Friday, December 31, 2004

Reflections

Early in the morning, well on the way into the last twenty-four hours of the year, inevitable sleep awaits before the working day begins, but not just yet. What's keeping me awake are the thoughts, leftover from days gone by, the retrospect accomplishments and defeats of the year in review.

It's been the first year really cut from the bounds of study, let loose and tossed out on the turbulent currents of the social cascade with conflicting and fluctuating views on who I'm supposed to be and what I really want to do and all that kind of stuff, mixed around with the complications of love and relationships and about a million other things seething through my mind.

Out of home once, then back at home, then out once more. Graduation with a bachelor degree in one field, then into a job of a completely different nature. Pressure to study more, move into the mainstream. Trying to keep afloat, head above the rising waters, to keep whatever distant hope in view. Writing and directing a play for the old uni, recording a song with a small vocal group, completing the first draft of my novel, and hundreds of other little projects and experiments. Inconsequence, temporary reflections on the surface. Reflections of what?

Looking back, you realise this time stream only flows in one direction. Paddle hard as you like, there's no escaping the steady current, the forks in the river, the realities of choices past. Where is our ocean sunset? Not long until next year.


The Brook

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Fockerized

Shortly after seeing Meet The Parents way back in 2000, someone remarked that they were doing a sequel called Meet The Fockers and I remember just laughing, assuming that they must have been joking. Four years later and now we have it, Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand playing Mr and Mrs Focker.

I finally got to use my gift voucher ticket to the Chermside cinemas, which I recieved half way through this year. The expiration was still a few months away, but I figured I'd better use it sometime soon, seeing as I'd gone this long. Stupidly, I've been keeping it in my backpack all this time, which I never take with me and only decided yesterday that it might be best if I folded it up and kept it in my wallet.

I really enjoyed seeing Meet The Fockers, a great example of character based comedy. What is it about seeing Ben Stiller utterly degraded and humiliated that is so entertaining?


Expelled from the circle of trust

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I Wonder

It was supposed to be last Christmas, the big move at work, just after I had started there, then it was March, then the end of June at the latest. Today, finally we began to move everything over, with the help of a few volunteers, to the new building next door that has been in the process of refurbishment for quite some time now and there's still a fair bit to go.

In my pigeon hole this morning was a large white envelope with my name on it. I puzzled over what might be inside for about a second or two, until I remembered the list of dvds that last week was passed around the office, from which we each had to choose two, one first choice and one backup. Sometimes, I wish you could choose a backup for everything in life.

Wonder Boys was the movie I found after opening the envelope, along with a cheerful Christmas message and wishing me all the best for the new year. I'm pretty sure it was my first choice. I can't even recall what my backup was. I watched it this afternoon, not having seen it in a while; a difficult movie to pick what exactly I like so much about it.

Sometimes I wonder what exactly it is that makes one movie enjoyable for me, while to someone else, sitting through the same film would be like torture. I wonder if it might have something to do with past experiences built up in the mind. I wonder if it's just brain chemistry, that we're all wired differently or that some people either lack the attention spans or they simply don't get it and have no wish to.

I wonder what it is that makes each of us so different, our stories so unique.


Wonder Girls

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

These Pretzels Are Making Me Thirsty

Seinfeld is on, the one where Kramer gets a line in the Woody Allen movie shooting down the street. I just had to stop what I was watching, which incidentally was the first disk from the two Seinfeld box sets I got for Christmas.

I arrived home this afternoon and decided I would watch a few episodes, as I didn't get a chance to see any while I was away. Anyway, I ended up watching the whole first season, suprisingly only four episodes. I think it's amazing how close Seinfeld came to never even getting off the ground to become the show that it was. Imagining a world without Seinfeld, I guess there would most likely be another show that would rise up to fill the Christmas stocking.

When I was younger, sometime while I was still in high school - seems so long ago now - I remember I used to watch Seinfeld all the time. I would make sure I was at home every week night at 7pm so that I could tape every episode and whenever I got to the end of one five hour tape, I would start a new one. I ended up with about fourteen tapes that I would just play over and over again. There was even a short period where I couldn't fall asleep unless Seinfeld was playing in the background.

There were some episodes that I didn't have on tape, the ones they didn't play or the ones I'd missed recording for whatever emergency. I hadn't seen the first season in a long, long time. It's strange watching these episodes; they seem so unfamiliar compared to the ones seen just about a hundred times before.


Seinfeld Wars

Monday, December 27, 2004

Place in the Country

Well, I'm currently about 170 kilometres west of home at Chantal's parents' place in the tiny town of Maclagan - you can walk from end to end in about 3 minutes - posting from their computer in the small room coming off from the front veranda. We came up on Christmas night and have just been enjoying a very quiet and relaxing holiday, playing board games and darts and watching movies and all that. Sometimes it's just what you need, to get away from it all for a little while.

Today we went for a drive up to the Bunya Mountains National Park so we could enjoy a little bushwalking. Last time there, we only went on the very short 500 metre walk, so this time we thought we might try something a slight bit more challenging. It took just over 2.5 hours to complete the Bakers Creek Circuit, a little exhausting for some of us who are not as fit as we probably should be, but it was a great experience nonetheless, with lots to see, the gigantic bunya pine trees, birds, waterfalls and ponds filled with tiny tadpoles.

We will be on our way back to the complexities of the city tomorrow.


Bunya Mountain mushrooms

Thursday, December 23, 2004

I ♥ Existential Detectives

If you think hard enough, anything and everything can become coincidence. It's a sliding scale, the degrees of coincidence, which differ for every person. The really big coincidences are just the ones that remain prominent in the mind, the ones some puzzle over, wondering how it's all connected, if at all.

While shopping today, I saw in the busy crowd coming towards me an acquaintance, the boyfriend of one of my friends from uni. We'd met a few times, just enough that I would have had to do the 'stop and chat' if he saw me, or rather if he saw that I'd seen him. I know the proper thing to do would be to stop and say hello and all the how are you's and all that, but to tell you the truth, I really didn't feel like enduring all the small talk, so I kind of headed over to the other lane of human traffic to avoid eye contact.

Later on, while walking back to the shopping centre from the library, I was crossing the zebra crossing and saw the friend from uni, the girlfriend of the acquaintance I had not long ago avoided. I waved as I crossed and she recognised me and motioned for me to jump into the car. We caught up a bit as she went around the block - there were no parking spaces anywhere - and she dropped me off at my car, where I put away my library books before heading back inside to go see a movie.

I had decided to go and see I Heart Huckabees after hearing some good things about it from friends and hearing it likened to some movies written by Charlie Kaufman. There were only four people in the theatre including me. I sat right at the back, there were two old ladies about three rows down who kept laughing hysterically at anything remotely funny and another lady who was sitting right over on the furthest seat to the right for whatever reason.

The film was pretty good I guess, but I think I had my expectations a little too high before going in. It's definitely no Charlie Kaufman movie, although now I think I want to open up my own existential detective agency. Seems like fun work, although maybe I should get myself sorted out first.


I heart Huckabees

Shopping and The Library

It's been kind of a running joke between my friend Jerry and I, that I'm constantly out either shopping or at the library, although I don't really do these things all that often, not more than average anyway. It's just that a little while back, he called me a few times and every time, I was always either at the library or out shopping and I guess that just stuck with him. The human mind seems set on placing great importance on and trying to find meaning out of the many coincidences it recognises in day to day life, that they are somehow connected in a more profound way or something like that.

Well, if he had called today, it would have only perpetuated the whole thing, as I would have been either out Christmas shopping or over at the Chermside library reading. I had to find some presents for my parents, but I could only find one for Mum, so it looks like I'll be out shopping again tomorrow. The present I found was $85 marked down from $99 and although I sincerely hope that my Mum doesn't read my blog, I will keep its identity a surprise. Anyway, I got to the counter and the price came up on the register as $128 and so I had to wait there for about five minutes so that one of the checkout girls could go to check on the price and come back to tell me that I was right.

I decided to head on over to the library for a bit, through the little alleyway next to the Chermside shopping centre. Whenever I go to the library, I tend to take out lots and lots of books that look like they will be really, really good, but then when I get them home, I find that a lot of them they are absolutely terrible. Today, because I had a bit of time, I just picked out a heap of books, anything that looked interesting and then took them all over to one of the seats to sort out the ones that were really worth it.

While on that chair, going through my books, I noticed that the man sitting in front of me had fallen asleep while reading the paper. I thought it quite funny, so had to take a picture. I wonder if he'll ever stumble across this post. Somehow I doubt it.


Old man asleep at the Chermside Library

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

A Series of Events

The other day sitting blankly, half watching an ABC show about King Henry II, I thought how fortunate we are to possess so much knowledge of the events of these people, these lives lived long ago. But then I stopped to think how unfortunate for all those millions of lives that are not remembered through the ages, those who are lost in history. Not everyone can be king, but does that make the particulars of their lives any less worthy of remembrance? Their personal tales of love, loss, passion, envy and everything in between or just the steady series of events that make up their humble day to day lives, forever forgotten.

There were dark clouds looming across the sky yesterday afternoon and into the night and I wondered if rain would perhaps ruin our plans for filming today. I woke up to the sound of my clock radio, which is vicariously positioned on the TV across the other side of my room, primarily to help prevent the endless cycle of snooze hitting and falling asleep again. Having to actually get out of bed to turn off the alarm, I looked out my bedroom window to see the sun shining brightly in the clear blue sky.

Shooting went well, although there weren't too many shots that we could do that didn't require the extras, which were still to be arranged, so I was able to leave a little earlier than expected and catch up on a little Christmas shopping. It was also a chance to get out of the terrible heat of the day, exploiting the air-conditioned comfort of suburban commerce.

Tonight we went to see Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, which wasn't too bad I guess - it was meant to be a kids movie after all. On the way to Stafford City I looked over to see Peter riding his motorbike alongside me. I waved and tooted my horn a bit, but he was already turning around the corner. Further on down the road I saw Ben driving in the opposite direction. I waved to him too, but he didn't see me either. No one ever sees.


Count Olaf

Natural Law, Anthropology and The Prime Directive

As luck would have it, I turned the TV on just in time to catch the beginning of Star Trek: Voyager - one of the few shows on the box that I can stand to watch these days - however I missed the title of the episode, which isn't really too much of a big deal I guess, but it's good to know nevertheless, just as a point of reference. I knew it had to be one of the later episodes though as Seven of Nine was in it, but I wasn't sure which season exactly. Ok, so I like Star Trek, so shoot me, phasers set for stun.

The episode ended in the typical Star Trek fashion, harm to the crew averted and Star Fleet morals upheld. Turning to the internet, the ever useful source for everything geeky in nature, I googled up one of the hundreds of Voyager episode lists and began browsing through the episodes of season six and seven, looking through the potential titles. Incidentally, Natural Law, the first one I clicked on, just happened to be the right episode, how fortunate, but I suppose the titles usually give fairly clear indication of the episode content and I figured there was little chance that it would have been something like The Void or Unimatrix Zero Part 1.

In this episode, Seven and Chakotay become stranded on a strange planet after they crash through a mysterious barrier while in their shuttle. Thet come across a primitive culture, which they attempt, without much luck, not to interfere with, in accordance with The Prime Directive. When Voyager creates a hole in the barrier to rescue their crewmates, they unintentionally leave the door open for others to come in and impose on the culture, study them anthropologically and to help them become civilized. This is something Captain Janeway will not allow.

I find that The Prime Directive can at times can seem unnecessary and absurd, but I guess the message that they are trying to push in this episode and one that they cleverly attempt to mirror in Seven of Nine's subplot, is that a natural law exists, that every culture has a right to develop on its own and follow its own path in existence, much like in the individual.


You can take the borg out of the collective, but you can't take the collective out of the borg

Monday, December 20, 2004

Nothing To Say (But It's Ok)

Ah, that slight moment of hesitation just when you're about to begin writing, the realisation that you have absolutely nothing to say, nothing of any terrible consequence anyway. The thought meandered across my mind that perhaps I should not blog tonight, but somehow that decision was dashed and destroyed like genocide of misfiring synapses and in its place came these somewhat uninspired words.

It seems it may have slipped my teflon coated mind for a second or two, the reason I started this frivolous pursuit in the first place. So I guess I'll keep at it, sitting mildly contented at my desk, turning the dimmer clockwise a small degree, such to emit a fraction of the luminous excesses of imagination and anxiety from the dark depths of my soul.


Portrait of Edward James

Friday, December 17, 2004

For the Good of Mankind

"Intelligence is not a privilege, it's a gift. You use it for the good of mankind" --Otto Octavius

I was watching Spider-Man 2 last night and then again this morning before going out. Personally, I think it's a far superior movie to the first one, which is quite rare in sequels, diving deep into a lot of interesting themes and presenting them in a light-hearted and entertaining way. Great cinematography too.

It's interesting how easily we can relate to the characters portrayed in the films we watch. I think it kind of cheered me up a little bit to see that even with all his powers, Peter Parker still has to face the little problems in life, the pressure of responsibility, the confusion of indecisiveness and all the little dilemmas that we all go through from time to time.

What got me thinking a little bit was how easily Dr. Octavius's wishes to help humanity, turned into an obsession that nearly destroyed all of Manhattan and the millions of people living there. Admittedly, with the conspicuously vulnerable inhibitor chip destroyed, he was acting under the influence of the evil robot arms. But even before the chip was damaged, he was unwilling to shut down the first experiment in the hope that it would somehow stabilize.

Problems like this tend to arise when you have one man deciding what is good for mankind and no one, not even Peter Parker can convince him of otherwise. Who will we turn to? The Spider-Man in us all.

Go Spidey go!


Doc Ock

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Low Drone

About a month ago, whenever I turned my computer on, I noticed this loud humming emanating from the tower - louder than it usually is anyway - which I was pretty sure was coming from the power supply fan at the back of the case, a loose bearing or something like that. The noise went away after a few seconds anyway during bootup, so it didn't really worry me all that much. And then, a few weeks after that, the noise stopped altogether and so I forgot all about it.

I little while ago however, I'd just about had enough of all the fans constantly whirring away inside my case, making all kinds of noises all throughout the night, so I decided I didn't really need all those case fans anyway and my system could probably still survive without some of them and then I would be able to keep my sanity as well. As it turns out, it was a good think I opened up the case to disconnect three of my case fans, because while I was at it, I checked on the graphics card fan and found that it was just about jammed in place and obviously hadn't been spinning for quite some time.

Then it became clear, that the noise I had been hearing all that time ago, wasn't the power supply fan at all, but was my graphics card fan on its last legs all along. One of my friends' video card chipsets was cooked not long ago, all because a fan stopped working, so I was just relieved to see that my card was still functioning properly and had survived the heat. I managed to pull the fan apart and after a lot of fiddling around, half got it going again. But now, every so often, it will start to make that horrible low droning buzz, reminding me that a new fan is in order.


The Culprit

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Praying For Snow

Sitting in the sweltering heat, praying for snow in the fiery pits of Hell, aka Brisbane on a hot summer's day, or at lest some relief from this torturous sweat. I guess it's not so much that it's overly hot for this time of year, but the humidity after all that rain we've just had, the water vapour on the verge of condensing, floating all around in the stagnant air, is just unbearable.

Working on the website over at Jerry's today, sweating profusely, literally dripping, the only question in my mind was, 'why oh why did he have to move to a place with no air-conditioning?' After dinner, Jerry decided we should watch Fargo as both Lyn and I hadn't seen it, which seemed to come as an absolute astonishment to Jerry.

The movie was set in the snowy region of Fargo, North Dakota and the whole time, watching that steamy breath coming out of everyone's mouth as they spoke, all I wanted to do was get on a plane and just fly off to somewhere in the northern hemisphere where it's winter and snowing. I've never really seen the snow, except for the ice that gets all caked up inside the freezer and can be scraped off and mushed into a little snowball, but I don't think that counts. I really should go sometime.


Grandma Coen embroidering in her spare time

Friday, December 10, 2004

Watching the Puddles Gather Rain

It's been raining on and off for the past few days, the constant cloudy haze hanging over our heads, weighing heavily, perhaps more than we realise, upon our lives and emotions. The puddles of the mind begin to fill with mixed feelings trickling down from the floating mass of grey up above, gathering in wet little clusters on the cold cement.

So Anyway, the other day while driving around, I noticed this wetness down at my feet and looking down, saw that the carpet was quite damp. The car had always had a bit of a leak I think, but had never been this bad. So, I sloshed around for a little bit down the road, until I parked and looked in the back to find that even more water had pooled up into this little pond on the back seat floor.

I've searched everywhere for the source of the leak to no avail and as the carpet is completely dry around where the doors are, it almost seems as though the water is somehow seeping up from beneath, but surely that can't be so. It seems every trip to the mechanic just leaves my car fraught with even more, ever increasing problems.

So until I can determine where the water is coming in from or until this incessant rain comes to an end, I guess I'll just sit here watching the puddles gather rain.


Blind Melon

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Cold on a Warm Wet Day

"If you go out in the rain when it's cold, you'll catch a cold" they say. It was raining this morning, but has been quite warm around here lately, yet somehow I think I've still managed to catch a cold. The perception that cold weather makes you sick is an interesting one. Perhaps the micro-organisms that make a person ill, operate better at cooler temperatures, although why then do we get a fever? Probably the body's defences are less acute when it's cold. I really don't know.

I took two cold pills, thinking I might be able to get the jump on this colony of bacteria or viruses or whatever, moving in to my body like it was their home or something. I just read on the packet that I'm only supposed to take one pill. Ah well. Someone call poison control.

Sometimes I think that corporations, through the media tend to overplay the threat of germs and bacteria a little bit, just as a device to sell cleaning products and disinfectants and all that. Fear is a very powerful tool, but what you're left with is a population of paranoid people and a generation of kids that haven't built up an immunity to anything and get sick at the drop of a hat. That's ok though, because then they need to buy more cold and flu medicine.


Microscopic hitchhiker

Monday, December 06, 2004

Bowling for Lebowski

They were fixing the plumbing today at work, so for all our bathroom breaks we had to trek over to the next building. A mild inconvenience, but at least it breaks the monotony and was something out of the ordinary. Work was over for the day, but instead of going straight home, I thought I might visit my friend Jerry to see how he was settling in to his new place and more importantly, to check if his pool table had arrived.

He was there with Lyn and they were about to watch The Big Lebowski. The pool table hadn't come, but I stayed to watch the movie anyway, one of the Coen brothers' best I think. I really love the contrast between the two Lebowskis, The Dude and Mr. Jeffrey Lebowski and also the bowling alley antics of The Dude and his friends.

We discussed bowling a little bit and how come it's so effective when used in film and TV. Bowling alleys I think, tend to lend themselves to just about any situation. Also, the act of bowling is visually exciting, so it looks good on film and is very symbolic too, of all kinds of things, but I don't really want to get in to all that right now. The television show Ed is coming back soon and much of that is set in a bowling alley. I can't wait.

I think I need to go bowling more often. There's a bowling place that just opened up in the city that might be alright. Maybe I'll go along and bowl a few games some time.


The Dude

Sunday, December 05, 2004

The Cricket

I've never really understood how a game that seems so slow and uninteresting can be so well liked by so many people. Here in Australia, cricket is so popular that I'm pretty sure it's the national sport or something - whatever that means. Anyway, I managed to acquire some free tickets for yesterday’s day-nighter game at the Woolloongabba Cricket Ground aka The Gabba from a friend I used to work with and thought I might go along just to see what I was missing.

So we arrived there and they half-heartedly checked our bags for alcohol or weapons or something like that and let us through. All the seats were just about packed full, but that was only because half the stadium seating had been sectioned off so everyone was crowded into the other half. We eventually found a seat, just before the cricketers went off to have their dinner. Only in cricket are the players so relaxed that they can break for a leisurely dinner.

While the players were eating, they had a throwing competition with some people from the audience or spectators or whatever they're called. I thought it was a little unfair for the little kid though, who couldn't throw very far. Everyone made a big sympathy cheer for him anyway when he threw the shortest, so I guess it wouldn't have been too humiliating for him. I made the suggestion that they should have had a bowling competition, which would have tested their accuracy instead of just brute strength.

The second part of the game began and it was alright I suppose, but was still just a bunch of guys standing around a field and I found myself almost more enthralled by the blow-up beach ball antics of the crowd and paying more attention to the various moths flying around all confused by the bright stadium lights. We decided to leave before the game ended because it was pretty clear that Tasmania wasn't going to catch up.


Clouds over The Gabba

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Information Retrieval

Last night in the early hours of the morning, I found myself watching Brazil, a DVD I've been wanting to see for quite a while now. It's a little weird, but funny, a kind of surreal satire of modern bureaucratic life in a giant retro-futuristic city presumably called Brazil.

The opening credits told me it was a Terry Gilliam film and I knew I recognised that name from somewhere, some neural pathway in my brain, made long ago, connected that name to Monty Python. Gilliam was indeed one of the Monty Python boys and he did all those crazy animations for all of their movies and everything. The Python influence in Brazil is clearly evident.

Presented throughout the film, there is a constant threat of terrorist attack on "the system", but you never see any actual terrorists in the movie, except for certain citizens of Brazil who aren't playing along and are labelled as terrorists and enemies of the state. There is a general suspicion the perhaps the terrorist threat is just a mechanism used to inspire fear in the people and keep them under control.

It kind of got me thinking about the real world for a second or two, just about how the only information that I have about all those terrorists over there in wherever, has been fed to my brain through the news and media. I've never actually met a terrorist. I don't think I would like to though from what I've seen, but I guess that's the point.


Central Services

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Tales of Andrew Waters

I'm finished. It's done. I can hardly believe it. I started thirty days ago and now, fifty thousand, two hundred and fifty seven words later, it's completed, well just about anyway. I still have to go back through it and fix up all the mistakes and continuity errors that are scattered all the way through, but for now I'm just happy and amazed that I was able to write that much fiction in such a short amount of time.

I was thinking of posting it somewhere on the net, but decided not to because it still needs quite a lot of work. So anyway, it's this story of a kid called Andy, who's just finished primary school and his adventures around the neighbourhood and various musing on different subjects. I'm glad I kept the story simple, so that I could just focus on actually writing it and not have to worry about interconnecting plots or lots of different characters and all that.

I finished off the final chapter last night, just a few minutes past midnight, but that's ok because they keep validation open for a day afterwards I think and plus Australia is hours ahead of the USA anyway. I had to convert my novel into txt format and send it off to the friendly people at NaNoWriMo. It took only about a second for their computer validation system to check my wordcount and that was that. I was a winner! So they gave me a silly little icon to put on my website and this little certificate to print out and everything.

I'm exhausted, time for a rest.


Legally binding, papery toast