Word Constipation

24 11 2014

I’ve stopped writing.

That is, I write all the time but nothing of true personal meaning. All day numbers tumble from my fingers into spreadsheets, I reference international standards and local guidelines, I describe measurement setups, weather conditions and ambient noise conditions – but I don’t write for me anymore. And I miss it.

Is it phalange burn-out,  Digiti Manus accentus? Perhaps.  It’s certainly not for lack of things to say. I have a heap. And they are going increasingly unsaid.

I started this blog when I moved to the UK in 2008, so I could easily share photos and stories with friends and family back home without clogging inboxes and facebook feeds. I was pretty militant about posting too – I think I averaged once a week or so. Not bad.  And then life gets busy, especially after leaving London for the craziness of working in Singapore, and the blog got less and less love and attention.

I was ok at giving little shoutouts to exciting events, a wedding here and a birth there, but the front page was beginning to look more like a tired old office noticeboard with month old newsletters hanging precariously by the one remaining push-pin left after the others had been stolen for newer but equally impersonal announcements. The creative component of creative writing had all but dried up.

Often there was a flurry of posting activities around the end of the year when I get my ‘this year’s stats’ update from WordPress and I cringe at my lack of commitment. And I wanted to do my sister’s wedding justice by blogging the event day by day – but despite my best intentions we’re still only at her hens night, and her second anniversary is this weekend and there’s already a nephew on the scene yet to get some wordpress airtime!

So why the hold up? I guess part of it is that I spend a lot of time in front of a computer at work and the idea of getting home to do more of that is not often attractive. Certainly starting that Wedding series was a creativity killer – I felt I couldn’t add more content until I’d finished the series for fear of interrupting it (as if the multiple-month breaks in between the posts weren’t in themselves interruptive!). Partly its that I write with the hope that the words get read, and if someone is going to invest their time in reading the words I should make sure they are worthy.

Worthy words are hard because worthy words take thought and rereading and revising and rearranging until the words are just as they need to be. Emotive but economical. I like my thoughts to be clear and hard to misread – a combination of technical writing skills to avoid being sued and navigating the tricky waters of eRelationships where tone of voice is lost and words on a screen are all we have. Probably also that I stumble over words when speaking – particularly if they are ones of emotional weight – but writing lets me get the sentiment just right so I don’t come off as flippant or uncaring like I can in speech.

And so why now? Did I discover some sort of literary fibre supplement? nope. A few reasons:

One is reading the Amanda Palmer book ‘The Art of Asking’ and loving the conversational way in which she writes and how it echoes my own written ‘voice’ and how even if there is no groundbreaking thoughts or thrilling stories, it can just be nice to read some words from someone whose writing you enjoy. The words don’t need to be profound to touch or resonate or give you a reason to say ‘hey, good post. we should catch up’

Secondly, one of my bosses filled out and circulated a ‘getting to know you’ survey and alluded to his interest in books and music and talked about dreaming of being a creative writer – it was strange what an impact it can have to be reminded that all of us on that corporate wheel, no matter our position or our success or our office demeanor, feel guilt over not doing the things we enjoy and letting our hobbies fall away in preference of ‘getting shit done’.

Lastly, I’ve been a horrific communicator recently. I’m always so busy, whirling like the Tasmanian Devil in the Warner Bros cartoons from job to measurement to meeting to job, and the quiet space isn’t there to use. And I need that space, because I need to hone my words, and not getting that space means I don’t get the words the way I want them which means they go unsaid which makes me feel like an asshole. I had a good friend tell me her mum was unwell recently and it took me 4 days to get back to her with ‘the right words’ and I hated that because I didn’t want her to feel forgotten or uncared for while I struggled for quiet time, unable to compose a quick reply which carried the concern and love across the screen that I wanted to show. My uncle recently sent a text which was beautiful talking about the gratitude he feels for being a part of our wonderful, supportive extended family. I know this text would have taken time because he is similar to me and likes to craft the words to just right, and I still haven’t sent back a reply because a ‘yep, you too’ just won’t cut it. But now its much later, and while I’m sure he knows that the same love and gratitude flows both ways, I feel like I’ve missed the boat to reply to it properly so instead I carry around this little guilt niggle about a job still undone, an important deadline missed. And these are just the two recent examples that have come to me right now as I sit here. There are countless other notes I wish I’d sent, texts I wish I’d replied to, emails I compose in my head but don’t get written and stories unshared – and it gets worse the busier I am at work because there is no energy left to give to writing and sharing and thanking and loving.

So thankyou for sticking through the writing constipation and for just trusting that the words are there for you even if they are stuck inside my fingers yet to find their way to paper or screen. And I will try to get better at just writing, sharing, replying and making time even if work life is busy.

I’ll try to start writing.





S&B Wedding – Part 1, The Bucks Party

29 01 2013

And so begins a short series on my sister Shannon and her wedding to my new brother-in-law Brendan in November last year.  

Too much happens around a wedding to condense it into one single post, particularly a ‘destination wedding’ like this where people flew in from all corners of the world to attend. 

To kick things off in real style I’m starting off with the coverage of the bucks night with the help of a very special guest author – my dear old Dad, Durham!

Here we go…:

I was quite chuffed when Brendan invited me to his bucks party. As well as being an ideal opportunity to meet my future son-in-law’s friends and family in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, it was also a great way to study first-hand how the buck’s party has evolved over the last 35 years … (I felt like David Attenborough about to observe lowland gorillas in their natural habitat, forgetting that I might actually be perceived by them as an old silverback trying to protect his family from a raiding party of rogue males)

The last buck’s party that I can recall attending was my own back in 1978. Buck’s nights in the 70’s were a very basic affair – 20 blokes would turn up with huge quantities of long necks and cans … (back when VB tinnies were actually made of steel and could be consumed in under 2 seconds by ripping the ring pull from the can, inverting it and quickly piercing the base with a can opener) … and everyone would just drink themselves blind. To lighten up the night, someone would do party tricks like removing the tops off beer bottles with their eye socket, and then when things got boring the groom-to-be would get his balls covered in toothpaste – (an old boy scout trick). In the morning (and with scrote still burning), you fought the urge to either barf or squid yourself as you cleaned up the flat which was almost as trashed as you were. All quite simple really …

The modern buck’s party has become a major logistical (not to mention expensive) exercise involving multiple sessions of organised fun and acts of blokey bonding … (but still observing the time-honoured tradition of consuming excessive amounts of alcohol). The plan for the day involved a 7:30am start (in reality it was closer to 8:30am!) for a bus-ride beyond the burbs to play paint ball, back on the bus to go to a nearby pub for lunch and a couple of beers, followed by another bus ride to play nine holes of Supergolf and visit a micro-brewery, then back on the bus to Brendan and Shannon’s place for more beers served by novelty beer-maids, before moving on to the “Paddo” for dinner and more beers … and did I mention that we had a couple of eskies filled with beers for all the bus legs?

For anyone who has contemplated playing paintball but not got around to it yet – it REALLY hurts! The rules are simple, if you get shot anywhere on the body (except in the head) you are officially out of the game and are supposed to put your hand up and leave the field of combat until the next game. Unlike real warfare, head shots don’t count! You can get hit in the head as many times as you can stay un-concussed and keep on firing at the other team (or occasionally “killing” your own team members with some poorly-aimed friendly fire!) Before even one shot had been fired, I was betrayed by Brendan and Michael (my son) who both waited for me to pick a side so they could join the opposing team and shoot me wherever and whenever possible. They didn’t necessarily want me out of the game, so took great delight in shooting me in the head as often as possible – a cowardly act, as I have an undeniably large head and make an extremely easy target.

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My only chance at revenge against my future son-in-law was the “buck’s run” – where the groom, best man and groomsmen are forced to run without cover in front of a firing squad. Tempted though I was to obliterate Brendan’s wedding tackle with rapid-fire paint balls, I had to be satisfied with shooting him in the lower back in order to maximise pain without reducing my chances of having a grandchild one day.

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Supergolf is an interesting game – but unlike paintball, it is relatively pain free. As someone who sucks at normal golf, I enjoyed playing a game that is such an equaliser. Brendan and Michael may have managed to beat me on almost every hole, but I was seldom more than 2 shots behind them. When teeing off, it was tempting to take a long run-up (Happy Gilmore style) when belting the crap out of the large plastic balls with a colour-coded set of Mickey Mouse’s golf clubs.

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At the end of a hard day of physical activities and sitting on the bus, it was clearly time for another beer. So the buck’s party relocated back to Brendan and Shannon’s place to finish off the afternoon. In order to make the experience more enjoyable, Glen (Brendan’s best man) had booked a couple of girls to fetch us beers for the afternoon. There is something about scantily clad girls handing you a beer that forces you to make strong eye contact and pretend to engage in intellectual conversation … all the while wondering whether we had really evolved very far from our primitive gorilla relations? (Eat your heart out David Attenborough!)





Watch this space…

28 01 2013

some big posts on the way – celebrating and commemorating the huge events of 2012.

…even a surprise guest blogger to help me out with one of the posts!

bate your breath people and keep it that way for a short while.





Welcome to 2013 and 10 new year resolutions

21 01 2013

Happy 2013 everyone!

As is traditional, this is the time of year to make promises to yourself about life improvements to be made. While we all know that they tend fall by the way-side pretty soon after an enthusiastic few weeks in January, lets not focus on that right now!!!

I’ve come up with 10 resolutions for 2013.  I’m hoping that by sharing the resolutions:

  • I will feel a little more committed to them than if they were private resolutions;
  • that there will be offers of support and suggestions to help me succeed from anyone who reads this; and
  • that anyone who might share a resolution listed here tells me and joins me – more chance of success in numbers!

So, with that – here are my 10 resolutions for 2013.

1. More Blogging

I received an email titled “Your 2012 year in blogging” from WordPress on the 31st December.  This was an annual report of blog activity for this site which gave posting stats, visitor stats, comment stats – all that jazz.

My results were pathetic to say the least!! If you’re interested in the report it should be accessible here – you can see if you are one of my two commenters for the year (spoiler alert: if you aren’t one of my parents, you’re not.)

I posted 3 times last year! 3 times?! terrible.  One of the posts was my Singapore 30th Party and two were about Crowd Funded art. Not to say they weren’t good – but in such a big year with so much happening it’s a pretty pathetic attempt at documenting what I’m up to – this blog is supposed to be part-journal, part lazy-way of staying in touch with international friends and family without resorting to cluttering people’s facebook feeds.  Having said that, there has been travel, babies, marriage, music, death and work, work, work in the year and none of it has been reported. I’m sorry!

There are a couple of excuses I use for not blogging.  The first is that I’m busy, really busy! The second is that I typically spend at least 8 hours in front of a computer a day for work and therefore very rarely do I turn on a computer at home, even if it is for leisure reasons. The last excuse is that I like my posts to be well written, well laid out and thoughtful – even if the topic or content is trivial – so writing in a hurry or when tired or distracted doesn’t work so well for me.

But this year I commit to writing more often, blogging as things happen and even trying to write up some of the stuff that happened in 2012 as a sort of penance for my slackness and to get me back into the habit of writing. I really do enjoy the writing process and the writing I do at work is so dry and technical (as is necessary of engineering reports) that it’s nice to have this creative outlet – plus, I LOVE reading other people’s blogs so its nice to be part of that community. In the meantime I’ve added a blogroll of my favorite reads on the right hand side of this blog, so if want to read blogs by my friends or just random ones that I enjoy reading its worth a click through…

2. No More Floordrobe.

hoarder bedroom

This isn’t actually my room – I took this photo from a site discussing upcoming episodes of a TV show on the topic of hoarders – but it might as well be my room.

You wouldn’t know it from my reliably poor fashion choices, but I’m definitely a try something on/critique and assess/discard/try something else before going out kind of girl.  In these manic clothes-trying sessions the discarded clothes land on my bed  and eventually transfer to a nearby available horizontal space, be it a desk, chair or nearby patch of floor. And the cycle repeats until my wardrobe is empty and I can’t navigate through my room between the door and the bed – then a big clean up, dust hayfever for days, mass laundry session and we start all over again.

I recognise the pattern! I know it happens, I don’t like it happening and yet off it goes again…!

This year I’m going to make a conscious effort to avoid this – there are a few techniques I plan to employ – the first and key technique is a MAHOOSIVE culling of clothes, if it doesn’t fit, if its stained, torn or tired looking, if it doesn’t sit right, look right, feel right its out. I have far too many clothes, many with their slight imperfections (which are usually the reason I need to go through the clothes-trying session rather than purely in the name of fashion), and it gets easy to get too messy.  There’s lots of reasons for the number of clothes. A lot of it was accumulated when I did well with weight loss over the past couple of years – there were brands and shops that I had never been able to buy at that all of a sudden I could wear, no longer trapped in an endless cycle of mumus and kaftans – so I went shopping crazy, Forever 21, H&M, Dorothy Perkins, Cotton On, all fashionable but cheap stuff that would already look a little tired after a wash or two – it was Primark all over again! This all feeds into the next resolution…

Aside from disposal of a good chunk of my wardrobe I guess it’s just down to getting it clean and then keeping it that way as I go – no more transferring from bed to other surface, it goes back in the wardrobe or in the wash – time to take a harder line!

Any other tips for a naturally messy person???

3. Quality, not Quantity

This sort of leads on from the previous point as far as material possessions go – but relates to other aspects also I suppose, food, alcohol. Anything really!

I commit to choose quality and not quantity.

Less STUFF, and good stuff. No more false economy of cheap and disposable. Well tailored designer shirt instead of 15 multi-buy tops from H&M. Do you know how many pairs of $10 Rubi ballet flats I have bought this year? It must easily be 10-15 pairs. They break down so quickly. Why didn’t I just buy a proper pair of leather, crafted shoes for that money? so my wardrobe shall consist of only high quality clothes that fit well and will last forever. (Although if I’m thinking designers then resolution #9 becomes even more important – you ever seen a Size 18 Alexander McQueen dress?? didn’t think so)

A really nice bottle of wine or glass or two of scotch instead of like 6 bottles of beer from Aunty Tiger at the VIP tent and a THUMPING headache the next day.

One really nice dinner out vs a whole lot of crappy take-away meals.

That sort of thing.

How to stop the impulse buys? How to focus on this??

4. Embracing the Crafterlife

In 2012 I took up a couple of hobbies as I felt like my life consisted of nothing but work and sleep.  I started attending a dressmaking class at Spotlight with Vivien and LOVED making my own dresses – this was my first dress, Vivien is the timid little lady next to me:

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From there I went on to tackle a jacket, more dresses and an unsuccessful attempt at a pair of trousers.

The lessons gave me such an appreciation for fabric and cut and tailoring of clothing. I spent weeks labouring over my jacket and I can step into H&M and pick one up for like $39. How depressing. I loved the freedom of being able to choose my own shapes and prints too (the 50’s style robot print dress is a real crowd-pleaser). Its something I’d really like to keep going with and learn a bit more on the pattern creating and technique side – for something which is seen as flippant as fashion there is such engineering behind it – like a big flexible puzzle that will move one way or another depending on what material you use and which way you cut across it.

The other craft I was introduced to was knitting. My friend Hannah was working on a knitted gift for a friends baby and invited me over one afternoon to hang out. I didn’t want to feel left out of the whole knitting thing so I bought a ball of wool and some needles and Hannah started me off with a relatively simple but interesting looking cable-knit scarf. While a woollen scarf is not particularly useful in tropical Singapore, another friend was about to set off on an Antarctic adventure – supporting a group who were recreating Shackleton’s last voyage, so it became a gift. (you can track the progress here)

Here’s the scarf:

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I loved creating these things and gaining such appreciation for commercially available products. I’m already started on my next ambitious project – which I keep messing up, much to Hannah’s frustration because she is my troubleshooter. I’ve loved learning these skills from people too. Having dress-making and knitting taught to me by skilled women I admire, it’s a wonderful thing. I hope to be good enough some day to pass the knowledge along to someone new.

This year I want to make sure I put time aside to work on crafting things I love with my hands. Bringing something unique into the world and bonding with others while I do it. So bring on the Crafternoons, bring on the Sitch’n’Bitch. Bring on both Etsy and Regretsy.  To have things that someone has really toiled over, whether the end result is good, bad or mediocre, is a special thing.

5. Work hard, Play hard

This one is short and sweet. It’s essentially work/life balance.

I’m aware that being single and without children I am pretty much committment free. I don’t need to rush out the door at 5.30pm to tend to anyone else’s need, I don’t have homework to help with, meals to prepare or other such demands on my time and attention.  While this freedom is definitely a good thing I find myself slipping into the idea of ‘well, I don’t have to leave early’ and I’ll take a more relaxed, less urgent approach to things at work – knowing full well that I can stay til whatever time I need to to get something done.

All this really means is that a report which could be done in a very focussed manner between lunchtime and rushing out the door at 6 still gets done, but I’m slower about it and wander out the door at 9 or 10pm.  I get home, go straight to bed, get up, go to work – feel tired and not particularly rested, so take my time in the afternoon knowing that I can stay late to finish off – and the whole thing turns again.

This year I’m trying to make myself leave at a reasonable hour – before 7 if possible.  Giving myself this arbitrary deadline is ideally focussing my efforts so I get the same result but have a few hours after work to myself (for crafting, being a more attentive friend and blogging if these resolutions stick!). Me going home on time should mean I feel more relaxed and ready for work the next day and therefore its easier to be focussed and efficient. I need to adjust the cycle so it works for me.

One of the things that might make it difficult is the tendency for people to be at work for long hours – I know when I do leave at any point before 7pm I feel like I’m skiving off work, being lazy, etc. because everyone else is still at their desks. I know that if I’ve got all I needed to done for the day and have put in good work then I shouldnt feel like this – but I guess its human nature. I don’t want to look like I’m not pulling my share of the load.

So two things – how do you ensure you get the right work/life balance in your life and not give in to that social pressure to stay later? And what are the best ways to really focus at work and avoid distractions. I’ve found writing out my to-do lists has really helped me target what I need to do, but are there any other tips/techniques that work for you?

6. No more Evil thoughts

I’m a cynical jerk.

I actually think this is one of my more interesting personality traits – and to be honest, I find the company of other cynical jerks quite enjoyable. Especially when they get just the right amount of humour/tongue in cheek unnecessary anger in the mix.

But I can be too cynical, too harsh to judge – writing off people if they irritate me slightly, behave like a dick or just generally rub me the wrong way. I can really carry anger at people, or on behalf of friends who may have been slighted. I can carry such levels of dislike. I typically deal with dislike by just avoiding these people and am rarely openly mean to people.  But I know, in this world you have to put up with jerks for the sake of other people who don’t necessarily think they are jerks.

Also – I guess that thinking people are jerks is a waste of energy and emotion, so the resolution is no more energy spent that way. Time to focus on finding the good in people or at least not carrying anger with me for no good reason! Indifference is the new dislike!

But dear friends that I actually really like, stick with me! I’m gonna need your help with this one! Overcoming my natural tendencies to judge and be annoyed at people for no real good reason is gonna be a toughie…

7. Repairing the Communication Breakdown

I’m a crap friend as far as staying in touch. I realised how crappy I am when my Facebook on my phone stopped working at the end of last year.  Without access to the lazy person’s solution to staying in touch I missed all sorts of important stuff in friends lives. Pathetic really. I learned that if facebook packs it in, I wont know whats going on with people who are important to me – and I’m talking good friends here! I shouldnt be completely reliant on facebook – what happened to phonecalls? Skype? Email? Letters…?

This isn’t new, but just cos it’s not new doesn’t mean I shouldnt try to improve so its my resolution to try to keep in touch via mediums outside of facebook – send emails to people, drop a text or a call and call me old-fashioned but I might even attempt to catch up in person!!! Actually  organise to meet for a coffee or a wine.

It’s crazy, but it just might work.

So if I’m being a crappy friend, if I’ve fallen out of touch for too long, feel free to call me out on it so I can rectify the situation. Drop me an email or give me a call so that I pull my finger out. But for the love of God, please don’t ‘poke’ me on facebook!

8. Save, Save, Save!!!

Ever since I bought my flat in Melbourne I’ve had no savings strategy at all. Partly because there was this feeling that owning property was doing the hard work for me and partly because I’ve been on a succession of short term contracts overseas – anywhere between 3 months to a year at a time. These short contracts leave me with the feeling of being in a temporary place, a sort of ongoing ‘holiday mode’ when it comes to money. This idea that ‘I may not be here for long so I need to make the most of it’.

I’ve had that holiday mode attitude for 5 years  now though and having been in full time employment the whole time I have nothing but holiday snaps and probably some liver damage to show for it.

This year I want to try to save some money – live a little more frugally and get a bit together saved in my account.  Whether this money goes onto my mortgage or towards a deposit for a new place or a car or, heaven forbid, just stays there in the bank – I want to try to have a little more discipline

I realise that this may seem to directly contradict some of the above items (i.e. quality, not quantity) but if you think about it, in the long term perhaps I’m better off. I’m sure one of the big wastes of money is the cheap/disposable lifestyle I’m used to. Cheap disposable shoes, clothes, etc. Had I just invested in something well made in the first place perhaps I would have been better off? Also, while I plan to buy better, I plan to buy less – so that should also limit the potential financial damage!

So what is a good savings strategy? What works? do you hide money in another account from yourself? Got a trust fund? A share portfolio? A financial panther? Give me your tips!

9. Bodyshop

Ok, so EVERYONE resolves to lose weight at New Years. But this is more than that – this is full body overhaul

No gyms though – treadmills are dangerous:

Weight loss is a big part of it of course. 12kg have crept back on since my lowest point in April – how pathetic! I’m still 13kg down since the start point, but still – how frustrating to have to back over that same ground again.  I’m doing this by being back at bootcamp 3 times a week. I do my boot camp with Rebel Bootcamp who are fantastic. The instructors are knowledgeable and inspiring – they know when to kick your ass and when to go easier and just gently encourage. They mix up programmes so it’s not like a stale gym routine. The camaraderie of the group is a big thing too – everyone is so encouraging of one another – there is competition and support all at once. I was really blown away by it all, especially being so out of shape and overweight at my first session – I was sure I’d be mocked and run off the field. Its hard work, but it gets easier.  The 6.30am start time is a killer (especially when you are NOT a morning person at the best of times) but once you’re up and out its ok – it also has the benefit of me not really being fully awake until about 7am, at which point I’m already halfway done! Plus its done for the day – my attempts at after work activities are so often thwarted by work and/or social commitments and there is such guilt when I flake out of them.  Finally, having done a session in the morning tends to make me eat a bit better through the day cos I don’t want to blow the hard work. Which brings me to diet…

I’m back on the calorie counting. Damn. Its hard and sometimes depressing – but I found it the best way to control diet and best way to drop weight. I use My Fitness Pal which has a website and phone app. The library is huge so it’s really easy to find the calories to add to your diary to calculate them all. It’s a challenge at first, but doesn’t take long til you know roughly what something will ‘cost’ you in terms of energy and you can make more informed decisions.  Theres a social aspect to My Fitness Pal too where you can connect with friends or random strangers who are on the same journey – if its something you want to try add me as a friend. The support really does help.

So that’s sort of the body aspect – the other bits that need attention are my hair and my skin. So, on with the night/day moisturisers by Shiseido again, and back to the hairdresser – lets cut it all off and start again!! hurray for no hair!

10. Somebody to Love

Ah Queen. I swear there’s a song of theirs for every mood and occasion.  But this one is a doozy – it resonates completely with this humble acoustician’s natural frequency – BONNNNGGGGG!! Particularly this bit:

I work hard every day of my life
I work till I ache my bones
At the end I take home my hard earned pay all on my own –
I get down on my knees
And I start to pray
Till the tears run down from my eyes
Lord – somebody – somebody
Can anybody find me – somebody to love?

Also the bit about having no rhythm in the next verse is kinda true…

Actually, it’s not strictly what I want. I don’t just want somebody to love – I’ve had that, so so many times – I’ve loved and loved and loved.  I am the QUEEN of loving, unfortunately its yet to be reciprocated – no one does unrequited relationships quite as well as I do.

But no more! This year I have a good feeling about life, the universe and everything. Come Dec 31 2013 and I will be ringing in the new year with someone special – it has to happen sometime, right???

So bring on the internet dating, speed dating, blind dating, whatever it takes.  So rack your brains people!





Questions for the artists out there…

13 05 2012

I love Amanda Palmer.

I have made no secret of this over the years. She is one of my favorite lyricists, a ‘music is for everyone’ approach performer and I have to admit – a pretty foxy liberated lady (I have a mega-girl crush on her!)

See what a cute couple we’d make??

From Bordeaux, January 2010

Ok – maybe not.

But discussing celebrity girl crushes is not what this post is about.

Amanda left her record label a few years back and now operates her business as a professional musican and performer through crowd-sourced funds, mainly using a website which deals purely in crowd-funding Kickstarter. She reaches out to the consumers who want her product (her fans) and asks them to pay in advance for the goods.

Her current ‘pitch’ is seen here in a Bob Dylan inspired video:

If you haven’t got time/patience for the video the summary is that  by pledging here you commit to pay money towards funding the recording, manufacture and distribution of Amanda Palmer’s new record. If you are a fan who just wants the new music as a digital download you can do it with as little as a$1 pledge. Although, if you think the artists’ work is worth more you can contribute more. In order to incentivise ( <– is that a real word? Sounds like management wank-speak) larger pledges, Amanda offers special bonuses depending on the amount commited.

Of course for the fans there is a risk associated with buying something sight unseen (or in this case, unheard) but she has a good back-catalogue, a proven history so therefore I suppose the potential risk for the backers is minimal. After all, people will line up for days to buy the latest Apple product without waiting to see what the reviews are as they have faith that the product will be good based on previous experience and general one-eyed fandom.

Amanda’s current campaign has garnered much internet attention and discussion. So far  it has passed her original campaign target of $100,000 six times over, with another two weeks still remaining in the funding period. It has broken all previous Kickstarter records.  For the most part, the online discussion is positive and even at times slightly awed. Some discussions are even already on the “she did it, and you can too…” wagon (including Forbes telling big businesses what they can learn from Amanda Palmer ). But interestingly, there has been quite a bit of pushback from some commentators, etc.  Such as this:

“the Internet has allowed artists and fans to have a more direct relationship, but it has also given artists a more direct way to shake their fans upside down for pocket change.”

Is that what is going on?

As a fan, and one who has contributed to this and previous kickstarter campaigns, I dont think I’m being “shaken upside down for pocket change” – becuase really it means I can give whatever I can afford to support an artist I admire and want to see more work from. In general, I try to send my dollar to the location where the creator will benefit most wherever possible (i.e purchase from gigs or bands own websites rather than the big machines like Amazon and the rest) – this seems a natural progression from that philosophy.

But I guess, in some way the answer to the quote above is “yes”. The internet has allowed better connection with fans and artists, and yes, it has also allowed a way for the artists to ask their fans for money (“shake them upside down for pocket change” is maybe a little strong).  But I suppose the question is – is that a bad thing? Is it even unusual? Is it all that different to buying a theatre package subscription with a theatre company at the start of a season – pre-paying future productions in good faith based on previous seasons? Or even different to buying sports season tickets – prepaying for attendance at all matches because you support that team based on history, even if you dont know how many of the games to come will be won. Is the offence caused by Amanda asking for money caused because she is a one-person operation or is it because the request is so blunt and blatant and not hidden behind more tasteful terms such as selling a ‘season pass’ or the like? (if anything, doesn’t the fact that an individual artist has no government funding or corporate sponsorship make it MORE ok for her to go out asking for financial support?)

The next question is – can this work for all people in creative industries? Is this, as Amanda promises, ‘The Future of Music’?

Before I go on, I should note that there are some marked differences in the way Amanda operates as an artist.  First off, she comes from a background of street performing where holding out your hat to the punters to unashamedly ask for them to pay for what they have just experienced is par for the course. Her description of this is discussed much more eloquently than my description in Amanda’s presentation to a Harvard crowd here:

However this asking the punters directly for money may not come as easy or as comfortably for some artists.

Secondly, Amanda is a tireless social networker – she blogs, she tweets, she facebooks – she stages ‘ninja gigs’, she hangs out after shows to mingle with the crowd. She has developed a legion of fans who feel they know her warts-and-all and have around the clock access to her. She has come to be viewed as a virtual friend to many and this I think is one of the keys to the bottomless support (financial and otherwise) of her fans – she has become everyone’s slightly kooky, but very talented, mate that you want to see really make it. This works for her, but obviously not for a more reserved, less-outspoken private artist who isn’t interested in being ‘All Access’ . Without that existing fan devotion, the model could potentially start to fall apart.

Finally, while Amanda started independently funding the first ‘Dresden Dolls’ album before getting signed, and while she works independently now – there was still a period of record company funded recording, touring, PR with Roadrunner records. While Amanda has certainly done the majority of the ground work building her brand through tireless interaction with fans and her strong artistic ethos, would she still be in the same position without having had that period of a corporate boost (even if it they did a pretty pathetic job of representing her as Amanda describes it)? I don’t know. But it does make me wonder if you can achieve the same heights from scratch with no industry backing at all. In this age of facebook, twitter and youtube and with break-out programs such as JJJ’s unearthed and places to showcase music such as SoundCloud, I like to think so.

I guess what  I wanted to ask my friends in creative industries; be it music, theatre, film-making, writing, etc. your thoughts on funding your work in this fashion. So, some questions to prompt you:

  • Is this ‘patronage’ model the future of the creative industry?
  • Do you think the consumers are ready for this ‘pay before we create’ model?
  • Can this crowd-sourced approach work from ‘nothing’ or do you always need a machine behind to get you started?
  • Have you or your fellow artists tried to use crowdsourced funding before? What was the experience?
  • Do you feel this method of fundraising a positive step for artists or is it a step in the wrong direction?

And to everyone –

  • Would you be willing to financially contribute to an artists future work sight unseen, based on the strength of their previous offerings, or do you prefer to wait until the new work is complete and make a call as to whether or buy or not then?
  • Have you ever contributed to a kickstarter, or similar, campaign before? Can you imagine yourself doing so in the future? What would be need to be on offer to make you spend your money in this way?




Old Hollywood in downtown Singapore

20 03 2012

Im turning 30 this year. It’s scary

Actually, Im turning 30 in two days. It’s scarier!

And after a mini-crisis at approaching 25 (oh, how i wish to be approaching 25 again) I wasnt sure how I’d handle the big Three-Oh. Still, instead of running and hiding I decided to grab it by the horns and step up to not only face, but embrace it.

Fact of the matter is that at 30 you have a much better grip on who you are and what you want. I have surrounded myself with people I choose to surround myself with , I have bought a little flat, I have lived across three continents, I am more confident in my work and feel comfortable in my (admittedly stretched, but slowly recovering!) skin. It is a better mentality than the confused early- and mid-twenties so it feels like a good beginning to a new decade.

also – I totally went to a psychic and it sounds like even better things are just around the corner – so I’m sure part of the serenity comes from that!

Part of my ‘grabbing 30 by the horns’ is making sure I usher it in with the important people in my life – and this means Celebrations of INTERNATIONAL PROPORTIONS!!  Beginning with an ‘Old Hollywood’ themed party in Singapore…

The venue was the very beautiful Divine Wine Bar in Singapore.  Its an incredibly art-deco themed triple height space which is so decadent and beautiful. It sits within Parkview Square – or what most people know as the ‘Gotham Building’ because it looks just like a set from the Tim Burton Batman films. Funny how many of my guests remarked that they had never been inside considering how iconic the building itself is.

Bizarrely despite being one of the most beautiful spaces in Singapore it is near empty on a Saturday night – last time I was there we counted about 12 people (including us) and on the night of my party there were maybe 15 people other than my group of friends. What a waste. I am assured that weeknights are busier with the local office crowd and a band that plays. Having said that, the customer service is not of the highest standard – even if they do ‘fly’ angels up to retrive wine from the 3 storey wine cellar – alike so:

Flying up to retrieve wine from the 3 storey wine cellar

The management are difficult to deal with too – telling me to “just order from the menu” when I asked if we could do a better price on some bottles of champagne  and food platters despite tripling their clientele for the night.  (although when I looked at the menu two-thirds were not in stock despite knowing they were expecting a large booking who wanted food…!? so fried chicken bits and somosas all round…!)

Anyway, for a casual drink in Singapore its a pretty sweet spot and I recommend dropping in some time.

Aside from earlier frustrations with management – the night was so lovely and I so appreciated everyone’s effort. I was so pleased that my friends who joined me bought into the ‘Old Hollywood’ theme. The costumes were great and completely in keeping with the surroundings – I couldn’t have been more pleased. My friend Hannah baked and decorated a themed cake too! Yum! The easiest way to summarise the night would be just to share a whole load of photos taken by my friend Xin – apologies to anyone not captured in this photo set, send me your pics so I can add them too!

Enjoy the glamour!

…and Melbourne? You’re next.





Merry Christmas!

26 12 2011

Hope you all had a happy, safe and enjoyable Christmas, filled with good food, good wine and good company.

20111227-033941.jpg

I had four days of too much to eat and drink and some really good times. Special thanks to Alma, Kate, Owen, Mardi, Key, Ben, Suan Wee, Alyssa and Patrick for their company and hospitality – you all made Christmas very special.

Now – who else is on the healthy eating and exercise again with me tomorrow?? x