Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I am in Sydney

Greetings from overcast Sydney. Yes, Sydney, the Sodom of the South, home to this:

And this:

As well as this:

And of course not forgetting this:

I flew up here at 7am, in order to meet with the Sydney branch of Evolution Publishing, owners of the gay and lesbian community newspaper MCV, as I'm taking over as the paper's editor next week. So far I've met with seven people in a row, and my head's in a bit of a whirl - not to mention crammed full of exciting and daunting new information.

Flying home later this afternoon, where new changes await: I'm getting a flatmate!

Yes, after six years of living alone, my good mate No Necked Monsters is moving in, which is going to require some repositioning of bookcases, couches and other furniture - not to mention getting used to having someone else around on a regular basis (note to self: don't walk around naked or masturbate in the lounge-room any more!) but I think it's going to be great fun. I've been far too solitary and reclusive the last couple of years, so this should be just the change I need.

God, new job, new housemate - whatever next? :-)

Monday, January 29, 2007

To quote Bluebottle, "Thinks".

I think I want to buy someone flowers.
I think I want someone to buy me flowers.
I think that hacking off the sex organs of plants and placing them in a vase is either perverse or delicious, or possibly both.
I think that when David Attenborough dies, I will not weep; I will bawl my eyes out.
I think that having a sense of wonder about the world is more important than wondering what pointless luxury to spend your next pay cheque on.
I think that raising children is a privilege that too many people take for granted.
I think that art tells me more about life than television ever will.
I think that John Howard is a political genius, which makes his decision to use his power to divide people, instead of uniting them, all the more despicable.
I think that laughter is more important than a flag.
I think that snuggles and whispers and late night kisses beat even the best sex hands down.
I think I want to buy someone flowers.
I think I want to buy someone flowers.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Just home from the Big Day Out and...

...two of my neighbours are having extremely noisy sex - another is loudly playing a Patti Smith album. You can probably guess which I'd rather be listening to at the close of a long, sunburnt-nose inducing day.








Midsumma at La Mama

As I stepped inside Carlton’s iconic La Mama for the first time this year on Saturday, I was struck by the realisation that the small, two storey building is the theatrical equivalent of Doctor Who’s TARDIS. It is bigger on the inside than the outside (entire worlds have been staged within its walls) and it is, in a very real sense, a time machine, which on the weekend transported myself and my companion for the evening back to the halcyon days of England in the years before (and after) the First World War.

The Object of Desire, a biography of the charismatic bisexual Scottish artist Duncan Grant (shown in a 1926 self-portrait, above right) is presented by Fly on the Wall Theatre as part of this year’s Midsumma Festival. Written by the prolific Julia Britton, and directed with aplomb by Robert Chuter, it features a relatively large cast for a La Mama production, and a memorable set by Anthony Breslin (based on elements of Grant’s country house, Charleston, if I’m not very much mistaken) that successfully evokes the painter’s cluttered studio and the lingering influence of the Victorian era. Danny Pettingil's lighting design is also noteworthy, especially when required to pick out specific actors in swift succession.

Duncan Grant and his bohemian coterie of friends and lovers, the Bloomsbury Group, gained notoriety in their day by rebelling socially and artistically against the social mores and strictures of Victorianism. They are now renowned for their creative innovations in art and literature, although their complex, inter-connected relationships are equally memorable.

Once described as ‘a circle of friends who lived in squares and loved in triangles,’ the emotional and sexual lives of the Bloomsbury Group and Grant in particular, fuel the dramatic engine of Britton’s play. Its opening scene, set in 1961, depicts the artist in mourning for Vanessa Bell (Fabienne Parr) and haunted by memories of lovers past, who swiftly spring to vivid life as the play unfolds.

The cast of 11 act as a Greek Chorus, commenting on Grant’s peccadilloes and grand passions as they unfold, and in most cases playing multiple roles. Jonathan Dyer, for instance, robustly embodies Grant’s father and uncle, as well as his lover, the economist John Maynard Keynes.

All the actors remain on stage throughout the play, and perform splendidly in such intimate and challenging circumstances, especially David Kambouris, whose depiction of another of Grant's numerous lovers, author David ‘Bunny’ Garnett, makes the character’s naïve appeal believable and charming. Phil Roberts gives us an arch yet forgiving Lytton Strachey, Grant’s cousin and lover, while Robynne Kelly is a poised and intense Virginia Woolf.

Gerry Sont as Duncan Grant (pictured left, in an undated portrait) faces perhaps the greatest challenge, having the most lines of the play, and being required to depict the artist from the ages of 15 through to 76, but does so in a way that captures the artist’s charm, unfettered sexuality, and joie de vie.

Although occasionally verbose, Britton’s script perfectly and accurately captures this complex cast of characters, and Chuter’s direction maintains a swift pace, so the play’s 110 minutes never drag. The cast seem occasionally constrained amidst the cluttered set and the intimate confines of La Mama, but such quibbles aside, The Object of Desire is a definite highlight of the Midsumma program.

Around the corner from La Mama, at the Carlton Courthouse Theatre, is another Midsumma performance, The Two Frocks in Domestic Deluxe. Although significantly less substantial than The Object of Desire, it is also highly entertaining, although admittedly in need of a slightly stronger script.

Created and performed by Gabrielle Griffin and Emma Newman, and directed by Kelly Parry, this one-hour show is set within the confines of 1950’s domesticity, and is nominally about the clash between the romantic clichés perpetrated by Hollywood, and the reality of love.

The search for Mr Right, and an underlying, unspoken (but at one stage achingly conveyed) lesbian passion, provides an excuse for the Two Frocks to do what they do best, which is clowning and puppetry. A small audience on the night I attended the show possibly explained why the first 10 minutes of the show lacked energy, but once Newman began her cooking segment, Domestic Deluxe took off. From 1950’s advertisements to martial arts films, and even King Kong, this charming show hits so notes, that it’s impossible not to like.

The Object of Desire @ La Mama, 205 Faraday Street, Carlton until Sunday February 11.
The Two Frocks in Domestic Deluxe @ Carlton Courthouse, 349 Drummon St Carlton until Saturday February 3.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Stuff (#1 - 7)

1. People who live in the Ghetto of Hate throw excellent shindigs.
2. I had forgotten how much I miss the sound of rain.
3. Midsumma theatre is very hit and miss.
4. Yesterday the Edinburgh Gardens were too festive for words.
5. Abe Books is porno for bibliophiles.
6. I have no idea which bands I want to see at the Big Day Out tomorrow.
7. I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Review: The Story of the Kelly Gang

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) hosted the Victorian premiere of the newly-restored 1906 film The Story of the Kelly Gang on Thursday night, with a crowd of screen culture luminaries (and at least one freeloading blogger) in attendance.

Introducing the night, ACMI director Tony Sweeney commented that while some people might think an evening at the tennis was the best way to kick off the Australia Day long weekend, for him, watching a classic Australian film such as that we were about to view struck him as eminently more appropriate.

I found myself nodding in agreement, because The Story of the Kelly Gang is more than just a landmark Australian film. Directed by theatre entrepreneur Charles Tait, it is widely regarded as the world’s first feature-length narrative film.

As recently as the 1970s The Story of the Kelly Gang was thought lost forever, but in recent years, scraps and fragments of the film have gradually emerged, including footage found on a Melbourne rubbish tip in 1980. More recently, almost an entire reel’s worth of footage, depicting the Kelly Gang's activities prior to the robbery of the Euroa bank, was discovered in 2006 in the offices of the National Film and Television Archive in the UK.

These surviving 17 minutes of the film, having been carefully restored to the point where they can now be screened, provide a fragmentary view of the film, from its opening scenes at the Kelly homestead through to the tragic climax at Glenrowan.

Originally an hour long when it premiered in Melbourne on Boxing Day 1906, the version screened tonight provides a more than adequate impression of what the full-length feature would have been like, despite nitrate-warping and missing scenes. Still, unless you’re prepared to wait around another 65 years to see the completed version of the film, as Paolo Cherchi Usai, the Director of the National Film and Sound Archive joked in his opening remarks, it’s probably the best version of The Story of the Kelly Gang we’re going to see for a while.

So what's it like?

As you'd expect, being a silent film the actors significantly over-emote (partially because the original film was shown without intertitles; naration was provided by an onstage lecturer who also acted as a foley artist, adding live sound effects such as gunshots and hoofbeats). The theatrical background of the director Charles Tait, coupled with the conventions of the day, ensure that the camera is primarily static, presenting the unfolding drama as if it were staged, with the majority of scenes displaying all the action in the foreground.

Nonetheless there are early signs of a developing cinematic language, such as a sequence in which a dying man is rescued from the burning Glenrowan Inn by a local priest. Shouldering the injured man, the priest walks straight at the camera, his figure filling the frame in a way that provides an immediate sense of drama, and which would not be out of place in a modern TV program.

Also look out for the scene showing Ned Kelly's last stand. As the actor playing Ned staggers forward, you'll see that the armour he wears is superbly acurate. That's because it really is armour worn by the gang - probably the suit worn by Ned's mate Joe Byrne.

Don't go in expecting to see a perfectly restored film, as there are some almost hallucinatory nitrate ripples which distort many final sequences - and which for me, actually added to the experience of watching the film, rather than destracting for it. Not everyone shared that view at tonight's screening, or course.

Nonetheless, The Story of the Kelly Gang was remarkable to watch. There were moments I felt a real emotional resonance with the events unfolding on the screen, and although the live electronic score by Endorphin was jarring for some, for me it successfully bridged past and present.

The two screenings on Australia Day, Friday 26th January, will feature a live, improvised score by the classically-trained Mauro Colombis, a renowned silent movie pianist.

The Story of the Kelly Gang is screening as part of a range of films at ACMI as part of the Australia Day celebrations: this page will tell you the details of some of the other films that are showing. I'm especially looking forward to a panel about the film and its place in Australia's early screen culture, in which the bushranger film was an important local genre before being banned as subversive in 1912. One of the speakers is academic and old friend Bill Routt, whose comments on the importance of the bushranger film you can read at the excellent website Senses of Cinema.

Look for a DVD of the film, featuring a range of extras including commentaries and both scores, to be released later this year.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Taking Pride

I didin't make it to the 12th annual Melbourne Pride March on Sunday afternoon, but here are some pictures nonetheless...

Further to my last post...

How about we all fly this flag instead?

Flag ban fury

Our Glorious Leader (who my late paternal grandmother referred to as 'that little cock-sparrow' on account of his resemblance to a diminutive bird with its chest puffed out) has weighed in to the debate over an attempt by Big Day Out organisers to discourage anti-social use of the Australian flag at the event this year, in an effort to curtail any Cronulla-like displays of racist national pride.

"Flags don't have legs and arms," Mr Howard wisely opined.

Give the man an elephant stamp - he's clearly a genius!

Personally, I'm much more surprised that the media haven't caught on to the wicked, pro-drug message that is plainly being promoted on the front page of the BDO site, which requires the viewer to take several bites of a no doubt psilocybin-rich mushroom before they are transferred via a shimmering, psychadelic vortex to the main section of the website. For shame, Lees and West, for shame!

*removes tongue firmly from cheek and skips happily away after the White Rabbit*

UPDATE: The always-lovely Clem Bastow has written an excellent piece on this issue for her blog over at The Age - highly recommended indeed. Thanks also to Urban Creature who pointed me towards it.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Dear poets - sorry!

Last week, in my 'Art of the City' column in Beat magazine, I wrote a piece entitled 'Poetry ain't trivial' which attempted to mock some people's poor opinions of poetry and spoken word by using negative cliches about the artforms in a deliberately over-the-top way, and that I thought would clearly be read as firmly tongue-in-cheek.

Instead it appears that my words have been taken seriously by some people, and consequently I've ended up offending several Melbourne poets who I have nothing but respect for.

Oh dear. That so wasn't meant to be the case. Sorry, guys, it was a joke. Or at least it was meant to be. Maybe I'll just stick to reporting the facts from now on...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Surf, sand and sadly, no sex

Friday night witnessed the opening night of Midsumma, Melbourne's gay and lesbian cultural festival, at Federation Square. I've never been so glad to have been invited to the VIP opening drinks in my life, given that they were held in airconditioned comfort, as it was a horribly hot, muggy and humid night. Hurrah for being a media slut!

The opening itself was, I can happily say, the best Midsumma opening I've ever attended, with live bands, comedy and roaming performers entertaining the masses (although your more conservative gay types seemed slightly confronted by the live bands).

Afterwards, in the company of three lovely gentlemen - Graeme, Mick and Cam - we drove down the coast to Blairgowrie, on the Mornington Peninsula, where Cam's parents have a holiday house at which our mutual friend Glen was celebrating his birthday.

What a lovely weekend it was! There was drinking, drinking games, swimming in the surf at the Portsea back beach despite the rain, ridiculously cute lifesafers in speedos, hot surfie boys in boardshorts, complex games of trivial pursuit, more drinking, en-masse skinny-dipping as a consequence of said drinking, a drunken argument between the birthday boy and one of his guests as a result of an unflattering nickname that Glen had bestowed upon him, wildly expensive pizzas, stunning cloudscapes, lighting flickering on the horizon, excellent company, and much more.

The one sour note (apart from this morning's hangover - damn those wildly revealing drinking games!) was the fact that the one bloke in our poofter posse who I was actually interested in ended up hooking up with another of the gang rather than myself, but hey, you can't have everything - or everyone, as the case may be. Maybe I should be make my interest more obvious next time...

That said, my very mild case of jealousy was ameliorated by the fact that the two lads in question barely said a word to each other this morning - and no, I wasn't gloating, I was far too hungover for anything so energetic!

Then tonight, while running a couple of new anti-virus programs on this computer, I once again sobbed my heart out while rewatching Brokeback Mountain - the mastery of that film gets me every time.

I hope your weekend was as pleasent?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Please answer the following questions.

A. B. C.

Q. 1.

Please study this photograph of three babies. One of them will grow up to undermine decent human values and threaten the social fabric of modern Australian society. Will it be:

A) A gay man?
B) A Muslim?
C) John Winston Howard?

Q. 2.

What is 'homophobia'?

A) Fear of mad dogs?

B) Fear of water?

C) Fear of display homes?

Q. 3.

How out are you?

A) Very out.

B) Sort of out.

C) Not out* at all?

D) Straight but 100% supportive?

*Please note that the use of Brodie Holland's photograph is not meant to infer in any way that he is a closeted homosexual, not that there's anything wrong with that, although he did blatantly check me out at the Black and White Ball a couple of years ago, and then there's the whole Dancing with the Stars thing, and oh, alright yes, a bloke can dream can't he?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

On SmartArts today...

... I spoke with artist Andrew Baines, who's looking for people to participate in a 'living surrealist human sculpture' at St Kilda Beach at 6am this Saturday January 20. You'll need to wear a black suit, white shirt and colourful tie, and walk into the surf reading a newspaper, together with 200 or so people dressed identically. The finished work will look something like this:

It's not the first time Baines has created work of this nature, as you can see if you visit his website at - which is also where you can find all the registration details for this Saturday's event...

My other guests on SmartArts today, which was my first program for the year after a three week break, were:

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Nothing to say

Right, wrong, what to do?

Someday it will come to you

Hostile indians

We named our summer camp for you

I've got nothing to say

I've got nothing to say

I've got nothing to say

I've got nothing to say

I've got nothing to say

I've got nothing to say

I've got nothing to say

I'm in utter dismay

I've got nothing to say

Harmless children

We named our soldiers after you

Don't be a coconut

God is trying to talk to you

We could drag it out

But that's for other bands to do

I've got nothing to say

I've got nothing to say

I've got nothing to say

I've got nothing to say

I've got nothing to give

Got no reason to live

But I will fight to survive

I've got nothing to hide

Wish I wasn't so shy

I lied to urge

I'd like to read

I'd like a part

I'd like the lead


I've got nothing to say

I've got nothing to say

I've got nothing to say

I've got nothing to say

I've got nothing to give

Got no reason to live

But I'll kill to survive

I've got nothing to hide

Wish I wasn't so shy

- 'Ask Me Anything', The Strokes

Monday, January 15, 2007

Noir, baby, noir

Myself, a rather sleepy Mike and my girlfriend Lisa met up at ACMI last night to catch a screening of the 1941 classic The Maltese Falcon. If you haven't seen the film before I highly recommend it: Humphrey Bogart (shown left) at his tough-guy best, matched only by his performance in Casablanca, and a startling cinematic debut for director John Huston.

It's the film that gave birth to film noir, a cinematic style that refuses to be confined to a single genre, and of which I am utterly enamoured.

For many people noir is synonymous with detective films and crime stories, but there is also western noir and melodrama noir, to name but two other genres that embraced the noir style in its heyday from 1941 - 1958.

Film noir is a bubbling cauldron of influences, from the shadow-heavy images of German expressionist cinema to Italian neo-realism. Then-contemporary, post-war fears about the roles of women emerged in noir as such iconic femme fatales as Phyllis Dietrichson, Babara Stanwyck's character in Double Indemnity, and in The Maltese Falcon, Mary Astor's duplicitous Brigid O'Shaughnessy.

I won't bang on about it here at length, because there are a multitude of sites on the web that can tell you all you need to know, and more, about noir style and motifs. Instead, feast your eyes upon these darkly seductive images...

Now, go and watch some noir, baby!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Beefcake & Pin-Ups II

You know, there's something quite delicious about beefcake that's at least 50 years old - if only because you know you're admiring or fantasising about a person who is now old and (at least traditionally) unattractive - or possibly even dead. If I was more alert and brain-engaged I'd now craft a metaphor referencing the light of long dead stars and the the transient nature of lust and infatuation, but it's late and I'm tired, so here are a few JPG's instead...

Brooding, Bad & Beautiful
It may not have been deliberate, but the homoerotic aspects of the
relationship between Plato (Sal Mineo, left) and Jim Stark
(James Dean) in Rebel Without A Cause (1955)
are inescapable today. A couple of years ago I toyed with
the idea of reworking the plot of the film as a young adult novel,
with the working title Rebel, that would bring the film's
queer subtext into the foreground, ending with Judy (Natalie Wood)
dying and the boys finally united, instead of Plato's tragic death,
as seen in the film. Hell, maybe one day I'll actually write it...

Homegrown beefcake: Errol Flynn
My mum was so enamoured of Flynn, in particular
his star turn as Robin Hood in 1938's The Advenures of
Robin Hood
, that I was almost named Errol when I was born.
Thankfully she named me after Richard the Lionheart instead...

Me Tarzan, you Richard
I wonder how many other adolescent boys started reading the books
of pulp author Edgar Rice Burroughs as a direct result of former
Olympic swimmer Johnny Weismuller's star role as Tarzan?
Surely I can't have been the only one...?

Dr Frank-N-Furter was right
If you "want something visual that's
not too abysmal, we could take
in an old Steve Reeves movie."

Fury. Ed Fury.
This handsome gent used to appear in magazines which
celebrated the beauty of the male body. Dear me, no, not porn.
Physique magazines. All very healthy and above board.
Get your salacious mind out of the gutter and start looking at the stars.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Mel Gibson's fourth cinematic outing as director, and his third historial epic to date, is set in Mesoamerica in the 16th Century, and was filmed on location in Mexico.

As with his fact-twisting Braveheart (1995) Apocalypto concerns itself with an honourable man struggling against almost overwhelming odds. In this instance, instead of an idealised William Wallace fighting the forces of a rapacious England, our hero is a jungle-dwelling hunter, and the enemy is the once-great Mayan Empire.

As an aside, I think it's fair to say at this point that we can now clearly see a common theme uniting the four testosterone-soaked feature films Gibson has directed to date, namely the individual's struggle against the forces of injustice and bigotry that have been brought to bear against him. This theme was present in The Man Without A Face (1993) his directorial debut, and it was certainly the key element of his fundo-porno splatter epic The Passion of the Christ (2004).

Given Mel's well-documented, ultra-conservative religious beliefs, which includes a conviction that contemporary Catholicism is heretical, I wonder if Gibson sees himself in the same heroic light as his leading characters; as a lone defender of the true faith struggling to bring light to a sinful world? It's preferable to viewing yourself as a drunken bigot, I guess...

Such thoughts aside, and returning to Apocalypto, which has already been criticised for insulting Mayan civilisation, the first part of this very-traditionally structured three-act drama explores the idyllic lives of a group of jungle-dwelling hunters. Among them is our hero, the young warrior Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood, pictured below with Morris Birdyellowhead as his father, Flint Sky) whose wife Seven (Dalia Hernandez) is pregnant with their second child. Gibson is at pains to show that the tribesfolk not only live in harmony with their world (shades of the noble savage) but are just like you and me despite running around half-naked. Gosh, they even joke about their mothers-in-law! In short, it's all tapir-hunting, practical jokes and storytelling around the fire, with little to really engage or entertain the viewer - until the arrival of a group of terrified foreigners, fleeing their own lands in search of a new beginning, heralds the coming storm.

Hot on their heels are a troupe of bloodthirsty Mayan warriors, led by the imposing Zero Wolf (Raoul Trujillo) and his ludicrously sadistic sidekick Snake Ink (Rodolfo Palacios, who lacks only a top hat, cape and waxed moustache to complete his transformation into the most two-dimensional villain seen on screen since the equally two-dimensional Romans responsible for flogging Jesus in The Passion of the Christ). As invaders are wont to do, the Mayans butcher half the tribe and enslave the rest, although Jaguar Paw manages to save his wife and child by concealing them in a dry well, where they hide for most of the rest of the film.

Following a forced march through strange lands, where we glimpse slave gangs labouring and dying, fruits rotting in the fields, and the victims of plague alternately shrieking, laughing insanely or prophecying doom, the imprisoned villagers and their captors arrive at their destination: the Mayan city. In this place of barbaric splendour and exquisitely detailed although historically inaccurate production design, the surviving women are sold into slavery, while Jaguar Paw and his fellow tribesmen are led high atop a stepped pyramid, destined to have their still-beating hearts ripped out as a sacrifice to the Mayan gods.

Naturally there wouldn't be much of a movie left if that was the fate that befell our hero, and so of course Jaguar Paw escapes, fleeing back through the jungle in a desperate attempt to save his wife before his pursuers can recapture him and flay him alive.

It's only in this third and final act that Gibson brings any real energy to Apocalypto, jetisoning the trite and expository dialogue that the actors have had to deliver up to this point in favour of a dynamic, extended action sequence lasting well over a half-hour. Unfortunately, it's also one of the most cliche-riddled sections of the film, featuring pretty much every trope you'd expect to see from a cinematic chase through a tropical jungle, akin to a 1950's Tarzan movie except with better cinematography and no Johnny Weissmuller. Slow motion jump over a waterfall? Check. How about quicksand? Yep, that too. Wounded man whose dripping blood betrays his location to his pursuers as he
hides in the jungle canopy ? Of course!

Although all the dialogue in Apocalypto
is delivered in the Yukatek Maya language and subtitled in English; despite the fact that there's not a European face to be seen for 99.9% of the film; this is a quintessentially Hollywood film. It's manipulative, predictable and constructed from cliche upon cliche. This is the cinema of spectacle, berefit of character development and narrative arcs, and with nothing but contempt for its audience's intelligence. Instead of providing his audience with a visceral and engaging insight into an lost culture, all Gibson has done is cement his reputation as a sadist most at home working in lowest common denominator entertainment.

As with The Passion of the Christ, Mel demonstrates here that he doesn't know the meaning of the words restraint and subtlety. His messages - paganism is bad! pride comes before a fall! - are hammered home with the same gusto with which he stages an endless parade of butchery and bloodshed in almost every scene of the film. It's a telling sign of how lacking in original vision Gibson is that even his gusto for gore fails to find new methods of expression, leaving the viewer with the overwhelming impression that for all its slickly photographed carnage, Apocalypto is ultimately derivative and uninspired.

The writer-director also shows that he won't let historical accuracy get in the way of his clumsy political allegory about the decline of a nation-state, which simultaneously serves as a piece of pro-Christian propaganda. The beautifully realised sets and costumes meld together disparate elements of several Mesoamerican cultures, while Gibson's dramatic device of a solar eclipse at a key point in the film conveniently ignores the fact that the Maya were excellent astronomers, with a well-grounded knowledge of when and where such events would occur.

Perhaps most disturbingly, Gibson seems to have conciously chosen to portray the Maya as decadent, bloodthirsty and on the verge of societal collapse. This not only misrepresents the historical truth to a significant degree; it implicitly suggests that the devastation and genocide wreaked by Spain's conquistadors in Central and South America was somehow a just punishment for the Mayan Empire's evil and heathen ways; a belief that I find far more sickening than any of the film's gratuitous, endless violence.

Mel Gibson has described Apocalypto as an attempt to provide "people who really want to be taken somewhere else ... with a visceral and sense [sic] experience, so that by the time they walk into the temple (in the film's sacrifice scene) they are hopefully going out of their minds."

Out of their minds with boredom or nausea, possibly.

One and half still-beating human hearts out of five.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

HTML query

Does anyone who knows more about HTML than me have any idea why, as my various sidebars continue down the side of the page, ie Blogs, Gay Blogs, Smut etc, they seem to march more and more to the right?

"A kiss is just a kiss..."

From the penultimate episode of UK tv series Torchwood, which I've been blogging about a lot lately...

[spoiler alert]

...starring John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness, and Matt Ripey as Captain Jack Harkness....

Monday, January 08, 2007

Are you now, or have you ever been, transgendered?

If you want to get married in Clark County, Ohio, in the USA, you will be asked, "Do you solemnly swear that you are not transsexual?"

Ohio law only recognizes birth gender. Thus, a male to female (M2F) transsexual may only marry another woman in Ohio, and Clark County wants to ascertain that everyone is abiding by that restriction.

To date, in Clark County, no one has ever answered the transsexual question in the affirmative.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Twice in one night

Oh, get your minds out of the gutter.



Once while watching the penultimate episode of Torchwood, with its romantically doomed slow-dance and man-pash.

Again while watching the final episode of the series, when everyone - characters and viewers alike - thought our favourite character was deceased. Said tears transmogrified into tears of joy as a consequence of the final scenes.

Happy tears are the best.

I love a drama that can actually make me feel, not just provide a manipulated approximation of real emotion via sweeping music and clever editing.

*Actually I take that back, I cried a third time - well, sniffled anyway - reading the latest blog entries of a certain happy couple. Oh, loveloveLOVE!

We now return you to cynicism as usual.

There and back again

Given that I'm interviewing the curator of The World's Most Photographed, an exhibition currently displayed at the Bendigo Art Gallery on SmartArts in a few weeks' time, I thought I'd take the opportunity of a quiet weekend to head up to Bendigo to see the show.

It was a quick trip, as while there I convinced myself that I absolutely, positively had to rush back to Melbourne in order to get to the Victoria Police Museum before it closed, in order to buy a copy of a a local history of the wallopers (it's a research thing). Of course, once back in Melbourne, I found out that the museum isn't open on weekends... Doh!

A little known fact about the train trip to Bendigo: some genius built the city just far enough away from Melbourne that the duration of the roughly two-hour train journey is the perfect period of time required to read The Saturday Age properly, rather than my traditional time-poor skim through its pages. How lovely.

Arriving at the gallery, the first work I saw after cloaking my backpack was by potter Victor Greenaway, who not only was a guest on my show last year, but is the father of one of my best friends, Lisa. This, I decided, was a good omen.

Next I stood and studied a group of works by indigenous artists representing various spirit figures, mostly Mimihs, by artists including Jimmy Bungurru and Jimmy Annunguna. While looking at the works I was struck by two things: firstly, that Annunguna's study of the Wurdeja creator spirit Malinji had a belly button, and secondly, that every other single person who entered the gallery in the few minutes I was contemplating the works walked straight past them without a second glance. Does that strike anyone else as slightly odd, and perhaps a little telling?

Before I went into view The World's Most Photographed, I took an hour to contemplate some of the gallery's contemporary Australian works, and was especially struck by:
  • Two 2004 photographs by Donna Bailey (who's also been a guest on the show) Sunday, and Charlie and the Pink Biscuit (pictured, above right), which have a wonderful sense of vitality about them, and a tangible sense of place and emotional investment about them;
  • Two works by Jan Nelson, the abstract precision of Summer Collection (enamel on linen, 2004) and the evocative and emotionally resonant sculpture (pictured below left) Blackwood (fibreglass, oil paint and rock, 2004, from her Walking in Tall Grass series).
  • A marvellously sensual, fluid and organic abstracted landscape by Dale Frank, awarded the Arthur Guy memorial prize in 2005, entitled Three Lies: Good things come in small packages; Nothing is interesting if you are not interested; One man's meat is another man's poison. They will show you everything they have - their sexy bodies. When the student is ready, the master will appear. Laughter is the closest distance between two people while Happiness is not a state of mind, but a manner of travelling. Tarampa Hotel, Tarampa Road, 2004 (acrylic and varnish on linen canvas).
  • And lastly, the 2004 video installation by New Zealand-born artist Daniel von Sturmer, Screen Test, which I found utterly engrossing.
As for The World's Most Photographed, which was curated by the National Portrait Gallery, London, while it encourages us to rethink our approach to the curated and media-manipulated public image of the celebrity (including, in this instance, James Dean, Adolf Hitler and Queen Victoria) overall I was a little underwhelmed. Perhaps it was the modest scale of the exhibition, perhaps it was because I'd been so blown away by the works I've named above, but it just didn't quite work for me, I'm afraid.

The exhibition is showing until March 25.

And on the train home, given that I'd already read the paper from cover to cover, I wrote six pages of notes concerning plot and characters for my novel, and mapped out the various avenues of research I have to undertake before I feel informed enough to really start work on the nuts and bolts of the story.

Friday, January 05, 2007


I've spent most of this uncomfortably hot Friday sitting at my computer, and taking notes on daily life in the 1940s, especially the daily lives of gay men in that era.

While my main focus is Melbourne in the winter of 1942 (the period in which I've decided to set my new novel) I have been taking the odd detour into other periods and places as I browse the web. Not surprisingly, I've also occasionally been distracted by beefcake and pin-ups as the day progressed. It's rather amusing, and touching, to consider that some of these images were once considered titillating, even controversial. Ah the joys of earlier, more innocent days...

Tortured and brooding movie star Montgomery Clift

The best in B-movie beefcake: Guy Madison

Just good friends: Guy Madison comforts Robert Mitchum
in Till the End of Time (1946)

Good clean fun!

More good clean fun!

Healthy body, healthy mind!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Call for queer short films

Down The Shops and Asphodel Films in conjunction with the Midsumma Gay & Lesbian Festival are calling for queer short films and music videos to be screened as part of the 2007 Opening Night Party at Federation Square on January 19th, 2007.

Successful content will be screened as part of "Q-Tube", providing entertainment on the main stage and various screens at Federation Square as part of the Midsumma Festival's opening night event.

If you have a film no longer than six minutes that you would like to see on the big screen please send a miniDV (preferred) or DVD copy to:

Q-Tube @ Opening Night
C/O Midsumma Festival Inc.
C1.17 / The Abbotsford Convent
1 St Heliers Street
Abbotsford VIC 3067

Please include a stamped, self-addressed envelope if you would like your film returned.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

What a life!

It's back! This Life + 10
BBC Media Release
Date: 20.09.2006

A decade ago, This Life premiered on BBC TWO and changed the face of television drama, whilst gathering legions of faithful fans as well as industry acclaim and awards. To celebrate its tenth anniversary, the original cast, executive producer Tony Garnett and creator and principal writer Amy Jenkins reunite for This Life + 10, an exclusive, 90-minute, one-off episode to be broadcast on BBC TWO.

BBC TWO viewers became obsessed with the turbulent lives of a group of twenty-something lawyers who lived, loved and played hard whilst sharing a house in London.

Thirty-two episodes were broadcast over two series during 1996 and 1997 and the final explosive instalment left its devoted audience begging for more.

Fast forward a decade and This Life + 10 re-introduces Miles (Jack Davenport), Milly (Amita Dhiri ), Warren (Jason Hughes ), Egg (Andrew Lincoln ) and Anna (Daniela Nardini) in a one-off, 90-minute special.

One of the group has become a commercial success after writing a book based on their friendship and a TV production company is keen to film the group's reunion.

Viewers will discover how the group's lives have changed and whether they are friends, lovers or enemies – or all three!

Series one and two will be repeated on BBC TWO, allowing fans to reacquaint themselves with the classic episodes before being treated to the spanking new 90-minute special.

Amy Jenkins, creator and chief writer, This Life and This Life + 10, comments: "It's ten years on and there have been big changes in the characters' lives. They're no longer in the waiting room of life - but out there on centre stage. The question is - do people really change?"

Roly Keating, Controller, BBC TWO comments: "This Life brilliantly defined what it meant to be young in the Nineties and captured the imagination of a whole generation of viewers.

"It's fantastic that Tony, Amy and the original, world-class cast have agreed to reunite for what promises to be one of the drama events of the year."

Filming on This Life + 10 begins this month on location in London and Sussex.

This Life + 10 was commissioned by Jane Tranter, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning and Roly Keating, Controller, BBC TWO, and is scheduled for transmission on BBC TWO in Winter 2006.

A World Production/BBC Wales Production for BBC TWO, This Life + 10 is written by Amy Jenkins, directed by Joe Ahearne and the executive producer is Julie Gardner for BBC Wales. Tony Garnett is the sole Producer.

Notes to Editors

This Life was first broadcast on BBC TWO on 18 March 1996. The final episode of the second series was broadcast on BBC TWO on 7 August 1997.

Update - posted on 11 December 2006

This Life + 10 will be broadcast on BBC TWO on Tuesday 2 January 2007.


I absolutely loved This Life when it first screened on the ABC, and the announcement that the BBC has commissioned a 90 minute special exploring the characters' lives 10 years on makes me, not exactly giddy with excitement but certainly intrigued to see how the new show will be handled.

The last time I watched some of the original series I found it a bit dated, but I still have a soft spot for it.

What are some of your favourite TV shows from the 1990's? Or from any era, for that matter?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Has 2007 started yet?

Happy 2007, everyone.

I hope your New Year's Eve was wildly enjoyable, or at least moderately so?

It is, I freely admit, an overrated evening, when dull suburbanites cut loose and go wild in a desperate attempt to have the sort of night out that they can boast about for the next few weeks - the sort of night that myself and many other jaded and drug-addled inner-urbanites have every weekend. I think I stopped enjoying NYE at least a decade ago, as a consequence of DJ'ing in clubs on the night in question for too many years in a row. Nothing like a spot of repetition to take the edge off!

My faux-supercilliousness aside, I had a great night this year, at least for the majority of the night. My composer friend David had a house party, which was where I began my evening. From there I headed off to meet up with Graeme and Josh (ho has a blog but I don't know what it's called) at The Arthouse, where we were splendidly entertained by the raucous queer hardcore of US band Limp Wrist, who you can read more about in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, here.

God, they were magnificent! They were everything that I always wanted from queercore, back in the mid-90's when I was spurred to put out five or six issues of my queer zine The Burning Times. From furious punk chords to wry camp comments, right down to encouraging the cuter stage divers to divest themselves of as many items of clothing as possible, so that by the end of the night there had been a couple of naked crowdsurfers, Limp Wrist totally rocked my night. As they say/scream in their eponymous song: "Out of the closet and into the pit!"

After a few drinks post-gig, I strolled off towards the Witness Protection Program Social Club at about 2am, where I only stayed for about three-quarters of an hour: I was feeling uncomfortably claustrophobic, and the pill I'd taken wasn't helping. I left, planning to drop into WEeekender @ Ding Dong before finishing up my night by catching Digger and the Pussycats at Pony at 4am. Instead I walked sweatily home, had a shower, and chilled out listening to CD's on the couch.

So how was your night?