Sunday, November 11, 2012

Good Job, Dr. Watson

In my recent quest to have my girlfriend watch more or less everything on my DVD shelf in our spare time, I recently finished re-watching the Steven Moffat series Sherlock. Besides enjoying the clever - and sometimes a bit cheesy - re-imagining of Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle's classic stories and characters, I got to appreciate the performances of some pretty tremendous actors.

For those of you who don't know, besides writing, my dream is to act. I love to act. I love pretending to be someone else and say things and do things that I wouldn't normally do. To make people feel something. To make them laugh or cry or even just smile. I love it. Entertainment is the best thing ever. A lot of the time, when I watch films or commercials or TV shows, I pick out which character that not only I'd like to play but - more realistically - which one would I be cast as. When I watch Criminal Minds, I can see myself in the role of Dr. Reid portrayed by Matthew Gray Gubler. I always imagine that I could do any role given to Michael Cera or Jesse Eisenberg or Jay Baruchel.While watching Sherlock, I liked to pretend that I could play Holmes or Watson or Moriarty. If I just looked older.

But that's not really true.

Maybe I could do a decent job with Holmes or Moriarty (again, given I looked older than I do) but upon re-watching the final episode of the second season, I was struck once more by the simplicity and the haunting of Martin Freeman's delivery of Watson's final monologue in the graveyard. Martin Freeman was not only subtle but delicate, emotional but restrained. In short, it was perfect. Freeman evoked waterfalls of tears by the simplest intake of breath, always stopping himself short of out and out weeping. Because that's not what Watson would do.

I just wanted to say that Martin Freeman is an incredibly underrated and wonderful actor, and I look forward to The Hobbit.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Week 18 - Catching Up!

Though in previous weeks I've been behind on my short story writing, this week marks a wonderful turn; I'm ahead. Yesterday, I spent most of the day scribbling out stories, which caught me up to this week's quota of 18 in total. I punched out the finish to a story I'd started weeks ago which desperately needed an ending; I wrote a short film which - as it is a short piece of fiction, totally counts - I'd been fermenting in my head for days; and the best one of all, I revisited an old favourite and wrote a new pulp piece featuring the heroic Captain Horatio Silverthorn. Anyone who'd like to read that joy, please just comment and I'll pass it along to you. This one's a doozy - airships!

I even started a new one today. A new story, when I don't have to! I've decided to get a head start on Week 19 so that way I don't fall so behind again.

All of this, of course, means I've fallen desperately and perhaps irretrievably behind on NaNoWriMo - but you know what? I don't care. I didn't really feel the impetus when I started this year's one and so I'm not perturbed by being so behind. It's been good to revisit the old story that I'd started so many years ago, work on that world again, but I think I'm going to do it at my own pace. When I have days where my mind just isn't conducive to writing and yet I am forced to, I just write out schlock that I know I'll have to remove or edit later, and I'd rather not do that labour. So, for now, I'll work on that beast when I feel I have the right reigns.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Weeks 15, 16 & 17 - And NaNoWriMo

Jesus it's been another intense month. I've been terrible at updating and I apologize. I was doing so well there at the start, too.

In Week 15 I caught up to where I was supposed to be and started a Zombie short story but for some reason I couldn't finish it. It was just going to be too damn long and I didn't have the energy to sit and write a long piece. Then Week 16 rolled around. Just like I knew it would.

I started another story but it, too, I soon lost the taste for. I was losing my impetus. Starting to want to give up on this whole nasty, diabolical business. Sometimes, I still do. I know I did when Week 17 came upon me.

I managed to pump out a pulpy story about an explorer and quicksand and etc, etc. It was fun to write. Really fun. I miss writing pulp, so I think that'll be the case for the next few weeks.

And November started and so came NaNoWriMo again. For the third time. I wasn't going to do it initially - why do that when I have so much Bradbury-ing to do, right? Wrong. When so many people assaulted me with "are you?" and "why aren't you?" and "you should", I said what a madman says when asked if he hears voices, "yes".

I'm seven and a bit thousand words in now and I'm honestly not regretting it. I'm working on a story that I'd given up on a few years ago and it's good to settle into something like this. I'd clearly been reading a lot of Bukowski at the time. That feels good. Fun to write, too.

And then there's the comic. But that's a story for another blog post.


I don't know how I forgot to mention this, but it seems I did and apologies to all those involved!
It was around week 16 that a friend, Mr. David Sander of Surfaces Rendered, came to me with a proposition. He gave me some work on editing his screenplay. I accepted and began to devour and twist and edit! That was something nice and different from my usual fare. With Final Draft open on my desktop each night, it was certainly a fruitful labour that continues!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Weeks 11, 12, 13 & 14

Argh! Well this has been the worst month for writing.
I missed one week and then another and another and before I knew it, three short stories behind. I managed to get one down but then a new week flipped over (14) and then I was still three behind!
I scribbled out another one, just something short and weird and kind of erotic and I don't know why but it's there and it's done and it's something to mark on the tally.
I was debating starting to write an issue of the comic or the pilot of my TV show I want to do but that seems like cheating. It is, right? Right.
I'm pushing out the last two now and it's just a fierce bastard to do. It's amazing how you completely reset to absolute zero when you miss out on a couple of weeks of this. Shit. It builds up like NaNoWriMo and resets your mind to NOTHINGNESS.
Once again, if anyone wants to read these things, let me know.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

10 Weeks: Reflection

This is it - the big ONE ZERO. I've hit ten weeks of this taxing writing experiment known as the Bradbury Method. It's been something, that's for sure. Only forty-two more to go.

I find, as I finish my late-in-the-week story for this week - a short piece that I wrote in a rush because my mind wasn't ready for other things - that I am enjoying the act of writing more and more. The process itself makes more sense to me, feels better. I'm more willing to expand on certain paragraphs and ideas. The stories feel fuller, when it strikes me anyway.

I'm also finding that I'm becoming less afraid. Each time I think of a new story idea, I no longer shy away from starting it for fear of ruining it. I just let 'er rip. I've been thinking of more of them than usual, too, which is nice. Kind of bombarding my mind it's hard to always keep track.

Anyway, thanks for sticking through this bastard of a thing with me.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

And that's Week 9...

...and what a week it was!

All in all, not a bad one. I started one story only to realize, after a discussion with my fellow Bradbury Method partner, that it could be taken to all of these wonderful places and would be far too long to be able to finish this week.

Luckily, though, I had a half-finished piece from last week that I hadn't had the energy to really look at. Fortunately for me, this week was better for it. Nailed it to the wall tonight. That felt good.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Weeks 7 & 8

So, I know I said that a) I would post more and b) that last week (Week 7) I was totally catching up. Well, I was, but the third story I started for the week completely eluded me and made itself far too intangible. Completely untouchable.

Today, however, midway through Week 8, I have written two stories. Two. Today. Two brand new stories that brings my total back up to in line. I've caught up! The stories came to me today and I just shot them out through my (now sore) fingertips!

I didn't finish the one I started at the end of Week 7, but now I have a bit of wiggle room in being able to work on it properly without too much stress, so that feels pretty good.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Weeks 4, 5, 6 & 7!

Agh! So I have just been the worst lately. Due to sickness/food poisoning during Week 4, I didn't write a story, so I didn't update. Then I had a family crisis in Week 5, so I didn't write anything and then I decided why bother updating? Week 6 I was lazy because of unemployment and only did two of the three stories I had accrued over that time; and now we're into Week 7 and I'm only just catching up!

I'm back to work as a labourer and I managed to get some time in today after work to write a full story, so that's nice. I have the start of another story that I have to finish before the end of the week to get back on track. I like the start of it, but I don't want to rush it just to get it done. I want it to work.

It's been tough to catch up. It's like NaNoWriMo where if you miss one day of writing, your tally is doubled for the next day. I'm almost back to normal output, but yeah, thanks for sticking through this with me and sorry I haven't been posting! I promise I'll do better.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Third Week

Holy mackerel has the time just flown by! It's already the end of the third week of The Bradbury Method, although it feels like it's been going forever. I managed to punch out a short, short story which I'm quite pleased with and with the help of Luke and Omar I managed to make it even better. So, thanks a LOT to those guys for putting up with my pestering.
I'm so pleased with it, actually, then I'm going to send it off to a mag shortly, once I've gone over it for the bajillionth time.

It's tough actually sitting down and finding time to write at the moment, what with life being what it is with all its necessary insanities. If anyone wants to read them, feel free to contact me with your email in the comments - or, if I know you, just get in touch with me however.

Back to it! BRARGH!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Second Week

Today brings a conclusion to the second week of The Bradbury Method and the start of the third. It's tough, this deal. Making me realize some things about the style of short story that I write. I know the types I like to read and obviously there is a certain imitation to the styles of those in search of my own voice. Etgar Keret and Joe Hill have been particular inspirations, as I'm sure I've mentioned before. And Raymond Carver. Neil Gaiman. Charles Bukowski.

Short pieces of fiction that are not only self-contained but satisfying in their own way. I've realized about myself that I don't write very long short stories. Now, I know it may seem counter-intuitive to have a "long short story" but it's not, really. A short story can go anywhere, it seems, from 500 to 15,000 words. After that, it's really a novella. My peak seems to be anywhere up to and including about 3000 words. Anything longer than that and I feel I might as well make it a damn book. I don't even really like reading short stories that are more than about ten pages. I like them short. That's why I like Keret and Bukowski especially - easy bite-sized chunks of interesting dialogue and happenstance.

I wrote a story on the first day of this week. One I'm pretty happy with. I think I might chop off the ending; I think I just wrote the last paragraph because I felt the story was too short but it doesn't really fit. Some parts in the middle could maybe use some expanding or made to flow better, but it's there on paper. It's written. That's two for two so far. I have to start a new one tonight or at least sometime this week. I have the idea, at least.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Aurora Massacre is NOT a Religious Debate

If you've been keeping up with the news, you know about the Aurora Massacre shootings in Colorado. If you don't, then a) read the news every now and then and b) it's the story of a guy, James Holmes, who waited outside a movie theatre in Colorado and gunned down a crowd going in for a midnight session of The Dark Knight Rises. 12 people were killed and 58 were wounded: men, women and children. As police arrested him, he announced "I'm the Joker!" It's likely the man is a little off-balance.

It's a national tragedy for Americans, one of the worst mass shootings in American history. It's called to the fore opinions and discussions on gun control - Holmes was armed with about four guns, some of which were rapid fire, and 6000 rounds of ammunition he had acquired completely legally. It has nothing at all to do with religion.

Then I saw this story.

In case you can't read it, that is a story about Loonies-in-Residence the Westboro Baptist Church, otherwise known as the "God Hates Fags" protesters, declaring that they will "super picket" the prayer vigils for the victims of the massacre. The announced this on Twitter with hastags like #ThankGodForTheShooter and #godsenttheshooter.
Reddit users and the Denver Comic Con urged people to join in on a "wall of Love" to prevent the WBC from reaching the vigil.

Now, this may seem pretty in keeping with what the WBC does if you know anything about them - and they've been in the media a lot. But, then Jerry Newcombe joined the crazy brigade, telling people that this happened because "America has lost its fear of hell", going on to say that only the Christians amongst the dead were going to heaven, and that "if [they don't] know Jesus Christ.. if they knowingly rejected Jesus Christ, then, basically, they are going to a terrible place". Oh yeah, because that's what they're loved ones want to hear, you bastard!
He then used some of his airtime to springboard into telling people that in light of this awful tragedy, now would be a good time to become a Christian and confess your sins because, who knows, YOU COULD BE NEXT!

Right on the heels of that, Holmes' old pastor came out and said that Holmes was always "a shy boy who was driven to succeed academically".  Okay, I know that people need some perspective on this guy to try and understand his actions, but why did they ask his pastor? He even said he hasn't spoken to Holmes in six years! SIX YEARS! A lot can change then, Pastor!

Holmes is now receiving death threats from other inmates. When they brought him in he was "dressed up like the Joker, 'acting crazy' and 'spitting on guards'";
“All the inmates were talking about killing him," just-released inmate Wayne Medley told the Daily News. "Everyone was looking for an opportunity. It’s all they could talk about."
So, I guess even the prisoners don't like him. Because he did something horrendous. Not because of anything religious, they want to kill him because he's a dick. Religion has no place in the arena of this case and it is doing nothing but hurt the families of the injured and deceased.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Bathroom Etiquette

I have a whole slew of peculiar eccentricities when it comes to numbers, social contracts and germs. I'm a hypochondriac who's afraid of needles to get blood tests. I have to do everything in even numbers - eat, kiss, steps taken with each foot. I don't like to touch anything in a public bathroom and will do as much as I can do avoid this when I'm in them and still wash my hands.

Also, for some odd reason - probably related to my face - I get a lot of strangers talking to me. On the bus, on the train, on the street, on planes. Anywhere. They will approach me, ask something or say something, and then just stick around. And because I'm so damn Canadian (RE: polite) I find it very hard to extricate myself from the situation lest something force me (e.g. the train I have to get on arrives and they are not getting on it).

All in all, I live a mildly awkward life.

There is, however, one place that I've found that people mostly preserve the sacred code and that is in the public restroom. Everyone knows that - in the men's room, anyway - you go in, do your business, and you leave. Like in an elevator, you don't speak (unless it's just you and your buddies), you barely make eye contact with anyone if you can and then you get out.

So when the fuck did it become okay for people to just chatty-McChat-chat in the goddamn bathroom?

For the longest time - and the worst offenders are at work - it would just be I'd walk in, nod at whoever was at the sink if they noticed me, I'd go in and do my business and leave, nodding at whoever else walked in. Now, it seems, I walk in and whoever is at the sink not only says "hello" but does their merry best to engage me in conversation.

"How are you?"
"How's your dad?"
"How's work treating you?"

I bluff past this until the bathroom proper where thankfully there is but one urinal and two stalls. On my way out, whoever is coming in says something to me. When I'm at the sink, someone comes in and chats. Someone comes out of the bathroom stall and chats.


The worst is walking into the bathroom, some people are chatting and then on my way out they're still there! No. The bathroom is not a place to have a chat. It's a place to piss, shit, wash your hands/face and get the fuck out.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises: Gotham's Reckoning

Since the end of The Dark Knight, like any fan, I have been eagerly anticipating The Dark Knight Rises. It was like seeing The Empire Strikes Back and waiting so long to know the end of the story as it comes in Return of the Jedi. I don't think I could make this paragraph any geekier. Sufficed to say, I was excited.

I was concerned though, too, that I was hyping myself up too much and that - because my expectations were so high - I would ruin the movie for myself. It's the same trap we all fall into for a highly anticipated movie - especially a sequel to a much loved film.

In all honesty, however, I was not disappointed. The sheer scale of TDKR is one of the things I found so astonishing. Christopher Nolan said he wanted to make a large scale film in the behind-the-scenes featurette and how he has prevailed.

In the film, Gotham is about to get its comeuppance by criminal mastermind Bane (Tom Hardy). Batman (Christian Bale) has been off the streets for 8 years in the wake of Harvey Dent's (Aaron Ekhart) death in The Dark Knight. Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) is the only one who knows the truth and is tortured by it. Meanwhile, hothead cop and idealist Officer Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is on the streets, believing that Gotham needs the Batman again.

Anne Hathaway does a magnificent job as Catwoman - the best ever rendering of the character on film to date. She embodied the sensuality, the slyness and the violence that accompanies the character in the comics, and did so without ever making one bad cat pun, or purring.

This was definitely Christian Bale's best Batman performance, starting with a weakened Bruce Wayne and back into the swing of Batman. He portrayed a depth and brooding to the character that was remarkable.

But truly, my hat must be tipped to Tom Hardy. His performance as Bane was not only magnificent, but terrifying. Those who have read the comics know what Bane can do and has done. He is a monster of the highest calibre, and Tom Hardy did not disappoint. Honestly, if the track was laid down by Heath Ledger for his performance as the Joker, it's all set for Hardy to receive his own Oscar nomination (at least).

This film was so epic in scale, it was mind-boggling. The sheer number of extras required, the amount of story that occurred, character arcs coming to conclusion! The sheer Dr. Zhivago-esque grandeur of the film is unmistakeable.

If you are a comic book fan - and I speak as one - thenthis movie was pretty perfect. Elements of Batman: Knightfall, The Dark Knight Returns and Gates of Gotham. A glance of some of the comics that influenced Nolan during filming are outlined here. Even if you're not a comic book fan and merely enjoyed the first two movies, this film will not disappoint you. It is a fitting ending to the trilogy and does so in a way that we've come to expect from Christopher Nolan. 9/10


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The First Week

It's the end of the first week of the Bradbury Method - 52 short stories in a year - and so far, things are actually going pretty well. The point of the...experiment I guess is the best word, is to just get the stories out, not necessarily have them polished.

So, on that front, I'm succeeding. While I didn't allow myself as much writing time as I would've liked this week, I still managed to churn out what I consider to be a pretty good - if unpolished - short story. It needs some tweaks and some expansion on certain points, but I got out the beginning, middle and ending.

Amusingly enough, it wasn't the story I initially sat down to write. I started writing it and got a page or so in when I had to drop it because I had started it in my Gmail drafts at work when there was nothing to do and then I left for home. I don't have the internet at home so it was a few days before I finally got it off the email to be able to work on it at home. By the time I did that, I had completely forgotten the road I was originally going to take with the story.

I just stared at it. For what seemed like an hour. Just looking at this thing I had written that clearly started with some intent and then just stopped. It stopped on an important, twist moment, too. One that I didn't remember where I was taking it.

So, I made something else up. I took up the tattered bottom of the story and I stitched it up with something new and came up with a pretty appropriate ending for the story. What's great about this, is that I've rarely ever done this before. Usually, if I start a short story and come back to it some time afterward and I've forgotten what exactly I had originally intended, I leave it and start something else. Not this time. I swore to myself if I started a story, I would finish it. And I did. And it felt good.

I've been reading a lot of Etgar Keret recently as well and he showed me that no matter how bizarre the idea is, it can totally work in the story as long as the language is good enough and the story takes you somewhere deep. Also, that it doesn't matter how short the story is.

Okay. I got this. Maybe.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cold Sores

I've been holding in a rant like this for a long time but I've decided that I can't anymore. In the last week I've had one cold sore, it's gone away, and then another one has grown on another part of my lip.

For those of you who've never had a cold sore - and consider yourselves fucking lucky - not only are they ugly as hell, but they hurt, make you feel dirty and sick, and feel like you are lugging around something on your face that is the size of a truck tyre.

The worst part about them, for me I think, is not just that I could give them to my girlfriend if we're not super careful. It's not even that I feel super run down, unattractive and generally dirty by having one - I constantly wash my hands and am afraid to touch any exposed skin, on anyone. No, for me, the worst part was that I never had a chance without them. Ever.

I didn't have the luxury of it being my fault that I get them. It's not that I made some youthful mistake and now have to live with those consequences. At least then, though I'd hate it, that would be my bad. What upsets me, is that that wasn't the case. I've always had them.

When I was about one, my folks took me to a family gathering to see my grandmother in Israel. As we were leaving, a family friend - and we don't even know which one - kissed both my dad and I goodbye. The surprise being that she was carrying on her face one of these little bastards. The next day, mine and my dad's faces erupted in cold sores - on our lips, on our cheeks, inside our mouths - and from that day forth, we would get them every other month.

Thankfully, as I've gotten older, their occurrence is less and less, but they still happen. If I've had a week where I'm tired or just after I've gotten sick, my lip will swell with one of these time-eating, kiss-stealing bastards and I'll feel crap all over again.

The creams help, but everyone knows what's going on there. They can all see it. And they see it and they think of you covered in the fuckers like you're some dirty leper. They imagine them all over you, on your junk. I'm sure they imagine getting them just by looking at you.

It's especially difficult on a relationship because you don't realize how much you rely on kissing and how much it feeds your emotions until you can't do it anymore. It's actually depressing, disheartening and destructive. I know. I just went through it.

I once got four in a month. FOUR IN A MONTH. I bought some very expensive pills and some cream and they went away, but my mouth was sore for a while. My upper lip has a scar from where they keep coming back. And that's what sucks too, they always come back in the same places.

And you can never get rid of them. Sure, if you have type 2 herpes (the one most commonly on your junk) you can get the pills for cheaper on prescription and you can keep that under control - if you're smart. No such luck for type 1 people (the one most commonly on your lips), just creams, which turn them into gross scabs and then, likely, a small scar.

I can feel people staring at them when I have them. It's very uncomfortable. So, I guess what I'm saying is don't judge someone immediately because they have a cold sore. It doesn't mean they're dirty or they're gross or irresponsible. They could just have been shit out of luck.

Did you know that it's estimated that 1 in 6 Australians carry the herpes virus? Whether that's type 1, type 2 or from having had glandular fever - yup, that's a herpes virus! So yeah, it's pretty common. We're not freaks. It's just something unlucky that happened.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Bradbury Method

If you read this blog, you know I like to write fiction. Sometimes it's based in reality, sometimes not. I want to be a writer, is what I'm saying.

Well, I've decided to take up a challenge.

My friend Omar has decided to start up doing The Bradbury Method and do one short story every week for a full year. Ray Bradbury would write one short story a week; write it on Monday, edit it Tuesday through Saturday and send it off on Sunday. We're going to attempt to do just that.

It's going to be a slog and I might not make it the whole way, but I know I'll at least have something to show for it by the end - like a year long NaNoWriMo.

I'll probably need some support before this thing is through, so thank you all in advance. I'll keep you posted on how it's going and anyone who wants to read anything I've got just let me know.

Here goes nothing.


Monday, July 9, 2012

io9 Concpet Writing Prompt!

Io9 run a segment where they post a piece of concept art and users are encouraged to write the story behind it. This week's image is "The Night Train," by Ryan Mauskopf. I decided to finally give this a go.

The Night Train

Mika looked into the drink can.

"Are you sure this is going to work?" she asked. "We need to be unrecognizable to the Underrealm folk."

Rick snuffled a snort-filled response and she looked over. Where he'd once sat, there was now a towering mound of hair, a great animal that looked both strong and kind. He shuffled the briefcase on his lap and snuffled again.

"Oh," Mika said.

She turned to Red and where his head had been was now smoke and fire, a cone of radiating heat. He turned to Mika and gave an attempt at a smile.

"Right," Mika took a sip from the drink. "I guess here goes nothing."

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dog Exercise

Okay, so maybe this is me, but there's something I find cruel about dog exercising.
Not the kind of thing where you take your dog to the park, run around, play fetch and have fun kind of exercise. That's all joy and wonder.

No, what I'm talking about is something like dog training.

I was walking through the park and I saw this big, brawny guy with his pet Staffy. The dog had a harness on and a number of heavy weights attached to it by a cord. The man would them call the dog over, getting it to run - lopsided because the weights wouldn't trail directly behind it - and he would time how long it took the dog to run to him each time.

Now, I know there are probably some good reasons for dog training, though the only one I could think of is Police Dog stuff, and this sure as hell wasn't that. This was just some guy who wanted his Staffy to have that really bulked up front look. Maybe to be a guard dog, maybe because he wanted a dog as bulky as him.

Either way, it seemed cruel to me to watch this dog hauling these weights behind it, clearly encumbered and uncomfortable, lopsided and pulling everything with its neck.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Stories from Nothing: Crying at Work

The Catalyst: No too long ago, I saw someone walking through the corridor at work, crying on their mobile phone. So I got to thinking...

The Story: "Yes, I understand," she said, covering her face as she walked past a workmate in the hallway. He looked at her but said nothing and walked on. The tears burned down her face. "I'll be there."

"Damn right you will," said the voice on the other end of the line. "For, if you are not, you shall not see your husband again."
The line went dead and she was left hanging there, holding onto the phone. She leaned against a nearby wall and collected herself, wiping her tears away on her sleeve. No police, he'd said. They always said that in the movies. She'd always screamed at the characters that didn't call the police, or turn on the light in a dark room in a horror flick.
She looked down at her phone and pressed the "emergency call" button and dialed 000. A bored sounding operator spoke down the line.
"Hello triple zero, what is your emergency?"
She told her everything. The man, her husband, the demands - everything.

After work she went to the mailbox on the corner of Kent and Broadway that the man on the other end of the phone had told her to go to. She waited until 6pm like she'd said she would. A black van pulled up, screeched to a halt and threw a brown box at her feet and sped off.
"Wait!" she screamed. "Wait! Where is he?!"
A police car, sirens wailing, zoomed after the van.
She looked at the box at her feet. She knew this part in the movie. She could smell the blood.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Comic

So, a while back I apologized for not writing much and then proceeded to not write much. Sorry about that.

In that post, I mentioned that I was working on a comic book with a friend of mine. Well, things are going really well with it right now and if you haven't already, I'd sure like and appreciate it if you'd go and check it out on Facebook.

The comic is called Deadguard and is a horror/Western set just after the First World War when the gates to Hell erupt open and demons spew forth across the land.

It's written by yours truly and my friend Omar from Scratch That and is illustrated by Chris J Fredericks of Abyssopus Studios.

Hope you like it and enjoy! No release date yet unfortunately, but I'll keep you all posted!


Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Hairy Situation

I know this is TMI, but I don't care. Also, I don't know why I'm telling you this.

So, I have long, curly blonde hair. The one thing about hair like this is that, a) it's beautiful and b) it gets everything. And it's damn noticeable when it does. You can always tell when a fallen hair is mine.

Now, because I have the ability to groom myself, most of the hair comes out in the shower when I brush it. During the day whatever does fall out gets stuck in the curls and no problem, comes out the next day. But every now and then, some escapes these fates and falls onto things. Namely, one of those things is my desk chair at work.

I work sitting on one of those average, black, fabric office roller-chairs. The back of my roller chair looks like I sewed some grain in there and started growing hair just in case I went bald at any time. What I'm saying is there's a lot of hair on there - because I'm the only one that uses the chair.

I've been reading a lot of Harry Dresden novels lately (written by Jim Butcher) and if you haven't read them you should. This got me thinking about the hair on my chair. The reason is, if anyone gets your hair (or blood or blood or etc.) they can perform magic on you and there's very little you can do about it.

Looking at my chair, anyone could just take some and I could be dead with an exploded large intestine tomorrow because I was careless (and kind of gross). So, I thought, Dresden would never leave hair on his chair - and neither should I!

So I began cleaning.

And, Oh. My Lord.

The amount of hair I pulled off of there was astonishing. Like a handful. A clump. I can only describe it as a "in his dying throes he managed to get a grip and tear out a chunk of his murderer's hair but because he was interrupted the killer didn't have time to pick it up before running away" amount of hair. Detectives would look at the clump of hair in the vice-like grip of my rigor-mortised hand and say, before putting on their sunglasses, "Looks like our killer got into," sunglasses, "a hairy situation".



P.S. I'm sorry.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Trapped in the Hells

So. Like (almost) every other gamer on the planet right now, I purchased and have begun playing the long-anticipated Blizzard game, Diablo III - the sequel 12 years in the making after the ridiculously successful Diablo II.

I, for one, absolutely adore the universe and the gameplay in these games. The world is filled with interesting characters, the missions are intriguing and the monsters are grotesque and evil. You, as hero, stand as the lone light of salvation in the doomed world.

Set 20 years after the events of Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, wherein the last of the three Prime Evils, Baal, is killed last after his brothers - Mephisto and the eponymous Diablo - were killed, the heroes must rise again to fend off the encroaching hell hordes. The last of the Lesser Evils have surfaced after a mysterious fireball smashes into the Earth and causes the dead to rise.

If you were one of the many who received their game on its May 15 release date, odds are, you were met with the various Error messages, informing you that you couldn't log on. The servers had crashed with the traffic.

"What?" you may ask. "How can the servers of a single player game crash?"
Good question. Let me tell you.

In a move that has royally pissed off more than a fair share of people, something which is concisely summed up in this article. The main problem being that, in an attempt to curtail piracy - which has run rampant in the gaming community for, well, ever - Activision/Blizzard have decided that you have to log in to the server to be able to play your game.

"Hell," you say, "that's not so bad! You have to do that for Starcraft II and it works just fine!"

Oh, but you see, for Starcraft II, you have the option to play offline. Not so with Diablo III. You must be online at all times with Diablo III. It's no longer a "single player game with an online/multiplayer option", it's an online single player game that has the option of being played alone. But never offline.

And god help you if you have anyone on your friends list, because they can just pop into your game whenever they please. Without asking. Just PING! and they're in. But, that's neither here nor there.

My main gripe is the fact that, as happened to me on Tuesday night, if their servers are down or if my internet just plain isn't working that day, I have paid $69 for a game that I can't play. I know this is the case with World of Warcraft or any other number of MMORPGs, but those are designed for online play. You play them, you accept that servers need maintenance and sometimes they're going to go offline. But, when I purchase a single player game, I expect to be able to play it whenever I damn well feel like.

This means that unless my train has wireless, I can't play on the train. I can't play at someone else's house who's internet I can't get into. I can't play anywhere where there is no internet. And that just shits me.

That said, it's a pretty damn great game.


Thursday, May 10, 2012


I once read a post someone put up on Facebook that said that a blogger apologizing for their absence was arrogant, self-aggrandizing and made the foolish assumption that people actually read their blog.

I am here to say fuck that person and to apologize for my unreasonably lengthy absence from posting lately.

Due to being buried under just a voluminous mountain of work - creative and otherwise - I have been unable to post. But don't despair! I've been gathering ideas and reviews to throw at you once more!

Mostly I've been preoccupied with the TV show that I may or may not be making with a director/producer who may or may not be interested - all leaning towards the positives.

Also, the comic book I'm writing with a friend has recently been in discussions with artists after an absolute deluge of submissions, so that has been taking up an unsurprisingly large amount of time.

On top of that, add house-hunting and alarmingly large life decisions, and you come up with a indiscriminately small amount of time for yourself, which I generally didn't feel like filling with blogging. So, sorry. You are important and I love you, but I've just been too damn tired.

I've been reading some awesome comics and books lately, and seen some pretty swell flicks, so expect some reviews and rants soon enough. But not about The Avengers. I think everything's already been said.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Stories from Nothing: The Family

The Catalyst:
There was a really serious, black-clad businesswoman walking in the opposite direction to me talking on her cellphone. As she passed all I heard was, "I don't want to see a family".

The Story:
"Did you hear me?"
The woman's heels clack-clack-clacked against the sidewalk in a steady rhythm. Silence met her on the other end of the line.
"Yes," came the raspy voice.  "Yes, I heard you."
She hung up.

Not far from a family home, the man with the raspy voice climbed a local church tower. He whistled Ain't No Grave (Gonna Hold My Body Down) with a mournful gravity.
A small notched window gave him a clear line of sight to the family home up the road. Through his scope he could see into their dining room from the large plate-glass window on the east side. They always kept the curtains open.
He opened his briefcase and began clicking together the pieces of a Smith and Wesson sniper rifle.

John, his wife Sarah and their two children, Camille and Toby, were just sitting down to dinner when the first shot punched through their dining room window, his John in the chest and knocked him to the floor, a small geyser of blood shooting out of the wound.
Before Sarah could scream, before she could even react beyond looking at John's lifeless eyes as he lay on the floor, a second shot ripped open the front of her skull as the bullet struck the back of it.
Then the children started screaming.

When the man with the raspy voice begun separating the pieces of the rifle, Toby and Camille weren't screaming anymore. They were silent along with their parents as the dinner cooled with the breeze from the shattered window.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Stories from Nothing: The Proposal

A woman was proposed to at a table near my boss. While the husband was beaming, my boss and her friend were weeping and ordering champagne for these strangers, the bride-to-be did not look too enthused.

The Story:
The ride home was especially quiet that night. Mark was at the wheel and he was smiling into the horizon. He couldn't wait to get his new fiancee home. Fiancee. Man, he couldn't believe his luck. She had really said yes. He was so happy. The people next to them had bought them champagne, on top of the champagne he'd already ordered for the special occasion. He'd been planning this for weeks.
"You're awfully quiet," he said, turning to Brandi in the next seat. She was staring out of her window, looking at the long string of trees passing by on the side of the road. "How are you?"
"What?" he said, his brow furrowing. "What's wrong?"
"Yes! This!"
"I don't follow." A well of concern washed around in his brain.
"Of course you don't."
"Brandi, honey, what's wrong?"
They stopped at a red light, sitting there, the left blinker flashing on and off. Tick, tack, tick, tack, in a rhythm that never seemed to end.
"I don't want to marry you."
"I don't want," she looked at him, now. Her blue eyes were cold. "To marry you."
"But," Mark felt his whole body open up beneath him in an empty zenith, "but then why did you say yes?"
"Are you kidding me?"
Mark only looked at Brandi, tears welling. She sighed.
"How could I say no?" she said. "We're in a restaurant full of people watching!"
"So?" Mark pushed the car forward. "You could have been honest with me."
"Oh really? And then, what? Said no and quietly slipped out of the restaurant, a carpet of silence following me as people say in hushed tones, 'how could she say no? He looks so lovely'!"
"So instead--"
"So instead," she cut him off, "I pretended to say yes so I could get out of there in one piece."
"Brandi, I--"
"Take me home," she was talking as if he wasn't there. "I'll come get my stuff in the morning."
The wind outside was colder than usual for summer.

Monday, March 19, 2012

It Ain't What it Used to Be: How Science Shows Us The Future Isn't What it Once Was

Science, the frontier for the human race to discover all that is mysterious and hidden within our vast and expanding universe. It has given us space travel, modern medicine, the basic understanding of our entire world and, maybe, eventually, teleportation and space colonies. It is the single most important thing we have in our culture at the moment and it will bring us into the mysteries of the future with a curious glint in its eyes and a sturdy, graceful stride that inspires confidence in us all. 

It also completely ruined the sci-fi future I, and all those from my generation, had envisioned for our world. It did it with the grace and tact of telling a child that rainbows aren't, in fact, magic bridges to leprechaun's gold.

"Look, a rainbow, it's magic!" The child would say.

"No," science says. "Silly child, it's merely light reflecting off the water particles in the air and refracting."

The child cries. Science smiles with a job well done.

Twenty years ago, the 2000s seemed like a futuristic and somewhat terrifying place, with the Terminator films telling us the apocalypse was nigh and films like Escape from L.A. and Johnny Mnemonic showed us that we will likely be living in a slightly camp, neon-lit, junk-filled, post-apocalyptic insane asylum.

Instead, we have Priuses, iPads and wars that are pretty much completely conventional. Sure, the weapons are more advanced, but the basic premises are all the same; people go out to shoot other people on foot, from cars, from planes or from boats - but boats are going out of style.

In four years, we will be in 2015, the future date set by Back to the Future Part II where the future world has large, 3D-movie-like advertising, hover-boards and flying cars, clothes that speak and self-dry and sexy, lady cops in tight, spandex body suits. I don't know if I'm the only one, but I don't think that that is going to happen.

Now, I know Terrafugia just released its first flying car to begin sales last year after being officially cleared as street and sky safe, and you can have one for the price of a small studio apartment.

However, despite all that excitement, there is still logic there to take down the fun, "Flying cars are a terrible idea," Dr. Daniel H. Wilson more or less tells you in his book, Where's My Jetpack?: A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future that Never Arrived. "Instead of drunk drivers, we'd have drunk flyers crashing through your roof."

Great. There goes that idea. That, by the way, is only one of the reasons why jetpacks will never happen. The other, of course, being that we can't fit enough fuel into the jetpack for it to fly for more than thirty seconds, and without burning our feet off. So, there's that.

Two things we do now have from the future we always wanted are lasers and data tablets. The army is, in fact, working on laser weapons that are considered non-lethal weapons under their current development. They fire superheated beams at people that burn incredibly, making people run away; it's mostly to disperse rioting crowds. So, while cool, it is not Star Wars, solid-colour lasers that make fun sci-fi noises. 

And last, but not least, we are brought to data tablets. If you've seen any science fiction film in, say, the past thirty years - or more likely, even more - you've seen a data tablet. Often a translucent glass rectangle that is a touch screen and can access any piece of information that the main characters require. For as many years as they've been fiction, people have wanted to have them. Information at your fingertips all the time? Excellent! A touch screen? Super cool! Translucent? Alright, not so much, but still! And we have them - if you are any one of the people who owns an iPad or other tablet or simply any kind of smart phone made nowadays (iPhone, HTC, Google, to name but a few). That's right, we have that piece of sci-fi technology right here, right now - and to be honest, we had no idea what to do with the tablet tech once we got it. Sci-fi movies didn't take into consideration that laptops and other personal computers - or that ordinary cell phones with an internet connection - would be so common amongst people.

So, there's that.

We do not have Fifth Element pills-that-turns-into-roast-chicken-as-soon-as-it's-in-the-microwave. We don't have colonies on the moon. Where is my Skynet? Sure, where we're at is great and we really are living the future, though we don't really realize it, but I feel like our future isn't going to be the cool, flashy place we thought it would be.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Rum Diary Nails It

As a rule, I am always wary of film adaptations of books I thoroughly love. I was disappointed in the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest film - despite it being, in and of itself, a good film - and I fear I will be disappointed by the upcoming On the Road film. In spite of this, I am tremendous fan of Terry Gilliam's adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Leas Vegas; not only because Johnny Depp was astounding as Hunter S. Thompson/Raoul Duke, but because the film captured the insanity of the text, the essence, the spirit.

To this end, I was (perhaps to my own surprise) not disappointed with Bruce Robinson's adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's The Rum Diary.

Initially, I was incredibly skeptical due to the overtly comedic take that the trailer seemed to imply. The Rum Diary's not an overtly funny book, I thought as I watched it, what have they done? Robinson is also the man responsible for Withnail and I, a British Fear and Loathing-style film that I was not too keen on.

So, from the get go, we're off to a bad start.

Not only was I proved wrong, I was proved so thoroughly wrong; the film was so effective, so emotive, that I was literally left in a speechless daze after I left the cinema.

Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) is a struggling novelist and journalist who is trying to make it and takes a freelance job at the San Juan Star, a local newspaper in Puerto Rico. Once there he meets his boss Lotterman, played perfectly by Richard Jenkins (Six Feet Under, Burn After Reading), and his eccentric co-workers Sala, portrayed by Michael Rispoli (Kick-Ass, Rounders) - whom incidentally was the performance I was by far most impressed with - and the infamous Moberg, classic weird guy Giovanni Ribisi (Avatar, Saving Private Ryan).

He must deal with the local culture of seemingly endless madness and the imposed culture of the ex-patriots who live there, like money-hungry Sanderson, stylishly pulled-off by Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight, Thank You for Smoking). Wading through this, he meets beautiful blonde Chenault (Amber Heard) and deal with his feelings for her.

"You smell that?" Kemp asks Sala and Moberg. "That's the smell of bastards."

Johnny Depp can do so much with the smallest of movements, and he captures perfectly the essence of a Hunter S. Thompson protagonist - keeping in mind, of course, that this is pre-Fear and Loathing Hunter. Kemp is an understated, frumpy fellow with a drinking problem whom I found thoroughly likeable.

The real joy, however, came in watching Michael Rispoli be constantly sweaty and grimy Sala, the staff photographer. His constant talking at Kemp is a real joy of this film. Ribisi's performance, too, as Moberg- the crime and religious affairs correspondent - echoes deeply classic Hunter S.; madness with a very thick coating of depth.

It was wonderful to see Eckhart portray a real bastard in this film, one of the few times we get to see this handsome all-American be a tight-jawed money-grubber. And no, he was more Wall Street evil, not Two-Face evil.

For her part, Amber Heard held up her role well and she was a perfect choice for the character; a outgoing and spontaneous woman, with more than a hint of sheer danger.

There is practically nothing I didn't like about this film; the dialogue was tight, it was beautifully shot and it had a great mix of humour and serious depth reminiscent of Gilliam's Fear and Loathing. I did find at times that the comedy was sometimes taken a little too far, such as a certain car-and-stairs sequence, but in general I found it was a well-thought-out and well-constructed adaptation of a great book that clearly came from the heart. 8.5/10


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Why, Evolution? I Thought We Were Friends.

Let me say this first - I am a strong advocate of evolution. It's the only plausible explanation, for me, as to our existence on this planet. So, yes, that means I am not a deist or theist. But, that doesn't mean I don't have qualms with some things evolution has done.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for opposable thumbs, great hair and the ability to sing in thirty different languages, but sometimes the things evolution did just seem cruel. In retrospect. And I'm not talking just about the animal kingdom or the whole "testicles on the outside" thing, either - though, really, that was a slip up.

No, what I'm talking about, is the essence of sentience. Stick with me here. All mammals - and most likely all animals - share the same instinct to survive. In 1952, neurologist Paul McLean proposed that the Limbic System was where all emotional survival instincts originate - fight, flight, feed and procreate. However, around 50,000 years ago, one of these early humans became conscious of its own consciousness.

This means it gained the ability to contemplate its life, what has happened, what could be and, the focus of this article, its own death. A completely unique creature which can merge the creation of highly evolved symbolic systems with the destructive power of its most basic instinct, fear.

Ernest Becker said that;

"[T]he real world is simply too terrible to admit. It tells man that he is a small, trembling animal who will someday decay and die. Culture changes all of this, makes man seem important, vital to the universe. Immortal in some ways." 

To make things clear, I am also an advocate of culture, because it does make us feel important. The things we create are unparalleled by any other creature in existence. Art, literature, films, technology, this article - all of these things are part of what makes mankind's culture so interesting; a way of immortalising itself while simultaneously bringing joy and improvement to the lives of all humans who follow.

Of course there are the negative aspects of culture and culture propagators, but that is not the focus here.

The focus here, is the fact that we - as human beings - are born with the awareness of our own deaths. While I can comprehend the evolutionary point to giving us opposable thumbs and the ability to use tools - it makes us a deadly prey while also leaving us fleshy, soft and gooey as opposed to being covered in armour and spikes. With tools and creativity, we create our own weapons and armour. I can also see the evolutionary point in being upright with two hands and two legs, it’s a simple and easy structure. What I can not find logic for is the awareness of our own demise. 

Of course, with the awareness of existence comes in tandem the awareness of the end of that existence. I guess that's the only way it can be. This sentience is what we lord over the animals with, creating beautiful and wondrous things as a result of it. We immortalize ourselves. As social psychologist Sheldon Solomon said, 

"[culture] is supposed to give us a sense of where we come from and what we're supposed to do while we're here". 

Then again, evolution, you've given an essentially still-primitive mammal, whose basic instinct is still to be afraid of everything, and made them aware that they’re going to die.

I have lain awake at nights, having shaking panic attacks, contemplating the concept that, though I am alive now, I will die. And it's not the dying that scares me - that's the easy part. It just happens. No, what's hard to come to terms with is the overarching perspective that I am used to existing, to doing things, and then to suddenly no longer be doing anything at all is terrifying.

Honestly, from an evolutionary standpoint, I can't figure out what the point was to give us awareness of our existence and death. The logical answer, then, is to not think about it and to make the best of the time that we do have, but let's face it - we're obsessed with death. It's everywhere. Films. TV. Books. Art. All of these are filled with death. Religion is used as a coping mechanism and tells us we go somewhere afterwards - forever - once we die, to make this world not seem so awful.

I don't know, evolution, your reasons are mysterious to me. But, hey, I'm scared of mother nature already - I'm not going to mess with her will.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Flashback: The Mario Bros Movie

New "segment" I want to do which is called FLASHBACK: having a look at stuff from our

We all grew up with the awesome and, in many ways, delightfully camp films from the late eighties  and early nineties. They are cinematic classics. Films you know, like the Back to the Future trilogy,  the Indiana Jones trilogy - which was unfortunately and unforgettably molested recently - and the original Tim Burton Batman films. And some films which stood on their own like The Goonies, Beetlejuice and Ferris Bueller's Day Off among many others.

Combined within this, for us as a lucky generation, were those classic video games which started off the modern gaming identities held within PlayStation and Xbox and Wii. Games such as Pacman, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong and the all time favourite, Super Mario Brothers. None of which, upon reflection, make any sense concerning their stories, but were fun nonetheless.

After all that was said and done, there was a phase in cinema history which continues on to this day, and that is making films out of the games we love so much. Some of them are kind of okay, though none really come to mind right now, and some are just downright embarrassing. Most of them come to mind right now. But one film from my childhood, which in some ways seemed pretty great then, comes to mind right now. And that film is the critically despised, and generally disliked, Super Mario Bros film.

For those of you who haven't seen this film - I urge you, please, please do. It is truly one of the best achievements in 90s camp cinema. Notice in films like Back to the Future: Part II and Batman and Robin and many others, that there was a certain level of puppetry and bright neon colours and garbage involved in the scenes. If you've seen any of these 90s camp movies, you know what I mean. This film does it best. What's worse really, is that it uses some truly fantastic actors to capture it all. Actors who, probably, had significant damage done to their careers because of it.

This film, which boasts a whopping 3.8/10 on and an astounding 13% on, hosts John Leguizamo as Luigi, Samantha Mathis - yes, she was big news in the 90s - as Daisy (a princess), acting heavyweight Bob Hoskins as Mario and original Easy Rider Dennis Hopper as King Coopa. Yes. Seriously. Also, an animatronic Yoshi.
Rotten Tomatoes gives it the brief review of 

"[d]espite flashy sets and special effects, Super Mario Bros. is too light on story and substance to be anything more than a novelty".
That's more or less right, but it's also so much more. It is truly ridiculous.

Princess Daisy is a woman born from the dinosaur-ruled world of King Coopa - a parallel universe in which mankind evolved from the lizards instead of primates - and she is the only one who can save it from the evil king. Mario Mario and Luigi Mario - again, no, I'm not kidding - help her out while being plumbers, apparently bad ones at that. Meanwhile, the idiot lackeys of Coopa kidnap Mario's girlfriend Peach (a-ha) and so it turns out he must rescue her, too.

I'm not kidding. Seriously, see this movie. It is by far one of the funniest and most amusing films you will ever enjoy…with the gift of hindsight.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Stories from Nothing: The Flower

Catalyst: L found a flower on the ground and put it in an open mailbox on the way home.

Story: The flower lay in the mailbox, unexposed to the elements, atop the Morgans' electricity bill. Laura and Richard came home at the same time and, as Richard parked the car, Laura would go out to the mailbox and retrieve whatever lay within.
Reaching her hand in today, she pulled out the still-crisp flower and stared at it.
"Richard!" she said, stomping into the house. "Richard, come here!"
"What?" Richard put his keys on the kitchen counter.
Laura held the flower out to him. "Someone put this in our mailbox."
"I don't know, Richard, why don't you tell me?"
"Honey, I don't know who would do that," Richard moved to her, to take the flower. "Where was it?"
"I told you it was in the mailbox!" she held it away from him. "Was it her, Richard? Was it her again?"
"Jesus, Laura," Richard said, turning away. "It's over with her. I ended it. You know that."
"Do I? Because this says different!"
"No it does--"
"She's coming back! She's putting things in our mailbox now!"
"We don't know for sure--"
"Don't be a child!" she threw the flower across the room. "Who else would it be?"
"It could by anyone!"
"Why would anyone put a flower in someone's mailbox?" Laura began to cry. "You bastard," she said, then. "You bastard."
"Who would do this to us?" Richard said to himself, under his breath. He sat at the kitchen table. "Why?"

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bad Religion Rock the Hi-Fi

Through the wind and the rain we ran, Lucy and I, towards Moore Park and into the Entertainment Quarter, heading towards the Hi-Fi. We were already late, due mostly in part to leaving later than expected, but also to ridiculously increased traffic as a result of the rain and the fact that rain seems to make the city completely shut down.

"We might miss both Street Dogs and Strung Out," I said. "But we should be there in time to catch Bad Religion start."

"We will," Lucy said. "If the timing's right, we might not even miss Strung Out. If there's three bands, then Bad Religion shouldn't go up before," she checks my watch, "nine fifteen or so."


This was to be her first punk show.

We get off the bus and arrive at the venue, changed from our original destination of the Big Top at Luna Park for unknown reasons. I'd never been to the Hi-Fi, but it's proximity to the Hordern Pavilion made it an easy find.

When we got there, the line didn't seem so long. It jutted out from the venue, loud bass drums and grungy guitars - from what I thought was Strung Out - audible and blaring from inside.

"I think this is the place," I said.

"Y'think?" Lucy smiled and elbowed me in the ribs.

We went to join the queue and that's when we saw that it extended around the corner of the place.

"God damnit," I said. "Brilliant."

It took twenty minutes of standing in the rain to finally get into the place, wrist stamped and position gained. The band we had heard from outside was finished. I went straight to the merch stall and got a t-shirt.

"Jesus riding a nuke down to the ground like from Strangelove," I said to Lucy, "or pig-headed priest leading the blind choir?"

Lucy stared for a moment. She used to be religious. "I know why you'd want the Jesus-nuke, but I think the pig-priest looks better. Either way, don't wear them in front of my parents."


I bought pig-priest. Lucy pointed at a list on the merch table. It was the band list. I checked my watch.

"We haven't even missed the Street Dogs," I said. "We missed the Menzingers. Oh, well there you go. Bad Religion don't come on til ten forty-five."

Lucy smiled. We staked out a place in the middle of the pit and waited. The lights dimmed after a quarter hour and the Boston boys, the Street Dogs, began to play. All in all, they weren't bad. A traditional punk band with Dropkick Murphys-like elements. A young band earning their stripes, really. The singer had not yet piqued our interest, so his many attempts to get us shouting and dancing were often to no avail, but they were not a bad band and definitely had potential.

When they had finished I squeezed through the throng back towards the bar to get water, making Lucy promise not to move or I'd never find her again. She's a small girl and it was a big crowd. I stumbled through and got a cup of water and came back just as Strung Out were starting.

I was just as equally unimpressed with Strung Out as I was the last time I saw them open for Bad Religion in 2007 for the New Maps of Hell Tour. They are a bland, loud band that is more like a wall of same-sounding noise without any particular style. Sufficed to say, I was bored. But the crowd seemed to like them, so I guess that counts for something.

At one point during a song the singer looked right at me and said, "Don't just stand there looking at me, move!" To which I softly replied, "nope".

They finished, mercifully, in the allotted time and left. It was time for the main event. The big cheeses of punk rock. With over 30 years experience and a 300+ song library to choose from, these guys were always amazing. I had seen them live. I had listened to the live albums. I had even watched live DVDs and clips from concerts uploaded online. I was pumped to see them again. We made our way right up to the front and waited.

And then the lights dimmed.

A roar of joy and anticipation exploded from the crowd as Jay Bentley came onstage and picked up his base. Brooks Wackerman sat down at his kit and Greg Hetson picked up his guitar, blind in the mild dark. Then Jay started to play, busting out the thudding baseline to "Fuck Armageddon...this is Hell". The crowd cheered as loud bellow. Brian Baker came on with his axe and finally, the kind, the commanding master of punk, the professor, Mr. Greg Graffin stepped onstage in his unabashedly and unashamedly uncool outfit of flannel shirt and jeans, pointed at us and then it started.

The crowd crushed forward and we were crushed. The bodies flailed around. Lucy could hardly believe her eyes at the crushing smashes of the pit and the circles. She moved along with them.

After the first three songs, we decided to make our way back and get to a safer distance. To do so, we had to pass through the pit, but we had to get out. We made it back. We could still see the band and could actually hear better from here anyway. I was shouting those lyrics like no one's business.

"Hear it", "Anesthesia", "You Are the Government", "Modern Man", "Generator", "You", "Sanity", all the old classics were there. "Wrong Way Kids" off of the latest alum, Dissent of Man, was there too. The group bantered on stage in their unassuming and experienced way, mostly from Graffin and Bentley.

Then they played the one song from The Empire Strikes First I so desperately wanted to hear, "God's Love".

"Some of you might know the set list already if you looked on the internet," Graffin said before "God's Love", "but no amount of sleuthing will have gotten you this song on there because we just added it to the set list backstage. We haven't even rehearsed it."

"See where your PC has gotten you now?" he sneered with a smile. "I'm sorry, I mean your Mac."

"No!" Bentley cried.

"Right," Graffin meandered around stage. "The innovator is dead so we have to respect him now. Write a 3000 page book about him."

And into the song they went.

The set was hard, fast and excellent.

 I slammed myself into the pit for "I Wanna Conquer the World" and got knocked around something fierce, but it was worth it. It's a community in those shows. A strange, bedraggled brotherhood.

"We're trying to release a new album this year," Graffin said. "Even though all you guys like is the old stuff."

"We're going for our first platinum record in 2013."

The group laughed. Pretty much an unachievable goal for a punk band and they knew it. At least, a punk band that wasn't in the style of Green Day or The Offspring.

The main set finished and the crowd began baying for the expected encore.

"We know you're not done yet!"

They weren't.

"You want one more song?" Jay Bentley said. "Well we're gonna play you four!"

And of course, of those four, one was "21st Century Digital Boy" and the grand finale, the great masterpiece, "American Jesus". The crowd - including me - went nuts for that final ten minutes.

Just as abruptly as it had begun, it was over. The lights went up and the people began to file out. Lucy and I grabbed some water and headed back out into the rain.

"That was fantastic," Lucy said as we walked, drenched, along Cleveland Street towards home. "My god, they're the best I've ever seen. Especially in that genre! How have no other bands cottoned on how to do it like that yet?"

"That's what makes them the best," I said. "They've got it going on. And they're so goddamn smart!"

Through the wind and the rain we went back, finally getting a cab back home and collapsing into bed at one thirty a.m. Worth it on a work night? You bet your arse.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Storm Warning

it's like a FLASH
of the burning purple lightning
that brightens the night sky
for a moment in time
and makes the world
an unnatural colour
at the oddest time while
the trees blow in the gale-force
wind and rain.

the streets are a river
and cars can't keep a grip
that's what it feels like
while you're in it.

you're waiting for that bough to break
come crashing down and
smashing in your front
the roof of your home
but it stays
keeps steady
hanging on despite it all
because it's stronger than you think -
like the bough -
this thing called love.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It Ain't Easy Being Green

I think it's safe to say that, generally, we don't think about colours. I don't mean in the fashion way, but more in the "why do we attribute so  much meaning to them" way. For example, science says that both men[1] and women[2] are more likely to go after people who are wearing red. The study showed that even pictures of the same people were rated as hotter if they were wearing red. The reasoning seems to be that men find red on women sexier, taking the colour as an implicit tendency towards sexuality, whereas women were apprently turned on by red because it represents power. Go figure - science, supporting cultural stereotypes!

But, alas, I'm not here to talk to you about the colour red. I'm here to talk about the colour green, in all of its multi-faceted confusion.

What do you think of when I say green?

Spring and renewal? Decay and sickness? With envy? Maybe you think of "being green" or environmentally friendly (thanks Green Party and Greepeace). Or maybe of wealth, "I'm in the green!" (thanks, American dollar). Also, green is the sign of being in the clear (stoplights, stock-market, etc.) as opposed to "being in the red" (bad). But, again, I'm not here to talk about red.
None of you would be wrong. It turns out that green, from what I can tell, is by far the most confusing colour ever. It represents, in some cases, complete, fundamental opposites.

It may be pretty obvious to you why green is associated with renewal and cleanliness - and if it isn't obvious, let me explain. In spring, things (RE: plants) turn green again, becoming fresh and new. That's it. Glad I could clear that up for you.

Now, while it may also seem obvious about green being associated with death, decay and sickness, not all of it is as clear as you might think. The obvious parts are that a decaying anything turns green in some way - old fruit goes green (and fuzzy), etc. When someone is sick, they take on a greenish pallor. Seems straightforward, right? Well, here is where things take a turn for the creepy and weird.
One of the reasons green is associated with death isn't just because of the sickness pallor or mould, but because of graveyards. 

Back in the days before proper embalming practices and sealed coffin burial were introduced, you were pretty much just thrown into a hole in the ground unless you were rich. Sure, you got a nice pine box or some such, but it wasn't exactly high quality wood - not like the Caddilac coffins we get now. Snazzy. Anyway, the biggest side effect of throwing numerous decomposing bodies into holes in and around the same area were the gasses. Sure, the smell was gone - that's why they bury you six feet down, so your body-stink doesn't infest the rest of the graveyard - but the gases still pile up. These gases would seep through the soil to the top.
Have you ever seen a horror film with a scene set in graveyard and it's all misty? Well picture that, but in the moonlight, it was green. I'm not kidding. The light reflected off of the stink-gases were literally cause a greenish glow around the graveyard. Thus, green was forever associated with death, decay, sickness and technically, the occult.

So, I hear you cry, from whence does the term "green with envy" come? Well, now that you know all that stuff above, it's relatively simple. There are a few explanations for the use of green's association with envy, some biblical, some Shakespearian. All pretty much the same. 

In the Bible, they're pretty clear that envy (or "coveting") is a pretty bad thing. In the Middle Eastern region, stemming from ancient times, given that light-coloured eyed people were quite rare, they were said to carry the Evil Eye[3]. So, anyone with green or blue eyes was bad luck. There was also an original Hebrew term that spawned the modern "green with envy" and that was horik panav ke-neged which meant "to be green with anger at someone"[4]. The Greeks believed envy was a result of an overproduction of bile, leading to a greenish pallor in the skin during sickness and interchanged the words "green" and "pale" to mean sickly[5]. The European medical idea of the Humours didn't differ much from this. Seeing as envy was seen as a sickness, they associated it with the same colour. Shakespeare even anthropomorphised it in Othello, “O! Beware my lord, of jealousy; it is the green-ey’d monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on". And in Anthony and Cleopatra, "…and Lepidus, since Pompey's feast, as Menas says, is troubled with the green sickness".  And in The Merchant of Venice, "How all the other passions fleet to air, as doubtful thoughts and rash embraced despair and shuddering fear and green-eyed jealousy".

There you have it. green represents life and death, wellness and sickness, renewal and decay. And envy. See, I even did research. There. Everything you (n)ever wanted to learn about green, but were too afraid to ask.

[1] "Red Enhances Men's Attraction To Women, Psychological Study Reveals", October 28, 2008 and "Wearing Red 'Boosts Attraction'",, October 28, 2008. Referencing a study from the University of Rochester published October 28, 2008 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

[2] "Women Prefer Men in Red, Study Shows", August 6, 2010 and "Women Attracted Men in Red, Research Shows", August 3, 2010. Referencing a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General on August 2, 2010 by the University of Rochester.
[3] Cora Lynn Daniels, et al., covers this in Encyclopædia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World (Volume III), p. 1273, University Press of the Pacific, Honolulu.
[4] "Color: The Kaleidoscope of Human Emotion", Jewish Heritage Online Magazine, referencing Judges 5:30.
[5] Feldman, David Who Put the Butter in Butterfly?, HarperPerennial; 1st Perennial Library Edition February 19, 1990.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

In Memorium: A Quiet Eulogy

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

- Dylan Thomas

There is a death permeating, slowly - over the course of the past year especially - that
hasn't really been spoken about and, unless you're in the business, you wouldn't really know to think about it. Really, to a lot of you, this kind of death seems like an obvious transition, something that of course makes sense in our modern times but there is something distinctly sad about this death, this passing.

I speak, in no uncertain terms, about 35mm film projectors.

In cinemas.

Back in high school, I used to work at the Cinemas in Chatswood. It was a pretty good job for  someone my age, with a decent wage ($10.50p/hour) and the staff benefit of two free movie tickets every day. They didn't stack, but still, it was pretty great for dating.

At the bottom of the food chain were people like me - snacks salespeople, ticket tearers, cinema cleaners - and then supervisors and managers. But somewhere in the middle, were the mysterious folk known as Projectionists. These guys got to dress in black polo shirts and spent the whole day up in the Projection Room where they would stick the reels of film onto the projector and click on, making sure to change the reel at the right time. For every film. In every cinema.

I had only ever seen the Projection Room once, on my tour of the cinema when I first got my job. It was at the top of the fire stairs. It was the goal of almost every popcorn monkey on staff to become a Projectionist.

You worked with the films.

You were the bringer of magic to the masses!

And, more importantly, you worked on your own.

Away from other staff.

Away from the managers.

Away. From. The. Public.

It was basically Hoyts' version of Living the Dream.

Movies are such a big part of who I am that this job was perfect for me. Unfortunately, I ended up leaving Hoyts before I got to Projectionist, but that's a story for another day.

I remember being awed by the dark, musty room at the top of the fire stairs, above all the cinemas. It smelled like film varnish and sticky tape. The loud "click-click-clicking" and shuttering of the projectors echoed throughout the cement walls of it. It was the tiny, magic place where dreams spewed forth in a stream of light, onto the screen and into my brain.

There was something inherently - again, for lack of better words - magical about seeing the reels change, sticking the different parts of film together to make sure the film was snipped together right. There was also a joy in keeping tiny, discarded pieces of snipped off film as a memento from whatever film - it was usually the "3, 2, beep" from the start of the film, but still, it was a part of the film and it was yours.

A friend of mine - we'll call her Emily - still works as a Hoyts Projectionist. Recently, she told me something upsetting.

"We're getting rid of all the old projectors," she said. "They're replacing them with digital versions."

"What?" I could hardly believe it.

"Yeah, it's all going onto hard drives. We even called our distributors to tell them not to send us anymore film."

It was impossible. Replace the Projectionist?

"They have me working candy bar now," she said, taking a sip of her drink. "I get to wear a manager's uniform and boss the underlings around, but still."

"But you still have to go up and press the play button, right?" I edged closer. "Right?"

"Nope," she sighed here. "It's all on an automated schedule. We just sometimes have to go up and make sure it's all running okay."

She said she wanted to show me, and that she had something to give me. We left the bar and we walked to the cinema. I hadn't been in the building in years but I remembered the smell of the trash room elevator. She swiped her card and we went up. Magical Projection Level 3A.

I got a small nervous excitement - I was going to see the Projection Room again! The elevator doors opened onto the cold. I remembered the constant air conditioning to keep the projectors cool and to prevent the film from burning or catching alight. But this was a different cool. I knew this cool.

This was Server Room cool - the air conditioned sanctity of the IT guy's domain. Emily switched the light on and where there were once rows of these huge, classical behemoths stood boxes with flashing lights and a small screen, shooting out the film onto the screen. Next to it stood another giant black box that I recognized as a hard drive hub.

"Oh, geez," I said, looking at it. "It's so cold."

"Yeah, doesn't have the same mystique, does it?"

"Not at all."

I turned and Emily fetched something out from her locker. An bright, orange wheel wrapped in dark brown.

"Here," she said, handing the weighty thing over to me. "I found it in the garbage and I just couldn't leave it there. I saw it and thought of you and knew you want it."

What I held in my hands, dear readers, was a reel of 35mm film.

"What's on it?" I didn't take my eyes off it.

"Nothing," she said, closing her locker. "It's a dud reel, nothing on it, a tester or whatever. We always get at least one. And they always have that lady in the first 3 frames."

I looked at it in the light and, sure enough, a lady in a red blazer smiled back at me and then an endless nothing of varnished brown.

"It's heavy, but it's yours if you want it."

I couldn't thank her enough. 

I rode home on the train with it in my lap, smiling. Scrawled on the side was, "STOP! Do not put BLUE FILM on here." And I smiled. I didn't know what blue film was, but I didn't care. There was something about it all that made me smile.

So, goodnight, I say, to you Projectors and Projectionists and 35mm film. Rest easy. No more are the days of cigarette burns at the top of the screen to indicate the change of reel; no more are the days of scratches and burns and character in the film print; no more can Tyler Durden splice into you single frames of pornography to shock the movie-goers and their children.

It may seem like a little thing to you, dear readers, but to me, it's everything.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New Link for the Podcast!

Some of you may have noticed a new look off the right over here in the same vicinity as my Travel Blog and my Twitter Feed. It is the link where you can download - if you are so inclined to hear me talk for about an hour - the Podcast I do with Hell is Other People creator, writer and director Luke Sheehan, founder of Compound Fiasco Productions.

We pretty much sit down, talk about whatever comes to mind, have a few laughs and generally have fun. And, if you tweet at us (#FiascoCast), comment on Facebook for us or any such thing, we will give you a shout out! We are always looking for listener interaction so if there is ANYTHING you want us to talk about, PLEASE feel free to let us know!

I will keep you all posted as to when we are recording via either here or on my Twitter, so don't be afraid to comment or tweet!

Especially for our favourite segment: #BadMovieLines! This week's topic, if you want to participate, are the films Monopoly and Battleship. Some we have so far are:
- "Don't piss off the banker."


- "You can't sink America's battleship."

Go! Think of the WORST lines possible! ESPECIALLY if they're puns! They WILL get mentioned on the show!