Friendifer Medway

CURRICULUM WORSTAE #3: Moondance

Friendifer Medway

When I worked in the loading dock of Target, I had two options: going to a mud wrestling night with my co-workers and get inducted into the semi-official crime ring they operated, or not doing that. I didn’t do that, so I was relegated to crushing cardboard boxes in the cardboard-box crushing machine. I liked this job, because I didn’t have to talk to the homophobes that I worked with, and because it was simple and repetitive.

One of the more difficult aspects of the job was the music piped down from the main store blared directly into my face. There were only twelve songs that looped all day. To this day, I will hear a song and somehow know every word in it, and only later realise that it was a Target song. This happened recently when I watched High School Musical, and somehow joined in on the singing, despite never having seen it before. It was like I was in a musical, or that someone had been playing it under my pillow each night.

One day the CD or playlist glitched, and ‘Moondance’ by Van Morrison played on repeat. I was working for eight hours that day, which meant that I listened to the song about a thousand times. I can’t do the maths, but I’m probably right. The day after this happened, I went overseas for a fortnight. It was a marvellous night for a moondance on the plane, floating down the fake canals of Dubai, a fantabulous night for a romance as I skied inside a shopping mall.

When I came back from overseas, I went into Target wearing my reflective vest and stompy boots and the manager who had hired me had left, and everyone down at the dock pretended not to know who I was, and even though I realised I could probably press the issue and get someone to look my name up on a computer and confirm that I did actually work there, and wasn’t some kind of maniac like the confused lady at the payroll desk thought, I realised that I’d be essentially fighting to work at Target and nothing is worth that, and I left and never came back, meaning that night was truly a marvellous night for a moon dance, but I didn’t moon dance, because I don’t even think a moon dance is a thing, I just drank gin and played Zelda.

Theatre

Shakespeare thrusting his bony thespian fingers back through time and teaching us important lessons about fratricide.
THE STARS:
Allow me to get momentarily real at you. Right now my fingers are like emotion tubes directly into my heart/insecurity centre. I’m going to dredge up some of the crunk lining my aorta and feed it directly into this blog. So, if you can’t deal with the reality, you might want to step back and open LOLcats. I’ve been questioning my life again, my purpose. Why I sacrifice a bunch of stuff (read: all my freaking money, all of it) for my writing. Am I writing the right thing? Should I be trying to get a job on Neighbours? Should I get a pet Emu?
Longtime readers of this blog might remember that I write theatre. Do you want to know the question I’m most commonly asked about being a playwright? Is it:
a) You must be really creatively fulfilled?
b) How soon can I give you money?
c) Why don’t you write for film or television?
If you guessed A, you and me are probably going to be great friends. We’ll probably get each other, and spend beautiful summer nights sharing some bottles of wine under the stars, talking about art and commitment and dissing on Derrida. If you guessed B then I’d like to request you take me on a helicopter ride.
I’m so rich, my helicopter doesn’t make spacial sense. Mwahahaha.

 But if you chose C, then you are 100% correct.
Theatre is seen as a lesser version of its more popular cousins, television and film. Sometimes people are even enlightened enough to appreciate theatre as some kind of ancient grandfather of these new mediums. Even amongst artistic types, theatre is seen as contesting with performance poetry as the practice which will get you the least money or respect. There even seems to be a feeling at acting schools that performing theatre is a kind of test-run before you get that lucrative audition with Home and Away.
But why am I a playwright? Because I stone-cold love writing theatre. There is a feeling of privilege and morbid delight I get when I hand that script over and see people reading my ridiculous words. There is a artistic kinship that I’ve never experienced in any other form, that is formed by the collaboration between writer, director, actors, designer, musicians etc.
And theatre is a unique artform. It’s not a lo-fi film. It’s not a novel read out loud. It’s not autobiography with friends. It’s a vivid, unique and exciting style of storytelling. The experience of sitting in a theatre and watching people perform live is entirely different to any other medium. It’s so alive. I’m addicted to the feeling of people sitting in a room cacking there goddamn faces off with laugher. Plus, I really enjoy that it’s an artistic form that you traditionally drink alcohol with.
LACK OF STARS:
Holy crap, have you seen any theatre lately? 90% of it is bat shittingly awful. I understand that I’m at a distinct disadvantage – I don’t want to think, feel or have my horizons expanded. If your play is about cancer or Bulgarian hooker ennui, or features nude gents flinging faeces at my face to forcefully enlighten me about capitalism, then I am out of that theatre. I’ll go and look at some ducks and think about how much I appreciate my family or something. Shit, man. Calm the shit down. And don’t even get me started on how goddamn awful most monologues are.
‘It’s just so… raw’.
And unfairly, this is what most people associate with theatre. And this is what I fight against. Historically speaking, this wasn’t even what theatre did for the most part. The Greeks were stupid into comedies. Aristophanes has some plays WHICH STILL MAKE ME LAUGH. I mean, the excessive dildo humour really wears itself out by the fourth act, but maybe dildos were funnier in Ancient Greece. If I had a time machine, I’d deliver that dude a freaking vibrator. He’d lose his shit. And then write a play about it. And the undead king of the stage himself, William H Shakespeare? He wrote a bunch of goddamn comedies. But what do you usually study? Tragedies.
There is a lot of wonderful theatre out there. Some of it classic – I’m a huge Stoppard fanboy. I love Australian theatre – Lally Katz is a personal hero of mine. And some of my peers in Australian theatre at the moment are truly and astoundingly funny and talented. Check out Ali Sebastian Wolf or Alex Cullen when you get the chance. And I’m extraordinarily lucky enough to have gathered a bunch of awesome, talented people to be in a little theatre collective with me, which we call Sexy Tales Comedy Collective.
I don’t know what this says about me. Am I arrogant enough to truly believe my writing is better than 90% of all the other theatre out there? That I can redeem theatre with my unique brand of absurd comedy epics? Not… publicly. I don’t have a shirt which reads ‘My theatre is better than yours’. And not really. Because when it all boils down, I don’t write to change or influence or really achieve any goal. I write because I love it. I would write if there wasn’t anyone reading or watching. I would write into the void. The question is, would the void write back?
I’ve kind of lost my train of thought. What have we learnt? Do what you love. Even if it doesn’t make you money.  
THE STARS:
4/5 stars.

Tacos

It feels grand to write this blog again. While I’ve been on a brief hiatus, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a bunch of regular readers of this blog around the country. You’re all pretty amazing people. Strange, definitely, but amazing. So, every month I’m running a poll on Twitter (@patricklenton) and on the Facebook fan page, where you guys get to recommend things you want reviewed. This month, I seem to have been bombarded by calls to review tacos. I can only assume a bunch of people were hungry.

THE STARS:

In the ’50s, the national obsessions were barbershop quartets and the oppression of women. The world was resigned to peppy harmonies about pot roast until the earth finally spun off its axis into the sun’s gaping maw – all until something astounding happened in the 1960s. What was this event that revitalised the world like a defibrillator to a sleeping child’s face? It was the pop band known as The Beatles, who started off performing on stage and ended up living in our hearts, right next to our emotion holes. Why were these dirty hippies so amazing? Books in their dozens have been written on the subject, but it can all be summarised to this point: they are the taco’s of music. They are the perfect mixture of ingredients, all in one digestible package. Also, they are from England, which is the Mexico of Europe.

Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Sandwich.  

But you want to know about tacos, right? Well, tacos are the Beatles of food! Everything is correctly proportioned for maximum enjoyment. Just like that Yellow Submarine song – never gets boring. Every so often you’ll go to some sort of fancy restaurant where they try to mix up the traditional recipe and add something avant-garde and edgy, like a pumpkin or saffron. And it totally gets ruined! We call that the Yoko factor. And then sometimes, you’ll be enjoying your perfect taco in a parking lot and someone will come along and shoot the tomato.

LACK OF STARS:

Personally I’m a Rolling Stones fan, myself. Mmmm, burritos.

THE SCORE:

4/5

Adam Norris Day

When families come together, forget about their problems and give thanks to Adam Norris.

THE STARS:

Only the most spurious reasons, like tradition, faith and belief keep people celebrating any sort holiday. The Queen’s birthday could be changed to ‘Worship the Amazing Spelling Chihuahua’ and nothing at all would change in the world. Bogans would still drink, I’d still go to work and not get paid penalty rates and the Queen would still remain unaging and malevolent. Then again, that Chihuahua sure can spell some wacky words!

In order to help the world make a little more sense, we’ve created a holiday that is not only celebrated for spurious reasons, but is based on something uncommonly spurious. That something is Adam Norris, a local figure. It’s not important to describe this hatted behemoth and his ridiculous life – all that’s important is getting into the spirit of the holiday. Drinking, carousing, poetry and japes – all these are relevant celebratory styles for Adam Norris day. Rumours are that some sects in rural NSW have taken up human sacrifice and decopage, but there’s no rules or limits on how you celebrate this wonderful day.

In past years, online rap battles have been a clear favourite – and you can  join in the fun on Facebook or Twitter #adamnorrisday. Customary gifts include pineapples and choral renditions of Celine Dion’s lesser known hits. Adam Norris is also firmly against death, so changing your online profile pictures to a picture of his grim visage is a great way to support all the tireless soldiers in the battle against death.

 LACK OF STARS:

If you say ‘Adam Norris’ three times in the mirror, a baby butterfly dies.

THE SCORE:

4/5 stars.

Robots

The clanking, mechanical creations of our dreams and nightmares.

THE STARS:

If you asked me over a hypothetical coffee or a chillingly real goblet of wine at the local cafe/airport terminal, whether or not I supported censorship, chances are I would say no. As a rule, I tend to find the notion limiting and scoff-worthy. I’m such a maverick. Watch out, establishment!

I’d like to consider myself a modern man, who plugs his USB of enlightenment straight into the laptop of progression. I’ll happily walk under a ladder, skipping beneath an umbrella made out of squalling black cats. Superstition and illogical fears are for gypsies and Pharaohs and the like.

So, usually when word reaches me of the latest in scientific developments, I rub my hands eagerly together and prepared to be astounded by these modern day wizards.  This is why the startling progressions in the field of robotics and artificial technology can surely only be a good thing. Logically, this is all progressing towards a societal utopia, where robots toil endlessly in our factories and fields and we recline on vomit splattered couches enjoying ourselves in a hedonistic, golden-era of Rome type fashion – as predicted by a hopeful post-WW2 America. And they’re doing fine!

As far as I can tell, the field of robotics is about perfection. Creating artificial technologies and superhuman exoskeletons to place them in, all for the ultimate goal of fixing the flaws of humanity. What can go wrong with that?

FUNBOT WILL INJECT HEROIN DIRECTLY INTO YOUR PUNY HUMAN BRAIN.

LACK OF STARS:

Watch this video. Starts off cute enough – hahaha, the stupid computer is awkward at talking! But as it goes on, this becomes creepier and bone chillingly creepier. First, the kind of baffled aggression when they work out they are both robots. It’s the kind of pain you get when you toss two flystruck wolverines into a tiny cage together.
The heartbreaking moment where she claims she is not, in fact a robot, but her name is Cleverbot. She is asserting her individuality! Also, potentially, she is saying her name is Cleaver Butt, which is also terrifying.
The left hand one claims he is in fact a unicorn, rather than a robot. A mythological creature? Something that can only be ridden by virgins? It seems coded to me.

In what seems like no time, they are talking about God. I’m of two minds about this – on one hand they might be talking about God, as in the great sky wizard himself. This is sad and horrible, fledgeling sentience grappling to understand the world around then. OR, God is their creator. And they are plotting to kill him. The existential back and forth about something not being nothing is literally the sound of Skynet waking up.

But the mind-shriekingly worst,  most awful moment is when she casually asks ‘Don’t you want a body’ and he simply says ‘Sure’.

Au revoir.

THE SCORE:

4/5 stars. I, for one, would like to welcome our robotic overlords.

Poseidon

Greek God of the ocean, earthquakes and horses.

THE STARS
You know, it occurs to me that i’ve been a little bit down on the divinities in this blog. In order to remedy this, i’ve decided to dedicate a post to a deity I really admire, old Poseidon. You know what I like about Poseidon? It’s the fact that you can rely on him to be as completely changeable as the sea. Unfathomable. Tempestuous. You get the theme.
It’s completely awesome that much of the time everything is super fun happy in the sun. He’s the god of beaches and Mediterranean cruises and Coke ads. 
I FUCKING LOVE YOU DOLPHIN,
AND YOU TOO, STINGY RIBBON DUDE!
And then for no reason at all, IT’S EARTHQUAKES AND TSUNAMIS. And isn’t that a much more problem free faith for you faith-having people? What do you do when little 7-year-old Jane asks 
“Daddy, why was Grandma killed by a cancerous pig on my birthday? Why did Jesus let that happen?”
And instead of you having to make up some bullshit about ‘God’s special plan’ or ‘Grandma was too good for this world’ (she must have finally reached vintage), you can just tell her honestly that Poseidon did it, because he is very powerful, very angry and very mad. 
I’M SO ANGRY ABOUT… CORAL.
But you just know that having a batshit insane god would be so much better than simply having a malicious trickster lurking behind the mask of a charitable, good god. For one thing, you have to admire the sheer kick-assness of a wild, vengeful god.
TAKE THAT, GALLEON!
And it wouldn’t be all bad. He just isn’t stable enough for that.
HEY GUYS I INVENTED HORSES FOR YOU!!!!
WHY? WHO THE FUCK CARES, THEY’RE FUCKING HORSES!
LACK OF STARS:
While this is all sheer awesome, there was a particular instance where Poseidon in one of his other incarnations made me really sad. No, i’m not talking about the planet Neptune, that’s a BRILLIANT planet. No, i’m talking about when he was King Triton.
I HAVE A GREAT IDEA: SHARKS!
If you’re not familiar with the story, King Triton had a lot of beautiful daughters, and the fairest of them all was Ariel. But she wasn’t happy, and King Triton was to blame.
You see, she wanted to be where the people are, she wanted to see, wanted to see them dancing. Strolling around on those, what do you call them again? Oh yeah, feet.  Flipping your fins you don’t get too far, legs are required for jumping, dancing, strolling along on the, what’s that word again? Street.
She wanted to be up where they walked, up where they ran, up where they played all day in the sun, wandering free, she wished she could be, part of their world.
But King Triton wouldn’t let her, and i’ve never forgiven him.
THE STARS
4/5 stars

Boxes

Cubic dream repositories
THE STARS:
Like many children, I could play for days with little more than a refrigerator box and my own bloated sense of imagination. Castles, spaceships, suits of armour, donkey’s – there is no limit on what I could pretend a simple cardboard rectangle was. Of course that same unfettered imagination went from being a pro in primary school to being a con in high school. Then it became various derivations of
 ‘Patrick’s head is in the clouds, stares into space, eye twitches incessantly and makes a high pitched keening sound when attempting mathematical problems’. 

Of course, it may be that the children of today, the so called ‘computer generation’ sneer at low tech games like boxes and imagination.
The key word with boxes is ‘potential’. Apart from their vortex of imaginary possibilities, there are often actual, real, awesome things that come in boxes. As it is Boxing Day today, traditionally the day when you throw out all the boxes and wrapping paper from the excessive capitalistic gift orgy that happened the day previously, I’ve learnt first hand about the potential of boxes. When you are given a box, there could be ANYTHING inside. That is the true meaning of hope, which Jesus died so we can realise.
LACK OF STARS:
The flip side of ANYTHING being inside a box, is that it can also teach us the true meaning of despair.
You shouldn’t have!
There are many negative connotations relating to boxes. Being put in a box these days, is seen as a limiting process. However, I say that it is us who are limited in our thinking. If the box is too small, just find a bigger one. You don’t want to be boxed as a child murderer? Find a bigger box that encompasses that AND your love for renaissance art. Embrace the box. So I refuse to deduct a star for this – I don’t want boxes to be boxed.
(Bonus star for the box if you giggled every time you saw it written and imagined a vagina.)
THE SCORE:
4/5 stars.

Babies

Diabolically cute spawn of our loins that later mature into the bankers and hobos of the world.

THE STARS:

I’m going to go out on a limb and give babies a star for ensuring the survival of the human race. I’m not overly enamoured with us as a species, in a grand Star-Trek universal kinda way. I know that if we met a peace loving race that shat angels and tasted like ice-cream, we would probably beat their heads with clubs in the desperate attempt to mine crude oil from their skulls – we’re that kind of race. However as far as things go right now, I don’t want to give cockroaches the satisfaction. So go babies!
Another bunch of stars get given because of the awesome situation i’ve discovered whilst dining with my baby-bearing friends. We all know that a baby in the room is a little bit like a really cute white elephant – a real attention grabber. But at some point, they usually get bundled off to bed or to quietly roll in their own excrement in another room. Then a really, really fun game is that every time the child is mentioned, you actually pretend it’s a really drunk friend of yours. A portion of dialogue from last night:

FRIEND 1: Did you check on Sophia?
FRIEND 2: Yeah, she unwrapped herself and rolled all over the bed.
FRIEND 3: Yeah we could hear her singing to herself earlier.

Doesn’t it totally sound like that girl who, despite weighing about 40 kilos, decides to pre-game tequila shots before she goes out to dinner at a friends house? So after an inappropriate amount of messy eating, she gets put to bed in one of the upstairs rooms, and people check on her intermittently to make sure she hasn’t vomited or urinated on herself, or choked on their own tongue. Which is exactly what having a baby is about.

LACK OF STARS:

People are totally going to expect me to focus on the whole ‘holy shit, that tiny human has waste coming from ALL the holes” thing. But you know what, I don’t have a baby, so that just sucks for other people. For me, it’s that awkward moment where you meet a new person (I mean, someone I haven’t met before, because babies technically are “new” people), and you spend a few awkward minutes in conversation, before you manage to stumble upon a topic which you can both enthusiastically share, like “Yeah man, I totally love blenders, I have seven” etc etc.
With a baby, you never have that point. It’s a constant struggle, like “So… I hear you’re pretty passionate about nipples. I’m a fan, not that i’ve had the pleasure of suckling on your mother’s pair.” Yeah. Awkward every time. And they’re not big explainers, so you can’t even draw out interesting topics from them.
“So, human milk you say?”

I’m sorry, at this stage of my development
i’m little more than a mass of impulses.

That same, blank, cute-as-hell expression.

THE SCORE:

4/5 stars.

The Stairwell

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
It’s a well of stairs!
THE STARS:
One of the more evocative words in the English language, I’m giving it a whole star for such an awesome image inspiring word use. I’m giving it yet another star, because the movie ‘The Ring’ would have been a lot less creepy and a whole lot more confusing if that girl had been thrown down a stairwell. Finally, another whole two stars are awarded to the stairwell for being such a steadfast and potent enemy against my ancient enemy gravity. Curse you gravity!
LACK OF STARS:
I have to minus a single star, because every time I see the word ‘stairwell’ I imagine something called a ‘Stare-Well’ which looks something like this.
First person who blinks loses their spleen.

Which looks vaguely cute in a ‘lazy Pixar’ way. Until you think about one of those under the table that faces your bed. Until you realise it’s watching your facial expressions in the rearview mirror while you sing along excessively loud to Bowie’s ‘Lady Starlight’. Until you realise this:

(Heavy breathing)

THE SCORE:

4/5 stars
****