Lazy Luddite Log

30.3.09

All For Fun

Some things need to change along with my plan to move interstate. One of those is a personal project of sorts that I have conducted for the last few years to share with friends the many things one can do in Melbourne. Because of my predilection for naming things I called this personal project One Fun Thing A Month (OFTAM) which I am now winding down. That name was simply a convenient banner for all manner of recreational gatherings and events I decided to organise for friends. It was also useful to have a name once I employed the yahoogroups facility to make sending invitations quick and convenient. As a result of having a name some got to thinking that OFTAM was a group rather than just my personal invitation list. The only thing everyone on that list had in common was that I considered them friends.

Identifying friends can be a difficult thing if ones life is dominated by friendship groups in which the distinction between acquaintance and friend is amorphous. It is also difficult if one is a uni student spending every day in the company of such a group. Once one graduates (as I did long ago) one comes to recognise over time who one actively wishes to keep in direct personal contact with. And as life circumstances such as work and relationships change it becomes more important to allocate scarce time to friendships. At the same time one can recognise that there is a huge number of worthwhile persons to spend time with and so one never entirely wants to close the doors to whom one considers a friend.

The preferred method of many of my friends is to simply use big contact lists that correspond to entire scenes. To some extent this may be because we adhere to Geek Social Fallacies (GSFs). A simpler explanation however is that sending one message to an existing list maintained by another person is quick and convenient. I opted for a different method first-and-foremost because I have always drawn friends from different settings and if I wanted to do things with them I would have to use more than one list. Or better yet make my own singular list.

This produced some awkward moments. I have on more than one instance stood in the caf on campus and had a rather oblivious friend loudly declare his intention to attend an event of mine in the presence of non-invitees. Those non-invitees are so accustomed to everyone getting invited to everything (see GSFs) that they would then ask why they had missed this bit of information. I would like to report that my response was to honestly and respectfully say it was a small thing for selected friends but in practice I was too wimpy and have done something sly like change the topic.

Is it right for me to be exclusionary like this? My feeling on this is that any method one chooses to use is automatically exclusionary simply because it has a finite circulation. Given that fact I may as well develop a method that gets at those I most want to include. It also allows me to keep my fun things free from those few acquaintances who persistently and flagrantly overlook the comfort and sensibility of those they interact with.

So I was somewhat choosy. Nonetheless the list of invitees got big over time. Partly because I was drawing on a few different scenes. Partly because moving in scenes allows one to make a number of friends all in one process of familiarisation. Partly also because I observed the convention of inviting partners (singular or plural) and in many instances they become friends as much as those who introduced them. And now that it is ending I am reflecting on whether this ‘project’ worked.

That depended on the event. Some were more successful than others. Also (success levels aside) some were more stressful for me than others. The mixing of friends was a challenge at times. Some may say that I am a practitioner of the fourth GSF and there definitely have been times in which I have wondered aloud “all my friends have so much in common they should get along more than they do”. In saying that I was focusing on some factors and overlooking others. Two friends can both love fantasy and science fiction but be vastly different in other ways. In the case of OFTAM however my thinking was more that I wanted to spend time with these friends in these pastimes. The resulting mixing demanded that I be the consummate host and I suspect that I regularly fell well short of this standard.

The extroverts and introverts within a particular scene develop ways of interacting. And the extroverts across different scenes will quickly find ways of interacting with one another. But what of mixing introverts across scenes? In events with small attendance (the majority of events) this tested my ability to make everyone feel they belonged. And if it was tricky for me then how was it for them?

I now wonder if it is better to do what others do and alter ones invitation list to fit the particular event (simplicity itself with things like Facebook). Who precisely will enjoy a particular activity? Whose presence will contribute to the overall success of an event? Which combination of friends will best work for all involved? What numbers fit different settings? These are all things I will consider now that I am ending OFTAM and will be interacting with different friends in two different hometowns.

OFTAM has been an interesting experience and given me a better sense of what works (the ‘fine art of correctly timing invitations for maximum attendance’ for instance is a topic that deserves its own blog post). More importantly it has allowed me to see much more of the life of Melbourne than if I had only done such things haphazardly. And most importantly I got to share some fun times with some awesome friends. Bucking perceived standards of my sub-cultures was a small bump in an otherwise rewarding journey.

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  • For the sake of posterity I am recording here all things done under the OFTAM banner...

    2005

    * A picnic in the Queen Victoria Gardens was replaced by a visit to the National Gallery of Victoria due to wet weather. There was a 'grotesques' exhibit there at the time.

    * A visit to Canadian Bay past Mount Eliza. It was too cold for anyone but me to wade in the waters but we did make sand castles.

    * Lunch at the Italian restaurant Andiamo in Camberwell followed by playing 8-Ball at Players just off the Camberwell Junction.

    * Drinks at the Corkman Irish Pub in Carlton while folk musicians got together for a celtic jam session.

    * A game or two of Laserforce at Sidetracked Amusements in Huntingdale.

    * A video night at my then home in Mulgrave at which we watched the 80s classics Back To The Future (which had turned 20) and Ghostbusters.

    * My birthday party at home with the dress code of 'Pyjama Party'.

    * Saw the Impro Cave show in Fitzroy.

    * Drinks at Dizzy's Bar in Richmond while jazz musicians got together to perform swing.

    * Had dinner at My My Vietnamese Restaurant in Pinewood shops followed by seeing Charlie And The Chocolate Factory at Waverley Cinema.

    * A visit to the Hedgend Maze in Healesville.

    * A BBQ and boating at the Fairfield Park Boathouse on the Yarra.

    2006

    * A picnic in the Queen Victoria Gardens - this time the weather was more than clement. Everyone was too lazy to play my Statue Hunt however.

    * Swimming at the Monash Aquatic Centre was the intention but only one other person showed and preferred just to walk along the Scotchman's Creek so that is what we did.

    * A night during the Commonwealth Games just taking in the free entertainment in the parks. Started with coffee at Federation Square followed by seeing the reggae band Bomba playing in the Alexandra Gardens. Later we say some kind of retro-futurist trapeze act further along the River.

    * Ice skating in Huntingdale followed by coffee and cakes in Oakleigh at Nico's.

    * A visit to the Melbourne Aquarium.

    * A video afternoon of 'swashbuckling' movies at home in Mulgrave.

    * My birthday party at new home in Clayton with the dress code of 'Futures Past'. I was a daggy 'techno-pirate'.

    * Saw live production of musical Into The Woods put on by Monash Uni students at the then new Drum Theatre in Dandenong.

    * Saw the Da VInci Machines exhibit in Docklands.

    * Played some glow-in-the-dark mini-golf followed by a late lunch in Knox Ozone.

    * Went to the Dandenong Show which culminated in seeing the fireworks.

    * Went to Emerald Lake for a BBQ lunch and swimming in the lakeside pool.

    2007

    * Saw an optical illusions exhibit at the ACMI in Federation Square.

    * Went swimming at the Noble Park pools. The longest waterslide in the metropolitan area was shut that day however.

    * An afternoon of hanging on and around Arthur's Seat on the Mornington Peninsula.

    * Participated in a trivia night at the College Lawn Hotel in Prahran. Our team was 'Vacant Lot'.

    * Went ten-pin bowling in Chadstone.

    * Saw the live-action Transformers movie at Greater Union Russell Cinemas.

    * My birthday party at home with the dress code of 'Criminal'. I was Creepy Thin Man from Charlie's Angels.

    * A planned Karaoke turned into a Singstar Night hosted by some friends due to minimal interest at the time.

    * Went to the Skydeck of the new Eureka Towers in Southbank.

    * Had a picnic and walk at the Maroondah Dam.

    * Went to the Cup Eve Golgotha nightclub for goths.

    * Went swimming at the Brighton Sea Baths.

    2008

    * Had just moved to Notting Hill area so had pub dinner at the Nott.

    * Went to Zoo Twilights for a picnic dinner and saw Vicka And Linda Bull performing.

    * Had intended to see Arj Barker but was sold out so saw Late Nite Impro.

    * Had Mongolian dinner at the Khan on Exhibition Street.

    * Saw the new Indiana Jones movie at Pinewood Waverley Cinema. As a friend commented online "WTF aliens!"

    * Had pizza in Fitzroy at Bimbo's followed by some playing of 8-Ball and (for some of us) grooving at the Night Cat.

    * My birthday party at home with the dress code of 'Ancient Civilisations'. I came as an a Corinthian Column.

    * Saw live production of musical Sweeny Todd put on by Monash Uni students at the Alexander Theatre.

    * Went to the Art Deco exhibition at the National Gallery of VIctoria.

    * Saw a demonstration at the Scienceworks Planetarium in Spotswood.

    * Had a picnic and walk at the Wilson Botanic Park in Berwick.

    * Had coffee and cakes on Ackland Street followed by walking alone the St Kilda foreshore.

    2009

    * Went back to the Brighton Baths coz it is such a nice way of swimming in the sea.

    * Had dinner and browsed at the Queen Victoria Night Market.

    * Concluded with a pop-in afternoon at home which culminated in take-away from local shops (such as fish'n'chips) and watching videos (Brothers Grimm and Sleepy Hollow).

    By Blogger Daniel, At 13 April, 2009  

  • ... and fun for all!

    I spend a lot of time thinking about how to optimise social life. In a world so full of wonderful people, life is too short for bad company. Of course there are all sorts of levels and kinds of good company, and people change and move away, and sadly there's a limit to the amount of time you can spend socialising. But friends are one of the finest things in life - better than food or wine or art - and finding the best friends you can, and enjoying them while you can, makes life worth living.

    It's interesting how leading gatherings makes you think about social dynamics more. OFTAM's clearly given you tons of insight into how different social structures and personalities interact, as well giving you a lot of joy. I admire your ability to make people feel comfortable and welcome; am I right in thinking that OFTAM helped hone that skill?

    By Anonymous Lizzie, At 13 April, 2009  

  • OFTAM may have helped. Other things dating further back too. I think I can do better but it went pretty well all-in-all.

    You are right about the different kinds and degrees of friendship and the negotiating of all that.

    And friendship is one of the best things (except sometimes I will prioritise food over friendship - move aside and let me get to the finger foods!).

    By Blogger Daniel, At 21 April, 2009  

  • I returned to Melbourne in 2010 but have never revived OFTAM. But I have in effect recently started a sort of "OFTOQ" by holding a larger-invite-list event each quarter.

    It grew from the fact that in Winter I always do something for my birthday. It may be a house party with a costume theme. However the household cat is firmly opposed to big groups so more recently it has taken the form of something like a visit to a cafe and cinema.

    Then in Summer I have been organizing a swim at something like the Brighton Baths which combine the experience of both beach and swimming pool.

    Deciding what to allocate to both Autumn and Spring involves a bit more thinking but I have settled on the following...

    Autumn is for a quintessentially urban experience like playing 8-ball or seeing a live pub band.

    Finally Spring is for a picnic in a nice location (say) in the hills.

    By Blogger Daniel, At 06 January, 2014  

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