That One Time We Were Ramsay Street

My street isn’t anything like those on TV – we don’t get together every other week to do a BBQ. We don’t share a perpetually connected backyard where anyone could waltz in and have a cuppa. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t even know who my neighbors are, and I’ve lived on this street for almost a decade.

The thing is, we’re not the other end of the spectrum either. Apart from some unpleasantness a few months back concerning some idiots down the street, a carton of eggs and my front porch, we all leave each other well alone. If we pass each other, we would nod, or pretend it didn’t happen. I suppose, of course, that everyone had the same thoughts I did: What will it take for the street to get together?

Then, one morning a couple weeks back, there were sirens. I crawled out of bed, in time to see billowing smoke rising from the roof of a house three doors down. A quick glance around, and sure enough, the entire street population was also billowing from their houses, rubbernecking at the site of what could very well turn out to be a massive tragedy. Some of us (myself included), started patting our hair consciously, in case TV crews turned up.

Fortunately, I guess, no one turned up but two fire trucks and a couple of police cars. Turns out (and this is just whispers passed from one lips to another) that the tenants had left something on in the kitchen, and it in turn burned half the house down. The people were all out, thankfully, so all the only hurt was on the wallet.

So, several weeks on, the chicken wire fencing is still up, and the workmen have been doing their job to fix up this house. But even as they clear away the burnt out wall, I realized that the wall between neighbors still hasn’t come down. We’d all stood there, gaping at the smoke, mutually coughing at the fumes, and acting like this was a blow on us all, but no one had asked for each other’s name. We recognize the model and make of the cars, but if we had to connect a face to those, much less a name, we’d be at a loss.

Is it even possible to be as neighborly as the houses on Ramsay Street? Is there even a point? Surely, people know when something is wrong, and will do something, right?

Except no one would notice if an elderly couple hadn’t surfaced for a few days. No one would see bruises covering someone’s arms when they go out. Aren’t these the things that neighbors should watch out for?

DSC_0405[1]

 

I could not get the permission from the builders to walk inside the location (beyond the chicken fence), and I definitely didn’t want to do something illegal like sneak in after hours.

The QR code will work perfectly with a decent scanner. I used the Barcode scanner Android app, but you Apple people out there should be able to find one just as good.

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The Proverbial Sunrise

[Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been – Relient K]

I’ll be posting at least 2 Things on my other (serious) blog very soon.

Today, I was supposed to go with some friends to visit the grave of a beautiful friend taken way too early from a world that needs more love like hers. Unfortunately, I made the selfish mistake of leaving both my assignment and immune system unattended, and now I’m sick and (as you can see in the previous post) still forced to cram out something academic.

The other week, I posted here the results of my photography assignment. I don’t know how obvious it was, but the one of the stove was atrocious. My original plan was doing something else (below), but there was no time for it.

So here is what it could have been.

DSC_0284

Alex.

Lately I’ve Been

[Counting Stars – OneRepublic]

It’s April, I’m 6 weeks into the graduate course that I told myself should change how I approach my career, and this is it!

INTRODUCING….

ALEX DOES A THING

One thing that I was always told to do when starting out: write what you know. What do I know? I know blogging. I’ve been blogging for years, and I’ve gone from good, to frequent, to intermittent to bad, and back around again. If I know anything, it’s to write in a way that gets other people to enjoy it, so boom, that’s one thing.

And the other is the topic – what are you gonna write about? Again, sticking to my knowledge guns, I’m going to write about stuff I an interested in – namely, something that I would do. Don’t worry, I won’t bog myself down in my comfort zone – the new site is as much about me getting in touch with what I know, as well as moving outwards to bigger things.

So, yeah, do me a huge favor, and if you’re already following this blog, follow the other one too! If you get in early, you’ll be witness to my slowly getting better at it – or crash and burn. Hey, a new project is a new project, and it could go either way. But with a bit of audience support, some social clicking, maybe I can appear on the front page of something one day soon.

Alex.

With Every Broken Bone

[I Lived – OneRepublic]

A break from the academic stuff! Except now I’m having a gripe at social pressures again.

Without opening the floodgates of “what the hell is wrong with me?”, I have been thinking about the way that I regard other people around me.

I haven’t been making many efforts to be a ‘good friend’, as such, firstly because I keep telling myself that my 6-7 contact hours a week at uni is so draining, but also because I just want to be home. Many times, when I’m sitting with a group of people with whom I’ve had minimal prior interactions, and there is a lull in the conversation, I wish that I was in front of my computer, doing any old anti-social thing. Whenever I have to make awkward and forced conversation, especially about a future to which I don’t yet know all the prospects, I find myself drifting home.

But, when I’m home, I’m restless. When I am sitting there with my gaming console wondering which mission or enemy I should kill next, I look outside and wonder at the lifestyle of those more active than I. Could I be a person who takes a walk for an hour and comes back with 100+ photos on their camera, a tan line on their arm, and an idea that inspires them? Could I be a person who somehow sticks to a schedule that they set, and actually chase the lifestyle that they envision? Could I put down my comic, and go and write one?

I’m not daunted by the empty page – I avoid it. When I have an idea, I don’t see an empty page for long at all, but when I don’t, I will do anything to not have to look at one.

I have on my weekly planner here that tomorrow I’m supposed to go for a small walk around the area with my new camera, and take some photos for my class. They don’t have to be good photos. They don’t even really need to be of things far away from my house. I could feasibly just go into my backyard and do it; but I shouldn’t.

I’ll try my best to come here tomorrow and attach at least one photo that I took, even if it’s of a frontyard three houses down.

Anyway, what was supposed to be a post about other people turned into my own ineptitude, so back on topic.

Making and acting social cues is hard. When I’m doing it, I do it. But when I have to think about it, I get so tired and irritated. At what point did I start ticking off a list of people with whom I should keep in touch? At what point does someone even make it onto a social to-do list? And what point does someone drop off of one? I want to have those people around, I do, because being around them makes me feel happiness. Except I’m actually having to make a list and prepare to enable that happiness, instead of it naturally being there for me to access. Then there’s that decision to drop someone off the list – except I never realize their name hadn’t shown up until ages later.

Is it okay to do that? Is it okay to slowly just give up on trying to make efforts with someone because there’s no need to?

Enough of that for this time.

I went to some Coldstream vineyards with my parents the other week, mostly so that my dad can buy a few bottles of wine and taste a dozen more. I’m pretty proud of this photo:

 

Tokar Estate Winery

Don’t worry, I’m not trying to turn into a photographer. My current assignment for class is based on photography, so it’s the flavor of the fortnight. The new camera is for sharing between my dad and me, because he wants to take photos of food, too.

Alex

Testing, Testing, I’m Just Suggesting

[Haven’t Had Enough – Mariana’s Trench]

Even though this blog post is going to be about my CMWP class and tagged as such, it’s not up for assessment, so I wasn’t too fussed about using a song lyric for the title.

For the final digital project, I’ve decided to produce a small comic book – depending on how my scripting and production go, it should be no more than three regular-sized comic pages – based on…you guessed it…Meg! But because of the medium and form that I’ve chosen, I needed to start experimenting early with the technical requirements. One of the biggest asks was for me to re-acquaint myself with Photoshop, and even more importantly for me to learn the basic processes of using Illustrator for creating comics.

So, last night, I made up these two art tests:

Art test 1: no grain

Art test 2: with grain

I wasn’t very happy with the look of the overall image, so I Googled around for more techniques, especially to do with Illustrator. So, this morning, I achieved this:

Art test 3: better balloons

If you click on the links highlighted with “last night” and “this morning”, you’ll see some thoughts I had while creating these.

Obviously, my next step is to do a mock run for the entire project. I plan to script a short, 4-panel strip, storyboard it, then get that dumb little adorable mutt and (photo)shoot her, and producing the final product. It should serve as a trial run to find the kinks in my planning, as well as knowing how to deal with Meg when I need to do a much bigger shoot.

For those curious, I watched Scott McCloud’s Illustrator tutorial on how to do the dialogue boxes, which helped a lot. I also used a variety of blogs and sites which gave instructions on how to create a cartoon style using Photoshop.

Awesome sauce, now I think I have Carpal Tunnel.

Alex.

So Fuck You, You Can Go Cry Me An Ocean

[Save Rock And Roll – Fall Out Boy ft Elton John]

I’m mostly going to bitch about the episode of Glee where they commemorated Finn/Cory, and also catch up on my life. (I have to write these little intro excepts because Tumblr cuts it off pretty fast and I don’t know how to fix it.)

First, the Glee rant. For those of you somehow not in the know, the actor for the main role of Finn Hudson, Cory Monteith, passed away during July from a drug OD. He was struggling with drugs all his grown life, so it wasn’t exactly completely out of the blue, although he was supposed to have gotten better from the rehab stint he did a month prior. And also a quick disclaimer: I understand there are some strong and loyal Glee fans out there and since I’m going to be tagging this post, they might come across it. I want to make this clear: I mean no disrespect to him, to his work, or to his legacy. You’ll see that my rant is mostly about how the show treated the tribute to him, but some may overlap into sensitive areas.

The tribute episode for him, titled “The Quarterback“, mostly depicted a period of time after Finn’s death, where actors from the previous seasons as well as the current season paid him tribute through each of their storylines and song. It showcased the grief experienced by Finn’s mom, his stepdad Burt and his step-brother/co-Directioner Kurt; Puck his best friend from high school; Santana, the chick who he lost his virginity to and who was horrible to him most of the time; Mercedes who was just his friend but I think the actress was probably really close to Cory in real life, so she got her own song; Will, the teacher; Sue Sylvester, who actually had a really touching and out-of-character scene over him, which I again suspect came as a result of Jane Lynch being very close to Cory; and of course Rachel, aka Lea Michele, aka Cory’s real life girlfriend/fiance or however they were. Then, of course, everyone else were also featured crying and etc.

The entire episode, I felt, was a way for each cast member to properly say goodbye to Cory in a place where Cory meant a lot. And in that, it was very good. The emotions were extremely raw, and I even overlooked the bad lip syncing done when Rachel did her solo, because it was obvious that Lea was breaking down, and that was real. For the same reasons, I overlooked Sue’s huge character discrepancy because I know from interviews that Jane Lynch respected and loved Cory a lot, and of course she wanted a way to say goodbye properly on screen. For the most part, I think that all the monologues were either well structured, or at least forgiveably deviant. But, I had a problem with the story for the episode.

Because, see, Glee is a show about issues. It’s a musical dramedy, which tackles all and almost every hot button issue that comes around, which may be relevant to the target demography (teens and young adults). They had homosexual relationships, bullying, suicide attempts, trans-gender, divorce, adultery, teen pregnancy, hell they even had a school shooting. So when the episode started with Kurt’s voice over saying that Finn had already died, and that they did not want to go into the ‘how’ despite so many people asking, I was extremely annoyed.

Yes, this was a clear reflection of the real-life situation where all the tabloids wanted to talk about was that Cory died from OD, and how tragic it all is, when all they want is some privacy for the family. But in the show, in the story continuation, why couldn’t they address the OD? How is drug use and abuse not a common issue among the demography? There are so many ways which the OD could have been written into the episode without evening changing much of the script, and they really could have hit home the impact of an OD for some of the audience.

They could have easily had Puck feel extreme guilt that he didn’t look out for Finn at a party, where he OD’d. The survivor’s guilt storyline is almost identical to the real one that happened. It would have been a matter of a few extra words to put in Puck saying something like, “I was the screw up, not him. So why am I still walking around?”

Will could have gone through self-blame, thinking that he wasn’t father enough to Finn, and didn’t give him enough guidance, only to realize in the end that he did all he could, and ultimately Finn made a bad, fatal choice.

They could have easily had either Kurt or Rachel go through the stages of extreme anger at Finn for having done something so dumb, and died from it, and finally succumb to the real grief that is in their hearts, but they didn’t. They had a chance to show kids who may be experimenting dangerously with drugs that it could end horribly and hurt everyone around them, but they didn’t. They didn’t even so much as put a whiff of it. We don’t even know if Finn died from an accident or foul play.

And, I understand it was out of respect to Cory that they didn’t talk about the dark side of his life. I understand, most likely, that FOX probably didn’t let it happen, or the producers were worried that an episode might glorify drug use and ODing, and make matters worse. But I just feel like, with so many other teen after-school specials having dealt with the topic, that they definitely could have done something about it. It was a missed opportunity to take a tragic death and bring some good into it.

Alright, that’s it for the Glee rant.

Recently, I’ve been working a lot. The new manager has been very tough on everyone, but he has also trained me up in a lot of areas. I am now moderately confident in my coffee skills, and with more practise I’m sure I’ll be rather competent. I also got a new phone, the Sony Xperia Z1, and of course I ran it under the tap because the motherfucker is waterproof. I’m finalizing the steps to studying next year, and now I’m just waiting for summer to properly roll around so I can wear the new sunglasses I got from ASOS.

I’ve also been playing a lot of Phoenix Wright instead of Pokemon, and it’s quite gripping so far.

That’s all for now. I think I should find a theme for this blog but I feel like that’s not really my thing. Maybe the theme for my blog could be themes.

Alex.

If We Only Die Once, I Wanna Die With You

[Something I Need – OneRepublic]

As of yesterday, I’m being taught and trained to make coffees at our cafe as well! This is very exciting because once I’m taught coffee (and become proficient at it), I’m basically able to take care of the whole store (to a degree, I suppose). RESPONSIBILITIES! It also means that I’m expected to work a lot faster than I used to, and to be able to look after other coworkers and help them out. A little daunting, I admit, but the prospect of power just sizzles me with excitement.

Also, I found out that I picked up the basics quite easily, and now it’s a matter of practice, practice, and more practice, until I become as fast as my supervisors, and make beautiful coffees too.

That’s just a small update on what’s been happening since last week. I’ve been playing Pokemon Y, obviously. The game is astonishing and it mostly hit everything I expected, and considering I was building my own hype for about 8 months, it would have been near impossible for the game to actually match my expectations. As always, my slow playing habits mean that everyone who I play with are ages ahead of me, and the battles I do with them are very one-sided, but I won’t let that detract from my enjoyment of my little piece of gem.

I’m also been accepted and offered a place in the courses that I applied for! Now it’s a matter of accepting the offers myself, applying for student loans and whatnot, and getting all ready for conscientious studying. If I learned anything from all the time I spend at work now, it’s that I’m fully capable of not just learning the basics but being really good at it, as long as I put my whole mind to it. I don’t know, though, I mean there are all sorts of new games to play in 2014!!!

On Saturday, Mela and I went to a friend’s birthday party in Essendon, and it was her first time driving into the city. The way home was extremely scary for both of us, because there were lots of cars, and we didn’t know the way at all, and was blindly following the GPS which repeatedly told us to merge into wrong lanes, so she was doing scary turns out of lanes last second. I think it will be a while before she’s confident enough to drive in the city, but for the most part she’s a very capable driver! Maybe I should brush up on navigating skills…

Also, today I shouted my parents lunch. I don’t know about you, but in my family, as I am the only child, there aren’t many times when I buy my parents things – they’re also the kind of parents who don’t really want things bought for them. So today we went to a new Japanese restaurant that opened and I footed the bill. Felt pretty good!

I’m heading off to sleep now, because tomorrow/today is my Dad’s birthday, and we’re having people over. That means I need to clean up my spread of junk food and USB cables since my little corner in the house is actually the entertainment area.

I’ll try to blog again soon, mostly because I feel like I should. But also because lately Serena and I haven’t been talking, and maybe if I blog she and I can discuss my posts. That may be optimistic.

Alex.