I went to see that movie "Gangs of New York" on Monday, it's a new release at the cinema. It's all about this guy named Amsterdam who gets into a lot of fights. And, towards the end, he especially gets into fights with this main bad guy who's really powerful. But instead of fighting alone, he gets a bunch of Irish people to help him and so it turns into a sort of "gang war" situation. There's a lot of violence. The main thing about this film is, it's set in the olden days. Back then, if you kill someone, you don't go to jail or anything. It's as if they had a law which said, "murder is okay."
People who were watching this film would've been extremely shocked by all the violence which was sometimes very graphic – there was blood gushing out everywhere. And they also would have been thinking, "Someone's got to kill that evil bad guy – hasn't he caused enough pain and suffering already?" And this was based on a true story. I think the central message of this film is, things were rough and tough in the olden days. Things have changed since then and we're more civilized – thank god! But on the other hand, when we go to war now, the death and killing is on a much grander scale, and it's still for pretty much the same reasons – fear of people who are "not like us". So human nature is still the same. But at least I'm safe.
I left the cinema and walked west along Elgin Street, and when I reached Swanston Street I continued west into Melbourne University. I just needed a place to hang out for a while, and Melbourne University is good because I can pretend I'm a student and that makes me feel really smart. I took some photos and read my book. While I was there, no less than three students stopped me to ask for directions. And I couldn't help them but I was thinking, "I should be studying at this place. This should be my place." But it isn't.
I continued south till I reached Queensberry Street, and then I stopped and sat down on the curb. Then, along came my sister in her car. She saw me there and invited me into her car, then we drove to my parents' house.
My sister had a bird with her, it was in a big cage. The bird sometimes says things, like "Pretty, pretty, pretty bird." We let the bird out of its cage at our parents' house so that it could fly around.
My other sister came to the parents' house too – it was like a whole big family gathering. She even brought her two children, a boy and a girl, who are so young, they can't even really talk properly yet. Mum cooked dinner for us all, it was like a stew with meat and carrots and onions and stuff. While we were sitting around eating it, someone asked me, "So Stephen what have you been doing lately?"
I answered, "Well, yesterday I went out to Gaslight Music to see a live instore performance by The Grand Silent System. I've also been practising quite a lot with my two bands, Positronic and The Boris Pink."
My eldest sister asked me, "Do you have regular gigs?"
"No", I said. "But Positronic has a gig coming up on March 21st at the Soak bar. And Boris Pink has a gig at the Hi-Fi bar, on March 15th."
"And what's happening with that short film you made?"
"That will be screened this Thursday", I replied, "at the Moonlight Cinema. I met with a photographer from the local paper, last Wednesday, for a photo shoot because there's going to be an article about it in the newspaper, with a photo of me."
"I know about that!", exclaimed my youngest sister. "I read it in your journal on the internet."
Mum said, "I remember reading about our last family gathering on that. I guess I'll have to be careful what I say, in case I get quoted in your journal."
"Stephen is so much smarter than me," said one of my sisters.
I went out into the kitchen to get an apple. While I was there, I saw my sister's son who is a baby, and he had a brush in his hand, it was like a toilet brush only smaller. And he gave it to me. Then, later when I was back at the table, he gave me a little toy boat. Later still, he gave me a piece of apple with a dead fly stuck to it. Children are very mysterious. I try to avoid communication with them because it's like they're playing mind-games with me.
There was also a little toy fire-engine on the scene, and it had a little plastic fireman about one centimetre tall attached to it. My niece said to Mum, "He hasn't got a head."
My mother looked at the plastic fireman and observed that his head had indeed broken off. "What a shame!", said Mum. "If he hasn't got a head, then he won't be able to see, or hear, or talk, or smell anything – and no one will be able to take his picture, because he won't be able to smile!"
I think this is typical of the sort of bad photography attitude that is passed on from older generations – as if a picture of a person is no good unless they're smiling. But I know the best photos are taken of unsmiling people – that's the sort of photos that get published in photography magazines. I think we should all tell our children to not smile for cameras – 'cause then we'd not only improve the standard of photography ten-fold, we'd also be sowing the seeds for a new, non-fake generation. Although taking photos of headless people might be going a bit far.
One thing I was really looking forward to this week was the screening of my short film at the Moonlight Cinema, in the Botanical Gardens. It took place on Thursday night, and it was an open-air event so I brought a blanket and some pillows. There were twenty-five short films that night and the entire programme took about two hours. Most of the films were excellent. The winner had already been announced some time ago – the major prize went to the film "Cane Toad – What Happened To Baz?" and that was screened last. It was a 3d computer graphics animation, like mine, except much, much better.
among all the other names on the list, there was mine.
There was also a thing called the Audience Prize where the audience picks their favourite film of the night. What happens is, after all the films have been shown, someone reads out the names of the films one by one and the audience applauds after each one. The film name that gets the most applause wins the Audience Prize. But I didn't do very well there. When my film, "The Girl I Love" was read out, there was hardly any applause. You know, I'll bet people were thinking, "The Girl I Love? What's that?" They probably couldn't even remember the title, because my film didn't have any opening or closing credits.
How it was, letter-boxed
How it should have been, un-letter-boxed
One thing that really bugged me about this whole event was, the aspect-ratio of the cinema screen. The organisers told me to submit a recording that was suitable for widescreen, so I converted my film to widescreen specially. But the films weren't shown wide-screen, in the end. So my film would have looked better if it had been in its natural 4:3 ratio, because then it wouldn't have been letter-boxed. It's not fair.
And you know who won the Audience Prize? It was those clowns whom I met last week at the newspaper-photo-shoot – they'd made a film called "Secret Life of Fish", which was like a send-up of the TV show "Secret Life of Us", and instead of using human actors, they'd used fish. The audience sure did laugh when they saw it. I didn't really get it 'cause I don't watch that show. But they had a lot of friends in the audience who applauded their film. It's not fair.
This is just a joke, okay
As I was commuting home from that event, I had this unshakeable feeling of "why do I even bother". People judge me on how entertaining I can be, and I just can't be that entertaining, even with a short film that took fifteen weeks of intense work. I should have some sort of talent to make up for my lack of personality. And I do. But the only way to show it is by competing with everyone else's talent, and I'm not good enough for that.
I suppose it's a good thing that those fish guys won the Audience Prize. I'm not even a real film-maker. The prize was three-thousand dollars worth of post-prodution time, or something. What would I have done with that? Nothing, that's what.
Sometimes I think everyone wants me to crawl back into my box and lock the door, so they don't have to see me. And mostly, that's what I want too.
Why can't I be more like Eminem? He's always saying politically incorrect things in his rap songs – he just seems to say whatever's on his mind and millions of people pay him money for it. There's no rapper more famous than Eminem. But he doesn't seem very happy – it's like the fame is a burden to him. I can probably rap as good as Eminem – why can't I be famous like that? But I suppose I should count myself lucky that I don't have legions of enemies like he has, trying to bring him down.
This Wednesday I skipped the karaoke because I was sick. Or at least, I had a cough which would have prevented me from singing well.
I've started a book called "Gravitor" by Hugh Darrington (1971) – it's a science fiction book set in a future world when the gap between rich and poor has widened to the extreme, and there's this guy, who worked on the giant anti-gravity machine, who recently had a scare when he saw some monsters coming out of a nuclear reactor or whatever.
The sitcom "Do Over" is about a man who went back in time and re-lived his teenage years. So, armed with knowlege about the future, he can change his own destiny and put things right. This is a time-travel fantasy that a lot of people would like to do – I know I would. That's why I like this show. It doesn't really make sense – I mean the guy still has his adult brain so how would that even fit into the boy's smaller skull, and never mind the whole time-paradox issue. But wouldn't it be nice if it were possible. My teenage years were no fun – but if I could live them again, they'd be fun.