I was woken last Sunday by the phone ringing, at about half-past ten a.m. I yawned and thought, "Who could be calling me this early in the morning?" It was my friend Cat. She said, "Can you come over to my house a little earlier than we planned, so that you can watch my DVD of 'Lord Of The Rings'?"
So I said in a sleepy voice "Okay."
"Did I wake you up?" she asked. "I thought I might. I could've called you a bit later, to avoid waking you up, but I thought it would be funnier this way. Do you think it was funny?"
I said, "Maybe it was a little bit funny," and my voice was all low and quiet.
"No, you don't, you'll go back to bed and you'll be cursing me, but if this was a sitcom, the audience would be laughing. Well, see you later."
I hung up the phone and went back to bed, but I couldn't sleep because I was laughing too much at Cat's little joke. So I got up and had breakfast. Then, later, I went over to her house and she showed me that
movie Lord of the Rings which she has the Special Edition DVD of. I never saw this movie before, because when it came out in the cinemas I thought, "Well, it's one of those movies that's based on a book, so it would probably only be appreciated by people who've read the book, and reading is so hard." But Cat said I really ought to see it anyway because it's so great.
Lord Of The Rings 1: Fellowship Of The Ring is about this guy, who has this ring, and when he puts it on, he can turn invisible. Also, he has to keep the ring away from the bad guys because if they get the ring, they will become too powerful and maybe enslave everyone. So the guy decides he has to destroy the ring. But it's very tough and hard to break, so he goes on a quest to throw the ring into a volcano or something, and a bunch of people go with him for moral support, and they become known as the gang of the ring.
This movie is set in a kind of fantasy-world which is a bit like an old-fashioned version of our world, but there are monsters and goblins and wizards. We get to see a lot of spectacular scenes, like big fictional mountains with storm-clouds around them, and giant underground chambers with the same kind of architecture as a cathedral, except bigger. There's a lot of action, too – I think my favourite bit was where that big monster attacks them, and for a while it looks like they're not going to be able to kill it, but then they do. There's also a lot of talking, and those parts make you realise that this fictional world is very complicated and the characters are dealing with complex issues that make us all ponder philosophically. People who are watching this movie would be thinking, "I wish I had a magic ring – then I'd show them." This movie was very well made.
Then after that, my friend Cat and I went to the bar nearby called "303" to see a live performance by the famous singer, Wendy Rule. We arrived at the entrance to the back-room and we were a bit early – the previous band was still finishing up. They were a very popular band and people were crowded into the room to see them. Cat told me she didn't want to go in because it was so crowded. She said, "You go in – I don't want to go in. I'll meet you afterwards, back at the house."
So I went into the back room without Cat and watched the support-band who were playing their last song. After they finished, the audience applauded loudly and most of them left. The room was now much less crowded. I was thinking, "Maybe I should go back to Cat's house and tell her to come back because there are plenty of spare seats now. But it would take a while to walk to her house and back – what if the audience returns in equal numbers while I'm away? I'm not even sure if I should be here – this evening was meant to be as much about spending time with Cat as it was about Wendy Rule."
But I did stay, and eventually Wendy Rule came out and the audience was mostly replenished again. Wendy Rule started by singing a song with no instruments and no microphone – in one hand she held a bowl of frankinsence with vapour coming out of it, and in the other hand she held an sea-eagle-feather with which to waft the vapour into our faces as she walked around the room singing. It was almost like some kind of ritual – I think it created a certain atmosphere and made us see that she likes to do things a bit different and doesn't always "follow the rules", despite her name.
Later she sung on stage with a microphone, sometimes with an acoustic guitar and piano, sometimes with a few extra musicians like a bongo player and a violin player, and we gained a deeper awareness of the fact that she has an awesome voice of which she is in full control. We also saw that she has a pleasant personality and she's interested in wicca and stuff.
The next day, I had a practice with my band, The Boris Pink. We practice at Midian studios, which is one of the worst rehearsal places you can possibly imagine, but we always go there because the band leader Boris used to be the manager of Midian so he gets a special cheap deal, and it's always wise to save money. Anyway, we practised all our songs, and they sounded good. I played my keyboard. Ever since we changed our bass player, I've been the main backing-vocalist in the band, and that makes me feel more a part of things and more in touch with the feel of the music, although it's also a lot of pressure and I sometimes go off-key.
We have this one song called "Zen", and someone asked why the song is called "Zen" and what it means. Boris the songwriter replied, "Zen – it's a state of being – serenity – peace with your surroundings – it's hard to explain. It's one of those Eastern religious things. Stephen, do you know what Zen is?"
I said, "No."
And Boris said, "Well maybe you should find out."
I answered, "It's all a bunch of tree-hugging hippy crap anyway."
Boris said that I had turned nasty all of a sudden. I figured maybe he was offended by what I said, so I explained that I was just quoting from South Park, and he replied that South Park was a good thing to quote from.
The next day I had planned to go out with my friend Cat again, to see a movie in the city. The plan was to meet Cat out the front of her house at five o'clock, or so I thought. But when I went there, Cat was nowhere to be found. I knocked on her door, but there was no answer. So I thought, "Maybe she's just late." So I sat for a while on her front porch and read a book. It was a cold afternoon – the sun was just setting. The time went by and I realised, there was no way we were going to get to the cinema in time to see that movie. I thought, "Maybe I got it wrong, and I was meant to meet Cat in front of the cinema. Or maybe Cat forgot."
A bit more time went by and I thought, "Maybe I'm supposed to meet Cat at six o'clock, not five. I'd better wait here until six o'clock, just in case. It would make sense that way, because how could she possibly get home from work at five? It's a nine-to-five job."
Just then, someone came through the front gate and I looked up, hoping it would be Cat – but it wasn't, it was just "a cat". It walked up to me and looked at me, then it climbed onto my lap and I stroked it for about ten minutes with my freezing hand, and it purred. "There's nothing to do now except go home," I thought. At six o'clock I heard the whistle of a train in the distance, so I removed the cat and walked away.
When I arrived home, there was a message on the answering machine from my friend Cat and she said she was wondering where I was. And she said she was going to a later session at a different cinema, seven o'clock. I looked at my watch and it was like 6:45 – there was no way I could get there in time. And then something must have clicked in my brain because I realised she must have instructed me to meet her outside her work-building, not outside her house.
So Cat saw the movie without me, just as I had seen the Wendy Rule performance without Cat a couple of days before, as a result of plans gone awry. After she arrived home, she called me and we talked about what had happened. It was a piece of bad luck. But there were no hard feelings and we talked further for quite a while.
My friend Grainger came over to my apartment yesterday, probably for the last time – he said he's moving to Queensland permanently. He returned some music equipment that I had lent him, an amplifier and a keyboard stand. My friend Grainger is in a band with my friend Mishka – he plays keyboard and she sings. So I was secretly thinking, "Maybe now that Mishka's main keyboard player has left town, she'll be looking for a replacement keyboard player. And maybe it will be me, since I know all the songs. But maybe she doesn't feel the need for a live band around her anymore."
So I sent Mishka an email, asking her whether she still wants to play live gigs with a band in the near future. But several days went by, and Mishka did not reply. So I got to thinking – "Maybe Mishka does want to play live gigs with a band – but she just doesn't want to have anything to do with me anymore." This theory would fit with the fact that Mishka has ignored several of my emails in recent times.
I wish it were me who was moving to Queensland – the weather down here in Melbourne is driving me nuts. It's freezing. I went to an art exhibition tonight at the Centre for Contemporary Photography – I went mostly for the free wine. As it turned out, the wine at this exhibition was two dollars a glass, but that's still pretty cheap. Anyway, as I walked in the door, I thought "Hey, is that someone lying on the floor over there, with a curtain wrapped around their head? How socially awkward." But then I realised that it was just a mannequin or something, and it was an artwork by Starlie Geikie entitled "With my veins running fire and my heart beating faster than I can count its' throbs."
I looked at the rest of the artwork and some of it was kind of cool. There was this perfect human skull which had been carved out of wood, there was a pair of paintings in a dark room which looked like they were glowing because they had a couple of rectangular lights pointed at them – there was a short film showing a blonde girl whose hair blew in the wind, and there was a hole in the wall which you could look through to see a gun firing in slow motion, but that was kind of hard to get to because only one person could look through the hole at a time and lots of people wanted to look through it.
Later on I went home and worked on my own artwork. I was kind of lazy with it this week and I didn't get much work done, just the edges of the pool table and I drew a few imperfect white circles which will be pool-balls later.
Flash animation – click on it to go through the eleven-step sequence.
That show Celeb is a little bit funny – it's an English comedy about this guy who's a famous rock-star and lives in a big mansion. He talks in a funny voice and he's really stupid and shallow, and he becomes more unhappy day by day because he's not as famous or respected as he used to be. I like this show because the guy's wife is really good looking, and because the comedy makes fun of how celebrities are so self-delusional about their own coolness.
This Wednesday I went to the karaoke and sang the song "Bittersweet Symphony" by the Verve, and also the song "This Is Hardcore" by Pulp. The Pulp song was very fun to do – it had a lot of soft and loud bits and a lot of emotion toward the end. I was staggering around the stage like I was drunk or something, but it was all part of the act. One thing that went wrong was that I kind of lost it in the middle, I couldn't figure out which key to sing in, which is not like me, but I recovered myself after a few bars. And some of the high notes sounded a bit strangulated – I had a sore voice-box for a couple of hours afterwards. But I did well all-over – as I was coming off the stage, someone yelled out, "You're hardcore!" And after I left the karaoke venue, I missed my tram by just a few seconds, due to an unfortunate series of coincidences which delayed me.
Historical photo of the week:
Stephen Clark, 18 years old.
I've been working on this idea for a song with lyrics about how something that seems cool at first, doesn't seem so cool later, and as the song continues, the tempo gets slower and slower. And as it gets slower, the musical arrangement would hopefully get more and more complicated, until finally it settles into a steady slow tempo at the end and segues straight into the next song. But this sounds like a very labour-intensive idea for electronic sequencing and I haven't got it fully worked out yet.
I've just finished a book called "Fight Club" by Chuck Palahniuk. It's the story of this guy who starts an organization where men fight eachother in a kind of club. Then he organizes an army and starts ordering them to do various acts of destruction, with the ultimate goal of wrecking the American civilized way of life. So he's like a genius when it comes to figuring out how to make masses of people do what he wants them to do, but he's also insane and half the time he doesn't even know his own identity. This book is full of interesting action and thought-provoking ideas about modern society. I wonder if people really would want to join a "fight club" if there were such a thing. I know I wouldn't – I hate it when people punch me.