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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Where I Usually Turn Left.

MULDER: Do you remember the first time you foresaw someone's death?
What happened in 1959?

Buddy Holly's plane crashed.

You prognosticated Buddy Holly's death?

Oh, God, no. Why would I want to do that? But I did have a ticket to see him perform the next night. Actually, I was a bigger fan of the Big Bopper than Buddy Holly. "Chantilly Lace," that was the song.

I'm not following.

There's... the Big Bopper was not supposed to be on the plane with Buddy Holly. He won the seat from somebody else by flipping a coin for it.

I'm still not following.

Imagine all the things that had to occur, not only in his life, but in everybody else's, to arrange it so on that particular night, the Big Bopper would be in a position to live or die depending on a flipping coin. I became so obsessed with that idea that I gradually became capable of seeing the specifics of everybody's death.

Well, Mister Bruckman, I'm not one who readily believes in that kind of thing and if I was, I still wouldn't believe that story.

I know it sounds crazy, but I swear it's true. I was a bigger fan of the Big Bopper than Buddy Holly.


This is my account of the morning of June 29th, 2010. In my humble opinion, it was not just a matter of chance.

As previously mentioned, I do not have my drivers’ license yet but am in the process of acquiring it. I need the practice where and when I can.

On Monday night, I approached my mother about getting in some driving time in the morning, while she and her car had the day off from work.

“Get up early and we’ll go out. Your father and I have to be out of the house to go to Sandgate at 11:30” she said.

Sounds fine. I accepted the offer. I’ll get up early and go for a drive. My plan for the morning was to get up, sneak in a screening of the Aussie crime flick Animal Kingdom before work, then, you know, work.

Tuesday morning, I sleep in.

I quickly got up, showered, shaved, dressed, ready to go to work. Bugger food, I’ll get a big lunch before work, bugger the movie. Dammit. I wanted to see Animal Kingdom.

I ask Mum if I could compromise on the practice - could I drive the 10 minutes to my work with her riding shotgun, then she could drive home and pick Dad up on the way to Sandgate?

“That’s fine”, she said.We’ll go at 11:20.”

There’s one more thing though, Mum.

“What’s that?”

I have a movie to drop back at the video shop that’s due back today.

“Not a worry. We’ll pull in on the way.”

To get from Mum’s place to the video shop then to work is a simple case of a few turns. Down one long road that leads to a T-junction, right at the T-junction then left onto the main road. In the past when I drive to work, to avoid traffic, I will normally turn left at that T-junction and take the backstreets.

Today I have to turn right.

Consistent with my mother’s typical non-adherence to punctuality, we get out to the car at 11:30.

At 11:30, I discover that the magnetic L-plates I use are not under the seat where I normally keep them.

We spend 2 minutes tossing the car, opening all the doors to find them, are they in the boot, are they in the glove box. We find them on the backseat, overturned and camouflaged against the dark fabric of the seat.

At 11:33, the yellow magnets are appropriately and legally affixed, we’re ready to go. I insert the key into the ignition, and it doesn’t turn. It’s stuck.

“Push it in and turn it.”
I am, I am pushing it in.
“You mustn’t be. Easy, easy. Go easy, you’ll break it.

We swap positions and she sees I’m not kidding. The key won’t turn. I go back inside and get the other key to see if that will work. It doesn’t. Mum is baffled but not panicking. I posit the theory the car has locked down because someone has attempted to break into it. She reaches into the glove box for the instruction manual. She flicks through the book, through “keys” & “locking”. She finds the page headed “ignition”. We work out it’s a problem with the alignment of the tires – if the wheel & tires aren’t straight when you go to start the ignition, it won’t start. We adjust the wheel as we turn the key and it starts.

“Well, we learn something new every day.

Upon recounting this story to people later in the day, they tell me it’s not uncommon. But to mum and me, this is total news.

It’s 11:41 when we finally leave the driveway.

I drive down the long road, pull up to the T-junction where I am to turn right. Mum and Dad have commented that I don’t ease up to lights, that I brake too hard. She reminds me of this one as I pull up to the lights at the T, right indicator flick-flick-flicking.

We’re the only car at the lights.

On the corner to the right, there’s a man standing. We can see him in the corner of our eyes.

At that moment, he drops to the pavement with a THUD and a SMACK and lays still.

Oh my god.

The light goes green. I turn right. But instead of continuing on to the main road, I quickly pull into the car park of the local vet. We jump out and run across the road.

He’s lying on his back. He has a short clipped haircut and fiery tattoo down his arm. He looks like he’s stumbled out of the nearby caravan park that's ironically named 'Alpha' Accommodation. I check him for a pulse. He’s still breathing. I call triple 0.

At some point, his eyes snap open, he gulps in air, sits bolt upright like he’s been shocked with something, says he’s aww-rye. No, you’re not mate, you need to lie down, you’ve had a fall. He sits up, then after moments of lucid mumbling, starts tipping over again. The emergency phone lady asks me if he has a history of heart problems. I don’t know.

Finally some cars pass by. Many cars pass by. One turns the corner and drives by. The next one turns the corner and parks. A larger man gets out and helps. The triple 0 lady tells us to keep him lying down on his side, but we can’t convince him to. Instead, he stands up. The larger man helps him up but holds him, propping him there. It looks darkly comical, like Weekend at Junkies. He identifies that he’s probably taken something. The man with the tattoo admits in a slur hair-oh-in and the larger man says we can’t lie him down. I say this to the triple 0 lady and I think she agrees. She tells me to keep the “lady” away from him in case he turns violent.

Eventually the ambulance comes blaring up the road we would have turned into. They pull up; the paramedics take to him, ask us questions and say thanks for our help. Mum and I thank the man for stopping to help when others wouldn’t. He thanks us for the same. The man with the tattoo seems to be okay, now they’re there.

As we walk back to the car, a police car pulls up. The cops get out and assist the paramedics. But mum and I are already in the car.

We continue on to the video shop then work.

It was now past 12.


Mum and I discussed it in the car - the number of coincidences, the delays, the reasons unbeknownst to us behind little moments and decisions that led to us being at that intersection turning right at that particular moment. If we had been turning left, we wouldn’t have been able to help as there was nowhere for us to pull over on that side of the road. If that freak moment of (to us) a rare car malfunction had happened. If I hadn’t slept in. If for some reason the L-plates stayed where I had left them.

Mum said it was “divine intervention”. Feel free to imagine my mother and me paraphrasing the final third of Pulp Fiction, sans Marvin in the car. I wouldn’t take Jules’ position but I wouldn’t take Vincent’s either - I don’t know about divine, but it certainly felt to me that there was a purpose to it all. Maybe it's my post-Lost way of thinking about reason and purpose without having to put the name of a deity to it. It's my agnosticism rather than my parents' Catholicism.

Like I said at the start, taking Paul Thomas Anderson’s lines of verbal prose from Magnolia spoken in Ricky Jay’s deadpan, in the humble of opinion of this writer, this was not just a matter of chance.

Because here’s the kicker: after work, I decided to go to an evening screening of Animal Kingdom.

In the opening seconds of the film, paramedics rush to the rescue of a person suffering from a heroin overdose.

Oh no. These strange things happen all the time.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Today at work was very busy and frustrating. I didn't have the space or the misty wooded glen to punchdance out my rage, so I made some art on a square piece of pink paper.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Last Picture Show

Last Friday night, Dad and I went to the Regent. We had gone to the Regent together for 14 years, and this was the last time.

“It exists now only in my memory.”


In 1996, I still listened to the radio at night. Specifically, I still listened to B105. I went from Martin/Molloy in the afternoons into the Hot 30 with Stuey and Zoe, with that transitional hour between 6-7 to allow people to call in and vote. I listened to Stuey and Zoe, I voted in the countdown, got the password, tried to win the prize of the night. I don’t want to take sole credit for the amount of airplay TLC’s Waterfalls and Coolio’s Gangstas Paradise got on Brisbane radio in the mid-90’s but *shrug* please, sit down.

One night they had some random call-in competition which I tried to get into with valiance. I used the phone in Mum and Dad’s room which had a redial button (THE FUTURE… although it did have a cord). Lo and behold, for once, I wasn’t met with an engaged tone and I got through to the studio! I gave my silly answer to whatever the silly question was. They laughed. They said I’d won a double pass to the PREMIERE of a new movie at the Regent called… HACKERS.

I remember being so overwhelmed by this prospect.
Going to a movie premiere.
Of Hackers!
Fancy shit!
Will I be in the paper?
What should I wear??

… the screening itself was not the fantasy affair of movie premieres that were in my mind. This was before the internet and before I could comprehend the possibility that a particular movie had premiered elsewhere before.

I remember elements of the Hackers screening… I remember being disappointed that it wasn’t a huge premiere. People were quite casually dressed. Like they were – you know – just going to the movies. This was when I learned the difference between a “preview” and a “premiere”. I remember it was in the really pretty theatre (the Showcase). I remember a trailer for a movie called Mallrats which starred Brenda from 90210 and a man sticking his hand up his butt then shaking another man’s hand. I remember the music at the start of the movie was also in Mortal Kombat, I remember the villain was in the Super Mario Bros. movie and I remember seeing my first breast on a movie screen – all things that were crucially important to a 13-year-old boy in 1996.

That screening of Hackers was the first in a semi-ritual pattern for me and Dad on a Monday or Wednesday night that would continue regularly throughout high school - the years in which I showed freakishly good luck at obtaining preview tickets to the Regent from competitions.
  • I would get home from school, quickly have a shower and change clothes.
  • Mum would drive me to the bus stop. When she got home, she would let Dad know at work which bus I was on.
  • He would intercept it at a stop close to his work.
  • We would travel in to the Regent together.
  • Before the movie, we would descend into the basement McDonald’s which would extend through to Elizabeth St. and get a six pack of nuggets or a Filet O’ Fish meal for dinner. We would look at the businessmen and women getting a quick post-work snack and try and guess whether anyone else was heading upstairs in the next fifteen minutes or so to see the same movie we were.
  • See the movie.
  • Go home.

Dad and I saw Titanic on January 1st, 1998. I remember the date specifically because of a full page (broadsheet, remember those?) ad that stuck in my memory. It urged people to see it on New Year’s Day, and , if it was sold out at your local theatre, to consider seeing Alien: Resurrection instead. Alien: Resurrection was another Fox release but, as we all know, it did not do the business of Titanic.

It was, up until that point, the longest movie I had ever seen. As soon as the Celine Dion song started playing over the credits, Dad closed his eyes and took it in. He had a love of Celine Dion’s music that was matched only by gay men who listened to 4BH. I couldn’t take it. I had to leave. My 14 year-old-bladder was busting from the strain of a medium Coke which had filtered through my system while I watched 90 minutes of rushing water. Celine Dion’s voice and that song was the breaking point. Dad ribbed me on the way home about not staying till the end, about not appreciating the full movie. I needed to take in the whole movie experience. This is why I usually stay until the very end credits of most movies now.

Titanic ruled my life for a good few months after I saw it – I named my first email account after it, I memorized the CD which I bought from Big W at Stafford, and as if I wasn’t satisfied with the heavily synthesized score as it was, I scoured the internet for MIDI files on a flimsy dialup internet connection.

“Are you ready to go back to Titanic?”

It was appropriate that Dad and I saw Titanic as our last movie at the Regent together. This was appropriate for several reasons. One, it was a big movie that we hadn’t seen since its theatrical release. Two, it was one of the movies we saw together – just him and me – during that era. Three, if we were going to see one last film at the Regent, it was sad and bittersweet that the last film we saw was about the untimely destruction of such a grand and beautiful design.

Video by Natalie Bochenski @

Some of the other screenings from those years I remember – some with Dad, some with others…
  • Wild America (1997)Four teenage guys in a row, in a cinema full of screaming female JTT fans. Wild, indeed. What's a JTT, Beiberphiles? Think of a blonde JB with the same degree of popularity but without the singing and the undescended testicles.
  • A Simple Plan (1998)
    Dad and I still love this movie. He didn’t know who Sam Raimi was. I’d only just discovered the Evil Dead movies myself. But this was something else. We were both massive fans of Fargo which had only been released two years before (but Mum had only let me see a few months before) so we were right in the mood for this one.
  • The Thin Red Line (1998)
    We were often timing our exits from these screenings to match the last bus home. The Thin Red Line ran a LOT longer than we'd anticipated and it led to me being out in the city the latest I had been at that point in my life - particularly on a school night.
  • There’s Something About Mary (1998)
    I remember winning this ticket from NW – they’d been having a weekly competition where you ring up and enter and you’d earn points or something. Each week they gave away a ticket – I missed out on seeing Can’t Hardly Wait but still remember the 1900 number (1900 937 038) I memorized from the magazine rack in Bi-Lo so I wouldn’t have to buy it – and this week I won. I’d had no expectations about it. I’ve never seen Dad laugh so hard in my life as he did in the hair gel scene. That’s what I remember about There’s Something About Mary.
  • H20: Halloween (1998)
    Dad ribs me about this screening to this day. Part of the gimmick of this screening was that if you cut out a Michael Myers mask the Courier Mail had printed and wear it, you could win prizes. So I did. And it turns out, I won. I had to go up to the front of the cinema and collect my shiny new knives in a chopping block. He seemed nervous. I think it’s because we’d just seen Scream 2 which has that infamous opening with a cinema filled with masked people.
  • Man On The Moon (1999)
    Oh God. I'd forgotten about this.

    I loved the movie, but I remember the screening for a different reason. I had a huge crush on a girl at school that I was good friends with. It had been bugging me for months. I remember, with the outlandish hope that Catholic school tends to imbue within one, asking the forces that be – fine, God – to give me a reason or excuse to ask this girl out. I get home and discover I’ve won a pass to see Man On The Moon. Sweet. I asked her if she wanted to go with me and was politely turned down. I accepted it. I could have let the crush go on, but that was the moment of catharsis, the moment when I let go of it. I didn’t mean for it to. I just needed to hear the word ‘no’ from her, even if it was for something other than “I like you a lot, do you like me the same way?” We’re still friends today. I ended up going to see the movie with another friend who hated it and was begrudged for a long time that he was the “last resort”.
  • The Blair Witch Project (1999)
    The internet picked up momentum – in the conceptual popularity sense I mean, it was still slow as in ’99, the year we got dialup at our house. So I knew about Blair Witch well before and was VERY excited to see it. People at school knew I was going to see it before everyone else and I was actually popular for a whole hour. The final scene scarred me and I had difficulty turning corners for months - starting with turning into the men’s room after the movie finished.
  • Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000)
    Saw this movie twice at the Regent and loved it both times. This was used as part of a book of 10 comp tickets I’d scored and I had no hesitation of using two of them on the Tiger. I remember sharing a row with a fat dude who was one of those guys who had to have a verbal reaction to everything that happened on screen. WHOA. Hoho. Nice. I and two other people shot him looks. Mine he saw and promptly STFU.
  • The Dish (2000)
    Awesome screening. Jane Kennedy and Tom Long came to introduce the film and were a little late.
  • Almost Famous (2001)
    Was and is one of my favourite films. I was only one of four people in the cinema. I took my YouTube name after it.
  • Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
    For complicated reasons and an inability to find someone who was able to come at short notice, I ended up seeing this one by myself. Yep. A lone male. At Bridget Jones’ Diary. They gave out free Hagen Daas. I sat in the back row.
  • Life As A House (2002)
    Daddy-son weepie. Underrated. Shut up.
  • Fat Pizza (2003)
    I remember the screening for two reasons. 1) I’ve never walked out of a movie but this was the closest I’ve ever come – it was just terrible. 2) As part of the ‘premiere’ festivities, the distributor had organized some “fully sik” break dancing at the top of the Regent. They did it on a tarp which never seemed to stay still on the carpet, and they had to keep interrupting the dance to move it back. They also incorporated a blow up sex doll into the dance which they threw at me, expecting me to do something with it. I dropped it and walked away.
  • The Wannabes (2003)
    See Fat Pizza above re walking out. This was a close second. Nick Giannopoulos was at the premiere of this one.
  • Acolytes (2008)
    This was the premiere at BIFF of a locally made thriller, which happened to be written by my screenwriting tutor from uni. It was exciting to see the script he’d been talking about in class all those years ago come to fruition on the screen in front of a full and receptive audience.
  • Kick-Ass (2010)
    If it had not been for Titanic, this would have been the last movie I’d have seen in the Regent and I’d be satisfied with that. It had been a long time since I’d applauded a movie. I stood up and cheered. I had so much fun. And it was a full on security heavy screening with phones being checked in and a full audience (yet I don’t recall anyone actually checking my ticket).

When I think of the Regent closing, it’s these moments which I mourn I won’t be able to have again. The Regent is the last of my “childhood” cinemas around town to go; the last of the old movie house cinemas from my past to properly cave to the megaplexes and googolplexes and $20 3-D tickets. When the Aspley Twin Drive-In closed back in 2001, I was very depressed – more so because the last double feature I saw there was Batman and Robin and Vegas Vacation. The same happened prior to that with the sudden closure of the Gaythorne and the Crystal at Windsor, where I can still recall seeing Ace Ventura, Mortal Kombat, Sense and Sensibility and both of the Beethoven cinema releases. I skipped a Law Revue rehearsal one night to ensure I said goodbye to the Dawn at Chermside – where I saw my first movie - with a good movie with my family (and I did – Batman Begins).

It was important to me that Dad and I saw a movie together at the Regent before it closed, and I’m grateful that we did. I’m grateful that the Regent stayed open as long as it did and I’m grateful we had one last chance to be inside.

And this time around, I stayed. No. We stayed.

We stayed to the end.
And loved it all the more.


And now, at the end, a hideous Titanic soundtrack MIDI for you to hold your bladder through.