Thursday, September 30, 2004

Bribery, neutrality and lethargy.

Cyzilla has made it blatantly clear who he's voted for.

I-merge has made it blatantly clear who he won't be voting for.

And you'd have to be a fool if you couldn't guess who "Ranting" Hamish will be voting for.

So where will my vote be going?

It's a good question and one which, believe or not, I'm not 100% able to answer at this time.

Normally I love a good election campaign. There's colour, there's movement, there's Australian troops boarding foreign boats, there's Australian troops getting down and dirty in the sand, there's lot's of talk about "little aussie battlers", there's streamers, there's tears, there's handshaking, there's baby-kissing, there's heartache, there's joy, and occasionally, very occasionally, some interesting politics occurs as well. This time around, however, I find myself hit by a mixture of lethargy and nausea.

I don't care what they say, but both sides are engaging in some serious bribery. It sickens me that this is what it takes to win an election. Are Australian's so short-sighted that they can't see past the potential need to upgrade the size of their wallets next year? Or is it just that deep-down both parties are so similar that it will only be the bribe they're willing to offer that will allow us to differentiate between them?

I realise that there are areas of the community that will benefit greatly from the bribes that both sides are offering, but it seems to me that if that money was well-spent in the first place then there would be no need to offer bribes at all. Then again, maybe I only hold that view because I'm a middle-class white male under 30 and therefore belong to the only sector of the community not to be offered a bribe so far...

And another thing, where exactly did all this money come from? I seem to remember John Howard saying that the GST would be "income-neutral"... Maybe Costello has finally found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

So if I'm sickened by the major parties, maybe I should send my vote towards one of the minor parties... Easier said then done. The Democrats are in a shambles and the Greens seem to have been noticeably absent from the policy debate (they do have policies, they're on their website, but I haven't seen them out promoting them very much)... Mmmmm.... Maybe I should vote for Pauline Hanson, at least I know why I hate her...

Oh well, I'm sure that come October 9 I will awaken from my slumber, drag my arse down to the ballot box, and choose to turn a blind eye to all of the bribery as I cast a vote for whomever can make my wallet the fattest.

And as far as the unprecdented use of the budget surplus to fund bribes which will occur in the meantime is concerned... Well, I think that Geoff Pryor summed it up beautifully with this cartoon...

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


It would appear that my period of dis-ownership has come to an end, since I have finally been contacted by mysterious Charles Hastings of Neurocam.

Here's what he had to say:

Sender: Charles Hastings
Subject: Availability
Date: Monday September 27, 2004

Dear Graham.

Firstly, let me offer my apologies for the prolonged period which has passed since Neurocam last contacted you. I assure you that you are still a highly valued element of our team.

This letter is to inform you that the qualitative indicators of your performance against tasked assignments place you within the upper quartile of all Neurocam operatives. Your continued engagement with Neurocam has been noted favourably at senior levels of the organisation. We hope to continue to appreciate your efforts. Well done.

A consequence of our high regard for your past performance, and yesterday's institutional purge of lowest quartile personnel, is that your next assignment to operational activity is to be brought forward.

Report your availability to Operations Division for the evenings ***** through *****. You will only need to be available for one of these nights.

Report your availability for the day of *****. You must be available on this date to be assigned to this operation.

Your timely response to this email is essential. Neurocam's operational tempo is increasing rapidly. Please respond by *****.


Charles Hastings
Head, Operations Division

It would appear, however, that I'm not the only person to have received this e-mail. Hamish has certainly been sent his own version, but what about Xade? Tript? CCR? Are any of you experiencing some Neuro-loving?

The bad news is that I'm working on all of the dates that they quoted, so it seems that I'm gonna have to sit this one out... It's not my fault, I swear, blame The Melbourne International Arts Festival. Oh well, I guess that's the way the cookie crumbles...

In non-Neurocam news, I got the car fixed today. Which means I'm $278 poorer due to the fact that someone decided to teach me that key barrells are overrated.

I spent quite a bit of time wandering around aimlessly today, waiting for the car to be ready, but thanks to the wonders of the internet, high speed cable and my new IRIVER, the soundtrack to my day was provided courtesy of the Texture DJs (one half of whom is more often referred to as Cyzilla). It's very smooth stuff and I'm mightily impressed. Well done that dude!

Whilst I'm on still kind of on the subject of the internet, I'd also like to take this moment to point you all towards Ratbat's latest entry in the 32 song challenge. It's a pearler, and well worth the read.

That's all from me for now, there'll be more of substance later in the week...

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Song #9

Graham’s 32 Songs - #9 “Little Plastic Castle” by Ani Difranco.
“In a coffee shop in a city
which is every coffee shop in every city
on a day which is every day
I picked up a magazine
Which is every magazine
Read a story, and then forgot it right away”

When I end up becoming addicted to the work of an artist I was previously unaware of, it generally occurs because I have heard a song on the radio and wanted to know more. On other occasions, though, it’s been because I have stumbled across an interesting CD cover in a record store and decided to give it a spin. And every now and then, it’s due to the fact that I’ve heeded the recommendations of one of my many musically savvy friends.

When I discovered the work of Ani Difranco it was because The Universe decided to step in and take a shot at influencing my listening habits.

This strange demonstration of the existence of Mysterious Universal Powers™ took place in early 1998. After about 3 years of trying, I was finally making a sustainable living from theatre in Canberra (which is, I assure, not the easiest of tasks), and had decided that I was ready for the next big challenge. Based on that decision, I decided that it would be a wise to head to Adelaide and seek work with the Adelaide Fringe Festival.

I rang ahead and was informed that the festival could not guarantee me a full-time position, but they could assure me that, provided I was in the city, there would be some work that they could throw my way. Even though it wasn’t a guarantee, and I had nowhere to stay, it held enough of a promise for me. I immediately began making my travel plans.

Never one to embark on potentially stupid endeavors unaccompanied, I convinced Robyn that she should abandon her job in a local café and come and try her hand at “festival technician roulette” as well. So, in January 1998, three weeks prior to the start of the festival, Robyn and I hopped in my car, braved the Hay plains, and went to try our luck in the city of Coopers.

After a brief stint at a friend’s rural property on the outskirts of Adelaide, we moved into the city and into a dorm-based backpackers lodge. From there we set about securing ourselves work with the festival. It was a task that was easier said than done, but, despite a few moments of tension when Robyn began to suspect that I had led her on a fruitless modern-day search for El Dorado, we both eventually managed to line up some work. Being faced with no source of income, no hot showers, and no jobs to go back to, tends to encourage a certain amount of persistence, and it was this persistence that paid off.

Robyn was assigned an ever-growing list on odd jobs around the festival and I was assigned to a venue known as “The Carpark Theatre”, which was exactly what it sounds like - The top level of an inner-city car park converted into a five hundred seat theatre for the duration of the festival.

It was around this time that I started noticed posters around which advertised an upcoming performance by “Buffalo’s littlest folk singer”, Ani Difranco. Apart from noticing that the girl portrayed on the posters was strangely spunky, I didn’t pay them much heed, it was, after all, festival time and there were plenty of posters around for artists that I’d never heard of.

In “The Carpark Theatre” I was teamed up with another technician called Craig. Craig is a little older than me, an all round nice guy, and a damn good sound technician. He was given the task of looking after all of the audio requirements for the venue, whereas I was responsible for all of the lighting requirements. Where I had never heard of Ani Difranco, Craig was a bit of a die-hard fan and each day, as we were setting up the venue, he’d put another Ani Difranco album to which we would bop away whilst straightening up rows of seats. Despite this, I still didn’t feel overly inclined to further expose myself to her work.

There was a remarkable impressive line-up of artists, performing in “The Carpark Theatre” in 1998: Merrick and Rosso, Pablo Percusso, Legs on the Wall and Kissing The Goldfish, just to name a few. In the final two weeks of the festival there was also an African-American blues singer by the name of Guy Davis. At least six and a half feet tall, Guy towered over me and would have seemed quite intimidating were it not for the fact that he had a voice like velvet and one of the gentlest manners I have ever encountered.

Each night leading up to Ani Difranco’s Adelaide performance, Craig would bemoan the fact that he was going to have the miss her concert to anyone who would listen, whilst, in practically the same breath, waxing lyrically about the pleasure he was deriving from working with an artist the quality of Guy Davis.

Sure enough Craig missed the Ani Difranco concert and was noticeably depressed by the fact during the following night’s proceedings. Then the Mysterious Universal Powers ™ stepped in. At the end of his encore, Guy Davis made an announcement. It was along the lines of “I just wanted to say a big hello to a very special friend of mine who has come along to see tonight’s performance. Everybody please give a big round of applause for Ms. Ani Difranco.” The tiny spunky girl with the long dreads and big attitude, who I had seen on so many posters, was sitting mere metres away from Craig and me. Craig almost wet himself with glee.

After the show Ani was briefly backstage, catching up with Guy. Although I wasn’t introduced to her, I noticed that she seemed remarkably cool, and I started to get the inclination that it might be worthwhile to further investigate her work. At that point, however, I didn’t follow up on that inclination.

A few weeks later the festival came to an end and, after bidding farewell to Craig, “The Carpark Theatre”, Jared and Adelaide, Robyn and I began our journey back to Canberra. Thanks to the modern marvel of satellites, we were able to listen to Triple J for most of the trip. Once again the Mysterious Universal Powers™ decided to make their presence known, because Triple J’s “Feature CD” for that week was Ani Difranco’s “Little Plastic Castle”, which meant that the radio station played at least one song from the album every hour. It’s a twelve hour drive from Adelaide to Canberra and, by the end of it, I was starting to suspect that someone was trying to tell me something.

That suspicion was confirmed when, during my first day back in Canberra, I walked down the steps into Impact Records. At the bottom of the steps there was a large display set up. Surrounded by posters, stickers, and flyers, the display was advertising the release of “Little Plastic Castle”. I decided then and there that it was best to succumb to the Universe’s obviously meddling and promptly purchased a copy of the album – And I’ve never looked back.

Ani Difranco instantly became, and has remained, one of my favorite artists. Despite the fact that she has released in excess of 15 solo albums, her work is always fresh, inspired and interesting. She is one of only a few modern musicians who appear to be capable of constantly evolving within their art; each album is more complex, beautiful and compelling than the last. When performing live (which I’ve seen her do on 3 occasions), she comes across as mixture of nervous energy, unleashed spirit, rampant intellectual power, and riotous muppet-like dancing. Not one of her live concerts (that I have attended) failed to move me on a much deeper level.

And to think, I probably never would have noticed her work if it hadn’t been for those Mysterious Universal Forces ™… It’s nice to know that they’ve got such great taste in music!


What a not-so-pleasant surprise! I woke up this morning to discover that someone had attempted to break in to my car.

They didn't succeed, but the key barrel is currently enjoying an unexpected holiday somewhere within the void of the driver's side door. Luckily my car has remote central locking so I am still able to lock and unlock the doors.

What a pain in the arse though, just enough damage that it'll probably cost me a couple hundred buck to fix, but not enough to warrant getting the insurance company involved... Bastards....

On a lighter note, if you ever doubted that some people have far too much spare time, then looking at this will set you straight. It's a light note on a rather overcast day.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Belting the knee!

I've just got home from my latest Aikido grading, and, despite last night's 2am search for an all-night supermarket which stocked some "Deepheat" with which I could attempt to quiet a complaining knee (the same knee I injured a few weeks back), it appears that I passed.

So what does that mean? Well, it means that I go from 7th Kyu (Orange Belt) to 6th Kyu (Yellow Belt), it means that I must be learning sometime from being thrown around a few times a week, and it also means that my knee is about ready to divorce me.

I wonder if knees can take out apprehended violence orders... If so, I might be in trouble... Imagine that, short of amputation I'm not entirely sure how I would stay 500 metres away from me knee at all times... And would I have to go to court in an attempt to get joint custody of my foot?

Friday, September 24, 2004

Election idol.

Since I'm always prepared to profit vicariously from other people's brilliance, I though I should point you all toward the funniest post I've read all week.

Cheers to Funny Face, I love you for sharing it with the rest of us! It had me giggling uncontrollably from start to finish.

Neurocam Mk 2.0

I know this is old news (CCR noticed it first), but the Neurocam website has been re-launched!

It's new!

It's different!

It's grey and orange!

There's a new registration form!

The disclaimer has gotten even longer!

And there's even an archives section!

There seems to be an awful lot of names in the archives section... I wonder if they're all Neurocam participants...

It would certainly appear that the minds behind Neurocam are getting ready to inject a bit more life into the old 'cam, but (and this is the $64,000 question) where will it go from here?

I've been dancing to the tune of the Neurocam shadows for over nine months now, but it seems that I may be stuck doing the same for an awful lot longer... Oh well, the rides been a blast so far, and I hate being accused of being a quitter...

In other Neurocam-related news, Q seems to have dug up some interesting info about the possible whereabouts of Robert Henley. Maybe the weather in Los Angeles is nicer than the weather in Brussels.

Also, "Rambling" Hamish has posted a picture which reads "Flat Nox", I wonder if it's a veiled reference to "Fiat Nox"? Also, the red dot looks familiar... Mmmmm... Curiouser and curiouser...

Despite all of this, I still haven't heard from Bridget, Robert or Charles... It would seem that only Iocus Severus is prepared to take the time to communicate with me... Oh well, at least it makes it easy for me to decide where my loyalties lie.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Boats, boots, and bombs.

This week John Howard floated the idea of Australia launching a pre-emptive strike.

Against who? Well, he wasn't overly clear about that, but it seems that it's his hope that, like the Tampa before it, this idea may deliver him to the promised land of "victory" at the next election.

Unlike the Tampa, however, this idea appears to have more than few leaks, and it certainly doesn't help when some of your children are standing on the deck threatening to throw themselves overboard. The question must be asked though - Are they abandoning a sinking ship or trying to garner favour?

Ignoring for a moment the debate about whether or not a pre-emptive strike is a sensible policy option (I, for one, actually believe that there may be extremely rare occasions when it's justified), let's take a look and see if there is any actual weight to Howard's assertion.

So, who would we be pre-emptive striking? All of the analysis I've read say that the most likely places to host terrorist cells which would strike at Australia's interests are the large Muslim countries to our north (Indonesia, Malaysia, etc), but it doesn't appear that we'll be going in there -
'I wasn't saying that we were going to launch an attack against another country,' Mr Howard said.
Okay then, so who does that leave?
Mr Downer confirmed he had previously told Asian neighbours that Australia would not dispatch troops on their soil and that the Government's statements were purely "hypothetical".

He said Australia would not strike in Indonesia or other neighbouring countries, but could launch attacks in "failed states" in the South Pacific.

"Failed States in the South Pacific"? Well we've already got troops in the Solomon Islands, so that would make it easier to launch a pre-emptive strike there. And we could always send our troops disguised as Asylum Seekers if we wanted to launch a pre-emptive strike on Nauru or Manus Island...

Seriously, though, it appears that the only countries we are prepared to pre-emptive strike are those islands who would probably welcome it as a boost to their economies. Unless of course Howard's thinking about pre-emptive striking New Zealand, but, even though I'm sure he and Helen Clark don't see eye to eye, I'm pretty sure that even John Howard wouldn't be willing to take on half a million angry Maoris.

Is it just that John Howard wants to be seen to be wearing bigger boots? Has he, in his haste, accidentally filled those boots with concrete?

I'm not sure, but, for the record, let me say this - If you're going to put forth the possibility of a pre-emptive strike then you need to be willing (and able) to stand behind it. Better to say "We are prepared to launch a strike against ANY country who harbors terrorists who may strike at Australia", meaning "If you don't make a real effort to stop them in your country, then we will", than to say "We're prepared to pre-emptive strike everybody... Oh! Except for you, you, you and you... Oh! And you too... Oh!... yes, you too.... Ummmmm... Maybe we'll just bomb Tasmania."

If you're not prepared (or able... and I have serious doubts about our ability to seriously take on any country bigger than Fiji) to do this, then we really should start practicing old fashion diplomacy, an art it appears that we have forgotten about over the last few years.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Alarms and Toys.

Alarm bells have been ringing all day.

Now I'm not talking about internal alarm bells, although considering the imminent re-launch of the Neurocam website, and the fact that this Saturday I have my next Aikido grading for which I feel thoroughly under-prepared, I could understand why you might think that. Instead, I'm talking about alarm bells in general.

Car alarms, fire alarms, security alarms, alarm clocks, door alarms, tram bells, car horns, shopping store anti-theft devices, reversing truck alarms, traffic light signals, and so many more... Never have I heard or, perhaps, noticed so many alarms in my vicinity in one single day... It's enough to drive a guy to distraction.

It's a good thing, then, that I've got some new toys with which to distract myself.

I recently succumbed to the temptation of the portable MP3 player and purchased myself an IRIVER H320. Now I too can indulge in what police believe is our newest killer and drown out the alarm bells. Sorry, probably a little tasteless to be so flippant, but I can't help but poke fun at so obvious a beat-up.

In addition to the IRIVER I have another new toy. The nice people at Optus, desperate to keep making money off of me, offered to give me a new phone. I accepted their offer and now have a brand new Nokia 6230 which seems to be very swish. The only problem is that half my numbers are stored in my old phone's memory which I can't access without the SIM card in, but, since I don't have a new SIM, I can't put numbers into my new phone unless the SIM card is in it... Ahhhh... Maybe I should e-mail Joseph Heller and see what he would do.

And, if those two objects weren't enough to cast aside any aspersions that I may be a luddite, I was very happy to receive not one, but two official Ani Difranco bootlegs, and a collection of re-mixes on vinyl, in the mail yesterday, all of which I ordered via the internet.

Now I really feel like I've reaffirmed my place in the technological generation... If only I can figure out how to work the microwave...

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Songs #8

Graham's 32 Songs - #8 "Sister's Crazy" by the Candy Harlots.

“My sister’s got a little problem
She says it’s all inside my head
I hear she’s been buying membership
Into the club for the civil dead"

If you’re currently a little concerned, alarmed, or bemused, by the fact that you’ve never heard of the Candy Harlots then don’t be. You are, in fact, part of the majority.

During the early 90’s the Candy Harlots were one of the most controversial (and, thus, popular) groups of Sydney’s live music scene. They first emerged in an era where big hair, colored make-up and tight leather pants worn by grown men was considered the epitome of “tough and cool.” The Candy Harlots, however, recognising that “glam rock” was starting to lose its shine, decided they would take an evolutionary step and identify themselves as “Sleaze Rock”. It’s a description that was very much a life-style choice and not just one that could be applied to their music.

These guys were the Australian pin-up boys for the motto “Sex, drugs and rock’n’roll”. Their live shows were notoriously wild, and their off-stage antics were even more so. Rampant drug-use, crazed sex orgies and violent outburst were reportedly common-place, so it shouldn’t be surprising that, as a young teenager, I felt myself inexplicably drawn towards their work.

I first became aware of the Candy Harlots thanks to one of the most fundamental institutions which services Australia’s modern music aficionados. ABC TV’s “Rage” was, and remains to this day, one of the most important music programs to grace our airwaves and it was early one Saturday morning, whilst watching “Rage”, that I first encountered the video clip for “Sister’s Crazy”.

Now the Candy Harlots have, on more than once occasion, been compared to Guns’n’Roses. It’s a comparison that most people would agree is understandable. Their music style is remarkably similar and the lead singer of the Candy Harlot’s, Aiz Lynch (listed on their CDs not as singer, but as “gravel box”), with his long red dreadlocks, certainly has an Axel Rose quality about him. I, however, noticed something much more exciting about the Candy Harlots. By this point in their career, Guns’n’Roses has become a highly polished outfit, whereas the Candy Harlots seemed rawer somehow, which meant that I viewed them as considerably more authentic.

As I sat there watching, and listening to, Aiz Lynch sing the chorus of “Sister’s Craxy” (“My sister’s crazy man, she lost her mind. Only way outta here. Lives in a mirror maze made for the blind. Just one way outta here”) I realised that I needed to further educate myself about this group. So, the next time I went down to Belconnen Mall with my parents, I started hunting through the record stores for Candy Harlots CDs. It wasn’t long before I found their debut (and only) album “Five Wicked Ways”, their EP “Foreplay” and the singles “Sister’s Crazy”, “Danger” and “What Are We Fighting For”.

It soon became apparent, as I browsed through their back catalogue, that the Candy Harlots were all attitude. The “Sister’s Crazy” single was graced with a language warning sticker which read “contains language as used by Redfern Police on national television that some may find offensive” and the sticker on “What Are We Fighting For” announced that the single “contains street language. If it may cause you offence get a #*%#@ life!”

It was, however, with “Five Wicked Ways” that this abundance of attitude became most obvious. The CD came with a set of five “bonus stickers” and sticker was a head shot of a member of the band next to a sketched picture copied from the Kama Sutra. Needless to say, I immediately bought every Candy Harlots CD available and, without delay, they achieved high rotation on my home CD player.

The best thing about the Candy Harlots wasn’t their lewd behavior, or their outrageous attitude, or even the sex picture stickers, but the fact that no one else I knew was listening to them. I discovered them for myself, nobody suggested that I should listen to them and most of my friends hated them, which made me feel special somehow. I felt as though I had a degree of ownership over the group.

I continued to listen to my handful of Candy Harlots CDs on a regular basis over the next few years, but sadly the group broke up not long after I became interested in them. Despite having an attention span that was slightly longer than that of most other teenagers, I found it very hard to maintain any enthusiasm for a group who was no longer releasing new work, so eventually the Candy Harlots CDs were shelved in favor of slightly more recent releases.

The Candy Harlots deserve a mention in list because they taught me two very important things - Firstly, it’s okay to like a band that nobody else does. Listening to music is, first and foremost, a personal experience for me. It doesn’t matter if nobody else appreciates what I listen to, it just means that they’ve all fallen victim to mainstream trends and don’t have a clue about what quality music really is (at least that’s my arrogant justification for buying many of the CDs I continue to buy).

The second thing the Candy Harlots taught me is that there are plenty of great bands out there who don’t get very much exposure and, sometimes, it’s worth hunting around and checking out what they do. Those two lessons have had a huge lasting effect on my listening habits and so, for that, I take great pleasure in thanking the Candy Harlots by including them at number 8!

Neurocam round-up!

There certainly seems to be a growing level of expectation about the re-launch of the Neurocam website, as well as a general increase in Neurocam-related activity

In fact, "tortured" CCR has gone as far as adding a countdown to his redesigned (and very spiffy looking) blog. Very cool... Now how do I get me one of those?

Xade also seems to be getting quite excited about the whole thing, but hasn't quite succumbed to the temptation of a countdown... yet...

"Rambling Hamish" has been given his next assignment, but leaves us with a few questions - What is exactly the assignment and, more importantly who is Charles Hastings?

Last, but by no means least, it's great to see that Egotript has returned from his self-imposed exile and will be joining us once again in our quest to uncover the mystery of Neurocam. Welcome back Tript!

Bridget Fischer, Charles Hastings, Adrian Cale.... There seems to be a lot of new Neurocam names popping up, but none of them are talking to me. It certainly appears that I have been re-assigned to the back seat for the time being.

Oh well... At least Iocus Severus hasn't disowned me as of yet...

Friday, September 17, 2004

False Advertising.

It is with a heavy heart that I must admit that I have become a vehicle for false advertising.

Earlier this week I wrote an article about The Bamboos in which I discussed how "funk" they really were.

Well last night Sharn and I went up to Honkytonks to check out The Bamboos and I've got to admit that I was a little disappointed with their form.

At first everything seemed fine, the DJ was playing James Brown, the crowd was buzzing, and the overall vibe was fantastic, then The Bamboos came on.

The audience adored them and showed it by jumping up and down, cheering loudly, and even indulging in a little break dancing, but I couldn't help but feel a bit confused.

Why? Well that's easy - They weren't exactly "funk" or, at the very least, they weren't what I consider "funk".

There were moments of "funk", but they were rather fleeting. Instead The Bamboos played a solid set of "Jazzy House".

Which, by the way, was fantastic. It just erks me, however, that I helped perpetuate more of the incorrect "funk" labeling that I loath so much.

Still, if you get the chance, check out The Bamboos. They're a great "jazzy house" band!

UPDATE 18/9/04: Another things that erks me is the fact that I incorrectly spelt "irks" and my spell-checker didn't pick it up...

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Recent Input!

Recently I've been enjoying a number of books and CDs that have been recommended to me by a few of my friends. It's only right, then, that I pass on some of those recommendations to the rest of you, as well as adding a few of my own.


Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 - Hunter S. Thompson: This book was recommended to me by Lunch as being "one of the most insightful political books of the last century". It is my great pleasure to report that he is absolutely correct.

What happens when you send a drug-addled, freak-powered, gonzo journalist on the campaign trail? He writes a book that is at times hilarious, insightful, manic and powerful. Probably the most interesting examination of what goes on behind the scenes of an American election campaign that I have ever read.

Imperial Hubris - Anonymous: Considering the size of the shelves now being devoted to the subject of terrorism in book stores around the world, it can sometimes be a little tricky to figure out which books are of a reasonable quality and which ones are absolute tripe. Thankfully, I can always rely on Cyzilla to unearth the very best books that those shelves have to offer.

"Imperial Hubris" is an amazing book. Written, apparently, by one of America's top intelligence analysts, it is a straight-talking, incredibly controversial, amazingly logical dissection of the motives behind al Qaeda and the failings of America's political bureaucracy. A must read for anybody who wants to challenge their own world view.

Love All The People - Bill Hicks: Bill Hicks did comedy the way comedy is supposed to be done - Biting, topical, savage and utterly hilarious. Sadly Bill Hicks is dead now (he died in 1994), which may be a good thing, since I suspect that more than one political leader would have been assassinated by now if he'd lived.

This book is a collection of his interviews, letters and routines. A book that's guaranteed to bring a smile to your face... and a tear to your eye.


Yellow Ledbetter - Pearl Jam: Ever since Lunch posted his latest song, I have had this track on almost constant repeat. Probably my favourite Pearl Jam track and one that I hadn't listened to for quite some time. Thanks for reminding me of it Lunch!

Celestial Mechanix - DJ Spooky: DJ Spooky never fails to blow me away. This is his latest mix CD and it is simply amazing. Technically brilliant, creatively inspired and filled with tracks that you've probably never heard, I can not recommend this CD highly enough. Mmmmm... DJ Spooky... Mmmmm....

Ghetto Style - Gil Scott-Heron: A compilation of some of Scott-Heron's greatest tracks. Including his most well known tune "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised". An amazing aural experience from the man who was rapping, hip-hopping and break-beating before any of those phrases had been coined.

DJ set at Studio Coast Toyko - Hybrid: I downloaded this set from Hybridized last week. Fantastic! It's worth a listen just for Hybrid's remix of REM's "The Great Beyond".

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

In a funk about funk...

If there's one word that gets used far too often by music journalists it's "funk".

Nowadays, every band and their dog gets described as being "funk" or "funky" or "funkified" or "funked-up". Whilst I'm assigning some blame, though, I'd better admit that I'm well aware that it's a crime I've been guilty of on more than one occasion.

Despite the frequency with which "Funk" is over, and incorrectly, utilised, it's still a pleasure to come across a band who is playing REAL funk.

The Bamboos are such a band and I've done an interview with them for In The Mix.

You can read it here.

Be aware, however, that I agreed to write this article only because the deadline was approaching and my editor was getting a little desperate (I can't resist a pleading woman), so it ended up being a little rushed.

That doesn't mean that it's not a good article, just that I apologise for any glaring errors which may have occurred due to my "last-minute-grammatical-error-blindness."

Monday, September 13, 2004

Is this man Iocus Severus?

I know the quality's poor, and that the figure is masked, but does anybody recognise this man?

I came home from work today to find a very special treat in my inbox.

You may remember that not so long ago Egotript and I, in a fit of insanity, allowed ourselves to be led away to a secret meeting place with bags over our heads. Once we were there, Iocus Severus (or someone claiming to be him) gave us both envelopes which contained documents about Neurocam.

Well it seems that Iocus Severus must have finally gotten around to having the film developed, because here's the e-mail he sent me today:

Sender: Iocus Severus
Subject: 18/7 Images.
Date: Monday, September 13, 2004

Dear Graham,

I do hope you are well. The Operations Analysis Unit have released a few images for public consumption of the 18/7 meeting between you, Tript and myself. Old news I know, but I thought you might find the images interesting nonetheless.

As for your other concerns, I will address them presently.

Kind regards,

Iocus Severus

Attached to the e-mail were eight images. The quality of all of them is quite poor, but I thought I should include them all here anyway.

So, for your viewing pleasure, here's the kidnapping!

Do any of those shed any light on current Neurocam events? Not really, it would appear that they are experiencing something of a hiatus.

I do have to agree with Xade though that, judging by the Neurocam website, it would appear that something major is about to occur...

Just for the record, however, Bridget Fischer hasn't contacted me at all... Nor has Robert Henley.... Or Nikolay... It would appear that I'm solely Iocus Severus' bitch at present.

Maybe I should put Robert Henley's image on the back of a milk carton...

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Song #7

Graham's 32 Songs - #7 "Glory Box" by Portishead.

“I’m so tired of playing,
playing with that bow and arrow.
I’m gonna give my heart away,
Leave it to the other girls to play."
In 1991 a musical tragedy was narrowly averted.

When musician Geoff Barrow and honey-voiced singer Beth Gibbons first met they soon came to the conclusion that their musical tastes were too disparate and, therefore, they shouldn’t work together.

If they’d stuck to their guns and never collaborated again, then the world’s music industry would have been deprived of one of the most influential acts of the last twenty years.

Luckily fate (in the form of Gibbons’ failing singing career) intervened and drove the two artists back together. Portishead formed in late 1991 and took their name from the suburb of Bristol where Geoff Barrow was brought up.

It shames me to admit that, although their amazing debut album “Dummy” was released in 1993, I failed to notice the work of Portishead until 1995. At the time I was just beginning to outgrow my infatuation with heavy metal, heavy rock, death metal, punk and grunge, and was starting to listen further a field for slightly more diverse styles. One of the styles I encountered was Electronica.

The works of Massive Attack, New Order, The Orb and the Prodigy were revealed to me, and I liked most of what I heard, but it was the heart-rending vocal stylings of Beth Gibbons that truly grabbed me by the ears and made me abandon the screechings of Lemmy and Axel.

I certainly wasn’t the only person listening to Portishead in 1995, but in my heart I was half convinced that Gibbons was singing only for me. Beth Gibbons is the only woman I can remember developing a crush on even though I had never seen her face.

If this post was only going to be just about my unrequited love for Beth Gibbons then I probably would have chosen one of Portishead’s slightly more obscure tracks such as “Roads” or “Mourning Air”, but “Glory Box”, apart from being one of Portishead’s most beautiful songs, is fundamental to a very special memory of mine, hence its inclusion as this week’s song.

In my experience, Spanish tragedy plays, like most Spanish poetry, are almost solely read by young women who love beautiful language and young men who want to be loved by young women who love beautiful language. Almost to a word they tend to be incredibly melodramatic, unbelievably passionate, and printed in coffee-stained books which are missing their covers and are stored shoved in the back pockets of young men who have learnt that appearing “deep and intense” can get you almost as far as flattery.

In 1995, a plethora of Spanish tragedy plays were also being read by my year 12 theatre studies class.

“Blood Wedding” by Frederico Lorca possesses all the elements of a typical Spanish tragedy. There’s betrayal, murder, raucous feasts, flamenco dancing and the occasional talking tree. For all of those reasons (especially the tree) it was the perfect choice as Narrabundah College’s major drama production for 1995.

For 4 months straight, twenty year 12 students rehearsed, sang, practiced flamenco, immersed themselves in the works of Frederico Lorca, Leonard Cohen and Pablo Neruda, and generally went in search of the true meaning of el duenda.
Oh... And I thought about how I would light them whilst they did so.

Keeping with the theme of the play, the experience was tragic in more ways than one. Seized by Spanish passion, the cast were constantly at each others throats, that is, of course, except for when they were crashing their cars (there were six car accidents during the course of the production – two of which were mine), or falling in and out of love (something that Spanish poetry has a particular knack for inspiring). By closing night there was barely a cast member who hadn’t been reduced to tears at some point during the process.

One of the major upheavals that the production suffered from occurred two weeks prior to opening night, mere days before the final weekend-long drama camp that was to occur on a farm just outside of Canberra, when one of the lead actors pulled out of the play.

Faced with a distinct lack of suitable males who were familiar with the script, and, perhaps, seized by the madness that was running rampant throughout the cast, my drama teachers came to the decision that I would need to abandon my role as theatre technician and step into the role of “Bride’s Father.”

I could tell from the desperation in their eyes that resisting my teacher’s madness was futile, so I immersed myself in the task; desperately learning the lines, rehearsing the blocking, and beginning my own search for the meaning of el duenda. It wasn’t the easiest of processes.

Anybody who has attended a Narrabundah drama camp will tell you that they are an incredibly intense experience. Each morning all of the students awaken bleary eyed, unwashed, hungry and emotionally drained and launch straight into a day of rehearsals, vocal practice, trust exercises, dance lessons and mental breakdowns. The working day begins at 9am and doesn’t finish until midnight, after which the students sit up chatting, singing, dancing and sipping at amber “iced tea” that they have smuggled in concealed in their sleeping bags.

The final “Blood Wedding” drama camp was particularly intense for me. Opening night was only two weeks away and I was still coming to terms with the fact that I would soon be strutting my stuff in front of an audience. I felt horribly unprepared and was finding the task that confronted me to be more than a little daunting. By the end of the second night I was utterly exhausted, so exhausted, in fact, that during one of the rehearsals another performer was laden with the responsibility of nudging me awake every few minutes.

Aware of the effort I was required to make, the rest of the cast were, unsurprisingly, remarkably supportive. They helped me with my blocking, took the time to test me on my lines and, at the end of the evening, helped escort me to bed.

My fondest memory of the entire experience occurred at the end of the second night, when three of the girls from the cast (Emma, Emma and Kate) helped me up the stairs of the communal yurt (where all 20 or so of us slept), tucked me in to my sleeping bag and proceeded to sit around, strumming on a guitar, singing me (and the handful of other cast members who had decided to call it an early night) to sleep.

The song they chose as our late-night lullaby was “Glory Box”.

They may have only been three year twelve girls with pretty voices taking a moment to do something nice for their peers, but at that point in time they were, in my mind, instantly transformed into angels, singing entirely for me in my hour of need. It remains one of the most pleasant memories of my life

“Glory Box” had never again sounded as good to me as it did to me as it did on that night. It’s a memory which, although I can no longer remember a single word of the script, or any of the blocking, has stayed crystal clear in my mind ever since.

Saturday, September 11, 2004


It's not quite rain on your wedding day, but I can't help but notice the irony when, the morning after I have put up a long, passionate, and seemingly cathartic rant, I find an e-mail in my Inbox telling me that cathartic rants are not good for your health.

It would seem that there will soon be a generation of ill-healthed, mal-adjusted, ex-bloggers. The Blogged-down Generation, if you will.

In other news - Keeping with my promise to bring to you any of the Election news stories that I think haven't received a wide enough run, I thought you might all get a chuckle out of this.

I bet I know who they won't be voting for...

Friday, September 10, 2004

Fears and questions...

The headlines have been screaming at me today.

Demanding that I pay attention.

Demanding that I bear witness to more horrific events.

It's attention that I've found myself reluctant to give.

In the midst of a discussion I had last week with Chris I flippantly made a remark along the lines of "Just you wait - There'll be a terrorist attack on Australian soil just prior to the election and all of the other issues will become irrelevant." It seems that I wasn't far off the mark.

Tonight I have a knot in my stomach.

I can't shake the feeling that both of Australia's political parties are about to resort to using the language of fear and hatred as the main tools of their campaigns, much as they did in the lead-up to the 2001 Election. A campaign based on "who can scare them more" is not the sort of campaign I want to experience.

The deaths of innocent people should not be a tool for political gain... from either side of the equation... but I have no doubt that they will be used that way.

Is this my cynicism running rampant? Perhaps, but I know that I'm not alone in these cynical thoughts. Why is that exactly? Why is it that most people I speak to assume that our politicians will try to turn this event to political gain?

I'm left with a head full of questions.

Why is it that all of the Australia's papers today scream "Target:Australia" or "Attack on Australia" not "Attack on Indonesia"?

Why does the Sun Herald have a single picture of the devastation and a quote from John Howard on it's entire back cover?

Why is that all of our media outlets are so eager to share with us the most horrific details of the event in colour photos, video footage, double page spreads and streaming digital audio?

Why is it that almost none of these outlets will address the most important question - Why do these people view us as an enemy?

If I hear much more of "They hate us because we're not Muslim" or "They hate our democracy" or "They hate us because of Iraq" then I think I might just have to turn my walkman up real loud, drown it all out, and live as music absorbed hermit for the next decade or so. I refuse to believe that the answer is so straightforward.

Standing in front of a press gallery and saying "We'll spend more money on defence", or "We'll spend more money on border security", or even "We'll spend more money on combating terrorism", just doesn't wash with me anymore. There are much deeper reasons for the current spate of frequent terrorist acts and until we try to address those reasons at their core, not just throw money at them, they will only get worse.

I know it's probably not a very popular thing to say, but I think we need to remember that EVERY terrorist believes that they have a valid grievance with us. Maybe we should start asking ourselves why that is and if we can do anything about it...

The events in Indonesia, just like the events in Russia last week, are horrific and indefensible, but maybe it's time to start thinking a little more creatively and openly about how we might stop similar acts from occurring in the future.

This post started as an act of catharsis but quickly turned into a meandering rant, so I'll wrap it up here.

Hopefully a little sleep with help untie the knot in my stomach and restore my faith in politicians.

Barking up the wrong crane...

Today has been somewhat surreal.

Formalised training in the work place is not a particularly common practice amongst theatre companies, but MTC, showing great wisdom, has decided to put a number of it's employees (including myself) through a series of courses that they feel might be beneficial. The optimist in me believes that this is a wonderful idea!

Of course the cynic in me assumes that I am only doing the course so that work can fulfill the requirements laid out by a previously unnoticed piece of Occupational Health and Safety legislation that they've found behind the staff cafe fridge. Since the cynic in me is much bigger, tougher, hairier, and generally foul-tempered than the optimist in me, I'm inclined to agree with him.

Over the next three months I'll be attending a series of courses which will, provided I pass, determine that I am competent at a range of activities that I may be asked to undertake in the course of an ordinary work day.
Which all seems logical enough, except for the fact that today was the third day of my "Doggers" course.

What's a "dogger"? It's a good question and one that anybody who has spent some time on a construction site would be able to answer.

A "dogger" is the guy/girl who stands at the base of a crane.

It is the job of the "dogger" to make sure every load is firmly attached to the cranes hook, and then ensure the load gets to it's desired location, avoiding any hazards on the way.

For the last week I've been neck deep in the formulas required to figure out "Safe Working Load", "Reeve Factor", and "Maximum Lifting Capability". Today was my first practical lesson.

I spent the morning on a farm about an hour out of Melbourne, directing a crane with a series of complicated (but standardised) whistle blasts and hand signals, which was more than a little surreal.

Apparently the course is a pre-requisite for some of the other courses I'll be undertaking, but so far I don't feel that I've learnt very much that will be useful on my next theatre show... Unless, of course, work has been trying to give me a hint... I wonder if next week I'll be learning how to hold up a Stop/Go sign...

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Beyond The Genre.

Time for some more shameless self promotion...

Quite a while ago I interviewed Sydney DJ/producer Q45 for In The Mix. Recently, based on the strength of the previous article, I was asked to interview him once again.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the work of Q45, he's a Sydney-based DJ who plays across a wide range of genres. He is also heavily involved with Sydney's high reputable "Fuzzy" crew.

You can read the most recent interview here.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

The results of time slippage...

It's been a crazy few weeks here on the Bandwagon!

The demands on my time have been immense, my caffeine intake has been colossal, and my sleep patterns have, more often than not, resembled the wav file of a break-beat tune.

It has come to my attention that, during that time, I have, as a result of the above, neglected a couple of things.

One of those things has been my ongoing correspondence with Iocus Severus.

It's been over two weeks since Iocus Severus last contacted me, but today, finally, I have found the time to send him a response.

Here's what I sent -

Sender: Graham Henstock
Subject: Apologies for my time slippage...
Date: Wednesday September 09, 2004

Dear Iocus Severus,

Firstly, please let me offer my sincerest apologies for the exaggerated period of time that has passed since you sent me your last e-mail. It is my dearest hope that I have neither greatly tested your patience nor overly inconvenienced you. My tardiness has been heavily influenced by my employment commitments and, as such, was somewhat unavoidable. Please let me reiterate, and reassure, that I thoroughly enjoy our ongoing correspondence and would hate to jeopardize it on account of my occasional time constraints.

I'm immensely glad that you enjoyed my recount of Alan Moore's work. It is always a pleasure to share the details of such an intriguing text with a mind that is sure to appreciate its innate humor and value.

I find your mention of time slippage and associated phenomena rather intriguing. Would you also, perhaps, consider that such occurrences as "Déjà vu" and "place memory" may fall into a similar category?

Why is it, exactly, that "time flies" when you're having fun?

As for what I think about during Aikido... Truth be told, I tend to only think about how to avoid injuring myself when I'm being thrown several meters across the dojo by someone of a considerably more senior belt than I. As much as I enjoy the art, I have only been training for around a year and so rarely have the opportunity to consider much more than technique.

In your most recent correspondence you claimed that there were no less than two imposters masquerading as Nikolay Kamchatkas. It is, considering the general level of intrigue and deception which is fundamental to all of Neurocam/Nautonier's dealings, a claim that I find quite plausible, but I do, however, notice that you fail to mention the motivations or circumstances which have influenced our two imposters to partake in such trickery. Perhaps you might care to enlighten me?

I hope this e-mail finds you well, and, as always, I eagerly await your response.

Kind regards,

Graham Henstock.

Hopefully Iocus Severus will not be too offended by my lack of expediant response and then I'll be able to report back to you what he has to say.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Wrong way, turn back?

There have definitely been points in my life when I've been driven to extreme acts due to my exasperation with the world's current political leaders, but there are some things that even I won't try.

And really, if you're taking offence at the way Howard and Bush run their respective countries, why would you head for Indonesia?

Maybe someone should slip him a compass and highlight New Zealand on a map.

Monday, September 06, 2004

October 9.

Despite frequent accusations to the contrary I do not love politics. Instead I have, over the years, developed something of a morbid addiction to the workings of Australia's "theatre upon the hill." It's an addiction that I've been trying to shake for quite sometime. My attempts at detox certainly haven't been helped by the fact that I grew up in Canberra and, at one point, worked in ABC Radio's Canberra newsroom for 8 months (not to mention the 2 and a half years spent working for the ABC in areas other than the newsroom).

I have no doubt that, over the next month, the election will be receiving an awful lot of attention in the bloggersphere. I'm not sure, in all honesty, that I'll be able to add much of quality to the pages and pages of information, opinions, slander and propaganda that will be out there, so, instead, I've decided to limit myself to only commenting on things that I think are being missed elsewhere. It's a noble enough concept, but we'll just have to see if I can resist the urge to offer my opinion on every issue that grabs my attention.

The only thing I'd like to point out so far is this story from the middle of last week. In my opinion this was the most important political story of last week. Forget the children overboard, forget the FTA, this is a story which could have a much bigger impact on the final make up of our government and which indicates a major shift in thinking for both of the minor parties. Most people, however, seem to be unaware of it since it was delegated (quite rightly) to page 5 because of the Russian school crisis.

It amazes me how often stories like this don't seem to get a run. When you consider the number of people who only get their news via the headlines, I think it's essential that these sorts of stories get a bit of wider attention. I do, of course, realise that I'm probably preaching to the converted, so I'll leave my rant there and return to rant only when I've found another story that I don't think has received enough attention.

*****This has been a Graham Henstock "fallen off the non-political bandwagon" announcement*****

Saturday, September 04, 2004

The Nigerian Connection.

Although I have been acutely aware of the number of Neurocam junkies who have been pulling their hair out waiting for me to post the Nigerian e-mails I received from Nikolay (yes Xade, I'm looking at you), my work schedule over the last two weeks has meant that it's been extremely difficult for me to find the time to put the post together.

Well there's no need to defoliate yourselves any longer - the wait is over!

I've had some apprehensions about this post, I didn't like the concept of censoring or editing any part of the enormous amount of material contained in the e-mails, but nor was I particularly enamored with the idea of how much of my blog this post would take up. So, to remove my apprehensions, I have established "The Neurocam Files", a separate blog which I will use for occassions like this.

Now before I get complaints of "But I read enough blogs already", I want assure you that 99% of all Neurocam activity will still be reported on this blog. "The Neurocam Files" will mostly be updated only if I receive any more lengthy documents during the course of my Neurocam adventures. The only other thing I might use "The Neurocam Files" for is to write the often requested summary (as one, occasionally refreshed post) of my Neurocam adventures to date (just to make it easier for any new participants who are struggling with sorting through the months and months of archives).

What I'm saying is that any time I update "The Neurocam Files" I will inform you all of that fact here, so there's probably no need to add it to your "daily check" list.

Anyway, I've waffled on long enough. You can find the complete correspondence between Robert Henley and the Nigerians here.

It's fascinating stuff but, as is often the case with Neurocam documents, leaves me with a lot more questions - Who are Dr.Samuel Amedu, David Ego, Howard Grant and Adrian Cale? What is their involvement with Neurocam? The last e-mail is from long after Robert was reported missing, do these e-mails help clarify his location or just add another layer to the mystery?

I'll let you decide for yourself.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Song #6

Graham's 32 Songs- #6 "Don't Tread On Me" by Metallica.
"So be it
Threaten no more
To secure peace is to prepare for war"
I have no one to blame but myself for the fact that I attended a private single sex high school. Despite some serious attempts at picking the mental locks of the vaults of my memory I can’t remember exactly how it was that I, as a year six student, determined that I wished to study at Daramalan College for some of my most formative years, but I do remember being fiercely adamant that Daramalan was the only high school for me. In retrospect, my motivation may have been something as simple as the fact that, after six years at St.Monica’s Primary School, the word “Daramalan” sounded somewhat exotic to my ears.

My decision perplexed my parents immensely. They were aware that none of my friends intended to go to Daramalan and that I would, therefore, be forced to start anew. They were also aware that Daramalan was, as many private boys’ schools in Australia still are, highly focused on sporting achievement, an area that I was not naturally inclined to achieve well in. For both of these reasons (amongst many others) the fact that I attended Daramalan College for four years is a perfect example of why twelve year old boys should not be allowed to make major decisions which effect their lives.

I was miserable at Daramalan, or, at the very least, most of my memories of the time spent there are less than pleasant. I managed to avoid much of the victimization and bullying that is common to many of Australia’s private schools, not due to the fact that Daramalan was in any way exempt from such practices (in fact it was more prominent there than most other private schools I have visited), but due to the fact that I was fortunate enough to reach puberty earlier than most of my peers. Until I reached year 10, I was, on average, a good twenty to thirty centimeters taller than most of the other boys in my year, which meant that the stereotypical playground bully would forgo me in favour of slightly smaller targets when hunting for extra lunch money.

My height, and associated stockiness, also meant that I was capable of holding my own in what was the most important of all of Daramalan’s peer rituals – Lunch Time Rugby.

My ability to walk out of tackles and charge the length of a footy field (generally without dropping the football) allowed me to stay on fairly good terms with the rest of my peers, but I always knew that there was something fundamentally wrong with the school environment. Everyday I watched as any students who dared to be different (in appearance, in action, in belief) were methodically stomped into conformity from all angles. My witnessing of (and occasionally enduring of) this primordial pack mentality reign supreme caused me to quickly wish that my parents had never allowed me the freedom of choosing my own scholastic path. My four years at Daramalan were mostly spent trying to maintain my balance on a tight-rope of mediocrity, always aware that one wrong step in either direction would send me plummeting to the unforgiving surface of peer ostracism that waited below.

I’m guessing that by now most of you are scratching your head wondering - “What exactly does any of this have to do with Metallica?” The answer to this question is that Metallica provided me with the means with which to escape Daramalan.

Although, by the time I had reached year 10, I had become somewhat disillusioned with Guns’n’Roses, I was still very much enamored with loud distorted guitar riffs, fast drum solos and half-screeched vocals. It’s natural then, that Metallica was one of the bands I was most fond of. The “Black” album in particular (which contained such classics as “Enter Sandman”, “The Unforgiven” and “Don’t Tread On Me”) was on high rotation on the home stereo. From the first time I heard a Metallica song I realised that the works of Lars, James, Kirk and Robert were a perfect fit for my disillusioned, slightly angsty, mostly confused, typically sixteen-year-old-boy, state of mind. It also helped that they were classically trained musicians which gave me a perfect comeback any time my parents exclaimed that “the music today just isn’t music”.

There was one other thing I had realised by the time I reached year 10 – Daramalan wasn’t the school for me. Following a series of lengthy discussions with my parents, in which I employed my very best debating skills, I managed to convince them of this fact and so it was that they eventually acceded to idea of me changing school for year 11 and 12. After a prolonged search I eventually decided that I wanted to go to a public college named Narrabundah (and not just because it too had an exotic name). There was only one problem, I wasn’t in the feeder district for the college and so, as an out of area applicant, was faced with a series of flaming rings through which I would be required to jump if I wished to secure a place.

One of these rings came in the form of my year 10 assessment essay.

The Australian Capital Territory school system seems to be obsessed with the idea of inflicting upon its students a series of one-off exams and essays which will determine the nature of all of their future academic prospects (this is not an obsession which is limited only to the ACT, in NSW, for example, it takes the form of the HSC). It was a system that always struck me as slightly unfair, but one which I was condemned to abide by. When I was about half way through year 10, I was required to sit an essay exam, the aim of which was to establish which level of English I would be allowed to study in year 11 and 12.

On the initial test paper there were a series of rather general questions like “Is TV a bad influence on children?” or “Should sportsman be paid to compete?” The paper then directed all of year 10 to select one question, answer it and discuss the reasons for their answer in an argumentative essay. The question I chose was “Does Australia need an army?”

The next two hours were pure mental procrastination which, as you have no doubt surmised from this post, is something that I am quite adept at. I laid the foundations for my essay in the opening paragraph by quoting Metallica. The sentence must have read something like – “In their song “Don’t Tread On Me”, heavy-metal band Metallica state that “To secure peace is to prepare for war”, there is quite a bit of truth in those words.” I then went on to base my entire argumentative essay around that quote.

At the end of the two hour exam I felt quite good about what I had written. Yeah, it was a little rough around the edges, and I didn’t ever actually get around to writing a good copy, but I thought that the argument was sound (even if I wasn’t entirely sure if I agreed with it) and I had used some extremely long words. Obviously whoever was marking my essay agreed with me, because it soon eventuated that I received the highest score for my year.

My English teachers were very quick to suggest that I should study the highest level of English possible at Daramalan and that I should even consider doing a double major. Instead I utilised the results from that essay as the spearhead of my bid to gain entry to Narrabundah College. A bid that was, in no small part due to my English score, ultimately successful.

And so it is that every day I offer thanks to Metallica, for without them I may have never been able to bid a not-so-fond farewell to Daramalan and attend the school that I wanted to attend… A school with an exotic name where I promptly went on to study a double major of English…

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Visions Of The Future #2

Considering the disturbing nature of my last vision of the future, it would probably be wise of me to find a cupboard in which to hide my crystal ball once and for all, but being wise is not something I am frequently accused of.

So there I was, dusting off the crystal ball before returning it to its pride of place upon my shelf, when I was suddenly seized by a vision.

Here's what I saw -

In the future cats and dogs will become redundant.

Instead everybody will have their own Virtual Reality Human (tm) to keep them company.

Before long there will be protests in the streets where "Virtual Reality Rights Advocates" will start to demand equal rights for virtual reality beings.

Due to the growing fad for young males to marry their "Virtual Reality Desktop Stripper" the world-wide birthrate will decrease dramatically.

Soon VRHs will outnumber humans 5 to 1.

Since VRHs do not need to eat, sleep, drink or breath, the human leaders will decide that they are a natural choice to send out into the universe as ambassadors of our planet.

In their travels they will encounter Virtual Reality Aliens whom they will lead back to Earth.

The VRAs will suggest a franchise deal in which Earth can be redesigned and incorporated into an intergalactic chain of Alien planets.

The catch? The atmosphere will need to be changed to 100% Carbon-Monoxide, so as to maintain corporate standards.

It's around then that we will regret giving the Virtual Reality Humans the right to vote.

Are you doubting the veracity of my vision? Well it's more likely than you may think.

A return to normality!

"Take Me Out" opened last night and the audience appears to have loved it...

Which just goes to show that I have lost all ability to pick which of our shows will be a success and which won't as I was pretty sure that this one wouldn't be so well received. It's nice to be proven wrong.

After the thunderous applause had died down, it was time for the opening night party. The insane hours of the last few weeks had taken their toll, however, and I decided that it probably wasn't professionally appropriate (or, at the very least, helpful for my career) to keep yawning every time an Arts Minister, Member of the MTC board, or A-list celebrity tried to engage me in conversation, and so, in the end, I only stayed for a few drinks before calling it a night.

Now that the show is open my life will begin to revert to a state of what passes for normality. Which mean more time for Sharna, blogging, Aikido, Neurocam, music listening, e-mailing, domestic duties, shopping, TV watching, Kings Of Chaos playing, book reading, movie going, coffee drinking, breakfast eating, red wine drinking, friend conversing and balcony sitting... Wow! I feel exhausted already.

Normal blogging will resume over the next few days (including the Nigerian e-mails post) but there is one quick thing I wanted to mention before signing off for today -

For the last week, on my way to work, I have been passing the set-up of the Band in a Bubble experiment in Federation Square. For those of you who aren't aware, this fascinating experiment works like this - For the next 3 weeks, legendary Aussie band Regurgitator will be living in the bubble, recording their next album. They'll be keeping a blog, doing live TV crosses, performing for web-cams, and taking suggestions for lyrics via the net, all of which sounds pretty cool to me.

I'm aware that this all just a publicity stunt for them and Channel V, but there's a freshness to the idea that really excites me. Of course, though, I'm going to have to resist the urge to visit the 'gurge to show them my ornamental pin collection...