Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Elevator Of Doom At The Big Pointy Building

I'm Faux Chefing at The Big Pointy Building. I have avoided The Elevator Of Doom all night because too many staff have been trapped in there in the past, sometimes for hours at a time. But tired from running up and down the stairs all night, I think to hell with it, I'll probably be all right for this one trip. I step inside the elevator. The doors start to close when two cute Russian or Polish waitresses dash towards me asking me to hold the elevator. I oblige. They enter. The doors close.. roll credits and cheesy music.

It's just like the opening of a '70s disaster movie, isn't it?

Inside. For a long while The Elevator Of Doom does nothing. We smile at each other nervously. TEOD shudders but doesn't exactly move in an upward direction.

"This is the dodgiest elevator in the world," I say in my best Steve McQueen. "I just hope we come out of this alive."

The girls giggle nervously and smirk demurely and lasciviously simultaneously, obviously in awe of my uncanny resemblance to Steve McQueen.

"Sometimes," I say ruggedly, "it kind of groans a kind of... ominous groan."

One of the girls, a real cutie, she tells me she's heard that groan before.

"Are ve moovink?" she adds. "I cannot tell if ve are moovink."

The elevator starts to move, like an old man getting shakingly to his feet from the toilet where he's just spent half an hour taking a really disappointing dump that he's suddenly not really convinced ever happened because ever since this memory wotsit started to... "What the hell am I doing here?" the old man shouts, "and where in the Goddamn hell are my pyjama pants?"

So. Anyway. Elevator is on the move. We're on our way, and I can't help thinking again that I just hope we get out of this one alive.

There's a moan that sounds like a groan. The very kind of ominous groan we'd just been talking about. In fact it's the very same one. It's an ominous groan of doom that echoes ominously into the doomy room of the hollow void of the elevator shaft and I physically have to slap my Steve McQueen dopplegangy face before I think once again... that I just hope we get out of this one alive.

You know that distance you hold your thumb and forefinger apart to indicate to someone a very small distance? That's how close I come to totally pooping my pants when TEOD wobbles to a stop, then drops sphincter-twitchingly to a stop a lot more than a thumb and forefinger distance of littleness. I'm guessing we've dropped maybe half a floor. Half a floor or two Russian or Polish shrieks of terror long. Either way, both are the same length.

The elevator bounces, and I get really tired of thinking that I just hope we get out of this one alive.

The girls look at me, like I'm supposed to know what to do. I look back at them and think, you think if I wasn't allowed to scream I wouldn't have? You think I'm enjoying this? You think I have a freaking clue what to do? Right now I'm about as heroic as an old man on the crapper wondering what's happened to his pyjama pants! Back off with the gender expectation stuff, cute Eurobitches!

Then I realise I have a self-delusion to uphold.

"Relax, girls," I Steve McQueen to them. "Everything's going to be all right. Just leave this up to me. There's a button, and I'm going to poke it in a reassuringly masculine way."

There's a button with a picture of an old fashioned phone on it, so I poke it, in an old fashioned, reassuringly masculine way."

"Broken Elevator Guy," a voice tells me.

"It's Ste... Lee, known in some circles as Black Rainbow but that's another blog post. Anyway, this elevator is stuck again so you better get someone down here ASPA... PSAP? SAPA... look just get someone down here as soon as possible because I really wanna get out of this one alive."

"Sure thing Steely Black Rainbow, you sit tight, we're on our way. Or as we like to abbreviate, mainly to save time in moments of emergency such as these - WOOW!"

Suddenly nothing happens. Then something happens. A supervisor calls down the hellish empty nothingness of the little crack between the elevator doors but from somewhere above or below us... "Helloooooo....? Are you stuck? Who is stuck in the elevatooooor...?"

"Olga is stuck in zee elevator," one of the girls - whose name I deduce is Olga - calls through the crack in the elevator doors. "And Olga alzo is stuck, and alzo zees amazink man who looks ever so much like that dead actor... agh, vot voz hees name?'

"I think you're thinking of Steve McQueen."

"Veencent Price! Spittink image! It eez eencredible!"

"Who else is trapped inside the elevatooooor....? Vincent?"

"It's Lee," I shout through the crack just as the elevator drops another two Olga shrieks and one Australian fuckinghellthisisridiculous.

"Just for the record," I call to the voice on the outside when my ears have stopped ringing, "it was not Lee who did all that shrieking. We clear on that? Not Lee. Lee did not shriek."

I settle in for the long haul. I look forward to getting to know Olga and Olga and maybe forming lifelong bonds. Maybe we will look forward to reunions long into the future to celebrate our survival. Maybe they will one day bring their kids to these reunions and introduce them to me as Steely Black Rainbow and Steely Black Rainbow.

Then again, maybe the doors will open a very short time later, and I will find that we do, indeed, get out of this one alive... for now.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Look Into My Eyes

First image is my right eye. All good. Second image is my left eye. Bit weird.

Sometimes you can't help but feeling like you're getting slammed. I should look at what was going on a year ago because it always feels like I get slammed this time of year.

Work is thin. Money is a struggle. But it's better than this time last year and maybe better than it has been for a few years before that. Money will probably always be a struggle.

Then - last thing you need - you get this weirdness in your eye. You notice it and you check it out and you go along to the specialist and in spite of how old you are, you feel young and lean because all these other people in the waiting room with eye problems, they're not young and lean. Doctor says as much. He tells you, you ARE young, you know. And you know he's wrong, but you know he's right too.

Anyway, there's something in your eye. Scans are done and it's a rainbow universe in there. We are amazing creatures who can look so deeply into our structure. I am in awe. I have pretty eyes. We all have pretty eyes.

But there is something. It distorts my vision. If I only had my left eye, I would not be able to read. The people I pass in the street, their features are mooshed together. Swirls. This annoying circle standing between me and clear vision. I just want to see properly again.

Doc seems confident that it is nothing to worry about. And fuck it - I'm going with that. I watched his body language as he told me. I listened to his tone as he asked his assistant what she made of the scans. I think he is probably right and this thing will go away. I am being Optometristic.

But I am booked in for another test which will make me yellow (why can't I be Yves Klein Blue?) and my eyes will be big, but we'll then know where Buck Rogers has to aim his lasers.

I also found out I didn't get the arts editor job I'd kind of hoped I'd get so It's easy for me to feel a bit poo right now. I did, for a bit today.

But, you know, I have nice stuff too. Good people. Good stuff. I listened again to the beginning of the chat I had with Bill Bailey. For me, that's a cool, cool thing. Clumsyfunny chat, really sweet, and in the back of my mind I was thinking, how does this happen? How is it that I was talking to Bill Bailey.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Who's Your Mama

I am appalled with myself. I've just realised that whenever I sing along to California Dreamin' by The Mamas And The Papas, I instinctively sing to Mama Cass' harmonies. This is a crushing blow to my Viking-like masculinity. What is wrong with me? AND I play the air-flute!

Black Rainbow is such a loser. (A loser with a dodgy eye).

Friday, June 20, 2008

Bonds & Bonding Pt 3

Moving right along from the last post (except to say the eye specialist is booked up until Monday so I won't have the tests done until then), my new Grumpy column is below. It's turned into a serial and it could go anywhere. I met the editors of Tsunami for the first time a few nights ago and they like the serialisation concept and are happy to go with it. For me, it's fun and I get more than the 400 words of column space I've been allocated just by doing a 'to be continued' bit at the end of each one.

Anyway, read the first one here if you feel like it, click on the image to enlarge to read the second installment, then read the new version - yet to be published - below.


Lee Bemrose

I look drunkenly down at my friend who is dreaming drunkenly face down into cold pizza and I think about... you know… stuff. Lots of stuff. I wobble about a bit and steady myself against the wall and I think about the importance of friendship and how the universe is this big... thing. The universe is a really big thing, perhaps as the biggest thing of all the big things. It’s awesome. Fuck – why has the biggness of the universe not struck me as so awesome before now? I force myself to stop thinking about the awesome biggness of the universe because I get that feeling again when I think too much, like my head is going to completely cave in.

I forget about the universe and think instead about friendship, which is where I think I was going with the universe thing anyway. Something to do with the impotence of friendship... or maybe the importance of friendship, and how my sleepy friend with the tiniest pair of panties I’ve ever seen traveled through time and the universe and from the other side of planet Earth to be here with me and make me laugh so much and all of the moments of her life have lead her to here and now, dreaming of things while her face is mooshed sleepily into cold pizza. It’s a beautiful thing, a friendship like that.

I know, I think, I should take a photo. Kodak moment. Shit like that.

About two seconds later I realise that right now I couldn’t work a camera any more than I could drive a space shuttle. Besides, what kind of friend would take a photo of their best mate in such undignified circumstances? I am nothing if not a loyal friend and a fuck-load of a gentleman. In fact the very thought that I thought of taking a photo appalls me so much that I take another swig of beer as punishment.

No seriously, I tell myself, I have to do what a grown up would do. I have to get my friend up onto the couch and tenderly not think about how cute she is... nononono tenderly place a blanket over her and not think about panties... for fuck sake they really are little.

Somehow I coordinate the big clumsy meat machine that is me and use a fingertip to poke Best Mate in the side of the head, hoping she will wake and do the getting onto the couch bit herself. She stirs and says something about a naughty choirboy, which makes me giggle dribblingly.

I think about dignity and chivalry and I lift my unconscious friend onto the couch. I do indeed fetch a spare blanket from the closet and I place it over her in a tender way. She snuggles into the blanket and looks adorable... once I remove the slice of Italian sausage stuck to her face and take the pizza crust from her mouth.

I turn to switch off the light but am suddenly struck with a brilliant idea. Hide the pants! Fucking excellent! I’ll hide her jeans! Oh God I crack me up.

I hide my friend’s jeans in a very secret place and switch off the light.

To be continued.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Eye Jest

So anyway, I have something a bit wrong with my left eye. It's not good. Preliminary tests today, seeing a specialist tomorrow.

The Dreaded One suggested I get my eyes tested. I asked if the test could be multiple choice.

Boom tish.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Black Rainbow

I have this friend called Ann. You blog people know her as The Dreaded One. More and more doof people are getting to know her as Pink Fairy.

I, on the other hand, am simply known as Lee. So we often are introduced as, "This is Pink Fairy and Lee."

Which is dull.

So I've gone through a tortuous process of name selection which started with Rainbow Lee. This was obviously extremely faggy and not really an option.

So for a whole weekend I just stuck with Rainbow, but that also didn't sit right.

"What about Black Rainbow?" Black Rainbow asks Pink Fairy (because Black Rainbow always speaks in the third person).

"That's ridiculous - how can you have a black rainbow?"

"You can't," Black Rainbow retorts. "Black Rainbow is a mystery. An enigma. An optical illusion."

"You're an idiot."

"Black Rainbow is a black optical illusionistical idiot."

Much silence.

Then: "What about Grumpy Rainbow? And my logo can be the smiley face with a rainbow for a mouth. "

"That's actually pretty funny," Pink Fairy tells Black Rainbow.

"Or I can be Black Rain Bro. A black bro trapped in a skinny white boy body with, like, a penchant for rain and clouds and sunshine and the resulting pretty colours it all entails."

"Black Rain Bro is starting to sound a bit gay."

"Ok. What about Rainbow Worrier?"

"I like Grumpy Rainbow."

"Hmm. I'm kind of going for Black Rainbow. Although I just considered Invisible Rainbow. And Rainbow Thunder. Wrath of Rainbow?"

What should my hippie doof name be? Black Rainbow thinks it should be Black Rainbow. What do you think?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Warren Miller's Playground feat Chris Anthony

“It used to be just a hill but now we’re flying to exotic locations and the skier and the cameraman will look at this massive peak and go wow – that is majestic and beautiful... how do we bring this to our audience?”



Talking to extreme skier Chris Anthony was a slightly odd experience. The Warren Miller brand name is clearly a very big, slick entity with a big, slick team of people. Approximately eight minutes before I’m due to call the skier and star of many Warren Miller flicks, I get a call from Kylie.

“I know you’re scheduled to call Chris in approximately eight minutes,” Kylie tells me politely, “But Chris is in fact still busy on the phone with another interview. Can we bump your time back by 15 minutes?”

Sure. No problem. I call back at the new time and speak briefly to a receptionist who puts me on hold and through to some guy who eventually puts the friendly American on, and I fleetingly wish I had some people to deal with his people. Clearly, Warren Miller Entertainment has grown since the now octogenarian Miller decided that filming his mates skiing down a mountain back in the ‘50s would be a pretty cool thing to do.

And Chris has clearly been briefed by his people because he tells me that of all the interviews, this one is going to be the most fun. He has obviously been told that Drum is a cool street mag and that we like music, so he launches straight into a spiel about the soundtrack. I’m actually more interested in the movie itself, so while Chris reaches for his piece of paper to read out who the soundtrack includes, I tell him that I’d like to come back to the soundtrack a little later and for now can he please tell me a little about the production itself. He’s a friendly, laid-back kind of guy and he obliges.

“What’s probably evolved the most is the editing,” Anthony says, more than happy to give credit to others for the success of the action movie series. “We’ve had Kim Schneider editing the films now for 26 years, and it’s impressive how he’s stayed up with the new technology and how he’s able to move from one shot to the next. It’s not just a simple dissolve now – he’s got all sorts of things going on. You know, it’s the MTV generation and we’ve got to keep them entertained. It’s really his magic and his son, who works in the music business...”

Man, they are keen to push this music line. I’m told that a lot of effort has gone into securing rights to tracks and what a lengthy, prolonged procedure getting such rights has been. Anthony mentions the soundtrack and how exciting it is, and although interested, I just don’t want to talk about it just yet. Of more interest is how the films have grown. I’m kind of cynical about how much money is involved and what a well oiled machine the brand is, but Chris puts things into perspective; there’s a hindsight inevitability about how massive the brand has become.

“Back in the old day, Warren sat down at the bottom of the hill with a camera on a tripod and shot the skier coming down the hill to him. Then a little bit later on he did that shot with maybe a couple of close up shots, then later on he actually skied along side them. Now you have cameramen hanging out of helicopters. Even the terrain is much more dramatic. It used to be just a hill but now we’re flying to exotic locations and the skier and the cameraman will look at this massive peak and go wow – that is majestic and beautiful... how do we bring this to our audience?”

The athletes might be the stars, but it’s a collaborative process with the photographers dictating how the shots will pan out, and yes, often the runs have to be done over and over. Like other forms of film-making, half a day’s work might end up being 15 seconds of screen time.

“And unfortunately, 90% of what we might shoot ends up on the editing room floor.”

It’s a long and painstaking process, and while Miller himself might have distanced himself from the annually-released films, they have remained popular with punters all around the world. Much of the appeal, says Chris Anthony, is the exotic locations, this time round taking in Canada, Alaska, Sweden, Japan and even a ski resort in Dubai.

“To be watching skiers constantly jump off cliffs is pretty awesome, but a lot of the time people come out of the theatres and they’re more intrigued by the weird, exotic locations. That’s why the formula is so successful – it’s a travel piece, documentary and high action.”

Other famous skiers featured in Playground include Bode Miller, Jon Olsen, Sean Petit, Dan Treadway with narration by Olympic gold medallist Jonny Mosely.

And yes, there is that soundtrack. There’s genuine passion when the quietly spoken Chris Anthony speaks about how much planning goes into each shot and the resulting exhilaration of taking on a run that’s perhaps too ambitious (he speaks of ‘camera courage’ which perhaps contributed to the death last year of 28 year old extreme skier Billy Poole), but when it comes to the much touted soundtrack...

“We’ve definitely had better and better music each year. Getting those clearance rights is very difficult. But we’ve done very well this year... there’s one band that’s very big down here called Rev... no wait... it’s in the film and...”

“And it’s name is...?” I prompt.

Chris laughs here and tells me to hang on. “I’m working on it. I didn’t even know he was from Australia. Where is it... erm...John...”

“John,” I smart arse. “Oh good. Glad John’s in there. Wouldn’t be the same without John.”

“John Butler Trio.”

Ah. Serious coolness. There’s also Korn and Linkin Park and a whole bunch of other high energy stuff.

We conclude a very chilled conversation with the skier assuring me that although Playground is a ski film, it’s not necessarily a film exclusively for skiers.

“The film makes us aware of places we might not have been aware of. It throws in a bit of travel and education and culture. It’s just a full-on entertainment piece.”

Story as it appeared in a recent issue of Drum - minus the last three paras. Can you believe that? I try not to get precious about subbing anymore, but that seemed like a harsh cut.

PS - Do click on the link to the Billy Poole site and read through the memories of Billy page. I just watched the video and yeah, he was a down to earth kind of guy more interested in living life than making money. And I was really moved by all the good things people have said about him. Awesome stuff.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Boy And Girl

Boy says, I think it's time I set you free.

Girls says, Why?

Boy says, Your future is still bright.

Girl says, But we've always been us.

Boy says, And we could keep on being us, but without me your future is still bright.

Girl says, But...

Boy says nothing. Girl says nothing. But they know the truth.

Girl says, What will you do?

Boy says, I will smile because I know you are free.

Girl says, But what will you do?

Boy says, I will find my peace in finally not being.

Girl sheds a tear.

Boy sheds one of his own and kisses hers away.


Girl goes to her bright future.

And boy hopes she remembers him sometimes, and he hopes she smiles.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I Once Met A Happy Latvian

Feeling Grumpy... I mean grumpy. Nothing to write. And NOT because that bastard bus driver drove off just as I caught up and was in clear view of his rear vision mirror. Certainly not because he was fully two minutes early either. And I'm definitely not grumpy because he didn't exactly gun it, just kind of moved off at what I'd call A Very Fast Running Pace. Bastard.

And I'm not all glum and moody because Mr Bus Driver of the 301 from Circular Quay slowed down to a stop just a few metres on, causing me to walk quickly, then break into another run when I realised I might just have a chance of catching the damn thing, only to realise he had stopped for the traffic light, not poor, miserable, sweaty morose me.

And when I'd almost caught up to the door and the light changed and he gunned the beast into warp speed, I thought that was pretty funny.

And when I saw the next bus was not for half an hour? Oh ho ho.

I wandered over to the station and saw that the next train to Central was due out in two minutes. Perfect. Just enough time to poke the automatic ticket machine and I'd be home before the next 301 was even due.

Of course the train was early. Of course I could hear it pulling in already. Weirdly, though, it sounded like it was on the wrong platform. Still, both platforms go to Central so I took the flights of stairs like my version of a really fit person. Lots of steps. So many steps. And what should I find at the top of all those steps? That I had been hearing things because my train was waiting for me on the other platform... aaaaaha ha ha ha ha.

Down all the steps, across the middle bit (which there is probably a word for, like central concourse or something but I was in far too much of a hurry so it was just a very inconvenient middle bit) and up more fucking stairs.

You know what's coming, don't you. You just know that I'm going to stumble panting onto the platform just as the doors hiss closed and the train pulls out.

Well hah. You are wrong. I made it onto the train with seconds to spare. The right train and everything.

So in the end, my Indiana-like battle with public transport is not what has made me so grumpy. Don't feel like talking about it yet in case I am jumping the gun, but I will say I am well over getting excited about shit. Thought I'd give this optimism thing a go and I've been trying it for quite a while now, but fuck it. Over it.

And after that little digression or whatever it was, here's one of my stories out in the current issue of Drum. I'm not sure why it amused me to call the guy a happy Latvian but it did.

Of course that was last week when there were still things in the world that amused me... *sigh*

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Fondue Set - No Success Like Failure

On a whim I went along to see The Fondue Set - No Success Like Failure. For me, this was a wonderful hour of entertainment. Silly is such precious stuff. Adorable and intelligent silly... priceless. These women are quite brilliant. My heart will (possibly) always be with Meow Meow, but right now I'm hearting The Fondue Set a lot.

More details tomorrow. If you are in Sydney though and you like quality kooky, go see. You will like.

PS - I was going to write a review but here is one someone prepared earlier. It pretty well nails it and saves me the trouble of poking the keyboard any more than I have to. This really was a fun show.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

An Interview Out-take

I just wrote part of the interview I did with Latvian theatre director Vladislavs Nastashevs who is in Australia to direct Miss Julie for Belvoir Downstairs.

Written by August Strindberg in 1888, the play is about love, lust, class, dominance and freedom. It's a one hour play with three characters - Miss Julie, Jean and his finace Kristin. The three characters also talk a lot about Miss Julie's father The Count, who is also Jean's boss.

The Count is an interesting figure because there is evidence of his existence and there is much talk of him, but he never makes an appearance. In a sense he's the most powerful character in the play (or the one with the most power) but we never see him. He's almost like God, more powerful than all of them but to us he's an unseen force.

As a writing device, I found this a pretty cool one... but I'm me and I couldn't resist asking about the casting process, in particular was it difficult to cast the part of The Count. I thought this was really funny and I totally didn't expect the answer I got. I thought maybe the director would think I was an idiot who hadn't done my homework. I didn't expect this:

Lee: "Was casting The Count very difficult?"

Vlad: "Casting the...?"

Lee: "The Count. Was it difficult to find someone to play The Count?"


Lee: "To find an actor to play... I'm joking. Because The Count doesn't ever appear in the play, which was an interesting device for Strindberg to use, wasn't it."

Vlad: "Ah. Ahh right. Right, here we go. Well casting The Count was difficult while I was thinking about the play because I had to somehow kind of bring him in even though he never appears. So I made sure to be able to have him there even though he's not, which was quite a challenge. But I believe I've achieved it. It's much more powerful for the rest of the characters because it deals with masters and servants... it's very much about the servants and they do talk about him a lot, about how they feel about him and what they think about him and I think that's more interesting than actually showing that. Bringing in The Count would somehow mean doubling it all. Something interesting I have done with the set is to have a wooden bar, a wooden beam which is suspended from the middle so that it naturally balances with all the props sitting on top of it. So basically the props, the kitchen utensils kind of balance it. So the actors always have to watch it so they don't make it fall, and to me that represents more than the nature of kitchens... but it represents something which has power over all of them. It's almost like the 4th character in the play. The set is actually the 4th character... which is very much The Count. If you can see where I'm coming from."

Lee: "So you've turned The Count into The Kitchen Counter?"

Okay, so I didn't say that last bit, and I do think I know what he means. He had to have some evidence of The Count's existence and... or something like that.

The play does actually sound good and I am going to get a long to see it. ("Look out! The Count's behind the counter!")

Monday, June 02, 2008

Enough Rope With Miriam Margolyes

Just watched this interview with Miriam Margolyes and Andrew Denton. What an absolutely wonderful person MM is. My God I laughed. Denton is a very good interviewer. Margolyes is absolutely your dream interviewee, isn't she?

Except that Andrew Denton has probably done the definitive interview with her. If you were given the opportunity, you just wouldn't bother. This was class.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Freudian Slip At FIFA 2008

Big catering function. Lots of agency chefs, some good, some wankers. It's just the way it is. The good ones, they are just obvious because they Do The Fucking Job. Others are just idiots. But the idiots try, don't they? They scream and yell and forget that we are all here to get the job done. They go into meltdown when the pressure is on though. Pretty damned funny.

The heat is on. This is a world class event with... oh all right - it's those wankers from FIFA. My God, what a bunch of tossers. It's soccer, for fuck sake... you are just a committee deciding the rules of a game played by a bunch of blokes chasing a ball around a big green oblong... you are not Norse Gods. Such wankers.

But this chef, this chef.

I'm sweating because it's intense, this dessert, and we must get it out there and we're behind and oh fuck me it's all so tight and of all of The Big Events, this may be the Big Daddy of them all.

And this chef who is trying to stamp authority over everything, he walks over to me as I'm dressing the desserts that are about to go out and all red-faced and sinking in deep over his head, he stamps his authority by asking, "Have all these desserts been cross-dressed?"

I pause and don't even bother to laugh because this is too funny. I just think to myself, what the fuck are you into?

Do I look good in this silky Freudian slip?