‘Glee’ Uses MySpace for Open Casting Call

Yep, it’s true. Gleeks around the world are invited to submit auditions for the show’s second season online, via MySpace. While Glee is not the first TV show to use open online auditions, the yes-you-too-can-go-from-obscure-high-school-glee-club-member-to-pop-star (and surpass the rigors of American Idol) will most likely make it the most inundated with homemade karaoke videos. Ground rules: there are 10 popular karaoke tunes to choose from for your audition, and you must be between the ages of 16 and 26 (sorry big kids). Click here for complete details.

St. Mary’s Aussie Basketball Connection Deeper than Its Roster

When the St. Mary’s men’s basketball team faces off against Baylor tomorrow night in the NCAA Sweet 16 round of March Madness, five Australian players will be representing the Gaels, including Matt Dellavedova, the freshman sensation at guard. The steady stream of Australian players to St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California (about 30 minutes outside of San Francisco) is relatively well known in basketball circles – Patty Mills is currently playing in the NBA with the Portland Trailblazers. But the connection from Australia to Moraga runs deeper than the players. Their success this season may be linked to an innovation called the Boomerang, a portable basketball shooting system developed by Phil Shelley, a former semi-pro Australian basketball player and strength and conditioning coach who works with young players to reach premium fitness levels (a 16-year-old Dellavedova is a former client).

Shelley had the chance to demonstrate the Boomerang to St. Mary’s assistant coach David Patrick (“D.P.” to his mates) in Melbourne early last year. Patrick had his own Australian connection – he was a former member of the NBL Canberra Cannons. He was impressed with the Boomerang system’s ability to enhance the effectiveness of shooting practice by returning both made and missed shots. This permits a player to make more shot attempts in the same amount of practice time and develop better muscle memory. The Boomerang can also be set to multiple configurations to create a variety of drills to simulate shot opportunities expected in games. Patrick thought the Boomerang could give St. Mary’s players an edge, especially during the off-season period of the year when, due to NCAA rules, coaches are not permitted on-court contact with their players. He invited Shelley to visit him at St. Mary’s – and bring his Boomerang system over for a demo.

While the Boomerang is used by several pro and semi-pro basketball clubs in Australia, and endorsed by “Australia’s greatest coach ever” Brian Goorjian in the above video, it was off the radar in America until Shelley showed it off in Moraga. Both Patrick and St. Mary’s head coach Randy Bennett were such firm believers in what they saw that they kept the Boomerang Shelley brought over and continued using it to train players for the current season – the one in which they are 28-5 and in the Sweet 16.

During the off-season “we encouraged the players to use the Boomerang a lot to ensure that they were not only getting lots of repetitions up, but more importantly ensured that they were shooting with ‘good form’ and not developing bad habits when practicing on their own, without our coaching staff present to provide feedback,” said Patrick.

Shelley is currently in the process of ramping up a US market plan for the Boomerang, and like most Aussie basketball fans, greatly anticipating tomorrow night’s game. “The relationship between St. Mary’s College and Australian basketball extends beyond just playing ‘talent’. I wanted St. Mary’s to be the first team in the US to benefit from Aussie basketball ‘technology’,” says Shelley. And so they have. After this season, though, it’s a sure bet that other Division I teams are going to want to make an Aussie connection that goes deeper than their roster, too.

Out4Immigration Rallies in DC, San Francisco for Comprehensive and Inclusive Immigration Reform

Thanks to all Out4Immigration members who rallied in DC over the weekend as part of the Reform Immigration for America (RIFA) march and in San Francisco yesterday, with a march through downtown to Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office. Thanks in large part to the actions of Todd Fernandez in organizing an 11th hour phone bank to the Center for Community Change (CCC) on Friday afternoon, a same-sex binational couple was given a speaking slot at the DC rally. Until Todd put out the word to our members and allies – there were no plans for an LGBT voice among the more than 200,000 immigrant rights’ activists who descended on Washington. It is essential that whenever there is a rally for immigrant rights and comprehensive immigration reform in the coming weeks that we come out and demand our families are included in this battle.

Comprehensive immigration reform is not “comprehensive” unless it includes everyone affected by the broken immigration system. This includes same-sex binational couples, LGBT Americans with foreign partners who are denied the same rights as our heterosexual counterparts to sponsor our partners for a green card.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, we are welcomed into the immigrant rights’ fold, thanks in large part to Amos Lim. From the very early days of the battle for same-sex binational couple immigration rights, Amos worked from the ground up to build coalitions with other immigrant rights’ groups. He saw the fight for the passage of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) as two-fold: the bill could pass as a stand-alone, or someday it could be included as part of a much larger immigration overhaul that the United States so desperately needs. When the Bay Area needs someone to talk about our families – there is only one call they make: Amos Lim from Out4Immigration.

Amos’s speech (click here) was well-received by the crowd of 1,500. It was interrupted by applause several times. “I feel the immigrant community here is finally understanding that we are affected, too. They understand that when we talk about family, our family is no different from theirs, and we should not be discriminated against.” (read more)

Advance’s Word of Mouth via iPhone Video

Couldn’t make it to Monday night’s Advance Word of Mouth meetup in Palo Alto? No worries, Advance’s Adam Griffiths has you covered with this quick video of the evening, courtesy of iPhone. We’re always impressed at KazzaDrask Media when we see people finding creative ways to promote their events and products using the social media tools they have literally at their fingertips. This is another example.

To find out how Adam did it — or to be at the next Advance Word of Mouth event in the Bay Area or Los Angeles, contact Louis Matthews at Advance.

Australians Spend 22+ Minutes More Social Networking than Americans

Overall, social networking time is up by 2 more hours per month when compared to data collected in 2009. This Nielsen Company study only surveyed time spent on social networks (Facebook being the go-to site for nearly everybody) while at work.

Aussies spend an average of 6:25 hours on social networking a month to Americans’ 6:02 — which may or may not mean that more Americans find time to squeeze Facebook time in while on the job, and our numbers could be relatively the same. Or, is it that Australians just take longer to say what’s on their mind (no study has been done yet on length of status updates). And, in this completely unscientific comparison (on KazzaDrask Media’s part), there is no explanation as to why Italians spend more time social networking than any of us, clocking in 2 more full minutes a month than the Aussies. We can, of course, speculate that things always sound better in a romance language (even when typed). An interesting trend to follow.

Source (including picture): “Global Audience Spends Two Hours More a Month on Social Networks than Last Year,” NielsenWire, March 19, 2010.

Out4Immigration Steps Up Activism for March 21 Immigrant Rights March in Washington, DC

Grassroots Group Organizes Local Actions and Resolutions in New York, San Francisco, St. Louis, Seattle for LGBT Immigrant Rights and the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — March 19, 2010 — A national immigrant rights march this Sunday, March 21 in Washington DC organized by Reform Immigration for America (RIFA) will have a large contingent of same-sex binational couples carrying signs calling for passage of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). They will also be demanding that Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) includes these couples – in which one partner is an American citizen and the other is from another country – and their families. According to a Human Rights Watch report, there are an estimated 36,000 same-sex binational couples currently affected.

Several members from Out4Immigration, an all-volunteer, grassroots group with members all over the world will have a presence at the Washington march, but many of the group’s members have faced insurmountable hurdles in getting to the nation’s capital. As a result, the group has turned to more local actions to continue raising awareness about the need to fix a broken immigration system that blatantly discriminates against American gays and lesbians with foreign partners.

“It’s not easy when you and your family are shut out of equal rights at the federal level to legally stay in this country,” said Mickey Lim, Vice President of Out4Immigration.

“Many of our members have been forced into the exile. The only way they could stay together was to move to another country that would recognize their relationship. When this happens usually both partners are forced to give up careers and start over. A lot of our other members are separated from their partners. All their income goes to the few times a year they can actually be together. And, the so-called lucky binational couples that have found a way to stay together in America – they have often spent thousands on legal fees for work and student visas.” (read more)

The Best Thing About the Twitter Keynote at SXSW…

…the interpretive art work. Two artists, one on either side of the stage, “interpreted” the keynote interview of Twitter CEO Evan Williams by Umair Haque of the Harvard Business School at SXSW on Monday.

While much has been written about the snooze factor of this interview, in which Williams announced a soon-to-be-available Twitter feature called @anywhere instead of making the much anticipated announcement that Twitter would start some type of advertising model — no one’s mentioned the interpretive art shown above. This piece was being produced to Williams’ stage left by KarenIngram.com. It’s a strange concept to begin with, although, another look at this artist’s website will reveal that she has carved somewhat of a cottage industry out of it. This photo was snapped minutes after what was left of the crowd filed out.

If interpreting the dullness factor of this keynote (which was duly recorded on Twitter in real-time, of course) was the objective, this artist totally nailed it. We believe limited edition prints of the artwork will be available soon.

Photo by KazzaDrask Media.

Startup Bus Pitches Six Companies at SXSW

The Startup Bus rolled into Austin, TX on Thursday night after 25 entrepreneurs from 3 continents formed 6 teams and spent 2 days on the road at about 60 mph, across 1,800 miles. (I’ve heard somewhere that numbers are good, and here’s one more: 3 of the 25 entrepreneurs were women.)

I met up with them on Friday night at the Hickory St. Bar & Grill to hear their pitches (and to get a first look at their hot item t-shirts … and to eat deep fried dill pickles and down a tequila shot or two –- this is a SXSW event after all, and Elias Bizannes, the man behind the bus did everything in style -– from rounding up the entrepreneurs, promoting the event, getting key sponsors and lining up a panel of investors, who also took the time to mentor the teams).

Sure, there are lots of holes when “companies” launch in 48 hours -– startups that have been around a lot longer get quizzed by panels they pitch to on many of the same things, including revenue model, customer awareness and even “Who the f*ck rents a dorm room?” So, overall, this event, dubbed “part gimmick, part contest” by the Wall Street Journal gave as good as it got.

There were winners, DormDorms.com (who had answers to the above question, btw “people looking for something cheaper than a hotel and cleaner than a hostel”) and DateBrowsr.com (a site that will aggregate profiles from the leading online dating websites and help you cut to the chase), but really no losers. All of the ideas were fresh. And, if you take a look at the Teams section on the Startup Bus website you’ll see that all have attracted a little seed money.

I had a bit of an insider track with the Startup Bus and a number of the “buspreneurs” because of my work with ANZA Technology Network. Not only was the lead entrepreneur Bizannes originally from Down Under, so were at least 8 of the players –- most of whom have since relocated to Silicon Valley to try their hand in the so-called “big pond”. Additionally, lead sponsors Atlassian and eStrategy, both founded by Australians, currently have US bases. Meanwhile, Kim Heras, an editor at NextWeb.au has got an up-to-date report on the event for the Aussie tech audience, published this morning.

Photo by KazzaDrask Media.

‘The Mystery of the Flying Kicks’ at SXSW

Mark your SXSW calendars conspiracy theorists and those who have looked up at telephone wires all your lives and wondered how that pair of sneakers got there? Matthew Bate’s short doc, The Mystery of Flying Kicks, makes its world premiere at SXSW this Sunday, March 14 at 6 pm.

Murder, sex, drugs, art, politics sneakers hanging on telephone lines have become a powerful urban symbol, inspiring genesis theories both hilarious and sinister. In an effort to get to the truth once and for all we asked the people of earth to help us solve this mystery. Using an on-line call out and a phone message bank, this documentary was made entirely from donated photographs, phoned-in theories, video, vlogs, and animation. The Mystery of Flying Kicks is the result of a unique digital collaboration between the filmmakers and the international public

KazzaDrask Media will be putting up posters at SXSW and shouting out a few more at the screening. (More deets about the screening at this link.)

Is Live Blogging Dead?

Remember the “live blog”? That real-time journal from a conference or event that let us bring you the happenings as they occurred via our keyboards, laptop literally on our laps? I did a few of them. They were intense, and at the time, we thought we were delivering journalism to the people as it ought to be. Live, unfiltered — a written you-are-‘thereness’ with hyperlinks never quite captured like this before. What happened? Hmmmm….Twitter, maybe?

Peter Kim
has a little more on what happened to live blogging on his blog. He seems to agree that the live blog has gone the way of a few other devices we used to rely on, like the tape recorder, answering machines, the print version of the TV Guide. But he’s making no such predictions on the blog itself (yet).

Note: If anyone knows the source of this amazing photo, please let me know so I can give credit where it’s due.