Sunday, January 30, 2005

Noble Aspirations and the Government Committee

The original idea behind the Harmony Week commercial was to use real people, not actors, to represent the modern multicultural face of Perth. The ad would feature a Noongar cop, an Asiatic engineer, an African Muslim doctor, and some token white chick. They would all be women (because apparently multiculturalism only applies to women), and they would all somehow express the theme: "Shared Rights, Diverse Cultures".

Somehow, this will be exemplified by the story of four girlfriends who go out to an Italian restaurant in Northbridge to celebrate the graduation of one of their number.

Noble aspirations indeed, and like good intentions, they make great paving stones for the hellbound.

Now, the cop and the doctor had already been cast by the government committee paying for the ad - ok, the cop's on disabilities and her gear is out of date, and the doctor is really a psychologist, but they're real women being really multicultural and very ethnic.

Then Western Power pulled out, citing the calling of elections and the potential for any involvement on their part in the ad to be misconstrued as political advertising, even though the ad will air in mid-March, long after the February election.

So I got cast as the Asiatic engineer. Well, I'm an editor - editor starts and ends with the same letters as engineer, I guess.

Then the government committee informed us that the Muslim doctor would not be involved in their commercial because the Koran expressly forbids Muslim women from being out after dark on the streets of Northbridge. Instead, the committee will arrange for us to use an Indian restaurant down on the Barrack St Jetty. Why losing the doctor means we have to lose the entire Northbridge location is beyond me, but I'm just the editor/engineer.

Originally, the token white girl was a chef in the Italian restaurant. Now she's a chef in the Indian restaurant. No big deal, you'd think.

Except the restaurant is staffed by devout volunteers to raise funds for a Hindu charity, and they're not letting some heathen film crew romp around their kitchens, or play along that a non-Hindu white chick cooks in their kitchen. We still haven't got a Muslim doctor, or even a close approximation thereof, and we're scheduled to film at the jetty in a couple of nights.

I can't wait.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Advertising Alms

Isn't it wonderful that the Red Cross had so much money left over after the Tsunami crisis appeal that they were able to spend some of it buying advertising space on bus shelters to thank all those that gave. Here's hoping that the advertising company donated the space.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Hurry Up and Wait

Well, just finished my first ever acting role, as Generic Safety Officer, in a government sponsored ad that won't air until March, and which may never see the light of day if Dr Gallop gets kicked out of the Premier's office.

It's a political/bureaucracy/accounting thing.

We filmed up at the Police Academy in Joondalup, in a delightful little pretend-town they call the Strategic Village, where we improvised an emergency scenario involving a transformer that'd blown up or something, and which was translated visually into smoke pouring out of a High Voltage room. It turns out everything in the Strategic Village - the Chicken Treat, the Guardian Pharmacy, the Shell station - is fake except for the High Voltage Room, and assorted safety officers and management types had to stand around making sure we observed all the safety protoccols.

Particularly when smoke grenades became involved.

Well, we had to improvise, didn't we. Very helpful, the police. I wonder if they'd rent out the Strategic Village for film shoots.

All in all, considering how the Downed Power Cable scenario had to be altered during the day of the shoot to the Fire In The Transformer Room scenario, with whatever props could be scavenged, sorry, I meant borrowed, at the Strategic Village itself, we did pretty well to film the required six second scene in just under three hours.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


You know you've made the right decision to turn down a job directing a commercial when:

  1. It's exactly the same people that screwed up last year's attrocity.
  2. One of the producer's ideas for Harmony Week is a scene involving a burning flag.
  3. The 1st AD doesn't know what a call sheet is.
  4. The DoP doesn't think they need a call sheet on a project that uses seven locations and a cast and crew of at least ten.
  5. None of the actors have done any acting before.
  6. The script involves a sparking electrical cable.
  7. Western Power don't want to be involved.
  8. One of the actors pulls out six hours before principal photography is due to start.
  9. The grip has pulled out, because he hasn't been paid by the producer for a past production, and hasn't told anyone on the production team.
  10. The commercial was designed by committee.

Australia Day: Aftermath

According to the latest reports 350,000 people watched the skyshow last night. I suppose statistically-speaking having a few hundred rowdies is not bad. Mounted police and officers with shields and batons had to break up a large group brawling in St James Mitchell Park - the same place where we had brekkie yesterday btw (those funky Rotarians really know how to party). Another 200 dispersed in Russell Square, Northbridge. A guy stabbed at Vic Park transfer station. Another aiming for a Darwin award by smashing a bus window in Como and severing an artery. So what can we take from all this?

The so-called alcohol ban is a major joke. A PR exercise at best. We saw groups of teens and tweens lugging eskies filled with beer, spirits and just about every other type of alcoholic beverage down to the foreshore. Others openly carried cartons of mid-strength (not much alcohol in that, I swear, officer). And that was just what we saw in the morning and early afternoon.

And where was the much vaunted 900 police that were supposed to be patrolling yesterday? We saw two bicycle cops and that was at 10am.

On tonight's news, we'll hear the same old threats that next year's skyshow might be cancelled - they're still considering it, we'll have to re-evaluate it closer to the event - but all-in-all it will be exactly the same next year and the next and the next. The Skyshow has become such a part of Perth culture it would be a brave government that cancelled it. And the police and government know what to expect. They've done this for over 20 years now. And a few hundred out of 350,000 isn't too bad, right?

Unless those few hundred are fighting in your backyard.

Addendum I discovered where the mounted police were hanging out during the Skyshow: outside of our place. There is horseshit everywhere.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

It's Australia Day!

Happy Australia Day!

What's great about Australia Day 2005? The weather, the barbecue breakfast down by the flagpole, the hokey bush band, not going into the non-air-conditioned office, Dr Fiona Wood getting Australian of the Year, 12 000 new citizens, cricket on telly and cricket on the streets, the fly-bys, and ultimately the Skyshow, of course. Nothing new there, nothing glam or outrageous. Just good old fashioned, artery-choking, willow-thumping fun.

But something's different this year.

Usually by this time, the streets of South Perth are tight with illegally parked vehicles, the foreshore is jam-packed, and bands of happy beer-addled strangers are wandering through your backyard looking for a party that doesn't start for another eight hours. The big speakers are thumping, the hot tubs on the backs of the illegally parked flatbeds are bubbling, and you're surreptitiously letting the air out of all the tires of the car some arsehole has parked in your bay.

But not this year. This year, the South Perth City Council decided enough was enough: North of Mill Point is the No Parking Whatsoever Zone, and South of Mill Point is the Parking On One Side Of The Road Only. Fuck Us, the City of South Perth said, And We Will Tow Your Vehicle Away.

We're in the No Parking Whatsoever Zone. Good thing we hadn't planned on entertaining this year, 'cause I'm not sure how we could have got anyone in, short of ferrying guests past the checkpoint. And then what, ferrying them back again after the event?

Hmm, just thinking about the idea of the traffic snarls being shifted south of Mill Point this year almost seems worth the hassle. This time, someone else can deal with it. No doubt South Perth is over-reacting a little, but when the girl at DVD Heaven couldn't even park her car legitimately to go to work, and when local residents can't have friends over... maybe South Perth is being just a tad draconian?

The pendulum has to swing the other way awhile yet, it seems. Maybe next year, they'll get it right. In the meantime, I'm enjoying the novelty of a lovely Australia Day arvo without hordes of drunks and weedheads traipsing under my window. Even the cat is nonplussed.

It's a beautiful day, a perfect Australia Day. Can't wait for the airshows and the fireworks. Enjoy!

Monday, January 24, 2005

Alcoholic Content: NA

Caught a story on the news that some organisation has calculated the average Australian spends approximately $80/week on alcohol, and are issuing us a challenge to dry out and send the money not spent on alcohol to the likes of Odyssey House. They have one of those punningly awful slogans: Have you got the spirit to give up vodka for a week?

Only a week? Hell, I'll give up vodka forthe rest of the year. I'd rather drink vinegar (and yes, I have). Do I hear sponsors calling?

In the spirit of the challenge, however, skribe and I tried to work out our annual alcohol consumption, and consequently the vast amounts of cash we've unknowingly thrown away on drink. Let's see. He might get through a half-carton of beer in the same time it takes me to finish off one stubby: about a year. We go through maybe a bottle of wine every couple of months, mostly in cooking, and we can't even claim to spend much on that since it mostly gets given to us by the mad Hungarian (who, incidentally, has rather fine taste in wines). We have a bottle of brandy that's been around years, and some rice wine and sherry in the pantry, and that's it.

Figuring that in terms of money spent per week on alcohol is giving me negative figures.

$80 a week on alcohol? Either someone has really skewed those figures, or we're talking about some serious drinking at the far end of the demographics. Admittedly, skribe and I have never been much good at being average, which is why we tend to ignore findings like this, although it's always fun to play at being just like normal people.

Sunday, January 23, 2005


Wednesday the 19th, about 3:30am
The dear little corellas were at it again. From the sounds of it the whole screeching host were parked right outside our bedroom window. There's something about the way they shriek incessantly that puts me in mind of a large group of people talking very loudly and slowly at one another because nobody can hear anything over all the shouting.
"Speak up!"
"What'd he say?"
Ad infinitum.
And then skribe said: "I can smell a bushfire."
He was right. Just for one odd moment, we were back in our tent down south, waking up with the first light of day, surrounded by bird cries, and the ever-present scent of old burnt-out bush made moist by the morning dew.
That was the smell alright - damp, burnt bush. It didn't belong in a flat in the metropolitan area, and it was our first real indication just how bad were the fires in the hills. This was the day the city skyline vanished from view, we got a taste of what it would be like to live in a big, smog-filled megacity, the laundry got dandruff, and I learn that flyscreen does not keep out ash.

Friday the 21st, 8-ish
The storyboards have been handed in, which ends my involvement with the Harmony Week project (until the mad Hungarian realises he hasn't confirmed my role post-production), so I wake up free and happy for a change, and am la-la-laing around, taking my time going into the office, leisurely working on Byte Me when my mobile phone suddenly beeps and I discover I have a meeting scheduled in half an hour. Damn, this new phone is useful. It plays MP3s, has replaced the wristwatch, is a digital camera, and an organiser. Good Sony Ericsson Z1010. Very good Sony Ericsson Z1010. Now, if only it doubled as a remote control and could wash dishes, too.

Sunday the 23rd, 7:30
Learnt there is no good television on at this time. Don't know why the hell I'm awake at all, considering skribe and I pulled a 14-hour day yesterday and didn't get home until 10pm. Blame it on 40C forecast, and decide life's not so bad after all when you can wear boardies and bikini-top to work.
So they've called the Elections at long last. I wonder if the Hungarian will get the Harmony Week ad made on time?

Thursday, January 20, 2005

One minute

How long does it take you to pee? According to the good people at Hungry Jack's South Perth it should take men no longer than one minute to step up to the urinal, unzip, flop it out, piddle, shake, flop back in, zip back up and step away. I know this because there is a large sign above the men's urinal - yes there is such a thing as a women's urinal - that announces that it has an autoflush system and that it begins in one minute. That's great. They're really popular in SE Asia (particularly Singapore). It's a great idea. The problem with the HJ South Perth one is:

  • a) a Hungry Jack minute equals 38 secs of real time
  • b) it splashes.

So don't drink too much at HJs guys or else you're going to get it splashed back at you in 38...37...36...

Life or death

You're in the supermarket and you need a tomato for dinner. So you pop over to where they're stacked. You like Romas but they don't have any today so you decide to go with the vine-ripen ones because all the others are pale and unappetising.

There's a guy there. He's been there the entire time it has taken you to look at all the rest of the tomatoes - maybe 20 secs. He seems uncertain which tomato to choose. You excuse yourself - no doubt breaking his concentration - reach in, grabbing the ripest tomato closest to you. Then you head off to collect the rest of your shopping.

It takes another 5-10 minutes. You head to the checkout. You pass the tomato stack. The guy is still there. He still hasn't chosen a single tomato. You line up in the express lane - you don't have much - and then proceed to watch him as he completely fails to choose a tomato. He picks one up, examines it and then returns it to the pile. He does this over and over.

As you're called forth to the checkout girl, he is still there - this time examining the cherry tomatoes. Still uncertain. Still procrastinating like it's a life or death decision. What an interesting life he must lead.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

How To Lose An Afternoon

Yesterday, I agreed to storyboard a 30second commercial. All I needed was a description of the shots to be employed in the ad, and I was away.
The shooting script's ready, says the Hungarian on the phone. Fine, I tell him, I'll come in tomorrow and pick it up.
Sounds straightforward, doesn't it.
So today I sleep in a little, catch up on a little housework, go into town for another lesson with Noel (which goes so well he'd like me to try driving an automatic next time - a small matter of suddenly stalling across two lanes of oncoming traffic), and then go into the office to pick up the shooting script.
Now, when the Hungarian says the shooting script is ready, what he really means is: he's done some thinking about what shots he'd like, and he's talked about them with his No.2, who's either directing it or filming it but hasn't decided which yet has his own ideas about what shots he'd like, and then the Hungarian goes on to tell me about the shots he would have loved to have included but couldn't on account of time, cost, unavailability of equipment, and uncooperative laws of physics.
He needs to tell me about the shots he can't use so I'll understand his vision.
I don't need to know vision. This freaking ad was designed by government committee. It has a miniscule budget and they need it filmed now-now-now before the State Elections in case we have a new government. I just need a shooting script that clearly describes each shot that has to be storyboarded so I can get cracking. I don't want much, honestly.
Three hours later, I have my shot list. It's been shouted, mimed, paced, timed, debated, and hypothesized to death. Skribe had time to go on a shoot, come back, review footage, chat, show off some shorts, and just generally hang around being sociable, while the Hungarian and his sidekick argued about how to film three women entering a restaurant.
(A Noongar cop, an Asiatic engineer and an African Muslim doctor walk into an Italian restaurant. Oh, you were expecting a punchline?)
By the time we wrapped up, the shops were closed, so skribe and I had to eat out. It was late enough to be dark and cold coming home on a summer night. My throat is hoarse, and I am so damned tired.
I got a stubby of beer for my troubles today, though. He's nuts, the Hungarian, but generous enough in his own way. One of these days, I may even take up drinking.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Remember, Remember the 26th of December

When they said to hold a minute's silence at one minute to midday, did they mean Eastern Standard time, or locally?

At any rate, whenever you have your minute of silence to reflect upon the deaths of the tsunami victims, don't forget to wear a sprig of wattle, as per PM Johnny's instruction. And if a wattle in full golden glorious bloom sets off your hayfever, too bad - sneeze silently.

Ah, wattle. It makes one all patriotic, doesn't it. Makes one want to sing out loud those immortal words:

Under the Southern Cross I stand,
A sprig of wattle in my hand...
Australia, you ****ing beauty!"

Personally, I think I'll forego the wattle. It just doesn't carry the right tone for a remembrance flower.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Information Is Free and Four

Four years ago today, the Wikipedia was founded. What is it? Simply the biggest, free, online, open-source reference project on the net. It has rapidly become the place to go for up-to-the-minute updates on big current stories such as the tsunami, the Cassini-Huygens Mission to Titan, and the Iraq Survey group as well as an ever-evolving reference site for most anything you can think of.

Like How To Solve A Rubik's Cube, the 17th century playwright Aphra Behn (considered to be the world's first professional female writer), and good old Hutt River Province (for which I wrote the original entry, and which I'm delighted to find has been expanded upon).

Hey, there's a Singaporean edition!

And because it's open-source, anyone can edit it. Anytime. In fact, the onus is on you, the user, to correct any typos, inaccuracies, or ambiguities you find. Right now, there are literally hundreds to thousands of users reading, writing, and editing the Wikipedia - adding to it, expanding on the world's biggest free information resource, and tidying it up. For free.

Happy Birthday, Wiki. You're the truest and best expression of the Information Age.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Alms Race

Where once we had the arms race, now it's the alms race as everybody competes to see who can hurl the most money at the tsunami victims. It could be worse, I guess. All this puffing up of the chest feathers and emptying of moneypurses is at least going to feed and shelter the homeless today and rebuild their livelihoods and economies tomorrow. Still, I can't help feeling that if not for the "glamour" of being associated with the world's worst catastrophe since Krakatoa, would these same governments and corporations care? Hundreds of thousands of people die every day from disease, malnutrition, and just plain poverty around the world. How often does anyone make a fuss about this?

One big earthquake in a known quake zone and a bunch of dead tourists later, and the great and mighty Western nations are frenziedly trying to outbid each other. Last I heard, Australia and Germany were winning the magnanimosity stakes.

The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami was a disaster, no doubt about it. It's the single biggest natural catastrophe in probably most people's lifetimes. We do what we can to help out, but there's still something about the Telethon mentality in donating funds and iad that leaves me vaguely uneasy, as if it were all just a matter of posturing. See how rich I am, that I can give so much. Measure my compassion by my benevolence.

As I said before, though, it could be so much worse. For today, I'll take the illusion of goodwill over naked hatred and fear anyday.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

It's Called The What?

It's a child's workbench by Ikea. "Learning Is A Fun Ride" is probably the thinking behind its design, but it's a little harder to explain the thinking behind the product's name. Can't wait to see this in our local catalogues.


I've heard of free as in beer, and I've heard of free as in speech. I've heard of freedom fries and freedom of information. I hadn't until today heard of the Economic Freedom Index. Apparently we're ranked number 10. Hong Kong is number 1 and Singapore is number 2. But given that Luxembourg is number 3 I don't think this is anything really worth being concerned about. Move along. Nothing to see.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Body Art - Some Nudity Involved

I'm clearly doing something wrong with my art when this guy can make a fortune stamping his paint-covered butt on canvas and then selling them for several hundred dollars.

Wait, I have boobs. Hmm. What pictures can I make with breast prints?

Sunday, January 02, 2005

A Complete List of Libra Odd Spots

I say A Complete List because as it turns out, there's more than one. Near as I can ascertain, Libra have at least two collections - possibly more - of charmingly named Odd Spots, and assigned them random numbers, and then merely cycled through them. Yes, they loop.

So, starting with the smallest numbered in Cycle 1 (containing 30 factoids to amaze your friends and family with), they occur in order as:

Odd Spot #10
Human thighbones are as strong as concrete.

Odd Spot #71
The first known contraceptive was crocodile dung, used by the Ancient Egyptians in 2000 BC.

Odd Spot #93
Like fingerprints, everyone's tongue prints are different.

Odd Spot #107
The honeybee kills more people worldwide than all the poisonous snakes combined.

Odd Spot #142
Each year insects eat one third of the world's food crop.

Odd Spot #92
During a 24 hour period, the average human will breathe 23,040 times, exercise 7 million brain cells and speak 4,800 words.

Odd Spot #66
The hummingbird is the only bird that can fly backwards.

Odd Spot #69
Only female ducks can quack.

Odd spot #58
During a kiss as many as 278 bacteria colonies are exchanged.

Odd Spot #137
The average human body contains enough phosphorous to make 2,200 match heads.

Odd Spot #28
No two spider webs are the same.

Odd Spot #139
It is estimated that at any one time, 0.7% of the world's population is drunk.

Odd Spot #129
The ant can lift 50 times its own weight and can pull 30 times its own weight.

Odd Spot #125
The electric chair was invented by a dentist.

Odd Spot #94
Chocolate stimulates the release of endorphins in the body. Endorphins enhance one's mood and block pain.

Odd Spot #84
Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds, dogs have only about ten.

Odd Spot #76
Until 1990, sausages were still legal tender in East Germany.

Odd Spot #148
Babies are born with 300 bones, but by adulthood we have only 206 bones in our bodies.

Odd Spot #105
The reason honey is so easy to digest is that it's already been digested by bees.

Odd Spot #81
The human eye sees everything upside down, but the brain turns everything right side up.

Odd Spot #110
One quarter of the bones in your body is in your feet.

Odd Spot #161
23% of all photocopier faults are caused by people sitting on them and photocopying their buttocks.

Odd Spot #30
No piece of paper can be folded in half more than seven times.

Odd Spot #118
The average human body makes enough carbon for 900 pencils.

Odd Spot #96
Althaiophobia is a fear of marshmallows.

Odd Spot #120
Our eyes are always the same from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.

Odd Spot #133
On average, people fear spiders more than death.

Odd Spot #57
A snail can sleep for three years.

Odd Spot #168
Donald Duck comics were banned in Finland because he doesn't wear pants.

Odd Spot #59
A full moon always rises at sunset.

There. If nothing else, this only proves that long weekends are wasted on me. Now I just have to work on putting Cycle 2 together. If anybody else wants to put together their own list, Spring Valley also publish factoids under the bottle lids called Liddle Facts (get it? Ha-bloody-ha-ha. Liddle Facts. Odd Spots. Where do these corporate committee types get the idea they're all comedians?). At one factoid per bottle, however, that's a lot of fruit juice, and so far, they've all related to fruits and vegetables. Exciting stuff.

Saturday, January 01, 2005


Just so you know. 2005 is:

The World Year of Physics
The International Year of Microcredit
The International Year for Sport and Physical Education
The United States Year of Foreign Languages

So go out and celebrate by arranging a loan for a destitute, foreign-speaking, long-distance juggler.

And by the way, we just ended the International Year of Rice and International Year to Commemorate the Struggle against Slavery and its Abolition, so the parties have to wind up now.


I'm not one to indulge in the tradition of setting resolutions to be achieved in the forthcoming year, but since ToxicPurity started the ball rolling I thought I'd add a list of my own.

So here is skribe's top ten things to do in 2005:

    1. Get laid
    2. Get monumentally rich
    3. Achieve world domination
    4. Speak unaccented Latin
    5. Not die
    6. Do 6 impossible things before breakfast each day
    7. Breed
    8. Meet myself and not start a fight this time
    9. Understand
    10. Finish

Happy New Year!