Sunday, October 31, 2004

This changes everything...

"? Neo. Are these things related?

It's been quite an odd day.

There's an advertising billboard near my work which reads: "Neurocam - Get Out of Your Mind"."
So begins the post I made on January 14th of this year. As most of you are no doubt aware, my ongoing adventures with Neurocam started at that point, thanks entirely to one billboard positioned above City Road in South Melbourne.

During the ten months since that day I have been kidnapped, followed, threatened, tormented, excited and entertained. In short, it's been one of the most odd experiences of my life.

There's been quite a bit of talk over the last few months about the way that Neurocam seemed to be going through a restructure. Personally, I thought the organisers might be clearing the slate so that they could stage one last big finale. It would appear that I couldn't be more wrong.

After my last post I decided that I would walk down to Smith Street, get a bite to eat and have a coffee. I was crossing over Alexandria Parade when I happened to look up.

This is what I saw:

If you can't read the detail then let me assure you that the billboard reads: "Get Out Of Your Mind.".

Needless to say I almost fell over with shock. I snapped this photo with the camera on my mobile phone (hence the poor quality... sorry) and immediately ran home to make this post.

Has anybody else seen this billboard? Are there any others in other locations? What does this mean for Neurocam?

At the very least, I guess this means there are about to be a whole lot more people following the orders of Bridget Fischer and co...

Oh well, there goes the next 10 months of my life...

Song #14

Graham's 32 Songs - #14 "Log" as performed by Ren and Stimpy.
"What rolls down stairs
and over the chairs
and into your neighbor's dog?
It fits on your back,
It's good for a snack,

Everyone knows it's log.

It's log, it's log, It's big, it's heavy, it's wood.
It's log, it's log, it's better than bad, it's good."
I once loved a girl named Lynette.

And I like to think that she once loved me.

I met Lynette not long after I started year 11 at Narrabundah College. We were both enrolled in the same "Introduction to Theatre Arts" class and both of us were the only students in the class to attend Narrabundah from our respective high schools.

At the time, "The Ren and Stimpy Show" was taking the world by storm. Oh, alright, maybe that's not entirely fair, but that overtly disgusting, remarkably crass cartoon was certainly causing quite a storm in my immediate social circle.

In particular I loved it's absurdity, it's gross attention to detail and it's endless fart gags. So did, as it turned out, Lynette.

The two of us soon bonded over our joint appreciation of Ren and Stimpy.

Many a lunch time was spent sitting in the quadrangle, singing "log" at the top of our voices and doing impersonations of "Powdered Toast Man". Despite the flippant, absurd nature of these actions, a remarkably strong friendship was formed during that period and, over time, that friendship eventually developed into something considerably deeper.

At the time I was a walking cliche. My head was in the cloud, my heart was on my sleeve and romantic pop songs took on a whole new meaning, I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Sadly, our budding relationship came to an end when Lynette developed anorexia.

The next twelve months were some of the hardest of my life. I put everything else aside and tried to be there for Lynette, but it wasn't easy.

Apart from the agony of watching her deteriorate before my eyes, there was also the uncertainty and confusion caused by her unstable mental state. Add to that the fact that she was hospitalised for seven months, during which time she was only allowed to see me if she made her weight for the day, and not allowed even to phone me if she hadn't (and there would be weeks at a time when she didn't), and I'm sure you start to get an idea of how much turmoil I experienced in my life over that year.

I watched Lynette get incredibly ill, and then I watched her get well again. In all, it took over 15 months. Then, once she was well, in an attempt to clear her head, Lynette moved away from Canberra, leaving no forwarding address. When she did so, she took my heart with her.

Several years later she returned to Canberra and I ran into her on the street. She was doing well and had a new boyfriend who seemed lovely. Since then, I have never seen her again

"Log" is a pointless, absurd song, which makes me cry almost every time I hear it. It breaks my heart to talk about it, but this list wouldn't be complete without its inclusion.

Know Thy Enemy

Lunch thinks it's strangely convenient.

Cyzilla thinks it may assist the re-election of George W. Bush.

Personally, I'm not entirely convinced by either of their theories.

I am sure of one thing, however, it would appear that almost everybody is commenting on the possible effect the new Osama bin Laden tape could have on the upcoming American election.

So my question is, how many of those commentators have taken the time to read what Osama has had to say?

Johnboy has posted the full text of the speech here. If you haven't read it, go and do so, its contents might come as a bit of a surprise.

Not so long ago I read an amazing book entitled "Imperial Hubris", which was supposedly written by a high ranking anonymous analyst who works for one of Americas major intelligence organizations. It's quite an amazing book, which debunks many of the myths that have arisen about the motivations of Osama bin Laden.

One of Anonymous' main points was that it pays to remember that Osama bin Laden is not, despite what the American Government would like you to believe, just a mad man who hates America because it represents freedom and liberty. Instead, he is an extreme man who believes that he is at war with America due to the effect of America's foreign policy in the Middle East. To dismiss him as merely an insane terrorist who wants to destroy the world and, therefore, can not be reasoned with, is to grossly over-simplify the situation. Insane, world destroying terrorists are strictly the property of Hollywood blockbusters. Instead he is an intelligent, sane man with beliefs and aims which are vastly different to our own.

With that in mind, here are some questions that I've found myself asking -

Does Osama bin Laden wish America and it's allies ill? Yes, I think that, for reasons he sees as justifiable, he does.

Does that make him our enemy? Yes it does, and we should do everything within our power to stop him from committing further atrocities.

Does the fact that he is our enemy mean that we should ignore everything he says? No, in fact I'm convinced that it means we should make ourselves even more aware of what he has to say.

I believe that it's only through listening to his words that we can hope to understand Osama bin Laden, and it's only once we understand his motivations, and thus the motivations for those that support him, that will we have the power to put a stop to the rise of terrorism.

There are two sides to this battle. It's time to familiarize yourself with both of them.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Because Serial Killers Are People Too...

I recently received an e-mail from a member of Neogab which pointed me towards a dark, disturbing, and thoroughly hilarious online comic called Chopping Block.

It made me laugh, it made me cry and it made me double check that all the windows were locked properly.

Solomon Gree told me that it might be nice idea to share it with all of you, so that's what I'm doing.

Frank The Bunny especially thought that Euan might find it a little appropriate...

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Skinned cat...

I am, by nature, an intensely curious human being.

If I hear about something that I probably shouldn't see, shouldn't know about, or shouldn't hear, then, more often than not, I will immediately go in search of it.

Earlier tonight I did just that and, as a result, I now possess more than a passing resemblance to a skinned cat.

In retrospect it all seems a little silly. I was surfing the net looking for embarrassing George W Bush stories when I stumbled across an anecdote about his wild-child daughter, Jenna. Apparently Jenna, whilst at a Republican party function, forgot that she was wearing a sleeveless dress. When her father arrived she, following the lead of the rest of the crowd, lifted her arms above her head in celebration. Physics stepped in, the dress slipped, and Dubbya suddenly scored a lot of extra male voters from the mid 20's Dungeon and Dragons playing demographic.

Upon reading this anecdote I, being a naturally curious human being, did what any other naturally curious being would do - I immediately pointed my browser towards Google and entered the search term "Jenna Bush Breast".

What happened next tore the skin right off of me.

It would appear that looking for nudie pictures of the daughter of the most powerful man on the planet is not a particularly acceptable thing. At least I assume that's the case, because as soon as I hit the "query" button my Norton's Anti-Virus announced that it had discovered a virus. On Google? I was, needless to say, more than a little perplexed.

Then Internet Explorer started to behave erratically. It began wildly opening new windows, pop-up style. Each window still showed the results of my Google search, but I couldn't interact with Explorer at all. By the time that Internet Explorer had worked it's "pop-up" fetish out of it's system it had opened 45 new windows.

At this juncture in time SpyBot decided to make itself known. It informed me that some unknown program was trying to delete values in one of my directories. Luckily I was able to order SpyBot to stop the unnamed assailant from achieving it's goals. Horray for SpyBot!

My computer then appeared to lock up for a few minutes. I clicked on everything I could, but nothing seemed to happen. After about 5 minutes had passed, I resigned myself to pulling the battery out of my laptop, but, perhaps sensing that the end was near, my computer suddenly decided that it would be prudent to obey me again, a decision it reached just as I leant towards the battery-eject button.

Using task manager I shut down the 45 new windows. I then ordered Norton's to do a full scan, walked away from laptop and made myself a stiff drink.

When I returned to the computer, well over an hour later, Nortons took great glee in reporting that it could no longer locate any virus. SpyBot also reported that everything was back to normal... Hmmm... Very strange. It would appear that there is more than one way to re-skin a cat.

So what did I do now that I had a fully working computer once again? I went back to Google and entered the search term "Jenna Bush Breast." Which just proves that I'm nothing if not persistent.

No weirdness resulted this time, but I did find a fantastic photo taken just after the famous nipple flash. Which, I'm sure you'll agree, more than makes up for the deskinning that nearly occurred.

Random bits.

Just a quick one, since I'm currently at work, but am well aware of the lack of attention I've paid to my blog this week.

Whilst many other bloggers have been bemoaning the fact that Chanel has been voted off Australian Idol, I've been finding something else a little more concerning. Do you realise how much it costs to get cable TV/internet connected to a bomb shelter? Never mind the fact that Telstra will become privatised at about the half way mark of my three year stint away from the world and, thus, will promptly start to charge me by the half a second...

It's not all doom and gloom, though, since the inner Sci-Fi/Fantasy freak within me is rejoicing. Hobbits are real! Or at least they were... Maybe I could move to Hobbiton for the next three years. At least their holes in the ground are nicely furnished.

One thing's for sure, I'll be able to continue to enjoy good music whilst I'm enjoying life in my bomb shelter now that Cyzilla has now made his mixes available to all and sundry upon the net. Fantastic work! And if I ever get bored of his nu-jazz sound, I can just scoot over to Aaron Jae's website and download some quality breaks... Mmmm... Breaks...

I figure I can continue to order lengthy books from Amazon, so I think that only leaves food to worry about... Does anybody know if Mojo's Crazy Pizza delivers to bomb shelters?

Monday, October 25, 2004

Song #13

Graham's 32 Songs - #13 "Sugar is Sweeter" by CJ Bolland.

"sugar daddy, come on and sugar me
I want your lovin' so come on and give it to me
sugar daddy, sugar daddy oh
look at me I'm begging for more more more...."

I was nineteen years old when dance music literally exploded into my life.

You could be forgiven for assuming that I use the word "exploded" in an attempt to display a clever grasp of metaphor. It is a fairly logical assumption, so I hope you'll forgive me if, to emphasize my point, I direct your attention back towards one particular word from the middle of the above sentence - "literally".

By the time I was nineteen I had already determined that my career ambitions lay in the field of theatre. Specifically, I wanted to be a theatre technician.

When someone decides that they want to become a doctor, they enroll for medical school. If, instead, they have an ambition to become a lawyer, then they attend law school. Where, then, does a wanna-be theatre technician go?

It was a question that tormented me greatly, but, in the end, after being told by NIDA that I would probably find three years in the industry more beneficial than three years studying with them, I opted for educating myself in as many potentially useful areas as I could. To achieve this goal I attended a series of courses (both good and bad), read a large number of potentially relevant books, and went in search of beneficial qualifications and permits I could acquire.

One of the beneficial permits I acquired was a "Theatrical Display - Pyrotechnics" license.

At the time Canberra's law regarding the use of explosives and fireworks was quite lax (a situation that would change dramatically following the Old Canberra Hospital disaster) and so my license, obtained after a number of short courses, allowed me to do all manner of exciting things with flash pots, glitter cannons, maroons, and coloured firework fountains. What's more, I was allowed to do some of those things indoors.

Needless to say, I soon went about putting my new qualifications to good use around the many theatres in the ACT.

Word of my permit, and my eagerness to be of assistance, soon spread throughout Canberra, and it wasn't long before I started receiving requests for pyrotechnics from people I hadn't previously met.

One of the people who contacted me was Sylvie, the manager of an inner-city night club named Heaven.

I had often passed the doorway that led up to Heaven, but had never braved the dark steep stairwell that lay beyond the arch. I had, however, heard plenty of stories about Heaven and had decided that it wasn't the sort of place I felt like attending, instead I spent much of my time hanging out at the bar that was Heaven's antithesis, a heavy metal bar named The Asylum.

My apprehensions about entering Heaven were dispelled the moment Sylvie offered me money to do so.

The situation, she explained to me, was that there was a touring DJ/Producer from the UK who required some pyrotechnics for his performance at Heaven. His name was CJ Bolland and I'd never heard of him.

Sylvie required me to set up a single effect, a flash pot which would go off centre stage when CJ Bolland started playing his latest single "Sugar is Sweeter." It was one of the easiest effects that I could possibly be asked to set up and so, thinking mostly of the considerable amount of money involved, I quickly agreed to the gig.

When I arrived on the night, Sylvie introduced me to CJ Bolland. It was, in retrospect, an experience I probably would have appreciated a lot more if it had occurred at a later point in my life. As it was CJ came across as remarkably vague and I had immense trouble understanding his accent. In the end we just spent a lot of time nodding and smiling at each other.

I discussed the safety aspects required for the gig, chatted about the effect they wanted and set up the pyrotechnics on the stage/dance floor in the middle of the club. Then it was time for them to open the doors so the punters could come in.

I must have looked remarkably out of place, standing there in my theatre blacks in the midst of a crowd of ravers, but at the time that didn't overly concern me, I was too busy being overwhelmed by the atmosphere in the club.

I'd never previously experienced such a positive vibe in a club environment. Everybody was there to have fun, nobody was interested in causing trouble and everybody was dancing furiously, which was thoroughly different from anything I had become accustomed to at The Asylum.

Neither had I previously been exposed to dance music in the environment it was designed for. So, as I stood around waiting for CJ Bolland to grace the stage, I found myself listening and watching. Listening to the music, and watching how the clubbers were responding to it.

Eventually, around 2am (I'd been setting up since 6pm), CJ Bolland took the stage. If the club had been pumping before, now it was threatening to explode (*pun completely intended*). By this point I was thoroughly impressed by everything I was seeing and hearing.

Towards the end of his set (at about 3.30am) CJ Bolland launched into "Sugar is Sweeter", I hit a button, the flash pots went off and the crowd went absolutely ballistic.

At the end of the gig CJ Bolland thanked me for my work or, at least, I assume he was thanking me since I still couldn't decipher his accent. I informed him that it had been a pleasure and, when I said that, I meant it through and through.

Over the next few years Heaven became one of my favourite hangouts, dance music became one of my favourite genres and CJ Bolland became one of my favourite artists.

Which just goes to prove that having interesting qualifications can sometimes pay off in more ways than one.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Theatrical Extremes.

Over the last few days I have been experiencing the vastly different extremes of my industry.

Take Friday for example -

I spent the first four hours of my day sitting in a rehearsal studio with a five piece band, four aboriginal divas and an audio mixing desk. For four hours straight I sat and listened to them rehearse a plethora of mo-town classics such as "Respect", "Higher" and "Chain Of Fools" (to name but a few). They were, of course, rehearsing for MTC's next show "The Sapphires". It sounded absolutely brilliant and reminded me exactly what it is that I love about working in theatre.

My next four hours were the polar opposite of the first four. I spent those hours gluing carpet squares into road cases.... Not exactly thrilling...

From there I headed into the city where I was meant to be meeting with the production manager of a local theatre company who I might be helping out with their next show. Unfortunately I was stood up... Mmmm... Not the best way to make an impression. Still, I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt and will be going to another meeting on Monday night... More on that after it occurs.

Now that I suddenly had a few hours to kill, I went straight to what had always been my next intended location - The Spiegeltent. Drinks, frivolity and conversation were had and then I dragged myself home in the wee hours of the morning.

And that is but one example of the incredibly diverse days I've been experiencing of late... At least, I guess, it keeps life interesting...

Thursday, October 21, 2004

And in the blue corner...

Welcome to this week's heavy-weight-war-of-words-and-accusations title bout!

It's shaping up to be an incredibly impressive match with two of Australia's prominent media figures going head to head.

In the blue corner, wearing the blue shorts and excessive facial hair, we have freelance journalist John Martinkus.

In the red corner, wearing the red shorts and the dopey grin, we have the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs - Alexander Downer.

Okay gentlemen, let's fight!

Seriously, though, has anybody been following this?

For those of you who weren't aware, last week John Martinkus was kidnapped in Baghdad by Iraqi insurgents. They held him for 2o hours and then, after they "Googled" his name and discovered he was in fact who he claimed to be, let him go unharmed.

In the mean time, Alexander Downer pretty much declared that it was Martinkus' own fault, since he had ventured into an area of Baghdad that he wasn't meant to. It's an accusation that John Martinkus has strongly denied. He claims that he was standing across from the Australian embassy when the kidnapping occurred. Of course it is possible that the Australian embassy is one of those areas that journalists aren't meant to visit, but I don't expect that we'll see Alexander Downer admitting that anytime soon.

Now, in an apparent attempt to save face, Alexander Downer has taken a swipe at Martinkus over comments the journalist made whilst being interviewed after the ordeal.

Let's have a look at the comments that have caused so much offence -

"(From their perspective) there was a reason to kill (British hostage Ken) Bigley, there was a reason to kill the Americans; there was not a reason to kill me (and) luckily I managed to convince them of that."

Hmmmm... Well that certainly seems fair enough to me. All Martinkus is saying is that the terrorists (not Martinkus) believe that they had justifiable reasons for killing the hostages that they have killed so far. Now, to me, that makes sense, after all, if they didn't believe that they had justifible reasons, why would they do it? It's not exactly rocket science...

So what's Downer actually upset about? I suspect he's upset because Martinkus is suggesting that, when it comes to the conflict in Iraq, there might be more than one perspective... A possibility that is the antithesis of the current Government approach to the issue (What? There might be two sides to the story? What blasphemy...).

On the other hand, it could just be that he's unhappy about the fact that Martinkus can grow an impressive beard, whilst Downer only uses aftershave for comic relief when he's left "Home Alone"...

I'll be interested to see how this little feud plays out...

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


There's something that I've been meaning to gripe about for a little while and I think that now is the time to do so.

I've mentioned in the past that I am currently engaged in, courtesy of MTC, a number of supposedly beneficial training courses. At the end of these courses I will have further qualifications in rigging, which is, I admit, a very good thing.

Now don't get me wrong, I am extremely grateful that MTC is paying for me to attend these courses (and paying me for the time that I spend there), but I've noticed something that I think is worth mentioning.

An extremely large part of these courses is theory based. In fact, I would hazard a guess that over 90% of them are.

To assist us with the theory aspect of these courses we are given a handbook which explains what we need to know. The last few pages of each handbook is a sample test with around 100 questions (and answers). The written exam that we get at the end of each course is made up of 20 (or so) questions that have been taken directly from the sample test. Therefore it is theoretically possible to memorise the answers to all 100 questions and then breeze through the test. Which, by the way, is exactly what I've been doing.

From what I can see, there is very little in the way of a practical exam.

Yesterday we finished another section of the course. Each completed section equals another qualification such as a Dogging ticket (directing and loading cranes) or an Intermediate Riggers ticket. Each of these qualifications is meant to show that I am competent in a particular area of rigging. Here in lies the source of my gripe.

In theory, according to the qualification I received yesterday, I am now competent to do the following:

1. Erect a mast climber.
2. Erect structural steel.
3. Install a cantileavered crane loading platform.
4. Install a safety net.
5. Install a static line.
6. Carry out dogging work.

Okay, that all sounds great, but am I in fact competent to do all those things?

Well I'm pretty confident that I could install a static line and do dogging work. I've seen pictures of a cantileavered crane loading platform. I know that a safety net must extend out 2/5 of the maximum fall plus two metres, but I've never set one up. Structural steel sounds like it might be fun and I still have no idea what a mast climber is... Hmmmm... If you ask me, I'm not sounding very competent.

But I must be competent, right? My piece of paper says so...

I think the concept of providing your employees with suitable qualifications, so that they can carry out work that they, in some cases, are already doing, is a wonderful idea. And I do admit that there is a lot of things that are relevant to my day to day job as a theatre technician that I have learnt during the course. And that those things I haven't learnt are things that will probably never be relevant in my line of work. It just concerns me that there are now 9 MTC employees who possess a piece of paper which says they are competent to set up a piece of equipment that they have never seen.

It feels like we are being given qualifications primarily so that the company is covered in the case of an accident, not because we are expected to possess all of the knowledge that is implied by the qualification. It seems to me to be something of a recipe for disaster.

In reality, I'm not about to go out and try to erect a mast climber, even though I am theoretically allowed to do so. If the need arose, I would no doubt find someone who had done it before and ask them to do it. Nor are any of the MTC staff attending the course with me about to go out and set up a cantileavered crane loading platform. I imagine that they, like myself, would find someone who could, at least the first time, walk them through the process. My point is, however, that there are some people who would not be so sensible...

I'm starting to rabbit on now, so I'll stop there. It just all strikes me as a little strange that I now have qualifications which do not reflect my actual ability. What do you think? Am I just making a mountain out of a mole hill?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Okay... Freaking out right about now...

You may remember that recently I came home to discover the front door of my house wide open.

At the time I chalked the whole thing up to a careless housemate, but I've just received something that has made me rethink my assumption.

After being notably incommunicado for quite sometime, Iocus Severus has decided to once again contact me, and he's done it in a style which has broken my mind.

Sender: Iocus Severus
Subject: Open Door Policy
Date: Tuesday October 19, 2004

Dear Graham,

I trust you are well. You will, of course, be aware that the front door to your home, left open on Friday 15/10 was a signifier of suspicious circumstance.

Why did you not report the removal of certain documents from your "office"? That very office next to your charming bedroom on the first floor, containing a white oak desk, whose second drawer from the top contains all your Neurocam tidbits.

Oh dear.

Love or what you will,
Your humble servant,

Iocus Severus

Whoa! What the hell? Firstly my bedroom isn't on the first floor, but the second and, further more, I don't have a study. Those two things should have made it pretty easy to dismiss Iocus Severus' e-mail except for the fact that my housemate does have a bedroom on the first floor, next to which he has a study, in which is indeed a white oak desk... I'm pretty sure, however, that he didn't have any Neurocam documents in it.

Have you ever had one of those moments when the foundations of your entire world seem to suffer from Parkinson's disease? If so, then you've got a rough idea of what I'm going through at the moment.

I can only see a few possibilities -

1. Iocus Severus (or someone close to him) has been in my house and has mistaken Chris' room for mine.

2. Iocus Severus has made a lucky guess about the white oak desk.

3. You can see the desk from the back yard, so it is theoretically possible that someone scaled the back fence and looked in the window.

4. Someone close to me (a housemate, for example) has been sending information to Iocus Severus. Admittedly, though, that wouldn't explain why Iocus Severus thought that it was my study.

No matter which of the above is true (and I'm hoping like hell that it's number two), my paranoia levels are currently sky rocketing.

One thing's for sure, I'll be double checking that all of the windows are locked before I go to bed tonight.

In other Neurocam news, it seems that we're starting to get a better picture of the events that occurred last Saturday. Egotript has posted his version of events and they seem to explain where Xade got the packages from. Xade, however, seems intent on only telling us about the other end of the assignment.

Tript also claims that "Ranting" Hamish was involved, but, interestingly, the only Neurocam related post that Hamish has put up for a while is a reference to "The Magus"... Were you there Hamish? What's your version of events? And, more importantly, when are you going to get rid of that nasty pop-up on your blog?

Anyway, that's enough from me for now. I'm off to bed... and taking my baseball bat with me...

Monday, October 18, 2004

Uncontrollable Drooling...

I didn't realise how much I was drooling until a goldfish swam by in my spittle.

It's a disgusting visual, but entirely justified after what I have just discovered.

If any of you are breaks, drum and bass, or block rocking beats fans then it's probably best that you stop reading this post immediately. If you choose to read on the odds are good that your social life is about to become non-existent, your internet bill is about to sky rocket, and you're going to start to look into the option of having your earphones permanently grafted to your ears.
It was a day like any other day. The sun was up, the birds were singing and I was having a quick surf on the net.

One of the places I was surfing was Hybridized. It was there that I found this thread. Then the drooling started...

Since then, the Spanish to English dictionary has been getting quite a work out and my internet cable has been chock full of streaming beats... And there's no end in sight...

I'll call you all again in a couple of years when I have finally gone deaf...

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Song #12

Graham's 32 Songs - #12 "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" As interpreted by the Propellerheads.

Since there's a risk of my running out of amusing anecdotes that connect particular songs to events and periods of my life, it's makes sense to attempt a slightly different tack for this week's post. It's a tack that I touched on when I connected "Can't take my eyes off you" (song #5) to Sharna and one which I would like to explore a little further.

There are certain songs which don't just remind me of events and periods in my life, instead, deep within the murky depths of my mind, they are permanently attached to particular people. Whenever I hear one of those songs I can't help but think of the person that I connect it with it. Sometimes the connection has occurred because I believed that the lyrics of a song summed the person up perfectly. Other times it's because I first heard that song whilst I was with the person in question. And, on yet other occasions, the reason for the connection can be somewhat more esoteric.

Whenever I hear the Propellerheads' re-interpretation of the theme from the James Bond movie "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" I can't help but think of Jared.

The track itself is, in my opinion, one of the cleverest covers ever produced. From the use of morse code to create a beat at the beginning, to the unashamed use of stereo panning, through to the blasting trumpet, the mellow break down, and the complete "rock-out" finale, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" is nine minutes, twenty seconds of unmatched aural delight.

Now, "unmatched aural delight" isn't necessarily a phrase that I would always equate with Jared, but one of the most vivid memories I have of him is from during one of the many trips I made to Adelaide during the mid 1990's.

It's a crystal clear mental image of Jared and I sitting inside my car, driving into Adelaide, listening to the Propellerheads' album "decksanddrumsandrockandroll" at full volume. When "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" came on, Jared turned to me and, in what remains the most overly excited, vaguely manic manner I have ever seen him display (and that's saying a lot), declared - "This is the greatest driving song ever written."

I find it funny that, despite having known Jared for almost ten years, despite having been drunk with him on numerous occasions, despite having lived in the same house as him and despite having been involved in a plethora of amusing adventures alongside him, this incident is still the first one to spring to mind whenever I think of him.

Now I'm not trying to distill our friendship down to just a single song since that wouldn't be entirely fair or appropriate (there would, at the very least, be a few Ben Folds Five, Chemical Brothers, The Bird and Kylie Minogue tracks that would garner a mention), but I am taking this moment to let you all know about one amazing song that never fails to remind me of one amazing friend.

I'll stop this post now, before it ends up getting ridiculously sentimental, but, to finish, I will say this much - Jared, you were so right! It is the greatest driving song ever written!

Neurocam, Xade and the rubber mask.

You turn your head for just one minute and suddenly events start to unfold without you...

It seems that Xade has been involved in some recent Neurocam shenanigans.

Rubber masks? Coffee? Black sedans? Mind Battles? CDs in books? Digital cameras?

It sounds like quite a party, what a shame I had to work... Damn it! Maybe I should just quit my job and apply for a full time position with Neurocam... How about it Bridget, any positions available? And, whilst we're on the subject, when do I get a Neurocam badge?

Seriously though, I feel like I'm a twelve year old girl who's just been told that Justin Timberlake was shopping at Chadstone on the day I was shopping at Northlands... What happened Xade? How did you get the packages? Who was the rubber masked guy? Who followed you? Was anybody else involved? Why would Justin Timberlake shop at Chadstone anyway?

Damn it, the public have a right to know... And I'm being driven mad by the suspense...

Friday, October 15, 2004

Ummmm.... Anybody home???

I'm currently feeling a little like I've walked into an episode of the Twilight Zone or The X Files.

I've just got home (before dark, which is weird enough in itself) to find the front door wide open and nobody home...

I've tried calling them all on their mobiles, but none of the other residents are answering.

Since I know that none of my housemates would leave the house so vulnerable, I can only assume that something strange is going on.

Aliens? Mob-related crime? Liver fluke mutants? Other dimensional beings? Neurocam? I'm not sure. I guess the only thing to do is order pizza, turn on the TV, sit back, relax, and wait for the creepy music to kick in.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Lately I've observed a strange habit that seems to be common in many of the people I come into contact with in my day to day life.

It's a habit that's not particularly obvious at first, but, once triggered, can seriously impede normal conversation.

In truth I suspect it's all my fault. In the interest of maintaining a certain level of honesty in my conversations I've often found myself answering "inconsolable" when asked the question "How are you?"

As soon as I reply, panic begins to blossom in the eyes of the individual I am speaking to. Half concerned, half scanning the room for convenient exits, they inevitably ask me "why?"

It's around then that I assume that they have in fact been comatose for the last few weeks and so launch into an explanation of the weekend's election result and what it could mean for our country. Around the time that I start talking about how I have been weeping myself to sleep each night, I notice that the majority of my conversational companions have replaced their panicked look with one that can only be described as "glazed over"

This appearance begins to take form the moment I use the word "election", but it becomes decidedly more pronounced the moment I mention "Howard","Latham", "Family First" or "Satanic masses in polling booths".

The conversation then inevitably ends with the other person muttering something about "Sorry, I don't follow politics" or "Oh, there's someone I need to talk to", or "Great! It was really good to see you again, give me a call sometime."

Life in ignorance must be something that is worth fighting for, especially if so many people have developed such an effective defense so they can remain that way.

Sometimes I think growing up in Canberra ruined me.

Oh well, maybe I should just buy a copy of the Sun Herald, read the headlines, then sit back on the couch and watch Neighbours. Maybe it's time to embrace ignorance... it seems to work out okay for the silent majority...

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Weekly round-up...

Just a quick post to let you about some of the assorted "stuff" that I've been up to of late.

I've finished my involvement with "Failing Kansas" a show which, at first look, I was less than fond of, but the more I watched it, the more I grew to appreciate it. By the end I thought it was wonderful.

Now I'm in the process of bumping in "The Call". We're only up to day two of a four day bump in, so I'll be in a better position to tell you a bit more about the show once I've seen a few runs.

In other news, The Spiegeltent is open! It appeared miraculously on the opening night of the festival, and the denizens of Melbourne's arts community did promptly breath a massive sigh of relief.

Talking about sighs... Last Friday night, Sharn and I went and saw the fabulous Little Birdy play at the corner hotel. Great gig! Katy Steele is one of the spunkiest live performers around today. I know that her remarkably breathy voice annoys a lot of people, but I think she's fantastic and, since I'm an a music taste god, you should all agree with me...

Finally, whilst I'm singing the praises of talented people, it's only right that I take a moment to talk about Cyzilla's latest mix which has been had pride of place in my headphones over the last few days. It's remarkably smooth stuff. Very jazzy, occasionally funky and all grooveable. Some highlights for me were the inclusion of "Abusing My Religion" and "Le Mobiler", two tracks that I've become quite fond of recently.

I've got to say though, I was a little disappointed. Don't get me wrong, the mix is absolutely fantastic and I'm amazed by the plethora of skills that Cyzilla demonstrates throughout, but I'm a little dismayed by the way Cyzilla has so fully embraced Nu-Jazz... Come one Cyzilla, where's the breaks?

The Cyzilla that I have fond memories of is a breaks-loving, talcum shuffling, girl in cowboy hat charming, 3/4 pants wearing groover, and I would love to see what sort of mix he would produce. Of course, I'm partially saying all of this with my tongue in my cheek. I have checked out The Blue Room's website and am well aware that the jazzy house sound is probably the most appropriate for the situation and, therefore, Cyzilla has in fact shown an amazing ability to pick the right music for the gig. So, instead of this being a criticism, consider it my request for an all scratching, all breaking, all Cyzilla breaks set... What about it cZ, up to the challenge?

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Song #11

Graham's 32 Songs - #11 "Try A Little Tenderness" as performed by The Commitments.
"It's not just sentimental,
She has her grief and care,
And a word that's soft and gentle,
Makes it easier to bear.
You won't regret it,
Young girls never forget it,
Love is their whole happiness.
It's all so easy
Try a little tenderness."

- Today we're joined by one of Melbourne's least know identities. He's a sporadic blogger, depressed voter, occasional music journalist, theatre technician and rabble rouser. I'm sure you all know who I'm talking about so, without further adieu, it's a great pleasure to welcome Graham Henstock to the "32 Songs" hour here on Channel Captain Coincidence. Graham, welcome to the program.

- Thank you Captain, as always it's a pleasure to be here.

- You've come into the studio today to tell us about this week's entry in your 32 songs list, but, before we get stuck into it, I'd first love to know how it feels knowing that you are now more than a third of the way through your list.

- Well there's no other way to say this - It feels great! I really have a high sense of acheivement due to fact that I've made it this far, it is important to remember, however, that I haven't done it entirely alone. If it wasn't for the support provided by Jared, Ratbat, Euan and Lunch, who have all joined me in the challenge, I doubt I would have made it this far.

- Well Graham, let me be the first to congratulate you all on getting this far.

- Thank you Captain. It's much appreciated.

- So, tell us a little about this week's song.

- This week's song is one that has meant an awful lot to me over the years. It's "Try A Little Tenderness" which was originally performed by Ruth Etting in 1933. The version that touched me, however, was the 1991 cover done by The Commitments.

- The band from the movie of the same name?

- That's correct Captain. The band from the movie which is based on the book of the same name written by Roddy Doyle."

- But The Commitment aren't the only ones who have covered it, are they?

- No, it's also been covered by Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Bing Crosby, Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, amongst many others. It's the context of The Commitment version, though, that had a major effect on my life.

- Context?

- I first heard "Try a Little Tenderness" thanks to movie version of "The Commitments". The movie, for those who aren't aware, is about a struggling, music loving, Dubliner named Jimmy Rabbitte. Jimmy has the dream of creating the ultimate soul band and so, in an attempt to achieve this, he pulls together a bunch of misfit musicians and singers, calls them 'The Commitments' and then, acting as manager, does his best to polish their act, manage their egos and make them famous.

The group has it's ups and downs, successes and failures, but eventually it all starts to come together. The moment it finally clicks for them, the moment of realisation if you will, is when they perform "Try a Little Tenderness" at one of their gigs.

- Why did that have such a big effect on you?

- Well, I think on some level I identified strongly with Jimmy Rabbitte. At the time I had plenty of big goals and dreams which, at first glance, seemed unattainable. "The Commitments", however, inspired me to believe that those dreams might be within reach.

- Were they?

- Some of them were, some of them weren't, but that's not the important part of the story. What was important, was that because I believed that fulfilling those dreams was a possibility, I was suddenly much more willing to give achieving them a shot.

- What sort of dreams and goals are you talking about?

- Well, lots of things, but, thanks to "The Commitments" one of those goals ended up being a desire to manage a successful band.

- And did you?

- (laughs) No, not at all, but I did give it a shot. In fact I tried it not once, but twice.

- Ah, you're referring to the notorious "Recycled Virgins" and "Something Interesting" incidents, aren't you?

- Yes, but I'll be returning to those incidents at a later point in my 32 Songs list, so I'd rather not go into any of that now.

- I understand that, but is it true that one of those incidents ended up with you lying to bar managers around Canberra? Is it true that, to avoid gig commitments you couldn't fulfill, you told them that one of the members of the group had been killed in a motorcycle accident when he had, in fact, just been asked to leave the band?

- Ummmm... Well... Yeah... But let's not go into that now...

- Okay Graham, but it's an issue that I'd love to come back to. On a different note, Graham, you do realise that there's no one else here and you're in fact talking to yourself in the mirror, don't you?

- Yes Captain I'm not ashamed to admit that I do. Another reason I identified with Jimmy Rabbitte was the fact that, in both the book and the film, he spends a lot of time rehearsing the responses that he intends to give in interviews once he becomes famous and gets interviewed. As a result, he spends a lot of time in the bath, in bed and in the street, vocalising both halves of an imagined interview. It's something that I also used to do.

- You do realise that talking to yourself is the first sign of madness?

- Ummm... Next question...

- Finally, Graham, is there anything else that you would like to say to the listeners at home?

- Despite the fact that I didn't achieve some of my goals I still think they were worth striving for. "The Commitments" taught me that sometimes the act of trying is just as important as the actual achieving. Oh, and one other thing, whenever I'm feeling a little down, I always remind myself - I'm black and I'm proud... Ummmm... What was the question again?

The morning after...

It's the morning after the Federal Election and never before have so many of us, the voters who lean to the left, been so awake and active on a Sunday. Why? We're busy packing our bags and checking out the cost of flights to New Zealand.

I may have called the result yesterday, but that doesn't mean it was actually the result I was after. In retrospect, I think I may have put forward what I viewed as the worse case scenario in an attempt to lessen the pain if it occurred. It would appear, however, that I was incapable of imagining what would be the real worst case scenario.

The idea of Family First with the balance of power in the senate absolutely terrifies me.

The shovels are out, the supplies are bought, and the bunker is being designed as I speak.

So where do we go from here? Well I suspect that Cyzilla's got the right idea, but for some of us that's not really an option. Last night, Jared suggested Sweden... I wonder if he's got enough room in his luggage for a dis-illusioned Melbournite.

Before leaving work last night I suggested, as a joke, that once I turned on the radio in the car I would get a huge surprise to learn that Fred Nile, The Socialist party, Family First and Liberals for Forests had formed a conglomerate coalition and seized power... As horrifying as that thought is, I can't start to wonder if it might be preferable...

Anybody feel like organising a revolution? I can't help with planning (just too busy at the moment), but, provided you let me know where I need to be, you can count on my pitchfork and I to be there...

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Democracy at work...

I have just been to exercise my democratic privilege.

Who did I vote for? Well, let's just say that it wasn't one of the major parties.

I love the fact that I am able to vote and I don't understand people who don't take an interest in the democratic process. It pays to remember that in Australia we are very, very lucky, and that there are many countries where the populace are never given a say in the running of their country.

To not embrace that freedom demonstrates a complete lack of gratitude for the privileged lifestyles we enjoy.

For the record, even though I didn't vote for him, I think Howard will get in with an increased majority. It's a depressing thought and it might just be one that I'm entertaining so that ANY other result tonight will seem like a blessing.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Cruel, cruel fate...

Despite my complaining, I wasn't actually that upset that I'd be missing out on the next Neurocam assignment. Why? Well that's because I felt like I was going to get a pretty cool consolation prize.

Fate, however, has decided to play a rather cruel trick.

I have it on good authority that the Spiegeltent is currently holed up in customs!

Tonight's the opening night of The Melbourne International Arts Festival and I had every intention of attending the festivities at the tent. It appears that, instead, I'll be dancing in an empty Victorian Arts Centre forecourt, and I'm pretty sure that dancing on all that concrete won't be good for my knees.

Tonight is also the opening night of the first show I'm working on during the festival, "Failing Kansas". I sat through two runs of the show yesterday and, despite the fact that it's a thoroughly bizarre experience, found it to be quite an amazing show.

That's going to have to be all for now, because I need to get ready and head back into the theatre. The next few weeks are, obviously, going to be quite sparse blogging weeks for me. There are, as the saying goes, much better things that I'll be doing with my time... Provided the Spiegeltent arrives...

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


There seems to be quite a bit of Neurocam action at the moment...

Xade has certainly been indulging in some clandestine behavior, but he's not the only one...

It appears that Egotript has also been lurking in one of Melbourne's parks...

And I'm guessing that Hamish's picture implies he's been involved in something similar...

I, on the other hand, have been busy working and am dying to know what it is I'm missing out on. It's just my luck that, after all of my jumping through Neurocam's hoops, I end up being busy whilst something big is going down. You better keep us all informed boys, or else I might go into withdrawals.

Oh well, I guess I'll just have to get my kicks some other way. Maybe I should just sit back and wait until John Howard calls for a chat.

I heard it suggested today that the verbal version of "spam" should be called "spits" which, when I include John Howard in the mental image, leaves me feeling kind of violated...

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Song #10

Graham's 32 Songs - #10 "Hole in the Bucket" by Michael Franti & Spearhead.
"I work 9 to 5 but starts in the PM
and I love the sunrise so I step out in the AM
the street is black and shiny from the early nightly rainin'
the glory of the light it brings evaporation
morning's fresh oxygen cleanest
I take a deep hit help my mind stay the greenest
I'm already awake so I'm not drinkin' coffee
don't wanna a cigarette, 'cause it's a form of slavery"

In the time which has passed since the day I finally spread my wings, stumbled around a little, accidentally discovered the edge of the nest and ended up moving out of my parent's home, I have lived in 4 different share-houses with 15 different people. Each one of those people has had some effect on my listening habits.

The very first house I lived in sans parents, was a lovely brick house at the foot of Mount Ainslie in Canberra - 11 Ebden Street. Like many share houses it came about more via accident than design. Nickos and I had been talking about sharing a house together for some time, but it wasn't until one day when we sat down next to Paul M and Chris F at Gus' Cafe, got to talking and discovered that they too were house hunting, that the idea of a proper share house was even considered.

Despite gaining the monikier "The House From Hell" (thanks to a cynical circle of friends who held the belief that the combination of boys living in the house could turn a nun to a life of crime), life within 11 Ebden Street was remarkably civilized. Admittedly, there was the odd wild party, exploding light fitting, rogue inflatable alien, glad-wrapped room, naked pant stealing man, baseball bat wielding party-crasher, 2am vacuum session, BB gun test practice, stalker ex-girl friend, hidden watch alarm, knife pierced lunch, threatening letter, poisoned chocolate, shed dwelling possum and drunken housemate, but it never quite reached the "Died with a falafel" degree.

One of the reasons it remained so civil (or at least the reason I'm going to credit for the duration of this post) was the fact that everybody within the house had good, but varied, taste in music.

Life in a share house is almost inevitable an education, in fact I'd go so far as to say that most people learn more about life, culture, human interaction and world politics, during their first year living in a share house, than they do in the first 14 years of schooling.

One of the big lessons I learnt during my first year of share house living was how to appreciate Michael Franti and Spearhead.

It's a lesson I owe to Paul M who was a dedicated Michael Franti fan. "Home", Spearhead's debut album, was one of the most played CDs in our house. Every time he put it on, and I was home, Paul would go out of his way to ensure that I was paying attention to the lyrics of "Hole In The Bucket."

I remember being a little ambivalent towards the song at first, but, with each repeated listening, it slowly became one of my favourite tracks. Before long I would often catch myself whistling it as I walked down the street. It is still the song which most frequently leaps into my brain whenever I go for a walk first thing in the morning.

Not only is it soulful and heart-felt, but it has a purpose, a message, which was something that was decidedly lacking from so much of the music I was listening to at the time. "Hole in the bucket" has been directly responsible for an enormous number of homeless people, drunks, vagabonds and smack addicts being successful when they've asked me that eternal question - "Got any change, mate?"

I can think of no other song which has so altered the day to day way in which I conduct my life.

Whenever I hear it, Michael Franti's deep velvet tinged voice always sounds like it's speaking directly to me. There's something in his manner, and his message, that touches me deeply, and that's without even mentioning incredible music itself... The man is simply infused with "soul", and, when I say that, I'm referring to the Old Testament meaning of the word.

Over the years the work of Michael Franti has touched me, moved me, and frequently challenged me, and I would have it no other way. This won't be the last of Michael Franti's songs to make an appearance in my 32 songs, but in some ways it's the most important.

Thank you Paul, for introducing me to an artist who has truly changed my life!

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Antici... pation...

Today's the last day of "Take Me Out".

It's been six weeks of my life and, although I've come to appreciate the show at lot more than I did when we started, I'll be happy to see the back of it.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again - Doing seasons of shows no longer interests me greatly. For me the enjoyment is in setting up, touring and packing up the show. Maybe I'm just becoming a little like CCR and imagine that my talents are somewhat wasted when I'm doing a lengthy season.

So what's next? Well over the next month I will be moonlighting on The Melbourne International Arts Festival. Which means tons of work on very cool shows and far too much time spent at The Spiegeltent. Ahhhh... My liver and wallet are cringing already.

In addition, I'll be finishing the month with a lighting design for "Bye Bye Birdy" at Caulfield Grammar School and then I'll be back down at MTC preparing for our last show of the year, "The Sapphires", so it looks like it's going to be a busy couple of months.

In other news, my well-wishes go out to Cyzilla who has done himself a rather serious injury. Get well soon mate!

And if any of you are desperate for some entertainment, head on over to I-Merge's blog where he and I have been engaging in some political tennis.

That's all for now, it's time for me to go to work.

Ciao until next time!

Friday, October 01, 2004

Nav Bar Goodness...

I know that CCR hates it, but I have to differ. I think the blogger nav bar rocks!

Whenever I get a little bored with my day, I just start to click on the "Next Blog" button and see where fate leads me. Yeah, I know that I could go and exercise, get some sun, catch up with friends, plan a revolution, read a book, write a book, snowboard, go dancing, or torment small children, but random blog surfing is almost as much fun.

I thought I'd share with you five of the more interesting blogs I have stumbled across.

The Saga Of The Rising Sun - Two western jazz musicians in japan makes for a very entertaining blog.

The Two Dimensional Life - One of the better photo blogs I've stumbled across, put together by the author of My black box... even though it's green, which is one of the more entertaining journals that I've seen.

Conspiratorium 101 - The truth is out there... maybe...

The Synchronicity of Indeterminacy - An amazing photo blog... with a difference...

The Love and The Rough - The life and opinions of a Melbourne DJ.

Mmmm... Bring on more of the Nav Bar Goodness. Have you found any other quality blogs whilst randomly surfing?