Ru (//) Cercle -a magical night around a campfire

Sometimes life throws up these little idiosyncrasies, these serendipitous moments that suggest there is more to this world than what we can see, that we are all performers on God’s stage.

Tonight I went to a fringe show. The last time I saw tonight’s performer was roughly a fortnight ago when he and I were in the audience of a poet who was, in turn, in the audience tonight. I’m a big fan of both of these people but I never expected to see the other when I arrived at each venue – I only expected to see (or even know) the performer.

There’s more to this. Tonight’s performer was Zal, an ex-student of mine, operating under the pseudonym Ru (his musical moniker). When I arrived at the show I bumped into another ex-student who had also come to see him. This ex-student was Chloe, the girl (young lady) who designed the cover of my poetry anthology. It was at the launch of this book that the three of us were last in the same place at the same time – I read some verse, Chloe explained her design and process, and Zal performed during the intermission. It’s like we’ve come full circle (or Cercle in this case).

Zal went by his own name then. He was part of a close knit trio named Kids With Wolves and their music was phenomenal; each time I heard them play I would walk away uplifted and inspired to write. Creative differences saw the band split and two of them formed The Woods but they eventually dissolved too and Zal reinvented himself under the stage name Ru.

I think I’ve been to seven of his gigs now, tonight’s fringe show included. I wasn’t sure, initially, if I would be able to see him perform this time around but I’m so glad that I managed to go because tonight’s performance was vastly different to all I’ve seen him do before. I’m hoping, in my description of what I witnessed tonight, my lack of musical knowledge doesn’t take away from the quality of the event.

Prior to the final song, Zal imparted some of his world view on the audience. He reminded us that while we are chasing our dreams all those around us are also chasing theirs and we should not seek to better ourselves at their expense, rather we should bring them up with us. Whether he did it intentionally or not (and I’m thinking he did), his stage design reflected his ideals. Traditional band set ups involve the musicians standing at the front of the venue with the audience before them while on stage the band members form a visible hierarchy with those deemed more important (e.g. the lead singer) closest to the front of stage.  Tonight’s set-up was far more intimate and far more equitable. In the middle of the room was a fake fire and the four performers stood around this with the audience circling them. No one had a prominent position; it was Zal’s show but all of the musicians had equal footing in the eyes of those in attendance.

With regards to those musicians, Wayan “Billy” Biliondana played the double bass. Alongside Zal’s guitar, this was the main source of music for the evening (with shakers coming out late in the set). Billy also added his vocals to a couple of songs and, when he did so, it added another dimension to them that wasn’t present in the other pieces. This isn’t a slant on those songs (or the vocalists), merely an observation and a comment on his deep voice. Speaking of vocalists, Anikka Moses seemed to be loving life and was a joy to watch. Anikka looked genuinely excited not just to be there but to sing each line, even for the occasions where she had no lyrics, per se, and was just crooning. She would also channel the other musicians, often staring at them intently as she was harmonising with their voice or instrument. Laura Strobech, the other vocalist, was equally amazing. At times her singing reminded me of Kate Miller-Heidke, at other times she was so much like a Disney princess I wouldn’t have been surprised if cartoon birds landed on her shoulders, then there were other times when her voice was unlike anything I’d heard before.

Then there was Zal: guitar-playing, song-singing, story-telling, soul-sharing Zal. The songs we heard were his babies, brought to life by a variety of experiences that we are blessed to experience a fragment of. Musically he is part Newton Faulkner, part Paul Simon and all Zal.

Tonight’s gig was the end of a journey but Zal is a man of the earth and there are many more roads to walk – I look forward to seeing where his music takes him next.

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PS – there was a weird part during the performance tonight where the fire alarm started sounding for no reason and we had to wait for the State Theatre staff to confirm it was a false alarm before the show could go on. Anyway, while we were waiting Laura gave us this classic joke:

  1. How do you titillate and ocelot?
  2. Oscillate its titalot.

Death be not proud

Things happen every day, both extraordinary and horrendous, to regular human beings. Despite this, western society has a fascination with the comings and goings of anyone the spotlight has hit – regardless of whether they have bathed in it or simply been grazed by it. Tabloid magazines dominate the newsstands, seemingly covering every movement celebrities make.

 

I hate it.

 

I hate that the media focus on the exploits of famous people when the very same thing happens to ordinary people on a regular basis. People outside of the spotlight fall seriously ill, have marriage breakdowns, have babies and fall in love. And, it’s not just that we report on these things that aren’t newsworthy – mainstream media follow these developments at the expense of real news. We are ignorant to so much that is happening in our world.

 

Beyond that, I feel sorry for the families of celebrities. Nobody deserves their childhood tainted by constant exposure and pestering; no parent should see their child dragged through dirt. I have less sympathy for the celebs themselves who, generally, enter the profession with an understanding of the industry but their loved ones have no choice in the matter.

 

Where am I going with this?

 

I hate the fascination with famous people when ordinary lives are enriched and destroyed on a daily basis but… this year appears to have taken more celebrity lives than any other in memory.

 

And so, for a short while at least, I’m happy to indulge in fandom.

 

I’ve seen social media posts boasting, “for those hating on 2016 I imagine _______ was worse,” with the blank replaced by years decimated by plague or warfare but I can’t empathise with these. It’s not that I’m unsympathetic towards the people affected by these catastrophic events but the posts themselves are not written with any emotion, they are just sarcastic digs aimed at people lamenting the deaths of those they admire. Likewise, there is another post that says “RIP every ordinary person who died this year” that is devoid of feeling.

 

Here’s the thing, when a non-famous person dies it impacts the people who have known them. With celebrities and the amount of exposure they receive people feel as if they do know them to an extent and so, when they die, it is natural to be upset. Compound that with the sheer number of famous people who have died this year and it’s easy to see why people are grieving.

 

It is easy to label these people as TV/movie stars, musicians and writers but that diminishes their impact. These people were role models, humanitarians, activists and icons. Many of them – through their lyrics, their novels and the various characters they have played – have helped shape the people we have become.

 

I direct you now to Perth performance poet Scott-Patrick Mitchell who said:

#deepthoughts // every person listed here has taught our society & culture an aspect of humanity that we have, collectively, resonated with. mourn them, yes, but more importantly learn from their abilities, carry that in your heart and use their strengths to make yourself stronger. they were here for a reason. so are you.

January 10
David Bowie, 69 Rock icon

January 14
Alan Rickman, 69 Actor

January 18
Glenn Frey, 67 Eagles rocker

January 23
Jimmy Bain, 68 Rainbow rock star

January 30
Frank Finlay, 89 Acting great

January 31
Terry Wogan, 77 TV & radio legend

February 3
Maurice White, 74 Earth Wind & Fire star

February 19
Harper Lee, 89 To Kill A Mockingbird author

February 28
Frank Kelly, 77 Father Ted star

February 28
George Kennedy, 91 Movie great

March 1
Tony Warren, 79 Coronation St creator

March 8
George Martin, 90 Beatles producer

March 11
Keith Emerson, 71 ELP rock legend

March 15
Sylvia Anderson, 88 Lady Penelope

March 16
Frank Sinatra Junior, 72 Sinatra’s singer son

March 17
Paul Daniels, 77 Comedy magician

March 24
Gary Shandling, Comedian

March 29
Patty Duke, 69 Child star

March 31
Ronnie Corbett, 85 Comedy legend

March 31
Denise Robertson, 83 TV agony aunt

April 6
Merle Haggard, 79 Country legend

April 12
David Gest, 62 TV personality

April 20
Victoria Wood, 62 Comedy genius

April 20
Joanie “Chyna” Laurer, 46 WWE wrestling legend

April 21
Lonnie Mack, 74 Blues guitar great

April 21
Prince, 57 Pop icon

April 21
Guy Hamilton, 93 Bond director

April 24
Billy Paul, 80 Chart star

May 17
Guy Clark, 74 Country legend

May 19
John Berry, 52 Beastie Boys star

May 19
Alan Young, 96 Mister Ed TV star

May 21
Nick Menza, 51 Megadeth drummer

May 24
Burt Kwouk, 85 Pink Panther star

May 31
Carla Lane, 87 Liver Birds writer

June 3
Muhammad Ali, 74 Boxing legend

June 14
Henry McCullough, 72 Wings guitarist

June 19
Anton Yelchin, 27 Star Trek’s Chekov

June 24
Bernie Worrall, 72 Funkadelic star

June 28
Scotty Moore, 84 Elvis’s guitarist

July 2
Caroline Aherne, 52 Comedy actress

July 16
Alan Vega, 78 Suicide punk pioneer

August 13
Kenny Baker, 81 Star Wars’ R2-D2

August 15
Dalian Atkinson, 48 Villa cup hero
Bobby Hutcherson. 75 Jazz musician

August 22
Toots Thielemans, 94 Jazz musician

August 29
Gene Wilder, 83 Comic genius

September 11
Alexis Arquette, 47 Transgender actress

September 17
Charmian Carr, 73 Sound of Music’s Liesl

September 25
Arnold Palmer, 87 Golfing legend

October 12
Thomas Mikal Ford, 52, Martin Sitcom

October 14
Jean Alexander, 90 Corrie’s Hilda Ogden

October 23
Pete Burns, 57 Dead or Alive chart star

October 24
Bobby Vee, 73 1960s teen idol

November 7
Leonard Cohen, 82 Iconic singer & writer

November 11
Robert Vaughn, 83 Veteran actor

November 13
Leon Russell, 74 US rock legend

November 24
Colonel Abrams, 67 80s chart star

November 25
Florence Henderson, 82 Brady Bunch star

November 26
Ron Glass, 71 US TV star

December 1
Andrew Sachs, 86 Fawlty Towers star

December 6
Peter Vaughan, 93 Game of Thrones star

December 7
Ian Cartwright, 52 Wolves midfielder

December 8
John Glenn, 95 First to orbit Earth

December 8
Greg Lake, 69 ELP legend

December 10
AA Gill, 62 Writer & critic

December 10
Ian McCaskill, 78 TV weatherman

December 12
Walter Swinburn, 55 Derby winning jockey

December 13
Alan Thicke

December 18
Zsa Zsa Gabor, 99 Actress

December 24
Rick Parfitt, 68
Richard Adams, author of Watership Down

December 25
George Michael, 53 Singer
Ricky Harris aka Taadow, 54 Comedian

December 26
Liz Smith, 95 Actress

December 27
Carrie Fisher, 60 Actress

 

Sadly, that list is now incomplete with at least two more celebrity deaths that have occurred since it was posted.

 

May they rest in peace.

Othello – the untold story

My year 10s are tasked with transforming an act or scene from Othello into another text type and, as I was explaining the assignment to them today, I mentioned that you could play around with genre as well as form. So, in preparation for tomorrow’s lesson I thought I’d provide a brief example of what they are expected to do – it’s rushed and imperfect but it’ll do.

Here it is, a twisted take on Act 5, Scene 2 re-imagined as part hard boiled detective story, part satire:

_________________________________________________________________

 

She was dead. That much was obvious. In fact, those present at the scene of the crime swear that she came back to life briefly just to say “A guiltless death I die” before passing away again. That raised a few eyebrows but what mattered most to Emilia Watson was finding the guilty party before they could kill again.

Certain that the immediate surroundings were bound to contain clues, Emilia searched the bedroom. The bed itself was draped in silken sheets generally reserved for weddings and other special occasions. Tangled in the linen was the victim herself, a wad of fabric stuffed into her mouth. The exact cause of death was unknown; there was no bloodshed so it wasn’t a stabbing, and the foul stench associated with common poisons was nowhere to be smelled.

‘Perhaps,’ thought Emilia, ‘I should have had some training before opening up my own detective agency.’

Not one to give up at the slightest sign of trouble, she continued her search. Not far from the bed Emilia found a dark skinned man hunched in a ball on the floor.

‘Strange. Why didn’t I notice him before?’ She pondered this as she inspected his appearance.

She followed the tears from his eyes, down his cheeks and onto his neck. Nothing unusual there, that’s the direction tears normally take. Further down she noticed scratch marks on his arms – that was unusual. Most strange, however, were the words spewing from his mouth. Emilia knelt down to listen closely.

“O, she was foul! Whose breath, indeed, these hands have newly stopp’d: I know this act shows horrible and grim.”

The man was clearly upset but, as Emilia didn’t speak Shakespearean, nothing he said made sense. As he continued to mumble away, the only words she understood were handkerchief and whore which she doubted were useful in helping her crack this case. No, this man would only sidetrack her from the task at hand.

Emilia continued to search the room but the interior decorator was clearly a minimalist. Fortunately, the lack of clues was offset by the arrival of her husband and some other men. For the most part, Emilia decided that most of these men weren’t worthy of her attention (although one was a bit of a spunk). That said, the smile on her husband’s face was a bit disconcerting.

“Iago,” she questioned. “Why do you smirk?”

“Smirk? I do not smirk.”

“You do, and you are.”

“Perhaps I am just happy to see you,” he replied.

“Unlikely,” she retorted but checked his crotch anyway. Indeed, he was not happy to see her. As she eyed him off further she noticed characteristics she hadn’t paid attention to before; among these were his elongated chin, pencil moustache and penchant for black clothing.

“Why do you look at me so, woman?”

“I’m starting to think you are not what you are.”

“Are you saying, then, I am the villain?”

Iago seemed quite shocked at this accusation but Emilia was certain he was up to no good. It was then she found her biggest clue:

“What is that bag you are holding, husband? Why is it marked with a large dollar sign?”

Iago neared. “It is Roderigo’s fortune. I have acquired it from him.”

“Really? Well then, if we are now rich I don’t need to work anymore.” And, with that, Emilia threw her empty notepad aside and strolled from the room dragging her husband behind her. “Come,” she said. “We have shopping to do.”

“What about the murder you were trying to solve?”

“Oh, I’ve got no idea who did it. I’m as confused about it now as I was when I started.”

Iago smiled.

Are we there yet?

Pretty excited that some student content has been uploaded already. There’s some brilliant stuff still to come too, especially if their drafts are anything to go by.

taughtalesson

Short answer: No.

At the moment, all I’ve done is set this blog site up ready for when students submit their posts to me on the 20th of August. Stay tuned, there will be some killer content soon.

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Do you have an idea worth spreading? Share it on video through OpenTED

This is a great opportunity for educators, opinion leaders and innovative thinkers.

TED Blog

OpenTED_nominate_page_webYou have an idea. A good one – one that will make people think. But giving a TED Talk on a stage in front of an audience? Well, that doesn’t quite feel like the right way to express it.

If giving a traditional TED Talk isn’t your style, you may be excited to hear about The OpenTED Project— a new experimental initiative launching today to uncover ideas in all forms. Through OpenTED we’re erasing the lines around what is and isn’t a “TED Talk” and soliciting ideas that come in any form capturable on video. Through OpenTED, you can show us an idea as a documentary, an invention, an original animation, video poetry, song lyrics, monologues, dialogues, art, choreography — really, in any form you can imagine to communicate your idea to others.

The OpenTED Project is your personal invitation to share your idea — be it grand and…

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Hercules vs. Heracles

I’m teaching this again after a long hiatus. This post is brilliant in it’s humour and approachability, clearly outlining the differences between the film and the original myth.

Disneyfied, or Disney tried?

hercules conclusion image Set in Ancient Greece, Hercules is by far one of Disney’s most happy-go-lucky films. It’s about Zeus’ mortal son Hercules, who seeks to regain his place among the other gods on Mount Olympus by becoming a true hero. Helping him along the way are his trainer Philoctetes (voiced by Danny De Vito), love interest Megara, and his trusty steed, the winged horse Pegasus. All the while, Hades, Lord of the Underworld, seeks to destroy him as he is the one obstacle in his plan to take over the universe.

If you are even remotely familiar with Greek mythology you are probably pulling a face already, but are equally unsurprised at Disney’s deviations from the original myths – you are more likely asking yourself why on earth they chose these stories in the first place, which are usually crammed with murder, betrayal, tragedy, and the other kind of family friendly entertainment…

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On Malcolm, Martin and that X-Men Analogy Thing

Such an informed opinion on a topic I’ve been guilty of accepting without further thought.

Phenderson Djèlí Clark

malcolmmagnetoOn the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the activist, orator and the man once referred to in eulogy by the late Ossie Davis as “Our Shining Black Prince,” El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (most commonly known as Malcolm X), I quite foolishly decide to wade into that whole X-Men analogy thingy. Of course I’ve been warned. Of course I know better. But since when has that stopped me? So then, let’s do this thing.

And that supremely bad ass Malcolm & Magneto mash-up art you’re seeing, is courtesy of the amazing John Jennings and his 2012-2013 exhibit Black Kirby. If yuh dunno, now yuh know.

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Ron Barton – Poetic Smackdown

This was the first interview I ever did as a result of my writing. I still can’t believe how fortunate I was to find a reader in Abbie.

URBAN F

If God Is A Poet

“I could write a sonnet on it.

Yes, that would suffice.

Perhaps a ballad would be better

Or a free verse, just as nice”.

The Thought Process Of A Poet

Ron Barton - Perth Poetry Club Ron Barton – Perth Poetry Club

This is Ron Barton – my appointed Poet Laureate for today’s ‘Smackdown’. A man on a word mission, to share and teach the intricacies of verse in all it’s styles and traditions.

Discovering Ron bounding from the pages of the Australian based e-magazine The Tincture Journal, was another one of life’s unexpected pleasures. An excellent collection of authors from both hemispheres, their thoughts micro and long. It was Ron Barton’s poetry that hit me first. His swaggering word beats, his insights and mirth. I could hear his music, lilt and rhythm. An assonance filled with honesty, regret, pride, frustration, identity, humour and darkest dark glimpsed light.

Ron’s poetry hatches…

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Complete, 214 Valentine’s Day Erasure Poem by Ron Barton

This was my first ever attempt at erasure poetry. It’s a fascinating form and a Google image search reveals some beautiful examples. I’ve since used it as a classroom activity for low ability students and a number of my colleagues have now done the same. In fact, we’ve started a box in our storeroom where we have books we’re happy to destroy in the name of this art form.

Silver Birch Press

Image
COMPLETE
by Ron Barton

Brian held on for a second time.
But nothing happened.
The doorbell didn’t ring.
Nor did the telephone.
He went to bed frustrated.
The next day Brian was on his way down to the park
when he came upon a woman.
Brian smiled to himself.
He reached for his ticker.
The woman was young and pretty
–  younger and prettier.
“I’m very sorry,” she said.
“But I’ve managed to fix you.”

SOURCE: “Complete” by Ron Barton is based on page 214 of The Complete Horowitz Horror by Anthony Horowitz (Puffin, 2008), available at Amazon.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Published twice by Tincture Journal in 2013, Ron Barton is a fresh face to the Perth (Australia) poetry scene. His first collection of poetry, *If God is a Poet*, was released at the end of 2012 and, more recently, he has had poems displayed at the Sydney Fringe Festival and the…

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Meet the Author: Ron Barton

This blog is produced by Teena Raffa-Mulligan, a children’s author and great promoter of local writers. This interview led to Teena being a part of the 2014 Young Writers’ Festival in Secret Harbour.

In Their Own Write

RON’S TOP WRITING TIP

Don’t write for anyone but yourself. Write the stories, plays and poems you want to read. If you are honest in your appraisal of your own work and have, indeed, created something you would buy then other people will like it too.

Author picRon Barton works with words in his job as an English teacher but writes with wit and whimsy in his spare time. While he is proud of his writing and takes it seriously, his public persona is that of the class clown – to the extent his biographical details that accompanied his work in the inaugural edition of Tincture Journal sounded more like a dating profile… See for yourself:

Ron Barton is a hairy male with salt-and-pepper stubble (32). Likes long walks on the beach but prefers an afternoon of sitting on the couch watching football. Seeking readers aged 13-90 for intimate relationship with…

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