Archive for March, 2010


Well, what a week this has been! After going for my agency interview last Thursday, the lovely interviewer, Shona, recommended me for the role that I had been nominated for, and she lined up an interview with my prospective employers for this Monday afternoon.

My husband, Chris, was going to take me to the office for the interview, but Haku, one of our daughter’s nine rats, needed to go to the vet because his foot had swollen up, so I bravely said, that I would go all by myself.

Haku

Haku is a guts

The office was about half an hour drive away, that’s twice as far as I used to drive to my old job. And I even had to drive on the motorway for a short time. Just for me to go out of my comfort zone like that is a big step, never mind having my first job interview in years. I am constantly surprising myself lately; doing things that I used to chicken-out of, to find they are not so scary after all.

The interview went well, I was myself and I didn’t pretend to be anything I wasn’t. It was like the agency interview all over again, only this time I was still on a high from a weekend full of comedy shows. I had watched Sammy J’s new show 30 Ricketts Lane, twice, and I got to meet him after the show; I’d had a little hug too. My comedy-high definitely spilled over to the next day, and after the interview I thought they would either think I was a crazy comedian-stalker, or they would see I was a well-balanced woman, with a lot of outside interests to help keep me sane in the workplace. 😉

Anyway, I must have impressed the three interviewers, because I got a call very early on Tuesday morning from the agency telling me that the prospective employers had found me ‘delightful and quirky’ and wanted to know if I could start the next day? I told her, “of course I can!” and so after just less than 8 weeks since my redundancy, my life as a domestic goddess has been cruelly cut short.

So, on Wednesday 24 March, I started work as a Project Administrator, assisting and helping to organise the Project Manager (the lady who suggested I go for the role). I have been a sponge for the past 3 days, absorbing lots of information about the project being worked on. It’s a lot to take in at the moment, and I can’t wait to get my teeth stuck into things so I can feel useful again. I will be able to do more after my Council Induction next Monday and Tuesday.

The plan is that I will be there for two to three months, maybe more; after that I don’t know what will happen. You never know, Council might like me and take me on permanently, or my project manager might decide to take me with her to her next assignment, (although she will be taking about 3 months off after this one for a rest). Or the agency may send me to interview for another post somewhere else. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but I am happy to be where I am now… they have 13 different types of tea bags for a start: I’m in tea heaven! However, the place is also booby-trapped with several containers of biscuits on the kitchen bench and lolly jars everywhere!

Whatever happens from now on, I feel I’m on my way. Between a few people believing in me, and the TYSIC (Ten Year Self-Improvement Challenge started by Mark Watson) I went for a job that I didn’t think was within my reach. Other people believed I had it in me, it was only me that didn’t believe. With a new optimistic, ‘if I don’t try I won’t know’ attitude, I’ve proved myself worthy of at least being given the chance. Now I’m going to try my hardest not to let anyone down, including myself.

I’ll admit, there’s still a part of me that thinks ‘I can’t believe I’ve been allowed this chance’ but when I’m feeling confident, my brain tells me ‘of course you deserve to have this chance, you rock!’

Oh, and just in case you wanted to know, Haku is now on antibiotics and he is feeling much better. 🙂

I’ve had the live comedy bug for just over two years now; at the end of 2008 I dipped my toe into the live comedy scene with Carl Barron’s show Walking Down The Street, and Frank Woodley’s Possessed. Then I visited the inaugural Brisbane Comedy Festival seven times in March 2009, (six times to see Tim Minchin’s Ready For This, and once to see Adam Hills’ Inflatable.) The bug was well and truly in my system by then and I felt I should broaden my comedy horizons and see more acts. So during 2009 we went to see Bill Bailey, Jimeoin, and Dylan Moran, and when tickets went on sale for the 2010 BrisComFest I booked tickets not only to see comedians that I know, but acts that I’d never heard of, or just had a vague idea of what they did. Basically I booked purely on recommendations from online comedy fans. Yes, I’m infected with the comedy bug, and I’ve never been happier.

So, now the BrisComFest is over; we saw some big names and some lesser known ones and had a ball! Over the course of a month we saw Adam Hills, and his show Mess Around, then Josh Thomas with Surprise, and Frank Woodley with Wilderbeest; they were all bigger names and therefore in the big theatre. Then we saw David O’Doherty in the smaller Visy Theatre; a very funny man with a very tiny keyboard. And finally, best of all Sammy J and Randy, and The Pajama Men in the tiny Turbine Rehearsal Room – more about them both later. We also went to ‘chalkboard’ twice where I caught smaller doses of Melinda Buttle, Greg Sullivan, and a drunken character who shouted jokes at us for two minutes; also, Tom Ballard, Felicity Ward and Michael Chamberlain.

Out of all these performances, the two acts in the tiniest room were the most memorable; and we went to see them both in one night.

At 7.30 on Saturday 20 March, we went to see Sammy J and Randy, in 30 Ricketts Lane. This was absolutely brilliant, just two men, well, one man and a puppet called Randy, (operated by Heath McIvor) but I was entranced from the opening scene to the last, and it was all killer no filler. I did watch it through a haze of sinus pain and it was funny enough to carry me through and make me forget about it. I won’t give the plot away as it’s got a long run and lots of people have not seen it yet. But there are some scenes that will stay etched in my mind forever, catchy tunes that I can hum along to after only two listens, (yes it was so good I went again on Sunday,) and a good moral lesson – Don’t mess with the law: specifically the tax office!

After Sammy J’s show we went to see The Pajama Men. It is difficult to describe what The Pajama Men do. There are two men, and two chairs, they wear pajamas, (the men, not the chairs.) The pajama clad men are inhabited by many characters, and after the first bewildering few minutes where I wondered what on earth was going on, I started to follow the plot. ‘Blue pajama man’ plays an amazingly scary-looking dead girl and a convincingly crazy serial killer. ‘Grey pajama man’ is an annoying magician and a small lobster-like alien being? And these are just four of the characters, there must be about thirty of them! It was a fantastic show, very, very clever.

Then we went to the ‘Chalkboard’ show, a collection of comedians on at the Powerhouse that week. We saw Felicity Ward who also MC’d the night, Michael Chamberlain who for some reason did his whole routine without a mic, the Pajama Men who did some of their show plus an amazing reenactment of feeding a horse an apple, and David O’Doherty whom we’d seen on Friday night and was very funny, particularly singing about his ‘Beefs of 2010’.

Those three shows put me on such a high that I didn’t want the night to end. We’d bought the signed DVD of Sammy J’s previous show Sammy J in the Forest of Dreams and watched it when we got home, finally getting to bed just before 3am. 30 Ricketts Lane is a little tamer than his previous show, but I think it’s funnier.

Because I’d had such a good time on Saturday, Sunday was a bit of a let down and after much sighing and dropping of hints, my lovely husband said, “Oh go on then, you know you want to” and my sensible side booked tickets to just one more show on the very last night of the BrisComFest. I wanted to see 30 Ricketts Lane again, without the haze of sinus pain.

So Sunday night saw us at the Brisbane Powerhouse again. This time I took my daughter, her boyfriend and Kaitlyn, she’s a 15-year-old neighbour/friend of my daughter’s. The show was just as good if not better than the night before, and we were there early enough to get front row seats in the small, general admission hall. It was much more packed than it had been on Saturday, this made me happy, word must be spreading, this show deserves to play to a full house. It was Kaitlyn’s first comedy show and she will never forget it as she took part in it! We stuck around until Sammy came out and he was lovely to talk to and posed for photos on a crappy camera phone and we had a nice chat. I love it when people are just as nice as you imagine them to be. My only regret is that I didn’t bring a proper camera, and next time I would like to hug Randy the puppet as well as Sammy J. Well, even us 44-year-old ladies still have a bit of fan-girl in us: especially when infected by the comedy bug.

A New Start?

This week I took some brave steps towards what I hope will be a new career; well, a two to three month contract for starters and we’ll see where it goes from there. I’m punching above my weight and going for something I haven’t done before, but I pretty sure I could do it if given a chance. Normally I wouldn’t be this confident about putting myself out there but I’ve been pushed by a couple of outside influences into taking a chance on myself.

My first influence is this Ten Year Self Improvement Challenge set up by Mark Watson, a comedian from my home town of Bristol. Upon turning thirty and becoming a father, Mark decided he’d better get his act together (not his comedy act, that as far as I know is fine) and set himself some goals. One of those goals was to change his usual pessimistic mind-set and become more optimistic: A pretty good challenge I thought, and I took it upon myself to be more optimistic too. My more tangible TYSIC was to write more, which is why I created this blog, and to get a good job that I enjoy and by the end of the ten years to be able to be in a position to give up work. Well I will be 45 this year and I think 55 is a pretty good age to retire. Taking on board Mark’s optimism I have applied for lots of jobs, averaging one a day for the past couple of weeks, but so far I’ve had no bites. No matter: I have still have optimism!

Now let me backtrack a little. Before my position was made redundant at the end of January, the company I worked for held a workshop on how to find work, one of the things they said was that a lot of jobs are found through people you know, or people who know the people you know. You just have to tell everyone, “hey, I’m available for work” and the more people who know, the better, it’s a numbers game.

Well, this is where the other outside influence comes in, because someone I hardly know, knew of a job and urged me to go for this job even though it’s a bit above what I’m used to. She saw potential in me that I didn’t see in myself. That bit of affirmation from her, combined with my new found optimism propelled me go for something I would have normally believed to be out of my reach.

So, back to this week, the job is through an agency so that was my first hurdle. A couple of nights ago I filled out three email forms and completed four online tests, and today I went for the interview. The day in the middle I had to get my roots done: priorities!

It was difficult to sleep last night because of the fear of the unknown, I haven’t had to do an interview for years. But I really shouldn’t have worried because the day went brilliantly. I knew it was going to be a fun day when the bus driver asked if I was an adult fare! I just smiled and said yes. His eyesight can’t have been that bad as we got to the city without crashing and I arrived in plenty of time for my 11.00am interview. I even had time for a latte before going up to the office. As I sat drinking my latte I noticed the shop across the road, the shop’s number was on a particularly large white sign. The number on it was 101, which will mean a lot to Depeche Mode fans but bugger all to anyone else: it made me smile.

To put myself in a positive frame of mind I listened to Tim Minchin’s So F**king Rock on my iPod before going up to the interview – then I had to wait in the holding pen for half an hour. No matter! I still had optimism! And it stayed with me throughout the interview.

The interviewer was lovely and I must have made a good impression as she is going to strongly recommend me for the role. She could see in me what the other person saw in me. Something that I could not see in myself. I left the office feeling more positive than I have done for a very long time. I have a feeling that this is going to work out. I’m ignoring the little pessimistic voice that says I’m not ready for this, because I am ready for this! I’m like the little engine that could, I just have to keep saying “I think I can – I think I can”

A few years ago my husband went the way of a lot of men in their mid-forties. He decided that he wanted to add a bit of excitement and adventure to his life. Quite a few married men think that excitement might come in the form of another woman, thankfully in my case he decided a trike was just what he needed, and I thought it was a pretty cool idea too. But buying a trike is a lot more difficult than buying a bike, you can’t just stroll into a local showroom and have a wander around and pick what you want: no you have to stalk them: it’s like the thrill of the chase!

He joined a couple of trike clubs and almost every time there was a ride on, he would go and check out the trikes and talk to the owners. He found out all the info he could on all the different types of trikes, so when we came to make our choice we’d have all the facts. I just called him, ‘the trike stalker’.

After much stalking we decided which make and model of trike we liked the best. We chose Panther Trikes in Gosford, NSW as our trike builder, and Josef built our Panther Wildcat just how we wanted it, with lots of chrome and extra bits. We also chose to have it custom-painted and the paint had to come all the way from House of Kolor in America.  It was built exactly the way we wanted it, and in October 2007 Josef delivered it to our home. We were as proud as new parents could be and christened her DACAT.

Now, nearly two and a half years later, my husband’s head has been turned by a new trike on the market. It is a TourOz trike built in Germany. We went to see it at the Australian distributors a couple of weekends ago. She is lower to the ground than the Panther, which makes her more sporty looking, and she has a gear stick sticking up right in the middle of the fuel tank, like some giant phallic symbol: I didn’t like that. She has more lights on the front than a Christmas tree, six in all: I didn’t like that either, to me it smacked of showing off. But Chris was pretty impressed, he liked the look of the car-like back-end with a small boot; he liked the lowness of her, and most of all he really appreciated the more modern, Ford, water-cooled engine compared to the VDub engine in most Australian trikes, including our own.

Now I know Dacat isn’t perfect anymore, she has a few stone chips from many lovely trips around Queensland and New South Wales, and I know she needs lots of services and that a Ford engine needs less maintenance and would have more engineers around that can work on her if needed. I know all that. But she’s DACAT! We made her; and it might be sentimental of me but I’d like to hold on to her for longer than two and a half years before she’s sold. So much thought went into her, from the colour of the paint and upholstery, to the extra-long pegs for my extra-short legs, everything was tailor-made for us. IF we sell her and get a TourOz, yes we can choose colours, but they are from a limited pallet, the seat upholstery is velcroed on, they are not properly upholstered, and I still don’t like all those headlights. I must admit, I can see the practicality of an engine that requires less service and tinkering. But if I compare the two at this stage selling Dacat would be like selling a part of me, she is unique, and the TourOz is more like, well, not a cheap tart, trikes are not cheap; but definitely more ‘production line’ than I am used to.

I think this TourOz was just a brief fling in my husband’s brain. But I can see that in a few years time, when we want to ride a bit further afield that it will be a good idea to move to a more reliable engine. It is a sad thought, but a practical one. But for now I think Dacat is staying, she’s not perfect but she’s ours and the day she goes will be a very sad day.

Tonight we went to see Frank Woodley at the Powerhouse as part of the Brisbane Comedy Festival. ‘We’ being myself and my husband, and our son and daughter. I’d booked the seats last year sometime so they were great seats, only five rows back from the stage.

Anyway, we left home late and scooted in there with about three minutes to spare. I was a bit worried that we might arrive after the show had started; because we all know that tardy audience members are fair game to comedians. It turns out Frank is no exception, the late-comers did cop it a bit. Especially one poor group who didn’t get the ‘in joke’ that they’d missed. 😉

I won’t go into too much specific detail as it’s a new show and I wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone that happens to read this blog. But I can confirm that it really is fun for all the family.

I hadn’t seen any of Frank’s stand up before, so I wasn’t  sure what to expect. I am familiar with the Lano & Woodley shows and my daughter and I went to see Possessed back in 2008; which, by the way I adored. But Possessed was a one-man play sort of deal, not stand-up, so I was in (bad pun alert) frankly unfamiliar territory. However, a fan told me that it’s nearly all new material and just a small amount of his old stuff.

When Frank walked on stage, he reminded me of someone and I couldn’t  put my finger on who it was until about half way through the show. Then I realised the elusive doppelgänger in my brain was David Tennant, the Doctor on Dr Who. Frank wore a brown, striped suit, and of course Frank also has brown, slightly tousled hair, then at one point during the show he also wore glasses. I think it was the glasses moment that finally clicked the  Dr Who switch in my aging neurons.

Frank not only does stand-up material in his show but also a few songs; some long, some short, and one very short. He performs all his songs while playing an acoustic guitar, and one song is dramatically enhanced with some rather theatrical lighting and a smoke machine. There is also one semi-serious (he called it whimsical) number which is quite sweet. Oh, and there is a mimed section, with props. This part of the show nearly made me wish I’d invested in some Tena Lady (it’s OK folks, even though were late getting in I still made sure I visited the loo before I took my seat). There is no damp patch on seat EE20.

Frank also had an absolutely dead-pan accomplice in his show. He generated a lot of laughs, and I can’t explain why, but he was very funny.

Well, that’s all I’m going to say as I don’t want to give anything away. If you go to see this show and you remember nothing else, I think you will remember the mimed section and a great ocelot joke, which by his own admission, isn’t even one of his.

Frank was charming and funny, being both awkward and professional at the same time. We really enjoyed the show and I would definitely go and see him again. So until the next time you’re in Brisbane Frank, so long and thanks for all the (oily) fish.

This is a rather long review and covers Tim’s Ready For This? Again shows at Brisbane’s QPAC Theatre on December 1st and 2nd, 2009. As I’d already seen the new songs from Ready For This? back in March 2009, this review mostly covers the older songs that I hadn’t seen before and some technical glitches. And for those that want to know, Tim wore his frilly, vienetta shirt and his black, skinny jeans with the skeleton-hand prints on the back pockets.

Firstly, I have to say that I was so happy to finally see Darkside performed live, I knew he would play it from reading spoilers on the forum, but knowing it was coming didn’t mean I was ‘ready for this’ live, rip-roaring rendition of Darkside; it’s my favourite song all over again. Now when I hear it on my iPod I can relive those live performances; the red smoke billowing everywhere like he’s writhing in the depths of hell, and the fan blowing his long hair around so it was almost on end. The heart stopping bit where he breaks down, and you think, Oh no! He’s really upset, and those childlike yippees, when you know the darkside of Tim is just an act and he’s really not that dark after all. It was just brilliant: that song alone was worth the price of admission!

Darkside did have its technical glitches, and of course they made the performances all the more memorable. On the first night, the smoke machine didn’t start when it was supposed to; Tim pointed at it while looking up to someone, (I assume to press the remote trigger switch). On the second night the on-stage lights turned multi-coloured before he had time to get back to the piano, and when the lights were still supposed to be red. Tim made the lighting guy change the lights back to red and then back to the normal colours at exactly the right moment. He said something about having to start the show all over again because the lights had been stuffed up: and I’m sure none of us would have minded one little bit!

This was also my first time seeing the classic anthem Canvas Bags, and it was fantastic. The moment with the fan when he self-consciously makes sure his shirt is billowing nicely and hair is catching the breeze properly, it makes me laugh so much.

Apart from Canvas Bags and Darkside there were two more old songs that I had not seen live before; one of them was If You Really Loved Me; I squealed a bit on the inside when I recognised it! This song was totally unexpected and Tim played a beautiful bit of piano randomness before it, so at first we didn’t know it was coming. Tim really bashed at the piano during parts of this song. I love it when he plays so passionately, although it must hurt his fingers. He also played the piano very forcefully during The Song for Phil Doust. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see the hands properly on either night, as I was slightly right of centre; left of centre is the place to be to watch the hands in action.

Our encore on both nights was White Wine In The Sun; this was my first time seeing this song performed live as he played Drowned as the encore for his Brisbane Comedy Festival shows back in March 2009. Anyway, on both nights I teared up during White Wine, as I knew I would. I had guessed that Tim might play that song, as it was December after all, and this was his Christmas song; still I wasn’t properly prepared for hearing it live. Later on that night when I read in the souvenir booklet that he’d spent a whole day sobbing while writing that song, I welled up again: I’m such a sook.

On the second night as Tim was preparing to play White Wine, the smoke machine annoyed him because it kept puffing out smoke randomly. Tim seemed to think it was not good for people to be laughing at the smoke machine while he was performing a serious song, so he went to unplug it; but the connection was taped up, so he had to go to another place to unplug it, (I assume it was where the extension cord was plugged in). However, the smoke machine still kept puffing out smoke! I know they do this because my hubby’s a DJ and until a smoke machine cools down, it will still hiss and spit out puffs of smoke every now and again. Anyway, Tim ended up milking the situation for more laughs and got on his hands and knees and pushed the smoke machine off to the side of the stage, (left). We were all in hysterics by this time, so he decided to eke out the laughs a bit more by pretending to remove, or adjust the light nearest his piano, before sitting back down again to get serious for White Wine In The Sun.

So, on to the mishaps, there was an, “Oh! I fucked that up” during If I Didn’t Have You when he started singing the wrong verse. He picked it up again really quickly though. There were no wiggle wobbles or anything like that. The wiggle was very fast and reigned in tight, more of a shimmy I’d say? It got its own cheers from the audience… as it should: some of them may have come from me.

Technical things didn’t seem to agree with Tim in Brisbane. On the first night there was no sound from the keytar during Bears Don’t Dig On Dancing. He said, “not happy about this Paul” and then he had to urge the bear to dance as I think the bear was thrown by the lack of keytar and was standing there doing nothing, when effectively Tim was doing the same thing (until he gave up on the keytar and ran to the piano). After the song, he said he’d gone to a lot of trouble bringing that keytar all the way from the UK, with bags and children and everything, all for that one moment on stage… Then he said he’d actually left the children behind, implying that the keytar was more important than his own flesh and blood. So even when things were not going to plan Tim still got a laugh out of it.

Thankfully on the second night the keytar worked. This was the first time I’d seen him use it, as it was not a part of the show in March 2009: It was just brilliant. Tim stood on the bear’s chair, rocking out like some hot-rock-sex-god. The look suits him.

By the way, the bear was a plant on both nights and his name was Dane, (he also danced at the Brisbane Comedy Festival gigs in March). He spun on his head for absolutely ages; he’s a great break-dancer. Dane sat next to us at one of the shows in March; he said that a friend had given him the ticket, and he wasn’t sure whom he was seeing? He was such great dancer but not such a great liar. MAS.

On the second night the acoustic guitar wasn’t working for I Love Jesus. It was plugged in but no sound came out from the speakers. A manly tech-type guy came out and stood behind Tim and fiddled about behind him, trying to get something to work. “You’ve changed Evie,” said Tim, keeping his eyes straight ahead to the audience. (He’d introduced us to the lovely Evie earlier as she put the guitar strap over his head from the right hand side of the stage). But still even after being fiddled with by the tech guy, there was no sound from the speakers… Tim started singing a couple of random things; I think there was Cym By Yah? (but I’m not sure and I don’t know how to spell it,) and there was definitely The Lion Sleeps Tonight. In the end Tim gave up on it and ran back to the piano, grabbed his vocals-microphone and stand from there, and set them up front of stage so the microphone was in front of the guitar; then he called himself a genius and carried on with I Love Jesus.

Storm was mesmerizing and perfect on both nights, and I don’t remember any mess-ups during The Good Book, The Song for Phil Doust, Confessions or Prejudice, have I missed any out? Oh yes, Ready For This: How could I forget that? It was great on both nights, although I think he rocked harder on the second night. In fact I think the second night overall had a better vibe. I’m not sure if this was because the first night was Tim’s first show after a break from performing, or because the venue was only about three quarters full on the first night, but the show definitely ‘popped’ more on the second night.

Oh, talky-bits, I mustn’t forget those. There were big changes in the talky-bits since March. The autistic fashion designer, the New York deli, and the coin in the mouth talky-bits had all disappeared. I loved the coin in the mouth routine, but I suppose Tim had his reasons for dropping it. Now, in place of that material there was all this new stuff about causal correlation and the importance of words. Of course now I’ve heard all these new talky-bits, I now understand all the references on the forum to Mr Whippy, and new user names such as Wit Of The Staircase now make sense!

So, on to after-show shenanigans – because the venue is huge, probably 2000 seats or so, we knew there wouldn’t be any organised signing of merchandise; the queue would have been a mile long. So we made our way down to the stage door along with a couple of other Feeters. There weren’t many people waiting, maybe 20 or so? We managed to talk to Tim for a while on night one. He said it was Paul’s 30th birthday (which he had also mentioned during the show) and he couldn’t stay for long, so we tried not to hog him for too long.

I did say to Tim, had we been nearer the front he could have picked on my daughter, seeing as her name is Sarah and she’s 17. Smac is also a Sarah – and she is 17. What are the odds on that?

Before he went I did ask to give him a hug, and as usual he replied, “I’d love a hug.” He’s so generous with his time and hugs. It felt all the more precious as I feel there may soon be a time when he won’t be able to do that any more.

Because Tim was in a hurry I didn’t ask for autographs or a photo, but before he went on his way I did tell him to get Paul or whoever, to fix the interval song as it was skipping and jumping quite badly. I joked that this made it even more annoying than it already was, and he said that maybe he should leave it as it is then, but he wrote it on his hand, and it was fixed the next night.

On the second night my daughter got a lovely photo of herself and Tim taken by another Feeter (yet another Sarah, Tim certainly attracts a lot of Sarahs) and she got some things signed.

So that was it for me. I won’t be seeing Tim again until the next time he comes to Brisbane. One day I might make it to the Melbourne Comedy Festival, but until then I remain a geographically challenged Tim fan and I will wait patiently until he comes back to Brisbane again.