Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My Name Is Rachel Corrie

Should be in bed but I had to stay up to finish a story for Drum. Did the interview the other day with the director of the Australian premier of My Name Is Rachel Corrie. I enjoyed the interview and I know it went well because later the publicist emailed and said something like so I heard that went well. The publicist could only have gotten that feedback from the director.

If you know me you know I haven't studied a Goddamn thing in my life. I like writing Silly and sometimes I'm good at it. I also like writing Sad. And dark And Disturbing. but I'm amateur at all of them.

I haven't known about interviews and making stories out of them, but I'm getting to be not too bad. This was the first phoner I haven't squirmed at even a little bit. The story, I think, works. (Although I'd like to have had another thousand words).

Helps when the topic is so interesting. My Name Is Rachel Corrie is about a 23 year old peace activist who was killed in Gaza in 2003. Complex and really quite moving stuff. Apparently the entire text of the play is her writing. Creators Allan Rickman and Katharine Vine have played with time lines but have basically edited Rachel's words from her emails and diary entries into a play.

Looking forward to seeing the play. Will post my interview with Shannon Murphy when it's out in the mag.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

123 Meme

Whoa. Big weekend. Fun and music and random friends and I fell over. I never fall over, but the ground seemed particularly wobbly and I fell all the way over. It was pretty funny. Then the wind came and the tent shelter thing I was snoozing in fell on me and it was all very flappy and confusing. More details later maybe, but it was all a lot of fun. Even the grumpy bits. At one point I was hurling things through my tent flap like a right fucking drama queen... The Dreaded One and I laughed about that a short time later. She is quality and anger is short lived with us.

But I've been tagged by Damien at Crime Downunder. The meme rules are that you have to open the nearest book to page 123 and quote sentences 6, 7 and 8. I'm rounding it up a little to cover a couple more sentences just to give some context. Lenny Bruce was an amazing man who lead a strange life. Fascinating story.

Although I'm working on a crime story of sorts at the moment, one of the books I'm reading is The Trials Of Lenny Bruce. Page 123:

Marks: Have you ever heard of the word "moralist"?

Block: Yes sir.

Marks: Would you apply that to Mr Bruce?

Block: No, sir. I'd say he was more of a satirist.

Marks: Something like a dirty Will Rogers?

Block: I would say you could call him a dirty Will Rogers, yes.

I'm going to tag Kat, Meva, Girl Clumsy, Mark and Amra. Okay... so I've just realised that Amra has tagged me with the same meme. Funny. Maybe, instead, the avid reader Y. Whether anyone wants to play or not, who knows?

Right. Body and mind need rest now. Why does crazy fun hurt so much? But you know - in the craziness of the party I remember a friend - The Dreaded One's best friend - putting a blanket over me and later taking me by the hand to lead me somewhere nice. I don't have a lot of friends but little things like that, I'm a sucker for them. When they see you at your worst and still do something kind for you, you know they are a quality friend.

All you can do is be grateful stuff like that and always try to do the same for others.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Lawrence Leung Learns To Breakdance Review

I didn't have to review the performance last night, but my cold, walnut-sized brain couldn't help itself. I feel this is a better review than the one of Brilliant Monkey.

I'm interested in this thing about the contract between performer (or writer) and audience because in the post below, which is a monthly column I write for a magazine, I'm probably going to switch from what basically happened to 'imagine if this happened'. I think some things are funnier when you know it actually happened... unless from the start you've established that it's all fiction.

I dunno. It's like you establish what we both expect out of this thing (slap-stick, fantasy, hard-boiled etc), and as a reader or audience member you shift your mind-set accordingly.

Read the review and let me know what you think. Or not. I don't care.

(The Japanese reference is kind of a joke from the show and I would love to tell you what the T shirt bit was all about because I fucking howled with laughter, but I don't want to spoil LL's joke. If he was selling those T shirts after the show I would totally have bought one).


Lawrence Leung tries to learn to break dance because it’s the only way he feels he can out-cool his brother. This is warm comedy, nice, human, touchy feely stuff which had moments of real hilarity. In fact it was so warm and nice and occasionally so funny that I feel like a bit of a shit saying that although it was good, I’ve seen way better.

The contract here between performer and audience is that this is all real: Lawrence Leung really does embark on a mission to be cool. His brother has it all over Lawrence in the areas of fashion, ladies and ‘tude, so Lawrence decides he will out-cool his bass guitar-playing brother in dance.

Look, it’s funny, this goofy “documentary” style comedy. In concept and execution, the fashion segment was really funny. The *Japanese characters on the designer T shirt piece was laugh out loud funny. Seriously good stuff.

But why did he bother looking astonished at the Rubic’s cube set-up? Do the piece but please don’t pretend that this is all some freaky coincidence because it totally breaks the contract between performer and audience. Leung himself has described his act as documentary comedy... there is no place for faking stuff in documentary.

An audience will suspend disbelief if that’s the deal... fuck it – you can take us to the moon on a giant banana if we know it’s fantasy, but when we see a performer lie and pretend something fake is real it just undermines the rest of the show. What else in this “documentary” comedy was fiction? If it’s fiction, be up-front about it. We’ll be as cool as Dennis with that.

Audiences everywhere have been loving this show, so maybe I’m just a being weird about this contract thing. Lawrence Leung Learns To Breakdance, for me, was uneven but had a good heart. And yes, quite a few funny bits.

*I being racist.

Season over.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bonds & Bonding

Ooh I am getting into this 'To Be Continued ' stuff, aren't I. Wonder if I can get out of it.

Here is a slightly different version of my Grumpy column which goes to print in Tsunami shortly.


Lee Bemrose

So we get home after another drinking session, my best mate and me. We’re monstered. We have totally wobilised ourselves. We are dribblingly incoherent but have somehow made it back home where we can properly swear and laugh and carry on like a couple of idiots. We have somehow acquired pizza, which is a good thing. Fuck knows who paid for it. Fuck knows what flavour it is. But it’s all good.

Girlfriend is asleep so we pretend we are being quiet for a bit. We pretend that crashing bottles and bumpy walls and slamming doors are easily slept-through. “Shhhh!” we tell each other a lot as we fall about, clinging to the walls. I have no idea what it is that we are laughing about, but it’s obviously pretty damned funny.

It’s all good, I tell myself. Mates do this kind of shit all the time and the girlfriend is fine. She’ll be pissy if we, I dunno, if I pee in the kitty litter box again or anything like that, but it should be all right. One more beer and finish the pizza and off to bed.

Suddenly my mate lets out a shriek indicating that an unforgivable injustice has just taken place. It’s a tiny little rip in her jeans (did I mention my best mate is a chick? Maybe not. Maybe this is why things go pear-shaped).

“Whassup?” I ask.

“Rrrrip,” she explains, pointing at her denim-clad thigh with its miniscule rip. “Oh fuck me look at that.”

“Oh well,” I wittily retort, re-focusing my unfocused eyes on the pizza.

I am so drunk by this time that I’m not even sure what my real name is, so when Best Mate decides that the solution to her wardrobe malfunction is to remove her jeans and finish eating her pizza in the tiniest little pair of panties I’ve ever tried so hard to not look at, I just kind of shrug and go yeah, cool, whatever.

But then I’m kind of thinking maybe I should even things up and take off my own jeans and finish eating our pizza in my undies or something. Because, you know maybe drinking beer and eating pizza in your undies with your best mate is what all the cool people are doing.

I spend the next few minutes trying to recall whether I put on a cool pair of undies this morning or a daggy pair. It just about does my head in because although I have a couple of really cool undies I’d be proud eat pizza in with my closest friends, there are a couple of shockers I know I would never live down.

My mental undies crisis ends when Best Mate slowly leans forward and goes face down totally unconscious into the pizza, leaving me torn between getting the hell out of there and leaving her to fend for herself, and taking off my pants and passing out in the pizza because maybe this will bring us even closer together.

To be continued.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Love, Death & The Rhythm Of Language, Baby: A Eugoogooly

I've got a fair bit of writing I have to do this week and I'm writing a short story that I'm pretty excited about. It's moody as hell and although I've actually just come out of a mood fug and am feeling pretty happy, I don't really want to write anything funny. I just want to write about this character, Ruben Jane. So far, the story feels at least as good as Remembering Argos. It's called Leaving Ruben Jane, and it's got The Thing. First really good fiction I've written in a while and I'm hoping that being so hooked on the rhythm of language is going to finally spill over and really get me into fiction again. It's all about love, death and the rhythm of language, baby.

But last night, after a really good day at The Big Pointy Building I got home and watched Zoolander. I'd forgotten how much I like this movie. I think it is just about comedy perfection. Excellent cast, really funny writing and great comic acting. Think I'm going to go get a copy today.

I have to stay moody for Ruben Jane so I don't want to try to write anything that my cold, walnut-sized brain thinks is funny. But watch this clip. This is a very funny movie.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Tennis Court Of King Arthur

I was talking to someone in the kitchen at The Big Pointy Building today about the rare times in our lives we had won things. She had won an Easter Egg decorating competition at school, which was was quite prophetic (visit her blog and you'll see what I mean).

I remembered the time I won something, and it went a little like this: (Please note, each * indicates embellishment for comic purposes)...

When I started out on my tennis addiction phase I was not very good. But I get good when I get these obsessions. At the time of this little story, however, I was not very good at playing tennis.

However I was obsessed and I bought all the clothing and drooled over racquets I couldn't afford and I'd stay up all night watching people who were good at playing. And I bought Tennis Weekly, or whatever the damn mag was called. Bought it every week. Sometimes I bought it twice a week because when I get hooked on something, I am hard fucking core.

One week, they had a caption competition and I thought bugger me, I like writing silly shit, I think I'll enter.

I thought of a hilariously inventive caption for EVERY photo and assumed I'd win something. I even wondered if the judges would have the integrity to give me first, second and third prizes... all of which I wholly deserved.

Next mag came out and after a quick scan I felt a bit crap because I didn't rate a mention. Another, more detailed read and I found I'd actually won the first prize I assumed I was going to win. I'd won an amazing, imported, thousand buck Donnay. The picture alone took my breath away to the accompaniment of Heaven's own angels singing their praise.

The Donnay (as I referred to it forever after) arrived in the mail. It was kind of as if King Arthur had been mailed Excalibur. This was the stuff of unfolding legends.

When I turned up at the new tennis club with Excalibur in its shoulder bag, people took notice. I kid you not, people looked. People talked. The guy at the booking desk even asked where I got hold of such a racquet, such was the awe it inspired.

"You won it?"

"Yeah, in a competition."

"He won it," he said, turning to his assistant. "In competition."

Fuck me, I thought, that came out way wrong. Before I had a chance to explain, the guy said, "So you're pretty good?"

"I was pretty good in this particular competition, but you know..."

"Wow," desk guy said to his assistant, "cool and modest. We have to check him out."

A crowd had gathered by the time I made my way to court 7, and all I could do was pray to the powers that be that something magical was about to happen... something... please?

* To be continued.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Scratch Improv For Cracker

No theatre reviews this week, just a couple of stories covering a couple of acts for Sydney's Cracker Comedy Festival. There is rather a lot of comedy on offer at the moment.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Thoughts From A Cold, Walnut Sized Brain

You know what shits me most about the mental midget who left the comment about me being inept in the previous post? It's not their criticism, it's the fact that they did it anonymously. How pathetic can you be? I have to write stuff about the work of others, which is something I've always had a bit of a problem with (for the last couple of years that I've been doing it), but my name always appears at the end of the review, positive or negative. Clumsily written or well written.

And some limp-dick thinks it's okay to slag me off without leaving their name.

Humans can be so dreary.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Brilliant Monkey Review And A Bit Of Head Scratching

I reviewed this play and I didn't like it very much. Crapping hell it bored me. So I said as much in the review.

I generally look up what other reviewers have been saying after I've written my review and it was hilarious how much all the others have been gushing about this one, compared to mine.

What could I do? I really was quite bored with it and I really didn't think the humour was very funny, but with so much opinion being so opposite, I must have just been in a grumpy mood. Still, this was my experience of this play and I had to send it in.

Odd, because I had been in quite a good mood before going into the theatre. And yet... was my mood such a factor in my not enjoying the play?

I don't know. I'm not sure about very much at the moment. Given the evidence, I probably got it wrong with this one. Just have to roll with it.

Half a week later: And look, because the comments have been good and supportive (and I do appreciate that), read one of the many positive reviews about an earlier version of the play. This review, like so many others, would make me want to see the play, and there must have been something about it that made me want to see it regardless. It really does sound like the kind of theatre I'm into but there was obviously something wrong with me on this occasion.

It's been an interesting process. I am very tempted to go back and see the thing this afternoon. Now there's an idea...

Sunday, April 06, 2008


I have this habit of going over stories I've sent into the mag and seeing ways of improving them. I tweak and resend. I did this recently and received an email from my editor. He said, "Here's a bit of advice: Let it go. When you re-send stories I've usually already subbed them and I just have to re-do the whole thing."

I've bitten my tongue forever in the past. Sub-editing is a strange craft and a lot of editors aren't quite as good at it as they like to think they are. Subbing is not about changing the text to suit yourself. Subbing is about getting things right - facts and tone and the voice of the thing. Let the piece have its own voice. And make sure the facts are right.

I've seen some really weird shit come out in my stories and I'm generally not too much of a princess about it. The part in this story, in the Bill Hicks piece that says something about weak semen? Totally not my words. A staff writer was obviously told to Penthouse-it-up a little and he added that bit. I thought it was an odd thing to do but what the hell. And that was all he added so again, what the hell. Whatever.

But when editors change things and make them worse I fucking hate it. Happens all the time when you're writing humour - a joke will go over their head and they change the words so it makes some sense to them and it totally fucks up the joke. If I were a more important writer I would demand final proofing rights.

But in reply to the piece of advice about letting it go, I wrote back saying, "Yeah well, you might want to take a look at the tag line I sent you compared to the one that went to print after you subbed it. One was accurate, the other was not. I'll be sending the next review to you shortly. Have your way with it. I'll have my fingers crossed."

It's amusing to think of bitchy stuff like that, I just don't know about the wisdom of sending it.

But send it I did because what the hell. Whatever.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Men, Love and the Monkeyboy Review

Click on the image to make big and read my impression of Men, Love and the Monkeyboy.

I liked this play. I just thought it needed to be tweaked a little. If you live in Sydney and you disagree, let me know.