Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hooker's pole in the press

Great to see the Fremantle Gazette throwing its support behind this Sunday's bushfire fundraiser at the North Fremantle Centre - link to the story here.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Fundraiser band update

The line-up for the Victorian Bushfires Fundraiser at the North Fremantle Centre on Sunday 29 March has just been announced.

Pirate Band extraordinaire Rumskull, The Hectics and Rainbow City will be providing the eclectic mix of grooves, with a blues act to be locked away in coming days.

Olympic champ Steve Hooker will also be pole vaulting himself into the mix, along with a solo performance from Leon Ewing.

Slip your shoes off, sip on something cold and delicious, have a lazy roll and help top up the Victorian Bushfire Appeal at the same time.

3pm - 10pm, Stirling Hwy North Fremantle, enter via Thompson Rd.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Prank of the year

Three states, road rage, wayward Chinese students and a 'cast'of thousands... some of the key ingredients in what The Perth Files is calling the Prank of the Year.

It all started about two years ago, give or take 12 months, when a stockbroking mate in Melbourne, Brendan, decided it would be a good idea to CC a random person from the blogosphere into our email conversations. Keep in mind, these were not conversations of the intellectual kind, they would more easily fit into the 'talking shit' category.

And so, along came Dom. Dom was a good sport and played along with Bren's funny ways, until a degree of 'stalking' entered his tone and all of a sudden, our 'third leg' interwebs buddy in Brisbane was threatening legal action.

Of course, I took all this with a shovel full of salt, until 'solicitors' became involved and I started to wonder if indeed it had all gone pear shaped and Brendo and I would be facing a charge of cyber stalking.

Of course, it was all a prank that Bren had cooked up with Dom's support, but full respec to the man, he held on to that prank like a Rhodesian Ridgeback holds on to the throat of a distressed Shitzu.

Round 1, full points to Brendo.

But that leads us on to this latest round robin of pranking. Dom was planning a trip to Melbourne and we thought what stunt could we pull on a man who can see a prank coming from as far afield as Geelong?

The answer? Tell him that a client's daughter would be visiting Melbourne from Perth and that she was keen to learn all about the world of stockbroking. A young tear-away, nightclub haunting rebellious Chinese student called Jiao Chen.

It was a busy day in the money world when the receptionist paged Brendan to tell him - 'and I hope I pronounce this correctly' - that Jow Chan was at reception.

Full of puff, Brendo handballs a major piece of work to a colleague and makes his way to reception to meet the pretty young Chinese girl that he's seen in so many facebook pictures that were emailed to him by his good friend Cookster.

Of course, who is waiting at reception? Dom, laughing like a drain. Hello Mr Brendan, you very strong man?

Revenge is on Bren's mind and with Dom due to land in Perth in a matter of weeks, he immediately hatches a prank of his own... with the devious Dom adding the master touches.

I get an email saying that Dom has almost run into a 'Car-Voyant' at a set of lights in Brisbane, who does readings of people's number plates. Of course, Brendo's right into it, so I supply my rego as well and two days later, we get our readings... all highly amusing stuff.

Then Dom arrives in Perth, but it's an awkward few days and it looks like we won't be able to catch up, so she spills the beans to me by email. The rego they got out of me was used in a bodgied-up red light infringement notice and it was due to be delivered to my office by D, Dom's other half.

As fate would have it, just that morning Mrs Cookster had been chased in the people mover by a cranked-up meth addict in a red ute who threatened to kill her. Great place Perth. She'd already filed a police report and I had a copy.

This is where Dom and I see potential for a double play...

Of course I email Bren to tell him that it was unfortunate that he chose today of all days to play his little prank, because when D turned up at my reception, waving a note with our rego in my face and acting like Mr Road Rage, I did what came naturally and pushed him down a short flight of stairs.

The result was, a broken wrist and Dom standing in the doorway of my office shouting 'surprise' while a dozen of my colleagues looked on appalled.

Not only did the wrist need a cast, but Dom and D had a fight and decided to travel home separately. D stayed on after his wrist was plastered and we had a drink to patch things up - and brood about the evil Brendo.

Of course Brendo could smell a particularly noxious rat here, but the official police report had him toey and he couldn't dismiss this one out of hand. We had him sweating and he went to ground waiting for us to crack.

But crack we did not, indeed we stuck it out for weeks and waited until Dom's next trip to Melbourne. To drive home our advantage we decided it would be a grand idea if D was to pay Brendo a visit - complete with a plastered arm, signed, sealed and delivered right to his office.

A huge thanks to D and to Dr Ced who combined beatifully to crank the prank meter up to 11 and leave a flummoxed Brendo contemplating where he could possibly go from here. I think the images below capture the closing scenes in all their merry pankster majesty.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bowling for bushfire victims

Okay, so holding a fundraiser on a long weekend didn't work so well... but, let's just call it a dress rehearsal for an even BIGGER, BETTER, Victorian Bushfire Fundraising Extravaganza at the North Fremantle Centre on Sunday, 29 March.

Not only can you slip the hush puppies off and have a lazy roll on the green, there will also be grass court tennis, a barbecue and four live bands. Yes, FOUR live bands, and we're talking some serious talent here... there might even be a 'Pirate' band, but watch this space for details.

And that's not all! You've seen Olympic Champion Steve Hooker fling himself really high into the air on the end of a large pole, now you can hear him SINGING. Yes, Steve will take to the stage, along with the legendary Leon Ewing.

Punters can even join the bidding war to get their hands on Steve's signed pole... one that he broke in training, *ouch!*

The show runs from 3 - 10pm and your $5 entry fee will go towards helping Victorian bushfire victims to rebuild their lives.

If you need more information, or want to help out with further auction items, call Cookster Senior on 0409 848 721 or leave me a message right here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Volunteers needed in the House

You've probably heard about Ronald McDonald House? Yep, the place headed-up by that red headed clown with the big shoes who likes to hang out with a cheeseburger dressed in prison stripes.

Well, first-up I should say that I work in a PR capacity for McDonald's Australia, and the House - along with the other activities funded by Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC)- is an area where we dedicate a lot of PR time and effort.

The services that RMHC provides for families going through what is probably the most difficult time of their lives is simply outstanding.

The cornerstone of the services is Ronald McDonald House, which provides a home-away-from-home for regional families needing to stay together while their child undergoes treatment for a serious illness.

I've been involved with the Houses in Melbourne, Hobart and Perth over the past eight years and it still affects me every time I visit. Many of the kids that helped us out with media opportunities, or came along to launch events, are no longer with us. On a positive note, many more still are and catching up with lost schooling through the Ronald McDonald Learning Program.

So, why am I blogging about the House? Well, the people that make the House in Subiaco tick are the volunteers who come along and help out with all the general housekeeping duties... AND WE NEED MORE, RIGHT NOW!

I was having a chat with West Leederville mum Simone Hart and thought her story about getting involved was fairly typical of what I've heard from other vounteers over the years.

When Simone’s daughter started full time schooling, she found she had three hours spare on a Thursday morning and immediately thought of the House.

“I approached the House and let them know of my limited availability. They were so flexible, and I have been doing my Thursday morning shift for almost a year now. It's very easy, but at the same time so very rewarding."

Simone cleans the bedrooms at Ronald McDonald House after the families leave, preparing rooms for new families to enter. She also helps tidy the communal areas and play rooms, assisted by three other volunteers.

“There are plenty of ways you can help at Ronald McDonald House. I didn’t really want to be in contact with the children – it would be too challenging for me. Instead I decided to assist with housekeeping.

“The volunteers I work with are just magnificent. One of the ladies I work with on Thursdays has been volunteering at the House for 18 years, she’s so admirable.

“It is a completely rewarding, selfless, and uplifting experience. Cleaning up is the last thing on people’s minds when they are experiencing suffering, and it's the least I can do to help.

“I’m no hero, I just want to do my bit. It makes me feel good, but I don’t do it for myself, I do it for the families in need. We go through life thinking of ourselves too much. For just three hours a week, I can make a difference – anyone can.”

So if you've got some spare time, or you know of a friend or relative who might be able to help, phone Nola Smith on 9382 2960. You can also help us out by sharing the link to this post with your own email list.

Sorry to come over all serious on you, but knowing the great work this charity does I'll do whatever I can to help - here's hoping you feel the same :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Quilty quacks the big time

There's always going to be controversy about the merits of an abstract rendering of Oz-rocker Jimmy Barnes, particularly when it's been made by squashing one canvas on top of another to capture the former booze hound "off his head".

But that's exactly what Sydney artist, and lover of vintage Toranas and budgies, Ben Quilty did to take out the very tidy $150,000 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize yesterday.

Titled 'There But For The Grace of God I No. 2', it's a typically lavish piece of art that brings to mind the sort of tradesman-like quality - think mortar and trowel - that won Quilty the Metro 5 Art Award for young artists in 2004.

Don't get me wrong, Quilty is no cashed-up bogan slapping paint around without a purpose. His work boasts strength, plenty of rich primary colours and a texture that makes you want to reach out and touch. It's devil may care sort of stuff and not for your average punter who thinks that art is all about picture-postcard realism.

Back in 2004 when I was working for Metro 5 Gallery in a PR capacity, one of the paintings shortlisted for the Gallery's annual award really caught my eye -'Elwood Torana No. 7'.

It was a thickly layered rendering of Quilty's much adored 1972 LJ Torana that I believe he still owns. I loved the painting and in a begrudging, as only he can do kinda way, our chief judge Jeff Kennett thought the same.

Of course the painting went on to take out the then $30,000 Judge's Prize, with Daniel Truscott - a self taught painter who was working as a cook in the Maori Chief Hotel in South Melbourne - winning the $10,000 People's Choice Award. Another good decision.

It was quite the day. We announced the award winner to media in the morning and then I bundled the boys into the Mazda 121 Metro (not quite a Torana, but it is white AND I still own it) and we headed off to do the rounds of Melbourne radio.

The public launch was later that night and while I slinked off into the Armadale night after a couple of chardys to prepare for more media frenzy staring at 6.00am the next day, Quilty and Co went out to put a dint in his $30,000 cheque.

As I cruised across the Westgate Bridge at 4.45am the next morning feeling less than spectacular, a young Sydney artist was ruing the fact that he'd bothered to go to bed at all that morning. Indeed, Ben Quilty was feeling not so much seedy, but more like the proverbial pig had "shat in his head" aka Withnail & I.

I pulled up outside his Spencer Street digs and Quilty bundled himself into the car, cursing the first lick of light rising over Port Phillip Bay. "We decided to have one cocktail of every colour," I can recall him telling me, the hint of tequlia rich in the close cabin. "I might be sick, I should never have gone to bed".

Winding the windows down we cruised the empty city streets, headed up St Kilda Rd and took a very slow and careful left into High Street to make our date with Steve Leibman, Tracey Grimshaw and the Today Show team... a live cross from the gallery, beamed across Australia.

When we arrived, Ben took solace in coffee, while I performed the ritual I'd done a number of times in the past - guarding a single car parking space out the back of the Gallery for the Channel 9 outside broadcast van to park. It was the only spot where they could get a signal and it was my job to stop wave after wave of Toorak's elite yummy mummies from stealing the show.

With the van safely in place I headed inside the catch up with the second star of the show Jeff Kennett, who was quietly chuckling as Quilty bemoaned his $30,000 hangover.

Of course it all went swimmingly. Jeff cracked jokes over the headphones with Tracy, Quilty was the rakish young artist looking stylishly bedraggled and I looked on thanking some higher power that another Art Award had almost run its course.

Well done Ben and to all the other Metro 5 (now the Metro Gallery) artists I worked with who have gone on to do great things over the past eight years: Daniel Truscott, Marcus Wills, Yvette Coppersmith, Michael Zavros, Zhong Chen, Jason Benjamin and Emma Langridge (among others).

Can't wait to see what the cashed-up bogans make of the Barnsy picture!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Marlborough Man Mason does not pass go

A note from the man who had all Western Australia's hopes riding on his tiny silver thimble... or racing car... maybe the horse?

He had Lillee in his side, but alas, when the pressure was on he did a Kim Hughes... albeit minus the golden curls. In the plane on the way home from the Australian Nationals in Melbourne, he attempted to do a Marshy and empty the plane of tinnies, but again, he was a six pack short of a carton.


Many of you I know are already aware of my fate at the Australian National Monopoly Championships (the Nationals) last week in Melbourne. But for the rest of you here is what may prove to be the final word on Monopoly, or so you hope.

To paraphrase the great boxing commentator whose name escapes me: “there will be no trip to Vegas for this West Australian bounty hunter”

Like all WA sporting teams of late – be they Dockers, Eagles, Warriors or Wildcats – I went down in a screaming heap. I lost, I choked, I took a hammering in the ring bit, I, well, all of the above.

It probably didn’t help that Dennis Lillee declared that I was the best WA Monopoly champion he had ever seen and he was confident I would bring home the bacon. Thanks DK!

As the 15 minutes of fame clock clicks over to the 14 min 58 second mark, I just want to take time out to thank all of you who offered me your support, wisdom, advice, your anecdotal stories about the world’s most popular board game and generally took the p*ss out of me. Your interest was much appreciated.

A big thanks to everyone who sent me monopoly themed text message after I was eliminated along the lines of going to jail, going directly to jail, not passing go and not collecting $200.

The first message was funny, the second amusing, the third mmmm, the fourth stick to your day job and by the 12th, hey I’m in Melbourne enjoying a free holiday and you’re stuck at work.

As I cling to my last seconds of fame, I will point out that I am the reigning WA State Monopoly champion until 2013 and have more in common with Steve Hooker - who also holds his Olympic title for four years – than anyone else on this email list, possibly with the exception of Mick Collis. (Sorry I let you down Mick, I bet you didn’t know, you’re still my hero!).

Highlights, there were many. Was it seeing one state champion shed a tear upon elimination – no. Was it watching one state champion get eliminated in the semi-final and spit the dummy and not return for the final – no. Was it learning that two of the state champions actually lost their state title and then travelled interstate to win a “foreign” state title so as to compete in the nationals- no

Was it hearing about how one state champion quit his job to become a property developer on the strength of winning the Australian title 10 years earlier only to go bankrupt five years later – quite possibly. What killed him? Maybe the realisation that hotels could not be built for $200, or going to jail was not a necessarily a good tactic in real life.

I feel I represented my state, my beloved Western Australia, with the necessary pride, dignity and honour. I was the last to leave the pre-tournament dinner. I was only one of two competitors who decided that going for a punt at the casino and slurping cocktails into the wee small hours was a good idea the night before the tournament (Note: neither of us won).

The 2009 Nationals were always going to be my swan song in the world of competitive Monopoly but I can’t help but feel after the ecstasy I felt in surging to the state title (and crushing all those kiddies) and the subsequent agony in falling from grace at the Nationals, that there is unfinished business.

I know how General George Patton, Rocky Balboa, Timmy Watson et al felt as they stood in the hall of mirrors contemplating their future. It is a combination of unfinished business and not wanting to retire on a personal low.

I want to experience what Alexander the Great felt (and I don’t mean the Oliver Stone inspired homo-erotic portrayal of the undefeated Macedon military leader). To paraphrase Plutarch (or Hans Gruber) “When Alexander surveyed the breadth of his (Monopoly) domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer”. (Benefits of a classical education!!).

See you at the table in 2013.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Let me sell your stuff!

An interesting article in the B&T newsletter saying that 'paid bloggers' will become the norm in the future - link here.

To be honest, I'm all for it as long as the blogger is straight up about what the deal is, doesn't give away editorial control of what's written and tries to have a bit of fun with what they say.

I think we'd all agree that standard advertorial copy is about as much fun as a stroke, and has as much cut-through as a 'shopper docket'.

But I'm guessing that's what the deal's all about here anyway, yeah? Forking out product in the hope that someone whips together a really edgy, funny piece of writing that becomes widely shared across teh interwebz?

Of course there are some obvious limitations, but if you put your mind to it, even a freebie 'do it yourself' will kit could be worth an amusing 200 words. As long as you didn't have to die to fullfil the contract.

So I put it to you business owners, fling me your stuff, I'll do my work with it and let's see where it takes us.

Fyi, I REALLY need a new car (or at least an aircon re-gas), fine wines, some new pants and electrical equipment. Oh, and a couch.