This afternoon I worked on my painting (not quite finished yet), then my friend Boris came over to my apartment to give me a CD of half-recorded songs. They mostly just had guitar and bass. He said he's recording a demo and he wants me to record my keyboard part so that he can put it in the mix. So I put the CD into my computer and started transferring the songs to my hard-disk, because he wanted the CD back straight away. While I was doing that, I asked him, "Do we have a gig coming up at the Hi-Fi Bar soon?"
This picture is on my desktop background – Boris commented on it.
He replied, "No – I've had to cancel that. I haven't been able to get in touch with our bass-player and I think we may have to replace him." He went on to say that he's going to look for a new drummer, too. I was very surprised – things seemed to be going so well with the band, and now suddenly two members are in doubt. So there won't be any gigs until we sort out exactly who's going to play bass and who's going to play drums. But at least the demo-recording is a step in the right direction.
I was disappointed because, if the band had played another gig at the Hi-Fi Bar, it would mean that my friend Grainger would have to return my amplifier to me because I need the amplifier for the gig. Not that I really care about the amp, I mean I don't use it at home, but it would be nice to get some sort of "closure" with my previous band and I can't have it until I get my stuff back. Grainger said he wants me to sign something, a release form about the video-clip and he may need his colleague Mishka to witness the signing. And that gets me thinking – if I do see Mishka – I ought to show her something – something that I kept a secret from her. But I can't do that if I don't see her.
After Boris left, I looked at my watch and thought, "Oh, it's nearly time to go to my friend Cat's house. She invited me over to visit." My friend Cat is a smart woman who likes to write stuff – recently she gave me some of the stuff that she wrote, and I read all of it. This evening I traveled to her house on the train, and I read some of it again while I was sitting with the other train-riders. I wanted to mentally prepare myself by remembering information about her. "Cat's mind is like a cyclone," I thought. "Constantly active, sometimes chaotic and scary – I wonder if she will do anything scary tonight?" But I wasn't frightened, because Cat had said that she would show me that movie called Amelie, and I'd heard some very good things about it.
I got off the train at the station nearest her house and walked to her address, stopping only to brush my hair which has become a bit unruly as of late. Cat lives in a little house which is squeezed up against the other little houses in her inner suburban area. She welcomed me in and told me to sit down in the living room.
Me in Cat's living room
At first, we made some small talk and discussed "Big Brother" and how she used to have a problem with her neighbour. Then, we went out to the local shop to buy some Japanese food. It was good because I don't usually eat Japanese food and I wasn't sure if I would like it, but I did. So it's like my taste-buds are being opened up to new experiences. While we were out, Cat said that she once found a silkworm on a mulberry tree in the wild. And I thought to myself, "That's impossible – there are no silkworms in the wild. I read in a book, that silkworms are completely domesticated." But maybe I can't believe everything I read. And Cat said, "I love Ween."
Cat works at the County Court
We walked back to Cat's house and she set up the DVD player to play that movie Amelie. I sat in a bean-bag in front of the TV with the Japanese food in my lap. Cat turned off the lights and lit some candles. Amelie is a film about this lady, who lives in France and speaks French. One day she decides that she wants to help people and make their lives better. So she thinks up some clever schemes, to touch people's lives in a good way. Sometimes she's a little deceptive about it but it's all well intentioned and she succeeds in doing a lot of good, and no one finds out about her less-than-honest behaviour. Then, she finds this guy that she likes, and she starts playing games with his mind and leaving him little notes like to pique his interest. But later she gets sad and worried, when she can't figure out a way to meet this guy properly and it looks like she's going to lose him. But it all works out in the end.
I could see why this is Cat's favourite movie – it's clever and it uses all sorts of unconventional cinematic devices to add a touch of surrealism to the story. The music and sound-effects create the perfect mood for every scene. The leading actor, Audrey Tautou, is way cute, but not in a dumb-bimbo way – in a deep way. And the plot of this movie is deep, giving the audience a lot to think about. They would be thinking, "Amelie is so smart – I wish I could live her life and have clever ideas like she has." And budding film-makers would be thinking, "This is the sort of film that I'd like to make." And some of them, like Cat, would wipe a tear from their eye(s) and think "This movie is so touching – it reminds me of myself." And I would be thinking, "I want to see it again."
Me in Cat's backyard
Cat had warned me that I'd need to bring a big bag, because she'd be giving me a lot of stuff like books and videos. After the movie was finished, she gave me some books by Chuck Palahniuk and some videos about Buffy The Vampire Slayer. She also gave me some funny underground comics and some DVDs featuring Invader Zim. I don't have a DVD player, but I'll find a way to watch them somehow – and I watched one of them at Cat's place tonight. Invader Zim is a cartoon show about this little alien man – it's funny and wacky. Cat has a sense for what TV shows and books I like, and she's always correct.
After that, Cat and I talked a bit, but not for long. I was wondering how much longer I should stay. I would've liked to have stayed for a long, long time. But by and by I became afraid that if I didn't leave soon, Cat and I would have nothing to talk about, and nothing to do, and we would just be sitting there and I wouldn't know where to look. So I left – little realising that I would have to wait twenty-six minutes at the train station.
I traveled home, carrying two bags full of valuable things, and arrived home about twelve. There, I found a message on my answering machine. It was from my Dad. He said:
"Hello Steve, er it's Dad, just ringing with the bad news that Felicity, Granny, has died a couple of hours ago, uh Mum is of course on the way over there. Um she would've landed in Heathrow a couple of hours ago, without knowing of course, uh and she will find out the bad news by meeting [Aunt] Karen at Luton when Karen arrives in England [from Switzerland] uh and they'll find out together because Karen doesn't know either, anyway I've told [your sisters] Melanie and Carolyn, and um now I'm telling you and um best to wait to hear from me again I think uh and Mum will contact me at some stage and tell me what she's going through, and I'll keep you informed. Okay Steve bye."
And I'm thinking "What happened to Felicity? She wasn't even sick. My grandmother Pat on the other side, she was the sick one, whom we all thought was going to die first – and what a piece of bad luck, that it happened just when Mum was on the way over to England to visit her."
My Grandmother, Felicity Armstrong, was ninety-six or ninety-five years old. Her and I have been writing letters in recent years, telling eachother all about what's been going on in our lives. Nothing much was going on with her 'cause she was in a loop-routine, but that was okay because she just repeated the same stuff in every letter. Anyway if there's a heaven, my grandmother is in it now 'cause she's all religious 'n stuff. She was a bit of a "techno-phobe", to the extent that she didn't even have a TV. She had an old-fashioned attitude and she didn't like it when I changed my name to Stephen Clark. But she was wise in many ways – I'll always remember what she wrote to me when I was lost and confused: "One of the most important things in life is your contribution to other peoples' happiness – to give back something of the love and effort which has gone into your making. It's the way to happiness – believe me!"
Flash animation – click the 'play' button.
This got me thinking it's a coincidence that this happened tonight, because when I first met Cat in 1996, people used to call her "Felicity" – but only when they were being formal. And from the sounds of things, my grandmother died while I was spending time with Cat.
A few minutes later I turned on the TV, thinking "oh, I don't know what's on, but I'll just watch whatever," and it was that show called Felicity. I haven't watched this show in years – I was half-thinking it had been cancelled. It's about this young woman who's magically gone back in time and is living a few years of her life again (or maybe just one year), and so she has foreknowledge of what's going to happen. So she tries to warn her friends about stuff, but they don't believe her and she gets committed to a mental institution. And later on she escapes. So I watched it and I thought, "What happened to Felicity? It didn't used to be about time-travel and stuff – it used to be just a straight drama." But that was cool – if I were a writer on television dramas, I'd be introducing time-travel plots wherever possible. Oh I guess that's my weekly television review.
I went to the karaoke on Wednesday and it was kind of a slow-starter – it seemed like whenever someone came into the room, they saw how empty it was and walked out again. So the singing didn't start until after ten, and even then there were only about three people to sing including me. So I did both my songs early. Firstly I sang "No Surprises" by Radiohead – it's a slow song with nothing surprising, and I sang it a bit weak and lame but that was okay because there was hardly any audience. The second song I sang was "Lola" by the Kinks. I picked this one because I'm not sure about the melody in the bridge section so I looked a bit foolish as I lost my way, and it's better to look foolish in front of a small audience than a large one. But I really got a rush of performance pleasure while singing the rest of it, because the song goes well. And tonight, I got paid for the photos I took last week.
Historical photo of the week:
Stephen Clark, nine years old
I bought a secondhand CD by Norah Jones – I didn't know much about her but I heard she was a Grammy Award Winner, and she was in the jazz section so I thought, she must be all right. Anyway I played this CD and it turns out, she is all right. Her voice is always in tune, the musicians are on top of their game, and the whole things sounds mellow and smooth like a piece of home-bake cookie-dough that's been sitting on the kitchen-table for two hours. Have you ever tasted home-bake cookie dough? It's kinda hard to find – I've only found one supermarket freezer that has it. It comes in chocolate flavour, choc-chip, sometimes with m&ms embedded – they used to have it in Anzac-biscuit flavour, and that was my favourite, but then they got rid of that flavour and I was so mad because the home-bake cookie dough had recently replaced fruitcake as my favourite food. But now that the Anzac flavour is gone, none of the other flavours can cut the mustard. Not that you'd want to cut mustard with them – in fact, you wouldn't want to add any sort of condiments to them because they're so sweet and spicy on their own. But getting back to Norah Jones – she has a pleasant sound, but she's not edgy. So I probably won't listen to her very often.