New Beginnings

So in quick succession, I was broken up with by someone I thought the world of and -as stupid as it sounds in the context of polyamory- thought was “the one”, and injured my back at work. I have been hurt, confused, rejected, feeling like I have nothing left, in pain half the time, downing painkillers like they’re fucking Tic-Tacs (partially for the back injury, mostly because goddamn shit’s easier to deal with when you’re high), suicidal, less suicidal, and am now on some sort of even keel where -even though I’m depressed as balls and everything sucks- at least I can face the cuntarsed fucking day and at least tell it to fuck off. Suffice to say, it’s been a hell of a few weeks.

But this isn’t what I’m going to talk about. I already talked about how much breakups suck, how dating after a breakup is a miserable fucking affair, and how when you think it’s all better again, someone fucking swoops in and fucks with that. I hate repeating myself, so I won’t.

I turned 32 a couple of months ago. Which is scary enough.

I turned 32 a couple of months ago and I am starting a punk band as the beginnings of what will inevitably turn into a midlife crisis. Now that shit is scary.

I have never been in the music scene. I have been rostered on the door at The Newsagency, I have filmed live gigs, and I’ve seen more than I have filmed. But I have never been a “muso”. I never was a “muso”, I was just some dumb kid who happened to have a guitar. The first band I guess I was in, “Rare Breed”, didn’t even last a jam, which was barely a jam because the bass player was grounded and couldn’t make it, so it was just me and the drummer. This was year 8 in high school.

This was year 8 in high school.

Many, many years later, I am older, wiser and fatter, my hair is thinning to the point where my options are “shave it off” or “be blissfully ignorant”, and I’m that 14 year old kid again, wanting to start a band with his mates.

This shit terrifies me. I mean, at least now I have a few years of serious practice and sorta-self-tuition under my belt so I now know more than the intro to Nirvana’s “Come as You Are”, but seriously. I’m 32. I have no business playing in what essentially is my first band. Doubly so because my last creative pursuit ended up crashing and burning about two years ago and I’m still pretty bitter about the whole thing. I should be behind a desk, working for “the man”, not fucking around pretending I’m Fat Mike (much like, as of a few years ago, I was pretending I was Kevin Smith)

Thankfully(or unfortunately, depending on your opinion of shitty punk bands), I lost all dignity ages ago and I was never one to kowtow to the idea of the wife, the kids, the white picket fence, the day job, the mortgage. I never had my shit together, why start now? Besides, I’ll probably be dead by my hand or by cancer at 45. So Carpe Diem? Carpe Punk Rock?

I guess my advantage here vs when I was doing film is I don’t need to make it my job. I have a job. it pays well. the band is a glorified hobby that I hope to fuck works out and I could live off of being a creative. I don’t have that stress of “where am I going to afford shit this week?”. I can afford shit this week, and the next, and the week after that. I don’t need to network, and schmooze and make nice with people I hate just in the ever-so-slight chance I might be hired back again. I don’t have to be a responsible, adult, business owner, I just have to write a song based around three chords and play it, and if I play it badly, it’s fucking Punk rock, it’s more endearing if it sucks.

But it still scares me. The thought of embarking on some new bullshit journey in my life scares me, the fear of fucking it all up scares me. The fact that -short of some pretty fucking amazing people and a supportive girlfriend- it’s pretty much all I have left scares me.

But if Internet Explorer can fortify enough to ask to be my default browser, I can probably fortify enough to write good music, to be played by bad, drunk musicians.

Carpe Diem, Carpe Punk Rock.

 

Ruku Fails at Quitting Smoking: Day Three

10.00am

24 hours without a single cigarette. Yeah, great, whatever, well done me.

I’d be more excited except I have a severe case of “that facemelty thing that happens when you open the Ark of the Covenant”, everything hurts, and I stayed up till the wee hours playing DayZ. Mostly because Dead by Daylight hates my dinosaur of a computer.

Let’s talk about DayZ for a minute, shall we?

That shit isn’t conducive to quitting smoking.

First off, your character is completely fucking hopeless. You start off with basically nothing, and hungry, and they won’t shut the fuck up about how hungry they are until you down three cans of beans and two powdered milks. Then they’re thirsty, so off you go in the middle of bumfuckistan to find a gazillion cans of pepsi. Just when you think you have that shit covered, BAM! Hungry again.

Who the hell is this hungry all the time? I’m more sugar than human at this point, and I can last basically three quarters of a day without eating. C’mon dude. pick your game up.

Then there’s the thing where you’re in the middle of Bumfuckistan.

You were spawned in Bumfuckistan,

you are continually hungry or thirsty in Bumfuckistan,

you will inevitably die in Bumfuckistan.

Where are all the cities? I’ve managed to find large towns and then got stuck in a coastal area with a lighthouse and died of starvation because Dudley Dickhead didn’t have food in 2.5 seconds.

At least he’s got being a zombie down pat; wander around aimlessly (you don’t get a map, so your best hope is to just find a road and hope it doesn’t lead to the fucking Lighthouse), satisfy eternal hunger, get stuck on stairs, or rocks, or flat concrete, or an infinite plane.

Oh, and holy shit you’re bad at combat. Like I get you’re not meant to be the Terminator or anything, but surely your numbnuts of a character can swing a fucking axe. Any time a melee weapon hits it just makes this unsatisfying “paff” sound. Jesus fucking christ, throwing toilet paper would do a better job.

Oh, and forget about unarmed fighting; the dude’s boxer stance just gives you false confidence. You’re going to die. Your character has all the punching power of an infant.

For some reason it’s running better on my computer now, so there’s that. plus even on low rez it’s rather pretty. I would have stuck around to admire the scenery, but Dudley Dickhead died of starvation again and I was re-respawned near the lighthouse.

Ruku Fails at Quitting Smoking: Day Two

8:50am:

Let’s talk about quitting aids. Specifically the Nicorette lozenges.

What fresh hell is this shit? Who decides to make something using peppermint and fails miserably? Like, were they told what mint tasted like by someone who could barely speak English and had to do guesswork from there? Are they meant for people with a masochism kink? The fuck is going on here?

Oh, and they’re not like tic tacs. You can’t just chew them and go about your day. That shit is the Boba Fett to your Sarlacc; It has to be dissolved for what feels like a thousand years. So your mouth eventually fills up with minty goo, and swallowing that shit is worse than trying to get drunk on mouthwash. And you can’t do anything else in the meantime because you’ve got this minty fucking turd-capsule in your mouth and anyone who has tried to consume anything after brushing one’s teeth knows it’s the absolute fucking worst.

Normally I like minty things. I thought this would be fine. I was lied to and betrayed. I just had to brush my teeth to remember what fucking mint actually tastes like.

0/10 don’t recommend.


9:35am:

For comparison’s sake, I cracked at about 8:15am yesterday. So FUCK YEAH. NEW HIGH SCORE!

I’m not feeling the cravings as much. Patches appear to be helping but may be a placebo effect (they’re working too well. I haven’t called anything a cunt yet). But something is puzzling me…

What the hell do you non-smokers do all day?

I have spent the last five minutes wandering around listlessly looking for something to do. Had a crack on the guitar for about 10 minutes, gave the Xbox a look and a hearty “meh” soon after, now I’m just watching Youtube and prepping for editing work that I have been neglecting for months.

Okay granted, I’m home sick from work so there’s the extra boredom factor to tackle, but work has smoke breaks, and lunch, and whatnot, so I’d probably feel the same way there, too.

I bought a Rubix cube to distract myself. I’m going to solve the fucking thing by tonight at this rate. Good lord.

Is this what non-smoking life is like? Just being endlessly fucking bored?

“Oh being a non-smoker is soooo great. You can breathe better, and less likely to die of horrible diseases, and doing any amount of exercise doesn’t fucking send you to an early grave, and you won’t sound like Tom Waits!”

Yeah, great. All for what? To stare at a fucking wall all day? How the hell do you people keep yourselves entertained?

And for the record, hypothetical non-smoker person; Tom Waits is a fucking champ. Those dulcet tones that sound like a badger being force-fed a running lawnmower make people weep, okay? Don’t make me car-bomb you for being a fucking embarrassment.


11:25am (not italic’d because I didn’t post this to Facebook)
Goals. I should probably talk about those, hey… Besides, I have a software demo downloading and if I watch the progress bar any longer I’m going to cry.
Obviously getting healthier is one. Finances are another. Even on my rather sizeable paycheque it’s impossible to afford everything I want, or need, or whatever, along with buy smokes, pay rent, pay bills. I’d very much like money at the end of the week so I’m not living off of credit all the time.
So I did some number crunching for a three month period.
Let’s assume that my normal deathsticks du-jour (JPS 40’s) cost around $35.50. Roughly there are 91 days in three months. I roughly smoke a pack a day.
35.50 by 91: $3,230.5
Holy. Fucking. Shit.
That’s a new car, or an upgraded computer or some tricked out custom shop guitar.
Or you know, that eye treatment I’ve been needing for years now. But pfft. I can see plenty fine…
…If I squint.
Six months? $6,461
Twelve months? $12,957.50
You get the idea. for every pack I don’t smoke, I’m saving a fuckton of money.
Yes I should be excited that I’m not pumping tonnes of chemicals into my system, yes, I’ll be infinitely healthier and happier and whatever the fuck, but seeing those numbers, seeing how much money I’m wasting on the fucking things is… well it’s a fucking waste.
So here’s what I sorta have in mind: Some sort of reward for three months smoke-free. Six months smoke-free, twelve, etc. It doesn’t have to be extravagant (defeats the purpose of y’know, saving money), but a reward nonetheless. It doesn’t even have to be for me, just a nice gesture of going out to dinner with Mel and/or Gemma. Positive reinforcement is meant to be good, right?
I dunno. it could work, could be miserable failure. Who knows?

Ruku fails at Quitting Smoking! – Introductory and Day One

So I’m quitting smoking. As of May, I decided I shall be smoke free. Hopefully for good.

the last few times were not successful. The longest I’ve lasted was six months and around the six month mark the cravings really started to hit to the point where if I even smelled a waft of cigarette smoke, I’d immediately want like, ten of the fucking things. That time was because I was dating a non-smoker at the time and she didn’t know I partook in the cancer-sticks.

This time I want to do it for good, and for myself.

I have a few restrictions on my methods so far:

-No e-cigarettes. They don’t really solve the issue and my current kit needs maintenance I couldn’t be bothered spending money on.

-No one-for-one replacements. No replacing smokes with candy, or similar. Because I’ll end up spending just as much on candy and snacks and sugar as I would on the thing I’m trying to quit. Last time I attempted this I used Junior Mints and Starburst. That shit adds up.

Beyond that it’s fair game. So long as I stay off the smokes. If I have a smoke, then I get to start the whole process again the next day… I should probably come up with a better punishment than that, but anything I can think of is either going to be the fun kind of punishment, or I’ll end up relenting anyway.

I’ve been detailing the last few days on my personal Facebook, mostly for entertainment’s sake. Anything I post there will inevitably end up here and vice-versa. So if you’ve read days one and two already, feel free to skip those.

Without further ado…

Day one:

Cracked after 2 hours. Not aided by the fact work is already a clusterfuck.

Now loaded up on patches and the infernal QuitBuddy app ready for tomorrow, I guess.

But hey, for those two hours I saved $6 and was not exposed to 60mg of chemicals. That’s something, right?

Things I learned while watching Lifestyle TV

Like any dutiful boyfriend, I spend a fair chunk of time at my girlfriend’s place which hey, is fine.

She also lives with her mother, which is also fine.

The fact her mother pretty much keeps the lifestyle/cooking/whatever-you-want-to-call-it channel on 24/7? Well, if I couldn’t milk it for at least the comedy factor, we wouldn’t be here, would we?

I seldom -if ever- watch television. I have a shitload of DVD’s and Netflix access. For everything else? There’s YouTube or… y’know, other dubious means, but I won’t talk about them here. So to be occularly assaulted by way of the free-to-air lifestyle channel here in Sydney is a bewildering experience…

1) Curtis Stone is Everywhere

For those who don’t live in Australia, or prefer to shop where the salmonella-to-packaged-salad ratio is relatively low, Curtis Stone is a celebrity chef here. Basically Gordon Ramsay without the accent, the swearing, or any reason for me to keep tuning in whatsoever.

He also doesn't look like he was entirely made from old boot leather
He also doesn’t look like he was entirely made from old boot leather

Upon witnessing the horrors of Lifestyle TV, I have come to the conclusion that Curtis Stone is like herpes; He’s fucking everywhere and it probably seemed like a good idea at the time.

I have nothing against the guy personally, be it through apathy or Stockholm syndrome from working at Coles when they were first gearing up to have Stone hock their low-low prices. He goes alright, I guess. I don’t know, I don’t even know the guy. But seriously, I counted at least three shows he made an appearance on, as well as all the Coles commercials. Because you know that the only reason you buy premium mince is because a celebrity chef told you to.

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He’s basically Big Brother with an apron

 

2) There is an appalling lack of Gordon Ramsay…

Where Curtis Stone is, my celebrity chef of choice steers clear from and is probably calling a plate of lasagne a cunt or something.

“Surely” I said to myself, “Surely somewhere on this cooking channel Gordon Ramsay swears at something”.

I was wrong. I give it time before Curtis Stone takes over the entire channel and it’s All Curtis! All the time!

Perhaps I should keep a sense of optimism though, because…

3)… But the spirit of Ramsay lives on

For every Hotel Hell, Kitchen Nightmares or Hell’s Kitchen, there’s two “me too!” esque shows that basically, do the same damn thing.

Sure there’s no angry Scottish guy, but they try to find hosts to basically fill Ramsay’s angry, angry shoes.

Hotel Impossible, for example, is hosted by hospitality expert Anthony Melchiorri and the show more or less plays out like Ramsay’s TV shows.

Cutthroat Kitchen? Hell’s Kitchen with props and hosted by who I presume is the evil twin of Mythbusters’ Adam Savage
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Top Chef Masters? Hell’s Kitchen again, this time with Curtis Stone.

So on, and so on.

Actually, come to think of it…

4) They pretty much repackage any cooking show you can think of, for pretty much anyone

You want Masterchef, but based on food vendors? We got you covered. Masterchef with challenges? We got that. Masterchef with the contestants being mentored by professional chefs? You’d better believe we have that.

Cooking around the world? How about Around the World in 80 Plates?

A professional chef travelling around the world trying cuisines? Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.

A restauranteur travelling around America trying different cuisines? Let’s serve you up a big-ass plate of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

The whole thought process amongst the producers seems to be just done by way of “Cooking Show Mad-Libs”. Insert (A) into situation (B), for result (C), with just enough of a peppering of orginality to keep you glued to the TV while you’re eating your nutritious, microwaved McCain Roast Chicken.

5) Food Safari is still pretty great

I’ve been pretty snotty about this whole unwilling experiment in TV-land, but if there’s one constant? Food Safari still kicks ass. SBS darling Maeve O’Meara is still doing her thing, which is great. You be you, Maeve. I’ll just note down all the amazing places I can get a decent food coma from.

But that’s enough about the food shows… Let’s move onto “reality”, shall we? I have a word count to hit.

6) “Real Housewives of (X)” is more or less my idea of personal hell

Rich people acting the fool is well, Donald Trump’s political campaign platform, apparently. Might work in American politics, but as a TV show?

Oh...
Oh…

“Real Housewives” is the tv show Bobcat Goldthwait’s God Bless America warned us about. A bunch of rich women with an inflated sense of self importance fighting over rich people things. It’s basically Jersey Shore with Botox injections instead of GTL and everyone is Snooki.

In the couple of episodes I endured, they were organizing a games night at one of their McMansions. It all went well until kids were mentioned and apparently one of them’s a drug addict and… The rest is a blur, I went to my happy place after that.

The ensuing fallout appeared to go on for several god-damned episodes. Is this how people do things in Beverly Hills? Any shit that happens at my games nights usually are resolved with beer and insults.

And then there was something about a lip enhancement and they’re apparently best buds with the doctor or something? I don’t know. Just stop. T.S. Eliot once said the world will end not with a bang, but a whimper. That whimpering will be me if I ever have to watch housewives (real or otherwise) ever again.

What the hell does “real housewives” mean anyway? What are housewives that aren’t on the show? Nymphs? Spirits? androids? Shub-goddamned-Niggurath?

Coming up on 'Real Housewives of Unspeakable Horror'
“Coming up on Real Housewives of Unspeakable Horror”

On the upside, all these shows are basically the same, so that rules out a whooole bunch of shows I will never, ever, care about.

7) People really like “flipping” houses

I refer you to my mention of Mad Libs, because not even the “let’s fix up a shitty house” shows are safe from a good old fashioned palette swap.

The concept of “flipping” houses appears to be as follows: Buy a shithole, spend more money than you or I have ever seen doing it up, and either sell it or sell it in a completely different city.

Yeah, I’m onto you, Flip or Flop and Masters of Flip. Your sneaky may-as-well-just-change-the-title shenanigans didn’t escape my bored gaze. And you’re both just The Block set in ‘Murica.

On a purely technical level, I guess it’s interesting if that’s your thing. But let’s say, what if, you just wanted to watch people buy houses?

8) What the fuck is House Hunters? Seriously?

House Hunters gives you a fly-on-the-wall look at all the trials and tribulations of buying a damn house. That’s it. No drama, no challenges, just people with more money I’ll never see buying some cute little bungalow in Greenwich, Connecticut, or Venice Beach, California, or some other American suburb that you probably need 2 jobs and moonlighting as a stripper to afford to live in.

I don’t get it. Is this an actual show? At least throw Nathan Fillion in there or something so it feels like I’m watching an actual show.

Oh right, they have to pick from three homes. So there’s your sense of “will they?”/”won’t they?” engaging television.

What really gets me is that the apparent requirements that these homeowners-to-be have are so nitpicky and arbitrary. didn’t the housing market basically shit itself pretty much anywhere with a postcode?

“Oh, we need wide open spaces, and a huge master bedroom, near the beach and a dock for our yacht”.

Bitch, please. Go check out the ridiculous housing prices in Sydney at the moment, then talk to me about all your god-damned requirements.

I live in a sharehouse in the ‘burbs, alright? I don’t have the luxury of looking for a Cape Cod-style home with french doors and shit. If it has a working toilet that doesn’t smell like something died in it, then I’m doing pretty well.

At the end of the day…

TV hasn’t been my thing for a while, and it still isn’t. Seeing as this experiment was borne from couch potato-ing it while spending time with my girlfriend, I have no real conclusion here. I don’t know.

You assholes fought for several goddamned episodes? Really?

 

The Kevin Smith Story

So unless you just got here, one has a good idea that I’m a pretty big fan of Kevin Smith.

Not just the Askewniverse, not just the Podcasts, not just the books, the whole shebang.

So when K-Smitty makes an appearance over here, I tend to try and catch it where I can. The latest outing was “Jay and Silent Bob Get Old” at the State Theatre, and a few days later at Graphic at Sydney Opera House.

Both shows were standard Kevin Smith fare. A Q&A followed by a podcast with his aforementioned co-star/hetero life-mate. But I’m gonna talk about the Opera House show for this little outing.

I managed to get tickets courtesy of friend/sometimes coworker/all-round-cool-chick, Cassady. Seeing as my ex-girlfriend was not-so-keen on being seen with me outside the house and my current girlfriend was busy, I took my sister, Tessa.

So we got there, we watched, we laughed, we cried, good night by all. The dude next to us (Duncan? I think? Who I know through the occasional night out at the union with Cassady and Dereck) mentioned there was going to be a signing/meet and greet thing after the show.

So of course, taking the risk of turning an already late night into a “dear god, can we just GO HOME already?!”, I dragged Tess into the meet and greet line after a brief encounter with podcast buddy, Michael.

And we waited

And waited

And waited…

The line took forever and it got to the point where Jason Mewes (“Jay” of Jay and Silent Bob) was just walking up and down the line, signing things to speed things up a notch. Exchanged a few short words as he scribbled his signature and the obligatary “Nootch” on my ticket.

And then before I knew it, BAM! I was exchanging brief words with my idol.

To say this was ‘big’ is an understatement. At this point in time, even with all my big talk about how I hate filmmaking, In Smith I Trust. I drank the slightly jizz-flavoured Kool Aid and changed my life for ostensibly the better. I ended up doing things I never thought I would, or would be capable of doing, all because some guy from Jersey talked a lot and made a bunch of movies.

As much as I could have stood there for hours and pick his brain about all things Askew, or call him out for not replying to my Facebook message, I simply said what frankly, what needed to be said:

“I could go on and on about how I’m the biggest fan and say all this shit you’ve heard all night, but really, I just want to say this: You saved my life.”

Kev’s response was something along the lines of “It’s funny how these things work out, man”, we hugged and we parted ways as he went on to sign a DVD case brought in by a Jay look-a-like.

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I’ve heard horror stories of people meeting their idols and they turn out not to be the person you thought they were. I’ve been fortunate in the fact that so far my encounters with people cooler/more famous/have done more shit with me have been awkward at worst and some of the most amazing experiences at best. Meeting Kevin Smith was no exception.

Truth is, our meeting may have been brief, but to me, it meant so much more than any other meeting I’ve had, be it Amanda Palmer, Kate Miller-Heidke, or what have you.

I don’t use the phrase “you saved my life” lightly, either. No, he didn’t talk me off of a ledge but -at risk of repeating myself here- prior to 2010 I was in a pretty menial job with no real goals or career progression. I worked, I came home, I played World of Warcraft until 3am, then slept like the dead till I had to go to work again.

And then I watched “Clerks” and the rest is -as they say- history. Sure I loathe how things panned out now, but time heals everything, and that doesn’t change the fact that my life was completely turned around by the simple act of watching a movie and thinking it was a damned good idea to do that myself.

Till next time…

(P.S. Hey Cassady, thanks for the tix!)

The Empire Has Fallen

I cannot remember the countless times I’ve sworn I’m “quitting filmmaking”, that “the dream is over”, that “the art world doesn’t need my hokey dick-joke bullshit”.

Even more countless are the times I’ve renegged on that and just pumped out another project or two anyway.

Cards on the table; I do the “struggling artist” thing pretty well. I’m a Macbook Pro away from completely embracing the stereotype and writing all of my shit at a Starbucks, sipping latte after latte as I bang out another self-deprecating script, vaguely covered by a thin layer of creative license and hyperbole.

All for what? So I can make my mark in the world, surrounded by other marks people before, alongside and well after me have made? So I can impress my girlfriends? So I can feel like I’ve ‘done something’ and not be that quiet fuckup who never did shit? Why put myself through the bullshit and agony in the first place, when only a handful of times in the last five years, have I ever received kudos or respect for what I do?

I’ve explained how my head works in a previous entry on here, when it comes to personal achievements, and I don’t want to repeat myself. Besides, the original post was fun to write and I daren’t detract from that.

I can watch Neil Gaiman’s “Make Good Art” or read Kevin Smith’s “Portrait of the (f)Artist as a Young Man” and feel rejuvenated and justified all I like, but it is all merely temporary.

in 2010 I had plans to start somewhat of a media empire. Y’know, like that Murdoch guy, but less of a dessicated corpse and more dick jokes.

in 2016, I feel the empire has fallen.

A lot of things contributed to this; Some of which I feel enough time has passed that I can exercise my right of reply. I shan’t go into them here but it’s become more and more evident that yeah, a somewhat talented Kevin Smith wannabe -hockey jersey and all- is no longer needed in the creative space already inhabited by the real deal. And when I broke away from the stuff I could write with my hands tied behind my back, blindfolded, and dangling off of a rope from a cliff, nobody gave enough of a shit to really warrant doing it at all.

Should I be doing it for myself instead? Absolutely, but that would imply I wasn’t making things up and writing them down for myself to start with, which… well, Compound Fiasco Productions wouldn’t exist without a handful of scripts that I wrote many many years ago, that I wanted to see come to life, purely because I was naive, or stupid, or narcissistic enough to want to see the shit I wrote be acted out and come to life.

It would all be a complete pipe dream, and instead I’d waste my time doing whatever I was doing, thinking  “what if”.

How long do I keep beating my head against the same brick wall until somehow, by chance of luck, it “works”? I’ve been doing it for five years, and anything that’s come out of it is the occasional pat on the head and the verbal equivalent to a banana sticker.

Oh sure, there was the show, but that just left me completely demoralized at the end of it and as much as I’d call that an achievement, it feels more like a pyrrhic victory, considering the amount of abuse I copped from the co-creator for things within, and well out of my control.

So where do I go from here? Who knows? I have a few stories left to write and a music video or two to do, but they won’t last me through the end of the year. Besides, the thought of putting myself through that particular grinder again is giving me hives.

I could just write things for other people, but hell, I’m a control freak. Y’think I’d let some jerk walk into my yard and play in my sandpit so easily?

I could just continue doing what I’m doing and hopefully get lucky in the next few years, but then I’ll be back here, finding another way to rewrite this post.

Perhaps it’s time to just let the empire fall already. Stick a fork in it, it’s done.

Anyone want to buy a camera?

Poor Self Esteem, Thy Name is Ruku

My name is Luke Sheehan, writer, raconteur, podcaster, filmmaker, occasionally a musician…

Oh, and I hate myself.

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a ‘pity me’ post, or a suicide note. I’m not going out Kurt Cobain style, or whinging how I’ll be dying alone, loveless, and with five bucks to my name. So if you’re reading this and you’re worried, don’t be.

But I really, well and truly do hate myself. Or at least I did. This right here is where my story begins.

I hate how I look, I hate my name down to every last syllable to the point where it should only be uttered in hushed tones, I hate the fact my hair’s thinning, I have a gut disproportionate to the rest of me, my ears are too big, it goes on and on and on. This has been happening for as long as I can remember and really, I’ve only come to terms with it a mere five years ago and still struggling. Assuming that “self esteem” is in the dictionary, my face would be nowhere near it as a reference picture because frankly, I have none.

The name thing has been going on since day one. I have a first name yanked straight from the bible and “Sheehan” is incredibly common. I remember in guest books I’d sign under a pseudonym because I hated my name that much. Oh, and I have two middle names. To this day I pick the one I prefer and use that on everything, because what sort of pompous fuck needs two middle names?

The rest came from early childhood and I don’t know what set it off. Maybe some girl I fancied called me “fat” or “ugly” in primary school and it spiralled from there. I look at old photos and not only do I marvel (and vomit in my mouth a little) at how much I’ve porked out since discovering my first pube all those horrible acne-filled years ago, but how gaunt, skinny and “gross” I looked. There’s no middle ground, here. Only self-loathing because below my neck and above my waist are caverns and mountains of flab that I need to scrub under, so far, no sign of Gollum or the One Ring, but if I find it I’ll let you know.

I remember a good fifteen years ago I almost had a meltdown because my grandfather mentioned I’ve “filled out a bit” while prodding me in the belly. That’s stuck with me since and I don’t really know how to bring it up outside of just blurting it and ruining whatever occasion I happen to be seeing my grandparents for. He didn’t mean it in a bad way and I get that. Still, thanks Gramps. that’s one less piece of cake I’ll be eating… Probably because I’ve eaten the whole thing already and now I’m in a food coma (send help, and a case of Dr. Pepper).

I remember deliberately eating less, damn-near starving myself because I didn’t have a totally-bitchin’ six pack. That lasted about two days before I found out that Magnum ice creams exist.

Really, this is the tip of the iceberg. It’s not so much a “body image” issue, it’s the entire image of myself, as I am. I can stop eating cake any time I want, but I’ll still be plain old me, boring name, big ears, the works. There’s not a lot I can do about that without spending a shitload of money and time on changing every last little thing about myself and even then, I won’t be Brendan Maclean, or Kevin Smith, or Trent Reznor, or whoever else I deem “more interesting” or “cooler than me” without having my ass thrown into court for identity theft.

Welcome to the inside of my fucking head. Enjoy your stay.

So this went on and on and on for years until maybe 2011 when I finally realized “holy shit. Okay, I have a problem”. Now it’s 2015 and I still have a problem (that entire cake won’t eat itself, and the people I idolize have changed since I was a young’un but wanting to ‘be someone else entirely’ is still there), but at least now I find myself remotely decent looking, or at least, in a relationship where two people find me attractive, which helps. Really, I’m just making do with what I’ve got and people seem to like that.

 

I actually don’t mind being a bit of a porker these days. Hell, I’m not even that fat. I just happen to have a gut bigger than my head. Besides, pants sizes don’t matter if you tend not to wear them.

I’m more content being myself these days which I’m chalking up to actually getting shit done and finding out where my talents lie. Hell, I even like seeing my name on things now.

I still feel like a useless sack of shit who bores people to death and isn’t good enough for anyone, ever, in any capacity, but at least I have a cool job?

I still cringe at photos of me, but that’s probably because I’ve made this face and someone’s tagged me in it on Facebook:

Hawtness in a barrel.
Hawtness in a barrel. (photo credit: Corine Brown)

There’s still things I’d like to change, and things I acknowledge I can change. But at this point, let’s take one step at a time. I’m only really just getting the hang of not vomiting in revulsion of who I currently am here, and really, why fix what really isn’t broken?

I guess the whole “fat positivity” thing had a hand in it, Kevin Smith definitely had a hand in it in a “if a pretty average looking dude with a pretty common name can pull this shit off, why can’t I?” sorta way… but mostly I think I grew up a little and realized that me, as I am, actually is pretty worthy of anything I want, even if it is writing hokey dick-joke bullshit that I cast my friends in. Worthy of having a loving, stable relationship, worthy of being narcissistic enough to talk about himself being “decent looking” on his own blog.

What I want people to take from this? I don’t know. I haven’t written here in a while and really, enough time has passed that I want to talk about this shit more publicly and this is the best way I know how to address a shitload of people at once. So I guess this is just throwing a hopefully relatable bottle out in the ocean and hoping someone reads it, maybe even ‘gets’ it is my agenda. I dunno, I just write these things. You make your own damn assumptions. I have a bigass fucking cake to eat.

Till next time…

The Cost of Working for Free (and why “Exposure” makes for shitty compensation for your skills)

Hi.

Incase this is your first time reading this blog, let’s recap:

I am a filmmaker, writer, blogger, former webcomic writer and currently-on-hiatus-until-I-get-my-shit-together podcaster. I am also the lead creative director, owner, and sole trader of a small-time production studio here in Sydney.

I also work freelance a lot of the time for a lot of people who need a guy to do a thing. As of this year, almost all of these gigs have been paid, except for one I did for local band Shanghai, whose musical director (Hi Luis!) I get free shit from all the time, so it kinda evens out and even if that wasn’t the case, I’ll be happy if I never get paid a cent from these guys because they are friends first, and pseudo-clients second. Plus I get to test out new setups for my gear, which is a bonus and takes less fucking around than doing so on a proper film shoot.

Of course, I just hope if they ever end up becoming stupidly famous and playing in packed-out stadiums and ending up on the cover of Rolling Stone or somesuch shit, they remember that guy who shot all that shitty, grainy concert footage for them over the years.

As of six months ago, the freelance side of things has become my fulltime job. I have an ABN, am looking to register a business name so I can sic lawyers onto anyone who wants to name their company “PUKED!” or “Fompound Ciasco Productions”, and -since putting an ad up on Metro Screen, my workload, word-of-mouth advertising, and thus, cashflow so I can pay rent, bills etc. has jumped exponentially. Basically, at the point, I don’t need to follow the naysayers usual catcall of “get a job”, because this is my fucking job. I barely ever work for free these days (I will, however, work for a cut rate, which-while not ideal- fills me with glee because it pisses Centrelink right the fuck off).

Between the years of 2010 through to 2013, I have been on many, many shoots where I have worked for free, or deferred payment which never got sent. Why? Because I doubted my skills, needed the experience, or it was a friend I owed a favour. I’m not bitter about it these days (at least as much), because I have set prices for my skills, know what I can do, and can just say “no” if I want. Because I know that I have a safety net, and -if things keep going the way they’re going, there’ll be another well-paying gig around the corner anyway.

I have also asked other people to work for free, simply because I didn’t have the money to pay them. They agreed, and I’ll probably be giving out a few-grand-worth of handouts once I’m living pretty comfortably.

I think -at least starting out- working for free is just a necessary evil. If you’re still honing your skills and not confident with what you do, best way to get your hand it and keep it firmly planted there is just sign yourself up to some cheap, shitty labor. Jump on the gig, accept the dubious payment for “exposure” and “for your portfolio”, leave at the end of the day knowing there’s at least ten people you no longer will want to work with because nine times out of ten, low or no-paying gigs are a clusterfuck.

But the established? The professionals? The ones doing the thing they want to do and getting paid for it? You’d better damn well expect a paycheque.

Thanks to musician/actor friend, possible secret understudy for Tori Amos and all-round cool chick, Helen Perris, I’ve been reading more and more about professionals getting asked to work for free. More disgustingly, they’re being asked by prominent, well-known businesses, who have the cashflow to pay people.

First up is Castle Hill Myer, who Helen approached to see if they were keen on her music. Though this has since all been sorted out from the sounds of things.. So kudos, Myer.

Next up? Oprah Winfrey, with her net-worth of 2.9 billion, asking performers to play during her tour, “The Life You Want” on a stage nowhere near Oprah, for free. I guess the bill for all those free cars finally came through.

and Opera Australia, doing a callout for dancers who -again, aren’t earning a paycheque.

All of these organisations have plenty of money to go around. This isn’t another case of a purely independent artist like Amanda Palmer asking people to work for free (though really, that’s still kinda shitty), and this isn’t like they’re bringing on people who are still honing their skills. These guys are loaded and can afford to pay some folk, and the people they’re asking are talented, skilled, and probably earning a bit of cash on the side.

Outside of Helen’s facebook page, I have recently learned my girlfriend, Kim, was not compensated for her work alongside a prominent opera singer, and that her reward was “the opportunity to work with me”, which… well, call me biased, but that’s the biggest load of shit I’ve ever heard in my life.

Don’t get me wrong. Exposure is nice and all. But it simply isn’t enough of an excuse or form of compensation if you’re going to recruit people to work for you, and you have the cash to pay them. Even in my situation where I’m living week to week, most people are pretty chill if you work out a payment system and mututally-acceptable rate with them. Hell, just tell ’em you’re poor as shit and be upfront about the fact you can’t pay them. These people are human, and humans are capable of rational thought, compassion, and understanding (unless they’re Liberal, or voted Liberal, anyway). So long as you’re upfront, honest, easy to work with and nice about it, you can usually get away with murder without looking like a jerk. Just remember that every person you ask has every right to tell you to go fuck yourself (and probably will).

The problem with exposure is that

a) it rarely follows through with that almost-always-promised “paid job down the line”,

b) it’s usually un-needed if you market yourself enough and have enough portfolio-filler.

Portfolio-filler has it’s own share of demons, being that usually, the projects aren’t that good, or well-polished, or are just downright unusable. It also is a bit different for people working in entertainment because that next album, next film, next book, is your portfolio-filler most of the time and with services like YouTube, Vimeo, Bandcamp and WordPress, it’s getting simpler, cheaper, and easier to get your work out there.

To me, the whole concept of “working for exposure” just cheapens one’s craft. Like, think about what that says in regards to your respect for the person you want to collaborate with; You absolutely LOVE their work, but don’t love it that much to pay them? Nice.

It’s probably worth mentioning that most expenses go unpaid ontop of the lack of a fee. So once you put rehearsal time, their skillset, practice, years and hundreds of dollars of training, and now the poor bastard has to pay for their own fuel to get to your shitty job? Congratulations, you’ve just made every sweatshop in China go “jesus that guy has some issues”.

Also, from the standpoint of hiring people to work for free, people simply give less of a fuck about it. Take it from a vindictive, misanthropic bastard of a filmmaker, folks. It’s easier to get people back in line, arrive on time, learn lines, rehearse, and work without complaint if you threaten them with their paycheque. But that’s just me. I tend to rule through fear.

I know some of you out there are calling “BULLSHIT!” and saying that artists have a choice to work for free or not. They do, and they exercise that right pretty fucking often. However, for every two artists that say “no”, there’s three newcomers who haven’t figured out that their newfound recruiter is basically exploiting them. It makes it harder for legitimate, professional artists to get paid for their work. Not to mention, you get what you pay for, nine times out of ten.

Perhaps you’re also saying “BUT THEY COULD HAVE GAINED LIKE, SOOO MUCH EXPOSURE FROM THAT! IDIOTS!”. Also true, but last I checked, exposure isn’t a form of legal tender, and it’s hard to pay rent with IOU’s (trust me, I’ve tried).

And for the select few assholes who want to yell “GET A REAL JOB!”? Go fuck yourself. You don’t deserve to enjoy art. Burn all your CD’s, all your books, all your movies and ram the molten  remnants up your goddamn arse if that’s the attitude you’re going to go with. Imagine the world today if some cock-headed loudmouth jerkass yelled at say, Kurt Cobain, or the dudes from Metallica, or Quentin Tarantino, or the Matt godddamn-motherfuckin’ Groening to “get a job”, and they did. You and people like you just destroyed some the few good things about the 90’s. Well done.

We, as artists, consumers, and recruiters need to set a precedence that not only asking people to take time of our their day to work for free -when no other trade really encounters this- is a shitty exploitative practice, and that getting a paid gig shouldn’t be something to be cheering about, but something that’s damn-well par for the course.

If you take anything from this post, just remember that being an artist is also a job for some people, and if you’re so adamant about how exposure is a good form of compensation, tell a tradie that you’ll tell all your friends about him if he fixes your house for free, and get back to me with how far you get in your spiel without being punched in the head.

 

Till next time.

 

Accidental Musings

I don’t normally get personal on here. I feel that personal posts -as much as I could be honest, true to myself, as non-topical as I like and make dick jokes in yet another format, aren’t really at home on DETF. As much as this is a “too personal for a professional blog”/”too-whoring-of-my-wares for Livejournal” melting pot of stuff, I dunno. I need something to say on here, not just blog about how my day went. Which is why I drag ass when making posts. I mean, fuck. Check my drafts folder:

If there was a blog equivalent to that prison from "The Dark Knight Rises", this would be it.
If there was a blog equivalent to that prison from “The Dark Knight Rises”, this would be it.

But this morning? Let’s get personal. Fuck it. Y’all ready?

Wait, I can’t hear you, this is a blog… uh, I’ll just pretend you’re ready, kay?

About a week ago, I was in a car accident and got rear-ended. Stupidity was involved, I wasn’t at fault, just a shitty situation and a case of being in the wrong place in the right time. The guy behind us (of course, in a vehicle that could shred my poor Mazda 323 into tinfoil by just beeping the horn) didn’t break fast enough, claimed he “didn’t see us”, and smashed the back of our car. The boot no longer closes, shit, I don’t even have the car anymore. Waiting on the insurance payout… Whenever that happens (bureaucracy, am I right?).

To add some cherries and chocolate sprinkles to this particular shit sundae, this happened merely MONTHS after I just got a new car thanks to my previous one being written off under similar circumstances (going through a roundabout and someone ELSE’S car got rear-ended straight into the front of ours)

And the little crumbly-ass wafer? My partner, Kim, was injured in the process and now needs physio ’cause of whiplash.

While she’s a big grown up and can take care of herself, I have this idea that it’s my job to protect my beloved from the various ails of the world. I mean, I’m the big manly boyfriend, right? That’s my damn job.

(yes, fat no-talent asshole me referred to myself as “manly”. Yes, I’m aware in non-internet-land, Nikki Webster is more manly than me. Stop fucking laughing)

Point is, take your pot-shots at me if you must, assholes of the world, but NOBODY injures my girlfriend in a car accident… Or something like that.

So I’m at the shit cafe, and the shit waitress (made of shit, her service was impeccable) just served me this shit sundae. I’m angry. Livid. Perhaps even feeling a little shit outta luck in that self-serving “why does this shit happen to ME” sorta way, and heck, upset. Given the loss of the previous car and now this one, right before shooting a movie (again, of course) it almost seems like the payout is totally not worth it. I understand accidents happen, don’t get me wrong. This WAS an accident and I’ve been on the giving end of plenty of ’em myself, but like many, could have been avoided.

I could have been faster on the uptake and sped like a fuckin’ demon to safety, missing my intended turnoff entirely and thus delaying my journey by a whopping five minutes.

The guy could have, you know, been paying attention and not run into us.

I could have whacked more insurance on the car so at least it’d cover some repairs.

The guy, well, could have not hit us. I dunno what else he could have done, really.

I guess the moral of this sob story is “don’t fuck with me, I’ll rant about you in my blog and parade your effigy around the internet for all to see”, and maybe a little bit of Smokey the Bear-inspired “Only YOU can prevent car accidents”, but fuckit. I just wanted once last rant before I put this fucker to bed entirely. Looking back, both Kim and I are relieved that it wasn’t much, much, worse. Had buddy-guy didn’t break, fucker woulda wiped us out completely, push us into oncoming traffic, who knows? I could have been typing this using a straw poking out of a dismembered limb.

Come to think of it, that sounds kinda badass. But then I think that “A Serbian Film” is worth watching at least once, purely for the technical aspects. So perhaps I’m not the best one to ask here.

Till next time.