a little east of reality

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I meme

This meme on Craziequeen's blog appealed to me, so here's my take on it:

1 I am sick of worrying about money.
2 I want someone to share my life with.
3 I wish people would stop sending me chain mail emails featuring cute angels and virtual hugs.
4 I hate emotional manipulation.
5 I love intelligent comedy.
6 I fear the apparent return of 80s fashion.
7 I hear imperfectly thanks to way too many rock concerts in my misspent youth.
8 I wonder sometimes if I’ll ever have kids.
9 I regret not becoming fluent in Japanese while I had the chance.
10 I am not sufficiently outcome-focused.
11 I dance with funky abandon.
12 I sing in the car while I’m driving.
13 I cry in movies, over books, at cute commercials…total sap.
14 I make boring soups, decent lasagne and killer fudge brownies.
15 I write well, but not often enough.
16 I confuse people’s names all the time.
17 I need help! I need a facial! I need to go on a diet! I need money! I need new shoes! (Anyone? Anyone?)
18 I should get more sleep.
19 I start too many sentences with the phrase, “the thing is…”
20 I finish books too quickly.
21 I tag akujou, but anyone else who feels like doing it, leave a message in the comments so I can come read yours.

Monday, May 29, 2006

lifting myself to the next rung

Put in a job application for a promotion within my current section today. It was due at COB today and I think I emailed it off at 4:58pm - close shave!

Anyway, we'll see how it goes. Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

conversation snippet #141

Keyboard Kid & I are standing in the checkout line at our local supermarket. He is looking at the lolly rack.

KK: Hmph. I never realised those were called Life Savers.
Ch: What did you think they were called?
KK: I always thought they were called Light Sabers.
Ch: /laughing/ Okay that's so funny I'm going to blog it.
KK: No! It's too embarrassing.
Ch: It's okay, I don't use your real name on the blog anyway.
KK: What do you call me?
Ch: You're the Keyboard Kid.
KK: What do you call [his brother & sister]?
Ch: Well she used to be the Little Drummer Girl and he used to be Bass Boy, but then she sold him her drums, so now I call her Gangsta Girl and him Drummer Boy.
KK: Ohhhh, now I get why you call me the Keyboard Kid.
Ch: Yeah, because you play piano so well.
KK: Yeah, when you first said it I thought, 'but I'm not even on the computer that much...'
Ch: /laughing/ Okay I'm blogging that, too.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

thirteen reasons why I won't be staying at my friends' apartment on my next trip to Sydney

This is my first Thursday Thirteen. I haven't got all the proper code and stuff for the Thursday Thirteen but I'll fix that next week.

1. She told me that it was no problem at all to use their computer, so I did, three times.
2. He on the other hand was visably tense when I asked to check my email one night before he shut the computer down. He actually stayed in the room until I'd finished, clearly not wanting anyone using the computer, and apparently having no idea that I'd been given permission to use it.
3. She was happy for me to stay five days. He asked how long I was staying when I arrived, because apparently he didn't know.
4. She was irate the day I arrived because a female friend of her fiance was also staying two nights that weekend. After telling me their plans, she then instructed me not to mention any of it, because he wasn't aware she knew this information.
5. Which she gleaned by secretly reading his email.
6. Did I mention they are getting married in three weeks?
7. I felt pressured to validate her loathing of this woman, who I also know, and have no particular problem with.
8. They both have quirky OCD behaviours. Neither will acknowledge it, and exude a false easy-going attitude whenever you actually ask if something is a problem.
9. Preferring instead to make their guests feel like they are constantly putting things in the wrong place, or moving something that must never be moved, or getting in the way.
10. When I am alone with my friend, she is friendly and attentive. When we go out with other people, she ignores me, walks with the other person a few paces ahead of me, forgets to introduce me, etc, and generally makes me feel like a younger cousin who has been foisted upon her and her friends for the day.
11. Which made me so uncomfortable that I wondered why she'd been so eager when I asked if I could stay.
12. I had lunch with another friend while I was there and it was so uncomplicated and calm and pleasant that it made me realise just how tense everything was where I was staying.
13. All of which has made me realise that probably one of the reasons this woman and I are still friends after so many years is because I have never before stayed at her place for five days straight, and that this is why I should probably not do it again.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

back in the cold capital

Phi picked me up from the bus station tonight and cooked dinner once we got home. He really is being unusually pleasant and cooperative since he announced he's moving out. Either he's suddenly remembered that we actually did have some pretty good times in this place (mostly in 2005, but anyway...) and wants to leave on a happy note OR he's suddenly remembered that he might want to ask me for a character reference one day. =)

Either way it made for a nice welcome home.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

gaiman 2: the incredible journey

Saw Neil Gaiman again tonight, but this time out at Macquarie Uni. 20min on a train, 50min on a bus, 10min to find the hall. Luckily I'd found Wagamama just before leaving and had some life-sustaining edamame to keep me going. I got there and nabbed a prime seat. Because the book-signing was happening at the front of the lecture theatre, sitting near the front was not a disadvantage (unlike last night). The theatre was much smaller than Town Hall and I almost felt too close to him as he spoke. That's just shyness though.

Neil said that he had been planning to read us the same story that he read last night, but that he left the hard copy in someone's car, so once again we heard an unpublished story, this time a very funny piece called How to Talk to Girls at Parties.

A guy on the bus that helped me with directions to the uni also said that it would be much quicker for me to catch the same bus on to Epping station and make my way back to St Peters that way. His directions were good, but oh how wrong he was about the train. Maybe at peak hour there are express trains or something, but after the lecture there was just a slow train that stopped at every station. I also had to change train lines twice to get onto the Bankstown line to get to St Peters. I ended up pulling into the apartment around 10.30pm, despite leaving the lecture just after 8.30pm.

Still, seeing Neil speak was the whole reason I was in Sydney, so it was worth it.

Monday, May 22, 2006

tapings and readings

Enough Rope

Andrew Denton is one of the best interviewers I've ever seen. He never pushes a guest to reveal more than they want to, yet he often draws very personal and revealing information from them just because he really listens, and because his show doesn't edit the information later to make the guests look bad or to make it seem as if they said something they didn't.

Today I got the chance to see the taping of his show Enough Rope. The first guest was John Hewson, the only Liberal politician I've ever had any respect for. (For you Americans, the Liberal Party here is the rough equivalent of the Rebulican Party in the US...the 'Liberal' refers to their economics policy.) Denton had already discussed with John the fact that he didn't want this to be a political interview or a election review, and what eventuated was a really intimate and touching interview with the man behind the politician.

The second guest was Colonel Matthew Bogdanos, the US marine who helped save some of civilisation's earliest and most precious artefacts at Baghdad's Iraq Museum after it was looted. He's an intense and passionate guy who really believes that these antiquities are for all humankind.

There's also a segment called Show & Tell. This week it featured a young guy who'd lost an eye. It started off very emotional, but ended up being so casual and funny that in the end he showed us his party trick of taking his false eye out and putting it back in, right there on camera. As much Denton was kidding around with him and encouraged him to take the eye out if he was comfortable doing so, I was pleased that as soon as the segment ended he immediately looked his set director in the eye and said quietly, "there'll of course be no request for a close-up of that". He always knows where to draw the line, because he's observant and picks up on just where the guest is at.

Even apart from the interviews and all, being at the taping was a lot of fun. There's a warm-up guy who gets the crowd to laugh and relax and he was thigh-slapping funny, very animated and crazy. Denton himself is funny and easy-going and talked quite a bit with the audience, making jokes and answering questions.

Neil Gaiman in conversation with Wil Anderson

After that I raced off to the Sydney Town Hall for the main event - the reason I came to Sydney this week ~ Neil Gaiman being interviewed by Wil Anderson. Wil's a great comedian who appears regularly on The Glass House. He's also a big Neil Gaiman fan; so much so that he commented that although his last interview had been with the Delai Lama, he had felt more nervous and excited about tonight's interview.

I'll relate a couple of stories that Neil told us:
1. Getting through customs can be a bit of a trial when you have something a little ambiguous on your form under "occupation". Neil had written "author", and the customs officer decided that required further investigation. The conversation went something like this:
CO1: So, you're an author?
NG: Yes I am.
CO1: Right, so...what will you be doing in Australia?
NG: Actually I'm going to be the guest of honour at a Science Fiction convention.
CO1: So what do you write then?
NG: Books, screenplays, graphic novels...
CO1: And do you, um, have any of those will you?
NG: Uh, no, no I don't.

Just as he's starting to wonder if the guy will deport him for not having a copy of something he's written in his bag, another customs officer strides up to him, having seen the name on his card.
CO2: Are you Neil Gaiman the guy that co-wrote Good Omens?
NG: Yes I am!
CO2: Oh man, Good Omens! Best f#$%ing book in the world! And you can tell Terry Pratchett that, too, when you go back!
NG: I certainly will!
The new guy wanders off, having unwittingly done his good deed for the day.
CO1: This um, Good Omens...one you wrote, is it?
NG: Yes.
CO1: Right then. I guess you can go on through.


2. Neil also related the best experience he's ever had being recognised. As a writer, he doesn't get recognised as often as say an actor or pop star might. He was out with an author friend whose name I believe was Scott something, so I'll call him Scott. Scott was searching high and low for a part for his Apple computer, but it wasn't the latest Mac and he was having a devil of a time finding the part he needed. Then Neil realised that they weren't very far from the official Mac shop, so in they went. The manager immediately recognised him and walked up to tell him what a big fan he was and ask how he could help him. Neil described the part his friend was after and the manager scurried off, reappearing with the part in his hand. When Scott asked how much he owed, the man replied, "oh, no. I couldn't sell it to you. You should take it and...walk away now."

So basically, even though Neil is rarely recognised, his friend Scott is now convinced that he is recognised wherever he goes and that magical things happen as a result. ^_^

There were plenty of other stories about collaborating, his kids and what they think of him and his work, and he also read us a short story that hasn't been published yet. He said he'd emailed it to a few friends, but this was the first time he'd read it out loud to anyone. As a fan that's kind of a cool thing, to be one of the first people to hear a new story from a favourite author. It was titled Orange, and was very funny!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

codes and cabbage

Okay so I saw The DaVinci Code. I thought it was good overall, though there were some parts just crying out for better direction. I usually love Ron Howard as a director, but yeah. I liked the casting which I thought was pretty accurate to the characters in the book. The thriller side of the movie was decent and Paul Bettany was scary as in his role as the fanatical Opus Dei monk.

As for the so-called controvesy, I've gotten into it with a couple of people online and I find it all so silly. Suffice it to say that I don't find the idea of Jesus being married at all controversial. It's a belief I've held a long time and fits exactly in his cultural and religious environment, just as did him having a trade or going to Jerusalem for the Passover when he was twelve. As for him having a living bloodline, I hadn't really thought too much about it. I thought it was unlikely, given the doctrine that he had physically inherited the capacity to lay down and take up his life from his father (God), but I'm certainly not offended by the idea that it could have happened.

The people I've discussed it with online suggested that the whole idea is blasphemous because Jesus marrying and having sex would have defiled him somehow, brought him "down to our level" and made him less than he is. These same people argued that Mary, in spite of being married, never had sex and never bore other children after Jesus, and that Jesus' sinless nature was a result of the virgin birth. I find all of this ridiculous. There is nothing unholy about sex in marriage - quite the contrary. We are not "made sinful" by virtue of our mothers having had sex to conceive us, and the idea of Mary & Joseph, a married couple, not having a normal sex life is unnatural, not holy. The scriptures refer to Jesus' brothers and sisters, and while people come up with all kinds of explanations for that, I think the simplest and most logical conclusion to reach is that he simply did have younger brothers and sisters. I will never understand why people are so keen to demonise sex. Get thee to a therapist!

After the movie we walked about a thousand kilometres (or, you know, one) up hill and down dale to Una's, a European restaurant in Newtown, where we ate sausage, potato, and spicy cabbage. Very stodgy, but delicious and feast-like. I felt like we should have been washing it all down with ale or something.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

dumplings, didjeridoos, disorder and death

I met my little sister Jood for yum cha. She was devilishly hungover and made her way through about three dumplings before she hailed a waiter and quietly requested a mineral water. I had arrived with the headache from Hell, but eating something actually made me feel better, so I happily sampled dumplings and things while she brooded over her mineral water and caught me up on her life. We also discussed The Da Vinci Code, which she'd seen the night before. Her basic take was that it was fairly true to the book, apart from some really basic things that totally didn't need to be changed, but were for some unknown reason, and she loved Tom Hanks in the main role. This was interesting after the sum-up I had from another friend who said it was unchanged from the book and they hated Tom in the role. Now I'm very curious to see it. The critics of course gave it a hard time, but what I noticed was that most who commented also hated the book, so I wonder if they really went there wanting to hate the movie. Anyway, I'll let you know.

On the way there we say this guy playing a didjeridoo against an electronic dance beat and I recorded this snippet to use as a ringtone on my new phone. You may need to turn it up to hear it clearly.

Later that night I went to see a stage adaptation of Lord of the Flies. Here's a pretty good summary/review. There were adults playing the kids, which was weird initially, but quickly became normal. I think the reason it worked is simply because all the characters are children. The acting was excellent and I was pretty impressed by their creative use of the very, very small stage area, bearing in mind that the book is set on an island with at least three main settings: the beach, the jungle/forest and the hill top. It's a scary and disturbing tale. I mean come on, the tagline is, “Kill the pig! Spill his blood!” Mary Poppins this is not.

Great stuff. I'd see this company again for sure.

Friday, May 19, 2006

hello sydney

Okay so I pulled into Sydney on the 19th and arrived back in the Cold Capital on the 25th, so the next few posts are about that. I would have posted it at the time, but...well I'll let that tale emerge in the telling.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

my new toy

Finally, finally I ditched the old clunker phone I've had since I got back to Australia. At first I couldn't justify the spendage because the phone I got for free with a $30 plan in Japan was around $900 up front in Australia, at the time. Now some time's passed and while phones still cost too bloody much here, the prices have finally dropped enough for me to weaken and upgrade.

<-------- And here is the result. Cute, isn't it? It's the Sony Ericsson K300i. Here are its official specs.

And now for a little test. Listen to this audio clip of the various ringtones I've downloaded since buying my new mobile phone & see if you can guess which one made the grade to be my current ringtone. Of course I had to play them into the phone to record the clip, so the quality is terrible, sorry.

Which of these is my current ringtone?
Sunday Morning (Maroon 5)
I like to move it! (Sacha Baron Cohen)
Love Boat theme (Jack Jones)
Beautiful Soul (Jesse McCartney)
Flaunt It (TV Rock)
Let's Get It Started (Black Eyed Peas)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

trivial pursuits

I told Luddy to let me know if she needed any help with the plans/preparations for the Singles convention happening here in the Cold Capital in early October. Next thing I know I'm looking at an invitation to a Convention Committee meeting. Hmmm...

The upshot is that I'm now on the Committee and my main task is planning a trivia/quiz activity. I keep wanting to call it a trivia night, but it's happening in the morning, and 'trivia morning' sounds like something your grandma goes to. I guess my first job is to think of a cooler name.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

nice kids outside of stepford city limits...who knew?

Babysat tonight for the first time for FearlessLeader & his wife SuperCalm. They have four kids: in the manner of naming dwarves I've blog-named them Smarmy, Crafty, Grinny and Bashful. Please feel free to take all of those labels in the nicest possible way because they are GREAT kids! There's two things I particularly like about them:

1. They don't fight.
Their parents are fairly strict, with enough exceptions to make sure they have some fun in life. But there are things they just are never allowed to do and one of them is fight with each other. They disagree plenty, they negotiate, they give opinions, but they don't yell at each other or call names. It's SO NICE!! I'm sure it's taken years of teaching them alternatives, but whatever effort they made is worth it. These kids actually like each other and are truly friends.

2. They manage to be well-behaved without being boring.
Self-explanatory really. I've looked after well-behaved kids before, but they're not always very interesting to be around. At first I didn't know what these kids were like because they were quite timid around me (me being so scary and all.../rolls eyes/) but now they have warmed up to me, they're actually pretty clever and funny. They're also really children, you know? They're kids and they act like kids - not 9 going on 23, but 9 going on 10, 4 going on 5, etc. It's refreshing.

Monday, May 15, 2006

/cue don mcclean/

So byyyyyye byyyye to the dread pirate phi...

Phi announced last week that he's moving out. Can't say I didn't see it coming. Mentally he's been moved out for about four months now and often the only way I know he's been home is because food's been eaten. Sadly the days of photo expeditions and spontaneous rock concert road trips with a flatmate who was more like a friend are long gone. I'd like to say I'm sad he's moving out, but the truth is that I was already sad back in January/February when he first stopped really living here and now I don't have much energy for it. Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying I want him to move out. I'm just not as upset about it as I would've been if he'd made the announcement in December.

Financially it's a total bust. Silent Bob only ever planned to be here until the semester break, and although he is considering a change to his studies that would keep him here longer, I still have to assume for now that he's moving out in six or so weeks. If I don't find someone new by then I'll be back on the same impossible budget I lived on before Phi moved in, and that will truly suck.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Okay, finally back, and with a couple of updates for you:

1. For all those who lent a prayer to help my friend with her job interview, I'm excited to say that the school has offered her a job. It's actually not the job she first applied for, but what's good about that is that the original job was apparently filling in for someone on maternity leave. With this job they indicated they would have her fulfill various roles for the first school year to figure out where she fits in their school best and then move her into that position. I think the nice thing about that is the sense that they want to keep her, not just for a year, but as an ongoing member of their school community. Anyway, all those details aside, it is a nice school and pays more and won't wear her out - and all of that is FABULOUS!

2. Remember when I said I'd found that one of my favourite authors has a blog. Well I never did get back to telling you that the author in question is Neil Gaiman. He's a guy with a vivid and sometimes dark imagination who tells stories in a variety of ways: novels, graphic novels, tv and movie screenplays, poems. I won't make a huge list of his works, because Google can do that in a fraction of the time it would take me to type it. I have already mentioned one of his books, Anansi Boys, in a previous post. The blog has been an exciting read, because he gives info on his current projects and right now he has a lot going on. One of his novels, Stardust, is being made into a movie and the cast list is impressive so it should get good publicity. He wrote it as a fairy tale for adults and it was beautiful to read. A somewhat scary novel he wrote for children, Coraline, is being adapted into an animated film with Dakota Fanning providing the voice for the title character. There are creepy people in it with black button eyes. /shudder/ He also co-wrote a picture book called Wolves in the Walls that has just been turned into a play in Scotland and is getting great reviews. Right now I'm reading a collection of his short stories called Smoke & Mirrors. There are a lot of dark tales and characters so realistic you're sure you've met someone just like that before. I think that's maybe what I like most about his stories; he combines the real and the surreal and it's sometimes really hard to see where the seams are.

But here's the most exciting news I've read on his blog recently ~ he's coming to Sydney Writers' Week in May!!! Last time he was in Sydney it was on a Wednesday. I read about it on the Saturday prior, on a little notice in Kinokuniya (bookstore) in George St. It was so disappointing, because I knew I was leaving Sydney the next day and that there was just no chance I could get the bus fare OR the time off work to go back to Sydney again only three days later. So this time I took no chances. I Googled the Writers' Week schedule, figured out when I wanted to go see him, emailed a leave request to my boss and booked my bus tickets all within ten minutes. ^_^ Now I just have to decide which book to take for him to sign...

Monday, May 01, 2006

something wickedly funny this way comes

If your gringott's vault is looking a little empty...

Here's a little offering a friend sent me. Someone over at Something Awful has had some fun playing around with a FAFSA (student aid) application. Be sure to read the questions AND the answers.