I was invited a while ago to talk about nerds on television on the pre-eminent Australian TV podcast, Boxcutters. My episode is up as of yesterday, so if you want to hear me talk about why I don't like The Big Bang Theory for around twenty minutes or so, give it a shot - and even if you don't like my ranting, you will probably enjoy Josh and John's weekly ruminations on all things television.

Also in TV: tonight's a big one for the ABC, as their new Wednesday night comedy line-up appears in full for the first time: In Gordon Street Tonight, followed by Woodley, followed by Outland. I am in one of these shows, for one night only - tonight! Can you guess which one?
So, after a long absence, I think I might post here again. Just occasionally, you know? It's nice to have a personal blog space, not like my book blog (which is focussed on, well, books), or my work blogs (work as in trying to maintain some kind of profile as a comedian), or Twitter (which I have taken to like some kind of aquatic fowl to the local lake), or Facebook (where I've been laying low; it's really weird to continue to hear about the exploits of people who've left your life, especially when you didn't want them to and/or you feel weird/guilty about it).

So what to write about? Well, I should mention Dungeon Crawl, I suppose - my D&D inspired impro show is now going to be on monthly in Melbourne, which is pretty sweet. The first one is next Wednesday (February 2), but you can read about it at the link.

I should also say that I spend my Australia Day on a mountain at the wedding of an old friend and it was one of the best wedding ceremonies I've ever seen. It made me glad to know that even in my current state of uncertainty, grief and recovery, I can still find joy in the happiness of others. And they were so very happy, though - and this is perhaps my favourite part - no more happy than they are all the time because they truly love each other. This wasn't a "squeeze all happiness into a single moment that will never be equalled again" kind of wedding, but a true expression and celebration of a love that has and will endure. I love you guys.

What else? I did a marathon of the (extant) Twilight movies last night. There was a drinking game. Surprisingly, we got pretty drunk during the first film, but and a bit during the second, but the third one didn't offer too many drinking moments. The third one is the best, by the way. But I'm still opposed to the whole thing. Bella is the single worst female character I have ever encountered in fiction: powerless, feckless, helpless...just less. She makes no decisions about her own life, and is entirely defined by her "love" for Edward, which of course is instant and everlasting and never questioned in any kind of rational way. It makes me a little sick, actually; possibly this is because I recently lost the love of my life-so-far because she was too young to know I was right enough for her. And she was 25. This film tells young women that at 17, it's fine to instantly fall for the man you will stay with for the rest of your life, though at least she's a little weird about getting married and slightly normal about wanting to get it on.

Anyway, I live-tweeted during the whole thing. It only ended up costing me two followers, and a couple of people thanked me for watching on their behalf so they don't have to. To be honest I had fun, but the thought that anyone might see anything admirable in the OTT "romantic" shenanigans indulged by the main characters is abhorrent to me.

To balance it all out, I'm going to see True Grit today. Should be quite a balancin', I reckon. Yup.
Yes, it's comedy festival time again. You can probably tell by the way I pop up in LiveJournal to tell you what I'm doing.

This year it really is crazy. I'm involved in at least six shows, possibly more. The definite ones are listed below. This really is the year of geek comedy, though, even more than last year. Even the festival knows it: they have an iPhone app, and the first daily message on it was titled "Set phasers for laughter." Not very funny, I agree, but their heart's in the right place.

The big geekfest really kick off with four shows I'm producing: +1 Sword, the Dungeons & Dragons comedy show; Dungeon Crawl, a late night improvised Dungeons & Dragons adventure, featuring guest comedians from the festival; the Melbourne Museum Comedy Tour, now in it's third year and looking better than ever - what's more I'm not conducting tours this year, so there will definitely be all-new dinosaur jokes!; and new to the museum, Melbourne Museum Lunchtime Comedy, a Saturday, well, lunchtime show in the museum's Age theatre featuring guest comedians talking about science, nature and history, all MC'd by me. The museum comedy stuff has grown enough to deserve its own web site, which you can find at museumcomedy.com.

On top of that the monthly political comedy room of which I am a part, Political Asylum, is doing a one-off Comedy Caucus special, with all of our regulars and a couple of special guests. And then there's Trade Aid, for which the Anarchist Guild Social Committee, my old sketch group, are doing another one-off show, the second Annual General Meeting, with proceeds going to charity. I'll be performing something there, though I'm not sure what it will be yet.

As usual, I won't post public reviews, even here on this blog; it's not really appropriate as a fellow performer. Suffice to say there's a onne of great stuff on this year, and most of it isn't at the Town Hall, though a few of the things there look very exciting too. But if you're stumped as to what to see, drop me an email or a private message of some sort and I'll be happy to help you figure out what will make you laugh.
No-one in my family ended up in any of the wars of the past century, as far as I know; they were always too young, or too old, or (in the very early days) too Irish. On the other hand, the one Italian branch of the family could have veterans in it. But regardless, today is a reminder of all wars, throughout time and place - specifically a reminder that they can - and should - be brought to an end.

I know I haven't been here for a while, and today seems an odd day to resurface. It's been hot (mid 30s!) in Melbourne, and I've been busy. My first proper stand-up spot in years turned out to be a pretty great tight five (that's comedian lingo for five minutes of very good material), and the character piece I performed at the same gig went down well too, though being in a suit in this heat in the small front room of the Brunswick Green, crowded with nearly 80 people... That was suffering for my art, I can tell you. Great to do some more comedy acting, though, and I'll be coming back. If you like political comedy, be sure to check out our room - Political Asylum is the name, and there's even a web site (there might be video footage of my spot on there, eventually!).

This week and next are full. I'm doing some extra training work for my main day job employer, which is good because I get to charge what I used to earn while training - and I need the extra cash for my upcoming trip to New York (I'll be in the US and Canada from November 23, and NYC from December 5 to 15). This does mean that, while coming down with some kind of throat infection and hayfever, I did a gig on Sunday night, then talking all day about Word 2007 on Monday, and then yesterday talked for half a day straight to a camera and then just a microphone about the evils of fast food (it was another education video job).

So, things are good, but I'm feeling a bit rough. This holiday will be just what  I need - assuming I can figure out exactly where we're going between our first few days in Boston and our last week and a half in NYC... (I'd like to do a circuit of Montreal, Toronto and Niagara, but I'm not sure it's practical.)

Oh, one last thing - I have a climate change related gig on November 20, at Trades Hall, titled Laughmageddon II: The Copenhagening. It's raising money for the ACF's "Towards Copenhagen" campaign, and I've been assisting the main brains behind it, Dan Walmsley, in giving it some shape. Should be a good mix of comedians presenting a comedy version of the "an inconvenient truth" presentation, so if you're free, come along!

I live in a racist country. I do. There's no getting around it. As if the recent outcry against attacks on Indian students wasn't enough, we just had the racist bombshell of a national television programme deciding it was okay to air a talent contest in which some of the contestants performed in blackface.

Let's get this straight: blackface is, and has always been, an inherently racist tradition in which non-Africans - whether they be caucasian, Indian, or indeed Martian - don black makeup to look, not like any real African person, but like the stereotypical, racist depiction of an African, not unlike a gollywog. If you want to do this, you're doing something racist, and unless you're doing it satirically I don't see how it can possibly be defended in the twenty-first century.

I mention the century, because it took more than 100 years for American society - the front line in the battle against racism towards Africans - to figure out this was wrong. In other countries, with smaller African populations and thus a less vocal outcry, it took longer; The Black and White Minstrel Show only went off-air in the UK in 1978, despite protest letters received by the BBC as early as 1967. In Australia we were more clueless - Hey Hey It's Saturday allowed a blackface act on their show in 1989, by which time we really ought to have known better. And by 2009, well, we should totally know better. (But, as one comic summed it up last night at Political Asylum, "Did we really think we could bring back a show - with the same cast - that was sexist, homophobic and racist twenty years later for a reunion and somehow it'll all be different?")

The worst part isn't even that it got on television - the worst part is the reaction. Producers should have been sacked - after all, they were over The Chaser's Make-A-Realistic-Wish Foundation sketch, which was perhaps in bad taste - and an apology issued. But the only apology forthcoming on the night was to Harry Connick Jr., now even more of a hero to me, who scored them zero and made no bones about how offensive it was. Think about that - they apologised to the white man who was in the studio for offending him, but not for allowing a racist depiction of Africans to air on Australian national television - and thus to the world via the Internet. Channel Nine has since issued a (sort of) apology, but they've also specifically said the incident won't affect their decision on whether Hey Hey comes back regularly. (Double standards, anyone?) But the real racism is coming out in people defending the sketch.

It's embarrassing and confronting to realise you enjoyed something which, in hindsight, was inappropriate. It's like realising how sexist the original series (and, to an arguably lesser extent, the new film version) of Star Trek is, only without the benefit of being able to say "but they didn't know any better back then". (History is the only context in which cultural relativism really works.) It's tough, but the right thing to do is to say "You know, I always thought that was funny, but I can see how offensive it is, and I get it. I'm sorry."

That hasn't happened in Australia. Instead, the Internet, the papers, even federal Parliament - in the form of Julia Gillard, commenting from the US - is crawling with people trying to excuse what happened. The excuses do not stand up to much scrutiny: "It's not racist here" (Australians only know it from the same racist origins as the US and the UK, so yes, it is); "It wasn't meant like that" (they didn't mean to don a stereotypical and racist image of African-Americans in order to portray a bunch of African-Americans? What, they just fell into a vat of boot polish?); "the performers were doctors from various ethnicities, including an Indian guy, so they can't be racist" (try to imagine one of them was African - none of them were - and see if that still works for you); "It wasn't blackface, it was about the Jackson Five" (then don't do it in blackface); "it was just meant to bring back memories" (of what? Slavery?).

What's going on? Are Australians inherently racist? I have to conclude we are, as a stereotype - in this case, one borne out by evidence. At the very least we're not quick to accept criticism and admit we're wrong - especially when it comes to a "cultural institution" like Hey Hey.

Hey, New Yorkers - please don't lynch me when I visit.

+1 Sword

Sep. 24th, 2009 02:28 pm
I suspect most of you who'd be interested have heard about this already anyway, but I have a new little comedy show in this year's Melbourne Fringe Festival, opening tonight. It's about Dungeons & Dragons, though you don't need to have played it to enjoy the show. It's an hour of Richard McKenzie and I revelling in this, one of our favourite hobbies, with plenty of silliness and jokes and mental behaviour. Say hi if you come down!
Shaolin Punk presents
+1 Sword
Dragons. Dungeons. Not necessarily in that order.

In 1974, a pair of idiots invented Dungeons & Dragons, the first role-playing game. 35 years later, a different pair of idiots – comedy nerds Richard McKenzie (Super Happy Robot Hour, Mint Condition) and Ben McKenzie (Melbourne Museum Comedy Tour, Planet Nerd) – will polish the twenty-sided dice, sharpen the +1 swords and open a bag of holding full of tales of adventure, danger and laughs.

The only comedy show which grants a bonus to attack and damage rolls.

Where: The Vault, Caz Reitops Dirty Secrets, 80 Smith Street, Collingwood
When: Thursday to Sunday, September 24 to October 4, 2009 at 6:30 PM (5:30 PM Sundays)
Fringe Tix: melbournefringe.com.au or 03 9660 9666
Tickets also available at the door
How Much: $15 full, $10 concession

Ability Score special! On Thursday and Sunday nights, pay at the door and you can choose to roll your ticket cost— $4d6 (drop lowest die) full price, or $3d6 concession.

Thanks, ABC

Jun. 9th, 2009 05:44 pm
They might make plenty of mistakes - their handling of the outcry over The Chaser's now-infamous "Make-A-Realistic-Wish Foundation" sketch being a reasonable example - but every now and then, Auntie does something right. Following recent commentary on uneven and even damaging media coverage of transsexuals, the ABC has produced From man to married woman: meet Bernie Darling, which is about as positive and accurate account of one woman's journey from man to woman as I've ever read. Thanks, ABC, for still being the good guys.
Yes, I've read three Asimov books (plus one short story) in a row: all of the Elijah Baley/Daneel Olivaw detective stories, the Robot novels.

It hasn't taken long. I've inhaled them. Asimov is like Pratchett in that respect, at least in these books - a page turner, a joy to read. As Dave said, it's ice cream. Other books I've read recently I've enjoyed, but it's been a considered enjoyment.

For those who don't know, I've embarked on a reading project this year, documented at a new blog, My Blog Loves a Bunch of Authors. I'm quite behind, because some of the books I've read have not been ice cream. Instead, they've been something spicy, enjoyable but leaving an odd taste behind. Another was something new, a foreign dish, tried gingerly and very satisfying once digested, but also changing my understanding of food and the culture and world that creates it. But it pains me a little that, even though I do discuss my reading habits on that blog, I only add books from the project in the "Books Read" list, and it looks like I've been very lazy. This is especially sad considering how I've just reignited my passion for reading and have fired through three novels in three weeks (the last of which bigger than the first two combined!).

Currently the project is on hold because I have yet to locate a book by the next author on my list: Pierre Berton. He's a Canadian, and what's more an historian and columnist. Finding his books in Australia is proving...difficult. I may have to revise my own rules...

While you're here, allow me to spruik the brief return season of my beloved's excellent Comedy Festival show, World War Wonderful. This Thursday to Sunday - that's June 4 to 7 - 9pm (8pm Sunday) at the Butterfly Club (details and bookings on their web site). If you like the idea of boogie song and dance in the style of the Andrews Sisters, but with a dark satirical anti-war flavour, then get along! I'll be there Thursday and possibly Sunday.

Yesterday my friend Scott and I playtested [livejournal.com profile] emprint's Swords Against Darkness, a two-player narrative driven RPG. Below is a write-up of our session from yesterday. We have a few questions and found some stuff in the rules that needs clarification or fixing; we also found that as first time players we probably made a bunch of mistakes...

First up, the actual play:
Actual play )
The above is an after-the-fact retelling; we made plenty of mis-steps along the way. Here are some of our unresolved questions:

Questions and comments )

barrington: (pirate)
[Error: unknown template qotd]1. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
2. Back to the Future
3. Cyrano de Bergerac (the Gerard Depardieu one)
4. Mullholland Drive
5. Watchmen

If trapped on the island alone, let's be honest, most of us would like to something at least erotic, if not pornographic. That's where Mullholland Drive comes in; it's not a favourite of mine, but it has sexy bits and I've only seen it once. Plus, if I only had four other DVDs, maybe I'd watch it enough times to figure out what's going on?

Number 5 is because I'd want at least one thing I'd never seen, and I'm assuming I have to go this weekend. (I disqualified things like The Princess Bride, This Is Spinal Tap, Blackadder and so on because I have the sort of memory that can regurgitate most of such things at will.) This also assumes magical instant DVD powers, or at least an Internet connection and the will to commit video piracy.


Feb. 10th, 2009 12:58 pm
The 2009 Victorian bushfires are the worst Australia has ever seen. The Age now estimates the fires may have claimed 300 lives, with weather conditions pushing the fires so fast, and not always in easily anticipated directions, that many people were caught in their homes before they could be warned to leave. I'm not sure how well or otherwise things were managed, but I do know these fires are not what even seasoned bushfire veterans are used to.

If you want to help, consider donating blood or money or both to the Red Cross Victorian Bushfire appeal. They'd prefer you to use the web site, though it was not coping with the load when I tried using it on Sunday. I have also heard that they have enough blood for immediate use but will need to replenish stocks in the next couple of months, so you needn't go immediately.

I've tried contacting the people I know in regional areas, but there aren't many I still keep in touch with; I hope all of you are safe. Here in suburban Melbourne, it all feels oddly distant. I spent Saturday safely hiding from the heatwave inside my house playing Fallout 3 - later, some of the scenes from Bendigo and Kinglake seemed indistinguishable from the post-apocalyptic Capital Wasteland setting of the game.

Meanwhile the UK is getting unusual amounts of snow, and temperatures here have dropped by nearly 30 degrees in a few days. Regardless of the cause, surely no-one can deny that our planet's climate is seriously  fucked.
The Red Cross Blood Service sent me an online customer feedback survey to fill out; you know the type. "How much do you agree with the statement x? 0 - Completely disagree, 5 - neither, 10 - Completely agree", that sort of thing. But this question, well...judge for yourself:

"How satisfied were you with the insertion of the needle?"

I gave them an 8/10, but I'm not entirely sure what that really means. Surely their competency is more important than if I was "satisfied"?

They also asked me how much I agreed with the statement "I really enjoy giving blood". I'm starting to think this is a scam survey run by vampires...

I'm off to Sydney for the weekend, to catch up with friends. If you're a friend, and you live in Sydney, then get in touch if you haven't already!
Since none of my real life friends on here seem to have picked up on what may be a significant LJ-related thing, I thought I ought to pass it on just in case. The Russian company that bought LiveJournal from Six Apart has laid off a bunch of staff and, in the absence of any kind of official announcement to users, there are fears the site may not continue, certainly in its current form.

The main source for this information seems to be this article on Gawker, a "gossip blog" I'd never heard of, but I found confirmation of the layoffs and some proper journalism (ha!) on CNET. So far there's nothing to suggest the site will be closed, but in the current economic climate, well...people are probably right to be a little paranoid.

Sure, LJ is just a web site, and I've never got too involved in "the LJ community", but it's been a grand way to keep up with my friends list and some of you - like me - have been using it as a public (or friends only) journal for a long time (I joined in November 2001 - hard to believe!).

There's a great tool for backing up your LiveJournal called LJ Archive. Having a backup is never a bad thing, even if this turns out to be nothing to worry about (for us - obviously the employees are screwed).

Sadly LJ Archive seems only to be for Windows; but this post (found via a third party) has some suggestions for local backup under Mac OS X.

So now we know who the next Doctor will be. I've never heard of him, and he's pretty young (or, indeed, pretty and young) but he's got something. That interview showed a passionate and excited actor with a light in his eyes and great expressive hands. The kid might be all right, as they say, though to be honest the casting is less weird to me than the fact that I will now be sitting around waiting for 12 months or more before I find out if the guy is any good. Unless they do something unpredictable and interesting like give him more than ten seconds at the end of Tennant's last episode.

Now I can get on with other things, though. Grand.
I meant to do this all year: keep track of the books I read. But of course, I didn't. Now, though, I want to talk about the last few I read. So here they are, in chronological order:
  • Skullduggery Pleasant - one I read with (read: to) my girlfriend. It's young adult fantasy, not quite magic realism in the vein of Potter, but a bit older in tone and attitude. That will turn some people off right there. The prose isn't amazing, and the plot retreads a few tired standards of the genre (vanquished bad guys seek to break truce by capturing fabled ancient artefact that no-one believes exists), but it's refreshingly direct; the lead character is an animated skeleton who can summon and control elemental forces without so much as a magic word. Bam! Exploding doors! It's pretty exciting. Unfortunately all this overt magical violence makes the inclusion of the standard issue "young girl new to this whole other world of magic" rather less believable than usual, though at least she still has a family (they're the equivalent of ignorant muggles, though they have suspicions). Never mind; it was fun. I may not bother with the sequels, though.
  • The Pirates! in an Adventure with Napoleon - the fourth (and latest) in the series, and another I read with my lady. The Pirates, as you may or may not know, are a band of brigands of the "affable cuddly daft anti-hero" variety, led by the Pirate Captain, and none of his crew have names either (except Jennifer, who used to be a Victorian lady). Their latest adventure is almost entirely on shore, but Napoleon does feature heavily. It uses breaks some of the previously established conventions of the series, so it bucks the trend, and it's probably as good as the other sequels but none have yet bettered the original (The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists).
  • The Inmates Are Running the Asylum - Alan Cooper's so-accurate-it-seems-obvious critique of the software industry and the lack of design. This book has single-handedly changed my entire attitude to my day-job industry, mainly by reminding me of the thing I was most interested in about computers - how they interact with humans. Software, largely, is awful, and this book details why, how this state of affairs came to be (and continues), and how to fix it. Damningly, it's from the last decade but every bit as relevant as it was back then.
  • ...and it's goodnight from him - the autobiography of The Two Ronnies, written by the smaller one, Ronnie Corbett. Fills what I never realised was quite a massive gap in my knowledge of British comedy, and documents a friendship and professional partnership that spanned decades. It's delightful, touching, and rather funny; given my own experience with comedy partnerships, it was also quite an eye opener. Not being very familiar with their work, I will now have to re-watch and re-evaluate the Ronnies with fresh eyes. I was sad to hear they were rather hurt by the Not the Nine O'Clock News sketch lampooning them; I rather liked it, but I guess my scant familiarity with the original meant I never appreciated how wide of the mark it must have seemed to the Ronnies themselves.
Next year, I have a reading project: one book written by every author mentioned in the Moxy Früvous song "My Baby Loves A Bunch of Authors". I'll read them in order, for good measure; that means I'm starting with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Any suggestions?
Well, it seems it's all over bar the shouting. I'm keen to see the final swing, and also the makeup of the senate and the house. I'm pretty sure that even despite my interest in this election, I still know more about the Australian political system than the American one.

I found out the skinny on how Maine and Nebraska split their electoral college votes; they don't get many, but 2 of 'em go to the overall winner, plus one to the winner in each "congressional district". Not a huge difference, but slightly better if you're voting against the state-wide favourite.

As for our Objectivist friend, Thomas Robert Stevens, he seems to have dropped off the chart - that 3.8% must have been from some very skewed partial data. Either that, or you just can't trust Fox News, whose interactive map gave me that weird and wonderful number. I wonder which one it is?

So it's election day in the United States of America. I've been refreshing my knowledge of how the voting system works, and I don't like it. I was also pretty nervous as McCain has had a consistent lead of a few points all morning, but I see Obama is now ahead.

What's really intriguing me is that people are still voting for candidates other than Obama or McCain, particularly this guy Thomas Stevens (of the Objectivist Party - yes, as in Ayn Rand), who at some points this morning apparently had 4% of the vote. Now, that's probably skewed because it's based on early, partial data, but still - in an election this close, even in one state that's a big margin to steal from the people with a chance of actually winning.

How can anyone do that in America? I like to think of myself as progressive, and I generally vote for the Greens, but I write numbers in all the boxes and I know that if my first choice candidate doesn't get over the line, my vote will still go towards making sure someone I prefer still does. But with American voting, that's not the case - the winner really does take all. In most states, voters aren't even directly voting for a Presidential candidate - they vote for a candidate who will represent their state in the Electoral College, and in most states that means one person gets to cast all the electoral votes for the state, no matter the margin of their win. So, unless I'm much mistaken, 49.999% of a state's population could vote for someone who promised to vote for (say) McCain, but the guy who gets in on that 0.002% margin will still cast all of the state's votes for Obama. No wonder people get rabidly partisan - if you want your vote to really count for anything, you have to persuade other people to vote the same way as you!

I'm going to read up on Maine and Nebraska, who apparently do things differently; I'm not sure if this means they split their college votes or not...

Man, not much work getting done today, is there?

It's been a busy few weeks as the sun peers down upon Melbourne for the first time in many months! But now Fringe is over, and with it, the first ever proper season of Set List, a new musical improvisation format with a great deal of potential. We only got near to realising that potential on the last night, though I still think the second show was very good, too. It was a product of not enough time spent on the right things, and there'll be a lot of words and discussion before I get involved with another season, but I hope we do bring it back and do it right.

I am proud of that last show, though, and of some of my improvised lyrics, including our very last song, a "We Are the World" style charity single which ended up being for that much forgotten cause, feline AIDS. My favourite line: "People think that cats get AIDS from havin' unprotected sex like mugs / but the truth is most cats get feline AIDS from usin' intravenous drugs". The refrain was also cute: "Get spayed, not kitty AIDS"...I like to think there was a little serious message mixed in with that frivolity.

This week is still busy, though; we've had a short cycle for this month's Anarchist Guild Social Committee, so we've been putting hard yards in rehearsing our arses off; its particularly interesting for me because, while I'm not performing in it much, I am directing this month's show, so in a way it'll be a more me show than usual... We'll see how it goes. I'm excited about our guests: we have Die Roten Punkte - who've been getting JJJ airplay! - and my old friend Scott Gooding, whose return to the stage in a one-man sketch comedy show, Eric, was nothing short of a triumph. Plus the usual Anarchist nonsense. For all the stress and occasional confusion, it really is a joyous show to be involved with.

The other surprising news is that I've had a bunch of corporate gig requests come out of nowhere - one for tonight for the CSIRO, one for Thursday at Melbourne Uni (which admittedly was booked six months ago), and one in December on the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast! I'm still waiting to find out how they heard of me up there...

But there's no rest for the wicked. Adelaide Fringe registrations closed on Friday, and at the last minute I had to say no to doing a tour at the South Australian Museum, since they wanted to charge me a hire fee, plus the cost of extra security, to use their space - it wasn't tenable with that factored into the budget. I should still be at Adelaide Fringe for the Anarchist Guild, though, and hopefully I'll still do another comedy tour here for Comedy Festival - and I've a new show, or maybe two or three, in the works as well...

So many ideas, so little time!
Yes, it's Fringe time again! And yes, I'm in stuff. Only a couple of things - the work never stops for the Anarchist Guild Social Committee, after all - but if you're not inspired to attend or watch the Grand Final, I do have an alternative for your Saturday afternoon:

Shaolin Punk presents
Set List
An improvised music show starring cabaret superstar Karin Muiznieks (Give My Regards to Broady), rock’n'roll nerd Ben McKenzie (Science-ology) and musical impro genius Dan Walmsley (Musical Director, Impro Sundae).

A made-up band plays made-up songs written on the spot from your suggestions, in a different genre for each show.

Saturday afternoons during Fringe:
September 27 - Folk; October 4 - Jazz; October 11 - Rock
4:30 PM - 5:30 PM, Old Council Chambers, Trades Hall
Tickets $15 / $12; book at melbournefringe.com.au or get tickets at the Bella Union box office, Trades Hall
If you do like footy, then I also have you covered: come see the 2008 AFL Season Review on Tuesday night, September 30. 75 minutes of sketches, stand-up, song and otherwise hilarious footy nonsense at the New Ballroom, Trades Hall.
barrington: (pirate)
Tomorrow is Talk Like A Pirate Day! Always fun. I'll have to wear my pirate T-shirt and possibly call up my Mum and talk to her like a pirate.

But even the joy of tomorrow's celebrations can't stop my mind from returning to the piece of news which has vexed me since yesterday: Eoin Colfer, author of the Atemis Fowl books, has been commissioned by Penguin to write a sixth Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy novel, titled And Another Thing...

This really is blowing my mind. I have never been shy about saying that Douglas Adams' non-fiction was much better than his fiction; his ideas and comedy writing were always excellent, but he couldn't string together a coherent story to save his life. And yet, HItchhikers is such an important cultural touchstone for my generation, and indeed my entire youth; I could quote entire passages of the first book/radio series/television series by the time I was 10, and reread the book every year until my mid-teens, getting more and more jokes every time. Mostly Harmless was the first novel I can remember for which I waited for its release, and I bought the hardcover from a bookshop while on a trip to the Gold Coast, finishing it before the day was out.

So it's little wonder I feel weird about another book, and also have become obsessed with a desire to read all of this Eoin Colfer's books and see what he's about.

At least he has a great attitude; he's scared to death of filling Adams' boots, but at the same time determined to make this the best thing he's ever written.

Arthur Dent isn't too happy about it, either.

Games have crept back into my life in so many forms, and I'm very happy about it. On the video front, I'm enjoying the hell out of Castle Crashers on the XBox 360 (and Kate, if you're out there, I'm still waiting for you to look me up so we can play Ticket to Ride!).

February 2012

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