Finding Damo

The story of a man, his job, two cats and the meaning of success.

Click Bait

I have written a couple of articles on Vocal.Media. You can make money off the site if your story goes viral.

With 66 views on my last article, I made 26 cents.

This time I am hoping to double that. If you’re bored, go and have a look at my little story. I like it.

https://vocal.media/humans/do-they

Links

I am making my breakfast and humming along in my head to Greg! the Stop Sign by TISM.

I am singing that because last night we watched Smokey and the Bandit and the drivers spent most of their time looking at their passengers while driving over 100mph.

And I am annoyed by that because last weekend we watched Amelie, who hates “the way drivers never look at the road in old American movies.”

The world is full of connections, but at least right now I have TISM in my brain.

Letters from the past

Note: stuck in my house, I’ve been starting to go through old files. Trying to clean up my pictures directory, looking through old story ideas. During this process, I found this text file, named FORCASS.TXT.

It’s an email I send to a friend of mine, Cass Brain, who I haven’t seen in decades. It’s a very melancholy diatribe, but it definitely gets into my head. It’s an email from 1998, so here’s a slice of Damo from more than 20 years ago.

I may have deleted some of the completely irrelevant bits, to leave the reflection intact. Enjoy.

One last bit of background: I was living in Park Street in South Melbourne with Dave at the time. It was a glorious apartment with views of Crown Casino. So the walk along St Kilda road took me home via a lovely walk through the gardens.

Kings Way in 1998

So much to say. So many thoughts and feeling running through my mind. So many of them gone now that I am in the safe comfort of my home and not out on the streets, marveling at the city I now call home.

I drew this in 1991 or 1992 as part of a calendar.

When I left to go to Kyabram, the place that I have always thought of as the town I grew up in, Shereen and I commented on how good it would be to get out of the city. When we got to Kyabram, we pointed out the sun, and how much warmer and brighter it was in the country. We noticed the spaciousness, the (this is a totally inadequate word) quaintness of the houses, and I remembered what it was like growing up in a small town. I didn’t remember how I was tormented for having parents for teachers, for being “the fat kid”, for being useless at sport in a town where everyone played football in the winter and cricket in the summer.

I didn’t remember the derision or the loneliness. It was a day – beautiful and blue, warm and peaceful in a town where you could walk certain streets for hours without seeing a moving car – for remembering the good times. I remembered swimming in the town pool, playing water tag and scarecrow. I remembered going to the tuck shop at lunchtime for a dollars’ worth of lollies that would last you for the rest of the day.

I remembered my old houses. The treehouse out the back, our pet chickens, my dog, who was older than I was, up until she (but we called her a him) died. I did a jigsaw puzzle. I caught up with some old friends. Made some new ones. It was a 21st we were going to after all, and when you’re talking around a drum with a fire in it at 3am you tend to make new friends. Everyone’s willing to talk and to laugh at 3am in the morning at a 21st.

And when it was time to go home, I thought about what Jerry Seinfeld said about Melbourne being the anus of the world, and really found it hard to disagree.

When I got to Melbourne again, I wandered along Bourke Street up to the mall. It was evening, and I had a free ticket to go see a movie. I thought I might go and see The Night Flyer (the new King Flick). I ended up seeing The Opposite of Sex. A weird movie to say the least. Before that. I walked past Hungry Jack’s, when this tall thin guy with Einsteinian hair came charging past with his girlfriend. He had his hand cocked over something he had stowed in the hem? Lining? Top of his pants. My imagination running wild, I was thinking gun, and already was working out how to put it into a story idea. I watched the couple as they walked off, and he was smiling as if telling a funny joke and gesticulating wildly. That’s Melbourne for you. Never a shortage of weird people. I love to watch people in the city.

I walked to Hoyts and bought my ticket, then went to the bathroom. When I came out I figured I’d go and get something to eat. I walked out of the cinema into a police barrier. When I got to Hungry Jacks I asked the guy behind the counter what had happened (there were police everywhere). He said there’d been a stabbing and the police were asking everybody for info. Yay. I love this city. I went back to the cinema, but told a policewoman what I’d seen, just in case. It could have been a knife rather than a gun, and it was at the same time.

When I got out of the movie, I decided to walk home. Have you seen LA Story? Steve Martin, disillusioned with the shallowness of his city, is saved by it in the end. Incidentally, he finds true love as well.

I walked through the night streets of Melbourne and marvelled at my city. Remember how I told you that I was awed by the work of man over the work of nature? I love to walk. I love to go up to the mountains and
see scenery and smell fresh air. But I am always moved by what man, a selfish egotistical self-destructive race of beings, can create with the pure, passionate part that makes up humanity.

Arts Centre in 1998

I gave three dollars to a guy who was asking for money. He commented on my dream catcher necklace and wished me a good night’s dreaming. I stood and looked up at the Arts Centre – the first time I’ve seen it from below at night for a while. There wasn’t a tram in sight, so I decided to walk home. It was a brisk night.

Nippy but not uncomfortably cold. I walked across the bridge of the Yarra and stared at it’s muddy waters. Then I turned and looked at the Yarra on the other side of the road. The lights of Flinders Street and Southbank reflected off the water and the polluted river was transformed into a thing of beauty. The Arts Centre, a towering spire of cold hard metal glowed with the blue light and flashing bulbs that turn it into a sculpture of light. As I continued to walk, I heard the sound of the tram. I looked over at it as it pulled to a stop, the familiar green and yellow creature that is such an integral part of the city. This one had a sign across the top: NOTHING GETS YOU GOING IN THE MORNING LIKE VEGEMITE.

I could have caught it then, but decided that I would walk the rest of the way. I just can’t believe how much the city changes at night. I walked past the memorial to “Weary” Dunlop. Then I went back, walked up the stairs and read the inscription on the plaque. I stared at the statue for awhile. I think I had a huge astounded grin on my face. I had never looked twice at that statue until tonight. I went onto the flower clock. A clever use of nature in a clearly man-made architecture. I walked past the statue of our first governor-general. The flowers below it, just recently planted, read “Red Roses for Cystic Fibrosis”. I looked at the statues of athletes in the botanic gardens. I marveled at the way the lights lit up the fountain that sprayed water in structured hoops to make a beautiful pattern. I was nearing home. And then I saw, lit up by huge spotlights so that is always seen, night and day: The Shrine of Remembrance.

Do you know, I haven’t been there since 1990, when our year level came up from Kyabram to do the sightseeing thing? Like everything else, it was transformed in the night. I went to see it. My heart was filling with awe and respect. I walked up the stairs and stared quietly at the Eternal Flame for a while. I walked up the next flight and came face to face with the ancient gods. Pressed into the stone before me, a frieze of deities. Not God, and
Mary, Jesus or the Saints. These were the ancients. Humans in the sky. Understandable, with faults of their own. These were the deities that guarded the memory of our soldiers. I walked around the side – should I
say this? – tears in my eyes at the beauty of the sculptures before me. The lions pulling the carriages. Flanking the message of the Shrine. Can I remember it now? Did it have that much of an impact?

Shrine in the afternoon – 1998 – Photo by me on a film camera.

“All men know this. That this is sacred ground. This shrine…”

No. I don’t remember the exact words, but it was a powerful message embossed into the stone, and the shadows cast by the light on the engraved stone was a stunning sight to behold.

The flying foxes, fruit bats, whatever, screeched and fought in the trees around me, another part of Melbourne, especially the gardens. Imagine that, in the midst of a city, teeming with life and spewing death into the sky, that there are these beautiful gardens, stretching for what seems like an eternity. A hideaway from the city, but still a part of it. Definitely. I walked down the stairs and across the neatly kept, soft green grass. Down to the fountain on the corner at the Domain interchange. Flanked by a turtle spewing water into the center and sea horses or fish or maybe ducks and topped with Pan and his water-flowing pipes. I love turtles, and the mythology of turtles. I walked home along Park street, slowly coming back into reality in the knowledge that Dave and his girlfriend would be waiting and this epiphany of Melbourne that I had just experienced I could not pass on to them, sitting in front of the tv.

I thought about my city for a while. We have two brothels and a nightclub on our street, another nightclub around the corner. The Crown Casino, the most decadent structure in the city within walking distance. And as I stare now out the window over the lights of the buildings and vehicles, watching other Melbournians go about their nightly business totally unaware of the soul staring out over them, I have only one thing to say:

F*** you Jerry Seinfeld. I love this city.

Well, two things. Melbourne’s so much better when you’re sharing it.

Afterward: the thing I miss most about being locked in are the evenings where I just jump on a train and head into the city. This hasn’t helped my out-of-home-sickness in the slightest.

Coronavirus and Lyme disease

My wife turned to me and said:

“I feel a sense of impending dread. Do you think it’s the Coronavirus?”

I said:

“Yup. Symptoms of Coronavirus: 1) shortness of breath. 2) fever. 3) Sense of impending dread.”

She said:

“I meant the thought of Coronavirus is giving me a sense of dread, but ha ha.”

In other news, they refuse to close the schools and for some reason there’s no food in the supermarkets.

We are Ill-equipped for the end of days.

FINDING DAMO BUCKET LIST 2020

A few years ago I put together a bucket list of things I want to do before I die. Last night my daughter was talking about creating her own bucket list, so I thought it might be time to update my own.

But first, let’s have a quick look at the first one. From that list, I came incredibly close to buying a purple suit, but balked at the last second. Now that I have a bit more money I think I need to do another trip down to Rosebud.

No penguin costumes, no troll costume, no replaced eyeball.

In fact, I have to say no to most of the old bucket list. Let’s see.

I have had a play produced – had a couple in fact – through GemCo. You can even buy the scripts. There was a link, but now you need to email them.

I have been an extra in Revolving Door’s Pokemon Resurgence. (here, if you just want to see me). I’ve published Dwarves in Space, and I am in the process of finding a publisher for the ‘Thropes series (again, let me know if you can help). I’ve also won a couple of money prizes for my writing, so that’s good.

I have a guitar, but I’m not playing it. I am playing the ukulele, which is a lot of fun. I have a piano, but I need to get it tuned.

And I still haven’t read any of those massively boring books.

Weirdly enough, a desire to do standup comedy didn’t even turn up on that list, but I have done a few gigs and even entered the 2020 Raw Comedy competition. So that’s an arrow in my bow.

OK, I’m glad I didn’t die back then. Let’s see how my attitudes have changed.

Fashion

  • I want a summer outfit that is properly summer – like the clothes they wear in really hot countries.
  • I still want a purple suit.

Food/Health

  • I would like to magically not care about food and eat healthy, to lose weight, ditch the psoriasis and stop needing the sleep apnoea mask.
  • But failing that, I want to eat the perfect hamburger. The problem is, I have to try all the burgers to find the perfect one. Hence my desire to stop caring about this.

Fame

  • I want to be paid to act.
  • I want to have a book published by a mainstream publisher.
  • I want to be paid for my standup comedy.

Family

  • I would like to be debt free so that we can travel more.
  • I want to get the house fixed up, or move to somewhere smaller and cheaper.
  • I want my family to be happy in their endeavours. The rest can come out of their own bucket lists.

Creativity

  • I want to write a screenplay.
  • I want to finish the Faux Pas first book at least.
  • I want to complete Yarra Noir (and talking to Shereen, I might actually have the plot point I needed to get it done).

Travel

Ireland, Great Britain, Spain and the Camino Trail, back to Japan.

Learning/Reading/Watching

  • I need a movie night once a fortnight to keep up a bit with the movies coming out, as a Media teacher.
  • I want to learn to make games in Unreal, or VR exploration spaces.
  • I want to spend more time learning Spanish and brushing up on my Japanese.

Just a quick one

It’s NaNoWriMo, so I am in the midst of mad writer’s disease.

If you want to take a look at how I am going (over 30k complete) then check out my profile: https://www.nanowrimo.org/participants/finding-damo

Only a couple of weeks until school is done for another year. It is insane how quickly the years go but how long they feel right up until they are done.

I’m sure there’s a mental issue involved in that statement.

Write a Book in a Day

I run Write a Book in a Day at our school. There are two competitions: The SIS (Southern Independent Schools) competition, which just passed, and the National competition which is coming up at the end of August.

Because it’s a student exercise, and the rules specifically forbid teacher assistance, I spend a lot of the day telling my students to stop eating sugar and start writing again. I take photos.

And I write myself. I may as well. It’s 9am until 5pm. When I’m not putting out technological forest fires, I might as well stretch my creative muscles.

So I’m giving you what I came up with from the prompts given.

The prompts were:

Human Character One: Musical Conductor
Human Character Two: Nurse
Non-human character: Magical bear
Setting: shopping centre
Issue: Crippling depression

I need to discuss with the organisers for next year putting together some more fun prompts that allow for a more student-centred book. Anyway, here’s my story:

As always, if you like it, let me know in the comments. If you don’t like it, feel free to let me know as well, but the purpose of the exercise was to hack it together in the time that I had, including illustrations, so it might be a bit rough.

Imagination Master

Voting has opened in the Focus on Ability competition. Please check out our entry and vote for our chance at the Voter’s Choice Award and your chance to win a $50 iTunes voucher daily.

It’s been awhile. I’ve been busy. But hey, I’m always busy. This time, the busy-ness was due to my involvement in this year’s Focus on Ability competition. Basically, I wanted a reason to spend some time with my family in Bendigo, and this seemed like a good one.

So I asked Cai: “I want to do a movie with you, showing your abilities. What do you want to happen?”

And he said: “I want a wizard who lives in a cavern of fire, and I want to do magic.”

So I adjusted my expectations and we started work on the most epic five minute amateur film ever.

And now it’s done. And we have entered it into the competition. And we need your help to get the voting numbers. Below is a voting link, and below that are some of the behind the scenes bits that will get you excited about what we did. It was a mammoth effort involving three families, and I’m hoping it gets the attention my families deserve for all of their efforts.

Promotional Materials

It looks better in the end.

FINALIST!

2019 Focus On Ability Short Film Awards

Open Short Film Section

I’m writing to let you know that my film The Imagination Master is a finalist in the NOVA Employment 2019 Focus On Ability Short Film Awards.

Focus on Ability (FOA) is designed to encourage filmmakers to focus on the ability of people with disability. This year they’re celebrating 11 years of doing just that!

About Focus On Ability:

Based in Australia, this year’s FOA festival had an amazing 245 entries, including 104 school entries and 61 international films. Following successful screenings last year right around Australia, in New Zealand, New York, Zimbabwe and Malawi this year the competition received entries from 26 countries. More info.

Last year’s winners from the Open sections can be viewed here. As you can see, the competition is stiff!

Judges Choice Short Film
Winner – Sebastian Chan – Bus Trip

Judges Choice Documentary
Winner – Kasimir Burgess – Paul

Most Online Votes
Winner – Nicole Molloy & Matt Watt – He Will Walk

Best Australian Actor
George Holahan-Cantwell – Inclusion Makes the World More Vibrant

This could be the richest short-film festival in the world, with over $175,000 in prizes to be shared among the winners.

The winner of the Judges Choice Open Short Film section wins an amazing prize! Winner – 1 return ticket to Los Angeles, 6 Weeks Accommodation at UP(st)ART Creative Living, 1 Ticket to the American Film Market, 1 Ticket the Australians In Film Gala Dinner & Membership to Australians In Film, Meetings with International Judges for mentorships, Live Studio Tapings of US Shows, $5000 worth of legal services from Kate L Raynor & Associates, 1 Ticket to Media Access Awards & Acknowledgement, Warner Bros Studio Tour Tickets.

My film is also in the running to win Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Director, Screen Producers Award and…

Most Online Votes – Winner – $5000 cash prize courtesy of Club York

This is where you come in!

Even though I’m confident the judges will love my film, if our local community gets behind me, it might just win the Most Online Votes!

Voting starts 20 June and concludes 3 July: http://www.focusonability.com.au/

Voters go in the running to win a $50 iTunes voucher, but you can only vote once in each category. The six categories are:

  • Australia & New Zealand Schools Documentary
  • Australia & New Zealand Schools Short Film
  • Australian Open Documentary
  • Australian Open Short Filmthis is us
  • International Documentary
  • International Short Film.

Winners attend a red-carpet event at The Concourse in Sydney on 6 September 2019.

Quotes from Martin Wren, CEO NOVA Employment: (FOA was his big idea!)

‘Focus is a constant source of amazement for me. It came as a random thought bubble, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could use the medium of film to highlight the ability of people with disability?” It could change the world!’

‘Now, I’m a Brixton kid – I’m hard as nails when I need to be – but I can guarantee you that I’ll weep at least 5 times when I watch those films. I hear, see and feel people saying things like, “I didn’t know that anyone would ever love me” and “It feels like I’m being destroyed”. I have to go back and replay to check: “Yes they actually said that in my film fest.”’

‘I don’t think, as a person, you can fail to be impressed and inspired by taking ten minutes to see a couple of FOA films. FOA changes attitudes about people with disability and this is important because it’s the first step towards an inclusive society.’

Illusion

All is not what it seems.

Or rather, all is what it seems and it’s pretty mundane once you figure out the why of it.

Or nothing is what it seems and the glitches in the Matrix are the only hints at the real world hidden behind the illusion.

Scary dinosaur - very realistic

We live in a world where, if a dragon landed on the street in front of you, most people would just wander up to it, trying to figure out whether it was a hologram or animatronics.

I’m reading Chasing Embers at the moment – good read, check it out – and the main character is thinking that if someone looked up and saw a dragon they would scream and panic and then call the police.

It’s amazing the things you see walking through the bush.

I just don’t see it. If I looked out of the window into the night sky, and saw a dragon flapping merrily through the night, I could justify it in a dozen different ways. It could be one of the new drones, with a cloth shell. It could be a projection. It could be a bat/bird/flying lizard that just looks like a dragon. It is most likely a stunt for the upcoming season of Game of Thrones.

It would be cool, don’t get me wrong. But it wouldn’t be a dragon.

Of course, once the dragon started burning houses to the ground and making off with our virgins, I might be persuaded otherwise.

I am always amazed by the world that we live in and the technology we take for granted.

In my head, I am planning lessons for my students next year (check the calendar – yup, still next year) where they model a piece of furniture from their classroom and then I import that into our virtual reality classroom for us to shoot with paintballs. My year tens start the semester by programming drones. The Year Sevens make robots that follow a black line around the classroom (before creating their battle bots and destroying their opposition). They make computer games and short animated videos, podcasts and movies, all on their laptops.

And that’s normal for them.

I can make a dragon fly across the sky using Maya and After Effects and post that on YouTube and – even if I did it perfectly – nobody would be fooled.

My Psycho Teddy Bear hiding in a hole
What is real, really?

If the footage was blurry and the camera jumped about a bit and you couldn’t really see the dragon, then maybe some people would be taken in.

What would it take for you to believe in dragons? Ghosts? Aliens?

Because I don’t think that even seeing one up close and touching them would do it for me any more. It would be always in the back of my mind that someone had just come up with a better illusion.

Is this a good thing for humanity?

Or just a very sad indictment of our lack of faith?

Get out of Jail Free

Get out of jail card from Monopoly
What if these were real?

My wife and I were going through a number of random topics – our viewpoints on things are either very similar or almost completely opposite, so this can be a fun pastime – and came across the following hypothetical:

If you couldn’t be convicted of any one type of crime, what criminal charge would you like to be immune to?

It required some thought. You don’t want to waste your immunity on something stupid. Likewise, you don’t want to waste it on something you would never do.

Here are some of the things you can get done for, vaguely ordered from less naughty to quite naughty indeed:

  • Jaywalking
  • Treason
  • Taking drugs
  • Traffic violations (speeding, parking)
  • Pirating videos/downloading TV shows.
  • Shoplifting/stealing
  • Tax evasion
  • Vigilantism
  • Spying
  • Assault
  • Pirating (parrots, wooden legs)
  • Terrorism
  • Murder
  • Poaching
  • Assassination

I’ve left off things that I wouldn’t even consider. And probably a lot of things that I would consider, but I didn’t think of.

Then we started thinking about why we would need immunity from them. Is it because it’s something we’re likely to do on a regular basis? Or because the punishment is so severe that we don’t want to face it?

I mean, the punishment (as a middle-aged white guy) for taking drugs, jaywalking and shoplifting aren’t so bad that they warrant immunity from being charge for them. Same with speeding and parking fines. But if you were constantly speeding, or taking speed, it might be worth it for the savings.

On the other hand, in today’s political climate, it might be worth being immune to prosecution over acts of treason, terrorism and assassination. We’re only a bad decision away from being labelled treasonous or a terrorist. And I’d hate to be blamed for moving that piano using a dodgy crane just as the PM was walking underneath. It was an accident I swear! Same as last week with the piranhas! The punishments for the big things might make that choice worth it.

You know, if you planned on doing it more than once…

…Or blogging about it.

Maybe choosing something that you might do accidentally. It’s easy to stuff up a tax return, or walk out of a shop carrying that bag of oranges. Or dressing up like a bat and protecting the citizens of Melbourne from criminals.

me as batman

I meant speeding. It’s easy to accidentally speed. Dressing up like a bat is quite difficult, especially with a bit of a pot belly.

Some people might suggest that putting murder and assault on the list might be considered a little bit evil. But here’s where the idea of being immune to prosecution for a crime starts to sound a bit more tempting:

Sometimes you REALLY want to kill someone, but it is considered illegal in this country (and most other countries). And fair enough too. I don’t want murder to be made legal. I just want it to be something that I personally can get away with. It wouldn’t even be considered legal, just something that I get away with.

Hear me out. I don’t want to go around randomly killing people. But if someone killed a family member and got away with it, I have a few friends who would help me bury the body.

I honestly don’t know whether I could kill someone. Probably not. Maybe I should just stick with vigilantism.

I rock a cape.

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