Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Nicked

Not in a happy mood but the editor of Tsunami mag said my Grumpy column is due, so I sat down to write something funny. This is the next column...


Grumpy

I wake up with a morning erection. Little Grumpy is all, “Oi. OI! Me. Look at me. Down here. How cute am I? Woohoo. Wooooo – hoooo... play with me. Play with me! Goddamnit! Don’t rub your eyes and yawn – rub me! Hey! HEY! Ooh – look she’s almost awake. Wake her up. Go on. Stop being such a fag. Just make sure she’s almost awake and point me in the right direction and leave the rest to me... what are you doing? Getting up? You’re getting out of bed? Ah screw you.”

I try not to be disturbed by the fact that Little Grumpy sounds like Cartman. I go to the bathroom. I turn the shower on. Little Grumpy and I step into the steaming shower.

“Ooh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh boy this is good, isn’t it? Ya know what? Grab the soap. Gimme some soap. Lather me up. GIVE ME SOME GODDAMN SOAP GODDAMNIT!”

I ignore him. Sometimes he really gives me the shits. Sometimes I don’t talk to him all day. Really upsets him but I have to be strong. I am my own man, you see.

I put shaving gel on my face. I lather my face. I start to shave. I scrape. I sluice. I flick the excess water deftly from the razor and –

“JEEEEESUS CHEEEERIIIIIST! You mother fucker! You crazy mother fucker! What the hell did you do that for you crazy fuck! That really hurt.”

I look down. Little Grumpy – now sounding more like Joe Pesci than Cartman - appears to have sustained a considerable head wound. There is blood. Not a lot, but with the shower water it looks like that ear scene in Reservoir Dogs.

“Dumb motherfucking sonnofabitch...”

I don’t know why, exactly, but I suddenly find it quite amusing that I have just given my foul-mouthed willy quite a considerable thwack with a razor, and as I cup my hand over the rivulets of water and blood, I start to laugh. Just a big, silly, crazy giggle because you have to admit it’s a spectacularly retarded way to start the day.

Then the girlfriend walks into the bathroom. Me with razor in one hand, unlikely hostage in the other, blood, laughter... She backs out of the room like she’s just witnessed a real life version of the ear scene from Reservoir Dogs but with a wisecracking willy and a giggling psycho.

Weekend has to get better.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Grand And Noble Achievements

This man has about three hundred million dollars... say it slowly... threeeee huuuuundred miiiiillion dooooollars... because he made a little white ball go into a hole lots of times. Clever man. Clever mankind.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Festival And A Review

How good does this arts festival look? I had to read the profiles of four of the 100 artists involved to do a quick Q & A for them for a feature for the mag. They all get a week or so to work on their various performances/installations/ visual projects or whatever, and then there's a big day where you wander around soaking up all the works you've watched take shape through the week. Fun stuff. Had to do a group of musicians working with a film maker, a VJ, a trio of actors making short films and a collective who make site-specific sculptures.

Also, here, below, is a theatre review appearing in the current issue of Drum.

I'm still getting my head around the role of a reviewer but ultimately come down to this: I'm a punter telling other punters what my experience was like and whether I enjoyed a performance or not. If a performance irritates me so much that I am tempted to walk out because I have better things to do with my time, then I'm pretty well obligated to telling other punters that that's how I felt.

But I get this residual thing where I wonder if I've been too harsh. I think of what the performer will think when they read what this nobody reviewer thought of their creation. I hate that period between sending the review in and waiting for it to come out.

Then there's also the worry of what if I missed the point? What if I got it wrong?

I know - everyone says you just have to be honest and everything, there's no right or wrong really, just your opinion. But that's easy to say when you're not the one putting your name and credibility on the line. When you bag something that has had amazing press build up you will have doubts about whether you got it right.

But I wrote what I honestly felt and this was the result. At the end I'll link to another review of the same performance that came out in on the same day in a bigger paper. Pretty interesting.

EIGENSINN

It’s not a good sign when members of the audience are stifling laughter in the opening minutes. Not laughing because the performance is humorous; stifling laughter because they are watching pretentious wank that appears to be taking itself seriously - even if it does have a couple of pretty lame attempts at humour.

The theme is based on a Grimm Brothers story, The Wilful Child. God knows how or why this story has survived.

Credit where it’s due, Germay’s Antje Pfundtner is an amazing physical performer. I loved it when she danced. Her movements were absolutely captivating. She has obviously closely studied deformity and it’s quite amazing to watch her physical transformation from the graceful to the grotesque. She was pure spastic elegance. (That’s more a compliment than it sounds).

But when she wasn’t moving she was just plain annoying. Those stifled laughs from the shiny and quiffed audience members in the front row were the wrong kind of laughs, and they spread throughout the audience. And never more so than that excruciatingly long segment when she sat at a school desk and did nothing.

And nothing.

And nothing.

And nothing.

And still nothing.

Annoying, no?

Okay, so as an interpretation of the Grimm’s micro morality story it was more interesting than the story itself. But as an hour’s entertainment it was - like an indulgent child – pretty hard to take. And sure, that’s the whole point and it’s art so it’s meant to be challenging, but man you should have heard the politeness in the applause at the end of the show.

The Studio season over.
LEE BEMROSE

And here is the other review in the bigger paper.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mark Who'sadoofus.

What the hell is wrong with people? This is so ugly. How does "The Scud" (sometimes, I think, called The Pig Pou) hold his head high? Tosser. Tosser and bimbos and idiots who watch this sort of thing. Fucking hate them all. Fuck off to another planet. Please.

Cunts.

Monday, June 18, 2007

What's A Reviewer To Do?

I find this story pretty interesting. A restaurant reviewer ripped into a new restaurant, the restaurant went out of business. The owners blamed it on the negative review and have sued for defamation.

Makes me wonder if the review had been favourable and the restaurant had gone on to great success, would the owners have also attributed its success to the review? Paid the reviewer a slice of their takings?

I'd also be interested in finding out if the review was justified. It's savage, but he did go to the restaurant twice to give it a second chance, and I find it hard to believe that a writer with such a high profile would risk his credibility by giving a great restaurant such a bad review. I know food critics can get a bit carried away sometimes, but they're not fiction writers.

Do theatre reviewers have to worry about being taken to court if they dislike a performance? If so, I could be in the poo when Drum hits the streets tomorrow. Saw a performance on Saturday that made me quite cranky.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Indie Rock Chick From Outer Space

Went for a trial day yesterday working in a corporate cafeteria. It's the kind of place The Dreaded One and I used to run, only this one is grotty and soulless. In fact I almost laugh at how unclean and untidy it is. I'm amazed that such a high profile bank would allow their head office cafeteria to be in this state. I realise just what a good job The Dreaded One and I had done with our shiny place. Ours was full of vibe, happy customers, new music you don't hear on the radio, the smell of gourmet food.

The guy who runs this outfit obviously did that thing where you bring a newbie onto your turf and you suddenly see things through their eyes. He apologised about it being such a pig sty as he rubbed his fists into his reddened eyes. He also introduced me to his assistant and I was relieved at her appearance; it was as unkempt as everything else in the place, but kinda cool in that indie rock chick way.

Both their personalities seemed pretty chilled, so that was good. And the filth? I'd just clean by stealth.

The day was all right. Few alarm bells. Food hygeine and stock rotation didn't appear to be on the agenda. Their pricing and some of their systems were weird. I was a little embarrassed about some of the food we were serving. And Indie Rock Chick had a muttered running commentary about what she was currently in the process of doing, and I couldn't decide if it was endearing or creepy.

Music was a big topic of conversation and I dunno, I was lowering my standards but I need a regular job for a while. End of the day the manager asks if I want the job. I say yes, mainly because after getting through one trial day I can't be bothered lining up another with the hope that I might get somewhere better.

"Cool," the manager says. "Indie Rock Chick likes you, and that's the main thing."

Indie Rock Chick is all smiles as she says, "Yeah. Can we keep him?"

I leave with the impression that this is an outfit who won the contract somehow, but they don't really care about it all that much. Their boardroom functions are sandwiches and cheap biscuits. I almost do burst out laughing when I see the poor quality of the bickies they're plating up at one stage. I didn't realise catering this bad still existed. Clearly these are people who just want to get through the day and get the hell out of there. I'm not sure how long I will be able to stick this out. I know I will keep looking for something else, but for now...

This morning, the manager doesn't show. Indie Rock Chick collects me at the front lobby and she seems a little stressed. "Just the two of us this morning," she mutters in a foreboding tone. I shrug. This is not a busy place. I saw what she called The Lunch Rush and it was a joke. At one point during the previous lunch rush, an elevator opened and she muttered urgently to me, "Here they come. There's nothing then they come in hordes," as all four suits made their way to the counter.

Turns out the manager stayed up drinking and watching the football last night and was hungover. Got to love that professionalism. It appears to have put Indie Rock Chick in a bit of a mood (not the least because he does this all the time and everything is always left up to her). Suddenly everything I do is wrong. I am not moving fast enough. I just don't understand how busy it can get around here. I need to be spoken to in a condescending tone.

I remain chilled because there is nothing, as far as I can tell, actually wrong. A few customers trickle in and are dealt with, but the few minutes it has taken to serve them has apparently thrown time itself out of whack and we are never going to recover and be ready on time.

I feel a tremor of concern run through my chilled mood because this kind of behaviour works itself up into a state. I've seen it happen. Mountains and mole hills. It's fucking ridiculous and doesn't achieve a damn thing.

Suddenly we are swamped with, ooh, six customers? And Indie Rock Chick is in a total flap. She's asking for everyone's orders at once, stuffing up orders and generally totally sabotaging what would otherwise be a very peaceful and orderly operation.

I watch in awe as she starts telling one perplexed customer that she simply cannot cope with all the pressure of setting up by herself and trying to train people.

Then she chews me out in front of customers I suspect have witnessed this kind of thing before. She gives me some condescending, snippy lecture about lifting my game, and I'm sorry but customers present or not, I'm not having that. I tell her to calm down.

"I am calm," she snarls.

"No you're not. You are stressing and it's not helping things at all."

"I'm stressing because it's stressful!"

And then I can't quite recall what is said but I know the two of us are having a proper go at each other while bewildered customers look on, and it's right as the hungover manager makes his disheveled appearance.

On the other side of the glass partition separating the kitchen from the service area, the manager has asked what the problem is and Indie Rock Chick is all tears and waggly arms as she storms from one end of the kitchen to the other Picking Things Up and Putting Them Back Down again.

I'm not sure what just happened, but I am sure it's not going to happen again. I think it also goes some way to explaining why all the customers kept asking what happened to former short-term employees.

Manager comes out after sending Indie Rock Chick outside for a cigarette and asks how I am. I tell him that I am fine, but that I don't think it's going to work out. He looks a little disappointed, but resigned.

I help out for a while longer and things calm down. I ask if Indie Rock Chick is okay even though it's clear she's going to ignore my presence until I go. She says yeah and gives in and apologises quite a bit. I'm not sure what the problem is, but I do know that I don't want to deal with it.

It's lunch time now. I imagine the customers asking Indie Rock Chick, "Where's that guy you were introducing us to? I thought he was going to settle in."

I wrote another song last night. I am enjoying writing songs. I had intended to show Indie Rock Chick my song to see if she could use her musical skills to do anything with it. Now instead I am going to write a song about her.

"Oh I-hindie Rock Chick,
Who'd guess behind that sweet face,
Lurks a demonic alien,
Indie Rock Chick From Outer Space..."

More later.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sex.

Writhe. Sweat. Saliva. Skin. Smell. Taste. Lick. Fuck. Moan. Give. Take. Take. Take. Give. Give. Tense. Heave. Suck. Scratch. Tense. Taught. Give. Release. Ohfuck. OhGodohGodohgood...

Her: (sighing) "Shit that was good."

Him: (sighing) "Yeah. Good. Um... can you get off me now?"

Pillow: (on face) "WHUMP!"

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Strangers In A Park

Rain is spatting against the window right now, wind tearing through the palm leaves just outside. It's bleak. Cold. Dark. You just want to be inside with warmth wrapped around. I've barely cracked a grin all week, but I keep thinking about the stranger in the park, and that does it for me.

One week ago, guy and a girl in a park. Hasn't been a great week for him, but here and now - check this awesome day. Seriously, a harbour some people in some parts of the world would die to see, sunshine and warmth and the biggest threat maybe the shrill squawk of a child.

The guy doesn't realise until much later that he's opening up more than usual. More than he has in a long time anyway. He's had some pretty weird shit happen. The father. The mother. The whole family thing, he rarely mentions it, but for some reason (the booze... they are drinking wine by the way) he opens up and it's kind of strange because these are memories that he doesn't dust off very often.

He listens too, because she has also had a strange life. He watches as he listens, and he sees the activity beneath the surface. She talks of her whole family thing.

And it's serious and wonderful because look at that view and how did we meet again and how long have we known each other and...

Then there's this sound. It's the best sound ever. He makes them stop talking because this sound is one you have got to hear. Girl lying on the warm grass a little further down the hill, she's laughing. She's on the phone and she's twisted over laughing. She's lost it completely. She is giving it everything, has gone all high pitched and breathless and is rigid with the absolute joy of it. You have to stop when you hear a laugh like that because really, does being human ever get better than that?

Her laugh eases. They continue to talk, but then she's off again and it's better than before. Whatever the person on the other end of the phone is saying is just the funniest stuff ever. Through her high pitched squeals she gasps as she grasps the phone, "No don't. Don't go. Don't go." And she's off again into that state of writhing, hoarse ecstasy.

When she ends the call, reality comes back and she's here in this gorgeous place. This still and quiet place. Cleared throat. Green grass. Harbour. View you'd kill for. She's here away from whatever caused the laughter. She sits for a few minutes, alone and thinking what a scream that was. Then she gets up to leave. Dusts the grass from her jeans.

The guy has to ask. He calls out to her, "Hey. What was the person on the other end of the phone saying?"

She looks at these two strangers and asks, "What?" Then she smiles and has a little residual giggle, then tells the guy and the girl that she was talking to her family, her family in some other place. Some in-joke about them all being together on the couch watching television in the nude and the phone being passed between them and it probably doesn't make any sense or seem funny at all now that I say it out loud. Something about how she always pees her pants when she laughs too much and that's when they were saying they should go and she said no don't go.

She apologises because she thinks she has intruded. Then she asks if the guy and girl know where the toilets are because she really needs to pee.

Stranger in a park, her laugh and her family thing is a sparkling little memory.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Operation Chervil

Sometimes when you are playing the role of Faux Chef for A Very Impressive Catering Company operating from the bowels of a Big White Pointy Sydney Icon, you have to do repetitive and not necessarily glamorous things.

Like picking herbs for canape garnish.

Herbs like chervil.

Things is, although I like to kick into action and do big stuff, I also don't mind chilling out and doing mindless things like picking tiny little leaves from their stem in a delicate manner for the greater good of a kick arse canape. Or several canapes, because as you may or may not know (and I definitely now know), chervil makes an excellent accompaniment to... oooh... TOO MANY canapes.

I was given half a tonne of chervil and told pick that. Fine, I thought, one of those jobs but that's cool because I am not in the mood for thinking. I am quite in the mood for picking chervil.

"So it's about 700 tiny little leaves you need to pick."

"That's cool."

"But that's the single leaf chervil garnish, not the multi leaf garnish."

"Still cool."

"Hang on... okay, so that's 700 smalls, 700 bigs..."

"Still cool. Getting less cool. But cool."

"Okay... looking at the week's menu there's quite a lot of chervil to be picked. May as well do it all at once. So..."

Soon - and I'm not joking - I was staring at a chart. The Chart Of Chervil. Operation Chervil. Clearly I was starting to look confused so The Canape Queen decided to help me by adding asterisks next to the canapes requiring chervil (in either it's big or small form). I wanted to draw up my own chart but she insisted that it was all right because she had already drawn up a chart for me.

"Cool."

I forgot to mention there was a chervil-picking helper that had been assigned to me. There had been quite a lot of discussion about chervil and the various sizes and quantities required and at some point along the way, she proved to be a very... a very efficient chervil picker. She managed to pick an awesome amount of chervil and classify it according to size and box it and label it with its quantity, which left me to refer to the chart to try to determine which boxes of tiny little (or not so little) chervil went onto each job and each job fridge.

Yes. It's big catering and every job has a number and a job fridge and you really do not want to put a box of 120 small chervil leaves into the job fridge requiring 700 large chervil sprigs.

There was also this: "No not all asterisks refer to chervil! It's just the black ones! You should have ignored the red asterisks - that's baby coriander!"

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Fuckers

I cannot fucking believe that those utter bastards awarded MY tiara and MY sash to some other fucker. God, this whole thing is a travesty! Old people and pooh... when was that ever funny? Bah! Everything can just go to hell's pottie.

(Was being ironic, for those not familiar with me).

For those who are familiar with me, I'm still in a mood. A mood. Will be away for a bit, more than likely. But do come back. Please do. I'll be happy and silly again, and we can laugh about those golden days of wine and roses...

Friday, June 01, 2007

Never Swim Alone & This Is A Play Review

Saw a couple of really good short plays last night. Review below.

But alsotooaswell, I'm on a bit of a sleuth mission. There's a guy I met through another theatre critic acquaintance who I see at opening nights all the time. I have forgotten his name and we're in that funny situation of kind of recognising each other but not enough to really say hello. He comes across as very earnest, so it's kind of weird to see him at so many comedies. He sits through them not cracking a grin while everyone else is laughing their ears off.

I suspect I know who he writes for because a review a certain reviewer wrote recently was exactly the kind of earnest, I-only-appreciate-intellectual-humour review I'd expect this guy to have written. But I don't know if they are the same person. Somehow, I have to find out.

His review of this play will be out this weekend. It will be interesting to see if our reviews are polar opposites again. And then I have to get all gumshoe and find out if they are one and the same person.

Anyway, here's my review of last night's plays. Won't be in the mag for another week, which is a bummer. And 350 words is bloody frustrating, but that's all I'm allowed.



NEVER SWIM ALONE & THIS IS A PLAY

Few things give me as much pleasure as plays that make me gush with enthusiasm. I love writing reviews where I get to say things like you should go see it because I laughed so hard my bottom almost fell off. This is one such review.

Daniel MacIvor’s two short plays demonstrate why he’s apparently so popular in his home country of Canada. This is very funny theatre, very clever theatre (in that not-too-clever way), and all-round satisfying theatre. If you don’t enjoy these plays, stop going to the theatre immediately because you are clearly missing the point.

In This Is A Play three actors and their over-nourished egos hit the stage in a melodrama about three lettuces separated at birth. They are hyper-self-aware that they are Actors who are Acting In A Play before A Real Live Audience, with lines being the very stage direction they are (badly) acting out, as well as what should be their inner thoughts while delivering real lines. The actors go through the motions while all the time trying to upstage their fellow actors, and it’s a device both targeted at those involved in theatre as well as those of us who simply recognise a good piss-take. Direction and comic acting did justice to what is a pretty simple concept, and at 35 minutes MacIvor demonstrates that he knows not to give us too much of a good thing. Very funny.

Never Swim Alone is also good comedy, albeit a darker one. In examining the fierce rivalry between two lifelong “mates”, we go back in time to the seeds of their competitiveness to an event that clearly haunts them through their lives, but from which they have learned nothing. It’s a kick in the guts to male posturing and bravado that if anything could have been a little more brutal. After all, as silly as such characters as Bill and Frank are (unfortunately you will recognise them in the real world), the effect of their idiotic rivalry on those around them is pretty brutal. Still, this is gradually darkening comedy peppered with some quite evocative and poetic writing - and it felt so Australian that it’s hard to get your head around the fact that it’s an international creation. And Lotte St Clair’s presence would reduce a lesser reviewer to concluding a review by saying something immature like Lotte St Clair is, like, uber-babe.

At Darlinghurst Theatre until 23 June.
LEE BEMROSE