Finding Damo

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

Archive for the category “Celebrity”

40

40

It’s just a number. The only reason it has any importance at all is because humans evolved with five digits on each hand. It doesn’t mean anything.

BUT

I turned 40 in September. It’s taken me almost three months to get over it. The worst part I think was being reallocated in surveys.

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When discussing success, this age milestone is one that gets a good look in.

“I was ready to retire at 40.” “I owned my house outright by 40.” “I had a three-picture deal by the age of 40.”

As far as 40-year olds go, I am pretty happy with the things I’ve accomplished. What are the big ticket items? Check out my blog on success from the early days.

Back? How am I doing? From the list at the beginning of the post:

  • I have kids (kid).
  • I’m married.
  • I have a house.
  • I am known in my field.
  • I have lived in over two countries (over two meaning three).

From my own musings, success meant married, house, kids, published. I’ve done all of those things. Luckily, there’s no end-point for success. I could end the book here and it would be satisfying for the reader, but I could also write a sequel (Finding Damo Too) where I raised the bar a bit.

So, where to from here? From 40?

Before I’m fifty, I’d like to:

  • Be debt free
  • Have a contract with a publishing house
  • Publish a full-length play
  • Be financially secure enough to be able to travel overseas for vacations with the family.

I’d still like to have biological offspring, but at 40 the fear of being sixty and having a teenage child is slowly outweighing the desire to pass on my genetic lineage.

The other tough part of turning 40 is the dreaded 40th. This should be the party to end all parties. Stuff your 21st, this is your FORTIETH! Let your hair down. You’re still alive. Well done.

I thought I managed quite well. I organised with Dymocks in the city to hold a book launch for Dwarves in Space. Dymocks 234 Collins Street, Melbourne is now the only store IN THE WORLD that stocks Dwarves in Space on the shelves. Go and say hi.

book eventn

I read some excerpts from my novel. I read an excerpt from the first of many short stories that will make up the second book of Trimador. I signed a heap of books. There was wine, there was laughter… Basically, as it should be, my fortieth was about me, spending time with my friends and feeling special. I asked people not to buy me presents, but instead to buy Dwarves in Space for someone who doesn’t already have a copy. I even filmed it:

seldom bucketForty so far has been very productive. I have been published again – this time in a book of 10-minute plays. I don’t know whether you can buy them online yet, but if you’re ever in Emerald…I spent three weeks as Seldom Bucket in Gemco’s production of Maskerade by Terry Pratchett. I’ve been asked to write for an educational publication on a few different subjects (more on that as I find out more – and when I can cut down the word count on my massively over-inflated first article) and I’m well into my third short story for Short Stuff – diminutive fiction from Trimador.

All in all, I’m a happy but tired 40 year old. Next goal: to exercise enough to keep me alive until I’m fifty.

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Elf-Promotion (the dwarves have all the fun)

Saturday 5th April is now Dwarves in Space Day. But it’s not just dwarves going into space. There is a wizard. There are a number of barbarians. There is an orc. Even the king of Trimador is coming along for the ride. And a goodly number of elves.

And this is an issue for a race that is so attuned to nature. Nobody thinks about the huge sacrifice they make when they join the crew of the Eagle in search of Quiddity.

Have no idea what I’m talking about? Come along to the signing of my new book: Dwarves in Space.

Where? Notions Unlimited, Shop 9, Chelsea Beach Arcade, 426 Nepean Hwy, Chelsea, VIC. 3196

When? 5.30 – 7.00pm, April 5, 2014.

What else?

Author Damian Perry will be in-store at Notions Unlimited Bookshop, to launch and sign copies of his debut humorous SF novel, DWARVES IN SPACE.

Information on the Notions Unlimited Blog and on my Facebook Page (like it while you’re there) and Google+ event (ditto).

I hope you’ll join us for drinks and nibbles. Bring a friend or six. Bring total strangers. I’ll sign books and answer questions.

signing on 5 april

Still not convinced? Here’s what people are saying about the book:

Amazon reader:

“When I started “Dwarves in Space” I wasn’t sure what I would be getting, but I have to say that all too quickly I was snagged by the witty writing, the memorable characters, the adventurous tone and the entertaining plot.”

A review from Danny – a fellow Discworld fan:

“Damian Perry has managed to not only cross the genre divide by poking fun at the tropes and cliches, but has also paid respect to them as well – and it’s all held together by an engaging and exciting story.”

 

I look forward to seeing you all there.

Lock ’em up.

Before I begin I need to reiterate to any new Damo Finders that I very rarely do research before I rant. This blog does not contain scholarly rigour and I freely admit that pretty much anything I write here could be completely untrue.

You have been warned.

teenager in prisonOnce again, I’ve returned from coaching a debating evening filled with the half-formed thoughts of Year 9 students. This time, they were asked to argue “That children should not be incarcerated”. From what I could gather, they were arguing that children (legally, those under the age of 18) should not be held in detention, put in prison, taken to juvie, or the like. It was a challenging topic, especially for our side, who were trying to convince the audience that even a murderer would benefit more from a kind word and some therapy than a stint in the pokie.

Their arguments were that children’s minds are not fully formed before the age of 18 and that they cannot distinguish between right and wrong, and therefore cannot be held accountable for their actions and should not be punished for them. That placing children into institutions puts them in contact with other criminal types, increasing the risk that they will become hardened criminals through association.

The negative team’s best argument was that if the Victorian Police are willing to give a 12 year old a gun license, they must be pretty damn sure that the child knows the difference between right and wrong. They also felt that the greater good of society needed to be taken into account and that a murdering child needed to be removed from society for the good of society.

Good arguments. What do I think?

It is completely possible for a child to be a psychopath. A child doesn’t turn eighteen and then lose the ability to empathise with others. As far as I know, psychopaths are born, not made. There are children that are, if not evil, then at least completely amoral. They either can’t tell the difference between right and wrong, or they know and don’t believe that such distinctions apply to them.

If a child kills or assaults someone, not through an accident or loss of control, but through careful planning and forethought, that child can’t be allowed to continue to exist in society. Who knows? Maybe they can be “cured” or “rehabilitated” through intensive therapy. Maybe not. But until they are judged fit to coexist in society, they are requested to leave the pool. Play time’s over.

James BulgerThose are the extreme cases. Remember James Bulger? Jon Venables and Robert

Thompson – both ten – stole the two year old from a shopping centre. They walked him around town, beat him and kicked him, and then killed him and left him on the train tracks.

Did you know they moved them to Australia? Gave them new identities and gave them to us.

One of the important concepts highlighted in this case is that of “Doli incapax”. Legally there is a stage that a child can be held responsible for their actions. That they understand the concepts of right and wrong, and that death is a permanent state. Back in the early nineties, once it had been judged that the boys understood that death was permanent, they could be tried as adults. I’m pretty sure that’s no longer the case.

Either way, the argument is for or against putting children into detention. I say yes, for murderers and insane evil little Chucky clones (ever see The Good Son?) but no to those who commit crimes against property.

Sticking a child in detention that has been done for shoplifting or similar is like creating a master class for junior thieves. You can find out all sorts of nifty tricks when you hang out with other people with a similar mind frame.

“I’ll swap you some breaking and entering skills for some tips on pickpocketing.”

More to the point, incarceration creates an institutionalised child. It’s not a natural society. The pecking order is similar to prison. The concepts of helping out a fellow inmate or being kind are beaten or terrified out of the child and they learn that being stronger than the next person is the way to be. How is that going to help them in the real world?

Some would say it’s a perfect lesson. I say it’s the top of a slippery slope to hell.

I deal with teenagers every day. Only once in a blue moon do I have to deal with a child around whom I am genuinely uneasy. There is good in almost every child. But there is always the exception to the rule.

I’ve seen a student who was the most surly, angry boy in the school smile with genuine appreciation when I told him his work was good. I can’t say that his attitude changed that much, but his mother told me during parent/teacher interviews that he really liked my class and talked about it a lot at home.

lord of the fliesChildhood in general is like Lord of the Flies. The power plays and shifting alliances are complex and endless. Teenagers are in constant fear of being embarrassed, of breaking an unwritten rule, of being ostracised or excluded. The rules are many and you often only find out you’ve broken one after it’s too late. And everything is done under the shadow of the authority figures in their lives.

We can only be the best role models we can be. We can listen and give advice. We can point them in the right direction and hope that something sticks. And we can fire up their imaginations so that they have more productive ways to exhaust their energies.

But if they’re out there killing people, then hell yeah, lock ’em up.

Rant over. Lighter topics next week.

Go for Gold

wooo ahhhhh!And the Olympics are over for another four years. Eric Idle sang “Life’s a piece of shit” in front of the world and Wonderwall was sung by the most bored-looking bunch of musicians I’ve ever seen, and Posh Spice rode, terrified, around the arena on the top of a cab, and then we’re done.

And in another way the games have just started up again. In the paper this morning, the Melbourne headlines roared “Massive push for 2024 games!” With the immediate response being: “Sorry, no way. We’re not interested.” by the Australian Olympic Committee.

Oh, I don’t care! In 12 years, my stepdaughter will be at uni and my actual son/daughter could be starting high school and nothing is less important to me than whether we host another money-sucking, elitist sporting competition.

I’m being subjective, instead of objective. I should just report, and let you make up your own minds.

On a completely different topic, I took my students to a debate last week (they won – in the finals, woo!). The topic was that London 2012 should be the last Olympic Games.

Sorry, this is less than subtle.

The main points, completely uncontested by my boys, were these:

1. More money was spent on the Olympics than the Mars landing. In a quick glance at Google (my version of research), I see costings of 10 billion pounds, 15 billion pounds, or more, depending on whether you’re talking to a politician or a media personality. Just think what you could do with 15 billions pounds in a world where whole countries are starving!

the real Olympics2. The vision of the Olympics has been corrupted by sponsorship and greed. Olympic athletes are now more interested in personal glory than the glory of their country. This is evidenced (the debaters said) by the number of competitors who live and train and compete for one of the larger countries, even though they were born in another, less prosperous country. They go where their win is. Right down to the American Dressage competitor riding the winner of the 2008 games – a German horse.

And sponsorship! The two main sponsors of the Olympic Games: McDonalds and Coca Cola. How did this happen? In the room next door, my Year 8 debaters were debating whether the government should add tax to high fat foods. Does nobody see the conflict of interest here?

3. The Olympic Games have lost all sense of tradition. When was the last time you saw a naked Greek man running in the marathon at the Olympics? See what I mean? No tradition. Wait. Did I say “I”? I meant, see what the students meant? I was just illustrating the point. Even here, my debaters didn’t contest the argument.

At no stage were they debating that the Olympics as they are should be continued. Their argument was that they should not be discontinued. They put forward the idea that the Olympics should return to the simple concepts and traditions that made them such a good idea in the first place. Instead of dividing nations and causing competition, separating rich countries from poor, the Olympics should purely be about the sport. Have the flame of competition without the golden arches plastered to the side of the torch. Compete for the glory of the win rather than the future sponsorship deals a win will garner.

First stop in that path? Kill sponsorship. Cap spending at what is necessary to provide accommodation for the athletes – no new stadiums, no massive opening ceremonies, no Gallaghers at all. I think the world will thank me. Our opposition screamed “But then nobody will watch the games! Nobody will televise it! What’s the point?” The point is, I think, that we will have single-handedly removed the tempation to do drugs, cheat, spend thousands on super hero costumes masquerading as uniforms and restored the concept of competition to the forefront of the Olympic ideal. Who cares if nobody is watching? You know what? Who watches the Paralympics? These are people with FAR more Olympic spirit, competing for the glory of achieving something great, and nobody will show them on television.

My team argued that the games should definitely continue, but that the Olympic spirit would die if we continued with the bloated, parasitic monster of a model that is the current Olympics.

Sidenote: I thought that here would be a great place to put a picture of the “Olympic Monster” so I did a quick Google search. Instead, I came up with this article, about a sea monster, terrorising Olympic athletes…

olympic spiritAgain, bloated, parasitic monster that is the Olympics as it has become. In my head, the Olympics is the lean, muscled, Greek Adonis, wearing the laurel wreath and carrying a bright torch of competition and comeraderie. And if we take away the sponsorship and the shiny stadiums, and the Olympics disappear, we at least know that they haven’t died. That happened decades ago. Rather, they were on life-support, trapped inside their head, looking at that fine body wasting away to fat and rot, unable to die because nobody would let them.

If we won’t let the true spirit of the Olympics live again, at least let it die with dignity.

a political statement

Darkest Knight

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Every now and then something happens that just typifies the fears of humanity. The shooting in the last week during Dark Knight Rises contains all of the elements necessary to live forever in the public consciousness. But if James Holmes thinks he’ll be famous forever, he’s in for a rude shock. I had to look up his name to write this, and in a month from now, he’ll only be recognised by trivia buffs and criminology students.

As for the massacre, you couldn’t script it better, and from the sounds of it, this madman may just have done that.

1. Set the scene –

Just shy of the location of the Columbine massacres, this just further fuels the fire of the gun debate.

2. Reference and using the mass media –

“I am the Joker” he says. Choosing Batman as his target allows for decades of quotes and sinister gadgets. And firing on a movie theatre – Going to the movies is a hyper-real situation at the best of times. You give up on reality for a couple of hours and experience extremes in emotion in a safe environment. IN A SAFE ENVIRONMENT. Interviews with people in the cinema said that at the beginning, patrons thought the whole thing was a publicity stunt.

3. The careful planning of premeditation –

This guy had spent weeks in the preparation of the movie event of the year. He had legally acquired the guns and ammunition that he used. He had a gun license. He rigged his house with bombs so that anybody coming to investigate would be killed as well. He rigged a music system to start blaring at about the same time he hit the cinema, hoping that someone would open the door to turn off the music. He had tear gas bombs to stop people from escaping. It was a comic book plan created in real life.

4. The condemnation of his mother –

“I knew it was him.” His mother was waiting for the phone call saying that he was the murderer when she heard about the event. Nobody was surprised that he had done this.

The horror just came out, episode after episode, comic issue after issue, every time we looked at the newspaper or on the web. The condemnation was universal and Nolan and co. were the first to put out official statements. Nolan would be nervous as hell! When I type Dark Knight into Google, the first entry is show times for Melbourne. The second is a list of articles on the shooting. A link to the first article I picked.

20120723-141108.jpgJames Holmes – dark hair dyed flame-red – will live on in the memories of bad movies, sick jokes and documentaries on gun control. But who will remember him outside “that guy who shot up a cinema”? And apparently, everyone with the name James Holmes – they are being victimised on Facebook and Twitter.

What disturbed me was the number of kids in the audience. And that’s not because they got killed. Nolan’s Batman is not for kids!

Oh, and the other reports attached to the first article:

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I wouldn’t have added it, but for the McDonalds article.

Post-Bucket List

So, as I’ve mentioned before, I was hunting down life insurance. Well, I’m now insured. Take all the pot-shots you want, my family is covered.

Oh, unless I get bowel cancer. Apparently one person in my entire family getting it means that I’m too much of a risk to get it as well, so I’m not covered for that.

Never mind, I’ll just have to make sure any critical illnesses I get aren’t that.

I wonder whether becoming a zombie counts as a “critical illness”. I’m sure I couldn’t effectively do my job. What would zombies teach? Biology? Physical  Education? I’d be unemployed and almost unemployable. Maybe McDonald’s. “Would you like brains with that?”

Dead, but still poking around. That reminds me. Awhile ago I posted on Twitter a “post-bucket list”. A list of things I want to do once I’ve kicked the bucket. Everyone has a list of things they want to do before they die. I thought I’d be a little more ambitious.

This list came out of noticing that a number of dead friends and relatives were still popping up on Facebook. “You haven’t chatted to this person for awhile!”

Yes. They’re dead, you insensitive multi-national corporation!

But anyway, the list:

  1. Delete my Facebook account. Although, I might post a couple of status updates first.
    1. “Man it’s hot down here!”
    2. “Oh look, Elvis!”
    3. Damian has poked you… with a chilly, ghostly finger.
    4. Make a clay pot with Demi Moore
    5. Haunt someone. Kevin Smith was talking about a friend who saw her brother on the wing of a plane, saying that he was at peace. I think I would have something more interesting to say. “You know, there are all these tiny lights. So pretty. And they’re getting closer… Oh, oh no. Stop! Get off me! AAARGH!”
    6. Brainssssss
    7. Participate in a séance – from the other side.
    8. Melvin Death…
    9. … and then Fear the Reaper.

Hmm. It’s not a long list. Oh wait, one more:

  1. Go to my own funeral.

I know it’ll be good. I’m pretty sure anyone who would bitch about me at my funeral is pretty much happy to bitch about me in front of my face. But I am very aware that I haven’t written a will. Or an obituary. Or my epitaph. Or prepared my Death Press Kit.

“My what?” you ask. My Death Press Kit, I answer. “Yes, but I think that needs clarification,” you say. Well, yes. Fair enough. Let me see if I can find an example…

Schoolgirl Sheniz Erkan farewelled as friend urges bullying victims to speak out

Hmm. Microsoft Dictionary doesn’t recognise the word “farewelled”. Ah well, it is the Herald-Sun. Here’s the picture:

See? Pretty. Obviously a phone picture, so it fits the Social Media aspect. She did a good job. Or her parents, or whoever sent the papers her photo. Or whichever reporter hacked into her Facebook account.

On the other hand:

Megrahi, Convicted in 1988 Lockerbie Bombing, Dies at 60

You look at this guy and you think “yup, sleazy, obviously a killer. Hope he rots in Hell.” Or maybe that’s just me.

See? You need a Death Press Kit to ensure the papers know how to deal with you after your death. So, to make things easier, I have some photos for various occasions:

Traveler and philanthropist Perry dies after decades of community work

Perry, shamed teacher, dies alone after extended scandal

Conspiracy nut Perry dies in accidental piano incident

I don’t really want to write my obituary yet. I think that’s a blog in itself. I’ll leave you with the Death Press Kit and try to relax after the earthquake that’s scaring Melbournians to death. Gods. I remember Japan. These things happened every week. Still, I better make my sacrifices to the Ancient Ones.

Oh, that reminds me, and speaking of terrible Death Press Kits:

Suspected Maryland cannibal ranted about ‘human sacrifices’ on Facebook

This guy didn’t pick his Death Photo.

This guy killed and ate a guy who was living with him, including his heart and brain. The response from the on-campus co-ordinators:

“He noted the university has a zero-tolerance policy toward violence and a student in such a situation would likely be suspended or expelled.”

Ummm…

However, where I really think they were stretching for evidence:

“In February, Kinyua posted a question on Facebook, asking fellow students at historically black colleges and universities if they were “strong enough to endure ritual HBCU mass human sacrifices around the country and still be able to function as human beings?””

OK. The man was a looney. He killed and ate someone. But if I was indicted for every call to human sacrifice I placed in a Facebook status, I would never again see the light of day!

Let’s see what I can find.

  • “Today, I invade England!”
  • “Happy Invasion Day!”
  • “So birds are dying all over the globe and now there is a cow that’s given birth to a two headed calf. Is anyone else worried?”
  • “OK. Got an hour to finish the Multimedia class. That’s 3 minutes per student!”
  • “Sorry Paul, I have a social group on Wednesdays. Knock em dead!”
  • “is apparently NOT the killer, but is incompetent.”

See? I’m stuffed. Ok. Back into hiding. See you next week.

Blog. No, Frog. No, blog.

I got married on the weekend. I might even talk about it. But not yet. The reason I mention it is because I had the Monday off to celebrate and came back to work to Parent-Teacher interviews, which lasted until nine at night. Welcome back.

I mention THAT because while we were having dinner during the break, I was sitting with one of the teachers – a Master Storyteller.

‘So my dad was in Borneo and was responsible for getting the Japs out of the country, re-settlement and all that. And there was this one village where they’d killed all of the villagers except for this one guy. And he was a cannibal.
‘No, really.
‘So he was in charge of guiding the Japanese prisoners to their work detail. And every day he’d take out four of them and every day he’d only come back with three.
‘ “Run off in the bush,” he’d tell my father. And seriously, he was Changi thin to start off with, but by the end of the occupation he was quite fat! And Dad always said “We’d get in so much trouble – put up for war crimes – if we let on we knew, so I chose to believe that these guys were running off.’

It was absolutely hilarious. Not so much now that I’m writing it down for an audience who doesn’t know him, but at the time…

Anyway, I got married on the weekend. A gesture of extreme optimism. Because of course, the bees are disappearing and the frogs – well, don’t get me started on the frogs.

There is absolutely no evidence to support the claim that Einstein once said: “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination … no more men!”

But that’s never stopped anyone. And we don’t care that Einstein wasn’t a botanist or a bee-keeper, because he had cool hair and was photographed with his tongue sticking out. But it makes sense. If the bees disappear, nothing pollinates the flowers. No pollination, no fruit or vegies. Animals die. We die. Cockroaches take over the world. And everyone’s happy.

20120505-132803.jpgEspecially the frogs. Cos right now, the frogs aren’t very happy at all! Frogs respirate through their skin. They lay their eggs unprotected in fresh water. They really suck at dealing with pollution. I was walking through a swamp the other day and this frog stuck his tongue out at me. It almost took my eye out. They’re not impressed with our management of the planet.

Conspiracy: the bees are disappearing because of mobile phones. Apparently, all of the signals flying through the air are disrupting their navigational signals. They get lost, like me when there’s no reception. Hence the problem: I can’t find my way around without a phone. They can’t find their way with one.

And yes, this is scattered. I’m not entirely sure I want to talk about my wedding. Finding Damo isn’t about a guy who’s married. It’s about a single guy looking for love. It would be like giving away the ending really, except that this Damo character is fictional.

I can tell you about our wedding night – No! don’t stop reading, I’m not telling you about THAT part of it! I’m just going to have a little conversation about expectation and reality. And before I do that, let me tell you: I love my wife. I loved my wedding weekend. It was pure bliss all the way through and nothing that happened was going to ruin my happiness.

Even so…

We stayed at Carrington House in Daylesford . We stayed there last Feb and had a wonderful time so we thought we’d give them some repeat business. After the wedding we drove up and wandered in, tired and happy and looking forward to our Steam Room.

“Steven?” they asked as we came in.
“Um, no.” we said. “It’s under Shereen. It’s our wedding night.”
You should have seen her face fall.

I know two Shereens. Only two. Ever. But apparently there’s a third one, and she’d turned up 20 minutes before us and the woman had given her our room.

So Carrington House gets the award for being the first hotel in history to DOWNGRADE a couple on their wedding night.

“Of course, we’ll refund you your room and swap you across in the morning.”
Nope. They went off to talk. The guy came back and gave us $50 “The difference in price in the rooms is $20” and he felt like he was being generous. So we stayed in our smaller, boring room, went to the hassle of moving again the next day and lived with it because on our wedding weekend the last thing we wanted was a hassle.

To top it off, they are no longer a bed and breakfast. They don’t do breakfast. The only reason we’d come back to this place. It’s absolutely not worth the money any more, but more importantly, they had the opportunity to do the right thing a number of times that weekend to the wedding couple they’d screwed over, and failed to do so.

So I bag them online. Whee!

20120505-133646.jpgSo we got married on the weekend. I have never felt happier in my life than at the moment that my bride to be came through the chapel doors towards me up the aisle. This is backed up by the photos of me grinning like an absolute idiot.

Hang on, I’ll find my vows:

Shereen, From this day on
I choose you to be my beloved soul mate and wife.

I vow:
to trust and value your opinions, and stand by your actions.
to work for a happy life for both of us;
to listen when you need to talk;
to cherish and encourage you;
to live with you and laugh with you;
to stand by your side and sleep in your arms;
to be joy to your heart and food to your soul;
to bring out the best in you always;
to be the best I can be, just for you;
to celebrate with you in the good times;
to struggle with you in the bad;
to take you in my arms when you need to be held;
to ask for help when I need it, and offer help when necessary;
to be true and faithful;
as we journey together through the rest of our lives.

Of course, I spent the entire time in my head going I’mgettingmarriedI’mgettingmarriedI’mgettingmarriedI’mgettingmarried “I do” I’mgettingmarriedI’mgettingmarriedI’mgettingmarriedI’mgettingmarried “I will!”
I’mgettingmarriedI’mgettingmarriedI’mgettingmarriedI’mgettingmarried– Oh it’s over!

But as I said, I don’t want to talk about the wedding for ages. I will, but it requires fixing my thoughts and trying to get it as perfect as the day itself was.

I will make the comment that it is imperative to prepare your thank you speech before the day. Here’s mine:
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Hate to love you and leave you, but there’s a bee at the front door asking for a Melway.

Are you curious about yourself?

Are you curious about yourself?

Why, yes! I am!

On Saturday I found a Scientology stand in the Mall off Puckle St. They had a guy doing stress tests, a number of L. Ron Hubbard books, an explanatory DVD, and a lovely pink pamphlet that asks: Are you curious about yourself?

I found that I was curious about myself, so I picked up the pamphlet, which contained a Free Personality Test. It consisted of a number of questions that you answer as + (definitely yes), m (maybe or uncertain) or – (definitely no or mostly no).

I was still curious about myself, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Here are some of the questions:

3. Do you browse through railway timetables, directories or dictionaries just for pleasure?

A simple enough beginning. No. No, I don’t browse through timetables for pleasure. Easy. I feel good.

7. Would you prefer to be in a position where you did not have the responsibilities of making decisions?

Slightly more ominous. If I say yes, does that make me fodder for a cult where I am under your control? And I will like it, because of my answer here?

14. Would the idea of inflicting pain on game, small animals or fish prevent you from hunting or fishing?

Now I’m worried. What is it that we Scientologists will have to do in the new world? And if I want to get in, do they want pacifists? Or people who are willing to torture small animals for sport?

19. Are you normally considerate in your demands on your employees, relatives or pupils?

Ok, now I’m freaking out. How do they know that I’m a teacher? And how did they know I’d be on Puckle St at that time? I think my tin foil hat might be playing up. Or that I spend too much time on Foursquare.

26. Is your life a constant struggle for survival?

No. Should it be? Is it going to be soon? Will I be safe if I join Tom Cruise?

31. Could you agree to “strict discipline”?

Oh right. You have got to be kidding me. This is a question? Are they grooming me for the church or for a good spanking? But in all honesty, yes. I suppose I must answer yes.

45. Do you often feel that people are looking at you or talking about you behind your back?

WHAT HAVE YOU HEARD? Was it that bastard Dave? What did he say? Why did I make him best man? GET OUT OF MY HEAD!

Or, to be more honest, no. They might be suspicious and ramp up the surveillance if I said yes.

55. When hearing a lecturer, do you sometimes experience the idea that the speaker is referring entirely to you?

Isn’t it always about me? You just have to know how to read the codes. It was quite difficult getting Packed to the Rafters to be about me. It involved some seriously meta interpretation of camera angles.

61. Do you ever get a “dreamlike” feeling toward life when it all seems unreal?

No. Yes. Is that a walrus?

72. Are you perturbed at the idea of loss of dignity?

This is really a question. I am beginning to think that this might not be from the Church of Scientology at all, but rather a clever plot by the government to get us to answer questions they’re scared to ask outright in Herald-Sun polls.

76. Do you sometimes give away articles which strictly speaking do not belong to you?

Let’s forget about the fact that the Word grammar checker is having a spack attack over that sentence. This question was written on a very VERY old version of this survey and was intended to try and capture Robin Hood.

This, though, reminds me of a story that doesn’t necessarily put me in a good light. It may make it into the novel. I may have to change it a LOT.

I was living with a girl I’d met on RSVP. I keep wanting to call her Emma, but I’m pretty sure that’s not her name. I wasn’t dating her. We went out on a date, realised we had absolutely no chemistry, but she called me in a couple of days asking if I had a spare room. She moved in. But on the night she was going to move in, she called me and asked if I could be involved in a rescue mission for the new girl that had come down from Queensland.

I think I need some back story on the need for a rescue mission.

“Emma” (I don’t usually change names to save the innocent etc. but I really can’t remember her name) was moving in with me because the guy she was living was an absolute lunatic – scratch that, it’s judgemental. He tutored girls and told them that they had to do what he told them. He used spanking as a method of instruction. He made his tenants sign a document saying that he could spank them if they didn’t follow house rules.

And we’re back on track.

When this new girl moved in, on the first night, the man crawled into bed with her in the middle of the night. Hence the need for a rescue. Fair enough? I thought so.

So, we took my car and Emma’s and drove to his place on a night when we were pretty sure he wasn’t going to be there. We quickly packed everything we could into the car. Emma went through a room filled with books.

“Look at these books. There are so many first editions here! Want anything?” she asked, grabbing a signed Somebody Famous.

“God no. I’ve never even met this guy – is that the Egyptian book of the Dead?”

So, maybe I can’t give you a solid No on that one. But I didn’t give it away!

On with the questions.

88. If we were invading another country, would you feel sympathetic towards conscientious objectors in this country?

“…and if you say yes to this one, you will mysteriously disappear on the eve of our invasion, along with your objecting friends.”

More evidence that this is a government conspiracy.

92. Are you a slow eater?

This survey needs a fourth box: WHY?

98. Would you use corporal punishment on a child aged ten if it refused to obey you?

I laughed at this one. There are a number of questions that ask whether you hate kids, or are uncomfortable around kids. And now: will you give a child a good belting for the good of the group?

101. Does the youth of today have more opportunity than that of a generation ago?

Yes. Why did I put this question in? Oh yes, because this really deserves its own blog. Remind me.

110. Is your facial expression varied rather than set?

They really ask this. Are you already one of the pod people? Or should we send your free Quick-grow Audrey III by express post?

113. Would it take a definite effort on your part to consider the subject of suicide?

Well, it did. And then I read this question. Now I’m obsessing.

Pinocchio130. Are you aware of any habitual physical mannerisms such as pulling your hair, nose, ears or such like?

I’m always pulling my nose. Pulling my nose? Who pulls their nose? Are they asking me this so that the clones can imitate me without being caught? Who pulls their nose? I’m trying it now. It doesn’t seem like a nervous habit. It feels like a misguided attempt to pick it.

136. Do children irritate you?

They do. But I have a cream that clears it right up.

138. Do you usually carry out assignments promptly and systematically?

I mean, really. Yes sir! Mr Cruise, sir!

163. Would you take the necessary actions to kill an animal in order to put it out of pain?

This really should follow directly after 138.

170. Are you opposed to the “probations system” for criminals?

And this should follow directly after 163. “animal” yes indeedy.

181. Do you often ponder over your own inferiority?

I often ponder over other people’s inferiority. Does that count?

194. If you lose an article, do you get the idea that “someone must have stolen or mislaid it”?

Yeah. Blame the other guy.

195. If you thought that someone was suspicious of you and your actions, would you tackle them on the subject rather than leaving them to work it out?

If I thought that someone was suspicious of me and my actions, I think I’d have to make sure that they never told anybody else about it. . .

Battlefield Earth

yuk

OK… So I am no longer that curious about myself, but I’m hella curious about Scientology! How is it that a science fiction writer writes a book, calls it real and suddenly some idiot makes Battlefield Earth into a movie??? And don’t tell me you liked it. I’ve said that myself. You just like the memory of it, now that it’s no longer tearing away at the walls of your intellect.

Why is it that I’m allowed to write Scientologist on my census form, but not Jedi? Or wizard? Maybe I can write wizard. I haven’t checked. But I know they don’t count Jedi. At least I can write Pastafarian, and they told everyone they just made it up.

Damn. The paranoia is kicking in. I should change some of these answers. You won’t take me alive! I sleep with a can of plant killer under my bed! Ha. Just read question 199: Do you tend to hide your feelings?

I feel kind of bad about picking on Scientology. I read the website, which is probably all they wanted me to do in the first place. It sounds quite mellow. I’m pretty sure it isn’t, but it sounds quite mellow.

Made up by a science fiction author. But mellow.

Next week: I’ll be married. I could write about that. Or I could write about bees. Let’s see, shall we?

Success

OK. Pick 3:

  • be fabulously wealthy
  • become a household name
  • marry a supermodel
  • become the boss of the company
  • create your own company
  • have kids
  • act on Broadway
  • Have hundreds of people attend your funeral
  • pass the million followers mark on Twitter
  • own your own house
  • get published
  • fill your passport with stamps
  • get married
  • be known in your field
  • have lived in over a dozen countries
  • reach old age
  • own the sports car
  • have a YouTube clip go viral…

Which of these three things mean Success to you? I’ve always wanted to be successful, but when I decided to make it a focus in Finding Damo, I found that I had to actually think about what that meant.

The book’s not finished yet. I’m not done thinking. But a few things have become blatantly clear:
1. Success is fluid.
2. Success is elusive
3. You should never be able to achieve it.
4. It is very different for everyone I’ve talked to.

At the age of 20, working in a shocking job, but earning real money for the first time, my ambitions were simple: the house, a wife, three kids and a string of successful novels and computer games based around characters Dave and I invented.

At 26, working at Racing Victoria and headed for a semi-successful IT career, I went to a psychic. She told me that somewhere around 30 I would get married to a girl with long blonde hair, tied at the back with a red ribbon. We’d have two kids and I’d write a novel which would be published after a chance meeting with an overseas investor. That all sounded pretty good, although I’ve never had a thing for blondes.* Then I went to Japan, had a year where I could write for four hours a day, and got to meet all sorts of foreign people – none of whom have bought my book.

Yet.

At 33 I was living in Dromana, living the beach life. I was unmarried, unpublished, still renting, and had no kids that I knew about. My younger siblings both had all of this. My first novel was in editing limbo, I was building up a collection of “this is great, but it doesn’t quite fit” rejection slips on my short stories.

It sounds grim, put like that. None of the things at which I wanted to “succeed” were eventuating. But I was happy. Living by the beach, acting and directing in local theatre and very happy at school. The house and the kids seemed like less of an issue, compared to the fame and the sunny beachy days. I was getting ready to travel again. Lots of plans. My idea of Success at that stage could have twisted off down two very different legs of the trousers of time.

Have you seen Sliding Doors? Imagine that with even more Monty Python references.

Funnily enough, it was then that I met a girl – completely uninterested in a domestic lifestyle – who cemented my concept of success as “wife, kids, house”. She already had a house and wasn’t interested in marriage or kids – and that made me realise that they were things I couldn’t live without.

And now, I’m living the trifecta all in one year. Well, two out of three aint bad**. Now all I need is the fame and fortune.

That’s my success. I’ll get back to you on success for other people.

* Except Scarlett Johanssen, and who wouldn’t?
** Pratchett points out that, actually, it isn’t great. It’s only 66%.

Fanboy

kiss me I'm IrishI’m writing this one on the team on the way into the city. I’m wearing a green shirt and a clover pin and should be quite inebriated by midday. The Pogues are broguing away on my iPhone and I feel like potatoes. It’s the one day I can match Dave in alcohol consumption without needing hospitalisation. The spirit of the Irish rises up within me.

Did the Pogues just sing the word puir? I think they did! I’m in green heaven.

If course, for a man who painted himself blue for a Discworld con, the green shirt and pin are a little mellow.

Various images of me being a fanboyD’you like what I did there? I neatly changed the topic from St Patrick’s Day to me being a little over the top when it comes to enjoying certain works of fiction.

My name is Damian, and I’m a fanboy!

But it’s not that bad. I’m a social fanboy. I don’t dress up by myself. I… I can stop whenever I want. Seriously.

Let’s analyse this.
Damo is a fanboy:
– I am on the organising committee for next year’s Nullus Anxietas convention (Discworld Down Under – I love a sunburnt turtle).
– I almost bankrupted our theatre group to put on a production of Terry Pratchett’s Mort.
– I painted Death Riding Binky o the back of my denim jacket and had it signed by Terry and embroidered by my friend Shereen (not my fiancé Shereen and NOT to be referred to as ‘the other Shereen’).
– I’ve been dressed – at varying times and amongst many others – as a feegle, the Cheshire Cat, Uncle Fester and Wolverine.
– I own a Stuffed Murloc that goes grlglgglglgl! When you squeeze his mouth.
– I own Red Dwarf on VHS, DVD and iTunes, all of the books and assorted badges and pins.
– I have photos riding a Nimbus, flashing a light saber, and of me trapped inside the Pandorica.
– I’ve been to 221B Baker St and platform 9 1/2. And indeed went to London with the specific aim of going to said places.

OK. Damo is not a fanboy because:
– There is not one sci-fi poster in the house… Hung up in the house. Of course, that will change in the new place.
– I’ve never worn a star trek uniform or forehead ridges. Hmm, that’s now on my bucket list.
– I’ve never spent more than I can afford on sci-fi merchandise. I’ve regularly spent more than a sane person would, but never more than I could afford.
– I don’t collect signatures. I’d much prefer to have the memory of talking to a personality than the physical bit of paper with a scribbled name on it. That’s not to say I don’t have signed books. And a couple of DVDs. And of course the jacket… OK, can I retract this statement? It’s not all my fault. You can’t be a fan of Terry Pratchett without signatures popping up all over your books. It’s like magic.
– Worst of all, I have no real feelings on Star Trek vs Star Wars. Or Star Trek DS9 vs Babylon 5. It seems sacrilegious. But there you go. Although if pushed – no. I won’t get that debate happening here.

Conclusion:
I’m a pop culture enthusiast with a penchant for dressing up and a borderline addictive nature that manifests in the collection of stuff.

I like to be involved in things because if I’m not there’s a chance I might miss out on something.

And my imagination leads me to immerse myself in worlds rather than just taking a quick dip.

But I think a true fanboy would laugh at me if I tried to call myself a fanboy of any particular genre or world.

Time for a Guinness. Begorrah!

Addendum: The morning after, wondering why Guinness always seems like such a good idea at the time, I realise that St Patrick’s Day has a lot to do with being a fanboy (or girl) as well. I’m not sure how many of the people at Dan O’Connell’s had even the slightest amount of Irish blood in them, but we all got together to celebrate the Irish – or we all got together to have a huge pissup and dress in ridiculous costumes. Sounds very much like a number of conventions I’ve been to. There was a girl in a Guinness suit, many many guys with fake sideburns, a lot of green hair and a few Vulcans… hang on, wrong convention. And you have to think, these people – even if they weren’t sober when I met them – were sober when they put the costume on in the morning.

Pfff. Fanboys.

To be sure, they're fanboys all roight!

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