Monday, December 26, 2011

Shameless Self-Promotion

Hello friends!
I feel like I'm awkwardly trying to re-connect with a long lost friend who I neglected for a while... But I'm sure that you have all been very busy and haven't noticed my lack of writing at all! If you have noticed, thanks for being a reliable reader and I'm sorry to disappoint! But for the rest of you, I'm sure a simple explanation will suffice. I have been very busy of late, finishing my musical theatre course, performing in the Showcase, and much more! But most importantly, I wanted to talk to you about my musical.
I've mentioned it a few times in this blog, but recently my writing partner and I have decided to take it to a new level and put on a big showing of the show. We have a venue almost booked, we have a rehearsal room booked, auditions scheduled, rewrites being planned and technically minded friends being put into a list to be contacted later. I'm mentioning it to you because I know there may be some of you who perform and love to be a part of amateur shows. Here's your chance to be a part of something special, because the opportunity to be involved in a brand new, original piece of Australian theatre comes along very rarely. As the show is still growing, this is your chance to make a mark on the show - help it reach that next level. Heck, help it become successful! We need you enthusiastic, creative, generous people to give this show life in any way you can, so if you are even slightly interested, check out the event page and maybe even book an audition. And if you have no performing talents/interest whatsoever, maybe you could come see the show and support the young writers of today.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

From Pen to Paper

I have two main passions in life - 1. Performing, which is the one you guys hear the most about. 2. Writing.
With performing taking up most of the space in my brain, I haven't had much time for writing lately, but I miss it terribly. As I've mentioned before, I'm working on a musical currently which is a great challenge, but what I miss the most is writing my novel. Creating a world and populating it, and following the characters on a journey that flows straight from my imagination onto the page. It's such an amazing thing to do. I can't wait to start writing my next book (an eight part series is the plan, I'll probably be done sometime around 2054...)
I've been turning my mind back to my book lately, just to see where it's at. I've had a few people read it. Gotten some more feedback. I've emailed literary agents to try and get represented and get the book somewhere more significant then my own desk drawer.
AS it turns out, I have picked a terrible time to try and do this. Most of the agencies specify on their websites that they're not taking new clients, so I don't even get the chance to email them a query letter. I'm wondering, if I can't get my book to an agent, how will I ever get it to a publisher? I guess the thing to do is keep working on it and putting it out there but I'm new to this, writing industry, I don't know how it works!!
If anyone is a writer already and has some advice for me it would be greatly appreciated! I'm sure there are some bloggers out there who have moved around in literary circles, any suggestions for what to do?
In the meantime, here's an excerpt from my book just so you know what I'm going on about:

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A sound came to Arein. It was as if the volume was being turned up slowly until it was too loud, pounding in his head relentlessly. Eventually, the sound became distinguishable as the chatter of children. He could hear it more clearly now. He could also feel his body, though he wished he couldn’t. There was an oppressive weight spreading from his head to his toes. Arein’s breath hitched in his throat as he felt the heaviness. It gave him an awful feeling as if the pain was bearable but was about to get a lot worse.

Trying to feel past the weight, Arein realized that he was sitting upright. He could even vaguely feel something underneath him – a chair. He tried to open his eyes but the awful feeling weighed in on him. He fought with it for a moment and, slowly and painstakingly, he wrenched his eyes open.

His bleary surroundings focused after a few laboured blinks. As he had guessed he was sitting upright in a chair on what appeared to be a large stage. A thick, red curtain separated him from whatever was causing the noise.

He forced his neck to the right, seeing two more chairs. In them sat Sedalia and Rem. On his left was Arella. He breathed a sigh of relief; they were all there at least, they weren’t… He forced away the lump in his throat and made himself focus. The others were asleep, or so it seemed. They sat straight up in their chairs, although there were no ropes to force them into their positions.

Arein went to turn around, to see behind him but the weight on his body pressed down even harder, causing Arein to flinch and gasp. He didn’t feel pain, but he felt, again, as if he was pushing the boundaries and any minute the weight would snap and crush him to death. He didn’t dare try to turn around again, but he needed to move, to get off the chair and get out of wherever he was. Panic started to rise in his chest as he became all too aware of where he must be; the Kasimir Castle.

He fought with the weight on his body, desperately trying to pull his limbs away from his side, his torso away from the chair, but again and again he felt the invisible pressure of the boundary and could not stop himself from pulling back. The prospect of the pain it would bring to break the barrier was too frightening, too terrible to even imagine.

A low groan came from his right. Arein whipped his head around as fast as the weight would allow. Wincing with the pain, he heard another groan. It was Rem.

Rem,” Arein hissed, surprising himself with how softly the sound came out. “Rem!

Another groan.

Rem, wake up!” Arein hissed again, focusing on making his voice louder. “Rem!

“…Arein…?” came a small voice from Arein’s left.

It was Arella. Arein turned his head, more slowly this time, to see her eyes searching the room. When she spoke, her voice was almost too quiet to hear. “W-where are we…?”

Arein didn’t want to say it aloud, foolishly hoping it wasn’t true, but his silence wasn’t the answer Arella was looking for.

“Arein, tell me.”

“Kasimir Castle… I think.”

Arella’s eyes widened. She seemed to struggle for a moment, her eyes cast down on her body. “Arein,” she whispered urgently, her eyes still focused on her frozen frame, “I can’t move.”

“Neither can I,” he said lifelessly.

What’s happened to us?” Arella’s eyes were terrified as she whispered the words. Arein had never seen her normally serene face so frightened, and it frightened him even more.

“I don’t know,” he replied, fighting to keep the panic out of his own voice. “I think we’ve been drugged or… or something… I don’t know!” His voice caught on his last words and Arella’s eyes widened even further. They flickered to the curtains as she noticed the noise coming from behind them.

“Who’s out there?”

“I don’t know,” Arein repeated, wishing he could say something else. “It sounds like children though.”

It reminded him of the dining hall at the Kasimir School, the constant chatter as voices fought over one another to be heard,

Just as Arein finished speaking, the noise died down. The area behind the curtain became completely, unnaturally quiet as though the people there had suddenly disappeared, or were at least sitting extremely still.

Then, a loud voice boomed from behind the curtain.

“Boys and girls,” it said slowly. It was a male voice, rich, indulgent and faintly familiar to Arein. “We are all here together to celebrate this momentous occasion. We are finally one step closer to our goal!”

The invisible crowd gave a cheer in unison, sounding strangely rehearsed at it.

“We have been training long and hard for this, have we not?” the voice continued, taking on a sympathetic tone. “But there is hope. We do not have much longer to go now.”

Arein was hardly listening to his words. Something about the voice was familiar but wrong, like an old favourite blanket that still felt the same but had taken on the musty, mouldy smell of the attic that it just couldn’t get rid of.

And then he realized. It was Olle. It was the same voice, had the same intonations and the same tone but it was too youthful; too strong; not the voice belonging to the old man.

He continued his speech unaware of Arein’s frightening discovery. Olle was here, talking to a crowd of what could only be the Kasimir students…

A whoosh of air came from behind Arein as if someone had opened a door. He could hear footsteps behind him and he turned slightly to Arella, only seeing a glimpse of her frightened face before a voice spoke.

“We better get you ready for your… performance then,” a woman’s voice murmured from behind them.

Arein turned his head just slightly until he could see a woman’s figure standing in front of Sedalia. She raised a gloved hand and gave Sedalia a sharp slap across the face. Sedalia gasped, but Arein could not see her face.

“Wake up,” the woman ordered, moving over to Rem. She raised her arm again and Rem was slapped awake, though he stayed silent. The woman came to Arein next.

“Well Arein, I should have guessed you’d be awake already.”

Arein gaped, only just remembering the name of the girls’ coordinator at the Kasimir School. “Miss Shyla?”

“Mmhmmm…” Miss Shyla said dismissively, looking at a small notebook she held in her gloved hands. She glanced up to Arella. “Oh. Your friend is awake as well. What a shame.” She stuck out her lower lip in a fake, baby-like frown. “I’ll have to tell them that the spell’s not strong enough, or that you two weaved a little bit of magic of your own… Mathius won’t like that.” She chuckled darkly, turning her attention back to her notebook and pacing in front of them.

Arein’s eyes moved over to Sedalia’s, trying to see her face, to tell her it was all right. As their eyes met, Sedalia gave a whimper and Miss Shyla twirled around.

“Quiet, girl,” she said harshly, striding over to her. She took Sedalia’s face in her hands, her voice dripping with sudden sweetness. “You need to put on a brave face for the crowd. You don’t want to embarrass yourself now, do you?”

Sedalia tried to wriggle her way out of Miss Shyla’s grasp, but stopped suddenly. “Ah –

“No control for you,” Miss Shyla said, cutting off Sedalia. She giggled in a childish way. “I can’t having you jumping off the stage!”

She released Sedalia and strode away, moving around them and out of Arein’s view.

“Wait!” Arella called suddenly, her voice wavering.

The footsteps stopped. “Yes…?” Her voice was both warning and taunting at the same time.

Arella closed her eyes. “What’s going to happen to us?”

Arein could almost hear the grin in Miss Shyla’s voice when she replied. “Wait and see… although you’ll have to wait quite a while. It’s a slow and painful process, having your very being pulled out of your body… or so I’ve heard…” She laughed again, but it was drowned out by another cheer from the audience. “Well, your public awaits.”

They waited in silence for only a moment before Olle’s voice boomed out from behind the curtain. “ – I now present to you, four of the Twelve!”

The crowd cheered again and, as if on its own accord, the curtains flew open. The noise was suddenly deafening. Hundreds of children calling, jeering and shouting at them, all seated in a massive hall filled with row upon row of chairs. Every student that had ever been through the Kasimir School now stood up from their seats, their face’s twisted with malice and a hatred fed by Mathius. Arein, Arella, Rem and Sedalia winced at the insults they could hear, and the even worse ones that they couldn’t. They were on show, frozen in their seats to be paraded as trophies.

Arein squeezed his eyes shut willing himself to ignore the crowd of children below. After what seemed like an age, the crowd quietened and Arein forced himself to open his eyes again and see what was to happen next.

“That’s quite enough,” came Olle’s voice from the corner.

Arein wrenched his head around and had to bite his tongue from screaming at the pain it caused him. The invisible barrier throbbed red hot, the pain slowly easing away leaving Arein gasping. The crowd noticed his pain and laughed as one. Ha ha ha – all together, again, as if it had been planned and rehearsed.

Arein kept his eyes on the floor, but he could hear slow footsteps advancing towards him. He raised his eyes and saw…

Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's the Circle of Life!

As you can see by my most recent blog post, I have discovered a new love. No, it's not for buying shoes, or going to the gym or other such things people seem to have love affairs with. It's for a much more geekier past-time. Yes. I watch documentaries.
Since I discovered a website where you can watch them for free, I've been addicted. I've watched movies on the human mind and body, on religion, on racism, on heaps of incredibly interesting topics that I find fascinating. I know many people think that documentaries and mind-numbing boredom go hand in hand, but if you watch documentaries on topics that you're interested in then it's absolutely riveting.

However.
With this discovery, I have learnt something about myself. I have learnt that I can NOT watch documentaries about...
Animals.
There. I said it.
I just find them far too emotionally traumatising. Animal documentaries lull you into a false sense of security. They show you clips of adorable sea-otters holding hands and deer frolicking in the meadow while birds sing and the sun shines. And then, they flash up a few clips of these sea-otters being swallowed whole by a seal, or the deer being slowly chased until they collapse with exhaustion and are descended upon by wolves.
I know what you're thinking. "It's the circle of life, Emily. Everyone needs to eat." I try to remind myself the wise words of Mufasa. The lion eats the antelope but "When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connnected in the great Circle of Life. "
At this stage, I'm surprised I even manage to get through the Lion King without falling into an emotional heap.
I understand that it's all natural and proper but I can't help but feel terribly sad. I watched a show about baby turtles and how they have to find the ocean once they're hatched, but birds fly by and snatch them off the ground so only a small percentage ever make it to the sea. The rest struggle helplessly in the birds claws.
Or take tonights documentary for example, in which whales played a hunting game with a poor seal until it was slumped, exhausted on an ice float. A sneaky whale came up, bit it's tail and slowly dragged it into the water, with the seal looking helplessly towards the camera. Maybe it was the fact that the seal reminded me slightly of my dog, but whatever the reason, I find animal documentaries far far too sad.

So from now on I shall watch informative documentaries that steer away from the animal kingdom. To avoid being ignorant, maybe I'll read wildlife articles... That way I don't have to see their puppy dog eyes as they're nommed on by a lion.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hiya friends!
Is there any point me saying 'long time no see'? I have realised by now that I am well and truly not a routine blogger. I could never keep a diary either and this is, I guess, along the same lines. BUT the upside of my irregularity is I only blog when I have a thought/idea so hopefully that means my blogs content make up for the lack of updates!
Anyways, I have missed writing on the blog for you guys (whoever you may be). I miss writing in general but I just can't seem to find the time. I've been writing occasionally - working on the musical, composing brilliantly artistic emails and the like. But I do miss blog writing and novel writing - once the year ends (as it will very soon) I'll get right back into it!!

So, onto the main topic of my blog. I'm not sure if you know but I've been staying with a friend from Showfit in the city during the week (apart from wednesdays when I head back to the land of Mornington to work). Recently, we discovered an amazing website in which you can watch documentaries FOR FREE online and they have EVERY documentary you can think of. So we've been spending our nights educating/entertaining ourselves with documentary after documentary.
Last nights film was called 'Multiple Personalities', and boy was it frightening.
It followed the stories of three adults who had multiple personality disorder. The first woman ended up having to be hospitalised because she was becoming a risk to herself, as several of her alternate personalities were self-destructive, and wanted to hurt her. The man was a police officer, who's alternate personalities (or alters) took over depending on different situations. The last woman was a mother of three, who's alters included a young child (who came out whenever her daughters wanted to play) and a teenage girl who stole credit cards and went on shopping sprees.
While fascinating, the show was deeply disturbing. All of these three adults had this disorder as a result of terrible abuse they experienced as children. Being young, they didn't have the capacity to cope with what they endured, and so their minds created personalities who could.

Am I the only one who finds this absolutely incredible? Their minds did this to help. This was the only way they could cope. And though it was done to help, it does so much harm. It is, mentally, a huge huge thing. It seems almost unbelievable, as often the person themselves have no memory of what the alters do, yet the alters themselves communicate within the person. They are aware, they take control and they consider the person they inhabit to be separate to themselves.
This is such a display of the power of the human mind. What's most bizarre is the power it has over the body, for instance one woman wore very thick glasses due to very poor eyesight. When she switched to an alter, she didn't need the glasses anymore as her eyesight had improved.

My friend and I were discussing the movie this morning in a state of 'I'm-still-really-freaked-out'. What scared us the most was that we consider our brains and our minds to be the same thing. Our thoughts come from our mind because we put them there. We control them. Furthermore, we control our brains involvement in our body. When we want to move our arm, we think it, and we move the muscles. What this disorder proves is how independent our mind/brain is - how it can function independently from our thoughts. Most people with multiple personality disorder don't remember the trauma that happened in their past. Instead, the alters bear the brunt of the painful memories. Often they want to find out what happened, as it will help them heal and move on. But their mind won't allow them. One woman was watching a video tape of herself in which her alter (a small child) was recounting memories of abuse. Whenever any detail was revealed in the video, the woman's mind would automatically shut out, her eyes would close, she'd pull away from the screen and, basically, her mind rejected the information despite her wanting to find out. This woman had an alter called Enigma, who's role it was to kill her if the abuse was ever remembered.

I could rant about the things that happened in this documentary for ages, but you'd be better to watch it. It's just so intriguing and so unsettling. It's terrifying to think your mind can turn on you like that. It's terrifying because it's a loss of control, and none of us like to lose control so utterly and completely like that. There are people who believe it's a hoax, some sort of act that these people put on for attention, but I can't understand why a grown man - a police officer and a seemingly good person - would pretend to be a 6 year old child, clutching a stuffed animal and absolutely breaking down as he relives traumatic moments in his past over and over again. People are complicated, more so then we could ever imagine. We only use %20 of our brain, as they say. And that %20, maybe even more, would do anything to make us safe, even if that means creating someone stronger then you to take control for a while.

I can't really wrap this post up as there is no conclusion I can come to other then WOW we are crazy. But that's how I finish most of my blog posts, isn't it?!
Ah well. Maybe one day I'll accept how crazy we are. I'll let you know if I do.
Until next time!

Friday, October 7, 2011

I am not a very angry person, by nature. Not many things make me really angry. Occasionally though, I stumble across something that I disagree with SO MUCH that it makes me furious. One of these things is to do with something I love and have grown up with and cherish - disney films. One day, I was watching some old disney clips on youtube when I stumbled across a video with someone talking about how racist, sexist and generally discriminatory disney films are.

Needless to say I wasn't happy. At the time, I was trying to find a topic for my English year 12 Oral speech, and this made me so angry that I figured it was the perfect topic for a nice long rant. So I did my research, and argued that disney films are NOT sexist, and NOT racist in the way that a lot of people want to believe they are.

This is the speech I wrote:

I would rather entertain and hope that people learnt something, than educate people and hope that they were entertained.

These words were said by Walt Disney himself, the maker of dreams, the creator of countless classic films that have gone down in history. He has made fairytale characters ageless; Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty – household names nowadays in most families. So much creation, so much inspiration - and yet Disney is flailing under recent, and in my opinion, baseless criticism. Disney programs have become the target for unfair judgement. The Internet is littered with opinionated videos claiming that Disney is sexist and racist. They state that Disney’s animated films promote an unrealistic set of moral values that are corrupting the young minds of today with, and I quote, “subliminal messages”.

According to these anti-Disney activists, each Disney character is riddled with these “subliminal messages” designed to mould the minds of young boys and girls. We should really break down these messages into specific areas. Firstly, the portrayal of men and women within Disney films.

Like most girls, I grew up with the Disney princesses dancing across my T.V screen while I watched in awe and admiration. The princesses represented everything good in my eyes; kindness, generosity of spirit, and optimism. My sisters were the same, as were my friends. And yet, despite our childlike admiration of the princess’s good qualities, some people find it necessary to destroy the fragile innocence that children only just maintain by seeing bad where there is none.

As long as Disney films have been created, there has been argument over their portrayal of gender. No matter what era, some over sensitive parent finds fault in a certain look or word that a character may say in a potentially offending tone. Unfortunately, not everyone in the world can be universally pleased and, by now, Disney well and truly understands this. And so, the Disney we see today is a careful company. It markets to its audience intelligently, using their films as a representation of modern times and this is the key point to my argument. Disney films reflect the time they were made in. Snow White was not a rebel, nor a strong, feminist woman because the traits that were admired in women of that time were gentleness and reliance on men. Now, in a time where individualism and emotional strength are the admirable qualities, we see far more feminist-like characters. Take Mulan, Pocahontas, and Meg from Hercules. These are women who promote bravery and determination. Yes, Snow White is a subservient character, yes, she relies on men, but we can’t deny that once, this was the ideal woman.

When it comes to men in Disney films, the arguments are not dissimilar. The public say that not all men can be strong and handsome, that Disney promotes an unrealistic standard in their heroes. What the public so easily forgets is what the Disney films are; cartoon animations. As Walt Disney says himself, “All cartoon characters and fables must be an exaggeration, caricatures. It is the very nature of fantasy and fable.” There is no greater representation of this cartoon creed than in the Disney films. The characters, especially the men, must exaggerate their qualities in order to communicate whether they are good or bad. For a child to understand easier, their qualities take outward manifestations. A person with inner beauty (the protagonists of the story, most commonly) will show this with their appearance. Blackness of heart will also show through appearance, meaning that the evil characters are most commonly not referred to as beautiful. In short, Disney does not create heroes as powerful men and subservient women like some people claim they do, but rather they use the surface of the character to show a deeper motivation.

The topic that raises the most controversy in regards to Disney is racism. The public has made it increasingly difficult for Disney to use different races in their films due to the uproar it normally causes and yet still, they demand racial equality. Disney has no way around it.

Take for instance, a film that I would never, never, have thought could be targeted for racial slander. The Little Mermaid was one of my favourites, and everyone knows the crab Sebastian who sings the famous song, ‘Under the Sea’. Much to my horror, this character was listed as one of the top ten most racist characters in Disney films. The writer declared that Sebastian’s lyrics, suggest that Jamaican people are lazy.

What does this say about people today? It seems like the only characters that do not spark outrage are those with American accents and white skin. Is this a reflection of Disney films, or a reflection on our own racial views?

Disney tries. It is obvious that they try but they are constantly stopped in their tracks by protestors. Their first film in which the heroes were not American, Aladdin, was instantly met with angry Muslims and Arabs. The monkeys from Jungle Book also caused arguments, along with the crows in Dumbo due to the fact that they had African-American voices. It seems that, with our canny knack for finding fault where there is none, the human race is never happy with anything.

I have watched Disney my whole life, and I am neither racist nor sexist. I am not disillusioned. I do not expect a fairy godmother to help me out of my troubles, nor do I place a stigma on any step-mothers I may know. I am my own person and while I love Disney, I do not base my whole life education on their films. These people who complain that Disney is “secretly trying to brain wash us”, are forgetting key points about life itself. They are first of all forgetting that Disney films are for entertainment. They are films, not social commentaries or political documentaries. Second of all, and most importantly, they are underestimating the intelligence of our children, who are not so suggestible, despite some claims, to see an evil character who may be Chinese and believe that all Chinese are evil. They do not see what we see. It wasn’t that long ago that I was a child myself and I still remember. Children are so willing to be innocent - to cheer for the good guy and laugh and be entertained. If the adults of today are so intent on seeing the bad in a company that creates immortal films that made me feel happy every time I watched them, then we better say goodbye to our children’s innocence now because sadly, Disney, there’s not much hope.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Beautiful

Stunning dance animation - wow some people are amazing!


http://danceproof.posterous.com/sometimes-dancers-are-just-sketches-in-the-wi

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Just Me.

Acting is a dangerous game. Performing in general is a dangerous game. It is easy to see why so many performers have break-downs/are incredibly egotistical and self-important.
Because ALL WE DO IS THINK ABOUT OURSELVES.
Especially when we're learning, as I am now. Every day, from morning to night, all I am thinking about is myself - am I working hard enough? Am I doing this right? Should I sing this for mock audition? Is this challenging me enough? Am I improving?
Is it incredibly difficult to not be self-focused, because in every class we are being encouraged to let our thoughts revolve around ourselves because, really let's face it, it's the only way to improve. If you don't pay attention to yourself and your abilities how will you know where you are and what you need?
On one hand, I understand that this is a brilliant and necessary thing because it makes performers so self-assured. Some of the teachers we have are just so incredibly sure. They seem to know themselves back-to-front and exude such an amazing energy of being totally at ease. And you need that as a performer because you have to face endless rejection. You have to be aware of where you are to the point that if someone says they don't want you, you can still have faith in what you have to offer. Anyone who hasn't spent enough time in their own head will soon collapse under the pressure of rejection.
On the other hand, it can make many people selfish with too much self-importance then is good for them. It's a dangerous game. Unavoidable of course. I suppose it's all in how you let the game play you. If you let yourself become too entangled with yourself you'll have no hope. If you can be impartial about yourself, if you can understand yourself and improve yourself without losing sight of others then you're on a good path.
The people around us probably suffer a fair amount. I love my family so much, but often times when I am at home I just want to be by myself because the effort of social interaction seems to make me even more aware of me. And if I'm on my own it feels more as if I'm not so present. I can tune out, watch a movie, listen to music, read, and not need that constant focus.
At the moment, I just want to get out of my own head. As a serial over-analyser I feel as if I'm really having constant arguments with myself, because I can see both sides, agree with both sides, understand both sides but can't for the life of me pick a side to be on.
Do I sound a tad crazy right about now?
Probably.
But what is this blog for if not to vent. Hopefully other performing-students can understand what I'm getting at.
But as much as I am struggling with the self-regulation of performance, I am feeling an odd thing for people who aren't experiencing it. I guess you could call it pity. Because I can't imagine a life in which you don't try to understand your own thoughts (and yes, you do need to practice understanding them because really, how complicated are we? How hard are we to decipher even in ourselves?). A life in which you don't try to be better, don't try to learn more and become more at peace. It creates beautiful people, it really does. Yes, as I've said, people can become very egocentric, but the flip side of that is the community of generous, loving, open, funny and just incredibly unique people that pursue performance. They are a special breed of people, they really are.

So, if this blog post doesn't prove my state of mind I don't know what will. I hate it, I love it, I admire it, I don't understand it. Whatever it is. I love what I'm doing, and hopefully what I will do, but it doesn't come easy, that's for sure.
But it's worth the struggle.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Theatre People

Hello readers!
As you may or may not know, I am currently the assistant editor of the amateur musical theatre department of a very popular website called theatrepeople.com.au. It is a cornucopia of all australian musical theatre facts, news and stories.
As of yesterday, I am looking for new writers to join my department. I need people who are passionate about theatre and writing, who are looking to volunteer their time to a fantastic resource for performers all over the country. It is an amazing opportunity, especially considering that the website is just newly national.
If you are interested, please contact me at editor.emily@theatrepeople.com.au. I'm taking submissions till the end of the week so don't miss this chance!

p.s. As a side note my little sister is astounding people with her talent, and she posted a video on youtube for the first time. This proud older sister asks that you check it out!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Interesting Words

Words with no true English definition:

Toska
Russian – Vladmir Nabokov describes it best: “No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”

Mamihlapinatapei
Yagan (indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego) – “the wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start”

Jayus
Indonesian – “A joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh”

Iktsuarpok
Inuit – “To go outside to check if anyone is coming.”

Litost
Czech – Milan Kundera, author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, remarked that “As for the meaning of this word, I have looked in vain in other languages for an equivalent, though I find it difficult to imagine how anyone can understand the human soul without it.” The closest definition is a state of agony and torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery.

Kyoikumama
Japanese – “A mother who relentlessly pushes her children toward academic achievement”

Tartle
Scottish – The act of hestitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name.

Ilunga
Tshiluba (Southwest Congo) – A word famous for its untranslatability, most professional translators pinpoint it as the stature of a person “who is ready to forgive and forget any first abuse, tolerate it the second time, but never forgive nor tolerate on the third offense.”

Prozvonit
Czech – This word means to call a mobile phone and let it ring once so that the other person will call back, saving the first caller money. In Spanish, the phrase for this is “Dar un toque,” or, “To give a touch.”

Cafuné
Brazilian Portuguese – “The act of tenderly running one’s fingers through someone’s hair.”

Schadenfreude
German – Quite famous for its meaning that somehow other languages neglected to recognize, this refers to the feeling of pleasure derived by seeing another’s misfortune. I guess “America’s Funniest Moments of Schadenfreude” just didn’t have the same ring to it.

Torschlusspanik
German – Translated literally, this word means “gate-closing panic,” but its contextual meaning refers to “the fear of diminishing opportunities as one ages.” (Altalang.com)

Wabi-Sabi
Japanese – Much has been written on this Japanese concept, but in a sentence, one might be able to understand it as “a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay.” (Altalang.com)

Dépaysement
French – The feeling that comes from not being in one’s home country.

Tingo
Pascuense (Easter Island) – Hopefully this isn’t a word you’d need often: “the act of taking objects one desires from the house of a friend by gradually borrowing all of them.”

Hyggelig
Danish – Its “literal” translation into English gives connotations of a warm, friendly, cozy demeanor, but it’s unlikely that these words truly capture the essence of a hyggelig; it’s likely something that must be experienced to be known. I think of good friends, cold beer, and a warm fire.

L’appel du vide
French – “The call of the void” is this French expression’s literal translation, but more significantly it’s used to describe the instinctive urge to jump from high places.

Ya’aburnee
Arabic – Both morbid and beautiful at once, this incantatory word means “You bury me,” a declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person because of how difficult it would be to live without them.

Duende
Spanish – While originally used to describe a mythical, spritelike entity that possesses humans and creates the feeling of awe of one’s surroundings in nature, its meaning has transitioned into referring to “the mysterious power that a work of art has to deeply move a person.” There’s actually a nightclub in the town of La Linea de la Concepcion, where I teach, named after this word.

Saudade
Portuguese – One of the most beautiful of all words, translatable or not, this word “refers to the feeling of longing for something or someone that you love and which is lost.” Fado music, a type of mournful singing, relates to saudade.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

10 Reasons Why I Love Performers

1. Everyone is always ready and willing to burst into song, with harmonies, and potentially a fully choreographed dance number to top it all off.

2. Performers have very little need for personal space. This means constant cuddles, hugs, massages, ass-slaps and much much more. When performers are comfortable with each other, they are REALLY comfortable with each other.

3. What looks insane to non-performers is an absolute hoot for us. Example 1: 23 students dancing the tango with chairs as our partners. To us = most fun ever in a drama class. To others = clincically insane people with bizarre attatchments to inanimate objects in need of serious help.

4. Performers make the best audience. If you have performer friends coming to see you in a show, you can be guaranteed cat-calls, cheers, very loud laughter, very dramatic tears and perhaps a standing ovation if you're lucky.

5. Everyone's allowed their quirks amoung performers. Seeing as we're all pretty damn quirky, you would be quite hypocritical to not tolerate someone elses quirks. So we all pool our quirks together to make super-group-crazy-quirky-funness. If that makes sense.

6. We're all fairly dramatic - this may seem like a downside in many ways, but in many other ways it's brilliant, because you know what? It means we're not afraid to show our feelings. Something excites us, we will scream, jump around, and carry on. Something bad happens and we let it all out.

7. We trust each other. This could just be a performers-that-you-have-worked-closely-with kind of thing but it's absolutely amazing when you wholeheartedly trust the people you are performing with. When you practically work as one because you know each other so well, and support each other's choices.

8. I can shout out random musical theatre news and generally someone will react.

9. We're linked by the fact that we all suffer the same pitfalls, emotional walls and insane highs. There's no way any true performer can avoid these, and so in experiencing them we are all connected in that way,

10. Performers are just a hell of a lot of fun. A night out with performers is one that will be filled with unexpected, spontaneous and often hilarious things. I never forget a night with my performing friends.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Talented Friends

Being in a community of performers, I have the lucky chance of knowing some very talented people, who are sure to be superstars. One such friend has recently posted a song she has written on youtube. It's about something all performers understand; that elation of doing a show and the empty feeling when you finish it. Please check it out, it's a beautiful song and beautifully performed :)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

*Insert Harry Potter theme tune here*


And just like that, it's all over.
Yes, everybody, yesterday I saw the last Harry Potter film ever.
Now, I expected to love the movie, which I did. I expected to cry, as I cry in almost every movie I see so there's no difference there. I expected to be sad.
I didn't expect to be sobbing openly in the movie theatre.
Such an extreme reaction might seem indulgent, or over the top. I mean, for so many people, it's just a movie, based on just a book. But here's the magic of Harry Potter (pardon the pun) - It is so much more then that. SO much more then just a story. People grew up with it. It became a part of their childhood. A lot of people don't remember a time without Harry Potter, so it's no surprise that the reactions to the final film can be a tad dramatic. This was my life as well. Harry Potter was HUGE to me. And I'll explain why.

My Harry Potter Life Story


Everyone has a Harry Potter story. How they fell in love with it. What it means to them. Mine all started in year two, when I started at a new school. I think it was my third day at this new school when our teacher pulled out Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Every wednesday he would read a chapter or two to the class. They had already read Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone last year, so I was a bit behind. I had never heard of Harry Potter, but soon I was enjoying it as much as everyone else. Our teacher would put on a Dobby voice, or a gruff Hagrid voice and we'd be giggling and gasping in the rapt way that seven year olds listen to really good stories.
After we finished the book in school, I was dying to read more. I got the first book and read that on my own. The I bought the second book and read it again. The third book hadn't been released yet, but by the time it was I was a fan. I loved everything about this magical world, and these characters. As the kind of child that determinedly refused to stop believing in fairies and magic, this book was perfect for me.

The second part of my Harry Potter love affair began when I took Ballet lessons around the time I discovered Harry Potter. It was at Ballet that I met a long time childhood best friend, Cybelle. We did ballet lessons together every week, and had many a playdate in between. Soon, we realised that we both loved Harry Potter. In our mind, no two people had ever loved it more then us. When the first movie was released, we went and saw it together, wearing our Best Friend Forever connecting necklaces (weren't we adorable?) We were in ecstasy. Before long we had begun playing every Harry Potter game you could ever imagine. We combed the books and wrote down all the spells, learning them as if we were in class. We ran around creating this magnificent adventures that involved her next door neighbours cat being an animagus who was actually a very powerful Witch in hiding. We even started to write down all our adventures in a special book we made together.
Harry Potter was our thing. Sadly, we both moved away, and phone calls became less and less frequent. But I know she still loves Harry Potter with as much passion as I do.

Despite not being with my Harry Potter loving best friend, my boy-wizard love affair didn't end. I anticipated each new book, and each new movie. My older sister started reading the books after a while, but I always got to read them first. Harry Potter was the best way to make me happy. Once, before school, I cried and cried because I had made Mum as angry as she could possibly get. Later that day she bought me a Harry Potter card game to reconcile over and there was no better move she could have made. I would forgive anyone who came to me with Harry Potter merchandise.
I read the books too many times to count. I kept count up to about 23 and then I lost track.

My little sister and her friend also used to play their version of 'Hogwarts' and I would organise it for them. I'd organise their classes, teach them spells, and create little adventures with riddles to solve and Harry Potter trivia to answer. I loved it as much as they did.

In high-school, Harry Potter became my comfort book. Whenever I felt a bit miserable, or very miserable about something, I would read it. I would be sad, at school, and sitting there I would get excited that I had Harry Potter to read when I came home. I would devour each book, reading it constantly. It irritated my little sister no end, who decided to hide my books because I was reading them at dinner when she wanted to talk to me. I got them back, and she tried to snatch the off me which resulted in the front page being ripped off. Needless to say I was not happy. The book has been lovingly taped back together.

Then, the last book came out. I read it as slowly as I could force myself because I didn't want it to end. But it did, and I loved every word of it.

I can thank Harry Potter for many things. I can thank it for giving me the tools to a wonderful imagination. For being responsible for the best parts of my childhood. For inspiring me to want to write a story just as magical. For inspiring me to want to inspire other imaginations. For making me feel better when I felt terrible. For giving me something to look forward to every time a book was to be released or a movie was to come out.

It may sound cliched to some people. I know there are people who never got into Harry Potter (two of my best friends for example) and they don't get how it can mean so much to anyone. But Harry Potter does mean this much to me, whether it's rational or not. It means so much. And that's why I cried throughout the whole damn movie, and that's why I was so overwhelmed at the end of it. I grew up at the exact same time as the characters. I went through aspects (emotional ones, not the magical ones - although I desperately wished I could have had the magical problems too) of what they were going through.

And plain and simple - I freaking love it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dance




Wednesday, July 13, 2011

This is Emily on the Dispatch... yo.

Hi all!
I figured it was about time for an update. A run of the mill this is what's been going on, up, down and around in my life at the moment.

SO!

First and foremost, I just went to Fiji. Yes, the magical land of resorts and spa's. It was simply splendid. My family and I went for five nights to a resort that exudes tranquility and that lazy holiday mindset. We fell in love with Fijian people straight away. I've never felt more welcomed in my life. They played the ukulele and sung to us as we came in the airport (with other airport staff clapping and dancing, as you do) and everywhere we went we heard 'Bula!' which is their hello. We soon learnt that it's also a huge part of their culture, as they pride themselves on being hospitable people. Everyone says Bula to everyone whether you know them or not. Walking down to the pool we would be greeted by every single Fijian we passed.

We also noticed the heat. A welcome change from the freezing temperatures of Melbourne. It was a balmy 29 degrees when we got off the plane and didn't change at all our whole trip. You know what was nice? Not having to wear bed socks.
In a holiday filled with swimming, restaurants, shopping, tanning (or at least, not burning too much), my absolute favourite thing was this:
BUFFET. BREAKFAST.
That's right, you heard correctly. Buffet breakfast EVERY MORNING!
*Emily dies of happiness*
Buffet breakfast is possibly one of the best things in the world. Every morning we got eggs, fresh coconut, delicious hash browns, all sorts of cereals, Fijian breakfast dishes and more. It was heaven on a plate.
After breakfast every day we soaked up some sun by the pool. I lounged in my new hat, demolishing some Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman novels or listening to musical soundtracks. Then we'd dive into one of our five pools to choose from and that was basically how we spent every day.
Once again, heaven.

But unfortunately the holiday is over, and it always has to end with an unpleasant plane trip. (Yay for travel sickness pills saving me, unlike my Europe flight!) And now we're home.

On to other matters, what else is new?
Well, editing is underway with One More Year. Schming and I had a day or writing and got a few songs done. Big changes underway, which on one hand is a bit sad, and insanely difficult. Once you have sung, read, written, worked with one song for so long it's hard to hear it in any other way. But we made some good changes and hopefully we'll make more.

I've also been starting to pursue a path for my novel again. I realised, as odd as this sounds, how much I miss my book. My characters, that story, the feeling of writing a novel. So I want to work more on it but I'm at a bit of a dead end. I need more opinions, but professional book editors/assessors and expensive. So I'm entering a mentorship competition and fingers crossed I get in. I'm hoping to get Kate Forsyth as my mentor - she wrote my favourite book of all time, 'The Starthorn Tree' and is a huge inspiration to me. I love the way she writes and the story she tells so it would be great to get her opinion on my book.

School is looming over the corner. Term three is nearly beginning (eep!). I cannot believe we are already half way through. I'm scared of it ending. Considering how much we're being held up, supported and gently guided in the right direction, the thought of suddenly losing my training wheels next year is a frightening one. But it'll happen, and I suppose by the end of the year I'll be ready for it. I'm excited about what the rest of the year will bring. I have a lot of loose puzzle pieces that I'm trying to fit together, I'm hoping things will start to get clearer and those pieces with fall together. In life and in school.

You know what's strange? It's strange being very aware. They say stay in the moment, and don't watch time pass and you'll live. Live properly, I mean. But when you're trying to live in the moment and grow beyond the moment you start becoming very aware of everything. Of yourself, of who you are and what you're doing, and especially of how your changing. I've changed a lot these past few months. A lot. And being aware of the person I'm becoming is both unnerving and reassuring. Many blog posts ago I talked about wanting change. Wanting to be more and experience more and making big movements in life. Well, I think I'm in the middle of it. I'm on a little ledge, and I have a gaping hole behind me that was who I used to be. I can't possibly move back, I don't know how. But in front of me is a place I don't know, and I don't quite know how to navigate it.
How's that for a metaphor?
Not very good. I know, but hey, it's my metaphor and it makes sense to me.

Well there's my update for you all. One last note, I have recently fallen in love with Stephen Sondheim's musical Merrily We Roll Along, and I love these lyrics. I'll leave them with you guys to read. I hope your lives are going swell, I hope you have things your pondering and things going on. And I hope your enjoying it all.

And if I wanted too much,
Was that such
A mistake
At the time?
You never wanted enough —
All right, tough,
I don't make
That a crime.

And while it's going along,
You take for granted some love
Will wear away.
We took for granted a lot,
But still I say:
It could have kept on growing,
Instead of just kept on.
We had a good thing going,
Going,
Gone.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

WHY?!

Why is it that people argue with themselves?
Well, I assume I'm not the only one who does.
Why is it that we constantly go against ourselves on everything. That we split our mind two ways, and can often see both sides of wisdom but simply cannot justify one or the other enough to adopt it's way of thinking.
And more importantly, HOW can we do this? In some ways I very much wish we weren't so complex. The fact that we actually can split our consciousness into two ways of thinking is bizarre. I'm not saying in a weird, multiple personality/talking to yourself way. I mean in the way that, when we're in turmoil, we can tell ourselves one thing and believe another. It's like one part of our mind is this wise, knowledgable but ultimately ignored being that listens to advice, takes everything in and tells the rest of us, quite calmly, the right decision to make. Meanwhile, the other part of our minds is hiding in a dark shadowy corner somewhere, waiting until Miss. Clever disappears for a minute so that they can basically tear down all those positive, clear and reasonable thoughts that we so determinedly tried to build into our systems.

It is, in essence, a completely self-destructive thing and I don't see why we have to have the capability to do it in the first place. Why should people be able to feel sad, happy, angry, and then tell themselves they shouldn't be feeling sad, happy, angry?
I suppose (and here comes Miss. Clever) that there's a reason we have this mental capacity. It's probably some sort of self-development thing. Some sort of, 'Look how smart humans are! We can think several conflicting things at once and believe all of them equally! Hooray." thing. In being able to do this, we're able to test ourselves mentally, experience conundrums and deal with them (or alternatively, not deal with them. Maybe it's a survival of the fittest.)
All in all, it is frustrating to say the least.
And it makes me want to not have quite a big brain.
I bet cats don't have this problem.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Peace

I've recently read a wonderful book. It's quite a well-known book, hugely popular and then made into a movie with a few celebrities. It's about love, spirituality, pleasure, and peace. Guessed it yet? It's 'Eat, Pray, Love'.
It's one of those books that I kept saying, 'Oh you should read that.' about but never actually got round to it, until I saw it sitting next to my Mum's bed and realised we owned a copy. So I read it, and I'm glad I did. I understand why it is so popular. Why so many people love it and endorse it. It's a beautiful book. It's the kind of book that inspires you, not in a cliched sense, but in the same way that seeing someone perform makes me want to get up and perform also. It makes you want to be active in life.

For some people, I can imagine it would be a hard read. The book (for those of you who haven't read it) is divided into three sections: Italy for pleasure, India for spirituality, and Indonesia for balancing the two. The first section, Italy, is probably enjoyable for everyone. It's about things everyone can relate to - the art of relaxing. Enjoying yourself without guilt, letting yourself eat pasta and ice cream for breakfast and spending days wandering the street with no real aim.
The second section is when it changes. India is all about spirituality. It's all about meditation, grappling with inner demons, finding god, finding peace.

I am not a religious person, but for some reason I love reading about it. I love reading from the perspective of a religious person. I love finding out about it, understanding it, knowing about it. And so this portion of the book fascinated me. BUT. It did bring up a question in my mind.

First of all, the majority of the book talks about finding this enlightenment, oneness with god and the universe that gives you contentment. It lets you let go of negative emotions or needless feelings and live with happiness. That's great. That's terrific. But it made me think - is that right? Is living in contentment how we are meant to be living?

It brings me back to a post I made a while ago about feeling miserable and angry and just letting yourself feel that for a while. Everyone is entitled to a bit of angst. In my mind, someone who is happy all the time isn't a very interesting person. Nor are they very human. They say only the insane are happy all the time. Do they say that simply because they can't understand the concept of being happy? That we can't? Maybe. Maybe I'm wrong, and if I understood it more I would be more accepting of it.

But another thing. I find that negative emotions are incredibly necessary. Not all the time obviously - I'm not saying that someone in a constant bad mood is the best person in the world. What I'm saying is that it's the negative emotions that drive us into great things sometimes.
It's that feeling of frustration and anger when we can't understand something that pushes us to practice and learn and not give up until we learn it. It's those feelings of grief and sadness that prompt us to take stock of the world and our lives and make changes for the better. It's that feeling of unsatisfaction with what we have that makes us advance our knowledge and create more and more amazing things. Yes, there are elements of positive emotions in these examples, but that's the balance, isn't it? How can there be positive without negative?

The idea of being happy and content all the time is an alluring one. A magical one even. It paints a picture of heaven, of total enlightenment and peace. But, in my mind, it is in no way a realistic one. That's not what humans are about. We shouldn't live our lives trying to suppress and fight away negative emotions. Those emotions are just as a part of us as happiness and excitement are. We need that duality. Yes, we can strive to find a balance, but reaching for a state of only happiness is an empty dream.

I hope you don't take this as morbid, it's not in any shape or form. I just like that humans are complex, and that we can feel grief and joy to the exact same depth. I don't want to have to pretend that we shouldn't.
Rant ended.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Incredible

Anyone else find this absolutely incredible?! Some people are so talented.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Story

Hi all! Here's a short story I wrote a while ago called 'Heaven'.

***

“What a wicked face that fellow has!” the judge murmured down to me meekly.

What a wicked face indeed! I couldn’t help but agree. From my little stool by the judges table I could see the man’s features quite clearly; wide, slightly grinning mouth, bright flickering eyes. The bluish shadow that marked his fatal blow was only just creeping out from under he’s carefully sculpted hairdo. He had draped himself casually over his chair, inviting the gaze of the jury members with a clear and disconcerting relish. All in all, the effect was one of utter arrogance with just a sharp hint of humour glinting in the darkest part of his eyes. He shifted his gaze to me, gave a lazy smile and rolled his eyes as if to say, “What a waste of time, eh, buddy?” I returned the gaze and blinked a few times as if to say, “Kindly stop looking at me.”

It was a true mark of his puffed up pride that he did not look away at once. After all, I was an Angel, albeit a rather unimportant one. But as far as the hierarchy of Heavenly Judicial Rankings (HJR) goes, I was certainly several happy steps above him on the ladder. What’s more, I had my newly printed license for the Gaze of Retribution sitting snugly in my pocket and in my cheerful pride of this achievement I was all too keen to test it out a little. Unfortunately the man’s rather pitiable defence attorney, who had had his morning coffee that day, was paying attention and gave him a sharp rap on the shoulder.

“Oh, come on!” the man groaned in the long suffering tones of a rebellious teenager, or a very immature fully grown man. “Why is nothing happening?”

The judge, who seemed to have taken personal offence to the complaint cleared his throat meaningfully – or at least as meaningfully as a series of indignant gargling and choking noises can be.

“We shall begin court proceedings.” He nodded to me. “Sir Angel Harvey of the second ranking, if you could please read the list of grievances.”

I pulled out the sheet I had written earlier and put on my best possible law-court voice. “List of complaints towards one Barnaby, of negative seventh ranking,” I squeaked judicially. “Disrespect towards Angels, disrespect towards The Big Guy, disrespect towards the carefully ordered system of the afterlife, 3 counts of missing compulsory afterlife apology workshops, 2 counts of still-living-spousal neglect, and 34 counts of inappropriate nudity.”

A large dramatic sigh was followed by my well-spoken announcement and Barnaby rolled his eyes in an exaggerated fashion to the point of a damaging neck strain.

“Representative of the defence,” the judge intoned in what he had hoped to be a powerful authoritative voice but which sounded rather like he was suppressing a large belch, “Do you have anything to say?”

The defence attorney made a large thing of shuffling around some papers, which were very obviously blank. He then opened and shut a briefcase a few times, pulled his glasses to the end of his noise, peered out over the courtroom and said in a clear and succinct voice, “No.”

Barnaby threw up his hands in exasperation. The judge ignored him and proceeded to say, “Barnaby, do you have anything to say for yourself?”

Given the opportunity to perform, Barnaby stood up grandly, extending his arms and prancing to the jury’s table before strutting back and forth.

“Once you have finished your talented rendition of A Chorus Line,” the judge tittered with a little flush of pride at his terrific humour. He had, in fact, just finished a season of A Chorus Line as the role of ‘talent-lacking dancer #4’ and had been hoping to slip a comedic musical reference in court soon so as to make people take notice of his vast theatrical knowledge.

Barnaby also flushed, but with anger that his dramatic start had not quite come off with the finesse he had hoped for. He turned murderously to the giggling jury and began speaking in a low ominous undertone.

“Well, your honour, if that really is your name, I have several things to say –“

“Speak up, you idiot!” a jury member exclaimed, throwing a small paperweight in his direction.

“Fine! Since none of you understand theatrical subtlety –“

“I wouldn’t say that!” the judge huffed angrily.

“- I shall speak plainly!” Barnaby cleared his throat.

“Get on with it!” another anonymous jury member yelled.

“My response to these crimes, my impatient friends,” Barnaby continued, ignoring several angry murmurings from the jury for being wrongly labelled as his ‘friends’, “is thus. First of all, I only disrespect Angels because they could not look more ridiculous if they tried.”

I tucked my fluffy angel wings as far behind me as possible and tried not to look too embarrassed.

“Secondly, The Big Guy completely understood that my comments to him were a joke, and we had a good laugh about it. He said he found it refreshing that I felt comfortable enough to call him what I called him as no one had ever done it before.”

I nodded, hating myself for accepting his explanation. It was a well-known fact that The Big Guy had a rather strong sense of humour. He had, much to my terror, given me a lift home from my religion-appreciation class one day and as intimidated as I was, his jokes about global warming had kept me chuckling for days. Any man high up enough in the HJR to be called Almighty but still insisted on being called The Big Guy is generally able to tell a joke from a fist in the face.

“And what did you call The Big Guy?” the judge asked in the voice of someone who is about to tell a very bad joke that they think is hilarious.

Barnaby sighed. “Butthead, your honour.”

The judge shook with suppressed giggles. “And how long have you been in the third grade?” He then burst into unrestrained laughter which the court imitated out of manners and pity more then anything else.

“As I was saying,” Barnaby said testily, “HE got it, if none of you thick-headed idiots did not. Thirdly, I have nothing to say to that claim as the actions speak for themselves. Fourthly and fifthly combined, there are clearly far too many ridiculous rules and classes to climb the so called heavenly hierarchy then altogether necessary, which brings me to sixthly – I expected to be able to do what I want here but cruelly I cannot, so I ask you, what is the point of being dead if it is just like being alive?”

At this arrogant outburst the judge positively shone with red-faced flustered indignation.

“The point, Barnaby!” he sputtered. “The point is – the point, I say, is…”

He lost himself for a moment in the furious and bewildered silence of a man who is forced to think about things he generally strives to ignore.

“The point is that you have done bad things and you shall be rightly punished!” He finished after a long pause, rather anti-climactically.

“I thought that was the reason I was here in the first place,” Barnaby stated with a theatrical flair.

“You are sentenced to…” As much as the judge had no patience for Barnaby’s dramatic tendencies, he had no problem with his own and so the suspense-inducing pause that he put in his sentence dragged on for a full three minutes before I delicately drew the matter to his attention.

“Judge!” I shrieked subtly.

“Harvey, I was pausing dramatically and you just ruined all the anticipation.” I had the good sense to blush and look timidly at my feet. “Anyway, as I was saying, you are sentenced to be born.”

The jury gasped obediently, reading the ‘GASP’ sign that was now flashing luridly above the judge’s table.

“Oh me, oh my,” Barnaby yawned. “Should I be terrified?”

The judge blinked a few times before saying, “Well, yes, if you don’t mind.”

“Well I do mind!” Barnaby exclaimed hotly, ignoring his defence attorney who was now flapping a hand in front of his face. “I think it’s time someone sensible, intelligent, good-looking and generally extremely funny should tell you the problems with this system you’ve got going. The after-life should be a place that is different to life, otherwise it’s just like living still, but after!”

“Um, it is called the after-life,” I interjected as timidly as I could manage while still sounding very intellectual. “It’s quite logical for us to have this system.”

“Oh, yes, of course, I’m sorry – I do believe you have convinced me with your mental fortitude,” Barnaby said with the discernible sarcasm of a brick. As a result, the jury and judge all smiled in surprise satisfaction that my intelligent words had gotten through to him.

“Well, since you’ve seen the error of your ways –“

“No you fools!” Barnaby cut of the judge with an extravagant gesture that upended the table and sent papers wafting about everywhere. “I was being sarcastic. I actually think that this system is idiotic because human beings aren’t logical. We are emotional! The after-life shouldn’t have a hierarchy; it should have no system at all! It should be different for each person –“

“ENOUGH!” thundered the judge in an excellent display of his voice projection training. “Off you go right this second. You shall be born this evening and I’ll hear not another word from you. Now, begone!”

Barnaby gathered himself together into a perfect picture of composure as he gathered up the blank papers on the floor that his defence attorney had brought to look more professional. To this attorney, Barnaby said, “I expect you have assumed already that I shan’t be paying you didly-squat.”

And with that, Barnaby left the room, accompanied by four armed Angel guards.

“Well!” sighed the judge. “Glad that’s over. The rebels of one life always end up being the radical thinkers in the afterlife, don’t they? Anyway, The Big Guy’s hosting drinks tonight, who’s coming?”