Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Junk Communication

Every day now, I get at least one or two phone calls from companies that want to sell me 'stuff'. Oh, they often begin the phone call with, 'I'm not trying to sell you anything...', to which I always think, 'Oh, yeah, then who's paying your wages?'

I try not to insult these poor telephone people. After all, it's not their fault they've got such a terrible job. Imagine having to sit in a tele-marketing room all day with dozens of others, all punching numbers into phones, all reciting the same, tedious mantra.

I try not to insult them, but I'm sure my annoyance comes through. I usually cut them off by saying, 'Not interested, thanks,' and quickly hanging up. The quick hang-up is usually to prevent the poor tele-marketer's counter attack. Sometimes they even sound annoyed that you're not interested in their amazing offer. 'Oh, so you're not interested in learning how you can take thousands of dollars off your mortgage,' they say in a shitty tone.

This is when I remember Jerry Seinfeld, and smile. There was that episode when Jerry gets one of these calls and he says politely, 'I'm sorry, but I'm busy right now. If you give me your number, I can call you back at home.... Oh, you don't like people ringing you when you're home? Now you know how I feel.'

Still, when the charities call, I count my blessings and don't hang up.

Then there's the other 'scourge'. The 'chain e-mail'. Usually they're syrupy sweet, corny, cliched and frustrating. Some - under the guise of wisdom or altruism - are downright offensive. They're the ones that promise stuff:

"If you pass this e-mail on to six other people, ten great things will happen to you...
...money will come to you...
...luck will come to you...

They remind me of those pernicious chain letters that used to come in the mail, hardly legible after repeated photocopying. Remember how they told of unspeakable family tragedies that befell people who didn't keep the chain going? And how those same tragedies or financial ruin were reversed once the victim fished the letter out of the bin, made 50 copies and sent it to all their unsuspecting friends and relatives? It's a source of endless fascination to me that anybody is taken in by that stuff!

Sometimes I get a forwarded email that makes me stop and think. These are usually long-winded monologues about the preciousness of life and those around us. I read it, start feeling nostalgic about the past, feeling all warm and fuzzy about my loved ones. Yeah, the sentiments are often true, and it IS good not to take life for granted. I get that, and I guess it's a good thing to be reminded. But then why do I always feel a little manipulated? Why do I always feel like I'm a member of the great cyberspace congregation and someone's giving me a sermon. One I didn't ask for.

The problem with these kinds of messages, is that they're often full of generalisations, and they paint a picture of the past as perfect and of the present as hopeless. Frankly, I don't have any time for this. Why can't we be happy and positive about the great things we enjoy in life today? If we don't focus on what's good (and there's plenty of it), how can we expect young people not to feel hopeless about the future of the planet?

Perhaps it's time to start my own e-mail chain. The good news mail. Ten reasons to rejoice that we're living now instead of the fifties or sixties or some other decade when hundreds of Australians died every year of preventable and/or curable diseases. Ten reasons to turn off the computer and spend some time reading - or writing - a book instead. And what about forwarding great art (see, the inclusion of the above Klimt was not gratuitous). That's always uplifting, as is poetry or a good quote.

And humour is always welcome. Send me a funny photo, or a joke, and the quality of my day improves.

Writing? What was that again?

I am completely exhausted. The last few weeks have been full of activity, which have left me with little time to write. I tell myself I'll get into it in a few weeks, when I get past the mountain of work that's built up. I will get past it soon. A few weeks should do it, and I can already see the proverbial light...

While I've been doing that work, a lot of other 'stuff' has happened. Should I mention it? The list would be really long, and maybe it would be fun to even try.

Okay, I'll have a little go:
  • Install word 2007 on computer - Hate it, but have to do it to be compatible with the rest of the world
  • Ask for another year's leave from 'real job' - granted.
  • Do tax return - two years' worth!!!
  • Celebrate 13 year old daughter's birthday - big bash.
  • Celebrate father's 83rd birthday - very quiet, but very special.
  • Let hair 'grey' - the jury's still out.
  • Buy some groovy clothes for summer - Yay!!
  • Buy some fantastic shoes for summer - alas, only one pair.
  • Make Halloween costume for 13 year old - black fairy.
  • Listen to 90 presentations at work - each goes for about 20 minutes
  • Grade said presentations.
  • Write for money - non-fiction, instructional, and very, very boring.
  • Catch up with doctor, dentist, vet visits long overdue.
I could go on, but I won't. You get the picture. Soon, very soon, the writing part of my life will get a run again.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Twiddling Thumbs

Not exactly, but almost. Since posting off my manuscript, I've caught up on all the procrastination I missed in the last six weeks.

For one thing, I've done quite a bit of internet time wasting - so much so that we got the notice from our provider to say that we'd used 80% of our monthly total. Seeing as we recently 'upped' the total to 4G a month, I thought exhausting an amount that vast would be beyond us. I blamed the kids at first, until my husband reminded me of my fondness for YouTube.

Oh, yeah... YouTube. I've been re-living a lot of fun stuff on that little time waster. Anything and everything musical, usually. I had the Elvis fest at one stage, then moved on to Barbra Streisand. OMG, she's so divine. There was this montage of Barbra photos from the seventies while the soundtrack of 'Stoney End' plays. Oh, it's pure heaven. As is the clip from 'A Star Is Born' where she sings on the stage for the first time in front of her rockstar boyfriend's packed stadium. The song is 'Woman In The Moon', and it's one of her most powerful performances. It even held the attention of my almost teenage daughter!! Now that says something.

A dinner time conversation about John Travolta in 'Grease' took the whole family to YouTube for a sampling of his talents on the disco dance floor in 'Saturday Night Fever'. The movie's not suitable for the kids to watch yet, but boy, it's sweet watching the man move.

Then there's been 'Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat', a perennial favourite at our house that is currently getting a spin in the CD stacker. I entered the name of the musical in YouTube and got several 'bad' high school, or amateur versions. Some of them had less than adequate Josephs in the lead. And as the role requires Joseph to don a slave's outfit (loin cloth with the obligatory bare chest) for part of the show, let's just say some of the candidates were in a no-win situation from the start.

Just when I thought there wasn't going to be any decent, West End versions of Joseph on YouTube, I stumbled across a sensational man. The guy's name is Lee Mead, and as I followed the trail of video leads, I pieced together his story. Apparently, in the UK, there's been an 'IDOL' type of TV program to find the lead for the latest run of 'Joseph'. Andrew Lloyd Webber has been involved - as evidenced by his appearance at the auditions. Well, this guy Lee Mead - who had already been starring in The Phantom - blew everyone else out of the water. His voice is sensational and as for the slave outfit... well, that is something to be seen. One of the judges accused a fellow (female) judge of being in love with him. Fair enough accusation, I suppose, since there was lipstick on the photo of Mead she had in her hands as she gave him her 'feedback' after his audition.

Since we seem to follow close on the heels of London's stage 'revivals', I look forward to seeing 'Joseph' on stage here in Melbourne. The first time I saw it, a cousin took me to see it in London's West End. The year was 1992, and he said he only got tickets because, 'Jason Donovan's not in it any more, so it's okay to go.' Back then, I'd never heard of the musical, and I thought the title was ridiculous. The bible story wasn't one I was familiar with, and even if I'd known about it, it would have been hard to envisage it as a musical. I have no idea who made up the cast, back then, but the narrator was a woman with such an amazing voice that I often wonder if she's now a household name. At one stage, I remember she stopped the show. So much applause that the orchestra had to wait until the audience was quiet again before going on!

For a look at Lee Mead's 'slave' version of Joseph, and more importantly, his impressive vocal chords, have a peek below...