Friday, October 30, 2009

Inside Your Mind

Have the corners of the earth begun to seethe in age

Understanding all you need is love to focus on the right

It’s all you need, I need you all to just forgive and play the game

Treat yourself to what my hands can give tonight

I blame what I can on myself

It’s a really nice drive

Man if you’re right

And this talk of a rainbow

Turns out to be

nothing but a lie

Do you really think

That love as a virtue

Has no place inside your mind

I know you want to find it easy

But to get along you must desire


Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Am Man


Art (ala Bovino)







I hope you have enjoyed this exposition of emotion, as much as I enjoyed birthing it.

After reading Eden's article on evolution, on how man has perhaps... lost his ability to 'live in the moment', it got me thinking about art. Art is the domain of man, it is something which animals have not even forgotten how to do, they never knew about it in the first place! Humans 1, Animals 0.

- Dogman

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thoughts on Evolution: Intelligence in its infancy

“The world goin' one way, people another” – Poot from The Wire

This will be another blog inspired by the onslaught of light and thought and inspiration that Embryonic is raining down upon me. There seems to be a theme in there where they compare us to animals. They have jungle sounds with monkeys and birds and everything. There is a song entitled ‘I Can Be A Frog’ that encourages the imagination of a kid to be expressed more openly and freely. There are also ideas of a competition and evil that exists in nature.

But the big thing that I take from it is in terms of how we exist. We are further up the chain of evolution based on our apparent superior intelligence. But for all this intelligence we seem to have completely lost an art form that animals possess so naturally. That is the ability to live in the moment. When my cat cleans herself, she is just cleaning herself. That’s what she is doing. When I clean myself, my mind is usually lost in some unimportant thought of the past or the future. It seems wrong that we are losing the real connections between the world and ourselves - by chasing desires, hiding from fears or indulging in ignorance - without first learning all the world has to offer. As Hamish said, it is much more powerful and magnificent than human existence or intelligence.

However, I still think that intelligence and critical thought is the right path. But to think our level of intelligence is anything compared to what intelligence can truly be is foolish. Humans are merely in the early stages of the growth. So early in fact that we can’t deal with the gift of intelligence without losing the knowledge of simplicity. We overcomplicate and over cluster through confused and unnecessary worlds and beliefs so much that we ignore the realities in front of us. Even writing this blog I have almost lost my initial point as my mind is searching for its origins and hypothesising its implications and wondering what I should have for lunch.

So intelligence has a long way to evolve. From what we can prove, we appear to be the frontline of that evolution in this part of the universe, but we are far from the pinnacle (especially if infinity is real and not bound to the physical world (assuming the physical world is separate from the mental world or is it a concoction of it? or-) sorry back to my conclusion). If we are the step up from animals, perhaps the next step would be to look back at what we seem to have forgotten in our short journey thus far. We are always caught up in a moment, but it is rarely this one right now.

- Eden (while listening to You In Reverse – Built To Spill)

Thoughts on Evolution: Love in its infancy
Thoughts on Evolution: Physical evolution in its infancy?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Seeing Colours

Last night I was in a light meditation, and at one point I thought instead of letting images come into my head. I’ll choose the images. So I pictured a table, but I wanted to be specific so I chose exactly what it looked like and it was there. It came to a point where I wanted to choose a colour, and before I chose which colour I wanted my new table to be, I hesitated. Because I realised that I was about to see a colour that wasn’t there. For some reason, this concept seemed crazier than a table being there. So I tried it and suddenly, hovering to the right of the still colourless table, was a small mass of purple. I was seeing purple just as clear as if a cadbury wrapper was in front of me. I let green join in and now I could see two colours. And if you try right now to imagine colours, its not too easy. You may know what you’re meant to be seeing, but it’s not very easy to actually have it in your minds eye. There was something so beautiful about seeing whatever I wanted to see.

- Lee

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Throughout our lives, whether we like it or not (and whether we acknowledge it or not) we will be influenced by others. Everything I write is in some way inspired by someone else, whether its Lee or Leo - someone influences me and this I feel has aided me in my growth and learning.

I think it is very important to allow yourself to be influenced by others, but a balance must be found between thinking for yourself and following blindly. You should always do what you feel is right and not what the herd wants to do, which can often be quite wrong.

Sometimes the influence someone has on you can be so great yet hard to define. I’ve been with Brooke since I was 15 years old, it’s hard to gauge the impact she’s had on me, I can think nothing but immense. I think that people who spend a long time together end up forming a symbiotic relationship of sorts. My habits, likes, dislikes and attitudes are heavily influenced by Brooke yet I can’t define a lot of it. It’s so gradual and fundamental. I think of it has a strand of DNA, the double helix.

Remember also that change is wonderful and liberating, I had ideas about the world years ago that I don't even like to think about now, but the fact that I allowed myself to change makes me happy. To be bound to an idea you once thought to be absolute, only to learn that you weren’t and that you will never be “right” about anything is nice. In my experience, no change has been made without the influence of a new experience or person.

Reading books, listening to music, chatting with friends, family and strangers help define who we are, but ultimately, the attitudes you have towards life will be decided by you.

- Dogman

"The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas. Tolerant like the sky, all-pervading like sunlight, firm like a mountain, supple like a tree in the wind, he has no destination in view and makes use of anything life happens to bring his way." - Laozi

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Let's Go Away For A While

You need audio for this one. Just press play and read.

He closes his eyes as a small wave gently lifts and washes over him. He feels as though he is a part of nature. The Sun gazes down at the people floating around the blue and white sea as its waves reach out to touch the golden white sand.

The mist in his eyes from the salt water stays only a moment and he looks out towards the horizon for the incoming waves. They roll by with therapeutic frequency. The temperature of the water raises his skin in warning and anticipation. He takes a long deep breath and releases it through half a smile. A wave grows in the distance with a promise of adventure. He dares to accept and turns to launch himself. But he doubts himself. In the last moment he pulls out of the wave.

An adjacent bodysurfer, more daring than he, takes on the wave, taming it as it approaches the shore. He rejects the impulse of his first thought, instead choosing to take inspiration from the success of his fellow wave catcher. He looks back to the ocean and it responds with another wave. Bigger. More challenging. He knows he will catch this one. It nears him. The fear kicks in but he kicks out. In an instant he is lifted to its peak. For a moment not measured by time he is free. His whole life justified by a flash of liberation that is beyond the confines of memory.

The wave breaks with a violent fury. Abandoning the support it once gave him and letting him fall beneath its wrath. His mouth and nose and lungs are intoxicated by the salty water. Each second lasts an age as his body begs for oxygen. He tumbles through the darkness, devoid of all senseless security.

Suddenly his foot touches something. Something sandy! And his other foot steps in front. And again, each step absorbing the force of his wave. He awakes to the world. It all comes back to him as the ocean loses its stranglehold and concedes him back to it all. His footing holds the familiar pattern and he emerges from the water still standing, short of air as the salt n’ sand clear from his waterlogged head.

He hunches for a moment in contemplation before stretching out his body with a deep breath. Turning to face the ocean again he closes his eyes and feels the warmth of the giant star in the sky. He opens them. A million imitations of the Sun reflect off the pulsating ripple of the ocean as it stretches out towards the horizon. He smiles and runs back out to let the next wave wash through him.

- Eden (while listening to Embryonic - The Flaming Lips, inspired by BOTM)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Another Day, Another Decade

The year is 2009; the human race is nearing the end of yet another decade. Let’s think about this for a minute. A decade by definition is a time-span of 10 years; it represents a point in history, at least in recent times anyway. If you look back to the 20th Century you can pinpoint each of the ten decades by fashion, world events, music, people, film etc. What will this decade be remembered for?

Media today will try and tell you that this decade meant something, buy into it if you will, but Russell can lay it down for you in a few brief paragraphs. I’m going to start with what I believe to be the most significant event of this decade, September 11th 2001. 2,993 people died as a result of the Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks, which is relatively not a lot of deaths when compared to wars/natural disasters, but the effect it had on the world was unprecedented. Without going into a detailed discussion on these attacks (something that deserves an article to itself), I am right to say that it pissed a few people off.

On the top of this list was Americans. Everybody in the Western World felt for the victims’ families and friends, but I know that it hit home harder in the land of the free. They didn’t know these terrorists, why did they have to do those things? No-one could produce a clear answer as no-one possessed a clear mind on the event, and rightfully so. Anyway, this one event basically increased the US war effort on terrorism, leading to the 2003 Iraq War that continues to this day. That’s pretty surreal; we’ve been living the majority of this decade in the midst of a war. Take that in for a moment.

While you ponder, I’ve compiled a small non-exhaustive list of tragic events to give some scope as to the horror of this decade: Indonesian Terror Attacks (2000,2002,2003,2004,2005,2009); September 11 Attacks (2001); Gujarat Earthquake (2001); Pearl Harbor (2001);Mumbai Bombing (2003); European Heat Wave (2003); Bam Earthquake (2003); Iraq War (2003-Present); Madrid Train Bombing (2004); Indian Ocean Earthquake/Tsunami (2004); London Bombing (2005); Hurricane Katrina (2005); Kashmir Earthquake (2005); Virginia Tech Massacre (2007); Afghanistan Blizzard (2008); Sichuan Earthquake (2008); Cyclone Nargis (2008); Black Saturday Bushfires (2009); Swine Flu (2009). Take some time to reflect on these events, and look at the loss of human life, especially in the natural disasters; the figures are staggering.

Apart from the grim stuff, this decade has been one of brilliance, both in art and science. Musically it has been awesome, with Indie Rock taking a new shape, and the Rock n Roll legends releasing vintage material. The Flaming Lips this week released their first double album after 26 years of making music (I had to throw that in there as a fan). Film has also been amazing, just look at the release dates of some of the movies in the top 250 on and pick your jaw up from the floor. Not to mention the lesser known films that has made a huge impact on my life.

Climate change has been a major topic this decade, helped in part by Al Gore’s 2006 Documentary An Inconvenient Truth. This topic may or may not be on everyone’s minds, but I certainly thought about it the other day when I woke to find red dust filling the morning sky. Technology has been an obvious wonder of this decade. There has not so much been major breakthroughs (as there were in the 90’s) as there have been exponential improvements, for example the fact that we can now access the web from anywhere at any time from your phone; this in itself blows my mind.

And lastly, before you fall asleep, I’ll wake you up with some economics (I am an accountant after all). The Global Financial Crisis that has seen every major economy in the world fall into recession (except Australia…) at some stage over the past 18 months has been labelled the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The greed of fat cats on Wall Street caused the sub-prime mortgage crisis, and now thousands of people around the world are without jobs, and thousands more are struggling to find employment. Ease up Technical Timmy; I know that’s not the sole reason, but the fact still remains.

OK… so now the history lesson is over, the philosophy lesson begins. Have you ever thought about travelling back in time and visiting/living in a certain decade? Many of us have; the answer usually comes back to live in the 60s/70s, to be a part of the radical peace movement and to experience the beauty of The Beatles/Zeppelin/Stones/Dylan etc. However, although this would be fun, I wouldn’t want to live there knowing what I know about the year 2009. I’m not saying I couldn’t do it; heck I could live in the year 2 and be happy to be alive, I’m just saying that I love living in this year, at this point of time. There are so many exciting innovations happening every day that I am eager to add to my life experience.

And to be realistic, I can’t see time travel being available tomorrow (especially not to some punk without government affiliations), so I’ll leave the dreaming for my bed and start to appreciate life. This year, decade, century whatever is the one that you live in, so soak it up.

To answer the question of what will this decade be remembered for, I can’t answer that; at least not yet anyway. No-one really knew what the 90s stood for until about 5 years ago, when the trends that were evident in that period of time became clear. Another interesting point to make is that this whole concept of a ‘decade’ could be viewed as some media/marketing tool to generate interest in whatever ‘they’ want ‘us’ to be ‘interested’ in. What I’m saying is that time goes on, and splitting it up into 10 year pools is a little silly. I have been alive for 23 years, with each year different from the next. I don’t look at my life as being in the third decade, so why should I subscribe to this conventional wisdom?

After all is said and done, the “naughties” or whatever the decade is called have been some of the best years of my life. I’m not looking forward to the next 10 years to come; I’m looking forward to the next 10 days. Live long and prosper amigos.

- Russell

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Album of The Week: Embryonic

The Flaming Lips

Embryonic is the twelfth studio album by The Flaming Lips, released on October 13, 2009. It is the first double album to be released by the band


Disc one

# Title Length
1. "Convinced of the Hex" 3:56
2. "The Sparrow Looks Up at the Machine" 4:14
3. "Evil" 5:38
4. "Aquarius Sabotage" 2:11
5. "See the Leaves" 4:24
6. "If" 2:05
7. "Gemini Syringes" (featuring Thorsten Wörmann & Karen O) 3:41
8. "Your Bats" 2:35
9. "Powerless" 6:57

Disc two

# Title Length
10. "The Ego's Last Stand" 5:41
11. "I Can Be a Frog" (featuring Karen O) 2:14
12. "Sagittarius Silver Announcement" 2:59
13. "Worm Mountain" (featuring MGMT) 5:21
14. "Scorpio Sword" 2:02
15. "The Impulse" 3:31
16. "Silver Trembling Hands" 3:59
17. "Virgo Self-Esteem Broadcast" (featuring Thorsten Wörmann) 3:44
18. "Watching the Planets" (featuring Karen O) 5:17

Why We Chose This Album:

Because it is The Flaming Lips!

- Beatles on the Moon

AotW Home

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Our consciousness expands as our world expands. Our world expands as we venture out and discover more. And all that is now bewildering through it's intangibility and mystery will become normal, for how else will we deal with such concepts coming to life. We will keep a sense of wonder about the things that we are apart of, because boredom breeds complacency. Definitely, there are more things we don't know than we do, even about the things we think we know. There is always more.

- Lee

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

“All Your Bad Days Will End”

It feels fitting that in this week that I blog on something related to the Flaming Lips, what with the release of Embryonic and all that. So anyways, way back in my first year of uni, during an accounting class, the professor showed some interesting facts to keep people awake amidst the boring material. One of them was about how the Japanese believe that the human mind or body goes through a cycle. That is, there are good days and bad days and in betweens. They even model the rostering of pilots on the cycle.

Now I’m not going to find this study and base my life on their research because I have spent four years since then doing my own research. Basically I agree that no matter what level of happiness you live at and how much it may fluctuate from the average each day, you can’t deny that there will always be bad days. Maybe the enlightened are exempt from this rule, but most of us aren’t quite there yet.

I consider myself fairly happy and healthy right now but I still get some shitty days. And I think the best way to deal with shitty days is first to be conscious of them. Firstly, doing this helps me recognise how often I have the bad days. Luckily for me it seems like a lot less frequent than in years gone past and they aren’t as bad either.

But they still occur and it feels like a combination of a tired body, an irritable mind, short temper, high levels of self pity and a stronger urge to say fuck it. Generally speaking, it is a state of mind that is ready to self implode and in doing so fuelling itself to stay shitty. Because of this, just being aware of bad days isn’t enough. I think the trick is to maintain enough objectivity in you to avoid letting the bad day consume you and become a couple bad days, or a bad week.

One thing I always tell myself is that I’m not going to do any decision making when I’m in a bad mood. With my whole being feeling like crap, it is no state to make any important decisions. Decisions should be made when you are in a good mood, because these decisions will help sustain that healthy feeling. For example, choosing to learn an instrument or start exercising daily are often made when you feel good and know what is good for you. Decisions made when you feel like shit are probably laced with self pity and fear and greed.

A good thing to do is try stick to your principles even if you really don’t want to. You might be more inclined to lie, cheat, steal or give up on a bad day. I have been doing push ups before showering recently and the other day I really didn’t want to because I was in a shitty mood, but I still did them and felt better for it. It’s kind of like sticking with your sport team through the dark years of consecutive losses and wooden spoons. The good years feel even better after fighting through the bad ones.

Another good trick is to get creative when you feel shitty. I like to try channel the real feelings to help create a character who is inherently evil, or sad or something like that. Many musicians, writers and artists create magical things on the back of heart ache or rough patches. And this creativity could move or inspire other people or just yourself. Being creative gets your brain going and that should usually help improve your mood anyway. Also, looking back over what I have written has been funny sometimes. I still have a coke rage ramble that I scribbled down when in Peru that provides a funny insight into the mind of a drugged out Eden.

Finally, find your Sun and use it to remind you of what is real in this world. Find your passions and relationships and all your bad days will end.

- Eden (while listening to The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner - Ben Folds Five)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Earth 1, Humans 0

"When I play with my cat, who knows if I am not a pastime to her more than she is to me?" - Michel de Montainge

Every time there is a hailstorm, the trees and shrubs are stripped bare of the weak and dying foliage – it’s like nature pruning itself. But it's something that equals destruction for our cars, homes and just about anything made of glass or steel. Same goes for a bushfire, have you ever seen the bush a couple of weeks after a bushfire?

Beautiful green shoots popping out of trees. The ash is fertile and perfect for growing, plants in Australia even require fire, and yet human construction stands no chance against raging fires.

I watched the news reports recently on the tsunami that hit Samoa. It did a lot of damage, took a lot of lives, it was heartbreaking stuff to watch. It wasn’t just the buildings that were destroyed, the natural surroundings were also left in ruins. The thing that struck me was how nature will eventually fix itself, eventually all those trees will regrow and many years down the track you'll never know there was a tsunami. Human constructions stay broken if you don’t fix them.

This isn't an article bashing the achievements of Man compared to nature, it’s more about how we need to preserve our glorious surrounds for our own sake.

Now I'm not someone who talks about climate change often, I do however fail to see how one can argue against acting upon it, whether you believe it or not. There are these people out there who are sceptical, and might think "It’s not caused by humans, its just the natural warming and cooling off the earth", and think it’s all well and good to continue living on Earth the way we do at the moment... whatever, I honestly don't care what people think about most things, its just there's a problem here:

Here you have a tiny little planet, as Carl Sagan put it: “…a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam”, and if there was even a chance that we might be ruining Earth (lets be Christian, better to be safe then sorry, right?) then why would you not take any steps necessary to preserve your home. I don’t know… everything comes down to money in the end for some reason.

When the asteroid hit the Earth that took out the Dinosaurs (the most likely reason for extinction I believe) 65 million years ago, it didn’t end life, life eventually evolved and new forms proliferated. No matter what we might do to the Earth, it will survive and adapt as in the past and we probably won’t. Earth always prevails, humans do not.

- Dogman

Friday, October 9, 2009

Trying To Focus Can Equal Loss Of Focus - Let It Be - You Are Not Always In Control

When I was 12 years old, I was laying in bed thinking about whatever it was I was thinking about. As I was thinking about whatever it was I was thinking about, the thing I was thinking about required an image of a person I knew. I proceeded to have their face in my mind, but after a little while something happened. Something was off. The image of their face was in my mind for a little too long, enough so that it wasn't exactly what I thought they looked like. I couldn't picture the shape of the nose. I couldn't see how far away the eyes were from each other.




What was happening? What exactly did they look like??

And the more I tried to picture their face, the more it just looked like a jumbled mess. I was now worried, thinking that maybe I will never be able to picture someone without a photo of them in front of me. It scared me. What am I without my memory??

I started getting truly worried, so I went downstairs to my parents, who were sitting in the kitchen. I explained to them as best I could what was happening in my mind. As I talked, I continued to try to piece together the face, only to find it more of a muddle than before. I started crying. Neither of my parents knew what to say to me, except to relax and stop thinking about it for a while. I went upstairs, back to bed, never having defeated my own memories.

Still to this day, I can't say that when I close my eyes I can picture a face in it's fully formed state, but I learned that night that some things don't need to be remembered in the way other things do. Sometimes the more you think about things, the less clear they become.

- Lee (while listening to In A Priest Driven Ambulance by The Flaming Lips)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Follow Your Leader

Follow your Leader

by Eden Clarke


Back in fall of 2009, Lee and Eden were discussing various physio- and psychological aspects of the society in which we live. Lee started to give his views on leaders within our communities and how they come to be and how they affect and influence the human psyche. Eden told him he should blog about it (wise words, it seems, as we now witness Lee's inabilities to maintain the utopic standards of BOTM). However Lee said he couldn’t get a full article out of it. He offerred the task unto Eden who jumped at the opportunity. Fresh off the amazing success of the Roy Story trilogy Eden saw the chance to move from self indulgent first person narrative to a self indulgent adaptation of the two conversations he and Lee had. What followed was a witty and captivating play that gripped the blogging world and is sure to take over broadway itself!

- Eden Clarke

Act I

(Eden knocks on Lee’s door. He smiles as he remembers the cheerleading twins he met at a club the night before. Both of them still asleep in his bachelor pad that overlooks the harbour bridge. The smile turns to a frown as Lee answers the door)

Lee: Hey Eden! Glad you could come around and hang with me, even though you are so much cooler than I am.
Eden: Don’t mention it, champ. You did buy me an iPod so I guess I owe you something, right?
L: Yeah! Hahahahahahahahahahahaha! Wow you are soooo funny.
E: I know ey?

(They go into the rumpus room and sit down. Eden picks up Lee’s guitar and plays around with the strings)

L: Man, I’ve been practicing that song you wrote for me the other day, but I think I need some more lessons cos I’m not very good.
E: Umm…yeah sure. That’s cool, man…Just the usual $30 an hour.
L: Oh, right. It’s just that I don’t have the money on me right now. Could I pay you back tomorrow?
E: Yeah, nah that’s not going to work for me. Do you wanna just…I don’t know…talk instead?

(Lee is despondent but jumps at the opportunity to talk)

L: Yeah, dude. I’ve been thinking a lot about leaders recently.

(Eden turns on the TV, taking advantage of Lee’s Foxtel and pretends to listen)

E: Oh yeah, cool man. Go on.
L: Well, I mean everybody always talks about how we have world leaders. You know like Barack Obama or Kevin Rudd, and all those guys. But then I think to myself ‘these guys aren’t my leaders.’ They make decisions about how to run the world and they have been elected by the people to lead them, but who says they are my leaders, right?
E: Oh yeah, cool man. Go on.
L: Well I mean I get to decide who is my leader. A leader is someone inspirational. Someone who has lived their dreams and who shares similar ideas to me. They open my mind to new views that I wouldn’t regularly consider. Like Wayne Coyne, man. Now he is my type of leader. He is someone you can follow. I mean seriously, how cool is Wayne?
E: Oh yeah, cool man. Go on.
L: And these ‘world leaders’ are so disconnected from me. Obama is a cool guy, and it’s great that he may do some good, but I can’t truly relate to that. And he is one of the likeable world leaders. Then you have Wayne or Pete Townsend. I can connect with these guys on so many levels. They do what they love, and I love it with them. They are free and outspoken. Opinionated and confident. They are inspirational in art and life. I could follow Wayne. I could follow John Lennon. Isn’t that great man! We can choose our leaders!

(Eden looks at his gold watch and realises that he has nowhere to be, but wants to leave anyway)

E: Alright I’m outties, mate. Have a good one.
L: Oh really...But I thought we could talk some more...
E: Nah. Maybe next time, mate.

(Lee goes in for a pound but is left hanging as Eden heads out the door, pretending not to notice the gesture)


Act II

(Three months pass before Eden returns. Only doing so as a favour to Donna. To whom he owed a great many favours.)

Lee: Hey dude! It’s great to see you!
Eden: Oh yeah, cool man. Go on.
L: So like I was saying we can choose our leaders. But it shouldn’t just stop there. We shouldn’t just find people who guide us. We should do more than just follow. We should strive to be like them. They have found something inside themselves that serves as such an inspiration to us, we should find what it is inside us that will reach out to millions. Or even to thousands, or hundreds or just each other or just to one’s own self. We can be leaders of ourselves and any or everybody else. Free at heart, true to ourselves and confident, just like Wayne and Pete and John. They guide me through life with their music and I’m going to use what I learnt from them to guide myself and others…And we could all be…umm free and umm…like leaders. You know like a visceral and organic inspirational…umm…what was I saying?
E: I don’t know, man. I think you were just rambling. Nothing worth repeating.


- Eden (while listening to You In Reverse – Built To Spill, and Lee)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Eelation Will Come

Shattered, dejected, empty. These are but a few words that describe how I was feeling on Sunday evening, walking from ANZ Stadium after the Parramatta Eels went down 23-16 to the Melbourne Storm in the 2009 NRL Grand Final. A few weeks ago, Eden wrote an article entitled Don't Gamble With My Emotions! The Plight of the Sports Fan, and I can relate to it on another level after Sunday’s game.

This season has been a great one for the Parramatta club, don’t get me wrong, but stumbling at the final hurdle hurts even more than not making the top eight altogether. They were struggling to stay off the bottom of the ladder mid-way through the season, and a 10-13 loss to the last-placed Cronulla Sharks saw the Eels drop to second-last on the ladder. An inspired win the next round over the Knights in Newcastle was a surprise to many, as the Eels showed glimpses of the season to come. A standout in that game was a young Daniel Mortimer, son of Bulldogs legend Peter Mortimer, who at the age of 20 was playing in only his second NRL game.

The Eels struggled through the next four games with only one win, and were looking more likely to finish on the lower end of the ladder for season 2009. There was one thing, or rather person that turned their season around. His name is Jarryd Hayne. After being the standout player for NSW in their 4th consecutive State of Origin series loss to QLD, Hayne looked unstoppable. In round 19 it was do or die, the Eels needed to win 7 out of their last 8 games to finish in the top eight. What came next is history; the boys from Parra went on a barnstorming run of wins to beat teams such as the Storm, Bulldogs, and the Tigers, all in virtual knockout games to carry themselves to an unlikely finals berth.

Their style of play was a breath of fresh air not only to Eels fans, but to Rugby League fans alike. The attraction of seeing Fuifui Moimoi crash through the defensive line with lightening force, and the weekly brilliance of the Dally M Player of the Year - Jarryd Hayne, drew larger and larger crowds to Parramatta games. I was lucky enough to be there for a round 24 game, in which the Eels played the Wests Tigers in front 34,272 people at the Sydney Football Stadium. After the game (in which Jarryd Hayne scored an electrifying try to seal the win in the 77th minute) I was reminded why I love Rugby League. To be amongst thousands of screaming people, all out having a drink with friends, watching these guys who are the best in the world at what they do is simply the best.

In the first week of the finals series, the Eels came up against the Minor Premiers, the St George Illawarra Dragons. It was a re-match from the week before, in the last round of the regular season in which the Eels got smoked by a red-hot Dragons side, proving their dominance in a 37-0 victory. The next week history was against the Eels. Only one team before them had beat the Minor Premiers from 8th spot since the McIntyre Finals System was introduced in 1999; it was in 2008 when the Warriors beat the Storm. The Eels played a near perfect game, turning their fortunes around from the previous week to down the Dragons in a thriller at Kogorah.

In week two of the finals the task was the 3rd placed Gold Coast Titans. However, the Eels secured a home final, so naturally some friends and I travelled to the SFS to see a clinical win from Parra, 27-2. This win set up one of the most talked about games in recent times. The Eels were set to play the Canterbury Bulldogs in the Preliminary Final. The reason this game was so huge was that both teams had amazing turnarounds from 2008 to reach this point. The Eels failed to make the top eight last year, and the Bulldogs came dead last. Both teams had new coaches in 2009, and were looking more like the family clubs they used to be. Additionally, these teams had a great rivalry during the 1980s, playing each other in the 1984 and 1986 Grand Finals, and out of the 10 titles on offer each club won 4 each.

So the stage was set, and I had my tickets. In front of 74,549 fans the Eels came back from 12-6 down at half time to secure an unlikely Grand Final berth, for a shot at their first Premiership since 1986. The next day the Storm destroyed Brisbane in the other Preliminary Final, with stars like Billy Slater and Greg Inglis showing impressive form.

I had to go to this game. The Eels were playing in their first grand final since 2001, a game in which they were favourites to win the title but were taken apart by an Andrew Johns inspired Newcastle Knights. Who knows when they will make the big one again, so I payed a large sum of money for my brother and I to go to the game. The spectacle of a Grand Final was awesome, but the result not so much. The scenes after the game were very sour, thousands of Eels fans with disappointment on their faces. Even though they were not expected to reach the big one, losing isn’t easy to take, and I’m not even on the team. I can’t imagine how Eels stalwarts Cayless, Hindmarsh and Burt are feeling after playing with the club for over 10 years and coming up short once more.

People often say “don’t worry, it’s just a game”, and I can see how this is true; but in many ways it’s not just a game, it’s important. Placing your happiness on a game of sport may seem silly, and when put in words it does, however I still do it anyway. It is similar to supporting your country in the Olympics, the only common factor between you and the athlete is that you are both born in the same place; but you feel as though you are living their dream with them. This is how I felt on Sunday, as though my own dream was crushed.

I’m not going to let sport get me down in life though, because that is where a line is crossed. Admiring the beauty of real-life drama is one thing, but to let it affect your overall wellbeing is unhealthy. In saying that, I will never stop supporting the Eels, because they are my team. I’ve chosen them (or rather been born into their fan-club) and they are here to stay.

Year 2010 is looking promising for the blue and golds, but favouritism doesn’t mean anything in Rugby League. There is a fine line between winning and losing in sport, and sometimes the pressure of gaining the W can be too much. (See: “Choking”).

So there it is, another year of NRL gone by. Overall, it has made me happier, as having something you are passionate about can only be a good thing. And to maintain that passion through the good times and the bad is character building, it shows loyalty and pride. Let’s hope that next year is a more successful season for the Eels, and they can go one better to claim their first title in 24 years. But more importantly, I hope that the dreams and aspirations of the blokes that run out wearing the blue and gold jerseys are realised, because this is their life, and I would love to be around to see it.

- Russell