Friday, November 30, 2007

costello is on lateline tonight

I spent the first five years of the Howard government, at least, because I remember expressing it in or around ' 01, being sort of groundhog dayishly surprised all the time that Howard was the PM. Not because it was like waking up and having Billy McMahon as PM again, though actually it was, but because Howard seemed so incongruous and pathetic in and of himself. Well, given that, it's not so terribly surprising that I find it so bizarre to think that six days ago, we were all facing the apparently realistic prospect of 3 plus more years of Liberal-National Coalition Government, much the same as the previous eleven but probably more smug and gross. That was only six days ago! It seems like about six years ago. But Costello is actually technically still the treasurer, with admittedly not much to treasure, and Howard is still the PM, for the moment. Unless when it comes time to hand over something other than the Lodge (a place he 'knows' but doesn't know) he cries 'shan't', then I don't know what'll happen.

Reading The Australian over the last week, I mean the Howardophiles in it, has been so delicious you wish you could put it in a bottle and put it under your pillow to flavour your dreams.

As I have already confessed on this blogge, my politics cast the world in rich shades of black and white; as per the complaints of some Andrew Bolt supporters (not complaints about me, but about the joy felt by Laborites), I am a good hater, of Conservative politicians in particular, and to a slightly lesser extent their followers. So of course I am totally gleeful (more like gleeeeeeeeeeeful). There's no nuance or whimsy to me in this regard. It has been a wonderful honeymoon this week, even if I did spend the first half of it recovering from alchohol consumption and the rest feeling like I am about to develop a cold.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

millie 4 ruddy

Millie is the biggest Kevin Rudd supporter at our house. Here she is assuming a commanding position to survey the territory of the seat of Calwell at which Maria Vamvakinou increased the ALP's standing. She (Millie) is imbued with a confident and powerful spirit, the spirit for change, leadership, and apologies.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

possibly the worst british film ever

Bruce Beresford's Side by Side is a 1975 comedy about two clubs, the Golden Nugget and Sound City. The first is owned by Max Nugget (Terry Thomas) who is both contemptuous of and dependent on his nephew Rodney (Barry Humphries), and the second by Gary (Billy Boyle). When it is discovered that the borough of Sludgley can only have one 'clubbe', the magistrate gives Inspector Crumb (Frank Thornton) the job of deciding which of the two clubs will have to close.

Naturally Gary gets on his motorbike and rides to London to find some new rock acts to book for the club. And equally naturally Max calls his niece Julia who works in a booking agency called Three Rs (rock 'n' roll representation). She is also apparently making an album at Abacus studio in her lunch break. Gary turns up at Three Rs as well and by grim coincidence becomes friendly with Julia, to the extent that before the end of the day he's telling her he loves to kiss girls' necks. He also tells her he can get a comedian to play at her uncle's club, though at this point he doesn't know that her uncle is his sworn arch-enemy Max Nugget. She plays him a video of Fox performing their second single 'Imagine Me Imagine You', and by the time it's over they have apparently gone off to root. The next morning, they try to eat food at Biba's but when Gary discovers that Julia's Max Nugget's niece he throws a cream pie at famous comedian Joe Baker and runs out of the shop, just runs out.

Meanwhile no-one really knows what to do at the Golden Nugget but there is a woman called Violet, who just hangs around with no real purpose except to lavish attention on Rodney, who she adores passionately but who can't bear to be touched. She keeps trying to ravish him.

The film is full of people putting paste on posters, from enormous glue pots, which they then only seem to stick out the front of their respective venues. Sound City is full of kids, presumably bored young foxy kids, who help out. Julia has booked all the hot young bands for the best show ever, and these bands are Hello (who we have already seen performing 'Bend me shape me' and who Wikipedia informs us had a drummer, Jeff Allen, who was actually born Jeffrey Allen) and Desmond Dekker (he sings 'Israelites'. I notice that in Peter Coleman's book about Bruce Beresford's career he says that some of the songs in the film were hits. He doesn't actually say that they were hits because they were in the film, but I reckon there's an implication of that. 'Israelites' was a hit in 1968.

Then the two clubs put on the shows, and there is a riot for no apparent reason but it does involve cream pies, including one in the face of Joe Baker, who I forgot to tell you is performing at the Golden Nugget, and who does a very, very short act about pneumatic drills. In the conflagration the walls are smashed in and so there is now one club, Julia and Gary get back together and someone sings a song. Violet does a striptease as Madame Lash and whips Rodney, curing him both of his hayfever and his asexuality. At almost the end there is a caption on the screen to say:

'The clubs were renamed GOLDEN CITY and are now the centre of Sludgely's cultural life'.


Rodney: 'Who else do you know who isn't dead or Australian?'
Max: 'What's the difference?'

Rodney: 'I think I will have that massage after all, Violet, I do feel a little stiffness.'

One of the places named amongst the locations is 'Sludgely'

Max Nugget reels off a short list of all the 'greats' he knew in his day, including 'Terry-Thomas'.

I wanted to see this film because:

(1) everyone who has seen it derides it. Coleman says Beresford did it for money and because, after the Barry McKenzie films, it was hard for him to get work.

(2) I thought it would have some good things about gentrification, performance spaces etc

(3) I thought Noosha Fox had a role in it

Now I can say with confidence to (1), it's justifiably derided (2) nah (3) nuh-uh.

new times

Millie is becoming increasingly badly behaved on walks. There is a body of thought that suggests beagles aren't that intelligent. I think this is actually a matter of beagles not being very trainable. But Millie has always been quite well-trained, because we took her to Wagging School early in her life and she has always been quite responsive and has learnt quite a few commands (sit, lie, wait etc, even a 'piss now' command which is handy). However this year on walks she has been much more likely to ignore me entirely and go off by herself, extending the walk by 20 minutes which can of course be annoying of itself but also make me late for work (if I could get her to understand me going to work = her dinner, that might make it all a lot easier). Anyway, we had put it down to her deafness (easy to believe in as she has a truly repulsive growth in her ear which the vet says is totally benign and common in older dogs). But this morning I tried to reign her in and she all but disappeared. I approached the bush where she was last seen and found her standing motionless behind it. When discovered, she bolted. She was being devious.

Having caught her, I considered doing what Wagging School told us to do eg put your dog on the lead and let her go, a couple of times, so that being on the lead wouldn't signify The End. But I wasn't going to be made a fool of by someone I can't argue with. So we came straight back.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Well, Control was pretty much all I imagined, with the rock myth, the rock de-myth, the good acting, and the songs I really liked a lot when I was 15. I saw it in the same place, virtually, where I bought my copy of 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' in 1980, from Readings, they were also selling that flexidisc that you were supposed to get for nothing for $10. After the film I recalled two lines from 1980, both extreme reactions to IC's suicide:

NME reader's letter: 'Ian Curtis died for our sins'
Vox crossword clue: 'The band was overrated, but their singer was well hung'

On another topic, I am going to Wollongong today, for about 11 hours.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

australian films

One feels that one often has to start afresh every day with an explanation of where one is coming from. I so often find myself talking about/reminiscing over/referencing films with people and getting a blank, 'oh, is that an Australian film?'

I put this comment, incidentally, in the category of almost-but-not-quite-as-annoying-as 'Are you vego?'. (Aside: on Friday night we were on the train quite late and a guy styling himself Aussie Tom asked a young man he had just been introduced to, 'What nasho are you?' A piece of crap abbreviation, incidentally, because of course the nationality is not the issue but the ethno or the cultro backgro possibly could be...)

Anyway, back to the first paragraph, my point is that there is an assumption (often comes with the usual 'I don't know anything about Australian films') that Australian film is a genre in terms of style, approach etc. I was actually teaching a course in Australian film a few weeks ago, and we had sat through 8 or 9 when we got to The Bank about which one sassy camp student sneered 'Not bad for an Australian film'.

At the end of the day, I am reconciled to the idea that people don't have to like what I like, and it often comes very close to not giving a loose root if they do or not (an acquaintance of my father's believes everyone on earth would be friends if they only all played Aussie rules; I used to have a similarly missionary impulse about various insightful cultro artefos). But it does bother me that - particularly of course in Australia - there is still that little badge of pride some can wear, of ignorance about one's own culture.

Admittedly I come from the POV that a lot of my favourite films are Australian films. I don't think I like them because of that, I am not sure if I've turned into some kind of patriot or not, shoot me if I ever do. But I genuinely don't see, even given this country's proud multicultural tradition, how it can be good for any Australian who likes films to 'not like' (i.e. be deliberately ignorant of) Australian films.

By the way, three local productions I have recently admired:
Burke and Wills
The Jammed

Sunday, November 04, 2007

helicopter friday night

On Friday night at about 1:30 am a police helicopter went up and down the creek valley about three times shining a spotlight around the top edges of the valley. At about the second time, while the helicopter was down the south end, a car started up on the bike track and drove along the track in a northerly direction. Apparently the helicopter was looking for a 'missing person', the car was irrelevant, though presumably its occupants thought they were being searched for.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

where does the crap come from?

In the most irritating scene in one of the most irritating films I've seen, I'm talkin' bout American Beauty, you've seen it too, the weird fascist teen demonstrates he is a sensitive soul by screening the girl a video he made of a plastic bag blowin' in the wind. And I agree it is true. Plastic shopping bags blow in the wind. It's not actually that beautiful, however edgily you want to try perceiving it.

In my now-daily walk round the reserve, I have marvelled about the amount of packaging rubbish I see. Some of it is still the legacy of the February 06 (or was it 05?) floods, plastic bottles stuck between rocks, etc. Since there is always never anyone in the reserve - or, two or three at one time max - most of it, eg lolly wrappers, chip bags, bits of paper, the ubiquitous bags etc - must have blown there. Are big empty parks like ours kind of vacuum cleaners for the surrounding area? Or is it just that, being a big 'empty' space, this is the only place where you see the stuff that is otherwise hidden by houses, walls, etc? We never find old chip wrappers in our back yard.