AHHH, Wellington, location of my residence, capital of my country, issuer of my passport. To perform shows in the city where I live, conjures deep feelings of handiness, convenience and simplicity of transport. If you too share the uncanny bond with me of being in the approximate same vicinity, then this show is almost written for you. It will speak to you in ways that only people who don't have to travel far, will understand. Bookings are available on our locally-sourced, artisanal booking website, Eventfinder. It's a little hipster, very progressive, and has all the right attitudes towards human rights, deep ocean oil exploration, coffee technique and bees.
My thoughts on the refugee debate, published in today’s Herald on Sunday. To make it accessible for modern media, I thought it best to write the column as a Top 5 list; and also to drop in the name of Max Key. See if you notice. The Herald link is HERE.
Do I need a reason to come to the regions? Of course not. Hot diggity. It's all the joy of travel, plus some of the joy of time travel. And that's why I'm coming to Napier's famous Cabana on Friday Aug 28. Online bookings here. Yay-yay, Ray-ray's coming to Nay-Nay, in Hawke's Bay-Bay. Let's raise our hands in the air, like we're really eager to answer a question, or we're under arrest.
The hubbub over Auckland house prices and Chinese buyers made me feel I should write something. For the longest time, it was just an idea for a tweet: "If I’m ever in Auckland and feel depressed, I’ll pop into a house auction, just for the hugs." It grew into an op-ed which I submitted to the NZ Herald. They splashed it on the front page of their print edition, which is pretty cool.
You can read the piece online here. Enjoy.
I'm in the neighbourhood, fair people of Hokitika, so I thought I'd pop in and do a show. Let's say hi. Let's wonder if we should shake hands. OK, I'll do the talking, even if that means I risk appearing bubbly. Let's be as enthusiastic as it's comfortable for us to be. Whether it's half-smile, three-quarters, or the full Keri Hulme, let's climb the jungle gym of awkwardness and enjoy playtime even though it's crisp out. The show takes place SAT AUG 8 at the Old Lodge, otherwise known as the Dramatic Society on Regent St.
Bookings, physically, like walk your ass there, at the Hokitika Regent. And yes, there will be a bar at the venue :-) SEE YOU THERE. Did I mention there's a bar at the venue? A BAR. SERVING DRINKS.
People of Christchurch! I’m playing one night at WUNDERBAR in Lyttelton, on Friday August 7. Come along, let us huddle together in the warmth of your puffy jackets and polarfleece -- while I stand and comedify.
Bookings here via Eventfinder. DO IT. Yes, it's a commitment, but it's only commitment for one night.
Peter Jackson's catching flak for making three bladder-busting Hobbit movies from one short book. The criticism seems absurd: like bashing a hybrid car for driving further on less fuel. Surely we should be praising Peter Jackson, for finding more gems in Tolkien than are obvious to the naked eye. He's even been criticised for changing the tone: as if Tolkien's book was 1960s TV Batman with Adam West, and Peter Jackson decided to make The Dark Knight. The statistical website 538 even criticises Jackson for turning one sentence in the book into a two minute sequence. But how is this bad? Who's to say Tolkien got it right? Surely you could argue instead that Tolkien missed an opportunity: by imagining in his head two minutes of dynamic action, and McNuggeting it onto the page in one flaccid blurt. Maybe Tolkien would be more of a page-turner if his writing did include more action sequences. Is The Matrix bad because it takes a moment that should take a quarter-second -- the flight of a bullet -- and turns it into 30 seconds? If less is more, if a synopsis is snobperior to a re-enactment, you might as well say we don't need 1200 pages of War and Peace, because the title says it all.
Ultimately 538 gives The Hobbit trilogy the award for stretching source material, getting 2 minutes from each page of book. Well, whether you see this as value, or a filibuster, The Hobbit isn't the winner. It isn't even the winner this week.
Exodus: Gods and Kings, starring Christian Bale as Moses, weighs in at 150 minutes. The source material is Exodus, the third book in The Bible (various authors, out of copyright, fantasy, adult themes.) Exodus is only 25 pages (in the paperback Bible I found on Amazon.) Granted, it's Bible font, so it's printed like the business end of an eye chart, but that still makes six minutes of movie for every page: a triple Hobbit. Or perhaps a Hobbit Centipede.
How about Bond, James Bond? Maybe if he didn't introduce himself that way, the films would be shorter. For Your Eyes Only is 50-odd pages of short story by Ian Fleming, while the 1981 movie (Roger Moore, Carole Bouquet, Mr Bean-style car chase with a Citroen 2CV) is 127 minutes. That's more than the Hobbit ratio of two minutes to one. Octopussy (1983, second-to-last Roger Moore, Maud Adams eponymously octopricious) is 131 minutes, versus 33 pages of short story. That's four minutes per page -- a double Hobbit -- and arguably only the title is drawn from the original text. When the title, only the title, Mr Bond, is the entire inspiration, forget how many minutes you get from each page: that's 131 minutes from one word. That's lots. That's a better ratio than The Lego Movie being inspired just by, well, Lego.
A View to a Kill (1985, Roger Moore's final Bond, Christopher Walken as the baddie) gets 131 minutes from 31 pages of short story: Double Hobbit. Another Double Hobbit is Quantum of Solace, the second Daniel Craig movie: 106 minutes, from a 24 page short story. Quite a quantity of quanta.
Maybe you think Bond, by demand of volume, is a separate category. Then how about Philip K Dick? Steven Spielberg's Tom Cruise movie Minority Report (2002) gets 145 minutes from 32 pages of short story, nearly five to one. Not quite Exodus, but close. (And Spielberg, remember, won Best Picture for a three-hour-plus movie based on just a list of names.) Philip K Dick's short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale is 18 pages. The Arnold Schwarzenegger adaptation Total Recall (1990) turned it into 113 minutes. That's six minutes per page of Philip K Dick, for Full Triple Hobbit, and equi-Exodus. In fact, extra-Exodus because, unlike the Bible, Philip K Dick isn't printed in squint font.
Pirates of the Caribbean originated as a 3-minute ride at Disneyland. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) is somehow 135 minutes, yielding a 40-to-one ratio. That's a peak-hour busload of Hobbits. Add to that three sequels (Dead Man's Chest (2006, 145 mins), At World's End (2007, 168 mins), and On Stranger Tides (2011, 137 mins) and you get a grand total of 585 Pirate movie minutes -- nearly ten hours -- from one original theme park attraction, where lining up in a maze (not counting parking) is longer than the actual ride. And another sequel is in production. Yet, do we hear fanboys complain about the filmmakers' lack of fidelity to the duration of the original animatronic boat ride? Do we hear fanboys complain they want the movies to be more repetitive, and to stop adding new events that aren't in the ride?
But wait, there's more. (Fittingly.) Spike Jonze took Where The Wild Things Are, and reverse-distilled 48 pages of paintings by Maurice Sendak, into 109 minutes of movie. That's more than the Hobbit ratio. And Sendak's words are few, and sparse -- almost Eastwoodian -- so really, the ratio is even bigger. Likewise, fairy tales like Snow White or Sleeping Beauty are Little Golden Books (at most 32 pages), yet the movies run 90 minutes, for a 3 to one ratio. We could call that 1.5 Hobbits, or a Samwise Gamgee after lunch. And only a Grinch would watch a kids movie and say: "But that musical number wasn't in the book!!!" (The Tom Hanks/Emma Thompson film Saving Mr Banks wrestles with this, in Walt Disney's personal struggle to adapt Mary Poppins over the author's objections.)
Speaking of songs: Convoy (1978), starring Kris Kristofferson as the truck driver known as Rubber Duck, adapted a 1975 song by CW McCall (duration 3 mins 49 secs) into 106 minutes. Minutes-wise, that's 30 to one -- 15 Hobbits, a complete rugby team. But the lyrics fit on one page, so that's actually a ratio of 106, or 53 Hobbits. Yet in the movie, the truckers keep rolling, and never even worry about running out of gas.
Philosophically, though, who's even to say which is longer, the movie or the book? Surely it depends how fast you read. If I hand you the book at the start of a movie session, would you be finished reading by the time I come out? Only one way to find out. When the first Lord of the Rings movie came out, I bought Tolkien's The Hobbit, as a patriotic duty. That's 12 or 13 years ago. A mere 300 pages. And the truth is, I've made it further through the movies.
The pitfall is a fanboy desire for the one, true adaptation. How good was Matt Damon's The Bourne Identity? Awesome, right? I defy you to attempt the book. In fact, good luck watching the Richard Chamberlain miniseries, which would have been closer to the original. People often mention that Shakespeare adapted other people's plays. Were his plays true to the originals? Nobody asks; nobody cares. Shakespeare blasted the others offstage. If anyone does wonder about the earlier plays, it's an academic, and then, only because Shakespeare did such a good job. Ditto Tolkien. From now on, it'll be thanks to the movies if fantasy-lovers seek out JRR Tolkien -- instead of that other guy with RR in his name.
(PS If my numbers are out, blame Wikipedia, Amazon or IMDb. I'm not at a bookshelf. I'm on a beach in Thailand. But this seemed important.)
In honour of the latest Hobbit film, Raybon explores a sociological question about Middle Earth.
Ewen and I came up together. Pretty sure we did our first festival the same year, in the same pub. We were up for the Billy T the same year, the first year, when he and Cal won it. He was a cheerful, generous spirit with a glint in his eye and a voice hoarse from making an effort. An outgoing raconteur who clearly liked people. You don't become a marriage celebrant if you don't like people. He was comfortable in his own skin, always smiling, always leading with a joke or a jibe. I see him in the Billy Connolly mould, only you suspect Ewen has an easier time with his public.
Early on we were booked as a double bill in Invercargill. I felt out of my element (sorry, Invercargill) and to an extent so did he, but he took the lead and made sure we both survived it. He was a guy who decided his mission was to crack you up, and he didn't over-complicate it.
His success was his authenticity. He was playing a character, in costume, but he was living the character too, like a total method comic. His jokes were crafted and unapologetic.
Recently we both did a line-up show for Amnesty International. He was closing the show, and I made a point of going out front to watch him, from the audience point of view. He has a unique way of planting himself in front of the mike stand, legs wide apart, with a totally open stance, almost a Superman stance. I wanted to observe the sheer confidence of the man, to see what I could learn. Huge laughs from the crowd, thunder-cracking belly-laughs. I found myself nodding my head at his skills, and just going, "YES!"
I only hope his passing doesn't create bad publicity for weed. He was such a top bloke.
Well, it's been a long time coming but here we are. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm delighted to announce the Tenth Anniversary Edition of my book, An Asian at my Table. To state the highly probable, it's been ten years since this book came out as a sheaf of paper and glue. It was a wad, it was a ream. Now it's an e-book on Amazon Kindle. This version sports an all new cover, a new intro, and every word of text has been meticulously vajazzled, or rather, dejazzled. Ten years can be a long time for jokes, so I've gone back to the original pixels and hit control-delete with a cold heart and a greedy rhythm. The chiselled sculpture that remains, has withstood a tightening and firming treatment that would cost a movie star a fortune. If you loved it the first time, now rekindle your love, on Kindle. Put your treasured paperback next to the e-book and play 'spot the difference'. If this book is brand new to you, Kindle now, and later on, rekindle. As a special launch offer, the book will be marked down to the crazy price of US$0.99 for three days (or 72 hours in hostage-ransom time) so get amongst it. As Amazon Kindle like to point out, this book can teleport magically onto any of your devices within one minute, so surrender to that impulse! You won't regret it. (Well, you might, but if you do, surrender to another impulse! And another! And another!) To find out more, or even to download a free sample, click here. Then click again! And again!
Raybon wonders how military NZ is as a country. You've wondered it too, don't pretend you haven't.
Ever wonder what happened to the world economy? Here's the answer.
Hi there. Thrilled to be heading to the South Island next week for some stand-up shows. Finally. It's been a long time coming. The gigs have been organised courtesy of Crackup Comedy, and bookings are available via Dash Tickets.Comedy gigs are much better with an audience, so shift that South Island butt and get along! I'm having to travel much further than you! Looking forward to hearing those authentic mainland laugh-utterances, alongside the occasional dismissive shift of bodyweight in the seats. Yes, I notice. Raybs
I don’t like gay rootin’I'm Vladimir Putin
Let all the countries boycott I don’t let boys in my cot
My snowmobile It ain’t no homobile
I only sex up ladies Ain’t gonna go to Hades
Boys who try to suck me off Get a load of my Kalashnikov
Take one look at my derrière I’ll send you to Siberrière
Your sequinned rainbow flag A look fantastic in the gulag
Gay pride, go ahead 'n' try it Say hello to Pussy Riot
I’m the boss of Russia, bitch! Olympic torch you like a witch.
After what, 1200 days of psychological torture, Bradley Manning, the exposer of war crimes, said this today in court: "How on earth could I, a junior analyst, possibly believe I could change the world for the better over the decisions of those with the proper authority?"If you spit when you reach the words 'proper authority' the sentiment comes out just right. I can imagine Martin Luther King bellowing 'proper authority,' like an ominous drumbeat, the trampling percussion of invasion. Bradley Manning's quote should be the opening of one of the great inspirational speeches of our time. Indeed, of any time. IF ONLY more junior analysts, or minions, or cogs -- or soldiers just following orders -- had the courage and moral compass to seek to change the world for the better. PARTICULARLY over the decisions of those with the proper authority. The world would be a better place. History will show Bradley Manning did change the world for the better. Amid the bombs, his quiet example gleams. His heroism is all the mightier for being performed by a human. Bradley Manning's flesh and emotions have certainly registered these 1200 days of calculated treatment, hour by waking hour, requisitioned and carried out by the same proper authority. At terrifying personal cost, he exposed war crimes. He is a hero. Read his quote again. Out loud. Choose between disgust or tears when you reach 'proper authority.' His words ought surely be engraved on the gateway to heaven. We can only hope justice sees the light before then.
Etiquette has shifted seismically since the quake that was Aaron Gilmore. We all know the story: a waiter refused to serve more wine, so the sozzled MP threatened to have the waiter fired (by the Prime Minister himself, using laws which probably would have been passed under urgency, before dessert, to achieve the goal).Is massive douche-baggery a sacking offence? Some would say Gilmore was acting out precisely the job description of an entitled Tory Lord. Maybe before they get chosen, MP candidates should be put under surveillance during service-industry encounters (most likely the reason the GCSB is now allowed to spy on New Zealanders.) Personally, I've noticed some subtle behaviour changes, when I go to a restaurant. Now, when the waiter approaches with the menu and asks if I'd like to hear the specials, I wave the questions away. I touch the waiter on the elbow. "You're the special," I say, "and don't ever forget it." To the menu, the notebook, the pen, I bid: "Please, put those down." These implements are barriers to our interaction. I shake the waiter's hand warmly -- with both of my hands, Bill Clinton style -- and with eyes twinkling with compassion, I say: "Let's talk about you." At that point I briefly break eye contact to scan for a name-badge, and continue: "Tell me, [insert name badge] how is your family? Are they well?" "Are you in a settled relationship?" "Are you happy?" I ask if the kitchen is far. The waiter tends to point in the direction of the kitchen. "That seems quite a long way," I say, noticing the gradient of the floor. The return trip looks unreasonable. I scribble on the waiter's notepad. "Here's my number," I say. "When the meal is done, call me. Maybe." (Young hospitality workers enjoy popular music, so this often goes down well.) But I realise I'm being presumptuous. What if the waiter doesn't have enough free minutes on his phone to call me? I don't even know what plan he's on! (Note to self: ask that question earlier.) "Take my phone. Leave me yours," I say. "When the order is ready, use my phone to ring your phone, and I'll come get it. I'm sure I'll know how. Some of my best friends employ waiters." At about this stage, I discover waiters can be quite rude themselves. I dunno why everyone's making out that waiters are a bunch of saints.
Bookings are available for my all-new show Raybon Without A Cause in this year's Comedy Festival. I'm playing the Foxglove Ballroom in Wellington, on the waterfront, from May 7-11. In Auckland, I'm playing the provocatively-named Vault at Q, on Queen St, from May 15-18. My show in the Comedy Festival will be festive and comedic. I will leave you wanting more, but hopefully in a good way. (Not in a "Can I speak to the manager?" way.) Tickets are on sale at the Ticketek website.
Big news, I'm filming my first DVD in April. Thank you, thank you. Well, to be honest, it'll be video not film. And let's face it, this show will get seen more often as a download than a DVD. (Are there even shops any more that sell DVD's? You can buy a DVD PLAYER for the old price of a DVD, so the signs are not promising for the future of Digital Versatile Disk.) Never mind, I've been meaning to make a special since the days of VHS, so let's get it done before we all get squashed by an asteroid, and comedy reverts to humorous cave painting. Welcome to our era. We've reached a point in history where artists hope that their files are shared far and wide, because it's embarrassing to be a little boat that even pirates won't touch. As the saying goes, sticks and stones may break our bones, but downloads improve live ticket sales. The DVD special is called Squeeze My Live Album which I enjoy because it contains the letters 'Squeeze My Bum.' Yes, this is the level of my first and possibly only Greatest Hits compilation. Wouldn't you like to be a part of this? Well, you can. The show is in Wellington on Sat April 13 at Meow on Edward St. Laugh good and your noises will make it to the final cut. (No pressure.) I'll be doing the show twice that night. All tickets are $10, which is absolutely cray-cray. So get in fast. Book your tickets here! More details soon.
"That's not an Olympic sport!!!" That's my voice. Over the past two weeks, out loud -- to the TV screen. Even I'm surprised. The TV remains impassive.
The outbursts sharpen -- more of them, more sudden, but not for as long.
"Not a sport!"
Eventually the attacks get so close, crests of waves merge. "NOLYMPIC!"
And now -- good grief -- I'm blogging about it. (You know someone feels strongly about something, when they blog about it.) It embarrasses me to have emotions this strong, about something I'm not participating in. That's what religious people do.
Anyway, emergency purge: Trampoline, out. Rhythmic gymnastics, out. Beach volleyball, out. Men's football. Mixed doubles tennis, so out. Doubles tennis. Singles tennis. Out, out, out. Was that enough outs? Sailing. Shooting. Archery. Equestrian. Heptathlon. Decathlon. Race walking. Most swimming. Mountain biking. All of the above. OUT. Have I left anything out? I fear I've left too much in.
Let's start with an easy one. Race walking. Competitors walking 50 km, or even 20 km, is not a sport. It's a symptom of poor public transport. Somebody complain to the Mayor.
Race walking is an oxymoron. You either race or you walk. ("Are we training now, or walking to training?") It's as if an earlier breed of humans haven't quite twigged to running, and we the spectators are hoping that during the race, one of them will discover how to run, and then evolve. The problem is, once one does, they get disqualified. It's like watching the Tall Poppy Syndrome at work, with little red flags.
A sport done well, done at its best, is beautiful. Here's what you always hear about sport: They make it look so easy. Not so with walking. Done at its Olympic finest, walking is an abomination. It looks like something that needs a cure. It's the terms-and-conditions version of poetry. It's a flash mob who've been punked. In the history of pedestrian achievement, from swagger to sashay to pilgrimages to exodi to hikoi to goose-stepping -- including chickens crossing the road inexplicably -- race walking is an affront to every step of it. John Cleese couldn't save race walking.
Next to go: Equestrian. Let's be honest: a fancy name for Horse Tricks. If you can compete in a top hat, it's not a sport. If you can compete in a top hat til you're 56, it's clearly not a sport. It's a form of middle management. Mark Todd is able to win because it's not his body doing the work. (May I suggest that the human body doing work is the minimum definition of sport.) Every 4 years, Mark Todd gets a fresh set of bionic equine legs. He's like a rich guy who's had his brain frozen in a jar -- and every 4 years, medical and veterinary scientists bring him to the Olympics inside a better, stronger, faster jar. But it's the jar that deserves the medal. And the jar should be at a separate competition for jars only.
Sailing. Sailing's not a sport. The wind does the work. All the sailors do is guess which way the wind is blowing. Imagine if that's what the sport was called. "And welcome to Eton Dorney for this morning's heats in the Men's Guess Which Way The Wind Is Blowing. Not so impressive now, is it? Clearly sailing is a complex manual activity. But so is knitting. So is cooking. So is glassblowing, playing the bagpipes, and building a garage. It's tempting to think of sailing as a sport -- mainly because we win medals at it -- but at best, sailing is a healthy activity. Sailing is 'being outdoors'. But does that make it a sport? No more than putting up a tent. I don't think people look back on Columbus and say: "What a great athlete!" History books don't describe Captain Cook and Abel Tasman as the Federer and Nadal of their day. Nobody looks at Dennis Conner and says: "What is your secret to core strength?"
Yes, this is my diary entry for August 25. THE FUTURE. Yes, it's a form of time-travel. I predict I will be doing my show in Napier on August 25. I've just returned from the future, and I can report, the GIG GOES REALLY WELL. So book tickets. You're going to anyway. (Or will you?) OK, maybe don't think too much about the time-travel aspect.
Just book tickets. The Future-You will thank Now-You for it.