March 2009

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On our way out the door

 

So you know when you're leaving to get to a theatre show on time or something, and you have one of those "on my way out the door" moments?

 

Like, on the way out the door I decided I had to go back and get a warmer jacket?

 

On the way out the door I remembered to check my diary and discovered the start time was actually the following Tuesday?

 

On our way out the door, the phone rang and I won the lottery and my life changed and I never got to go to the theatre show and I'm sorry I missed it can I take you out to dinner how do you like quail?

 

You know those ones?

 

Well, I had one of those today. I was on the phone to my dad. Remember, I'm an adult. My dad said, "Did you get your car checked out before you drive to Sydney in it?"

 

I said as follows: "Erm".

 

So on our way out the door, almost, to Sydney, in our car, I took it in to see the nice man who looks at cars for adults who should really think of things before their parents tell them to.

 

He checked the oil. He said as follows: "You replenish this much?"

 

I said as follows: "Erm."

 

He then poured some oil into the bit where the oil goes. You know in cartoons when someone is doing something and it is taking a long time - like when they're falling slowly off a cliff to crash onto a rock below - you know how the bad guy always looks at his watch and whistles by way of marking the glacial passing of time?

 

Yeah well he did that. He poured oil into that baby for maybe a year. Never has a car needed more oil in the history of automobiles.

 

So then he decided to check the brakes. He did so. He told me as follows: "It's a good thing you brought this in here. It certainly wouldn't have made it to Sydney without the brakes giving out".

 

I said as follows: giving out?

 

He said: yes. Your brakes would have stopped working.

 

I said as follows: yikes.

 

Which I followed up rather rapidly with: how much does that cost?

 

See, now, this is why, when you are good at one part of your life (writing, for instance) you should also be aware of the things you are not so successful at (for example simple mechanics and the ability to exercise forethought).

 

We may get to Sydney for our meetings. It's not THAT far to walk. Right?

Something feels weird

 

 

Up until this year, the Standing There Productions development and production timeline went a little something like this:

 

January/February - Writer (erhem, me) finishes writing script for comedy festival MOMENTS before leaving the house to conduct auditions. Printer breaks mid-print-run, writer's head explodes. Producer (Stew) fixes printer while other producer (Rita) calls from venue to say she has already printed double copies of everything.

Unpaid assistant (read: hoodwinked friend) runs auditions while director and producers audition hundreds of people. At end of day, producers and director hold marriage ceremony whereby they express their undying love for aforementioned unpaid assistant, who at this point no longer cares whether she lives or dies, due to exhaustion.

All attend huge meeting in a cheap, loud Thai restaurant in Sydney Road, consume wine, debate casting choices, almost reach decision, reconsider from another perspective, everyone's heads explode, order more wine, make decision, cast show, start rehearsals.

March - continue rehearsals, push publicity, go on radio, sound like idiot of unsurpassed depth and girth, get photo taken for paper (look like tool with crazy eyes/ smug grin/ wind in hair/ unfortunately large head) and read misquotes in article with utter disbelief. Get posters printed. Notice mistake/s on poster. Kill self. Bump into theatre.

April - Comedy festival (perform, swan about in foyer, eat own bodyweight in only food available: spinach and ricotta parcels, easter eggs, and, quite often, props such as jellybeans, ham sandwiches, bic biros). Producer has birthday party which, in order to attend, his friends must pay for tickets to.

May - Finish show, get flu, run away to Sydney Writers' Festival to sit in sun and listen to smart people talk about books that have nothing to do with what you've been thinking about for months.

June - Work like slaves at day jobs, receive largest amount of money available in entire year: tax return. Purchase car registration. Wonder what to spend remaining $2.80 on.

July - Finish circling desired events in Melbourne International Arts Festival guide, realise festival is over, close festival guide, admire new biceps, purchase tickets to Melbourne International Film Festival.

August - Attend Melbourne Fim Festival, contract scurvy.

September - Consider attending Sydney Arts Festival, wonder how far it would be to walk.

October - Register for Comedy Festival again.

November - Submit summary of as yet unwritten festival show and photographs of so far non-existent cast to comedy festival, for program.

December - Start writing festival show. Sometimes witness persons outside in what appears to be sunshine having what appears to be fun. Run away.

 

 

Repeat.

 

 

This year, we haven't done this. We've been doing something else. It feels weird. It's not a bad weird. It's just a weird. This week, Stew and I are going to Sydney again to have some meetings and hang out with Rita. Apparently the comedy festival will be happening without us. Believe that when I see it. Which I will. From the AUDIENCE.

 

*head explodes*

Report

I used to be, once upon a time, quite regular and reliable with these updates. I also used to be able to:

 

- Do a handstand

- Play the oboe

- Say the alphabet backwards

- Eat maybe a hundredweight of baked goods without having to alter my waist band

 

...so quite frankly this website is the least of my concerns.

 

HOWEVER I do enjoy a bit of a prattle so I have been missing it, and although I am currently in gorgeous regional Victoria eating the kind of pavlova that can only be made by people who call you "love", I have a few moments to update these pages and so here goes.

Part of my law-talking job, the one I do a few days a week to finance my "habit" of working in the arts for nothing, is travel. I travel frequently for work, to regional Victoria, and when I do I work very hard and seldom have time to scratch myself. I also have no internet access and no time for phone calls.

 

During these times, without exception, something at Standing There needs to be sorted out immediately as a matter of considerable urgency. One time, I was in Mildura organising an event for 50 locals in a library when we found out we got our Bundanon Artist Residency and I had to make a decision about another job. Another time, I was in Warrnambool talking to a journalist about public perceptions of the legal system when the phone rang because we'd found out the Australian Children's Television Foundation were going to fund the writing of a script of ours. Last time I was in Horsham, we had to decide whether to send this document before that document and who to meet when and we had to decide it within an hour and a half. Today was similar. I am starting to think I should go away more often so that Standing There is busy all year round.

Now all I have to do is convince the law-talking-job that I really must be in regional Victoria at all time, contantly too busy to talk to anyone. Perhaps if I do that I will get a call from a Mr Obama asking for a hand with some speeches he has to nail. Of course, I'll have to put him on hold in order to speak to Aaron Sorkin re his new project, but that's okay. Obama can wait in line.

One life, two very different adventures

You know that film Sliding Doors? You know, Gwyneth and the guy with the eyebrows from the funeral in Four Weddings and a?

 

Yeah well I find the concept of that movie fascinating. For me though, sometimes, I don't have to pretend: I'm living two different versions of my life AT THE SAME TIME.

 

Next week, I'm going to Horsham, in Victoria, for my law-talking job. I have been on the phone to people called Joy and Graeme discussing the use of the local hall and the whereabouts of extra chairs.

 

The week after that, Stew and I are going to meet Rita in Sydney again for a bunch of meetings. At no point will we discuss the whereabouts of chairs, extra or otherwise.

 

Same life, two different universes: very boring film.

 

By the way, and I know this last bit has very limited appeal to the general population, but hello Felix.

 

More tomorrow.

 

L

This time last year

 

I just did something totally mental. I checked my email for this time last year, when I was directing our most recent comedy festival show. I say this is mental due to the stark relief it puts my current state of existence into.

 

This time last year I had hundreds of emails in my inbox, many of which used some or all of the words "quite urgent actually".

 

One of them was an email from Rita asking if Stew and she could turn up to rehearsal on Thursday to discuss work cover, contracts, props, stage management issues and upcoming photo shoots for local media. One of them was an email regarding prize winners from Melbourne University who had won tickets to the show - one of whom I used to work with. One of them was about the fact that I had to squeeze in a radio interview and two school visits before the weekend, and one of them was from the Red Cross asking if I could donate blood next Tuesday. The Red Cross - I don't know if anyone else has noticed this - has excellent comic timing.

 

Anyway. So that was this time last year. Today? I called a man from the Horsham RSL and sent a fax to a gallery.

 

This "concentrating on development rather than production" certainly has a different pace to it, doesn't it.

 

(Exit stage left to get coffee in sunshine and contemplate what to do over Easter break - BREAK, YOU SAY???)

Actual work

 

As per my previous post, below, I have achieved another concrete thing today, as opposed to writing a few pages of something I am bound to delete at a later date, which is what the word "achievement" comes to represent in the world of writing.

 

I remember once getting the uncontrollable giggles in the audience of a Chekhov play because someone near me in the audience loudly predicted the next line would involve someone yearning for work. The person who predicted this did so in a broad Australian accent, loudly and at a moment of intense silence. I totally lost it. This was of course the great Chekhovian joke, that people in loungerooms sit around all day gossiping and desiring with heartfelt passion to contribute in some small way to society, but never actually contribute to anything apart from the monotony of their own dreary existence.

 

I don't know about society but I have definitely contributed to the upkeep of my motor vehicle. That is to say, a Mr Rick Thorn contributed to it and Stew and I "helped". As a result of this, I now have a shiny car. Check it out. If you concentrate, you can see Stew in the reflection:

 

 

Check out Stew in the reflection Trouble is, after doing a cut and polish on the car, I have also cut and polish my hands, part of my face, and a section of pant. Oh well. At least I'm a hardcore DIY home improvement nut now. Right?

The Joys of Not Writing

Writing is such an amorphous task. Even when you have a deadline and you meet it, you're never quite finished. Nothing else ever quite qualifies as anything other than procrastination. If you wash the dishes, you can accuse yourself of procrastinating. If you go to work: procrastinating. Hanging out with friends? You're only cheating yourself.

So every now and then, just for a moment, I find myself imagining doing something where an effort - physical rather than intellectual - yields a result. An old friend of mine is a cabinet maker - JEALOUS! Another friend knits actual clothing, as opposed to scarves that go nowhere because the incompetent person knitting the scarf doesn't actually remember how to cast off and then gets interested in watching series 3 of The Sopranos and discards the entire project only to find it, still attached to the knitting needles, when moving house years later.

Point is, for Christmas this year I got the Best Present Ever: a one hour pottery lesson. I've never been happier in my life. Look:  

Getting my hands dirty

I actually - rather than figuratively - got my hands dirty. And I produced something, too! Look: My creations (except the bottom right one)

Sure, slightly less useful than cabinet making but I get the feeling I'll be the proud owner of maybe a million bowls and oddly shaped vases if I give in to this mesmerising addiction. Still. It was fun to actually produce something. Next, I'm cleaning the car. Maybe. After another cup of tea.

 

 

Words

 

Things there should be words for:

 

- The act of laughing in memory of something, the exact nature of which you have forgotten. Recently, I walked down the street and started laughing to myself. I was remembering a moment in Sydney when Rita and I were bent double at 1am, laughing ourselves sick. What the hell were we laughing at? Neither of us can exactly remember although it is vaguely possible it involved a pirate. Point is, the memory of laughing is what amused me. Not the joke.

 

- We need a replacement word for moreish. As in, "these chips are moreish". We can do better than that surely. Who came up with the word serendipity? Or the word crash? Get those guys on board.

 

- The sensation of time passing quickly but also slowly. I have said this here before but the fact that it's almost the comedy festival is, frankly, ridiculous. I'm not even missing it yet. Conversely, December was clearly years ago. See? New word please.

 

This is my submission to the word police (love your work guys, big fan obviously). Suggestions welcome.

 

 

In other news, our friend Kaz is writing a book and she needs some help. Check this out:

It's about everything women think is important (or appalling) including confidence, body image and appearance, health, emotions, purpose, relationships, friends, family, nesting, work and money, getting older and shopping: the lot. It's going to be called Women's Stuff.

Please help to research Women's Stuff by going to the website kazbook.com and filling in the survey there.  The results will be used to research the book, and your quotes may be published (you can use a fake name).

So. If you're like me and you've always wondered "who are these people? 87% said what?" then get on board and do a little procrastinatorial work for the good of the nation. If you're a bloke and you're feeling left out, I recommend YouTube.

 

And yes, procrastinatorial is a late entry to the word police. What do think guys? Pretty good huh?

Facts

 

Sometimes, as a writer, it's nice to deal with facts. Here are some facts:

 

1. From where I sit every Tuesday, I can usually see a cluster of blue hills called the Dandenongs. Today, I can barely see Richmond. There is smoke in this city and it ain't pretty.

 

2. There are 24 hours in a day. This is ridiculous and should be audited immediately.

 

3. The Carlton post office should be made the subject of a nature documentary, for I believe it contains information systems designed to keep the population down via a process whereby customers die of old age.

 

4. The smell of a giant box of pencils is lovely.

 

5. When I was little, a couple called Mr and Mrs Dixon lived over the road. They were terrifying. Their letterbox had Mr and Mrs Dixon written on it. They frowned and mowed the lawns and looked like they had marched to nineteen-eighties Greensborough straight from the fifties. One day, my friend Simone and I went over there to ask Mrs Dixon for some things to sell in our store. We had decided 30 seconds previously that we wanted to open a store in the street - people could give us things they no longer wanted, and we could sell them! Brill! Anyway, Mrs Dixon asked where the money would go to, and Simon said "to us", so Mrs Dixon thought very seriously for a moment before returning to her house. We were thrilled! The Dixons had nice things, our store would do well!

 

Mrs Dixon returned. She gave us a coat hanger. It was pink. I found it the other day when cleaning my house. Simone and I never did start that shop. Sometimes I wonder what happened to Simone.