December 4, 2016

Two-In-One Sketch

A double urban sketch today – mostly because they happen to be on a double-page spread in my sketchbook. The top one is a disused hairdressing salon in the outer Adelaide suburb of Kilkenny, and below is the view of Gertrude and Smith Streets on the border of the Melbourne suburbs of Fitzroy and Collingwood. I have to say, for this highly-vaunted 'hipster' locale, the place was almost deserted – on a Saturday evening!

September 13, 2016

Old And New

Above is a photo of my workspace. Where I create comics. Where the 'magic happens', etc.

Truth to tell, it doesn't normally look like this. The desk is usually cluttered with papers, and there normally aren't two iMacs. I just took this photo for posterity since the older Mac (that's the one on the left, obviously) is going to get chucked out soon.

I got it in June 2007 as a present for my 29th birthday. I owned on that thing, dude. I did TAFE work, composed music, made podcasts, laid out magazine pages, edited home movies and drew comics with a tablet. It served me well until May 2013 when the hard drive gave up the ghost. Nearly six years of service ain't bad.

In June 2013 I bought the new Mac, on the right. Comparing the two, it seems hard to believe the 2007 Mac had the largest screen I ever used. But it's true.

Oh well, everything must be disposed of, in the end.

August 25, 2016

My Old House Is Gone

On this wintry August morning in Melbourne, I was returning from Ashburton when I suddenly decided to go see my old house on Moore Street in the nearby suburb of Ashwood...

...only to find, like lots of old houses in this area, that it had been demolished. And judging from the mud tracks seen here, only very recently. I must admit I was disappointed to see it gone, even though I only lived here for one year.

The view from the rear fence. Nothing left except the wheelie bins...

...except a couple of trees at the back, one of which had fruit. They looked like lemons, except they were smaller and orange. Whatever they were, I helped myself to six of them.

And just to show you what the house looked like, here's a photo of it as it was in April 2005, a couple of days after I moved in. It had an unusual layout; the front door was at the side, unlike all the other houses in that short street.

August 23, 2016

Inside An Abandoned House

This afternoon, my friend Rob and I were out for a stroll in the Melbourne suburb of Mount Waverley, not far from the train station. We were taking photos for an upcoming photo project when we noticed an abandoned house on Winbourne Street. The wheelie bins were arranged haphazardly at the front, and all the curtains were open, but clearly no one was home – the place was earmarked for demolition.

The first obvious signs of disarray were the awning at the side window that had fallen...

...and a couple of smashed windows had been boarded up. The grass was overgrown, but not by much. Round the back, there was an IGA shopping trolley and a shed.

There was a grassy path leading between this house and the next one. We followed the path, to find that it led to a tiny park, which was surrounded by the back fences of several houses, including the empty one. When coming back up the path to the street, Rob noticed that a sliding door at the side of the house was open. Through the door we could see some green graffiti on the wall behind, a sure sign that something untoward had been going on in there.

Naturally, we entered the house. Ever since one of my TAFE friends had shown me photos he took inside a disused lunatic asylum, I had always wanted to take photos inside an abandoned building. And I had my Sony camera with me – this was my chance!

As we stepped inside into what had been the laundry, we observed this crude graffiti made using lengths of tape and green paint. Year 3, much? The comments scrawled next to this effort say it all. Even peabrains have standards.

Just to the left of this, a massive hole had been kicked in the wall. Hey kids – I know this joint is about to be demolished, but they use special equipment for that. Don't waste energy trying to do it yourself. Still, the joke's on them if there's asbestos in there. Also, the hole is in the shape of a car. How amusing.

We then entered the front room, where I half expected a hunch-backed dwarf to leap out from behind that alcove to the left. The light fitting had been yanked out of the ceiling. Smashed glass from it was all over the floor. Here too, several attempts had been made to kick holes in the wall, as well as ram through them with a metal rod. Note the little-old-lady colour scheme in this room, with two colours of paint used, separated by a band of wallpaper with a tasteful floral pattern. Very nice.

This white board was obviously busted up, but the floor-to-ceiling mirrors on the sliding wardrobe doors in two bedrooms had surprisingly remained intact. Our vandals may be mindless, but they clearly didn't want 28 years of bad luck.

The other side of the huge hole in the wall. Nice.

All the rooms were empty of furniture – there was only assorted debris that mostly included food containers and remnants of the food contained therein. One bedroom had almonds scattered all over the floor; here in the front room was a container of chocolate ice cream in the corner with a fair bit of the ice cream splattered on the wall. You might be able to make out two cigarette butts in this picture. No beer bottles, bongs or half-smoked joints here – the vandals were probably not even old enough to use the big kids' playground.

The kitchen was surprisingly free of junk. A hole in the wall exposed the bricks, there were burn marks on the lino, and the glass in the oven door had been smashed.

For the glass to fall like that, I guess the door would have had to been open when it was smashed?

And finally, a calling card in what is clearly an 8 year old's handwriting. Too bad, kid – that's the nature of the real estate business. I guess you'll understand when you're an adult and you have teenage kids who think you're a tosser.

I'll spare you any photos and descriptions of what was left in the toilet. Trust me, you don't want to know, okay?

June 2, 2016

Night Of Fog

Melbourne was blanketed by thick fog tonight, and of course I couldn't resist going outside to get a few shots. This is the only one that didn't come out blurry. I've made it black-and-white to enhance its grimness.

May 16, 2016

Eurovision Results Map 2016

The Eurovision Song Contest stats map is back! Regular readers of this blog (should there be such a group) might remember that I first posted this map in May 2011, and another updated version in May 2012. Now, after the 61st ESC I have finally done a third update – done all in Photoshop this time.

Other than the winners in the intervening four years, only a couple of countries have improved their personal best results. But of course, Australia was given a special guest entry to the Contest in 2015, where Guy Sebastian came fifth, a very respectable finish. As such, we were invited back by host nation Sweden to compete in 2016, and our contestant Dami Im came second, an amazing result!

May 11, 2016

Top Ten Flashback: May 11, 1991

Here we go with another flashback to the Australian singles charts to this point in time 25 years ago, for the week ending Saturday, May 11, 1991. I was twelve years old at this time, and although three of the songs below are dance tracks I still like, another two (by the same band) are songs I love by Sydney's premier exponents of 'barbed-wire pop', as their music was described in a press ad. Let's begin the countdown!

10.  Southern Sons – "Hold Me In Your Arms"
I enjoyed Southern Sons' debut single "Heart In Danger", but it took me many years to really appreciate it. This was their third single and although it reached number 9, I wasn't big on ballads, even when I was 12. Therefore I will return to these guys' debut single as their finest moment.

9.  The K.L.F. – "3 a.m. Eternal"
The K.L.F. were unlike most other artists of the time and I liked this single a lot more than "What Time Is Love?". In turn, I liked the follow-up to this, "Last Train To Trancentral", even more. What were they on about with all that bizarre chanting? I still don't know, but you could sure dance to it.

8.  E.M.F. – "Unbelievable"
I've only heard one song by E.M.F. I know, I should get on over to some video streaming site beginning with Y and listen to some more. But I thought this track was ace, and still do. Beyond that, I liked the band's visual design, and colour schemes. Like the three different-coloured letters on the sleeve artwork, and those vertical stripes on the backdrop in this song's video. I think they were ingrained in my mind almost as much as the song was.

7.  Bingoboys – "How To Dance"
Okay, so it's a cheesy novelty dance-pop song, but I still like it. It's cheery and upbeat, and reminds me of happier times when life didn't totally suck nard, as one Nelson Muntz would say. I was almost on the verge of purchasing their album, but back then I had this rule that I had to like three songs by an artist to get their album. And I never heard another Bingoboys song, so I never did.

6.  Cher – "The Shoop Shoop Song"
Aaaargh! Take it away. I hated this song a quarter-century ago and still do now. It's hokey and embarrassing, and the stupid music video with those other Mermaids idiots is just cringe-worthy. Someone Cher's age (45 at the time) should have known better than to sing these imbecilic lyrics. Forget it, there's no way I'm listening to this puerile rubbish again.

5.  The Screaming Jets – "Better"
The first song by this band I heard; I remember thinking the video seemed a bit Faith No More-ish, then I read it was directed by Ralph Ziman, who also directed FNM's ace video for "Epic". I haven't been able to verify online if this is true, though.

4.  Ratcat – "Don't Go Now"
Believe it or not, kids, this was the first CD I ever bought. The single cost me $5, and it didn't come with a free sticker as you can see in the sleeve art here. Oh no.  My version came with a fold-out Ratcat poster, which I also still have. (I never put it up, so it's in perfect condition.) This was the single's third week in the charts and it was already up to number 4; it would hit number 1 in its sixth week. Still a great song and much poppier than their previous release (see below...)

3.  Roxette – "Joyride"
How well this tune has held up over the last 25 years is open to debate. I still rather like it, as well as its video. Did liking Roxette ever become uncool? I don't think so. I guess they had a knack for melodies few others had, if their chart success is anything to go by. This song had recently dropped from its number 1 spot.

2.  Daryl Braithwaite – "The Horses"
Whereas this one was about to hit number 1 in a week. I'd actually forgotten it did. I thought this song was a bit daggy at the time, but I don't hate it as much as I did then. There was a memorable letter to Smash Hits, where the writer asked Blacky the cat, "Hey Blacky, have you ever noticed how much the girl in 'The Horses' film clip touches her hair? Maybe it caught on fire as a child and now she subconsciously touches it to make sure it's still there? Or maybe she's wearing a wig and the salt water is causing it to become unstuck??" Blacky merely replied, "Or maybe she was told to keep running her fingers through her hair?"

1.  Ratcat – "That Ain't Bad" (Tingles EP)
Ah, Ratcat. At number one. Ace. I bought this EP on cassette, and apparently it holds the record for the longest climb to number 1 on the Australian charts. This was its second and final week at number 1, and its 13th week in the top 20. Unfortunately, it would soon plummet out of the top 50 on account of being deleted, but that insanely catchy buzzsaw guitar lives on. Still a fine track, and one that deserves to be played at maximum volume until your neighbour comes around and threatens to duff you up.

May 1, 2016

Homecooked Comics Festival

I had a table at the 2016 Homecooked Comics Festival today. It was held in the Town Hall in the suburb of Northcote. Want to see some photos from the day? No? Tough.

Here's my table with the four volumes of Airbury Academy, Rob's zines, and a hand-painted Airbury bag.

Comics artist Bruce Mutard was there, and did a series of drawings for the kids.

Meanwhile, a drawing demo was in progress. Here's Steve from SCAR with his motorbike monster...

...and Matt from Pikitia Press working on a similar effort. The drawings were timed.

Finally, here's Michelle and Antoinette from SCAR looking at my zine, Xtra Cheez!

Now, push off!

April 30, 2016

The Mysterious Paving Slab

This isn't really street art even though I've given it that tag – but it definitely comes from the street. In fact, it's on the street itself!

This afternoon, Michelle and I went for a walk in the suburb of Malvern, and at the corner of Kooyong Road, I noticed this inscribed paving slab:

It's 27 years old and a bit weathered, so if'n ya can't read it, it says:


What's that all about, eh? 'Curse'? 'Lays to rest'? Don't tell me some poor schmo was buried under there? Alas, no. It turns out someone called 'Eugene' put it there to protest at the street being dug up time times in a year (presumably the year 1989). He was the chairman of the High Street Traders Association, and was fed up of losing business due to roadworks (lucky he never worked in Hong Kong, then).

It seems to have worked, as the slab is obviously older than the surrounding ones; the subsequent roadworkers just paved around it. So they did heed Eugene's curse, esoteric as it may be.

March 15, 2016

Four Volumes Of Airbury

Beware the Ides of March! The photo below shows the four volumes of my Airbury Academy series that are now complete. Only two more volumes to go!

That all amounts to over 450 pages of comic art, and a whole heap to go...well, a three-digit number at least.

February 14, 2016

Sticky Institute Zine Fair

The Sticky Institute is a small shop in Melbourne, located in an underpass beneath Flinders Street Station, which sells zines of all kinds. Robert Scholten and I got a table at their zine fair today, and experienced the "zine scene" for the first time.

Zine production is unabashedly low-tech. A long-arm stapler goes a long way, as does a spare printer. Here's Rob doing some stapling. On the table is the "Never Trust A Songwriter" title card he did in Thailand for the China 5 music video (which I also filmed in Thailand).

The finished zines.

My zine, Xtra Cheez, was available in several flavours.

The Melbourne Town Hall was rather packed. Who's that at the bottom right?

Rob at our table.

Steve Carter of SCAR, with way more titles available than we had.

Antoinette Rydyr of SCAR setting up their extensive catalogue of zines and comics. She also came up with the name of my zine. I picked it from a list and changed the spelling.

Now, naff orf!

January 1, 2016

Happy New Year 2016

Happy new year 2016, and welcome to what will be the seventh year of this blog. Facebook has reliably informed me that I joined three years ago today:

Back in April 2010 I quit Facebook, but I rejoined on January 1, 2013 and I don't have to tell you why I did it. So there y'go, punters. Three years of other people's cats, generic inspirational quotes over images of sunsets, and political humour that isn't funny.