July Episode I: From Aliens to Robots

July started off with our first ever night at our new venue Shebeen. Alex D’Aloia took us on a tour of Poetry: Tongue Jazz with jazz jazz going on next door – what better way than to use music as an inspiration for us to write new slick poetry verses? Meanwhile, Mark Stevens gave us his One Man’s Introduction to Jazz. We had a brief look at the history of jazz: from its roots in blues, to where it stands today. Along the way we stopped and listened to some famous jazz tracks, and heard two of the greats: Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker. Mark also talked with us about Jazz Giant John Coltrane, one of the most renowned jazz saxophonists who went through an astounding transformation of his music through his career. From his early days in the Miles Davis quintet, to his later experimental music we topped off the class by listening to “Om”… a truly bizarre and intriguing jazz experience.

So, aliens. What sort of scientific achievements would an alien species have to reach in order to be able to visit and remain mostly undetected? Anthony Russo’s fascinating class on Extra Terrestrials: Science and Aliens began with a discussion of the distances they would need to travel, and the types of power generation they might be able to use to achieve this. We then moved onto some of the most famous hoaxes, and some of the photos which are still unexplained. To finish it off, Anthony brought in a helmet he made which could protect your noggin from some of the possible weapons an alien might have, including light-stunners and brain-scanners. All in good fun!

At the Open-Source Urban Engagement class, Alvaro Maz from Creative Suburbs, took us for a ride from having an idea or concept to realising it by engaging others in community projects. He hooked us in with Kinder eggs and ended the class with a great forum about how to make your ideas/project happen.

WineAs usual Wine: A One Night Palate Trainer, with Claire Burder from The Humble Tumblerwas a fantastic experience. We learnt everything about wine tasting and differentiating tastes: acidic, sweet… We even got to try, hopefully as a once in a lifetime experience, pure tannin (yuck!) but we definitely “drowned” that bad flavour with 6 splendid wines, some jelly beans and some homemade, yummy salami from Claire’s family vineyard.

We also learnt a lot about Mezcal: Tequila’s Hipster Cousin with Rachelle LaCroix Mallik, NY expat, dietician and foodie. She studied food culture in Oaxaca, Mexico and learn the Mezcal-making process with locals along with a few secrets and gossip. In her class, we learnt how to taste Mezcal, its history and its manufacturing. We tasted joven (young in Spanish) and añejo (old) Mezcal and found out that Mezcal doesn’t always has a worm or scorpion in the bottle (in fact the best ones don’t, so look out next time!).

FeminismClasses on -isms can be risky, but Kate Iselin led us deftly and with humour through the issues of Everyday Feminism. From a discussion on magazine headlines targeted at men and women, to the plight of females all over the world who are repressed, or even have their lives endangered simply because of their gender. It led to a wonderful discussion as we all had varying views on the topic, but could have an informed and respectful discourse about clearly important issues.

Kyle from Humble Be Workshop sure walks the talk! Coming from an architecture and interior design background, he re-built his family house in Brisbane out of upcycled materials and reclaimed waste, along with a group of friends and volunteers! In his Trash to Treasure class, he showed us examples of constructions using these materials: from skyscrapers to tiny huts and liveable houses! He also showed us how to differentiate what waste is good to use from what is not and how to prepare it. We even got to test our knowledge with a few bike wheels. We plan to use some of those tips soon!

Photo EssaysEric Jong introduced the class to Photo Essays: a precisely laid out set of photos, often with brief captions, that attempt to tell stories. With many beautiful and sometimes confronting examples, he showed us the rules of the traditional photo essay, and then how to break the rules! This led to a discussion on one of the cardinal rules: photographing only what was naturally happening, and that any sort of posing or interference destroys the integrity of the photo essay. But even this line has been blurred in recent years, including a well known example of an essayist who asked the window washer to dress up in a spider-man outfit. All-in-all a fascinating class!

3D Printing


In 3D Printing: The Robots Are Coming Scott Phillips had two of his machines printing away whilst he explained all about 3D printing, how it works and what it can be used for: everything from creating art to making medical prosthetics. We also found out that the first 3D printing actually started in the 80s!

Watching Harry Harrison, from the Melbourne Uke Kollective, play his ukulele was mesmerising but learning with him was even better! In Beginner’s Ukulele with Bob Dylan we used some of Dylan’s classic songs such as Blowin’ in the Wind, Don’t Look Twice and You Ain’t Going Nowhere to learn basic chords and even managed to sing along! Now we just need some practice and we can join the Kollective! And then we spent an evening strumming along with Josh Fuhrmeister in his class on Better Chords, Better Strumming. We learnt some interesting and colourful chords that sound awesome AND are easier to play! Suspended 4th chords: that’s where it’s at. Now to heal my sore fingers!