Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What's a man to do?

I need your help. Not in a 'please may I have one of your kidneys' kind of way. Not even in a 'could you write a letter of support to the government for me?' way. No, I just need your advice.

Quite soon, on July 6, I turn 40. It's something that both delights and surprises me.

Delights because quite frankly, there have been times in my life (primary school in the years when a nuclear holocaust seemed imminent; adolescence when suicide seemed like an option; as a hell-raising 20-something) that I never thought I'd make it this far.

Surprised because I don't feel on the verge of 40. I know I certainly don't act 40; not by the standards of previous generations at any rate (by my age my parents already had two teenage children) or even in comparison to most of my peers, who by and large are tucked into bed and sound asleep at the times I'm still out and about and painting the town hot pink.

All that's besides the point, however. What the fuck am I going to do for my 40th birthday? For my 30th, I had a quite dinner at the Empress attended by my more sedate friends, followed by a gig at the Arthouse that I'd organised, at which four of my favourite local punk bands played, for my younger and more manic friends. How do I top that?

Last year was drinks and nibbles at home followed by a late night of debauchery at Control HQ. Been there, done that, and as much as I love Wally's bar, I think I want less familiar surroundings this year. Perhaps Der Raum? Or Panama? Decisions, decisions...

I await the wise suggestions of the blogosphere as to your recommendations for my 40th birthday celebrations. Comment away!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Review (of sorts): The Pillowman

It's rare that I walk out of live theatre, at least in comparison to films, which I am wont to abandon should I find myself hating the movie I'm watching. This is because I know the actors won't be hurt by seeing me get up and walk out in a cinema, as they can't actually see me, not being present except as two-dimensional representations. It's also because I tend to see more film than theatre, and after years of film festivals, have less qualms about debating the merits of sticking it out vs wasting my time on an unenjoyable experience.

When my old friend Sean and I went to see the latest MTC production on Thursday night,
Irish playwright Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman, I didn't walk about as such, but I didn't go back into the theatre after interval.

In part this was because I was tired, and
The Pillowman is a long play; two and a half hours. It was also because I found myself really disliking the production.

I definitely think the play needed editing; scenes felt padded and stretched out, especially some of the early scenes where the writer, Katurian K. Katurian (Joel Edgerton) is being interrogated by the police on charges he was initially unaware of. In a fascist police state, such a concept of course is totally credible, although the actual characters of the police, the bad cop (Greg Stone) and the good cop (Kim Gyngell) were far from credible, being overplayed and underdeveloped.

As the play unfolds we learn that Katurian has been pulled in due to certain key similarities between scenes in his stories (most of which are unpublished, and almost all of which involve nasty things happening to small children) and the recent murders of two children. A third has gone missing. Also arrested is Katurian's brother, Michael (Dan Wylie), who suffers from a 'learning disability'. It's not long before a post-torture Katurian is thrown into the same cell as his brother, whereupon we learn that as children, the pair were tortured and abused by their parents as part of a twisted social experiment which left Michael mentally and physically damaged, and which led Katurian's imagination down a very dark path.

What especially irked me about the play was its direction by MTC Artistic Director Simon Phillips, which confirms my opinion (developed by watching his productions of
Tomfoolery and Entertaining Mr Sloane) that Phillips is incapable of successfully directing satire. This production has all the subtlety of a skinhead on a rampage, which rendered unfunny scenes amusing, and actually funny lines leaden or ineffectual.

Too many of the characters were overplayed, both the aforementioned policemen, and particularly Wylie's portrayal of Michael. To his credit, Wylie does the best that he can with the role, which he appears to have been ordered to play with an exaggerated grotesquerie. It didn't need to be so heavy-handed, complete with limp, twisted hands and exaggerated delivery of lines; some restraint would have made things far more convincing.

Alternatively, if Phillips wanted to present a character who was so obviously damaged, why not actually cast a handicapped actor from Back to Back Theatre for example, to invest the role with credibility? Perhaps that might be too challenging for the MTC audience, to protect whom,
The Pillowman is being staged outside its traditional home at the Arts Centre, and who have been explicitly warned that the play contains adult and disturbing themes and is most definitely not for children. (Maybe I'm jaded, or simply broad-minded having seen all manner of confronting, challenging and macabe works on stage and screen in my time, but I honestly didn't think there was much about The Pillowman that was confronting at all; any real frisson of horror was eliminated by the combination of the repetitive text and the leaden production.)

Other things that annoyed me about this latest MTC production included certain ostentatious and unnecessary elements of the set design, and the audience themselves, who laughed because they seemed to think they had to, because comedian Kim Gyngell was on stage, and not because the text warranted such a reaction. Too, I think the dark nature of the text evoked embaressed laughter, because people didn't know how else to react.

At this stage I'm unsure if I will go back and see the post-interval part of
The Pillowman. As it stands, it ended on a note which I thought was a perfectly adequate ending for the story, which I didn't need to see ruined by another hour; rather like those Hollywood films which add ten minutes of happy ending to ruin an otherwise perfectly good story. Should I go back? You tell me. Should I not be reviewing a play I didn't see through to the end? Why not. Hating something so much I wanted to leave is a sure sign, in my mind, of a production to be avoided. Were I writing this review for The Age rather than my personal blog I would naturally have stayed until the end. As it is, Sean was also happy to leave, and we wandered out into the night; him home, and myself in the direction of a couple of bars...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Keys? Keys? Oh, crap.

Six things to do when you've locked yourself out of the flat and are sitting on the front steps waiting for your housemate to come home:

1. Read The Melbourne Times and wonder at the ratio of real estate ads to editorial that's not about local politics.

2. Ring your mother.

3. Try picking your own lock with a piece of wire, and fail.

4. Regret not hanging out more with the tough kids in school, who could have taught you how to pick a lock with a piece of wire, in between calling you 'poofter' and beating you up.

5. Send tipsy text messages to friends inviting them to hang out somewhere that isn't your front step.

6. Alarm your neighbours when they walk around the corner unexpectedly to find you necking your bottle of chardonnay because otherwise it would get warm.


Farewell to the Palace

According to The Age online this afternoon, St Kilda live music venue the Palace has thrown in the towel. The 'entertainment complex' will close next month, having lost the battle with developers for whom its site is a juicy piece of beachfront real estate.

I can't say I'm grief-stricken - I'd be far more upset if the POW was to close - but that said I'll be sorry to see the Palace go. I've had some fun times there, from cavorting on stage half-naked and covered in fluro paint with The Ergot Derivative, to memorable gigs from the likes of:



and even

Farewell, Palace. I shan't miss your sweat-box conditions and crowds, but I shall miss the opportunity for new memories.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Clap Your Hands Say Fuck Yeah!

An uncomfortably crowded HiFi Bar last night, coupled with a really bad mix (someone shoot the sound engineer!) and being v.tired after work and my first session in the gym with a personal trainer (please don't laugh; it's a work-thing contra deal arrangement and it's only once a week, ok?) could not stop me enjoying myself at Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! last night.

They was good. Ebullient even. By the time they played 'By The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth' I would have danced, had I not been hemmed in by several very cute boys in the crowd, and the afore-mentioned tiredness and etc. I was also, truth be told, slightly drunk after two absinthes and then a glass of bubbles at the HiFi.

I would have preferred to see them later in the week at a better venue though...

The Hard Life of an Absintheur

Finished work last night and went out for a quick Vietnamese meal in the city before embarking on a brief absinthe tour of two Melbourne bars, The Toff in Town and Cookie, which helpfully are in the same building as one another. (As an aside, the links above are to Age reviews of the bars; and really, they should take their photos at night, as the daylight photos on the paper's website are utterly lacking in atmosphere).

The Toff had a very limited range of brands on offer; only four, one of which was the utterly vile Green Fairy brand, which all good absintheurs should avoid like the plague.

The brand I eventually chose, which I hadn't tried before, was Jacques Senaux Blue, from Spain (80% proof). Because I always drink my absinthe with sugar and water in the traditional fashion (although most places insist on setting the sugar alight, which is flamboyant, whereas actually the water should be slowly dripped onto the sugar until it dissolves - incidentally, the only place in Melbourne where I've been served absinthe prepared in the traditional Parisian fashion was at The Croft Institute). At The Toff, the barman lit the sugar, and then served my absinthe to me in a coffee cup (!!!), which rather detracted from the occasion and aesthetic experience of the drink's ritualised preparation (his reason being that the glasses they used were so fine that the heat transfer might cause them to crack).

To say I was taken aback at such an uncivilised way of serving my drink is a major understatement...

While pleasant enough, with a strong bouquet, the Jacques Senaux Blue was not an especially good absinthe, displaying only a modest louche, and with the anise taste overwhelming the complex herbal flavours of the drink. They also do a Black absinthe, which I've had before, and which has too overwhelming an anise flavour for my taste. Besides, traditionalist that I am, I always prefer my absinthe green...

Twenty minutes later, downstairs at Cookie, despite a barman who knew his absinthe and a better range of brands on offer, the drink I was served - one of the only brands they had in stock that I hadn't previously tried, Flor Absinth, from the Czech Republic - was undrinkable. A thin, medicinal taste, absolutely no louche whatsover, and an inspid colour. Flor Absinth joins Green Fairy on my list of truly abominable absinthe brands, closely followed by the almost as bad La Fee Bohemian, which is also a mockery of everything that good absinthe should be.

One of the best absinthes I've tried that are commercially available in Australia is made by Pernod, who have a long historical association with the drink, called
Aux extraits de Plantes d'Absinthe. Definitely superior to either of the brands I was served last night...

(Part one of an on-going series)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Why I love Germaine Greer

She's feisty, ferocious and confrontational, and scares the shit out of a lot of people while angering others. But her recent article in UK newspaper The Guardian, about the cultural importance of the recent Eurovision win by Romany lesbian Marija Serifovic, has made me fall in love with Germaine all over again. Bless!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Quick review: 28 Weeks Later

I caught up with Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's sequel to the excellent and truly terrifying 28 Days Later at a 10.30am session on Sunday, with only about six other people in the theatre at Melbourne Central, so for once I wasn't distracted from the screen by idiots' phones, chattering and etc.

Following the accidental release of the experimental 'Rage' virus from a research lab, which turns those infected into ravening, red-eyed psychotic killers, Britain has been devastated (as seen in the original film, a contemporary zombie movie in everything but name, directed by Danny Boyle and starring versatile Irishman Cillian Murphy). The population has been wiped out, while the infected have eventually starved to death. Now, 28 weeks later, a US-led military force has begun to repopulate London, starting with the so-called 'Green Zone' on the Isle of Dogs.

The film follows one of the few survivors, Don (Robert Carlyle) first as he saves his own life at the cost of his wife's, and then later as he is reunited with his children, who were holidaying in Spain when the virus first struck, in London. This being a horror film, of course, it's not long before the virus strikes again, and all hell breaks loose. Within a matter of minutes the military have lost control of the situation; and if at this poi9nt you're wondering how much of the film is a not-so-subtle commentary on the situation in Iraq, you're not the only one...

Opening with a sequence of magnificent and palpable tension and chaos, 28 Weeks Later fails to sustain this mood throughout, perhaps thankfully - it would be one hell of a gut-wrenching movie if it did. Nonetheless it has some masterful - and one especially stomach-churning - set pieces, thanks in part ot a bigger budget, which means more military hardware to play with, more extras, and more special effects - including a stunning scene of central London being firebombed in a desperate attempt to stop the infected from running amok in the city. The production design is superb, the cinematography strong, the shocks suitably confronting. Shame then, that the plot has significant holes in it; the mood is not sustained throughout; and characterisation of the leads is minimal.

Not a film for the faint-hearted, nor the overly critical, 28 Weeks Later is nonetheless an enjoyable, and at times disturbing romp; or perhaps 'shamble' would be a more appropriate word under the circumstances, although these zombies don't shamble silently, or moan: they shrick, scream, roar and run, drooling blood all the while.

Three decapitations via rotor blades out of five.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Good Things

Some stuff you simply must see:-

  • The 4th annual Emerging Writers' Festival - the best new writers you haven't heard of....yet. Takes place this coming weekend, opening with a free gig Friday May 25 from 7pm at Paddy's Bar, Trades Hall;and featuring panels, workshops and a publishing trade fair, as well as the highly recommended Scrabble gig on Saturday night at the BMW Edge. Last year's EWF (pronounced 'yoof') focus was on indigenous writers; this year it's non-Anglo writers. Beats the shit out of the Melbourne Writers' Festival any day, trust me. If you love words, writing and ideas, GO!
  • Theatre at Risk's superb production of Vanessa Bates' Checklist for an Armed Robber, now on at Trades Hall until Sunday May 27. Quite simply, the best theatrical production I've seen so far this year. Taut, complex and moving, with the powerful simplicity and poignancy that only the best writing has. Twice in its one-hour running time this masterful production reduced me to tears, thanks to the skilled direction of Theatre at Risk's artistic director and co-founder Chris Bendall; and the studied repetition and careful contrasts between seemingly disconnected events that make up the play's script. Of its cast of four, Paul Ashcroft as the desperate young father-turned-armed robber, and Edwina Wren (pictued above with Natalia Novikova) as the bookseller whose humanity is all that stands between him and a terrible, fatal fate, are particularly memorable; while Isla Shaw's set and the ominous, echoing and evocative sound design by Jethro Woodward are also highly effective. See it now - I implore you.

Pause For Reflection

A couple of people have recently mentioned of late that the frequency with which I've been posting has reduced somewhat. To these people I say, "well aren't you the observent ones!"

For a couple of reasons (workload, too tired to go out, having some virus-thing for the last week or so) it's true I've not been posting much. Thus, anecdotes about dinner with that lovely couple, Mr and Mrs Path-Android; seeing both the play and the film of The History Boys, and enjoying both despite their flaws; the excellently entertaining way my Eurovision night played out at the soon-to-be-reverting-to-its-non-rock-and-roll origins Spanish Club; none of that has been recorded for posterity on this here blog.

So, you miss out on my self-indulgent ramblings, and I miss out on recording my day-to-day life, as this blog is as much my diary or journal as it is anything else. Such is life.

That said, ever since I became the Chair of Fringe a few weeks ago I've also been contemplating being a little more circumspect about what I write here, because of its potential for adversely impacting on the organisation. On the other hand I really don't like censoring myself, no matter who may or may not be reading (Hi mum! Hello Drug Squad!) my posts.

So, after due contemplation, I won't be censoring myself overtly. You can still expect occasional tales of wild nights on the tiles and casual sex with anonymous men in parks and alleyways on the rare occasions I actually get lucky. You'll also get details of the various films, performances and exhibitions that I get along to, when I find the time to post about them. On the other hand, I might not be posting as often as I used to, if the past couple of weeks is anything to go by.

Now that we've got that settled...on with the show!

Oh, and to maintain the self-indulgent trivia quotiant of the day, have I mentioned that I'm trying to grow my hair? It's at the stage now where I'm seriously tempted to grab the clippers and trim it all off again, but god dammit I intend to persevere to the point where I can actually have a hairstyle again for the first time in some eight years; even I do have to wear a hat for the entire winter while my hair grows out...

Saturday, May 19, 2007


It's not often, as you're huddled in an armchair on a Saturday morning, leafing through The Age and waiting for your hangover to abate to a more manageable level that will actually allow cognitive thought and beyond-basic motor functions, that your own name unexpectedly leaps off the page you're attempting to read and sears itself into your retinae.

Ten years ago, essayist and author Mark Davis published his remarkable, timely and well-argued polemic Gangland; an exhaustively detailed critique of the poisonously pervaisive influence of certain coiteries of commentators over Australia's arts and media. Not surprisingly, said cultural gatekeepers closed ranks after the book's publication and in a classic example of shooting the messenger, launched a series of venomous attacks upon Davis and Gangland in order to discredit his hypothesis that "an older generation of cultural apparatchiks, used to being at the centre and having a strong media presence, more or less systematically set out to discredit young people and their ideas, even progressive opinion generally".

The impact of Gangland was remarkable, at least in the circles I moved in at the time, which were predominantly comprised of writers, poets, spoken word performers, zinesters and other literary-minded folk (overlapping with punks, goths, musicians and other subcultural and creative types). It articulated a gnawing sense of unease and powerlessness that many of us felt, and was widely discussed at festivals and in the media.

Consequently, and in a classic example of closing ranks and shooting the messenger, many of the people named by Davis as part of the very system he was critiquing, launched a series of vitrolic attacks designed to minimise the book's impact upon their influential cliques and their collectively massaged egos.

Thus we saw Peter Craven belittle the book's central argument by describing Gangland as "
a prolonged exercise in go-getting infantilism [and] opportunistic journalism", in his review of Gangland in Australian Book Review (ABR); but only after making a faint, fatuous claim that he didn't really want to review the book in the first place, owing to the fact that he was "a specific target of [Davis'] attack".

Craven could, of course, have refused to have reviewed the book all together if he really wanted to maintain a semblance of impartiallity. He didn't. Instead, he penned a patronising and contemptuous review that seemingly willfully misrepresented Davis' position, by focussing in part on the furphy that Gangland was an attack on the Baby Boomers, despite the fact that Davis specifically notes in his introduction that "this is not a book that sets out to attack baby-boomers."

Simultaneously, the critic also leaps to the defence of author Helen Garner, whose reputation he clearly felt Davis had slighted in Gangland in those passages that discuss her book The First Stone. In doing so Craven unwittingly gave weight to one of the book's main theories: that these coiteries of patronising pundits maintain their hold on power and influence in our media by endlessly slapping each other's backs and praising one another's work. Or in Craven's own, unintenionally damning words, they "
back each other up and review the same books as an exercise in pissing in each other's pockets".

A more even-handed, albeit idiosyncratic review of Gangland by queer author Dean Kiley saw a pithily accurate summation of the book.

Gangland...provides a detailed and comprehensive analysis of disparate 70s cultural elites, and especially Baby Boomer over-representation, in a wide range of venues for cultural discussion – radio, TV, newspapers and book publishing. It examines the professional, political and cultural factors that have established a line-up of Usual Suspects as official border-patrols of Australia’s public-debate territory. If at times the identikit picture is too neat, nonetheless the individual identifying features are well defined. Davis provides compelling and extensive evidence on the attitudinal trends, clusters of ideological approaches, and the rhetoric of generationalism used by this New Establishment to lockout interlopers."

Which brings me back to this moring, and The Age.

In an edited version of his Overland Essay, which Davis will be giving as part of the 2007 Emerging Writers' Festival at 11am on Saturday May 26 at Melbourne Town Hall, Davis said:

"The same voices are still being set up, and setting themselves up, as cultural arbiters... Instead of the usual suspects, why aren't Ryan Heath, or Cath Albury, or Kath Wilson, or Marni Cordell, or David Madden, or Damien Cahill, or Louise Swinn, or Tim Dunlop, or Tim Thornton, or Richard Watts, or Kate Crawford, or Jason Soon, or Nigel Bowen, or Susan Harris Rimmer, or Anthony Lowenstein, or Andrew Leigh, or Eve Vincent, or Nathan Hollier, or Miriam Lyons, or Madeleine Byrne, or Jeff Sparrow, or Joo-Cheong Tham, or Peter Tynan, or Thornton Macamish, or Marcus Westbury, or Zoe Dattner, or Priya Sarat Chandran, or Simon Castles, or Sam Tormey, or Stuart J. Barnett, or Taimor T. Hazou, or Daniel Donahoo, or Jason Sternberg, or Macgregor Duncan, or Amir Butler, or Rebecca Huntley, or any of the other thinkers and writers who have emerged over the past decade with a determination to help set Australian political and cultural agendas being published?"
To say that I was taken aback was an understatement. An excellent way to start the day, and an excellent reason to revist Gangland and its still timely and relevent arguments.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Happy birthday dear Is Not...

A Very Happy 2nd Birthday – Is Too!

“Even bigger than TV Hits when you unfold the Home and Away fold-out” ~ John Safran, TV Personality

Publishing oddity Is Not Magazine is all red in the cheeks to have reached its 2nd birthday and is celebrating in style with another of their entirely fabulous fundraising parties.

Saturday 2nd June seemed an apt date for a 2nd birthday party, and the Is Not folks have lined up a spangled posse of solid gold entertainment for their party The Golden Years, at Miss Libertine, in line with their All That Glitters Is Not Gold issue theme. Performing show-stopping tap routines at two special times in the evening will be The Golden Girls, a troupe of women aged 65 and better! On the wheels of steel will be DJs Mafia, Barrie Glitter and Plump N Rosie, as well as rising bands of the indie music scene, The New Electric and Near Your House.

Is Not Magazine is a 1.5 metre x 2 metre billboard poster/magazine – that’s roughly the size of a double bed mattress! In fact Is Not’s status as the Biggest Magazine in the World is currently being assessed by Guinness World Records. The magazine gets glued to walls in and around the streets of Melbourne, as well as bars, cafes and laundromats. Its readers are a dedicated bunch, braving weather and tricky locations to stand in the great outdoors and read the magazine from crouching down to read the bottom, to tippy toes to read the top. Almost always the crossword is completed filled in by a variety of pens and handwriting.

Is Not Magazine is an independent, not-for-profit publication and carries no advertisements. Each issue is funded directly by regular parties that are legendary amongst their readers and supporters.

The five founding editors are Tash Ludowyk, Mel Campbell, Penny Modra, Stuart Geddes and Jeremy Wortsman. In October 2006, Is Not’s two design editors, Stuart Geddes and Jeremy Wortsman, won a prestigious Premiers’ Design Award for Communication Design.

Is Not Magazine’s striking design is due in no small part to Underware, the acclaimed Dutch type foundry who generously donate all their fonts to the project. Contributors to Is Not are as far flung as Helsinki, Buenos Aires and Michigan, and as of August 2006, Is Not has been gracing the streets of Sydney and stocked in stores across Australia as well as available for purchase through their website.

Is Not has been internationally recognised by Polish Elle magazine, UK based Computer Arts magazine and US based websites such as (Vogue online), Gawker and Cool Hunting as well as being part of TypeCon, a New York Design Conference and CMYK Magazine Festival in Barcelona. The editors have participated in various writers’ festivals, workshops and conferences around Australia as panelists and speakers since the magazine’s conception.

Is Not has been everywhere man. It’s time you went to Is Not. Come party like you’re two years old, but remember, All That Glitters Is Not Gold.

Good riddance

Bigot, homophobe and arch-conservative, the Reverend Jerry Falwell, has shuffled off this mortal coil at last. What a shame there isn't a hell for him to go to. This is, after all, the man who founded the Moral Majority; who warned that the Teletubby Tinkie-Winkie was part of a homosexual propaganda campaign on the basis that he was purple and had a triangular antenna; who said that "AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals... AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals."

Perhaps my favourite Falwell quote, though, is in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Centre on September 11, when he said, "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way… all of them who have tried to secularize America… I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen'."

Falwell was also a racist: a segregationist Baptist preacher, who opposed interracial marriage and used the Bible to justify his position. In 1958, Falwell gave a sermon on segregation, stating that.
"The true Negro does not want integration...He realizes his potential is far better among his own race... It will destroy our race eventually......It boils down to whether we are going to take God's Word as final." Admittedly as racism became less popular, he - publicly at least - changed his stance on segregation.

What a charming piece of work. Definitely someone that the world is better off without, I reckon.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Shiver me timbers!

Over at (your handy guide to absolutely everything lesbionic on the small and silver screens) I've just learned about what surely must be the silliest concept yet for a reality TV series. Ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere, I give you: Pirate Master.

"Ok admit it," quoth one of the trailers for this new show, "everyone's dreamed of being a pirate some day, right? "

Possibly when I was seven or eight, I suppose, but honestly? Not lately...

"I'm going after that treasure. I'm down for that treasure hunt," says Ben, 23, a Boston student/musician.*

Down for that treasure? Oh dear god. Or, to put it another way, 'Belay that! These swabs be addled, I tells ye, arg!'

But can you guess what's worse? The true, stomach churning horror that lies hid beneath the saucy veneer of this, admittedly fun-in-a-silly-way program? IT'S HOSTED BY CAMERON DADDO!! Oh, the horror, the horror!!

*Can you imagine the looks on his parents' faces when he said 'Mom, Dad, I'm taking time off my studies to be on teevee. I'm going off to be a pirate.'?!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Ukraine! Ukraine! Ukraine!

Tonight is Eurovision night: a celebration of camp, kitsch, Euro-pop, power ballads, big hair, white suits, hilariously bad synchronised dancing and so much more. Please join me at The Spanish Club for three hours of fun, with your host Ms Sam Wareing, and the acerbic quips of Terry Wogan. The fun begins from 6:30pm, with Euro-songs from the past and a trivia quiz, with the actual Eurovision telecast from 7:30pm.

Ukraine! Ukraine!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Good stuff

Cherry Rock on Sunday, AC/DC Lane. The joys of Digger and the Pussycats, the always-awesome Dynamo! (even though they don't have an exclamation mark as part of their name I always think they should) and many more. Vodka in abundance. Excellent conversation. Felt like a bit of a spare wheel from time to time, tagging along with different people at different times, as none of my closest friends were there, but still had heaps of fun. Forced myself to leave at a civilised hour too, just before 8pm, as I had work tomorrow and knew it would be way too easy to stay out til all hours, especially as I had the offer of my name of the door at Dirty Sanchez, a bunch of maniacs who do strange, gross, painful and hilarious things to and with their bodies. Think Jackass but with Welsh accents.

In the Shadows of Opulence: an installation at Seventh Gallery in Gertrude Street by Charlotte Amos, Betra Fraval and Skye Kennewell that the artists describe as "an exploration of excess and desire. Like a museum object, the installation stands, a dark and romantic void pregnant with promise and anticipation." It's certainly dark, like a goth's dream of a Victorian -era parlour during a period of mourning, whose grief glitters like gold, but transmutes everything it touches to ebony. Showing until May 19. Check out Melinda Ballard's Grandeur/Mortality in Gallery 2 while you're there.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Now, I thought it was cool* when some 4000-4500 Melbournians got their gear off for artist Spencer Tunick at the 2001 Melbourne Fringe, when Tunick himself was only expecting 800 people to show up.

I thought it was even cooler when 7000 people posed for him in Barcelona's Maria Christina Avenue (which looks beautiful by night, I must say - you should go and see it some time) in 2003.

But way to go Mexico City! An amazing 18,000 people stripped for his latest nude installation/photograph, including one person in a wheelchair. Beautiful.

Thanks to Andy @ Towleroad for the head's up on this one.

*As in literally fucking cold - it was freezing, but fuck it was good fun - a memory I'll treasure forever.

Love. True love.

No, this is not a post about the fact that, according to my horoscope today, my love life is about to drastically improve with Venus moving into Cancer today.

It's about something I saw yesterday: the launch of the City of Yarra's Relationships Register. Following a brief commitment ceremony, Jeff Chiang and Rodney Cruise (accompanied by their baby son Ethan) became the first couple to sign the register, and in doing so helped make history.

“You are my best friend, my
lover, and the father of my son Ethan,” each said to the other in turn, before a celebrant, family and friends. “I now proudly take your hand as you have taken my heart.”

It brought tears to my eyes, I can happily say. Ain't love grand?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Spider-Man goes emo

Spider-Man 3 is a limp, lame and turgid film that fails on a number of levels. Like last year's largely unsuccessful Superman Returns, it's sadly lacking in excitement.

The melodramatic interludes played out between Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and long-suffering girlfriend Mary-Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) lack conviction, and the film's three super-villains, the Sandman, the Green Goblin and Venom, are hurled into the story so quickly that their backstories are thinly drawn and perfunctory.

The pacing is off, too; quite simply, the film just falls flat, especially during its so-called climax.

The most laughable point comes when Peter, always the nerd-next-door, suddenly goes all emo, complete with eyeliner and fringe, thanks to the influence of the spoooooooky black Spider-Man suit. It's all too silly for words.

Avoid as you would a trapdoor spider. Spider-Man 3 sucks.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Breathing space

It's been a quiet week, which was much needed after the madness of the Comedy Festival. I've been getting to bed early, drinking less, and generally recharging my batteries. Not much to blog about as a consequence, although things should soon bounce back to their general madcap rate of hyperactivity.

Normal blogging will resume shortly.


I just found out what happens when you accidentally put a $20 note into a tumble-dryer along with your wet washing.

It shrinks.

So, now I have this minature $20 note, that apart from being a little crinkled, and about 35% smaller than it should be, is quite unharmed. I wonder if it's still legal tender?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Gday Barry!

Saturday witnessed all manner of mirth and merriment at the penultimate night of this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival club at the HiFi Bar, not the least of which was a pole-dance-off between rapidly-shirtless Adam Hills and Hannah Gadsby. Their performance, an undoubted highlight of the evening, soon segued into the presentation of the festival awards, in a brief ceremony overseen by MC Lehmo.

The winner of the festival’s prestigious Barry Award (named after inaugural patron Barry Humphries) was British comedian Daniel Kitson, for his show It’s the Fireworks Talking. Upon accepting his Barry, which recognizes the Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s Most Outstanding Festival Show, the endearingly shambolic Kitson launched a vitriolic attack upon the festival’s major sponsor, The Age, and specifically the authors of the paper’s Diary column, Suzanne Carbone and Lawrence Money, who described Kitson as ‘aesthetically challenged’ in the April 23 edition of their column.

In contention for the top award this year were nominees; David O’Doherty (IRE) for David O’Doherty is my name, Fiona O’Loughlin (AUS), Kate McLennan (AUS) for The Debutante Diaries, Russell Howard (UK), We Are Klang (UK) for We Are Klang invite you to a Klangbang, and Will Adamsdale and Chris Branch (UK) for The Receipt.

Also awarded on the night were:

  • The Melbourne Airport Best Newcomer Award, the winner of which jets off to experience the Brighton Comedy Festival in the UK, which was awarded to 19 year old Brisbane boy Josh Thomas, for his show Please Like Me.
  • The Age Critics’ Award, the gong for best local show, won by Lawrence Leung’s Lawrence Leung Learns to Breakdance.
  • The Directors’ Choice Award, established in 2005 and awarded by the Comedy Festival Director in consultation with other visiting Festival Directors, and presented to Justin Hamilton for Three Colours Hammo, a trilogy of shows.
  • The Piece of Wood, the comics’ choice award selected by past winners and presented to a peer literally for “doing good stuff ‘n’ that”. This year’s piece of wood winner was Andy Zaltzman for Andy Zaltzman Detonates 60 Minutes of Unbridled Evening.
  • The Golden Gibbo, named in memory of the late, great Lynda Gibson and awarded to a local, independent show that pursues the artist’s idea more strongly than it pursues any commercial lure. The winner was The Glass Boat (Claudia O’Doherty, Charlie Garber and Nick Coyle), with Alzheimers the Musical - A Night to Remember! (Maureen Sherlock, Carol Yelland and Lyn Shakespeare) the runner’s up.

After the presentation of the awards, a somewhat lifeless band took to the stage, encouraging the crowd (myself included) to move off en masse to the less salubrious but far more atmospheric confines of Trades Hall, where award winners, runners up, judges* and the general public partied until 5am, at which point we were kicked out when the bar closed.

Me, I then went on to the Peel, and kept drinking til 7am, where upon I strolled home, not feeling too much the worse for wear, and proceeded to fall asleep while fully clothed.


Now, bring on the next festival, I say!

*Yes, me included.