On my mind..
Life isn't about finding yourself
Its about creating yourself
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Hello World! Bubye World! New blog!
6:51 PM

I have moved!

Come and have a look at my new blog on Tumblr.
http://www.ashitasaluja.com redirects there too.

All my old posts from thestrugglingoptimist.blogspot.com were out to check out the new neighbourhood but returned home safely last night, guided by the TumblWire. They are starting school tomorrow, and have already made friends with Facebook and Twitter, who have promised to do the BFF thing and show matching status updates.

Our old friend RSS has also moved with us. From http://thestrugglingoptimist.blogspot.com/rss to http://tso.tumblr.com/rss

Also next door is FeedMyInbox - you can meet them at their fav hangout - your inbox - by entering YOUR email address in the right bar of the new blog. Upstairs lives Stephen Fry (ok that part was lies).

Welcome to the housewarming, my lovelies. Much love.
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Sunday, November 8, 2009
1:15 PM

Being a self-confessed IT geek who spends my day not knowing what the weather is like outside of my "nature inside" cactus themed cubicle (you can go on annual leave and itll still be alive when you get back). Still, I always know when the footy season has arrived. Its when I get on the train back home, wanting desperately to just listen to that new song I donwloaded last night on repeat so I can memorize the lyrics and hum it at work. But no, I land into a Charlie's Wonderland of chocolate brown and butterscotch gold, cocoa black and raspberry red. Except there ain't enough Golden Tickets in the world to elevate me out of here.

I also know when Spring has arrived. Its when every 16 year old lithe little lass around me saunters into the train in Carrie Bradshaw hair accessories and LadyGaga. And if I accidently see the 29th world tennis player get on the 70 that commutes between the MCG and the CBD, that's when the Australian Open is on.

There is something to be said about Melbourne's public transport system. Its alive, like a college goer's always in use and hence never cleaned car. You know its Saturday when there's puke in
it, you know its Christmas when there are grandparents and grandchildren lining it. You know Remembrance Day is near when red shredded cloth petals start to find its way between seats.

Every leftover from the weekend visit to the folks packed into chinese takeaway boxes, every all-important IKEA bookcase nut and bolt (or actually only the bolt, you never lose your nuts, er, the nuts) destined into a bachelor pad, every schoolgirl gum wrapper, ribbon and favourite earring has felt its hard blue-gray floor.

When I was very little, a gargutan rattling trainwreck of a hulking machine they called a 3-tonner used to pick us up for school. This thing was like a giant MiniMovers truck, except it was
canvas topped (a luxury convertible moving truck?) with a pig like large snout engine. Inside, there were 10 inch wooden slats on all 4 sides at hip level, but that was it. Rest of it was tough iron and frayed cloth. The prime privilege of the bullies was getting the seats at the head of the thing, where it met the driver's cabin. Because there was a tiny sliver between the canvas and the metal where you could poke your 8 year old head out and feel the wind gushing against your hair (you could always pick these boys form their teepee hair in the classroom later, as i suspect they did not they care for Toni & Guy stone hard grip gels). To me, the lowest in this social pyramid (this despite my surprisingly high fountain ponytail and lazy right eye), my face against the scalding hot grill at the entrance, this was the worst way to begin and end a schoolday.

But Metlink Melbourne makes my day. I love its whimsical idiosyncracies, from that one non-working vending machine in Richmond (for the past 2 years) to the. Hell I'll even admit the instant unity when you and one other person is stuck at 10pm on a platform where the only hourly train has just been cancelled.

And then there's that sense of comraderie and survivor's guilt as you sit snug in your warm little seat, the tram has just closed it doors and you can see a bloke running down the street, tie in

hand, jacket flapping, towards it. Instantly your eyes go to the traffic lights. Yellow. Come on you can make it. A little more, just a little...and then, Green. He stops inches from the door as it pulls away, his hand outstretched, tie starting to drag on the road a little. Your heart goes out to him. He didn't make it. It was destined to be this way. And as he becomes but a dot in the distance, you sigh, exchange sympathetic funereal looks at the death of a common friend with the fellow traveller in front of you, and you both get back to your books.

Then there's Connextor's Panic. The panic in the eyes of the couple carrying 5 bags of groceries attempting to get out first because they've just seen the connecting bus pull in on the street
next to the station. They run out, breakfast juice sloshing in its 5 litre cannister, thongs slapping against the cement, "excuse me, thanks" being chanted unconsciously, more times than the strangers they bump into.

Lastly, there's the student specials. A whole new breed of specialty that caters to the uni crowd. There's Fastest Finger First, that one landmark that means you're about to pull into your stop in 5 seconds. Just enough time to press the buzzer, but will the quizmaster comply to your last minute appeal? Probably not, and you will there will be penalties. Dirty looks are the least of them, one level higher is the sudden jerking of the bus that propels your being 3 metres to the head of the bus and your stomach into believeing its on the moon. The worst of course, is the mini lecture. Usually from the older drivers, they elucidate the advantages of not sleeping on the bus and "being ready for your stop".

My personal favourite is TheDeflatingBalloon. What happens is this. You get on the appointed bus, tram or train. Its sardines-in-a-tin tight. Its noisy, its smelly, your $20 Cotton On skinny jeans are knocking against someone else's CottonOn $20 skinny jeans. at this point it is unclear from the shape of the butt if its a boy or a girl, so you're not sure if you're supposed to be happy or disgusted. And then it comes. The Mecca. The Deakin, Monash or Melbourne. And suddenly, like the day after Cats vs Saints, its all over. Swarm after swarm of slingbags and trackies emerge from the bus. The balloon has deflated, that-tha-tha-that's all folks, the fat lady has sung etc etc. And you are sitting there in silence on your own, a little stunned. The sad part, of course, is that you get the Deflating Station is always just one stop short of yours.

And finally there's love. Among the winners are UnwarrantedRelationShipAdviceFromTheIdiotYouAccidentlySatNextTo (aka URAFIYA, also known as TheCabbieSyndrome in the taxi catching circles), WeirdoWhoSmilesCreepily, and finally, TheOne. The One is that one person on your bus, tram or train who you see everyday, who by some Providence always takes the a seat somewhere in hearing range, and you know every coat in her wardrobe, and courtesy the miracle of the mobile phone, also know where their friend with benefits, their parents, their boyfriend and their old cat they had to give away lives. More than I know about my closest cousin, actually. Of course there are times you want to sit with them because OMG, the problem she is having with her office affair is totally what you had 2 months ago and no she was so right about how she handled the sausage incident and what is a prtty girl like her doing in a bus like that and why hasn't she walked out yet, but you must refrain from smiling knowingly incase you transform into WeirdoWhoSmilesCreepily, or trying to talk here lest you become a URAFIYA. And lets face it, how many URAFIYAS actually turn into serious relationships, huh?
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Friday, November 6, 2009
J is for Julie
2:48 AM

An article a day. Will post to blog, facebook and twitter. Part of a plan to write 365 articles in a year. Of those at least 10 will be good enough for a J-school portfolio right? Right? Right. Must also revamp blog layout. Too gloomy.
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Wednesday, November 4, 2009
The name's Unknown, Really Unknown (aka a Movie Review of Layer Cake 2004)
6:37 PM

It is an irony of life that the best things come terribly packaged. Nutritious food, good advice, babies. The 2004 British drug mafia thriller, Layer Cake, is no different. Now, mind you, 2004 was when Daniel Craig wasn’t the ‘quantum’ star he is now, British films were at best obscurely cult-ish (case in point : Trainspotting) and Tokyo Drift style music hadn’t made it big. Yet, this small budget movie took the, er, cake, for its exceptional execution.

Based on debutante novelist JJ Connelly's book of the same name (he also wrote the screenplay), it stars Daniel Craig as a quiet now-you-see-him-now-you-don't B0009X7BD2_01__SCLZZZZZZZ_29-year-old drug middleman who has made it big. Now, he wants to do a quick disappearing act with enough retirement money before his 30th birthday, never to return to the scenes of the crime. Except things are getting a bit disorganized on the British organized drug scene. When boss asks Craig to do him a favour and locate a fellow drug lord's wayward daughter, his plan is quickly postponed. His search goes awry as the missing chic's dad decides Craig is the bad guy. Enter stage right - pompous wannabe drug guru who steals a pot load of A class ecstasy meant for ethic wars by Serbians. And now, the Serbs (represented by a Sauron voiced bloke who goes by the name Dragon) want Craig. So, yada yada, plot thickens, blah blah blah, and at the end there is a heavy duty speech about life being a layer cake. The title, also spelt L4YER CAK3 - simply to up the obscurity quotient I suspect, is hence explained, although its a bit too obvious for this otherwise symbolically subtle movie.

layer_cakeAnd then you have your standard organized crime movie fare – Ramsay’s favourite word liberally sprinkled, a delicious dollop of PYT in the form of Sienna Miller gyrating to Kylie and undressing to Gimme Shelter and of course lotsa chases in empty warehouses on seriously snazzy wheels.

But the beauty of this 90 minute Craig feast isn't in the plot, as racy as it is. It's in the narration, first hand by Craig whose name remains unspoken and unknown throughout the movie. Its in the broad spectrum view of the multimillion drug industry, its role in modern politics and lifestyles and in the absolutely fantastic background score. And the acting is surprisingly flawless.

Unfortunately, it drags a tad midway, it overdoes Daniel Craig charging into banquets, hotels, bedrooms suited and booted (suits me just fine but the boys get cranky) and there are a couple of very obvious flaws in the editing. No matter, it wraps up gorgeously, in plot and direction, the closing scene dramatic and replete with the strains of Joe Cocker’s Misunderstood.B0002QFCU0_02_LZZZZZZZ

The reason why I called this movie badly packaged is that it's sold all wrong. Have a peek at the official web site and posters. It isn't meant to be commercial, and it isn't meant to be a thriller. Its meant to be a quiet movie you watch at the end of a long day, preceded by even longer days, when silent ennui is creeping up on you and when you want to be smacked by the irony and desperation of the times we live in. A movie you then suggest to others and smugly discuss among those who have not seen it.

Every cult movie buff worth his had better get their torrent right now.

You'll like this if you like : Daniel Craig, Trainspotting, Memento, Donnie Darko, Pulp Fiction, Scarface, Phone Booth, Godfather, Payback, movies that play around with life and death philosophies.

You won't like this if you don't like : Any of the above, not so clean scripts, nil comedy movies.

Author's Note : This is actually a review I wrote for http://trq-movingpictures.blogspot.com/ - a blog started by me and some friends that, unfortunately never quite took off. This is just a place to keep it because I know I will forget the original blog link very very soon!

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Saturday, October 24, 2009
What do I do?
12:26 PM

Do I sing? God, no.
Do I dance? Somewhat, yes. I love dancing. I love music. Never can stop. Never.
Do I read? Hell, yes.
Do I write? I used to write well, but the need, the effect, the ebb has left my mind's sanctuary for so long. My diary is alien to me. Most words from my blog break water beside shell scripts on numbered lines in a technical word editor.

I have spent the last couple on months just being. Surviving. Milestones have been reached for sure. New job (old workplace), new apartment, new love and hopefully by my next birthday, a new car. Time as usual has sprung its spring cleaning on me out of season - old friends walked out, some stepped out never to return, others I found were sitting in my living room all along. Its been rough. Unfortunately I suspect I have become a little more materialistic. I've felt myself grow older from within, but thankfully free-er in thought, a trade off I can certainly live with. Gone are the rules that subconsciously led me through guilt. The litmus test will me old friends seeing me after a year in December when I go home. Its a trip that will refocus my life somehow. I know it.
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