rion psychic

Complimentary...

Angela and Paulo took annual leave from work which threatened to be permanent. Kate was made redundant. And then the training calendar filled up. It meant that for the past six weeks, Adam and I have been the entire training department and left responsible for more days of training than there are in the week. The result, despite our protests, has been a lot of overlapping sessions at the beginning and end of training groups, and weekends and evenings spent on preparation.

An unexpected result was a significant heaping of praise on myself. I don't really take that sort of thing well. Further, I was suspicious of its authenticity. My manager phrased things in an unusual way: 'Because they were so impressed with your work last time, they've asked you to train another group.'

'What day does it start?' I asked, and instead of telling me, my manager asked me to respond to the compliment. I told him that I would have done it either way. He told me that I should be proud to have had my hard work recognised, but I commented upon my doubt that that recognition would translate to financial advantage.

Later, in speaking with Kate, she told me that upon her departure she made mention of the lack of recognition of the work of her team. I guess now we are being overcompensated. But, as I said to the boss, not financially.
  • Current Music
    Misunderstood - D.R.A.M. - Ft. Young Thug
haw flake

Watches and Watches...

I've been trying to remember when I lost my watches. I know that I had gone months without wearing a watch after the batteries had run out in all of my three watches. I'd taken all of them to a stall in Dandenong Market to have the batteries replaced on a Saturday. On the Monday following, I'd selected my newest watch to wear to work - square-faced and featuring more gold than I usually like to wear, I wouldn't have chosen this for myself, but the gift - with its matching cufflinks - apparently suited me, based on the numerous compliments I'd recieved on it. When I went to bed that evening, I set the watch on my bedside table.

Getting ready for work the following morning, I went to select a watch from my bedside table. Only two were lined up there. The gold-detailed one from the previous day was nowhere to be seen, but I took my favourite watch and left. I perhaps thought the absence odd, but but didn't think too much about it. Maybe, I considered, the watch had fallen into the drawer or somewhere behind the table. Maybe I'd flung it somewhere during an overnight convulsion.

My favourite watch, that I wore that Tuesday, was usually reserved for casual occassions. A blatant rip-off of the 'Big Tic' design which brought fame to Fossil, my watch improved upon the original design, with bolder colours and shamelessly cartoonish circularity. On Tuesday evening, I left that watch on my bedside table too. When I woke up on Wednesday morning, I found it gone too, with only one watch remaining. That last watch has remained with me and did not suffer the fate of disappearance that the others did. A thorough search for the missing watches followed at the weekend of the disappearance, but when was that?

It was certainly well before June, 2015. On that date, I'd returned from the Terminator Genisys premiere in Sydney to find everything removed from my room and my parents painting. During the removal, they'd not found the watches fallen behind any of the furniture, with my mother commenting that she had expected to. I also took the opportunity to empty all of my drawers to find if the watch had perhaps been misplaced - maybe I remembered incorrectly.
In any event, I'd gone well over one year without the watches, and, I suspect, probably several years.

Then, on the morning after Halloween, I woke up and started to get ready for work. I went to my bedside table to put on the new watch I've bought - another one that attracts a lot of compliments, as well as surprise when I reveal that it had cost little more than four dollars - to find the fake-Fossil watch, exactly where it had disappeared from years earlier. Its battery was flat, and it appeared to have travelled - scuffs now appear on its band - but it was otherwise as I had left it, including the slightly off-centre numbers from when the batteries had been changed at Dandenong. I was thrilled to see it, even though I couldn't wear it immediately.

During the absence of my two watches, my mother sometimes commented 'I don't know how things can simply disappear,' which was something I had never really had a problem with. I'd used the example of the disappearance of my watches as evidence that things do in fact sometimes disppear without a trace while people were fretting the loss of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (which, I realise, took place in early 2014, when my watches had already gone.) Now that one has returned, she had changed her tune: 'How can something just appear like that?'

I had wondered if the pattern would continue in reverse - would the watch with the gold detail appear on Wednesday morning? - but so far only the one watch has appeared. I am happy about it. I have had the batteries replaced and am wearing it today for the first time. I continue to be satisfied with the explanation that sometimes things just disappear, but it is also nice to know that sometimes they come back.
  • Current Music
    Mothers - Daughter
rion psychic

Review...

I was not disappointed. Shin Godzilla was, admittedly, pandering to both Evangalion and Godzilla fans, but was unafraid of bucking the conventions of each. That said, it played kind of like a mash-up reMix of both - even musically: Akira Ifukube's original Godzilla score gave way to Evangelion's drum-heavy strategy plan theme. They were even played over boardroom montages. The addition of guitar fuzz over the familiar bass and drums gave me hope that the fabled live action Evangelion film could one day be a great thing.

The caption on the poster in the lobby - 'A god incarnate. A city doomed.' - suggested a return of Gozilla the villain, rather than the hero of the multitudinous Godzilla vs. Evil Monster type of movie. The name of Hideoaki Anno with the title of director hinted that we might see a blend of action and drama to match his previous creation of television's finest series. The bold design prepared us for something devestating.

Once seated, the film lauched into action immediately, an explosion in Tokyo Bay. The first appearance of the god incarnate is less than godly - this new Godzilla starts as a weird salamander-like creature, and evolves throughout. The tactic is intially jarring but puts the audience firmly in the same position as patrons must have been in 1954 when they first saw Godzilla: expecting a giant monster romp, predicting what is to happen next, only to be shocked a new ability to push the devestation forward.

The film does, however, take some getting used to, particularly for those who don't speak or read Japanese. Like Anno's Evangelion, scenes, titles, tactics, timeframes, vehicles and almost everything else are labelled largely on-screen. For Shin Godzilla, he has surpassed the number of labels in Eva, plastering almost everything other than our antihero. For the western audience following the dialogue via subtitles, it took a while to realise where we needed to look, but once we could, we could sit back and enjoy watching the futility of the military efforts.

It was strange to go back to the beginning, to a present where Godzilla has never been known, but also an amazing experience, with the monster looking better than ever, reviving the ominous tone of the original film and playing the terror of the creature - even in its early, ridiculous forms - completely straight, whilst not being without the humour of the human condition. Evangelion met Godzilla, and it really worked.
max's eyes

Shin Godzilla...

I am completely comfortable now to attend a film screening or concert by myself. My taste (and often dedication to) is often such that if I didn't allow myself to go unaccompanied, I'd miss out on a quality event. Friends of mine simply aren't interested, or as interested, in many of the things I am. Next year, I may travel to parts of Europe alone: Chernobyl, certainly, but depending on line-up announcements, possibly a music festival or two as well.

Tonight I'm drinking Mexican cider alone in an unfortunately brightly lit bar before I'll attend the premiere of Shin Godzilla. I have surprised myself withe the level of excitement that I have experienced for this film. I usually try not to be too enthusiastic about things, but I haven't been able to surpress it in this instance. I hope I won't be disappointed.

On an unrelated note, why do people seem to feel foolish when doing foolish things that other people witness, but only when they realise they've been spotted by more people than they first thought?
  • Current Music
    Venom - Gossamer Pride
haw flake

Boozy Lunch...

Nothing will make one feel a sense of professional indifference and power like squeezing a whole boozy lunch into a predeterimined very short time.

The morning before the lunch had been spent co-facilitating a training session to a plan which is attrocious, and not at all engaging. Despite this, I have been asked to deliver according to those instructions provided - emulating the developer - in the interest of avoiding an argument. Prior to commencing the group, I had proposed bold, theoretical plans which could improve learning immensely, however due to the requirement of several hours outside of a training room to develop the idea, will be doomed to be lost forever.

Lunch time discussion included situations in which terminated personal relationships are reignited when people enter one's professional network, with a debrief on past professional faux-pas, with a poignant realisation that despite one having behaved in a clearly insulting manner, it was the insulted party who had ended up leaving in disgrace.

The lunch had been prompted by an ice-breaker activity delivered in the morning in which we had participated, involving the question 'What is your favourite food?' followed by the response 'Chips and beer,' and the glance between myself and a colleague which shared an unspoken agreement that this seemed a fine suggestion.
max's eyes

Cola Festival 2016...

This was a disappointing Cola Festival from the majors. Pepsi released their weird emoticon packaging earlier in the year, and - as far as I could tell - didn't release anything in this lead up to the Australian summer. Coca-Cola seemed to have forgotten a local summer release in the fanfare of their Olympics promotion, though their golden 1970s inspired promotional packaging was sensational. Just when I thought Coke had neglected to acknowledge the Cola Festival at all, they dropped the news that they were selling off pieces of their original King's Cross billboard in a charity auction. Awesome!

This season I exhibited a range of organic colas, with the results below:

Daylesford and Hepburn Springs Organic Cola:


This organic cola presented as a very dark black, and though it at first appeared to be as typically flat as organic cola tends to be, it was actually very fizzy once opened. The taste was surprising, particularly given the 'Organic' label. The cola had a strong, almost chemical flavour, cut with something a little lemony. I typically like strong flavours, but there wasn't much with this cola that would have me returning. I couldn't think of anything it would mix with, and the taste was just too alien to enjoy.

New Zealand Phoenix Organic Cola:


Beneath an embossed bottle is a rusty-coloured liquid, textured with what looks like tea leaves. The flavour is exactly as strong as one would want it to be, with suggestions of honey present. Whatever is floating inside is thankfully undetectable by taste, perhaps masked by a carbonation greater than that usually present in drinks listed as 'Organic.' Whilst the previous organic sample had been disappointingly bizarre in flavour, the mild taste of Phoenix is refreshing. Though not exactly what I would reach for when I crave cola, it is a taste I enjoyed.

Boylan Cane Cola


According to the embossing on the glass bottle, Boylan have been manufacturing cola 'Since 1891,' although this was the first I'd tasted it. I was immediately impressed by the light yet conspicuous carbonation. It had a not-too sweet taste, but was incredibly smooth to drink. I suspect that it would probably mix well, particularly with an older whiskey. After the rest of the colas of this festival, this was an impressive treat and the pick of the showcase.

Wild Cherry Pepsi


The international spotlight was on Wild Cherry Pepsi. It was a variety that was available in Australia in the early 1990s, but didn't last long, disappearing from shelves before Dr Pepper sadly followed suit. I haven't tried the product in years, but remember it fondly. So I was a little disappointed when I found that the cola - at least in its present, US-imported incarnation - was underwhelming. The cherry flavour is weak, particularly when compared with Cherry Coke (or, indeed, adding some Elixir to regular Pepsi.) I don't know if I am looking back with rose-tinted glasses upon the local release of the '90s, or if the formula has been dramatically altered, but this was a very disappointing selection. Luckily, I picked up some Cherry Coke while I was shopping for the international selection.

Moss Creek Moonshine Corn Whiskey with Cola


The alcoholic cola premix selection was also disappointing. At only $11 for a pack of four cans, Moss Creek Moonshine and Cola was justifiably reduced to clear, though seemed like a good deal while I was at the store. I was let down after excitedly opening the can to find the contents almost undrinkable - a weird chemical flavour that tasted like no kind of whiskey I've sampled (and I've sampled a few.) I tried my hardest to find something to enjoy about the drink, but in the end I painstakingly finished one can with the help of family and friends, and was left with the three remaining cans, and wondering if there is some kind of charity where I can leave contributions for poor alcoholics.
max's eyes

Casino Heist...

The charity fiasco finally over, I made tracks into the heart of the city. I'd proposed an unprecendented team activity, and it was surprisingly wildly anticipated. This was back when my only schedule for the day had been taking charity phone calls from 6am until 10am, so making a 7.45pm booking did not seem a problem. At it happened, I made it to the booking, but only after briskly walking, and with my pockets still filled with training room supplies.

I headed into the basement bar and promptly ordered a whiskey and announced my arrival to the staff. I fell into a chair near where a bartender was assembling a game of massive Jenga. I tasted my drink - they'd served me rum by mistake - and sent an SMS to the team, Rendezvous at the downstairs bar..

The team arrived individually from their day's work and collected drinks. At our table in the bar, Angela idly placed Connect 4 pieces into the rack as Bryce recommended a strategy.

'Once we get in,' he started. 'Be aware that everything could mean something. Pay attention to everything. Everything could be a clue.' He flipped over a spare coaster from the table. It was an advertisment for the escape room experience I'd booked for us. '"The cards are stacked against you..."' he read. 'That could be a clue already. Once we go in, be on the lookout for cards.'

'And stacks,' someone else offered. When I'd made the suggestion to try an escape room, we'd browsed the scenarios online, and without much argument had decided upon a casino heist scenario. The host (an animated member of the bar staff) introduced himself to us at our table, and invited us to finish our drinks and meet him behind the bowling alleys (the venue's cheif business.) There, the host challenged 'So, you think you're the next Ocean's Eleven, huh?'

'I'll be Julia Roberts, then,' Kate said.

'I wanna be Brad Pitt,' Angela raised her hand, then looked to Bryce. 'And you can be Clooney.'

'Ah,' Paulo groaned. 'Does this mean I have to be Matt Damon?'

The team and bartender looked at me. 'Can I go old-school and be Sammy Davis Jr.?'

The host didn't disagree, but gave us a large iPad. He told us that he would soon take us to a route that could lead us to the casino's vault, but once there, the iPad would start a countdown. 'After 50 minutes, if you haven't managed to crack the safe and get out of there, the cops will arrive, and then it's all over.'

He explained that we might find barcodes which could be scanned into the iPad for clues, at the cost of a time penalty. The host lead us to a wall plastered with Polaroids, with three positioned prominently as the top-three times: a photo labelled as 'The Filo Queens' showed us a group of smiling young women who had apparently pulled off a successful heist in 19 minutes. Finally, he handed us an early 2000s era mobile phone, breaking character to tell us that we could hit the call button to contact him to forfeit the challenge and be released from the room in case of emergency. I was handed this responsibility due to my alleged penchant for antiquated tech.

We were blindfolded - it would be inappropriate to be allowed to know the route to the vault - and marched conga-style through an unknown route as the host wound us tales of the exotic casino target's splendour. The sounds of the bowling alley were eventually replaced with those of slot machines and falling coins.

'Now it's up to you,' said the host, and we heard a heavy door close. We removed the blindfolds as we'd been instructed, and found ourselves in a very small, blank room, kind of like a service elevator's loading zone, with two doors: one that we'd entered through. Under my arm, the clock on the iPad had started counting down. We burst through the other door into a private gaming lounge. A slot machine was spinning in one corner, with a Blackjack table on one side of the room, and a couple of other table games. Kate quickly identified the only other door in the room, locked with a combination lock.

We split apart naturally, each taking a different game or menu in the room to analyse. I took to the slot machine, and quickly noticed a consistant pattern to the winning spins, but had also noticed a suspicious looking score card above the Blackjack table that seemed significant. We called different numbers we'd deduced over to Kate, who tried them on the code, and the heavy door fell open. I felt proud of our performance in that first room.

We stumbled into an intimate lounge area. At the bar, six cocktail shakers were lined up, each emblazoned with the name of a top-shelf spirit, along with other tools of the bartending trade. There was a cocktail menu, and behind them all, a small safe, locked with a combination lock. A close look at the lock revealed it to have letters rather than numbers for the combination. On the opposite side of the lounge was a roulette table, also with a safe atop it, this one with a more traditional, numbered combination lock. Next to this was a table set for two, with a cryptic advertising poster above it, showing a list of precious stones. There was another door, this one locked with a key.

Kate, Angela and I tried to find some direction at the bar, while Bryce warned Paulo not to remove any of the chips from the roulette table lest they have been strategically positioned. Kate discovered numbered gaming chips inside each of the cocktail shakers, which we guessed could provide a clue to the roulette table's safe, but we couldn't figure out the order. I suggested that perhaps the chart with the stones was significant - 'Sapphire' could refer to the gin cocktail, for example - and we started trying to compare ingredients used in the cocktails listed on the menu, but couldn't come up with anything. Angela headed to the roulette table, where the others seemed to be just as stumped, though Paulo had found one of the barcodes - providing access to clues via the iPad - on the coaster underneath one of the drinks at the table. As time ticked down, Bryce's voice took on a tone of seriousness as he suggested that perhaps we should consider taking a time penalty in exchange for a clue. None of us wanted to, but we were stumped. Before we scanned the clue, Paulo flipped the other coaster on the table to find a note beneath it. 'Have you found the Roulette score cards?'

Bryce seemed changed, as he frantically scanned the room for score cards. With no sign of anything like that, he became more creative than any of us had dared to be so far, knocking on walls. He eventually found a false panel in a wall, and broke it down to find hidden score cards. Suddenly, the tide seemed to have turned, and activity flourished at the roulette table. Angela announced that she thought she had a letter for the first combination. I grabbed my notebook from my bag, and started noting down the letters as the rest of the team called them. I needed to figure out the order, and quickly realised the letters could be rearranged to spell a word. I tried the word, and opened the lock, and found a key inside the safe, along with a drinks order. I tossed the key to Kate, and she used it in the lock on the door. Rather than opening the door, a compartment built into the door fell open, revealing another keypad. I don't remember how we did it, but the drink order ruled out some of the cocktails, and gave us numbers to try on the other table's safe. Inside, we found the code for the door.

Spilling into the other room, we were immediately overwhelmed by flashing red light and the sound of an alarm. Looking down, we'd carelessly stumbled across a line on the floor reading 'Alarm will activate past this line.' Luckily, a kind of cypher appeared on the wall, and Angela and Kate took to cracking it. The walls of this room were lined with safe deposit boxes, and the door was a vault door. When we'd deactivated the alarm, we could cross to the vault door, and figured out the code to open it. Inside was a glass safe, filled with cash and jewels, and the final exit door. I found an envelope carelessly hidden behind the safe. On it was a handwritten note. Something about clubs. Bryce and Paulo discussed which card games focused on the suit of clubs, and I felt useless, since the only card game I can play well is Uno. Since the inside of the vault was otherwise bare, we backtracked. Paulo called out that he'd found something.

Back in the first room, the gaming lounge, he'd noticed that the cards on one of the tables had been left with hands heavy with clubs. I noted the numbers in my notebook and ran them back to Angela. She spun the numbers into the safe's combination lock, and we cheered when it swung open. We sorted through the gems and wads of cash for a clue to opening the door, and quickly realised there were numbers on the stones inside. In unison, we remembered the chart in the roulette room with the precious stones, and darted back to take note of the order. We relayed the numbers from there to a team member in the final room, who pressed the numbers from the appropriate stones into the door, and it unlocked. We were back in the bowling alley.



We checked our time against the Polaroids on the wall. We hadn't beaten the Filo Queens, but did come in at second place. And held the sign the wrong way around for our own photo.
  • Current Music
    Breakfast In Korea - Pluto Jonze
max's eyes

Cataract charity...

Terror, like charity, begins at home.
- The Whitlams - You Sound Like Louis Burdett

Several years ago, I was happy with my life. It was simple, but I quite liked it. I was glad to celebrate my birthday at bars on King Street with colleagues I considered friends. Now those colleagues are gone - as are their desks - and the bar has become a strip joint. Perhaps in an effort to regain the simpler times of call centre work, I agreed to participate in a charitable endeavour - taking calls collecting money as a part of a radiothon.

I'd been looking forward to a simple day of talking on the phone, but at the last moment, I noticed my name removed from the list of participants, and I was advised that rather than taking phone calls, I would be required to train staff for the role - exactly what I had hoped to avoid. So yesterday I attended a session with representatives from the charity in question.

The charity is discretely Christian on paper, and devotes most of the money they collect to financing surgeries to remove cataracts from the eyes of the poor the world over. The initial meeting with their representatives was overpopulated - they seemed to have sent not less than seven people to discuss the project for only an hour. The system to be used was a simple one to train, and the information provided on the organisation answered sufficiently to be deemed thorough without overlong. The scripting provided raised other concerns, making several references to God, most prominently concluding a donation transaction with the phrase, 'God bless you for your generosity.'

The team went through their intended session with the first group of volunteers, and, unsurprisingly, a question was asked of the 'Title' field. As well as the usual 'Mr.,' 'Mrs.,' 'Ms.,' and the like, there was also an option for 'Mr. & Mrs.' As if on cue, a participant asked, 'What if the couple aren't a Mr. and Mrs.?'

The facilitator agreed enthusiastically, noting that 'Some couples actually are something other than just "Mr. and Mrs." Sometimes you'll see couples who are known as "Doctor and Mrs.," "The Reverend and Mrs.," or "Seargent and Mrs.," and so on...'

She demonstrated how one could replace the stock 'Mr. and Mrs.' option with alternative couples, such as those listed. A further question arose, beyond the one I was thinking of about women with positions earning titles other than Mrs., of how one would proceed with a couple made up of a configuration other than man and woman. The facilitator didn't seem to understand. I vowed to address to inevitable question during my own session in a different fashion.

The question had not been fully addressed, but moved on from, when the 'God bless you...' scripting was raised. A couple of people raised that they weren't completely comfortable with this, which the facilitator acknowledged that she could understand this view. 'But just give it a try,' she stated. 'As you can see here,' she indicated the screen showing her presentation. 'It is listed as scripting, so you should read it as is, regardless of your view.'

I didn't think that forcing the quoting of that exact phrase was neccesary or grateful for the organisation, though did not vocally disagree, noting once again, that my training session would not focus on this slide (and, when it happened, I showed the slide in the presentation for mere seconds, without actually making mention of it.)

When it came to actually taking the calls, the day had been broken up into two batches. There was expected to be a morning rush, from 6am to 10am, when the company would be helping the charity, and another from 2pm to 8pm. Hilarity had ensued when the company requested volunteers for the two periods, and less people than anticipated (i.e., promised to the charity by the company) agreed to participate. I enjoyed watching the frantic scramble to employ temporary staff to take these calls for the evening session.

In the morning, it was, in fact, very busy. The calls came without break, and those taking calls - I managed to sneak onto the phones for a while as people needed breaks from the incessant demand - were surprised at the generosity of radio listeners. The same demand had been suggested for the evening shift, so, as well as the temporary staff who I would train in the hour before they started at 2pm, a further call was put to this company's staff to volunteer, and a few did, even returning from the 6am start to put in an extra-long shift that surely breaches workplace health and safety conventions.

After all of the needless panic in the lead up to the afternoon calls, I was delighted to witness a stark contrast to the peak of the morning's calls. It was several hours before any calls came to the temporary staff at all. When they did, there was a brief rush (evidently stemming from an announcement on air on the radio station) where they took donations and then... back to nothing. With people become restless, I prepared some of the activities used as state-change exercises in training to keep them occupied. Before long, though, a colleague who had also agreed to be involved, and who was liasing with the charity client, decided that enough was enough. He contacted a representative from the charity to propose ending the day due to lack of interest.

All the while, the organiser of the endeavour from this company was conspicuously absent, though was seen by me to be touting the exercise as an enormous success amongst various company executives.
  • Current Music
    Tigerlily - La Roux
max's eyes

Return...

I was tired, but I had a long way to go still. Rather than carry everything onto the set of the movie I'd worked on I'd thought it best to leave my luggage at the hotel in the morning when I checked out. I'd met another zombie-extra staying at the same hotel as we followed her smart phone directions across a park (and, interestingly, a cemetary) to the railyard. Ten hours later, I cut back across the park alone, this time still made up as a zombie, though I thought I had probably managed to remove all of the fake blood. To avoid incident, I tried to bypass the general public on my trek across the park and through the streets back to the hotel. I'd disposed of my bloody shirt and put on my emergency hoodie, attempting to cover my face with the hood.

When I got to the hotel, I could see a pair of women at reception, checking in, it seemed. I decided to hold back until they were finished to approach the front desk. Luckily it appeared to be the same attendant I'd met the evening prior, to whom I had explained that I was appearing in a film in town. I feigned a deep interest in the options available in the vending machine outside the reception office until the women opened the door, when I'd intended to pass by unnoticed. Unfortunately that plan was cast into turmoil when their luggage wheels caught on the step. As I reached down to assist one of the women with her case, I noticed just how boldly the blackened veins appeared through my grey-green skin. The woman had the decency not to comment, though, other than to thank me for the assistance with the luggage.

Likewise, inside the reception office, the attendant at the front desk did not make reference to my appearance, thought she did appear to recognise me, and to be taken aback. Before I'd finished explaining that I was here to collect my bag that I'd left, she had rushed to bring it to me. I asked if there was a bathroom that I could use to remove the make up, and she directed me upstairs.

Once locked inside, I glanced at the mirror, but not for long. The illness that had been swelling within me since the lunch queue became overwhelming, and I lurched towards the toilet to vomit. I tried to be quick - I figured it might take a while to remove the make up and didn't want to attract further suspision from the front desk attendant.

Once I was finished, I flipped back my hood in front of the mirror, and saw that, despite my earlier efforts, there was still blood spattered on my face, particularly around my neck. I ripped off some toilet paper and was able to wet it to remove most of the blood. I likewise replaced my bloody jeans with a clean pair. My reflection in the mirror still had a deep gash on my right cheek and, though it looked cleaner than it had when I arrived, was still conspicuous. I was able to slowly rip the latex of this off, and also scratch away the bulbous pustules that are apparently the trademark of the film's zombies, though they left rings of my skintone showing their former presence. I tried to wash away the graze on my forhead, but it wasn't washing off, so I dampened some more paper to try to wash away the artificial green tint given to my skin, but it was no use. I gave up, put on my other shoes, and stowed the bloody shoes and socks in a bag. I quickly threw up again, before covering as much of my face as I could with the hood and leaving the hotel.

Thankfully darkness was falling as I started walking towards the station. I kept my head down as I passed by locals taking evening walks. At the station, I didn't have to wait long, but would have to change trains a couple of times before home. There had been another zombie-extra who had mentioned that he was taking the train in the same direction as me. I'd considered suggesting travelling together, but thought this would be inconvenient for him, since he'd have had to make the stop at the hotel too, or organise to rendezvous elsewhere. It wasn't long before the first train pulled up, and I climbed into an empty carriage. This train would only take me two stops though. When I changed stations, the second train was also quite empty, and I took a set at the rear of the carriage, facing away from other passengers. I saw my reflection in the window, and thought I looked ill.

After only a couple of stops, a man sat opposite me and put his feet onto the seat. I noticed he was looking at me, grinning, and met his gaze.

'How's it going?' he said, smiling deviously.

'I'm okay,' I replied. 'Thanks.'

'Are you meant to be a zombie?' he asked. 'Have you been at that zombie thing?'

I told him that I had been at the zombie thing, and he then asked 'What zombie thing?' and I explained that there had been a movie in production.

'I'm glad you are a zombie,' he said. 'When I got on and saw you I thought, "Fuck, it's some fuckin' street kid whose gonna hassle me the whole way!" But I'm glad it's just you.'

'Right...' I replied, hoping the conversation would be over soon. We sat in silence for a while, before the man tried to reignite our conversation.

'Could I have a cigarette?' he asked.

'I don't smoke.'

'Then could you give me ten or twenty bucks?'

'I don't have any money.'

We were close to the city, where I would change trains again, which was lucky, because I felt like I needed to vomit again. At Flinders Street I didn't have to wait too long for my final train to arrive, and managed to stick to the shadows. This was the most crowded of the trains, and it sat at the station for a while before it departed. A couple sat next to me, but moved away after a short time. Perhaps there are benefits to looking like decay. I was also feeling like it though. I could feel myself starting to sweat from trying to stave off vomiting. When I arrived at my home station, I noticed the Public Safety Officers looking sternly at me and recalled scenes of uniformed officers in combat with zombies during the filming. Oddly, a steam train rushed noisily past, going back to the railyard I'd just been filming at.
  • Current Music
    Come On Mess Me Up - Cub Sport
rion psychic

Painted Freak...

'These zombies are fast, and they're angry. These are not the shuffling, slow, Romero-style zombies. Those just aren't scary.'

I disagreed with the director's comment. When visiting the cemetary, the first zombie seen by Barbara and Johnnie in Night Of The Living Dead is made fun of, allowing him to creep up by surprise. Later, horders could be underestimated by viewers, until they surround the house, overwhelming it completely. It is terrifying in much the same way as Godzilla looming over Odo Island. But I didn't argue. It's his movie, not mine.

The statement was made as a part of a briefing during 'Zombie Training,' the precursor to fulfilling a New Year's resolution of several years ago. That resolution was actually a very specific goal that I have worked towards spasmodically since viewing a scene in a Transformers sequel several years ago, the goal to become a prominently featured extra in a feature film. Upon starting the quest, I also determined that roles such as 'corpse,' 'explosion victim,' and 'zombie' appeal to me. So when I saw a broad call out for extras in Werribee's local paper on my last visit, I immediately acted.

The extras, it was revealled through the seemingly demanding application process, would be ranked into their tiers, and the fact of my invitation to this session seemed to suggest that my application had impressed enough to see me into one of those higher tiers. The 'rehearsal' was actually just an overview of the film's plot, a gentle request for further funding, and running and falling practice - perhaps designed to weed out those who are enthusiastic, but physically ill-prepared for the role.

I was given a five.am call for the following weekend in a location kept secret until a couple of days before. Once disclosed - a vintage railyard - I booked accomodation nearby. I was vaguely annoyed when the call time was delayed until eight o'clock, as I could have saved the expense of the hotel and travelled there early in the morning, but not too much. I arrived that morning to be ushered eventually in groups of 15 from a mass of around 500 extras. In those smaller groups, we queued for a long time, guided by officials who revealled themselves to be extras from the filming the day before who had been so impressed that they'd offered more of their time. We were broken into tiers based upon a number of factors - if we had attended the previous weekend's training, physical ability, and knowledge of languages other than English. This decided it - I had made it to the tier one stage, and closer to the goal of being prominently featured but uncredited.

We were given numbered, colour-coded tickets, which we were told would be presented to the make up staff to identify which extremity of make up to apply. We waited in a less organised queue, and I started talking to a guy named Jeff, also designated the role of 'Tier 1 Zombie.' Together, we checked out the catering tent, which at this stage was only serving biscuits and bottles of weird juices. I took one of each, and the staff apologised for the lack of coffee, apparently the result of the outdoor setting not allowing electricity, and promised that some would be available once we headed into the railsheds to have make up applied. The juice, I discovered, was beetroot and celery flavour, which might have made a nice soup, but was not as successful in juice format.

After some more waiting, Jeff and I were called into the shed, home to vintage steamtrain carriages. We followed the tracks in the long, darkened shed to the end of a train, where the first of an elaborate team of make up artists started working on us, first on our hands. A second artist further shaded our hands. We were then taken to a row of seats, where we had ever more elaborate facial make up applied. There were no mirrors, but I could see the progress of Jeff and the other casts' make up to get an idea of how each stage progressed my own. One of the make up artists, who appeared to be in charge, at one point dragged a guy who looked convincingly zombie-like back through the action of artists, asking him to identify the artist responsible for each stage of his make up. He seemed uncommitted to any response.

'Was it you?' the leader asked of one of the artists close to where I was having diseased veins painted into my skin. I didn't hear the response, but the outcome saw the leader raise her voice and call over all of the artists. 'Alright, girls,' she called. 'All of you, leave what you are doing. Get over here now. I want to show you how not to do face make up!'

'See this?' The leader pushed the subject's hair back at his forehead. Right at the base of his hairline, his natural skintone could be barely seen. 'What if his hair goes back when he is running on set? Everyone can see that! This is no zombie. This is just... a painted freak!' The actor looked sheepish beneath the elborate, if apparently inadequate make up.

After the interruption, those midway through the make up process were left in their seats whilst touch ups were done to others later in the process. I asked for some direction, and the artist looked at my face, telling me I looked done, and directing me further down the line. There, I reconvened with Jeff, who was gritting his teeth, now stained with make up. Through clench teeth he asked 'Is it dry yet?' I asked the tooth make up artist on his behalf, who told us the effect takes only ten seconds to dry. It was my turn next, and I quickly moved to the hair and finally dirt booth, before moving out of the rail shed into the warmth of the winter sun. It had been frightfully cold inside the shed.



Just outside, the final stage of make up was more artists applying a spatter of blood. Once again, we were left to await direction. I've worked on sets before. I know the drill. In the down time, I decided to venture back to the catering tent before we were called to shoot. I had spent over three hours having the make up applied, but the catering stand told me to return later - they said food would be served shortly. Meanwhile, a few extras cast as soldiers and refugees were called away for filming. Extras now made up as zombies were asked to pose for publicity photographs, but since the photographers were using smart phones, it seemed to be more an exercise in promoting the bulk of the cast as useful rather than as an actual productive exercise. I'd brought my copy of Trainspotting and my Gameboy, but we'd been asked to leave our belongings inside the rail shed. So I checked out the rail yard.

After a few more hours, it was announced that lunch was being served, and a line instantly formed behind a barbeque that had been set up in the catering tent. I joined, and predicted a lengthy wait. I hadn't moved at all when the line was halted by the same voice which had been calling 'painted freak!' earlier. 'Would you please hold off for a minute? My girls haven't eaten all morning!'

The queue was held back while the make up artists took their well-deserved lunch. Meanwhile, a crew member paced the queue, calling for and pulling aside Tier 1 zombies. We were led away from the catering queue around the corner to the set. It was an impressive location. A stone archway between two tall, vintage workshops divided two sets or train tracks laid into rough cobblestone roads. On the rail sidings of one set of tracks stood two diesel train engines. For the purposes of the film, a chain-link fence had been erected beyond the engines, serving as the checkpoint for a quarantine area.

We were given further directions, and asked to wait for further make up once the artists had finished their lunch. We were instructed on how the scene would pan out, and told to draw upon our inner anger. 'When I'm hungry, I get angry, so it shouldn't be hard,' commented a woman in the crowd scene. 'Maybe that was the plan all along,' commented another extra. 'Starve us until we're really ravenous zombies.'</i>

When the make up artists arrived, they came carrying a couple of buckets of blood each. They arranged the extras in rows of ten, and ordered our eyes closed. They flung blood on us, and we started to film the scene - a horde of zombies chasing soldiers ushering children through to the quarantine area as it struggles to keep the infected outside. Although the shooting confirmed that this probably won't be the kind of zombie film I liked to watch, it does seem like an exciting scene. My favourite part involved the application of 'mouth blood' by the make up artists, for the front runners to spew as they surged towards the blockade.

The scene was run throguh several times, with a few shots utilising a drone flying overhead through the arch. I pictured sweeping shots of the desperate, mindless horde below, which would look impressive with the three tiers pushing through. It didn't last long before the drone crashed, to a sigh of disappointment from the horde. We were also asked to film various detail shots to intersperse from within the chase sequence. I would have preferred to feature as the director's non-scary zombie, but I did enjoy this role.

It wasn't long before someone - a vocal producer I'd met at the rehearsal, perhaps - called that it was a wrap, to applause through the rail yard. By this time, I was eager to leave. I started to head out, but was caught first as someone I'd not seen all day was asking once more to take photographs. Someone during this called for three cheers for the crew, but I felt bitter and starved, so did not participate - though by 'crew,' I guessed they were referring specifically to film crew, and not administrative and organisational, who did seem to perform admirably. Another round of applause was also called for the expansive team of make up artists, which I did join in on enthusiastically. I'd been impressed with their efficiency and also working under a forceful manager.

At the rehearsal, we'd been promised provisions for removal of the make up, but I found this to be limited to a few WetOnes, which didn't remove much. There was no mirror in the bathroom, but I felt around and it seemed like most of the blood, at least, was gone from my face and neck.
  • Current Music
    Come Back To Me - The Superjesus