want to be its dad.

MAMA GOAT
MERLOT, 2010

wine_mama_2010

OFFICIAL NOTES: Vibrant red fruits with a spicy edge and floral notes. Chocolate finish, balanced wine with nice soft tannins and good oak influence.

STURGEON GENERAL NOTES: This is a MILD, a ‘Mum I’d Like to Drink’. Is it still cannibalism if you drink a person, because technically that isn’t eating. Or is the definition of cannibalism simply ingesting them? Because if not, you could totally like, blend someone into paste and drink ‘em up and not get hit with that horrible cannibal stigma. But this is not a person, it’s a wine. So you don’t have to murder anybody OR worry about being a cannibal. It’s a win-win situation. That should be their slogan: ‘Drink this wine, and don’t eat another persons sweet flesh. Scallywag’.

Remember, our launch is on Monday the 20th at 7pm.

The 107 Projects, 107 Redfern Street, Redfern.

Entry is Free!

4 Questions with Callum O’Donnell

Sturgeon General author Callum O’Donnell is like a twisting maze of dead ends and hedges, hedges as far as the eye can see. Armed with only four paltry questions, I attempted to navigate his circuitous brain.

Callum O'Donnell: "Potentially able to read"

Callum O’Donnell: “Potentially able to read”

Why do you write comedy?

I try to write funny stories because I think that humour is the most valuable tool in a writers proverbial work shed. If you think about it, an awful lot of literature can boil down to a study of power; the power between a man and a woman, between a parent and child, between an employee and employer, between a borrower and a lender or between a state and a citizen. Comedy began as satire, which to me is a way for those without power to laugh at those who have it, or to show people the funny side of things they wouldn’t usually find funny. I want to show people how absurd everything really is if you think about it for long enough.

What are your inspirations?

It’s hard to say what inspires any story, I’d have to say other books I’ve read inspire me. I’ll read something and think ‘Jesus, I’m never going to write something that good’ and get discouraged for a long time, but that whole time I’m thinking about the book I’ve read and then eventually I do write something. It’s never as good though.

What is something funny that has happened to you?

I’ve got a pretty warped sense of humour, I find a lot of things funny, but not that long ago I was visiting my family in Scotland and was flying back to Sydney via Dubai. Two fellow Glaswegians on the plane were royally pissed before the flight took off, and by the time we were at cruising altitude they were that wrecked they started kicking the shit out of each other. Obviously, modern aerospace security being what it is, this caused quite the stir. As I watched, the flight attendants managed to subdue one of the men using only a taser and three seat belts, and after several pilot announcements asking us all to remain calm the other sprinted hell for leather up the aisle with a full contingent of taser wielding attendants after him. Where was this man running to? We were locked in a tube thirty thousand feet off the ground. I doubt even he knew where was running, but I for one like to think he got there. He didn’t, a shit load of very scary UAE policemen arrested him and his mate when we landed in Dubai, but I like to think that he did.

What are you reading?

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell. Good shit.

You can buy The Sturgeon General Recommends Callum O’Donnell.

4 Questions with Geoff Lemon

Sturgeon General author Geoff Lemon is as sharp as a glass knife made out of priest judgements with a mind as shrouded as a widow enshrouded in mist standing on a foggy moor who is also blind or something. I asked him questions: he answered.

Geoff Lemon and his glorious mane

Geoff Lemon and his glorious mane

Why do you write comedy?

Truthfully I’ve never thought of myself as writing comedy, nor consciously tried to do so. I just write the way I speak, and my conversations are built around jokes and puns and impersonations and similes, for no other reason than because they’re fun. That spills over naturally into writing, especially because in writing you can start to bore yourself far faster than in speech. A paragraph can feel like it’s going on forever because it’s taken you an hour to write, and you forget it’ll only take 30 seconds to read. That’s when my brain starts looking for jokes, because it wants to keep its own interest, which by good fortune helps readers keep theirs.

That’s why I like using humour in things like political writing, because you can make a dry subject entertaining, and keep your reader paying attention the whole way through. You can still have a strong level of research and analysis, but make it more palatable. Also the situations being discussed are so frequently and deeply absurd that only humour can adequately convey that absurdity.

So really the question is more why wouldn’t you include humour? Laughter is pretty much the best thing humans have got going for us, in the face of the frequent fuck-ups of life, so we might as well make use of it.

What are your inspirations?

How to answer this without sounding like Enya? In terms of writing, it’s the idea that we can connect with people that we’ve never met, make them have an emotional response, and in some way illuminate something in their own life. There are all these writers and musicians and artists who’ve had those responses in me, and I love the idea of being able to pass that down the line. In terms of what I write about, inspiration comes from all kinds of strange or strangely prosaic places, the little bits and pieces in life that you start noticing once you have a forum in which to share them. When it comes to writing on politics or social matters, the inspiration is the desire to lay a debate out clearly for myself, and in doing so hopefully give some clarity to other people. It’s about trying to hose away all the bullshit around an argument, because that always builds up fast.

What is a funny thing that happened to you?

As a fairly cocky person day to day, I do enjoy getting slapped down once in a while. There’s a police vehicle in Melbourne that always intrigued me. It’s a dark blue van with tinted windows and the word RESPONSE written down the side in massive reflective fluoro-orange letters. For several years I was fascinated with it. I would see it around the place and always ask, “What does it respond to?” To the point that one time while driving with my friend Mr Fox we ended up behind it on St Kilda Rd, and decided to solve the mystery. We followed it around the city, driving down streets, making random turns down the narrow Little roads of the CBD. I guess they realised we were following them, because they just started doing circles and weird manoeuvres trying to throw us off. After about half an hour we realised that Mr Fox had a lot of drugs in his pocket and we should probably stop doing that. So we still didn’t know, and pondered it late into the night.

Some months later I was leaving a pub near the Vic markets and saw the Response van parked by Peel Street. It was a hot summer night, and the passenger window was down. A blue-sleeved police elbow was resting on the ledge. This was the first time I’d ever seen into the Response van. I was delighted. I stared as we passed, trying to work out what was happening inside. Eventually I couldn’t contain myself, and called to the cop. “Hey! What do you guys respond to?”

The cop looked out at me, drunk and weaving a little, my early-20s whiteboy afro flopping side to side, and drawled “Dudes with stupid haircuts.”

 What are you reading?

The other Sturgeon General books – it’s like being part of some weird club where too many of the men are wearing hats. Also, finishing off Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, I’m on the last of seven volumes now, and anyone who wants to look down on that gentleman’s writing is welcome to eat a bag of dicks, because he’s one of the very best. I’m also reading submissions for the next edition of Going Down Swinging, due later this year.

We’ve just finished Going Down Swinging #34, which is really exciting as someone who has mostly worked in print publishing. This is a totally multimedia edition custom-built for computers and iPads. It does all these crazy things with writing, mixing together text and images and audio and video, and publishing all this work which would be literally impossible to put on paper. It’s one of the more exciting things I’ve seen published, and I recommend people have a look to figure out what the hell I’m talking about.

You can buy The Sturgeon General Recommends Geoff Lemon.
You can follow Geoff Lemon on Twitter: @geofflemon
You can buy Going Down Swinging #34

4 Questions with Jack Vening

Some say Sturgeon General author Jack Vening is the silence after a babies laughter and yet more say he is like a wise man’s dick joke. To sort out the confusion, he was savvy enough to answer a few questions for me.
Jack Vening: 'Dad Handsome'

Jack Vening: ‘Dad Handsome’

Why do you write comedy?
I got it into my head in highschool that I could make up for all my other shortcomings with girls by making them laugh. During a sort of Dawsons Creek phase I would make sure that they knew that humour was just a way of shielding my true, beating heart. In retrospect, it was the worst thing to ever happen on planet earth?
What are your inspirations?
Horses, cowboy things, some gifs, clawhammer banjo, songs about having to shoot your baby down.

What is a funny thing that happened to you?
A few weeks ago I nearly got beaten up for accidentally staring at some drug-dealer’s girlfriend’s astonishingly bad leg tattoo in a Japanese hamburger joint. It was the kind of picture you’d draw when you’re too young to understand what dragonflies actually look like, except that someone had been paid money to inject it into someone else’s skin, and looking at it will nearly get you beaten up in front of a bunch of nervous Japanese teenagers. It wasn’t even funny. I don’t know why I’m talking about it.
What are you reading?
This year I’ve been trying to read nothing but obscure short story writers with weird names, so right now it’s Bryce D’J Pancake’s posthumous collection. Otherwise, George Saunder’s 10th of December, and little bits of Wolf Hall, and a big stack of books about forests that I ordered in bulk when I was in A Place
You can follow him on Twitter @LoYonderJack
You can see some other stuff he does as part of Brisbane writing collective Stilts.

4 Questions with Cait Harris

Sturgeon General author Cait Harris is like a barrel of questions at the bottom of a mystery lake. Luckily she’s proving to be cooperative in our attempt to get to the bottom of all this.

Cait Harris

Cait Harris

Why do you write comedy?

Because I find meeting sad, anxiety provoking or humiliating events and elements of life with humour quite therapeutic. If you, and others, can have a chuckle at a situation in retrospect – a little light is splashed on the dark, you get a little bit back, and a little healing is performed I think. My friends still don’t quite understand why I laugh when they relay their misfortunes, but it is truly the highest form of empathy I know. Apart from giving them a good hug.

What are your inspirations?

I’ve a few (probably millions): For short story writing it can be day-to-day life which is then greatly embellished. I’m also very grateful to things like Story Club (Ben Jenkins and Zoe Norton Lodge), Penguin Plays Rough (Pip Smith) and Cut & Paste (Phil Spencer and Zoe Norton Lodge) for offering great themes and story nights in front of audiences that really get you enthused and writing quick. At thirteen, my dad took me to see a David Sedaris reading and I fell in love, so I certainly find Mr Sedaris’ writing inspiring. And my parents story telling abilities and various outlooks on life for sure- my dad would often say to me growing up, ‘No shame, no gain.’ For writing plays, I find improvising with a great group of actors exceptionally inspiring. Improvisation gets you to the heart n’ truth of the humor lickity-split. There’s no time for ulterior motives with improv- and fabulous dialogue is generated from the players.

What is a funny thing that happened to you?

I was recently walking up the stairs at Circular Quay train station wearing shorts (my first mistake) when I felt a warm, gentle breeze blowing on the back of my leg. I continued to climb the stairs, registering that the breeze now appeared to be blowing in a zig zaggy motions on the back my knees, interlaced with giggles and the slight smell of Coopers. I finally – after it did a loop-de-loop – turned around and saw a drunken and unkempt dude pissing himself as he kept trying to blow on me. I jumped away and allowed him to reach the top stair and my eye level before wagging my finger in his face and reprimanding him loudly and haughtily, ‘You – keep -your- breath – to yourself..thankyouverymuch!’ It took all I had not to giggle with him, I found it quite funny. But one really should keep ones breath to oneself.

What are you reading?

My Dad recommended Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Life and Love by Cheryl Strayed and I’ve been absolutely relishing it. A Cheryl quote from the book to summarize the blurb is, ‘The best possible thing you can do with your life, is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of love.’

And for fifteen years I have, once a week, read my horoscope on Free Will Astrology by Rob Brezney – he’s hilarious and devine.

You can buy The Sturgeon General Recommends Cait Harris.
You can also see her play on at The Bondi Pavillion as part of Bondi Feast with TRS on July 22nd and 23rd:

Siberian Hot Toddy
Based on a story by Cait Harris and Arianwen Parkes-Lockwood
Written by Cait Harris and the Cast
Directed by Cait Harris
Starring: Libby Ahearn, Marcello Fabrizi, Cait Harris, Tiffany Hulm, and Mark Sutton

Fledgling Sydney actresses Krystal and JasmIn are ecstatic when they get a gig in Siberia as home shopping presenters. But this frosty set isn’t full of cheese and champas, but is the hub of an actor-slave trade run by televideniye producer Vlatkov Vivisexy. The actresses must now put their differences aside to win the roll of their lives – their lives.
A rollicking comedy with heart, Hot Toddy will leave you wanting more, more, more.