Vinyl Records

23 03 2014

This is just a short post to say that I have a new homepage which is partly about my voice work, and perhaps get some work by letting people hear what I can do. There are some samples of me reading commercials, poems, short stories and a full interview with Simon Fisher-Becker from Doctor Who.

It’s also partly about my interest in rare coloured vinyl records.

Record collecting has been a hobby of mine, although it’s been on pause, since the early 80′s, so I know a fair bit about it.

Every few weeks I’ll be making a brand new video about the latest additions to the collection, as well as some tips for collectors.

There is also a music quiz, Rockit, which I write each week, which should stretch your memories a bit, as it’s retro in nature… those of you who were into music from the early 80s should fly through it, or not, give it a go.

Take the link here and please let me know what you think.

Thanks!

Wolfie Rankin.

 

 





My Personal Racism

20 03 2014

I like to think that most of you think I’m “a nice guy” and I’d like to think that I am too.

But I was racist, or at least partially so, yep… me, and not all that long ago either.

I suppose this is what’s known as soul-searching, or having a change of heart. a row with yourself can really help at times, and I’m going to write about how all of it played out.

Firstly, there was racism in my family, and when it’s in the family, it gets passed down to kids, it’s a nonsense which is learned but can be unlearned (in time). And better to do so as it’s self-destructive, ruining friendships and family relationships.

Often people do things which parents did, and grandparents did, because “that’s what you do” and little thought is given to why it began and if we really need to do it anymore, often those who think about these things, realise that they don’t need to continue as things have changed, and stop doing it.

So I thought back.

My Grandparents came from near Ballarat, which is an old gold mining town, and I think that they must’ve seen a lot of different people who had come all the way from overseas to try and make their fortune, especially the Chinese.

There has never been ill will to the Chinese in this family, perhaps because of this early contact.

WWII began, and Mum was a teenager, She met a handsome young Man called Norman, who she fell completely in love with. But Norman went to fight the Japanese, He was fighting in New Guinea when he was captured and put below deck in a Japanese prison ship, which was spotted by the Americans and torpedoed.

It ruined the life my Mother dreamt of, she adored him, and her love never faded.

Yes, she did meet another man, oddly enough, He was called Norman too, He was My Dad.

Mum loved Dad,  it was sometimes a bumpy marriage, She loved her first Norman till she died, something Dad was conscious of and perhaps
a little envious of now and then. How do you compete with the dead?

And she hated “The Japs”.

My Uncle had spent time in Changi Prison, He was there till just before the war ended. He remembered the Japanese becoming very quiet one day, and then a British fellow parachuting in and declaring that He was taking over the camp.

Not that log after coming home, My Uncle Ern, developed Parkinson’s Disease… You know, I never knew my Uncle, As I only saw him as an old shaky man who couldn’t speak, While the rest of my family treasured him.

Mum blamed the disease on “The Japs” too, although Parkinson’s Disease probably doesn’t come about from a terrible life experience, but not having researched it, I honestly don’t know why people get it.

Mum, and Dad (who had also fought in WWII) both hated “The Japs”, and passed the hatred down to my older Sister, who was full of hatred for the Japanese too, but, much to Mums dismay, I didn’t feel it myself, but I hadn’t been exposed to things the way they had been.

I hoped Mum had let go of her hate, maybe she had, I’m not sure… but I saw what carrying that hate around, did to her.

Mum had got on well with a lot of people during her life, She knew Finnish people, Italians, Greeks, Yugoslavs, most were kind to her, and so she was kind to them. I remember she often got cakes or vegetables from them, things she had never tried before, and she loved it.

I sometimes think that if Mum had found some Japanese living locally, then perhaps, somehow, conversation would have lead to a change of heart.

But I worry too, You see, Mum was holding onto her hatred as a way of coping with her losses, if that were taken away, would she have found another way to cope? I don’t know.

I have imagined that perhaps, one day, if she had Japanese friends who were good to her, that she would have opened up, and that somehow there would have been healing.

Strangely enough, she was fine with Germans.

Racism caused a family rift, and may have done so again, more recently.

My Mother had gone through a terrible birth, and had her first child, My Sister, Who, as it turned out, was of a darker skin… My Dad was partially Aboriginal, which naturally (in the 50′s) was not something you wanted anyone to hear about… No, Dad had Mediterranean or perhaps Spanish blood in him, that accounted for his colour.

As a result of this, I was never really sure, until a few years back, that I was, therefore, partly Aboriginal myself.

There was a skeleton in the closet, which Mum never spoke of, you see, I discovered that Mum had a Sister, at a later age than I should have, and that she lived locally.

I had asked Mum to explain why we’d never gone to see Ruby, but she remained tight-lipped.

One evening My Sister told me.

Jan, My Sister, Had been bought home from Hospital, and was in her cot. Ruby came to visit and went into the room where Jan was, and declared that she was “a little black mongrel” or some such… and Mum threw her out, never to be seen again.

So the two Sisters were lost to each other, and My Sister and I missed out on an Aunt, for what?

In the 80s, Vietnamese boat people came to Australia, and My parents didn’t like them at all, I didn’t like them much either, suddenly my school and our area seemed to be full of them.

They took over the shopping area, Footscray, a place where My parents and Jan used to spend a lot of time shopping. Mum said that they didn’t like it much when the Greeks and Italians moved in earlier, but they did keep their shops looking lovely, it seemed that they were always cleaning… while the Vietnamese clearly didn’t.

I think this is true, I still think it’s true. I used to go to Footscray myself as a teenager, and it seemed to be in a lot better condition back then, these days it’s run down and smells bad, it’s really not a nice place to be… but then, I’m not the best house keeper either.

One day, A friend of a friend, became a friend of mine, and he was Vietnamese, and of course I liked him. And I always thought very highly of his lovely Mum, who was a former teacher, and a bloody good cook too.

One day, Dad was out delivering, that was his job, and we stopped at a crossing, and dad mumbled “Look at them, bloody heads on ‘em like mice” as some Vietnamese crossed in front of us. What a strange thing to say, I thought. and then said “Dad, James is Vietnamese” and he replied “Yeah But he’s a better class of person” which didn’t seem to make any sense either.

You see, Dad really liked James.

This was the 80s, by the way, and there seemed to be a lot of homophobia too, even though 50% of our music seemed to come from Gay artists, which seemed to be ok, oddly enough.

One day, dad was talking about a local mechanic who had employed a man who was “a poofta”, who Dad had got to know, and he said “He’s a poof… but he’s a good poof” (Yes, you and me both)

It was difficult back then too, because I had feelings which I would have preferred to have opened up about, but couldn’t. There was a wall up, what could I do?

Mum may have threatened to toss me out of the house, which she had done a few times, but I had grown up before I realised that she never would have.

It may have been the late 90′s and refugees were coming by boat from another far off land… We were seated around the table at My Sisters house and the refugees were mentioned, and Jan said something like “I’d heard that now and then the navy sinks the bastards” and she was clearly pleased about that.

I’m not sure how I felt about that, fifty-fifty I think.

One day I was talking to a very good friend of mine and I said something like I agreed with Pauline Hanson when it came to refugees, and he hung up on me, now I could have said “up yours” but I didn’t, I usually never bend for anyone, but I did here, because I wasn’t completely sold on the idea.

We’re still friends.

I’m barely racist at all, it’s a bit strange when it does crop up, and you know, I feel it, I feel like my face turns to stone, it’s awful.

The refugees come again, and for a long time… did you notice it on Twitter? I never mentioned them, because frankly I didn’t care about them, partly because they were unknowns, so what did it matter to me?

Partly because, I mostly concern myself with environmental matters, I do think Humans are a plague on the planet, who are destroying it and everything else, and sadly I am too, though I did decide early on that I’d never produce more… heck, i would have been an awful Dad anyway, I’m not provider material.

And partly because that old racism thing was there in the background.

Then the straw that broke the camels back:

My Niece posted something really ugly on Facebook, You know the horrible right-wing bullshit about people invading the country and taking over our jobs and our land, the kind of thing that if a puff of wind hit it from one side, they’d be Nazis?The kind of thing that ends “and if you don’t re-post this, then you’re not a True Australian”.

I told her that She was wrong, that’s not how things are at all. It was clear to me where her thoughts had originated, Her Mother, and now she was doing it too, but was clearly worse.

I had forgotten about the incident when, about four months later, she did it again.

This time I tore strips off her, I really let her have it, I told her exactly what I thought of her and her posts, she pleased with me to go easy, as we’re family and all that, but it had gone far enough.

I had clearly jangled her nerves, she deleted her facebook account.

The next day my Grand Niece messaged me, “How dare you talk to Mum like that, IT DOESN’T MATTER ANYWAY, NOBODY CARES!”

and I messaged her back “and you can fuck off too”.

And that was it, There has been no communication with either of them since, I don’t really mind as I rarely saw them anyway, they may as well live on Mars to be honest.

As for the bit of racism I had, I think I vomited up the last remaining blob of it, and that was that.

However, you’d have to have a pretty hard heart to look at what’s happening in these detention centers and not see how utterly brutal and sickening it is, and to think we are the country doing it.

This isn’t my Country, where has My Country gone?

Let’s end with a recount of casualties here: Mum and Her Sister, split apart, never to see each other again, My Niece, Grand Niece and I… for what?

Let it go, that’s my advice.

Wolfie!

One last thing… Dad pulled up his truck once and he asked me “How can a man love another man anyway, I mean, an ugly, hairy, smelly man?” I thought it was a strange question, I think it hit me from the side, and I was unable to say anything… but later I thought “But don’t Women generally love Men?”





The offering of an alternate economy

20 03 2014

Perhaps the economy we use now, is cruel, perhaps it drives people to the wrong places, perhaps it will be our ruin.

It clearly doesn’t value people enough, there are people out in this world who earn next to nothing, yet do provide something to society every day, and I would like to think that I fit into that mold.

What if there was an economy based upon being grateful to others?

For changing an elderly persons light globe, for helping a friend with their computer, for holding a door open, for changing someone’s tyre.

And if these credits could be used to buy food, pay bills, or buy supplies, then that might be a very nice thing, I’m interested in the effect upon society, would it be a generally nicer world? Well if people know that they’re being rewarded for their kindness (which replaces what we call a “job”) then being kind would be something they’d want to protect.

And that kindness should also extend to the environment.

Suppose you found a video online about a man who looked after baby possums, you could give him some… oh, let’s call them “Wolfies” ;) and your points, and the points from others, kept him going?

This economy would have no basis on anything solid, no gold… everyone would start with, say 10,000 Wolfies, which would be generated when you sign on, and you could use these to spend on others, which others give you theirs.

Yes of course the system could be played, and this would have to be nutted out, How do we make absolutely sure that each person only has the one account and not a dozen?

I thought that a negative rating would be part of it, but if someone didn’t like someone else, for no reason, they could play havoc. so later I thought that there wouldn’t be any need for it, after all, the system shouldn’t promote anything nasty.

How could the points be used to buy bigger things, like a house?

And how would it stay active? we would get tired of giving everyone points all the time, perhaps it’s only possible with a computer which recognises that a kindness occurred, who was kind, and what they did, specifically… it would have to understand values… if you gave a friend a tomato you’d grown or you had worked all day on someone’s car.

Thoughts?

 

 

 

 

 





March In March

16 03 2014

I have a little story to tell, which I’ve been saving up for a post about music, but it’s about popularity too, which, I think works quite well for this post.

It was about 1981, I think, and I was at High-School. The popular band then, was Kiss… It seemed that most of the school absolutely loved them.

Girls would put on Kiss makeup and Kiss cut-outs from magazines were sticky-taped all over their books.

I was merely an observer to this, for as much as I liked music, Kiss were never my thing.

Then I caught the flu and was away from school for nearly a week, I had no contact with friends which was probably for the best, but when I returned I saw something very, very strange.

Everyone hated Kiss, it was like being on another planet, At the time I was stunned, I mean how could a band be so very popular one week, and hated the next? I wondered if something had been said by a band member that I hadn’t
heard about, but apparently not.

People can be very fickle about music, but my observations over the years is that on one hand, you have actual fans, they are the people who lap up the sound like a cat licks up cream, their adoration of the music is completely real, and there are other facets of the band and their music they they love too. I GET this as I’ve felt it quite a few times myself.

On the other hand, you have people who are into it, because it’s popular, and that’s what the cool kids are doing right now, so the attitude is “if I say I like it too, then I’m one of the cool people”.

While the real fans will play an album and listen intently and hear what the band might be telling them, and sometimes that’s useful information… for example: “Our Lips Are Sealed” by either The Go-Gos or Funboy Three, is a great anti-bullying anthem. The latter group will play the music as background music, and not pay much, if any serious attention.

So once it’s perceived that the cool guys aren’t listening anymore, the latter group don’t have to pretend anymore, after all it was little more than a “chore” to them.

The fans however, remain loyal, sometimes for the rest of their lives, because they felt something, they were personally moved, and feel a certain gratitude towards the band.

And now we come back to this weekends march.

The Newspapers, The Murdoch media, and I’m ashamed to say The ABC, all made Tony Abbott into something he wasn’t, The public were given the perception that all the cool people liked him, and none actually do. then lacking the ability to think, they mindlessly ticked the wrong box and Tony became Prime Minister.

The Public believed Tony was the best Man for the job, but the trouble with belief, is that it’s generally not the truth.

The truth is this, something Mum told me a long time ago.

“You can’t make a silk purse, from a Sows ear”.

Wolfie!





The Wolf who worked for ABC

27 02 2014

I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey

The Criminologist from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

They all kept telling me that I should do it, they told me over and over again, those friends of mine on a forum I was on, It could do this, it could do that, I wasn’t interested, because Second Life looked too much like a game, and I wasn’t a gamer, there would be no way that I’d ever use it.

Then I saw it on “Beyond Tomorrow” on Channel Seven, and decided that I could try it, and if I didn’t like it, I could simply leave.

I signed up.

I found myself on an island where avatars were born, and I couldn’t get off that Island, I was getting frustrated and may have logged out forever, except a friend found me and teleported me, to her.

Things started to look better, except I was still somewhat lost, but I found other friends were already in there, and they helped me get started. One of the first things I wanted to do, was to shed my human form, something many of us furries would eagerly do in real life, if it were possible.

One of my friends felt he could see the potential of Second Life and so bought us an island, which would be our home base, I was kind of shocked, buying an island was expensive, but I couldn’t stop him from getting one, and about a week later, there it was.

We were just feeling our way around, the experience was like being on another planet, and one where we were free to be ourselves completely, like some sort of hippy commune, we would walk around “naked” in this world. It’s funny, but it doesn’t take long for the avatar to feel as though it’s an extension of yourself, so when someone catches you naked, it’s a little bit embarrassing.

Furry culture thinks that sex, of any kind, is quite a normal thing, and that genitals are merely another part of the body.

I had genitals, multiple kinds for each avatar… human, equine, canine and dragon and we wore these proudly and flashed them about with gay abandon.

Psychologically it was quite interesting, there was a certain child-like thing about this stage of our lives in this virtual world.

Then I found out, via a friends forum, that ABC were investing in an island, and they wanted help, So I offered to help which was accepted, but it took months before the island opened, and there was lots of speculation and rumour about the island.

Abi, who was going to be the owner of the island, met with us on our own island, and we had a talk about how we’d set up our island, I think in general, most people want newbies to set up an island just like theirs, I think it’s an ego thing, I think we had a certain amount of pride in our island too.

The island did finally have a grand opening and loads of people went in to see it, I thought it started off really well, and I would meet some new people that day who I would get to know well over the next few years…

…Oh yes, did I say I was using Second Life every day now? It was now my main reason for using the internet, it ate data like crazy.

Later that day, a group of us were made Admins of the island, which allowed us to look after it, the fact was that ABC staff couldn’t keep an eye on it 24 hours a day, but the users could.

We could remove pests from the island, if we needed to, and we could report any technical issues with the island if anything went wrong.

Once something went very wrong, the island had pretty much vanished, and we thought that it was due to “Griefers” (a sort of internet vandal). Before we could get a definite reason for what went wrong, the story, and a photo of me flying around a deserted island, was published… but of course the story was laughable, it was a complete cockup, but loads of people read the story and many believed it.

The real story was that the computer which runs each island on Second Life, makes a backup of the island, every twelve hours or so, and during one backup, either the power failed or the computer crashed, resulting in a partial backup… so when the faulty backup was used to re-start the island, it looked as though someone had destroyed the place.

The people who run Second Life were told, and the island was started using an earlier backup, and everything went back to normal.

That’s all it was, but it’s not as exciting as the first story, is it?

I was on ABC Island a lot, trying hard to get people to come in and use it, but most people, like me at the start of this story, didn’t want to, and refused to even try it.

If they did, they’d get to the difficult first stage and give up.

Or their computer was too old and too slow to cope with Second Life.

Some people found the learning curve too steep, they either just wanted to play a game, or chat, this was over-complicated.

Or they lived way out in the country with extremely slow, or no broadband.

I knew that If we had the NBN back then, Then Second Life would have been wonderful for people in small communities around Australia, but sadly, with the woeful internet we have in regional areas, that wasn’t possible.

The Admins worked hard to get people to try Second Life, and especially our ABC Island which we were very proud of.

I should say at this point that many people thought I worked at ABC, because I was on ABC island so often, I told them that wasn’t the case, but  I did work *for* ABC, though only on a voluntary basis… Oh yes, it was work, it was surprising how much work there was, just to keep it going. If I had kept my own home that clean, the place would have been spotless.

But it was like having a really serious hobby which I was heavily involved with, so I enjoyed it.

I never had been put in a position of responsibility before, and because I wanted this project to work, I put as much into it as I could. and now I was dealing with new psychological changes, I found myself becoming strict, and if anyone disobeyed the rules, I’d get cranky about it and they’d suddenly “leave” the island.

Eventually there was another point where I gave myself a really good shake-up and told myself to lighten-up, I didn’t like what I was becoming, I wasn’t nearly as nice to people as I ought to be, at least that’s how I felt, I’ll let any of you who met me in world be the judge.

I had also, mostly been left with the job, You see, the other Admins, although they liked ABC Island a lot, and certainly helped me when I needed it, had found other creative interests and had decided to set up their own islands. They had developed and wanted to do their own things, which was great, but it had the effect of fragmenting the group.

A documentary crew had asked me to make a film about Second Life with them, which I did, but sadly, a lot of the facts about what I did on Second Life were dropped, I knew this at the time, but felt that making a film would still be fun. There was no mention of ABC because the film was made for another network, so a big part of what I really did on Second Life was left out.

I don’t blame the Director, She was under pressure from the network, who, after all, were funding the thing, but I was really quite unhappy about the result… ahh well, at least I had a few free meals and some fun.

The Doco involved Katie, My Alaskan Malamute, She had a few car rides out of it so she was happy.

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Katie and I, Taken during filming of Alter Ego: Photo – Matt Calissi, December Films.

I waited for a long time to see this Doco on air, and find out what people thought, but the network held onto it for ages, and then had some sort of review and changed from a station which played documentaries, into something which was more about general entertainment, the doco was shelved until one night, at 11pm on a December 23rd, thus, very few saw it.

As a good friend says “That’s Showbiz”.

Alas ABC was getting fewer visitors in later years, and I found myself standing around for hours, hoping someone would turn up, it was clear to me that Second Life wasn’t working, I had created Rockit, a music quiz show which did get people back to the island, but I was the only host, for what would always be a very small audience, as only a small number of people could ever be on an island at one time, We needed more hosts and more shows, Whenever anything was done which would draw an audience, it often did… but the logistics of getting it done were always difficult, there were roadblocks from ABCs side which couldn’t be overcome.

Second Life was an idea which came along at a point when computers weren’t up to the task and the internet wasn’t up to it either, If Second Life can hang in there for another ten years, then maybe it can regain some ground, but it’s going to take some imagination and some serious forward thinking, something we might have, but our government (like any right wing government) completely lacks.

This was also a time when I thought the ABC could do no wrong, but I have since seen it’s other face, and didn’t like it one bit.

When ABC Island closed down, I left Second Life completely, I had no purpose there anymore.

Wolfie Rankin

* I didn’t explain what Second Life was, Those who were there know exactly what it is, and those who weren’t, won’t care.





Being Normal

19 02 2014

There is a guy on Twitter who is railing against Bronies… now it’s not my cup of tea either, much in the same way that a punk rocker might think of “The Sound Of Music”.

My thoughts are that if you’re going to use your energy to be mad at something, use it for goodness, instead of evil-ness.

There’s a hell of a lot of bastards out there, people who swindle, abuse, kill wildlife for shits and giggles, poison the planet, tell people via their newspapers that scientists are cranks, and peddlers of religion.

If you’re going to have a crack at someone, go for these people.

And this.

I think there’s far too much “Normal” these days, as Huey Lewis once declared, It’s Hip to be Square. It’s a sorrowful time getting around and looking at people who are too afraid to be themselves. and listening to music which is as plain and dull as beige wallpaper.

But it’s safe, and people won’t laugh at you, will they?

Nobody wants to be a freak, freaks are bad.

If this is so, then why do your kids put pictures of freaks up on their walls, The Actors, The Singers, The Sportspeople, Women with massive knockers.

Nobody puts pictures of Plumbers or Accountants on their walls, unless they’re family, do they?

Funny how being odd is acceptable, if it’s hidden away behind a screen or on a record.

In the 80s, Homophobia was rife, and yet every other record we loved and listened to, was by a gay performer.

Ian McKellen said the reason he decided to be an actor, was because he was gay, and he wanted to remain gay, and he knew that the only place he’d be accepted as gay, was the theatre.

When I was at The School of Audio Engineering in St Kilda, My classes were at night, and Mum and Dad would drive me there, and wait for me until the class was over.

It was the mid 80s, and My Parents received quite an education, Punk rockers with colourful mohawks and leathers covered in badges, Men walking together, one with his hand down the others back pocket, Butch Lesbian ladies and all sorts of other oddities of the human race.

What has happened to us, We’re too afraid of who we are, too happy to be some manufactured, shallow, too pure to be true, Brady Bunch people.

Perhaps we’ve forgotten how to do it.

What a terrible shame.





Wolfie’s Vinyl

17 02 2014

A really strange thing has happened.

I’ve begun collecting vinyl records again.

The last time I bought a record must have been around 1990, but you know what, I missed it, and it appears that a lot of others did too.

I remember hanging out for my first CD in 1984, after hearing it played on the big monitor speakers at The School of Audio Engineering in St Kilda one evening. It was Michael Jacksons Thriller. I clearly remember walking from the record shop to the escalator and trying to open the box to see my first CD, it was stuck, and I battled to open the thing, but when I did, wow, here was this shiny little disc, with holographic colours inside of it, this was… the future!

The days of vinyl records were clearly numbered, but not completely over, I hadn’t yet managed to get a player, they cost over a grand back then.

Nor could I get CD singles, Most of my collection were singles, and now I’d have to buy albums… CD singles weren’t commonly available until the early 90s, and when they did finally arrive, they were just like 12″ singles, which wasn’t too bad, as long as they included the version which was being played on the radio… not always the case.

But I went off music for quite some time.

Then a few years ago, I heard about Record Store Day, an international event where a select few records would be released or re-issued, often as a collectors edition in a beautiful gate-fold sleeve and in coloured vinyl.

Well, I bought one or two and that was that, a collection which I thought wouldn’t get any larger, has suddenly flourished again.

My passion, musically, is retro, particularly the 80s, but I can go back to the 60s to, I recently bought two Beatles box sets which I’m very pleased with, and I’ve been following news of re-issues very closely.

I’ve realised that others are interested to, but haven’t quite tuned onto what’s happening.

So I’ve started a community page on Facebook and Google+ called “Wolfie’s Vinyl” to show people what’s out there.

I’d also really like to see what other people are collecting too.

So please drop in anytime and share your ideas.








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