Thunder Child

When I was little I heard the musical adaptation of the H.G Wells novel, the War of the Worlds, for the first time, and became instantly besotted. My parent’s owned this wonderful masterpiece (created by Jeff Wayne) on vinyl, and I remember not only being fascinated by its gatefold cover but also by the book of artwork that came stapled to the centre.

A few years later I picked up a copy of the novel (published in 1898!) in a second-hand book store I used to frequent when I was 12 or 13,  and read it for the first time. I remember devouring every page and shuddering as its chilling narrative as looking up into the night sky through my mother’s antique brass telescope my overactive imagination made it seem all too possible (I had a similar issue with Triffids later that year I recall). I later learned that the book had been made into a radio play, which when first presented in the US for Halloween on October 30, 1938 and apparently the story was considered so plausible that it caused mass panic (this has been disputed but I choose to believe it as that is a much better story!). Finally just before my parent’s divorced I watched the film – the original that is, not the Steven Spielberg/ Tom Cruise bollocks (that so cruelly besmirched the character of Ogilvy, who was a hero in the book!). For a moment I was able to forget the chaos at home as in my mind I hid in the church along with the other surviving human hopefuls and waited for nature to take its course. One of my favourite scenes will always be the sinking of the warship, Thunder Child, as its brave crew attempted to take on the tripods and save human kind.

Years later, when I had moved into a place of my own, I stumbled across a pristine copy of the album myself, complete with art book, and purchased it for $4 from a second hand record store. I still own the same record and consider it to be one of my favourite possessions. The beautiful artwork, by Geoff Taylor, is a faithful interpretation of the book and has been a source of inspiration for me for years. I will always be drawn to the image of the raven eating the red weed growing on a fallen tripod. It really is such a powerful image. That those who were once so sure and mighty, were felled by something so tiny and then left to rot. A reminder of how vulnerable we ourselves truly are on this planet.

An Evening with Noel Fielding

Warning: May contain traces of nuts ... oh and spoilers!

Following his comedic career from Sweet, through to the Mighty Boosh, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Luxury Comedy and beyond, you might just be right to say I'm a bit of a fan of Noel Fielding. He makes the gentle regurgitations of his comedy contemporaries feel more like a silent flossing with a felt tip pen. He sees your five iguanas, and raises you a monkey butler with a Johnny Thunders barney. Ah-ha! And so a recent Wednesday night found me seated in the middle, up the back, slightly to the right in cushy chair V42 of Hamer Hall, awaiting the the beginning of An Evening with Noel Fielding.

The show stated with an awkward introduction by our favourite alabaster simpleton, before Noel sauntered onto the stage like a scintillating peacock, suffused in raucous applause and a glittery black cape. His show proceeded to be a deliciously disturbing and heady brew of stand-up, make-believe, universal tea and something about a chicken? Well at least I think that’s what it was about… it could have been more of a concept.

Following the interval, we returned to our seats to find that Noel had been kidnapped – oh no! – with his disappearance proceeding to be investigated by my favourite Luxury Comedy characters – Officer Boombox and Fantasy Man. Officer Boombox stalked the audience interrogating them ruthlessly to ascertain guilt or innocence, though most of the audience were clearly more guilty of crimes of fashion than anything else according to Boombox.  After a somewhat non-fatal-slightly-embarrassing shooting, the safe return of Noel then fell to Fantasy Man, whose cheap whiz and poppas inspired quests are well known from Luxury Comedy days. Not to say to much more, but into the plasticine world of Joey Ramone they did travel, and after a run in with a Minotaur and a reverse Minotaur, Noel was eventually rescued by a 'member' of the audience – Sir Steve the Scientist.  My face still hurts!

An Evening with Noel Fielding is running in Australia until 27 April 2015.

Fabulous distortion

Happy Monday! Gosh is it that time of the week already? I need more sleep! But today I have something special for you. Today I am cheering myself up with the art of J.A.W. Cooper. Her work is delightful, devilish, delicious - a fabulous distortion. Aquiline ladies in muted tones depicted both in strength and vulnerability. The animal nature of humankind is gracefully translated onto her canvas, confronting and beautiful. There is no room for the squeamish, the conservative be damned!   

J.A.W. was born in England, but her formative years sound like they had more of a travelling side show kind of vibe as her childhood was spent growing up across several countries. The more she travelled the more interested in illustration she became, with everything from aliens to the macabre grotesque influencing her wonderful style. J.A.W now resides in downtown Los Angeles and works as freelance illustrator and sketch artist.

Something fishy going on

‘I don’t know how I got here, but I like what I see,’ I thought to myself as I gazed at a naked Arthur Darvill holding a strategically placed monkfish. Then I looked a little further and discovered that behind the portrait was a really cool concept. Now while I myself am vegetarian, I do understand that not all of you living on this wonderful planet of ours follow my path, and I accept that, but one thing that we all need to be acutely aware of is the impact that our appetites have on our fragile planet’s ecosystem. The Earth has taken millions of years to get to its current incarnation but in the last few centuries humans have been working, very diligently it seems, to undo all of this hard work to satiate a lust and greed for resources that is beyond compare.

And one of the biggest issues we as a population have to face up to is our reckless attitude towards our scaly friends in the sea. We are overfishing the waters of this planet at an alarming rate, which is having a drastic flow on affect not only for marine ecosystems, but also the humans who rely on the ocean’s to survive. Fisherman who have for years gone out in small boats to support their families are competing with mega trawlers who suck the life – literally – out of the ocean and onto their decks with little regard for what they have caught – be it turtle or trout.  These trawlers are run by huge companies whose only aim is short term profits. They don’t care for you, me, the sea, or the poor fisherman struggling to feed his family.  

As a reaction to this carelessness, in 2009 Nicholas Röhl, co-owner of MOSHIMO (a brighton based Japanese restaurant) and actress Greta Scacchi created Fishlove because they wanted to raise awareness of such unsustainable fishing practices, and the danger that this represents for our planet’s marine ecosystems. As part of their campaign they began creating a series of amazing imagery featuring some peeps from our TV and movie screens, comedians and other well-known types (I refuse to use the word ‘celebrity’ because it has about as much cache as cat litter) holding a -  to put it delicately - dead fish. The images have also employed the wondrous skills of some of the world’s most sought after photographers - Rankin, Alan Gelati, Denis Rouvre and John Swannell.

Check it out and become a sponsor if you can – or buy a poster.

Genelab is out there!

NASA Genelab is on a mission with a simple premise – conducting biological experiments in space. How they do it – well that’s the not so simple part, but it is damn cool. I spent some time this morning checking out the new Genelab website, and without even having to delve too deep I stumbled across some really neat stuff.

Did you know that the bacteria that transmit disease become more powerful in Space or that injuries take longer to heal? Well Genelab is trying to tackle these issues, and their in-Space experiments  may one day lead to new medicines, cures and also help our intrepid space adventurers  withstand the challenges that long duration spaceflight presents. They are also looking at how plants react and grow in space (which is pretty handy if we Regular Joe’s do one day expect to live out there as films and books have been promising us for the past 60+ years, I mean people got to eat!).

Genelab is also open to suggestions from us average non-space type folks as to what experiments they should be doing out there and so if you have something in mind, drop them a line – you never know, the next amazing medical breakthrough could come from something you suggested they look at!


Holy teeny tiny model dinosaur Batman! Now this is just one of the coolest things I have ever seen! When I was a kid I was osessed with dinosaurs, with Stegasauraus and Brontosaurus being my favourites. I also used to love to assembling those wooden dinosaur models, and I did end up with quite a few. You know the ones, their laser cut and all the pieces slot together? Anyway, I was thinking about these models today after reading a cool article about how Dark Matter may have been what killed the dinosaurs, which led to my discovery of this company called Everything Tiny who create teeny weeny laser cut paper models of dinosaurs, which you can put together yourself.

They come inside a matchbook and you pop out the pieces and put them together. It's not just dinosaurs though, and you can build a tiny human skeleton. Then if you're feeling adventurous, you can also order different skeleton heads for it! 

When completed they are only an inch tall - now that is crazy small. You can buy the models separately, or in a kit that comes with a glass dome to display your cool new model in.