Sunday, 18 December 2011

digital rocks

Finally it's happening.  I've been waiting for the opportunity to lay down some word-threads for quite some time now, but work and work-related projects have taken over my life.  Even now I find I'm too tired to write.  I've had many plans for my writing - to which I instigated this blog in the first place as something of a launching pad - and I now have a fair idea of where to take things: critiquing, creative non-fiction, passionate mumbo-jumbo and the like, but the lack of free time proves to be the ongoing stumbling-block to satisfactory writing.  Anyway, as it's often said, if I want it enough I'll make the time.

Writing - narrative writing - is a secondary talent for me, and not a primary one.  Music is primary for me.  I pick up an instrument, play it, record with it, and if sounds good to me then I'm happy.  With writing I find I need constant reassurance and constructive criticism from others.   I find it much harder to qualify writing compared to music.  At least with music, you can hear it and make a definable albeit subjective decision as to what you think of it.  With writing, you may think you've done a good job but I always find it difficult to come to some definite conclusion about the quality.  After all, writing is about affecting a series of words separated with punctuation to create a definable, overall quality of 'good writing', but I can only grasp this concept instinctually.  Bottom line: I want to work on my writing and improve on it and hopefully take it further.  I've two articles submitted with, and that's a hopeful start.

I've been involved with an ARC-funded project at work to digitise our production archives.  I've been using state of the art digitising machines that create two distribution files (windows & mac), one edit file (mac), and one archival standard lossless JPEG2000 file - which I call 'digital rocks' - with each passing of the original tape.  These JPEG2K files absorb a tremendous amount of data, about 30 gigabytes per hour of footage.  I found it a moving experience to set the tape to record and watch productions dating back some 23 or so years with many of the faces seen on-screen having since moved on to fabulous careers.  I like to watch and gauge the energy of the time.  The times seemed a lot more innocent way back when, even as recent 17-18 years ago.  Hairstyles were bigger, and slicker.  There was more of a feeling of buoyancy in the productions, as if the actors could sense a future ahead  for their industry and themselves. It's been an honour to have taken part in this innovative project despite it having taken up so much of my time and energy.  I've learned so much, including setting up network drives, and all of these new skills will snowflake into my CV eventually when the time is right.

I took a work-related trip to Melbourne just prior to taking delivery of these digitising machines.  This was my 4th or 5th visit to Melbourne, and for the first time in all these trips I felt 'yep', would love to live here.  For the first time, I clicked.  It's an appropriate city to have a fulfilling working life; it's industrious yet coolly chic at the same time.  Not so heady and distracting as Sydney.  With the wide streets, the trams, the architecture, the chic lanes veining the city streets, the cold weather, those awesome little cafes and eateries everywhere, I found Melbourne to be wholly enticing.  I could live there given half a chance, and I can understand how many people prefer Melbourne over scatty, temperamental, and sometimes bloody horrible Sydney.  In some ways it felt to me like the Toronto of the southern hemisphere.

I'm still playing ukulele.  I'm going to the ukulele club in Balmain on Monday night for their Christmas party.  Getting involved in the ukulele scene has been a good thing for me, partly for the music, but also  that it coerces me to be social, to get talking to people in a complimentary setting.   I dislike certain aspects of my personality and I find I can't quite eradicate these traits no matter how much I try to change.  I often project a diffident, aloof persona, alternately abrupt and awkward, who finds it uncomfortable doing the small-talk dance with people.  Though once I get to know people, and they me, I become a lot friendlier. My sweet nature starts to surface.  And even then, my friendliness seems somewhat contrived to me.  Almost like the friendliness I effuse is an equivalent to a diet soft-drink.  Not always, but often enough.  I'm only rueful for having blown away some potentially good friendships because of this taciturn, intense manner that I can't help but project and find difficult to turn around.  Sometimes I just scare people away with my eagerness and passion; I overdo it.  I feel like I'm in a Woody Allen film.  But bugger it, I do love to communicate, and I can't do it any other way but my own.

The weekend was one of musical diversity.  I did some busking at The Rocks on the Friday night with members of my ukulele club.  And on Saturday night I saw The Church at the Enmore Theatre, performing three of their albums in their entirety from three different decades.  It's a bit like reading an illustrated children's book followed by the Lord of the Rings trilogy, over two consecutive nights.  The best part about the busking was in simply soaking up the atmosphere of the Rocks.  It's lovely on a summer's twilight evening, and the 'moonlight markets' are fantastic.  All types of people were out and about, mainly nice family people.  Everyone was out to have a nice time out and one could feel it in the delicate, bouncy carnival atmosphere of a cool summer's evening.

My horizons are looking beyond Christmas, beyond some family project work, onto some rest and out-time from work.  New ideas, peace, walks, beach, reading, trees, and hopefully some new inspiration(s).   The new working year lies beyond that, but I won't set my mind there until my feet do, when it's time.

Paul Hewson shooting star

i'm in the sunshine A mate of mine produces a monthly songwriter newsletter which goes out to a hundred or so mainly Sydney-based...