On the way home a woman stops me to ask for money. I reach for my wallet.
She says “It’s not for alcohol, I’ll tell you that.”
“That’s OK” I say “Don’t tell me what it’s for. It’s not my business and I don't want to know.”
I give her a dollar.
As she takes it, she leans in close to my face and smiles confidingly. “To tell you the truth,” she says “I’m pretty bloody stoned and I’ve got the munchies. I want to buy some junk food.”
We stare at each other for a moment in silence, and then I say
“I want my dollar back.”
She says “Too bad lady, it’s too late. You’ve already given it to me. I can spend it on what I like.”
I know she’s right, so I say “Well, I want something in return, then.”
I say “A story. I want a dollar’s worth of story.”
She sighs, like this is something that happens all the time.
“What sort of a story?” she asks
“A true one” I say, “I don’t like made up ones. Or exaggerated ones. It has to be completely true.”
“OK” she says, and sighs “Here’s a true story for you. When I was in primary school there was a competition to guess the amount of jelly-beans in a jar. You had to pay 50 cents to enter and then you wrote your guess in a special book. I guessed 369 jelly-beans but then, over the week, I noticed that most other people had picked a number in the two hundreds. So on the last day I changed my guess to 269. The next morning the teacher announced that there had been 367 jelly-beans in the jar and that the closest guess was 299. I tried to point out to the teacher that my original guess had been much closer but she wasn’t interested and said it didn’t count.”
“Wow.” I say
“What do you mean wow”? she says, kind of irritably.
“That’s really sad story.” I say “It’s good, but it’s really sad.”
“Well, happy ones cost extra.”
“No, that’s fine, that’s good.” I say “I actually prefer sad stories. They seem more real to me.”
I start to walk away.
“Hey, hang on!” she calls out after me. “It wasn’t that sad, y’know. Not really. I don’t even like jelly-beans.”
Probably a lot of this information was in the old site, but I used to get so depressed by the way it looked that I rarely went past the first page. Now it looks so much better and is so nice to navigate that I am keen to investigate further.
I saw this group through the window of a hotel as I was walking home the other night. The chef seemed to be answering the diners' queries and judging from his stance and his long-suffering expression, there had been a lot of these.
I bought myself a sketchbook on the weekend so that I could, theoretically, keep all my rough sketches in the one place and stop drawing on the page of computer printouts. However, the three drawings I've put in it so far are so awful, even for me, that I ripped them out. So it's back to the back of the computer printouts. Perhaps this is a hangover from childhood, where computer paper was always readily accessible.
I've also been working on some short stories for the HQ competition (no website to link to, unfortunately.) I think they're due in August. 3000 word limit. I'm having lots of troubles and have been working on one story for weeks and weeks. I keep thinking it's dead, and then I reread it and think "Well, maybe if I just tweak it a little more..." I think I really need to just ask someone else to read it so they can tell me if I should bother persevering or not.
So it's tropfest time again and this year, La Spin, Petite and I are going to put in an entry. The theme is "hook" and entries are due Thursday Jan 15 2004. We have a meeting to discuss ideas this evening. We want to do an animation, so we need to get started soon.
La Spin sent me a link to an online magazine called sleepybrain (phase 2), which is based in Melbourne and has articles on various art, literature, and music goings on in the city as well as current affairs, sport etc. It's a great site and a fabulous resource. The editorial says:
For the moment, let's fixate on Melbourne, Australia (where Sleepy Brain is published) – one misunderstood city. For Jerry Seinfeld, Melbourne was, and shall always be, the "ass end of the Earth". Ava Gardner filmed On The Beach in Melbourne and thought it to be "the perfect place to make a film about the end of the world". But although the city clearly struggles to satisfy the high-powered tastes of butch celebrities and Hollywood has-beens, it nevertheless contains simple pleasures for those with a little less space between their ears.
La Spin sent me the link because a friend of ours, Simone Egger, has a photographic piece in the current edition. Her images are great- very brooding and atmospheric. I also liked the article on Juan Ford who is an amazing Melbourne painter and was highly amused to see that he's done a painting of a friend of mine, Masato, wearing a Van Halen t.shirt.
We went up to the farm in the Grampians this weekend. Matty D drove La Spin and I up in his combie on Friday night. We stopped in South Melbourne for supplies- eggs, fruit, milk. La Spin said "Let's get some travellers for the rest of the journey" and I agreed that this was a fine idea. Matty D, our German friend, looked confused. "What's a traveller?" he asked, and we explained the uniquely Australian concept of a beer, purchased as one is about to leave a destination to tide you over until you arrive at the next place. For instance, leaving a pub you might purchase a traveller to help you walk the block and a half home. Matty D said "Well, someone told me that "a traveller" was something completely different." He looked a little embarrassed but we insisted on knowing. "Well, when a man is driving for a long distance he might become aroused by the vibrations of the car on the open road." explained Matty D. "Then he ends up with a "traveller.""
La Spin and I fell about laughing.
"Who told you that, Matty? Was it an Australian?"
Of course it was. Why is it that Australians love to torment tourists?
But then we wondered if this was some kind of "secret mens' business" that La Spin and I hadn't been privvy to, so when we arrived in Halls Gap we questioned Thieu. He hadn't heard of Matty's type of traveller either.
It was a great weekend. Cold, but no rain and lots of shooting stars. The lengthy preparation of dinner. Long and passionate discussions about the best way to light (and maintain) a fire: to blow or not to blow. Equally passionate discussions about where the band "Aqua" came from (Denmark or Sweden?) , what songs were best played at funerals and what were those things made out of cornflakes and honey that you used to buy at school fetes called?
Winter lambs with long tails.
And a mouse that scampered around during the night chewing on whatever it could find:
a bag of oats
a block of chocolate
a bar of soap.