Was it you? The Comedy Knights just made my day

Local memes are getting better and better. With politics being such an important part of the Maltese social sphere many of our memes tend to revolve around it.

After MalliaGate or BridgeGate or whatever you want to call it, the internet was flooded with “OK Sieħbi” and “Enerġija Pożittiva” memes. Some got a little repetitive but then some others were pure gold like my personal favourites below.




This is some quality stuff, but nothing could have prepared me for this video by The Comedy Knights. It’s a promo for their Comedy Knights Christmas Comedy Cavalcade and it really made my morning.

It’s a rendition of Shaggy’s Wasn’t Me and recounts the conversation between two Sliemiżi and the angst that one of them has for voting Labour in the last election. They mention things such as the sale of passports, Muscat’s pushback threats and all the meritocracy which has now gone down the drain.

My personal favourite part has to be the bit at the end where the friend thinks that Labour are only in power for 2 years. Just for this gem I’ll surely be grabbing myself 2 tickets to go watch these Comedy Knights. Kudos to you!

Show starts on the 26th December until the 3rd of January. Tickets available from ticketline.com.mt.

So much love for the National Book Festival

Book Festival 2014

The National Book Council have just released their calendar of events for the 5 day National Book Festival and some of us (me especially) are really excited!

What is immediately noticeable is the amount of love that went into the organisation of this event. Everything from the artwork and design to the quality of the events at the Festival show the organisers really care about book culture in Malta.

It is about time that such care is given to these events. With our capital city gearing up for V.18 we should be taking care of all aspects concerning the arts. It is nice to see the rise of the geek is also happening here in Malta (albeit a few year late). In fact, this autumn we will also be having two comic book events: The MaltaComics Expo 2014 happening between the 31st of October and 2nd of November and the Malta Comic Con 2014 at St James Cavalier happening between the 29th and 30th of November.

The Book Fest will launch on the 12th of November and will span 5 days which will be filled with talks, lectures and best of all, beautiful books.

Local publishers and authors will be at the event showing off their wares and these will be joined by ten Italian publishers represented by Editore Morrone and a French author Pierre Assouline.

For more information about the Book Fest you can check out their Facebook page.

In the meantime, you can also have a little look at their rich calendar of events for the Festival by clicking here: Programm_NBC_EnglishOutlinesWeb (1)

Sausage fest at The Economist event in Malta


Recently, it seems that everywhere I look I’m bombarded by adverts for a ‘Roundtable meeting with the Government of Malta‘ organized by The Economist. It is being held in a week’s time at the Hilton, and looks like it will tackle a few interesting topics and it’s great to see such engagement from the present Government.

Going through the list of speakers however I was struck by one glaring thing. Out of the 56 confirmed speakers, only 1 is a woman. Worse yet, there is no female Maltese speaker at this event as the only female speaker is Anna Diamantopoulou, a former European Commissioner from Greece.

Is this just an unfortunate coincidence or is it possible that even though we’re in the 21st century, locally we still have this idea that women and business shouldn’t mix?

What I am really worried about is the kind of message this sends. A Roundtable meeting with the Government of Malta discussing Invigorating Investment and Growth and the female representation is just a token and almost nonexistent. Just for a visual representation, this is how the whole speaker list looks like.

Male/Female represenation at The Economist even in Malta

Many might think I’m making an issue when there shouldn’t be one, but think about it – what does it say about us as a country, when a high profile event such as this one is completely devoid of a local female speaker?

The concept of token females on the boards of government entities disturbs me and I was never a fan of positive discrimination. Back in 2012, when Vivienne Reading set aggressive targets for women on boards of public companies I cringed. To me, this was somehow saying that women are not recognized as competent decision makers and cannot make on their own merits and legislation is needed to make this happen.

Seeing the above example I feel like I was wrong in my line of thought. There needs to be a system which ensures that capable women are given a fair chance to attain decision making positions because many of us are still predisposed to a more patriarchal system and appointing women to boards still feels like it’s not the natural thing to do or that it should be a mere token representation.

On a more positive note, the European Commission today released a press release about the Gender Pay Gap in the EU. Malta holds the second place of lowest pay gap, just after Slovenia at 6.1%. Even though the number should be 0% this is something we should be proud of as a country.

A few words about the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival

Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival
Such beautiful people seem to attend these kind of events. The Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival is definitely a welcome change from the usual artsy fartsy scene. Don’t get me wrong, I like the usual artsy fartsy scene but the crowd at this event is something special. I mean when was the last time you were surrounded by peeps who actually wanted to listen?
The festival came to an end way too quickly and I really wish I could have savoured every minute of it, at least every minute of one whole evening.
I did manage to catch the readings of Nikola Madzirov and I definitely wanted more. The interview which followed Madzirov’s reading was even more interesting. Nikola really has a way with words even though it is apparent that English is not his first language. Despite this, the way he described experiences and instances during his interview with Glen Calleja was almost poetry in itself. Needless to say I had a mini orgasm when he mentioned Derrida and the way he sees the art of writing.
It was a beautiful evening, but that goes without saying. It is one of those events that I never miss and it is probably the only one which holds such a special place in my heart.
The evening, and the festival, ended with a grande finale of readings from all the authors with Karl Schembri forever ruining my romantic image of airports.
Looking forward to next year, I once find myself asking why the hell didn’t I attend more than just one night of this wonderful festival. So it really needs to be said: Guys at Inizjamed, thank you! And please continue setting up such awesome events.

Pjazza Teatru Rjal; an unkept promise?

My morning reading today consisted of a thread on Facebook between Mario Vella, front man of the Maltese band Brikkuni and Martin Bonnici, local independent film producer at Shadeena Films. The thread was about the inaccessibility to independent local artists to use the newly inaugurated Pjazza Teatru Rjal in Valletta.

From what Mario said, it seems that place can be booked for €2000 a night but other costs, which also includes insuring the venue (which is valued at over 3 million euros) and security will inflate the bill to at least €4000. So how can a local artist, be it a band, a theater company or a literary performer ever dream of performing in an auditorium whose purpose, we were promised, was to promote and give a space to the local arts and culture scene?

Pjazza Teatru Rjal

Let’s do some simple arithmetic here. Malta’s population stands at around 410,000. Around 130,000 are under 15 and over 65 and would probably prefer other activities. That leaves a total of about 280,000 potential ‘customers’.

But here we are not talking about a Joseph Calleja or an Isle of MTV event which attracts thousands. These events which are considered to be huge only manage to attract around 20% of the population (Isle of MTV 2012), and these have a very good, well known brand, and they are free events with massive popular appeal and even bigger advertising.

There is a huge difference between these events and the smaller events, like Brikkuni’s, which attract niche audiences. But it is these small niche events that drive the underlying diversity in the arts and culture scene, and for which the Pjazza Teatru Rjal was intended to showcase.

Even with a well known, internationally respected niche performer such as the Kronos Quartet, who played at Pjazza Teatru Rjal as part of the 2013 Malta Arts Festival, the theater’s capacity (900 seats) wasn’t fully reached. So one starts to wonder; how can a local band attract enough people to make one of their performances financially viable?

For a band to break even with the quoted figure they would need to attract either;

800 people and sell tickets at €5 or

500 people and sell tickets at €8.

Those figures of course do not take into consideration any form of payment to the members of the band. There are no advertising or marketing costs included, no other fees such as a sound engineer etc.

The Kronos Quartet’s performance was charged at €25, and to me it was money well spent, but I doubt that I’d spend that kind of money to see a local band, no matter how good they are and no matter how much I would love to support the local scene. And I am sure I’m not the only one.

Clearly, something needs to be done to help local performers and artists. The government has already taken the first step by creating this space. But it is not enough. One way would be for the Pjazza Teatru Rjal Management to offer annual subscriptions of say €100 each which would entitle you to attend performances by local artists for free and those by international artists for a discounted price. This will in turn also encourage more people to attend events which they might normally pass up.

Pjazza Teatru Rjal is a beautiful space, and no matter how much ‘The Kitten from Malta’ jibes at it, it has a great potential for both local and international artistes, many of whom would also be attracted by the opportunity to perform in a space designed by Renzo Piano and enriched with all its history.

Best way to watch Eurovision 2013?

The answer is… on Twitter! This has become a little bit of a tradition. Every year a few of us meet up on Twitter and tweet while watching the Eurovision. So for tonight, it’s all set! I have my pizza, TVM HD is already on, waiting for the clock to strike 21:00 and then it all starts!

I’m still not a big fan of the budget portion allocated to the Eurovision, but the truth is, I’ve come to enjoy this little tradition.

You can follow my Tweets and other Twitter interactions here.

Twitter stream on Eurovision 2013 semi final

Just in case you were wondering about the running order for the second semi-final, here it is;

Latvia: PeR – Here We Go

San Marino: Valentina Monetta – Crisalide (Vola)

F.Y.R. Macedonia: Esma & Lozano – Pred Da Se Razdeni

Azerbaijan: Farid Mammadov – Hold Me

Finland: Krista Siegfrids – Marry Me

Malta: Gianluca – Tomorrow

Bulgaria: Elitsa Todorova and Stoyan Yankulov – Samo Shampioni (Only Champions)

Iceland: Eythor Ingi – Ég Á Líf

Greece: Koza Mostra feat. Agathon Iakovidis – Alcohol Is Free

Israel: Moran Mazor – Rak Bishvilo

Armenia: Dorians – Lonely Planet

Hungary: ByeAlex – Kedvesem (Zoohacker Remix)

Norway: Margaret Berger – I Feed You My Love

Albania: Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko – Identitet

Georgia: Nodi Tatishvili & Sophie Gelovani – Waterfall

Switzerland: Takasa – You And Me

Romania: Cezar – It’s My Life

Eurovision 2013 logo

Pride in Malta – Pride March 2012

Malta’s Pride March 2012 will be taking place on Saturday 30th June at 10:30 outside Surfside. This event will also mark the start of Pride Week which will feature a full week of events including an LGBT film festival at St James Cavalier. For all event details you can check out MGRM’s event page.

The pride march is all about equality, so why not come and show your support; numbers seem to be the only way to tap into the decision makers’ line of sight. Even though something is already being done, with the passing of the Hate Crime Bill last week in Parliament, there is still a lot of ground Malta needs to catch up on.

If you cannot make it on Saturday you can still show your support by downloading the amazing posters from the MGRM website and displaying them on your Facebook. Designs and illustrations have all been created by the fabulous and very talented Ms Noko; http://nadinenoko.tumblr.com/

So will you be showing your support to the local LGBT community?

Gay pride poster

And if you feel like clicking away, have a look at these amazing pictures taken at the various gay pride activities all around the world this week.