Friday, November 27, 2009

The dead eye opens...

This just in from the Melbourne Desk. Your correspondent is B Hawe, keen observer of the human form, Harley Davidson mechanic, stockbroker and purveyor of fine 'erb... mon.

It was a hot and muggy day in Melbourne yesterday and storms were forecast for the afternoon - on these days I leave the bike at home and take the tram - very civilised, tram commuting.

As it turned out, 2.30pm brought the biggest downpour we have seen in 6 years or something. It was like Brisbane weather in December - hot and steamy.

There I am on the tram at the end of what I wished was going to be a busy day, but was an absolute dud. I sat down opposite a bloke who looked very very unusual. When you're sitting 2 feet away from someone opposite, it's hard to really examine their face in detail, you sort catch glimpses when you can. This poor bastard had had some kind of surgery and it was a pretty good job. But it wasn't perfect. If it were perfect, I wouldn't have noticed anything unusual, but there it was, a scar that circumnavigated his eye socket. It was hard to look at but, like the train wreck, it was hard not to look at.

Unfortunately, to add to his disfigurement, he was not what you would call the most attractive old bugger that you can imagine. He was a bit like Homer Simpson's father, but an uglier version. I tried to draw a sketch of him (attached), but even with my excellent portrait skills, it doesn't do him justice. Have a look anyway. This chap had a face like a smashed crab, he sat with his knees straight out in front of him - how annoying is it when you're on a tram and the person opposite makes no attempt to give you any room. As a result, his knees kept knocking into mine. I moved mine out to the side. It was like they were magnets...attracting each other...knock knock bump touch. Instantly I thought this is just my luck that he'll be on the tram until my stop or a couple before...that drives me nuts. An annoying fellow traveller, you can't wait to get off and they stay on until about your stop. That's NOT civilised. Whenever he wanted to look at something outside the tram, he almost had to turn his whole body. Unusual, but not uncommon.

Did I mention it was hot and sticky? Well it was. Many people fall asleep on public transport here - I'm sure it's the same everywhere. The curious thing is that this chap was no different from us all, even trapped in that disfigured face of his...God I wish I could stop glancing at his mug. He was falling asleep too. It must've been a hard day at the ugly stick factory - I assume he was a tester. I should give thanks that he had no BO as many chaps and chapettes do on days like yesterday. Anyway, he began his impersonation of the nodding dog we have on the back bench of our Valiant and duly started to nod off to sleep.

This is where it gets really unusual. You see he half nodded off. Can you do that? I hear you ask. Yes you can. When you have had what appeared to be a fairly major operation on your looking-gear, chances are that the old eye was no longer of any use. He had a glass replacement. The glass one did NOT fall asleep. That's right, he was asleep with one eye open, it was sort of funny, sort of disgusting, sort of cool. He could, in theory, keep an eye on his wallet and catch up on some shut-eye (not shut-eyes) at the same time. The only thing missing from the whole picture was some drool out of the side of his mouth.

The old saying about talking a glass eye to sleep now hold true and relevant meaning for me.

He then got off.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Media140 comes to Perth

Media 140: Perth 25th Feb 2010

Social Media in the Corporate World: The Impact of the Real Time Web on 'Brand, Marketing & Communications'

Buy your earlybird tickets now here.

From just $187 for the full day conference and networking events.

Originating in London Media140, an international conference phenomenon is travelling around the world in 140 days and hits Sydney in November 2009 and Perth in February 2010.

This innovative conference will bring together a host of prominent and influential speakers to discuss, explore and examine the effects and implications of the real-time web.

For more information click here.

Partners include The West, PPR, CCIWA, AWIA, Networking WA and more.

For sponsorship/speaker/partnership information please contact or @perth140

This conference is for you if you are in the following fields:

-Online Marketing

or if you simply have an interest in Social Media and the implications for Corporate business and beyond!

Follow the team on twitter
@perth140 @media140

As a sponsor, PPR will be right in the thick of things, so be sure to follow us on twitter as well for live updates:

@Freocookster @PPRwa

Friday, November 13, 2009

An open letter of thanks

One of the most rewarding aspects of my role in providing public relations services for McDonald's, is the opportunity to promote the work of Ronald McDonald House.

Over the past decade I've worked with some amazing people across Victoria, Tasmania and now Western Australia and have come across some of the bravest families you could ever hope to meet.

I think the letter we received this week (see below) really puts into perspective just how critical the role of Ronald McDonald House is in providing a home away from home for families who are facing what is potentially the most challenging period of their lives.

Please take the time to read this through and then think about what you can do tomorrow on McHappy Day, Saturday 14 November, to make a difference.

Dear Mr Creasey,

On Saturday night myself and my partner Clayton had the wonderful pleasure of attending the Ronald McDonald House Charity Ball.

Clayton, myself and another family "The Rossi's" Jason and Laura were invited as guests of the Cerebos Group who provided us with tickets. This was arranged through the Ronald McDonald House as ourselves and the Rossi's have for a while called The House "home" over the last year or two.

This time last year Clayton and I were two very tired and scared parents dealing with having a new born son who was battling a cancer called Nueroblastoma. We had already been in Perth for a month before Eddie's birth in August 08 as doctors were suspicious of a lump that was previously believed to be cyst.

We were down from Port Hedland having our last holiday before becoming parents when life changed suddenly and completely unexpectedly.

As the lump was growing we were advised not to leave the metro area and we had to make do with our suitcase of clothes until Clayton could return to Hedland to get all the things we had up there for the birth of our baby. Eddie was born on the seventh of August and was taken to Princess Margaret the following day by infant ambulance and placed in Neo Natal intensive care. We were totally unprepared for this turn of events as doctors were positive that once born, the "lump" would not be a problem.

Unfortunately the lump was so large it had pushed Eddie's stomach shut and he was unable to ingest anything at all. After a few days of endless talks with doctors and surgeons an oncologist visited us with the news that she had heard about Eddie and would like to review him as she was certain that he might have a cancer called Neuroblastoma.

Her suspicions were correct and after many tests and meetings Eddie was scheduled for surgery with the hope that the tumour could be removed. Removal was successful but following surgery the cancer spread to Eddie's liver causing many complications and the only alternative was chemotherapy, a path both us and our oncologist had hope to avoid.

So at seven weeks of age, Eddie began treatment and we moved into the Ronald McDonald House.

I cannot stress enough the role The House played in us dealing with such an emotional time. There are many words you can use to explain how you feel when you watch your child fight the battle of his life. Tired, lonely, scared and dealing with the feeling of our lack of control over his health, we were overcome with gratitude and emotion at being welcomed into the house with open arms by the staff and other parents.

We were already exhausted from the ordeal of the last two and a half months, a fact noticed by our social worker who told us to accept some help and get ourselves to the House as we had been living out of suitcases at the hospital for weeks.

The friendships formed and the tears shared at the House all help with the healing you need as a parent. There is nothing like the joy of celebrating with other parents when they receive good news and nothing like sharing a hug when it is bad.

Fortunately at five months of age, Eddie was deemed fit and well to finally go home. There were tears of joy and tears of sadness at leaving the House and the friends we had made, many of whom are now at home with their healthy children.

We still use the house a lot as Eddie will have a follow up program until he is 18 and it is a joy to know that when we fly down to Perth and you are coiled up inside with the fear of a bad test result that at least you have the sanctuary of the house for your time down there.

It is on that note that I would like to thank everyone involved with the ball from the bottom of my heart for the wonderful job done on Saturday night. I was truly overwhelmed sitting at our table watching people bid way over the value on the auction items. Both Laura and I got a little teary knowing that the huge part the House plays in our lives was made possible by the generosity of these people.

One of the most amazing experiences of our cancer journey with Eddie was coming face to face with some of the most giving, amazing, compassionate people we have ever had the pleasure of being involved with, and Saturday night reminded us that Perth and Western Australia is filled with the most amazing giving people.

You guys should be proud of yourselves for showcasing that(and that huge $700,000 raised).

So now we are back in Hedland boasting to our friends about our glamorous night on the Silk Road with the divine food and of course that fantastic band. And I would like to say on behalf of any family who has ever had the experience of the sanctuary provided by the Ronald McDonald House a big thank you and all the best for next year's ball.

Yours Sincerely
Dannielle Aggiss

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Rottnest Island experience

Rottnest Island isn't the most scenic holiday location on earth. The accommodation is a bit rough around the edges, food prices are steep, there are poisonous snakes in the sand dunes and quokka shit sprinkled liberally across all walking surfaces.

Have I put you off? Good, cause to be honest it's my favourite place on the planet and I'd rather keep it to myself. You can have your lush rainforest resorts, or drink cocktails out of two litre buckets in Bali and I'll have my Rotto.

So it was with great pleasure that I spent the last two weeks on the great southern island with Mrs Cookster and the young Cookster clan aged 2, 3 and 10. Having spent much of my childhood on Rotto, marking such memorable occasions as learning to ride my bike and getting drunk for the first time, it was a visit filled with much misty-eyed nostalgia.

In a case of life turning the full circle, I was able to watch my own son come to grips with a bike in almost the exact spot that I had some 35 years earlier. Back then the road on the Bathurst end of Thompson Bay was shaded by Bungalow 5 where our family would spend two weeks every January.

My Nanna Flora was the ruler of that rickety bungalow and in charge of duties including the shooing of rogue quokkas with the broom, boiling the water for the nightly 'bucket baths', preparing the freshly caught herring and procuring the fabled bakery cream buns.

My Grandad Len would work with Dad to set up our illegal 'hose and shower head' set-up in the back courtyard so the adults could take an illicit shower without having to line up and pay for a wash at the shower blocks.

This recent visit gave me time to reflect on those happy days and bring my Nanna back to the island for one last time. Our family gathered on the rocks beneath the Bathurst Lighthouse and scattered her ashes into the waters at Pinkies Beach where she would swim every morning in her powder blue bathing suit and matching swimming cap. Enjoy the stay Nanna, we'll be keeping the tradition alive.

That night I dreamt I was nine years old, lying on my cot on the verandah of bungalow 5, smelling the scent of Rottnest Pines and salt lake foam, reading war comics and rubbing my sandy feet on the RIB army blankets at the foot of the bed.

The next day we learned that a young boy had been killed by a collapsed pillar in a unit not far from where the now demolished bungalow 5 once stood. It was an awful feeling that such a tragedy should take place on an island that's supposed to be about creating treasured family memories.

With sentimentality running high, I texted some rather flowery prose in praise of the great island to fellow Rottnest lover, POST Newspaper journalist, union heavyweight and purveyor of smoked herring David 'Fucking Outrage' Cohen.

Of course, he bought me back down to earth by calling me a "wanker" on his cult blogsite Rotto Bloggo.

So in closing, I shall return the favour DC - wanker - and start dreaming of next October when I'll once again tread the sandy shores of Little Parakeet Bay and wallow in its crystal clear waters.

Monday, October 05, 2009

PR & social media - time to get jiggy with it

I was talking with someone this week about the plethora of social media 'experts' that have cropped up like new season mushrooms over the past 18 months and we got on to the subject of where PR fitted in to the scheme of things.

As PR people we are not necessarily tech-savvy. We have IT people to fix our computers and keep us humming along on 'teh interwebz'. We hang about on the geek fringe, dabbling in social networking... or do we more than dabble?

As a blogger for the past five years I've been around the online community for quite some time and would consider myself to be something of an early adopter in that realm.

That being the case, recognising the obvious benefits that social media could bring to my client communication strategies wasn't exactly a huge leap. If I'm online talking about stuff, then surely there are people out there talking about my clients' stuff that I should know about. And if they're not talking about my clients' stuff, then maybe they should be?

That's where some of those PR skills are handy in sorting out the wheat from the chaff. But it's a double edged sword *damn, I should stop with the analogies already!*

Ahem, anyway, as a PR professional my job is to develop clever communication strategies and execute them in a manner to generate as much positive publicity for the client as possible. It's all about the content and the execution.

It's the same with social media strategy. Good content is critical, BUT and it's a huge BUT, the execution is even more critical. It's one thing to pump out a word doc via email to your media lists and follow up with the schmooze, but that just ain't gonna cut the iSnack 2.0 sangers on the interwebz.

What us PR people have had to embrace in a massive way is the idea that we are now communicating with the public directly. Hello, I'm doing it right now! Sure, we still rely heavily on our dear friends in the media to act as the disseminators through traditional media outlets, but we're also coming to you live straight down that copper pipe and into ur 'puters at home.

This is where the big but comes into play. Okay, you're a PR professional kicking huge goals in the traditional sense - column cms coming out of the wahzoo - and then your client says 'let's get jiggy with it on twitter... can you deliver?'

Then you have to ask yourself, 'can I?' Do you have a twitter profile? Do you tweet often? Have you been networking and building your list of followers? Are you sitting there asking 'WTF is he talking about?'

Think of it this way, how important are your media contacts in the PR game as you move through the years and build those links? Bloody important. It's what sets you apart from a PR newby.

The social media arena is no different, if you don't have the contacts, you're not being taken seriously. That point is quite obvious on twitter - if you don't have a good list of followers, you're talking to no one. Sure, Mrs Kutcher and K Rudd will add you to their list, but are they really going to join in the chat about a new burger or pie you're trying to launch?

Don't miss the boat... just sayin'. But just as important, don't suddenly come trampling into the social media space slinging media releases about left right and centre because that'll end in tears. Remember, you're trying to generate a conversation - spamming will win you no friends... trust me, I've been there, but I'm back.

Take the time to develop your contacts and win their trust. Listen to what the tweeps are saying, share ideas and don't just bang on about your clients all the time. Make them WANT to read what you've got to say.

Please excuse any typos, I'm in the middle of organising a tweet-up in Perth to launch Mrs Mac's new Tex Mex pie. Those Perth tweeps just love a pie and a pint :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

The birds are back in town

I was awake at 4.30am this morning. There was a dull glow - a hint of dawn - tapping at my bedroom blinds and then it hit me... this is only going to get MUCH worse as we march into Summer and there is NO daylight saving to come to my rescue.

But it wasn't the light that woke me today. No, it was the early morning cacophony of our native bird life that dragged me from slumber.

First it was the dreadful warbling of the two million magpies that hang out in the adjacent golf course. Excuse the French, but what the fuck are they shouting about? 'Hey, this is my tree - youse can all fuck off and find your own.' 'Hey Frank, there's a baby dugite crossing the 18th fairway that's got our name on it.' 'Man, any of you dudes spot me some worms till my pension check comes in on Wednesday?'

I mean seriously, why at the mere hint of dawn do these noisy bastards have to start up with all the warbling? No wonder koalas are so freakin' grumpy all the time and wombats bury themselves 15ft underground - it's the maggies.

Of course, not long after the maggies start up you get the mother of all noisy bastard birds, the Victorian kookaburra getting in on the act. Throw in a couple of crows having a stoush over the contents of a discarded KFC box and you have a regular fucking orchestra in play.

I don't mind the sound of birds during the day - it's restful. And I get the fact that for some reason they are genetically wired to shout at each other first thing in the morning, but that's why daylight saving was so very, very handy.

As we move into summer, the sun is going to rise progressively earlier and with an increasing level of intensity. Back in 2005 I remember waking at 4.45am one morning thinking I'd slept in. That summer the kids were all awake no later than 5.30am.

For the last three summers the kids have been in bed by 8.30pm - no issues with late sun - and been up at the reasonable hour of 7am. But no longer.

So I'm thinking of making a statement. I'm looking to track down an old Mr Whippy van and when the magpies start their early morning warble, I'm gonna fire that sucker up and hit the streets where the 'NO' DLS voters live and MAKE SURE they're awake to appreciate their glorious early morning light.

And instead of Green Sleeves, I might instead opt for a bit of Enter Sandman or Good Morning Sunshine. Maybe the Pixies doing Gouge Away. I'd be keen to hear your suggestions?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The world of Socialnomics

This video sorta makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

There's no doubt that social media / networking is THE new way of communicating and engaging with the world around us, but some people really do still see it as some kind of fad. If that's you, then watch this video and give yourself a short reality check.

Hell, I never saw a computer until I was about 14 and that had a room to itself that could have housed a small family. I watched black and white TV until grade seven and thought Space Invaders was about as far as technology could possibly ever go. Hah, my first computer was a Commodore 64 - 64kbs, about as powerful as a calculator!

My point is, this change is happening and for people in the communications game it represents a whole new ball game. This beast is galloping along at a powerful pace and I reckon we all need to hang on tight and get ready for the ride of our lives.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Guess who's coming to dinner?

The West Magazine is running a competition asking people to name the five people they'd most like to invite to dinner and why.

Most of the celebrity responses in Saturday's mag were fairly pedestrian, but of course Luke Steele was suitably off-centre, listing Brobee from Yo Gabba Gabba, Al Green, Jane Fonda as Barbarella, James Stewart and Elvis Presley.

I think limiting the number to five is a bit harsh and points off to those who chose to list their partners in the mix - that's gotta be a given doesn't it? And besides, we want to hear about the people who interest you, not about how much you wuv your wife!

So off the top of my head, here's my list. Is there any way to avoid looking like a pretentious arse? I think not...

Hunter S Thompson: Okay, okay, I can hear the cries of wanker ringing out, but imagine the party favours he would bring to the table. And when it all gets too much we could simply dip into the ether supply.

Paul Keating: to remind us of a time when Australian politicians had some clout and could fire off a clever retort like a whip crack.

Carl Hiaasen: A ferociously funny environmental evangelist who writes about the rape and pillage mentality of land developers in Florida. I'd like to see him turn up as his alter ego - the character Skink who has a glass eye and stalks the everglades wearing a shower cap.

Robert G Barrett: author of the Les Norton series of novels that are absolutely compelling, despite being devoid of any literary merit whatsoever. Ideally we'd meet over schnitzels and ice cold Emundi Lagers at the Hakoa Club in downtown Bondi... ah, you wouldn't be dead for quids.

Melanie Safka: the voice that beguiled me back in the 80s when I thought my black suede winkle picker boots were way groovy and Melanie was singing just for me. I reckon both HST and Bob Barrett will have slapped faces before the night is through.

Okay, this was compiled without a huge amount of through and I fear the gender balance is somewhat lopsided, but you get the idea - your fab five???

Club O update

This Friday, 21 August sees another stellar line-up of original bands set to blow the roof off the North Fremantle Centre.

Club O - O for original - is barely a month old and has already cemented itself as a 'must go' Friday night gig for lovers of live original music from across Perth.

This Friday night you can catch:
- Traffic Stoppers
- The Hectics
- Leon Ewing
- Brown Dog Saloon
- The Shambles

Doors open from 7.30pm and the entry fee is $5. Club O memberships can be bought at the bar... Cookster Senior will sort you out.

You can follow the NFC on twitter by clicking here.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Banging the drum

It's winter. It's cold, it's raining, the bowling greens are soggy and it's hardly the weather to prompt the desire for a cold ale. So what to do if you're heading down to The North Fremantle Centre this month?

Well, I'd suggest you grab an African drum and beat it to within an inch of its life!

On Sunday, 30 August, the NFC is hosting an 'African Drum 'n' Dance' workshop with Master Drummer Tuza and The Salaka Ensemble, on tour in Australia for just the second time.

There's a session for beginners and advanced drummers and African dancing for people of all levels.

If you can't make it to the NFC in August, there's another workshop taking place in O'Connor in September - click on the image for all the contact details.

Monday, July 27, 2009

PPOP culture - say no to pokies

Don't worry about the swine flu people, there is something far more insidious heading this way from the eastern states if what we're hearing has an ounce of truth - the cursed pokie machine.

I'm not sure about the business agenda of the Bendat boy and his claims that Coles and Woolworths are bringing pokie machines to Perth, but if he's got the cojones to take them on and stop this scourge in its tracks, all power to him.

I'm no wowser and to be honest, I couldn't give a fat rat's clacker if people want to pour their hard-earned into a machine to get their thrills - each to their own.

But be warned. The Sunday outing to Burswood for Nanna to spend a nice day at the Caz and come home with change from a twenty, this is not. Nor is it the odd flutter when you're tanked just for a laugh. No, this the very thin end of a very fat and intrusive wedge.

After living in Melbourne for 10 years the pokies lose the 'harmless fun' sheen very quickly. You don't have to go very far to find row after row of gormless people of all ages sitting dull eyed in front of their 'favourite' machines, feeding coins into slots and punching flashing buttons like robots in a car assembly line. Grandmas have been clubbed to death to feed pokie addictions.

Yeah, it's a happening scene alright. But what really shits me about pokies is what they do to the local pub. In essence, a pub full of pokies is about as much fun as having a cyst taken out of your eyeball. And let's be honest, the pub scene in Perth is already dire enough. Adding pokies would be like an ice pick frontal lobotomy on a patient already struggling for signs of life.

Can you imagine popping down to your local for a quiet ale and a yarn, only to be confronted by a hideous wall of machines that compete with each other for your dollar by sporting the most garish, fit-inducing bells and whistles possible?

We're not talking that romantic vision of the old 'one armed bandit' where you pull the lever and watch the pop-art style cherries and diamonds spin frantically to stop in a shower of golden coins at your feet. No, we're talking electronic boxes covered in terrible artwork that will swallow your money in whatever form (notes as well as coins) as quickly as you care to feed them.

The issue was discussed today on the NOVA 937 breakfast show and there was talk of why wouldn't you have these in your pub if they generate income? We could offer cheaper food and drink and the punters would love that - wouldn't they?

My response? Would you go and eat a $10 chicken parma and pint in the public crappers at Kings Park just because it's a bargain? How about $5 bangers and mash in the emergency department at Charlie's?

It's all about A.T.M.O.S.P.H.E.R.E and a pub full of pokies has foregone that right for the sake of chasing a dollar. Live bands, quiz nights, great food? Nah, who needs that sort of time consuming nonsense when you can just plug a machine into a wall and let it do its thang.

Don't get me wrong, Melbourne still has a pub scene that is second to none, but once you push further from the CBD and the choice that precinct offers, the scourge of pokies is more entrenched.

And don't be fooled by any promise that gambling areas would be separated from the main drinking / dining areas. Pokies are dangled in front of punters shamelessly - you can even get free tea and coffee if you've got a pocket fat with coin.

No. It's time for Perth People Over Pokies (PPOP) to take a stand and keep these soul destroying vermin from making their way across the Nullabor to breed with their buddies at Burswood.

Make your mark on the pokie poll to the right, share this link and stay tuned for the facebook page.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Club-O comes to North Fremantle

The music scene at the North Fremantle Centre just keeps getting better, with tonight seeing the launch of regular Friday night gigs at Club-O... 'O' for original.

Tonight's line-up kicks off at 7.30pm, featuring The Hectics, Traffic Stoppers, Slow Coach and The Shambles.

It's just $5 to get in and stay watching this space because we'll soon have some free Club-O memberships to give away.

In the meantime, don't forget to follow the North Fremantle Centre on twitter at

Check out the facebook group as well :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Doesn't really do it for me...

I hadn't been to a Sizzler in years, but on a wet Thursday night during the school holidays, with much prompting of the three Cookster Kids, it was time to pack up the people mover and head off to the Innaloo multiplex.

Hell, I've been hearing that guy banging on for months about how it "does it for me" so maybe I've been missing something?

It's always an odd concept waiting in line for an experience that you know is probably only going to be satisfactory at best, but wait we did. And peruse the options along the way - the cheapo salad bar experience only; salad bar with extras; or salad bar plus a plated main meal of either steak, ribs, or fried seafood.

When we get to the head of the line I opt for the barbecue ribs, Mrs Cookster the steak, the nine-year-old boy a smiley faced cheeseburger, and the other kids the salad bar (ie, spag bol and soft serve ice cream).

"Chips or mash with those meals?" We opt for chips, a standard pub grub fare that most large volume restaurants tend to get right. Right?

Next it was drinks, you do everything straight-up before you're seated at Sizzler, including drink orders. There was a big Perspex tub attached to the front counter filled with ice and their own-brand wine, so I've fished one out and said, "we'll have this too. Do I take one of these?"

"That's okay sir, I'll get you a fresh bottle from the fridge." Feeling a bit like Withnail in the cake shop I suddenly realise that it's a display. But why the ice?

"We only have chilled champagne glasses left, no wine glasses, is that okay sir?"

I agreed, although I wondered why bother to chill wine glasses at all? It's one of those folksy things I guess that creates a veneer of 'class', albeit in a suburban doesn't make any sense kinda way. I was going to mention that wine is best drunk out of a broader, deeper vessel, but then a kid screamed and threw spaghetti at his brother and I remembered where I was.

We get to the table and I decide a liberal dose of plonk is required to set the ambiance, immediately. It was then that I realised my champagne glass was covered in more than just frost - it had at least three sets of lip prints (very faded) and some other detrius attached. Mrs Cookster's glass had "chunks" on it she said, so the baby wipes came out and all that good work in the chiller was lost.

Cheesy toat was next. I seem to recall liking this once, but white bread lathered with a cheesy, butter spread and grilled on one side no longer does it for me. Pass.

To give credit where credit is due, the Sizzler salad bar was far better than my last visit and the Perspex sneeze guards quite reassuringly sturdy. I chose a selection of crisp assorted salad leaves; some Herdsman Fresh-style dolmades; pedestrian coleslaw and potato salad; cubes of beetroot and; Asian beef salad. It was all quite decent and makes the $21 salad bar deal pretty good value for money. Just leave the beef salad alone - I haven't had beef of that texture in my mouth before and don't want to again.

The younger kids both had a plate of passable spaghetti bolognaise. The pasta was al dente and the sauce quite meaty, but it needed a bit more tomato in the mix to give it a traditional bolognaise flavour. Like everyone else in Australia, the Cookster is an expert on spag bol.

The finicky older boy got his open-top cheeseburger with a smiley face made out of sauce on the meat patty. But while blobs for eyes were okay, the sauce mouth was something of a grimace, a sneer if you like - I think he'd spied the chips that had just arrived with my ribs.

Now chips aren't that hard to bugger up, even if they're mass produced fare that's cooked in oil that might have seen better days. You fry them, salt them and serve them HOT. Unfortunately my chips had been plated at least three days before they were introduced to the ribs and I could find no signs of life whatsoever. DOA.

Okay, I exaggerate. Maybe they'd been put on the plate 15 minutes before the ribs, but 15 minutes or three days who cares? They were cold, the fat had congealed and they were entirely inedible. You know those chips you find down the side of your seat when you vacuum the car? You get the picture. I would have sent them back, but that'd be like sending back your chips at a fast food place - you take your chances.

The positive side was that the ribs were tender, of generous size and covered in a sweet, smokey sauce that was quite enjoyable. Mrs Cookster's steak looked the goods as well. Given the abundance of salads, the chips weren't really missed, but it was a sore point all the same.

Desserts? Well, bowls full of soft serve, some pretty good chocolate mousse and lots of sugar-laden sprinkly bits that have the kiddies squealing with delight.

And squeal they do. Atmosphere-wise it's a bit like dining out at childcare centre where all the kids are fed sugar sachets and red cordial. This is not the place for romance, but handy if you're ducking in to catch a flick at the adjacent megaplex.

All in all, for $94 including a bottle of wine ($14.95) it's a fairly reasonable night out if you want to keep the kids happy. But major points off for the chip fiasco. Perhaps they took them out of the display cabinet by mistake?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Riding for homeless youth

Yohei Takahashi – a 21-year-old university student from Japan – will today complete his journey after riding a push-bike across Australia in an epic 7000km ‘Ride for Youth’ to raise money for young Australians suffering from homelessness, addiction or mental illness.

Of course, his final leg from Northam to Perth has been dogged by driving rain and unpredictable wind gusts, making it all the more important for West Australians to kick in some dollars to make his efforts worthwhile.

And I strongly urge you to read Yohei's blog updates - the English isn't great, but the intent and insights he captures in his short posts are priceless. When you consider donating, remember this is a guy who has been living off $5 a day and considers his daily can of cola his little piece of 'heaven'.

Why? Well when he was studying English in Brisbane, Yohei saw a level of poverty – particularly among young people – that he hadn’t seen in Japan. Moved by the generosity Australians had displayed towards him during his stay, Yohei decided to ‘give something back’ and started his ride to help disadvantaged Australian youth.

Yohei hopes to raise $1 for every km he rides, but is unfortunately behind on his target. He has already travelled through Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Hobart, Adelaide and is currently riding through the outskirts of Perth.

If every West Australian blogger, twitterer or facebook friend donated just $1 to support Yohei’s efforts, we could out-do the rest of Australia.

Yohei will donate all proceeds from his Ride for Youth to Mission Australia's services to help disadvantaged young people - a cause that's very close to the Cookster's heart.

So come on WA, it’s time to show the rest of the country that we care about disadvantaged young people just as much as Yohei does by supporting his efforts.

Yohei’s journey across Western Australia – and all the way to Perth – can be followed via his online blog and you can also stump up some cash while you're there - click here

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Lights on in North Fremantle

WA Premier Colin Barnett came to turn on the new floodlights at the North Fremantle Centre last Friday and ended up staying for a night of entertainment while the winter storms raged outside.

The lights, donated by Fremantle City Council and the Fremantle Port Authority, will bring night bowling to the club for the first time, adding another element to what is fast becoming the region's thriving entertainment hub.

After carrying out his official duties, the Premier and a huge crowd of locals of all ages danced along to a lively performance of African song and dance by Dunumba.

But it was the performance by indigenous singer songwriter Rodney Drummond that really caught Mr Barnett's ear, extending a half hour visit into a whole night. From all accounts the Premier is keen to catch Rodney live in action the next time he's in town.

The North Fremantle Centre is quickly becoming a cultural hub, hosting a range of events from comedy nights through to alternative music events supporting local musicians and performers.

This Friday, 3 July come on down and catch The Traffic Stoppers & 'friends' and see for yourself what all the hype is about. Sunday is also looking good for barefoot bowls - come and have a roll!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Colin Barnett to flick the switch

Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett will officially flick the switch on the new floodlights at the North Fremantle Centre (North Fremantle Bowling Club) at a function today at 5.30pm.

The lights, donated by Fremantle City Council and the Fremantle Port Authority, will bring night bowling to the club for the first time.

The Premier will be giving a short speech and carrying out his official duties at 5.30pm, followed by a foot stomping performance of African song and dance on the green by Dunumba. This will be followed by solo guitarist Rodney Drummond and a show by the Pocket Theatre.

Word up - get there early and be entertained by a performance from children's orchestra, the String Beans. If they get old and fat later in life they can call themselves the Broad Beans... boom tish!

The North Fremantle Centre is quickly becoming the cultural hub in the region, hosting a range of events from comedy nights through to alternative music events supporting local musicians and performers. We even have Pirate band Rumskull hoisting the Jolly Roger on a frequent basis!

Official turning on the lights ceremony by Premier Colin Barnett
The North Fremantle Centre, off Stirling Hwy, North Fremantle
5.30-7.30pm today, Friday 26 June
John Cooke (Jnr) PPR, 0433 679 780 / John Cooke (Snr) NFC Manager, 0409 848 721

Monday, June 22, 2009

Snuggie electrical storm

Thanks to my Mother-In-Law the Cookster household now has its own Snuggie. And before I go too far, we are very grateful for the new addition... Mrs Cookster is looking forward to many snuggie nights ahead.

Me? Well, let me just say straight up that if the Snuggie was a restaurant, it would be a pie van at the local football ground as opposed to a fine diner. It is in a word, NOT snuggie.

It is advertised as a convenient blanket replacement, but it's not blanket material. In fact it's felt. Mrs Cookster says it's "fleece", but that would be fleecing the truth somewhat. So felt it is and thin felt at that which isn't very snuggie at all.

However, the material is particularly good at building up static electricity. After two minutes of draping this material around my person, I began to generate my own micro-electrical storm. The air was fairly crackling with static, my hair was on end and *apologies to the weak of stomach here* even my chest hair was at 45 degrees. Every hair on my body was at attention, much to the disgust of Mrs Cookster who suggested a good waxing might be in order.

Of course, the kids were roaring with laughter at Daddy's clownish sci-tech display, but the two-year-old got the fear when a small lightning bolt shot out across the room and struck Dixie Marshall on the cheek. Okay, okay, I made this bit up.

It was only when the Western Power rep smashed through the front door trying to plug me in to the grid, to "harness my Snuggie potential" that I realised it was time to shed this quasi-religious static suit before someone got hurt.

Of course, it didn't take long to get it off, because it doesn't have a back. It's the hospital gown of leisure wear, designed for the person who likes to share their backside with the world. Thinking back to the TV ad, I can't remember seeing a whole lot of butt on display... a half ar5ed idea perhaps?

This is my considered opinion and even though some people clearly get off on the Snuggie phenomenon, a static-charged felt blanket with baggy arm holes and no arse covering is just not for me. Go figure?

I'm thinking the duvet suit might be more my style...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why social media is like punk

Thanks to mUmBRELLA for this thought-provoking link. You know I always wanted to be a punk, more in a Saints or Sex Pistols kinda way than those wannabes Green Day... hey, maybe it's time to re-open the piercing in the ear?

Melbourne-based PR consultant Gerry McCusker - author of the PR Disasters blog, presented at the International Association of Business Communicators conference in San Francisco last week.

His topic was Why Are CEOs Scared of Social Media? As part of the presentation he created this two minute presentation on the similarities of social media to punk rock.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Withnail's theme

Have I ever told you my favourite film is Withnail & I? Probably a hundred times. I went to see it when it first came out, then rushed home to grab the flatmates and went back for the next screening... ahhh, the 80s.

Anyway, before I start smoking banana skins, here's a particularly delightful piece if music from the film, 'Withnail's Theme', enjoy.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Turn off your spinklers, you nonces!

I took the bins out first thing this morning inbetween heavy showers sweeping in off the ocean, only to be confronted by sprinklers in full flight on the properties both sides of my house.

Watering in the rain. Are we stupid, or what? Okay, so people program their reticulation for ease of use, but is it really that hard to turn the system off when winter arrives and just turn it back on manually if we hit a dry stretch?

I say not, and so does the state government.

Water Minister Graham Jacobs said the frustrating and disappointing aspect from the Water Corporation's point of view was that throughout summer and well into autumn, daily water consumption was less than what would have been expected and well on track to saving the anticipated 45 billion litres through the sprinkler roster and other water demand measures.

“However, from that time on, despite the long warm and dry spell, during which it could be expected consumption would be a little higher, it became much higher and, until last week, remained ridiculously high,” he said.

“The State Government supports the Water Corporation’s concerns that, if we can't quickly get back on track, serious consideration will be given to a winter sprinkler ban.

“This idea would not be a panic move but a realistic reaction to the current situation. The State needs to bank water now for the summer, even if we do get good winter rains."

Now hear this Perth, we live on a freaking sand dune (most of us) and by rights we should have no lawns whatsoever.

Would our gardens really suffer if we weren't allowed to use reticulation in winter? No, they wouldn't. Even when it's dry, get out there at 6am and roll around on your lawns to check out just how wet they are anyway.

Okay, so you use bore water so it must be okay? No, you're an idiot. What, you think the world is an empty ball that's full of water that will last for ever? No again. It's a limited supply and it too is running out, just like our ludicrously low level dams.

In Melbourne you can't water your lawns at all in summer. It's a fact of life and people have built a bridge and got over themselves.

Here in Perth we're getting all 'cat's bum mouthed' over the prospect of losing the sprinkler during winter.

I would never propose that people take the law into their own hands, but an old 3 iron used in anger would take the tops off those sprinkler heads fairly smartly if they happened to show their heads in the rain.

It's okay neighbours, my clubs shall remain locked in the shed... for now.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

WA votes no to daylight saving

It's official - daylight saving is dead in the water in Western Australia and there are plans afoot to bring back roster petrol stations.

WA, one hour and 57 years behind the rest of Australia. Would the last person to leave Perth please turn out the lights? Oh, that's right, they were never on...

Dear NO voters, that's okay, I'll be bringing the kids around when they wake up at 4.45am every day in summer and we'll have a nice play on your front lawn.

Who the f@#k needs sunlight that early anyway? All the selfish old farts pouring precious water on their gardens, or walking their arthritic dogs. Sports people? Those without kids and empty nesters?

All I wanted was a bit of time to get out of the house with the kids when I come home from work... maybe have a barbie, go to the beach, kick the footy. But no, you lot wouldn't have that. According to you all normal people should be eating dinner by 5.30pm and tucked up in bed with Fat Cat.

I'm mad as hell - the miserable, backwards thinking people of Perth would rather have the sun blazing in while most of us are either still in bed, or getting ready for work / school. More sunlight hours during the time of day when we have the least chance of actually using it... unless you're old, childless, or milking a cow.

Someone scoffed today that talk of the yes vote bringing about cultural change was ludicrous. I agreed. Indeed it would have been more an evolutionary change, akin to the time when the human race ceased being monkeys and ate our own faeces for fun.

Thanks for nothing folks and keep an eye out for me this summer - I'll be the one driving around honking his horn at the first signs of daylight making sure you're all awake to enjoy this most 'precious' time of the day.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dockers Vs Eagles - who are the NO voters?

Maybe I'm blinded by purple, but from recent conversations it would appear that more Fremantle Dockers supporters are set to support the introduction of daylight saving than their feathered West Coast Eagles cousins... twice removed.

Certainly from Cookster HQ deep within the western suburbs the word yes has been banished from the language altogether. Any utterance of the word is greeted by a 'cat's bum' closed lip snarl and the roar of an SUV engine as it roars away in disgust.

Given the spartan presence of fellow Dockers in the cultured west, you would have to think that it's the chardy-sipping blue and gold brigade that will swing the vote over to the deep, dark NO side.

If my family's anything to go by, then I'm certain this must be the case. Happy to concede I'm wrong though, so please make your mark in the poll to the right of this page.

So, in which footy team's lap does the future of daylight saving lie?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

In response to the NO daylight saving mob

Just thought this was worthy of its own post...

Hi Jo - in response to your arguments, non-CWA related of course:

Try living in a country where the sun goes down at 4.30pm. That justifies DST absolutely.
- I've lived in the UK, but still don't see why we can't enjoy DLS here? What, we should whip ourselves because we live in a country that's just too good for us? Are we not worthy?

1. DST definitely interferes with the biological clocks of children, making it harder to sleep, and harder to get up.
- I've got three aged from 2-9 and they all sleep better during DLS summer. The baby wakes up at 7am as opposed to 6am. The nine year old never wants to get up, regardless of the season.

2. By deferring the hottest part of the day until later, the biggest change I've noticed in my neighbourhood is the excessive use of air-conditioning.
- We're all outside enjoying the late summer sun until well after 7pm, so the aircon goes on later, if at all. If it's a hot night, it's hot regardless of when the sun's out! A lot depends on the 'coolth' factor in your home design and whether there's a seabreeze. The Freo Doctor doesn't care about the time, DLS or not.

3. Who wants a 38 degree day to last all night? I can't think of a worse torture.- As above, when it's hot, it's hot!!! Another hour of daylight at the end of the day hardly constitutes a whole night.

4. I had no trouble finding the beach before DST, why is it such a YES issue now?- Cause when you work until 6-6.30pm and it's already getting dark the beach isn't an option.

5. Going to a big concert at night, in daylight, is just plain wrong!- Christ, I wish I had the time to go to a concert... too busy playing with the aforementioned kids!!!

6. No golf courses cater for more daylight so why bother?-
I live across the road from one and there are still people thwacking away at 7.30pm-plus. Wish I had time to play golf though. Too busy with the, etc, etc :)

7. People are still watering their lawns at 6pm, wasting our precious water supply under the hot sun.-
Then those people should be shot. They are dick heads. Tell them to put their hose away and get up in the morning to do it. I think watering should be banned altogether.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Time to crank up the YES vote

Add your voice to the poll to the right of this page and let's send a message to the early to rise, early to bed mob who would have us live our lives between 4 - 10am... time to fight the good fight and if we can't be good, let's throw a few sucker punches their way.

The NO group launched its campaign yesterday to a packed house of 20 CWA ring-ins and a half dozen bloked who'd been bribed by talk of free tins of Emu Export. The average age was about 75.

The wild mob was waving placards saying 'we're sick of dark mornings and hot afternoons' and 'bring back roster petrol stations'. The action was shortlived, however, as most of the crew had to be home for dinner at 4pm and in the jammies by 5.30pm for asn intimate evening in bed listening to nightline.

I'm surprised we didn't see big Quentin Lynch from the West Coast Eagles there on the day, but I'm told that he's so ugly he's only allowed out in daylight hours to play footy. Scares the kids. No wonder he's dark on the whole DLS issue.

The YES campaign launches next Saturday in South Perth, so I suggest that anyone with a vested interest in WA staying in touch with the rest of Australia and not becoming a time capsule, should get along and show their support.

Lean to the left, lean to the right, lean to the left and fight! fight! fight!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Old Spice Boys waft into town

The Old Spice Boys, from Byron Bay, are teaming up with local Singer/Songwriter Brenda Chapman, for an impromptu evening this Wednesday that will take you on musical journey from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Fresh from the Fairbridge Festival, these performers have kindly agreed to do a gig at the North Fremantle Centre*. So, if you missed them when they played last weekend at the festival, come and join in this spontaneous gathering.

Wednesday April 22nd –The show starts at 8 pm but feel free to come down early and have a drink and takeaway meal or perhaps a game of lawn bowls. Doors open at 7pm. Cost: $10/5 (conc)

*UPDATE - the boys will also be playing a gig at Clancy's in Fremantle on Thursday, 23 April.

The Big Men of Small Music: Azo Bell - ukulele, Tim Reeves - snare drum, Billy Milroy - tea-chest bass.

The Old Spice Boys are a comic swing trio. They play their, minimal instruments with virtuosity, charm and wit.

From Byron Bay, 800 km north of Sydney on the North Coast of New South Wales, they are big favorites at jazz, folk, blues and comedy festivals throughout Australia.

Using just a ukulele, a tea-chest (one-string) bass and a solitary snare drum the Old Spice Boys stroll fearlessly through an extraordinary repertoire of their own hilarious songs along side most unlikely interpretations of tunes by artists from Miles Davis to Ian Dury, from Prince to Bill Haley and from Bo Diddley to the Seekers.

The Old Spice Boys have been the audience favorites at a range of events including folk festivals, product launches, gallery openings, many a corner pub, family concerts, blues nights, outdoor celebrations, jazz clubs, weddings, wakes and whatever else needs a warm and witty trio of wonderful musicians dedicated to having fun and making great music at exactly the same time. Charlie Parker meets the ukulele. Website:

A gifted singer/songwriter based in Fremantle, Western Australia, Brenda writes to express the heartfelt stories from her own colourful life.

She delivers her engaging storytelling with velvety, soulful vocals and a unique Earthy guitar style. Brenda has been referred to as “The Queen of the Chorus” for her captivating melodies. She will be joined by some special guests.

For further details, please call Jane on 0419 912 510 or the NFC Bar Manager, John Cooke 0409 848 721

(*located in the old N Freo Bowling Club, between Thompson Rd and Stirling Hwy)

Centre for Lawn Bowls & Tennis-Social Events & Hire Venue-Music, Comedy & Drama Productions

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

What is this, Lovers & Lobbers?

Ye gads, I was persusing the interwebs yesterday and came across a rather banal sort of post on Rotto Bloggo from a bloke calling himself Michael Hunt who runs a blog called Lovers and Lobbers.

To be honest, I thought it was the ramblings of some bogan couple without much care for spelling who liked a bit of jiggery poke in the great outdoors, in this case the lovely Rottnest Island. And then I checked the site stats and saw that the blog was attracting over 4,000 hits a day.

On closer inspection I see it's really a site dedicated to capturing Perth's young folk in varying stages of drug and alcohol-fueled madness. Lot's of clenched jaws, weird hand dancing, tongue displays, pashing and back-room groping.

It holds a curious fascintation and I for one would like to see more of the 'on the road stories' as featured on Rotto Bloggo. One to keep an eye on.

*Update - after various discussions, both in the office and via The Worst of Perth, I'm starting to reach the conclusion that Lovers and Lobbers is really just an extension of facebook, where instead of posting images ourselves, we're now allowing others to do it for us... the more compromising, the better... the y-gen brigade is hungry for fame and MySpace and facebook just aren't doing it for them anymore.

Seriously, when a bunch of 20-somethings are out on the town, check out how much time they spend taking digital snaps of themselves, invariably doing the same thing, just with different combinations of people.

Would I have done the same in my 20s if capturing the moment meant pushing a button on my mobile phone? Not that we had mobiles of course... For us to take photos at the same time as we endeavoured to get smashed required some pretty good organisation - you had to buy film for a start. It was an exercise usually carried out by the arty-farty amateur photographer among us... you know, the one with the woolly sideburns and the black horn rimmed glasses.

Carrying a camera around was only a viable option if it gave you some cred - a techy appendage of sorts, before techy stuff was around.

So am I pissing up the wrong tree here in regards to Lovers and Lobbers? Do today's 'yoof' hunger for a level of fame that carries with it the inherent risk that Mrs Brown from English will see them engaged in oral fornication under a grand piano while out of their skulls on MDMA?

Follow me on twitter:

Monday, April 06, 2009

Where the NO votes live

Thanks to my esteemed colleague from the Rotto Bloggo desk David 'The Outrage' Cohen for drawing my attention to Antony Green's election blog analysis of who voted yes and no in the last daylight saving referendum.

No surprise to see it was the farmers who stitched us up last time, while the good folk of Rottnest Island were leading the charge for the extra hour of sunshine at the end of the day - the part of the day when it's actually of use.

I'm yet to hear anyone argue the case to end daylight saving? Cat got your tongue?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Daylight saving zombies ATTACK!!!

Somebody's squeezed a few vials of Viagra into the tea urn down at Daylight Savings Zombie Central. Yes siree, there's a whiff of victory in the air and the cardigan brigade couldn't be more excited if Eoin Cameron was back on the electoral hustings.

It's been slim pickings this past week in the zombie hunt pack. Frank's done his best, but with Carps on the sidelines turning to fat and The Lazy Aussie running decoy for Barnett, he's pushing shit uphill with the proverbial toothpick.

Bento is hell bent on cutting the fiends down to size with his Ruger semi-auto with the hollow tip slugs Skink smuggled in from Taiwan, but the Bus Driver and his crazy partner Tea are providing safe passage in a steel plated ex-Transperth bus. Couldn't penetrate that sucker with a Zeliska 600 Nitro Express Revolver.

It's great to have new blood in Shazza come on-board to take on the hand-to-liver spot dotted hand-combat, but for every new body we gain, another falls by the wayside. The Outrage Cohen has been next to useless since he started mainlining that aqua-farmed squid from Chinese-Taipei. It was only a matter of time before the zombies commandeered the presses at The Post to turn out their JUST SAY NO propaganda, but at least the Stones Green Ginger-based Molotov that Poor Lisa lobbed through the window put a spanner in the works.

The regionals are where we're really copping it in the neck and although Rolly is making all the right noises, my fears are that he's working as a double agent. Word is he has plans to put Matt Birney under the wheels of his tractor and seed him with a GM-free canola crop.

The referendum is drawing ever closer. The excited chatter of false teeth and the snap of elasticated double-waisted pants is a drill boring through my skull, making passage for the savage rays that will surely exact their revenge when summer 09/10 rolls around.

As I wander the early morning beaches, taking out the kneecaps of those rendered incontinent at the giddy joy of banishing daylight saving to the dark bottom drawer where Sunday trading resides, my thoughts start to wander.

Lonely summer afternoons on the beach watching a feeble, febrile sun slink away into the Indian Ocean at 6.30pm. Riding back from Little Parakeet Bay on Rottnest Island asking no one in particular, 'Hey, who turned out the lights?'. Poking the snags on the backyard barbie in the half gloom wondering if they're going black, or if it's just the fading light. Sending down a beam ball to the number one son in the Floreat nets and realising too late that he can't see jack shit and is about to wear an incrediball on the chin.

But I guess that's okay, cause the zombies will march forth in the early morn like some remake of Wacko Jacko's Thiller video, boldly striding along to the beat of their own selfish drums as the rest of us consider block-out curtains to keep the baby from waking up at 4.30am.

They'll gather in excited clusters at suburban Chinese restaurants in the 6pm gloom, proferring wine coolers and competing with each other as to who goes to bed and gets out of bed the earliest. 'Water the lawn at 4am, tea on the table at 4.30pm and in bed with Graham Maybury by 6.30pm - that's the life Frank!"

I gather I'm not alone in the YES army, but I feel that our numbers are thin and the zombies are on the rise. Indeed, I think there will be people who vote NO simply because they feel that somehow the people in the eastern states are trying to get one over them. If it aint broke, don't fix it.

And then there's the crowd who say we already get more sunlight than the east, so we don't need daylight saving. Well, I say balls to that theory. Maybe we get more at 4.30am when it's about as much use as TOAB.

So I guess the question is, are you with me, or are you de-linting the woollen cardy and sharpening up the chopticks for a small night out with the zombie brigade?

Yes, or no?

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.