Friday, February 18, 2011

I say.

So, I post my stories and not much else. I dont care for sharing my innermost thoughts and fears. Why? Because I spend all my time writing and posting these first drafts of my novel and past shorts for your greater pleasure. Anything else, any other self-aggrandizing oh woe-is-me/the-other is patently just a cheap money shot to the face of you, dear reader. I have too much respect for your time and mine to delve to such lower depths.
Sean O'Dea

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Updated: ANOTHER Extract from chapter 15. A strong woman/his name was not david.

<Update: I decided to add to this section, to supply more context.> 

A short post today. Remember, one post per page, click older entries for other extracts, random thoughts, etcetera. 


The rain had finally arrived. He handed over his jacket, concerned that she was cold. Girls’ wearing tiny dresses and stiletto heels prowled George Street. The scene of Sydney’s exclusive nightclubs, anyone who was anyone wanted to get in.

Two skinny men sat at a bus stop. One of the men wore an earring. The other fingered a purple wristband made out of glittering silk. The stripes on their French cut, close-fit shirts were of different colours. The men were blurry eyed and their postures were hunched. The man with an earring fiddled with a mobile phone.
When he realised she was no longer by his side, Sean spotted Rachel standing in front of the men. He stared at her and with her eyes she told him to wait.
She said something to one of the men. He looked up from his phone and his head lolled from her face to the scarf tied around her waist.
“Is that a belt?”
“It’s an alpaca wool belt.”
Sean made to move and she held out an outstretched hand. He stopped dead. She stepped closer to the man and admired his eyes. The man looked back at his phone. She sat on the bench and waved at Sean. Sean sucked in a deep breath and walked over. He sat down, next to Rachel, at the end of the seat .
She reached over and touched the man on the chin. He recoiled from her, staring in disbelief. She did not flinch or break eye contact.
Seemingly on cue, the two men stood up and staggered in the direction of the Ivy Bar. The other man stopped and stood in front of Rachel.
“Those are stupid pants,” he slurred.
“I like your pretty wristband.” Sean pointed at the man’s wrist. The man ignored him.

As Sean and Rachel continued on their walk home, the man with the phone stood on the street corner. He stared at Rachel and tried to comprehend what had just happened. A black, stretch Hummer pulled up to the curb. Impenetrable dark tint covered the windows. A strobe light hung from the ceiling and illuminated the silhouettes of the passengers inside. The man with the silk wristband pressed his face against the window glass. He motioned to the people inside. The side door opened and the men entered the vehicle. From his vantage point, Sean could see that there were four or five young girls inside. The Hummer pulled into traffic and sped away.

“Why are these stupid pants?”
“Forget it, he was drunk.”
“Why did he say that?”
“Beats me.”
“I think he really said that I am stupid.”
The rain beat down. His shirt was becoming wet and his hair started to curl from the aggravation of the water. Her bob, freshly died and all split ends, began to frizz as droplets of rain beaded on the shoulders of the rain jacket.

It was at Martin’s Place when her phone rang. The arcade’s paving bricks were wet and black and gleamed in the glow of the streetlight. Kids lined up outside the City bar, cowering underneath the cover afforded by the skinny gutters on the building roof high above. Bouncers checked IDs as commercial RnB blasted through the front door and above shoulders. She stopped and fossicked around in her handbag. When she found her mobile she scowled at the phone display before answering.
“What do you want?”
He stopped and waited, not knowing how to react. She listened to the voice on the other end of the call. There was no emotion in her face. She finally spoke.
“Where are you?”
One of the newsagency stalls was still open. The till had been cleared for the night and the magazines were stacked in the corner. An Asian man, sheltered by the stall’s awning, smoked a clove cigarette and contemplated the overcast night sky. He was very thin and his face was gaunt and without line or identifying marks. His eyes were ancient. Sean waited awkwardly as she listened and paced in small circles.
“Come to the Cross!” she snarled. “Come here right now… you have five minutes!” She disconnected the call.
He wasn’t too sure how to react. He had expected she was going to leave him again. She stomped up the incline of Martin’s Place. He followed after her, not sure where they were going.

He admired the inside of the Commonwealth bank building. Everything inside was brass and golden banister, marble pillars and dark stained oak counters. She stared at her feet.
“Hey, stop. I want to take your photo.”
She looked at him and posed.
“No, stand outside the window.”
He pointed his camera phone at her. She squatted, her right hand on her left knee, and stared him down. The camera flashed.
“No!” she exclaimed. “I’ll do a serious one. Take another.”
She stripped off the jacket and balled it up next to her discarded handbag on the ground. She stood spread legged with held her hands outstretched. Her eyes were shut. He smirked and snapped away. The rain fell down and pavement smelt both fresh and ripe, the grime of the preceding day slowly being washed away.

They were starting to look like drowned rats. She could not stop talking about her pink jeans.
“When he said they looked stupid was he saying I was stupid? No! I know what he was really saying… he was saying I –”
“Rachel, I need to tell you something.”
They stood outside the old sandstone façade of the State Library. He stepped close to her. She anxiously stared into his eyes.
“Of every girl who I have seen tonight,” he rubbed her hip, his finger pulling at the belt loop of her jeans, “I think you are wearing the best looking pants out of all of them.”
He embraced her and she kissed him. Neither of them felt the cold wind blowing.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Social Network

In another lifetime, I was on my way to becoming a film scholar.
Since I gave that up? The first six months of this year I was unsuccessfully trying to make a living as a pool hustler. Now I run a library.
Regardless, I’m often watching movies and thinking about movies. Nothing too deep. But sometimes I’ll see a film that piques my interest and I’ll think more about it. Lately, the film in question has been The Social Network. Considering that the awards season is underway, it seemed apt to share this thought I’ve had.

Technically speaking, I found the film to be very well done – what David Fincher film isn’t? – and the script is alright, I guess. So that out of the way, what’s been bugging me about the movie is the issue of whether it should be watched as a fiction, or a non-fiction.

Let’s address the non-fiction idea first. If we argue that the film is about Facebook and the pertinent beginnings and history of all those involved; well, The Social Network has a major failing. That problem being the disparity between real events and what is depicted in the film: some of it is completely made up!

Which isn’t to say that Fincher and Alex Sorkin aren’t allowed to do that; how’s that cliché saying about the truth and good stories, and not letting one of those get in the way of the other, go? But regardless, the film isn’t non-fiction. Which means the film isn’t a historical document about Facebook, and can’t be watched as such.

So in that case, the film is a fiction. Ostensibly a fiction about Mark Zuckerberg, billionaire boy genius, and his personal and business relationships. Which comes to what has been bugging me about the movie. What’s the point to the story? When we’re faced with the final image of Mark refreshing his computer browser, waiting to be accepted as a friend by his ex-girlfriend, and the end credits roll, what’s the point?

Ok, being a little facetious here, I know it’s about the lawsuits, and some question of Zuckerberg trying to find acceptance from his peers, and his dedication to Facebook, and a slight subtext of the question of finding love. But, well, it’s pretty boring; tediously so when it comes to the end. Where’s the escalating stakes to raise the tension? Where’s the third act? I usually hate it when a reviewer, or critic, analyses a film and posits what could have been done to make it better. A film is what it is. Talking about what could have been and should have been is for the dreamers. But regarding The Social Network, it’s not a true telling of events. Fine, once again that’s the pejorative of the Sorkin and Fincher connection. But as they have already taken liberties in telling the tale, well, why not go further and make the film something truly exciting? I’m not saying I want gun fights, or Zuckerberg in a bat suit, or anything like that. I am but confused as to what made Fincher and co. opt for the mediocre middle ground.

I read today Fincher being quoted as saying he wanted to release the film right now, and not in the spring. That strikes me as a cynical move to capitalise on the current popularity of facebook. Considering the relative financial success enjoyed by The Social Network, was the film purely an attempt by Fincher to have a hit?

Extract from chapter 8: At Lunch.

Here's a sneaky peaky from chapter 8. A couple of sentences here and there need to be edited. Still working on the thoughts on 2010 music I liked. Dragging my feet like usual.

“Yeah, hi.”
“What are you up to?”
“I didn’t know whether to hide behind this tree or pretend I didn’t know you.”
“Thanks for talking to me,” she said sincerely.
“I didn’t know if you were with that boy, or if it was Dave, or what…”
He didn’t bother to ask where she had been. She had changed into different clothes overnight, so he knew that she had been home. She was wearing a black velvet jacket, tight black jeans, and his homemade black t-shirt. He hadn’t realised that she had taken it.
“Nice shirt,” he said as he pulled on it.
Rachel grinned at him and Sean tried to remain cold and distant in her presence. She grabbed his can of coke and took a pull. He rolled his eyes and sighed, mirthless.
“What are you doing?”
“What am I doing? What am I doing?” Sean pretended to think. “I guess I’m walking down the street.”
“I’ll come with you.”
“Will you, Blixa Bargeld?”
He threw his empty can in a bin. “Blixa Bargeld. That’s who you look like right now,”
“Who is… Blixa… Blixa Bar…”
“Who’s Blixa Bargeld? I’ll tell you who Blixa Bargeld is, Blixa Bargeld,” he tried not to warm to telling her this information, remaining as blank voiced as he could. “Blixa Bargeld is the lead singer of the band Einstürzende Neubauten. Have you heard of them, Blixa Bargeld?”
She shook her head.
“You kids these days, dressing like Goths – ”
“I’m not dressed like a Goth!”
“ – and not knowing who Blixa is. Einstürzende Neubaten are a German, industrial music group,” Sean could tell she didn’t know what industrial music was. “They, I don’t know, bang metal pipes on concrete walls and turn it into music.”
“Can we get something to eat?”
“No, I’m going shopping.”
“I’ll help you shop.”
“My God you’re crazy. You know you drive me fucking crazy? I could just strangle you.”
Sean tried not to sound serious when he said this. Rachel looked at him and he lightly wrapped his hands around her throat. She grabbed his wrists and squeezed his hands, like the lover she was, and mimed convulsing. They held the position for several seconds, him rocking her back and forth on her feet as she pretended to choke.
“No, I’m going food shopping. I don’t need you to help me, Blixa Bargeld.”
They walked in silence. The William Street intersection lay before them.
“You know how everyone thinks Germany started World War Two?”
“But they did?”
“No! It was the Finnish, they’re the real Nazis!”
“The Finnish?”
“Yeah, they let the Germans take the blame for it. But it was the Finnish who really killed the Jews!”
Sean stopped and looked at Rachel, she was smiling at him. “I don’t know about that.”
“The Finnish did it.”
“Did they now?”
She frowned at him, happy to see him.
“I think you need me to help you shop.”
Sean smirked at her. He could see the Coles Supermarket, a block away.
“Do you know if there are any pool halls in Sydney?”
She thought for a few seconds. “There’s one at Central.”
“The Central train station. There’s a snooker hall opposite the Central Train station.”
“Right. How interesting.”
He measured his words carefully.
“I’m not going to go shopping just yet. Instead I have to go… somewhere secret.”
“Wouldn’t be a secret if I told you.”
She grabbed for him. He squeezed her hand and then let go. He walked away from the Supermarket. In the clear blue sky, the sharp incline to Williams Street created the optical illusion that the city skyline hung over the surrounding inner-city suburbs.
“Look.” Sean draped his arm across her shoulders. “I’m going to my secret location for a few hours. Then… we might meet up after that.”
“Ok.” She thought about this.
“Hey, that’s where I found that dress.” She pointed at a clothes shop specialising in vintage clothes.
“I’m not buying you the dress.”
They came closer to an Irish Pub named Paddy MacGuires. Outside the front step stood three English backpackers, dressed in singlets and shorts.
“Take your arm off me.”
He did so and Rachel stopped in front of the men. Sean walked for a few more paces, not bothering to stop. She ran to catch up with him.
“I’m going to hang out with them for a while.”
Sean looked at the men.
“You can’t go with them!”
“Why not?”
“They’re English. And if that’s not bad enough, they’re backpackers. English backpackers are the scum of the earth!”
“What?” she laughed.
“After the next world war there will only be cockroaches and English backpackers scurrying about.”
She chortled again. “Ok, I won’t go with them.”
“I tell you what.” He thought for a moment. “How about we get some lunch, then I’ll have to do some stuff by myself.”
“Hmm, ok.”
“But on one condition, you take me somewhere nice. Somewhere I haven’t been before.”
“Where haven’t you been?”
“Rachel, I’ve lived in Sydney for like, over a week. There are heaps of places I haven’t been.”
“I know a place.”
“I’m serious, I don’t want junk food. No food from a service station for me.”
“Ok, I know somewhere.”
“Alright,” he said, not believing her.
They descended William Street and turned left on Crown Street, stopping at Oxford Street.
“How about some sandwiches?”
“Yeah, like, gourmet sandwiches?”
“Oh yeah, I could go for something like that.”
“Ok, follow me.”
Sean looked at the cafés on the street as they walked away from Oxford.
“I thought I saw something over there.”
She ignored him and turned onto the first side street. A red sign overhung a red door. It read: Afrolounge.
“What’s this place?”
“Come on.”
They stepped over the threshold. The Afrolounge was a bar and a courtyard, with tables and lounge chairs set-up for alfresco dining. Paintings and photography by local artists hung from the walls.
“Wow, look at this, it’s like a Spanish villa.” Sean admired the clientele and the way they were dressed.
“Told you I knew somewhere.”
Rachel picked a table and Sean sat down next to her.
“Hey, I can drink in here too. Rachel Neutron, you’ve outdone yourself.”
She scanned the menu as he debated with himself whether to have a midday beer.
“Do you know what you want yet?”
Like all good Sydney restaurants, the waitress was five minutes too early.
“What do you want lady?”
“I’ll have the big breakfast, and a fruit smoothie, and a tomato juice.”
“What flavour? For the smoothie?”
Rachel looked at the menu. “Mango.”
“Do you want avocado?”
“And for you?”
“God, I’m not sure… I’ll get…”
“I’ll come back later?”
“Yeah. No wait, I’ll have the big breakfast too.”
“Any drinks?”
“An apple juice. And a Corona.”
“God no. Thank you.”
Sean and Rachel sat in silence. She looked at the other patrons. He enjoyed the sun.
The waitress returned with their drinks.
“The food won’t be long.”
Rachel took a sip from her juice.
“How long do you think she meant?” Sean held his index fingers three inches apart.  “This long?”
Rachel snorted and then emptied two teaspoons of salt into her tomato juice.
“I didn’t think… that… juice and salt went together.”
She hummed in reply and sipped her juice. Sean noted that she took a long time swallowing.
The waitress returned with two platters of food, loaded with bacon, scrambled eggs sprinkled with pepper, sausages, hash browns, and sun dried tomatoes.
“Ok, you have really outdone yourself here.”
Rachel ate her food like someone who had not eaten breakfast that morning or dinner the night before. Sean, never having much of an appetite in the morning, was more sedate in the speed he ate.
Rachel lifted up her tomato juice. “Do you want to swap?”
“I don’t think so, there’s salt in that. You ruined that juice.”
She smirked and listened to the group of people sitting next to them. They were talking about films.
“It’s a terrible movie. Like all recent French movies,” opined a man with ornate, thick-rimmed designer glasses.
“Yeah, absolutely,” the man next to him agreed, speaking to a woman opposite. “Whenever it starts getting good, a character will look straight at the camera and recite a five minute monologue about philosophy.”
“I mean, who cares!”
Everyone laughed.
“And, also, – ”
“Yeah, that’s like Bodard!” interrupted Rachel.
The men stopped talking.
“Yeah, right,” replied the man in glasses.
“He’s like, got all this action, but then there’s lots of talking.”
The group all nodded and then continued their conversation without her.
“I think you meant Jean-Luc Goddard,” whispered Sean.
“Oh yeah.”
“You were trying so hard, don’t get down on yourself.”
Masculine Feminine.”
“Wow, you know that?”
Rachel stared at her plate and the leftover food that she didn’t like. Sean picked at his plate slowly, silently. She poked at a piece of bacon with her finger.
“Hey, I have a fly.”
The group looked at her again. Rachel had a live fly balanced on her finger.
“Is that really a fly?” asked the man with glasses, genuinely interested.
“No, it’s plastic,” said his friend.
“No, look! It moved. It’s real!”
“Whoa, it’s just sitting there!”
Rachel held out her finger so they could get a closer look.
Sean didn’t look away from his plate. “For five dollars she’ll swallow it.”