Thursday, May 26, 2011


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?”

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Hooray for Musical Theatre !!

Now I know I tried (and failed) to do a 30 day song challenge in the past, but this is much more suited to me! It's a 30 day musical theatre song challenge, and I'm going to modify it slightly. I'm just answering a whole bunch of the questions now, then some more later, then some more after that instead of boring you all for 30 days straight. Onto question number one!

1. A song from the first musical you ever saw/heard.

Well. I think the first musical I actually ever saw was Cats, but it doesn't count because I don't remember anything other then that I was teriffied and we left half way through. So instead I shall say "Jeanette's Showbiz Number" from The Full Monty. Dad was in this musical when I was about 11. Because of that, we saw it over and over again, and I listened to the soundtrack over and over again. We got to sit in rehearsals, and go to cast parties and I was completely enthralled by the world of musical theatre. This son was my absolute fave from the show because it was so broadway, and I sung it to death.

2. A song from your latest musical obsession.

I'm loving this question because I go through so many random obesessions with musicals. At the moment I've been very very obsessed with Sondheim, and I recently got the Company album. The song that I've been singing from it is "The Little Thing's You Do Together". I adore Sondheim's music, and Company is such a great example of his work. His chatty, fast paced, heavy-lyric-ed songs and his heartfelt, beautiful ballads are all on show, plus it has such a touching message about relationships and connection.

3. A song demonstrating how underrated I think a musical is.

This is a tough question. I suppose my best answer is "Rita's Confession" from Lucky Stiff. I never really hear people talking about Lucky Stiff, or singing any of the songs. But I really like it, and this song is fantastic. It's quite hilarious and I oversung it for a long period of time.

4. A song demonstrating how overrated I think a musical is.

My answer to this is a complicated one. The musical Wild Party is a favourite of many, heaps of people LOVE the music, and I admit, a few songs I enjoy and sing along to. But the rest of it, I find absolutely awful. I think this show is far too overrated for it's own good.

5. A song which makes you happy.

Everytime I listen to "Totally F****ed" from Spring Awakening I feel so happy - and I know it's strange because it's not necessarily a happy happy song. But whenever it reaches the 'blah-blah0blah' group sung section, I feel so happy and joyous because the it's such a passionate, heartfelt part of the song. Love it.

6. A song which makes you sad/teary.

I just discovered this one recently. It's called "Soon They'll Forget" from a musical called Once We Lived Here by Matthew Frank and Dean Bryant. Mr. Frank himself gave it to my showfit class to learn and perform to him in an audition excercise and I was an absolute mess. The song was so beautiful, and so tragic that it was making me tear up just trying to learn it!

7. A song sung by your favourite female singer in a musical.

My absolute favourite female singer of all time is Julie Andrews. She's basically my idol, so I'm going to say the song "Stay Awake" from Mary Poppins. Yes I know it's a movie musical but it still counts! She sings it so beautifully.

8. A song sung by your favourite male singer in a musical.

I have so many favourite female singers but not many male ones, strangely enough. One I do love, though, is Norbert Leo Butz. He's a fantastic performer and singer. So I'll say "Schmuel's Song" from The Last Five Years. It is such a brilliant song, and so brilliantly performed.

9. A song from a musical you know all (or nearly all) of the lines to.

Hands down, any song from Jesus Christ Superstar. I am a big fan of knowing the lyrics to everything, and JCS is my all time favourite musical that I listened to NON-STOP! I can basically sing the whole recording all the way through.

10. A song from your least favourite musicl.

A musical I really dislike is Xanna Don't. Potentially, I haven't given it a big enough chance, but listening to it once through was enough for me. However there is one song I like from it called "Fast" basically because I have an obsession with singing very wordy songs very quickly, and that's basically what this whole song is about.

That's enough for today! I'll post the next ten questions soon enough :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Expect a lot from yourself and you'll exceed everyone's expectations but your own.

This was a thought I had on the train on the way home from Showfit today. Personally, I am a big believer in expecting a lot from yourself. In many ways, I don't see the point in setting limits. I strive to achieve as much as I possibly can right now. I want to exceed expectations, and so for myself and in my mind, normal becomes not good enough.
But. This being said. Yes I find high expectations for ourselves to be a mainly positive thing, but lately I have come to understand how negative it can be as well. You can be very hard on yourself if you don't achieve what you've set out to achieve, and as a person with little patience for myself, I get very frustrated in this sense. If I don't get from A - Z quickly enough, I get angry at myself for not being good enough/strong enough/smart enough to be at Z already.

So when are high expectations a good thing and when are they damaging? Should we be easier on ourselves and as a result have to deal with less self-disapointment? Or should we push ourselves to be the very best we can be at all times? I know that people can be really damaged by other people's expectations, but self-expectations are more dangerous I believe. Much more. So what is it? A bit of both maybe... I don't have an answer because I am, at the moment, swinging back and forth between the extremes. I have moments of complete and utter "I can do this. I WILL do this. I am doing this!" mentality and then I get unbelievably frustrated because I can't do this or that and I think I SHOULD be able to do this and that by now. I should be improving. I should be stronger. What am I doing wrong if I'm not?

It's a riddle. At least it is to me. I know no-one can be perfect, and it's pointless to expect that because it's impossible. But I don't quite accept that on some deep, subconscious level. Or something like that. Bleh. Too much to think about! Too much to try to unravel. Maybe you'll have better luck?