archives : 2003
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tuesday : 30 dec 2003

It is 11:00pm on the eve of New Year's Eve. I will dash this entry in now because I will be otherwise occupied tomorrow night. A friend at work invited me along with a mate of his to a semi-formal single's bash run by an online dating service. Instead of dinner for $80, we opted for supper at 10:30pm for $40, with finger food and (fingers crossed) subsidised drink prices at bars spread across three levels of entertainment. Considering that tomorrow is a half-day in the office, that leaves us plenty of time to wind down then spruce up for the event. Before this plan fell together, I was more than likely going to stay home and watch a couple of DVDs back to back, as I tunnelled my way through a bottle of Jim Beam Black (aged eight years, consumed in eight hours).

Over the years I discovered that unless you are with close friends, a partner, family or going to a promising social function, it is better to spend New Year's Eve at home either by yourself or with others in a similar situation. The observation that you feel most alone when you are around people applies ten-fold to NYE.

I had no such melancholy to deal with over christmas, thanks to some excellent company. After I left work at about 2:30pm, Chris and I checked in to the local watering hole, only to be met with a sullen, mostly deserted, mood-killing pub imaginable. This crippled horse needed putting down, so we trundled off to the another venue for a short while before a rendezvous with Kylie and her friends at a pub downtown called The Mitre. This was more like it rabble, jostling for elbow space at the bar, trying to remember drink orders, inappropriate rock videos playing over the noise, bad outdoor furniture, sunlight that blinded you, bumping into old work acquaintances, and a drunk horny woman wearing tragic make-up, together with what looked like a wedding dress that had lost an argument with a lawn mower. Christmas Eve in Australia: I love it!

After giving my flatmates heart-attacks by stumbling home before midnight, I promptly crashed into bed and woke the next day feeling pretty bloody good. Breakfast with Suzie and Euan, who supplied some delicious croissants and champagne to die for, was followed by a quick jaunt up to see Marylu for a few hours, which was spent talking, eating and watching concert DVDs. But wait, there's more. Chris and Kylie had generously invited me over to their new house for nibblies and drinks in the backyard with other christmas 'orphans'. I got there at 5:45pm and left reluctantly at about 11:30pm. It was then my turn to have a heart-attack, because my flatmates were still awake. Had the order of the universe suddenly gone haywire, or were we all suffering from mad cow's disease? I am sure there are bursts of neutrinos or something expanding at nearly the speed of light from these two cosmic events, to be picked up millions of years later by alien astronomers. Amazing. I put it down to the Magic of Christmas.

The website renovations are progressing slowly. My original thought was to perform some minor surgery to change colours, fonts and page titles. But I am getting flashes of inspiration that I (a) have not got the time to implement, (b) lack the skills to implement, and (c) currently have the wrong tools for the job. The upshot is that the January 1 deadline is null and void. I have to rethink it and decide how far to go.

Looking back over 2003, it was a good year on balance, just not a great one. I probably drank more this year than have since I turned 30 four years ago. That is disturbing for a number of reasons, the psychology of which I fully understand. At a subconscious level, the mind and emotional psyche knows what it needs, and will get it one way or the other. Much of our behaviour is governed by this drive as well as other factors, regardless of how much control we 'believe' we have over our 'chosen' destiny. The boozing is a symptom/effect of other things, not the cause.

Cupid's arrow missed me completely this year; sometimes I wonder if I should wear one of those flourescent safety jackets marked with a bulls-eye. But don't feel sad for me it is a numbers game, and one must increase the odds without also losing one's dignity or sanity. On paper I am a pretty good catch, and I am still a long way from donating my body to science fiction. Although, while cutting my hair earlier in preparation for tomorrow night, I almost stuffed it all up by gouging out a tuft of hair above my right side-burn. I am glad to say that some careful trimming brought this potential disaster under control. With the bloodline and my entire future at stake, it was a brilliant save under immense pressure, I thought. A neurosurgeon would have been proud.

Have a good New Year's celebration whatever you decide to do, or not do, which can be just as important. And thanks for taking the time to read these words; my best wishes are with you both. See you on the other side!


monday : 16 dec 2003

I am still alive. My scorched thumb did not turn rancid with infection, giving me a fatal case of death. Rather, the social pendulum has been in full swing during this lead-up time to christmas. It is a damn good time to be alive when the weather is so hospitable and your events calendar is full.

There should be a gap soon where I can update this site in preparation for the January 1 launch. I have also been busy trying to finish a DVD review for Witchfinder General as well as watching more foreign art-house classics. These things are not easy to come by, so for the time being I am just buying them on DVD. Last night I saw Japanese Story, a moving love story with a difference. Try to see this one at some stage.


thursday : 27 nov 2003

For a change of scenery, if not pace, I ended up spending last Friday night in Albury, three hours out of Melbourne on the NSW-Victorian border. The incentive was an art exhibition that included work by a friend I met in Sydney called Leon. His e-mail detailing the specifics casually mentioned the words "free alcohol". Although I had already decided to drive up for the show, this additional intelligence helped to make the three hour trip easier to handle. But first I had to get out of old Melbourne Town.

This was not easy. Actually, it was an absolute fucking nightmare. The art show started at 6:00pm on Friday night, so I had to leave Melbourne by 3:00pm to avoid arriving late and wasting the effort. Hedging my bets, I left work in the CBD at 2:35pm by car and headed for the Hume autobahn. Thanks to traffic snarls on Lygon Street and Sydney Road, I only reached the 90 km/h section of freeway at 3:50pm. Think about that. It took more than one hour to get out of the city in the space of time between lunch and peak hour. For my next Friday afternoon drive up north I will leave a bit earlier, say 11:00am Tuesday morning. This hair-tearing, dashboard-thumping, Chernobyl meltdown of a delay stressed me out because I did not want to drive all that way just to catch the last 20 minutes of an exhibition which promised to be very interesting for a number of reasons. Glued to Sydney Road behind a tram and stalled traffic, I actually did a U-turn and took some side streets at random, hoping that they ran parallel to Sydney Road up to Bell Street. This saved about 30 minutes of mental agony. I eventually walked into the art gallery at about 6:20pm, somewhat tense but shifting down a gear with every mouthful of cheap shiraz I swallowed.

The show featured two artists. One was Leon, and the other was this bloke who had been sent to Iraq by the Department of Defence (?) to gain impressions of the situation. I preferred Leon's work, personally. It was more real in the sense of having an underground sensibility. You knew the artist enjoyed scribbling his dense and dark splashes of melted imagery just for the sake of it there was a hubris or arrogant pride captured on paper, and a level of craft I responded to. In contrast, the Raw War (how clever) exhibit seemed to be overly arty: the variety of media (sculpture, paint, photo manipulation) and jumble of symbolism struck me as being too artificial, more like a school project than a cohesive artistic vision. The irony and hypocrisy was there, some representations of horror too, but the whole mess did not convey any sense of emotional devastation or provide any new insights, with the hanging paper maché corpses, the cute war tricycle with its pistols for handles, or the black crucifix with a coil of barbed wire stuck to it. Groan. This was like a parody of art instead of the real thing, tomorrow's garage sale kitsch.

The gallery was packed. There were two more exhibitions running concurrently, and it seemed that half of Albury had turned up for the event. I met about ten of Leon's friends in the process (hello Morgan) whilst doing laps of the joint. I had made no plans beyond attending the art show. If things died immediately afterwards, I was prepared to drive home to salvage the night, or at least wake up in Melbourne on Saturday morning ready for a full day. In all honesty though I was hoping to kick around Albury for a while, maybe sleep in my car, then drive back the next day. At some point Leon said the magic words: "we are up for a big night". With my car parked across from the art centre on Dean Street (the main drag in Albury) and Leon's house just one block further up, it seemed that everything was falling into place.

We went drinking in a few places around town before ending up at Leon's house, which is a sight to behold. Let me just say that any single room in that house contained more layers of fascinating culture than the entire art gallery itself. Much of it is a blur to me now. At about 4:30am we decided to lob into the one pub that was guaranteed to be open, but the place had been locked in at 3:30am, meaning patrons could leave but no one could enter. It was pouring rain by this stage, so we hitched a ride back and crashed. True to form, I popped awake at 8:30am, moved my car out of the 30 minute parking zone which started at precisely 8:30am, laid down again and gazed around at the cathedral-like walls of the entrance hall, then drove home with rain pelting the windscreen for two of the four hours on the road. (The highlight was seeing my odometer hit 50,000 km. It was pure luck that I was looking down to check my speed at that very moment, since the heavy rain demanded constant vigilance.) My intent was to show up at Tonia's BBQ in Warrandyte, but I did not make it.

I woke after a snooze at 7:30pm and rang Tonia to say I was not going to be there. At some stage I watched the disappointing Punch-Drunk Love on DVD before collapsing into bed. That was heaven. On Sunday I attended Sharyn's 30th birthday BBQ in Fitzroy the sunshine, food and company were very pleasant on all sorts of levels. After saying my goodbyes, I walked into town to catch a movie before seeing Killing Joke in concert at the Hi-Fi Bar with Heath and some of his friends. Great gig. The film I saw beforehand (The School of Rock) was the perfect primer, and I flirted with a stunning Toohey's beer promotions girl at the venue. The band were fired up, too, probably because England won the rugby world cup. They played three or four encores for us; I lost count! We stumbled out of there at 1:00am feeling elated and not a bit tired.

This coming weekend probably needs to be a quiet one. Just a hunch.


tuesday : 25 nov 2003

Despite having a fairly big weekend in Albury and Melbourne, I still have to fill in the blanks for two Saturday night parties that happened a few weeks back...

The first shindig was an inner-city affair held in a spacious fourth-floor apartment on Greyville Street. The occasion was to farewell a friend of the apartment owner back to Canada. I have been fond of cans of premixed spirits lately they are easy to transport and facilitate effective binge management, while also cultivating an air of shabbiness that glassware cannot match. But tonight, for such luxurious surroundings, I had to go forego such anti-pretentions and choose something more up-market. I finally settled for stubbies of bottled Jim Beam Black and cola. Within five minutes of turning up I had greeted the guest of honour, the two mellow but expectant hosts, and the early arrivals (relatives of the guest), poured myself a drink, and sampled some fish nibblies hot off the stove as I gazed at the city skyline. If there is a better way to launch yourself into a Saturday evening, I am not aware of it.

Things got cooking as more people arrived, then, at the peak of the festivities, the surprise was sprung on the unsuspecting guest: a stripper. I should add at this point that the guest was female, as was the entertainer, who had Amazonian proportions and was dressed as a policewoman. And in case you are wondering, yes it all came off, albeit under the vigilant supervision of her steely-eyed minder. From there the music got louder, the mirror ball was activated, and more booze (among other things) was consumed. At 3:30am a group of us headed out to find a nightclub for dancing. The only suitable place nearby was The Market, a predominantly gay venue where shirts were optional and talcum powder on the floor made dancing in motorcycle boots easier. We stayed for a while, long enough at least for me to try out one of the podiums. It was stuffy in there and the hour was already late, so I had less stamina than usual. But the music was good and everyone got their fill. We crashed at about 6:30am I slept for two hours then caught the train home to finish my recovery intermittently throughout the day.

The following Saturday night featured a housewarming party at Harry's place, a renovated terrace dwelling in Port Melbourne. We had been hearing about this project for a long time, seemingly decades, but I must say the end result stunned everyone who saw it. The house oozed sophistication and meticulous workmanship, generating that all-important 'wow factor' a quality also shared by the Greyville Street apartment I got pissed at the week before. (How I managed to finagle my way into such lofty social circles still defies logic, but one should not question the mysterious workings of the cosmos.) On this occasion, I did go for the aluminium option, toting four cans of Beam Black and two cans of Johnny Walker into Harry's bedroom for safe keeping and gradual depletion.

The theme for the party was The Matrix or movie-related fancy dress. Again, the whole Matrix party concept, and Harry's plan to go as Morpheus, was something we had heard about ad infinitum. As with the renovations, everyone was impressed by what Harry had done to transform himself into Not the One But the Guy Who Believed in the One, complete with a dark complexion and the famous sunglasses. Not to be outdone, I went as an Agent. I already had a black suit, I just needed a tie-bar, sunglasses and a black tie, bought on the cheap if possible. I also had to shave off my slight goatee. Hence my own transformation, while not as devastating as Harry's, was nothing trivial. Anyway the evening was great; I knew more people there than I expected to know, and the whole thing wound up at about 2:30am. I hitched a ride with Michael over to Crown for some clubbing at Heat and stayed there till closing time. I was still in costume; jacket, glasses and the whole bit. This caused a small amount of attention to come my way, as much as you can expect in such places, since everybody is dressed to impress. Naturally I signed my bag into the cloak room as "Agent Smith".

The fresh burn and I had sustained on the previous evening behaved itself all night. What happened was, on the way home from after-work drinks, I stopped in at a wine bar to check out the band and order a serve of Spanish meatballs. Since I was sitting on a stool at a narrow bench overlooking the stage and dance floor, there was not much room for my elbows, the plate, the candle in a low cup, and my drink. There I am watching the two guys play, and I notice that the napkin has caught fire along one edge. Suddenly reality turns on its head: I am now in one of those bubbles where you can see the outside world but you are utterly divorced from it, where time slows and the number of choices available to you seem to be cut in half.

To begin with, I blow some of the little flames out, which inspires me to keep going with this particular handling of the crisis. Of course, the law of physics do not agree with my plan of attack. Even your garden-variety serviette is made of the most perfectly combustible material imaginable: thin sheets of dry organic fibres, loosely bonded with plenty of air pockets, thereby allowing easy access for outside encouragement. And here I was fanning it with breath containing unused oxygen from my unfit lungs, as well as a paucity carbon dioxide hardly enough to extinguish a match. As you can imagine, the thing kept burning, and I could feel my options being halved again. I thought the bar staff could direct me to a sink or steel bench top, but that area was busy with patrons and the girls were at the till. By now, other customers (i.e. those outside my Bubble) had seen me and were no doubt watching like wax dummies as they chewed their antipasto. With maybe two seconds left and not wanting to drop it onto the linoleum floor, which would surely melt and stain if not catch fire itself, I scooted to the door and threw the little flaming ball of hell onto the footpath and stomped it out. All of ten seconds had passed, but I can still play it back in slow motion. I would hate to endure a serious trauma and its psychological aftermath. Mine was utterly minor, though still significant in an otherwise danger-free existance.

The skin on my left thumb was burnt off above the nail up to the first joint. It hurt like buggery. More than a week later the damaged area still looks like a rotten strawberry, but it is healing slowly and I have avoided infection. Even though I got some mileage at Harry's party with my tale, the whole episode is more embarrasing than anything, not to mention losing the full use of a thumb for over a week...and counting. Bad luck, it seems, might be contagious, because not long after telling my story to Chris from work the following night at Harry's party, he burns himself on a super-heated party pie. On Monday he shows me this grotesque, mutated prong of flesh that used to be his middle finger, now home to a blister five centimetres long. Spooky!


tuesday : 18 nov 2003

Last Tuesday afternoon at work, while slaving over a room-temperature keyboard, I get The Call. Marylu has a spare seat available for the opening night of Marcel Marceau. Now 85, this was apparently his first tour Down Under since 1978, and considering his age it might be his last. Sleep depraved or not, how could anyone refuse such an opportunity? Probably with mime, given the occasion, but that tends not to be very effective on the telephone, so I replied in the affirmative with my larynx and went back to cutting code.

Since the show started at 8:00pm, I took myself out for Japanese food and sake, then turned up at the venue with 10 minutes to spare. I no longer wear a watch, so I must rely on my somewhat rusty drummer's sense of rhythm the metronome within to gauge the passage of time. Well, that and asking other people, too. I did put mare into a minor tizz, but as a rule one does not rush Japanese cuisine and especially that elixir of the Booze gods, warm sake.

After the well-heeled audience was settled, the curtains rose. What followed was two hours of one man, Marcel Marceau, the living legend and household name himself in the flesh, performing mime. Alone on stage with no props...except for a hoop, his Bip hat, and a stool in one scene. We were a long way from a Dean Martin impersonator slurring Las Vegas show tunes with a martini in one hand. Watching this gentle artiste (few entertainers could deserve that label more), I had the impression that his performance was at once both magical and just a teeny bit corny. If this M-M parodied a figure like Eminem for instance, I could have sparked to life more than I did, applauding the guy for keeping his act fresh for contemporary palettes. But the flipside is that watching this fragile Gentleman of the Arts do pantomimes about candid moments in a public park, lion taming, selling porcelain, applying for a job (complete with a 'secretary' pecking at a 'typewriter') and so forth, you felt yourself slipping into a timewarp back to a less sophisticated but more romantic era, an effect aided by the décor of Her Majesty's theatre. Sixty years of doing mime and Marcel Marceau was still reflecting the world he knew best. Of course, the human aspects of his little dramas never age. It was an experience.

Now, I have to say that watching Kill Bill Vol. 1 at a Gold Class cinema is more my thing. Heath kindly offered the ticket and we booked Sunday afternoon for this curious experiment: our first time in a Gold Class theatre. Imagine it, two gorehounds like us mixing it up with high flyers. Village earned gold stars for the comfortable seats, the unexpectedly big screen, and the superb sound system (a smaller space helps in such matters). On the down side, the food was way over-priced and tawdry as well. My $15.00 vegetarian pizza was small and microwave-heated, making it seem like I was eating toasted herb bread that had been dipped in hot water. The tiny wedge of pie containing macadamia nuts I ordered for dessert was dry and tasteless, the rough equivalent of combining Weetbix and wood glue. At $8.50 I should have ordered a cocktail, or maybe a head job. If being a regular at Gold Arse means paying $23.00 for badly cooked food and nearly $30 for a movie, then bon appetite, suckers!


sunday : 16 nov 2003

Life has been a blur: all-night parties (dancing in talcum powder and fancy dress), finding new friends, seeing Marcel Marceau, movie and TV watching, and BBQ-ing my thumb. Stop the world I need to update my webpage!

It is ironic that if nothing interesting happened, I would have nothing to write about in this journal apart from casual musings of the soul, which I would prefer to express in poetry anyway. But when life bubbles along like it has recently, there is little time to spare for the considered ritual of updating one's web diary. Or rather, opportunities tend to be swallowed up with recovery time, laziness, and a general aversion to engaging the mental resources that standard composition demands. Programming all day fatigues the same brainware that comes into play when doing any kind of writing. Throw in sleep deprivation from late nights and daylight stealing, and suddenly the act of jotting down a shopping list becomes nearly impossible.

The showing of Freaks on Halloween at Federation Square was enjoyable both in terms of finally seeing the film itself an old hoary classic from 1932 and also for the lively horror genre discussion panel that preceded it, which could have lasted till the witching hour and beyond. Afterwards I also met some chaps from alt.horror newsgroup, one of whom was on the panel of four. The guys had attended the Westgarth Horror Festival earlier this year, but I did not cross their path in that 24-hour stretch, despite one of them holding up a sign like a limo driver declaring their association with said newsgroup. It was inevitable though that we would meet up sooner or later; like-minded people into this misunderstood genre who live in the same city are rare. The sparks that fly when individuals with a common interest get together, especially a niche interest like ours, is priceless. Such was the case on Wednesday night when I travelled across town to break the ice and watch two DVDs with them. I think the visit to Red Rooster early in the evening was a bonding moment. This was some of the worst fast-food service I have ever experienced. I mean, this joint was so poorly managed that even the plastic plants were a disaster, not to mention the clearly audible profanity in the kitchen and the bullet-time service ethos. Thankfully, take-away food is pumped with so much grease and preservatives that even numbskulls like these kids could not ruin our meal. It just took a fucking long while to get it.

I will bite off more recent history during the coming week. With luck and forethought, it will be pathetically mundane. Please? Next weekend will be a tsunami of social events, so it's now or never!


thursday : 30 oct 2003

The scourge of all nightowls daylight saving is here again. I woke on Monday morning at 7:30am (6:30am) feeling okay, but now four days later, this artificial jetlag is running me into the ground. This morning I deliberately did some daylight 'spending' and came in to the office at around 10:15am. In Queensland we did not have to deal with this madness, or what you might also call temporal vandalism, maybe because we already had plenty of insanity to go around cue the duelling banjos.

Last night was spent with The Rat Pack. Well, three Rat Pack impersonators actually, for their opening night performance at Her Majesty's Theatre courtesy of marylu the Magnificent, with my flatmates Suzie and Euan taking up a last-minute offer for seats. The show was entertaining: Dean Martin was hilarious, dropping jokes about the ups and downs of alcohol consumption, while Frank Sinatra levelled a few subtle insults at his cohorts with aplomb. Poor Sammy Davis Jr. bore the brunt of their jibes, which sometimes took the form of anachronistic racial slurs that were met with a light ripple of nervous laughter from the audience. But overall it was good clean fun combined with classic songs, a superb jazz band, and strong vocal talents. The martinis flowed for real at the after-party, where Bert and Patty Newton stuck their mugs into the photo session with the faux Las Vegas showgirl, and a selection of "old rockers", to quote marylu, quaffed quiches and bubbly along with at least one member of TV royalty, the dad from The Sullivans. It was amusing to watch Euan (a native Scotsman) swim through the crowd, oblivious to their presence. We left at 11:30pm with our senses buzzing.

Last week on Friday evening I made up for the disaster from the previous Friday night by first watching the totally spastic Kill Bill Volume 1 after drinks at the pub, then heading out to pick up more liquid propulsion at a pitstop on the way to Heat nightclub, where I stayed until when, about 4:45am? Just in time to catch the first train home, which beats paying $30 for a taxi. All in all a great night on the town!

Tomorrow is October 31, Halloween. This is a special day, not only because I am partial to the occasional fright flick and all things macabre, but also because five people I have lived with in the last decade were born on Halloween, two actually on the same fucking day. With Suzie moving back in after returning home from the UK, the cycle continues. Spooky stuff! Oh, Happy birthday Suzie. Although I may not see you tomorrow for too long, due to possibly seeing Freaks at the Federation Square theatrette at seven pm, I will come home eventually to party wicha!


monday : 20 oct 2003

Idle thought: Heading home on the train tonight I hear the announcement, "Caufield station. All passengers travelling on to Dandenong and Pakenham, please change here." I suddenly imagine commuters peeling off their smart, clean business attire, and putting on flannel shirts and sheep-skin boots for the remainer of their journey to Dandenong or Pakenham.


sunday : 19 oct 2003

Forgive me. It has been more than two weeks since my last journal update. The reason? I try to limit computer use whenever I can, because (a) I do it for a living at work, and (b) sitting in one position for long periods of time does the human body absolutely no favours. In the big scheme of things, this meant that Ground Zero site writing took second place to other things, one of which involved pissing off to Sydney for six days.

The flight up was unremarkable except for my seat buddy, Richard. He never told me his name. In fact I doubt whether Richard has spoken a humanly coherent word in his entire life. Rather, "Richard" was written in faded black ink on the lunch box he clutched as a Qantas flight attendant guided him into my row. I guessed that Richard was a Downs Syndrome case about 65 years old, with a mental age of 18 months. He was a happy chap, giving me a big goofy grin every now and then all I could do was nod and smile back. During lunch, I reassured the flight attendant that I would contact her if help was needed; the look she gave me while pouring his coffee was priceless. However, it turned out that Richard could handle hot beverages just fine. I had to open his muesli bar wrapper, but otherwise he was self-sufficient, devouring his Qantas lunch and packed lunch like a brick-layer working overtime. It seems that fate brought us together, since the guy behind me was actually sitting in Richard's allocated seat. Not wanting to cause a fuss, the flight attendant plonked him into my row, and thus our friendship was born. I waved to him as I disembarked. He shot back that signature Scooby Doo grin of his.

When staying with friends in Sydney, it is traditional on Friday nights to have a drinking session. It begins straight after dinner and involves playing CDs and watching video clips on Pay-TV. Steve and I both drink bourbon with Diet Coke, so planning, stocking up, and then exhausting the alcoholic menu is never a hassle. Antoinette, the other attendee, does not drink but nevertheless plays a vital role in these evenings; she is much more than simply the 'straight person' to our increasingly louder and more slurred alter-egos. Anyway, during the course of the night we played a mixture of recent purchases, old favourites, and material one or the other had not heard before. Steve got me into the 'noise' genre ages ago now, and sampling new and ever stranger noise releases including his own creations may still be the highlights for me, although a few choice death metal also blows the roof off, especially later on when the vitamin bourbon has kicked in and MTV Australia is showing the worst crap imaginable. A good dose of "church burner" black metal, as Steve calls it, or some good old Slayer, always goes down a treat. I have come to love these sessions over these years (well, from the first one, actually) and hope to enjoy many more.

On Sunday we headed to Newcastle for the annual Young Writer's Festival fanzine fair. These events give zine publishers a chance to sell and exchange their underground publishing projects. I have been out of the game since 1997, but I still get a buzz from mixing in the scene and putting my stuff out there. (This website is a natural extension of fanzine publishing, providing me with an outlet without the production costs or distribution hassles. The drawback is that both as a consumer and a producer, nothing beats printing something for real, on paper.) I sold nothing a horror fiction review zine may sound like the equivalent of underground publishing hot property, but the reality is that even the feral/swampy/alternative/anti-fashion crowd are quite choosy about subject matter, leaning towards political or nice-day-for-a-suicide social apathy kind of stuff, the more badly layed out and illustrated the better. The point of participating is to meet new people, observe trends, and enjoy the whole day trip experience.

Back in Melbourne, things have been uneventful. I have rediscovered the joys of listening to music on headphones after setting up the spare stereo amp and CD player in my bedroom and buying a new pair of Sennheiser headphones. Reading Frank Miller Sin City graphic novels while listing to industrial music as if it was a movie soundtrack is a new kind of bliss for me and my art-addicted psyche. What else has happened? Friday night I went clubbing to the local hangout, but the music and vibe was atrocious. Never again on a Friday hang the DJ indeed. Last night the flatmates, Chris and Kylie, and myself went to dinner at an Italian restaurant, then watched a game of Rugby. My mixed grill meal was putting me to sleep, however, and until 5pm today I was sliding between listening to Live on the headphones and slumber: that vacant, dreamless non-sleep you tend to have during daytime hours. The fact that I was nodding off with daylight streaming in the window and Ed Kowalczyk singing about crying dolphins (but not really) says I had some serious sleep debt to pay back, with interest.

With the flatmates out tonight I think I'll watch The Matrix Reloaded on DVD. My bloody imagination is never satisfied! My definition of Hell: nothing to read or watch that engages the imagination in some minor fashion.


wednesday : 01 oct 2003

My trip to Sydney happens this Friday! Which means there has not been much time this week for idle musing, navel gazing, or introspective ponderances of the soul within and the universe without. Pragmatic issues like watching socks, finishing work tasks and talking to mum before her trip to the UK on Sunday has taken precedence. We must sound like a bunch of jet-setters, but let me assure you that our family has never been rich enough to fly off to Tahiti for brunch, or skip out for croissants-and-a-show in Paris. As for me, I'll be spending six days staying with friends near Bankstown, the widely acknowledged gang-rape capital of Australia. The area has a colourful past if nothing else.

Speaking of Sin-City, Dale at work just had to imply that I was going up for the Mardis Gras. He is such a wit, or as marylu would say, "Oh help me please. My sides are splitting." Little does he realise that I cannot be gay, because if that were true, I would be getting laid more often that I am now. I am a single, sane, edukated, non-smoking, heterosexual male, born here, with a stable income, no dependants and no addictions. In other words, a certifiable minority group. In fact, my demographic is practically the most anorexic in the world. An endangered species, even. 3000 years from now you will see my skeleton on display in a futuristic museum, with a plaque (or talking hologram) that says:

homo singularis (male)
This curious beast thrived on Earth between 2000 A.D. and 2020 A.D. Natural habitats included clubs, bars, shopping malls, remaindered book shops, and fast-food outlets. It was also known to spend long periods inside caves, even on sunny days, watching the primitive entertainments popular in this epoch. Note the over-developed thumb on this specimen, which must have evolved specifically to manipulate remote control devices more efficiently, and the stooped shoulders: the direct result of too many disappointing courtship rituals. Homo singularis died out suddenly at around 2025 A.D. As for the possible causes of extinction, scientists point to either a global cataclysm of cosmic proportions, or breeding problems typical of species that are left floundering in the shallow end of the gene pool the failing of a clearly unsuccessful genetic profile.

You will be happy to know that I avoided any contact with the AFL grand final on Saturday. Mission accomplished thanks to Heath. Behind closed curtains at his place, situated near the Bogan Belt of Mebourne's Eastern suburbs, Heath showed me a procession of choice moments from horror DVDs in his collection I had never seen before. I did the same with titles I brought along, but his barrage of questionable highlights put my selection to shame. Still, I think seeing parts of Squirm and The Brood that have been cut for roughly two decades prompted a few envious pangs. His 12-year-old ginger cat was also good value. Footy fever and foul weather were the furthest things from our minds one of the small triumphs of the last few weeks, was this afternoon.

Monday night was spent watching Tomb Raider II with my flatmates and trying to eat awful McDonald's food, or more correctly, badly prepared food. My Big Mac had maybe four strings of ratty lettuce hanging limp from a wad of buns and 'meat' that even a starving dog would refuse. This outlet has lost my business never again. I suspect the offending burger was the result of pre-closing economising, but if there is no more food left except for dregs, either shut up shop or make sure there is enough left to give a poor slob a reasonable Big Mac supper before his movie starts. Or offer discounts. I thought about handing back the Big Mac half eaten with the quip: "Here, perhaps you can wrap this back up. Nobody would notice."


thursday : 25 sep 2003

Idle thought: If I get all of my Life-O-Meter levels up to, say, four across the board, will I get a bonus life?

Last week was subdued in comparison to the previous week's rollercoaster ride. The mild depression lifted on its own accord as stress levels dropped and things returned to relative normality. Lows rarely last more than a day or two. And like most natural behaviours, they serve a host of valuable functions: imposing a physical and mental slow-down and prompting self-reflection, which allows you to gear-up and face the future with a fresh perspective.

(We are the children of biological evolution spanning hundreds of millions of years. When our bodies and minds shift into different modes, there is always a reason for it. Naturally I try to stay on top of things, we all do, but generally I tend to go with the flow and with let the under-currents of life carry me away for a spell without losing sight of land, that is. Thanks to anyone who showed concern.)

The highlight of last week was a BBQ at Chong (an ex-flatmate) and Julee's place on Saturday night. Chong was outside manning the hotplate, while Julee was inside serving and chatting to us guests mainly young doctors and lawyers and one IT pro, namely me. I ate more meat that night than I had during the whole month, bringing back fond memories of Lemore's in Caufield, where Chong and I suffered food comas after finishing a meat platter each. It was a cosy, undemanding evening at the BBQ with a vibrant bunch of characters.

The coming weekend is looking like a quiet one, too. I can handle that because I am heading to Sydney the following weekend for five days. It's a pity I have to be in Melbourne for the AFL final (groan), but it gives me more impetus to celebrate the end of the footy season in Sin-City a few days later!


sunday : 14 sep 2003

Work last week was full-on, with numerous support issues and a general avalanche of Things That Had to Get Done making the time fly. That is how I like it, but the added stress can catch you unawares if you are not used to it. On Tuesday I was in a pretty foul mood for most of the morning and afternoon just got up on the wrong side of the bed. In contrast, Wednesday was paradise.

Marylu had supplied us tickets to see Certified Male on its opening night, which included an after-party in the theatre lobby. Beforehand we had dinner at a Japanese restaurant chosen by Alice. I ordered a "large serve of saki with a side-order of Japanese food." The show itself was hilarious, with a good mixture of visual gags and one-liners. Attending the after-party were the likes of comedians Mark (The Comedy Club) Mitchell and Elliot Goblet, news reader Mal Walden, another news reader Jennifer Hanson, who looked stunning in a colourful minidress that showed off her athletic legs, singer Christine Anu, and the members of the Certified Male cast: Frankie J. Holden, Peter Rowsthorn, Glynn Nicholas and Berynn Schwerdt. I also saw Martin, someone I know from a different circle of friends and an expert at installing PA systems. He is always up for an interesting conversation on any topic.

By 11pm everyone in our group had departed, so I decided to make for the train. Being dressed up and slightly pickled on rice wine and champagne had me running through the available options: (a) home by midnight, or (b) stay out and let the after party wind down, then visit a few bars, Crown Casino, a club or a strip joint, then pay for a taxi home. I went for (a) because Friday night promised to be a big one anyhow, and option (b) would have cost upwards of $100, not to mention facing work on Thursday tired and hungover.

On Thursday night I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl with Suzie, Euan, Chris and Kylie down at the local Village cinemaplex, which we and the crowd all enjoyed. Even though I watch more than my fair share of films at home, and like having control over the surroundings, nothing beats the buzz of a full house on opening night at the cinema. Chris and Kylie dropped me off home afterwards I reminded myself that I need to buy a box of Savoury Shapes. Which brings me to Friday.

It all started routinely enough at work. In the afternoon, Michael and I did an RBA run Redbull and Alcodol in preparation for the evening's work social club function. It promised to be an interesting night, given the unique venue and the long gap since the last function. (Then again, when you're single and into going out, even a seven day break is too long between drinks.) Needless to say it all went well. I was avoiding beer in an attempt to make a dent in my waistline, hence the wine and champagne theme. Everyone else was getting into the spirit of the occasion, too. Once the bar closed and a group of us were outside walking toward town, things went pear shaped for me. And I'm not talking about my figure.

Someone took offence at a careless remark I made. I had no idea until I ran after this person, who was now walking way ahead of us for no apparent reason. Once I knew what was wrong, I apologised profusely, or as well as I could after a night of steady drinking. It had minimal to no effect, but what else could I do? She jumped into a taxi and disappeared. Feeling rotten, I retraced my steps but could not find anyone else. Unlike Wednesday night after the show, there was no debating about what to do next. It was only 10:30pm on a Friday night, and I had no commitments the next day.

Trudging down Bourke Street, feeling sorry for myself, I saw two goth chicks and a death metal dude. I asked them what was happening in the metal club scene, because I fancied some harsher music. Despite my knowledge of bands and the whole genre, they were not friendly, perhaps sensing my mood and inebriated state. We did not part on good terms. In the mall itself I happened upon a group of young Asian lads. They invited me to "tell a story" by standing soap-box fashion on a green metal seat. So I related the altercation with the fucked-up goths. We got to talking and they brought up their current woes: no girlfriends, no money, unhappy with their cars. You know, the usual. Specifically, they could not get into Club-X because they looked too young. I offered to not only take them in but also buy them some 'gifts', which I did. I will not detail the shopping list, but when we parted ways, they were much happier than the metal heads I'd left behind earlier.

Walking down Swanston toward Heat I had my suspicion confirmed. There was a metal gig on at the Hi-Fi bar. I chatted to some guys outside and confirmed that it would be a good show. The support bands had already finished; only the headliner remained, a Swedish band I didn't know called Soil Something. But I had no cash. Heading down Little Collins on the way to a Bendigo Bank ATM on Elizabeth Street, I noticed a trendy place called the Kitty Katt Club, and made a note to stop in on the way back. It was very swish, with an exclusive closed-off upper level. I got in by pretending I was with two blond girls ascending the carpeted staircase. A funky jazz band led by a female vocalist were entertaining the well dressed crowd. I purchased a G&T and sat down to soak up the atmosphere, then split to visit the metal gig at the Hi-Fi bar.

The band were already playing. I bought two Stellas for the guys I'd met outside and a bourbon and coke for me, which mostly ended up on my suit and grey dress shirt by the time I had walked into the mosh pit. It was crowded and hot and rough I loved it. Half an hour later, the spillage long dried, I returned to Kitty Katt and more jazz funk. The contrast was almost comical. Toward the end of their set, there was a mishap. Some bloke was dancing on top of a narrow padded seat shaped like a banana next to the stage. The singer decided it would be fun to join him. Bad move. They lasted all of three seconds before the laws of physics took over and the seat toppled over, bring both of them crashing to the floor. He was okay, the singer was bleeding from a gash on her head. Since I was sitting nearby I got up to help, then chatted to the band members before leaving. Time for Heat. On the way down I talked to more strangers: metal gig punters pouring out of the Hi-Fi Bar who recognised me in the mosh pit (I guess I stood out), two Asian photographer guys shooting the Yarra river on time exposures, and a busker who demonstrated the various different styles of flamenco guitar to me. I gave him a generous donation. I poked my head into PJ O'Briens, but the band there would have been less interesting than the two I'd already seen or three if you include the accoustic guitarist.

By the time I walked into Heat, it was 1:45pm. Probably too late, really. The commercial dance music I prefer had morphed into maudlin techno, therefore explaining the thinly populated dance floor. The R&B lounge was still pumping, so I spent most of my time there. That was easier to handle as well, because my energy reserves were dropping. I must have left at about 3:45am. For the second time I spotted a girl who seemed to be watching me again. As luck would have it, she and her friend arrived at the taxi rank outside on Clarendon just as I did. I only had time to ask the friend who that girl was. Her cryptic reply was, "That does not matter much." Next time I'll talk to them in the club, and see what happens. This was the second time a woman had driven away from me in a taxi tonight! I need to change my deodorant, perhaps.

As is customary, the rest of the weekend has been sedate. Not that I felt like doing much else. Angela and her daughter Rhiannon moved house and I was recruited to collected their male cat called Buffy, and also swing past Coles to get urgent supplies (Angela does not own a car). I had fun embarrassing Rhiannon at the supermarket checkout lane, where we were stuck waiting on a price check on my carton of milk. Last night I had 10 hours sleep, which is unheard of for me, then this afternoon I started teaching myself French with CD-ROM software, and tonight I had dinner with Chong, an ex-flatmate. We consoled each other with tales of woe over hot pizzas, grog and gellati at Fazio's.

While watching the convoluted machinations of Cruel Intentions this afternoon on DVD, I reflected back over the last few days Wednesday and Friday nights in particular and concluded that my life is, if nothing else, hardly what you would consider dull. Sad? Definitely. But as I said to Chris at work: if I am going to climb into bed alone, at least I will try to engage life beforehand then retire at 4:30am, rather than retiring at 10:30pm after being indoors doing nothing. That is my philosophy, for better or worse.


sunday : 07 sep 2003

Another eventful week has just gone by. Nothing major in the grand scheme of things, however, but enough to keep me from updating this journal.

Last Sunday morning I spent a few hours in bed reading and staring at the ceiling. Together with taking long showers, dancing and being 'out' tends to siphon off any emotional toxins I may have lingering in my system. We all have ways of performing this self-maintenence; my methods are pretty effective. By the time I lurched out of bed to make breakfast, it was almost time to see some stand-up comedy at the Espy Hotel with Chris and Kylie.

For starters, the weather was absolute shite: real end-of-the-world kind of stuff. Things improved once we were inside. Drinking beer on a Sunday is always a pleasant novelty, and on this occasion I had soon left a respectable number of empty glasses and bottles in my wake. The comedy talent was excellent considering the lack of fan-fare and the decrepit surroundings that's the Espy for you. Dave Hughes, comedian in residence and breakfast clown on Nova FM, was watching from the back of the room. I would have been more distracted by him if the acts were less competent, and if Kylie's friend was not sitting across from me at our table. Ahem.

Monday night involved seeing a preview of the new Australian zombie film Undead at Hoyts in town with Harry, who supplied my ticket, and two Karens. The crowd was a mixture of educated swampies (black clothes, black facial hair) in the majority and office workers like us in the minority. Tuesday night was unremarkable except for slicing my right ring finger on one of two carving knives left in the drawer with their blades facing up. The cut was modest; getting a reminder of your own mortality is good, I guess. Wednesday morning I spilt my cappuccino on my desk, drenching paperwork that never got referenced anyhow. Disasters always come in threes, so I was on alert. That afternoon marylu graciously offered two double-passes to see the new Danny Boyle horror flick 28 Days Later, again at Hoyts. Since it was short notice, nobody in the office was available or willing. At the screening I saw Richard, an old acquaintance who runs the amusing site Merde (It's French for Shit). Thursday night was spent at home watching a DVD, which was paused midway to see the next episode of For Love or Money.

On Friday I was rejected curtly by someone I had my eye on. "Thanks but I'm not interested" was the line used. Direct, succinct, to the point. That was the third bad incident following the carving knife and coffee incidents. Better late than never? Not in this case. Anyway, Friday night was bloody good. Beers after work segued into drinks at two venues I'd never tried before at workmate John's suggestion. He left me at the Koo Koo Bar on Swanston a lively, interesting place. Very crowded and huge. You would never guess it from the minimal street-level entrance.

But, as good as it was, being there alone was no fun, so I headed down to Heat after grabbing a snack. Heat was excellent they have definitely gone more commercial in the main room, which suits me. The patrons were all typical Heat clubber types. The male strip review Aussie Storm had also lured many of their female audience members to the club with free passes, therefore it was even more 'steamy' in the R&B area than usual. Regular attendance at Heat is growing on me. I also tried to get into Fidel's for a quick cigar puff, but I had the wrong shoes on. Next time!

Yesterday was quiet. As I explained to Chris and Kylie, going out two nights in a row is unwise for a number of reasons, the most mundane being that the novelty wears off. Same vibe, same music, same drinks. We had a good time going to dinner then seeing Finding Nemo, which was great fun. See this film. Today I've been slumming around the cave taking it easy: eating the fresh groceries I bought yesterday, exercising, watching a film. Tonight involves another film preview with Harry, this time in St. Kilda. Thus, I do believe things have come full circle. I can, however, do without spilt coffee, injuries, or being rejected during the coming week.


saturday : 30 aug 2003

It is 3:42am precisely and dad turns 60 today. My brother's family of three is travelling north of BrisVegas to see him for the weekend. I visited Queensland in July for my niece's first birthday and my own 34th. It would have been marvellous to be up there now for dear old dad, but unlike an electron, I cannot be in all places 'at once'. I will call later today to wish him a happy birthday.

The dancing was what I needed. While there was no band, the atmosphere was reasonably pumped fewer people means more room to vogue on podiums, less crowding at the bar, and free entry. No complaints here. On the way down I dropped in for five minutes on Angela and her darling daughter Rhiannon, who live a few blocks from me. Although it was half past 11, they were still awake. Rhiannon was playing a shooting game on the PS2 where one uses violence to solve problems, and Angela was letting the stress of another hard week at work ebb into the futon mattress. Although they were overjoyed to see me, neither wanted to come clubbing. Human nature is so unpredictable.

In keeping with dance night traditions, the club had organised foolish games with which to entertain the patrons. They consisted of (a) the first guy to eat ice cubes off a girl's torso, (b) the first girl to eat a Polly Waffle protruding from a guy's crotch, and (c) the reddest bum in a spanking competition. Apart from killing the energy of the dance music, these interludes gave me an opportunity to buy drinks from the bar without missing a good song. The regular DJ had control of the decks as always. He is OK but occasionally tests out a new song which tends to chase people off the floor, as well as reminding me to address any bladder or shoelace problems. Once warmed up though, I got moving and hardly paused before the final track rocked the PA system four hours later.

With Coles closing at midnight, I picked up a box of Savoury Shapes at the petrol station instead and munched those while trudging through light rain back home. Of course, I deposited complimentary biscuits into random letterboxes along the way my generosity knows no bounds.

The terminator fast approaches so I had better get what little REM sleep is attainable. There is salt on my brow, which means I had performed a solid exercise workout while dancing. Hopefully I can expect a few hours of quality snoozing, then have a hot shower upon waking at the crack of 11:30am.


friday : 29 aug 2003

A windy Friday night. I am just home after downing more-than-one slash less-than-six pots of Carlton Draught in town with fellow code monkey Chris from work, followed by a salad roll from the local burger joint.

The immediate plan tonight is to cut loose with bourbon and dry before heading off to a local nightspot for a bout of clubbing. Heat two weeks ago was pretty good, but starting late meant that I was running on vibe and atmosphere rather than carbohydrates and booze. Even though the cover band will absorb precious dance time, I always enjoy watching competent live performances. Previous fixtures at this venue have all been entertaining bashing out a guitary mixture of golden moldies and recent favourites. If they manage to render Evanescence's 'Bring Me to Life' convincingly or some Blink 182, I'll consider the cover charge well spent, never mind picking up or getting smashed, which is not likely at their prices, hence the homestead head start. "And here's a drunk we prepared earlier..." Euan and Suzie are watching footy and will probably hit the sack soon. I did not go out last weekend at all. Thus the front door and the nightspot beyond beckons to me like a bug zapper to a moth.

The week has been turbulent but in unremarkable ways. I finished the Nick Hornby book in record time and confirmed the restoration of cuts to Death Wish II on DVD (Sleaze Hounds: 1, Conservative Fuckheads: 6375). One late night working and another spent laughing through the new bachelor TV show pretty much sums up my recent history. I also baby-sat for two of Marylu's boys last Sunday night. If they didn't enjoy the plastic bow-n-arrow tournament, I sure did. Watch kids shoot missiles armed with rubber suckers at various targets for two hours and you are bound to see some seriously funny shit. (Yes James, that arrow you licked really did go up the dog's bum, honest.) Speaking of spectacles, check out NASA's Hubble Site to ameliorate any disappointing Mars-gazing experiences.


sunday : 17 aug 2003

It is cold and dark outside. Rain is pelting the windows, the house is silent, and I am too sleepy to watch a film or read about bloody hobbits. Now is a good time to reflect upon an interesting week.

Work was full-on, with continuous support issues to handle and lots of programming (or 'code cutting' as I call it) for some existing reports. This is the way I like it: firm deadlines and more work to do than a mere five days allows for. A string of late nights had sapped my energy reserves, but that somehow makes it all the more manic and enjoyable. Despite having so much fun in the corporate fish tank, the arrival of Friday afternoon was welcomed by all of us.

The evening started badly when my left thumb jammed itself between a pair of glass doors at the pub. Following a natural impulse, I pushed harder to slide it out the other side, but this only wedge it in more. Then the pain hit. Trying to stay calm and knowing people inside were watching this crisis unfold I pulled the door backwards slowly, eventually getting the all-important opposable digit back under my control. Besides pouring it down your throat, the other good thing about beer is that the chilled glass is handy for treating bruises and minimising pain. After a few Carlton Draughts, I had forgotten the whole episode. Four of us went in search of food when things slowed down to the point where our group was almost the largest in the venue. We ended up at Chilli Cafe for spicy Asian food and good conversation. For me, that was Friday night. I put down Lord of the Rings and turned in just before midnight. Trust me, no one was more shocked than I!

Saturday night made up for it. The divine Alice was celebrating her birthday in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. Because Suzie and Euan drove me in, I was planning to have a big night, or at least go with the flow. Well, needless to say, there was a lot of flow. But even before the desired effects started to kick in, I had already (a) walked into the lady's toilet (to the bemused surprise of two young women) thanks to not wearing my glasses and hence misreading the symbols, and (b) pointed out to everyone two patrons who looked like sorry who "were" Claire Danes and Lisa Kudrow. At this point I theorised to someone that it was going to be a long night. How true that was.

Drinks and more drinks followed, all at a steady rate. This was not a bingeing night. Our group was an urbane, witty mix of backgrounds and professions. Euan wore his kilt for the occasion and looked amazing, all of the women were dressed to-die-for, and the other guys were smart, smiling and relaxed. Still, with no dinner in my belly, I had reached that pleasant buzz on the borderland between conversational virtuosity and mischief making. Which way would I go? As it turned out, the survivors bought more drinks at another bar on Brunswick before splitting up and catching taxis going in opposite directions. I wanted to dance, needed to, but it was too late to journey all the way home on the Nightrider to go clubbing at my suburban haunt, so I went to Heat at the Crown Casino complex instead.

Attendance was below the norm for Heat, which may have explained the frequent commercial dance tracks. That suited me fine. I find it hard to dance to music I am unfamiliar with, and I prefer more melody. Hard techo is largely rhythmic with sparse electronic soundscapes. If it's driving and relentless like it was at Sirens one Friday night, I will go off, but those cases are rare. Give me commercial dance (and a good PA system) anytime. I stayed at Heat until closing time at about 6:00am. It was still dark and frosty outside, with the first signs off dawn leeching through the eastern sky. Depressingly, the first train out to the 'burbs was at 8:00am. Compare that to 5:00am Saturday mornings. There were no Nightrider buses, either. Argh!! I had breakfast at Maccas then ambled over to Flinders Street station for a one hour wait in the cold with no empty seats available. Stuff that for a joke. I could walk to South Yarra station in 45 minutes, so I did.

St. Kilda road deserted, strewn with broken bottles and hungry seagulls was quite an experience in the weak non-light. For instance, the monuments in the Botanical Gardens had a solemn quality that is only possible in the post-clubbing silence of dawn. The stark trees looked like frozen wraiths, and there were joggers, but not many. I heard one sucker approaching from behind. I turned to look, then continued walking. Imagine my surprise when he slapped me on my back and called out a derogatory remark! This particular fitness nut was actually one of the IT managers at work. We stopped to talk. He was as shocked as I was, although granted, I was wearing a black Hugo Boss single-breasted suit with a purple flower in the lapel, which I had picked at the garden clock to match my new Sportcraft shirt, and high-gloss Italian shoes. He wore an Adidas track suit, runners, and a bemused expression. One of us looked out of place.

I made it to South Yarra station with three minutes to spare just enough time to relive my full bladder at the facilities and boarded the train without my monthly ticket. Being fined was the last weirdism that could have happened, but I know from experience that inspectors never check early trains. Regardless, I had a colourful story ready to spin if I was caught. Anyway, it really was Sunday now. I got home at 9am and pretended that I had a full night's sleep. The dancing, long walk, sunshine, and bizarre encounter had woken me up. I caught some shut-eye later and spent the rest of the day having a 'quiet one'. Tonight I'll return to the bloody hobbits and dream of seeing Claire Danes and Lisa Kudrow in the lady's bathroom in Fitzroy.


wednesday : 13 aug 2003

Things are ticking along nicely no complaints is the order of the day.

The unfinished portions of this website have been seducing me away from regular update chores like the journal, movie reviews and Chopping List. Doing a bit here and there just keeps me from applying for three week's holiday (without pay) to finish it all. In-progress creative projects eat away at my mind. Drawings in particular hijack every spare minute of my time. I remember carting half-done illustrations to work so that I could ink in another square inch to two of the picture at lunch time. Except for taking showers, I would not do anything without keeping that damn artwork within reach. Procrastination has delayed many an idea, but once I begin work on something, nothing else matters. Anyway, on with this entry.

The social highlight of last week was, again, Friday night. A dry, two-hour departmental information session was followed by complimentary finger food and alcohol. As a bachelor who buys rather than cooks 95% of all meals, you always take advantage of such gifts from the heavens. I took advantage. By the time I arrived at the pub afterwards, I was ready for a lie-down, or at least a leisurely puff on a Cuban cigar, but a rendezvous with other friends awaited.

After dodging raindrops during a quick march downtown, I arrived late, as I had forewarned. Everyone was chatting and sipping glasses of social lube. Boy, they looked comfortable. I grabbed a G&T and joined in. The banter eventually circled around to food, so we migrated to a Vietnamese restaurant and asked for a table seating ten. That was a pretty funny dinner, for reasons I cannot precisely recall. Suffice to say, you had to be there. At the end of it I was feeling rather bloated, since I had consumed a full meal plus wine (thank you Richard), on top of the savouries, VB and social lube from three hours before. 10:30pm was still early, however, so George and I cruised over to a few nightspots to mingle with the other nightowls. I danced to 80s music downstairs at D:ream while also checking out Noise Club upstairs, which featured DJs blasting out some entertaining though incredibly harsh Merzbow-style sonic armageddon. Wikkid. The rest of the weekend was spent indoors: the only guaranteed way of keeping money in your pocket.

Last night Michael from work invited me down to Prahran for "steak night" at the local, with Carlton Draught on tap as an appetizer. Yes thanks. The Godzilla-sized slabs of meat were served fast. Being a wasabi vetertan, I asked for the hottest English mustard and, like the Big Lizard himself, breathed fire more than once. Sorry about the singed eyebrows, Michael. Tonight I had a peasant's dinner consisting of 1 x small apple, 1 x dried apricot, 1 x tin of pink salmon, 3 x almonds, 1 x glass of OJ Simpson, 1 x Roman carrot, 1 x glass of water. I also exercised. Free pizza for lunch, you see...


wednesday : 06 aug 2003

It is 9:34pm and I am drinking Jim Beam Black and Diet Coke, listening to Limp Bizkit playing 'Nookie' loud on the stereo. I just spent 45 minutes talking to friends in Sydney, two comic book artists and horror fans I have known since 1992. Last night I finally submitted the long-overdue DVD review of Bride of Frankenstein for Michael D's great Australian site. Work is extremely busy in that satisfying hero-for-a-day manner, and the weekend is shaping up to be pretty ace.

In my sad, grey little world, life does not get much better than this at least for a school night.

After drinks on Friday evening with some workmates, one of whom had planned to have a "bender" but didn't due to the way things unfolded, the weekend was strictly hermit mode for me. Saturday was spent in denial of my decision to get that DVD review published by Sunday midnight. The procrastination itinerary included watching movies all day followed by a gourmet feast at McDonalds, then some prurient Internet surfing, and capping it off with a magnificent broadcast of Rage, which played a collection of guitar-based music including a new Nine Inch Nails clip for 'Deep', and a selection of songs that were just fucking swell. The usual programme director must have been off sick. Good riddens! As is customary, I reached the brink of REM coma at about 2:23am, vowing to crash "right after I find out what the next clip is". A few microsleeps and a strong cup of tea had me perking up again, so I ended up pulling the plug (reluctantly) close to 4:00am. A shmart person would have downloaded the play list on the Rage website. But I is not shmart. Plus it is more fun not knowing what is coming up. There is nothing worse than enduring hours of total rubbish in order to catch a run of Foo Fighters clips at 3:30am. Like those mice that get shocked with electricity in lab experiments, I learned the hard way. As for setting the VCR to record it, well, that's just not the done thing; it is cheating. I eventually got the review completed thank you for asking at 2:00am Monday night. Time management is not one of my strengths.

Speaking of time, last Thursday morning my train was cancelled. Annoyed but philosophical, I hoofed it over to the newsagent for some 'library reading' and found a double issue of Mad Magazine, featuring piss-takes of Minority Retort, that awful SF series Endlessprize, and Bored of the Rings. Of course I bought it immediately, even though Mad's hit rate normally hovers around 15%. (Remember: not shmart.) To my surprise, I found myself grinning and chuckling under my breath at a number of gags, despite being surrounded by silent corporate mannequins on all sides. (My favourite bit was the Vending Machine Kung-Fu ensemble, which I photocopied and stuck to the side of our snack-food Dalek at work.) I am sure the image of a well-dressed monkey in a business suit giggling at a copy of Mad stayed with some of those commuters until, say, morning tea, or maybe even lunch time. Mad indeed. Or to quote a popular IT data processing phrase, "garbage in, garbage out".

Earlier this week I promised a friend that I would try to open up myself more on this journal, rather than merely reviewing my life, which I fear has been happening lately. I swear though, if I ever get the poems circling in a holding pattern in my head down on paper, so to speak, you will be pleading with me to get back to telling anecdotes. Nevertheless, let me end the same way I started, which is to say I feel great right now, all things considered. And that's not the bourbon talking.

trivial nutcracking

tuesday : 29 jul 2003

Have you ever tried fighting off a head-cold when the wind gusts in town were so chilly it felt as though they had blown straight off a glacier on Pluto? I can usually shake a cold quickly, but not in such miserable weather. Nevertheless, apart from sounding like Elmer Fudd, the past week was pretty good, all up.

Friday night involved annual work social club Trivia event, with food and drink supplied to members for a nominal fee. To take full advantage of this arrangement and to guard against the effects of cheap booze, I purchased a packet of Alcodol (a hangover preventative multi-vitamin) which worked a treat. Our team, called The Winners, came second-last out of 15 or so tables. But we drank a commendable, decidely non-trivial share of the bar supply. If I went for a jog immediately afterwards, I would have sweated VB and champagne. After a quick visit to The Exchange Hotel with a few others, I hung around town for a spell then caught the 4:30am Nightrider bus home. Yes, I'm a bit of a nightowl. I blame my parents, who met whilst out late clubbing in Auckland, circa 1965. Thus, my destiny was genetically predetermined.

The terminator brought Saturday crashing down on me way too early for my liking – an extended solar eclipse would have been marvellous timing. Still, there's nothing like visiting the local Westfield for resetting one's body clock. Back at home, I spruced myself up for an interesting afternoon watching the Russian ice skaters in The Nutcracker on Ice at Her Majesty's Theatre, courtesy of Marylu the magnificent. Given my health status at the time, ice dancing in a refrigerated auditorium would seem like the last thing I needed. Let me just confirm that laughter must be the best medicine, because afterwards I felt better than I have in quite a while.

The show. What can one say? There was so much talent on display, so many hours of practice, so much poetry and grace, that I could only sit there quietly in Row-G, Seat-18, and attempt to shine my admiration back onto the stage. (Marylu was a tad more specific in her appreciation: "God I love men in tights.") I was familiar with most of the classical numbers in the production, which was a bonus, and the skaters themselves were as taut and attractive as most of us wished we were in our day-dreams, or after a couple of Gin and Tonics. And guess what, on the way back from intermission, I touched the ice!

Drink and coffee in the Maj Cafe was also priceless. Present were myself, Marylu and two of her sons, the incomparable Alice, and a gorgeous friend of her's whom I had not previously met. Well, the shared experience of the ice show, the caffeine, and the gin conspired to bring out the stand-up comedian in all of us. The ever-smiling Flick was there too, serving in the background. Hmmm. It's difficult to explain the rapport we had going, so I'll just mention that we stayed longer than we had planned to, keeping each other company with good humour and nonsense.

Since my two flatmates are away house-sitting for three weeks, Sunday offered up a rare opportunity to sloth down a few gears with surround sounds and a wide screen. A blissful end to a nutty weekend.

trivial nutcracking

tuesday : 22 jul 2003

Rewind back to the weekend.

Mine tend to start on Fridays straight after work. The festivities may begin at lunch time, but those are rare occasions, because I usually need the afternoon to reach my 38-hour weekly benchmark. Thus between 4:00pm and 5:00pm, the pressure beings to mount: first with verbal hints being dropped in the corridors, then one or two rather blunt e-mails materialising in your in-box, and finally prodding and PCs forcibly being switched off. What pressure is this exactly? Beer pressure. Resistance is futile.

A classy venue, one of many close to us in the glittering CBD of Melbourne, is the default meeting place when the stop-work whistle blows. Happy hour is between 5pm and 7pm, which is time enough to unwind and plan the evening. For this night, someone suggested a bar five blocks down that held good prospects for single guys, and therefore warranted checking out. It ended up being close-quartered and lacking the absurd female-to-male ratio heard on the grapevine. Of course, the obvious explanation was that other blokes had acted on the same hot tip. Duh. (No mystery was beyond our powers of deduction.) Still, we drank more beer, munched nibblies and enjoyed the atmosphere. A workmate and I ambled off for take-away food the when the others eventually left. En route to Crown Casino, I bumped into an acquaintance I had not seen for over a year, and we stayed in town until the first Frankston train took me home.

Saturday night involved a 21st birthday bash for a friend's daughter. Since I was nursing a mild hangover, I drove marylu and myself way out east to an area called The Basin, up where the misty hills are covered with moccasin tracks and empty VB cans. While a large hall had been hired for the occasion, someone forgot to rent the crowd. But that oversight was forgotten once the band started up, which was fronted by one the birthday girl's many uncles. Also providing entertainment was marylu, who was getting quite smashed on Jim Beam and cola by this stage...after a long head start, I might add. There are few things more amusing than watching, from the vantage point of sobriety, a close friend drink to excess. After an embarrassing episode which involved a group of clearly insane people trying to get me to dance to rock ballads, we drained ourselves out of The Basin, having had a great time regardless.

My head cold, tiredness and raspy voice were in full swing on Sunday. I eventually peeled myself out of bed at the crack of 11am to engage our interstate house guest in conversation. When my other flatmates Suzie and Euan appeared from down the hall and across town, we all had a late lunch at Blue Train, Southbank. While the food was tasty, this is the first time I remember the meals arriving before the drinks. Good to see that the art of microwave cuisine is alive and well in Melbourne.

trivial nutcracking

monday : 21 jul 2003

I voted for Reggie, too!

So Australian Big Bother is over for another year. The first series was interesting for its novelty value; I managed to watch and enjoy most of it. I remember fragments of the second series, only tuning in properly toward the end. Because I do not think too highly of Aussie TV celebrities, even when they are supposed to be entertaining us on their own tedious shows, the thought of watching Celebrity Big Brother held about as much appeal as drinking a Drano smoothie. I made sure to find out what time it was on so that I would not change channels and see it accidentally.

This time around, because one of my flatmates had it on regularly, I absorbed much of it: becoming both addicted and poisoned by it in the same manner as one does with passive smoking. I call the phenomenon 'Passive Big Brothering'. The various dramas and personalities were engaging; I think they ultimately chose a good mix of housemates. The winner, Regina Bird, fully deserved it not in the usual sense of earning first place, but just by being a humble, beautifully disarming human being. I made my one and only telephone vote three minutes before the lines closed tonight for Reggie, the Tasmanian fish-n-chip Wondersheila. How can you not love someone who upon winning $250,000 in cash says, "Oh, I thought I'd won a PlayStation!"

And let me say, it felt very 'spesh' to be a part of it all. Dialling myself in to connect with the massmind of the nation with nervous, twitchy fingers. Participating in the biggest cultural event this country has seen since those big thongs and motorised BBQs swarmed into the stadium during the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games. It was a proud, pants-wetting moment in my life. And look, it even caused me to neglect a run-down of the weekend's activities, which I will have to toss into tomorrow's entry instead.

What can I say except to quote our newest national icon: "Bugger!"

trivial nutcracking

thursday : 17 jul 2003

As of today, I have been 34 years old young for exactly one week. Celebrations started on my last night in Brisbane, with roast chicken at my brother's house (I doubt the chook's relatives felt like celebrating much) and then lunch with workmates in Melbourne the next day, followed by a kick-arse Japanese banquet and gallons of saki with more friends on Saturday night. Besides being hangover-free, which was a gift in itself, I received a swag of great presents all chosen with the miraculous precision of successful brain surgery performed at sea after dark during a hurricane.

I am not easy to buy gifts for.

Now, the obvious question is: do I feel different? Am I reappraising my direction in life? Is this when I quit my IT job, burn my signed first-editions, and put the home cinema gear out for hard rubbish collection, in order to rent a treehouse in Nimbin with my dole cheques and eat hash cookies all day? Fuck that, baby. I am quite happy with my relatively opulent, self-indulgent lifestyle. Donating my entire income to my favourite charity, moi. Consuming baked cheese cake for breakfast just because. Hunting down German-made Hugo Boss suits for no rational reason other than my ill-informed fashion radar thinks they are hot shit. Being in such a spending fugue state that I have unwittingly bought Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much on DVD twice...the clincher is that I will simply give away the spare copy.

The often-used aphorism "you are only as young as you feel" does apply to me. Given the trajectory of my life, I think I am coping with the steady march toward the Big Beyond with my combat boots firmly laced and a healthy air of levity. I steadfastly refuse to give up one of my favourite activities clubbing when others have retired their dancing shoes in favour of footy games on TV and the whole domestic tableau. Chart music still interests me; I actually like Britney Spears, for instance, and love taking in hours of that most underrated of artforms, the video clip. I try to dress hip, but probably look more like Ali G's grandfather than Eminem.

These may all be indications that I have a neurotic fixation on my 20s, no? Well hang on, please to explain. Firstly, they were not so crazy or memorable as to warrant running them on A-B Repeat. And secondly, I cannot recapture those days anymore than Dennis Lillie could bowl a hat-trick, or Sir Edmund Hillary climb Mt Everest. But since I am still single and 'young at heart' (cue the fingers-down-throat gesture) then I have no intention of slowing down. The only thing holding me back is sleep deprivation, which maybe the topic of a future entry. In fact I am sure it will be. The realisation that I have had maybe a dozen non-tired days this year is disturbing. To that end, pleasant dreams...a big weekend approacheth.

posto numero uno

wednesday : 16 jul 2003

Welcome to my first web journal entry.

As you can see, the rest of the site is still under construction sorry about the noise. This project has been stewing in the broth of my imagination for about three years, kept simmering on the back burner thanks to my endless talent for procrastination.

The first milestone, a register of censored movies called The Chopping List, has been in maintenance mode since May 2003. This formidable task involved learning HTML and performing a stack of data entry, so it was a rather long haul. The second stage is this web journal. As time goes by, more of the other scenery will fall into place. Because I am essentially building the site from the inside out, there has already been one minor URL tremor involving the Chopping List files. With luck and adequate planning, it should be the last. Ah, Trial and Error: my two greatest mentors!

As for personal matters, there is much to reveal, both in terms of bringing you up to speed on my role in this crazy sitcom called Life, and also detailing future developments. I will not promise you any profound revelations or fancy Beatnik word salad, just a few cursory thoughts and observations. Cue the canned laughter.