November 2007

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Yeeeeeep!

Can't talk.

Writing.

xxxx L

My Word

My word, what a difference a day makes.

Highlights from my election night:

1. My friend Tim, who had vowed with a friend of his that if John Howard lost the election they would "dance naked in the streets" lived up to his promise in Fitzroy, a moment I mercilessly missed but which fills my heart with glee.

2. Popping in on Trades Hall on the way to the cinematography awards and noting the studious edge-of-seat dedication to the ABC broadcast, such that people were asked to "shoosh" and applause was greeting Antony Green's early results before even 1% of the votes were in. Meanwhile, on the stage, people were setting up for what I imagine turned into a massive party but which (when I was there at about 5pm) was reserved and respectful, cautious and calm.

3. Receiving text updates at the cinematography awards and sprinting from table to table to spread the love.

4. The moment when a cinematographer bounded up on stage unannounced, wearing a Kevin 07 T shirt and bowing as though perhaps he was responsible for the Ruddslide.

5. Thinking everyone was hilarious and texting almost everyone I'd ever met to tell them that I loved them. I do apologise.

It is quite, quite strange, for someone who has lived for so long in a country run by people who use words like "non-citizen" and "necessary intervention" and who consider a concern for the environment to be "biased" and "unbalanced", to hear the language change overnight.

I know it's rhetorical, I know it's only language, and I'm not convinced any of it will necessarily translate into policy, but it's a fascinating study in the power of language to change what they refer to in The Castle as "the vibe".

My favourite bit of the election coverage (and I didn't see much of it because I was at the awards) was the bit where Bob Brown was asked by Kerry O'Brien something along the lines of:

"You don't seriously expect the new Labor government to change their minds on the pulp mill do you?"

A grinning Bob Brown didn't miss a beat: "Oh yes I do Kerry".

Bring on the Senate, I say.

This could get interesting...

Another Librarianesque Friday

I'm in the library again on a Friday with about four other people - yay for the reliability of lazy people!

I am sitting next to a rather alarming oversized rubbish bin labeled as follows:

"DISASTER BIN (for emergency use only)."

I am hoping its location is a coincidence. I am also hoping it doesn't need to come out on the weekend. Fingers crossed.

Also, I voted today. I know, I know, jumping the gun does mean I don't get the heady anthropological experience of standing in line with my fellow human beings smelling sausages and sneering at the Family First candidates. HOWEVER I did get to vote in a venue called The Comedy Theatre, which is an experience I found rather appropriate, given the state of things. Check this out.

Voting, as we all know, feels like the only thing any of us can do to change anything, and even then some of us are a bit skeptical that it will change anything other than which people are saying the same things on the TV over and over again without actually addressing any of the questions they're being asked. But voting today I remembered that it's a powerful thing, voting and then walking away down the street with not a care in the world. In some countries, people are killed for less.

Favourite bit of the ballot: the Senate paper on which you can vote either above the line for the WHAT WOMEN WANT party, or below the line for their candidates. It looks like this:

WHAT WOMEN WANT
__________________

LOVE

THOMPSON

... I don't know who Thompson is but I'm disappointed they couldn't find a candidate called CUP OF TEA or A BIT OF HELP AROUND THE HOUSE or something. Anyway shut up carry on. I'm getting nervous, can you tell?

Update

I have been missing from these pages over the past few days because I have been getting a lot of work done. The reasons for this are:

1. I have a scary deadline. An actual one. Written into a contract.

2. The year twelve exams have finished and hence there are not trillions of hysterically amused, breathlessly begossiped eighteen-year-olds answering obnoxiously ringing phones and looking daggers at me for asking them to keep it down. Also apparently not so many people in the over twenty age group wear clippy-noise-making heels or have ring tones that wolf whistle loudly, causing a ripple of untold hilarity through the studiously unstudious masses.

I'm sorry. I know it's a generalisation, but honestly, the difference between then and now (grey haired and bespectacled family history nerds and people using free internet and doing PhDs) is quite remarkable. I'm not saying I'd be interested in hanging with the family history nerds at a party, but (and this is where the year twelves have been tragically misled) the library is not a party and therefore I am on the side of the boring studious folk. You can tell this because I give lectures on this point repetitively in the manner of one of my parents discussing loud restaurants, the existence of mobile phones, or P plate drivers on freeways.

3. I am trying the early rising thing again. Today I was at gym at half seven. Next week, if history is anything to go by, I will contract hooping cough, gout, a peg leg or similar.

4. I am trying to get a lot of work done before the weekend. Why? Because after the weekend, Australia will either be run by a conservative white man or it will be run by a conservative white man. If it continues to be run by the racist lying rodent who currently holds the title of conservative white man running the country, I will be leaving to live on Mars. So I'm trying to get my affairs in order in case that becomes the sad reality. In the event of the other conservative white man becoming the leader, I will be looking to my friend Mister Senate, which as all the year twelves "studying" in the library know, is a check and/or balance and/or platform for loonies and people like Brian Harradine to flirt with the electorate and then do what they were going to do in the first place. If nothing changes and/or things get worse or somehow similarly depressing, I am hoping a foxy fast-talking superhero will arrive to save the day, possibly with the liberal distribution of bubble wrap.

Sadly this weekend I am only voting once, due to my friends having sorted out their own political opinions since the early days when I used to receive three or four calls asking who to vote for. Don't worry, I explained the choices as objectively as I could. It wasn't my fault they were "bored" and wanted to know "what to write in the box and hurry up I'm next in line". Gone are the days those guys call. I like to think it's because I educated them about politics but I know the real reason is that most of them are teachers or health professionals who know how to vote because their jobs are on the line. Either way, I leave my phone on each time I vote but nobody ever texts me any questions. Mostly just statements, none of which I will repeat here.

Anyway, I'm going to make the most of the pre-election silence in this library and also in my brain. Until then, vote well, vote often, see you on the other side.

Stick to history

The thing about writing (as I do) in contemporary settings dealing with contemporary themes and issues is that sometimes elections happen or society changes and suddenly you're not as clever as you thought you were.

Last year, after writing a play in which Paris Hilton was recast as an intellectual, I had a major panic one night at about four in the morning that something terrible might befall Paris Hilton in the week leading up to our comedy festival show. Making light of Paris Hilton's intellectual choices might suddenly be uncool, cruel, depressing and pointless. Likewise, a play about an Australian girl seeking asylum in another country on account of the undemocratic actions of her government might seem ludicrous were it not justifiable in reference to the reality that has befallen us in recent years. Not a great deal of this is apparently set to change any time soon, but writing is a very specific form of expression and unless you work completely in metaphor or set your play in the sixteenth century, you do find yourself having to do the occasional rewrite.

Hence I object to the placement of a major political event in between the conception of our comedy festival show and the comedy festival itself. I don't really want to drag the federal election campaign out any more than it already has been, but could we just pop it all on hold until July do you think?

No? Well I do hope you like the show I am writing called LIFE ON ANOTHER PLANET IN A TIME OTHER THAN THIS ONE. Should be easy enough - I'm just not entirely sure it's going to be a thigh slapping or particularly relevant piece of theatre. Election in July. Come on, you know you want to.

For We Are Young And Free

Those of you who saw our show at this year's Melbourne International Comedy Festival might be interested to see that the American army 'deserters' who attempted to seek asylum in Canada because they believed the Iraq War was illegal have been turned away. Read this.

Looks like it's time for a rewrite - either by Canada or by me. You go first Canada. No, you go. No, no, I insist.

Have a nice weekend.

Blood and Gore and Press Gang

Yesterday, I donated blood. I know I've said it before, but donating blood is a truly rewarding experience (self-satisfaction is right up there, free milkshakes, free food, trashy reading material, and you save three lives!). For those of us who have time (rather than money) it's the closest we'll come to philanthropy.

Anyway, so I turn up and I get talking to this nurse.

NURSE: So what are you working on then?

SELF SATISFIED BLOOD DONATING PHILANTHROPIST: We're developing a kids' TV show at the moment. [YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH I LOVE SAYING THIS BTW]

NURSE: Oh great. Kids' TV is great.

SSBDP: You think so?

NURSE: Oh yes, when I was a kid, I used to love....

.... Now, at this point, the person usually says: Degrassi Junior High, Inspector Gadget, Punky Brewster or (if they're five years younger than I am) You Can't Do That On Television or Round The Twist...

NURSE: a British show, you might not have heard of it, it was called Press Gang.

SSBDP: Might not have heard of it? That is still among my top ten favourite shows ever made!

NURSE: Oh really? Yeah. I loved it so much that I made my mum ring up the ABC and they gave her the number of the BBC and so she called the BBC and I sent them a fan letter.

SSBDP: *Respectful silence*

NURSE: It was great actually, they sent me a signed photograph of the whole cast and I got one each from Lynda and Spike. Remember them?

REMEMBER THEM? I have the entire series on DVD and I have a backup series for when someone's borrowing the boxed set with the extras DVD!

REMEMBER THEM? I studied them! YOU HAVE A SIGNED PHOTO OF THE WHOLE CAST? YOU HAVE AN INDIVIDUAL PORTRAIT OF LYNDA AND SPIKE WITH SIGNATURES????

It was all I could do not to send my blood pressure so high with excitement that I couldn't donate.

Honestly, one of the biggest dilemmas of my TV watching teenagehood was who I was in love with more: Lynda or Spike? I still can't decide.

The nurse's favourite episode was the one where she blamed herself for the suicide and the double episode with the clown. Both classic episodes and favoured among fans (myself included) although I really enjoyed the episode where Lynda had the hiccups and the one where Colin crashed a funeral dressed as a rabbit. Each to their own.

Anyway, there's another reason to donate blood. I wonder if brain surgeons go in and she says "Oh I love brain surgery. What's your favourite bit of the brain? I think mine's the frontal lobe".

I wonder if blood is more useful if it's pleased.

PS to donate blood, go to www.donateblood.com.au

Progrestination

I went to lunch with a friend of mine on Monday and he taught me a new word. Progrestination. It's when you procrastinate (for example) from writing your script by paying a bill, posting a vital legal document, or doing something else that actually helps you progress further in your life generally.

Of course, the problem with the concept of progrestination is that we can justify almost anything we do as "progress in life generally" such that reading about Lindsay Lohan in the free commuter newspaper is "research", watching animals dancing to Justin Timberlake on YouTube is "multimedia work", and having drinks with a friend is "useful" rather than just enjoyable.

For some of us, the internet provides the perfect opportunity for progrestination. All those emails you haven't replied to, all those outstanding errands - they all need to be done, and GUESS WHAT? Most of them can be done without leaving your desk! Huzzah! All I can say is that I'm very glad I haven't been lured yet by eBay. And shuttup, please don't tell me how easy it is. My combined hatred of shopping and fashion and love of wasting time on the internet and having crap I don't need delivered to my house makes me a prime target. I really don't need to know.

I say all this because I was contacted on these pages and notified of this site, the use of which can definitely be classified as progrestination, and which claims to be a whole new way of using the internet.

The possibility of discovering a "whole new way of using the internet" is so exciting and consequently potentially destructive to me as a writer (apparently Dave Eggers doesn't have internet in his house) that I haven't spent the hours there that I intend to. Check it out, though, it is an interesting project with the potential for great things.

Speaking of internet connections... Our Artist in Residency at Bundanon documents arrived in the mail this week, just after I hungrily read through an article on Arthur Boyd's new biography in the weekend paper. For those of you not keeping up with the news (SHAME), Standing There Productions are headed to NSW next August to participate in an Artist Residency in the Boyd's Bundanon property near Shoalhaven.

The residency looks totally gorgeous, inspiring, and I must learn to play the piano so we can make use of the baby grand in our loungeroom. On a more sober note, the documents warn of the following potential problems:

- mosquito bites
- sting rays
- snakes
- sun
- getting lost on bushwalks
- rain
- flood
- fire
- intermittent broadband connection
- no television reception

Of course, for us, these last two potential disasters loom large over the other insignificant problems mentioned. An excellent but terrifying result (and in fact our primary desire) is that we will have nothing to do other than our actual work - surrounded, as it turns out, by a beautiful atmosphere, deadly animals and a world teetering on the brink of natural disaster.

Personally, I can't wait. My screen saver is already a sublime photograph of Bundanon, and any time I think I might be too much of an information age junkie, I figure that for a month next year I'm going to be enjoying simpler pleasures. And I'm definitely taking bushwalking shoes and sunscreen.

By the way, the friend I went to lunch with also had one of these so I'm probably mixing in the wrong circles if I want to avoid technology. Bring on Bundanon!

Oh now some things are just funny aren't they

I know I've been absent from these pages for a couple of days but this has just inspired me to make myself known: CHECK IT OUT.

The Work of the Just

In the State Library today, the following hard work is being done:

- Year twelve exam study.
- Fitful REM sleep beneath school blazers, jumpers, other peoples' pencil cases.
- Bidding on eBay (one gentleman appears to be in search of a phone, another a laptop).
- Discussion in relation to year twelve exams.
- Discussion in relation to OMIGOD SHE TOTALLY DID NOT SAY THAT. TELL ME SHE DIDN'T SAY THAT.
- The tracing of a woman's long lost sister who possibly moved to Sydney in 1923. Seriously.
- A script for a children's TV show. Sort of.

No matter what you're working on, someone in the State Library is working harder and someone in the State Library is not working at all. This is one true statement about life from which I don't think I'll ever back down.

The Real Secret

I've finally figured out what I've been doing wrong. Today, having virtually exterminated two chattering year twelve students (honestly, four hours and they didn't do five minutes work - the woman next to me said "hear, hear" and someone else's head popped over the partition and said "I agree!")... I don't feel good about being the person who tells people off in the library, I really don't. Although, if those girls are reading this, your response to "Why don't you girls just go to a cafe?" could have been better thought out than "Why don't YOU go to a cafe", a random selection of answers to which could include:

1) Because you're a poo poo head
2) Because I'll get boy germs
3) Ner ner nee ner ner, I'm telling Mum
or
4) Shut your face, stink-breath.

So I figured it out. On my way up to the gorgeous reading room with the partitions and the talking, I peered into the newspaper room and the genealogy room. Finally: grey haired silence broken only by people asking how to turn on the computers.

Of course, I have to be using the newspaper collection or the genealogy collection in order to be here, which is excellent because I usually refer to the newspaper anyway, but if I make even the slightest noise, I face the considerable wrath of those in the over sixty bracket, whose requirements for large print does not exclude an unshakable moral conviction, at the core of which is BE QUIET IN THE LIBRARY.

I think I just moved up a demographic. Or three.

Brunel

Being a bookish nerd means that the library is a wonderful place to work, because you're surrounded by people learning things, reading things, TALKING LOUDLY (I hate the year twelve exams, PLEASE MAKE THEM STOP) and falling asleep in cubicles surrounded by thousands of dollars of technological equipment.

But it can be a tiny bit distracting. You have to keep focussed. For example, on the way to the top level of the library, standing out prominently among the other books is a book entitled BRUNEL. An old friend of mine used to live in a street of the same name, and this BRUNEL book always strikes me as addressing a topic about which I know nothing and could learn more. The temptation to grab the fat book by its spine and read about Brunel is almost overwhelming, but so far I haven't given in to my nerdier (and more procrastinatorial) instincts and I remain ignorant. I have deduced, by the size of the book and its font, as well as the fact that there is a street named after him, that Brunel was some kind of British General in one of the wars.

There is an entire section of the library dedicated to cooking, which is often frequented (I am not making this up) by people in white hats with black aprons covered in flour. This makes me wonder about the eating establishments in Melbourne. Do they not have cook books? Are they double-checking whether the dish they're cooking has oregano in it? Are they, like the main character in Ratatouille, actually fraudulent chefs with no qualifications, getting by on instinct and the recipes they come across in the library?

Anyway, you can see what I am battling with here. The ability to be THIS distracted by the word Brunel on the spine of a book.

Perhaps our TV series will be about Brunel. And chefs. And the idiots sitting next to me who are looking up rude words in the dictionary instead of studying for their exam, about which they speak with genuine fear in between reading the definition of the word "buttock". Which is, and I remember this myself, the funniest thing ever.

I am officially a grumpy old nerd.

Progress?

I have noticed a pattern over the past month. It goes like this:

1. Become extremely excited about development funding from Australian Children's Television Foundation.
2. Vow that this is the start of a new era.
3. Vow that era will be characterised by early rising (Operation Getting Out of Bed Like a Normal Person) and organisation.
4. Recruit frightening producer (Rita Walsh) to call me at eight in the mornings on Mondays with bit list of things to do.
5. Enlist others to meet me for morning coffees by way of introducing personal obligations into already onerous routine.
6. Rise early every day until it feels quite normal.
7. Become over-zealous and introduce morning runs and home made lunches to routine.
8. Contract bizarre virus called Croup, usually only contracted by babies.
9. Collapse and return to slacker life of haphazard work practices.
10. Become well again, repeat steps 1-7.
11. Contract bizarre virus without a name, the symptom of which is collapsing like a marionette in a Punch N Judy show.
12. Collapse and return to slacker life of haphazard work practices.

THEREFORE it is with some trepidation that I await Rita's 8am phone call on Monday, which will mark the beginning, once again, of step 1.

What's next on the "obscure virus" agenda? Scurvy? Consumption?

Possibly I should take Dee's advice from a previous post and just go with my usual rhythms. Problem is, that would involve me working in the wee hours of the morning and sleeping through the day, which is useful to nobody except me, and in fact it's not even useful to me.

Scurvy it is. Brace yourselves.

Back to Work

Today, having returned my heart monitor to the crippled hospital system from whence it came, I am like a new woman. Less bionic, for starters.

Being sick, even if only melodramatically and without reason, makes you think about being healthy and climbing mountains on the weekend and drinking carrot juice and doing yoga that makes you barely break a sweat into your crisp white yoga outfit while eating yoghurt and almonds and wearing moisturising cream that makes your skin glow and sharing a joke with someone just off camera who has just said something amusing yet flattering. You know, like on the low fat margarine posters on bus stops.

You watch, it's all going to be different now. Either that, or I'm going to succumb to The Guilt and become a slave again to the written word (and the internet) (and Twinings).

Did you watch The Librarians on the ABC last night? Did you press pause over my name in the credits?

No? Just me then?

Carry on.