Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Big Blogger 2006

Who needs a TV series when you have all the action and excitement that is BIG BLOGGER 2006, brought to you by Bevis. Hurrah!

Which reminds me: I interviewed BB06 evictee Rob yesterday - should I post the interview?


...a song can move me to tears. It happened tonight, walking home down Gore Street listening to the Sufjan Stevens' track 'Casimir Pulaski Day'.

Maybe it's because I was tired, or because the prospect of date #2 with zookeeper-boy this Friday has made in a chink in the wall I normally carry around to protect my fragile heart, or because tonight's new moon has stirred up my emotions more than is usual.

Maybe it's because it's simply a simple, sad, beautiful song about a friend who has died of cancer.

Either way, I was listening to it as I walked past the Victorian terraces in Fitzroy, and tears were trickling down my cheeks in the cold night air.

Thanks, Sufjan.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Busking's diversity at risk

I wanted to you to alert you to a situation in regards to a forthcoming proposal from the Melbourne City Council. The following text was given to me by a long-term busking acquitance.


The City of Melbourne propose to:
  • introduce a system of busking auditions (held quarterly)
  • set a limit on the number of Busking Permits issued;
  • have an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) person measure the sound level of every busker that is issued with a Permit to ensure that they play at an acceptable level.
This is a real grassroots arts/music issue akin to the Fair Go for Live Music Campaign.

If these proposals go through it will have the reverse effect of Melbourne City Council's aims to encourage a vibrant, active local arts community. It will limit the opportunities of many arts/music practitioners to perform in a public space, to give some colour and life that adds to a rich energy to the city.

Melbourne City is one of the few municipalities around that allows anyone to get a buskers permit (they can be obtained at the Information desk at Town Hall for free) and perform to the people. This egalitarian approach has, over the years, assisted many performers to improve their craft before an audience.

But now it seems, the Taste Police want to have a say in who gets to perform in public.

To paraphrase John Howard, it will be a case of "We decide who gets to perform on the streets of Melbourne!

We will be going from an open-minded, tolerant approach, to a system that will restrict the number of performers on the street, and which will disengage many performers from the public.

The brilliant thing about busking is that it is truly democratic, for the people decide who is worthy of their support. If a busker is not good enough,to quote Bruce Springsteen:-

"Stay on the streets of this town
And they'll be carving you up all night"
('Dancing In The Dark' from Born In The U.S.A)

If you go to the City of Melbourne's Arts and Culture - Intoduction page (via Arts&Events) the opening paragraph reads -

"Melbourne is Living the Arts every day. The City of Melbourne is committed to fostering an environment where the people of Melbourne can participate in the arts,where artists and creative industries are encouraged and where Indigenous art and culture is valued and respected."
- Lord Mayor John So

Should the proposals mentioned above go through, it will mean that some performers will be disengaged from the community. They will be unable to participate as performers as they might have hoped. Their creativity and artistry will be discouraged. It is a stark opposite to the commitment mentioned by the Lord Mayor.

Current Procedure

Should the council decide to retain the current operational procedures in the issuing of Busker Permits, they will reinforce their commitment to the cultural and artistic vitality of the city.

The City of Melbourne is committed to ensuring that it is providing best practice services. This is the case for now with their approach to the granting of Buskers Permits as it stands now. Unlike other cities in Australia, Melbourne City Council exhibits a real sense of community spirit, by allowing anyone the opportunity to perform in the city. It is a fair and egalitarian approach. Indeed one could argue that the current approach in Councils dealings with buskers is, a worlds best practice in fostering the cultural diversity and range of entertainment that busking brings to a city.

When Busker Permits are issued at the Information Desk, prospective buskers must read through the Code of Conduct for Busking. The opening paragraph of this Code states:

"...Melbourne City Council is very supportive of the busking community and sees the proactive management of the Busking Code of Conduct as a way of fostering the cultural diversity and range of entertainment that busking brings to the City of Melbourne while ensuring the safety,access and amenity of our citizens"

There is no need to implement any change to regulations as has been suggested from some quarters, as the Code of Conduct for Busking spells out very clearly that in regards to interaction with the public, "buskers may not upset any member of the public by their behavior."

Under the heading Co-operation with Melbourne City Council Staff, it states very clearly:-

"Buskers must follow all instructions given by Melbourne City Council authorised officers and members of the Victorian Police."

The document also states:-

"Authorised officers of the City of Melbourne may ask buskers to move on if it is considered that a busker is interfering with pedestrian amenity"

All applicants for a Busking Permit are instructed by Council staff at the Information Desk (Swanston Street entrance) to read this document before they sign and date it. Melbourne City Council and the Victorian Police are already equipped with the powers to deal with any Busker behaving in an inappropriate way. Plus, by ensuring that prospective buskers read and sign the Code of Conduct for Busking, when they apply for a permit,they make buskers fully aware of their obligation to behave appropriately.

Therefore I hold the firm belief that there is no need to implement stricter controls or regulations, as Melbourne City Council 's authorised officers, and the Victorian Police, already have the powers necessary to deal with any busker deemed to be behaving in an inappropriate way.

Should the proposed changes to the existing busker's license system go ahead Melbourne City will appear more austere and bland. A vibrant 24 hour city in the 21st century would not discourage artists by imposing a stricter, more stringent and limiting way of issuing Buskers Permits.

Melbourne's reputation as a community that encourages culture will be tarnished by the proposed changes, as they would disengage and discourage many members of Melbourne's rich arts community.

These proposals are a disservice to the community. I believe that Melbourne citizens are open-minded and tolerant enough to appreciate the magnificent spashes of colour, artistry and vibrancy that busking brings to the city.


Feel free to copy this, post in on your own blogs, or paraphrase it and send it to City of Melbourne Councillor Ng, stating your opposition to the introduction of these proposals. Her e-mail is:

Place your bets!

Should you be in a betting mood, take a squiz at this: a gambling website in the USA is running odds on which celebrity will be next to come out of the closet!

Apparently the odds on favourite is Vin Diesel at 4 - 1.

Next up is Keanu Reeves at 5-1.

And then Oprah Winfrey at 6-1.

Jake Gyllenhaal is also on the list, among others. Without wanting to be accused of obsessing over the sexualities of celebrities, of muckraking, or wanting to out people (it's all in fun, ok?) who do YOU think will come out first?

Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets!

Monday, June 26, 2006

A fitting draw

Yesterday's Community Cup was fantastic. A great crowd - 23,000 according to today's Age - and although I have no idea how much money was raised yet, I reckon it will be close to last year's $165,000: a great outcome for St Kilda's Sacred Heart Mission.

The weather was perfect - cool, sunny and narry a breeze - and the two teams were splendid in their rivalry. The last few years have seen alternating wins to the Rockdogs and the Megahertz, so it seemed only fitting that this year was a draw between the two.

There were some sour notes - in particular a broken collarbone for one of the poor Rockdogs (one of the members of The Twits I think) - but overall play was fair and not as aggressive as last year, the crowd were fantastic, and I came off with little more than a cracked rib courtesy of a tackle I instigated against Wally Meanie, and aching thighs when I woke up this morning.

As mskp notes, there were countless highlights, including several streakers (I think I counted three, all up), inummerable dogs, good friends, vodka at half time, the lovely msfits as an especially stylish runner, some superb displays of skill from the likes of RRR's Phil Wales, Glenny G, the Big O (who summed up the spirit of the day when he allowed one of the two kids playing for the Rockdogs to take the ball off him and attempt to kick a goal), Angus Sampson and Sam Pang.

Afterwards, buzzing nicely courtesy from the administation of a few medicinal substances, I retired to the St Kilda Bowls Club with a few team-mates, then dropped in for a quick drink at the launch of the latest issue of the literary journal Going Down Swinging, then collapsed into bed - waking around 4am when rolling over woke me in a bolt of pain: that's when I realised I'd cracked my rib again...

Hurrah for the Community Cup!

Sunday, June 25, 2006


My dear friend Bec, now a resident in Glasgow and working at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Sauchiehall Street, send me these photos earlier in the week.

This first pic is of myself and Bec's husband Bob, who got their initials tattooed on his arm a few days prior to this photo being taken. It was taken at the wedding reception for our friends Adam and Anna. Both Bob and I, by this stage of the evening, were a few sheets to the wind when Bec said she wanted a photo of us showing off and comparing our tatts. We cheerfully agreed.

This second photo, in which I'm attempting to look suave and swellegant, was taken at Adam and Anna's wedding, held in the Castlemaine botanic gardens, earlier the same day. That's my old workmate and ex-Voiceworks editor Craig Garrett on my right, and the utterly lovely, completely-forgiven-for-whisking-Bec-away-to-Scotland, Bob on my left. Charming gents both.

Right, now I'm off to the Community Cup. Hopefully I'll have a few pics of the action to chuck up here later in the week!


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Carbohydrate loading

This is how seriously I take the Community Cup ladies and gentlemen: I refrained from indulging on Friday night, and had a quiet and early one* at home; and I spent Friday and will spend today carb-loading, guzzling pasta, bread and other staples so that my energy reserves are replenished for Sunday's big game.

Bring it on, Rockpigs - you're going down!**

*The fact that I hadn't been to bed at all on Thursday night, and powered through the day without sleep, teeth grinding, has no bearing on this matter at all. None at all.

**Metaphorically of course - unless one of the cuter blokes on the Rockdogs team would like to offer a reconcilatory blowjob, in which case, in the name of sportsmanship, I say, bring it on !

Friday, June 23, 2006

This week on SmartArts...

On yesterday's show, my guests were:


Rosemary Forde - Curator of the exhibition “How Low River Rose”

Featuring the work of A Constructed World (Jacqueline Riva & Geoff Lowe) with Hao Guo
At Victoria Park Gallery from Wednesday 21 June to Saturday 8 July.

A Constructed World was invited to select an artist or artists to exhibit together with them at Victoria Park. Choosing to work with artist Hao Guo (an honours student at VCA) and curator Rosemary Forde, A Constructed World set up a collaborative project that crosses generations and cultures. The resulting exhibition, how low river rose, is an open-ended proposition, developing from the gaps in our knowledge, the vulnerability of truth and its translation, and the potential frustrations and confusions around inheritance and identity.

how low river rose features recent video works from both artists plus newly developed collaborative pieces including moving sculpture and performance at the opening event. False claims, silent running and distorted male figures, present a surfeit of generational let-downs, wasted energy and collective uncertainty.

An international student, Hao Guo has been based in Melbourne for 5 years but this will be the first public presentation of his work. A Constructed World leave Melbourne shortly after this project, returning to Europe to make a workshop at the Guggenheim, Bilbao.

This project is the first of what Victoria Park Gallery plans to be an annual event, creating opportunities for connections and collaboration between artists at differing stages of development.

Gallery Hours: Wed – Sat 12-5


Mark Golden, co-founder and owner of Golden Artist Colours in the U.S.A., who make some of the greatest artists' acrylics in the world. Their biggest difference over other manufacturers is their close contact with artists in developing paints, mediums and other modifiers. Mark Golden had some great stories about the birth of acrylics in the US in the 1940's and his father dealing with artists such as Morris Louis, Helen Frankenthaler, Mark Rothko, Roy Lichtenstein, etc. He also spoke about the need for artists to have access to the best possible materials, and to technical skill, so that they can aspire to their personal best.


John Paul Fischbach – Artistic Director of the innaugural INTERNATIONAL PUPPET CARNIVAL.

Where: Federation Square
When: 26 June to 2 July

"This brand new week-long event, the first major festival of its kind in this country for more than two decades will see the most talented puppet masters from Australia and New Zealand converge on Melbourne for a packed program of contemporary, traditional and cutting edge performances, events and workshops.

Featuring Family Friendly Daytime program between 10am and 5pm and Mature After Dark program from 7pm to 11pm nightly, this festival really can boast something for all ages, tastes and pockets."

Full program details & tickets available at:


Poet Michael Crane – coordinator of the WRITERS AT GASWORKS workshop program.

Coming up: Novel Writing Workshop with authors Christos Tsiolkas and Patricia Cornelius

When: Sunday July 2
Time: 1pm
Cost: Full $25 / Conc $15 +bf

Where: Gasworks Arts Park
21 Graham St, Albert Park 3206
Melway 2J H7
Ample parking or walk, ride or catch the tram


Our fortnightly visual arts review segment Art Attack with Jeff Khan, who this week gave us a rund-down on the 2006 Sydney Biennale.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Men's Room

No, I'm not loitering in public toilets again; it's a radio show. Get your mind out of the sewer and back to the gutter where it belongs.

Tonight on RRR between 7-8pm, myself, Glenn Manton and Tom Elliot will discuss male bonding and men's emotions on THE MEN'S ROOM, a sporadic show that looks at masculinity and men's issues.

There'll be talkback too, so feel free to call in for a chat, as well as special and expert guests, and THE ANNOUNCING OF THIS YEAR'S COMMUNITY CUP TEAMS!!!

Oh, I can taste the testosterone from here - or wait, no, maybe that's last night's one night stand...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Those whacky MIFF funsters!

Went to the media launch for the Melbourne Film Festival this morning, and now have my appetite for a three-week cinematic feast well and truly whetted. Traditionally, festival supremo James Hewison uses the media launch to announce the all-important opening night film: this year, he teased us, and announced that we wouldn't find out what the film was until the actual opening night!

"Cinema seems to infiltrate our lives so much that I often wonder whether it's possible to see a film without a sort of pre-determined point of view," Hewison said. "On 26 July, MIFF's opening night (and my last as Executive Director) audiences will have that rare oportunity to have a virginal cinema experience. A pure experience - I hope - as we reveal a film that you certainly won't forget and won't leave you unmoved."

So, if any of you manage to find out what the opening night film is going to be, please let me know!

Probable highlights include:
  • Princess, part of the 'Danmark Nu' program, and directed by Anders Morgenthaler, a passionate, animated tirade attacking the porn industry in classic 'one man on a mission of revenge' style (read a review of it in The Hollywood Reporter, here):
  • The documentary An Inconvenient Truth, about former US Vice President Al Gore's one-man crusade to save the planet from climate change;
  • The narrative-free doco that dives to the roots of all politics, Workingman's Death, directed by Michael Glawogger, which focuses on the extremes to which people have to go to earn a wage, and especially those workers who have no choice. Implicit in the journey is a stomach-churning critique of the New Globalism, best illustrated by Indonesian sulfur haulers working on the slopes of an active volcano;
  • A Scanner Darkly, the new animated feature from Richard Linklater, a dark and trippy SF film based on the work of Philip K Dick;
  • Park Chan-wook's new film Sympathy for Lady Vengeance;
  • Boy Culture, a candid look at the life of a successful sex worker based on the critically acclaimed novel by Matthew Rettenmund and directed by Q Allan Brocka;
  • The Palme d'Or winning The Wind That Shakes The Barley by director Ken Loach, one of many films coming to us straight from Cannes;
  • And from the UK, the new film by Dog Soldiers director Neil Marshall, The Descent, which I have been waiting months to see. The Guardian called it "one of the best British horror films of recent years," while The Times said it was "unwatchable, but for all the right reasons...The gore leaves nothing to the imagination and everything to your next nightmare."
The Backbeat music doco program also has some promising flicks, including:
  • Beyond Beats And Rhymes - a provocative documentary that was originally conceived as a "loving critique" from a self-proclaimed ‘Hip-Hop Head’ but soon becomes a take-no-prisoners assault on the hypocrisy of mainstream hip-hop. The film sees director Byron Hurt tackling head-on issues of masculinity, sexism, violence and homophobia in today's hip-hop culture, eliciting some very uncomfortable responses in the process.
  • loudQUIETloud goes on the road with The Pixies eleven years after their 1993 break-up.
  • American Hardcore is a history of American punk rock, and features interviews with Ian MacKaye, Mike Patton and Phil Anselmo; while Punk's Not Dead is a DIY search for the soul of a subculture and a celebration of all things loud, fast, and spiked, that shows that punk is stronger and more relevant today than it's ever been.
MIFF runs from Jul 6 26 - August 13: I'll see you in the dark!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sometimes I see things...

...such as a lone balloon tied to a tram stop in Victoria Parade on my way to work in the morning, or a weeping woman on a train, and I invent stories about them.

The balloon was tied there by someone as a sign to their friends as to which tram stop to alight at in order to get to their party; only no-one came, no-one at all; and now they're feeling as limp and sad as the semi-deflated balloon itself.

The woman has just left her husband after years of fighting and is weeping with a combination of sorrow and joy that she's finally done it; and at the next stop someone will get on who offers her a hanky, and with whom she'll start a wild and wonderful new life.

I see things, and entire histories flash through my head in seconds, and I wonder if I should turn them into new stories, but I never seem to write them down, or if I do, I write them in my blog instead of turning them into succinct, polished literary gems that I could submit to Overland or Meanjin. Is blogging helping my writing or hindering it?

Hmmmm, I wonder where I put that uncompleted novel?

Monday, June 19, 2006

This sporting life... the name of a song by The Decemberists, who are a band I really wish would tour. Oh well, the upcoming shows by Mogwai, Death Cab For Cutie, Snow Patrol, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah will mostly make up for it. Mmmmm, touring bands.

I bet you thought this post was going to be about the World Cup didn't you? Haahaaa, sucked in bigtime!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Little doing

Made a list of all the things I'd planned to do this weekend. Have done almost none of them. Have procrastinated wildly, reading early entries on people's live-journals and blogs. Am missing Glen and Darren and am glad they're back in a few days. What with Mike in London, Martin in Sydney, and them overseas, I've been feeling a bit removed from the world. Will go and do housework now...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

When I grow up...

When I was a little kid, and I mean little, about grade two or three, I wanted to be a palentologist when I grew up. Ah yes, the exciting world of international fossil excavation! Fuck I was a strange kid - I mean, how many seven year olds have even heard of paleontology, let along harbour ambitions to be a paleontologist?

A year or two later I'd decided I wanted to be an oceanographer instead; or a zoo keeper; or even possibly a vet. By 15 I'd decided I wanted to be an actor.

Now, theoreticaly, I'm grown up, and I've become a writer, broadcaster and whatever else I am instead.

Actually scratch that, I still don't feel grown up. Nor dod I have any idea of how I've ended up here.

But what about you? What did you want to be when you were a kid?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Today on Smart Arts

- Artist Registrations @ Fringe are open NOW and close 5pm, Friday June 16 June. or (03) 8412 8788


“Anonymous” - IDENTIFY @ 69 Smith Street


Melbourne - Why are we confronted, at every turn, with images designed to make us want something, designed to make us feel lacking somehow? Phd candidate Grace McQuilten explores this question in the form of an exhibition and free magazine entitled Identify opening at 69 Smith Street Gallery on Wednesday, June 14.

Both magazine and exhibition set out to subvert fashion and design advertising. Unbranded and completely anonymous, Identify has no price and nothing to sell, with only a website linking the magazine back to the art project and inviting feedback from consumers.

Identify will be distributed in music, clothing and book-stores throughout Melbourne to invite shoppers to question systems of consumer culture.

The accompanying exhibition at 69 Smith St Gallery presents images from the magazine, outside of its designed space, to create a forum for discussion and debate. Viewers are also invited to participate by distributing copies of the magazine, IDENTIFY

Exhibition Dates: 14 June – 2 July 2006
Gallery: 69 SMITH STREET GALLERY, 69 Smith Street, Fitzroy Vic 3065
Phone: (03) 9689 5860
Gallery hours: Wed – Sat 11-5pm, Sunday 12-5pm


Sydney artist Lucas InheimSQUATSPACE, THE SHAM

SquatSpace was born from the energy of artists and activists of the Broadway Squats.
The organisers cleared out an old locksmith shop and launched a dynamic art and event space in December 2000. The gallery played host to political film screenings, free dinners, durational performances, experimental sound nights, site-specific installations... (see details)

“Bilateral Petersham,” aka “my Petersham project,” aka “The Petersham Lockdown.”

For two months (well, a bit less actually) I will not leave the suburb borders of the mighty Petersham. Petersham is a smallish neighborhood in the “inner-west” of Sydney. It runs between Parramatta Road (at the north end) and Addison Road (at the south end), and is surrounded by such glamorous destinations as Leichhardt (north), Lewisham (west), Marrickville (south), and Stanmore (east). And I will remain entirely within it until the end of May, as (self-appointed) artist-in-residence of Petersham.


Anita Larkin, Festival Director & King Marong, performer

EMERGE Refugee Festival - 16 June – 1 July 2006.

A stunning two week cultural festival that is a joyous celebration of the richness of cultures and talent from Africa, Afghanistan and Kurdistan that have recently come alive in Melbourne from 16 June – 1 July 2006.

One of the many events features Gambian artist King Marong & Super Afro Mandike, a highly accomplished percussionist and musician, who is involved in both the world music and contemporary music scene.



Remembering what it was like to push the furniture aside and bust a few moves. Eight Melbourne choreographers have been asked to recall the first song to which they ever made up a dance, and then use this song to create a new piece of choreography. The result? A compilation of diverse and infectious short dance ‘singles’.

Natalie Cursio is an independent choreographer, creating live performance work but also exploring dance in the context of public space, film, photography and fashion. Her work has been presented in Taipei, Seoul, Busan, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia.

Concept/curator: Natalie Cursio
Choreographers: Shannon Bott, Natalie Cursio, Simon Ellis, Phillip Gleeson, Michelle Heaven, Luke Hockley, Jo Lloyd and Gerard Van Dyck.
Dancers: Shannon Bott, Natalie Cursio, Simon Ellis, Shona Erskine, Jacob Lehrer and Gerard Van Dyck.

Venue: Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall – 521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne
Dates: Preview: 21 June at 8pm, all tickets $15. Season: 22 – 24 June at 8pm, 25 June at 5pm, 27 June – 1 July at 8pm
Cost: $20 Full/$15 Concession
Bookings: (03) 9639 0096 or


Cerise Howard joined us for our regular fortnightly screen culture segment A FISTFUL OF CELLULOID. She discussed MIAF, MUFF and MIFF, and reviewed the latest film based on the work of American writer Charles Bukowski, FACTOTUM.

There was no SHOOT THE MESSENGER today as Lucinda was stuck in a queue in our public health system…


Football training last night for my annual game in the Sacred Heart Mission Community Cup. I have been limping all day as a result. If I pull up this sore after training wtf will I be like after the actual match?

Ah well at least I feel all manly and butch as a result. ;-)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Snap rally Friday 16th

SNAP RALLY for GLBTIQ Civil Rights.

DEFEND civil unions from the homophobes in Government.

PROTEST outside Liberal Party Headquarters,
104 Exhibition St,
5.30pm Friday 16th.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

A Melbourne winter Haiku

In the park,
Boys play kick to kick -
Fallen leaves.

This was written as an experiment with the haiku form, which traditionally:
  • Consists of three lines of 5/7/5 phonetic units, or morae (which only partially correspond to the syllables in English)
  • Contains a seasonal reference (the kigo)
  • Features a kire, the so-called cut or breaking word (here signified by the dash, as English doesn't have kire), signifying a shift in perspective.
Some modern practioners of strict Haiku, as opposed to freeform Haiku (such as those written by Kerouac) propose that, as morae are not syllables per se, English language haiku should consist of 3/5/3 word patterns, to capture the sparse nature of some classic Japanese haiku. Thus the above attempt at a contemporary haiku, inspired by walking through the Fitzroy Gardens to the MCG.

And here's a different example of a contemporary haiku, from Modern Haiku (Vol.37.1):

funeral home
here too
she straightens his tie

- Roberta Beary

My other life

For many years, before I became the witty, urbane, cool, sophisticated arts hipster* that I am today, I was, to use the sadly underused Australian vernacular, a dag.

I wore glasses and had long unkempt hair. I spent most of my school lunchtimes and recesses in the library, mainly to avoid being beaten up** by the footy players, farmers' sons, and other assorted rednecks who populated the small country high school I attended. I read The Lord of the Rings obsessively, a total of 18 times between the ages of 13 and 19, and taught myself to write in Elvish and Dwarvish script. I played Advanced Dungeons and Dragons every weekend.

I eventually graduated to playing other role-playing games, such as the excellent and atmospheric Call of Cthulhu, based on the gothic fiction of H. P. Lovecraft (pictured, right); and the dark, baroque sword-and-sorcery game Stormbringer, based on the passionate pulp fictions of English fantasist Michael Moorcock.

Then I started writing for said games, and to my utter delight, they were published by Chaosium, a Californian-based company. I still have a photocopy of the first cheque they sent me; my first ever professional payment as a writer.

About eight or nine years ago I drifted away from role-playing; I was burnt out from churning out product for Chaosium and another US company, White Wolf, and the new edition of Stormbringer I'd helped write and develop, called Elric! after the albino anti-hero of Moorcock's most popular stories, was unceremoniously axed by the company because it wasn't selling (nor had they properly supported it and promoted it, but that's another story).

Two years ago though, I started to get back into gaming. It's hard to coordinate my regular gaming groups, between everyone's diverse committments, my work, their kids, etc. But god I love it. It's like opening an old diary, an old chapter of your life, and discovering that it's still fresh, more real than memory, more solid than nostalgia. I've even written a new sourcebook for Stormbringer, which Chaosium should be publishing soon.

Now all I have to remember is where I put my dice collection...

*This is patently untrue.

** This didn't work; I still got bashed regularly. "I'm bored," I once overhead one scamp say. "Let's go bash up Wattsy."

Values of social engineering

Don't you just love the hypocrisy of the Right? Providing the kids of same-sex parents with a supportive environment at school is blasted as "social engineering" and sets off a moral panic among the talkback set and tabloid readers.

Funny then, that a plan to pay for chaplains to be included as staff in government schools as part of the Coalition's "national framework for values education" (as opposed to spending the money on something more useful like, I don't know, installing air-conditioning in overheated portable classrooms, or buying new computers or library books for disadvantaged schools) is seen as an "opportunity for values-based guidance and religious education" instead of an attempt to indocrinate kids with religious myths, and another step in the backwards path towards white-picket-fence 1950's Australia.

Separation of church and state? Not for much longer given our current political climate!

Tired and happy

Went to see Belle & Sebastian at The Forum last night; great live music venue. I've been there for heaps of other things, such as MIFF screenings, forums, hell I even saw ET there when it was first released, before the Forum became a Christian revival centre, but I'd never seen a gig there before.

And what a bloody great gig it was! High energy, excellent clear sound, and fantastic songs from one of my favourite bands in the world in a set-list that sampled widely from their back catalogue instead of focussing too much on the latest album, which some bands are wont to do. I went to the gig with Andrew, who I met through Glen and Darren, who hadn't seen Belle & Sebastian before; whereas I saw them at the Palais two years ago on their first Australian tour; but last night we both had a great time.

The set started with 'The State That I Am In', the opening track from the band's debut album Tigermilk, and swept us along from there. 'Electronic Renaissance' from the same album was a highlight, and 'Dirty Dream Number Two' from The Boy With The Arab Strap another; as was Stuart Murdoch climbing off the stage and up onto the Forum's baroque statuary at the start of the encore!

Andrew and I went out for a quick drink afterwards, and then I headed into the city to the gay and lesbian dance party Winterdaze. MCV were one of the sponsors, so I'd been given a free ticket, and I thought what the hell, I may as well check it out. I caught up with Travis (the paper's designer) and Pup (advertising) while I was there, and hanging out with them was fun - it's always good getting to know people outside the office, but the party wasn't really my thing - house, house and more house music, and of course the obligatory drag show. Still, at least I can definitively say I don't like dance parties now, having actually been to two of them - hurrah for informed opinions. ;-)

I ended the night with a couple of drinks at Control (arriving to have Mary Mihelakos from The Spanish Club tell me that I'd just missed Stevie from Belle & Sebastian - doh!), which was pretty relaxed and friendly - as it often is at 4am!

Now I'm tired, but not hungover as I didn't drink much, and am contemplating a day of housework, listening to new CD releases, and sorting through piles of media releases and e-mails from publicists, so that I can plan out my show for the next couple of weeks.

Then tonight, I get to see Belle & Sebastian all over again! Hurrah!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Today on SmartArts

A little light-on for guests on the show today, as the last week has been so busy workwise that I hadn't really had a chance to organise much. Next week should be back to being jam-packed though...

9.30am: The first guest for the day was Stuart Murdoch (pictured, right, in a photograph (c) Debra A Zeller 2004), the founding member and singer/songwriter with Scottish septet Belle and Sebastian.

s you can probably guess, given that these guys are one of my favourite bands in the world, I was bloody happy to have the chance to chat with Stuart. He was in his hotel room in Perth when we spoke, so the interview took place over the 'phone, which wasn't ideal, but I was still really happy with the conversation that resulted.

If there's enough demand I'll transcribe the entire 16-odd minute interview and upload it to this blog: either way expect to see at least an excerpt from the interview appearing in the Radiothon edition of The Trip magazine (although you'll only see that if you're a Triple R subscriber!).

My next guest was Danielle Forer, who came in to chat about a fundraising photographic exhibition called Truly Maldives.

A fundraising charity auction is being held on
Tuesday June 13 from 6.30 – 9pm. All proceeds from the sale of the professionally framed photographs will be used to purchase much needed books and resources for Maldivian schools which have been rebuilt following the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

Curated by returned volunteers Danielle Forer and Alexandra Murray, on behalf of Australian Volunteers International.

This exhibition features a collection of photographs by Shaahina Ali, a local Maldivian dive instructor, journalist and photographer.

Venue: Gasworks Art Park 21 Graham St., Albert Park
dates: Now showing until Sunday June 18 from 9am – 5pm.

Stencil artist HaHa came in to talk about his new exhibition presented by City Lights, but to be honest he wasn't very talkative. One of those guests who I struggled to get more than a few words from. Oh well, his art still rocks.

Citylights - Until Never presents
Limited edition hand-cut stencils on plywood featuring Australian iconography 2004-2006.

HAHA is a pioneer of Melbourne street art and a founding director of the seminal Early Space.
After a non-stop series of interstate exhibitions over the last two years, Until Never is proud to present this first solo show in Melbourne for 2006 by HaHa - Australia’s most prolific & notorious stencil artist.
OPENING: UNTIL NEVER Gallery, 2nd flr 3-5 Hosier Lane :: Enter from Rutledge Lane :: Melbourne CBD :: AUSTRALIA
When: 6PM to 8PM :: Wednesday 14th June :: 2006 (until 13th july )
Gallery hours :: Wednesday to Saturday 12-6pm

Featuring dub audio banditry by MARCSTA
Also: Don’t miss this!
ABC Sunday Arts Show :: 4pm Sunday 11th June
Features a behind the scenes report on the the work and philosophy of HaHa, filmed
in Hosier Lane and various Melbourne back alleys over the last 6 months.

Playwright Alex Broun came in to talk about the new production of his play THE JACARANDA TREE, together with lead actress Liz McColl.

Wednesday June 7 until Sunday June 25, 2006
Wednesdays and Sundays at 6.30pm
Thursdays to Saturdays at 8.00pm

Rachel and Dan have 'answered the call' and live a perfect life with their son Simon on an idyllic property in Jacaranda country in NSW. When long lost friend Richard arrives at the sanctuary unannounced and looking for answers, no one is willing to talk. But is there a secret hidden in the jacaranda tree, which casts its long shadow over their house? And can Richard's digging finally unearth the truth they have been running from?

Runner up in the Rodney Seaborn Playwright's Award, 2004; Third in the Virtual Theatre Project's International Playwriting Competition, 2004; Workshopped as part of Theatrelab, 2005

Written by Alex Broun
Directed by Nina Karol
Performed by Liz McColl, Paul Pearson, Jonathan Dyer, Luke Sommerfeld / Rarmian Newton

La Mama Theatre
205 Faraday St
Carlton, VIC 3053
Mon-Fri 10:00am - 5:00pm
Tel: (03) 9347-6948
Fax: (03) 9349-2063

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong

I found this in The Age forums, and got a chuckle out of it, so thought I'd post it here as an antidote to me swearing a lot this morning...

1) Being gay is not natural. Real Australians always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

2) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

3) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behaviour. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

4) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

5) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Brittany Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

6) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.

7) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

8) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in Australia.

9) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


From the website of the Sydney Morning Herald (and thanks to Arthur Vandelay for provding the link, even though it's just reduced me to tears of rage):

Gay couples to lose right to say 'I do'

Homosexual couples are set to lose their newly won right to say "I do" after the federal government vowed to overturn ACT civil union laws.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock emerged from a cabinet meeting in Canberra with a directive to the governor-general to use Commonwealth powers to scrap the territory laws before they could be used.

The ACT parliament voted three weeks ago to allow gay couples to enter into a civil union, with almost the same status as marriage.

But before the dust had settled on the laws, the federal government moved to override them.

Prime Minister John Howard said the ACT would have given same-sex couples the right to marriage in all but name.

"The legislation, by its own admission, is an attempt to equate civil unions with marriage and we don't find that acceptable," Mr Howard said.

"Our view is very simple ... the founding fathers, in their wisdom, gave constitutional authority in relation to these matters to the Commonwealth."

Federal parliament, with Labor's support, voted in 2004 to explicitly define marriage in the Marriage Act as a union between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others.

Mr Ruddock said, even with amendments to the civil union laws designed to address the federal government's concerns, the ACT was being deliberately confrontational.

"This issue could have been dealt with in a way that was not deliberately as confrontational as it was," he said.

His ACT counterpart, Simon Corbell, said the federal government was "homophobic".

The issue deserved the attention of the entire federal parliament, as when the Commonwealth last overrode a territory in 1997 by throwing out Northern Territory laws legalising voluntary euthanasia.

"The federal government are afraid of having this debate in the parliament," Mr Corbell said.

He said the ACT would look at ways to topple the federal government's move.

Gay rights activist Rod Swift described the announcement as another piece of the federal government's undeclared "straight Australia policy".

"The moves by the cabinet today to override the ACT is a shameful, despicable abuse by the Howard government," he said in a statement.

"An overwhelming majority of Australians want same-sex couples recognised by the federal government, not wilfully discriminated against and marginalised."

The federal government's decision comes just after a push by United States President George Bush for a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

The US is preparing for congressional elections in November, and Bush wants to amend the constitution to formally define marriage as the union between a man and a woman.

While the plan is expected to fail because it needs two-thirds majority support in either the Senate or the House of Representatives, Bush hopes to force the Democrats to state their position on gay marriage.

© 2006 AAP

Fuck you too Mr President

US President George W. Bush has reignited the gay marriage debate in a speech at the White House on Monday.

“Marriage is the most fundamental institution of civilization, and it should not be redefined by activist judges,” he said, as the US Senate prepared to debate a proposed amendment banning same-sex marriage.

The proposed Marriage Protection Amendment would define marriage as solely between a man and a woman.

Political commentators say Bush benefited from his support of the amendment in 2004, as the move encouraged religious conservatives to vote for him, helping him win a second term. Bush has said little about same-sex marriage since his re-election.

With his popularity rate at an all-time low following the mishandling of the war in Iraq and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, some have suggested that Bush is relying on the divisive same-sex marriage issue to rebuild support among his own party and religious conservatives.

“Yes, this is about pandering to his base,” said Matt Foreman, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “Yes, this is about diverting America's attention from his foreign and domestic failures.”

Democrat Senator Ted Kennedy called the measure “bigotry, pure and simple,” while in an open letter released Monday morning, the head of conservative gay and lesbian group the Log Cabin Republicans, denounced Bush’s support for the proposed marriage amendment.

“Your decision to use the grounds of the White House - America's house - to advance discrimination is an insult to millions of fair-minded Americans from all walks of life,” wrote Patrick Guerriero, the group’s outgoing executive director.

Opposition to the amendment from the Democrats, coupled with resistance from Republican moderates, is likely to ensure that this week’s senate debate on the issue will be a futile exercise.

Shaking with rage

On the way to work at MCV this morning, I walked past the abortion clinic in East Melbourne and found myself literally trembling with rage after a short discussion with a Right To Life protester.

I asked the wrinkled old bastard why, if he was so concerned with human life, he wasn't out protesting the war in Iraq, or helping feed street kids, or doing something about the mortality rate in indigenous communities, and he started waffling about 'protecting the innocent' or somesuch.

If there hadn't been a cop watching, I think I might have spat on the sanctimonious old turd. Not exactly a measured, intellectual response, I know, but how else do you argue with a zealot whose only real agenda is maintaining his slowly slipping control of women's bodies?

Monday, June 05, 2006

All Grown Up

Good god. I have a business card now. A BUSINESS CARD. According to this small piece of cardboard, handily sized so as to fit in a wallet or pocket*, I AM A JOURNALIST.

All of a sudden I feel ridiculously grown up and mature.

I think I need to go out and get drunk in order to counter such feelings.

Who's with me?!

*And which bright spark came up with that idea, hmmm?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Yesterday on SmartArts...

Mark HiltonCollective Autonomy
Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces
200 Gertrude Street Fitzroy, until June 24

Opening Hours: Tue - Fri 11am-5.30pm, Sat 1-5.30pm
200 Gertrude Street Fitzroy
Victoria 3065 Australia
T: +61 3 9419 3406

Mark Hilton’s Collective Autonomy is a breathtaking sequence of exquisitely detailed light boxes, whose confronting subject matter challenges us to rethink our notions of contemporary Australian culture.

Each light box is executed in a traditional cultural style – Medieval fresco, ancient Persian court painting and Chinese coffin-lid carving. Despite these diverse and historical aesthetic approaches, the works allegorically grapple with unsettling socio-political events in present-day Australia. These include the notorious stabbing deaths at Melbourne’s Salt Nightclub in 2003, and the alleged culture of sexual abuse in Australia’s elite football teams. Considered together, the works in Collective Autonomy serve as a reflection, memorial, and unflinching critical investigation into some of the darker aspects of Australian culture.

Sally Hussey & Matthew Molony - Film Fest @ Falls
9 – 11 June
Falls Creek
Tickets and accomodation: 1800 232 557

The third annual Film Fest @ Falls is to take place on the opening weekend of the 2006 ski season at Falls Creek, 9 – 11 June. Hosted by the Falls Creek Alpine Resort Management Board, the festival celebrates Australian Filmmaking, providing a forum for emerging filmmakers to introduce their work to industry representatives.

The festival centres on a short film competition that screens over 40 works across 3 days. Entrants are vying for over $30,000 in prizes awarded for Best Film, Best Script, Best Director and Highly Commended Film(s). Prizes are awarded by an independent Jury, made up of industry professionals. Film Fest @ Falls has a strong focus on script writing: the foundation element of successful film making.

Other highlights include a 20th anniversary screening of the Australian film Malcolm, which directors Nadia Tass and David Parker in attendance; and a work-in-progress screening of a yet to be released, new Australian feature West, by first time feature director Daniel Kridge. This will be followed by a Q & A session with the film’s creative team and a number of the cast.

Jacqueline Ogeil - Artistic Director - Woodend Winter Arts Festival
9 – 12 June 2006

Following the success of last year’s inaugural Woodend Winter Arts Festival this unique celebration of the arts is being held again this year over the Queen’s Birthday Weekend in June.

Music, film and literature will be showcased at several venues around the town of Woodend over the three day weekend, including performances by the Tank Stream Quartet, poet Chris Wallace-Crabb, and a retrospective screening of the works of film-maker Paul Cox.


Lally Katz and the Terrible Mysteries of the Volcano is the new show from award-winning independent theatre company, Stuck Pigs Squealing (The Eisteddfod, The Black Swan of Trespass). It is a metaphysical fairy tale for adults, set in three timezones, in a post-apocalyptic Canberra. Featuring a rich live sound score by Jethro Woodward, lighting design by Richard Vabre and a fantastical design by Adam Gardnir, the audience is taken on a ride into a bittersweet world of memory, love and loss.

$15 Preview June 1 @8pm
June 2 – 18, Tues – Sat @8pm; Sun @5pm
Tickets $27/ $18
Bookings: 9534 3388 or
Theatreworks,14 Acland Street, St Kilda

Stomp @ Her Majesty’s Theatre, Exhibition St – on now until June 4
Friday 8:00pm
Saturday 2:00pm and 8:00pm
Sunday 1:00pm and 5:00pm
Ticketek General Bookings on 132 849 or

STOMP is an exuberant display of physical prowess, music, dance energy and wit. It is a performance guaranteed to set the pulse racing with a jiving cacophony of amazing percussion on the move, using everyday household objects in non-traditional ways: garbage bins, brooms, drums and matches create extraordinary music and dance. With its high energy, fast moving and very physical dynamic mix of bodies, objects and sounds, abstract ideas are performed with humour and theatrical flair.

Now into its 14th year of touring world-wide, STOMP is a truly remarkable theatrical phenomenon, having played over 10,000 performances to over 10 million people in 42 countries across five continents. Quite simply, there is nothing else in the world like it.

Eugene von Nagy – Vanguard Gallery & Jake HoernerKick Gallery
Northern Exposure 2006

Exhibitions, openings, demonstrations and interactive activities
Showcasing Visual Arts in High Street Northcote

Opening 6-9pm Friday June 9
Continues Saturday June 10 & Sunday June 11

Northern Exposure 2006 is a multi-venue arts festival in High Street Northcote. After the success of the inaugural NE festival in 2005 NE06 is set to once again highlight the numerous arts venues and creative community of Melbourne’s new arts and entertainment precinct – High Street Northcote.

As part of Northern Exposure 2006, Vanguard Gallery presents:
Friday 9th June, 6-9pm: Festival opening, including exhibition openings in six galleries, street performances and events in various venues along High St Northcote.

234 High St Northcote VIC 3070
Tel +61 3 9481 4840

Red Stitch Theatre Company present:
by Fermin Cabal. Translated by Robert Shaw.

May 31st - July 1st, 2006
Wed-Sat 8pm, Sundays 6.30pm (dur 75 mins)
No show Thurs 15 June

One night a young, pretty woman, Colorina, vanishes in Santiago. Her subsequent fate is recounted and questioned by those close to her. What really happened? What happened to the thousands just like her?

Tejas Verdes (Green Gables), once a seaside hotel, became an infamous Chilean torture and detention centre during the Pinochet dictatorship in the mid 1970's. Cabal's humane and poetic work evokes the horror of systematic brutality, the lives of the 'Disappeared', and the burden of truth that weighs on those left behind.

"Cabal...combines insistent poetic motifs with hard prosaic detail...a remarkable act of collective memory" (Michael Billington, The Guardian)

With Verity Charlton, Olivia Connolly, Kate Cole,
and special guests: Evelyn Krape and Laura Lattuada.

BOOKINGS 9533 8083 $30 (Conc. $20)

Discount Tickets and Free Subscriber bookings
now available at

Plus regular segments A Fistful of Celluloid with Cerise Howard, and arts news & gossip segment Shoot the Messenger with Lucinda Straughn.