A notepad for a mind

Peruse at your own discretion.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Not 'til I Can Read by the Moon

I am a time-waster. A procrastinator. There is absolutely no use denying it. It's been, what, five months since my last blog post? And this is due not to the fact that I've been too busy to write, but rather, I've been too busy wasting time; and hence, haven't had anything to write about. Funny, that.

This year has been a fairly uneventful one. One would think that the year of 19 would be the most exciting year of one's youth; the last year, the year to expend the final drops of teenage irresponsibility before the big two oh creeps up and smacks you in the proverbial face with its, "What are you going to do with your life?" and, "What, haven't you got your license yet?" and, "Aren't you dying to move out?"

I don't know, no, and I haven't the money.

I suppose that's the crux of the issue at hand; life needs money. It's alright for someone to use the justification, "I can't, I'm broke," for their inability to buy pricey concert tickets or airfares to exotic places, but how many people buy a cocktail dress and a pair of shorts and have to go without lunch for the following week? I don't know, but I can empathise with them.

I'm not looking for any pity; I deserve none. I quit my waitressing job a few months ago because I was underpaid, the owner didn't speak English, management was lax and they were going broke. I have been "between jobs" ever since, and I'm surviving. I have it easy compared to some; there are people on the very streets of this beautiful city who have nothing. Indifference and the self-importance of your average middle-class individual have allowed them to become almost part of the Melbourne scenery: the beggar outside Melbourne Central; the drunkies and junkies at the Flinders/Swanston McDonalds in the early hours of the morning; the bracelet-weavers and footpath-chalkers who use the only tools they have to stay alive. It's a heartbreakingly hopeless existence - or so it would seem.

Upon my return to uni, I noticed a little coffee cart labelled "STREAT" on the first floor at Melbourne Central station. I've not had the opportunity to buy coffee there yet, but I most definitely will.  STREAT, it turns out, is "stopping homelessness the delicious way"; it is a new "social enterprise providing homeless youth with a supported pathway to long-term careers in the hospitality industry." This little coffee cart and the food cart at Fedaration square are staffed by the homeless, and used to provide them with hospitality training and certification so they may have a future in the job market. Every 10th meal and organic fair trade coffee of a loyalty card holder goes to a homeless or disadvantaged person. These carts are just the beginnings of one of the best attempts to combat homelessness in Melbourne I've come accross. It feels good to know we're not all rich thoughtless arseholes.

Perhaps, with the beginning of such grand things, this year hasn't been such a "nothing year" after all. The illness that plagued me like a blowfly trapped in a bedroom for a few months of this year is all but gone, and I seem to be slowly and sloppily overcoming my writers' block. I may not have the money for my piano lessons, but by scrimping and scrounging I've saved up three quarters of the dosh I need for the piano/keyboard I've craved for over a decade.

To be honest, the last couple of months of my existence were probably the best I've ever had.  I saw the incredible Tim Burton exhibition, was part of the crowd that sang Underground leaving Megan Washington amazed, gave up meat (and convinced myself I have to eat mushrooms), had my mind blown by indie noir cabaret, and somehow became very, very close to people who are so very far away. Thanks to the beautiful human beings in my life, I'm bridging the gaps that money made around me; in December, I'll even fly for the first time. On a plane, but you get the cheesy metaphor.

"Seals" photo by Alex Williamson;
edited by Hannah Tricker.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Time with Tim Minchin: the Transcript

I certainly think it's time to put this up, and I suspect ninety per cent of you folks who read this do too. The other ten per cent are probably getting quite sick of him being the topic of so many blogs, but at least it's got me writing more frequently. I thank all of you for your patience.

Prompted by patient reminders from the ever-lovely Jacqui, who conducted the interview with me and did half the related work, I'm getting my prosterior into gear and putting the transcript up (it will also be on Jacqui's, so click her name to have a look). Before I do so, I'd like to direct you to my former post here, containing a photo of the full page feature article I wrote of the interview for my uni magazine, Farrago, which was published earlier in April. Farrago magazine have just launched their new website. They've still got a few things to tweak, but there's already some great content on there, as well as artsy pictures, and alluringly big colourful buttons.

As predicted, there's now an e-mag of edition 3 on the site, and you can read it by clicking the link below:
Farrago Edition 3, 2010 e-mag

Tickets for Matilda the Musical, which is discussed below, are now on on sale. You can find out more here.

The interview was conducted on the 15th of February at the Cambridge Cafe in Collingwood, Melbourne, Australia; and went something like this.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tim Minchin (Interview) in Farrago Magazine

My February interview with the prestigious Mr Tim Minchin has been published in Edition 3 of  Melbourne University's Farrago Magazine. For the benefit of those who aren't in Melbourne, if you click the picture below, you should be able to see a hi-res photo of the article that you can read.

Farrago sometimes publish in e-mag form in addition to their regular paper mag, but their website has not been updated to announce its printing as of yet. Rest assured, I will let you know if and when it is. I have a much, much longer transcript of the interview (conducted by my friend Jacqui D and myself), which will grace the digital pages of this blog very soon if all goes to plan.

If any Melbourne Uni kids stumble accross this blog (the probability of which, I must admit, is low), I suggest you pick up a copy of Farrago. It's a brilliant little publication with some satisfyingly witty content; and it's printed using vegetable-based inks on an elemental chlorine-free paper, sourced using sustainable forestry practices, etc. So you're not doing the world any damage if you do so. Go on, folks.

Farrago Edition 3 Cover Art by Diego Patiño.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Commitment's Lurking in the Shadows

I never really was one for goal setting. The notion of committing to an action to be achieved in a specific time period always struck me as pointless, and so many opportunities I've been presented with in my little life seem to have arisen spontaneously, attributable only to what one could call luck. I've always been of the mind that living life with every detail planned year to year doesn't leave enough room for pleasant surprises. Living in the moment always seemed the most appealing way to live. Carpe Diem, and all that jazz.

It recently occurred to me that what I believed to be my (admittedly underdeveloped) philosophy of life was perhaps at least partly a compromise; an excuse to justify my apparent fear of commitment.  Not the whole life-screwing relationship-destroying commitment phobia that's relatively common, but more like something that would stem from fear of failure. When handed one of those "What I'd like to achieve" sheets in high school Personal Development classes, I only ever scribbled down something trivial that I could easily achieve, or that I planned to do anyway; and the habit has continued. My inability to choose a career path was not due to the fact that I couldn't choose between the options available to me (nor solely due to the lack of of help from my school's careers advisors, who were adamant that I became a teacher despite no desire of my own to be one), but rather that I didn't want to commit to any one of them.

Being noncommittal about one's future in this way seems almost clever. Preventing failure by not trying, cowardly though it is, is undoubtedly an act of social self-preservation; and would just about be acceptable for a person of little ambition. Unfortunately, people I've met in recent years have inspired ambition in me (damn you, amazing friends), and at my present state of self-deception and self-preservation, I'm not at all content. This still, stuck state of existence with its ephemeral joys cannot fully satisfy the human desire for growth, expression and understanding, and I'm tired of having no answer when people ask me what I want to be when I "grow up".

But how does one make a shift from such a subconsciously-ingrained way of thinking? I'm hardly one to resort to sycophancy to achieve things, nor can I ever draw on the ecclesiastical inspiration that others find so easily. It would be a lot easier to overcome such problems were there a few more people facing their own demons alongside me.

Thankfully, such a scenario has been created and will progress through the means of the internet (why hello, 21st century). UK comedian Mark Watson recently started a new project entitled the Ten Year Self-Improvement Challenge (TYSIC), for which readers of his blog nominate a personal resolution or something they'd like to accomplish in the next ten years. Every week, Mark encourages readers to make a step towards achieving their goal, and post it on his blog. The indefatigable webmistress Linzy is even developing an online community in which "challengers" can log in, describe their progress, and support others. With over 200 people participating, there'll be enough mutual encouragement to make this a potentially life-changing opportunity.

The 10 year period commenced on the 4th of March, and I've already made a commitment to the project by commenting on the first blog post (you can read Mark's blogs and the comments here).

I turn 19 on monday the 1st, so in a decade I’ll be 29. The one thing I truly want to accomplish is to learn to play piano properly – starting with jazz. I suppose my goal could be successfully completing a music degree at a university somewhere. That’s as brave as I’m willing to be, for now.

So, there's no backing out. But I can be braver than that. Let's say that by 2020, I want to be playing gigs on keys, or have played gigs in that period of time.

My philosophy of life may be flawed, but perhaps it's time to formulate a new one. In accordance with the more "philosophical" goals set by the challengers, I'm going to aim to be more self-confident, and try new things, regardless of whether or not the outcome might be failure.

I am going to be the Little Engine that Could. I'm nineteen, and ten years is plenty of time to become all I want to be. In my earlier years when I was procrastinating, I'd look up motivational quotes on the internet; a pursuit I'd highly recommend if you're the sentimental type and you're feeling down. I believe it was Buddha who said, "What you think is what you become."

I think I can. I think I can.

"Trust Me" photo by Javier Evertz.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Lucy In The Sky with Tim Minchin

It is perhaps a sad happening that the discovery of the majority of great artists I whom I enjoy seeing live is attributable to the undeniable allure of the guest musicians.  This was definitely the case on the fifteenth of February, when, having missed Tim Minchin's promotion of the event on his twitter page, he told me of his cousin Lucy Fisher's album launch, which would be taking place the following night. Knowing little about her work other than the fact that she's a violinist and singer-songwriter, I told a few friends and we tottered along to the Toff in Town for what we were hoping would be a good night out.

We were not disappointed. Support act Lee Rosser kicked off the night with some catchy tunes and impressive acoustic guitar skills, perfectly complimented by his vocals. With a drummer who gave the vibe of both knowing and truly feeling what he was doing (I believe it was Nicky Bomba), there was some major foot-tapping and shoulder-shaking going on at our table at the Toff.

Lucy herself was a sight to behold. Opening her set with a haunting violin cadenza that held the room as though entranced, her beautifully gutsy vocals lend a sense of honesty to her edgy rock.  There's no denying it; this chick has spunk, and seeing her live is something I'd thoroughly recommend if the opportunity ever arises.  Would that I could remember the name of the backing vocalist, who brought guitar influences from the West Indies to the performance and sang perfectly fitting harmonies to Lucy's melodies.

Later in the show, Tim Minchin hopped on the keys and played with the band for a few songs, including a cover of the Fleetwood Mac song, "Dreams". Perhaps one of my favourite parts of the show (besides Lucy's solo performance of her song, "Connection", with naught but her and her guitar) was a duet between Tim and Lucy, covering the song "I Feel Like Going Home", originally by the Notting Hillbillies. As if Tim's sweet vocals and the warm support of the piano weren't enough, Lucy's strings really makes this simple cover something special.

I managed to get some footage of it, as well as "Dreams". There's a bit of noise in the picture because my camera couldn't cope with the reflections of the disco ball, but the audio's fairly good.


Dreams (Fleetwood Mac Cover)

I Feel Like Going Home (Notting Hillbillies Cover)