Da Vinci Inventions

This weekend marks the last days of the Da Vinci inventions exhibition at the Docklands. It features 64 interactive models of the inventor’s machines based on his codices. The usual operating hours of 10 AM to 6 PM would also be extended till 9 PM this Saturday and Sunday with a free screening of the Dall Itallia Australia (From Italy to Australia) at 7 PM in the main piazza. Last chance to see this exhibit so better hurry if you’re interested!

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Published in: on September 30, 2006 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Krispy Kreme opens at CBD

For those of you who’re curious to try Krispy Kreme donuts to see if it really lives up to the hype but find the Narre Warren store a long distance to go, Krispy Kreme just opened its new store at Melbourne’s CBD a couple of days ago. The new shop is located at Collins corner Spencer streets in the city.

Published in: on September 28, 2006 at 7:36 am  Comments (4)  

Rebel

Rebel Sport Centrepoint (along Bourke Street) is having a 20% off storewide sale, today only.

Published in: on September 14, 2006 at 8:08 am  Leave a Comment  

Best of the independent games festival 2006

The Australian Centre for Moving Image (ACMI) is holding a free exhibit of the best indie games from 2 August (Wednesday) till 19 November (Sunday). Participating games could be viewed and played at the site, although some may not be finished yet. A listing of participants could be viewed at this link. Clicking on the game’s icon would direct you a short description of the game plus the official URL for the game. Each game’s site differs and some might have a playable demo while others only have brief information about the games.

Published in: on August 4, 2006 at 7:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

At Doujicon 2006

I haven’t been to a comics convention before so I was really excited when I learned about Doujicon – a convention for comics creators held at the Monash University’s Caulfield Campus last Saturday. Of course, I went just to see what a comics convention in Melbourne would be like.

Well, it wasn’t that big an event, in my opinion. To be fair, though, it was meant to be a convention mainly for comics creators and not a general comics convention. So, most of the people there are comics creators (artists, writers, publishers), would-be comics creators (such as myself) and their friends. And, if I may add, not everybody seemed to have decided to take a bath that day.

I almost got lost getting there but I soon found my way to the registration table. Thankfully, the entrance fee was only $5. Although my main reason for going there was to attend the “classes” and “talks” held during the event, I visited the area where the comics creators were selling their books and merchandise. I wanted to find out what’s out here in terms of potential competition, I guess. What sells, what doesn’t. What’s the skill level of the people producing independent comic books? How much are they selling the books for?

Most of the books were in the $4 to $10 range. I was impressed by the quality of art by some of them while the others, well, not so. And of those with the good art, the story in a few were a bit so-so. Still, I’m glad to see a number of quality comic books there. It has inspired me to delve more into printed comic books, actually.

After a couple of minutes of browsing the stuff at the tables, I hit the area where the “classes” and “talks” were being held. I went in the “Please Tell Me Why My Comic Sucks…” talk just as it was wrapping up (I was late). Ah, well. The next talk was called “Webcomics: The Future or Just Cheaper?” so I was particularly interested being a webcomic creator myself.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really learn a lot of new things in that talk. I guess I was expecting too much. I ended up talking about my own experiences while I was at the talk. The person giving the talk, Daniel Elliot aka Gerkinvision was supposed to be this popular webcomic artist but I haven’t really heard of him before then. And now I know why. Although I’ve seen his art before around the Web, I’ve ignored it because I’m not really a fan of weird art, animation or comics.

Anyway, he has his idea of what a webcomic should be and I had mine. And they weren’t the same thing. He was advising us to be very original. Avoid cliches. Okay, in some ways, I agree with these statements. But by original, he meant create a fantastic creature with a lobster claw in one hand, a tentacle in the other and has a chicken foot at the back of its head holding an orb that can tell the future! I guess that would work if the comic was meant to be a weird comedy. But for comics with serious stories, I don’t think that kind of creature would fit in naturally. But then, he’s more popular than I am in the webcomics realm so he must be doing things right (and I’m not).

Still, I believe in doing things I like to do. And doing weird comics or adult-themed comics just so I could have a popular comic doesn’t appeal to me too much. However, right then, I wish that I had a more original story for a webcomic than about five adventurers in a quest to save a fantasy land from evil. Sure, I’ve thought about this lack of originality in my part for years now but the die has been cast. I want to see this story through.

Another thing he was advocating was to write more Australian stories. He was tired of people who write stories whose lead characters have Japanese names but they themselves know little about Japanese culture apart from what they’ve seen in Anime and Manga. I kinda agree with him on the whole Japan culture thing. I also would have agreed on doing Australian stories if I was born here. The problem is that although I now live here, I didn’t grow up here. So, I couldn’t convincingly write about Australians (the way they know themselves). I can probably write about Americans more as I grew up in that kind of culture, even if I did grow up in the Philippines.

Soon, that talk was over and I took the opportunity to pass around those Lovarian Adventures bookmarks I made. I figured some of these starting webcomic creators might want some help getting their webcomics off the ground. They can always reach me through the website address I’ve written in the bookmarks.

The next talk was called “Pitching to a Publisher” by Kevin Patrick, editor and publisher of The Panther. We started the talk by Kevin asking each one of us there what our experiences were in doing comics. I went in still having that whole “be original” mantra in mind. So, when I told him about Lovarian Adventures, I quickly said that it wasn’t the most original story around but people who read it loyally seem to love it for the characters. He told me that I didn’t need to be self-deprecating. In fact, if I was aiming to be published, publishers would more likely go for a tried-and-true story premise than something weird and original. He said that I could appeal to a certain niche market. And that was what I thought when I originally started my webcomic. I wanted to appeal to the fantasy RPG gamers out there.

He asked me for samples of my work, so I gave him one of my bookmarks. He seemed to have liked it enough that he asked for the whole bunch and passed it on to everybody in the talk. Whew. At least, I didn’t have to hand the bookmarks to any more people myself.

From all the talks I’ve heard that day, Kevin’s was the most I learned from. He gave us tips to get a potential publisher’s attention. For any story, one has to give it a very short summary. Something catchy and gives the publisher a quick idea of what to expect. As an example, Steven Segal’s movie Under Siege could be described as “Die Hard on a train.” Simple. And it gets the point across. That is, if the publisher has seen Die Hard. Anyway, you get the point.

He also told us not to just approach comic book publishers. If we want to get printed (for the purpose of having something added to your art portfolio), we could seek out other published media like magazines and posters. Anything to get our name out there. This increases the chance of getting the attention of a comic book publisher in the future.

So, yeah. I enjoyed that one talk. I went to about three more classes at the event but most of the things being taught there, I already know. I basically wasted my time staying there after the Publishing talk.

Still, I’m glad I went. At least, I now know what kind of stuff is being printed out there locally. It’s a learning experience, definitely. I heard there was going to be another Doujicon next year. I might go again, but this time, I hope I have something to sell myself.

Published in: on August 1, 2006 at 12:28 pm  Comments (4)  

20% off at Dymocks Melbourne

Starting today till the 6th of August (Sunday), Dymocks Melbourne (at 234 Collins Street) would be holding a sale. 20% of all full priced books, excluding CDs, DVDs, videos or anything that’s already on specials.

Published in: on July 31, 2006 at 12:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Night of Laughter

The 20th Melbourne International Comedy Festival ended just yesterday. The Comedy Festival held annually for a month during autumn here in Melbourne is one of the three largest comedy festivals in the world, according to its website. This year, they started a bit late because they waited for the recent Melbourne Commonwealth Games to finish first.

Every year since I moved to Australia all those years ago, I tuned in on the TV around autumn time to watch The Comedy Gala show which was basically a sampler of the best comedians who had shows during the Comedy Festival month. Before moving to Melbourne though, I thought that the comedians at the Gala were in Melbourne just for that one show.

I only first heard about the actual Comedy Festival when I was applying for a job in Melbourne back in 2004. I missed it though because I only moved from Canberra to Melbourne around July. The following year, I missed it again. That time, I was just too lazy to go see any of the shows. You know how it is. “The Festival is held here. And since we live here, we can always go in the future.” To tell you the truth, I really didn’t even bother to look up any information regarding the event. I didn’t know what shows were there or how long the festival was on.

This year, we almost gave it a miss again. However, when we went to the Lion King musical last Wednesday night, we noticed the well lit Melbourne Town Hall with a lot of people gathered around it. It was only after seeing that did I want to be a part of the festival.

The unfortunate part of it was that by the time I wanted to actually buy tickets to see some shows, there were only a few days ago till the Comedy Festival ends. That meant that gigs were getting fully booked quicker.

It was also very difficult to choose between the shows. Some of those shows I wanted to go to were on very late (10pm onward). And some are going to be shown at the same time as another show I wanted to go to.

Originally, I just wanted to go to the popular acts like Arj Barker’s. I know he’s funny because I’ve seen him multiple times in various Comedy Gala shows. And on this year’s Gala, I found Stephen K Amos and Charlie Pickering very hilarious so I wanted to see their shows, too.

I was also thinking of going to the popular Aussie comedians like Dave Hughes, Judith Lucy and Wil Anderson. The problem however was that their shows were some of the more expensive in the festival. I reasoned to myself that I could still hear Dave Hughes on Nova FM every morning and watch Wil Anderson and Dave on The Glass House show on TV. That leaves Judith but I figured she’d always be around so I could always catch her later.

In the end though, I just wanted to see Arj Barker’s show and one or two cheap shows by lesser known comedians. I heard John Safran interview comedian Michael Chamberlin on his Sunday Night Safran radio show on Triple J so I got a good idea as to the type of comedy Michael will be performing.

Come Friday night, we were set to watch Arj and Michael but when I got to the ticket office, they told me Arj was sold out! At the end of the day, we just got to see Michael’s show. Well, at least we got to save some money.

After buying the ticket, we still had some time to spare before the 8pm showing at the Regent Room in the Melbourne Town Hall. We went upstairs into the mezzanine to look for the room. We found that the mezzanine was filled with advertisement cards of the Comedy Festival shows as well as four Macs on display.

Since we didn’t have a real camera along (apart from the camera built-in on my mobile phone), I was pleased to see that the Macs came equipped with web-cams. At least we could have a better souvenir photo of our night at the festival. It’s also good that I figured out how to send the web-cam photos we took with the Mac.

Anyway, I digressed. We soon found our way to the Regent Room where there was a queue to get in. The corridor where we waited stank of cigarette smoke so I was itching to get in the room. Thankfully, the room was smoke-free.

It was actually a small room, only good enough to fit about 40 or so people at a time. Well, at least even if we sat way out back, the performer would still be quite near.

Michael’s show was titled Michael Chamberlin and the Ten Commandments. I knew beforehand that it would make jabs at the Catholics and Catholicism somewhat because of his interview with Safran. I admit that most of it was very funny except for the parts where he was being extra irreverent. I thought I’d be able to take it but I was just too uncomfortable with such jokes, I found out.

All in all, it was still great. We only ended up watching that one show. My only regret was that I didn’t get into the whole Comedy Festival spirit earlier. Next year, I’ll look at their show line-up as soon as it is available at their website and plan which shows to watch and when. I definitely won’t miss it next year.

Published in: on May 8, 2006 at 9:44 pm  Comments (2)  

Commonwealth games start tomorrow

The 2006 Commonwealth games would be starting tomorrow night at the MCG.

On the way home tonight, we had the opportunity to see the Queen’s baton relay with media personality Eddie McGuire holding the baton.

Too bad the photo was a bit blurry. Ah, well.

Published in: on March 14, 2006 at 11:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

Werribee Racecourse Market

Check out the craft markets at the Werribee Racecourse in Ballan Rd (Melways map: 205 F8) tomorrow. Trading hours would be from 8 in the morning till 1 PM so go early. A parking fee of $3 applies.

Published in: on March 10, 2006 at 10:35 am  Leave a Comment  

Awards for Writing

The 56th Palanca Awards is now open to entries. For the longest time, I wanted to submit something — anything — to this prestigious Philippine literary competition but I always fail to send over a submission.

During my years in university, I entered a phase where I wanted to be a writer, even though I was actually there studying to be an engineer. And so, I joined the Writers’ Guild and wrote for Ang Pahayagang Plaridel, the university’s Filipino-language newspaper. I also befriended the staff of the university’s Malate literary folio whom we, the Plaridel staff, shared our office space with. It was through my association with these organisations that I learned about the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature or simply known as the Palanca Awards.

Winning an award in that competition will not only make the writer a few thousand pesos richer, but it will also gain the writer the much sought after recognition of being part of the Philippine literary elite. However, before I could ever hope to win such an award, I first needed to work on my writing.

Since I’m not really a Liberal Arts major in university, I had to read various books on writing just to get a better handle on this whole writing business. But I can only learn so much from reading. I had to actually write.

Back then, I was more comfortable writing in American English than in Tagalog. I saw it as a tremendous challenge to write in my own native language. So I was very pleased when I won an Efren Abueg Award for my Tagalog news writing for Ang Pahayagang Plaridel, and an award for third best short story in Filipino in the De La Salle University Annual Awards for Literature.

The awards should have encouraged me to ultimately write something — a poem, a short story, a children’s story, or an essay — to the Palanca Awards competition, but twelve years later, I have yet to write anything in English or Tagalog worthy of a submission. The biggest problem was that by the time I remember submitting something for the Palanca Awards, there’s only a month left. Not a lot of time to produce quality work in my opinion.

So now, like then, I remembered about the awards with only over a month left to write something to submit to the competition. Should I even try?

Then Raquel reminded me of something. Back in university, she also won something like a total of four awards in the DLSU Annual Awards for Literature for two years running. Her achievement was awesome, I thought then. But she told me that the only reason she probably won was because she had at least submitted something and not a lot of others did. “Half of it is writing and passing the work,” she said.

Or to put it another way, I couldn’t win a game if I never was in the game. Maybe I should just write what first comes to mind and submit that. Who knows? I might win something without even trying too hard. And if not, then there’s another whole year to prepare for the next annual Palanca Awards.

And in between that, maybe I could also write something for the writing competitions right here in Australia. I remembered missing out on last year’s The Age Short Story Competition mainly because I found out about it too late. I also thought that I couldn’t convincingly write a short story that has an Australian feel to it. In retrospect, maybe I didn’t have to. Maybe I could’ve written something in a way most natural to me and then afterwards I should’ve just replaced the Z’s with S’s in words like realize and authorize, and added a U in words color and favor.

And if I submitted something to The Age competition, I should probably also try writing something for the annual national The Australian / Vogel Literary Award.

Of course, to be able to submit something for any competition, I should actually be writing. We’ll see. Maybe I could squeeze that activity in between my household chores, my guitar practice and my other artistic pursuits.

Published in: on March 7, 2006 at 12:01 pm  Comments (4)