Wednesday, March 31, 2010

nobody's fool

Best Haircut 100 song probably and quite different from their nonetheless excellent album, because less lite-funk. The demo version which came free in Flexipop is even better, more ebullient. I had never seen this video before now and neither have you probably. Whoever put it on Youtube says it features a young Patsy Kensit to which I say big deal Patsy who whatever, though there is a funny little wormhole appearance by her in at :30 seconds as Nick drives away which makes you wonder how much time people had to edit videos in those days. I like the fact that the band are drinking pale English orange juice at ye rustick pubbe.

How much does Nick H look like Robin Gibb!


So I was walking thro’ the Jacana Reserve this morning and I was just behind Chez Harris-Thibault when I saw a column of what I first thought was smoke rising from a mound of junk. I assumed some piskie was smoking his meerschaum early o’ the morn, naturally an opportunity to grab him by the piskie toe and claim my bonus, but in fact it was a column of vapor. I tried to capture it with my phone which is dying (note to everyone who knows me: I am going to get a new phone and could mean a new phone number, be aware). Anyway I risked (and gained) getting my feet wet wandering through the grass to see what was there and it was a mound of junk – grass and dirt junk with a bit of actual rubbish junk thrown in – and some holes, and the vapor was rising from an indefinable point in the pile, I suppose because it did not become properly apparent until some cm above the ground. There were some properly defined holes into the pile, but the steam was not obviously (as opposed to obviously not) coming from the holes.

I suppose there are two possible explanations: either the vapor is emanating from the creek that flows under the reserve and which was buried under a huge amount of household waste in the 1970s, and which is a little warmer than the air above it. The junk signifies a point at which the reserve is kind of falling in a little bit – and let’s face it the surface of much of the rest of the reserve is covered in depressions, it’s virtually a lake system at the moment. The other explanation is that foxes or rabbits or something else is living in the junk en masse (hence the holes) and were just generally heating up the air around.

What do you think?

By the way I am well aware no smokey vapour is visible in this picture but it is delightful anyway. A funny thing happened: as I say, my phone is dying. It collapsed shortly after taking this picture and attempting to send it as an email. So then I charged it up and went through the photos on it looking for another photo of the same thing from a different angle which I also took. It was not there. What was there was about 70 photos (many of them either blank or of completely blackness) most of which I had deleted over a year ago. I wonder if I will get phone calls from the past too?

Monday, March 29, 2010

My 2c on Hey Dad

I have no opinion of course on the whole Hey Dad! child molesting accusations that are currently circling though there are lots of things around that controversy that strike me as weird. I do have a tiny connection to the whole shambles, however, as I visited the set in (I’m guessing) 1989 to do a story for, I suppose, Smash Hits and now I look back on it, it wasn’t a happy place.

It was in the late 80s when what I might now think of as the Diesel factor was heavily in play (Craig Mathieson talks about this quite a lot in one of his books though I can’t actually remember which one; he’s talking largely about Ratcat). The Diesel factor comes from when we ran a story on Johnny Diesel, a tiny little story, which wasn’t written by me but I know who did write it (it was published without a byline because it was in the section where stories had no bylines) where the last line was a simple ‘Yum!’. Johnny Diesel’s first album was entirely unmemorable rubbish (the second one was quite good) and he had that Angels guy managing him and there was all this bollocks about recording in Memphis or something similar, and it was all about stonewash jeans ‘n’ Luke Perry ‘n’ 50s red petrol pump-style authenticity, and anyway Diesel and his management were so horrified by the ‘Yum!’ that they decreed they would never talk to another pop magazine again. And at the same time FM radio was dominated entirely by horrible classic rock, to the degree that I well remember a radio ad for a club that played house music or something and the approximation of house music that was manufactured for the ad was so bullshit it was hilarious. Anyway. The point being our supply of pop music people to write about was drying up so we decided to switch at least in part to TV, at least as an experiment, on the reasoning that really our readers were at least as much into TV as they were into pop and we’d have no trouble accessing TV stars, right?

So I went off to interview the cast of Hey Dad because as we kept telling ourselves it was a really successful show and our readership surely really liked it. Now I’ve built up to the whole thing I wish I could better remember what transpired, but I only recall a vibe. I went to an afternoon’s reading, in a hall in Glebe or Balmain or somewhere, and then I went to a taping at Epping. I didn’t see anything weird happening that I could now sell to NW, fortunately or unfortunately. What I did see was a pretty unhappy place, or at least put it this way, I thought the show was chronically unfunny, anyway, but I was surprised that the cast were so unwilling to pretend they enjoyed being there. I remember Julie McGregor being fairly sardonic about Smash Hits but being abstractedly friendly to me, and perhaps it was around this time she was involved in that bizarre Farmhouse thing with Michael Horrocks? And I remember Robert Hughes musing, I thought rather comically but a bit poignantly, about how his character had been working on the same architectural drawing for the entire length of the series (which hadn’t been going that long, considering how long it ultimately did go for, but I guess there was a feeling in the industry that surely they’d rung every possibility they could out of the premise of Hey Dad whatever that might have been and that feeling probably infused the production too). And I remember trying to challenge Simone Buchanan about whether she found the scripts funny and she wasn’t that willing to commit one way or the other, I think she claimed to occasionally chuckle at something the first time she read it but the imputation was clearly it was just a job.

I’m not going to push it any further, that’s all I remember, the other guys (both called Chris) were friendly enough. I imagine the story I wrote is around somewhere. I don’t even know why I brought it up. Well I do but it’s not like I have anything interesting to say about it, except it wasn’t a hilariously happy production the week I visited. I just put that down to it being a fairly bad show.

Monday, March 22, 2010

cheap and satisfying

Try it with something you can't stand.

Es gone orf somewhere

last friday

Canberra airport is undergoing some kind of massive overhaul which means that everything takes 9 times as long there at the moment. Particularly the important and useful act of getting out of there. It’s going to be so nice when it’s finished though. I was in the taxi queue when I saw a bus down the road which claimed to be going to the city. I ducked out of the taxi queue (the immortal words about changing horses in mid-stream echoing boomily through my head) and took the bus instead. This morning’s flight being something of a cost debacle (not to mention a punctuality debacle) I wanted to effect some degree of cost minimization.

So now I am on a bus with my shoulder pushed roughly against the window frame as I have to sit turned towards the centre aisle if I want to use the laptop to tell you that I am now on a bus with my shoulder pushed roughly against the window frame as I have to sit turned towards the centre aisle if I want to use the laptop to tell you that I am now on a bus with my (it will be a good day in blogging when the function is introduced so I can turn the central eternal continuity of this paragraph into some kind of merry-go-round of text indicating its eternal or at least continuous nature). It is going to take me another ¾ of an hour to get to the library where I had it all planned out I would unproblematically be at 9 am when it opens. Everything is late in this day and age. We all know that if you don’t catch your flight, you don’t get a refund and it doesn’t wait for you. What is the reasonable amount of time before which you can say to the airline (in this case, the always merry Virgin Blue), look I’ve been waiting at charming Tullamarine Airport for 1 ½ hours now, why don’t we just admit this isn’t going to work? Give me my money back and I will apologise to the Canberrans and not attend the meeting. As it happened I was planning to do that 1½ hours after and they started boarding 1 hour and 25 mins (that is, 1 and 5/12 minutes after.

Much much later. Can you believe I am now in Goulburn, jewel of the Goulburn area as it is often described. I am in the Paragon café, jewel of Goulburn cafes (the other one from what I can gather is a Gloria ‘Pissininyer’ Jean’s). I am drinking a glass of Paragon red and waiting for a greek salad and reading today’s Goulburnienest, or at least I was before you butted in.

I am gonna see a crappy movie (I must like them – otherwise I wouldn’t be letting myself in for another so soon after last weekend i.e. within one lifetime) at the Lilac City Cinemas, Goulburn. I have till 11:17 when the train comes to take me back to Melbourne or as some would have it ‘Melbs’. No-one ever says Melbvegas, I wonder why not.

Later so I went to see Bounty Hunter at the Lilac City Cinema, it was pretty OK on most fronts, I was particularly interested in what the audience might be like, they barely laughed. There was an audible reaction when the guy who looked like Shane Moritz got a big horse tranquiliser injection in his neck. I didn’t laugh at that or any other part of the film, but I enjoyed it. I thought Jennifer Aniston was actually pretty good in it. You see, I am part of the cool crowd who doesn’t like any mainstream performer, and cannot admit they may have talent to do what they do. That kind of approach was subversive at one point – before about 1980 I think. But now the only way anyone can be subversive is to reverse that and only like mainstream things, like everyone else. I don’t particularly want to be subversive or versive. And some people don’t want to be subversive – they just don’t like Jennifer Aniston. But I think she is OK after seeing this film. I never had a very high opinion of her before. I guess she was in that show Friends which I never really ‘got’ either. Now I am back in the Paragon. It’s not so bad.

Later imagine my surprise and awe when after paying my dues of waiting an hour plus at Goulburn station (there being nothing open in Goulburn as far as I can see after 10) we are informed that the train will be 25 minutes late and that Countrylink apologises for any inconvenience caused* and that they will be giving us regular updates. Imagine how impressive it is when we are then told in the next update that the train will be 50 minutes late, and then in the next update (delivered by a robot woman) that it will be an hour. Luckily there was no advance on the hour, but that hour did pass slowly. I thought I heard a ‘wah wah wah-wah’ trumpet at the moment a family of three set up camp close to my seat and all lit up together, inc. the late teens daughter. Just the cherry on top of irritations.

*Apologies for any inconvenience caused is a double insult. Firstly, it is too broad. It’s not ‘apologies for the lateness of the train service’, it’s kind of like the polite version of what are you rebelling against, Johnny? It’s like, we’ll apologise for anything, absolutely anything, because apologies are cheap and easy and we actually have no obligation to give you anything at all. And then it’s also offensive because it’s so unwilling to admit there is by definition an inconvenience. I suppose there is a possibility, a very minor one, that you really didn’t want the train to come, because you were going to meet someone who was going to punch you in the head, or you struck up a conversation with someone hot because you were both eating chocquitos or something. But let’s face it on the whole a train being late is by definition an inconvenience in itself, apart from the follow-on effect, having to reschedule appointments or having to rearrange your day to get everything done, when you waste an hour (f’rinstance) at Goulburn station. In my case I suppose I won’t have to rearrange my day too much, it’s a Saturday, going to Bendigo, but I guess there are other aggravations around it and despite the fact I came up with some good examples of why you might be like ‘wow, I’m so glad that train was late!’ you’ll still most likely consider it inconvenient in some way. My preferred announcement would be, Countrylink apologises for the lateness of this train. Countrylink (or Metro or Virgin Blue or whatever) doesn’t have to do more than that, I would say, in terms of social obligation. Of course the extra obligation which they would be doing, since this is actually a financial undertaking/contract, is that they pay you money on an hourly rate to compensate you for the time wasted. So people would be saying to me today, wow you’re so lucky that so many of the transport services you paid money to use were late, and I’d be like yes I struck the jackpot they were all significantly late and I got half my money back! I mean while this financially makes no sense at all (and the cost of transport would just go up, because the companies would all have to cover themselves and would pass on the cost to the consumer anyway) it is certainly very much the right thing to do.

And that reminds me. Metro still haven’t called me back with a lame reason for why my train was late on Thursday morning. I do love it when they do that because they always give a reason, and it’s always ‘the delay was caused by faulty brakes at Craigieburn’ or whatever, i.e. trying to blind you with pragmatic truth, but fuck ‘em, it’s not really the point, the point is, I want that time back and not to have been spent waiting around in places that are really not even nice places to wait. Maybe that’s the solution. Make these places nice places to wait. Because at the moment Goulburn railway station hasn’t got much, well, it does have a signals museum but that was closed when I was there.

Actually the cherry had a cherry on top which was: on arrival at Southern Cross I went to the information counter to discover how I could get my two hours’ free travel in Melbourne having come in on a country train. I got chapter and verse on how it works then had to present my ticket for a stamp. Imagine my surprise when I was told that actually since it was a Countrylink trip I did not qualify.

As it happened the Countrylink train had passed right through the station I wanted to get off at, but did not stop. I can’t gripe about that because it is of course a minority interest, getting off at Broadmeadows. Nevertheless one has to show intestinal fortitude at the various whammies of being an hour late to your destination, part of that hour being the excruciatingly wasteful time spent traveling Broadmeadows-Southern Cross (an interesting route, I have to admit, going through Brooklyn) and then having to pay for the privilege of returning to Broadmeadows. If I may count that as an hour and a half wasted on top of the hour wasted waiting for the train yesterday and the hour and a half wasted waiting for the plane yesterday, that’s 4 ½ hours of wasted time. I would like also if I may add another half an hour of time wasted trying to get out of Canberra airport which means my trip overall would have been 20% more effective if everything had been more punctual. I suppose I should then translate that into some kind of ‘man-hours’ calculation by which my hourly wage multiplied by 5 becomes the wastage gauge.

But you know I had plenty of contingency material at my fingertips like the laptop and ipod and books and blah and some more blah blah, so it’s not as though I was sitting there staring into space. I honestly can’t understand how people sit and stare into space. When I was in the Paragon there was a girl waiting for something takeaway (something chicken, I don’t know what) and they seemed to keep her waiting well over half an hour, during which time she simply sat and stared ahead of her. God I would not be able to cope with that. She was American, short and had a red and white striped top so if you see her round Goulburn please buy her a book. I am sure the red and white striped top is her iconic item of clothing by which everyone recognizes her, her name is probably Ditzy Mitzy and her catchphrase is, ‘I can switch off LIKE THAT!’

Hey Ditzy Mitzi
Oh god don’t ask! I have been so delayed in my journeys over the last day! It has been one big hassle. First my plane was late to Canberra blah blah blah
(Mitzi shown staring into space with a thoughts bubble above here head showing elipses, or perhaps a ‘back in 5 minutes’ sign, or some other iconography suggesting absence).

Saturday, March 20, 2010

when you say you spend a lot of time at airports...

I suppose many assume you are having (perhaps you're too decadent to realise it) a glamorous life. I got to the airport with minutes to spare to find the flight was delayed by more than an hour. Yes, I am spending the day in Canberra which as you know is one of my favourite places - if you told me you spent a lot of time in Canberra I'd assume you were having a glamorous life - but it will only be a swift visit for a meeting and in the meantime, a lot of getting-there bullshit which has un peu d'ennuiance to it... it is almost impossible to get to Canberra today apparently because of the freakin' impressionists. I always like to blog about impending flights in case the plane crashes. Then I might appear prescient.

Friday, March 19, 2010

crawl of... death

So I have to get to Park Orchards by 10.30 on a Thursday morning. A little time spent on the Metlink website has me sorted on a Broadmeadows train at 8.34 and in PO at 10.14 or thereabouts, luverly jubbly. Well, of course I arrive at Broady station and to my enormous surprise the train is 20 minutes late. This means naturally I get to the city three minutes after I am supposed to take a 307 bus to the Donvale terminus. At this time I always enjoy calling the hapless call centre workers and putting in a complaint, and they have perfected a brilliant synthesis of politeness and complete lack of interest that I suppose deflects people from thinking that they are dealing with someone who might want to defend the lateness of trains. (The bus, by the way, was 9 minutes late getting to the appropriate spot for me to connect with the 271 Ringwood bus which was due 6 minutes after the 307. However, the 271 was fortuitously 3 minutes late. It’s like cliché of a primary school maths problem isn’t it. Once getting on the 271 I gave John 3 apples who gave Jill half the number of apples Peter gave Redmond, who had twice as many apples as me).

I read The Age every day and I appreciate the universe it creates, a pleasant fantasy based on elements of fact though, unlike for instance the film Fargo, not universal truths. Yesterday I enjoyed seeing the Age grapple with why people might perhaps want to live somewhere more than 3 km beyond the CBD. The good reason they never seem to have tried on for size is that many suburbs offer triple the variety interest and versatility than any number of elegant Fitzroy ruined terrace houses, but that’s not important right now. Yesterday it was so someone could buy a block of land – any land please god even if it’s in (shudder) Epping – to reunite their family, and family is something the Age understands has relevance to the ethnics. Similarly the Age’s obsession with public transport is both intriguing and misses a basic underlying fact. This is that the state government whoever they may be can get away with underfunding public transport because only a small percentage of Melbournians use it (and many of those are too young to vote and probably equate reaching adulthood with the ‘freedom’ of learning to drive). Yes, it is a catch 22, because the more PT is funded the better it will be and the more people want to use it, but at the same time, the more possibility there is for people to feel disgruntledly in the thrall of a government (or semi-government) service.

For some reason people can disconnect from the idea that roads are not also every bit as much a feature of planning and governance. I remember the argument I had with some dumbass students I had to cope with five or so years ago re: road tolls and train tickets, where they didn’t think they should have to pay road tolls and I said well why is using a road different from using a railway and they said (sort of unanimously, or at least a couple said it and others agreed), ‘well we don’t buy tickets’.

On the bus I entertained once again my irritating ability to recognize one of probably thousands of irritating pop songs I sincerely dislike, from a few squeaky bars above engine noise. It was Dire Straits’ ‘Walk of Life’. I mean for all I know that chronically horrible keyboard line is completely calculated to be audible above every other ghastly noise of daily life (as it was lived almost 30 years ago). I hate that song very much thank you. The radio also played some things I like though like ‘Summer in the City’ and ‘Get it On’. I suppose I say these are things I like but in truth I would not voluntarily play them for my pleasure. I just hate them about 30 000% less than ‘Walk of Life’, which should not even have been allowed to be a song. That song was like a direct by-product of a Thatcher government, and not in a good way like songs by The Specials or whatever, but in a way that it was like Thatcher policies created the diseased environment in which such a travesty could flourish. I don’t have a clue what that song is about (Chuck Berry? That’d be right)* but it should have died on the first night of its existence. Instead it is still being played, its cheesy topping piping like a wheezy phlegm tweet above the sound of a bus engine and passing cars on Hoddle Street. I want to smack not only Mark Knopfler but everyone who bought that song and who responded favourably to its inclusion on a hypothetical playlist in consumer polling. That would take the rest of my entire lifetime I suppose – it no doubt sold millions and not only would it take hundreds of people hundreds of years to find out who bought it, but also getting them lined up. Some of them are probably now dead and I would like to think there could be a special exemption for dead ones but maybe there isn’t. It would probably be easier to just smack everyone born between 1940 and 2000, as I am pretty sure no-one under 10 would have bought ‘Walk of Life’, and you’d be going pretty well on getting the largest possible section of those who did just concentrating on the 11-70 year olds.

The downside is it’s not fair that so many people who didn’t buy or otherwise support ‘Walk of Life’ are getting the punishment. But as far as I’m concerned that’s part of living in a society. So much of one’s life is dominated by other people’s bullshit. I mean why am I always singled out for explosives testing whenever I come through the airport? I’ll tell you: it’s because I look white and educated (and the truth is, I’m both) and am unlikely to kick up a stink. If there is actually a system that makes my selection genuinely random, then I should buy more lottery tickets, because random is less random than I realized. Anyway. The real reason I have to so often suffer the boredom and indeed it’s probably even humiliation of being checked for explosives every time I get on a plane is that other people are jerks. It’s no different to being slapped because other people bought ‘Walk of Life’. I know I’ve put it in your head now, sorry, but I didn’t create or support it in any way. It disgusts me.

* Later, I wikipediaed it and it's about street musicians. I guess as they were its inspiration MK put all the royalties from the song into small coins in a huge tank and went around shooting 20p a piece at street musicians. No, seriously, he does a lot for charity.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

more train thoughts

I have had reading glasses for probably about six months now and like various other orbiting geegaws they dominate my life at the same time as generally speaking I try to ignore them. Of course I remember I need them the minute I sit down to read because my eyes are now far too lazy to focus properly on small print. I knew I needed them initially because some very small print on bottles was indecipherable as was stuff like my staff card ‘bar code’ (as it’s known, though in fact it’s a string of Arabic numerals) which has an evil sequence of zeros in it I can never untangle.

It’s not that I’m not used to wearing glasses though, because I have always taken comfort in sunglasses. One of the things about sunglasses though is that they allow you to look at other people – for instance your fellow commuters on the 8:10 out of Broady station – without them necessarily knowing that’s what you’re doing. And this becomes a habit, and then you (by which I mean I) might be wearing my reading glasses on the train and I forget that not only can everyone see my eyes as I glance irritatedly at the woman opposite me who is either suffering from flu or the world’s worst hayfever (in March?) and apologizing under her breath as she drinks her snot, but that my eyes are in fact magnified and probably under magnification reveal the innermost workings of my tawdry mind like some kind of blog.

I suppose I am comfortable with glasses generally though, because I keep forgetting to take them off. One of the reasons is no doubt that they are reading glasses therefore intended just to assist me reading things close, and they have no bearing on my long vision, so if I am reading and then look up at something further away, I am not alerted to the fact that I still have glasses on, by any kind of vision issue. Wow that was a boring paragraph.

Last night we watched The Mentalist (I think they really are just recycling old Columbo scripts now) and Q&A. I thought Shorten came out OK and to my surprise I warmed to Catherine Deveney without too much trouble. Miranda Devine was seemingly level headed but also seemingly out of her depth (I would be like her in that situation: she was privately thinking, ‘look, I’m a writer, not a talker, and if it was just me broadcasting to you without all this dumb interaction, I could make you believe whatever I wanted’) and Waleed Aly was most entertaining. Mia couldn’t watch the Liberal guy because she found him excruciatingly boring.

Fuck I hate people who pick at their fingernails on public transport. They should have their own carriage like smokers used to. It should then be decoupled from the train and allowed to roll gently into a siding and then be exploded.

Young people often talk like dicks. A girl just answered the phone on the train with that bizarre ‘o’ sound in ‘hello’. It’s kind of like helleaux, but with a shorter ‘o’ sound and somewhere in there there is an ‘e’ sound too and a hint of an ‘oi’ sound too. How do they do that? It’s talented. But it still sounds dicky.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Some films are plain old bad. I couldn’t understand where Blessed was coming from but once again I felt myself being in the silly position, as a middle class person living in a putatively working class area, being patronised by middle class people who think they’re portraying some kind of working class life (or perhaps former working class people who think what working class people did and said 20 years ago when they last checked in can still stand because they're angry, right). It bugged me significantly that Miranda Otto’s character was supposedly living in Westmeadows in a house that looks like nothing I had ever seen in Westmeadows (or Broadmeadows for that matter, but Westmeadows is comparatively bourgie and perhaps someone should have checked that) and that it is implied that her daughter’s friend after escaping from a police car outside this Westmeadows house then runs home to West Footscray. I am not sure but I am guessing that’s about 15 km (no, I checked on google map and it's a bit over 18). Miranda Otto’s character is a gambling tart who – a la the mum in Mallboy who gets together wiv her mates and sharpie dances to Suzi Quatro of an evening – dances to The Angels by herself, classic Alberts period natcherly. I found the Frances O’Connor character the worst but I also found the guff about the character played by Debra Lee Furness (a fine, fine actor) wanting her partner/husband William McGuinness to ‘touch me, you never touch me’ somewhat blah particularly when contrasted with FO’C’s son telling her two of her boyfriends had sex with her preteen daughter thus: ‘they touched her mum you let her touch them’. Ugh. All this prattish coyness. As for the young gay man who was the brother of Miranda Otto’s daughter’s best friend, the less said the better. We watched this film along with two others. They were Surrogates, with Bruce Willis and get this Radha Mitchell (everything comes back to Love and Other Catastrophes doesn’t it, really) and the other film was… a teenage school comedy called Just Peck. Why these? I was trying to get a kind of well-rounded selection of the quality with the crapity. Unfortunately they all ended up being fairly crapity, with Blessed the biggest waste cuz it had the best people in it and the best writers and best director. Surrogates had a lot of potential, and just didn’t make it on any level really with a few little exceptions such as the clever way the robots looked just a little fake but only just a very little. It’s about a time about 12 years into the future I think when almost anyone who can does their daily life through a robot which they control while lying in a dark room relaxing. So, it’s a kind of virtual reality in reverse. The stupid bit is that this whole thing goes pear shaped when someone – whoever, who cares, not I – finds a way to kill the users of these ‘surrogates’ by blasting the surrogate with a kind of ray gun that fries their minds somehow. The premise of the whole film is of course ridiculous, but this threat is also ridiculous. Although ridiculous I do feel that almost anything else done with the premise could have resulted in something a little superior. There are little resistance states within the cities (I think this film is set in Boston) where luddites refuse to use surrogates, for whatever reason. We get a tiny sense of these people’s lives and they play catch, and farm the streets or whatever – groovy, that's the limit of this director's conception of an alternative lifestyle. They are led by a big black man called The Prophet. Bruce Willis is a middle aged white man called… can’t remember. Radha Mitchell is only ever seen as a surrogate, controlled firstly by the woman she’s supposed to be controlled by, and then by others. Dragorama. Well, I asked for it. Just Peck has one very important saving grace, which is that while it is about a boy (13 or something?) with strong feelings for a girl about 16 or thereabouts, it doesn’t descend into anything grossout particularly, beyond the suggestion that he has diorrhea, for some unexplained reason, on the first day of high school. Thinking about it I do get the sense there was perhaps some editing after the fact (you know, love to see the director’s cut) because for instance there’s the diorrhea scene which luckily goes nowhere and there’s a scene where Peck first meets the girl, whose name I forget and his friend suggests that as payment for her giving him a ride in her mini moke, he (Peck) will show her his enormous penis. He says he will do this and then it’s the next scene and presumably he did not do it, because this was not something actually she would have wanted him to do (it’s not that kind of film, whatever kind of film it is) but he’s getting a rid in the mini moke and there’s nothing more said about the schlong viewing. I didn’t want the film to go in that direction so it’s cool, it was just either lazy scripting or weird editing. The Peck character was well played and some of the adults were good too. Marcia Cross did what she always does now, a prim anal bitch.

The next night two films were borrowed for pleasure. One was The Hangover. Why? Because we had borrowed a burnt version of this film and felt terribly guilty and just had to rent it and get the filmmakers and investors legitimate recompense. No, actually the burnt version stuck half way through so I felt left in limbo just not knowing. Heather Graham seems to put her hand up for every kooky bit part; does she have kids or something and just wants to do a few days’ work here or there? There were some faintly funny lines in the film but the character of Leslie Chow basically spoils the whole kaboodle with a Chinese gangster-esque figure combining magically every Chinese stereotype in one. Which still seems like a stereotype. Yeah, I could live without that film. And then Charlie and Boots.

Charlie and Boots. All the way through, I had the weirdest déjà vu feeling about this film, that it was like a travelogue from the 1960s, with some 21st century True Emotions plastered inappropriately on top. In fact, the script really could have been an old travelogue, except there was a little-son-dead storyline which wouldn’t have fitted the 1960s (Surrogates has a little-son-dead storyline too, fyi). Otherwise everything from the dramatically utterly awkward first ten minutes which has Charlie and his son Boots on the road from Warrnambool to Cape York instantly to the unhumorous interactions with weird locals along the way is just like a 50 minute short produced by the Queensland Tourism Council in 1974 only less amusing particularly as Paul Hogan looks kind of scary with hair like Bruce Willis’ surrogate in Surrogates, but a face a bit like an old, old man. Just a bit. Why Anne Phelan thinks he’s hot and he doesn’t think she’s hot (this is in the film, not real life) is beyond me. There is a bit of awkward stuff about a 16 year old country singer who for no reason that makes sense because the country music festival isn’t on, hitches a ride to Tamworth and then sings a song somewhere in Tamworth and that’s it. And she was going with a boyfriend who she ditches because ‘he wanted me to do things I didn’t want to do’. At least it wasn’t ‘they touched her, mum, you let them touch her’ or for that matter, ‘touch me you never touch me any more’. The scene where the men destroy the boyfriend’s vehicle is the funniest scene in the film.

So films are no good these days, when it comes down to it. Today I went for a long walk with Millie and Charlie between Strathmore and home, probably about 6 km with all the twists and turns. Millie got in the water at Gowanbrae and couldn’t get out, though I showed her a way. I listened to a bunch of podcasts – In Our Time (on Queen Boudica, aka Bodicea, did you know she possibly didn’t even exist!?), Movie Show and This American Life about stories from the recession. All recommended. Charlie was chased by a greyhound so she took it out on the next dog who came along, which was the size of a big rat. And we saw some really fat tadpoles.

It was a warm day.

Friday, March 05, 2010

pip proud 1949-2010

Pip Proud died yesterday from throat cancer aged 62.
His last seven or eight years (following the stroke that left him blind and partially paralysed) were unenviable in so many ways. He was a big part of my life for the last 15 years with a range of frustrations and delights, and I will most definitely miss him very much.
1st pic stolen from 

Monday, March 01, 2010

this morning on the train

This morning on the train there were no people reading Jodi Picoult as far as I could see, leading me to believe that I was/am the victim of a hoax to delude me into believing in some kind of picoultzeitgeist when in fact that grotesque book which I heard was the only actual artefact produced under the dread name of Picoult. Although I did see another of hers (another courtroom drama apparently) in Borders Highpoint yesterday. I am still really outraged at Perfect Match from its shabbily-conceived title downwards. The problem with an audio book is that you hear the reader’s interpretation in your head, so the whiny voice of the protagonist typifies that book for me. Also the baby voice of the child.
I was at Highpoint to get a new laptop from Myers. The 2002 Acer laptop I am writing this on and which I never actually paid for (it was a by-product of my first real research project post-PhD) has served me well but it is developing a bunch of unusual lines across the screen (see fig. 1) apart from the fact that the screen itself has long been in shabby shape, because of the way it makes contact with the keyboard when I shut it, it left impressions.

Fig. 1 the computer screen

Hey, it’s March and it’s coming up to my favourite time of year, March. April really. I am on the train going to work and enjoying myself.rambling. I am essentially ready for the first day of teaching and essentially is the state you’d want to be most times isn’t it. I am riding on the train in the dark which is nice. It is a good temperature outside too. It is a big shame that holidays come in summer when we’d all much rather be inside being sheltered from temperature extremes.
The train has stopped at Essendon and many people have got on. They all look wrong, particularly the guy with one of those under-chin smooth demon beards, like facial hair was a fungus found on the part of the face where the sun don’t shine. He also has a slightly gothic (but intensely mainstream) design on his windcheater. Oh no! The next station is Moonee Ponds.
At least The Mentalist is on tonight. I think that show jumped the shark last week, what do you think? When those two characters whose names I can’t remember, said they’d been secretly having a relationship, and everyone said they already knew. I think that’s about it for The Mentalist, which can’t be that great a show anyway because I’m always relieved when it’s not about the murder of a young girl but it often is. I always hated The Bill (haven’t watched it for years though, but that’s not the point) but at least all the crime wasn’t murders of young girls like the plucking of flowers.
Alright it’s true, you forced it out of me. I have nothing to say at this point. I can’t help it. Sometimes people just don’t. It’s like being a fallow field. The promise of future hope or, perhaps, the hope of future promise.
Oh, incidentally though, Mavis’ funeral was last Saturday. It was nicely low-key and as someone said she wouldn’t have been embarrassed by it. My sister Tamsin had a picture of Mavis and her three siblings in about 1916 standing in a row in order of height with their hands on each others’ shoulders, and she got all of Mavis’ great grandchildren (ten of them) to do the same, well, Alice had left a little while earlier so 9/10, and it was very nice and also funny, with little Will the baby of six months or less and looking very grumpy right at the end, behind Florence who is only 1, and Mitchell up the other end, a man.
Thank you to all who have expressed condolences I really appreciate it. I will miss her very much but I know she was tired of being alive. She was an atheist by the way and a St Kilda supporter. I don’t know how firmly she held to either of those beliefs.