I’ve been thinking about the planned cuts to night classes.
As a consumer of Community Education, I learned how to use a computer and relevant software when my need was great because it was imperative as a writer, artist and communicator to get with the digital age or financially die. Being a freelancer meant there were no handy work place all- expenses-paid- whilst- you- get- paid kind of courses. Night classes made this essential world available to me.
I learned to type with more than two fingers at a night class. This was pretty useful in writing up my thesis and three novels. My education as a girl was focussed on Latin and French rather that the keyboard (Girls' School streaming into everyday uselessness) and a Pittman course was priced out of my self employed $50 professional development budget.
At Te Reo classes, learned my mihimihi and how to pronounce to names of books I illustrate, greet teachers and children in schools properly on my author vists and to say Morena on the Good Morning Show without fear of mangling vowels with my Pakeha tongue.
I taught life drawing one night a week and watched students gain confidence and joy in their ability to observe and document the human form when some thought they might never find a new skill and talent in their lives.
So I have sent Stop Night Class Cuts postcards to my MP Annette King (Labour) and the Minister of Education. Annette sent me back a personal letter sympathising and suggestions on how to make my protest more visible by way of a petition- I’ve signed lots of them for others too. I haven’t heard back from Anne as yet- I expect her pigeon hole is swamped…
I wrote the following poem years ago when there was no threat to continuing education at a price the average punter could afford. When education was not the preserve of the rich or safely salaried. When getting out of the house and learning something new was encouraged. I could laugh and joke, tongue in cheek, because I never imagined for a moment that it might be taken away. Auē.
I thought I'd do an evening class,
So went and checked them out,
At our local high school,
Which left me in no doubt;
That 'Accounting for Beginners',
Was too sensible for me,
As the purpose of my life,
Is to have one and one make three.
'Culinary Cordon Bleu',
Had appetite appeal,
But I don't get time to grocery shop,
When would I cook a meal?
'Belly Dancing' looked like fun,
With tinkly bra and veil,
The thought of baring stretch marks though,
Left me feeling pale.
'Italian Made Easy',
Made me smirk a lot,
I could tell a nice young waiter,
That I like my pasta hot…
But all of these required,
Me to rush about at six
And organise a sitter,
Whilst I fed my hungry chicks.
I think I'll just create a course
That's tailor made for me,
Called 'Relaxation Methods'
-where I blob out after tea!
From chapter 8
‘What was all that about shuffling your cards anyway?’ said Jono, picking at a bit of cone still stuck to the sofa arm. Becka hesitated.
‘Sometimes stuff happens when I play them. Shuffling seems to stop it.’
‘What, like the fortunes?’ said Jono remembering secret loves and square boxes, ‘I thought they were just fun stuff, you know, co-incidences. They’re not some kind of occult shit are they? I hate that stuff.’
‘No, no’ said Becka, ‘nothing like that. I’m sure they’re absolutely harmless.’
‘But I keep seeing things,’ Evie broke in, ‘like ghosts and creepo people. It didn’t happen until Becka got those cards. I thought I was going mental.’
Becka pulled the deck out of her pocket and fanned it out. Moonlight shone though the window of the shed, landing on the upturned faces of the cards. The joker was less bright despite the glow.
‘I think you should chuck them away,’ said Jono, ‘trash ‘em.’
‘No!’ Becka cried, ‘I think they are important,’ she stroked them, ‘and quite beautiful in a way too.’
‘Important enough to drive my sister crazy, important enough to nearly kill you?’
Jono stood up, his frame filled the window, a silhouette of disgust, ‘if you don’t ditch those cards Becka, I can’t be around you anymore.’
‘But we’re family!’ said a desperate Becka, still holding the cards, caressing them.
‘Not enough to include those too,’ said Jono. He opened the door and walked through it into the night.
Here it is- my foray into movie trailer land- well book trailers to be precise. It’s to promote my new novel; Glory.
Making a trailer is quite a bit of fun, and I thought I’d share with you how I did it. To start I did a bit of a storyboard in my moleskine diary. This was a dozen or so thumbnails to figure out what kind of images I wanted to show. I also looked at Brian Falkner’s great book trailers to see what he did. Brian and I have very different subject matters we are dealing with; his is action/thriller and mine relationship/comedy so obviously I wanted different shots.
I downloaded royalty free images from the sxs photo library. I’ve used Photoshop to add to them- Queen Kong for instance (it’s pretty hard to find gorilla shots complete with lipstick and underwear). When I was happy with my images- some of them from my book cover (designed by the ever brilliant Vida Kelly), I googled about for a free movie maker. There is one that comes with Windows, but I found it kept crashing and tried Videospin instead. I found it quite workable. You can drag your pictures onto a timeline and add different transitions between them.
Next, the audio... my character Florence Bright is very fond of a track by a Pop Punk band The Screeching Weasels called Cool Kids. Now I was stuck with a dilemma- having bought the CD at one stage (o.k, o.k, it was my daughter that bought it), I looked for someone I could contact to ask if I could use it as the background music for my book promo. I kept coming to virtual dead ends, so decided to use it and credit them at the end of the video. Ben Weasel, if you ever find this article, contact me and I will give you some books! In the meantime, Florence, Haley and I love your music and play it with enthusiasm.
Videospin also has a selection of sound effects so I was able to add swan, cat and bird noises into the track. There are audio controls to you can change the levels, cut and paste and generally drive the family nuts with sounds of your editing. The cat was very confused by it all and kept looking at my laptop alternately with terror and delight.
Next- the voice-over, which I wrote with the superb input of my script editor, Maureen Crisp who had no idea she was one until I sent her a rough cut of my trailer. Being very close to your book has the added disadvantage of trying to put too much in there. Maureen pared it back to a suitable teaser. The rough cut had my voice pretending to be a 13 year old on it. Now I had to find a better, more authentic voice. Hannah Copeland, the very able daughter of a friend was persuaded and we did this over her dining table with my laptop, a skype headset and Audio Recorder for Free. I recorded it in one line chunks and pasted them into my audio track.
You can play and replay it back and change things about until it is done, adding titles and fades where appropriate, then click the option to make it into a movie and its done. I’ve posted it to You Tube and hope that it might make its way to a 12 year old audience somewhere. I’m still working on optimisation and I can see a few glitches, but for a first try and costing nothing but time, I’m happy!
The interesting thing about a holiday is not how many tours you go on or how many cocktails you drink (although the latter can have interesting consequences) but who you meet on the way.
The other interesting thing about a holiday is the small worldness of it, where whilst sipping a latte and looking out to sea a voice will come from your left ‘Fifi!’ and you turn to find an old acquaintance. Lesley Moyes in this instance. You may remember her lovely illustrations for ‘Annie & Moon’ by Miriam Smith and her gloriously detailed ‘Alphabet Apartments’ which won the Childrens Choice award in1998. She and husband Peter live in
NowI could at this point put up many photos of me drinking ‘Blue Lagoons’, eating fresh mangoes and sautéed fruit bats but in my last post I mentioned that I’d be taking my paint box with me, so these are a few of the more meaningful pictures that I will share with you.
At the market, I sat down quietly and sketched women in their ‘Mother Hubbards’; one size fits all dresses that begin to look very attractive after eating and drinking to excess for ten days. But sitting unobtrusively is impossible here as any new activity draws an interested crowd. This lady came up and sat beside me to watch as I drew- which made my task a little more complicated. The young man sitting under the tree was none the wiser as I painted him furiously before I fell into a languor myself and had a kip on the lawn along with everyone else at Port Vila during lunchtime.
We met Bob on our way to the Cultural Centre. He was very keen to sell us cheaper accommodation than we had already paid for but seeing as we were non starters, offered to shout us a coffee at his café on our way back. The museum tour by Adi, a gentle Vanuatu man, was wonderful and memorable, particularly for the traditional sand drawings he demonstrated- fluid, woven pictures from his fingertip telling tales of love, renewal and sharing as he worked. We learned about being buried alive with your husband in the old days, drumming protocol and saw colourful masks with large phallic projections ‘its all about the penis’ said Adi. We left more educated in Melanesian history and called in on Bob next door, who was a bit all about size himself. His lovely and rather much younger wife served us delicious freshly fried whole fish and rice whilst Bob gave us his take on everything. He had particular views on the local Melanesian people and I got the distinct feeling that as he ordered everyone around in Bishlama (the Vanutau pidgin) that come the revolution, his head would be the first one on a stake…
The holiday finished with more food, more coffee, more beer and it was time to beat a hasty retreat back to
On the flight back I sat next to Drew Bowdon, a friendly returned kiwi musician who I enjoyed the easy company of. He gave me a copy of his recently released CD Be Still. Very nice it is too. Check it out. You can easily imagine you are on the shores of somewhere warm with the surf roaring and good times at hand; which is my idea of the very best kind of holiday…