Thursday, April 26, 2007

Magic Happens, Fuckers.

So I'm at the club dancing. When I'm not dancing with my eyes closed I look around occasionally to check that everyone is having a good time. Smiles usually pass between strangers and it a good vibe. I notice this one girl who's dancing around a lot. I think you tend to hang out where the vibe feels good, so it's all pretty cool.

Some time later I sit down for a rest and after a couple of minutes the girl comes over and sits down beside me. "What's happening?" she asks. We have a bit of a chat and I notice that she is young and very pretty. Guy on the other side of me is someone I know but wouldn't call a friend. He leans across and offers the girl some beer from his glass. She looks less than impressed. I know what she means.

There's a little bit more chat, but then I start to feel odd. Like maybe she didn't realise how old I was or something. Seriously, she's a babe in that earthy way I like and she's a lot younger than me. And I dunno, I just start to feel awkward. I say something about break over and stand up. She looks a little... something and I don't feel right, but I don't want to sit and talk any more. I go back to the dancefloor. I look around after a while and she's there, smiling and dancing and all is good.

But the next day I remember the moment and I don't feel right. I feel like I was rude. Like I snubbed her. Like I gave the impression that I didn't want to talk to her. I beat myself up about how rude I must have seemed. As recently as yesterday (four days later) I tell Ann that I know the girl probably doesn't think anything of it, but I hate that I might have seemed rude. I know I will probably never see her again but I kind of hope she's at another party because I'd like to show her that I am not rude, that I can be quite nice.

I don't know what drew her over but there was something, and fuck it, vibe is good. Vibe works. Vibe determines who will remain strangers and who will become friends.

Anyway, today I'm in the shop. Bad day. No customers. Except one. You know who it is. How cool is that? How utterly fucking cool. She walks in and says hello and I recognise her immediately. I let her browse a bit before asking if she needs any help. She shows no sign of recognising me, but I know it's her. I ask if she was at the party and yeah, she was, and we chat.

We spend the next half an hour enjoying a really easy conversation. It's weird... she chooses to hang around and we talk about travel and parties and the course of life. She laughs a lot. She's a pleasure to be around and really interesting and although she probably doesn't remember our first encounter in detail ("I was a bit spaced"), I get to make up for my rudeness.

Eventually she leaves and I don't bother asking her name or giving her mine because we may or may not meet again. She's a free spirit, a traveler. She might stay here for a while, she might not. But the thing is, I got my second chance to make her smile.

It put me in a good mood for the rest of the day because I love this kind of shit.

See? Magic happens, fuckers.

Comedy Perfection

This is one of the funniest things I've read in ages. Go to the link and scroll down through the comments to the anonymous one about Melissa Madden Gray and her alter ego the divine Meow Meow. It is comedy perfection. She is perfection. (I could have copied and pasted it here or simply told you about it, but if you're into the arts you may as well check out Chris Boyd's blog as well. Damn fine writing).

As you may or may not know, I'm in the process of writing a song for Meow Meow. Fun process that has had me listening to songs in a real way for the first time. Really breaking down their structure and looking at how they are put together, what makes them work etc. I did a draft the other day and it was excrutiatingly bad poetry that made me laugh quite a bit. I do like writing bad poetry.

Thing is, now it's evolved to the point where I can see and hear Meow Meow singing it and it has to be so much more than just bad poetry. Anything less than perfection just isn't good enough. I knew that draft wan't going to be it but I just wanted to get a start on anything because I've never written a song before. Another idea came to me yesterday and I think that might be it. Meow Meow might never read it, but bugger it. It's more fun than kittens.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Happy ANZAC Day

92 years ago today Australians and New Zealanders launched an attack on Turkey under the orders of England. The intention was to drop off at Gallipoli and quickly take Istanbul.

Uh huh. Like that was ever going to happen.

We got slaughtered. So many lives wasted.

I can't think of this as anything but tragic folly, and yet ANZAC Day has somehow become our national day of pride. And we still send young lives off to fight the wars others have started.

And last time we had the opportunity to become something other than a British colony, we chose not to.

Smart, us Ozzies.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Interview With Brendan Cowell

Tired and must get sleep. But I hate not updating this blog more often, so I'm lazily posting a feature of mine that appeared last week in Drum Media. It's a story about the guy pictured. I think I'm seeing the play to review it this week as well. He is funny and very talented.

“...laughter is a catharsis and it’s the greatest way of bringing an audience in. Once they’re laughing, they’re loving you, they’re yours. They open up when they laugh and you can kind of injure them more...”


Playwright BRENDAN COWELL’s latest play - a black comedy entitled Self-Esteem - examines the culture of being a better person in the eyes of those we think are better people. Unlike all the other press you read about the playwright, LEE BEMROSE decided to reveal the real man.

When I phone Brendan Cowell during a short break in rehearsals for his new play Self-Esteem, I secretly hope to catch him in a bad mood. I want him to be tired and grumpy because everything I’ve read about him reveals him to be talented, hard-working, successful. He just makes the rest of us look like lazy slobs. And no one, it seems, has a bad word to say about him, so I call with the hope of revealing the real Brendan Cowell. While the phone rings I absently doodle a potential headline: Brendan Cowell Is A Really Cranky Bastard.

If you don’t know the name, you will definitely know the face. The 30 something actor/writer/director has appeared in a variety of TV dramas including Love My Way and is probably most recognised as the earnestly well-meaning home handyman Tod from SBS’s Life Support. It was a show whose four presenters played their absurdist humour so straight that if you weren’t paying attention you might briefly have believed you were watching the kind of lifestyle program they were in fact ripping the piss out of.

The easy talent Cowell deploys on-screen carries over to what appears to be his real passion: writing. He’s written around 10 plays that have enjoyed critical and box office success and have picked up a number of awards including the Patrick White Playwright Award for Bed. Written several years ago, Bed is about to debut in the USA, and as we go to print the feature film Noise hits our big screens starring the ubiquitous Cowell. There are talks about his next play possibly being commissioned by Belvoir Street.

Cowell answers the phone, and I’m in luck – he’s just broken from rehearsals and has sat down to lunch and the press wants to interrupt his brief break. Perfect. I punch the air... yesss.

But I am disappointed because it quickly becomes clear that Cowell – hard working as he is – is frustratingly good-natured and disarmingly laid-back and happy to chat. I scribble out my headline. I also instantly ditch a series of silly, muck about questions because although he loves humour, it immediately strikes me that he takes it quite seriously – even if the current play does involve everything from singing to violence, aerobics and bondage.

Self-Esteem is a black comedy focusing on our obsession with the more superficial elements of self-improvement. CHAD is an imagined religious/economic entity that installs identical life coaches in average Australian homes. Chad will work the families into more suitable citizens and take 20% of the family income for the privilege. The play is set in the near future and sounds a little far-fetched (in the way George Orwell’s 1984 once sounded far-fetched), but also disturbingly timely.

At the heart of a lot of black comedy is anger, so I ask where the anger for this play came from.

“I guess what I’m angry about in this play,” a very calm Cowell says after careful consideration, “is apathy. It’s a kind of curious investigation of apathy and why Australia is so obsessed with its American alliance, and why we’re so obsessed with deprecation. And that argument is kind of weighed up with this new age fascination with betterment... about take this pill or join this religion and buy this DVD that has The Secret and everything will change.

“I want to understand why we are so fascinated with these higher powers and why we are not happy within ourselves. Why we need to strengthen our alliance with America, why we have to strengthen our alliances with your Hillsongs and Scientologies. So they’re the kind of questions that are in the play.”

Ah yes, quasi-religions – you either love them or you hate them, and it’s a fair bet that if you’ve written a black comedy about them, you probably hate them. I wonder how deep the anger runs, how dark the play gets.

“I think it’s always funny,” Cowell replies in that measured way. “I think darkness is pretty subjective so some things might injure people more than others. But it’s pretty confronting. My plays never hold back, so I don’t hold back in this play. The anger is palpable and there’s some pretty serious and dramatic situations that go down. But that’s the beauty of the theatre – you get to present things in their fiercest extremes.”

The concept of injuring the audience comes up a short time later when I ask about the role of humour in this kind of theatre - is it simply a tool to deliver the message? Cowell speaks of it more as a weapon delivering the blow.

“You know, I take things very seriously yet at the same time I try not to take them seriously at all. I like a good time. I like laughing. It’s kind of my favourite thing to do. I mean the world’s pretty fucking funny when you look at it.

“Also, as far as maneuvering and manipulating an audience, laughter is a catharsis and it’s the greatest way of bringing an audience in. Once they’re laughing, they’re loving you, they’re yours. They open up when they laugh and you can kind of injure them more...”

While Bed deals with universal themes of love and how relationships change us, it’s difficult to imagine Self-Esteem going down too well in the USA. American culture is so steeped in the very self-improvement dealt with in the play that audiences there, more than likely, just won’t get why it’s funny or why someone thinks that whole culture is wrong. But Cowell shrugs at this; Self-Esteem is simply an Australian play for Australian audiences.

The director speaks of his cast in glowing terms – brilliant; impeccable; hilarious; awesome; world class. By now it’s depressingly easy to imagine the cast referring to their director in similar terms. No dirt there.

Getting desperate for something negative about the man, I ask what his mother thinks about the script.

“Ahh... she thinks it’s a bit filthy –“

I punch the air again – yesss! New headline: “Brendan Cowell’s Mum Thinks He’s A Filthy Degenerate.” Perfect.

“But she loved it,” he goes on matter-of-factly. “She thinks it’s a real play for our times. She said it’s going to shake them up.”

Which is - above all else - exactly what good theatre is supposed to do.

At Wharf 2 from 20 April – 5 May.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Things We Do

For a while there it was looking very much like I was going to have to dash from the kitchen across the loading bay to the green room of the Sydney Opera House to interview a ballet choreographer whilst wearing my chef outfit. If you had told me at any stage in the past that such a thing could happen I would have bitch-slapped you for being so silly.

However we've managed to organise schedules so that we'll have a chat tonight over the phone whilst drinking a glass of wine.

I'm having a shit of a time deciding what to wear though.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Review(ish)

Quite a mad weekend. Newtown Theatre didn't go ahead with The God Of Hell due to bugger all people turning up. Major pisser because it's a Sam Shepard play and I was in the mood for some black comedy. Also, the review is due at the mag first thing Monday morning. The column space was allocated so I wrote a ranty review(ish) below.

After the show not going on, The Dreaded One and I went out for a quiet dinner. A good friend was smashed in New Zealand and was totally text-pestering me to go meet her new man who is in Sydney for a few days. His name is Pino. He is Italian of Somali descent. After relenting and meeting him, I now think of him as Pino Noir. Not very PC, but that's all right, innit.

Had nice pleased-to-meet-you drinks and decided after much indecision to go home and go to bed and go to sleep and not go to the Infected Mushroom gig. I made it all the way home before caving in to that feeling that I was missing out. Changed clothes and went to the Infected Mushroom gig.

It was a good decision. Fumbled at the door and the bouncer asked for ID, and I didn't have ID because the really funky clothes I had changed into don't accommodate a wallet and I just didn't think about the ID thing. The Dreaded One had sensibly gone to bed which is a bummer because she would have reminded me about the ID thing.

Anyway, I started heading home AGAIN thinking this was silly after all and whoooeee I'm a little bit dwink. But then I turned around and decided to loiter because sooner or later someone would rescue me and somehow I would be inside pretty soon.

Katie Pooh-Foot (Most Gorgeous Woman In The Forest) came and rescued me. Big hug. Took me by the hand and lead me past those evil bouncers and I was inside and apparently not on the guest list but the door bitc... door girl recognised me and waved me into the capacity-filled venue and I am very lucky. Many lovely friends inside.

It was mental and very funny.

The end.

Here's the review(ish).


This column space was meant to be a review. And a review it is... of sorts.

On Friday night I arrived at the theatre to be told that in spite of the age-old adage about shows going on, the show might not, in fact, be going on. Erm... ‘scuse me?

“It’s just that there aren’t very many people here and it might not be worth our while to put the play on. We’ll know in the next 20 minutes or so, so if you’d like to have a drink and take a seat, we’ll let you know.”

I wasn’t sure how to react to this. So I bought a couple of glasses of wine, sat down in the – no getting around it – quite empty theatre foyer and tried to suss out just how I did feel about it. I felt for the theatre because theatre types are usually dedicated to the cause and I just want all the good ones to succeed. However I also felt niggly bit of pissiness because I truly believed that theatre types really believed that the show must go on. I thought they were troupers. I thought they pulled themselves up by their boot straps (whatever that means). Stiff upper lip. On with the show. (Just don’t mention the Scottish play). Etc.

I’ve sat in pathetically small opening night audiences to see real actors giving their heart to the performance as though it was a full house they were playing to. Lack of bums on seats be damned, they obviously thought, I am going to own this audience tonight, they will remember this; I am going to treat them like a real and full audience.

Those performances have been remembered and have been raved about.

Imagine taking a seat at a restaurant and being told, “Look – we’re not sure we’ll be able to feed you tonight. Have a drink and if a few more people show, no worries, we’ll stay open. Letchya know in twenty.”

Set design? Done. Rehearsals? Done. Make-up and wardrobe? Done. All performers present and accounted for. Isn’t a small audience better than no audience?

So much for art for art’s sake. I guess there was something nice on telly everyone wanted to get home to watch.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Comatose With Desire.

Check this out. Go to the bit about the latest review. It's mine. No others. Just mine. Me.

But it gets better. I wrote to the divine Miss MM and mentioned that I am thinking about writing a song dedicated to her called Comatose With Desire. This is her reply:

"My dear, sorry I have been so slow to write back! Your review is divine, and simply had to go up there! Thank you!

Can you hurry up with "Comatose With Desire?" - I could premiere it in NY for the David Bowie gig!!!! Get cracking!


Right. So. I'm going to write a really really bad love song for the wonderful Meow Meow for her to perform at her David Bowie gig in New York. And I know I just repeated everything she just said in her email, but holy crap! How about that? How funny is that?

The spooky part is that I am a massive Bowie fan from way back and just yesterday before knowing that she was playing with Bowie I put on one of his comps for the first time in aaaaages. Sang my fool head off to Golden Years, Fame, Heroes etc. I would love to be in New York for that gig.

Have to go now. I have a song to work on. Lalalalalalaaaa...

Friday, April 06, 2007


My current post is here. Along with several other bloggers I was asked to contribute a guest post while a man called Cliff is away. I was quite surprised and pleased and surprised again to be included, given that a few of the others invited are some of my favourite bloggers. Anyway, go read, comment, hang about at This Is This and read some of Cliff's writing, as well as the other guest bloggers. You'll enjoy.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Ula & Me: A Love Story In my Stupid Head

Today, on the other hand, did treat me nicely. I have to interview this man tomorrow, which should be fun. Impressive bastard. Makes the rest of us look like oafs.

Anyway, that was a nice assignment to get. I've read a few interviews with him now and they all have a similar feel to them. I need to come up with something different. It's the cover story for the arts section of the mag I write for.

Also, this amazing woman walked into the shop. No one all day, then right on closing this goddess called Ula walked in. Holy buckling knees, Batman. Just had one of those faces you want to look at for days. Walked in while the music was thumping and looked like she was going to melt from the psytrance hit she was getting. Said whoa this is good, and started doing a little psy stomp around the shop. I smiled and went a bit melty too. Soon we were chatting and weirdly I have been at parties she has been at in far-flung places. We talked about these little places that have great three day parties, talked about music and the scene up there and the scene down here and I was just trying to think of anything I could to say so that I could keep looking at her.

At one point I noticed that she was looking past me and at her own reflection in the mirror in the changeroom and I realised not only that she was obviously vain and knew she was stunning, but I also realised that I didn't care. In fact, suddenly vanity seemed like the most radiant of virtues.

Soon she was holding my hand quite tenderly and whispering her name hotly into my ear and telling me what a thrill it was to meet a like-minded person like me and that she could tell that I am a man of integrity and sophistication, a being forged in the heavens... "I am Ula, and I am pleased to meet you."

(Okay, so maybe she just shook my hand and introduced herself, but it's my fantasy so fuck off).

In reply, my own name dribbled from my mouth.

She said something about her boyfriend not enjoying his first psytrance party and a despondent "Oh damn" also dribbled from my mouth.

"It's okay. He enjoyed the second one a lot."

"I meant damn it's unfortunate that you have a boyfriend. That really hurts, Ula."

"But didn't you say that that woman with the amazing hair who works here sometimes is your girlfriend?"

"Did I say that? Why would I say that? She's history. She's toast. Forget about her. Forget about him. Let's just think about us. You and me."

"But I was talking to the woman with amazing hair last week and she said you you do really sweet things for her."

"She lies. Lies all the time. She's has a condition."

"She said sometimes when you get drunk late at night you write Haiku about her and email them to her."

"Pfft. As if."

"She said it's pretty bad Haiku..."

"She said that?"

"Yes, but she said it made it all the more endearing."

"See thing is, Ula, I would write wonderful Haiku for you.
Haiku that would win
All of the Haiku compet
Itions round the world."

"Wow. That was really bad. Really really bad."

"I can improve. Be my muse?"

"You know - you're starting to weird me out a little."

"No I'm not. You love me Ula. Don't deny it."

"I don't love you and please stop licking my elbows."

"Don't run away Ula. Come back... come back... back... ack... ck..."

I turned around and I swear to God this other woman appeared out of thin air. Like, nothing, then Kazang! A woman! It was awesome.

"How'd you do that?" I asked, looking around for signs of a magician.

"Do what?" she asked wearily.

"Appear out of thin air like that. Are you a fairy Godmother or something?"

"I was here all along."

"No you weren't."

"Yes I was. I'm Ula's friend. I saw and heard the whole sorry thing. Dag."

"Nononono. There was just me and Ula... and rolling fields of wildflower... and a rainbow... and a unicorn. Not another living soul."

"This shit happens all the time. Whenever I'm with Ula and a male it's like I become invis -"

Kazang! No woman! Just rolling fields of wildflower and a rainbow and that unicorn and...

"Ula! My love! You've come back!"

"Ah crap," came a disembodied voice that sounded kind of familiar. "Come on Ula. Let's blow this popsickle joint. This guy's a loser."

Ula picked up the bag she'd forgotten to grab during her hasty departure and left.

The End.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Jenny Fisher

My day was not nice to me. I was clumsy and at one point the arse dropped out of a box of unwashed kipfler potatoes, at another point a cranky Chinese man tried to make me work the hydraulic box-squasher but I said no because I am a (faux) chef and I am trying to set up for lunch by myself and clearly you are the hydraulic box-squasher guy... seriously, on days like today it's inevitable that you are going to arrive home without your house keys. Which is what I did.

Anyway, the manager at the nice new place appears to have it in her head that the two of us doing lunch today are The A Team. She's made noises about this before and she was quite clear about it today. I know she is going to take this to higher people and it makes me soil my pants because I am not A Team Material. This is not false modesty, it's just a fact. The other guy is A+, I am B-. It's a classic case of her seeing me in my chef uniform, maybe occasionally seeing me do something right and believing I have a clue what I'm doing. It's all quite funny but also not funny at all. I just wanted to help out a bit and have a good part time job and things are really getting out of control. If she had seen me on my knees scooping up gazzillions of rollie potatoes while hissing "fuck this shit get over here arsehole potatoes" she wouldn't think I was A Team material. F Troop, yes.

Anyway. I don't want to burden you with how not nice my day was, so I've lifted below from an email I just sent to my editor. It's a random memory that amuses me quite a lot.

At the magazine I used to work at I reckon I wrote about 75% of the letters to the editor (as well as 100% of the smart arse replies from the editor). My favourite was a series from a verbose 16 year old girl I created called Jenny Fisher who took the most convoluted way to say absolutely nothing at all. She took on a life of her own (she was quite endearing) and I started getting invitations from readers asking her out, demanding that she have her own column and everything. I sent her along to reviews too, written in her inimitable style... it was a cack. She had a fucking fan club. There was even a band who at the end of an interview said something like "Hey - we'd really like to give a shout out to Junkmail Jenny. You go girl!"

Someone in the office made a comment about how much they love Jenny Fisher's letters and I said you do know who that is, don't you? I had assumed they knew. They didn't. I told them. They shouted it to the rest of the office and everyone was genuinely crushed because they had been following her tales too. Ah, Jenny Jenny Jenny. What has become of you?

Sunday, April 01, 2007


I have been slack on the posting front, haven't I? Sorry about that. I think I am weening. I am blog- weening so that I can hold hands with someone on the other side of the world as we start to write our novels. May 1st. That's when we start. It's not a competition, just a motivational thing.

But I'm pretty sure I'll win.

I'll be back with something blog-wise in the next day or two. Meantime get familiar with this guy who has kindly asked for a bunch of really funny writers and me to babysit his blog. I don't know if my This Isn't This post will be as funny as this or as funny as the purple dog, but hopefully whatever I have contributed will be smirky. Smirky in a nice way.

Also, I just watched a movie called Suburban Mayhem. Australian thing that I'm unsure about. Problem is that the theme song is called Fuck Pig, and it's really catchy. So I keep finding myself belting out in a death metal voice, "Yeeeaaaaahhhh... I'm a FUCK PIIIIIGGGG!"

Hope it doesn't happen on the bus tomorrow.