Day 1,213: Sing Us A Song

Fri 27.04.12: It’s been seven months since I re-booted The Odyssey Expedition after my enforced sabbatical and I’m pleased to announce that I have now visited EVERY COUNTRY in the PACIFIC OCEAN. Oh yes. That’s the Solomon Islands, Australia, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand, Nauru, Micronesia and Palau; all without flying. PLUS New Caledonia, Wallis, Futuna, American Samoa, The Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, and they’re not even sovereign states. That’s 19 different islands without flying in just over 30 weeks. Nice! I could not have done this without the assistance of Swire, China Navigation, P&O, PIL, Reef, PDL, Neptune, Princess, Carnival, PAE, Anglo-Eastern, Mariana Express and Hartmann Reederei: I am very much indebted to these companies as well as the captains, officers and crews of the Papuan Chief, Pacific Pearl, Southern Pearl, Southern Lily 2, Sea Princess, Scarlett Lucy, Kota…

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Days 1,202-1,207: The Voyage of the Mell Sembawang

Mon 16.04.12 – Sat 21.04.12 The Mell Sembawang is a wonderful little boat: my cabin is clean, the air-con is working, the food is magnificent (I had steak in pepper sauce yesterday YUM) and the guys on board are a good laugh. We’re making our way to the US territories of The Northern Mariana Islands (formally Islas de los Ladrones (Islands of Thieves) and Guam. On Wednesday we pulled into the Japanese port of Naha on Okinawa island, but as we were there for less than three hours and a shore pass would cost (get this!) $250(!!!!!) I opted to stay on the ship. So most of this week has been spent mooching about, brooding about the loss of my hat and wondering what the hell I’m going to do with my life once all this is over. The crew have cleared a space on deck…

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Days 1,188-1,197: Placating Neptune

Mon 02.04.12 – Wed 11.04.12: It was an early start on Monday morning. Sam had to go into work, so I grabbed all my gear and tagged along with her towards the city centre from St. Lucia. After saying thanks and goodbye, I reached the city centre with half an hour to spare. Although only 8am, it was already shaping up to be another SCORCHING HOT Brisbane day. I really don’t know how people do it. It is nice once in every blue moon to go a whole 24 hours without sweating your teeth out. I reached the PAE shipping office just after half eight and was taken around the office to meet the staff. I had already spoken to James Kurz, the operations officer, on Saturday morning and I spoke Trish to on Friday afternoon while feverishly attempting to gain passage on the MV Kota…

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Day 1,154: Such A Pretty House

Tue 28.02.12: Today I turned 33 years old. Too old, Yoda would say, to begin the training. By the age of 33, Jesus had convinced enough illiterate sailors that he was the son of God to kick-start the most lucrative religious racket the world has ever seen, Mozart was working on what would turn out to be his last requiem and Alexander The Great had conquered the known world. All did not live to see their 34th [edit: whoops! except for Mozart, who was 35 when he died]. By the time most of us hit the big three-three, we’ve got a full time job, a house we’re struggling to keep up the repayments on, a sizeable pension fund, a savings account, a TV in every room, a fridge, a couch, wood-decking out the back, matching towels, a Playstation 3 and, by and large, rugrats. I don’t…

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Days 1,150–1,153: Piercing The Gloom

Fri 24.02.12 – Mon 27.02.12: So I went from the Papuan Chief to the Pacific Pearl to the Southern Pearl to the Southern Lily 2 to the Sea Princess to the Scarlett Lucy: there are indeed a lot of ‘S’ n ‘P’s in the South Pacific. I’ll be on the Scarlett Lucy now for the next month. At the start of The Odyssey Expedition it would be an inconceivable amount of time to spend just visiting one country (I managed to visit 50 countries in one month back in April/May 2009!). I guess it’s a bit like the way that time goes slower as you near the event horizon of a black hole. But look at it is this way: Nauru will be the last of the South Pacific nations I need to visit. Palau and Micronesia are in the Northern Hemisphere. We left Brisbane just…

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Day 1,086: How To Write A Blockbuster – Part IV

22.12.11: Antagonists This is the easy bit. Your antagonist could be a rival news anchor, a monster from the black lagoon or the protagonist’s own fear of commitment (although if your script is based around fear of commitment, I hate you). It’s just some thing that keeps throwing obstacles in the way of our hero. Wants vs. Needs Before you embark on the journey you must spell out very clearly is what your main characters heart’s desire is. It might be to go into space, get with the girl or win the world tiddlywinks championship. But that alone does not a good film make. What you can play with, and what you can be more subtle about, is what the character really NEEDS. Self confidence, trust, education, friends, the monster to stop eating his friends etc. The most blatant example of the wants vs. needs fandango…

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Day 1,085: How To Write A Blockbuster – Part III

21.12.11: The Re-writes Begin... There are certain rules you have to stick to in order to write a successful movie script. If you would prefer to ignore these rules, write a novel instead. The rules of movie making are pretty much set in stone and you’d have to be either very brave or very stupid to break them. Reservoir Dogs follows the rules. Casablanca follows the rules. The Godfather follows the rules. The Shawshank Redemption, Being John Malkovich, The Big Lebowski, Little Miss Sunshine, The Matrix, Gran Turino, Platoon, Raging Bull, Inception, Annie Hall, The Wizard of Oz... no matter how clever you think your favourite movie is, chances are, if it turned a profit at the box office it follows the rules. You want to see a film STICKS IT TO THE MAN and THROWS THE RULE BOOK OUT THE WINDOW...? Okay. Every film ever…

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Day 1,084: How To Write A Blockbuster – Part II

20.12.11: The Premise First up, work out the basic premise in your head. Don’t worry about making it all make sense just yet, just worry about the main features of the story. At the very least you should have a strong set-up, a strong dénouement and a good title. Unfortunately for you, the best movie titles of all time, Ice Cold In Alex, There Will Be Blood and Snakes on a Plane have already been taken, so you’ll just have to think of another one. At this point, if all you can think of is a single scene, you should really consider writing a short movie instead. The Audience This is important, possibly the most important thing about scriptwriting. You need three things to tell a story: a story, a storyteller and an audience. Otherwise you’re just talking to the wall. It’s interesting that British people…

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Day 1,083: How To Write A Blockbuster – Part I

19.12.11: I’ve been spending my days and nights (mostly nights) on board the good ship Southern Pearl practicing the ancient art of writing. I’ve been writing my blog (of course) which will one day become my book (it’s now pushing 750,000 words, so it’ll have to be edited down somewhat – James Joyce’s Ulysses is only 250,000 words). I’ve been writing Programme Bibles for TV shows you may never see and writing film scripts the names of which you may never see in backlit marquees. I don’t mind, I just enjoy writing. And then inflicting said writing on my family and friends. Writing, especially fiction writing, appeals to my love of two things: puzzles and logistics. Since I was a kid I’ve loved puzzles. It’ll come as no great shock to anyone that my favourite video games when I was growing up were the point n’…

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Day 1,082: There And Back Again

18.12.11: The hard part done, the crew of The Southern Pearl could now afford to let their hair down for the five day sail back down the Pacific Ocean to Fiji. It was time to fire up the barbecue! With pork, steak, lamb, chicken, fish and sausages on offer, it was not a time for going hungry. Unless you're a vegan or something.            

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