Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Happy birthday Q + A


The club I run every Thursday, Q + A, has its 11th birthday this week. Feel free to come for a visit, a drink and a boogie!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Emo boys kissing


I found this at work while looking for an image of emo boys pashing for an article. No, really, I did!

Monday, November 27, 2006

MELBOURNE BIG DAY OUT STORE TICKETS SOLD OUT!

This just in from the BDO publicists:

"Store tickets for the MELBOURNE BIG DAY OUT have SOLD OUT in record time!

This is unprecedented!

Final tickets for the MELBOURNE BIG DAY OUT are only available through Ticketmaster ph 136 100 and www.bigdayout.com

Be quick or you will miss out!

Do believe the hype!

I love anonymous bitching

I just received this delightful, anonymous piece of vitriol in my inbox.


Re: Your Bloggy Thing
From: Anonymous Sender [anonymous@remailer.metacolo.com]

Your Interests:
Should have read: Just a past it, burned-out, tedious old queen who can't write for shit.


Don't you love the way anonymity allows cowards to say whatever they like? I wonder if it's from someone I know? Assuming I do, it's clearly also from someone whose opinion I don't give a fuck about. LOL!

Loving the linkage

I've taken a couple of minutes to update my blog links, folks, so without further ado, please welcome:

Blather Blog
Sublime-ation
Keep It Foolish
A Wild Young Under-Whimsy
Fluffy as a Cat
Broken Left Leg

And in the Gay Blogs section:

The Pink Pen
Stephen from Melbourne
My Life in the Slow Lane
Evol Kween
Best Gay Blogs
If I Bite You Hard Enough

Click, read, enjoy!

Bond. James Bond.


For the first time in, well, ever, I'm actually looking forward to the new James Bond film, Casino Royale.

The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw has described the film as 'ridiculously enjoyable', and says that Daniel Craig is "a fantastic Bond, and all those whingers and nay-sayers out there in the blogosphere should hang their heads in shame... He's easily the best Bond since Sean Connery, and perhaps even - well, let's not get carried away. "

By all accounts it's a grittier, grimmer take on the Bond franchise than has ever been seen before. That, coupled with the fact that Craig is bloody sexy (watch Love is the Devil if you don't believe me, in which he plays the rough trade lover of artist Francis Bacon) means that I'm actually enthused about seeing the film, which opens next Thursday. Me, I'm going to see it next Monday night at a media preview.

I have a plus one for that screening. I wonder who I'll take...?


By the way, if you're the person I've lent my copy of Love is the Devil to, can I have it back now, please?

Give us the old...

Razzle Dazzle is a new Australian film opening next year, which I was lucky enough to catch last Wedbesday night at the Palace Films Christmas party (do some companies like to get in early, or what?) at the Westgarth Cinema.

It’s a rare experience to walk into a cinema knowing absolutely nothing about the film you’re going to see. Razzle Dazzle, directed by Darren Ashton (Thunderstruck) is a mockumentary that bills itself as ‘a journey into dance.” It’s a bright, breezy comedy about the world of competitive dance eisteddfods, a sort of Strictly Ballroom about the under 18 set. The focus is firmly on the adults, including a single-minded stage mum played by Kerry Armstrong, and the rival directors of two dance academies, the well meaning but foolish Mr Jonathon (played by English actor Ben Miller) and the snide Miss Elizabeth (Jane Hall).

While the humour never gets as black or as savage as I felt it needed to be to really make this film work, its gentle humour and PG rating should ensure Razzle Dazzle a broad audience next year when it opens nationally on March 22.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Partying like its 1976

Last night was 3RRR's 30th birthday party, held in the appropriately baroque surroundings of The Forum, and what a splendid affair it was. With the theme of 'Party like it's 1976', almost all the crowd made the effort to dress accordingly. There were some truly disturbing suits on display, some wonderfully garish frocks, an entire gang of Sharpies, several tennis players, footballers, superheroes, and sundry other 70's personalities.

Myself, I donned a rather charming kaftan and a fetching wig, and proceeded to have an excellent time. So excellent in fact that the sun had well and truly risen by the time I got home...

This afternoon has been spent curled up on the couch with a good book, James Ellroy's The Big Nowhere, and a quick visit to the local polling booth where I voted Green, having given up on Labor several years ago after their disgraceful response to the Tampa affair.

Tonight's going to be a quiet one - just me, a bottle of red, and the ABC's election coverage. Cheers!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Pagan Greens threaten future of Victoria!

Shock, horror!


MEDIA RELEASE

Wednesday, 22nd November 2006

Pagan Green Party Threatens Future Of Victoria

The Rev Fred Nile, Leader of the Christian Democratic Party, has issued a warning to the voters of Victoria concerning the pagan Green Party.

"The voters of Victoria only have to study the anti-Christian agenda of the pagan Green Party to know what will happen to Victoria if the Greens win the 'balance of power', the 'balance of blackmail' in the Victorian Upper House.

In the NSW Upper House the pagan Green Party has strongly opposed the daily Opening Prayers of the NSW Parliament and have twice unsuccessfully moved Motions to have them removed (2001 and 2003) but were defeated both times, by 30 votes to 7 votes in 2003.

The Greens strongly supported the Religious Vilification Bill that had draconian gaol sentences and have persecuted the two Victorian Christian Pastors, Daniel Scot and Danny Nalliah.

The Greens have introduced a number of anti Christian Bills such as the legalisation of same sex homosexual 'marriages' and to force Christian Schools to go against their conscience and employ practicing homosexual and lesbian teachers.

The Greens have tried to legalise marijuana and supported legal heroin 'shooting galleries' (injecting rooms) in NSW towns, suburbs and prisons.

If the Green party wins the balance of power they will use that power to ruthlessly adopt their anti Christian policies.

I urge the voters of Victoria to reject the Green 'watermelon' party - green on the outside, red and pink on the inside. Instead vote for the Christian Democratic Party candidates, Spero Katos, Sandra Herrmann, Jenny Zuiderwyk, Phil Seymour, Ewan McDonald, Wolfgang Voigt and Eddie Brockhus" said Fred Nile.

Bwah-hah-hah-hah-haaaaaa!

Two parents decide to play a prank on their young son and his friend who have been watching horror movies. The result? Fucking hilarious! (Thanks to Evol Kween, who I stole this from.)

RIP Robert Altman

One of the great auteurs of modern American cinema is dead.

The caustic and irreverent director of movies including M-A-S-H, Nashville and The Player died on Monday night US time, at the age of 81.

There's a beautiful salute to him here, at Salon.com, which I urge you all to read.




He's not bloody dead you know!

So Ian Thorpe has retired. So what? Does that really justify the outpouring of grief, the wailing and moaning in the media? Anybody had think he'd bloody died or something!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The ALP is telling porkies

Any suggestion that the Greens are preferencing the Liberals or Nationals anywhere in this weekend's Victorian election is entirely false.

Despite anything that might be in the media, or in any garbled reports you may receive, the Greens are NOT recommending preferences to the Liberals (or Nationals) in any seats. We ARE recommending a preference to the ALP in the vast majority of the marginals that matter, and in most other seats.

In some seats, we will leave it to the voters' choice, by providing a split or open ticket that allows them to Vote Green and then preference whichever major party they choose.

In the Upper House we have already determined to provide all preferences to like-minded parties first, then Labor, then the Conservatives, then the candidates with the most extremely opposed position to The Greens.

By contrast, the ALP has preferenced the so-called Country Alliance ahead of the Greens. This Party is essentially a Shooters-and-Loggers Party.

Please visit our website to view how Greens preferences are being distributed: In the lower house: www.vic.greens.org.au/2006Election/how-to-vote

You can see how preferences from above-the-line votes will flow in the upper house at www.vec.vic.gov.au/statecandidates.html.

Please feel free to pass this email on to others.

Best Wishes

The Greens Campaign Team

Australian Greens (Victoria)
1/377 Little Bourke St, Melbourne 3001
(PO Box 4589 Melbourne 3001)
(03) 9602 1141
www.vic.greens.org.au

Authorised by Bronwen Mander, 1/377 Little Bourke St, Melbourne 3001

Monday, November 20, 2006

"I don't belong here"

Maybe it's because my so-called best friend (yes, I mean mean you, Andrew Plozza, formerly of Trafalgar East) threw a bucket of cowshit over me in front of a group of friends in 1983, when I was 15, to distance himself from Trafalgar High School's token poofter; but I've always been a trifle insecure...

At the launch of the unauthorised biography of 3RRR tonight, I was constantly mentally pinching myself, reminding myself that I'm actually a part of such an amazing, integral part of Melbourne. I felt shy, awkward and out of place, so I did what I normally do in such circumstances: I got drunk, and I overcompensated for my nervousness.

To quote Radiohead:

"But I'm a creep
I'm a weirdo
What the hell am I doing here?
I don't belong here
I don't belong here ."

The fact that apprently I actually do have a place at 3RRR makes me realise how incredibly fucking special the station is, in that it has a place for neurotic bastards like me.

If you're already a 3RRR subscriber, please buy Mark Phillips' excellent book (published by the Vulgar Press) or come along to one of the 30th birthday events.

Alternatively, if you're a freeloading listener, please subscribe.

Thank you and goodnight.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Review: Tomfoolery @ the Playhouse

Last Wednesday saw the opening night of the Melbourne Theatre Company’s final show for 2006, Tomfoolery. A musical review based upon the deliciously satirical works of American Tom Lehrer, the show strings together everything from standards such as ‘Poisoning the Pigeons in the Parks’ and ‘The Masochism Tango’ to songs the mathematician-turned-musician wrote for children’s educational television in the 1980’s. A framework of witty quotes based around Lehrer’s ability to send up seemingly every musical form in existence holds the show together.

The cast of Rhonda Burchmore, Mitchell Butel, Gerry Connolly, Bert Labonte, Melissa Madden-Gray gave uneven performances, as well as the unfortunate impression that they weren’t quite ready to open. Words were forgotten, and cues missed. The lighting technician was also off his mark several times throughout the evening.

All of this can be put down to opening night nerves, and is definitely not damning. It didn’t seem to faze the audience in the stalls (who were “of a certain age” as The Australian’s Peter Burch delicately put it.). They clapped and cheered at the end of the evening. Those of us in the dress circle, however, had a rather different experience of the night.

The fact that sightlines from the Playhouse balcony are so painfully acute that you end up focused on the crowns of the performers’ heads rather than their delivery, did not assist with my appreciation of the evening, but I did not walk away from Tomfoolery impressed. Certainly my companion for the night was underwhelmed: he fell asleep three times.

The songs themselves were great fun, although it helped that my 1970’s childhood means I’m just old enough to be familiar with some of them (Lehrer had his heyday in the 1950’s and 1960’s). Mitchell Butel displayed extraordinary versatility and Melissa Madden-Gray was also excellent, but Bert Labonte’s singing was often flat (although he did give a superb rendition of ‘The Old Dope Peddler’) while the stars of the show, Connolly and Burchmore, definitely failed to live up to their reputations, with Burchmore wooden, and Connolly painfully underprepared.

The biggest problem with Tomfoolery, however, was that the production was overblown. The performers were hamming it up when they should have been restrained, and jokes and gimmicks were hammered home with a startling lack of subtly.

It has been said that the best comedy is performed with a straight face. Under the combined direction of Ross Coleman and Simon Phillips, Tomfoolery is wearing a forced and manic grin.

“That’s what happens when you throw too much money at a simple idea,” opined the bloke seated behind me last Wednesday night, after the final curtain call.

I’m inclined to agree.


(Another review of the show appears here, in The Age.)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

"Do you eat meat?"

I've just had a very peculiar conversation at my local milk bar, which I'd gone to in order to drop off some dry cleaning (two dress shirts - one white with a wing collar, the other a black Gothic number - and a suit coat in case you were curious).

As the tired-looking Vietnamese woman behind the counter was serving me, a younger woman was serving a bearded bloke in his mid 40's at the counter opposite. He had the gaunt, ruddy look of an alchoholic, and as she rang up his single purchase, he began talking, although not actually conducting a conversation with anyone save himself. Two plump children, sapped of energy by the heat, lay prone on the floor behind the counter.

When the younger woman spoke to one of the kids in her own tonugue, her scruffy, bearded customer snarled, "Speak English!"

Without thinking of the possible consequences, I snapped, "Why should she?" across the counter at him.

He glared at me. I glared back. The two women behind the counter went about their business.

"What'd'ya mean by that?" he demanded querolously.

I just glared, and after a brief moment he glanced away.

"I was only joking," he muttered, before arcing up again. "5RAR battalion, Vietnam. You should join the Army, mate, instead of protesting."

Then he slowly meandered out of the shop carrying the single can of VB he'd just purchased, together with two white polyurethane trays he had tucked under one arm.

I took my drycleaning docket and strolled out, wondering if the bloke would be waiting outside.

He was. He was smaller than me, thinner, and fixed me with a stare from under the brim of his baseball cap that was both puzzled and irate.

"I'm not a racist mate," he said after a moment. "I've got an aboriginal wife. I was only joking."

I paused, sized him up, decided he wasn't going to try and deck me, and answered, "You may have been joking, but no-one else knew that. What you said sounded racist. It's what it appeared to be that's the problem, mate. You should be more careful."

He blinked, staring at me with bloodshot and uncomprehending eyes. Then he said something really strange.

"Do you like meat?'

I blinked.

"What? Uh, yes. I'm not a vegetarian, if that's what you mean."

He proffered the two shrink-wrapped polyurethane trays towards me, displaying an assortment of chops.

"I just stole these from Safeway..." he said, trailing off.

He was trying to sell them to me.

"No thanks mate," I told him. "I hardly ever cook."

I turned away, came home, and wrote this.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

God help me

They caught me at an impressionable moment, the bastards.

After three hours of radio, a voiceover production session for the National Gallery of Victoria, and a steak for lunch, I was waylaid and coerced into agreeing to appearing on TV - Channel 31 - at 8.15 in the goddamn morning tomorrow, after a late night of DJ'ing, to spruik 3RRR's 30th birthday shenannigans.

God help me!

Interview: Dame Edna Everage

FAR FROM EVERAGE

RICHARD WATTS shares a salacious word with the housewife superstar, Dame Edna Everage.


ON DECEMBER 19 1955, a humble suburban housewife from Moonee Ponds made her first appearance on a Melbourne stage.

Then known as Mrs Norm Everage, today she is one of Melbourne’s most famous residents. Her trademark spectacles, her purple bouffant hair and spectacular yet tasteful costumes are recognised and celebrated around the globe.

“I’m basically still a Melbourne housewife,” Dame Edna Everage trills. “I am. And I’m a realist. Women are. I think it’s because we bring children to the world. Or, in the case of Madonna, we import them.”

This year she returns to Melbourne to celebrate her Golden Jubilee.

“I couldn’t imagine life without stage shows,” Edna confesses. “People may think of me as a television person, or just as a legendary figure in Australian history, but I’m so much more than that.”

Next month she appears in a new stage show at The Arts Centre, while simultaneously ACMI will screen a series of her classic television moments. Additionally, a recreation of Edna’s Moonee Ponds home circa 1955 opens this Friday, alongside a display of her many gowns, also at the Arts Centre.

“I respond to all kinds of art,” Dame Edna reflects, “although on the whole, sculpture leaves me cold. Except for those old Victorian sculptures that you see in our parks and gardens; generally of forgotten Lord Mayors with bronze trousers.”

There has been talk of them putting up a sculpture of me at Docklands,” she adds, “which is a pity, because no-one will ever go there to see it.”

She also has reservations about the sculptor’s proposed design.

“It was most unsatisfactory. I look grumpy, badly dressed, with terrible legs.”

Dame Edna has every right to be concerned about how she may be portrayed. As Booker Prize winning novelist A.S. Byatt, herself a dame, once said, “It’s her legs that allow Edna to get away with so much naughtiness. If it wasn’t for those legs she couldn’t do half of what she does.”

“I’d never known that little A. S. Byatt had written about me, or had been quoted,” Dame Edna says quickly, laughing off the writer’s prurient interest in her physical attributes.

“I’m not a beautiful woman, but I’m an attractive woman, and isn’t that more important?” she says gracefully.

The Dame’s high spirits fade when the conversation touches upon some of the gentlemen she has been associated with over the years, such as the colourful theatrical identity Barry Humphries, an entrepreneur so lacking in modesty he has named Edna’s forthcoming stage show after himself.

“That is so typical of him,” she sighs.

As Dame Edna tells it, Humphries was in the audience at her one of her earliest stage appearances. “I think he came to sneer,” she confides.

Reputedly he was so impressed by her performance that he offered Edna a contract on the spot.

“He had a certain charm, which he has since lost, and he gave me a piece of paper, which I signed. It was the biggest mistake of my life,” she says, struggling to hold back the tears.

Already despondent, Edna’s thoughts naturally gravitate towards the memory of her late husband, Norm.

“Poor Norm. He was an invalid for most of our married life, which I would recommend. Marry an invalid is the advice I give to young women, because it gives you freedom. Wonderful freedom.”

“Of course I hero-worshipped Norm,” Dame Edna hastens to add. I put him on a pedestal. And in the end, I put him on a pedestal two or three times a day.”

Ednaville, November 17 – February 11, Arts Centre, George Adams Gallery.

Barry Humphries and Friends – Back with a Vengeance, December 19 – February 11 at the Arts Centre. Bookings on 9281 8000.

Ednafest!

This interview first appeared in MCV #306 on Thursday November 16.

THE EYES HAVE IT

If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit the magnificent Eyes, Lies and Illusions exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) then you’re missing out on one of the best screen culture events of the year.

I swung by Federation Square on Sunday afternoon, assuming that I’d be able to skim through the exhibition in half an hour before getting to another show at the National Gallery of Victoria. Instead, I spent an engrossing two hours in slack-jawed, wide-eyed wonder.

Eyes, Lies and Illusions presents the pre-cinematic entertainments of the past, from the Renaissance to the Victorian era, in a seven-part exhibition drawn from the collection of German experimental film-faker, professor and curator Werner Nekes, via London’s Hayward Gallery. Exploring the history of optical trickery, and a world of wonder that pre-dates the modern moving image, this collection of magic lanterns and magic mirrors, camera obscura and praxinoscopes is truly a marvellous show.

Unlike some exhibitions, which tend towards the static and unengaging, Eyes, Lies and Illusions teases you into becoming active and alert to the possibilities of the exhibits and the entertainments they provide, whether it’s giggling at your reflection in a distorting mirror, stepping into the warping angles of the ‘Ames Room’ or peering into the viewer of a kinetoscope.

Works by several contemporary visual artists, integrated into the exhibition, demonstrate how visual trickery continues to fascinate and entertain in the modern world. Of these works, one of the most delightful is Crowd (pictured above; an interactive artwork by Melbourne-based design specialists Eness) a suspended, disembodied community of eyeballs that tracks your movements about ACMI’s screen gallery.

Eyes, Lies and Illusions runs until February 11 2007. For details go to www.acmi.net.au

For more arts news and gossip read my weekly column Art of the City every Wednesday in Beat magazine.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Young lesbian faces death

A YOUNG LESBIAN who fled Uganda in 2004 after her father threatened to kill her faced deportation from the UK on Monday night.

Faridah Kenyini was only 17 when she arrived in Britain. She settled in Newcastle, where she met her partner, security guard Sarah Garanette, 25.

At an earlier asylum hearing, the judge implied that she was lying about being a lesbian and the danger she faced. Consequently, her plea for asylum was refused.

An attempt to deport her last week failed because of an administrative error

Garenette, Kenyini’s partner, has voluntarily offered to travel to Uganda with her following the registration of their civil partnership.

Uganda’s record of persecuting homosexuals is well documented. The country's president, Yoweri Museveni, once proposed the arrest of all homosexuals. He has also called for a return to days when “these few individuals were either ignored or speared by their parents.”

Kenyini dreads returning to Uganda.

“I am afraid that my removal documents will have details about my sexuality and that I will be handed over to the police and abused,” she said.

***

More details can be found at UK Indymedia.

Interview: John Cameron Mitchell

A FRESH, FRANK and life-affirming story about the search for love in post-September 11 New York, John Cameron Mitchell’s new film Shortbus generated an instant buzz when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

Critic James Rocchi said it left him “wanting to invent new adjectives - Fucktastic! Cocktacular! Breastalicious!” Industry bible Variety called it “Unquestionably the most sexually graphic American narrative feature ever made outside the realm of the porn industry.”

According to John Cameron Mitchell, sex has been cheapened by porn. In making Shortbus, he says, he wanted to use sex to show “the emotional lives of its characters.”

“We had an open call for actors on the web. We avoided agents and stars, because they barely have sex in their own lives, let along in front of camera. We reached out to people who were interested in working with us for a very long time to create something new.”

An intense period of improvisation followed, so that by the time the crew were ready to begin shooting, the actors were not only comfortable having sex in front of the cameras, they were comfortable with their characters as well.

“I realised that the actors would feel exposed and perhaps unsafe on set in a film of this nature,” Mitchell says, “so the way to really make them comfortable was to let them be creative partners in the making of the script.”

This organic approach has resulted in a movie populated by complex, flawed and endearing individuals, including Sofia (Sook-Yin Lee) a sex therapist who has never had an orgasm; James (Paul Dawson) and Jamie (PJ De Boy) a gay couple struggling with monogamy; and Severin (Lindsay Beamish) a lonely dominatrix. Over 102 minutes the film traces the characters’ lives as they converge on Shortbus, an underground New York salon.

A threesome between James, Jamie and Ceth (Jay Brannan) the wide-eyed young man the couple meet one night, features the film’s most-talked about scene, in which one character rims his partner while singing “The Star Spangled Banner”.

According to Mitchell, it’s a deliberately provocative moment, while simultaneously a heartfelt and patriotic statement.

“Someone singing the national anthem up someone else’s bum is a statement about liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which is supposed to be enshrined in our Constitution, though it seems to be ignored lately,” he says.

“The boys, someone might describe their situation as indulgent, as opposed to happy, but there’s true joy in that scene. All the characters are trying to connect in a good way. It might be fumbling and hilarious, but they’re laughing together; they truly are together in that moment.”

Like Hedwig and the Angry Inch, his first film, Shortbus is a film about outsiders and their place in the world. It’s a theme that Mitchell says is largely inspired by his sexuality.

“Being gay certainly marginalised me when I was younger,” he says, “as it does most people, I think. I was an outsider, and I’m sure that I’ll continue to write about the outsider in society, and his or her special place as both observer and participant.”

That said, Mitchell places little importance on the issue of who he is attracted to.

“To me, being gay is a pretty boring fact in and of itself,” he explains. “It’s what you do with it that’s interesting. If you were a non-conformist from birth, as a lot of gay people are, why not take advantage of that and create something beautiful and new?”

Shortbus is now showing in cinemas nationally.


This interview first appeared in MCV #304, Thursday November 2.

A powerful review of 'Holding the Man'


I've just read a glowing, touching, and powerful review that I wanted to share with you, of the stage adaptation of Holding the Man, Timothy Conigrave's acclaimed and devestating memoir about love and loss during the first, terrible years of the AIDS crisis.

Written by the gay journalist, critic and novelist Stephen Dunne, it's a deft and beautiful piece of writing in its own right:-


"It is easy to forget, to allow the memories of the relatively recent past to slide away to a possibly helpful distance.

Australia's experience of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s and '90s is thus ancient history, and so much of that time is gone: a time of the dead and the dying; vigil shifts at ward 17; watching brilliant and beautiful men sliding into garbled dementia; polite efforts to avoid funeral scheduling conflicts; two full pages of obits in the Sydney Star Observer; anger and love and screaming horror at the waste of so many lives. Surprisingly easy to let all that go.

Tommy Murphy's adaptation of Tim Conigrave's memoir is an act of urgent remembrance, an unflinching, devastating, moving and funny reanimation of that awful time. It is also the story of two people in love."

You can read the full review here, in the Sydney Morning Herald (from which the above photo, of Matt Zemeres (left) as John, and Guy Edmonds (right) as Tim, is taken - picture: Janie Barrett).

I never knew Tim, but I was lucky enough to see two of his plays performed at the Malthouse Theatre a few years ago, the delightful and romantic Thieving Boy, and Like Stars in Your Hands. Both made me weep, while Holding the Man reduces me to tears of joy, then of wracking grief, each time I read it.

Reading Stephen Dunne's review of the play makes me want to fly to Sydney to see this production more than ever...

Stuff

Please excuse my lack of blogging in the past few days - I've been rather busy, what with homo history interviews, researching Australian underworld slang of the 1950's, getting absolutely hammered on Saturday night with Tim and Lefa and their friends, and viewing the absolutely excellent Eyes, Lies and Illusions exhibition at ACMI, which is jaw-droppingly good.

A more detailed discussion of such events may or may not appear soon...

Friday, November 10, 2006

This week on SmartArts...

My guests were:
  • Lastly, in our regular segment Art Attack, Tai Snaith and Alex Martinas Rowe turned their critical eye onto a new exhibition at Seventh Gallery in Fitzroy, Portrait of Salote Tawale, which focuses on issues relating to the construction of identity, gender, sexuality and authorship, by Salote Tawale and friends.

Linkage

I've just spent an hour or so updating my links, at right, to better reflect this blog's existance as a adjunct to my Triple R arts program, SmartArts.

You'll now find links collected together under such headings as Visual Art, Cinema, Festivals and other categories, and undoubtedly I'll add to them sporadically as I go. Both the Visual Arts and Theatre categories include links to a couple of blogs dedicated to reviews and critique of current exhibitions and performances, so make sure you check them out while you're at it.

At some stage I'll get around to updating my blog-roll as well, to include more of the blogs I read on a regular basis (although I should also get organised and subscribe to Bloglines, so that I know when you guys post updates instead of either obsessively checking several times a week or alternatively letting several days pass before I get a guilt attack and check in on what you've been up to!).

Of course, instead of updating my links, I should have been working - reading media releases, listening to new releases, answering e-mails, reviewing, going to an exhibition or six, returning publicists' phone calls - or even researching or redrafting my novel. Right now though, I think it's time for lunch...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dame Edna and Me

I played my interview with Dame Edna Everage on 3RRR today. It was delightful listening back to it, bursting into laughter at her quips all over again. I plan to write it up as an article shortly for MCV, so expect at least a partial transcript, coming soon...

METRO - Alasdair Duncan (UQP)

I've been reading quite a bit of 'Young Adult fiction' in recent weeks, partially because of interviews I've done with authors such as Randa Abdel-Fattah on SmartArts, and partially because I've resurrected a couple of old ideas for a YA novel myself and fused them together into a new concept (but more of that later - I don't want to jinx any possible outcomes by discussing it too soon).

The latest book I've finished reading is Metro, the 'difficult' second novel by Brisbane author Alasdair Duncan. Arguably Metro is adult fiction rather than YA, given Duncan's frank approach to his subject matter, but like Adam Ford's debut novel Man Bites Dog, which covers similar ground, his exploration of post-adolescent/early 20-something life is written in a relatively simplistic way, sugesting it is more pitched at younger readers than those for whom the angst of their 20's is already comfortably (or even uncomfortably) removed.

I met Duncan briefly at Straight Out Of Brisbane a couple of years ago, hot on the heels of the publication of his first novel, Sushi Central, also published by the University of Queensland Press (UQP). It wasn't a good meeting - at the last minute, as the then Artistic Director of Express Media, I'd been asked to introduce a reading of 'hot young authors' from UQP, all of whom gave off a certain air of contrived arrogance that was best described as 'I've been published by a mainstream publishing house and the rest of you are only zinesters and bloggers, so we're all hopelessly better than you." I ground my teeth and got on with the job, but the meeting didn't inspire me to read Sushi Central.

That said, from interviews and reviews I've read on-line, it has a couple of things in common with Metro: it's set in Brisbane, the central protagonist's sexuality is a pivotal plot element, and said main character is a rich, arrogant, spoilt cunt.

That's one of the problems I had reading Metro.

Liam Kelly, the narrator, is extremely unlikeable. He's a rich, spoilt, ex-private school boy turned university student whose life is already laid out before him; school, business, success. The fly in the ointment is that Liam, despite having had a long-term girlfriend since high school, despite his continuous use of homophobic slurs, is secretly fucking around with guys on the side.

"Okay. So I have been with guys before, but, in the end, it's about the sex - you know, they're into it, they seem completely grateful for the chance to suck my dick, and really, what's the big deal? I get to come, they get a story about going down on a hot straight guy to tell their faggot friends, and essentially it's all forgotten about as quickly as it happened. It's not like I'm into guys. I mean, I'm not. It sounds harsh I guess, but I'm not a faggot, and when you're in a certain position there are some things you can get away with even if you're not necessarily meant to. Lots of guys do things like this. Believe me."

Over the 297 pages of this novel, Liam sexually abuses an array of vulnerable young men - including the emo younger brother of his best friend; cheats on his girlfriend while she's overseas; takes shitloads of drugs; and references various 'cool' bands and fashion labels in an endless parade of namedropping which the author perhaps intends should indicate his narrator's superficial nature, but which comes across instead as poorly aping the literary style of Bret Easton Ellis or Chuck Palahniuk.

Liam's array of equally superficial friends are poorly defined, lacking characterisation and coming across as virtually interchangeable, although it's possible that this could have been a deliberate move by the author, an indictment of their empty lives and personalities. If you Google yourself, Alasdair, and read this review, please do let me know.

My greatest criticism of this novel is that nothing really happens in it. Yes, people die, there are AIDS scares and the hint of true love and fights and the probable suicide of a best friend - but by the time the book ends, none of this seems to have impacted on the main character. Again, perhaps that was the author's intent: perhaps people like Liam Kelly do sail through life, protected by wealth and privalege from events that would have a far greater impact on lesser mortals; but real life is not fiction. In fiction, I want character development, I want progression, I want change. I didn't get it in this book.

Ultimately, the story of Liam Kelly, as told in Alasdair Duncan's Metro, is superficial, empty and pointless. Sadly, save for its attempt to explore the lives of closeted bisexual men who are trapped in a circle of denial, abuse and privalege, so too is Duncan's novel itself.


Footnote: While certain elements of this book, such as its central character's closeted bisexuality and its Brisbane setting, were uncomfortably close to home given certain events in my personal life this week, I don't think they had any bearing on my reaction to the book itself, and especially not to the author's writing style.

On a brighter note...

The sun is shining, the world hasn't ended, and the US mid-term elections have given Bush and the Republicans a slap in the face (hurrah!).

Oh yeah, and Mercury transits the sun this morning:

Transit of Mercury

On the morning of Thursday 9th Mercury will pass directly in front of the Sun, appearing as a small black dot against the Sun’s bright surface. From Melbourne we will see all 5 hours of the transit.

Sunrise 6:05am
First Contact 6:12am
Mercury first appears against the Sun
Second Contact 6:14am
Mercury is now a complete disc against the Sun
Third Contact 11:09am
Mercury starts to move off the Sun
Fourth Contact 11:10am
Mercury completely leaves the Sun

The next Transit of Mercury to be visible from Australia won’t occur until 13 November 2032.

Do not look directly at the Sun. Safe ways to look at this event include using a telescope correctly fitted with a solar filter or using a telescope projection method. Never look at the Sun through a telescope or its finder.

The CSU Remote Telescope will be webcasting the transit live from Bathurst.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

How to get over an unrequited love...

How to get over an unrequited love in four easy - and completely inappropriate - steps.

1. Discover that the object of your affection has a new Gaydar profile.
2. Spontaneously decide to invent a new Gaydar profile yourself without thinking through the consequences, message him, and end up having really hot cyber sex together because you know what turns him on.
3. Have him cotton on to who you are immediately thereafterwards, deny everything in a panic, burst into tears, and the next day write him a long apology in which you confess to having carried an unrequited passion for him around for ages, which you had tried but failed to sublimate into a friendship, and which boiled over earlier this year when he announced he was moving interstate.
4. Expect that he will never, ever want to see you or talk with you again.

Or in other words, invade someone's privacy, betray their trust, behave like a complete cunt, and feel as miserable as all fuck for days afterwards while alternating crying jags with fits of self-loathing.

That's how you get over an unrequited love in four simple fucking steps.

OhmanI'msorryI'msorryI'msorryI'msorryI'msorry.

I'msuchastupidfuckingcunt.

Sea Shepherd Art Auction

When: Sunday 19th November at 6 pm for a 7pm start

Where: Upstairs at Dante’s, 150-156 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, ph. 9417 2468.

Items for auction: Exciting works by local artists, photographs, books and collectable art pieces made from rescued objects by Sea Shepherd crew plus surprise items. Opening the auction will be Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson, followed by a recent short film shot in Antarctica during the 2005 campaign. Auctioneer on the night is the fabulous Wes Snelling, with music provided by The ShoePhone Trio.

For: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, whose vessel the Farley Mowat is currently berthed at Melbourne Docklands, and has embarked on a campaign, Operation Leviathan, to raise funds for a newer, faster vessel to return with its mostly volunteer crew to Antarctica on December 1st this year to defend 1000 whales from illegal slaughter in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I'm doomed, I tell you, doomed.

Waaaaaay back in 1998, I had what I thought was the bright idea of writing a detective novel set in 1950's Fitzroy. By the end of 1999 I had a finished first draft of a book about murder, blackmail and football called The Murderer Wore Maroon.

Over the intervening years I've slogged away at successive drafts, gradually refining and editing the manuscript until it was at the point where, a couple of years ago, I could show it to two publishers; one an independent, the other part of an international megacorp. They both made all the right noises, but basically told me what I already knew: my novel needed another draft to bring it up to scratch.

By this stage I'd chopped the book down from its inital 147,000 words to a more manageable 112,000. I'd revised plot and character, researched the period, the setting, the mores and manners and vernacular of the day. There had been times when I felt the story was all over the place like a madwoman's custard, and other days when I thought it was beaut.

Two years ago I came to the realisation that I actually wanted to set the story in the 1940's, so I started researching all over again, and now I've finally started the painful process of yet further revision and redrafting of the manuscript.

So why am I doomed?

Well, apart from the fact that this still-unfinished book has dogged me through a major relationship and an equally major break-up, the death of my grandmother, an abortive move interstate, kicking the smoking habit and several jobs (it's an albatross, sez!) there's been one other niggling fact that's gnawed away at my mind over the past eight bloody years of research, writing and redrafting.

When I started this book, I thought I had a unique and excellent idea. No-one else had written noir-inspired detective novels set in 1950's Australia, I told myself. Then I go and discover a series of books by New South Welshman Peter Doyle, about a lurk merchant and low-life called Billy Glasheen...

Damn.

That's ok, I remind myself a few years down the track. You're setting the book back a decade now, at the height of World War II, the days of dances at the Troc, the Brown Out Strangler, and desperate gun battles between men like Fred 'the Frog' Harrison, 'Long Harry' Slater, 'Scotland Yard' Walkerden, and the infamous two-up king himself, the master of Melbourne's underworld, Henry 'Harry' Stokes.

I bet no-one's written a crime novel set in 1940's Melbourne lately!

Dead. Wrong.

Damn you Robert Gott. Damn you to hell!

Sizzling Sydney

In the words of its Irish-born director, Fergus Lineham, the “largest and most ambitious” program for the Sydney Festival to date was launched at the Famous Spiegeltent last Friday night.

The festival, celebrating its 31st year, is held in January at a range of venues across Sydney.

“You’re probably wondering what these vacuous, shallow Sydneysiders are doing launching their festival here in intellectual Melbourne,” Lineham joked in his opening remarks, before an invited audience of champagne-sipping arts workers and media (and very nice bubbly it was too).

He went on to explain that a Sydney launch had been held the previous day.

“Seeing as there are no sponsors or politicians present here today, we can dive right in,” the Dubliner said, and dive in he did, presenting a fascinating overview of the diverse events he has programmed into the 2007 line-up.

Lineham’s second Sydney Festival strikes a careful balance between accessibility and high culture. For the serious connoisseur, there’s Russia’s Maly Drama Theatre presenting Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya; Swiss director Christoph Marthaler’s Seemanslieder, a co-production from the Netherlands and Belgium exploring the threat and promise of the ocean; and a South Korean company’s take on Shakespeare. Elsewhere there are pyrotechnics, a new kids’ musical by satirist John Clarke, and a strong musical lineup featuring Rosanne Cash (daughter of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash) and Sweden’s e.s.t. (Esbj√∂rn Svensson Trio) who “chart new territory between acoustic jazz piano and the dance beats of electronica.”

The event generating the most buzz to date is a theatrical presentation of Lou Reed’s seminal album Berlin, performed by Reed and a band of long-time collaborators, featuring a choir led by Antony of Antony and the Johnsons. Tickets for this show are already selling fast, so Reed fans would be wise to jump on to www.sydneyfestival.org.au straight away if they want to catch one of the three scheduled performances.

Sydney Festival 2007 runs from January 6 – 27.

For more arts news see my weekly column Art of the City in Beat magazine, free every Wednesday.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Shout outs

Cheers and thanks to:
  • The most excellent Simon, who's become my dealer for all things Torchwood - I need another fix, maaaaaaaan *grins*;
  • Dave Mack, who pointed me in the direction of www.sitemeter.com - I think I could gaze in awed delight at its map of the world for hours, if I didn't have episodes of Dr Who to watch, Cup Eve parties to visit and cider to down...
  • And whoever it was who was using Gwynedd County Council in Wales as their ISP, because you were the last person to vist my blog, according to Sitemeter. Diolch!

Ok, now this is fucked

Here's a charming story from Brisbane's Courier Mail to start your week, people.

Gay student safety fear

Vanessa De Groot

November 03, 2006 11:00pm

KEITH Phillips once told his teacher he would die for the right "to be himself".

The Year 10 Alexandra Hills State High School student is openly gay and says Year 12 students have bullied and taunted him with verbal abuse.

Yesterday Keith, 15, missed school because of a warning of possible violence.

Keith's mother Trudy Lillicrap said the school had called her on Thursday night asking her to ensure Keith took the next day off because the school had received information his safety was under threat from a group of Year 12 students.

Although unsure if he would return to school, Keith said he was willing to face the situation. "I'm not going to sit at home and hide . . ." he said. Ms Lillicrap said that she was worried the boys would not face any consequences because it was the end of the school year.

"I'm really glad they (the school) rang me . . . but . . . there was nothing done," Ms Lillicrap said.

She said the school simply told her it was watching a handful of students and feared what would happen if Keith appeared at school."



So, the school sends the gay kid home, but does nothing to the homophobic young thugs threatening him with violence? How fucked is that?!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

It's a long way to Eltham

Seriously.

From Fitzroy to Eltham on public transport on a Saturday night? Epic bloody public transport trip I'm telling ya. Well worth it though. I had a book, I had my tunes, and my destination was a splendid party thrown by the vivacious Bonnie Conquest, attended by some excellent blog-folk, including KP, TT and - the first time we'd met in the real world - Dave Mack (you, me, the Pink Flamingo at Meredith on Friday night, mate - say, midnight?).

Fun times.

Then of course, I ended the night at certain seedily salubrious inner city bars inhaling things I probably shouldn't and talking shit until dawn, but such is life. I blame the full moon. Or my parents. Or society. Possibly Andrew Bolt. Or something. *whistles nonchalantly*

Friday, November 03, 2006

Why I hate Cup Day

Ok, so Tuesday's a public holiday, which means the MCV office is closed, which means we lose a day out of our production cycle, which means I have to go into the office on Friday afternoon, tired and nursing my traditional post-Q + A hangover, instead of being able to spend the day curled up on the couch.

Stupid horses. Stupid short people in bright silks. Damn you all. Damn you all to hell!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Howling III - The Marsupials


Over the years, I'd heard this film - written and directed by Phillipe Mora and starring everyone from Barry Otto to Frank Thring and Barry Humphries - was bad, but my god, it staggers belief as to just how truly, unremittingly appalling it really is.

It goes beyond the 'so bad it's good' category, and sinks into the quagmire of the truly painful.

I gave up watching it after half an hour - has anyone actually watched this disasterous attempt at a horror movie from start to finish?