Deadline Party #2

Two years after the first Deadline Party, the niggling voice in the back of my mind started up again. “You’ve always wanted to do XYZ… So, remind me – why haven’t you done it yet?” Well, because [blah blah blah ELABORATE EXCUSE blah blah]. It’s not that I can’t. Pffft.  I could if I wanted to. It’s just that I haven’t… yet. It’ll happen in its own time, though. You’ll see. You can’t force these things…

Last time thoughts like these took hold I created the Deadline Party to give me some incentive to do the XYZ – which back then was to be able to play Rachmaninov’s Prelude in D Major (which I did, btw). This time round, my XYZ was to write and record a song. I knew I could, I was just a matter of putting my mind to it. But “putting one’s mind to it” is hard when you have no time, no motivation and no purpose.

Enter: Deadline Party #2.

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THE DEADLINE PARTY – an experiment in getting things done

They say the only deadline you should worry about in life is death. But “they” didn’t know about my party.

A few weeks ago, I had a party. It became known as “The Deadline Party” because the night of the party itself was the deadline for which each person invited had to have completed some personal project that they’d been wanting to complete for some time, but – due to work or the general time-sapping minutiae of life – hadn’t gotten around to doing. The impetus for the party was Rachmaninov – the Russian composer with the big hands – whose Prelude in D Major I have been trying to learn and finish for the last ten years of my life but have never had the occasion or motivation to do so.

So, I decided – why not invite a bunch of friends around to my house specifically for the purpose of performing this piece? Maybe then I will actually learn it. And why not make everyone else endure the same nerve-wracking build up to the ‘deadline’ that I would inevitably experience? And so, the Deadline Party was born…

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Becoming Beyoncé – My mission to learn the Single Ladies dance

From Thriller to the YMCA and that unfortunately unforgettable ’90s one-hit-woe – Macarena – music videos have been inspiring people to learn dance sequences for generations. There’s something uniquely liberating about piecing together a few moves in your lounge room with friends, then flash mobbing the dance floor with a perfectly synchronised routine when the DJ plays that song.

But there’s a long way between Nut Bush-style square dances and the choreography in the clip to Beyoncé’s Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).
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Smut with substance?

If you haven’t heard anything yet about the book Wetlands – written by a German pop TV show host Charlotte Roche – hear this: it’s probably the most graphic and squeamish novel I’ve ever read. It beats J. G. Ballard’s Crash for shock value, it makes you blush more than Anais Nin, and (I’m told) it makes The Vagina Monologues look tame. But for all its boundary-breaking, the jury is out on exactly where the value is in reading Wetlands. Think you’ve read it all? Seen it all? Heard about it all? (Done it all?). Think again…

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Read all about it

The Great Gatsby – every word of it – is an unlikely theatrical success story. Jodie McLeod reports.*

Jim Fletcher as mystery man Jay Gatsby
Jim Fletcher as mystery man Jay Gatsby

SEVEN hours and 35 minutes is how long audiences will spend in the theatre when New York theatre company Elevator Repair Service presents Gatz in Sydney. The show, a verbatim performance of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel The Great Gatsby, is about five times longer than the average theatre production.

But Gatz‘s director, John Collins, says length should not be off-putting. “There’s a special excitement and a sense of accomplishment that the audience feels when they leave the theatre and they’ve just heard an entire novel in one sitting,” he says.

Collins, who is also the company’s artistic director, originally wanted to trim the novel when he first began working on a stage adaptation in 1999 but quickly decided editing it was a no-no.

“The narrator’s thoughts are such a huge part of what makes this a great novel. And so that became the project: how would you stage a novel without rewriting or cutting it?”

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Rugby or rock? Music muscles in on sport

 Illustration: Rocco Fazzari
Illustration: Rocco Fazzari

As pop culture grabs teenagers, music is becoming cooler than sport at school, writes Jodie McLeod.*

School used to be about the survival of the fittest. Where you ranked in the playground hierarchy was proportional to your speed, co-ordination and how good your legs looked in your sport shorts. But now the criterion of “cool” at school is changing. As a wider variety of opportunities are opened up to students in schools, and as the instruments of pop culture increasingly infiltrate teenagers’ lives – musical involvement (listening to it, supporting it or playing it) is becoming more a marker of greatness among peers than one’s ball skills.

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What is the best age to go travelling?

Eiffel TowerThis is a tough one. Everyone who’s old says, “Do it while you’re young”; but when you’re young you think – “maybe I should wait till I’m old, when I’ve actually got money to do it, and do it well?” Of course you can travel when you’re young, middle aged and old, but not often do we get the chance in life to take a large chunk of time off – I’m talking a year or two – to do so. No matter how the question manifests – whether it’s a hypothetical or a realistic choice – the question has crossed everyone’s mind at some point. So if you did have to choose – which option would you take? Let’s look at the pros and cons… Continue reading