Finally Watching ‘Flight of the Conchords’

I had been hearing good (quirky) things about this tongue-in-cheek HBO show featuring New Zealand digi-folk duo Flight of the Conchords for awhile now, but had never seen an episode until flying on Air New Zealand the other night from San Francisco to Auckland. Now I’m hooked. The show follows the misadventures of Kiwi singing duo Bret and Jemaine as they try to make it big in the Big Apple. They have one fan (a obsessed married woman named Mel), one friend (the owner of the local pawn shop who schools them in “American ways”, like how to give someone “the bird”) and one manager named Murray, who hasn’t quit his day job yet in the cheesy wood-paneled offices at the New Zealand Consulate. If you’re like me and don’t get HBO at home, there are some other ways you can catch Flight of the Conchords. You can book a flight on Air New Zealand…. Or, you can purchase episodes from iTunes. Whatever works for you!

Ruth Garland-Dewson on Bay Area Vista This Weekend

San Francisco businesswoman and community activist Ruth Garland-Dewson will be featured on Bay Area Vista this Sunday morning at 10 a.m. in the San Francisco-San Jose-Oakland area. Ruth will discuss her current projects including her business, “Mrs. Dewson’s Hats,” her work with the Western Addition Foundation for Girls, and her recent acknowledgment from the Jenesse Center with a “Power of One” award for her efforts in getting a victim of domestic violence who killed her abuser released from prison. If you’re in the Bay Area, tune in. Mrs. Dewson is an interesting, lively and always entertaining interview.

Coolest Girl in School Creator Named to Australian Hot Entrepreneurs Under 30 List

Holly Owen, the creative force behind Champagne for the Ladies in Adelaide, South Australia makes SmartCompany’s list of “30 Hot Entrepreneurs Aged 30 and Under” compiled by Australian journalist Brad Howarth. In alphabetical order, Ms. Owen is #26. But to save time and scrolling, here’s the excerpt:

“Appalled at the lack of computer games titles designed for young women, Holly Owen created her own. Coolest Girl in School is billed as the world’s first mobile phone-based role-play game for girls, requiring players to lie, bitch or flirt their way to become just what the game’s title says (it also attracted a call for a ban from the Australian Family Association). Owen was also instrumental in the development of the innovative music education company StarplayIt (formerly In The Chair), and is now creating a women’s mobile entertainment portal.”

You’ve been reading about Holly’s Champagne for the Ladies’ role with Coolest Girl in School on this blog all year long. And, remember, the game is now available internationally for download to your mobile phone from the Coolest Girl in School website. Stay tuned for more exciting endeavors from this young woman in the near future. Congratulations Holly!

In Memory of Writer Donis Ford

“Don’t Wait for the Mood to Strike! Write and Write often!”Donis Ford

My good friend, Donis Ford, passed away suddenly last year. Donis was a “working writer” for most of her career, and I do not use that term loosely. For more than 20 years, she met weekly deadlines as a business journalist for the Institute of Office Management & Administration (IOMA) in New York City, where I met her in 1988 when she hired me as a production editor. We did 11 (yep, 11) monthly newsletters for lawyers, accountants, engineers, etc. (yeah, fun stuff).

Donis’ passion as writer though, went beyond the earning-a-living grind — over the years she wrote and published numerous short pieces, many devoted to her love of all things tea — high teas, Japan (where she traveled a couple of times), tea room and book reviews and more. Donis was always working on a novel — and asking how and where could she get more time to devote to her fiction while churning out constant copy to pay the bills. She changed her “scenery” a number of times — moving from the City to upstate New York to San Diego back to her native Arkansas and ultimately to Syracuse, NY — all in an effort to find the space she needed to create.

Donis was a proud member of the Harlem Writers’ Guild and I am seeking other members of the Guild to help me establish a grant in Donis’ memory. I know she would want this to be to help someone find the time and the space to write what they are truly passionate about, not just to write to earn a living. If you were a friend or colleague of Donis’ and are interested in helping me make this happen, please email me at kazzadrask@yahoo.com.

And, Donis — I know you’re up there and ready to call me out on this fantastic photo of you I’ve put up here. Just so you know — I’ve got a lot more. And, I miss you.

Photo Heard ‘Round the World



This photo of California Freedom to Marry heroes, Stuart Gaffney and John Lewis made the front page of several major US newspapers (including the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times) on Friday morning, May 16. Stuart and John were two of the plaintiffs in the historic California pro same-sex marriage ruling that came down on Thursday, May 15. Thank you, Stuart and John for all you’ve done — and for also being supporters of Out4Immigration.

In this story from the Boston Globe, Stuart and John meet up with two of Out4Immigration’s co-founders Mickey and Amos Lim while celebrating the California Supreme Court decision on Friday night. Mickey, who is also Out4Immigration’s vice president, is no stranger to a tough battle, and a good quote. At the end of the article he says, “Everybody knows there’s a fight to fight on Monday. But let’s celebrate tonight and tomorrow and do battle the next day.”

California Supreme Court Says Yes to Freedom to Marry for Same-Sex Couples

Out4Immigration Says Ruling Gives Same-Sex Binational Couples Hope for Change at Federal Level

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — May 15, 2008 — The California Supreme Court ruled in a 4 to 3 decision today to grant all Californians the freedom to marry.

The ruling struck down barriers that had prohibited same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex couples—the right to marry the person they love.

“Out4Immigration is overwhelmed by the positive impact the California Supreme Court’s decision will have on the lives of so many same-sex couples in this state,” said Michael Lim, Vice President of Out4Immigration. (more)

“Coolest Girl in School” Hits the U.S.

Controversial “GTA for Girls” mobile game from Australia now available worldwide

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – MAY 6, 2008 – Due to popular demand Coolest Girl In School will be released internationally today via the website www.coolestgirlinschool.com.

Referred to throughout the mobile game industry as “GTA for Girls” since its release in Australia late last year, Coolest Girl In School caused instant controversy with a tagline that invited teenage girls to “lie, bitch and flirt your way to the top of the high school ladder.” A number of parental, religious and even feminist groups piled on to condemn the game – many without ever having played it due to its limited availability at the time.

“Now everyone can play,” said Holly Owen, the game’s writer, director and co-producer, with Kukan Studio’s Karyn Lanthois. “The only thing ‘controversial’ about Coolest Girl In School is the fact that it’s the world’s first mobile RPG (role playing game) made specifically for girls.”

And – it was made and produced by two women – Owen and Lanthois.

Unlike other areas of gaming, well over half (59%) of casual mobile gamers are women but very few games are made specifically for female audiences. Even fewer are made by women for women.

Coolest Girl In School takes on that challenge – and delivers. The game’s premise takes the form of a multiple-choice quiz (the kind that regularly populate teen mags) and asks players, adopting one of several typical universal high school girl stereotypes (the Fashionista, the Emo, the Sporto, the Slut), to try and become the Coolest Girl In School through a series of daily high school rituals (ditching class, smoking in the girls room, dating boys (and girls), and observing [“Omigod!”] two teachers making out!

The game has received rave reviews from major international gaming websites including the massively popular gaming portal Gamasutra and the US’s www.1up.com, the gaming community’s bible.

According to Drew Taylor’s Jump Button column in Gamasutra, Coolest Girl is “…. a world of high school, period pain, experimentation, fashionistas, average sex and perfect hair…It’s one of the great ironies that the game has received such criticism, particularly given the overwhelming volume of male-skewed games that manage to avoid condemnation, despite indulging (often quite graphically) in themes of aggression, misogyny, destruction and power.”

1up’s reviewer Andrew Podolsky got a pre-release copy of the game and gave it an A-, and the site explains that “anything we score in the A+ through A- range is considered excellent.”

Podolsky said, “Warning, parents! If you see your teenager playing a copy of Coolest Girl in School on their mobile phone, you should take it away from them immediately – so you can play it for yourself!”

“Coolest Girl in School has drawn the battle lines between those who say the game will turn girls into their parents’ worst nightmares, and those who say Coolest Girl allows players to laugh at the fickle nature of high school hierarchies, subvert stereotypes, and most importantly, have FUN,” said Karyn Lanthois, whose Kukan Studios in Adelaide, South Australia co-produced the game with Owen.

Last week’s release of Grand Theft Auto IV is likely to renew the comparisons with Coolest Girl In School. About that says Owen, “It’s not GTA for girls — it’s better!”

As of today, the decision goes beyond Australia as the rest of the world can now play, too. Coolest Girl In School is now available for download to your mobile phone in the US from www.coolestgirlinschool.com.

A one-time fee of $7.00 (AUD – approx. $6.60 USD) will be charged. Standard data rates and terms and conditions apply. All information is available on the website prior to downloading at www.coolestgirlinschool.com.