Friday, 28 March 2008


"Geysers of blood, insinuating camera angles and an extremely playful editing style add to the mayhem, keeping us gasping in horror and laughing at the gleeful excesses on screen."

A review of "Planet Terror" by Rich Cline from Shadows on the Wall

I'm going to go hide in my room till it all blows over ...

Wednesday, 26 March 2008


My published contribution to today’s (March 26, 2008) Sydney Morning Herald letters page ...

"Human rights organisations have renewed demands that Coca-Cola, Visa, General Electric and other international companies explain their dealings with the Communist government as it prepares to host the Games", says your report of March 25th (Corporate sponsors fear Olympics backlash).

Explain their dealings? Well, here goes: The dealings are done because of money. Bucketloads of money. Hope that helps.

And, while I’m on the topic of “dancing to the tune”, so to speak, today’s feature presentation is “Dancing With Walruses” ... not starring Kevin Costner ...

Methinks this trainer has waaaaaaaay too much time on her hands.

Thursday, 20 March 2008


Andrew Bolt is a hard-core conservative opinionist for Melbourne’s Herald-Sun newspaper. He appears regularly on the ABC’s “Insiders” programme and Channel Nine’s “Today”. On the Herald-Sun website, he runs a blog. No doubt about it, Mr. Bolt is a busy little fellow, and, in the fashion of a chap named Nigel, seems happy in his world ... wheee-ooo ...

Yet our world, that is to say, the real one in which we live, breathe and work is, according to Bolt, completely and utterly fucked. And he would like to educate us, enlighten us, if you will, as to the manner of its fucking and the identities of those devious individuals among us who seem so relentlessly focused on poking our bones with ratty abandon.

And so, on his blog and on any given day, Nig ... er, Andrew, will post up to, and often over, a dozen or so items on a variety of topics that do appear to rattle his mind in the manner of a marble rolling endlessly around a tin can. These topics can be boiled down to the following ...

High school teachers and university lecturers are polluting the minds of impressionable young people and something should be done. It’s an outrage.

Films, music and video games are polluting the minds of impressionable young people and something should be done. It’s an outrage.

Impressionable young people are polluting the minds of other impressionable young people and something should be done. It’s an outrage ...

( ... These, of course, all fall within the bounds of the Won’t Somebody Think Of The Children Syndrome, an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder most indicated among various members of the media who have taken it upon themselves to become Guardians Of The Public Moral. Somebody’s always thinking of the bloody children somewhere. How I wish that they would change their minds for a day or three, and give us all a fucking break ... perhaps they could think about cleaning the kitchen cupboards or fixing a fence instead ... Now, moving right along ... )

... The current Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is a lying little shit and something should be done. It’s an outrage.

The current Labor Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan is a lying little shit and something should be done. It’s an outrage.

Oh, the hell with it ... The entire Labor Federal government, their wives, children, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and family pets are lying little shits and something should be done. It’s an outrage.

The former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard never told a lie in his life. Nor did he chop down a cherry tree. Anybody who says anything to the contrary is a lying little shit and something should be done. It’s an outrage.

Anybody who ever voted for the Labor Party in any election at any time for any reason since the Party’s inception are Marxist-socialist, chardonnay swilling, latte sipping lunatics hell bent on destroying the world and everyone in it and something should be done. It’s an outrage.

Anybody who ever voted for the Liberal Party, and only for the Liberal Party at every available opportunity, should have their buttocks dipped in liquid gold to be kissed, caressed, worshipped and adored with duly appropriate reverence. God love them all.

Small, yappy, fluffy white dogs are threatening to destroy the fabric of society throughout the civilised world, and something should be done. It’s an outrage ... Actually, no, I just made that one up ... Moving right along ...

Climate change is bullshit, and we’re all being conned. Something should be done. It’s an outrage. And Aborigines make stuff up all the time, and we’re all being conned. Something should be done. It’s an outrage.

Then, there’s the Islamic thing. It’s an outrage, too. Something should be done.

And so on and so forth. Yes indeedy-do, Andrew Bolt does appear to spend the bulk of his waking life convinced that the entire world is rapidly going to hell in a handbasket and it’s all the fault of anyone and everyone who either holds an opinion or expresses a taste for anything whatsoever that differs in any way from his own.

He’s like a cross between Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh minus the tits and the fat.

His fans, however, are worse. Much worse. In fact, judging from the type of comments his blog attracts, day in, day out, item after item, one could arguably, but reasonably conclude that these people are completely unhinged; an endless parade of devoted and ideologically driven foot soldiers from the legions of the stupid forever pounding their stubby little digits into keyboards the country over in an infinitely fevered frenzy of hysterically illiterate rants and sweaty rambles that often amount to little more than the (allegedly) adult equivalent of “Nyah, nyah, nyah, your mum sucks dog’s dicks ... and you smell, too.”

Here’s just a few excerpts randomly thrown together from less than one days worth ...

Junkies are scum ... Shot yourself through the foot again there dopey ... What an idiot ... lip licking control freak ... homosexuality has and always will be a psycho-pathological illness ... stop pandering to the homo indoctrination and disinformation ... Tony Jones is an AWB conspiricy theory fanatic, obsessed global warming freak and Rudd lover ... Rudd moves further into Socialism and away from our Christian heritage he so despises ... that’s a fact so nice dig with your sickly and pastie faced jib ... Bill, what a perverse and twisted view of society you harbour ... little lackies sitting in the bleachers nodding like dogs on the dash ... That post is idiotic Roger ... Oh to be a Lefty, where logic and belief are permanent strangers ... you are just trying to compete with Dicky boy as to who can win the most inane post of the year award (this being the DICK head award), just being a tricky troll tony aren’t ya ... You can’t have it both ways,whiner ... Other than that the crap you speak is not even worth commenting on ... GWB has a weird sense of humour that humourless lefties haven’t the intellect to comprehend.

Inevitably, these comments are accompanied by a plethora of multiple exclamation and question marks, CAPITAL LETTER comebacks and “emoticons”, the latter being little cartoon representations of emotions and attitudes that have always filled me with a deep and irrational loathing of anyone who uses them. For heaven’s sake, if a person cannot make his or her meaning apparent with words and words alone and learn how to convey their meaning in a well constructed sentence or two without cartoon assistance, then perhaps they would be best advised to take up a course in shadow puppetry instead.

Thus there is little, if anything, that resembles informed discourse and argument on Andrew Bolt’s blog. He himself rarely intervenes in the debates that rage at every snippet posted, preferring, it would seem, to sit back and let the chooks feed as they may with crazed zombie abandon.

Yet, perhaps this is exactly the point of it all. An experiment. Its purpose, to provide a gathering place for those many members of the living dead to feast in so as to make safe the necks of saner folks. To throw a million stupid cats among a million stupid pigeons simply in order to observe, with awe and wonderment, but also a sense of cool clinical detachment, the genesis of a massive inter-species clusterfuck whilst boggling at the ear-splitting volume created from all that massed squawking and squealing.

As cruel and mindless entertainments go, it works a treat, though teasing the intellectually disabled so relentlessly might not go down too well with those sweet folks at SANE.

Andrew should keep that in mind.

Boltwatch regularly casts an eye over the madness.

From 1979, XTC “Making Plans for Nigel”

Thursday, 13 March 2008


No. I am not.

I am most definitely not writing a book. Nor am I writing a screenplay. And neither, most probably, are you.

It is a "book", and can only be considered a "book" when a "manuscript" has been submitted to a publisher, accepted for publication and a contract outlining the various terms and conditions that apply to it's publication drawn up and signed off by all relevant parties. It may also be considered a "book" if you wish to go down
Matthew Reilly’s path and publish the manuscript yourself, flogging it from the boot of your car at a market or some such place where people gather on a regular basis to spend their money on various bits of stuff.

And it is a "screenplay" when it has been accepted for production by a producer or studio executive and you have been paid for it, or you've managed to scrape together a whole bunch of money from a whole bunch of people you currently regard as "friends" and filmed your "screenplay" yourself. Keep in mind though, that given the usual standard of independently financed films that are made in this fashion, your "friends" may well realise upon completion of your project that you have no more talent than there is intelligent life in the wet spot on the hotel room bed of a Motley Crue roadie.

And then they will bash you up.

Until such time as the above criteria are met, you are not doing any such thing as writing a "book" or a "screenplay". However, you are perfectly within your rights to inform people that you are spending some of your spare time typing at yourself.

Thursday, 6 March 2008


“Lindsay Lohan”.

With Machiavellian stealth, insidious cunning and enviously artful guile, the name “Lindsay Lohan” did insinuate itself into my consciousness through gradual, barely noticeable steps by almost military-precision tactical maneuvering under the deepest cover of black, inky darkness ...

Who is this person? ... Should I know of her? ... Should I familiarise myself with
her good works? ...

Hmmmmm ...

I have not seen
“The Parent Trap” ... “Freaky Friday”? ... Not that I can remember ... “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen”? ... Nup ... “Mean Girls”? YES! ... “Herbie Fully Loaded”? ... Nup ... “A Prairie Home Companion”? YES! That’s 2! ... “Just My Luck”? ... never heard of it ... “Bobby”? Woo-hoo! That’s 3! ... “Chapter 27”, “Georgia Rule” and “I Know Who Killed Me”? ... Nup, nup, nup.

I see. And for this Ms. Lohan is famous? Well, not really. She is, instead, famous for the following ...

1. She’s young.
2. She’s not bad-looking.
3. She likes to go to parties.
4. She drinks.
5. She takes drugs sometimes. Or, perhaps,
a lot.
6. She likes rooting boys.
7. Her
father’s a fuckwit.

Well, bugger me if that don’t beat all.

In this new dawn of pseudo-puritanical posturing, poncing about and one-size-fits-all hysterics from every half-assed hack and creative typist in the media who think it fit to provide a running commentary on the “life and times” of any starlet with a half-decent pair of tits who’s been seen looking a little blurry-eyed in a nightclub more than once, the continuous fuss over Lohan is up there with the best of it.

Now, I could not give a particular flying wombat’s bottled fart about Lindsay Lohan and this is by no means a defense on her behalf, as such a thing would be ridiculous to embark upon. But, at 22 years of age, most young women (and young men) who aren’t half bad-looking are out at parties; drinking a lot; taking drugs at times; and rooting like rabbits.

This is what people do when they are young enough to do it, and good luck to those who are.

Grace Kelly bedded pretty much every leading man she starred with. Ava Gardner had a mouth like a toilet and was extremely fond of Frank Sinatra’s cock. Lauren Bacall held her own with the Rat Pack, swigging it back with the best of them.

But, we are now in the time of
“Juno”, a feel-good film about unplanned teenage pregnancy, for Christ’s sake. And “Knocked Up”, a feel-good film about unplanned adult pregnancy resulting from a one-night grapple with a silly fat dickhead. Which means, as Joe Queenan wrote in The Guardian, that we are in a time “... leading to a future so dark that women will look back on the decade that brought them The Runaway Bride, Notting Hill, My Best Friend's Wedding and My Big Fat Greek Wedding as a golden age.”

Thus, Lohan’s behaviour is an offense to the noble minders of the media whose job it is now to cast a squinty eye, point the finger, and purse their mouths disapprovingly over the exuberances of impetuous youth, judge them lacking in the appropriate standards of “morality” and “values” that are forever being tediously clucked about by the broody hens and chickens that increasingly stalk the halls of political and religious office, opinionists and “entertainment” reporters, and, finding their subjects lacking in these lofty ideals of
Walton’s Mountain fantasia, cast them out, if not to send them back to their rooms without supper, then at least to demand they take a quick trip to rehab, repent, recant, and then devote the rest of their lives to be the natural successors to Mother fucking Teresa ...

(Fuck me dead, that sentence has 133 words in it. I really need to watch that.)

... What a brave and curious joy it would be to see a film about a woman who drinks, smokes, roots boys, gets knocked up, terminates the pregnancy and then goes on to win a million bucks and a Nobel Prize for curing cancer and live happily ever after by the seaside.

Nobel Prize notwithstanding, I reckon Lohan would be a shoo-in for the lead.

From 1978, Japan "Adolescent Sex"

Tuesday, 4 March 2008


In his most recent book of essays "Bambi vs. Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie Business", David Mamet ponders the curious world of showbusiness as he has come to know and understand it after many years of practice, experience, and, no doubt, disillusionment. Why does a film need eighteen or so "producers", he asks? What on earth do all these people actually do? The answer comes as no great surprise. Basically, they do bugger all, and they have done bugger all so well for so long that these "producers" find themselves entrusted by the studios and other money men with whom they are in league to continue doing bugger all at their leisure ... unless, of course, something bad happens, in which case the producer wasn't responsible as he or she didn't actually do anything.

This may explain the 1998 film
"Godzilla" (1 producer, 2 co-producers, 3 executive producers and 2 co-executive producers ... the distinction between an executive and a co-executive eludes me as much as it may do Mamet ... There is also an "executive in charge of production, a "unit production manager", a "production secretary", a "production assistant", a "production co-ordinator" and so on and so forth. There are actually several of those last few, but I’ll be fucked if I’ll write "production" or "producer" one more time ... Oh. Oops).

In prose, Mamet's style can often be infuriatingly arch and formal. From God-only-knows where, the most obscure of words are untimely ripped and thrust together in sentences that can makes one's eyes glaze over in brain-rattling frustration, thus perhaps provoking in the reader a Mametian style response along the lines of, "Fuck you if you think I am going to move from this fucking spot and fuck about with some fucking dictionary ... Why don't you just say the thing? The fucking thing that is being said here?"

And yet despite this, he remains, as he has now for maybe the last 20 or so years, one of my favourite and most valued of writers. As is the great Gore Vidal, who has
this to say, "Bambi vs. Godzilla is far and away the best commentary on how movies are made thus far written by an American . . . Citing everyone from Aristotle to Preston Sturges’s The Lady Eve, Mamet demonstrates what works and what doesn’t in a movie narrative, while noting what does not work, as we have been witnessing for the last decade or so: statistically, in 1958, Hollywood turned out 2,000 films which listed in their credits 230 producers, while in 2003 Hollywood produced 240 films with 1,200 producers listed ... Happily, Mamet keeps on in theater and film pretty much on his own terms, and now, with Bambi vs. Godzilla, like his great predecessor George Bernard Shaw, he can illuminate as a critic-practitioner the not-always-friendly Darwinian world he has been obliged to flourish in."

I mean, how can one not admire a man who can write lines like this from
“The Heist” ...

Gene Hackman: Why doesn't he shoot me?
Rebecca Pidgeon: That's the deal.
Gene Hackman: He ain't gonna shoot me?
Rebecca Pidgeon: No.
Gene Hackman: Then he hadn't ought to point a gun at me. It's insincere.

The secret of a good film, Mamet writes, is to provoke the audience into always asking the question, "what happens next?". He loathes the tedious business of characterisation, exposition, backstory and authorial narrative, describing these facets of a screenplay as the written equivalent of HIV infection. For Mamet, there are three basics of storytelling that all good screenplays, and therefore, the good films that are made of them, should address - "Who wants what from whom?", "What happens if they don't get it?" and "Why now?". This is not the first time Mamet has pounded this particular pulpit in print, but it remains as relevant as always, if not more so in this era of Michael Bay and an endless, and endlessly insipid parade of “C.S.I.” franchises. (Plus, he likes the film
"Galaxy Quest" and has an enthusiastic rave about actor Tony Curtis ... It's about time someone gave Curtis his due as an oftentimes great actor, and Mamet does exactly that, drawing specific attention to his superb performance as Albert DeSalvo in "The Boston Strangler”.)

In the book's section on The Screenplay, Mamet likens aspirants to this "art" to those green young things who regularly haul themselves eastward or westward in search of greater glories, only to find themselves stranded in a Greyhound bus depot, open for exploitation by the pimps and bottom feeders who trawl such places for fresh flesh to feast upon. "I'm young and stupid", Mamet writes of such aspirants, "Please abuse me."

“I’m young and stupid. Please abuse me” could very well serve as motto for every poor sap that’s ever had an urging to devote their life to securing employment, however tenuous, in any form of the creative arts, whether it be film, theatre, television, writing, visual arts or music. The passion for doing so has a bad habit of obscuring one’s common sense to the point of madness leading to naught but a life of financial deprivation. I’m reminded of a conversation I had with the lead singer of a Sydney band back in the 1980’s. With a record contract signed, a single and an album doing reasonably well and having gigged around every available shithole up and down the NSW coast for an innumerable of years, one afternoon he told me, “You know Ross, just once in my life I wish we were able to make enough money from doing this that buying a new pair of socks didn’t rate as a major financial expenditure”.

“I’m young and stupid. Please abuse me” should be printed on a t-shirt and handed out to anyone and everyone who has ever auditioned for a role they didn’t want, but went anyway just to appease their agent; to anyone who has ever been handed a record company contract or to anyone who has ever agreed to hand over 50% of their earnings to a gallery for a show up some side alley hole in the wall. Or, if not that, at least this book, along with 1992’s
“On Directing Film” should be compulsory reading for anyone young and stupid enough to embark upon a career in “entertainment”.

Though I doubt very much that it would actually stop anyone from so doing, at least they’ll know what they’re in for.

From “The New Yorker”, John Lahr reviews Mamet’s latest play, “November”.

From 1965, The Mamas and the Papas “California Dreamin’”