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Y U NO UPDATE THIS SITE?

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As a freelance writer/broadcaster/nerd, life is always famine or feast. If you’ve been visiting this website regularly but not seen an update in a while, chances are we’re in one of the tighter periods. Don’t fret – there are two things you could choose to do – one is a coping mechanism, the other is a remedy. I reckon you should do both:

a) Visit my tumblr account, which usually just receives feeds from everything else I do over the net. When I can’t afford to keeps this blog running, that’s where I shall update. But first:

b) Make a donation to my paypal account so I can afford to continue waxing lyrical about the various interests that keep you coming back here.

In fact, consider making one even if you visit regularly and I update regularly, or if you just stumbled onto this site after googling the phrase ‘stand and deliver’ in the hope it’ll help you compose that term paper on the film starring Lou Diamond Phillips or provide information on Adam and the Ants or an 80s cover band.

What I’m saying is, what ever your reason for being here, please help keep informed, independent journalism alive – and my idiosyncratic ramblings – and consider clicking the button. Cheers.


Velocirapture:
Hurtling towards the End of the World

(thanks to @mrtonymartin for tweeting the link to this clip)

A lot of people, it would seem, are talking what many more other people would consider absolute crap about the end of the world; scatology about eschatology, if you will. Elaborate mime enactments thereof are a special kind of hell on earth, but if you can s it through that, you can deal with my two  bits. First, here’s Elvis Costello performing ‘Waiting for the End of the World’:


So the world’s gonna end this evening. In a way I’m glad: I’m between decent-paying gigs, got taxes, bills, and – if the happy clappy fundies are anything to go by – hell to pay. But before I get my hopes up, I’ve got to confess (so to speak) that I’ve been here before: in high school, some time in the late-80s, the world was also supposed to end. I remember I had a 4-unit maths exam looming and essays due, and quite frankly, I wasn’t in the mood to study or read relevant texts or do anything other than whatever I did in late adolescence. I had new guitar chords to discover; Python episodes, newly released on VHS to watch; and those Frank Zappa records weren’t gonna listen to themselves! But I’m glad I crammed some differential calculus and imaginary numbers and actually cribbed some Prude and Party Sex notes.

I’m assuming there won’t be some intense conflagration this evening. Which is a pity – since I’m due to do a spot of open mic stand-up at the Oriental Hotel at Cooks Hill, Newcastle, which is a formidable bear pit of a pub at the best of times. So I suspect I shall die tonight, anyway – on stage…[1]

Garden-of-eden-freehindu-history-literature-travel-freehindu-mom-kids-health-lifestyle-bollywood-celebrity-gossip-astrology-astronomy-news-international-sex-education-literacy-internaitonal-news-FREE-HINDU-FREEHINDU

But if the world does end, look at the bright side: we finally get to find out what happened to the dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden – making it The Velocirapture.

Were dinosaurs destroyed in the Great Flood after all? Was the serpent in fact a larger, entirely different reptile than the snake that is commonly depicted? If so, why didn’t he just eat Adam and Eve and have done with?

Jesus_raptors

(Image lifted from this website)

But if the Great Rapture doesn’t take place, if whatever the current equivalent of the Hale-Bop comet doesn’t bring about the end of the world, or at least the mass suicide of fervid cultists, prepare for the Great Cognitive Dissonance. And synchronise your watches for the next one.

Meanwhile, enjoy this rapture death, from the Six Feet Under episode entitled In Case of Rapture:


Now I’m gonna leave the last word on the ratbag fringe faithful to Messrs Bennett, Cook, Miller and Moore, AKA Beyond The Fringe:

 


Oh, and look, the final word, as posted on Satarista Paul Provenza’s Facebook page (added middle of the following week):

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Footnotes

1) Not really. I mean, it may happen, but I’m not crippled with fear, for two reasons: I’ve played the Oriental before, and I was the only comic who didn’t die that night. And I may still die tonight, but I’ve already died the most horrific, shattering stage death and lived to tell the tale. But that’s a tale to tell another time.


Mum’s the word

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If you’ve spent any time in or around the Adelaide comedy scene, you’d have encountered Kehau Jackson, a comic who’s been doing comedy since 1993 back home in Honolulu, who somehow decided to trade in her idyllic island home for Australia – I guess you could argue it’s just a much bigger island – in 2002. ‘Starting out’ with a lot of newbies younger than her, Kehau appeared as kind of a  ‘mother hen’ of comedy, insofar as she had – and continues to have – a nurturing attitude towards her fellow comics and comedy itself. Fittingly, she – along with close friends and colleagues Kate Burr and Maggie Wood – has devised a show about motherhood: Three Stuffed Mums. It debuted at The Maid, Stepney, as part of the 2011 Adelaide Fringe Festival, where it was nominated for a Bank SA Adelaide Fringe Peoples’ Choice Award, and returns there as part of the 2011 Adelaide Cabaret Fringe for three nights in June. Here’s a chat with Kehau.

Dom Romeo: What brought you to Australia?

KEHAU JACKSON: My second husband! He’s Australian.

I had a full time job in the travel industry for 25 years, organising travel groups, airfares and customer service and working at hotels and all that kind of stuff. I worked for large wholesalers and two or three of them were Australian, so I’ve had friends in Australia for many years. 

Dom Romeo: Were you doing the same line of work when you came to Australia?

KEHAU JACKSON: No, when I got here my husband thought, if I wanted to do comedy full time, why not do that? I started at the bottom again – going out to the clubs and doing open mic and all that sort of stuff. Nobody knew me here, so if I said, ‘I’d done corporate, I’ve done some radio, I’ve headlined at some level  back in Honolulu’, nobody knows me from Adam here; it doesn’t matter ultimately until you get on stage and the audience judges whether you’re worth listening to or not.

 I got here in July 2002 so I had just missed that year’s Adelaide Fringe. I started checking out all the comedy clubs, going to all the open mics.  I entered Raw in 2003, not thinking I would win – my goal was to be seen, to start making connections with other comics in a comedy setting, which I did. I did very well – I got to the state semi-finals. I achieved the goals I wanted: I got seen, I got known, I got offered gigs – by Craig Egan to do Adelaide Comedy gigs. I kept working steadily after that.

Dom Romeo: I find Adelaide a really interesting, particularly as someone who’s only visited it from time to time, because the comedy scene looks like a close-knit family.

KEHAU JACKSON: Adelaide is funny because it’s a city, but it’s a small town at the same time.  You tend to get very close to the comics. Although the area is spread out, the area’s not as populated, so that relative amount of comedy per area is not as great. Because of that it’s a tighter-knit community. There’s good and bad for that. Too much of the same scene in any city isn’t good – too much inbreeding. It’s when people start going away and coming back, like any cultural experience, that it begins to grow.

Adelaide has an excellent comedy scene and excellent comics, but as a relative outsider, I think Adelaide suffers a bit from a feeling of inferiority to the other cities. The amount of talent isn’t really recognised for what it is until people come here and go, ‘wow, there are some really good comics!’ You’re never appreciated in your own neighbourhood!  I think people really suffer from that here, and yet there are some outstanding comics from Adelaide who have gone on to do other great things: you’ve got Justin Hamilton, Dave Williams, Cameron Knight….

There’s a close scene also in Perth, I find. Perth comics are a lot like the comics in Hawaii – they all hang out together after shows. They’re a very close community. I found that when I worked in Melbourne and Sydney, not so much: you’re on your own afterwards.

Dom Romeo: You didn’t just do a show at Adelaide Fringe, you ran a room.

KEHAU JACKSON: This is the second year I’m doing it. Well, actually the third, technically. 

The first year I did kind of a basic little thing over at the Griffins Head. They had rooms and charged us a decent amount for them and I charged a basic cost to the comics. It was pretty much a self-serve room: you do your own door, you do your own sound, announce yourself and jump onstage. The stuff was there for you to use, that’s how come it was so cheap. I didn’t make any money on it, but the idea was to give people a chance to do their first show without spending an arm and a leg so they could make some money – and most of those guys made more money than me. Two out of three nominees for best newcomer at the Adelaide Fringe came out of the Griffins Head: Jason Pestell and Michael Bowley.

The second year, which was last year, we hooked up with The Maid. They had missed getting involved with the Fringe the previous year – they had been renovating and re-branding themselves: the old Maid & Magpie became the more upscale Maid. By the time they figured out what was going on, it was too late to be a Fringe venue. So when we came in and said we’d like to combine space, they said yeah. They were a bit cautious with us because they didn’t know what we could do or if it was going to work or whatever because they’re a bit outside of the main hub of the Fringe. They’re close to it, but not within all the madness. The Maid’s got a lot going for it. It has free parking – that’s like gold during the Fringe. It has a bistro, so you can make reservations for dinner, you can go to the beer garden, and it’s convenient: you don’t have to go back and get your car. It’s accessible from three main roads, and it’s still within ten minutes’ walk from the Garden of Unearthly Delights. It’s the best of both worlds there.

So the Maid were happy to do it and they ended up getting quite a lot of business out of our people coming to the shows. From a production point of view, it was a bit better than self-serve – you still had to have your own door person because I didn’t want anyone hassling about money problems. But it became a hassle for people – particularly for the comics coming from interstate or overseas who didn’t have anyone on hand who could do their door: they don’t travel with an entourage or whatever. So this year I raised the price a bit and put on a door person – so the artist just has to turn up, give us their comp list, and we’re good to go.

I’ve learned a little bit every year. This year we had banner up on the front of the hotel advertising the Fringe shows – ‘Maid for Comedy’ – and we made a group poster, which we’ve never done before. I learn something every year and try to make it a bit better every year, and without gouging anybody, I make a decent amount of money for all the work I have to do, but that it’s still as competitive as possible.

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I know there are some people who do a lot of work and charge a lot. My idea of the Fringe is not to make a ton of money, it’s to allow this stuff to happen. As long as you can be fairly compensated, you’re good. It’s the enjoyment of it. Because it’s what I love and what I think people can do well with, I’m happy to do a little extra work with a little less money, to make sure the entire thing goes off as well as possible. I work in the comedy industry all year long, not just during the Fringe, and you have to have some principles to go by. There are a lot of good people doing good stuff and willing to do good stuff. It can be a win/win for everybody.

Dom Romeo: Tell me about your show, Three Stuffed Mums, that pokes fun at ‘the oldest profession in the world’

KEHAU JACKSON: It’s myself, Kate Burr and Maggie Wood.

Maggie and I met the first year I did the Fringe, the second year I got here, at a photoshoot. It was 2003, the first year Raw had so many women entered – I think it was six – so they wanted to do publicity for it. They did a ring-around to see who was available, turns out she and I were the only ones who were. We did the photo shoot and started talking. We ended up going to each other’s heat to support each other. She was from Scotland and fairly recent arrived, and I was from somewhere else and so we kind of hooked up and been friends ever since. Kate we met around that time because she started getting into comedy. We worked together in Titters!, a showcase for female comics. We were the founding cast and Titters! won the People’s Choice Award that year. Ever since then we’ve been working together, off and on. Kate’s just had a baby, Maggie’s got a teenager, I’ve got an empty nest… and there’s a show!

Because Maggie does a lot of musical theatre, she said, ‘let’s write music’ and we said, ‘okay’, so we did. This is the first time we’ve all done stand-up comedy and music. We used some of her musical theatre contacts to make backing tracks, got all these lovely people that didn’t even know us to donate money to get a musical director and make backing tracks. We each wrote a song about our individual level of motherhood, so we each perform a solo song. We also have a theme song – which is traditional, so we don’t have to pay any royalties. It’s ‘Three Stuffed Mums’ to the tune of ‘Three Blind Mice’.

It’s been really fun to do and we’ve gotten a lot of support because although people talk about mothers, and Fiona O’Loughlin talks about being a bad mother, there’s not a lot of comedy aimed towards that market. 

Our songs say it all: Kate’s is called ‘I Don’t Want To Be A Mum Today’. It’s so frenetic; there are so many things you have to do: they hit their heads, they roll over, everybody has advice…

Maggie’s is in that transition period: her son is 16 and her song is called ‘Teenage Blues’ – it’s a bluesy number.

My song is ‘You’ve Grown’. We’re at the end of the cycle now – you’re up, you’re out, you’re gone – with a bit of a twist at the end. It involves a feather boa but I’ll leave it at that.

The tagline is, ‘for everybody who’s had a mum or been a mum or is just wondering what the heck your mum’s been thinking all these years…’

Even though this show has a theme, each of the comics have different styles of comedy within that. We’re talking about mothers in our own era, but also in our own styles. Mine is a bit more brash and a bit more ‘what the f*ck?!’; Kate’s is very cheerful and very  good-hearted and a very ‘good ol’ Aussie girl’ kind of thing. And Maggie’s a Scot, and has a different way at looking at things, and she’s got a teenager with all the problems… 

It’s very good to see unity within all the diversity.

Kisses2


Some change from silly money…

A couple of days a go, a poorly worded phrase on an advertisement inspired a blog post.

I took issue with the logic – or rather, lack thereof – embodied within this statement:

Old offer

My criticism also included discussion of the ad’s recursive imagery, which I felt was far cleverer than the text (because its absurdity was deliberate, artistic, eye-catching):

RecursiveCFD

It would appear somebody has taken my criticism to heart. The page has been updated with a less absurd offer of service:

New offer

And the recursion has been replaced with an image that is as cutely absurd, albeit slightly less artful – the ‘screen’ being ‘peeled back’ to reveal… well, it doesn’t matter what it is; I’m inadvertently driving traffic to their website, clearly, because they’ve obviously traced the link back and read what I have to say about it. I don’t have to pretend I understand it or care about it.

Peel screen

So there you have it: I may not have ‘gone viral’, but I seem to be having some effect.

Designer types: hire me to point out ridiculous verbiage before you go live.

Big corporate entities with silly money to spend on websites, hire me to drive traffic to them by being cynical and critical. I, too, could do with some change.


Silly money

I’m a bit old school insofar as I prefer to be paid for the work I do.

And I don’t just say that because I still get offers, every so often, to contribute to someone’s new online whatever-it-is, in exchange for… nothing. Well, the promise that “when it starts making money, and someone finances or buys it, blah blah blah…”. That’s okay. I have a blog of my own for whenever I want to write for free. You can link to it any time you want.

I still foolishly try to pitch a story whenever I find a website that seems to actually contain well written, original articles with things like opinions (as opposed to obvious pastiches of press releases and Wikipedia articles based on earlier press releases) only to discover “we don’t really pay contributors, but we’d happily run your article in exchange for promoting you…”. That’s okay, I have a blog of my own for whenever I want to write for free. You can link to it any time you want.

I’m not quite into speculating on the stock market. I think you ought to have money before you start buying and selling shares. Lots of it. And I particularly am not impressed by the concept of CFDs – or ‘Contracts for Difference’ – which seem to consist of gambling on how much the price of stock or assets will change… without actually having to own the stocks or assets. I’m sure it sounds less dodgy when you actually have the money to toss at such market speculation.

But not a great deal less dodgy. 

Like betting on a horse race being run by horses that don’t exist. “Hey, wanna wager on who’s gonna come first in the unicorn race? No, it’s okay… I’ve got the money…”.

Take this  GFT ad I stumbled upon, for example, encouraging you to try out CFDs with a “risk-free GFT practice account”.

Untitled

The term ‘risk-free’ is foot-noted with the statement, ‘Risk-free applies to demo accounts only’.

At the bottom of the page is a more ominous statement that people like me do well to heed:

“Trading in derivatives, such as contracts for differences and foreign exchange contracts, and other investment products which are leveraged, can carry a high level of risk and may not be suitable for all investors. It is possible for investors to lose substantially more than the initial deposit.”

Oh yeah.

That’s exactly why I’d avoid CFDs in general.

But why I’d avoid GFT’s CFDs specifically is because of something else that’s in the white box containing the list of advantages to CFDs.

Did you spot it?

It’s the third item:

“24-hour trading, 5.5 days a week.”

What can that possibly mean?

If GFT doesn’t have a problem with this statement, you perhaps don’t want to be giving them any of your money. And if you don’t have a problem with it, whether or not you should give it to them is academic – you’ll be parted from it soon enough.

See, for five of those days, I’m sure they can enable you to engage in 24-hour trading. But as to that remaining 0.5 of a day: in what half day, in what week, can they be offering 24-hour trading? None, surely. No half-day contains 24 hours, so by definition, they can’t be offering ‘24-hour trading’ in it. Not unless the people at GFT are wizards who have somehow found a way to violate certain laws of physics.

Whatever happens on that last day, “24-hour trading, 5.5 days a week” is nonsense.

Yes, yes, I’m sure what GFT means is that they offer 24-hour trading Monday to Friday and… half a day Saturday? Because Australia is on the other side of the world from major financial markets. So perhaps they stay open til midday Saturday? While it’s still Friday in the US and Europe?

But if that’s the case, what time do they start on Monday? Not at the stroke of midnight as Sunday becomes Monday, surely… it would still be Sunday in the US and Europe at that time.

Yet if it’s not at the stroke of midnight Sunday, then there are two days for which GFT cannot guarantee 24-hour trading… that becomes ‘24-hour trading, 4 days a week – and some hours on two other days…’.

Perhaps the real clue is in the ad layout, with its excellent use of recursion.

RecursiveCFD

It would appear more work went into composition of the image than the text. Except that both are patently absurd. You can't logically have an image of an object that contains the image of the object, containing an image of the object, containing an image of the object, containing the image of the object, cont… you get the idea. It can't exist in real life. The same absurdity applies to the statement, “24-hour trading, 5.5 days a week”.

So what do they actually, really mean?

Perhaps the computer within the computer within the computer getting smaller and smaller and smaller can represent the devaluation of your capital – a very real possibility. If you do intend to investigate CFDs, with GFT or anyone else, do indeed read and consider the Product Disclosure Statement on the company website. But with GFT specifically, get them to explain exactly what they mean in the phrase “24-hour trading, 5.5 days a week.” And while you’re busy pinning them down to the actual meaning of the phrases in their ad, make sure you do the same for the phrases in their contracts before you sign them. Because instead of “Contract for Difference”, you don’t want to discover ‘CFD’ could also stand for “Completely F*cked-over, Dear”. Or that GFT could come to mean “Got Fleeced Totally”.

Meanwhile, is there anyone who can offer this freelance writer a regular gig? I can guarantee 24-hour dedication for at least 0.33 days a week.