June 2006

  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 744.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 607.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 607.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 159.
  • warning: strtotime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/modules/node/views_handler_argument_dates_various.inc on line 72.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 24.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 134.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 134.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.

My CV

During my lunch break today I was looking at my CV because I'm giving it to someone so they can pay someone else to file it somewhere in alphabetical order. Don't you think CVs would be so much better if they were true representations of what you'd done in your life - of what you were good at, and bad at, and proud of, and regretted?

A CV is such an inaccurate record of someone's life. I don't care what your major was in university, answer this question: do you wash your cup in the office kitchen after your coffee or do you leave it in the sink and then pretend to hear your phone ringing in your office and scurry sneakily away? How do you waste your time? If the answer is, "I have long, drawn-out conversations with my co-workers about my children" then you're obviously quite a distinct personality type. If the answer is "I tend to email people I feel regretful about not catching up with" or "I usually drag out a task that involves walking somewhere, like, for instance, going to the post office", then you're obviously me... er, I mean, you're obviously another personality type altogether.

I think we should revamp the entire system. That's all I'm saying. It would make for much more functional workplaces and it would eradicate CV-only expressions such as "charged with overseeing the co-ordination of staff systems" (which is the sort of crap people used to write on their CVs when I worked in a job reading CVs. I figured out eventually that what they actually meant was "I was a secretary", when what it sounded like was "I ran the UN for a while just after I graduated"). Having been a secretary, I know that these two jobs are probably equally as demanding, but they are not the same thing.

Anyway. Have an excellent weekend, everyone. Be glad you're not the guy in the street outside my office who was driving a truck-load of dirt down a narrow laneway and the back of his truck fell off onto the road in the centre of the CBD. Now THAT is a bad day at the office.

Genres

Hello again.

The most exciting news from my little world at the moment is that I have myself a new printer, which does a couple of things my old printer did not do, the most of important of which is that it prints things out for me.

I know! How novel.

So that means I've been writing more things, on account of how I can print them out. Now I have no excuse for not getting to that next phase and redrafting everything within an inch of its life. I have also been reading the book that I purchased in order to avoid reading Crime and Punishment , which means I now have to read Crime and Punishment , which I am sure will be excellent, but there's something about reading classic literature that makes me kind of dread the experience (having said that, I have enjoyed almost every "classic" work of literature I've read, pretty much without exception, so what all of this says about me I'm not sure. Possibly that I'm an idiot).

By the way, I would like to congratulate the second sentence in that last paragraph for its recent nomination in the Longest Sentence of the Year Awards. Richly deserved.

The book I've just finished, Blue Water , by A. Manette Ansay, was so different from Read This and Tell Me What It Says (her short story collection), and Vinegar Hill (the only other novel of hers that I've read) that I almost wondered if she was a different A. Manette Ansay from the one who came to our Boston College writing class and spoke gruffly about what made her a writer. I had thought then that she was a hero for the writer who just writes because she always wanted to. She didn't seem to be trying to match her work to a structural formula, and was quite happy to write about the tiny details and skip the big themes of life and death and love and whether or not forgiveness is possible in a small town (all of which are covered in this recent book). In fact, I think I had transformed Ansay - in my head - into a casually misanthropic, accidentally cutting-edge "fringe" writer. But, since being selected for Oprah's Book Club (having her print circulation multiply many tens of times over), she could hardly match that description and still be selling as many books as she is.

It's funny how an author can be mistaken for a genre. You read one book and you expect them all to be the same. I often find this confusing myself, when I write. I write something quite unlike something I've written before (which is necessary for my own sanity) and I find myself missing the "old" writing - trying to crowbar some of it in between the cracks of the new stuff. 'Tis a merry dance, this writing caper. I don't know why everyone isn't doing it.

Also, isn't behooved an excellent word?

Definition according to dictionary.com: to be necessary or proper for. eg: "It behooves you at least to try".

I think that last sentence alone - "it behooves you at least to try" - could form the sturdy basis for a character. Probably a British one.

Geraldine: But Boris, it just isn't possible. I mean, I've -

Boris: Oh for heavens sakes Geraldine. It behooves you at least to try.

(Boris storms out, in the direction of the Parlour room. Geraldine looks bereft and stares blankly through the bay windows).

Weekend Ramblings

This weekend, after seeing Oliver Twist , I promised myself I would read more "classic" novels, at which point I purchased a distinctly non-classical novel from the new releases section, Blue Water , which I am now half way through. To make up for the obvious disregard I have for my own conviction in these matters, I then purchased the appropriately titled Crime and Punishment , which was six dollars and which had on the back cover "the most readable of the classics". Shut up, I am at least trying.

I saw four movies this weekend, including The Chumscrubber , a movie they're saying is quite like American Beauty mixed with Donnie Darko and as a result it's derivative and boring, but I liked it. It had a sense of humour about itself - a rare thing in films about "young people" being "disenfranchised". I also could ignore its slight misjudgment of things at times because of the acting, which I thought was excellent. That Billy Elliot, I tells ya, he's orright (also, Glenn Close was brilliant, and CJ Cregg from The West Wing should probably be in most films). I took it as a satirical movie - not just a satire on contemporary America (which I agree is getting kind of boring), but a comment on films like the ones it's being compared to. Perhaps I was being too generous, for once, although I doubt that.

******
I visited my Grandmother. She said, out of nowhere, "What are you proudest of?"

My Grandma is a modern-day Shakespeare character. She speaks in simple, considered prose. She looks at you directly. She asks questions that could unravel a kingdom in a day. Then she offers you a cup of tea with a shortbread.

******
I also saw In The Shadow of the Palms this weekend. It's a documentary about Iraq before, during and after the first attacks by the USA. If you would like to know what Iraq is actually like, and how people live there, and precisely how ignorant the media is enabling us (in the west) to be, then check it out. I think I thought of Iraq as just this kind of empty desert with blood and anger and death. The filmmaker, Wayne Coles-Janess, an Australian, has just used footage to make an overall picture, really. No "plot", no cohesive "message", except that Iraq is a country just like where you live, except someone started dropping bombs on it and all the Christians and the Muslims and the pro-Saddam and the anti-Saddam Iraqis were suddenly rushing from crumbling building to crumbling building to haul people out of the rubble. It makes you realise that, as the brilliant chain-smoking school teacher in the film says, "We are under the control of liars". The politicians, all of them, were leading people into a war that the people had no control over but that would change them forever. It's obvious, but it's horrible. Watch the footage of the bombs dropping. Nothing precise or targeted about it.

Actually, I recommend, to really feel the full force of how ridiculous the world is, that you go and see this movie alone, as I did, and then emerge to see a huge TV screen broadcasting photographs of Nicole Kidman's marriage to Keith Urban.

*****
Later on Sunday, I stood in a shop that sells nuts from the counter. They're served hot and in a paper bag. I was waiting for the guy in front of me to order some cashews. His five or six year old son was with him. Their conversation was lovely:

Kid looks slightly perplexed. Peers in at nuts.
- Dad?
- Yep (slightly pre-occupied with nuts)
- Is salt a chemical?
- Ah, no. No, I don't think so. Not a chemical, exactly.
- What happens when it dries up?
- Salt?
- Yeah.
- I guess it gets dry and crystalised. You know, if you took all the water out of the sea, it would just be salt left. Crystalised salt, I guess.
- Yes... What's it for?
- Some people say it makes food taste better. But you can't have too much because it's not good for you.
- (Kid looks at salted cashew nuts for a bit)
- (Dad watches kid watching nuts) Speaks to kid again:
- Do you know what salt tastes like?
- Yes.
- It's kind of bitter, isn't it?
- Yes.

Kid and Dad leave. I tried to get a picture in my head of the kid so that one day I can send him a congratulations letter when he wins the nobel prize in twenty years. Was seriously five. Maybe six, if you squint.

*****

Then last night I saw Richard E Grant's film, Wah-Wah , which was brilliantly performed. As usual, I couldn't cope with the romanticisation or the melodrama that the film sometimes tipped into, but maybe it was necessary in this case.

In keeping with the sublime/ridiculous dichotomy of today, check this out - a most amusing and very brief article about the presents George Bush has been receiving from people since he became president. Yes the presents. The gifts. What would you get President Bush for his birthday? Nothing? (Tony Blair) A gun? (it's on the list) A whip? (same) Booze? (that one makes me laugh).

*******

Lastly, I found out today that the line in the Bright Eyes song I have been listening to in the car in fact refers to the protagonist having a "head full of pesticides" rather than to his having a "head full of pasta sauce". This disappoints me, as I had very much empathised with his position in regard to the pasta sauce. Life is full of disappointments such as these. Go here and check out a website full of them.

Coetzee & The Government

In The Weekend Australian this weekend, there is a full page advertisement in the glossy weekend magazine. The advertisement is "An Australian Government Promotion". Its purpose is to encourage eligible persons living in Australia to apply for Australian citizenship "so they can fully participate in this great nation of ours" (to quote Andrew Robb, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs).

The hook? "Australia's spirit and beauty prompted the 2003 Nobel Literature Laureate, John M. Coetzee, to become an Australian citizen".

Presumably the rationale behind this "promotion" is that people who read The Australian will be spluttering into their morning coffees and saying aloud at the breakfast table, "J M Coetzee did it? Where do I sign?"

A "literary crowd" at Coetzee's ceremony this year apparently "witnessed the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Senator the Hon. Amanda Vanstone, lead Mr Coetzee in his pledge of commitment to Australia", which must have been a singular joy.

Coetzee is quoted saying that taking on Australian citizenship creates responsibilities and duties. Robb (would you believe it) agrees, saying, "In Australia we value basic rights, such as democracy, equality under the law and equality of treatment and opportunity".

For reports on how well things have been going for the Aboriginal communities up North, you'll have to sift through the rest of the paper and try and find the words "basic rights" and "opportunity" in amongst the words "third world living standards", "infant mortality" and "paternalism". If you'd like to know how the asylum seekers who are about to have the law changed on them (again) feel about "equality of treatment and opportunity", you might have to wait a teensy while longer.

Still, why complain? The soccer seems to be going rather well, and a millionaire North Shore Sydneysider who lives in the United States is going to put a frock on and get married tomorrow, so that should be fun to read about until August.

I'm going for a walk.

Headlines and other prose

Today I saw a headline in the papers that appeared to say "Government Provides Free Porn" but which actually when I looked closer I saw went for two lines rather than one and so on further inspection turned out to say "Government Provides Free Porn Filters".

If ever the people in layout should have a say over the sub-editors who write the headlines, it's moments like that don't you think? I've got a headline somewhere that I cut out of The Herald Sun one time that just says "INSERT HEADLINE HERE". You just know someone got fired for that one.

So anyway I saw Polanski's Oliver Twist last night. I said yesterday that I haven't read many classics. That is sadly true. Of the classics I have read, however, most of them have been Dickens. I've read Oliver Twist at least once (meaning once - and another time when I was "studying" it), I've seen the non-musical film version and the musical film version, and let's not forget that I played the role of the Artful Dodger in the grade six play (the only interpretation of the role I'm aware of that has included a top hat combined with a ponytail). So, in terms of knowing the story of Oliver Twist inside out, I'm probably only a fraction less well informed than the probably countless thousands who are currently writing a thesis on it. HOWEVER I did enjoy this interpretation. Ben Kingsley is really quite brilliant as Fagin, who is the key to the whole thing in my opinion - and the rest of the casting was pretty spot on. Dodger, though, should really have had a ponytail.

Then I went to Readings with the intention of buying a classic Russian novel or a Thomas Hardy or even a D H Lawrence. Needless to say I did nothing of the sort. I am now the proud new owner of the new A. Manette Ansay book. Manette Ansay spoke to my writing class when I was studying at Boston College and she was such a breath of fresh air amongst some of the more conservative influences (which were probably better for me than I thought they were at the time). Her website is here. I've never forgotten the class she spoke in and I've found it really hard to find her writing anywhere in Australia. Her book of short stories, Read This and Tell Me What It Says is just so damn good. The title short story is a corker. I'm looking forward to a weekend of reading punctuated by cups of tea. My favourite.

Writing

Writing's not hard.

Who said writing was hard? What idiot said that? Writing's excellent fun. As if you'd do anything else. Having fun with the writing today, which is typical because it's back to my other work tomorrow. Oh well. Round we go again.

Ironic that the person who showed me the following link is a producer, but Rita is a good producer and this story is about a bad producer. Producers are kind of like witches in that way. Some are wicked and some are nice and look after Judy Garland and help her get to the Emerald City when her house falls on their wicked counterparts. Anyway go here for a story about Richard E. Grant's producer, which I must admit I haven't listened to yet but I'm willing to bet it's worth a listen. Richard E. Grant, for those of you who don't know, is my boyfriend. Or to put it another way, we've never met but I quite liked him in a movie I saw once.

Now, in more important news.

Tim Stitz, who is leaving us on Monday to go to acting school in America, organised a trivia night last night to raise money for his plight. It was a most hilarious evening, and if you haven't seen Stitzy's Chinese Grandmother character, you reeeally have been missing out. The quiz itself was impossibly difficult for those of us who are ignorant in a range of areas, which I thought was rather unfair. Where were the questions like "Describe in general terms one of the articles you've read in the newspaper this week" or "Provide a Marxist critique of The O.C". What's with the yes/no answer bias at these things?

Anyway my friend Jeremy won the raffle. My other friend, Honor, won two tickets to the theatre. And what did I win? Well, I didn't win anything, but Stew won a myotherapy session with a hilarious friend of mine, and I paid for the raffle ticket that won it. So anyway that will be excellent when I get around to booking it.

So well done Timmeh. It was an excellent night although trivia depresses me because people think I read a lot and know about Literature. I know nothing. I hereby resolve to read one of the classics next. It's about time I got serious about this reading business.

Either that or I'm going to read this other (much breezier) book that I've had my eye on, and I'm going to not read the classics EVER and then tonight I will go and see Polanski's Oliver Twist and I will get all the Jane Austen books out on DVD and I will listen to an audio tape of Nabakov.

Writing

Writing is hard. It just is.

Maybe for some people it isn't. But for me, it's like being locked inside my own head and realising it isn't any different from the last time I was in there. Also, there's not enough room to move. And there aren't any windows.

Last night I finished Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman. Pretty funny book. He talks about writing actually. He's trying to decipher a paper written by a sociologist. It's complicated. He says:

'So I stopped - at random - and read the next sentence very carefully. I can't remember it precisely, but it was very close to this: "The individual member of the social community often receives his information via visual, symbolic channels." I went back and forth over it, and translated. You know what it means? "People read".'

I love the downright contempt he has for the arts.

Although, that's not entirely fair. He does desire to use art in order to translate science to people:

'I wanted very much to learn to draw, for a reason that I kept to myself: I wanted to convey an emotion I have about the beauty of the world... It's analogous to the feeling one has in religion that has to do with a god that controls everything in the whole universe: there's a generality aspect that you feel when you think about how things that appear so different and behave so differently are all run "behind the scenes" by the same organisation, the same physical laws. It's an appreciation of the mathematical beauty of nature, of how she works inside: a realisation that the phenomena we see result from the complexity of the inner workings between atoms; a feeling of how dramatic and wonderful it is.'

See? Told you he liked science.

Those atoms. They're beautiful things.

That's it from me. I've got to get out of this room.

Kathy Smith Lives on! So do I.

Happy Monday, everyone!

I logged on to our website this morning and found one of our new photographs was on rotation as the homepage photograph - an extreme close-up of two enormous iced vo vos. Most alarming. Paul the Website Superman must have deemed them (sensibly) to be worthy of placement as a central motif for Standing There Productions - the end result of course being that I'm kind of hankering for an iced vo vo with my morning cup of tea.

Yesterday I went to a play reading at The Fairfax Theatre in Melbourne. The reading was of a play called Asylum, by Kit Lazaroo, which won the Wal Cherry Play of the Year. Two Standing There Productions Peeps were taking part in the reading: Tim Stitz (who has been in everything we've ever done) and Carly Shrever (who was in People Watching). Both Carly and Tim were (guess what) excellent, as usual. I then went to ACMI to watch a whole heap of AFTRS short films, including The Birthday Boy, which I had never seen before. I went alone. This detail is important because had I not been alone, silent, with headphones on, in a booth tucked away in a corner, maybe they wouldn't have locked me in by accident when they closed for the evening.

I had to rush up to the guy just as he was pulling this enormous wall closed over the section I had been sitting in. Adds a whole new level of fear to moviegoing, let me tell you.

Then last night I attempted to go to a show called Vaudeville X, which I had called up about earlier in the day and they had assured me I would get a seat. Due to the fact that "someone" had told me the wrong thing on the phone, they didn't have a seat for me. I walked there in the freezing cold, hung around waiting for thirty minutes, and then was offered a "standing-room" ticket for TEN DOLLARS. What a sweet deal! Or, to put it another way, what a great excuse to go home and watch The Society Murders on TV.

Anyway, so my attempt to have a culturally interesting day was thwarted by people attempting to lock me in buildings and other people trying to charge me to stand up for an hour to watch musical theatre. Next weekend I think I'll go to the footy.

In other news, Penny Tangey's show Kathy Smith Goes to Maths Camp, which was on in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and which was directed by someone who almost spent the night at ACMI last night, has entered the Australian vernacular. Go here to see how Penny's show is a measure of the zeitgeist, in that nerds being hip, cool and happening is the simple, undeniable truth. This was reiterated last week when I received a flurry of phone calls from people telling me to watch Catylist, because there's a young girl on it who is partaking in a maths quest and who declares with heartbreaking honesty that she finds maths tables more interesting for the walls of her bedroom than posters of hot guys. In other words, Kathy Smith lives.

Photos on website

Very busy today and so let me just use this space to tell everyone about the new photos on our site.

Paul, the Website Superman, has posted a few more shots on the homepage (namely one of me and Rita) as well as a bigger range of photos rotating at the top of the page.

If none of those look familiar, that's because quite frankly you haven't been paying attention. If the photo looks like someone slightly nerdy doing what appears to be a maths olympiad on stage, that's a photo from Kathy Smith Goes to Maths Camp, which is the show by Penny Tangey (directed by me) from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

If the photo looks like it's other people on stage, particularly if those people are wearing Green T Shirts with "People Watching" on them, that's because those photos were taken (now this is fairly complicated) on the set of our play, People Watching.

If the photos are black & white, they are OLD, which means they were taken on the set of the Really Useless Theatre Company show, The Dinner Party.

For BRAND NEW EXCITING photographs of the recent cast and crew screening of our film, I Could Be Anybody, go to the "Current Production" menu, and then select "Screening and Success"

Any questions, see me after class.

Being late and linking to more exciting things

Today I got into the writing thing a bit more. So much more in fact that I missed my tram to meet my friend for lunch and ended up being fifteen minutes late, which would have been surprising for said friend, who does not know me as intimately as most of my friends do, especially Standing There Producer Rita Walsh, who I have noticed has started leaving the house at about the time our meetings are due to start. This is, I assure myself, on account of my reliability. I am reliably around fifteen minutes late, counter-balanced by another, rather more useful characteristic, which is the number of pens I tend to carry on or about my person, in a range of colours and with a range of nibs. Everyone needs pens, people. Eventually, all of you smug bastards who arrive to things on time... Eventually you'll need to borrow one of my pens. Then let's see who wishes they'd stayed home maintaining their pen supply for that extra five minutes before they looked for their house keys for another ten minutes and then left the house, huh! Who's laughing NOW.

Rita, I realise this is a complete misrepresentation quite possibly besmirching your good name but you are more likely to forgive me than anyone else is, and I am taking advantage of that fact. On the internet. Oh yes I am.

So on the topic of me being a rewarding friend, my friend Michael sent me some excellent things in an email. Now, if I ever send excellent things to people in emails, I expect equally witty and well-considered replies, more or less immediately. Michael, on the other hand, received nothing.

Which was no surprise to Michael, who has known me for a much longer time than my lunch-time friend has. However, contrary to my declaration yesterday that everyone was fired, I have now re-hired Michael, who I credit now with thanks for providing the following excellent links:

For those of you who would like the inside story (as they say in the trash mags) on the Sydney Writers' Festival (which does not get enough coverage in the trash mags in my view)... then go here, and scroll down to the Writers' Festival posts, because Arnon Grunberg (who I've mentioned in posts on the Writers' Festival before) has certainly got a way with writing snipey things about people who make money writing books about time travel. And about people who think they're funny. And just about people generally.

And Oh. My. Lordy! For all you West Wing fans, go here. Michael, I know I just hired you, but you're re-hired. Absolutely cannot wait to see a full episode of this.

Also, and nobody sent this to me, I read it unaided in The New Yorker ... Check out this review of The Da Vinci Code, which I haven't seen but Anthony Lane is my favourite film reviewer and this is one of the rare reviews of his which is entirely, whole-heartedly, grumpy. Excellent.

Missed opportunity

I've been writing today. I haven't been writing anything good, but I've been typing things called words into things called sentences. Which is a start.

Also I read a bit more of Mr Feynman last night. He's a strange man but an excellent read.

More importantly, however, I am quite devastated to learn that Richard E Grant has been in the country and I have not taken up the opportunity to convince him to marry me.

I just about passed out the first time I saw him in Withnail and I. I could not believe any one person could be so entirely hilarious. The bit where Uncle Monty comes in and scares the crap out of him and he utters a line I cannot repeat here, I think is right up there among the funniest moments in film. As is cake and ale. As is the bit on the stairs where Paul McGhan asks him if he wants a cup of tea and he turns the word "no" into the most insulting thing in the English language. As is the bit where he's calling out the window at the school girls.

And yes, I have edited those highlights down.

Just think. He could have been mine.

Why did nobody tell me he was in the country?

You're all fired.

Favourites

For reasons too humourous to mention, it was a public holiday yesterday. Which makes this last weekend a long weekend, which makes this week four days long.

So I took today off.

I've finished reading Tourism, which I had to finish on account of I started it.

Favourite bit: the bit where he tried scones, because it made me hungry...?

Then I read a book I thought I had already read, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, which it turns out I hadn't read and which made me cry. See here for a review and description.

Favourite bit: the bit where he pretends he's in space and "All I could see would be stars. And stars are the places where the molecules that life is made of were constructed billions of years ago. For example, all the iron in your blood which stops you being anaemic was made in a star".

... I love that bit because it describes so many different things and alludes to so many others and also it's about something really simple. Imagine getting the infinite universe, molecules, time, space, and the inside machinations of the human being all into the one paragraph.

Smart arse.

On Friday night, I went to see the new Pixar film, Cars, which (even though traditionally I'm a Pixar fan) I was sure I was not going to enjoy. Not only is it a movie about cars, called "Cars", starring a racing car and not starring a socially responsible environmental message or a commentary on how stupid racing car driving is (!), but even worse, it's animated cars! So, you know, little cars with huge eyes and expressive windscreen wipers and stuff. BORING! Also, clearly this is a targeted grab for merchandising bucks from small children annoying their exhausted parents.

Anyway, needless to say I laughed until I was snorting like a piglet.

Favourite bit: a hardened old four-wheel-drive teaches a bunch of SUVs from the city how to drive off-road. Also, I find it genuinely hilarious when bits fall off people's faces when they're shocked. It's an old Pixar trick, but my Lordy does it make me laugh.

But the highlight of my weekend was definitely the Belle and Sebastian gig on Saturday night. It was unspeakably good. Anyone who can get the expression "you couldn't act your way out of a wet paper bag" into a song is a friend of mine. Also, by God they're good musicians. For real fans (ie massive nerds) go here for hours of procrastinatorial fun.

Favourite bit: whole thing just brilliant. Cannot possibly pick one song because would be unfair to other songs. Who have feelings.

Lastly, I watched the soccer/football/frenzy of excitement last night as well.

Favourite bit: the bit where I found out that one of the Aussie blokes, Scott Chipperfield, used to be a bus driver who played soccer for "The Wollongong Wolves". Now he's running around on a soccer field in Germany, jumping onto piles of other blokes in celebration whenever someone gets a goal. The best part is, fans in the know have apparently been chanting "Hail to the Bus Driver" from the sidelines. Excellent work.

As a result of the above, I now want to be: a child again, a member of Belle and Sebastian, a soccer player, a voice in a Pixar film, possibly a bus driver, and a scientist (I've also been reading Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman).

You'll notice "writer" is not in there. It's a tad slow, the writing. Just a little bit slow.

There'll be a breaktrhough any moment, I'm sure.

Garbage guys

Today, I walked to gym. On my way there, I saw three garbage trucks pulled up next to a small park near my house. Bumper-to-bumper garbage trucks. Huge, full of garbage, empty of men. They dwarfed the other cars in the street, took up half the road, and thoroughly stank.

I wondered why three garbage trucks were hunched together like that in the middle of a suburban street. Last night was bin night in North Fitzroy, but I didn't see any council offices...

Then I saw six garbage men, still dressed in their fluorescent orange vests, sprinting around the park after tennis balls that were being thwacked with considerable oomph by garbage man number one, who had in his grip what was serving as a cricket bat.

I wondered if it was sanctioned by the council. It looked like fun. I didn't think it was sanctioned by the council.

On my way home, the trucks had left and the sun was setting over the empty park. It was beautiful, but it felt sad with the garbage guys gone. I hope I'm not working next Thursday so I can go up and ask them for a photo.

Boredography

I'm half way through Nirpal Singh Dhaliwal's book, Tourism, which (as promised) I am reading in the bath, and sometimes cheating a bit and reading on public transport. Not the sort of book you want to be reading on public transport and have someone read over your shoulder, though, if you get my rather pornographic drift.

It's not what I thought it would be at all. I thought it was going to be something challenging and innovative and exciting, even if I didn't agree with what it said about race, or women, or sex. But actually I think it's just another pseudo-existentialist monologue about an enraged, solitary, non-communicative boy who can't express himself, but loves describing how broken and manly he is, and desperately wants to have sex with the only clever woman in his life who isn't his mother. Which is a story I've read before, and was boring even the first time.

But of course, I'm keeping an open mind.

Could be rip-snorter from here on in. Who knows.

The things you see

Driving down Smith Street today to get to the post office, I saw a monk getting a parking ticket.

Smith Street is quite a "colourful" street in Melbourne. In fact, I once had to go to the magistrates court and make a statement in relation to some of the more colourful behaviour going on there in the early hours of a Sunday morning (a bloke was trying to glass another bloke because he'd found him in his house, removing certain items and placing them in a large rubbish bag, presumably without prior permission). Smith Street has a Cash Converters, a money-loaning shop, a TAB, and eight billion cafes, many of them vegetarian and quite a few of them requiring you to ask for a key to use the toilets.

Anyway. So I'm in Smith Street and I see this monk. It's not terribly surprising to see a Franciscan monk in Smith Street because they live around there somewhere (in a converted warehouse loft? In a terrace house with peace flags out the front? Who's to know?). Still, it's never exactly par for the course to run into a monk, is it. So I do notice him, solitary, walking away from the post office, in long, brown robes and sandals. And he goes to a little red Holden and he unlocks the driver's door.

You know that moment when you're half in and half out of your car and you see a parking ticket under the wiper and you just freeze?

Monks do that too!

I could see him spot it - a bastard parking ticket from the bastard council on the windscreen of his car - and he sat with the door half open just staring at it for about five seconds.

Then he calmly reached around and removed it, placed it on the seat next to him, and resumed whatever it is monks do on a Tuesday afternoon.

I was very impressed. No rage. No horror. No walking around the car and checking for chalk marks. No inspecting the ticket machine and gestering furiously in case the inspector could still see him and realise the error of his ways. Nothing!

I bet the monks pay for it, though. I bet it doesn't come out of his monk wage.

PS Melbourne had the spookiest weather today. Yesterday was the coldest day since August tenth last year, and the planes were grounded and the air was like pea soup. Today, it was that but with the added weirdness of some really spooky light and a huge orange sunset, like in a breakfast cereal advertisement. Thought everyone else should know - if anyone wants to shoot a horror film in the next four days, I'd get yourselves down here.

PROOF I AM NOT WASTING MY TIME

So I found a quote in the weekend paper attributed to Aaron Sorkin, who, for those who follow a different religion, is the guy who invented The West Wing.

Sorkin says, "Most of my time spent writing something is spent walking around the room not writing".

Oh... my... GOD I AM HAPPY TO HEAR THAT. I am so happy to hear that, it really is pathetic. My heart feels healthier. My blood pumps harder. I sat there ripping it carefully out of the newspaper and thought to myself, "This couldn't be better. It couldn't be better! From now on, everything is going to be okay. Ohhhh life is good. Life is rich with goodness and tart with the tang of as-yet-unwritten brilliant television dialogue."

And then today I thought maybe there could be one small change to the above quote. Maybe I would feel even better if the quote had read, "Most of my time spent writing something is spent walking around the room, eating bits of stuff out of the fridge, surfing the net, doing the dishes, and reading articles about the situation in East Timor, the question of nuclear power, and the significance of "gym culture" in relation to the western world's three most recent terrorist attacks (seriously, go here)".

But, coming just short of that, Aaron Sorkin has pretty much justified the last few, dreadfully unproductive, days of my life.

For that, and for the wonderful, hilarious, downright spunky character of CJ Cregg, I thank him. And I take the first series off my shelf and I decide there shall be another viewing. Just in case there's anything I missed the first eight times.

PS. If there is anyone out there who is an accountant or a tax lawyer, I would very much appreciate advice on whether everything I purchased over the weekend is now tax deductable as a result of the above Aaron Sorkin quote. I am willing to testify in court if required.

Progress

So I've finished the Hemon book, Nowhere Man. It was beautiful but I got lost near the end.

I think maybe I need to read in a vacuum. In a room with no sound, ample light, blinkers on the side of my head and nothing else whatsoever to read.

I'm testing that theory by reading my next book, Tourism (see Writers' Festival post) in the bath.

Yes, I know, extremely exciting weekend. It's been top notch.

It's a weekend measured by what I didn't do:

1. Unpack from previous weekend in Sydney (partly lazy, partly nostalgic)
2. Go to gym (again, nostalgic reasons - why break such a familiar pattern?)
3. Go to the St Kilda Short Film Festival
4. Go to the theatre
5. Do any of the things on the Rita "To Do List" (Sorry Rits)
6. Go to fun-sounding party with fun people in fun street not far from own house
7. Resist temptation to watch dreadful, schmaltzy Dianne Keaton movie with housemates.

Good on me.

Here's looking forward to another productive week...

Political celebrities

Want to get a different perspective on a really stupid news story?

I never thought I'd end up having an opinion about Brad and Angelina's baby, but there you are. Check it out here.

In other news, almost finished my Aleksandar Hemon book, which is addictively beautiful, especially now that I have his accent in my head. The character in his book is always talking about being painfully aware of his accent, so now I retrospectively want to reassure Hemon, the author, at the Writers' Festival, while he's signing books, that in fact his accent is lovely, and so is his book, and so is he.

You would think that by now I would understand that the author and the character are not the same thing, but somehow (J K Rowling excluded) I can never quite draw the line...

REAR WINDOW MOMENT

From my office window in Melbourne, where I work sometimes at Victoria Law Foundation, there is a cool view of a section of the inner city, featuring a rooftop car park, just below us.

There was a guy there this morning engaging in a comical, solitary wrestling match with some oversized cardboard he was for some reason transporting from the back of his car onto a trolley, and which he then wheeled, crooked and uncertain, out of the car park and down into the street, muttering to himself and having the odd, brief but pointed word to a renegade portion of cardboard.

It was a self-contained, private moment in this little guy's day (he was little, you see, because I was five floors above him and he was struggling with something bigger than himself).

It made me think of all the private little battles I have with myself every day, each of them characterised by the inward-looking, quiet muttering of a person who is not being watched.

Except, probably, I am being watched from the fifth floor of a nearby office building by someone who is gazing outside because she can't think of another word for "access".

Just saying. You're being watched. Oh yes you are.