barrington: (Bill Bailey)
I bought an iPod. It's probably the loveliest piece of technology I have ever owned. Since my laptop is named Soundwave, I have named my iPod Ratbat and my iPhone Laserbeak. Nerds love naming things, don't we?

But this initiated my pending big project - moving my iTunes library from my old desktop PC (rarely used now) to my laptop. I have used the official Apple guide to doing so, along with this guide from blogger David Kadavy. It's not quite done yet, I'll let you know how I go!

I'm also a bit excited because I bought tickets for Bill Bailey's new show, Tinselworm. Should be a corker.

One last thing - if you've been meaning to come down and support The Crew, this Sunday would be an excellent time to do so. We won't be back for a while - not before November at the earliest - and we've been doing it tough, so your support would be appreciated. Details on the web site, as usual.

Okay, so I have been seriously thinking about getting a 3G phone. I really want something with Internet, that has decent battery life, and which I can use to sync with or access my online calendar. And it seems all these desires point to iPhone. Today, I found out my telecom company, Virgin, now offers them, and on a pretty good deal. Plus, well, I started running a (very sporadic) D&D campaign recently, and... Well, I just found Mach Dice. It's not just a dice roller, it's a ridiculously pretty dice roller.

I can't quite get past the fact that I just bought an 80GB iPod mere months ago. Even though I'd primarily use an iPhone as a phone (and even a 16GB one couldn't hold all my music anyway), I don't know if I can justify having two super expensive gadgets like that. I didn't even get a DS until it was my birthday. And yet...well, it just seems to do what I want better than anything else on the market.

It doesn't help that I just adopted my work's only Macintosh, a little Mac Mini, unused since our previous developer left many months ago. It's feeding my love of all things Mac, and by extension Apple. If they can make a Mac, surely they can't mess up a phone?
So,uh...I'm in the Herald-Sun today. Not in a small way, either; you can't see it on the web site, but my face covers nearly half the first page of their education supplement, Learn. It's a weird feeling that my first major media interview is in a paper I don't often read, but hopefully the exposure will do me some good. I do really like the photo.

I should also mention that, while I don't write here much (though I'll try a bit more often), I am now regularly blogging about at least vaguely science-related topics over at labcoatman.com.au, which now runs on WordPress. You can probably add it as an RSS feed if you want to read it here, but if enough of you would like me to I'll set it up to automagically cross-post.

I've watched a little of the Olympics over the past few days; I'm not much of a sportsman, but I did enjoy the women's volleyball, since it's one of the few games I've competed in myself (though not women's volleyball, obviously) and thus understand. I was rotting rooting (thanks Halo) for Poland, but China beat them - it was a hell of a match.

The other one I enjoyed watching was the archery, the men's team event, where Italy took it down to the wire but were narrowly beaten by Korea. The Korean women had won the team event too, and scored a world record into the bargain. It reminded me that I keep thinking every now and then I'd like to take up archery; I had a go a few times in my youth and rather enjoyed it. It seems like a very relaxing and satisfying sport, though I must say modern bows are even more elaborate than I remember, with counterweights on the front resembling one of those toy lightsabers that extends outward...
Been a while between drinks, I know, but here I am! Just a quick update this time: today I went to Melbourne Museum to see the dissection of a giant squid. If I'd been more on the ball, I may have been able to organise a camera and a press pass, but as it was I only found out about it late yesterday afternoon. It was pretty packed - anyone watching the live webcast would have had a better view than me! Since a couple of weeks ago I got to scratch a giant tortoise at the Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, I'm feeling like I've fulfilled my giant animals quota for the year. Not that I wouldn't mind meeting a few more - especially if they're alive!

Speaking of giant animals, I'm picking up the dice again to run a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Not owning any of the core books for previous editions, I decided to give the new fourth edition a go. If you're curious, feel free to ask me about it my verdict so far is it's a lot of fun and easier for new players to pick up (lots of people say it has much in common with modern online RPGs, and they're not wrong), but the actual roleplaying aspect suffers a little because it's a little harder to separate the mechanics from the game world.

Anyway, I run my first session next week. The group is a nice mix of new and old roleplayers, most of whom I haven't played with before, and yes, my girlfriend is playing. Should be a blast!

In career related news: I'm now artistic director of The Crew, and I have been trying to provide direction to our art for a month or so now. We've moved to a new venue - the Bella Union at Trades Hall, and it's awesome. No Al Swearengen Cy Tolliver though. (Thanks Leah.) If you want to know about our gigs, you can get on our mailing list (see the web site) or become a fan on Facebook (it's what all the cool groups are doing now). I also have some other shows: the Anarchist Guild Social Committee (no web site yet) is a monthly live sketch show, also at the Bella Union. The second one is this Sunday, July 20. It'll be a corker. I also have a couple of projects for Fringe Festival, a new solo science show for Science Week, and I'll be doing Not the Nobel Prize at the Museum again this year, if all goes well. More details on these soon.
We all know I love dinosaurs. Hell, I was quoted about them in The Age. So imagine my delight to find on Facebook an event titled "Act Like A T. Rex Day", with more than 100,000 people signed up?

Of course, most of them won't be in Melbourne, but a few might be. And we've sold around 50% of tickets already. The last night is going to be huge!

Which means, of course, that I'm already planning the next few comedy tours...
Some of you may have seen the no star review of the Melbourne Museum Comedy Tour printed in The Age. Well, I agree, we were ill-prepared that first night - but it was still a fun show, and the audience seemed to have a great old time. Plus, we've now have some very nice reviews; you can find links to them on the Comedy Festival web site pages for both the museum and OBE.

This Tuesday, though, a man from Chortle is coming to see A Record or an OBE. He gave me my only bad review last year, but gave a lovely positive review of the Museum Comedy Tour today.

Chortle is the big UK comedy web site; it's read by fans, professionals, everyone interested in comedy in the UK, really. So this is a great opportunity.

So, if you haven't seen the show yet, it'd be great if you could come along on Tuesday. Tickets are only $10 each! If you've come before, get in touch; you can come again for free if you're really keen.

Finally, if you've been unable to come but would like to, I've just organised a one off late show which will probably be in a larger room at 11 PM on Friday, April 11. So you can get to see the show after all!
Helen Razer's review is now online at The Age; let me know what you think.

Tonight I'm appearing as the guest Scrabble player for Scrabble Unscripted, the impro show where Scrabble words provide the inspiration. It should be great fun, so if you're looking for an impro fix, come on down!

Remember if you're coming to OBE this week that it's only on tonight and the weekend; Wednesday to Friday is the Museum tour.
Today The Age finally printed it's first few reviews of the Comedy Festival, and they were of Ross Noble, Simon Palomares...and A Record or an OBE. Helen Razer gave both Simon and OBE three stars, and though the review is mixed praise (it's "drippy" and "pacey"), she described me as a "modish geek", which I'll take as a compliment. I'm also very, very grateful that I scored one of the first Age reviews: let's hope some ticket sales result.

I also managed to get a look in with one of my dinosaur gags from the Museum tour in the collection of one-liners from around the festival, "A man walks into a bar...ouch!".

Also this week I took part in some of the Free @ Trades events at my venue, Trades Hall. There's lots of fun stuff; some great live music, including Yohosie and the Hoodangers, and some weirder fun. Someone managed to win both the first So You Can Drink? You Can Dance! competition, and the first round of the Inaugural Tennis Tournament of Skill and Glory, an open Wii Tennis tournament. I've heard the man in question is rather a modish geek... Seriously, Trades is the most fun place to be during Comedy Festival, even if you're poor. And if you're not, well, I've seen about eight of the shows there and they've all been great!

Don't forget if you're planning to come along to either of my shows this week (and please do - bookings are thin on the ground), OBE is only on Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday, and the Museum Comedy Tour is on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. It'd be great if you could come along to the tour on the first night - we have reviewers! Tickets are only $15 (and remember, museum entry is normally $6) and you'll not only get to hear me talk about dinosaurs, but also get to see Sue-Ann Post and Tommy Dean!

Show times and details below the cut, for your convenience. )
Just when I had started to think that maybe I am just a frail, pale ginger man, living in a continent which should rightfully belong to black skinned humans for physiological reasons as much as any other, I learned that this is officially Adelaide's worst ever heat wave since records began. Yesterday we reached nine consecutive days over 35 degrees, and no relief is expected until next week - when I'll be home in Melbourne.

Crazy Adelaide. Still, it was a few degrees cooler yesterday than previously, so I went out after midnight and had a few drinks and a dance at the Garden of Unearthly Delights. It was the first real partying I've done the whole time I've been here, as I've previously been too hot or stressed to enjoy myself properly.
So: it's a week in to the Adelaide Fringe run of A Record or an OBE. And it's been a bit weird.

For one thing, the audience reaction has been completely different. In Melbourne, the audiences laughed a lot; only a couple latched on to the drama and ignored (or failed to notice) the jokes. Here, our first two audiences were virtually silent. Sadly, this is when the Advertiser came, and it's painfully obvious from the two-star review that our reviewer didn't get any of the humour. Our numbers fluctuated but we managed half houses on average, which isn't bad. But without the little push from a good review - or any comments at all on Fringe forum talkfringe, despite our second night being full of people who got free tickets from the site - numbers are seriously low for next week.

It's not all bad news: the only non-Murdoch paper in town, the Independent Weekly, gave us a lovely review which was printed on Saturday; that, along with putting the show on the 2 for 1 tickets list, got us very good houses considering it was the Womadelaide weekend. I've been playing with The Crew, both in our "Short Order Impro" show (which has been getting steadily bigger crowds), and our team in the local impro competition "Clash of the Theatre Titans", which are both great opportunities to plug the show to large, happy crowds. (We won all three of the competitions, by the way; I got to play a "Thank God You're Here" style scene tonight as our prize, and it was great fun!) Plus The Fix has been looking for editorial content, and will publish a "Top Ten Goodies Moments" article I penned early this week, which is more good publicity.

This city is weird, though. The people are largely lovely and very kind, but the city itself has multiple personality disorder. It's been beautiful: the Northern Lights exhibition, part of the International Arts Festival, is an awe-inspiring installation of art projected onto public buildings. (One of my favourites was the fossils, mostly trilobites and fish, projected onto the Museum - though that's also a reminder that I'll be leaving just before palaeontology week!)

On the flip side, the city's also trying to kill me. It has been stupidly hot every day this week, with the Mercury staying consistently above body temperature. The clear skies explain the heat during the day, but I'm still weirded out by how hot is stays at night. (Our venue The Fridge is very ironically named: it's not the actual fridge, but what seems to have been a loading bay. Unlike the rest of the factory floor there's no insulation or ducting in the roof; it's just a brick box with a tin roof. We've abandoned the jumper and jacket and we're doing the show in rolled up shirt sleeves.) It's also a long way between places, and I've discovered my shoes aren't quite the right size for hours of walking in hot weather...

I have seen some great shows, though. Mostly comedy, stuff I've missed previously or won't get to see in Melbourne, but today I saw Under Milk Wood performed by Guy Masterson with my friend Janine, and it was wonderful.

One week to go!
The sky is clear, there's better beer, in Adelaide.

Thanks Ben Folds. You totally prepared me for Adelaide.

As soon as I stepped off the plane, the place felt familiar. I had, after all, lived here for a month two years ago, and since the Fringe would be happening in all the same places, I already knew my way around. The place I organised for us to stay is on the small side, but not inconvenient; there's a bus that goes from just across the road all the way into the city every 15 minutes on weekdays, and pretty often at other times.

The venue for my show, the Fringe Factory (in the old Balfours Pie Factory), is beautiful; I've taken some photos and I'll put them up soon. My theatre space is wonderful, and I appreciate it all the more after the difficulty one of my friends has had with an independent venue manager who fulfilled none of the promises made in the hire contract. (She's had to find an alternate venue over the last three days, which was only possible because of the wonderful assistance of the Fringe staff.)

If the Factory has a down side, then it's being on the other side of town from the Garden of Unearthly Delights, a carnival style area with multiple venues, rides and sideshow style attractions which is run by independent company Strut 'n' Fret. It's quite a beautiful place to go, and after a shaky start - experienced by the whole Festival as the Clipsal 500 car race had been moved to coincide with the first week - it's at it's usual full capacity, with thousands of people showing up there. Which of course means they're not going to the Fringe Factory, but we'll see if that's picked up post-Clipsal soon.

I've seen a few shows already; mostly stuff I won't get a chance to see again, either because I missed them at other festivals or they'll clash with my schedule at Comedy Festival. I also missed a show today thanks to misreading the address; I didn't realise there'd be another Rundle Street in a suburb outside the CBD!

More soon. The show doesn't open until Tuesday, but the first couple of nights are sold out. Hopefully word of mouth, plus cross-promotion with Rob's other show, will get us some more sales for the rest of the season, which is pretty empty so far. If you know anyone who might be interested, please do tell them about the show! You can find out all the relevant details at my web site.

PS - on the Comedy Festival front, OBE has sold next to nothing but interest in the Museum Tour continues to escalate. I think it'll be a hit.
I watched the apology live this morning. I welled up. You could see what it meant to the people in the galleries. After he'd finished speaking, you could see what it meant to Rudd too - you could read emotion and hope and strength in the man's face, and maybe a little "did I just do that?" as well. I know he and I disagree on some important things, to judge by some of his published opinions, but he's still someone I wanted to run the country and I think if we were to meet he's someone I'd like.

This is what I always thought politics should be - great leaders making great decisions and delivering on promises of great actions. I have confidence that action will follow, and appropriate action at that.

I missed the body of Nelson's speech, but even at the start its promise seemed spoilt by inappropriate emphasis on white Australian history. Were any of you at Federation Square? Did you turn your back on him? I think I wish I'd been there...
I know I more or less promised a part two to the last installment, but I've been busy. I will commit that story to screen, though, and soon. But the reason I'm here is more pragmatic.

I've finally got a YouTube video up of one of my shows; it's a 51 second clip from my play, A Record or an OBE, and I think it's a good funny moment that showcases the show well (even if the video quality isn't amazing). I've embedded it below; if you like it, please stick it on your own LJ, your blog, web sites, wherever. There are two seasons of the show coming up, in Adelaide and Melbourne, and the more publicity the better!

More news soon. Promise.

So nearly everything is done for the year: Fringe, Short and Sweet, even most of the admin necessary for Adelaide Fringe (though Comedy Festival still vexes me).

But not quite everything! For you see, there's a little matter of...

Impro Sundae: Christmas Special Edition!
This Sunday, December 23, 5pm to 7pm
Bar Open, Brunswick Street Fitzroy
$10 at the door
Hosted by Rob Lloyd and Ben McKenzie
Featuring as many Crew members as we can fit on stage!

Come along, won't you?
The end is nigh! The end of 2007, anyway. I don't get on here nearly as much as I used to, but I have managed to stick to my plan of titling every post with song lyrics. Here's a bit of a rundown on the time since last I wrote:
  • We had an election. Hard to feel like my vote accomplished much given I live in such a safe Labor seat, but it was an exciting and satisfying evening; my one regret was that I didn't make it Trades Hall, where I'm given to believe the party was phenomenal. Kerry O'Brien and Anthony Green were excellent, as always, and Maxine McKew, well...she's a heroine for the new age.
  • The Crew has started gigging regularly again. If you're on Facebook, you've no doubt seen all the events popping up; of course you can also find out who's on when and where on The Crew's web site, which has had a bit of face lift. I'm next up in a couple of weeks when I'll be co-hosting the Christmas show, largely because of the next item.
  • I'm starring this week in a 10-minute musical titled The Lobotomist. It's an entry for the Short and Sweet play competition, and the first musical entry, at least in Melbourne. (I'm not sure if the standard Short and Sweet in Sydney has had any musicals, but they now have a spin-off called Short and Sweet and Song which is all musicals, so perhaps they have.) If you're in Melbourne this week, the 12th to the 15th, come along. It's funny and fun. We're on last, which is probably good from a "sticking in people's heads and getting some votes" point of view.
  • I've just about finished all the preliminary production work for the Adelaide Fringe and Melbourne Comedy Festival seasons of A Record or an OBE; now I just have to find the rest of the money I need up front. The peril of doing a half-hour show turns out to be that venues won't charge you half as much, but I very much doubt punters want to pay full price for a half-length show. It's making the finances difficult. I haven't made a loss since the last time I did Adelaide Fringe, so here's hoping...
  • Off to Queensland to see my family in January for about a week, mostly the Gold Coast but maybe a bit of Brisbane action. Got a gig while I'm up there, too, which is nice as I only have to pay to fly up there, not back. So I'll be in Melbourne for Christmas and New Year's for the first time in a few years, which is lovely.
I think that's all the important stuff at the moment. I certainly don't have time in my life for much else; even work is having to take a bit of a back seat (I'm very lucky to have a flexible casual job), which is squeezing the finances a little tighter. I'm sure it'll all work out, though.
Right. So the other day I spoke about the election, and one of the things I said was that GetUp's How Should I Vote? web site might be a useful tool if you're a swinging voter, though I had some reservations. Those reservations got bigger once [personal profile] qamar  had a look at the site and described the statements used to match your opinions to your local candidates as horrific.

I admit I thought a few of the questions were a bit odd. The questions take the usual form of a survey; you're presented with statements and asked whether you agree or disagree, with the option to say you feel strongly about either response and also to remain neutral. Having not so long ago reread "The Psychology of Judgement and Decision Making" my gut reaction to [personal profile] qamar's comments was that she was right, and that this is what had seemed off when I took the quiz myself; it also seemed to explain (if such an explanation was needed) why candidates from the Liberal party and other more conservative parties haven't responded. (It should be noted that, in a slightly suspicious turn of events, most ALP candidates haven't either, but they're still ranked according to party line responses determined by GetUp. The other parties are not.)

But going back and looking at them again, most of them don't seem that bad. I thought I'd go through the ones I had a problem with, so you can see what we're all talking about. I might also mention, before I get started, that I tried it for two different electorates - my current one, Melbourne, and my old one, Wills. The party order was quite different, indicating perhaps that at least the candidates are giving individual answers, rather towing their party line or trying to promote a certain view of their party.


The flip side to all of this is that - at least according to GetUp, and I've no reason not to believe them - the candidates have been sent the same questionnaire that is presented to users of the site. So while the questions might be biased or badly worded, they're at least biased or badly worded in the same way for everyone, whether potential parliamentarian or hapless swinging voter.

For my money, the fact that ALP candidates are marked according to party line, but Liberal candidates are left as "no answer", is more a problem than the questions themselves. And I can only hope no-one is really going to rely solely on this web site when casting their vote - though I would dearly love to know how many people opted for the results to be SMSed to their phones on election day morning.

By the way, I'm keen to discuss electoral matters with anyone who wants to. Regardless of my own leanings, I'd be happy to try and answer any questions any of you have; I think I have a pretty good handle on the electoral process, and something of a decent grasp of the policies and agendas of the various parties. It's true I want to see a change of government, and that I feel strongly that the policies of the Greens are the most ethically correct, but that doesn't mean I want you to vote the same way as me if you truly believe someone else has it right. So please, ask away - or better yet, it's not too late to get onto the various party's web sites, or contact the party's campaigns, to ask them questions. Vote for whoever you truly want to represent you - just don't make that decision lightly.
barrington: (Hitch-Hiker)
There's an election in less than a week. Do I have any words to say about it? Yeah, but you've probably heard it all before. Apologies for those to whom this is all old hat or boring.
I'm home from the Fringe Awards. My venue, the lovely Caz Reitops Dirty Secrets, won Best Venue. Friends of mine won awards too. But the thing that's keeping me up writing this is that my show, A Record or an OBE, scored a high commendation from the judges in the Comedy category.

See you all soon. I'm going to sleep the sleep of the fucking awesome.
Just a quick note this time - there are three shows left for A Record or an OBE. I don't have many bookings, so there are plenty of tickets left on the door; I'd love it if you came down to check it out. 80 Smith Street, near the corner of Gertrude, 6pm. $10/$5.

See you the other side of Fringe, probably...
So it's production week for my first play, A Record or an OBE. I haven't done the full run-down here yet, and it's time I did, not least because I could use your help. See, publicising a science show is relatively easy - I frequent science blogs and web sites and listen to the podcasts and radio shows. I know where I can send notice of a science show.

But a short, comic play about The Goodies? Well, apart from the fan club - who found me all by themselves - I've no idea. So please, if you know of anyone - or any web site, forum, blog or even radio show - that would be keen to find out about my show, pass on the word. It'd mean a lot. Be sure to include a link to my theatre company web site, Shaolin Punk (and, by the way, head there yourself and vote in the poll for your favourite Goodie).

Shaolin Punk presents
A Record or an OBE

"I'd like to thank the other two Goodies, but I really can't. It would have been so much easier without them." - Bill Oddie, 1997

Where: Caz Reitops Dirty Secrets, 80 Smith Street, Cricklewood Collingwood
When: 6:00 - 6:30pm, October 6 and 9-13. Preview October 5.
Tickets: $10/$5 from melbournefringe.com.au, on 03 8412 8777, or at the door

February 2012

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