Thursday, May 31, 2007

Old friends

Too much pressure! The time since my arrival home, yes, home, has been extraordinary. The clash of the cliches has kept me thinking about what this blog will mean to me in the long term. In Sydney, it became the megaphone for my inner voice ... the pleading for reason and understanding of a person inhabiting a city - both of whom are somewhat renowned for ultimately lacking both.

Since I have returned to Melbourne, I have slept. I have relaxed in the company of my wonderful, dear friends. Familiarity has washed over me like bubble-bath foam ... and I have breathed in the unmistakable aroma of something I think I recognise. I have wanted to write, but I have not been able to. All of my senses are startled by death (the suicide of someone I knew in the heady days of my previous life in Melbourne) and whatever it is that happens when old friends sit down to a glass of wine at midday and are still at it at 1am!

Some of my friends have aged. Apparently I have not. Melbourne has grown up into a startling city of greater depth - primarily through the risks that have been taken with her architecturally. I have found myself saying "It's amazing how some things don't change."

It has been seven years.

I look forward to writing about it all.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Wheel of Fortune

Well, my plastic tubs are almost packed. The wardrobe is full of the detritus of various imaginings of a personal environment. And I'm awaiting a call from the removalists which will confirm my uplift time from Sydney tomorrow.

Over at Nash's blog, I discovered an interesting Tarot Card link. I do the occasional Tarot Card reading, and I was interested to discover which of the cards in the deck I might be - at least according to this little Q&A. I am apparently "The Wheel of Fortune". In JD's deck, I've always been the "Page of Wands".

Whichever it is, it's time to say 'toot toot' Sydney, for now. The computers have to be cold when they get packed and picked up tomorrow morning, so I'm logging off and turning off until some time next week when I will pop up down south ... where Wheels, Wands and Pages will meet, once again, in the city of great hope, excitement and truth.

You are The Wheel of Fortune

Good fortune and happiness but sometimes a species of
intoxication with success

The Wheel of Fortune is all about big things, luck, change, fortune. Almost always good fortune. You are lucky in all things that you do and happy with the things that come to you. Be careful that success does not go to your head however. Sometimes luck can change.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

R.I.P 10BA and 10B

The 2007-08 Federal Budget has delivered many things for many people. Tax cuts, additional superannuation contributions, an increase in child care assistance packages, one-off payments of this and that to the elderly ... and on it went. About half way through Peter Costello's speech, I had the distinct impression that I was being force-fed Prosperity. I was having it shoved down my throat ... and I found myself gagging on the veritable length and breadth of the package. Of bribes. Of course, whether my fellow Australians are as gullible as all that remains to be seen. I didn't, however, feel entirely compelled to swallow Mr Costello's load. What was missing for me was a reference to 'Culture' (other than the culture of war and defence) or 'The Arts' (other than the art of shovelling dollars down our throats). But the devil, as they say, is in the detail ... and it was a disastrous night for Australian Arts and Culture (unless you happen to think that the Australian Ballet School's Southbank HQ deserves renovation).

Hardly! I used to work for The Australian Ballet, and every time I have been to see them in action since, especially at the Sydney Opera House during the last seven years, I've had to leave. Had too ... as in, no other choice but to. As a company, they are at the lowest ebb of their creative ebb and flow. In Mr Costello's budget, however: "The Government will provide $4.6 million in 2007-08 to the Australian Ballet School, including $2.9 million to address occupational health and safety issues in its current facility, and $1.7 million to undertake a detailed business plan and functional design for possible construction of expanded facilities." Yes, you read that correctly: " ... $1.7 million ... for [a] possible construction of expanded facilities." "Possible"? I'm going to send him an email. I'm going to suggest that for "$1.7 million, I'll write them a "detailed business plan" and get some fucking nancy twit to sketch up a "functional design" AND construct the fucking thing! Jesus! They're fucking baby ballet dancers for fuck's sake! It's a barre, a mirror and a sprung floor!

Subtextual pointe ... sorry, point 1: Reward hapless mediocrity.

But it is the Business of Film Investment (everyone knows there is no such thing as a Film "Industry" in Australia) that received a nasty jolt last night. Perhaps it's a good thing ... but it's impossible at this early stage of analysis to be even remotely optimistic about how the Federal Government have changed the rules of engagement for film investment in this country.

So what is, sorry, was the '10BA'? The 10BA was a piece of paper ... a form. With '10BA' in the top right hand corner. I've filled a couple out ... I know what they look like. What it represented was a 100% tax concession in investment in film for the financial year after the one in which the investment took place. For example, in the financial year 2005-06, someone invests $100,000 in a film. At the end of the following financial year, in this case 2006-07, they would be able to claim a concession of the $100,000 they had invested in the film. Let's be clear about this ... 100% - whether you got a return on your investment or not. Which would never eventuate in most cases - and not be expected to. Hence, the tax concession.

Of course there were conditions. In order to qualify for the mighty 10BA incentive, every single aspect of the film had to be undertaken in Australia. You couldn't think about your film while farting in LA without compromising your film's eligibility. Baz Luhrmann's Bazmark Films' Moulin Rouge investors were involved with a rather ignominious association with the 10BA when it was revealed that Luhrmann had actually completed some post-production offshore (in either Spain or LA I think). And lo and behold, come the end of the following financial year, the Moulin Rouge investors were denied their 10BA eligibility. The Sydney media went mad, with The Daily Telegraph (ironically, or not, published by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation who also own Twentieth Century Fox - the film's distributor) ran with a big, black, bold headline: "Moulin Scrooge!" What was peculiar about this particular tabloid outrage was that The Daily Telegraph was (and is) not renowned for it's concern for the business of Arts and Culture. This particular fuck-up was, however, impossible to let pass unnoticed. To the best of my knowledge, I believe it even ended up on page 1!

There have been rumours for years that the Howard-led Federal Government have wanted to bury the 10BA. There may, in fact, be wise and beneficial reasons for doing so. But I seriously doubt it. Why? Because of this statement in the Budget Papers, clearly stating that the "phasing out" of the "current investor tax incentives available through Division 10BA and Division 10B of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 ... will increase estimated taxation revenue by $55.0 million over three years from 2008-09."

So there you have it in black and white: investments in Australian films under the 10BA and 10B are estimated to have a nett worth of $55.0 million dollars over three years.

Also to go is The Film Licensed Investment Company (FLIC) scheme, which according to the Budget Papers: "... will not be renewed beyond its current expiry date of 30 June 2007." The FLIC scheme was a radical plan to test new methods for the Federal Government and the "Australian film and television industry" to work collaboratively to raise investment for local film production. A single licence was awarded to Mullis Capital Film Licensed Investment Company who were apparently " ... able to raise up to $10 million in each of the years 2005–06 and 2006–07." Under the FLIC scheme, the 100% tax concession was payable up-front, instead of having to wait until the end of the following financial year (as investors would need to under the 10BA system). At this point, I have not seen any evidence of the success (or failure) of the FLIC scheme ... but it would be reasonably safe to assume that it has not worked.

So what is replacing the 10BA, the 10B and the FLIC scheme?

This, from the Budget Papers: " ... a new producer tax rebate, by which Australian producers will be eligible for a 40 per cent refundable rebate on feature films and a 20 per cent refundable rebate on other media productions, including television series, documentaries, and mini-series. To be eligible for the rebate, productions will be required to meet criteria, including creative control by Australians, and minimum qualifying expenditure thresholds depending on the type of production."

And this: "The producer tax rebate will also include a component for international producers, incorporating the previous refundable film tax offset (RFTO). This will provide a 15.0 per cent rebate for eligible expenditure, compared to the RFTO’s current 12.5 per cent. Eligibility for international producers will be extended beyond the criteria for the RFTO to include post, digital and visual effects production in Australia, where the film itself is not made in Australia and qualifying expenditure exceeds $5.0 million."

And this: "The Australian Film Commission (AFC), Film Finance Corporation Australia (FFC) and Film Australia Limited (FAL) will be merged into a new, single agency – the Australian Screen Authority (ASA), scheduled to commence operations from 1 July 2008." Jesus! Can you imagine what kind of a hideous, protectionist, mutant bureaucracy the ASA will be(come)?!

So 100% becomes 40%. And the Australian Ballet School might get a new roomful of new barres.

What was in The Budget for you?

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Tusculum Street

Fate? Circumstance? Coincidence? Universal Guidance? Chance? Synchronicity? Are they all the same thing? Does it matter? Is it our Earthly responsibility to question? Ponder? Understand? Know? Regardless, the outcome of this particular not so insignificant Universally-guided (and determined) exchange in my Sydney story was to become the standard by which I set all of my expectations for what this magnificent city would teach my about myself.

I had undertaken a quick reconnaissance of rental property availability in the Potts Point area. In detail, it had involved a visit to the Raine & Horne office in Macleay Street, Potts Point. Having introduced myself, I explained that I was considering a move to Sydney from Melbourne and that I was interested in what various amounts of money could 'buy' in the Potts Point rental market. The very helpful Property Manager handed me a set of keys and a hand-written list of four apartment numbers. The building was 'Serena' - 5 Tusculum Street. Perfect location. Quiet street. Altogether ideal. The four different apartments, on three floors, each had a different price. It all depended on just how much of the Harbour you could "glimpse". The price range was $180 (no glimpse - of anything) to $280 (glimpse of, possibly, water through trees from a narrow bathroom window).

By Melbourne standards, this was, well, excessive. My top floor apartment in The Ritz Mansions building on Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, was a veritable palace by comparison. I had so much space in The Ritz that I often exhausted myself walking from my bedroom to the bathroom! Space in Sydney was, by all appearances, worth more than space in Melbourne ... or was it the other way around? Regardless, as I stood outside 'Serena' checking out the building's exterior, my eyes were drawn toward the sky. There, if I was not mistaken, were apartments on the roof! The views from these apartments would have been sensational, I imagined. And I marched back to my new friend at Raine & Horne to return the keys.

"The apartments on the roof," I said.

"There are four, two at the front and two at the back. The tenants in the two front ones have been there for about ten and fifteen years respectively," was my new friend's response.

"As you would imagine", I conceded ... realising that my best bet was to move into one of the other apartments in this building and wait, patiently, for my turn in either of the two west-facing roof-top apartments. I thanked my new friend for showing me what was available, and told her I would come back the moment I landed in Sydney to live. She was distracted with I wasn't to know what ... but she managed one of those classic "Yes, lovely ... piss off now" smiles I am sure they learn in Real Estate School.


In September I returned. Melbourne had been departed from with grace and alacrity ... the details of which I will write about another time. My gorgeous friends AK and DH collected me from Kingsford Smith Airport in their silver Saab, and I was to spend a few glorious weeks sleeping on their couch while I settled in to my new domain. The morning I flooded the bathroom, we all knew it was time for me to go. AK said as much.

I walked in to the Raine & Horne office as my friend was finishing a telephone conversation. As she hung up, she looked at me as though she had seen a ghost. 'Yes' I was the guy who had come in late last year and asked about 'Serena's' rooftop apartments ... and more completely astonishingly, 'yes', she had just hung up from the tenant of one of them who, after fifteen years, had just given notice. "So it's mine then!" I confirmed ... at which point she, still staring at me in a wildly perplexed manner, slid a rental application form onto the counter between us. I must have been a Warlock. It was obviously meant to be. Fortunately for me, she was just as convinced of this fact as I was.

Real Estate Agent negotiations have always been a piece of cake for me. It's where the Great White Pointer in me glides effortlessly and silently to the surface. I always know there are going to be any number of rental crises for us both to endure in the months ahead, and it's important that I employ the charm imperative to its full and maximum effect - right from the start. Charm is a greatly under-valued human characteristic. I have used it variously throughout the years to drop prices (and occasionally prized pairs of pants) - but never standards. It's the one thing about Charm, it doesn't require a compromising of standards, in quite the same way as downright deceit, collusion or dishonesty does. Charm is a gift - from one person (in this case me) to another (in this case someone who, in the not too distant future, would need to chose between being patient or evicting me without delay). Needless to say, I would eventually leave 'Serena' in circumstances of (something like) my own choosing.

My ally behind the counter is quite literally gob-smacked. We engage the pointless little Receptionist with details of how I had enquired last year about the possibility of one of the roof-top apartments, and that here I was, walking back in the door on the very day that one of them was being vacated. After fifteen years!

I filled out the application form as my new friend picked up the telephone.

"I'll just call the tenant back and tell her that you'd like to have a look ..."

"No," I said. "That won't be necessary."

I explained that if the tenant had lived in the apartment for fifteen years, then she would be very sad to be leaving it. (Just how sad I was to find out myself, a few years later!) I would prefer to respect her privacy and her timetable and would be happy to view the apartment once she had vacated. I flipped my cheque book onto the counter and wrote a cheque for $500.

"Hold this as a deposit ... and call me when she's moved out."

And I was smiled out the door. Never underestimate the value of a strategically-placed and enacted charm offensive. Ever.


Two weeks later, my girlfriend at Raine & Horne called. The tenant had vacated and if I wanted to pop around this afternoon, I would be taken and shown through the apartment. I dressed up (the concept of which escapes the vast majority of Sydney-siders in an almost compelling fashion) and walked from Surry Hills to Potts Point. My new friend's male colleague would take me to the apartment - and as we walked around the corner to 'Serena', I chatted idly about how excited I was to be living in Sydney. Security gate. Check. Security front door. Check. Tacky lift. Check. Fifth floor. Perfect. Key in the door. Door open.

I walked in to ...

... heaven. Without a word of a lie.

A third of the apartment was a partly covered rooftop terrace from where, on hundreds of nights, I and anyone who was with me, would watch the sun set behind the city skyline. New Year's Eve ... the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games ... more firework displays than I care to remember ... BBQs ... an unforgettable bonfire ... parties ... fuck, we lived this little space well!

There are many more wonderful photos of this apartment - but they are all prints. (MP, who would later take over the lease from me, has a wonderful collection here and here.) My photos don't belong here, because to be perfectly honest, I really don't want too many reminders of just how perfect this little apartment was. Or just how wonderfully well I lived it. It was to be my oasis. My Utopia. My Magic Balcony. My window on the world ... and the city which was my new home. In it, I would experience the most extraordinary times. The boldest, most sweeping, grand and enduring memories of arriving - and living - in Sydney in style. I miss it every day. Still. I was to exchange it for a different kind of magic and wonder on the banks of the Woronora River ... an experience that took me into the darkest corners of all my failings.

Where, one night, with one sentence, my housemate Michael would pierce me to the bone.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Sydney: The Beginning

It was always going to be Potts Point. I never really pretended to understand why. I still don't. I just knew. Maybe I was Mr Potts in another life? Or Mrs Potts? ... but that's all beside the point. I knew where I wanted to live, and even in spite of a brief and entirely unsatisfying half-hour fling with Waterloo, there was nowhere else in Sydney I was prepared to live.

I remember the moment I made the decision to come and live in Sydney vividly ... as though it were yesterday.

I was happily entrenched in a strangely alluring apartment-share with an ex-Sydney girl - MW* - in St Kilda. She decided to go to Sydney for a couple of weeks to catch up with old friends and re-imagine everything this city had meant to her. She left Melbourne and drove up in her red MX-5. As Sydney Girls do ... or rather, did. (Sydney-dwellers should try it sometime - counting them. I bet you won't see one. It's the Peugot 206CC now, in case you're even remotely interested.) One night, she called me. The collision with her past had been slightly more intense than she had been fully prepared for, and my sensible, sturdy, reliable and trustworthy presence was requested. She would fly me up, and we could drive back to Melbourne together. There were places to stay and people to meet. It was an offer I found impossible to refuse. Such is the continuing lead role of Fate in the drama series of my life.

I, and we, had a fucking ball! M was well-connected in this town. We couldn't walk down Oxford Street without bumping in to primed, buffed and gorgeous porn-star quality fags - to whom M was a long lost girlfriend ... sister. The kinship between certain faggots and certain women is a powerful, undeniable force of (un)nature. I will write about it more one day. M's girlfriends were all classic Sydney Girls: size 8 with a powerful (if not life and sanity threatening) determination to be size 6. They all spoke with record-threatening speed and haunted the domains of Kirribilli, Double Bay, Surry Hills and (by fag-default) Darlinghurst. They all had awesome jobs, fabulous cars, brilliant friends ... and a life-expectancy of 40 years. They loved me because M did. I was a well-connected, professional Melbourne fag. I was educated and sociable. I was also tall, dark and (apparently) handsome. That's the thing about Sydney: as long as you fit the grid and don't threaten the status-quo, you're welcomed with open arms - and occasionally legs. Have a contradictory opinion, a (different) world view, a belief in something other than instant gratification, a distinct lack of selfishness, or be able to differentiate (and dissect) Healthy Ego from Fragile Ego, and your days will be numbered. You'll become an Alexander Downer. People will find it difficult (and ultimately refuse) to acknowledge your existence. It's a situation faithful readers of this blog of mine will know I am intimately familiar with. It's like farting loudly in Church ... or a lift. There's really no point trying to redeem yourself.

In the (mid '90s) days since my heady $500 a week Speed addiction, I'd stacked on the weight. Then there was the horse-riding accident which 'crippled' me for six months (8 weeks in hospital) and finally put an end to my three-times-a-week workout routine. Needless to say, I would rapidly descend down the Sydney Fuck Chain once I was living here ... but for the time being, at least, I was Top of the Pops. I snorted cocaine through each nostril (like a true professional) and I could tell entertaining stories (especially while coked off my fuckin' head! I mean, who can't manage that?). I adored M ... and protected and defended her. I told her friends about our wonderful life together in "Melboring" ... convincing them that the city was, indeed, a consolation prize: where damaged souls who had paid the Sydney price of sacrifice, soul-less-ness, suspicion and loneliness came to heal. Or learn to love again. Or step out of the ring for a moment to consider what it is they were fighting for. Or against. Ultimately, it was ourselves ... but I'm getting ahead of myself a bit. Whack that dinner plate in the microwave and rack up another line guys! After all, we ain't gonna be eating anything off it!

It was a beautiful summer day. I was having some 'time out'. By The Harbour. I adore Sydney's sensational Harbour. It has dominated so many moments in my time here. Entirely. The best fun. The best feeling. Without fail. And one day this week, I will go back to where it all began to say goodbye. For now.

I was sitting on a rock in front of Mrs Macquarie's Chair with my shoes off and my jean-legs rolled up. The water of Sydney's monstrously hypnotic Harbour lapped at my ankles. I looked to my left and glimpsed the sight of the sun setting behind the sails of The Opera House. The Bridge was glittering. A little ferry was departing and the bigger Manly Ferry was streaming seaward. A plane was coming in to land and the entire vista was shimmering and shivering. I decided, at that moment, to come and live in Sydney. I said as much to myself. Aloud. I breathed it all in ... and felt like I had taken the first breath of my new life. I was overcome with optimism and excitement. Potential. A dream. A direction and a focus. A new beginning.

A couple of days later, after having done a quick reconnaissance of rental property availability (and cost) in Potts Point, M and I said farewell to Sydney and I drove her (and me) home to Melbourne. M slept almost the whole way ... waking only when we were about an hour or two out of Melbourne. The MX-5 held the road like the race car it truly is. I was at the wheel. I could return to Melbourne at speed because I knew that I would be packing up and leaving. Not straight away, but soon.

In the meantime, there was work to be done. Money to be made. Boxes to be packed. Truths to be denied. Friends to farewell. It was all so final. It was all so possible.

Fantasy versus reality would, yet again, be my downfall. There would be more than a couple of scrapes on the knee ... and there would be a sudden, frightening and ignominious collision with my sanity. But in the meantime, there was the open road and the MX-5.

And an exit clause.

*Initials have been used to protect the identity of particular individuals ... the details of whose lives, even though they are essential to the telling of my story, do not really belong in the public domain without their consent. I will, of course, feature this respectful consideration at my discretion.

Going home

Apparently I have "failed to make an impact on this town". I won't tell you who said this about me because they don't deserve our disdain ... or our contempt. It was, actually and metaphorically, a stab in the dark. But the comment certainly kept me up last night - pondering whether there was, in fact, anything more I could do to secure my footing in Sydney. I'm sure I'll contemplate it continuously (as I have a rather monotonous tendency to do) as I pack my bags, boxes and plastic tubs in preparation for a move back to Melbourne next week. Thank The Universe for my blog. Here, over the coming days (and I am sure, weeks) I will contemplate and consider the move and its implications. A real journal of record. A record at least.

I have always been an independent spirit. I value my independence more than anything and everything else that litters my landscape. Past, present and future. I'm not a loner - I love the company of certain people. Very particular people. JD, DD, JG especially - people who the pathway through the garden of my life has provided for me ... and I hope, us. They are people I want to speak to every day, and they represent the metaphorical anchor in the stormy sea which has been the relationship with myself during my seven years in Sydney. I am looking forward, more than anything else, to having the integrity of real friendship around me again ... to share the language of knowledge through meaningful exchanges - the kind that are only possible because of personal History. Understanding. The 'heart and soul connection' we seek and yearn for all our lives. Where silence sometimes sounds louder than noise.

To some extent, I have "failed to make an impact on this town". But not entirely because of what I have chosen to do (and not do as the case may be), but (principally) rather because of the people I have chosen to try and make an impact with ... and for.

I need to understand the implications of this move - more than I think I realise. I have been encouraged not to return to Melbourne and I respect the tutelage. I have been challenged to consider the (im)possibility of staying here in Sydney. It is not an option. It's a change of perspective I seek. I need. That is my only expectation.

Can you go "back"? Yes, of course you can. Sometimes, you must. I have been "back" many times in my life. For safety. Security. Confidence. Clarity. The last two times I have visited a dear friend's parents' farm in the Hunter Valley, I have taken the wrong turn off the freeway. I was never certain ... it was always dark. I love driving at night. I interview myself on the radio ... I win Oscars® ... I have fascinating opinions about all sorts of things and I interview myself the entire trip. It's the way single people learn about what they're really thinking ... they talk to themselves about it. I was so sure of how fabulously interesting I was, I took the wrong turn. Twice. The road I took led nowhere ... just further into the darkness. No matter how much I tried to convince myself otherwise, I was not going to arrive where I had intended. I had to turn back.

There is a persistent alone-ness about my life in Sydney. A nagging doubt about the quality of my life here. The collection of extreme highs and lows that have punctuated my time here are vast and interesting ... and I will document them here. As I consider each of the culprits, there will only be one rule: no prisoners. If I am going to set myself free from this chronic perception of what the end (and requisite failure to meet certain expectations) of this chapter in my life means, then everyone and everything responsible - including, especially, me - will need to be held to account.

As Bette Davis's Margo Channing famously chimed in All About Eve: "Fasten your seatbelts. It's gonna be a bumpy night!"

Image: Unfinished Business - J D and Flicka, the Fearless Firefly.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

And The Webby goes to ...

The winners of The 11th Annual Webby Awards will be saluted alongside a remarkable slate of special achievement honorees, including rock legend David Bowie, eBay President and CEO Meg Whitman on behalf of the eBay community, and the co-founders of YouTube, at a gala in New York City on the 5th of June, Webby organisers announced today.

Hailed as the "Oscars of the Internet” by The New York Times, The Webby Awards are the leading international awards honoring excellence on the Internet, including websites, interactive advertising, online film and video, and mobile websites. Established in 1996, the 11th Annual Webby Awards received a record 8,000 entries from 50 states in the USA and over 60 countries. The Webby Awards are presented by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, a 550-person judging academy whose members include The Simpsons creator Matt Groening and film mogul Harvey Weinstein. In addition, over 400,000 votes were cast by people around the world for their favorite sites, videos, and ads in The Webby People’s Voice Awards.

Organisers also announced recipients of this year’s Webby Special Achievement awards, including:

Webby Lifetime Achievement – David Bowie: The rock icon will be honored for a career that has pushed the boundaries of art and technology - from BowieNet, the seminal Internet service provider he launched in 1998, to UltraStar, his digital media company that creates cutting edge online content for artists like The Rolling Stones, The Police, and Mariah Carey, to BowieArt, an innovative website that connects emerging visual artists with collectors worldwide.

Webby Lifetime Achievement – The eBay Community: eBay President and CEO Meg Whitman will accept the award on behalf of the 233 million registered buyers and sellers who have made eBay a cultural phenomenon and permanently changed the way people connect, discover and interact with each other.

Webby People of the Year- YouTube Co-Founders Steve Chen and Chad Hurley: The co-founders of the video-sharing sensation will be saluted for YouTube’s role in transforming the media landscape and reshaping everything from politics to pop culture.

Best Actor and Actress – “Ninja” from “Ask a Ninja” and Jessica Lee Rose from “lonelygirl15”: “Ninja,” from the breakout online comedy series “Ask a Ninja,” and Jessica Lee Rose, who became an overnight sensation as the enigmatic star of the acclaimed fictional video diary “lonelygirl15,” will be honored at the first-ever Webby Film and Video Awards.

Webby Award winners range from powerhouses such as Nike (Retail), Sony (Home Page), and The New York Times' "Dealbook" (Business Blog) to independent sites like (Broadband), “we make money not art” (Cultural Blog), (Music), and Wikitravel (Travel). Webby People’s Voice winners include Facebook (Social/Networking), Save the Internet (Activism), Dream it Do it (Associations), Best Week Ever (Celebrity/Fan), FabSugar (Fashion), Treehugger (Cultural Blog), (Services), and TripAdvisor (Travel). Multiple Webby Awards winners include: Flickr (5), Adobe (5), HowStuffWorks (4), Jonathan Yuen (3), BBC (3), and LinkedIn (2).

“The Webby winners and special achievement honorees represent the very best in online creativity and innovation,” said Webby Awards executive director David-Michel Davies. “We’re proud to salute the people and organisations whose ideas and vision are transforming how we experience the world.” The 11th Annual Webby Awards will feature Webby Award winners from the USA, United Kingdom, Sweden, The Netherlands, Singapore, Brazil, Italy, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, India, Japan, and South Korea.

More information about the Webby Awards is here.

As for me, after Round 5, I have risen to equal sixteenth (up from equal twenty-fifth!) on's Tipping Competition!