Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Undead and moving house - more related then you think.

Geee-od! May 14 was the last time I posted a writery blog and it wasn't even very writery if I recall. But here I am now making up for all that with news of a full length play.

I have explained how I managed to avoid work with other work - it always works out - one way or another. I was thinking about writing more for Fury - let's face it, it's been a year now since I wrote anything on it and I do like to leave my plays for a while and let them percolate until they are are a distant memory and I can re-engage with them on a more happy footing. I was ready to do that with Fury - I thought I was. And then... and then... "Year One".

My zombie play. An extension of Keeping Up Appearances, which won the audience choice at Brisbane Short and Sweet recently - I was well pleased with that and it further reinforced my decision to lengthen the whole idea out and to bring a dead guy to the stage arena. That's what we need, more dead peeps on stage. So I started to write. It is so much more fun writing a comedy than it is a drama. It is satisfying writing a drama - you can be caught up with your characters and journey, but it's not as much fun as comedy, where you can genuinely make yourself laugh.

Making myself laugh might not actually be that good an indication that the play is funny. In my experience I don't speak to the masses when it comes to comedy - I might be a bit more niche- more's the pity. It's a sad fact that I might be niche my whole life with my playwrighting, I don't speak to the youth and I don't speak to the hip, I might be speaking to some of the 30 to 40 year olds, but even then, I'm not sure. I still keep writing though, I just can't stop.  It's a type of sureness in myself that exists and is nurtured just by the process of writing itself.

So, there you have it. A full length play. About zombies. Also I saw the short version that Joon Kwok directed in Brissy and I really thought she did a fine job. It was very funny :) To me.

Now.. to moving house. 

The TORTURE of moving house. How I loathe it for so many reasons - let me list them tediously here:
1. All the shit that you own
2. All the uncertainty of a new place
3. All the cleaning
4. All the packing
5. All the trips to goodwill
6. All the trips to the recycling centre
7. All the tears, breakdowns, arguments and low blood sugar
8. All the random head strikes on low beams and bits of wood and awnings and things. Honestly how fucking big is my head anyway!
9. All the illness - the colds and the pulled shoulder.
10. All the selling of things on ebay... Aiiiiiiiiiiii!

What are they smiling about!!!
We just moved from two separate places - an apartment, where my husband lived and a house where myself, my father and my son lived. Yes, we lived separately - to cut a three year story short, we separated, and then we reconciled.

We make it sound easy don't we?

We moved into a three story place. Oh the stairs. Oh the walking. Oh the carrying of boxes from one room to another. Oh... Oh.

We seem to own SO MUCH STUFF. But where is it all? When I packed rooms up it was as if the process of removing an item replaced it with a waiting item that had been in some fourth dimension - so I packed and packed. It must be what packing the tardis is like. Imagine packing up the tardis. The move was not without tears. Mainly mine.

Louise helps by climbing into every box and then shredding the others.
Moves represent many things - and apart from living with my husband again, which actually I was ready for, it also meant leaving a place where I had settled myself in like a hen on a nest. Hunkered down and a bit broody. To illustrate further: my mum used to have three chickens that she collected eggs from - Jungle chook, who roamed about like a poultry Rambo laying where she wanted too, Clucky chook who was forever sitting on her own eggs and others and squinting and clucking angrily at you when you tried to get them out from under her and Chook. Poor Chook. Just a regular chicken doing a good job, no name for you. So in order to get the eggs from Clucky chook my brother and I would slide a piece of wood under her and lever her on to an angle and then shoot our hands under her grabbing the eggs. Did she think that it was weird that she was on a 45 degree angle? It didn't look like it. And frankly she was a chicken and not that bright.    

A lot like this. But angrier.
I am clucky chook. I was aware of the 45 degree angle though and so being levered out of the comfortable place I had lived for three years was not my idea of happiness. It filled me with dread in one way and in another I really wanted to be in a house with more than one toilet. I KNOW one toilet! Draconian.

But I'm here at the new house and I'm fine. Of course I am. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, usually up a staircase, and emptying boxes. As they empty and I find a place for the things I feel a bit better, each little thing in a little place makes me feel more calm and happy. Plus I get to sweep the floor - as they are floorboards and I like sweeping - it clears my mind.

I'm on less of an angle now. Maybe 10 degrees, I'm looking forward to being level. But the fact that I'm writing means perhaps I'm already there.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Neighbours - everybody needs good ones...

Until very recently I was in neighbour heaven. I had the adorable girls on one side and the family with three kids on the other. It was perfect. The family with three kids never ever complain about the noise that my brat generates because they have gone deaf from their own children and the girl's loved my brat. Loved him. They would pull him over the fence and he would disappear into their house with him talking their ears off. They gave him costumes to play with, toys that he could throw to their dog, a dog that he could play with and they gave me lemons, basil, zucchini and parsley.

Two of the three children on the other side are boys and our children go back and forth on a semi regular basis and play very well together. Tracey and Ben are funny and nice and they swear and drink coffee - that pretty much seals our friendship. The only thing that gets me down about them is that they seem to have a really active social life, and I simply don't understand how that's possible with all those kids! I have one and I can't get out! Apart from that kind of soul destroying envy I love them.

There I was happy as a lark surrounded by other larks.

And then my girl's moved out. Away to some other lucky, lucky fucking suburb. And then the new neighbours moved in. We realised that they had definitely arrived when their friends helpfully rang their doorbell about 400 times and giggled like little shithead morons. This was at 11pm at night. Then they had a big party - no problem, after all they're new and wanting to show their house off. Except that they decided to have it in the back yard. Here is what they do for fun - yell. You think I'd be used to that with a five year old in the house. As it turns out there is something louder than a five year old and it's a bunch of 18 year old males all yelling at the same time and then laughing. And then yelling and then laughing. Oh what a great time they were having. Until my husband went out our front door, walked to their house and said "Fucking stop that". And walked back home again.

The next day a note of great contrition arrived in my letterbox - they were sorry and had gotten off to a bad start and they wanted to make sure that we would all be friends. They included their phone numbers. I texted them and said "no hard feelings". At this point their weren't any, after all we were young once. It may have been during the 80's when no one yelled for joy, but still.

We talked to them over the fence. Gabe said hello to them and they were friendly. It seemed ok. Except... that it wasn't, because they can't seem to be quiet. At all.

I am obviously getting older and don't really like lots of aberrant noise at odd times of the day. I like a zen silence to surround me at all times. After 7pm at night my zen silence falls. This is a very quiet neighbourhood. It is affluent and gentrified and I have managed to live here under false pretenses for quite a while and like all the silence that money buys you. I don't want a bunch of hooligan University students yahooing it up in the back yard. I don't want to listen to them play Super Mario Brothers and Scream "FUCK,YEAH!!" at the TV. Which they do. During the day, whilst the shell-like ears of my son twitch interestedly.

I want them to get lost and go and live in Thornbury or Brunswick West like any self respecting University student does. I want them priced out of this market and I don't understand how they can afford to live here anyway. I have nothing personal against them at all. They would be picturesque at a distance of 2.4 kilometers. Just like sheep.

My other lovely neighbours find them irritating too, as does the elderly gentleman that lives on the other side of them. A man so nice that he will probably never say anything. Ever. Luckily I have my husband who is a shift worker and so deeply committed to the small amount of sleep that he gets that he will stop at nothing to protect it. He isn't here every night though and so I lie in bed looking at the ceiling and boiling over with middle class rage.

Isn't that stupid of me? I am seriously an impotent human being when it comes to that type of confrontation, I don't want to get out of bed and knock on their door. I just want them to suddenly realise that they might be annoying the neighbours and stop. This is not going to happen of course, unless the message arrives in their heads in the form of a cleaver. I am heartened slightly by the fact that Tracey and Ben are also kept up by it and also have aggravated late night conversations about it which result in neither of them doing anything.

They don't look at me any more, the neighbours. Or say hello. They don't attempt any communication and I am assuming that is because they simply know that they can't behave and have given up the pretense of friendship. I saw parents arrive the other day with a vacuum cleaner and then take away washing. Which made me dislike their parents too.

So there we are. Everybody needs good neighbours, but not everybody has them. I hope you do.

(As if on cue a braying laugh from next door as someone capers or farts)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Adieu Pink Shoe!

This poem was written by my friend Carolyn Hicks. It concerns a pair of pink fluffy shoes that I gave to her daughter to celebrate her arrival on this planet.

I love the poem and it was made all the more special to me because the shoes were also used to house eggs during a transporting crisis.

Adieu Pink Shoe. 
By Carolyn Hicks

Pink shoe, my heart is filled with woe
that from our lives you've had to go
No other shoe, however sweet,
has served so well my baby's feet.

Possessed of an almighty grip
From fuzzy heel to cosy tip
You kept her toes all toasty warm
Through icy wind and thunderstorm
And when not needed by my daughter
You doubled as an egg transporter.

I tried my hardest to deny
That babies grow as time goes by
But sure as Albury meets Wodonga
Those tiny feet got longer and longer
With so much foot round which to mould
You could not keep as firm a hold
And with a tiny fluffy sigh
Were lost amongst the passers-by.

The question now that I must answer
is what befalls your fellow dancer?
Babies generally have two legs...
I guess I'll just transport some eggs.

Apart from being adorable, it is also a very good poem. 

"Tiny fluffy sigh" - wish that I'd thought of that. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tales of Group Writing

Writing with others is fun for the following reasons: we make each other laugh, we share the burden of the play rather than bear it alone like a millstone of paper and words, we can write whatever we want and everyone is always pleased that you bought something along.

Wow we are awesomely happy! And Aerobic!
The above is not my experience of working alone. Well, the millstone of paper is obviously a reference to my usual relationship with writing, but the rest of it... no, writing alone is not like that.

Firstly I am not always just automatically thrilled that I wrote at all, I am hard on myself and flick dismissively through hard wrought words and punctuation with an impatient school-marmly air. I don't laugh all the time. Sometimes I laugh, but it's more of a "Oh God, GOD, when will this stop! Make it stop", followed by an uncontrolled high pitched whinny of a laugh. Horses and dogs alone can hear it. And the burden of the play is ALL mine. I am used to that. That is how I always work, alone in my windy garret with only the flickering candle and my trusty cat to keep me inspired. Can you imagine if that was actually where I was working and under those conditions. No plays written ever, if that were the case.

Hemingway and I, so much in common.
I have been writing a new comedy with Jane Miller and Christina Costigan and by crikeys it's been fun. Really fun. And easy. Perhaps too easy. We had a TV script partly written for a series that we were working on a few years ago - and having decide that we'd do a comedy show this year we then revisited some of our old moldering ideas and brought them out into the light of day. Some of them sat blinking in fear and then just exploded into a the dust of bad writing, others refused to even come out. This idea, the Okinawa Hymen Repair Kit Factory, stood the test of time pretty well. It was still funny and had some room to move in it's scope.

We all read the original script and decided that we'd just go away to our respective garrets and just write some things around the theme. When we met again we had magically started the play and made scenes that fit together almost perfectly. I would have cried if I hadn't had my tear ducts removed in the war. Scenes fitting together perfectly doesn't happen often. However when you are working with the very funny Jane Miller then you are already a step ahead. Chris and I have written comedy together for over 10 years we know each others style, but we weren't so sure about Jane. She seems very nice, but perhaps she's a tiny little tyrant. Jane is short - she won't mind me saying that - it's not like she hasn't noticed.

This is Jane, in knitted format.
As it stands Jane is lovely to work with, she loves chocolate and cheese and wine and so she is part of the club. And will never be allowed out of the club. Ever.

We have about 60 to 70 minutes of material and we are done with the active editing process - what we did was put the first draft into dropbox and then suggest that as people edited that they increment the version and then we put it together. Given that I am used to Christina and her "take no prisoners" style of editing I have a hide as thick as some sort of glamourous rhino. I wasn't sure about Jane - so I diplomatically made my edits and then Chris made hers - slightly more vigourous than mine and then I made more and Jane never once complained. She is a good girl and will have a lollypop.

There's Jane, enjoying her lolly pop, what a nice girl.
The rest will be "worked out on the floor". Great phrase that, especially given that I am the director - so that will be my job. So we have our starting script. We have to do some film work as there are short films in the play and we need to get onto that toot sweet.

It's a big thumbs up for group writing as far as I'm concerned. Next post - Group sex.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

War is Hell

During the actual combat I think that we really forgot who we were, we became faceless and nameless and limbless - which didn't leave much, just blobs with no names. But it was enough.

Gabe: Mummy!
Me: Erg, bleruh, wha tm isit?
Gabe: It isn't 7 zero yet, but MUMMY there are ants everywhere!
Me: Where?
Gabe: In the kitchen and in the bathroom and up the hallway.
Me: Uhgfnf. Alright.
Gabe: I'll check on them!

He scampers away like a happy, happy little bearer of bad news.He scampers back.

Gabe: Yep still there!
Me: I'm coming.
Gabe: Your clothes aren't on.
Me: They are almost on!

Hi-ho! I'm in your kitchen!
We walk down to the kitchen. It is mayhem. Orderly mayhem. The ants have found the motherload in our recycling bin. Last night, before I had fallen gratefully into my bed I had actually thought about putting that out, the recycling. But I didn't. And now - ant pandemonium. At some point during that 7 hour period an ant, lets call him Frank, had ventured into my house and had a look around. Frank was a young ant and he wanted to do a good job, he wanted to find food and report back to the command post and then he wanted to die and be eaten by his fellow ants. Part of the great cycle of life - as evinced in The Lion King.

Frank popped out of the hole in the bathroom and wandered across the floor.

Franks inner dialogue:  "That bathroom bin needs a wide birth, we aren't that desperate. I like the tiles in here, extra shiny and easy to skitter on. What the fuck is that thing, some sort of totem pole!? Oh cat scratching post, yeah right, I bet the cat still scratches the couch (he does) I bet that they still spend time trying to show him how to use that thing (we do) I bet he laughs into his paws (he does). WAIT! Wait, what in the good goddamn is that smell! It's heavenly, it's like corn and cat food and something else - tomato paste! All mixed together. Where is it! I must find it!".
Frank finds the food!
Frank found it and went back to the ant hill, which must be the size of Texas, and let his ant buddies know. They were sitting around smoking and playing cards with pictures of the queen ant in compromising positions on them.

Frank's friends.
Franks initial descriptions seemed far fetched to the hard bitten, 5 day old worker ants. Why should they listen to this 1 day old scout, wet behind the antennae and barely walking out of pupae stage. Frank described the beauty of my recycle bin, the wonders inside. Then he did a heart wrenching mime. The other ants stood in awed silence as his six legs became the cat food tin, and his thorax was the corn tin.  Franks abdomen brought them to tears with it's soulful depiction of tomato paste in a bottle. So moved was Silas, that he lay down and died. The others contemplatively ate him as they watched the closing act of Frank's mime.

They marched at dawn. Or possibly anytime after 11.30pm.

I marched at fairly close to 7am.

We met at "the crossing" - the most vulnerable point in their highway of ants. I stood with a bottle of Raid and they ignored me and loaded themselves up with the fruits of the bin. I contemplated their industry for a moment and then I struck. I took them down, I blasted them across the floor, I soaked them and drowned them and when I thought that I couldn't stand the killing anymore I would see another fucking ant and keep going!

The sweat dripped from my brow as I staggered into the bathroom, following the trail to their dreaded egress. Gabe was hot on my heels peppering me with questions, like bullets for my ears.
  • Why are you doing that?
  • Are they dead?
  • What is that?
  • Can I do it?
  • Does it kill them?
  • Why do you have it?
As I was about to give in, surrender to the inexorable swelling tide of my child, I used my last ounce of energy to blast those ants BACK TO HILL!

Then I sat on the toilet and looked at all those bodies. It was like a scene out of one of those movies where there are a lot of bodies. I felt so far away, so high up above, they all just looked like ants to me. 

Me: (Clipped British accent) Well, we gave them what for eh? We did our best and you can't do better eh?  Gerry was sorry that he got up this morning and trekked into my recycling bin. We sent him home with his tail between his legs. How about a game of rugger?

"What, what!"
And I guess if I had actually been in WW2 I would have clapped someone on the back and bitten back a tear and smoked a pipe and had sex with a man, as there weren't any 'gels'.

As it was Gabe asked for breakfast and the cat meowed at me like ninety million times and I berated him for not eating all the ants and he explained that he was a cat and not an ANTEATER and if I had wanted a anteater I should have gone to the Lost Anteaters Home! And we both sat in opposite corners and licked our backs.
I eat ants and purr!
Everything was the same. And yet different. But mostly the same, minus the ants.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sparking your Pinterest...

Hello there, small but delightful band of people that fitfully read my musings. Good on you for hanging in, if you did. And if you didn't I can hardly blame you, lets face it it's a busy, distracting world and there are lots of things to look at and do. Like Pinterest, which is something to do with butterflies. I'm pretty sure it is.


I haven't written any more on Fury but I did lay out my big PLOT CHANGE to my director who was very amenable to it, she did have a drink in her hand at the time, I mean, I chose my moment, lets be clear.  But still Alice was receptive and I think that we can both get on board with it all. Soon.

I wrote a fun little play the other day called Keeping Up Appearances - which bears no relation to that British show about that woman called Hyacinth. Although it is about a wealthy older couple who are doing a good job of maintaining order in trying times. I sent it to Wayne who immediately said that I should make it into a longer play, which is what he always says. I think that I would feel a bit let down if he didn't. As usual I demurred - but I have to say a stage comedy about the undead has some appeal - right? I immediately started riffing on the idea and came up with a sort of existentialist zombie who is trapped somewhere and has a series of soul searching monologues. In which he groans and mumbles a lot. I am thinking a kind of brain- eating Hamlet. 

Thank you internet.
So that might be a thing - I will let it rattle around in my skull a bit more. I am also really looking forward to writing for the next Baggage show - which will likely be a comedy concoction of some sort or other. We hope to have a guest star writer to join us on our travels as well, more on that later. Hooorah!

I have been talking aloud a lot lately, even more than usual. I talk to myself so much that my son doesn't even comment anymore. He used to ask me what I said, and I would say "talking to myself". And, being 3 at the time, he would be totally cool with that. Let's face it he sings, creates characters and has entire conversations with himself. Who would he be kidding if he was to question my periodic and quite benign chatter. It's the way that I work out my characters. I also often talk into the iphone and record dialogue. That's how I managed to keep some of the good lines from Keeping up Appearances in my head. Sometimes I come up with lines of such brilliance and acuity that I can barely believe them myself, and then I promptly forget them. 

Brain: Did you forget that line?
Me: YOU forgot it. 
Brain: No, I thought it up, I don't remember things after that. I think them up. I am the thinker upper. 
Me: So, who, out of the two of us, is going to remember the brilliant things that you think up?
Brain. Not. My. Problem. 
Me: Well, then we will remain in obscurity forever, unable to be recognised for the poignant and humbling beauty of our prose because we CAN'T REMEMBER IT. 
Brain: Remember what?

My brain is quite high maintenance. It's my cross to bear. 
That's me, patiently bearing my cross. Wow that dress makes my boobs look huge..
Also I made a  New Years Resolution - something that I haven't done in years. It was to get serious about writing. More serious. This year I will write a screenplay. Feature length. Of as yet undetermined length. Now it's in my blog and I can't take it back.