Finding Damo

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

Archive for the month “November, 2018”

A deeper look at bullying

Reading over the last post on bullying, I agree that it was a very personal piece without a lot of interest for others not in that situation. To that end, I would like to just flesh out the concepts behind the specifics. My daughter is in Year Eight and that is a time fraught with emotional outbursts and changing loyalties and differing levels of growth and therefore tensions are rife. Not to mention the fact that boys and girls start buying into the “us versus them” mentality.

Bored teenager at Yellowstone.

I look back at me and I can see that I was arrogant. I was top of the class without trying. I liked and was liked by most of my teachers. And the ones I didn’t like I gave a hard time. I was volatile, partly because of the
Roaccutane I was taking for horrible acne. I wasn’t good at sport and I was one of the original computer nerds. And debating nerd. And theatre geek. On coming back from Canada to Year 10, I was furthermore a world travelled teenager in an insular tiny country town.

I read everything, especially horror. I fell in love easily. I stayed up late and got up early.

As a teacher I look at some kids that just scream “target”. I am sure that some of my teachers thought the same way. I am soooo glad I didn’t grow up with the Internet.

I don’t remember feeling lonely, although I am sure I did.

 I remember being scared of some of the people who threatened me. I have mentioned the moron who told me in class that he wanted to push my head through a wall. I remember going all the way around the school and hiding by the bins so that I didn’t have to confront him.

I kind of wish that I had just confronted him. Let him hit me. Gotten that fear out of my mind and out into the real world where I could deal with it. Surely it wouldn’t have been that bad. Maybe it would have. I don’t know.

I have been in exactly one fight. The boys in the class pitted me against someone else that they didn’t like. We snarked at each other for a couple of days and then agreed to fight up by the cricket nets. A group surrounded us. He hit me in the stomach. I fell over. That was the end of it. It was incredibly humiliating, but neither of us could be bothered keeping up the animosity after that.

 I remember feeling incredibly betrayed by people I thought were my friends. We went to parties together in primary school. We played in the yard. Our parents were friends. And then they weren’t friends. They ostracised me. They laughed at me. They held Year level parties that I wasn’t invited to. Funnily enough, they invited me to a party at the end of year 8 as a going away. There was some snarking but on the whole it was an ok evening. They were happy to be nice knowing that I was leaving?

It wasn’t as bad in Year 10 – they just couldn’t keep it up. There were pockets of idiots, and I didn’t get along with most of the year level, but I had friends, and wasn’t being actively bullied, except by a couple. Shereen and I broke up over something that was absolutely my fault and then the friendship group disappeared again. I spent most of the year in the library. A weeklong camp in the city was hellish. I repaired a lot of that damage over the year and in year 11 and 12 I had some good friends. VCE still sucked. Our year level was mainly terrible – the worst group to go through the school in eight years. VCE was new and we all hated it. My design for our year 12 jumper was: VCE – in line for the dole queue. But I survived.

God, how depressing… having to say that you survived high school.

18th birthday party
By 18 I had a few good friends

 My wife and I tell our daughter, and I tell kids at school, that high school is fleeting. At University, you find people accepting of your differences. Those people who are popular in high school, rather than nice (you can absolutely be nice and popular – hi Cate) will find that that popularity goes away outside of the artificial construct that is the school system.

But it absolutely doesn’t help while you are in high school. It doesn’t help when your entire life is immediate and the future is a concept that means nothing compared to girlfriends and grades and being part of a group.

My diary from years 10-12 was mainly concerned with girls. I didn’t focus on the bullying; I have always been good at hiding from my problems. I read through it again last night and this is ALL I could find that even came close to referencing bullying. Lyndon is the guy that I thought was Shannon (sorry Shannon).

A page from my diary in Year 11.

I remember being ruled by my emotions. I was not a rational being. I look around at my students – at twenty different facial expressions while they write a test – and have to remember how I felt in those days. It’s hard to do when you’re forty-four.

Mum and Dad offered to move me to another school when I was in Year 11. I refused. I think I refused because I was 1) scared I would be forced to do more work and 2) terrified that it wouldn’t be any better and all the tiny supports I had built up would be gone.

Every little thing that I have done in my life has led me to here. I like here. There are so many mistakes I would prefer not to have made, but they all got me to this place. As a teacher, I am hyper-vigilant for bullying. My experiences got me to this point where I can help others.

Silver lining, eh?

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Ten Movies that changed my life.

This is another one of those “pick ten” impossibilities. I’ve been watching movies constantly since I was four years old. I have over a thousand DVDs in my collection. But once you add the rider “changed your life” I think I can cut it down a bit. I still don’t think I’m going to be able to keep it to ten.

OK, here goes.

When Harry Met Sally / The Truth about Cats and Dogs / My Best Friend’s Wedding

I’ve always been a bit of a romantic. When Harry Met Sally was the first DVD I bought. I also had it on VHS and I can pretty much quote it from start to finish. I have a soft spot for Rob Reiner, Nora and Deiiah Ephron. They write brilliant characters.  The other two just caught me. I would watch them almost weekly. Watching them again, they were some pretty dysfunctional people, but maybe that’s what I identified with.

 

Casablanca / Breakfast at Tiffanys / The Philadelphia Story

Some of the classics. Casablanca came out of watching When Harry Met Sally. But these old movies have always been close to my heart.

 

Heathers / Hudson Hawk / True Romance

The movies to quote. I was ecstatic when Heathers was turned into a TV show. The first episode was incredibly referential and quite reverential as well. Everything was turned on its head but it kept that basic style of conversation and surrealism that made Heathers so cool.

Hudson Hawk just tickled me. I quoted Hudson Hawk constantly. I’m sure I drove everyone crazy.

True Romance was recommended to me by Bruce Carboon. He also got me going on a few different arthouse movies. But he would quote Christopher Walken all through our rehearsals for Pirates of Penzance. I thought he was amazing. So I had to watch True Romance. And watch it again. The movie outlasted  any contact I had with Bruce.

 

chasing amyChasing Amy

Kevin Smith is another one who knows characters. There are Smith-ish dialogue pieces in a number of my short stories. He was so cool and philosophical. For a twenty-something just getting into film. Looking back at the movies I still love them but I can start to see what Smith was trying to get out into the world as well. He had demons, that man.

thematrixThe Matrix

This was the first time I thought that a new Superman movie could be done and done properly. Apart from that, it was just a life changing movie that was let down by the sequels. Not to say the sequels weren’t great movies, just that they weren’t worthy of the movie that had come before them. What an amazing thing to come into the world, and all of the advanced it brought to cinema.

When Night was Falling / Naked Lunch

I got right into arthouse. Spent lots of time at the Valhalla being wanky and conceited about the discoveries I had made. Naked Lunch was an incredibly freaky movie that spoke to the confusion and turmoil that I was feeling at university, as this greater world was dumped on me and all of the choices I could make were laid out. I just chose everything and it came back and bit me on the ass. So movies like the Naked Lunch resonated nicely with a world that made no sense.

When Night was Falling was a gorgeous Canadian movie. All of my friends were gay or bi or experimenting and this film again fitted in nicely with those experiences. It works as a movie even when you’re not in a state of inner turmoil. Give it a look.

 

holy grailMonty Python and the Holy Grail / life of Brian / Meaning of Life.

I got into Python in Year 9 and have never looked back. They insinuate themselves into all areas of my life. They have influenced my reading habits, the philosophers I studied, my writing and film studies. Changed my life? Bloody oath!

 

BrainDead/Meet the Feebles

Peter Jackson before he decided to ruin the Hobbit for me. He was cool and edgy and disgusting and almost local. I used to wag school and watch movies with my friends at home. Now I’m a Media teacher. It all worked out ok.

 

color of nightColor of Night

Bruce Willis keeps popping up. He made some great choices. Apparently he’s a bit of a dick, but at the time, he was the coolest man on the planet. Color of Night was an incredible story, crafted to perfection with a twist I never saw coming. And no, I don’t want to hear if you saw it coming. Let me have my enjoyment of the movie.

220px-Arachnophobia_(film)_POSTERArachnophobia

Changed my life by giving me arachnophobia. It scared the crap out of me. It was rated PG. I didn’t sleep for a week after watching it. I was a paper boy and my job consisted of riding through spider webs to deliver newspapers. I’ve had night terrors ever since about  the bed being covered with spiders. This is not an ok movie. I haven’t seen it again since it came out.

Jurassic Park

Another one that was just awesome for cinema in general. It still holds up, but at the time, it was just spectacular. Movies changed completely. I got into CGI with this in the back of my mind.

 

Strictly Ballroom

I was working at the Kyabram Plaza cinema when this came out and I saw it twelve times and loved it eleven times and then got over it. My over it hasn’t lasted. I love it and like watching it on regular occasions. Again, Baz before he got too big for his boots.

rocky jorrorRocky Horror Picture Show

We used to act this out on stage. It was part of our subculture. It allowed us to explore our sexualities under the guise of having fun on stage. It was a musical and a movie! And it was Tim Curry. What’s not to like?

 

ferrisFerris Bueller’s Day off

I don’t think I know anyone my age who wouldn’t put this on their top ten list, although I’m sure they are out there. I saw it in Year 9 and watch it at least twice a year. Matthew Broderick was my hero and Mia Sara was my greatest crush.

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure/Bogus Journey / Encino Man

More movies to quote. Stupid stoner buddy movies have always had a place in my movie collection. It’s interesting to see who went on to big things and who got left behind in comedy limbo.

 

Aliens

This one was another world changer. It had a larger scope than Alien, and I’m pretty sure I saw this one first, when I was in Year 9 or 10. And of course it has Captain Hollister in the extended version, which helps. Game over Man!

 

Jaws

I saw this in grade 5 or 6, and my brother and I hid behind the couch for this and American Werewolf in London, peeking over the edge to see what would happen next. I’m glad I saw it. I’m not so glad I saw it then. I got into a huge argument with my parents because they wouldn’t let me see Jaws 4 because I wasn’t sixteen yet.

starwarsStar Wars

Again, people my age had their worlds changed by this. I had hundreds of figurines and treated them all badly enough that I wouldn’t be able to sell them even if I still had them. It fired my imagination like nothing that came before it.

 

bambiBambi

The first movie I saw on the big screen, although I think I saw Superman II at the drive in before I saw this one. I remember the experience. It led to my love of movies in the cinema. Another one I haven’t seen in twenty years or so.

gremlinsGremlins

Watched this too young and stayed in a caravan that night with friends. Dad crept around the caravan scraping on the windows and scaring us half to death with little gremlin cackles. It scarred me. But I love it and it is a regular Christmas choice.

Akira / Lupin III / Cowboy Bebop

My foray into anime. I watched everything I could get from the Kyabram video store, which wasn’t much. It was part of the reason I was keen to go to Japan.

 

01_Fight_ClubFight Club

Story telling done well. There are few movies out there that really get  you. This and the Sixth Sense (and Color of Night) stand out as being “oh wow. Oh wow!”

Nightmare on Elm Street

I’ve seen every one of these movies a hundred times over. We used to have marathons in Year 11 and 12 watching all the ones that were out. Being a bad sleeper, I was fascinated with dreams and nightmares. You can find my dream journal entry further back here on Finding Damo.nightmare


Well there you go. There are hundreds more movies I could mention. There are probably many more that have had a far more significant impact on me. But these are my stream-of-consciousness ones and that is what Finding Damo has always been about. Not too deep, not too reflective.

Dessert Island discs

A dessert island from Writers Write
I just want to live on an island make of cake and listen to music. This is the second of my “Facebook friends asked me to do lists of things so here it is” series. This time, the post was “Post your all time top ten albums” I couldn’t do this with any honesty, so as always, I changed the rules: Ok. My top ten albums* Actually no. These are ten (and a couple more) albums that came to mind when asked what my top ten albums were. There are hundreds more than flash through my head even thinking about it again now, but I’m going with these ten because they had a massive impact on my life and are still in rotation. For example, I could have added Madonna’s Immaculate Collection – which changed my life, but which I rarely play now. I could have added Use Your Illusions 1 and 2 and Best of Queen 1 and 2 (I came late to music and had to do some serious catchup) but again, they’re not in constant rotation any more. The Twelfth Man series, Weird Al albums, especially Fat, Bill n Ted’s Bogus Journey, and The Muppets Christmas (but I’ll leave that for my top ten Christmas albums post). And… why aren’t Monty Python on this list? You see what I mean? Anyway, here are the ten as posted in April 2018 on Facebook.
Flood - TMBG album cover
#10: They Might Be Giants Flood. I’ve seen them do it live. It never gets old. I’ve talked about They Might Be Giants before. They bring me out of a bad mood almost every time. I came back from Japan early to see They Might Be Giants play and went two nights in a row because they were doing the Flood album start-to-finish the following night.
#9: I’m saying Stormy Weather by Grace Knight. I just listen to it over and over. It was the second CD I ever bought and by far the most played. After posting this on Facebook I went out and bought it again on eBay. It’s still good. —
#8: Barenaked Ladies – Gordon. If I had a Million Dollars is so catchy. I asked friends what I should be listening to if I liked They Might Be Giants and they made me buy this. That was maybe 1995. I’ve been listening to this album ever since. Again, a life changer. It made me feel Canadian again. —
#7: Doug Anthony Allstars. Dead and Alive. I used to listen to DAAS on the Big Gig – I could almost see the TV from my room through two windows into the loungeroom. I’d leave the door open so I could hear. I was absolutely not meant to be watching it. It was brilliant. Again, I came to DAAS properly just as they were wrapping up. Dead and Alive was my first album and is still my favourite. The Last Concert and Icon also get a lot of play but this one just has a great combination of music and general mayhem. —
#6: Tripod. Open Slather. The first Tripod I was exposed to. Still gets more play than any other album. Dave played this at a party when we were living in Clifton Hill in the apartment we called The TARDIS (it was bigger on the inside). From here we started going to gigs at the Pat. They signed my VHS copy of Tosswinkle the Pirate when Dave told them he was bringing it to me in Japan. They are great. And Open Slather has always been my favourite album, followed closely by Tripod versus the Dragon. —
#5: Billy Joel. An Innocent Man This may not be the best Billy, but it is my Billy. It always makes me feel better. It’s been a companion on many family trips, so it has family connections as well as person connections. I’ve had it on tape, vinyl and CD. The Stranger and River of Dreams come close seconds. I’m very aware that these may not be the best albums. As I said, I came to music appreciation late. My friend Craig introduced me to Queen in Year 12. Dad played ELO and heaps of Beatles and Stones around the house. But I was into Summer 87 and Through the Roof 85 and Funbusters. and Rolf Harris. And Bill Cosby. Wow. —
#4: Paul Simon – Graceland. An absolute ripper of an album with incredible rhythms and melodies. Love every single song. I remember listening to this on trips up to Queensland. I know every word in every song. It’s phenomenal. None of his other albums have hit me the same way. —
#3: Carter USM – 1992. The Love Album It’s always a tossup between this and 30 Something but 1992 gets more airplay on my set list. Dave played these guys to me. We would get drunk and sing Is Wrestling Fixed and Who Killed Bambi (by Sex Pistols). Never been hugely into punk, but these albums are fantastic. —
2: Cake – Prolonging the Magic. I almost put Fashion Nugget (and had to fight between Cake and Cat Empire and Bloodhound Gang) but Sheep Go to Heaven pushed me over the edge. That song fires me up every time. Maybe Presidents of the USA should be in here too. I think they’re more Dave than me, but the Dune Buggy album is still on regular rotation around the house.

And in the top spot: 1. Whitlams – Eternal Nightcap I listen to this almost weekly. It got into my brain at my most musically susceptible and has never left. God it’s a good album. And again, I could have put Ben Folds Five in here, but it hasn’t stayed in my rotation. So anyway, thirty or so albums in my top ten list. Go and listen to all of them. Let me know just how bad my music taste actually is.

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