Okay this week I decided to just go nuts and write the longest journal-entry ever.
As I stepped off the train at Cheltenham station last Friday night, it was raining. I was carrying my electronic music equipment, which was quite expensive as you can imagine, and I didn't want to get it wet. For half an hour I stayed there, hoping that the rain would ease off. There were other people at the the station, a gang of teenage boys hanging out, talking and having fun. They didn't seem to be waiting for a train – several trains rolled through and they didn't get on any of them. Maybe they were waiting for the rain to ease off too. But the rain kept falling, making everything wetter and wetter, except me because I was undercover.
I couldn't stay longer than half an hour, because my friend Ben said he'd pick me up at the station at six o'clock. He said he was going to take me to a rehearsal room, where I would play keyboard with the new Pink Floyd tribute band that he had formed. It was to be our first practice, and I would be meeting the new members of the band. "But he wasn't specific about where I should wait for him," I thought. "Maybe I should just go out of the station, in the rain, and stop at the first sheltered spot I come to. It's too rainy to scout around for the best spot." So I left the station and waited out on the street, under the awnings in front of the shops.
I waited and waited, and looked at all the cars going back and forth in the rain. At one point, I thought I saw a car that looked like Ben's car. "Is that his car?" I wondered. But the car didn't stop. Then, about ten minutes later, the same car came back the other way. I thought, "It is his car! It is!" and I waved to him, but he still didn't stop. So I lowered my hand, discouraged.
"Well, now what am I to do?" I thought to myself. "Maybe I should just go home. But I really wanted to practise with the band. Maybe I could travel by taxi-cab."
So, a few minutes later, I hailed a taxi and put my music equipment in the back seat. I wasn't sure the best way to go to the rehearsal room, but the taxi-driver had a map so I was able to point at the correct street and he found his way there okay. I don't know if Ben got lost somewhere along the way, but somehow my taxi arrived at the rehearsal room at the same time as him. So then, in the comfort and safety of the studio, I told him what happened and he said that he'd been looking for me on the other side of the railway station. Anyway, with all that hassle out of the way, the band set up the music equipment and we started practising our Pink Floyd songs.
Ben had told me to learn six songs – he had given the same song-list to all the potential band-members, so that we would be organised. But at this practice, we weren't very good because it was the first time we had played together and we were still getting our heads around the music. There were a couple of songs which we played kind of okay, a couple of songs we played awfully messy, and a couple of songs we couldn't play at all because one or more person hadn't learnt them. The lead singer's name is Vincent – he is a good singer and he sounds kind of like that guy from Pink Floyd. But he wasn't completely familiar with the music – for instance, he didn't know that the verse in "Brick In The Wall Part 2" repeats twice, so we had to tell him.
I didn't say much throughout the evening. But I played well because I had practised everything at home, with the tape, and I had decided in advance which keyboard sounds I was going to use. I'd written down the chords on pieces of paper. So the other players didn't need to criticize me or give me advice. The drummer asked for my opinion on something at one point, but I just sort of shrugged. I'm not sure if they really noticed my keyboard playing – it wasn't very loud. Anyway, the practice lasted for about three hours and at the end of it Ben said, "We'll do this again, next week." So it looks like this Pink Floyd tribute band will continue and hopefully we will make progress and get better and better until we're ready to play a gig. I just hope I don't have to get a taxi next time – that sort of thing can be very expensive. But on the plus side, I didn't have to pay a share of the money for the rehearsal-room fee.
On the way home on the tram, a car accident caused a forty-minute delay, during which I took this photo.
The next day was Saturday. I looked at the gig-guide in the music street-press, and saw that the band Music Vs Physics were playing at the Pony Bar. So I thought, "Maybe I should go to that." But then I thought, "Naaah." I called up my friend Cat and asked her if I could come over to her house, to watch a DVD, and she said yes.
So I arrived at Cat's house at around eight o'clock and she said "Would you like to go out and get some Japanese food? Or would you like to go to the supermarket and get some junk food?" I chose the supermarket option, so we went out together on foot and walked to the nearby shopping centre. On the way, Cat asked me, "What's your favourite animal, at the zoo?"
And I thought to myself, "It's been so long since I went to the zoo, I can't remember. But I'd better think of a good answer, otherwise she'll think I don't like any of the animals and she won't want to go to the zoo with me." So eventually I said, "The elephants." And Cat replied that she likes the monkeys.
We went to the supermarket and bought some pizza and corn-chips and dip, and some of those lollies shaped like snakes. Then we started walking back to Cat's house. On the way there, she asked me what I would do if I had a friend who was a really bad writer who wanted me to comment on their writing.
"I do have a friend like that," I said. "He lives in America, and whenever he sends me something he's written, I just tell him I like it. I don't want to hurt his feelings."
"What??" she said sharply. "Does that mean you're doing the same thing with me? Telling me you like my writing, when you really don't?"
"Oh, no," I said, waving my arms innocently. "I'm always honest with you."
"You better be, 'cause if I find out you're being dishonest in your writing criticism, I will cut your head off! Promise me you will always be honest!!"
So I promised.
When we got back to Cat's house, we watched several episodes of that comedy cartoon show Invader Zim on DVD, and ate the pizza and stuff. After we had watched enough of the TV, Cat lent me some of her CDs so that I could listen to them at home. She also lent me some comics. I gave her an audio tape containing some of my favourite songs that I thought she might like (because you see, she had done the same for me, earlier). After that, I left Cat's house and walked to the station. My bag was heavy, but my heart was light because it had been such a pleasant evening.
On the train to the city, I saw this girl who was with some friends, all of whom looked a bit poor and ragged. And she went up to this other girl and said, "Have you got any cigarettes?"
And the other girl said, "I'm fresh out."
And the first girl, whose name was Mary, said, "Pardon?"
And the other girl, whose name was Michelle, repeated, "Fresh out."
And for some reason, Mary really liked this answer. "Fresh out!" she exclaimed. "Fresh out! You know, most people would just say 'no', or shake their heads, or say 'I don't smoke', but you said 'Fresh out!' That's so cool!"
The two girls talked some more, and learnt eachother's names. The other people on the train did this thing where they got a spray can of paint, and sprayed the paint into a plastic bag, and then they breathed in the fumes from the bag because they liked smelling the fumes. And Mary said "Fresh out! Fresh out!" It was as if that was her new motto of the day.
"Whenever someone asks me for a cigarette now," said Mary, "I will say 'Fresh out!' And they will say, 'That's a cool phrase, Mary, where did you pick that up?' And I'll say, 'I heard it from my new Philipino friend Michelle, whom I met on the train.' Fresh out!" And then the train arrived at Flinders Street, and we all got off.
The next day, I went to the Astor Cinema to see this movie called Badlands. I wasn't sure what to expect – I saw it because I thought "Well, Sissy Spacek was extremely good in Carrie, maybe she'll be good in this movie too." The movie is about this guy who meets this girl, and he gets a gun and shoots the girl's father during an argument. Then, the guy persuades the girl to go on the run with him so that they won't be arrested. They hide out in a forest, and then in some other places, and sometimes they have to shoot other people in order to evade the law, but eventually they get caught. The thing is, these two main characters are not evil, they're just not very smart and they don't seem to get upset when other people die – it's as if they treat it as no big deal. Like, when the girl's father gets shot, she doesn't scream or get angry or anything, whereas most girls would go all hysterical in that situation.
Sissy Spacek & friend (not my photo)
I really liked this movie because it's kinda funny when the two characters are doing all this unbelievable stuff and yet they still remain polite to everyone and they talked about trivial things even while their victims lay dying. I don't think the audience would hate them – even at the end, when the guy gets arrested for murder, the police treat him with respect and politeness because the guy is so charming. So the audience would be thinking, "Maybe he just doesn't fully understand the importance of what he's done." I was thinking, "Sissy Spacek is so pretty. And those two characters have such a good relationship, hardly ever arguing – it's a shame to break that up." But of course, the guy had to face the consequences of the crimes he'd committed.
On Tuesday I had to do a radio interview with Megan Spencer, the famous woman who does the film-reviews on Triple J radio. She had asked me for an interview because somehow she thinks I'm some kind of young up-and-coming independent film-maker. I agreed to it, but to be honest I was a little freaked out – she said (when she spoke to me on the phone) that she wanted me to be relaxed and friendly and conversational. I was afraid that if I wasn't like that, it would turn out to be a bad interview. And then Megan's boss would hear it on the radio and say to her, "That Stephen Clark interview was the worst you've ever done, Megan! You're fired!" and then she would blame me for it and she'd try to get revenge on me somehow.
So I set about writing some lines for myself to say, and memorizing them, so that I wouldn't be at a loss for words. It wasn't a "live to air" interview – it was one of those pre-recorded things that she could edit later. But it was still very nerve-racking and I needed some way to relax. So on the morning of the interview, I went out and bought a cask of wine. By the time I got home with it, I only had about ten minutes left to drink it before leaving. I can't drink wine very fast (because I don't like it) so I only got through one glass of it before my departure. And you can't drink wine on the public transport – it's illegal.
So on the tram, I looked over my prepared answers and kept memorizing them in my head, because I hadn't memorized them enough before. I arrived at the radio-station building with about twelve minutes to spare, so I didn't go into it straight away – I found a secluded spot about a block south next to the Victorian College of the Arts, behind some bushes, and I took the cask of wine out of my bag and poured myself another half-cup. Then I drank it. It didn't have much of an effect on me. But I thought, "Maybe without the wine, I would feel much more nervous."
Me drinking wine from a plastic cup
I entered the radio-station building and met with Megan Spencer. She led me into the recording studio and asked me a few preliminary questions before she started recording my voice, then the interview started. It wasn't too bad – I remembered to say most of the stuff I had written down. Sometimes, when I said something one way, Megan would ask me to say it in a different way just so it would make a good sound-bite when she edited the interview later. Sometimes I spoke nicely. Other times I spoke too fast and stumbled over my words. Other times I spoke in a hesitant, halting way. Once, she asked me if there's any particular film-makers or musicians who have been very inspirational to me, and I couldn't think of any. But all things considered, it wasn't too bad, and at the end of the interview Megan said, "That was good." So I was glad it was over and I was pretty sure it wouldn't be the end of Megan's career. She even gave me a free t-shirt with the name of some movie on it.
The interview was aired on Triple J tonight, at seven o'clock. It was trimmed down to two minutes. I hate the sound of my voice. I recorded it off the radio, on audio tape, but I'm afraid to listen to it again because it just makes me wish I'd said things differently. And after the interview, the radio DJ read out my web-site address on air so maybe I'll get a whole lot of hits from that. Scary.
To see a transcription of the interview, click here.
My latest painting (not finished, yet)
Yesterday I looked in the fridge and noticed I had a crust of bread left over. Traditionally, I only eat crusts on Mondays and Wednesdays. This happened on a Wednesday, but I'd already eaten my quota of crusts for the day, so I decided to take it down to St Kilda Botanical Gardens and feed it to the birds. The weather was unseasonably fine. It's winter in Melbourne, but some of the autumn leaves are yet to fall. After I finished feeding my crust to the birds (which was fun), I sat down on a park bench for a while and read my book. But after a few minutes, something on the ground caught my eye – it was a leaf that was unlike any of the other leaves. This leaf was in the shape of a fan. "And you know what that means," I thought. "It means it's a Ginkgo leaf. But there are no others. Where did it come from?"
I took out my camera and tried to take a photo of the leaf, but the camera kept auto-focussing on the background instead of the foreground and I couldn't remember how to put it in manual-focus mode – the battery was too low, anyway. I got up from my bench, with the leaf in my hand, and started searching the nearby trees. But none of them had that particular sort of leaf, and I began to think this leaf had magically appeared out of thin air. "No, there must be a Ginkgo tree," I thought. "But where? Where is the Ginkgo tree? I've been searching for it all my life –"
Just then, I found another Ginkgo leaf, and I gained confidence. Picking it up, I continued my search and found another, and then another, and then it seemed like I was getting closer to the source. It wasn't long before I was seeing Ginkgo leaves all over the ground – I cast my eye from tree to tree, none of them yielding any clue – and then finally I saw it. A single Ginkgo tree, looking almost dead, with just a leaf here and there to confirm its identity. I had finally found what I'd been searching for all these years. I wanted to hug it, but there were too many other plants in the way. "I'll come back here, later," I promised the tree. "I'll witness and document your renewal, when you come back to life in the spring, as you are bound to." And then I went home.
Flash animation – roll your mouse over the dude's face.
That show The Glass House is funny. They have this bunch of comedians who sit around and discuss the events and news stories of the week in a funny way, making jokes about everything. It's amazing how they can think of jokes so fast while they're having their conversations. I think I taped it last Friday night, but I can't remember which video tape I used so I can't find it. Or maybe I did watch it and I just can't remember – my mind is a blur.
This Wednesday I went to the karaoke and sang the song "I Alone" by Live. It was a very, very good night – the room was packed and the crowd was dancing and picking the most groovy songs – it was like a wild, drunken party with everyone singing along. They didn't sing along with me, nor dance, but I still got respect from a couple of people just after I came off stage. And for the rest of the time, I was having so much fun, I left later than usual and caught the late tram instead of the early tram.
Historical photo of the week:
Stephen Clark, thirteen years old
Music: Pulp are an English band. I've liked them in the past. But now that I've heard their album "This Is Hardcore", I like them even more. You'd think, from the title of their album, that it would be "hardcore" music, but it's not. It's soft and it has good melodies. Sometimes they get really emotional and talk about personal issues. And sometimes, they play the sort of music that you can dance to. When I listened to it for the first time last Tuesday, I thought, "This sounds like the sort of thing Pink Floyd could be making, if they were still around." And that last note, in the final song, goes on for ten minutes or something.