Monday, July 31, 2006


This is a thing called a meme, and you can look it up if you don't know what that means. It's a blog thing and I don't thing I've ever done one, but I was tagged by a kind-hearted soul (after I asked them to).

So: some things.

A) Four jobs I have had in my life
1. Door-to-door Pole Salesman
2. Silver Service Waiter
3. Children's Creative Writing Teacher
4. Census Auditor

B) Four movies I would watch over and over:
1. Barton Fink
2. Chungking Express
3. Amelie
4. Being John Malkovich HAY CAN ANYONE SEE A 'QUIRKY' THEME?

C) Four places I have lived:
1. Ormond
2. Collingwood
3. Carlton
4. Fitzroy North

D) Four TV shows you love to watch: (at the moment)
1. There aren't 4 I watch these days, although I have half-heartedly tried to catch 24 and Lost, but often without success. Gave up on Big Brother early on, and I guess I'd probably watch the Simpsons if it was on the same room.

E) Four places you have been on holiday:
1. Berlin
2. Queenstown
3. Gundagai (en route elsewhere, but I stayed overnight)
4. The tiny lakeside Swiss town of Neuchatel

F) Websites you visit daily (in morning order):
1. My hotmail
2. My bank
3. My friends and families blogs
4. My work

G) Four of my favourite foods:
1. Blue cheese
2. TVP
3. Good, crusty bread
4. Vegan creamy fettucine with fake chicken

H) Four places I would rather be right now:
1. Eating the cheese and lettuce sandwich I had for breakfast. It's gone forever now.
2. Reading a good book in a warm room.
3. Somewhere remote and mountainous, preferably with a lake.
4. HERE:

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Taking Care of Business


(Hey, whatever happened to my copy of Magnolia, anyway? Someone borrowed it and it never came back. Was it you? Or you?)

I'm in a rare almost-reflective mood, having spent the better part of the weekend taking care of business. Pulling together my last-ever arts page for a certain Melbourne streetpress magazine (and it's going out with a whimper, not a bang). Putting the lid on this year's Cheap Eats reviews (ugh, roll me out the door, thanks). Wrapping up another round of theatre reviews for something else. Sending off a critical piece for a Melbourne dance company. Cleaning my house for the better part of five or six hours. Trying to sort out tax. Bills. You know.

I realised not too long ago that I hadn't had a free second for a few years now. Of course, I had lazy moments, but these were always haunted by the work I should be doing, or chores I was neglecting, or whatever. They were stolen moments, if you know what I mean. But now, I think it's time to, well, not relax a bit, but work on some other tasks. Like staring out the window at the vines dripping the same rain which is rat-tat-tatting on the tin roof overhead and bouncing off the cars in the street and causing the birds in the trees at eye-level to let out a chorus of something whose meaning I'm not sure of. They don't sound annoyed, at least.

I've been casually re-reading Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle lately, probably as prep-work for the non-business period I'm hoping for as of...well, tomorrow, I think. I can't think of a better calmative than reading about the protagonist's "vague and blameless life, spent cooking, reading, listening to jazz and opera and drinking beer at the kitchen table" (thanks blurb). I loved this book the moment I picked it up and read the first paragraph, and I think it's excellent reading for anyone overwhelmed by rubbish they're going through. You have to make time for it, though, and should be warned that it's pretty terrifying and graphic in a few parts.

But, as I said, I think a vague and blameless life would be good for a little while. We'll see how it goes.

In the meantime, here's Borat.

Anyone with the faintest recollection of the 80s will recognise this as The Running Man, that godawful dance which was spawned by the era (although, perhaps, it was more of an early 90s thing in Oz). I was doing some researching on The Running Man and came across this great site that attempts to list the major dance moves of the 80s. You know, your Lawn-Mower and your New Kids Dance and your Safety Dance. There's even the Roger Rabbit, a Running Man in reverse. But there are way more listed here than I could ever hope to recognise, and it made me anxious and wide-eyed to discover just how few of these moves I'd ever come across. The Cabbage Patch? The Prep? Jerry Lewis? I'm also saddened to say that I do know the Debbie Gibson.

And on that point, why aren't there many "dances" these days? So few "moves" to practice. It's all spontaneous and freestyle and stuff. Actually, looking at the abovementioned site, I suppose it's clear why this is the case.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Action Dance

I've really been getting some mileage out of that pilfered Van Damme series of two dancing gifs. Let's call it the Van Dance Gold Collection. I'd like to tip my hat to the guy for providing some much needed colour in our otherwise grey existences. But I have no hat. Perhaps I could raise some much needed hat-money, by busking or something. But even then, nobody would give me a cent, since I clearly have no hat to collect it in, and really, if you can't handle the outlay you shouldn't be going into business. Also: no musical talent.

But the Muscles from Brussels really could have had some kind of career if he'd kept up the dancing, maybe even taken some serious lessons. After all, the life of a dancer couldn't have been unattractive to him. How did he even become a second-rate action star anyway? His big "move" consisted of him being able to do the splits, and I'm sure that didn't keep Stallone and Schwarzenegger awake at nights. It'd be there in every film, the moment you've been waiting for, when some thug would be patrolling a dark, narrow alleyway and the camera would pan up to reveal Van Dammage perched above, outstretched legs bracing him between the two alley walls. Then he drop down and do some fighting. Or else he'd do his trademark "splits kick". Or else he'd just shoot someone and then do the splits.

This is JCVD in Double Impact. He wrote and produced the film. I don't think it's fair to think that Jean Claude was the only male action hero for whom a love of contemporary dance has been a bit of an unfair laughing point. I mean, he likes to let his hair down and turn up the heat occasionally, and we shouldn't really be picking on that.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was a bit less graceful when he filmed a short segment hosting Rio's Carnivale. This clip has it all: Arnie driving what appears to be some kind of 50s futurist's vision of the 1980s automobile (a bit like Total Recall's Johnny Cab); Arnie completely mangling the language in his attempts to say "cheers" in Spanish (or is it Portuguese?); Arnie explaining his favourite parts of the female anatomy to his (female) host; Arnie getting a bit tipsy and both boring and turning off said host while trying to hit on her; Arnie getting really tipsy and rushing a dancing stage to get inappropriately intimate with the performers; then it becomes kind of weird.

I guess there are times when the dancing has to stop.

Here it is.

Monday, July 17, 2006


Tonight I was finally watching Werner Herzog's sublime Fitzcarraldo, having waited for it since a life-changing encounter with Aguirre, Wrath of God several years ago. I'm not using the term 'sublime' loosely, since I know its fashionable nature in academic circles. But if you go with the philosophical notion of the sublime as that which makes us realise the edges of our conceptual ability to rationalise an experience, the encounter which forces us to confront a vastness so beyond our own limitations that we come to comprehend and, perhaps, derive some pleasure from the realisation of our own nothingness; well, the Fitz and Aguirre are clear examples of cinema's infrequent ability to offer a sublime experience. There's the massive confrontation between labour and nature, the battle of will and world, and the sheer daring of Herzog himself, working in a pre-CGI world and somehow getting funding for these films. Can you imagine a director nowadays getting the greenlight for a film which sees the greater part of its screening time following a madman dragging a steamboat over a mountain? And, of course, requires said steamboat to actually, you know, be dragged over said mountain?

The greatest part of both these films is, needless to say, Klaus Kinski. I first came across Klaus when I watched the B-grade horror flick Crawlspace about a decade ago, while huddled in a first-year uni sharehouse beset by a violent winter and a hippy-glam-rock band as neighbours prone to start rehearsals in the wee hours (regardless of the thin walls separating us). I don't recall much of Crawlspace, but I remember it as it was the first film during which I made a comprehensive narrative map. I was thinking about the trajectory of film storylines at the time, and decided to annotate a variety of randomly selected films in order to compare the number/duration/significance of particular scenes and therefore learn something, god knows what, in the process. As it happens, the first free-to-air film to appear after this decision was, well, you guessed it.

After watching Fitzcarraldo, I did some hunting on Kinski and came across
this. It's a short piece made by the director of Crawlspace detailing the experience of working with the nutbag, with special interest for the way the Italian investors for the film sought to kill Kalus for the insurance money. It's very funny, but might only be so if you've seen a few of the actor's films. I'd recommend Herzog's My Best Fiend, amongst the best docos I've ever seen, focusing on the turbulent relationship between the director and actor. It's a stunner. Look for it.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Shake it Like JCVD

Yes, the Muscles from Brussels really does have quite the moves. Clearly one of his favourite "bits" is the little handclap, casually thrown in there almost without him noticing, as if to say "HAY GUYS, I'M LIKING THE WAY YOU MOVE THAT THING, KEEP ON ROCKIN' ME please!"

I suggest people who are a bit wary of dancing take a tip from JC and try adding that to their routine. After all, if it's good enough for Van Damage, it's good enough for you.

While we're on the dancing kick, one thing I've noticed is that a lot of people have iPods - by my head count on the tram this morning, I'd estimate roughly 4 million Australians. But I've never not once never seen someone dancing around holding it in their hands, like they do on every iPod ad ever. Which leads to the following possible conclusions:

1. Apple totally misjudged their market, thinking they were appealing to dance-around free spirits when really, no.

2. Apple appealed to the fantasy of dancing around free-spiritedly, perhaps knowing that the only people who harbour that fantasy are those who can't engage in such wanton behaviour.

3. People do this dancing, but only at home.

Judge for yourself.

This guy's showing us how it's done.

P.S. credits to Monkeys for Helping for today's images. If you have any dancing gifs you can suggest, let me know. Thanks to Our Man in Tokyo for noting the World Cup post-game EuroDisco shenanigans, which I can't find anywhere in the net! Damn technology, good for nothing but tears and pain.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Born Dancin'

Many of you will know that I was pretty much Born Dancin', but what many of you may not realise is that I have never felt dancing to really be a part of me. The name Born Dancin' is a lie. I came to dance late, awkwardly, often reluctantly and lacking in natural talent. Also, I was not born, but was instead hatched; this is of no import here.

But in my late teens I was witness to a fairly minor dance show showcasing the talents of a few Melbourne Uni students; thinking back, I have no idea why I was there, but I found it an incredibly energising experience. I'd often gone dancing at clubs and the like, and found it really enjoyable in a self-conscious way, but never really felt right because of that ever-present eye I projected out across the room, watching and judging me. And I guess I felt that a lot of other people were just as self-aware. My first experience of an actual contemporary dance show keyed me in on the kind of dance where a trained, able performer could simply move without those walls being put up, and I loved it.

Watching dancers at the peak of their game can be fantastic for this reason. There's still a certain level of self-consciousness in a lot of performers, but when that doesn't appear to be a factor you can find yourself enjoying something that's all too rare in today's daily experience, which seems to me to be a very mannered and image-aware one. Of course, in itself, unself-consciousness probably isn't enough to make a dance piece much chop. But it helps. And then again, no amount of talent is going to make the pleasure of watching a completely uninhibited grandpa or six year-old cousin jiving at Christmas time any more innocently pleasing than it already is.

There's lots I could say about Sydney Dance Company's The Director's Cut, but to be honest, it didn't really engage me the way I'd hoped. I had the same experience at the company's Underland a few years ago: I felt I should have been enjoying what I was watching more than I did (and that show was based on Nick Cave songs fer cryin' out loud - it should have been a surefire winner for even a non-NC fan like me). I won't go into my misgivings over the new show, however, since it was a) overall a good evening and I probably just wasn't in the right headspace and b) I'm not really in the blog-reviewing mode right now, having had quite an emotionally rough few weeks, to put it politely.

But it's for that very same reason that I'm going to begin a week of posting the kind of dancing that makes me smile. In a non-ironic, what-a-fool-you-are kind of way. No, in a you-get-down-and-shake-that-thing-any-way-you-need-to way. Because really, if we could all do a bit of this, I think the world would be a happier place (with less of the hatings and bang-bang-you're-dead stuff).

Take it away, Jean-Claude.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


I'll be posting on last week's opening of the Sydney Dance Company's The Director's Cut shortly, along with tomorrow's MTC/Malthouse double opening of I Am My I Own Wife/Unspoken...hang on, two openings in one night? How's that work?

To that I say, DAMN THE BABIES!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Tonight's meal brought to you by...


"Instead of crucifying a guy on a cross, what about a windmill? That way you get the pain and the dizziness." That's a deep thought by Jack Handey.

I'm currently in great pain. As a restaurant reviewer for a reasonably esteemed annual guide, I get about three weeks a year where I'm obliged to stuff myself well beyond my usual limit, and after my first outing tonight I'm feeling it. I haven't been eating much lately, and now I feel like I've just stuffed a beanbag into a children's party balloon. That bloated balloon is my stomach. And some sadistic clown is trying to twist it into the shape of a sausage dog. While mixing metaphors. And asking me to write about the experience.

How am I going to get through the next few weeks? Chutzpah, chutzpah and moxie, and maybe a bit of old fashioned grit.

Also, if things get really bad, vomiting. Which is the vernacular translation of chutzpah.

There's also the emotional pain, but that's nothing to do with the food. And can't be solved by any of the above methods.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

This I did not know.

"Hugo Boss AG is a fashion house based in Germany, which specializes in menswear and womenswear. It is named after its founder, Hugo Boss, who was a Nazi."

How interesting.

Love how they just slip in that last bit there.

Apparently he designed those swanky nazi uniforms.


Putting out a cry for help here - and no, not the usual kind people must be getting sick of hearing from me.

As part of my work, I need to get in contact with a few serious Big Brother (Australia) devotees. We're talking people who watch the live streams, especially people who watch at 3 in the morning, or who are constantly connected to forums or watch it on their mobiles or somehow know the latest on what's going on around the clock.

If you know (or are yourself) one of these people, I want to hear from ya. Contact me at

You might even get your mug in the paper.

NOTE: not a beat-up story, don't worry.

NOTE 2: If you want a real cry for help, that can be arranged too

Saturday, July 01, 2006


Well, I have lost you; and I lost you fairly;
In my own way, and with my full consent.
Say what you will, kings in a tumbrel rarely
Went to their deaths more proud than this one went.

Some nights of apprehension and hot weeping
I will confess; but that's permitted me;
Day dried my eyes; I was not one for keeping
Rubbed in a cage a wing that would be free.

If I had loved you less or played you slyly
I might have held you for a summer more,
But at the cost of words I value highly,
And no such summer as the one before.
Should I outlive this anguish, and men do,

I shall have only good to say of you.

Edna St. Vincent Millay