I called my parents on the phone on June the second. But there was no one home so I got the machine. I didn't leave a message 'cause I hate talking on those machines, I always screw it up unless I have it planned out in advance. Anyway whenever I call without leaving a message, they always know somehow, it's one of those new phone-features. And that was all I really wanted to communicate to them – that I'd called.
My sister Carolyn circa 1980
It was my sister's birthday that day – she is twenty-nine. She and her husband live in Canberra. Traditionally I send her a card on her birthday, just so she knows I haven't forgotten. But this year, I did forget. So I was thinking, "Even if I post the card today, it won't reach her until tomorrow or even the next day. But I still have to do it."
The trouble was, I don't have my sister's address, or her phone-number. So I needed to find out this information from my parents. I decided to travel to my parents' house by train, which takes about three hours. I have a key to their house and they tend to leave addresses stuck to the fridge.
My sister's address wasn't the only reason to visit my parents' house that day – I also wanted to watch some DVDs that my friend Cat had given me, because I don't have a DVD player and my parents have one on their computer, or so I'd heard. So it's something I'd been meaning to do. As I was walking from the train station to their house, I bought a birthday card at the shop. My parents live in an outer suburb which almost has a "small town" atmosphere, so I was thinking "Will anyone recognise me, from when I lived here eight years ago?" But I don't think anyone did.
My parents' house was quiet and empty. Just as I thought, the address I wanted was stuck to the fridge and I copied it down on the envelope and wrote on the card inside. Then I went out to the nearest post-box, which was about fifteen minutes walk away.
I walked back to the house and turned on my parents' computer. I stuck a DVD in the drive, but it didn't work – it just spat out the DVD a few seconds after I put it in, so I tried it again but it kept happening no matter what I did. So I was thinking, "Oh dear – how am I to watch my DVDs now?"
I turned off the computer and prepared to leave. But as I was preparing, my Dad came home. He said, "Hello, Steve." I explained to him about the DVDs and all, and he was very surprised – he turned on the computer again so that he could see the problem for himself. Then, he tried to figure out why it was happening. So he looked around in some recent computer magazines that he bought. The most likely explanation he found was that the DVDs were recordable ones and some recordable DVD formats are not compatible with all drives. My parents don't have any movies on DVD, so we couldn't do any comparative tests.
A few minutes later, my mother came home from work. She saw me and she said, "Hello, Steve." We went into the kitchen and sat down at the table there, and my parents asked me what I've been doing lately.
"Oh, nothing much," I said. "I've been painting things white."
"Painting things white?" they said. "What sort of things?"
I answered, "Cardboard boxes. I have a bunch of them in my flat and I use them for storing things. So I'm painting them white so that they look neat."
"What sort of paint are you using? Is it a spray?"
"No, it's gesso. It's the sort of paint you use for painting a canvas white before you put colours on it." I might have also mentioned that I wanted to cover up the brand-names written on the boxes which had been staring out at me every day like ads. Lately I've been increasingly intolerant of brand-names printed on things that I own – I often cover them up on audio tapes and zip-discs, and recently I completely redecorated a video-cassette box using bits of paper cut out of magazines. It's nice change to the appearance of things – makes it feel like they're really mine.
I could have stayed for several hours, because I'd allowed for plenty of time to watch my DVDs, but it was the end of the day and I knew my parents wouldn't feel right about me going home by train in the dark. So I didn't stay long after five. My Dad gave me a lift to the station. The best thing about having an online journal is, I can communicate most things to my parents (and other people) without talking to them.
I received an unexpected phone call last Friday from Megan Spencer, the famous, famous lady who is the film-critic for Triple J radio. She wanted to interview me on the radio 'cause I'm supposedly a promising young film-maker with a novel approach. I said, "Okay."
She said, "Are you sure?"
I said, "Wait a minute. No. I don't think I can do it. I wouldn't know what to say."
And she was all like she was disappointed, saying, "Let me know if you change your mind."
I said, "Well maybe I could do it if I know in advance what questions you're going to ask."
So she described to me the sorts of questions she's going to ask, and the kind of thing she wants me to say, and how it's going to work. So I said, "Okay, I'll do it."
And she said, "Are you sure?"
I replied, "Yes."
And she said, "Are you absolutely sure?" Obviously she didn't want to interview me if I was going to give short answers like this.
But I said, "Yes." And she told me to call her back in a week. So since then I've been preparing some answers to possible interview questions, in the hope that I can memorize them and recite them on demand while making it sound like it's spontaneous.
Flash animation – roll your mouse over it to make Mandy turn around.
My friend Cat recently gave me a little canvas, ten by fourteen inches. I figured I may as well paint something on this before moving on to a larger painting project, 'cause it wouldn't take long. So, as usual I decided to paint some girls. It's not finished yet. You know, there are some colours that I just can't mix with the paints that I have. Like aqua, for example. I know it's just blue and green, and white, but when I mix them together it always comes out too grey. It's not like on the computer, where I can just adjust the sliders or the numbers in Photoshop or whatever until I get the right colour. And sometimes when I'm painting, I wish I could have an "undo" button. Mmmmm, that would come in handy in other areas of life as well, like if you say something, and then you wish you hadn't said it. But mostly just painting.
They always look a bit grumpy at first
I was very annoyed at Channel 7 for showing repeats of Angel instead of showing the current series which hasn't finished yet. Angel is the spin-off from the Buffy series – it's about this guy who's a good vampire and he has a bunch of friends who fight demons and try to save the world from destruction, and sometimes they open portals to other dimensions and stuff. I have to tape it every week 'cause I'm always at the karaoke that night, but in the past couple of weeks I've been disappointed when I check the tape and find that it's just a repeat. And they were just on the verge of something big, 'cause Angel had just turned evil again and Faith the vampire slayer was back on the scene. But then I heard that there's going to be a cross-over plot-line with Buffy in the near future so Channel 7 has to show a couple of repeats to get the two serieses in sync. So I thought, "Well, that's all right then – I should commend them instead of being annoyed at them."
This Wednesday I went to the karaoke and sang the song "The Heat is On" by Glen Frey, one of the many songs I taped off the radio in 1985. It was an interesting night, with people choosing some good songs and dancing. There was this one guy, in vinyl pants, who looked like a punk, and he acted so wild he was like knocking over mic-stands and falling off the stage. And the way he sang, it was like he didn't care what the real lyrics were. In one song he started dis-mounting the TVs and stuff, and he was ejected from the premises shortly afterwards. I'm sure some people in the room were disappointed, and others relieved.
Historical photo of the week:
Stephen Clark, twelve years old
I have this CD by The Gentle Waves, called "Swansong For You", and I really like listening to it. It has this lady, and she sings softly and breathily like she doesn't want to strain herself, and behind her we hear soft guitar and drums and organ and trumpet and glockenspiel and harp, and so many other instruments, you wouldn't believe it. Sometimes it sounds a bit "retro", like it was made in the 50s or something, but it was made in 2000 so that makes it okay. The person who wrote this music is good at making sweet melodies and pretty poetry, and she's very non-threatening, so when I listen to it I think, "Oh, she's not trying to attack me or anything, she's just being nice."
A few weeks ago I said I'd make an animation showing the progress of the painting that I made before. And now I have. It's an extra large file so I put it down here, so that it will have loaded by the time you've read the rest of the page.