Friday, July 30, 2010

My yoga experience

I first began practicing yoga four years ago, in my first year of acting school. Being an arrogant nineteen year old, my first reaction when told we would be practicing yoga everyday was 'oh not that esoteric, spiritual crap!.' And indeed I didn't get that much out of yoga for the first few weeks. I've since found out that it was partly because of my negative attitude and also because our instructor Lauren, taught the gentlest style of yoga there is which is called 'hatha' yoga. 'Hatha' is basically all about the spiritual aspect of yoga and the poses that are integrated are very basic. So it was basically all my worst fears of yoga being realised! I remember being freaked out by the chanting and thought that any minute, someone would bring a lamb out for us to sacrifice.

However in the second term Lauren couldn't take our class anymore for one reason or another and was subsequently replaced by Lucia (who was also our movement teacher.) Lucia was a tiny powerhouse of a woman, she couldn't have been over five foot but I swear she would have probably been able to lift up the biggest guy in our class with ease. She was also incredibly sweet and encouraging which are great qualities for a yoga instructor to have. She taught a more physically challenging style of yoga called 'ashtanga' (which is now my preferred style.) This is when I started to actually enjoy going to yoga everyday and started seeing the benefits, at least the physical benefits anyway because by the end of first year I was in the best shape I'd ever been in. I was doing yoga three times a week, movement class twice a week and doing cardio at the gym 3-4 times a week and weirdly enough I wasn't tired, I was full of energy! I really feel like it's the yoga that invigorated me and improved my technique in the other physical activities I was undertaking. I still wasn't that keen on the mental side of it though and can often remember zoning out in the meditation portion at the end. Worse than that I can remember consciously thinking 'I'll do the physical stuff but you can't force me into any of this meditation nonsense' which is a terrible thing to think and completely misses the point.

Lucia then left to have a baby (I've seen her since then and you'd never guess she's had two children, she has abs of steel!) and was replaced by a lady called Yvonne. Yvonne was more like a drill sergeant than a yoga instructor. Ideally an instructor should create an environment which is calming and serene for yoga practice, but the atmosphere when Yvonne taught was always very tense. This is partly because she would just bark orders at us and would make people feel inadequate if they couldn't do certain poses. Consequently a lot of people in my class ended up wagging yoga class once Yvonne took over. I was still going everyday purely because I was still reaping the physical benefits despite the instructor being a nazi.

The year after I finished acting school, I wasn't practicing regularly. I did the odd class here or there at the gym and sometimes did my own practice but it was hard to motivate myself, at it had always just been apart of my mindless, daily routine. The classes that I did take at this time were lead by a man named Bernie. Bernie looked more like an ex-marine than a yoga instructor, he was about 60, bald but (bizarrely) built like a brick shit house! I didn't get much out of Bernie's classes as I had gotten used to practicing yoga in a more fluid style, with set routines that you move through and Bernie just seemed to proclaim 'okay class we're going to do this pose' and demonstrate it for us and continue on like that. The poses were challenging but the whole thing just seemed disjointed and this is when I realised that when you take the spirituality out of yoga, it ceases to become yoga and turns into a workout session.

This year I have began regularly taking classes again,once or twice a week at the gym with Yogi (which isn't his actual name it's just a title given to a very experienced yoga instructor, similar to being called a sensai.) This particular brand of yoga is called 'ashtanga vinyasa' which is ashtanga yoga which also focuses on fluidity of movement and poise. In all my years of practicing yoga, this class has proven to be the most rewarding. This is probably because I'm much more mature and open minded now and am not afraid to open myself up to new concepts and experiences. I had an epiphany a few months ago in yoga class when Yogi explained the importance of synchronising your breath and movement. He said that whether you can do the pose or not doesn't really matter, breathing through the pose is what's important as it teaches you to approach difficult situations in life with a sense of calm and ease. No one had ever explained it to me like that before. Likewise, it's important to get out of a pose with control and not simply fall out of it.

Something which Yogi constantly repeats is 'no judgement, honour the limitations of your body.' Which means both not judging others for what they can and can't do but also not judging yourself if you can't accomplish something either. This is something I'm still working on as it can be hard to not get frustrated at your own short comings (not just in yoga but in life also.) I still have a lot to learn in yoga, despite what it may seem, as there's much more to yoga than flexibility. It wasn't until I started taking this particular class that I realised my balance and alignment is all over the shop. I think other instructors in the past just saw that I was extremely flexible and thought it meant that I must have it all figured out. But Yogi often comes over to correct my alignment which in turn improves my overall technique.

It may be quite obvious by now but I have such profound respect for Yogi (even though he probably doesn't know it!) Two weeks ago after class, I quietly folded up my mat and exited as usual but as I was walking through the gym Yogi caught up to me, hugged me and said 'I'm so proud of you, I can see you're getting so much better!' I in turn thanked him for always coming over and adjusting me and he said that if someone shows an interest in yoga that he takes good care of them. I had such an overwhelming feeling of pride and I think that carried over into today's class as I had possibly the best yoga class I've ever experienced and that's what inspired me to write this blog.

Most of the time when I head towards the gym it's with a sense of dread and wanting to get it over and done with. But Yoga is the one class that I look forward to and really enjoy. I know that some of you practice yoga but for the rest of you I would really encourage you to give it a shot! Even if you think you don't have the flexibilty/fitness/stamina or you just think it's not really your thing (believe me I NEVER would have thought it would be something I would get into) you should just go to one class with an open mind and heart (as Yogi says) and you maybe surprised at what you'll find...



Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Life Goes On

The discipline of a solid routine can help bring strength and stability to our lives. Whether it is exercise, hobbies, passions, arts and creative ventures; even our careers, they all help us maintain focus in life and continue to grow in happiness.

However one of the hardest things to do is deal with the infinite pressures of continuity. So many times a routine falters and fails to recover. The moment we slow down, apply the brakes for much needed breaks it is near impossible to speed back up and reach the speeds of the initial momentum. A few times I have meditated consistently and felt the benefits but I have eventually caved in and finished up not meditating at all. Likewise for yoga and running and push ups and practicing music and so many other things. I simply bypass them for a chance to sleep in and play some Xbox.

What I find most interesting is the same process I go through each time, and I am experiencing it right now. I will start with a firm belief in maintaining my practice, unthinkable to ever miss a day or a session. But then one day circumstances mean that I find just enough excuses not to stick to my guns. Suddenly the unthinkable is happening; three times a week becomes two; two hours a day becomes one; the new standard of unthinkability is founded on the rubble of broken standards. It is then inherently geared in my mind that I will continue to slip.

So as I come fresh off of one year of blogs I had the greatest urge to skip a post for the first time this week. I am travelling and just completed a whole year of blogging. What is one little missed blog? But as I think of what happens with thoughts like this and the awesome benefits I derive from blogging I feel it necessary to look past the temptations, the landmarks and the excuses and churn out another blog. Hope you liked it.

- Eden (while gaying it up in San Fran)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Helly's Film Take- Inception

Hmm..where to start?! Well let's start with expectations. I was very excited about Inception, but purely because of the names involved as I had absolutely no inkling as to what it was about as the trailer is just a series of images and gives away absolutely nothing (so you needn't have bothered closing your eyes and sticking your fingers in your ears Lee and Eden!) I think this fact alone already makes it a film a cut above the rest of other mega budget movies as they often try and show you as much as possible in the trailer to reel you in. Now that I've seen the film, I realise that it would be impossible to try and summise the complexity of Inception into a two minute trailer and it would probably end up looking like a completely different film. So kudos to whoever had the final say in putting together the trailer as they made the right call by just showing us some interesting images which were enough to spark our interest.

Now to the subject at hand, Inception is similar to Memento in that even if you don't fully understand what is going on at every minute, you are still desperate to know and figure it out and that's what keeps you watching. It's like a puzzle and Christopher Nolan gives you the pieces but it's up to you to assemble it. Another similarity between the two films is that both explore the notions of space and time, so it must be a subject matter Nolan is very interested in. The notion of time in particular is something which fascinated me throughout this film. When the car is falling from the bridge and they state the amount of time for this to occur is elongated with each dream realm was a concept I found both fascinating and mind boggling. In hindsight it was also a great way of avoiding the audience's scepticism, as it would be hard to believe that the climactic scene all unfolded in the space of a few minutes.

The whole cast is fantastic, the acting is focused and confident in a way that doesn't draw attention to itself. In other words I don't think the acting is the first thing that people will comment on upon leaving the cinema as the multi-layered story takes centre stage. It's almost as if the actors' soul purpose in this film was just to tell the story and if the characters were too extreme it would distract from that. That may sound like a criticism but I mean it as a compliment, I think it's a rare quality for an actor to be humble enough to take a back seat to the story. I may have said this before but Joseph Gordon-Levitt is vastly becoming my favourite actor and I will see anything with his name attached to it!

The stand-out scene for me has to be the gravity defying fight which takes place in the hotel. I can't find an intellectual way of saying that that scene is freakin' awesome! So that's what I'll say...

Christopher Nolan has again created a multi-faceted film which no doubt will still be being picked apart and analysed for years to come.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bond, James Bond

Ever since I was a youngster, I've been mesmerised by the enigma that is James Bond. For the longest running film series in history (the first James Bond filmDr No. hit the silver screen in 1962) EON productions have been able to consistently put out 22 interesting movies that have stayed true to the character created by the legendary Ian Fleming.

Speaking of Ian Fleming (which I thought I should do considering this blog is sharing my love of his character), he wrote 14 James Bond novels between 1953 and 1964 - all 14 being adapted into film. I've read only one of these tales, Goldfinger, which also happens to be my favourite Bond film (and my third favourite film of all time for those playing at home). A Bond novel is so easy to read, especially if you're a fan of the film-adaptations, creating suspense at every juncture. Fleming died at the age of 56 in August 1964, shortly before the release of the aforementioned Goldfinger.

My favourite actor to play Bond is Sean Connery, partly because he is the original, partly because he is the best actor out of the bunch, and partly because he is so bloody suave (I secretly want to be Connery's Bond). Connery played Bond in 6 films between 1962 and 1971, and 7 if you count the non-EON Never Say Never Again released in 1983. There are so many one-liners that have been said by Connery during this time, but one has stuck in my mind. It is during the first scene of Goldfinger; Bond is busting up a drug-ring somewhere in South America and walks into his room where a naked girl is waiting for him in a bath-tub. As they are embracing each other, Bond sees the reflection of a villain advancing towards him in the girls eyeball (how fucking cool is that!) and turns around and a 60's fight sequence ensues. The villain ends up in the bath-tub, Bond sees a heater on a stool next to the tub and flicks it into the water, electrocuting the villain in the process. Bond stands up, fixes his suit, and quips "Shocking", "Positively shocking".

Somehow the films were able to evolve with the times, whilst remaining amazing. Advancements in technology have meant that Bond's gadgets are always going to be able to do more and more, but somehow a machine that can sketch a villain's face from one viewing by Bond (For Your Eyes Only, 1981) seems simply sensational. The bond girls are also a key feature of all the films, probably because sex sells, but I'd like to think it's because Bond is such a suave mo-fo. When I was a kid, there was one bond girl/ fling in particular
(I say in particular because every Bond girl is sexy) that I had a massive crush on, her name is Lynn-Holly Johnson out of For Your Eyes Only, I was in love with her.

Another theme that resonates in all of the Bond tales, are the villains. Fleming must've had an extremely creative mind to come up with as many villains as he did, in addition to the newer villains that have been created by the writers. My favourite villain is Jaws, the 7 foot plus man-monster with metal teeth. He has appeared in 2 Bond films I believe, The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979) - however it is the former where he makes a greater impact. But Jaws is no match compared with Bond's archenemy, the megalomaniac supervillain and the Number One of the worldwide criminal organisation SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion), Ernst Stavro Blofeld, appearing in six films.

One last aspect of Bond films that I'll talk about (as I can talk for hours about Bond), are the locations that he visits. Not only are they beautiful on screen, but I've learnt more about geography from Bond films that I did from high school. It has made me want to visit places such as Egypt and India, purely because James Bond went there. The map below shows all of the countries that appeared in the film, as well as the filming locations:

James Bond World Locations

Before I go, there are two more things I would like to discuss. The first is to mention the character of Q, famously played by Desmond Llewelyn. His scene in Goldfinger is one of the best in cinema, a real treat. Q works for MI6, and is the 'gadget guy', he always presents Bond with the latest in gadget goodness and shows Bond the car he will be driving/ blowing stuff up in/ using as a tool to seduce women. Which brings me to my last topic, the cars. From the 1960s/70s British classics such as Aston Martins and Jaguars, to the BMW that he drives in 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies, to the tank (literally) that he drives through the streets of St Petersburg in GoldenEye, they never fail to impress me and millions of viewers around the world.

And just for fun, below are my top 5 Bond films, and yes - I've seen all 22.

1. Goldfinger (1964)
2. Casino Royale (2006)
3. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
4. Live And Let Die (1973)
5. GoldenEye (1995)

- Russell

Friday, July 23, 2010

Yogo Gorilla!

I was walking through Franklin’s (a relic of the 80s/90s) at Westleigh (also a relic of the 80s/90s) and saw some Yogo. The 90’s was the heyday of Yogo, it had the best commercials and I loved the taste of that chocolatey custardy shit. So Brooke and I bought a two pack and ate it when we got home. It was delicious. Probably not as good as I had remembered, but still... delicious.

I wouldn’t have known about Yogo, or had those fond memories had it not been for a certain Gorilla and his sidekick Snake. The stop motion Yogo ads of the 90’s were really good and in my mind rose above the usual shitty kids commercials (as memorable as some of the jingles may be).

Here is the first:

I don’t remember that one either. Regardless, here the Gorilla and the snake appear for the first time. It’s quite a crude representation of what they would eventually become...

“Barry... BARRY!!... I’ll get back to you Barry...” Haha!

That is the full-length 90 second version of the commercial that we saw most often cut to 30 seconds. Looking at the debut and then at the feature length shows a huge change. It’s like ‘Please Please Me’ vs ‘Abbey Road’. You can appreciate both, but the production values of the later are undeniably superior. The ad also features drumming by the guy from ‘Regurgitator’ and ‘The Hard-Ons’ (kinda famous) and a bunch of references to films.

I don’t like most children's advertising, but when it’s this creative – how can I not? I’ve only posted two ads here because that's all I could find (I know there were more). But with this series the ongoing use of the Gorilla and Snake was great and the fact that they were stop motion meant a good deal of effort had to be invested. All Hail Yogo Gorilla!

- Dogman

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Three Quarter Pants

Push ups

I hate doing push ups. When I do push ups I have to go until my breaking point to get the result I want – feeling good for the rest of the day. Shrouded in pain I traverse 20 and 30, ensuring they are all top quality while my mind plays tricks on me, telling me I am more tired than last time and won’t reach my goal of 40. But like I said the pay off is good and it provides discipline. But it’s not 40 every day. The next day it’s 41 then 42, 43, 45, 50, 60! It means, now I have to endure the hatred for longer and longer. Does it end? Usually I slack off and my limit regresses back to 40 but what if I never give up? I feel like I’m pushing up into a black hole; or maybe pushing myself out of one…I see myself one day thinking Push up time! and an hour later I cry out “1000!” and collapse.

Fan rant – Fan rants

Fan rant or Franting or fanting (sounds kinda like farting (reads like it anyway…)…) is a new wave of writing style! The idea is if you are a big enough fan of something, and too lazy to write a detailed essay about how much you love it, you can just write about it as fast as possible. A typical frant will be one block paragraph with difficult to decipher changes in tone and context. Here is an example. The more you are a fan of something the more you can write about it and the better your writing will be. I’m not a huge fan of franting though cos I run out of things to say. Oh yeah, errors aren’t so bad cos you got an excuse. Check the Lance Armstrong mistake in the link. Don’t reread your frant until after posting and don’t edit.

Shit don stink

Does shit stink solely because it is our waste? Like no matter what smell shit turned out to smell like, we would always assume it, well, smells like shit. I mean, what if you travelled to some parallel universe and shit smelt like fresh baked cookies. Due to the rigours of universe jumping you find that you’re starving but then something catches your nose. You follow the scent, growing more and more excited as the images of peanut butter choc-chip and anzac and double white choc macadamia fill your head. Approaching a corner you know you are close; your heart beats faster and stomach rumbles in anticipation. You race around and see some pasty heroin junkie; he squats pants down, blood trickling out of the meth sores on his spread out butt cheeks as he unloads a sloppy spray of diarrhoea on a park bench. I think that would be the last time you ate cookies.

Theories on efficiency – In The Car

In this day and age of rising fuel costs it is important we are efficient in the car. When descending a hill that instantly gives way to another hill that you have to climb, avoid using the brakes so that the momentum gained from the descent can be used to easily go back up, even if you go over the speed limit. It will definitely save you around 3-4 litres a year of fuel. That is a saving of anywhere from $3.45 to $5.20.
Avoid using your blinker when nobody is around or if it is super obvious that you are going to turn anyway. You don’t want to be over indicatory and wind up having to change the light bulb. Have you ever had to change one of those? Do you know how much that costs? No seriously, do you? Cos I got no idea…$20? 30? I mean you got like 6 different blinkers…
Always register your car. Nothing can be gained by driving an unregistered car. However, an accident while driving an unregistered car could result in anything from $5000 to a criminal record and thoughts of suicide.
Hope this has been helpful.

Rant – Fan rant or “Franting”

A rant is a negative thing, as you will see in this short outburst. If you do not adhere to this simple rule of thumb you aren’t ranting. And so we begin...Franting?! What the fuck kind of name is that? You sound like a school girl describing some 23 year old creep who she just met. Oh, he promised me that he is going to like marry me and make me like super happy for evarrr!!!! Guess what, sweet cheeks? He just wants to cum on your still maturing chest cos he gets off on 13 year olds. Not gonna end well if you stick with him. A rant is art. It is a freedom of expression structured by its undeniable precision. It has purpose and passion; it is delivered like a jolt. It is a punch in the face, but not from some computer nerd named Jessup who has a callous on his finger from playing too much Warcraft. It’s from Mike Tyson. 1993 Mike Tyson. A rant flows like poetry between imagery and wit. Not like sewerage spewed from convoluted half thought to poorly researched reference point. You are a moron you franting cunt.

Happy Birthday Beatles On The Moon!

Te amo

- Eden

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

Helly's Video View- Children of Men

I had heard a lot of conflicting things about this film, but  I found the concept incredibly intriguing, so I just had to check it out for myself. Examining a post apocalyptic world isn't exactly uncharted territory, but each film maker has a different interpretation of the world they are trying to create and that's the part I find fascinating.

The opening sequence in Children of Men is definitely captivating as we're trying to figure out the circumstances that have brought our world to the brink of demise. Then we find out 'no child has been born for eighteen years', what an unfathomable yet amazing thought that is. This was enough to keep me interested for the first half of the film as I was looking for more clues to piece this world together and enjoyed spotting the subtle differences between our present and the not too distant future.

However once the character of Kee was introduced the entire plot then becomes about trying to save her and her unborn child. For me the film then turned into more of a conventional action/journey flick of these characters being constantly on the run and this is when my interest started to wane. True, that they are protecting 'our future's only hope' and that's a nice sentiment, but the story focuses so intimately on Kee and Theo for the last part of the film that we can no longer see the world around them.

Having said that, there are still some very powerful scenes in the latter part of the movie such as the scene where Kee and Theo are walking through the battle zone with the new born baby, everyone is silent and it's almost like Moses parting the red sea.

I don't necessarily need an ending which wraps everything up in a neat little package but a little bit of resolution is always welcomed upon a film's end. I just found the ending to be incredibly unsatisfying and (spoiler alert!) I'm not referring to the death of Theo. There is absolutely no resolve, but it didn't leave me with anything to ponder by doing so other than 'Well...I guess we're fucked!' which is arguably a strong statement I guess...

Ultimately I thought that there was the potential for a great film here, but they just didn't do enough with the concept. Hopefully 2091, another post apocalyptic tale set for release later this year can break new and exciting ground on the topic!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Living With Cancer

About 2 weeks ago I was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma Multiforme brain tumour - commonly known as brain cancer.

It all started around 3 months ago when I was jogging in St Leonards park, just next to North Sydney Oval one Saturday night. I had done just one lap of the oval and was doing 10 push-ups. During these push-ups I felt a strange sensation in my head, it was as if I was arguing with myself. I then stood up and almost as if I was searching for a word, and at the same time tried to verbalise it, muttered incoherent babble and collapsed. I awoke a few seconds later I now know, but because of the fall (I was standing up) and hitting my head on the ground (and probably because of the shock of what had just happened to me), I lay there on the grass hazy for around 10 minutes. After coming to my senses, I walked back to my apartment and contemplated the events that had just unfolded. Had I collapsed because of physical exertion? Am I working too hard? Was it some sort of seizure?... I was unsure, so I called my parents. Mum told me to go see a doctor, so that I did.

The next week at work I made an appointment to meet with a GP in the city, the doctor for the City Tattersalls club to be exact. I waited in the waiting room (as you do) for around 10 mins and was called in to his office. After a regular examination and the usual questions to check whether I had a seizure, such as "Did you notice that you had wet yourself?", no I replied. "Had you bitten your tongue?", no again was the answer. "Was anyone around to witness you collapse?",  Correct as he was in his diagnosis, he ruled out a seizure as I hadn't displayed any symptoms as such, and continued with his examination of me to see if he could figure out what went wrong. As I was working out, running, doing push-ups etc. my heart rate was up, so he performed some sort of test for asthma. Now I've never had breathing problems in the past, however I followed his instructions and breathed into some tube, waited a while, took a puff of an inhaler, and breathed once again into the same tube. After measuring this level of lung capacity and that level of lung capacity he noticed a change. I asked inquisitively, "Doesn't that happen to everyone?", after all, I was taking a drug into my body that clears lungs. "No, no, no", he quipped. "It seems you have a very mild form of asthma, Russell. I'll write you this prescription and take one puff a day. Come back and see me in a month if you have any more 'funny turns'", as they call it in doctor speak.

I was satisfied with this doc's prescription and did as I was told, taking one puff a day for 6 weeks. Everything was fine, until I had another seizure.

The day was Monday 30th May, I was in my apartment, and had just sat down to eat some delicious looking spaghetti bolognese that I had prepared. My roommate Kat was in the kitchen, serving her portion into a bowl, when a familiar feeling came across me. Once again, a small argument with myself started to form inside my mind. That word that I didn't know how to spell, didn't know how to pronounce, and didn't even know the name tried to come out of my mouth. I tried fighting it, but that just made it worse. "Are you alriiii....?", I heard Kat asking as I hit the deck. The next thing I remember I was being carried out of my front door on a stretcher, with the Ambo filling me in on what had just occurred. "You've just had a seizure, mate. We're taking you to Royal North Shore Hospital".

I kind of remember being taken out of the ambulance and being wheeled through the emergency doors. I was parked to one side as they had to free up a bed for me. I lay there, somewhere between waking and sleeping, confused, worried, scared. I look to my left and I see some familiar faces, my Dad, Mum and Sister, with some equally confused, worried, and scared looks on their faces. After going through a restless night sleep in ICU (Intensive Care Unit), I woke up for a full on day of examination. A CT scan was performed, an MRI scan was performed, and an EEG test was performed. I was told that I would have to spend another couple of nights in hospital, and since I wasn't in need of any intensive care (I was actually feeling and continue to feel pretty good - more on this later), there was no need for me to stay in the ICU. Upstairs I went to level 7, stroke unit.

Lying there, contemplating life, with my Dad by my side, a doctor and some other fellows walked through the door to my room. "Hi Russell, my name's Dr Herkes and I'll be your Neurologist". "We've looked over the MRI and CT images and I'm sorry to say that it appears you have a brain tumour". My immediate reaction to this news was stillness.. I didn't know what to say or how to react, I've never been told I have a brain tumour before! He continued... "There are a few options, however it seems that you'll have to have it removed. If you decide to go that path, and we highly recommend it, you'll have an excellent Neurosurgeon - Dr Jonathan Curtis". Still hasn't sunken in.. just words. "I need to sit down", said my Dad, me being aware that he had fainted when I was taken to hospital for concussion at age 7. He was fine. "Do you have any questions?", asked Dr Herkes - "Ummm no I guess not", I replied. "Ok, well I'm sorry to hit you with this news, not easy to hear I know, however just know that you're in very good hands with Dr Curtis and we're going to get through this". I like Dr Herkes, he's cool.

Enter Dr Curtis, also with his own entourage. "Hi Russell, my name's Dr Curtis, how are you feeling?". "Ahhhhhhhhhh" I felt like saying "Ok", I replied calmly. He went through some technical mumbo jumbo that I'll spare you with, the crux of it was that he handed me his card (very nice and glossy mind you), and asked if we could meet with him in his rooms (office) in Greenwich. He also informed that I should have a functional MRI scan to work out the parts of the brain that were affected by movement of right hand, left hand etc. I stayed in hospital for three nights, and was discharged on Thursday 3rd June (such a happy day!).

The next day I went to see my regular GP, Dr Barrie Davey. He called me in, and I sat down and started the story with my first seizure (at the park, the jogging experience I told you before, later realising that it was a seizure). Being the prankster Dr Davey is he jokingly said, "Don't worry buddy, it's not like it's a tumour or anything!". "Yeeeah it is", I felt so bad for him, he didn't know. I showed him my discharge summary from the hospital and he deciphered it for me (it's weird how all doctors can read each others bad hand-writing). He went through the form step-by-step and explained to me in detail what it meant. I felt really good after this consultation, just someone to explain to me in plain English what exactly was inside my head. He gave me his home number and said I can call at any time day or night.

Anyway... the next Wednesday 9th June my Dad and I travelled to see Dr Curtis at his rooms in Greenwich. He ran through the functional MRI results, and explained that the tumour was safe to operate. The way a diagnosis of tumour works, is that they need to extract a piece (biopsy) or the whole thing if safe to do so, and slice it up and look it under a microscope to understand the cells. So from MRI scans doctors can only speculate. Dr Curtis seemed like a pretty smart guy, he is after all a Neurosurgeon! He explained that there was an 85% chance that it was either a grade III or IV (IV being the worst according to the World Health Organisation's grading scale), both malignant brain tumours. "Do you have private health cover?", he asked. Damn!!! Why didn't I get off my arse and just do something about that! Anyway, it's done now, nothing I can do about it. "No, sorry, I don't". "Hmm - well you have two options. The first is that you can get it performed in the public system, and it will be free. However I can't guarantee a date and I can't guarantee that you'll get my team (anaesthetists etc.). The second option is that we go private, and you will get my full team as well as a guaranteed date". "When will that date be?", I asked, wanting to know when he was going to slice and dice me. "Let me see, I can fit you in on the 28th of June." "What exactly is the cost? (for private)", my Dad asked rightfully. "We're looking at around $30,000... most of that goes to hospital expenses. I can try and negotiate for you, however within that ballpark."

Both my Dad and I left that meeting in silence - a very humbling time indeed. After some discussion we decided to go private, and with Dr Curtis as the surgeon. I continued on communicating with work (I hadn't been back since my hospital admission on the 30th), and decided to go back to work on Tuesday 15th June. During this time I was still living in my apartment/ spending some nights at home in Pennant Hills, and was taking medication daily. (Some anti-seizure medication, some corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, and some other pill to stop a stomach ulcer - if you're still reading!!). Now this is where fate comes into my situation, and things get exciting.

Friday night, the 11th of June, a friend of my Dad's was having dinner with Dr Charlie Teo, the world famous Neurosurgeon. My Dad had told his friend of my situation, and naturally my Dad's friend shared this information with Charlie. "Here, have this number and call my registrar on Tuesday at 9:00 (Monday was public holiday), and we'll see what we can do", offered Charlie out of the goodness of his heart. My Dad told me this news on the weekend before that Tuesday, so I researched a bit about Charlie, and instantly wanted him to perform my operation. Anyway, on the Tuesday I went into work at 8 am for a meeting (so boring) and spaced out for about an hour (why was I even needed at the meeting?). My Dad calls me at 9:30 and tells me that a meeting is set up for that day, around noon, and he'll pick me up from the city and take me there (Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick).

After showing Charlie's registrar Scott the CD that I had received from the functional MRI, he asked me why they hadn't performed one for my speech (since the area that the tumour was in is right next to the speech function of the brain) and only my feet and hand movements. That's not important. Anyway, I asked Scott when the earliest was that they could fit me in for surgery (expecting a huge waiting list for someone as prestigious as Charlie's calibre), "Tomorrow morning if you went with Charlie (private), and Thursday if you decided to go with me (public)". Huh? I thought to myself, these guys are far superior it seemed to Dr Curtis and their waiting list is much smaller. Dr Teo happened to be in that day, and so Scott called him into the room to have a look at the scans and give me my options (he also had quite an entourage, the most impressive of them all!). He laid out the pro's and con's of surgery, and after doing some research on both brain surgery and Charlie himself, I told him that I didn't want to wait, I wasn't a person to beat about the bush, and I wanted it done as soon as possible. So it was done - Charlie would perform my surgery on the 16th of June.

I arrived at the Prince of Wales Private Hospital at 6 am, signed in, and went up to my room. I changed into the surgery gown, bid farewell to my parents, and got wheeled off to the operating theatre. The anaesthetist explained the procedure of putting me under a general anaesthetic - he'd place a drip in my arm first, administering a small dose of drug that made me feel quite nice :) I was wheeled into the operating theatre, and kinda remember what it looked like. I do however remember rock and or roll playing in the background... that was my final thought. Woke up 3 hours later in recovery with a severe headache (dah), stayed there for an hour and then went back to my room.

Later on Charlie came in just as the nurse was removing the catheter from my cock (one of the weirdest sensations, it's quite a rush I suggest you try it one day), and he waited outside the curtains while I filled a bottle with a much needed piss. "How you feeling, son!?", he asked in an upbeat tone. "Yerh Alwright", I did have some numbness in the left-side of my mouth, just as they had warned me. This passed after a week though. Anywho, I stayed in hospital that night - may I say that this hospital is much better than North Shore Public, if you're ever thinking about getting brain surgery, I suggest this hospital! Charlie came in the next day and to my surprise let me go home.

The Thursday I got home I was drowsy as, still coming down off the drugs that I had stopped post-op, however the Friday was a different story. I woke up at 4 am, with a severe cold and a migraine. Vomiting and a much needed poo ensued, spending the rest of the day in bed drinking nothing but lemonade and eating nothing but paracetamol (the strongest painkiller I was allowed to take). Charlie told me that he thought the tumour was either a grade II (benign) or grade III (malignant), however couldn't be certain until the results came back from pathology with some scientific backing. These would take one week.

I called Charlie one week later on Thursday 24th June, and got some unwanted news. "Russell son, how are you! Ok, I've got some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that the tumour was a grade III, the good news is that it is surrounded by lots of low grade tumour, therefore making the diagnosis a 2.5" .The fact still remained though, I had a grade III brain tumour, which was malignant. I have cancer. Dr Teo was only looking at a pathology review, and as my medical oncologist explained to me the next day, the review was very unclear in it's summaries and Dr Helen Wheeler needed for it to be sent away for further analysis, as there may be some necrosis (grade IV) in the brain cells.

On the Wednesday of the next week (30/6) I received a call from the receptionist at the radiotherapy centre (which funnily enough was within the compound of Royal North Shore), and asked if I could come in that day to discuss with A/Prof Michael Back the further pathology analysis (I've quickly come to realise that if doctors want to see you earlier than possible, this is not a good sign for you). Michael explained very delicately that my tumour was in fact a grade IV, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), and that I would need radiotherapy as well as chemotherapy. Both are going to be reasonably well tolerated, especially since I'm so young and healthy, and the hair loss will be minimal. The radiotherapy will start on the 28th of July and continue Monday-Friday for 6 weeks, 30 mins a day. The chemotherapy will consist of taking one tablet a day for 6 months, starting at the same time as the RT starts.

The next day, Thursday 1st July, I was travelling into the city by train and got a call on my phone from Anna. She was in the city also, submitting an art project, and checking out some art at the MCA. "Hey Russell, wanna catch up for coffee?". "Sounds good! Just heading into the city now (first time since my surgery), can you wait until 4 though?" (I had a meeting at work with my boss and a HR rep). It was good to see Anna, hadn't seen her in a while and she always gave me positive vibes. "So what you been up to?!", I asked. "Oh not too much, on holidays from today. Going to a Vipassana Course tomorrow in Blackheath. "Cool, I've always wanted to do that!". I had always wanted to do a Vipassana Course, except like everything in life, never got around to it. Lee had done one a few years ago in Blackheath and shared his benefits with me, both verbally and mentally. Eden I understand has also done a Vipassana Course when he was travelling South America last year. As we were walking to the bus stop, I had an epiphany - what's stopping me from signing up tonight and going with Anna tomorrow? I had no commitments, and even if I did, screw it, my mental purification should be way more important than any substanceless material obligations. I let Anna know my plans before we parted ways that evening, and as I was going to my old apartment in Cammeray to collect a few of my belongings and have dinner with my roommates, I would only be a short trip away from the internet. I jumped on the Vipassana website as soon as I arrived and checked it out. Success! There were male availabilities, and even though there office hours were 9:30-12 I filled out an online form anyway. To my surprise I received a call about an hour later, it was a lady from the centre asking me about my surgery, said she knew a bit about it as she used to be a registered nurse. Everything was falling into place. "Ok Russell, everything seems fine, see you tomorrow between 4:30pm and 6:30pm for registration!".

Cut to today.


That was the best/hardest 10 days of my life. As I'm typing this blog I'm feeling an energy that I can't describe, I can only meditate and experience it. If anyone is looking for/thinking about doing something that will change your life, and there are at least two people reading this right now who know what I'm talking about, please just take 10 days and go and do it. But understand it is no holiday - sure the scenery is beautiful, and the food/accommodation is all provided for, heck the whole 10 days are free...but, you have to work. And I mean work physically and mentally. I don't want to scare anybody, nor give false truths about what Vipassana is. After coming home this evening (a moment you don't understand how much I've been waiting for), and speaking with Mum especially about it, I've convinced her at the intellectual level. She's going to go in December as far as I know, and I couldn't be happier.

This past 10 days has been the most profound in my life. I'm not sure whether it was me getting cancer that made me get more benefit out of it, but I don't think so. It is so pure. The basic principle is based on Dhamma (Nature), and that we are all made of the same subatomic particles that are comprised of four elements (air, water, fire, and earth). Vipassana works on three principles:

1. Morality
2. Mastery of the mind - Concentration (They will teach you this)
3. Wisdom

And that's it. Vipassana is awesome. But you have to go and do a 10 day course, it will change your life. It has changed mine in the following way:

  • I have been able to confront death. By doing Vipassana one realises that everyone is dying, albeit at different speeds, but nonetheless nothing is permanent. Everything throughout nature arises, stays a while, but ultimately passes away. Once you truly understand this concept of impermanence, it will be a thing of beauty not only for you but for others.
  • I'm quitting my job tomorrow. I also understand through Vipassana that my job was simply a rat race of money money money. This is all wrong. When's the last time you saw a hearse towing a safe? Granted I haven't been working for 6 weeks, and they will completely understand, however I don't think that this matters. If I hadn't been diagnosed with cancer, I wouldn't of done this course - there's nothing I can do about anything. Which brings me to my final point;
  • Nature is constantly changing, it is so impersonal. No matter what I do at the physical level or intellectual level, nature will take it's course. There is no I, nor my, nor mine.When you can meditate understanding this - happiness will come.
Thank you for reading - it was a long journey, but we got through it in the end.

May happiness be with you all.

- Russell

Fan Rant - Tour De France

I have to say that the first time I saw 150 or so guys riding bikes for 200km over the span of a 3-4 hour telecast I thought Holy Shit, this has to be the most boring thing on TV! But then this was back in the days when I (hardly ever) went to uni and stayed up til 3 or 4 watching late night TV til my eyes watered. So between home shopping, parliament question time and the boring bikers of b-b…Bordeaux! I let my sporting bone do the choosing. It just so happened that I lucked into seeing Cadel Evans (an Aussie and therefore somebody to go for) riding painfully slow up a mountain while others chased. He ended up coming 3rd in the stage and the next night I tuned in to watch him keep pace with mountain legend Lance Thompson and win a stage! Now it takes some investment and this was enough to keep me watching til the end of the tour, Evans finished 5th overall and after watching about 20 hours of something over a week or so I had learned a lot about the sport. The SBS guys are great at commentating. They stay excited even though the action plays out like a slow burning drama, they know the back stories of pretty much every rider and they explain exactly who the important riders are and what their strategies appear to be. To love the tour you have to have a general idea about the storyline of the riders and the tour itself and past tours and their form for the season and then let the magical theatre of true reality TV – sport – play out. Watching the mountain stages is definitely the most exciting part. To see someone ‘crack’ is sad as they are halfway up a 20km climb and then the guys riding with them race off and it turns out the leader of the race can’t keep up and loses 5 minutes over the next hour. On the flat stage the peloton (the group of main riders) is about 100+ strong, everyone is in there; on the mountain this shrinks to 50, then 40, then 20, then 10. 5 title contenders riding together with select teammates dedicated to destroying their own bodies to further the cause of the main rider. Behind them are a sorry string of title pretenders and cracked helpers grouping together to will eachother over the final few k’s of a climb. over an hour behind them is the ‘autobus’ of non mountain climbers – the sprinters and team men who can’t climb a mountain with the puma like effortlessness of Alberto Contador….And…umm, breakaways! Breakaways are just a few riders who race off early and spend the day riding in a group of about 5-10 all vying for a chance at one day of glory by winning a stage in the Tour de Fance. They almost always get caught with less than 5km to go. It's sad to watch but gives pure underdog entertainment. Yellow jerseys, Green jerseys, white and polka dot jerseys, national champion jerseys and Cadel Evans wearing the world champion rainbow jersey, you gotta love the Tour!

- Eden

Monday, July 12, 2010

Helly's Video Vault- When Harry Met Sally

So the only movie I watched this week was Paranormal Activity which scared the beejesus out of me (All the lights are on in our house right now, to give you an indication...) Hence, I didn't want to put myself through further trauma by writing about it! So instead I've decided to pull something from the vault and in honour of mine and Lee's third anniversary yesterday, I thought something romantically themed would be appropriate.

When Harry Met Sally is one of my favourite movies and is arguably one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time. One thing I can say with certainty is that Nora Ephron has definitely not written a better screenplay since this all time classic was released. Maybe some people only have one truly great screen play inside them and then spend the rest of their career trying to write something equally as good. But I digress as usual...

This film is just pure, heart warming fun and I can watch it over and over. It's insanely quotable, and I'm not just talking about the famous 'I'll have what she's having' line, I would go as far to say that some entire scenes are quotable such as the conversation in the car about 'why men and women can never be friends because sex always gets in the way'. The film's dialogue is almost a throw back to the dialogue of the 50's era that I mentioned in my blog about The Apartment. The characters all speak with such wit and sass in that same way that makes you wish that everyone in real life had a screen writer riding in their back pocket.

The performances are all impeccable, with Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal bouncing off each other with perfect comedic timing and chemistry. I think this is definitely the best performance of Meg Ryan's career, so much so that I've found it hard to watch her in other (more diverse) roles as I always associate her with this 'nice as pie' type of character. As for Billy Crystal, there is no way in the world that any other actor could have played this part, it seems tailor made for him. In theory, it seems like all women should hate his character because of his womanising and somewhat sexist views but he's so charming and funny that it makes it impossible to hate him. Come to think of it, that's exactly what Meg Ryan screams at him at the end of the movie-

'You see? That is just like you, Harry. You say things like that, and you make it impossible for me to hate you!'

I love the scenes interspersed throughout the movie of the 'real couples' explaining how they met, (which has been ripped off many times since, in various different ways most recently in the movie He's Just Not That into You. ) But none of the bad rip offs can capture the sweetness and the sense of romance that is present in these original scenes. 

They definitely don't seem to make many romantic comedies like this anymore, which is a darn shame if you ask me. When Harry Met Sally, truly a modern classic...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dogman's Cock College: The Filthy Folds of Flesh, Revealed

Welcome once again to the Cock College. In the previous lesson we learned how to draw a beautiful cock, an idyllic cock that we'd all like to have but few do.

Today we'll be taking a look at the seediest variety of cock - the 'uncut'. There are those that claim the uncut cock is best, that it provides more seckshual pleasure. All this of course is total bullshit. Its ugly, it stinks and tell me what woman would derive seckshual pleasure from a knob that has more folds of flesh than her own vejynah. And how can a man get more pleasure from a cock that's covered in 3 hour old piss and stinks of putrid sweat? It makes me retch just thinking about it.

You know how girls look and super muscly handsome guys and say "fuck, he's cut". They're not talking about his body.

Fact: 83% of homoseckshuals prefer a cut cock.
Fact: Wayne Coyne is cut.
Fact: An uncut cock stinks like shit.

Now, look at it:

- Dogman

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


A few weeks ago I was searching for a book to read in my study and found a book entitled The Art of Selfishness by Ayn Rand. I thought that sounded horrible, but then again it would be interesting to read a book that, judging by its cover, is the advocating the opposite ideals to all of my advocations. On the back it suggested that Rand’s best work was Atlas Shrugged, more of a novel than a matter of fact description of theory, but with the same idealogy. This sounded a little easier to swallow while still being a challenging philosophical read. Luckily I found that book in my study as well, along with a bunch of her other work (apparently my free love Woodstock going mum at some point turned into an Ayn Rand fan – Frand?).

Anyways, the book was a struggle. She is a great writer in terms of imagery and makes great parable like analogies, and despite having moments where I was engrossed in the storytelling, the book is just infuriatingly repetitive. 1000 pages of semi convincing capitalist propaganda, it painted a picture of saintly industrialists producing wealth for the whole world while anyone who even considered helping someone else was a fucking moron socialist out to destroy it by leeching off the rich. Basically the anti Robin Hood fairytale (she actually does point out Robin Hood as a bad role model). But I still say semi convincing because a lot of her theory revolves around applying logic and reason to all situations to achieve the best result, which isn’t so bad. And her views on selfishness when explained don't sound selfish so much as logical. But she seeks to take notions such as compassion out of the equation and in my mind this is where capitalism loses responsibility and eventually turns its focus from being productive to oppressive.

Productivity, however, was the one point where I was in total agreement with Ayn. She stated numerous times that to produce is to exist and to stand still and not try to achieve your potential in life was the greatest sin. And while Rand was talking primarily in terms of tangible economic wealth, I saw it as a theory that applies to all aspects of our lives. Have you ever worked five days straight and all you want is a day off, then the day off comes and you wake up at 12, have breakfast, watch TV for an hour and then get bored shitless? It is because people need activity to stay sane, and the best way to be active is to be productive.

Work is the obvious outlet that we have to produce. When I work, apart from serving a customer once every 20 minutes, I have the option to stand around and do nothing or I can clean. I usually choose the first option, but when I do clean time goes much faster. I’m sure people who hold more exciting jobs than that of shitty barman (that is ‘shitty bar’man - as in the bar is shit, not me; I am an excellent shitty barman) have the chance to be really productive and derive more satisfaction from their work.

The other end of the stick (and the more fun end as well, I think) is being productive in a creative way. Every week I write a blog for my friends to read and this gives my life so much more purpose. I like to write little bits of music on the piano and although they don’t compare to the songs that the two genius music fags write, it is a lot of fun to create something myself. I think everybody should seek to be more productive a la Ayn ‘Do it for yourself’ Rand or Jason ‘I can write a screenplay in two days’ Bovino, and life will become even more enjoyable!

- Eden (while listening to SMiLE by Brian Wilson)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Helly's Video View- Elephant

I'm going to say right up top that it's impossible to talk about this movie without giving anything away so if you haven't seen it yet, I would advise you to stop reading now! This Gus Van Sant pic first sparked my interest when one of the hosts of the Filmspotting podcast named it as their favourite film of last decade. Lee also said that it was an unmissable movie.

In typical Lee fashion he told me I was not allowed to read the blurb or the tag line on the front of the dvd case. It was pretty hard to not read the tag line as it was on the front cover. It read 'An ordinary high school day. Except that it's not' which I thought was suitably vague. It's only now that I've seen the movie that I realise how perfect that tag line is.

When the movie first started I thought that it was just an ultra realistic version of the movie American Teen. The film just seemed to be following the everyday lives of high school students, some kids just happened to be more interesting than others. They even had the archetype characters of the jock, the arty kid, the geek girl, the popular girls and the outsider/loners. But then we see an image of two kids walking in to school dressed in camouflage and armed with two massive bags and everything suddenly takes a chilling turn. What's great about that moment is that the shot literally is a flash which made me ask myself 'Did I really just see that?' Which then made me watch the movie more intently to figure out if that moment really had the gravitas that I was giving it... which it definitely did! The film is shot in such an ultra realistic way that you really do feel like you are a student inside that school, running away from the gun men, or even scarier that you ARE the gunmen. I've never admitted this before, but when I was in high school I can remember being conscious of the fact that I never wanted to ruffle anyone's feathers because at the back of my mind I had a secret fear of someone terrorising the school Columbine style and I didn't want to be made a target. In other words I wanted to be the blonde kid in the movie. So the experience of seeing this movie was like watching my worst fear being played out in front of me and I was paralysed to stop it. I love the ambiguity of the ending also. It's not like we're watching a news broadcast of this event, we don't get to know the repercussions for the killers which is an uneasy feeling to be left with.

The film is so cleverly shot, manipulating the concepts of time and perspective. At first you think you are watching the same scene again and then you realise you are watching the scene from the character that was perhaps running by at that moment or in the background.

Gus Van Sant employed real high school kids for this film just as he did with one of his later films, Paranoid Park. This approach of using 'real people' is extremely effective, for the most part. But it can also lead to a few hiccups for example one of the 'popular girls' is very stereotypical and over the top in her mannerisms and facial expressions. She's essentially 'acting' too much which negates the whole purpose of using real people. This is also the case with a similar character in Paranoid Park (the girlfriend character if you remember). But such things can easily be forgiven by the sheer boldness and bravery it must take in using such an unusual technique.

This film is not for the faint of heart, but is truly a work of art.

 - Helly

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Saved By The Vines

It was a late & uneventful Saturday night, if my memory serves me. My two companions & I sat parked in an empty lot of open-parking spaces. Now, when I think about it, to anyone else this would appear very suspicious, or sketchy, but being the responsible people we were, we didn’t think anything of it. Granted, we were watching pirated Van Damme movies, but still, it appeared harmless in my mind. I guess when you’re a dependable person participating in Illegal activity, it never seems as threatening as when you observe someone else doing the same. After we finished the movie we just sat, talked, laughed & observed; as you do after watching the mussels from Brussels in action. Again, my memory is a little hazy, but we probably enjoyed this for a good hour before we all agreed we wanted to watch another movie - maybe Hard Target - as we only had a short film he made when he was starting out, and we knew this wouldn’t suffice; we wanted the full Jean Claude experience.

These aforementioned parking spaces were fairly close to one of my fellow Van Damme fan’s house. So after some time procrastinating he finally mustered up the courage & energy to go and grab whatever of the action star’s movies he had at his abode. No more than a second after he decided this, just as he begins to open the door, we see a police car casually turn into the street and head towards our lone, suspiciously-parked car. As you could imagine, being the teenagers we were, we passed bricks though our bowels. I for one was terrified; I’ve always hated the sight of cops, even if I was as innocent as a newborn lamb. As soon as we noticed them we immediately suggested hiding the DVD; it was only the short, but, nevertheless, it was rare and we didn’t want it confiscated. There was a faulty compartment in the car that could be removed and we hid it in there. At the time I imagined it being the ideal hiding place; somewhere they would never imagine to look. I’ve since seen the T.V show cops and understand the lengths they go to in search of drugs.

They pulled up beside us and headed toward the car; at this point I had no idea what our reasoning for being there would be, if they were to inquire. How could three teenagers sitting alone in a car, parked in an empty lot, late at night, not look odd? They went through the customary formalities: asking the driver for his license and if he’s consumed any alcohol. One went and checked out the license for a moment or two, whilst the other stayed back and continued the official procedure. “What are you boys doing parked here?”, the younger officer, who was on the passenger’s side, asked. “Just chillin’”, I hesitantly replied, which was apparently the best thing I could come up with on the spare of the moment.

I grew up around this area, and now I’ve learnt that parked cars in empty lots are usually associated with drug deals, so, rightfully so, they had something to be wary over. “You boys got any drugs on your body, or in the car”, the older, sterner officer asked. I could already see the good cop/bad cop act being played out. “No”, we all reply, overlapping each other. There’s nothing suspicious about that, right?

I was talking to an admired acquaintance who personally knew an officer and said that usually when people get pulled over it’s usually the most suspicious-looking that are typically the most innocent. That’s something I can understand, but, in the moment, you fear your overlapping responses will be all they need to find you guilty. Now we’ve given ourselves away, I thought. It was just about then when the younger/good cop, who was still on my side of the car, noticed the T-shirt I was wearing. “You like The Vines, do you?”. Thank god, I thought. Thank god I’m not one of those thousands of people who wear, say, The Ramones T-Shirts but couldn’t name you three of their songs. It was something I didn’t have to lie about. “Yeah, I love ‘em”, I replied. It’s always a relief when you have something to relate to with an officer. “Oh, yeah? well, I was at the infamous Annandale gig”, he said, amicably. I sensed he wanted to finish his sentence, but, knowing what infamous Annandale gig he was talking about, I wanted to show my awareness of the bands history, proving I’m not a hack, and jumped in to respond. “No way; when he kicked the photographer and Patrick Mathews quit the band!?” I asked, knowing full well that that was indeed the gig he was referring to. “Yeah, it was quite crazy”, he confirmed. My two companions & I expressed our excitement exuberantly, making sure he knew, that we knew, that that was an iconic gig - in terms of The Vines - to have attended. There was a pause before the same friendly officer opened his mouth again. “You know we have the authority to search your car?”.

We froze; three racing heart beats where the only sounds to be heard in that moment that lasted a lifetime. “But…… we’re going to give you the benefit of the doubt here”, he said, and we all simultaneously let out sighs of relief… well, in our heads, at least. “You best be heading home now, said the older/bad cop, almost disappointedly, as if he was all set for a good car strip & search. They drove off first and we sat stunned for a moment, all a few pounds thinner from nervously sweating. That was too close for comfort, I thought. Of course, at the time, we didn’t know that for being in possession of just one pirated DVD, and a short at that, isn’t even worth bothering doing the paper work about. But, still, to this day, I believe the only reason we dodged a full car search that auspicious night, was because of my T-shirt.

- Anonymous