"All sorts of entertaining" - Elizabeth Seckman

"Michael and his pals make me wish I lived in Adelaide" - Cherdo

"If I had a daughter, I'd send her to Australia to meet him (and marry him)" - Robyn Alana Engel

"An Australian version of me. Only younger. And Talented. And better looking. Okay, nothing like me." - Al Penwasser

"Whom must I fuck or pay to get a quotation at the top of your blog post?" - Janie Junebug

Monday, 31 August 2015

Giving Blood

Earlier this month I made the promise that I'd give blood, in an effort to do something grand and important. I've had a growing phobia of needles for a very long time. Bad stuff always seems to happen when I'm around them. My fear's gotten so bad that last time I had to have a blood test, I whimpered like a child and the doctor had to be very careful to calm me down. I've always wanted to give blood (and even have once before - prior to the phobia's onset), but for years I've delayed going again.

I decided I needed a friend to help keep me accountable, so I sent messages to some people that I know give blood regularly. One of them said he was free and we made a booking. On the day, we had lunch across the road in Westfield. Then it was time to go and the nerves started to settle in.

I was greeted by an older lady who knew my friend by name. He donates regularly and keeps a running tally. He's into the triple-digits now. The lady gave me a form to fill out and we sat down so I could do it. They were very detailed questions - have you been to North Queensland in the last six months, have you been overseas in the last two years, have you ever been diagnosed with hepatitis in any form, are you currently on a prescription for Ankyloriamin Five... I ticked "No" for all of the boxes and then waited to be called, the nerves - and subsequent laughter - still growing as I watched people relaxing in beds with tubes sticking out of their arms. I don't know if it was the nerves or what, but I started making mistakes on my form.

Let's see, country of birth... Michael. Wait, what?

I was starting to feel phantom pinching in the crook of my arm.

After a solid half-hour, my name was called and I went into a side room for a preparatory interview. The first step was to take my blood pressure. The nurse wrapped a sphygmomanometer around my arm and it started to inflate, tightening in order to constrict the veins. At this point, more nerves turned into genuine fear and discomfort. I could feel the blood in my arm struggling to pump its way through the constricting velcro strap and it was freaking me out. I started sweating and fidgeting wildly. Even as the strap deflated in increments, it only served to give me a split second of relaxation and then tense up again when I realised it wasn't over. The nurse was busy on her computer and didn't seem to notice. Eventually she got her reading and the strap deflated.
'That's good, you've got nice healthy blood pressure,' she said without realising the irony. Then she got out the tiny pinprick needle that would be used to test my blood sugar. I grabbed my hand and as she placed in on the underside of my middle finger, I shut my eyes.

This time she did notice. As she squeezed a drop of blood out, she asked my if I was okay.
'Yeah it's fine, I've just got a phobia of needles,' I replied. The nurse's face dropped.
'Oh. Well if that's the case, I don't think we should be taking blood from you...'
'Oh it's okay, I'll deal with it,' I said. 'I've had loads of blood tests before.'
'This isn't like a blood test. The needle is a lot bigger and stays in for ten minutes.'
'Yeah I know, I've given blood before.' The nurse hesitated. She could see on her computer screen that this was true. But I felt that complete honesty was vital here.
'The phobia hadn't really set in by then...' I conceded.
'Ah yes,' said the nurse reanimating. 'It's a lot worse now. I can feel how clammy your hands are. We just can't risk you having a freak-out or collapsing during the process.' Now I was the one to hesitate. Is that what's meant to happen with a phobia? Had I jumped the gun with my self-diagnosis and caused a big worry for nothing?
'I've never collapsed or anything,' I said quickly, and then the honesty thing kicked in again. 'Well, there was one time, but it wasn't out of fear. I'd fasted too long before a blood test and they had to take a lot of blood.'
'I'm going to have to call the head nurse,' she said and leaned out of the door to call over an older, sterner-looking lady with glasses and her grey hair in a bun. The first nurse explained everything she'd heard so far.
'Yeah, I don't think we can go ahead,' she confirmed. Even this sterner nurse was looking at me with concerned eyes clearly seeing that "No" wasn't what I wanted to hear. I'd come all this way trying to try and overcome my fear (and do a good thing). I wanted to try and overcome this unexpected obstacle without being rude or argumentative.
'It's an undiagnosed phobia,' I offered. I just assumed that my level of fear was irrational.
'What happens to you when you have to deal with them?' asked the senior nurse.
'I just get... really, um... scared.' That sounded pathetic. 'Last time I had to get a blood test I was whimpering and I felt this phantom pain where the needle went in for a few days afterwards.'
'That sounds dangerous to me.'
'Maybe, but I can push past nerves,' Both of the nurses looked at each other as they considered that point of view. I decided I'd done all I can. 'My vote is to go ahead with it,' I said, leaning back in my chair. 'The rest is up to you.' A long moment's pause, then...
'I think we're going to have to say no.'

I slumped, defeated, before getting out of my chair and making my way to the exit. The nurses apologised and assured me that they'd love to take my blood, they just couldn't risk it. Frankly, I didn't care. I was looking forward to not only conquering a deep fear, but doing something which could probably save another person's life. Now I'll have to find other ways to do both.

Friday, 28 August 2015

AFL Shenanigans Round 21: Drug Habit

I have a sneaking suspicion that Matt's trying to weasel his way out of as much as possible too. He's a much better sport than Dimi, but he does fall back on the excuse of "That wouldn't make a good video" a bit too often. This week, he eventually agreed to snort some Wizz Fizz - a classic Australian sherbet treat.


Monday, 24 August 2015

James

Misha Gericke has just released her latest book in the War of Six Crowns series. It centers around Callan, who has been shipped from foster home to foster home, not really fitting in. She discovers a magical world which comes along with some powerful secrets. I got the chance to interview James, who is her current foster-brother. He's a moody individual; Very guarded and secretive. But after several days of interviews, he finally gave me something to work with (albeit with a little help from Misha).

Michael: Okay James, would you like to tell us where you were at the end of the last book?

James: I was being dragged underwater. *scowls* It sucks exactly as much as you'd think.

Michael: Good grief! How on Earth did you get there?

James: This weird chick called Rhea sent some thugs after me and they put me underwater to send me to her. She uses water to summon people or send them places.

Michael: And what do you suspect Rhea will do when you arrive?

James: Make me wait for Phipps. *scowls* He's an asshole.

Michael: I see... How long have you been in this magical world?

James: I don't know. But I'm certainly not leaving any time soon.

Michael: Why's that?

James: I... *sad little laugh* I got my foster sister killed.

Michael: Oh I'm so sorry... How did it happen?

James: *sighs* Well, I tried to get her expelled from school. It failed, and she went to this castle near our school to wait for the dust to settle. As my luck would have it, some barbarians from this world kidnapped her. So she's either dead or wishing she is, and there's no way for me to find her.

Michael: What would you do if you found out she was alive?

James: I'd find her in a heartbeat.

Michael: No matter what cost?

James: *frowns* What sort of question is that? It's not like I can just leave her out there!

Michael: But it seems awfully dangerous. You could lose your own life as well as hers.

James: *stares* It's not like I can cal the police here. There's no one else to handle this. There's me and there's Ward and there's Phipps and that's it. If we don't find her, she's dead. And then I might as well be. Have YOU ever tried living being responsible for someone's death? It's something I'd do anything to avoid. Even if it might get me killed too. Do I want to survive this? Sure. But not nearly as much as I want to not be hated for this.

Misha: James...

James: Yeah fine, I know. Well, she's dead now so I don't get to make that choice anyway, do I?

Misha: Sorry Michael.

James: Don't you DARE apologize for me.

Misha: Jeesh okay, but chill out.

James: *glaring into the distance* Next question please.

Michael: Um, okay... Tell me about Ward? What does he mean to you?

James: It's complicated. My parents are his guardians, but he's mostly my friend.

Michael: So he's like your brother?

James: *guarded* I guess...

Michael: Why so secretive?

James: Not secretive, it's... Next question.

Michael: Um, sure. *nervously shuffles papers* What was your childhood like?

James: I don't want to talk about it.

Michael: I get the feeling you don't trust me yet.

James: *shrugs* It's nothing personal. I don't talk about it to anyone.

Michael: Something must have happened that caused you to be so guarded.

James: Good guess. *crosses arms*

Michael: May I ask?

James: *makes a face* I don't want to talk about it.

Michael: Are you sure? Maybe I can help.

James: No, you really can't. It is what it is. I've accepted that it won't ever change. It's not something that can be fixed.

Michael: Was it your fault?

James: I. Don't. Want. To. Talk. About. It.

Michael: Alright, fine. What are your hopes and dreams?

James: Uh... I'd like to see the world one day. Our world. Earth.

Michael: As in travel?

James: *keeping eye contact* ...Yeah.

Michael: Have you traveled before?

James: Yeah. Mainly Europe with my family.

Michael: So you're close with your family?

James: No.

Michael: Oh. Strained relationship?

James: *thinks it over* Complicated. They give me lots of stuff and money. Take me on family trips. I guess they feel they have to because I'm blood. Other than that, they vastly prefer Ward.

Michael: What makes you think that?

James: I grew up watching them give all the attention they didn't give me. They only ever care about his opinion.

Michael: That seems awfully strange. Why would they value Ward's opinion over yours?

James: *pain flashes through his eyes and he looks away* We're back to that thing we're not talking about.

Michael: This mysterious thing that happened in your childhood?

James: Yes. *knee starts twitching* So yeah, now that I've lost my foster sister, I don't think I'll bother to go home again.

Michael: Wait, what? You're just going to leave your parents? Throw away your future?

James: *becomes still* Do you really think my parents will miss me? Really? As for my future, I'm seeing some more years of absolute bullshit and guilt trips in front of me. I have enough of my own issues to deal with, so I think it's better for me to do so without having my parents load some more onto my shoulders. If you don't mind.

Michael: Where will you go?

James: As soon as Rhea lets me out, I'm going back to Earth. Then I'm going to France. I'm going to get far away from all this, and I won't be looking back.

Misha: How will you pay for it all?

James: *rolls his eyes* You think I'm an idiot? Think a bit. What do you think I spent my huge allowance on? Nothing. It's invested, waiting for me to use.

Michael: I think your parents would miss you.

James: You don't know my parents.

Michael: You need to take some responsibility for your life. You're running away from your problems.

James: I think I'm done talking to you. *gets up and leaves*

Michael. *calling after him* You can't run away forever!

*door slams shut*

Here are the details of the book and its lead-in...

The Vanished Knight


The entity living inside Callan’s soul orphaned her at age eleven. By the time she’s sixteen, it’s ensured her being shunted from one foster family to another.

Her thirteenth foster assignment should be routine. Except... it's not. A psycho in medieval armor kidnaps her and she ends up in a magical world. There, she accidentally discovers a secret her parents had kept until the day they died.

Both actually came from this magical world, but left before Callan was born. To cover their tracks, they’d lied about everything. Even who they really were.

Driven to find out where she comes from, Callan’s trapped in a race for life and death. Walking away isn’t an option, but if she stays too long, the entity will find its next victim.

In this world where secrets are sacrosanct and grudges are remembered, finding the truth will be near impossible. Especially when Callan has her own homicidal little secret to deal with.

One with a taste for destroying her life.



The Heir’s Choice


After discovering her parents had kept a whole world secret, Callan races to discover her past. Not easy to do with an increasingly agitated entity living in her soul.

Going to her long-lost elvish roots should answer all her questions. Instead, she ends up in the middle of a nightmare.

The elves are on the verge of an apocalyptic war. Their enemy, King Aurek of Icaimerith, will only be appeased if Callan marries his heir. It’s either her life getting messed up, or an entire country’s lives lost. Simple enough, right?

Wrong.

Because when the entity wants the elves blotted out of existence, saving them gets taken to a whole new level of complicated.



Bio


Misha Gerrick has been creating stories long before she could write and is currently going after her dream of making a living as a writer.

If you’d like to see how that’s going, you can visit her on her blog (http://Sylmion.blogspot.com), where she also discusses all things related to writing and publishing.

Or, if you’d just like to know what she’s reading and get updates on what she’ll be publishing next (Sorry, no newsletter just yet.):

You can follow her Tumblr (http://mishagerrick.tumblr.com)
You can follow her on Twitter: @MGerrick1

And you can circle her on Google Plus: +MGerrick

Friday, 21 August 2015

AFL Shenanigans Round 20: Chicken Dance

We all tied this week, but we're still having troubles with Dimi. I spent so long trying to convince him that he could just take five minutes out of his day to film something on his phone that by the time I got to Matt's house for us to do our challenge, we hadn't even discussed what we'd do. With no time to prepare anything, I think we ended up making something pretty funny.


Monday, 17 August 2015

Community Cup

The Reclink Community Cup has been going in Melbourne for some years now. It's an annual charity Aussie Rules football match that's played between members of Melbourne's media and it's music scene. A couple of years ago it expanded to Sydney and this year, it began in Adelaide. Doing work at Fresh 92.7 meant I got to play for the media team, even though no one knows who I am. Trainings were held on Monday nights. But because I had to produce my show that night, I could never make it. Luckily, the show got cancelled three weeks before the game (priorities, right?). So I could get down to the last few trainings and ensure I earned a spot on the team.

I needn't have worried though. We had players pulling out of our team left, right and center. Either they had media commitments or they had injuries or (in a rare case), they just didn't want to pay the $50 registration fee. There was a point where we had to go on a last-minute recruiting drive or face forfeiting the game.

And personally, I faced other problems. I talked about the game to my friends, I spruiked it on Facebook where I tagged all the other people I knew who were playing... But somehow the existence of the game just seemed to fall on deaf ears. Multiple times I started talking about the upcoming game and my friend would stop me and ask "So wait, what's this game you're talking about?" My best explanation for this behaviour is that of the eleven people in this world that I consider to be true, close friends... two of them have any interest whatsoever in football. Of the other nine, one seems to take joy in not knowing even the simplest thing about it and two have an active dislike of the sport. It meant that no one was available to come and watch, which made me quite sad.

But enough of that, this is a happy post. The lead-up to game day was really exciting. It was held in Norwood Stadium, an arena that houses a professional football club and seats 22,000. It got air-time on Fresh and some other stations around Adelaide, both community and commercial. Channel Nine were also involved in some capacity. We even got digital footy cards made for each player in the game.

It's meant to say "No Refunds Please" under my name, but they forgot to put it on :P
We got there at about 11 in the morning and after receiving my socks and shorts, I went out onto the oval and had a bit of a run-around. Then I had a kick with one of the members of the opposition before going back inside and firing up with the rest of the team, who had all finally arrived.

Our captain Jay (another member of Fresh) told me I should get my ankles strapped. Not to alleviate an injury or anything, just as a precaution to help avoid one. The physio on hand thought that was a novel idea, but he agreed to strap both my ankles anyway. It felt more supported and less like I could bend it the wrong way.

After that was guernsey presentations. I'd chosen number 12 because it's a great number mathematically and also has religious meaning. Not many people got the number they wanted, so I was lucky. Then it was time for last-minute pep-talks and then out onto the field.

Us in the change room before the match.





This was the opposition - The Rockatoos

And this was our team - The Anchors - with captain Jay at the front.




Federal Minister Penny Wong opened proceedings.

This was our team manager Lauren. How cool does she look?

Paramedics on standby. Let's face it, we're all out of shape.
Here are some of the photos during the game.  


















The Rockatoos jumped out of the blocks early, but we stemmed the flow and were never more than four goals behind.



I surprised myself by playing quite a good game. I'd played one season of football for a club before and I would maybe get the ball once every three to five games. I couldn't mark (catch) the ball, couldn't kick and couldn't tackle. I was also much lower on confidence back then, which hindered my ability to work well with the rest of my team.

This time was different. I'd discovered skills which I didn't realise I had - particularly my ability to get the ball out of a big pack situation and get it out of there. I'd gone from having one possession every five weeks to having maybe 10 in half a game (we had a lot of players on the bench, which meant we had to swap regularly). One of the commentators new me as well, which meant that my name was one of the few that was called when I got the ball. Twice I managed to dodge would-be tacklers and break into space in a way that reminded me of my favourite AFL player, Port Adelaide's #9, Robbie Gray.


But did the photographers get any photos of my slick moves? Did they catalogue my endless running around the ground to play a part in every contest? Did they snap a shot of the certain goal that I managed to stop by leaping in front of the player just as she was kicking it? No. Instead, there was a moment where I grabbed the ball out of the middle, started running towards our goal, and saw a team mate to my left with an opponent between us. I tried to hand pass the ball over the opposition player to my team mate, but didn't get any height on it, so it went straight into the arms of the opposition, who turned and ran it back the other way. I swore and turned around myself to give chase...

And all the photographer saw was the wussiest attempt at a tackle of all-time.

There were a lot of antics later in the game. Some players started a brawl for fun and everyone else on the field joined in. I was standing on the other side of the field with a very short, butch looking girl from the other team. We saw the fight break out and she turned to me with a look on her face that said "Let's do this." She reached for the collar of my guernsey and I batted it away, saying things like "What are you doing?" and "I want to keep this later, don't rip it!" She gave up and ran over to the brawl to get her action fix.

You can see them all smiling.

There were also two separate streakers in the last quarter. The first one was wearing just a beanie and a scarfe wrapped around his genitals like a Sumo diaper. He also had a prosthetic leg, which was interesting. The other was a woman who was wearing underpants and a Darth Vader mask. She cut across my path - boobs flying everywhere - as I was running back onto the field from the bench. It caught me by surprise, but I didn't lose my focus on what was happening on the ball. I'm a professional.



Like I said, we were never more than four goals behind. And because we were behind, the umpires gave us as much help as possible. But we could never hit the lead and ended up losing by three goals.






After the match we all headed down to the pub for celebration drinks and handed out awards and thank yous. I added new friends on Facebook and we all shared stories from the day. I felt like a hero and I'm SO making sure that I'm back in my #12 guernsey next year.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

AFL Shenanigans Round 19: Very Slow Drinker

Unlike Matt, Dimi's trying to go through this challenge with as little effort as possible. He vetoed the majority of our challenge suggestions until he finally agreed to drinking a litre of milk. I thought he needed to harden up, so I took matters into my own hands.


Monday, 10 August 2015

Canberra Stories #2: Maestro

I may or may not have mentioned that the reason I went to Canberra was for Improvention, Australia's major improv theatre festival. I've been practicing improv since the beginning of December and have dived RIGHT into it. I think the fact that I traveled all the way to Canberra for a festival about it is testament to that.

I've really enjoyed being the new kid on the scene. People in Adelaide are always surprised that I've only been there seven months. They say I'm better than someone with that little experience usually is. One person even mentioned that it feels like I've been around forever. Going to Canberra was a different story. There were people at the festival from all over Australia and the world and some had been doing improv for longer than there's even been a scene in Adelaide. It also meant I didn't have any preconceptions about anything. You know in the Harry Potter series when everyone treats something with a significance that's completely lost on Harry (think mudbloods, parceltongue and the name Voldemort)? That's how I felt when people talked about the level of talent that was present at the festival. I heard all sorts of comments like "Lliam Amor is the best at what he does," "Dave Razowski is amazing, he's like nothing else you've seen," and no fewer than three people said "Dave Callan's coming? That guy's a powerhouse!" To me, they were all just names until I could form an opinion of my own. I liked having that mindset.

So each year, Improvention holds a competition called the Canberra Impro Challenge. It's a comp that runs over the length of the festival and uses a widely-accepted format called Maestro. The format typically involves 10-12 players, who are given numbers which are randomly pulled out of a hat by a director. The director will pull out an amount of numbers and ask the corresponding people to perform a scene. Those people will get scored out of five by the audience and once everyone's had their turn, the numbers are all dropped back into the hat and we start another round. At their own discretion, the director can eliminate the lowest-scoring players until only one remains - that player being crowned the Maestro. Anyone who's ever played will be quick to tell you it's an inherently unfair format. Weaker players can be carried further than they should by stronger players and stronger players can be eliminated quite early by being put with weaker players. It's a format that's designed purely to entertain the audience.

I was aware of this mindset the first time I tried Maestro back in February. But that did nothing to stop my competitive nature. I wanted to do really well and win. I did not do well and I did not win. I was eliminated in the first or second round in every heat I played and despite my awareness that it was meant to just be for the audience, I was disappointed.

I sent in an application to the Impro Challenge at this festival, but my application must have gotten lost. When the roster for all the heats was released, my name wasn't on it. I had a word with the comp organiser and he put my name down in case there was a cancellation or something. In the meantime, on the Sunday morning (the third day of my trip) I took my first workshop - a class on how to bring your A-game to a Maestro challenge.

It was an eye-opening class. The two instructors - Tim and Jenny - talked about how crazy the format is. We made a list of all the things you can randomly do in a scene that would get a reaction - laugh, cry, accuse your partner of something... they got progressively crazier - vomit, scream, become a pirate... and they talked about how combining some of those things can make it even more interesting.
'Like this one here. Try cleaning your glasses crying,' said Tim, who had a stereotypically "arty" look about him - tall, thin, a little tuft of hair on his chin and a woolen scarfe. We all nodded in recognition - that would be interesting. But the thing Tim said that stuck with me the most was about being mischievous.
'I'll play with the director,' he said with a wave of his hand. 'He or she will give me a game and I'll say "Nah that's boring, give me something else." Or I'll just come up and start playing a scene without waiting for the director to say anything. The audience loves it when you cause mischief.'
That made me realise what it really meant to "make it about the audience". The format itself is the entertainment, not the scenes played within it.

So cut to Wednesday morning, I'm having breakfast with a fellow Adelaide improviser named Jarrad. He's a good friend and a bit of a mentor in the scene. While we were eating, I got a group message on Facebook from Reid, the organiser of the Impro Challenge.
'Hi all. This is your 2-hour call for your Challenge heat.Make sure you're at the theater by 12 or as close to 12 as you can. Show starts at 12:30.'
I was shocked at being included in the message. Surely if I'd made it into a heat I would have been told? I sent Reid a private message.
'Hey just confirming, does this mean you managed to squeeze me in?'
'It sure does,' he replied.
'Awesome, thanks!'
I told Jarrad and he was very excited for me. Then he took a look at the list of recipients and that boosted his excitement even more.
'Wow, this is such a strong heat! Esther Longhurst, Nadine Antler, Kevin Yank, Casper Schjelbred...' By now I'd heard of or met these people and I agreed they were big names. Nadine and Casper had come all the way from Europe and I'd seen Esther perform in Adelaide in February and had a very high opinion of her. I was also performing with Maddy, who's one of my favourite improvisers from back home.

Another Adelaidian - Steve - came to join us at our breakfast table and Jarrad greeted him with 'Michael just won the impro lottery.'
'How so?' replied Steve.
'He's in today's Maestro heat. Look at some of the names he's performing with.'
'Impressive!' said Steve, scanning through the phone. Jarrad turned back to me.
'Wow, I wish I had the chance to work with these people. You should really cherish this as a learning experience.'
Me... well I was unimpressed. If the quality of the performers was so high, how on Earth was I going to win? I tried to get that thought out of my mind. It's about the performers, not the glory. But nonetheless I went into the theater at call-time pumped and eager to make an impression.

The show began and we all ran out from backstage to a small-but-enthusiastic crowd. We introduced ourselves and then sat to the side-of-stage waiting to be called. I was in the first scene. There were six of us (which is a lot for one scene) and we each had to get into pairs and talk one word at a time about the benefits of banning hot water. It was alright. It got laughs, but it was nothing too memorable. Our group got a three.

The second round arrived and again, I was called fairly early.
'Could I have numbers seven and... eleven to the stage please,' called the director Anna. I bounded centre-stage with the man in bib seven - a guy named Ben who was more experienced than me but not a huge name like some of the others.
'Now Ben, I want you to start off the stage...'
'Okie dokie.' Ben stepped to the side. I was now alone with the spotlight in my face.
'Michael, I'd like you to create the space of the scene,' said Anna. Create a door and use it, and that will be the space that you two play in. Does that make sense?'
'Absolutely,' I lied.
'When you're ready.'
I only had one possible idea of what she could mean, so that's what I did - I turned around, picked up an imaginary axe from a chair that happened to be there and walked to the back corner of the stage where I mimed chopping down a big tree. Well, mimed with sound effects. I watched it fall and then picked up a saw to start cutting it into shape when from behind me, Anna said
'Michael?'
'Yes?' I asked, snapping around and the audience burst out laughing. I looked genuinely confused about being interrupted.
'I didn't mean to actually make a door, I just meant figure out where to place the door and start the scene there.'
'Ah, gotcha,' I said to more laughter. The laughter died down and the crowd waited for me to begin. I picked up an imaginary completed door from the floor and drilled its hinges to an imaginary wall, drawing a few more snickers. I opened it and Ben came bounding up.
'Top o' the mornin' to ya!' he said in a great Irish accent.
'Not interested,' I replied and slammed the door in his face. The crowd laughed and the lights went out to signify the end of the scene. The laughter turned to applause as the lights went back up again. I hadn't really meant to do it. I learned very early on that while a cheap gag like that usually gets a laugh, it's destructive to the scene. Where is your partner meant to go after that? If our lighting guy wasn't savvy enough to step in, we would have looked pretty stupid. But then Tim's words rang in the back of my mind - "The audience loves it when you cause mischief." and I knew that just this once, I was doing the right thing. In that moment, I truly stopped caring about winning and just wanted to make the audience laugh. And by now, they were laughing at everything that was said.
'Okay Michael, you start off the stage. Ben, start the scene. We're going to get a proper scene out of you guys,' Anna challenged. Ben grabbed an imaginary chain and hoisted a roller door. I ducked my head underneath and said
'Top o' the mornin' to ya!'
'Not interested,' said Ben. He dropped the roller door. The lights went out. The crowd cheered. Lights back up. Ben and I stood over the director, daring her to give up. She did. I went back to my seat feeling triumphant. A third of the crowd wanted to give us a five, but the other two thirds voted for a one. It was the most divisive scoring I'd ever seen for a scene. But even though we ended up with a one, I was very happy. I was clearly going down, but in a fiery blaze of glory that was fun to watch. The round ended and the host of the show asked if there would be any eliminations.
'I'd like to, but I feel like that would be letting seven and eleven off too easy,' said Anna to more laughter. 'So we'll have a lightning round. Each of the scenes in this round will be no longer than a minute and they'll all be about dating.'
I'd been thrown a lifeline. Anna either knew I was new at this or had recognised what I was doing or both. I wanted to stay in, but this time it was only so I could play some more.

Pair by pair, each new team did their scene. There were some good scores and some bad ones, it was all very entertaining. I was last to be called this time and I happened to be paired with Jenny - the other instructor from that first workshop.
'Okay, this date is taking place in a fish and chip shop. Go ahead.' Recalling one of Jenny's teachings I decided to put on a pirate accent - for no reason other than that I think I can do a good one.
'So that's me life story,' I said. 'What about you?' A pause, then-
'I'll have the potato fritters thanks,' Laughter and lights out. It was very short, but very sweet. We got a three, which wasn't enough to save myself, but was enough so that Ben and I weren't the only ones eliminated. Jenny ended up winning the heat, which made me happy.

Days later - on the closing day of the festival - I was outside that same theater where people were coming out of a workshop. A young man named Emil saw me and came up to me.
'Hey Michael, you made a bit of an impression,' he said.
'I did?'
'Yeah in your Maestro heat. We were talking about the five types of scene you can play in a show. There was witty, narrative, physical, supportive and mischievous. Anna brought up the scene you played in your heat as the perfect example of being mischievous.'
'Wow, really?' I asked excited. I LOVE it when I hear that people have been talking me up. And again that night, a girl named Louise brought it up too.
'Looks like you made a splash,' she said in her faintly Irish accent.
'Yeah I guess so. I feel like that must have been my moment. The point that I really arrived on the scene...'

I'm certainly proud of myself for how that all went down, but the discovery that Anna had been talking me up made me realise some things.
1 - Anna had done a wonderful thing by allowing herself to be the bad guy. She did know I was new and selflessly allowed myself and Ben to come away looking like the heroes.
2 - Had Ben and Reid (who was working the lights) not gone along with what I was doing, the outcome would have been TOTALLY different in the worst possible way. I also had them to thank.
3 - My own shining moment had come about through the support of others. Sure I could be proud, but frankly, I needed to get over myself.


Friday, 7 August 2015

AFL Shenanigans Round 18: Coke and Mentos

Have you seen that effect that happens when you drop Mentos into Diet Coke? We wondered how it would look if it happened inside someone's mouth.


Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Facing Your Fears and Bonehead Bloghop


This week I've seen two things from other bloggers that have been really exciting.

Have you ever seen something inspiring and decided "I want to do that", but never got around to it? It happens to me all the time - probably once a week. But Sherry Ellis doesn't do that. The popular author of Mama Diaries watched my skydiving video from January 16th and said:

"Thanks for sharing what it was like. I'm definitely going to try that!"

It took almost seven months, but Sherry was true to her word. She got into the same cramped plane as what I had and got herself hurled out at 14000 feet. Click the link above to read about her experience.

While you're at it, check out Tamara Narayan, Author. Back in July, she answered our Question of the Month, which was "What are three things you'd do tomorrow if fear wasn't stopping you?" Tamara mentioned that she'd chickened out of a rollercoaster at Darien Lake. Describing it, it did sound pretty scary. But she still felt bad about it. So later in the month, she went back and she tackled her fear. It was every bit as scary as she thought and she hated it. But she still rode it and now she has the permanent privilege of saying she beat it.

Like I said, it's really exciting seeing people conquer their circumstances like that... And I want to see it more. Have a think about something grand you'd like to do. Something you'd like to do but are scared or something you just haven't gotten around to doing. It doesn't necessarily have to be something you've never done before - I donated blood once, but my phobia of needles has stopped me from doing it again. It just has to be something big but achievable. Write it in the comments section below, because putting it in writing makes it real. Try and achieve that thing by the end of August.

This applies to me too. By the end of August, I vow to give blood again. I've been putting it off for literally years while watching friends compete over how many donations they've given. I thought about doing it while I was in Canberra, and even grabbed a business card with the booking number. But I never got around to making the call. This month it's going to happen.

Don't force me to make my grand gesture alone. Join me and make this a month of self discovery and growth*

*If you can think of a name for the month too, that would be swell ;)


Monday, 3 August 2015

Question of the Month (August 2015)


There was a bit of a mix-up this month. It turned out that the question I put out on my last post was different to the question I emailed out to everybody. The question we're going with this month is:

If your parent or child committed a major crime, would you turn them in?

If my Mum or my Dad had committed an act of larceny, treason, murder, sexual assault... I'd feel either crushingly disappointed or paralysed with fear. I would want to get right down to the bottom of how it happened and try to convince them to make it right, no matter how they did it. But I wouldn't turn them in.

Say my Dad murdered someone. Inside I'd be freaking the crap out. Outside, I'd be asking him all sorts of questions to figure out how it happened, why and how he's feeling at the moment. If the police suspected him and brought me in for questioning I wouldn't lie to them, but I certainly wouldn't blurt out "It was him, he told me!" I'd wait for the cops to ask the right questions, which usually they do. Long story short, I'd let everything happen naturally. I wouldn't turn my parents in, but I wouldn't get in the way of justice either. That's the best way I feel I can reconcile my conscience.

If you'd like to join the Question of the Month bloghop, join the Linky list below. I'll send out an email with the new question during the month. The question will also be on the QotM tab at the top of this page, along with the code for the Linky list if you want to put it on your own page.

Good luck!



Saturday, 1 August 2015

AFL Shenanigans Round 17: SUPER SPECIAL DOUBLE EPISODE!

I'm not sure what made me more uncomfortable, having to wear that dress or having to do this week's challenge. We all tied and had to get our girl on.


It was a pretty funny video, but as a special treat, Dimi was finally available to make up one of the two challenges he owes us. This has been one of my favourite videos so far.


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