Monday, January 31, 2005

Sideways (and Kitchen Bench List)

Things on my kitchen bench:
a six-pack egg carton with two eggs left, 'Best Before 19 Jan'
two empty beer cans (Victoria Bitter) and an empty beer bottle (Reschs Pilsener)
empty Tabasco Sauce bottle
two dirty plates
Serafims Bourke Street Pharmacy receipt for ear drops and ear syringe
two felt tip pens, one blue, one black
pharamceutical company post-it notes (Zoton (lansoprazol) "Acts fast, fast, fast against acid.")
unopened Tazo packet
roll of paper towel (Tough Towel - Thick 'n' Thirsty)
stubby holder from Darlinghurst Cellars
one decomposing severed head (beginning to smell pretty bad)

I'm reading Stephen King's On Writing and he suggests setting a daily goal of 1000 words. I was kind of happy with my earwax story I wrote last night, but that's only 500 words. So far, tonight, I have written 129 words, most of those amounting to a list of crap on my kitchen bench. It was pretty easy to do, but took me a while to come up with the idea.

OK, well, here's another idea... I can write about the movie I went to see after work today. It was called Sideways and starred an actor who I instantly liked after seeing him play Harvey Pekar in American Splendor.
He was good in Sideways, too, a guy who always looks very uncomfortable. I like to watch movies with guys who look uncomfortable, it's like seeing myself up there on the big screen. I'm an uncomfortable kinda guy, you see. I can't stop sweating, and I twitch and scratch and pull at the back of my t-shirt. When I am having a live conversation with somebody, they probably wonder what the fuck is wrong with me. I wonder what the fuck is wrong with me.

Anyway, I was watching the movie, and had an excellent position right in the middle of the theatre, and there was nobody sitting close to me, just the way I like it. At the last movie I saw (Finding Neverland) there were two women right behind me who kept whispering to each other, making dumb comments about what was happening on the screen. I felt like turning around and saying Why don't you dumb bitches go and rent a fuckin dvd instead of disturbing the rest of us with your stupid friggin commentary? But I didn't do it, I kept my mouth shut, and tried hard to ignore them and pay attention to what was happening on screen.

Back to Sideways... Paul Giamatti's character, Miles, is a writer who has recently finished a novel and is waiting to find out if a publisher will publish it. In the meantime, his old friend Jack is about to get married, so he and Miles (who is also a wine fanatic - a truly idiotic obsession) go away for the week preceding the wedding. The plan is to drive around visiting wineries, and have one last mad adventure before Jack settles down into married life. The only problem is that Miles is depressed about his own recently failed marriage, along with the prospect of his novel being rejected. Jack doesn't want to waste his last chance to fuck some chick before his imminent marriage directs him to a life of monogamy, and he'll be damned if Miles's black hole depression is gonna sabotage his lusty plans.

Jack is also a very likeable character, although I'm sure many women would not agree. Who cares. In the movie he plays an actor, but an actor pretty close to the bottom of the ladder. From what I understood, he was mostly remembered for playing a guy in a soap opera. These days he mostly gets work doing the voiceovers for financial, or medical, advertisements.

Then there are the love interests, Maya and Stephanie. Maya, who gets hooked up with Miles, seems to be the more developed character (whatever the fuck that means...). I really can't think of anything to write about them, it's the guys in the movie who are the most interesting, the main focus of the picture.

Anyway. For Giamatti's performance, and Thomas Haden Church as Jack, I can recommend Sideways. It was pretty good. But make sure you see American Splendor too, it is superior.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Symphony in a Waterfall

At some point in the last few days both of my ears became completely blocked. If this has ever happened to you, you'll know that it feels like you are hearing everything from underwater. This has happened twice before, but never both ears at once. How does it happen? Do I stick my fingers in my ears?

The first time my ear blocked up I went to the doctor. It took two visits - first to get a prescription for eardrops to loosen the wax, then a second to go back and get it syringed. Well, these days I like to do things for myself as much as possible - I've been cutting my own hair for years, so surely I can flush my own ears.

Yesterday I went to the pharmacy and picked up a bottle of eardrops and an ear syringe. The ear syringe doesn't look like a regular syringe, it's a rubber ball with a nozzle sticking out. It looks like a big golf ball sitting on a big golf tee. You squeeze the ball underwater, release it, and it sucks up the water. I couldn't wait to use it, and not just because I could no longer stand the feeling of hearing everything from underwater.

I don't know why I waited until today to begin, maybe because yesterday my ears were ninety nine per cent blocked, but today they were one hundred per cent blocked.

Anyway, I woke up and began the process. Five or six drops in the ear, walk back to the bed with my head tilted on its side, lie down, read my book for thirty minutes, then back to the bathroom to syringe the ear. I kept sucking up water and squirting it in there. Nothing seemed to be happening. I was still underwater. I went back to the drops, another thirty minutes and tried again. Hey, something came out! It's small, but it's something! One more time with the drops and the rubber ball syringe did the trick, blasting away in there and suddenly something popped, sound came rushing into my ear, a great big beautiful blast of high frequency sounds that I had forgotten existed. I felt triumphant, but confused too. What is that sound? It sounds like somebody rustling cellophane right up against my ear! I looked down and it was the sound of my fingernails scratching my skin.

I repeated the process for my other ear and blasted the second wax plug out. Let me tell you, these wax plugs were huge, they were like wine corks. I'm popping wine corks out of my ears. Some party trick!

And the sounds, those glorious high frequency sounds. They were brand new. I couldn't remember ever hearing so clearly. I said words aloud, every *s* sounded like I had a massive lisp, lisping with a megaphone in my small room.

And then I had to piss. I started pissing and it was musical, it was a symphony in a waterfall.


I've been having problems with writer's block. I used to be able to write, and sometimes I can even do it now, but accidentally. I wrote something a couple weeks ago that I thought was pretty good, but it was a paragraph. It poured out, it was easy. I was drunk and wrote it down, and it was pretty good. But a paragraph every few months? That's no good. Being frozen is no fun. I want to write stuff. I want to write stuff that makes an impression on people, and they say, "Damn, that was some good writing, right there." But really, I want to write stuff that I like. Even a paragraph! You have to start somewhere. If I can go from a good paragraph every three months, to a good paragraph every month, then write one every week, then one every night. Well, even if I miss a night, now and then. After a year of that, putting it all together, I could have something.

What I need is some strategies on how to get myself writing regularly. Some ideas of how to unfreeze this block I have. I'll try anything. Maybe I can try writing something here every night, even some small, dumb thing. Anything. It doesn't matter if people read it. Just gotta get into the habit of writing every day.

So, I'll have to be back here tomorrow night, right? See you then.

Saturday, January 22, 2005


I went to a huge festival by the sea. I was part of a large group of people and we were celebrating. I soon became separated from them, and spent most of my time wandering around, feeling uncomfortable. Why am I always sweating and feeling uncomfortable? I saw two girls, they were laughing, holding hands. Later I saw two clones of them - their faces were identical. I wondered if they were some kind of clever masks.
Later I realised I had lost my bag. As I looked for it I became increasingly worried, really sick with concern that I might not find it, since it contained my Personal Book. What would I do if I lost it? As I walked into one room I had been in earlier, some guys who were moving an enormous mixing desk dropped it and it crashed loudly and heavily against the opposite wall and floor. I ducked back behind the doorway for some reason, hiding, like I was resonsible. I went back outside and continued looking for my bag. There were people and bags everywhere. Along a fence I saw dozens, maybe hundreds of bags. I was thinking, maybe I'll never find it. But I had to. Then I saw it! Could it be? I checked the contents and sure enough, it was my bag. I did it kind of dramatically so anybody watching could see it was really mine and that I wasn't stealing somebody else's bag. Why did I do that?
Well, the good news was that I found my bag, but something terrible happened right then. My teeth started falling out. Big chunks at a time. They didn't even look like teeth, but for sure they were my own teeth, and they were coming out of my mouth. They just kept coming, these big chunks. I said something aloud and I sounded like Donald Duck.
But then I looked at my hand and there was nothing in it. I felt my mouth and my teeth were still there. What an enormous relief! Some imagination I have, to see my teeth coming out like that!
I went home then, forgetting everything, and everybody, just glad to have my bag and my teeth.