Now that I'm back in Melbourne (albeit for a whopping two days) I've been taking a moment to catch up on the Neurocam
news. It sounds like everything is beginning to settle down a little, which I think is a good thing.
Recently I've been a little concerned that, if everything continued at the break-neck pace established just after The Age
article, there would be so much activity that everybody would suffer a bit of burn-out... For me Neurocam has always been a much slower process, revealing itself bit by bit over an incredibly protracted period... Which doesn't mean that it has to stay that way, but I think that the slower process actually allows people to savor each development a little bit more.
Two developments that I've thoroughly enjoyed are the blogs of Xul Solar 23
... Neurocam operatives? Neurocam disciples? Neurocam detractors? Neurocam forgeries? All of the above? I don't know for sure and don't really care either way. No matter what their origins, both blogs have entertained me immensely this afternoon.
One other thing which has entertained me immensely is the 99 rooms
project (which Unconchis has linked to). It's a fascinating site and I suspect that, given the chance, I could lose myself for days there. Go take a look!
Tour diary - Days 8 & 9 - Canberra/Melbourne
Last night was the final night of the Canberra season and what a doozy it was.
Five minutes into the first act, one of the projectors (of which there are four in the show) blew a gasket and stopped working. After a frantic interval examination, we discovered that it had blown a fuse which, at first, didn't appear to be too much of a problem since I had packed a spare slide projector.
Unfortunately the only way to get the slides out of a carousel projector is to actually have it working... So instead of changing projectors, I decided to pilfer the fuse from the working one and put it in the not working one... BANG! There goes another fuse...
As a result we were down one slide projector for the rest of the show and I now have the uneviable task of trying to get the projector fixed before Launceston.
After the show it was time to bump out of The Canberra Theatre Centre. I had been expecting that the bump out would take until at least 3am, and so was relieved to be heading back to my hotel by 1am.
I was also delighted to watch Carmen attack, pit-bull style, the many Canberra party-goers who thought it was a good idea to park directly in front of the truck which was being loaded at 1am in the morning...
We checked out of the hotel at 8am, flew to Melbourne at 10am and now have two days in which to rest and recuperate before flying to Launceston... Mmmm... I foresee a lot of sleeping in my near future...
Tour Diary - Days 7 & 8 - Canberra
Today and yesterday have been devoted to playing catch-up with a number of my dearest friends. Last night it was dinner with Euan
, followed by a show which, truth be told, was one of the rougher performances we've given.
This morning I've breakfasted with Sil and Petra and am currently mentally preparing myself for the bump-out of the show tonight.
In expectation of the fact that I won't finish work until the early hours of tomorrow morning (3 or 4am), and that I've then got a 9am flight back to Melbourne, I'm also starting to pack up my hotel room.
Before I do that, however, and whilst I'm on the subject of my dearest friends, I wanted to take a moment to welcome Paul
(whose template looks a little familiar) to the world of blogging and point you all towards Cyzilla
's latest amazing downloadable set
... Good work chaps!
Now it's time to pack...
Tour Diary - Day 6 - Canberra
Yesterday was a day of ups and downs.
Despite my waking up at 6am, my day got off to a fantastic start. When I used to live in Canberra, a few of my friends and I used to have a tradition of meeting at 7am on Thursdays, prior to everyone heading to work, and having breakfast together. Well yesterday, for one day only, we revisited that tradition. It was absolutely lovely to catch up with Sil, Marcus, Fran, Lunch
, Marc and Nick.
Following three hours of breakfast (which felt like fifteen minutes due to sentimentality) I headed over the my parents place, played with my dog, fixed Mum's computer and then took my mother for her first ever sushi experience.
All in all, the day seemed pretty good.
When I got back to the hotel, however, I learnt a valuable lesson - Don't go swimming with your mobile phone still in your pocket...
Add to that experience (and subsequent cheap replacement handset purchasing) the fact that the pool was ridiculously over-chlorinated (thus making my eyes itch for the rest of the day) and I'm sure you can see how my day suddenly slipped into hellishness.
Still, despite all of that, last night's show went pretty well and I had a pretty relaxing day... Not as relaxing as today (in which I have done almost nothing), but relaxing nonetheless.
Remembering the gonzo...
"Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only cure is to load up on heinous chemicals and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas... with the music at top volume and at least a pint of ether." - Hunter S. Thompson
Upon hearing the news that the man who defined the term "gonzo journalism" has shuffled off the mortal coil in one of the most violent manners imaginable
I had the overwhelming urge to weep. To weep not just for the loss of an incredible individual, but for what may have been the death of a way of thinking within American journalism.
Obscure, wild, fragmented and demented, the work of Hunter S. Thompson had a way of touching me deeply... even when I had no idea what it was he was talking about.
After some reflection I was able, finally, to repress my urge to weep. It occurred to me, as I now started to consider finding a bottle of whisky with which to salute our fallen mentor, that there was a poetic appropriateness to the way in which Thompson departed this world. How much more tragic would it have been to watch him slowly wither away, to observe his decent into obscurity as the stars of "Big Brother" became the heroes of the next generation?
Now please don't interpret this post as my condoning the act of suicide, but don't you agree that, on some level, the suicide of Hunter S. Thompson appears to be the most appropriate end to the madness of his life?
Appropriate or not, it's still sad to see him go. Hunter S. Thompson, I raise a pint of ether in your honor.
"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me." - Hunter S. Thompson.
Tour Diary - Day 5 - Canberra
It's fair to say that yesterday was somewhat anti-climatic. Despite it being the official "opening night" of the show, most of the glitz and glamour was exhausted on Tuesday night.
Wednesday was spent polishing some of the rougher edges of the show, doing a matinee, shaking the head in disbelief about the silliness inherent in drinking until 3am the night before an opening night, attending the official opening party which was rather disappointing and then slinking off to the hotel room at something which resembled a respectable hour.
Yesterday also marked the last day that the Lighting Designer, Matt, would be traveling with the show. Which means that, from here on in, the lighting's entirely my responsibility... Time to sink or swim...
Tour Diary - Days 3 & 4 - Canberra
Where Sunday was hellish, Monday was purgatory... The day was spent plotting, tweaking, taping and waiting. Another fifteen hour day, but without the constant movement to keep me awake... Is it a professional faux pax to fall asleep during the tech rehearsal?
By the end of Sunday we were around two hours behind, but that wasn't a reason for concern. Being the first time that we've staged the show, we expected that there was going to be some teething problems. We made up those three hours on Tuesday, even though I had to wait until 2pm to receive a package which was the freight company had guaranteed would be delivered by 10.30am at the latest.
Tuesday night was the first performance of the show... A preview which, due to its "world debut" nature, became an opening night. The performance was attended by the Governor General (complete with personal armed escort) and a bevy of industry representatives... The guests of honor at the debut party, however, were my old housemate Marc and his current housemate Matt, whom I had a great catch up with.
Once they closed the bar at the function, we retired to The Phoenix
for beer and merriment.
When I was living in Canberra I used to avoid the Phoenix. I knew that it was a relaxed, lovely pub, but always thought that it was a little too smoky... The last two times I've toured to Canberra, however, I've ended up spending an awful lot of time in The Phoenix and I'm now convinced that it really is one of the most unpretentious, enjoyable, drinking establishments in the country.
After having yet another bar close on us, The Lighting Designer, Matt, The Stagemanager, Adam, The Truck Driver/Technical assistant, Andrew, The composer, David
, and I retired to Adam's room to discuss the differences between subsidized theatre and commercial theatre.
I made it back to my room by 3am and am now about to head back into the theatre for a meeting in which we'll be attempting to figure out exactly how we are going to fit this show into the theatres in Launceston and Hobart... My guess is that we'll be buying a crowbar sometime in the next few days...
Tour Diary - Day 2 - Canberra.
Finished at 2.30am... back in at 8am... Finished at 11pm... Less than four hours sleep... Too much caffeine... Too much faulty hire equipment... Not enough time... Two hours behind at the end of the day... Fatigue setting in... Need sleep...
Tour Diary - Day 1 - Melbourne to Canberra.
As I'm sure you've all noticed, there has been a distinct lack of activity on this blog. If you've been paying attention, you'll be aware that the reason for this recent bout of "missing in action" behavior is that I've been getting ready to go on tour.
Well now the packing's done, the procrastinating is finished, the brutal "which books and CDs do I want to take" selection process has been completed and I have begun my tour.
For those of you who weren't paying attention, the play I'm touring with is "Weary
". It's about the life of Sir Edward "Weary" Dunlop
, one of Australia's most renowned war-time figures.
So, anyway, at 2pm this afternoon I flew from Melbourne to Canberra in a tiny dual propeller plane (the type which, when I used to travel with the ABC, I have often referred to as the "pencil of death"). The flight was bumpy, the baby in the seat across the aisle didn't stop screaming for the entire flight and someone's mobile went off whilst we were making our decent into Canberra... A perfect start to my tour.
I'm now in my hotel room which, thankfully, has broadband access and soon I'll be off to have dinner with my folks (who live here in Canberra). Then, at 10.30pm, I'll be heading into the Canberra Theatre Centre
to begin the bump-in of the show.
To add to my perfect tour start, tonight I will finish work at 2.30am, heading back to the hotel, catching a few hours sleep and then heading back into the theatre for a 13 hour work day which begins at 8am... If this is how the rest of the tour is scheduled I might be in trouble...
And yes, in case you were wondering, I expect that, despite all of the above, I'm going to have a blast on this tour... Which won't, however, stop me from complaining from time to time...
Many moons ago I discovered an amazing online comic named The Parking Lot Is Full
Unfortunately the old adage that "all good things must come to an end" was proven to be true when Patrick Spacek, the creative force behind PLIF, wrapped the project up in 2002.
Since then Patrick has been teasing his fans with a number of Yahoo mail groups and the odd promise of a new and exciting comic. It was through those yahoo mail groups that, earlier today, Spacek made an announcement which both disappointed and delighted us here at the bandwagon.
The new comic is still-born, choked on an umbilical cord of untrustworthy comic-book artists.
Now whilst that may be reason to shed a tear, it wasn't all doom and gloom because Spacek also announced his TWO new projects.
The first is a blog, an everyday, run-of-the-mill, web journal in which you can read Patrick's remarkably twisted observations of the world around him. It's called "The Shaved Ape Chronicles
" and is well worth a look.
It's the second project, however, that I think promises to be much more interesting.
"Fighting The Influence
" is also a blog, but not an everyday, run-of-the-mill, blog. It is, instead, a creative output for Spacek. In his own words -
"If you've followed my mailing list stuff, you know how much I like writing from the perspective of the dangerous and insane. The 'b' blog is the ultimate expression of this, a novella in blog form, paranoid insanity via Philip K. Dick's 'VALIS'. I'm sure it's been done before, but not often enough, and not by me.
Having just read the first few posts of "Fighting The Influence", I've got to say that I'm very, very excited. My only question is - How long will it be before there is a "The Dalai Lama is Evil!" website?
As you are all no doubt aware, on December 26, 2004, a terrible tragedy occurred when a Tsunami devastated large portions of South East Asia.
Within days there were images of horror, destruction and desperation being beamed all around the globe, thanks to the wonder of modern technology.
I was immensely proud, although it pains me to admit it, of the Australian Government when they announced that they would be donating $1,000,000,000 to the relief effort. I was equally proud of the Australian people when they reached into their pockets and donated in unprecedented proportions.
It was a terrible event and the generous response from the public and private sectors was the right one. If you live anywhere in the Western world and didn't donate at least some money, then you deserve to have your Nintendo and SUV inserted side-ways into your various orifices.
Now, however, I can't help but wonder if there is another tragedy imminent.
Today, as I passed a poster which advertised yet another Tsunami relief fund raising concert, I found myself feeling a little cynical.
Yes it's a good cause, but have we forgotten about all of the other charities?
We don't live in a perfect world. There are millions of people, in countries all over the world, who are suffering for one reason or another and only a small proportion of those people are suffering because of the Tsunami.
With all of these funds, both public and private, being directed towards Tsunami relief, will there be anything left over? Or will corporations and governments exhaust the funds that they have available for "charities" and just decided that the non-Tsunami charities are just going to have to miss out this year?
Are we only giving money to tsunami relief because it would be "uncool" not to do so? Has tsunami relief merely become another buzz phrase?
I don't actually have any answers to the questions that I've posed above. I would, however, love to have my cynicism trampled by articles and statements which show that the money being given to Tsunami relief is not just money being redirected from other charities, but I don't think that's going to happen.
Now I know that this post might make me a little unpopular in some quarters, so I'm sorry if you take offence at any of the above. Be assured, all I'm actually saying is - Next time you reach into your pocket to give more money to Tsunami relief, take a moment to think about the other charities who might need your help.
Here endth the sermon....
Blog Post Deficit Disorder.
Hmmmmm.... As you may have noticed, there has been a noticeable lack of posting here at the bandwagon.
The reason for this? Well, to use an excuse that I've used many times before, I've been too busy.
Next week is the Cyrano
bump in, which is going to be massive, so I've been busy getting ready for that.
In addition, next Friday I'll be flying to Canberra and beginning the 16 week tour of "Weary", so I've been busy putting my life in order.
And, more immediately, to add just that extra little bit of hectic to my already chaotic life, tomorrow Sharn and I drive to Canberra, stay a night, fly to Sydney, attend the wedding of my ex-housemate Paul and his lovely wife-to-be Christy, stay with Chaos Butterfly (trust me, he's a real person) and then fly back to Melbourne on Sunday so I can start packing anew.
Taking that all into consideration, I hope you'll forgive the lack of attention I've been paying to this blog recently.
Funnily enough, once I'm on tour and traveling around the country I'm probably going to have a lot more time on my hands, so a more regular (and, perhaps, interesting) blogging schedule will be adopted.
Oh, and one last thing before I rush out the door, if you're here seeking a Neurocam
fix, it would appear that Operative Delta
has established a forum
where you can discuss such things. I hereby give it my "haven't even looked at it yet" approval and strongly suggest that all of you 'cammers go and join up.
That's all for now, it's time to finishing packing...
Something's happening here...
Let's stop for a moment and take a look around -
Last week The United Nations declared that the recent actions of the Sudanese Government did not constitute genocide.
Their actions did, however, constitute systematic - "killing of civilians, enforced disappearances, destruction of villages, rape and other forms of sexual violence, pillaging and forced displacement, throughout Darfur". And, it should be noted, that these acts were committed by individuals who "may have committed "acts with genocidal intent"".
Mmmmm... Now maybe I didn't hear that right, but when "70,000 people have been killed and two million more forced to flee their homes" it sounds an awful lot like genocide to me.
It obviously doesn't sound like genocide to the United Nations though, and the Sudanese Government are reportedly quite relieved by that fact.
So why did the United Nations decide that it wasn't genocide? Well a decision of genocide would result in the United Nations being morally obliged to step in, which, as this article points out, is not in the interest of certain Nation's which have a right of veto over the United Nations Security Council.
"In addition to this international apathy toward Africa, several of the permanent members of the Security Council have "vested interests" that make them very reluctant to risk antagonising the Khartoum government.
"China is the largest single investor in the petroleum industry in Sudan, and Russia is a major arms supplier to Khartoum," Colgan said.
"Both China and Russia, which are opposed to sanctions on Sudan, also have strong military relations with the government in Khartoum."
Which begs the question - Why do 5 countries within the United Nations have a right of veto?
Not so long ago I read George Monbiot's manifesto for a worldwide revolution, "The Age Of Consent". Now "The Age Of Consent" is a pretty idealistic book which, truth be told, makes a lot of suggestions which I feel are completely impractical, but it does make one thing abundantly clear - Whilst ever there is ANY nation within the United Nations which has a right of veto, the United Nations is NOT a democratic institution.
Monbiot recommends doing away with The United Nations and then establishing a "World Parliament" where every individual in the world has one vote. Personally I think that such a suggestion, whilst admirable, is unlikely to be achievable in the near future. I do, however, believe that it is worth striving for.
In the mean time I think we should be pushing for the abolition of the "right of veto". To replace it I see two viable options.
The 1st would be a one country, one vote set-up, which, although not completely democratic, would be a step in the right direction.
The 2nd would be a situation where a country gets a number of votes which is equal to its population.
Obviously both of these suggestions have serious flaws.
Under a "one country, one vote" set-up a country with a population of 100,000 would have as equal a say as a country with a population of 1,000,000,000, which is not any body's definition of democratic. And with a "your population equals the number of your votes arrangement", dictators would be able to use their people's votes to advance their own agendas.
But before you dismiss these suggestions outright, I think you should ask yourself the question - Are either of those options any worse than one in which a single country, with vested interests, can veto a move to stop genocide?
Yesterday I had a truly unique encounter with a truly unique human being.
I was walking down Bourke Street in the Melbourne CBD, pretty much minding my own business, when I noticed a young gentleman who was obviously trying to attract my attention.
Based on his appearance, I made some immediate assumptions and, even before he had reached me, I was positive that I knew what he was seeking. He was probably in his early thirties, was wearing a tattered shirt and ripped jeans, and looked as though he hadn’t seen a bath or shower for a number of weeks.
Now I’m generally reasonably generous when it comes to beggars, so I was already reaching into my pocket by the time he opened his mouth. What came out, however, took me by surprise.
“Hey Mate,” he said, “I’m not interested in spinning you a story. Do you think you could give me some money so I could buy some cheap and nasty alcohol?”
What? No story about sick grandmothers, a lack of bus fare or just needing change for a phone call?
I laughed out loud and promptly slipped him ten bucks for making my day…
Which just goes to prove - Honesty is always the best policy.
The 32 songs challenge has, due to the silly season, stalled somewhat over the last few weeks. Before it could completely slip into a coma, however, Lunch
have given it a good kick-start with their latest entries
Overcome by shame after reading their offerings, I decided that today was as good a day as any to get back on the wagon.
Graham’s 32 Songs - #17 “Hey Boy Hey Girl” by The Chemical Brothers.
Here we go!”
I’m frequently amazed by the number of people who claim to hate electronica, but love The Chemical Brothers. It’s a common enough phenomenon which generally results in my informing the electronica bigot that the Chemical Brothers are the epitome of electronica, which then inevitably leads to the conversation ending with their subsequent reply of – “Yeah… but The Chemical Brothers are… different.”
So are they different? They certainly are, but what is it that makes them so different? That is a much harder question to answer.
When I first encountered The Chemical Brothers I was struck by how dynamic their music is. Even though I’m a fan of electronica, I’m not afraid to admit that most dance music consists of one or two clever riffs layered upon remarkably repetitive beats. Songs by The Chemical Brothers, however, seem to be much more textured. There’s more rhythms, more riffs, more sounds, more beats and even, occasionally, moments of silence. They’re not afraid to slow their songs down, lose the bass and add a pretty vocal. Nor do they hesitate to speed a song up until the point where even Speedy Gonzales has trouble keeping up.
It’s not just their use of rhythms, beats and riffs, however, that has made The Chemical Brothers into one of the world’s ultimate cross-over bands. There’s one other little element which works in their favor – Guitars!
As electronica grew in popularity, guitarists the world over must have thought they were becoming an endangered species, but The Chemical Brothers put a stop to that. Next time you’re having a listen to a song by The Chemical Brothers pay close attention to the guitars. They’re there… Hear them?
I’m convinced that the main difference between The Chemical Brothers and other electronica groups is the use of guitars. It’s as if the sound of a guitar, even though it may be distorted to hell and dropped far back in the mix, somehow placates the electronica bigot, lulling them into a false sense of comfort where The Chemical Brothers are merely futuristic relations of the pub-rock bands the bigot is used to listening to.
For me, though, The Chemical Brothers are just creators of fantastic music and, as such, I could have included any one of a dozen of their songs in my 32 songs list. Faced with the near-impossible task of selecting just one track, I ended up choosing “Hey Boy Hey Girl” because it has another important significance.
In the late 90’s and early 00’s my extended circle of friends spent an inordinate amount of time hanging out in a single café – Café Macchiato. “Café Mac”, as it was known to us, was nothing special. The food was decidedly average, the beer selection was small and the prices were high, but it had one thing going for it – Us.
Due to some unknown twist of fate, we all seemed to agree (although no discussion ever occurred) that “Café Mac” was the best place to hang out in and so, on any given night, there was anywhere from between 2 to 40 of us sitting in the booths. It was an extremely rare day that I would walk into Café Macchiato and not find at least one person I knew already there. As a result, there are a surprisingly large number of my memories which relate to time spent in that particular café.
So how does “Hey Boy Hey Girl” fit it? Well, apart from the average beer and high prices, “Café Mac” also had a jukebox which had an awful lot of dreadful songs in it. The one gem, amongst the many shockers, was “Hey Boy Hey Girl” and so, in an attempt to stop the repeats of Bananarama and Billy Joel, “Hey Boy Hey Girl” was often on high rotation.
A sign of how ingrained my mental connection of “Café Mac” with “Hey Boy Hey Girl” has become was demonstrated last Sunday when I went to see The Chemical Brothers perform at The Big Day Out. As I stood there in a crowd of over 20,000 and listened to The Chemical Brothers begin their set with a loop of the vocal line from “Hey Boy Hey Girl”, I was bombarded with memories of sitting with friends, chatting with Bec and Anna, eating undercooked chicken schnitzel and wondering why we hadn’t selected a bar with a bigger range of songs on its jukebox… It was the perfect start to one of the most amazing live performances I have ever been to.