Sunday, July 23, 2017

What Was She Thinking?

What was she thinking
When you told her of another dream
When you came up with another idea
Another adventure
Another plan.

A dream and an idea and adventure
That came to nothing.

What was she thinking
When the dream
And the idea
And the adventure
Came to nothing?

What was she thinking?

What was she thinking
When she agreed to stay with you?
Really, what was she thinking?

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Moira Finucane, The Rapture, Review



The Rapture

Reviewed by Lee Bemrose



Short review for the Moira-converted: Just go see it. Duh.

More detailed review for those who haven't had had The Divine Moira Experience: Wow, where to start.

This is without a doubt a strange show. At times, it is positively weird. At times you might not even know what the hell is going on. Splitting hairs, perhaps, but I didn't feel that this was burlesque,as such, but more performance art. 80 minutes of thrilling Gothic weirdness. A kind of surreal dramatic monologue with flashes of humour and musical interludes, stunning costumes, lots of nudity and some tomato sauce.

In the past I've only seen Moira Finucane as part of an ensemble that she has curated. She has brought together the world's most talented burlesque artists frequently over the years and has appeared amongst them, usually standing out, with her performances being dark, powerful and often hilarious.

With The Rapture, it's a treat to see Moira do her thing for the duration of the show with assistance from a mere handful of performers. It's a pretty demanding task to set herself. In The Rapture, Moira is a story teller. She tells stories and stories and stories, acting out the narration as she tells us these stories. I wanted to be a more conscientious reviewer - like the chap across from the stage in the white shirt and red scarf who ostentatiously scribbled in his notebook throughout the performance (anyone know who he was? I'd be interested in reading his review) – but to be honest I was just too enthralled by what was happening on stage to take notes.

Moira is an engaging story teller to say the least. But she also an engaging actor. In The Rapture, she is a shapeshifter. She is a growling, dark and dominant Goddess who it would be wise not to anger, then the most feminine of girls going through the phases of love. Physically, she can have a strong, almost masculine presence, but she can also appear, well, just really beautiful.

And that beauty would appear to come from within. Moira is obviously a feminist, but there is an all-embracing feel to what she does. There is an undeniable celebration of the feminine in this show, as there has been in all her previous shows, but it would appear that she wants to celebrate the beauty of life in all its forms. The revelation that Moira is an Environmental Scientist came as a bit of a surprise, given the accomplished performer that she is. And yet it shouldn't surprise.

Highlights for me were many. The costumes... such lush creations. The scene where Moira acted out the various phases of love to the accompaniment of U2's With Or Without You (I think this is correct – as I said, too enthralled to take notes). The general pagan feel of the night including the breaking and sharing of bread. Shirley Cattunar's version of A Daisy A Day... wait on – this deserves its own paragraph.

Another highlight is that all of the performers hang around and mingle and hug and talk. I was lucky enough to thank Shirley Cattunar for her version of A Daisy A Day, and I hope she doesn't think I was just being nice. This is a song I haven't heard for a lifetime, but its simple lyrics are so beautifully sad, delivered here in such a raw, almost frail way, that it made me tear up. Nice work, you beautiful woman.

Do see this show. It's a strange and darkly beautiful creation that you won't quickly forget.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Today In The Cafe: Real Generosity

Two beautiful things today.

A customer was reading my stories with interest. My co-worker Noraa told me she seemed shy and was surprised that the stories were mine and that she would tell me what she thought about them before she left.

Before she left, she hand wrote a poem on the back of an art gallery flyer. The poem is beautiful. The sadness comes from the fact that we didn't talk. I'm kind of introverted as well. I liked her poem. We could have talked about writing and poetry and thoughts about things and things and stuff and more things and stuff.

But she was gone. The beautiful poem on the flyer though, I have that.

The second beautiful thing today.

The door to the cafe is closed. An ancient Asian lady knocks on the door. I open the door. She tells me she needs one more bucket, a five litre bucket like the ones we use all the time and throw away. It's for the old people, she tells me. I get one such container from the kitchen. She is so grateful when I give her this empty plastic container. Thank you, she says, in her broken English, it's for the old people. I have no idea what she intends to do with the containers. She is dressed in rags.

Wait - do you want some food? I ask her. Her expression is blank for  a few moments. I gesture about free food, for the old people. Her ancient face lights up. I ask her to come inside and wait.

I show her the food I can give to her and she looks so happy. I start putting the food - delicious pastries and sandwiches crafted by Heart-Shaped Lollipop Girl that we had been intending to eat over the weekend - into a takeaway bag, and this is where the beauty thing happened, because this is not about me being generous.

Ancient Asian woman in her raggedy clothes looking after the old people, she insists I stop. "You keep some for you. You keep some food for you."

Now that is generosity. What a caring, generous soul she is.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Cigarettes After Sex

Today in the cafe... my new front of house helper Nøraa and I were working away during a lull in customers. Out of the blue, she struck up conversation with, "So eeeh... you know cigarettes after sex?" Spoken in that hybrid French/Spanish accent.
"Erm... yeah?" I replied, thinking that she was asking if I was aware that people enjoy smoking cigarettes after having sex but not having any idea where she was going with it.
She nodded slowly almost to herself. "Mmm. Is good."
"Okay."
I waited for a while, thinking there was more to come. Maybe the results of a new study or something. I don't know. But that appeared to be it. Apparently she had just wanted to tell me that she enjoys a cigarette after a good bonk. Which is cool. That's fine. Random as hell, but fine.
"So..." I asked eventually, "What made you share that with me?"
"What?"
"That you like smoking after having sex."
"No the band that is playing this song. It is Cigarettes After Sex. Is good."
"Oh. Oh I see."

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Poet At My Table; A Chat With Poet Anthony Lawrence

Today in the cafe... a customer who likes his double espressos asked me, randomly, if I read poetry. I said I read a bit of poetry and write a little of it. He said Oh really? He then showed me me some poetry that he was reading, an intriguing poem by an Irish poet, someone Muldoon.

We started talking. There were clues. He was reviewing this book because Australian Book Review had asked him to review it. We talked a little about reviewing. He mentioned that he was an academic. He said something about students. I asked what he taught. He said he teaches creative writing on The Gold Coast, and he hates The Gold Coast. I told him that I hate The Gold Coast too. We talked about why we both like Melbourne so much. Far better place in so many ways, we agreed.

We started talking about creative writing and I gave him my card with the info about my e-book of short stories, told him how I had given up creative fiction years ago because of a rejection letter from Overland. They had said they have a policy of the three editors needing a unanimous acceptance from all three and on this occasion two liked my story a lot but the third was unsure, so no cigar. The customer said that sucked and said that he also didn't like how this particular litmag operated, said something about how they preferred to publish their mates' experimental work. Said something about how people like him were considered by them to be The Gatekeeper.

I wisely didn't say anything more about my own writing. I was more curious now about who he was, because it seemed like he was Someone.

I asked if he had stuff published and said sorry but I don't know who I am talking to. He said he had had about 15 books published. We chatted some more and I asked what his name was. Anthony, he told me. Okay, Anthony who? I asked. Anthony Lawrence, he told me.

I Googled. Oh, so he's kind of like the David Bowie of Australian poetry. There's all the awards, the critical acclaim, a novel and a stage play... we said goodbye, and he left telling me that we could talk about my stories next time he comes to the cafe.

He is all the writing success that I have not been. A properly humbling experience. Thank fuck my radar was up and I didn't talk myself up. Pretty funny, all in all. Kind of wish I hadn't mentioned my writing at all.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Tiger Air Australia

Dear Tiger Air,
The official reason we were given for you totally ruining our weekend away to catch up with beloved friends was that you swapped our plane for a smaller plane that was not able to land in Sydney's notoriously wet conditions.
I'm curious about why the plane was swapped for a smaller, inferior version. This was particularly frustrating when other flights with yours and other airlines were flying out for Sydney as scheduled.
I'm also curious about why we were told our flight was boarding in four minutes, only to be told that the flight was delayed for an hour, then to be told that it was actually cancelled altogether. That's kind of shitty service, however you look at it.
In between that four minute notice and the hour before being told the flight had been cancelled due to you incomprehensible ineptitude at doing your job, my partner and I made the mistake of ordering some crumbed squid from The Two John's or whatever that place is called, because by now, after a long day at the end of a long week of providing food and service in our cafe, we were hungry.
The squid was awful. It's possibly the worst squid I've ever had. But it was my mistake to order the squid, so I don't really hold you accountable for the squid.
However... We closed our cafe early (unknown dollars lost), caught the Skybus to the airport ($38), drank two glasses of wine each ($32), ate that memorable squid, were dicked about until finally being told that our flight had been cancelled because you can't do your job. The cab fare back home was $60.
Fortunately we hadn't airbnb-ed our home out as planned because we would have then had to book a hotel. We just had to kick friends out who had planned to stay. They were good enough to cook us dinner (much better than that squid... seriously, that squid...), and it was a lovely night in the end, just not what we had planned.
Because I am sitting here in Melbourne writing this letter when I paid for flights to be in Sydney, I would appreciate a full refund, because you didn't deliver the service I paid for. I also have receipts for the Skybus and the taxi fare home. The wine and the squid... look, I really wouldn't have ordered that awful squid (have I mentioned how awful the squid was?) if you hadn't lied to us all about the four minute boarding-one hour delay before cancelling thing, but I'll take the squid mistake as my own. I should have ordered a salad or something unfuckupable.
I've done a fair bit of travelling and have never experienced this level of ineptitude. I've also eaten quite a bit of squid in my time and never have I… okay, I'll stop going on about the squid. Although I would suggest that if they can't get the squid right, they stop doing it.
I think I am a fair and kind person who thinks that if someone doesn't do their job properly, they should be held accountable. For example (and I know I said I'd stop but I just can't help myself) if we served squid like that in the cafe I would basically give the customers back their money as soon as they ordered it, because really, it's the worst squid they are ever going to eat and as a human being I'd just feel awful taking their money for such an awful experience.
The human who was dealing with your stuff-up was wonderful. So calm in the face of so much anger around me. My words with her were quiet and understanding and she really did do a wonderful job and I hope all of them have a much better weekend than their Friday night. I hope all the pointless anger has abated. I hope everyone, all the passengers on that “flight” are going to enjoy their weekend, even if it wasn't the one they had planned.
I do hope you will do the right and fair thing and refund my flights as well as reimburse me for the expenses incurred of getting to and back from The Flight That Never Was. I suspect you don't give a rat's arse, as they say, but it would be nice and fair and decent if you proved me wrong.
The squid's on me.
Regards,
Lee Bemrose.
#tigerair #tigerairaustralia #yuckysquid
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Sunday, June 04, 2017

Some Of The Humans, They Are Awesome.

I'm kind of a solitary man, but I keep encountering these people, these amazing souls who wander gently into my life and quietly go about having a big impact on my life. It's quite fucking awesome.