Saturday, February 28, 2004

Brisbane Update 4: At last...

... a chance for a sleep in!

So what do I do? Get up at the same time as usual and head to an internet cafe. Sometimes I suspect I need to get my brain checked.

One more day in Bris-Vegas and then I'll be jetting home. It's been a blast, but it'll be nice to get home and meet my (temporary... maybe) new housemate... more on that later...

I've finally done my Neurocam homework and checked out the reference on page 404 of "The Magus" by John Fowles. Here's what I discovered half way down the page:

"I conceived a new kind of drama. One in which the conventional separation between actors and audience was abolished. In which the conventional scenic geography, the notions of proscenium, stage, auditorium, were completely discarded. In which continuity of performance, either in time or place, was ignored. And in which the action, the narrative was fluid, with only a point of departure and a fixed point of conclusion. Between these points the participants invent their own drama."

I'll let you make of that what you will. I suspect it's the biggest hint yet as to the true nature of Neurocam.

In slightly more mundane news, and inspired by one of Cynan's latest posts, I thought I'd let you know about my recent success in the endless search for good vinyl.

Mostly due to the discovery of Rocking Horse Records (where I saw Little Birdy) I've made some impressive additions to my collection. Notable mentions in the "Cool New Vinyl Purchase" category are:

* Nubreed - Qurious E.P 2
* Soul Of Man - Serendipity E.P.
* Plump DJs - Remember My Name / The Push
* Atomic Hooligan - 6AM Beigel / B.T.P.2 (ft Siren)
* Hybrid - Higher Than A Skyscraper (Hybrid's Twitch + Sweat Mix/Orb's Tower of Babel Mix)
* Krafty Kuts - Lost Plates E.P.

The runner up for coolest purchase was the ultra funky:

* Plump DJs vs Underworld - Born Sloppy

And the prize for "Coolest New Vinyl Purchase" goes to:

* Kylie Minogue - Slow (Chemical Brothers remix)

Ahhh.... Vinyl.... Shame I don't have a turntable at my hotel. Maybe I should add that to my rider.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Brisbane Update 3: Tired, tired, tired.

I'll make this quick since I'd rather get out of this internet cafe and go get some sleep...

Finished work last night just after 2am and was back in by 8.30am... Ouch!

Brisbane has gone from heatwave to torrential downpour and back to heatwave.

The 75 degree slope that I have to walk up to get back to the hotel is a real shit after an 18 hour day.

Oh! And it looks like I might be getting a Neurocam promotion. This little note was in my e-mail today:

Hi Graham,

I hope you are succeeding in bring some culture to the
natives, not having to rely on the shocking taxi services and going easy
on the minibar...

Regarding what went down at Fed Square, all I can say is that the
people in question didn't get the help they needed and things got a
little dicey. It is amazing what you can and can't do in public spaces
these days...

Assignment 03 is taking shape and is looking like going down early next
week, perhaps Tues night. Will you be free to get involved?.

By the way Graham some of us have been discussing your progress with
Neurocam and have decided that you doing exceedingly well!
Even though you are relatively new to the team we are thinking of
offering you a promotion. This will of course depend on how
assignment 03 goes, but I have absolute confidence in you. We will
discuss this soon, perhaps even in person.

Must go, another security breach to deal with. Is it so hard to keep a
secret these days?


A promotion, an assignment and the possibility of meeting Robert in person - that's a lot to process when you've only had 4 hours sleep.

In other Neurocam-related news, I received an SMS yesterday from "C" telling me to pay close attention to p404 of "The Magus". I haven't had a chance to reread that section (The book is at the hotel... and finished!), but I'll let you know what I find.

That's all for now, the bed at the hotel is calling my name.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Brisbane Update 2: The Magic of Film.

Last night, in an attempt to get out of the heat, I went and saw the new movie "One Perfect Day". Now I'll confess that I've got something of an ulterior motive in talking about this film - I worked on it... Briefly... And did practically nothing... But worked on it none the less.

It works like this: There are a number of scenes in the opening stages of the film that are set inside a theatre. These scene were filmed on location, over a six day period in 2002, at the National Memorial Theatre in St.Kilda. Because the National Theatre insists that a house technician must be present for all hirers, I got to spend six days babysitting the film crew. In reality this meant that I did a lot of sitting around, the occasional turning on or off of theatre lights (as set dressing) and quite a bit of pointing at power outlets ("Yes Mr.Director sir, of course you can plug your laptop in there."). Still it was a fascinating experience. I'd been on film shoots prior to that, but nothing of that magnitude.

The funny thing is that, although all of those scenes were shot in a theatre in St.Kilda, that section of the film is set in London. Ahhh... The Magic of Cinema!

At the time I thought that many of those scenes looked kind of tacky, but I was extremely surprised by how good they ended up looking in the film. It's amazing what a bit of clever post-production can achieve.

So the verdict on the rest of the film? Well, despite some of the negative things I'd heard in advance, I ended up enjoying it immensely. The story's pretty simple, and there are some moments when the acting is a little dubious (the European drug-dealer in particular), but as a whole it was a great ride. Plus it's got a killer soundtrack as well (much of which was composed (or remixed) by Josh Abrahams of "Addicted to Bass" fame).

In short, I thought it was well worth the watch. Has anyone else seen it? If so, what did you think?

In other Brisbane news - Today is hotter than yesterday. I went for a walk around Fortitude Valley this morning, ate some of the worst Eggs Benedict that I've ever had, explored a little and finally sought refuge in an air-conditioned internet cafe.

This afternoon I'm meant to be going to a BBQ at the home of one of the techs from QPAC, but that's a little dependent on me being motivated enough to make the journey over there.... The air-conditioned hotel room sounds much more inviting at the moment.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Brisbane: Update 1.

It's been a crazy few days.

Thursday 19/2, 5pm: After turning off my computer (following my last post) I ordered a taxi to take me to the airport (I had to be there by 6.15pm). There was an automated system on the other end. The lovely lady with the slightly robotic voice informed me that "We have your address. The next available taxi will be sent to pick you up."

5.15pm: No taxi.

5.30pm: Still no taxi. I was getting a touch nervous so I called the taxi company back. This time I pushed the right combination of buttons so that I (eventually) spoke to a real person. This time the lady with the much warmer (and actually alive) voice informed me that "There's already a taxi on it's way sir."
"Which address do you have for me?" I asked, confident that they'd have it right.
"9 Cunningham..."
"That's wrong."
"Oh... Have you moved recently?"
I gave the woman my actual address and she informed me that a priority taxi was on it's way. I relaxed a little.

5.50pm: No taxi.

5.55pm: Very nervous, I phoned the taxi company again. The (different) woman on the end of the line had the right address for me but said "Sorry, there doesn't appear to be a booking on the system. I'll send a priority taxi right away."

6pm: A taxi arrives. The driver informs me "I just got the call five minutes ago."

6.15pm: Check in time. Half-way to airport. Frantic phonecalls to traveling companions.

6.30pm: Arrive at airport. Late check in organised. Relief.

7pm: Flight to Brisbane departs. Upgraded to business class. All is good.

9.30pm (Brisbane time): Eating dinner in China town. Serenaded by the sound of dragon dancers practicing on the roof of a nearby carpark.

Was the first day of the set up for "Blue Room". It was also my first time working in the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) which seems like a great venue. Everything went extremely well.

That night (after a bit of wheeling and dealing with the FOH manager at QPAC) I managed to score a house seat (3rd row, centre seat) to the Ani Difranco concert which was on in the venue next to the Lyric Theatre (where we're doing "Blue Room").

Ani Difranco was absolutely amazing! It's the first time I ever seen her do a solo set (no band) and she managed to tear up the stage. How is it that so full a sound can come out of one tiny girl and her guitar. Incredible!

I've got today off and I'm extremely grateful for that fact. It's a scorcher. It's meant to be hitting 42 degrees today with humidity in excess of 90%. OUCH! I intend to spend most of the day emulating a puddle.

I have, however, just been to an in-store appearance by Little Birdy. That's the second time in two weeks that I've managed to catch this incredible Perth band performing live. This time it was an acoustic set. Five songs and a meet and greet afterwards. Very cool (unlike the weather).

That's all for now. Time to head back to my hotel room and see if I can pretend that it's not an oven outside. Maybe I'll re-emerge around 2am....

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Prior to Leaving - The Possibility Of Only Two Meals A Day.

I've got to make this one quick because I'm about to leave for the airport (bringing culture to the cultureless).

I got home from my Aikido class today to find the following e-mail in my Inbox:


I have just had word that something is going down at Fed Square tonight 6.30 - 7.30pm. A shame you are off to the land of no culture as I was going to send you with the others to complete a very spontaneous assignment. On the off-chance you are flying out later tonight the brief is this:

Location: Fed Square (outdoor public space)

There are some people who need help.
They do not look like anyone else
Assist these people in whatever manner you see as appropriate
Send me a brief report of what happens


By the way we may have a problem with the person known to you as "lunch" Any thoughts?

Sadly I won't be able to report on what happens as I'll be in transit at the time (probably just over Sydney (or maybe stuck in Melbourne waiting for the baggage handlers to start working again (why do they always take a break when it's time for my flight?)))... I'll try to send my spies but it's probably too short a notice for me to arrange.

Problems with "Lunch"? Very curious indeed. Maybe "Lunch" should look into hiring some body guards - It might not end up being my body you'll all be searching for. Personally I think he's probably only reacting to some of "Lunch's" past comments on this blog. Then again, maybe lunch has been doing a bit of Neurocam interaction on his own... You never know.

Mum warned me about trusting public servants, maybe I'm about to find out why.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

A Different Type Of Search Engine.

Civil Libertarians consider it an obscene invasion of privacy, world governments consider it one of their most practical tools, and many 13 year old girls around the world simply see it as the best way to find out about their favorite celebrities, but in every case they'd agree that the internet is one of the most convienient ways of researching (and keeping track of) other people.

Now there's a new website you can go to when you want to find out what your neighbours have been up to.

It's time to search for information on your favorite criminals.

I know that I should be horrified about this, but after even a few moments on the site the whole thing has had me in stitches.

For example, here's a very merry guy who might just have a slight problem with alcohol. Never again will I let somebody tell me that alcoholism leads only to unhappiness - Just check out that smile! And he's just the beginning...

Is this the skeleton in the closet that Our Man In Washington has been trying to hide (there is a certain family resemblance)?

Is this what a certain Sam III will look like after a few more years and a lot more pounds? I dread to think.

I know that I'm probably going to hell for this post and, deep down, I think it's appalling that this type of private information is available on internet, but I can't stop myself from going back time and again, searching for random names, and chuckling at what I turn up.

So DON'T follow my lead. DON'T give into temptation and pry into other people's lives. It's wrong and, no matter what, you SHOULDN'T do it. If, however, your morals are slack enough (or curiosity gets the better of you) please DO send me the details of any pearlers you might find. It could become like internet trading cards... Soon kids around the world will be playing for criminal rap-sheets in the playground. It'd sure as hell beat Pokemon! Just imagine:

"I play my Pikachu with obnoxiously cute special powers."

"That's nothing! I play my homicidal, three times convicted, murderer who has tendencies towards pedophillia, anger management issues and a heroin habit."

Ahhh... I can barely wait.

Monday, February 16, 2004

25 Letters Left In The Alphabet!

It would seem that a letter has been dropped from the Neurocam alphabet. Here's the e-mail I received from Robert Henley today:

Well done Graham, you showed initiative and acted appropriately under challenging circumstances. I'm glad you also enjoyed the performance. Your quote from p178 certainly sheds some light on pic poc po.

Don't worry about Z she has been effectively eliminated from proceedings, along with a few others who bungled last weeks assignments. We are reasonably sure none of them know enough to cause us any real damage.

This weeks assignment is going to take a little more preparation so the time frame may be extended to a couple of weeks. I will keep you posted as soon as I know anything.

I am now up to p448 and am finding that I am also enjoying the book more as it progresses. I am absolutely fascinated by the events which transpire in chapter 55. Let me know what you think.

Have a good week


Z has been "Eliminated". That sounds awfully sinister to me (I'm very fond of Zebras), and I can't help but wonder if elimination hurts (or is permanent). It's possible, unless of course you subscribe to Lunch's theory that there may in fact be no "Z", and that she was merely a random construct inserted into the proceedings to increase the level of difficulty and confusion. Maybe she was just created to convince me that I'm not alone in this.

The more I think about these issues the more paranoid I become. Despite meeting (briefly) "C" on Friday night, I am starting to suspect that I may be the only genuine participant in this Neurocam game (experiment? study? mental torture?). It's crossed my mind more than once that "C" may in fact be Robert (or someone closely connected to him) and that the exchange on Friday was a convenient way of getting my phone number (a bizarre new form of dating service?) and lullying me into a false sense of security.

"C" may not really exist. "Z" may have never existed. "Z" may have existed and may have been really "eliminated" with extreme prejudice and now may be only playing Frank Zappa tunes whilst she rides Zed's chopper around the great Zoo in the sky. It probably doesn't help that I'm currently up to page 350 of "The Magus", a story in which one of the main themes is the way in which the difference between reality and fiction can become extremely blurred. Then again, maybe I'm just thinking too much about the entire thing and succeeding only in thinking myself into knots.

The truth is, however, that I'm having a ball. I've been endlessly entertained by the effect that this little adventure has had on me (including the increased level of paranoia) and I'm eager to see where it leads. I just hope that at the end of it all (at least I assume there will be some type of conclusion... Now there's a thought - What if it never ends?) I get to meet "Robert" and either buy him a beer, hit him with my bar stool or join him on the spaceship.

Anyone care to place a bet on which one it'll end up being?

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Pic Pac Poe and Neurocam Assignment 2.

"The observance of ritual is a form of the cultivation of beauty." - from page 178 of "The Magus" By John Fowles.

Last night, in an attempt to complete my second Neurocam assignment, I went to 3 Rochester St Fitzroy (A.K.A Conical). Unsure of what to expect, I arrived just in time for the start of a live performance (or was it installation art with live props?) entitled "Pic Pac Poe - The rite of exit". "Pic Pac Poe" takes the form of a ritualistic game and is the work of an artist named Jason Mailing. Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's story "The Masque of the Red Death" Jason began developed "Pic Pac Poe" at a time when he was researching "old English religious rituals and the way in which memory and repetition moulds and abstracts the form of ritual through time."

He had this to say on the information sheet handed out last night:

"I have long been interested in concerns of a similar tension in the nature of process and presentation in the form of rituals and games. A "player" may lose themselves in the rules, or structure of an activity and become oblivious to the presented narrative. Conversely a performer may play with an exterior presentation in mind and neglect the mechanics of the game. These issues present a curious compositional problem for the artist, a duality for "the player", and an unstable role for the audience."

I'm sure I'm not the only one who can see a parallel with the Neurocam experience.

The nature of "Pic Pac Poe" is described as:

"Pic Pac Poe is a rite where the "effect" is the tension between a story read, a story played and a story remembered. It exploits various literary images embedded in Poe's text, primarily the central theme of exit or inevitable death and transforms these into a series of objects and rules for a directional stepping game."

And it's mechanics are:

"The text has been split into eight sections and stamped onto a series of double-sided leather tiles that are organized in a similar way to Dominoes. The two players may only move by stepping onto the tiles one at a time and placing each subsequent tile according to colour and the physical orientation of the text. Every time a player steps onto a new tile the text on that tile must be recited. How the text is recited is up to the player."

Fascinating! So, what happened once I arrived? Well the first thing you need to know is that I received an e-mail from Robert Henley yesterday which included an additional aspect to my assignment. It read:


"I do not ask you to believe. All I ask you is to pretend to believe. It will be easier."

Well spotted, a very astute observation and very relevant to what we are trying to do with Neurocam. I am up to page 385 (The book was in fact recommended to me by one of our conceptual advisers) and it only gets better. I hope I have not given away too much by giving you this suggested reading. There is a chapter where Conchis is talking about a new kind of theatre where there is in fact no audience which is extremely interesting, especially when considering the work of artists like Peter Burke, Robin Hely and Jason Maling. However I still stress that art or even theatre is not the key to Neurocam.

On Friday you if you have time you might want to observe what is happening at 3 Rochester St. Very curious indeed, part of Js assignment. Also, an operative
known as "Z" may be turning up on the night. We are having some problems with Z and might need you to keep an eye on her. We need to know whether she is maintaining full confidentiality of Neurocam business. If you are able to, could you approach her and ask her the test question: "What is Neurocam?". If she attempts to explain her involvement we have a problem. If this is the case I will need you to approach another agent, "R" and say the following phrase: "Zed's dead". All very pulp fiction I know but we have to use naff code sometimes.

Thanks Graham and once again good luck


Very curious indeed. It would appear that I am definitely not alone in the Neurocam experience.

So what happened? I arrived at Conical to find a line of people ascending up a darkened stairwell. Waiting at the top of the stairwell was a young woman who was describing the nature of the performance and handing out information sheets. I couldn't help but notice her confusion over the fact that I had a piece of paper with the letter "G" taped to my shirt. To her credit though, she didn't comment on it, nor ask any questions.

Upon stepping into the gallery the first thing that struck me was how dark the room was. The only light source was supplied by two gas lanterns which sat in the middle of the room. It was so dark in fact that I had trouble making out the detail of people's faces, let alone whether or not they were wearing a lettered piece of paper.

There were around 30-40 people milling around in the room. A large number of them were crouched near the lanterns in an attempt to read their information sheets. There were also a number of speakers around the room, from which was emanating a dark and somber soundtrack. Straining my eyes, I walked around the room looking for paper letters. I suspect any observers may have thought that I was a tad strange, or maybe even that I was a pervert - I was there alone, walking back and forth, staring intently at other people's chests.

More people filed into the room (every single one of them paused upon entry in an attempt to let their eyes adjust, thus causing something of a traffic jam at the entrance) and the soundtrack started to increase in volume. Then a young man approached me.

"Excuse me, do you have something on your chest?"

"Ummm... Yes." It was then that I noticed that he had a piece of paper with the letter "C" on his chest.

"Does it say G?" he asked me. My writing was very light and in the darkness he must have been struggling to read it.


"I think I've got to give you my contact details."

And with that he removed the piece of paper (and the pin which was holding it there) and handed to me (sticking me with the pin when he did so). I handed him my details which I'd written on a separate piece of paper and then he promptly left without saying another word. I put his details in my pocket (jabbing myself again with the pin in the process) and continued to mill around the room, all the time searching intently for "Z" so I that could finish the second part of my assignment.

About five minutes passed and then the sountrack in the room increased dramatically in volume. At this point there must have been about 60-70 people in the room. Everybody was now sitting against a wall waiting for the performance to begin, so I followed their lead. The time was about 7.45pm.

The two performers (one male, one female) walked into the centre of the space, donned hessian robes (monk-style), picked up the leather tiles, picked up the lanterns and began to play "Pic Pac Poe". The result was one of the most unique theatrical experiences I have ever experienced. Upon arrival, last night, I had expected to be engaged intellectually and (most likely) emotionally, I didn't, however, expect to engaged so thoroughly on a professional level. It begs the question: Why is there not more of this type of experimental theatre going on? Or, more to the point, is it going on behind the scenes and I just haven't been aware of it?

Sadly I had to leave at around 8.10pm (myself and Sharn had tickets to go see "Little Birdy"). I felt exceptionally rude leaving mid-performance but it couldn't be helped. At no time did I spot someone wearing a "Z"... I did however spot someone who I think was wearing a "R" (it was hard to tell in the extremely dim light). He was the cameraman who was set up at one end of the room and recording the performance. I wonder if "R" stands for Robert?

All in all, an amazing experience. I wonder what next week's group assignment will be. Any guesses?

"His plans were bold and fiery, and his conceptions glowed with barbaric lustre. There are some who would have thought him mad. His followers felt that he was not." - from "The Masque of the Red Death" Edgar Allan Poe.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Assignment Number 2.

The e-mail with the details of my second assignment has arrived!

And, in what may be a sign of how obsessed I've become, I almost fell out of my seat with excitement.

Here's what it said:


You will need to be at 3 Rochester St Fitzroy between 7.30 and 8pm on Friday.
Your assignment is to make contact with another agent known as C and
exchange contact details with him. You are not allowed to discuss Neurocam
with him or how you came to be involved in this. C will have a
small square of paper on the left side of his chest featuring the letter
"C". He will be assisting you in a group assignment next week. The
instructions for this assignment will be sent to you via sms. Once you
have Cs mobile number you may leave. You will need to attach a small
square of paper to the left side of your chest with a clearly marked "G" on
it. It is important that you do not attempt to make any enquiries with
any of the other people present at the address. If you choose to do so
this may jeopardize your involvement with us.

Good luck


It'd appear that I'm not alone. There has to be at least one other person involved with Neurocam for this to work. Unless of course "C" is one of the organisers of Neurocam. I guess there's no way to tell. Whatever the case, tomorrow night should prove to be very interesting indeed.

While we're talking Neurocam - Hurray for Ratbat who discovered a possible Neurocam/New Zealand link. Neurocam NZ? That gets the mind working. You'll also note that this version of Neurocam seems to date back to 2000. Maybe this is a much bigger organisation/project than I first thought.

Finally, I'm still reading "The Magus" by John Fowles (the book recommended to me by Robert Henley) and noticed this pearl on page 137:

"I do not ask you to believe. All I ask you is to pretend to believe. It will be easier."

An interesting thought. I wonder if it might also be applied to Neurocam. Only time will tell.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Shameless Self Promotion Number #4 (or is it #5)?

I think it's number 4, but to be sure I'd have to go back and look at the archives and I really couldn't be bothered.

Anyway, my latest article is up on In The Mix.

This time I've interviewed Lance DeSardi from the Deep House outfit Undercover Agency.

Go and have a read of it if you're even vaguely interested... or else check in tomorrow for the latest Neurocam update.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Neurocam As A Literary Awareness Program.

In one of his first e-mails to me, Neurocam's mystery architect, Robert Henley, asked me this question:

Have you seen the film "Strange Days"?

At the time the answer was no. I was, however, quite curious as to how "Strange Days" might be connected to my Neurocam adventure and thus I set about trying to hire it from the local video store. Sadly they didn't have any copies in stock. That, and the fact that the video store clerk looked at me like I was requesting a copy of "Debbie Does Everyone", made me wonder (not for the first time) about what I was getting myself involved in.

My search was then suspended due to my trip to Sydney, but I vowed that, upon my return, one of my first priorities would be to track down a copy of "Strange Days".

It was pure coincidence then that caused me to stumble upon a print copy of "Strange Days" whilst I was in a store in Sydney. OK, I admit it "print" is probably glorifying it a little. I actually found a comic book adaptation of the movie whilst looking through a bargain bin at Kings Comics on Pitt Street.

I read it that night, saw little that connected it to Neurocam, and the next day I fired off an e-mail to Robert Henley from a local internet cafe. Part of it read:

I have, however, now read the book of "Strange Days" and am quite curious as to how it may be linked to Neurocam... I'm not sure I'm ready for this to turn into a game of "Blackjack".

His response that same day:

The reference to Strange Days is not that literal.
Have you read "The Magus" by John Fowles? This is more literal.

A hint? A lead? Another mind-game? Who knows? I sure as hell don't, but I immediately set out to find myself a copy of "The Magus".

It wasn't until I returned to Melbourne, however, that I managed to find a copy at Readings bookstore on Lygon street. The following exchange occurred when I bought the book:

Me: I'd like to buy this book please.

Girl behind counter: Wow! This is an amazing book. Do you know much about it?

Me: No. I... ummm... had it recommended to me.

Girl behind counter: Oh. You'll love it. It's my favorite book of all time. It's absolutely life-changing.

Curiouser and curiouser. At least this time I can see a potential link with Neurocam. The synopsis on the inside cover reads:

On a remote Greek island, Nicholas Urfe finds himself embroiled in the deceptions of a master trickster. As reality and illusion interwine, Urfe is caught up in the darkest of psychological games...

John Fowles expertly unfolds a tale that is lush with over-powering imagery in a spell-binding exploration of the complexities of the human mind. By turns disturbing, thrilling and seductive, The Magus is a cerebral feast.

"Cerebral feast" indeed... Maybe Neurocam is just an underground literary awareness program? Whatever the case, the fact is that I started reading "The Magus" today. I'll let you know what mysteries I discover within it's covers.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

A Crisis Of Faith.

Recently I've been suffering from something of a crisis of faith. It's not a religious crisis (for that I'd need to have a religious bone somewhere in my body... Which I'm pretty certain I don't) it's a loss of faith in a group of institutions, organisations and ideals. Specifically I'm talking about a loss of faith in regards to charities.

In the past I was quite active (eager?) in giving some of my money to charity, but over the last six months that seems to have changed.

It's not that I don't see the need for charities - there are tons of causes in the world which need more aid then they are currently getting (refugees, famine, AIDS, environment, homeless people, the list goes on). Nor is it my turning into a McScrooge wanting to keep all of my earnings for myself. It's got to do with the fact that I can no longer see the output of these charities. Or, to be more exact, at the end of the day I'm left with nothing substantial that I can see my money being used for.

It works like this - I hand my money to someone on the street who tells me that the money is going to a good cause, but I never actually see that money being put to use. Combine this with the number of stories I've been hearing lately about administration heavy charities where a large amount of their money goes into wages and I think you'll start to see from where my crisis of faith has sprouted.

Intellectually I know that most of the charities that stop me on the street are doing some good and that I should be doing something to support them, but that fact no longer seems to inspire me to reach into my pockets.

How have I been resolving this internal conflict? Well for as start I've been giving a lot more money to beggars/street artists/intersection window-washers and the like. At least this way I can immediately see who my money is going to, and I at least get a sense of how it might help that person (even if in the end it doesn't and they only spend it on booze or smack). That helps me feel like I'm doing something, but it doesn't really solve the problem that I seem to have become so cynical that I know longer trust the wilderness society koala.

I'm curious... How do the rest of you feel about charities? Am I the only one suffering from this sudden loss of faith?

Friday, February 06, 2004

Neurocam is NOT...

It didn't take him long - Robert Henley (self confessed head of Neurocam) has already sent a response to my antics from last night. What's more, it's become very obvious that he's been reading this blog.

Here's what he had to say:

Well done Graham, it is good to see that you are taking this seriously. I must ask however that if any photographs were taken of you performing your assignment that you email copies to me as jpegs. If you are concerned about revealing your identity for legal reasons you can use a mosaic blur on your face. Photographic evidence of assignments is sometimes very useful to us in order to assess members performance ratings. It is important for us to get a clear idea of the way in which members approach their tasks. Blogspot entries are indeed helpful as well.

The next step involves a meeting of our assessment panel where we will give you a rating (out of 10) for your assignment. This data will then be processed and assimilated into our objectives schedule. The points award structure is for our reference only at this stage so you will not be notified on how well you performed, however being given another assignment is confirmation that you have passed.

Your next assignment is still being prepared, we will let you know the details in the next few days.


By the way Neurocam is not a matter of perception, although that was a good answer.
Neurocam is also NOT an art project and has not been funded by an arts council. I think that point was missed on the website.

Hmmm, the plot thickens... At least we now know a few other things that Neurocam is not... I wonder what my next assignment will be though. Any guesses?

While we're on the subject of things that Neurocam is not, here's an extract from an e-mail I received from one of my spies (ah hem! I mean friends) who has been following this whole adventure with great interest. A certain ex-trademark turned mid-day meal made this fascinating discovery:

After having a look at their website and noticing the NEUROCAMtm trademark thing, I figured I'd try to use my experience on the wall to help you get
to the bottom of the mystery, as whenever you apply for a trademark you need to say what goods or services you provide, unfortunately after having a quick look on the old trade marks register and they haven't actually registered it here or in the US or UK... So that really isn't much help...

On the contrary, Lunch, I think that your little tid-bit reveals a great deal. When combined with the disclaimer on the Neurocam website we now have quite a substantial list of things that Neurocam is not.... I'll set my mind to work and see if I can figure out a plausible explanation that we haven't already eliminated.

By the way, I'm very aware that this blog has very quickly become rather single focused (maybe I should change the name to "Jumping on the Neurocam"). I'll do my best to try to intersperse the Neurocam post with some more slightly mundane this-is-the-rest-of-my-life ones in the future... Of course that may all go out the window once I receive my next assignment. We'll just have to wait and see.

Assignment Complete!

*One can of orange spray paint.

*One billboard.

*A camera.

*A late night.

*Four trams.

*One very "Stand By Me" moment involving a tram, a bridge, and an unexpected game of chicken.

*A shit-load of adrenalin.

*Some support (egging on?) from a joke-cracking friend.

*One very high heart-rate.

*One e-mail of confirmation.

.... And my first Neurocam assignment is completed... Neurocam IS a matter of perception.

Mind you, I thought it was clever to look at the tram timetable and pick a twenty-minute window where no trams would pass by. Why then did no less than four trams pass by? It had to be part of a plot to make my heart stop... there's no other reasonable explanation.

Actual conversation had on middle of bridge:

"What's that light? Is there a road up ahead?"

"Nope, no road that I'm aware of... Wait a minute that's a tram."


"We'd better get off this bridge. Forward or back?"


And so it was. I'll let you know what response I get (and maybe what task I'm set next), but in the meantime I'll leave you with an e-mail that Cynan sent me today:

DUDE check this stuff out!

could be completely irrelevant, but you never know?

Brighthouse: A new-agey advertising/consulting/ strategic advice company. Brighthouse's claim to infamy is its Neurostrategies Institute, which undertakes research to see how the brain responds to advertising campaigns. In a cutting-edge effort to extend and sharpen the commercial reach in ways never previously before possible, the institute is using MRIs to monitor activity in people's brains triggered by advertisements.
(that sounds to me somewhat like the Strange Days technofantasy)

mind you... I still would hedge $5 that you've joined a cult that scored an arts council grant.

And here's a snippet from an e-mail sent by Rob T:

I do enjoy the blog, and while I'm one of many people willing to do so, I'd love to post bail for you after neurocam gets you to paint a psychedelic bunny on city hall on a pogostick.

It's nice to know that some of you care... Or at the very least that my life is disturbing enough to have a certain car-crash (can't help but look) quality.

So while you're reading I'll ask you the most important question - Anybody know where I can get a cheap deal on a pogostick?

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Neurocam correspondence.

I think Sharn's becoming more than a little concerned about my growing obsession with Neurocam and, truth be told, I'm starting to suspect that she might be quite justified in doing so.

Due to the last two e-mails I have received from Neurocam representative "Robert Henley" I now feel more confused than ever.

In fact it was upon receiving the second piece of correspondence for the week that I had to battle a growing feeling that I was in beyond my depth. The whole things seems pleasant enough, but I couldn't shake the feeling that there was a slightly sinister edge to it (which could just be due to my own unchecked paranoia). Then again, I guess that's what happens when you make your life available for public consumption.

Here's the two e-mails. Let me know what you think.

Sunday the 1st of February:

Hello everyone, congratulations on last week's assignments, you all did
yourselves proud! We are
pleased to witness such high levels of dedication from those of you
who are new to the team. Keep up
the good work as we step things up a few notches this week. For those
of you who were unable to
perform your tasks last week this is not a problem. Do them when you
can and we will make sure you
catch up at a later stage. We understand that some of the projects are
difficult to perform at such short
notice due to family or work commitments.

You might be interested in our new-look website put together by one of
the team as part of her task last
week. Well done M an excellent job.

Hope you all have a good week and I will contact you individually very

Keep it real


Monday the 2nd of February:


I have been meaning to clear a few things up with you. You did well in
discovering the references to
Neurocam, VCA, Robin Hely and Robert Henley. I can see how it all fits
together very neatly and offers a rather
obvious explanation for all this. Unfortunately I have to tell you
that you are in fact barking up the wrong tree
entirely. Yes there is a Robin Hely who is an artist and used to
lecture at the VCA as well as being artist in
residence. Yes he has worked on projects where he has used the names
Robert Henley and Neurocam in
the same context. But let me suggest this; where did he get these
ideas from? Did it occur to you that he may
in fact be part of of our organisation?

I can assure you that there is far more to this that you might imagine.
All I ask is that you have a little faith and
don't jump to any conclusions just yet. Advertising still could lead
you into the open arms of adventure.

Robert (the real one!)

"Advertising still could lead you into the open arms of adventure"... A very curious statement indeed.

Mind you, the new improved Neurocam website, managed, although vague as ever, to set my mind at ease somewhat. The new disclaimer is fabulous.

Out of my depth? Possibly.

Becoming a source of worry for my girlfriend? Most likely.

Having a ball? Well and truly.

I'll keep you all informed of any future developments.

Graham's life short story competition.

It's been a busy weekend and thus I haven't had much time to update this blog. So here are a few things (in no particular order) that have happened over the last few days:

* I made a table dance.

* I debated with Paul and Christy whether or not standing on someone's grave to take photos of tombstones would constitute "Stepping on somebody's toes."

* I walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge with Sharn.

* I did a dance of joy upon learning that hip-hop legend Madlib will be performing in Melbourne in March.

* I learnt that someone from my past who I thought liked me in fact hates my guts with a passion.

* I finished (finally!) reading Shantaram by David Gregory Roberts- Thanks to Chris for recommending such an amazing read.

* I saw more pictures of Mark Latham on the front pages of Newspapers over last three days then I have seen in the last three years. For the first time in years the Labour Party looks like they might be capable of winning power.

* I walked from Coogee Beach to Bronte's Beach.

* I finally saw "Blithe Spirit" from an audience perspective.

* I was denied entry to a roof-top swimming pool.

* I raided my mini-bar due to a drinking session with Sam cubed.

* I drank more than a few very good Chocolate thickshakes.

* I made doors close properly.

* I didn't tell Petra that she was big in Washington.

And there you have it. Make of that what you will... or better still weave all of those events into a story and send it to me. Best story wins a prize (which mich be crap, but will still a prize). E-mail your entries to me and I'll put the best few of them up on the site.