Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Get Smart Phone


Grumpy is freelance writer Lee Bemrose (leebemrose@hotmail.com). He is very devoted to his partner and better half, The Dreaded One. Just saying.

The phone buzzes as a message comes in. I'm amused to see that it's a message from me. It's a very cute message. It says, “Why do you keep popping into my head? Don't you have some place to be? Love youuuu...” It's even accompanied by my Facebook profile pic, which makes the whole thing even more strange than it actually is.

Why has this message been sent to me from me? Because it's a message from my phone. You see, we've had wifi dongle problems and so have been using The Dreaded One's mobile as a wifi hotspot. Her phone is capable of such things; mine is not. And because I arrive home earlier than her and need the internet to send this very column, she suggested swapping phones. Sounded like a good idea, so that's what we did – after I had the briefest hesitation because what if she reads something she's not supposed to read? Stop being ridiculous, I reprimanded myself.

Thing is that now, as I re-read this message from me that's not from me, I realise it doesn't really sound very much it's from The Dreaded One either. It sounds cuter than her text message voice, kind of more cutesy-playful than she generally is. 'Keep popping into my head' suggests someone who hasn't seen me for a while. And, 'I love youuuu'? It sounds very much like a forwarded message from a third party. The very exact kind of message I had been so briefly worried about coming into my phone.

Think, Grumpy, think. So I think. Am I involved in a torrid love affair that has somehow slipped my mind for the time being? Me being me with my heightened ability to forget things, this isn't entirely out of the question. Then again, me being me as opposed to me being Russell Brand, a torrid love affair is not quite the kind of thing I usually find myself involved in.

Unless it's my old friend C. We were never involved in a torrid love affair, but we did become close enough to cause some friction between me and The Dreaded One. Things are cool now. C and The Dreaded One are great friends now. We all get along fine. We all tell each other that we love each other because we are life-is-short types who believe in telling our friends such things while we can. A few years ago maybe a message like this might have been a thing to fear, but not now.


Then again, what are the chances of my old friend C sending such a message on the one and only day The Dreaded One and I have ever swapped phones? What's that big word for little tiny things? Infinitesimal? The chance of this happening is infinitesimal. Laughable to even think such a thing. Ha. Hahaha. Hehe... oh, the lols!

Then a really stupid idea gets into my head: what if The Dreaded One is trying to test me in some way. What the hell is she up to? Is she trying to make me paranoid so that... so that... so that... nup, I keep getting nothing. I have no idea what kind of sneaky game she is playing.

I send a message back. A jokey, “So who did you forward that message from? (Smiley face with tongue poking out). Nah, thanks, I love you too.”

A few minutes later the message comes back, “It was from C.”

Infinitesimal indeed.

All is fine. I just need to remain calm because everything is fine. The column is written. The house has been cleaned. Pinot Gris is chilling. Dinner is bubbling away. Lovely rom-com DVD has been hired. The chances of there being trouble are infinitesimal.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Monologues Review

The Christmas Monologues

This is the second production by new Melbourne production company, Mellow Yellow. It's another of New Zealander Thomas Sainsbury's many plays (check out here for a recent Q&A he did with Australian Stage), and as the title would suggest, it's a motley collection of monologues. The characters do not inhabit each others worlds; they are simply connected by having the opportunity to tell us, the listener, what Christmas means to them.

We have a wife and mother whose Christmas is regimented and time stamped and filled with duty; the abandoned and vengeful professional Christmas tree decorator; a Christmas bon-bon sweat-shop tycoon; an elf with Santa fetish; a pillow-wielding nurse in an old aged home; a sick turkey farmer and a born-again Christian.

As well as Christmas binding these stories is the thread of dark humour. These are seven quite wrong Christmas tales, the level of wrongness varying from monologue to monologue, but all in all, all pretty wrong. And quite satisfying to anyone who regards the various elements of Christmas with healthy cynicism.

And lets face it – who hasn't had enough of the dutiful Christmas day and simply wanted to bail on it all? Who hasn't wished vengeance on their too-content ex on Christmas day? Who hasn't been grateful for their sweat-shop factory making their fortune on this day of giving? Who hasn't been an elf with dirty Santa fantasies that got them into big trouble...

Okay, so some of them are funny because they are true, others are funny because they are just that little bit twisted.

The Christmas Monologues gets off to an unsteady start , but if you hang in there you will be rewarded with some genuine, quite deliciously un-PC laughs. It could be the writing in the early couple of monologues, it could be the acting, but it just felt a little flat.

When our lusty Santa helper hit the stage, however, it was all laughs. This was a hilariously perverse story told by an actor (Steph Lee) clearly enjoying this character and filling in every kinky corner of her being.

I think all of us – to some degree - think Christmas is a bit of a pain in the bum. Check out The Christmas Monologues to find out why this collection of disparate characters also finds the whole thing a pain. It's a low budget production with the quiet patches well-worth putting up with for the pay-off when the acting matches the writing - and when that happens, it's squirmingly funny.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Leonard Teale, Bushrangers, Tropfest Entry... Anyone Want to Make a Movie?

Latest short story out in Inscribe, for you Melbourne people. Pick it up at your local litmag place (and ignore the typo in my name... grrr). Also, it would appear I'm gonna be a playwright in 2012 too. Alsotooaswell, if anyone thinks they can pull together a cast and crew for a last minute Tropfest entry, I have a potentially very funny concept and basic script. Leonard Teale's contact details would come in handy too.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Food, Art, Lament

Our focus has shifted from art to food, from artists to chefs. I don't understand this because artists try to understand life; all chefs do is make big food into little food and heat it up. Sometimes they make it taste nice. It's just food.

I am over our obsession with food. Can there be more interest in art please?


Thursday, December 08, 2011

Brainspill December 2011

Someone reminded me the other day that a blog is an open diary, and that is indeed true. It's a personal diary that everyone is welcome to read. And I realised I haven't been doing much diarising lately, just posting my Grumpy column every two weeks and maybe a theatre review.

And in being so lazy, people everywhere throughout all the lands have probably been wondering what has been going on? What has been happening in the life of Lee and The Dreaded One since they moved to their new home city? What? What? Tell us, Lee.

So much. That is what. So much. Problem is, because I know people I know read this open diary, there are still some things I can't talk about. Big things. Dark struggles. I went through a bit of shit earlier this year. It was ugly, people, even when writing my stoopid Grumpy columns. All was not as it seemed. Maybe one day I'll talk about it. Maybe I'll just use it in some fiction. Just know, it wasn't a smooth landing in Melbourne after a year of leisure.

But I think I'm through it somewhat now. I still need to change things and I need to be around my kind of people more. I've realised I'm the exact same fish-out-of-water I always have been when around certain types of people. And in the work environment... oh God I turn to shit. Family, school, workplace, I'm shit because I'm in a situation I don't want to be in surrounded by people I have had no choice in. Some in all three of the above can be excellent, but mostly I'm just more comfortable when random humans have actually chosen each other.

But good stuff. There has been good stuff. See the photo above? The Dreaded One and me with my old friend Chloe, her new boy Toby and his old mate Greg. For some reason, this is one of my favourite photos of us. I like that there is history (both ancient and modern), that there is silliness and laughter.

Friends have been coming down to visit and it has been really cool. It's been great having those old familiar Ugg boots of humans. The ones you know so well. Morning hugs. Late night hugs. Endless mindless banter and the occasional earnest talk. Strange that your friends can come and stay with you and your home suddenly takes on a stronger sense of home. I've wanted them to stay, but we are all atttached to elastic bands pulling us back to somewhere else.

But it has been good. And I know they have enjoyed staying here and will want to come back and I know we want to go and stay with them.

And New People. Strange things afoot. Don't want to jinx myself so I wont, other than to say I appear to have bumped into a same-wavelength human and as a result will probably finish the play I started a while ago and forgot about. She the director of a new theatre co... I really shouldn't talk about it just yet. Other than to say that she has produced a couple of Thomas Sainsbury plays and that in looking for local talent capable of writing dark comed... no really. Let's see what happens.

And reading. Bugger me - who would have ever thought I'd be back into reading novels again. I really thought electronicdancemusicclubs&doof+seratonindepletion had ended my enjoyment of novels, but nup. Been eating them up. Most recently read a couple of Max Barry novels (Syrup and Machine Man) and am now reading A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. Holy crap this last one is blowing my mind with the quality of writing. Seriously good stuff. Might write more about these books in another post.

What else... Had a short story published in a local lit mag, which was nice. Had my photo taken with Meow Meow. Met a theatre critic whose writing I like a lot by saying to the new local person, "Do you know the theatre critic Chris Boyd?" Meaning do you know of him because that man over there in the crowd looks a bit like him to me. She said yes. I asked if that was him (pointing discreetly). She said, "Yes - would you like me to introduce you?" They have been friends for many years and it was just a nice thing to happen. She introduced us and it was nice.

Then I said hello to Meow Meow and that was even nicer.

What else... Dreaded One is at her work Christmas party. She enjoys her job. This is a concept I cannot understand. Working for dollars... ergh. Necessary evil. But some people enjoy it. I was tempted to go and see Midnight In Paris while she was out but in the end really enjoy going solo to the movies in the afternoon. So I'm here instead, telling you stuff.

We are planning our next trip. Mid-next year. South of France, Spain, Portugal, maybe Spain again. It was the weirdest feeling to start researching accomodation and travel routes and it just feeling so natural. If I could do that for a living, I might just be happy in my workplace.

What else. Is there anything else? Yes. Yes there are more friends coming down this weekend and we are going to a Talamasca party at Ceres. And soon another friend is coming down and it will be Christmas very soon and I will be unemployed again, and January will involve road trips and parties (Rainbow Serpent coming round again), and then Maitreya and a new year of possibilities and endless credit card debts.

And there will be more theatre, more Melbourne. And hopefully I can shake the gloom, the gloom that ruins the magical sight of the hot air balloons hanging in the clear dawn sky each morning; the gloom of not being truly free.

That's all for now. Mostly, stuff is good and there is promise and there are posibilities and I am grateful for that.

I hope you enjoy the photo of old and new friends as much as I do.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Travel Arrangements


Grumpy is night owl and freelance writer Lee Bemrose (leebemrose@hotmail.com). He thinks it's never too late to check the travel arrangements whilst humming classic Monty Python songs like “Sit on my face and tell me that you love me...”

Being a late night person, I usually go to bed after The Dreaded One. I usually open the door and wait to make sure the coast is clear; sometimes she snores and it's usually easier to just hit the other room or the couch. Tonight, the coast is indeed clear. I climb into bed as gently and quietly as possible. All is quiet. I realise I really should have gone to bed earlier as it's only four and a half hours until I have to get up again. This is usually the last conscious thought I have before drifting to sleep. Will I ever learn? I doubt it.

My breathing stops. I squint into the darkness to hear better... and yes. Damnit. I've been ambushed. She has waited until I am almost asleep before starting to snore. It's the tiniest, snuffliest snore. It's actually quite cute, but I know it has the potential to grow into something quite monstrous. It might flicker out of its own accord like a candle in the wind, or it could turn into a raging firestorm. I have no idea why I decided to use fire as a snoring metaphor, but there you go. There it is.

The snuffle grows. I bounce about a bit under the covers. This breaks the snuffle, but not for long. It returns like the bad memory of a really stupid metaphor. I caress The Dreaded One's forearm and this also stops the snore, but also, too, as well, not for long. The snore increases in volume and as I focus all my mind powers on not getting irritated, I start to feel irritated. I know it's a lost cause. I now have less than four hours before my alarm goes off, so I gently climb out of bed and head to the living room feeling mopey and tired. I stretch out on my couch and enjoy the silence. I feel I'll nod off quite quickly and think that four hours is not such a bad sleep.

Suddenly, I don't know what the hell happens. One second I am completely asleep, the next I have been hit on the head by something. Have I been punched? Am I being smothered? I can't breathe, which would indicate that some form of smotherage is taking place.

Mmmmmppphmm!” I declare hysterically. “Mmmnnnthhhhppphhh?” I enquire hysterically.

The thing jumps off my head and I realise with bewilderment that The Dreaded One just totally sat on my head.

Oh Grumpy, honey. I'm sorry. I didn't mean... did I sit on your head?”

Totally. You totally sat on my head. Why did you do that?”

I'm in full-blown sulky, hard-done-by mode now. I've gone to great lengths to not disturb her sleep, and she returns the favour by sitting on my head.

What's going on?” I demand, indulging in a little justified grumpiness. “What are you doing?”

I'm so sorry... I was just checking on the travel arrangements...” She points to the corner of the room where I suppose the travel arrangements are supposed to be. Confusion starts to spread across her face, although it's not a patch on the confusion I was wracked by less than two minutes ago.

You what? Travel arrangements?” I fondle my nose. It doesn't feel broken.

Yeah, I just wanted to make sure the travel...” She is squinting into the corner.

Ah. The travel arrangements. I see. You're not quite awake yet, are you?”

I'm not... sure.”

She looks adorable. I wrap my arms around her and she snuggles in. “Come on, lets give this sleep thing another go.”

I ooze charm and chivalry, but I am thinking, no one sits on my head and gets away with it - I am sooo going to get her for this.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Grumpy With Celebrity


Grumpy is Tsunami apprentice celebrity columnist and freelance scribbler Lee Bemrose (leebemrose@hotmail.com). Want him to wash your car in his undies? You couldn't afford it.

This whole celebrity thing has gotten a bit weird, hasn't it? I don't even know who most of the celebrity population are. Why are they celebrities? What did they do to become celebrities? And why do they seem so desperate to remain a celebrity? A celebrity sounds like an awful thing to be. I mean it's nice to get a bit of attention from friends and family on special occasions and when you've done something they can be proud of, but modern, full-blown celebrity seems to be a result of the complete opposite of these things. Get arrested lots of times for drink driving and you're guaranteed to stay in the pages of celebrity gossip mags. Make a celebrity sex tape and leaking it to the internet, ditto (have you ever seen celebrity sex tapes? Mostly they are poorly shot, there's little by way of plot and the dialogue is terrible. Apparently).

You can even become a celebrity by killing lots of people and going to jail for it. For a while there just after Carl Williams was bashed to death (by a guy who I'm sure is now some kind of underworld celebrity), mainstream media were reporting the story and referring to this murderous scumbag as 'Carl.' Surely first name basis is a term of endearment, no? I was waiting for the day they started calling him 'Our Carl.'

Oh and I have a confession to make; a column or two ago I referenced a celebrity in a joky way without even knowing properly who she was. I was trying to prove a point and said something like “It was like bumping into Kim Kardashian at a Mensa meeting.” At that time I didn't have a clue who this Kardashian person was. I needed a name to make a point of how unlikely this thing was to happen and the name Kim Kardashian came to mind. By the small amount of information that has made it into my mind by osmosis... let me re-phrase that: by the small amount of information about Kim Kardashian that has made it into my mind, I thought the idea of bumping into this particular celebrity at a Mensa meeting would be comically unlikely (as comically unlikely as the implied suggestion that I might ever be in a position to bump into someone at said meeting). But I really didn't know who she was or why this should be funny. Maybe she is actually really brainy, as well as having big boobs, a pretty face and a shitty TV show.

Something else that made it into my mind by osmosis is a thing... a terrible, terrible monstrosity called Celebrity Apprentice. Have you seen it? Oh dear. I saw a bit where another baffling celebrity, Pauline Hanson, changed into undies to wash some guy's car. Forget the damn car – use that power water gun to wash my eyes! Nothing – absolutely nothing – about this was entertaining. It was not funny. It was not sexy or even risqué. It was just dumb. As dumb as the entire premise of this show. It highlights just how desperately some celebrities cling to their celebrity. They have had their 15 minutes years ago but will do anything to rise from the dead and, well, do anything if it means getting their head on telly, vomiting up the last microbes of their dignity to cling with gnarled, bony claws to their precioussss, precioussss celebrity.

No doubt the gaggle of celebrities parading their buffoonery on this vacuum of intelligence, sophistication and dignity would say, “Grumpy – lighten up. It's just a bit of fun. And besides – look at the ratings. That many viewers can't be wrong.”

No, and a million flies can't be wrong, right?

I've said it before and I'll say it again – you humans, you baffle me.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Ghost Train

Girl on a train,
Prettiest girl I ever saw,
I think you saw me looking at you,
I think you smiled,
But I looked away.

Girl on a train,
Prettiest girl I ever saw,
When you looked through the window,
Were you looking at me?
While I looked at you?
Ghostly reflections.

Girl on a train,
Train pulls away,
One last time I see you,
Looking through the window, ghostly reflection,
Girl on a train,
Prettiest girl I ever saw.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Sleeping Dog

The best part of the day
Is when it's dark
And quiet,
Gentle and grey,
And there is the possibility
Of something.

The day will break,
but now there are lingering lights,
A hangover from the night.
And so many possibilities,
Of bright things.

In the early hours,
Time slows,
Time is gentle,
Time is quiet and grey,
And Out There is so far away.

I'm not happy in this grey,
This peace,
This hangover,
This shadow of possibility,
But at least that dog is quiet.

And I might just make it through to see
Another quiet,
Gentle, grey beginning,
Of another day.

You're amazing

I was in a club last week with The Dreaded One. In hindsight we shouldn't have gone out. Not a bad night, just one we went along to out of habit more than anything. Okay night, it's just that I expect magic these days. Some nights, random magic and hilarity flies about all over the place.

One funny thing though... I was dancing away for a while and decided to take a break. As I left the dancefloor a girl stopped me and said simply, "You're amazing."

You're amazing. That's pretty big.

I was wearing my AD 2013 jacket, affectionately known by those in the know as Pretty, because it's a drop-dead cool jacket. I was also wearing my new Leafy Sea Dragons pants, which are drop-dead cool pants.

Possibly, the girl meant my clothes were amazing, which is a nice thing to say. I do like my clothes.

Or maybe - and upon reflection this is more likely - she was simply throwing a line at a random stranger to see if she could get a bite. Say that kind of thing and I guess most guys in a club are going to take the bait.

"Hey, amazing, you say? Why don't I buy you a drink and we can sit down and talk about all the ways you find me amazing." Something like that.

My reflex reaction? "Hoh - you are!" With an accusatory point. It was like we were eight years old on the school playground and she had just told me I was a smelly monkey's bum. I don't think it was quite the reaction she was expecting.

Her reaction? A moment of confusion, then, "No you are!" Adopting the mannerism of an eight year old who knows that it takes one to know one.

We laughed and it was a nice little moment.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Grumpy With Plans

One of my latest Grumpy columns. Something has gone wrong with Blogger and it appears you can't magnify scanned versions to read them, which is very handy indeed. Especially as I've sent links to a magazine editor recently.

Anyway, here's this. Hope you enjoy.


Grumpy is freelance writer Lee Bemrose (leebemrose@hotmail.com). He enjoys sangria and Mr Tiddles as much as he despises phone companies and their arrogant plans.

Lets imagine that you are on a first date and... actually it doesn't have to be a first date. By setting this on a first date I risk alienating people who are way beyond the first date scenario and they might not bother reading on, and that would be a shame because I am about to make a good point here relevant to far more people than singles on a first date.

So. Lets just say it's no special occasion (though it could well be if you're the kind of reader with a soft spot for special occasions). It's just, you know, you hanging out at a restaurant (not necessarily al la carte but it can be if you want it to be) with a couple of friends... I know – it's a beer garden at a local casually elegant pub... on a sunny Sunday afternoon. There's a DJ playing chilled tunes, couples on first dates as well as long-term relationship couples, groups of friends, a lonely guy in the corner happily reading his book, there are gays and straights and there is even wheelchair access so that this anecdote welcomes everyone.

On the table is a particularly delicious carafe of sangria. This place really knows how to make a good sangria. Good quality wine base (red or white depending on your preference), loads of tropical fruit chunks, spritz of ginger beer, subtle undertones of vanilla and cinnamon with a nice sharp cut of, oh I don't know, Cointreau? Maybe a dash of gin. It's just about the most perfect sangria there ever was.

But as lovely as the sangria is, everyone's happy just kicking back enjoying each others company, shooting the shit, laughing and thinking in the back of their minds, gee this is perfect. The DJ even drops Mr Tiddles from Sasha's Airdrawndagger which no one has heard in years but everyone agrees is exactly the right tune for this perfect afternoon.

Then the waitress comes over and starts to take the half-full carafe of delicious sangria away.

Excuse me – we haven't finished that yet,” one of the group says. “There's still half the carafe left.”

The waitress cocks her head to the side like yes she understands and she's very sorry. “Yes, I understand and I'm very sorry, but it's time. Did you want to order another carafe?”

It's time? What is that supposed to mean? We still have half a carafe of delicious sangria left.”

The smile of understanding has not left the waitresses face. “But we don't sell our carafes of sangria by the carafe, as such.”

You don't sell your carafes by the carafe as such? WTF?”

We serve our drinks by the hour. Each hour, if you haven't finished your drinks but wish to stay, you are obliged to purchase another carafe or bottle of wine or whatever. It's just policy – I wouldn't worry too much about it. Now I take it by your tone you would like to order another carafe?”

But we'd like to finish what's left in that one first.”

As I explained, that's just not possible. Our policy is structured on the size of the beverage. 15 minutes for glasses of wine, beer and spirits, one hour for bottles and carafes. So another carafe?”

[Close anecdote]

How intolerably unacceptable would such a policy be? You wouldn't stand for it, would you. It would make you quite bloody angry, wouldn't it? And rightfully so because it would be bloody bloody bloody ridiculous.

So why are telephone companies allowed to do this? Every month we pre-purchase so many calls, texts and so much data, then when the end of the month rolls around it doesn't matter how much has not been used, we have to buy a whole month's worth again. Why does this this blatant rort exist?

Petrol companies must be shaking their fists in lament... “Why oh why didn't we think of selling petrol in weekly plans? We could force our customers to pay for a full tank each week instead of waiting for them to use up what they've already paid for... oh what fools we are.”

If someone knows of a company offering an open ended pre-paid system, please let me know, because I really hate bending over at the end of each month and letting my current company have their way with my bottom.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Whiteley's Incredible Blue, A Not-Review.

Whiteley's Incredible Blue; An Hallucination.

Well I've just done something I don't normally do, and that is read other reviews before I've written my own. Not sure why I did this. Perhaps because I wasn't sure I was going to write a review at all. And I'm still not sure. I think what I'm about to do is add my two cents worth to a discussion that hasn't really taken place.

First up, scroll down past the recent Grumpy posts (do take the time to read them - they are sometimes a bit funny) to a Q & A I did with Barry Dickins leading up to the opening of Whiteley's Incredible Blue. That will give you an idea of what to expect from the play. I think if I had been a punter reading it (which I guess I am), I'm sufficiently interested in the life of Brett Whiteley and aware enough of Barry Dickins' talent for it to have persuaded me to check the play out.

Then check out Alison Crogan's positive review of the play here.

And finally check out Cameron Woodhead's negative review here.

There's also a bit of discussion in the comments section following Alison's review at Theatre Notes.

So what did I think of Whiteley's Incredible Blue? I've been telling friends that I enjoyed it and that yes, it is worth checking out.

Whiteley was, of course, a fascinating character. When younger I had probably always been aware of him even without being familiar with his art, being the boy from the burbs that I was. He was exotic, famous, creating weirdly beautiful paintings while living like a rockstar. For a while I lived around the Lower North Shore and it was as much a thrill for me then to glimpse the Whitely house at Lavender Bay as it would later be for me to walk past Patrick and Manoly's place at Centennial Park.

I also have a fascination for addiction and chemical experimentation, and Brett with his 30 years or so love affair with heroin... well what's not to be fascinated by?

Also, I laughed when he said something like, "I'd rather methadone than Ken Done."

So what intrigued me most about this play was that it came from a fever induced hallucination; was it going to capture the feeling of delirium, and would it be able to capture the kind of stuff that goes on in a head swirling in colourful storms of narcotic hallucination?

For me, the writing was spot on. This monologue of an overdosed artist in purgatory more-or-less looking back at his life was surreal, disjointed, occasionally garbled, poetic, sympathetic while exploring what Whiteley's ego must have been like. It's all speculation; it is indeed an hallucination.

Neil Pigot did a terrific job of becoming Brett Whiteley. Certainly he looked like him and appeared to move and talk like him. Was he accurately portraying what went on in Whiteley's head? Who really knows? But it felt authentic to me.

And yeah, it was moving, never more so that when the artist looked back at how he had played the role of father to the beautiful and tragic Arkie. Moving. Not sentimental. It would have been easy to milk the Arkie angle but I think Mr Dickins knew where the mark was and made sure he didn't overstep it.

Negatives? At first the voice-overs and the music were a bit jarring, but I think you either let yourself dwell on these or you kind of embrace them as part of the fabric of the thing. Jazz is not my favourite style of music but it fitted in with the somewhat helter skelter story we were being told. And like the story itself, amongst the jangling noise there were elegant sweeps of beauty.

I didn't read the "self-indulgent" biography written by Barry Dickins that Cameron Woodhead refers to, and I'd guess as a result I'd say this has not sent me in with any preconceptions. I like Whiteley's art. I am intrigued by how such artists think. When I heard of the artists death by overdose, I was saddened and wasn't one of the bitter humans Dickins talks about in my Q & A.

Consequently, I enjoyed this performance on its many levels and and do recommend it.

And that's my not-review. My contribution to this un-had discussion.

Until October 23 at fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Best City In Australia.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The Doughnut Of Love & AC/DC Wine Grumpies, Print Versions

A couple of hard copy scans of recent Grumpy columns (click on image to enlarge, then click again to make it readable), now that the mag has started sending them through again. If you've already read them, apologies for the repitition. It's just kinda nice for me seeing them in print.

Was noodling with a Grumpy plan today. 365 Grumpy columns together in one book, The Book Of Grumpy or The World According To Grumpy. Or maybe The Year Of Grumpy. It's an idea I've been toying with for ages but a while ago I sent the idea to an online lit agent modelled on New York's Miss Snark. Big mistake because this person shot the whole thing down. Really crapped all over my confidence about it.

But to hell with it - the column has been going for years now and why not put a whole bunch together in book form? Mainly, it would be fun. And who knows, maybe it could be the best seller I need to not have to work at crappy jobs anymore. Maybe my new vocation could be sitting on stage in an armchair, sipping wine and reading from The Book Of Grumpy to Leegions of adoring fans. Maybe this time next year I'll be appearing at the Melbourne Fringe instead of reviewing Fringe shows. Perhaps I will be reviewing my own show...

Also, and I hope this works, here is a link to some recent photos taken at a party called Dragon Dreaming.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Whiteley's Incredible Blue; An Interview With Barry Dickins

Whiteley's Incredible Blue

Barry Dickins Interview

By Lee Bemrose

During his lifetime, Brett Whiteley's flamboyant lifestyle more-or-less overshadowed the very art that made him famous. During the 60s, 70s and 80s even those uninterested in the art world knew about Brett Whiteley; internationally famous at the age of 22 and living a life of sex, drugs and art ever since. He mingled with the likes of Bob Dylan and polarised the populace with an exotic nature that often didn't sit right with average Australians and the Australian art elite alike, many of whom viewed him as a reckless upstart undeserving of his preternatural talent.

When Whiteley died of a drug overdose in 1992, the crescendo of gossip and superiority peaked as the biographies hit the bookshops. In his death, Whiteley had probably never polarised us more.

Amongst the many biographies was Black And Whiteley: In Search Of Brett by artist and writer Barry Dickins. As the title would suggest, this is a compassionate, non-judgemental biography, and indeed his new play, Whiteley's Incredible Blue, is also an intimate look at the mind of one our greatest artists and most colourful characters. In talking about this one-man performance featuring actor Neil Pigot, Dickins talks of poetry and dance, music and mystical manners, and drug-dealing Pink Flamingoes. All so very pure Whiteley.

For the full interview go to Australian Stage.

I saw the play last night and will write my thoughts on it shortly (short review: lived up to expectations and is well worth seeing; the 10pm show was pretty full, which is a good sign), but for now, read someone else's review at Australian Stage.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Appalling Behaviour, La Mama, Review

Appalling Behaviour

Written and performed by Stephen House

Directed by Justin McGuinness

Reviewed by Lee Bemrose

I once heard about a play that was performed in an elevator. It was at one of those arty fringe festivals. Appalling Behaviour took place on a stage much more intimate. Seriously, I think this was the tiniest stage I have ever seen. Did it work in this shrunken version of La Mama? Hell yeah. This is a case where intimacy really works.

Stephen House wrote this play and could sit back happy that he has done a good job of writing it. It's one of those scripts (it's a monologue) that makes you want to read the words on the page as you watch the performance. It's lyrical. It's savage. It gives eloquence to people most of us ignore.

Story? There's a guy on the streets of Paris. He's broken and lost but clinging to the hookers and the dealers and the schemers who get him through each day, either in reality or the hallucinations and memories he needs to survive. You live in a big city, you see them each day. But you ignore them. You never enter their world. But you wonder, don't you. You wonder how they got there. You wonder what their life was like before they became grimy and fucked up and forgotten.

Acting? There's not one minute of this 75 minute performance that isn't convincing. This guy just a metre or so away in his shitty clothing with his bag of drugs and his tales of sorrow and his yearning for admiration and love and for things to be the way they should have been... he's like the forgotten ones we all see on the streets but step over or close our ears to. This homeless human that Stephen House has created gives a voice to these people. They are human. They have feelings. They have a past. Sometimes they are even tragically funny, just like the rest of us.

This is a big performance on a small stage that was hugely impressive.

Addendum: I was lucky enough to have an accidental post-show chat with Stephen House. Apparently the La Mama stage was so small due to the 6.30 performance of Blackbox 149, which explained the mysterious curtain at the rear of the stage that didn't do anything; it was not a prop in this show. House said that he was intimidated by the diminutive size of the stage and initially didn't think he could do it. He was used to performing Appalling Behaviour in bigger spaces and had to pull back his performance. On hearing this, most of us were surprised because this very intimacy enhanced the performance. You could feel the energy, the anger, the frustration, the sadness and longing.

There was a young kid in the audience who was from time to time disinterested and occupied herself by playing with her rubber ball. But even for her, as distant from this broken character's life as she was, she was frequently engaged, the toy falling still in her lap. House has indeed taken this performance to schools as well as theatres for us worldly grown-ups. However he said the most nervous he has ever been was when performing for homeless people. Understandable, because this was the acid test. Seems he got it right; Appalling Behaviour went down well with the very characters he was portaying. That's how good this performance is. That's how real it is.

As to why the story was set in France? House has spoken to many homeless people who have said that they feel they are speaking a different language, such is society's deafness to them; they feel like aliens even in their home country. He also likes the contradiction between the impression we have of a place like Paris and the reality. Indeed, spend a bit of time in, say, Pigalle, and you'll understand what he means. It's a short walk between vomit in the gutters and the shiniest shopping Paris has to offer.

At La Mama

205 Farraday Street

Carlton, Melbourne

September 21 – October 2

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pod Of Friends, Collins Street, Sept 20 2011. A Memorable Moment For No One.

Walking along Collins Street today happily off in my bubble, I eventually notice that the street seems a lot more crowded than usual. Why is everyone packed in so closely and talking so much? I look around and realise I'd simply wandered into a pod of friends dawdling along talking to each other. They all look a bit the same. They talk in groups of two or three or more, sometimes one conversation spilling over into another. Outside the pod, the street is normal. Normal pace, normal space. I've been inside the pod for at least five minutes. I think about staying longer but decide it's time to go.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Life In Northcote Update, And Kimbra's Plain Gold Ring

When I heard the Gotye track Somebody I Used To Know for the first time, I recognised Wally's vocals but when Kimbra came in I thought who the fuck is this? I saw the film clip and was amazed again. I've since read up, have since heard much of her music and whoa, how good is she? This track is my favourite. I like her other stuff too, but man, I watched this one this morning and just melted. She's 21 years old and clearly headed for big things. The track itself, originally performed by Nina Simone, is a wonderfully sad story of unrequited love. Nick Cave did a typically cool version of it. Kimbra's version... I think it's the kind of song you really have to feel to pull off. Watching her perform here, she is totally immersed in the song. Love it.

I was going to give an update on what's been happening in my life but I don't know if I'm in the mood. I am Limbo Man. I need a change. I need a good thing. I need a new adventure.

Yeah, a new adventure sounds nice.

Focused now on the 2012 World Trip Of Parties. Ozora, Boom, Ibiza, maybe Burning Man. This time next year we'd be heading back to Australia for Dragon Dreaming. I think we will work on making this happen. Living adventures like that, it's what it's all about.

For now though, things are not as bad as they were when we landed back in reality in Melbourne. I've gotten through the troubles, mostly. I think only The Dreaded One and Kat know what I'm talking about. Not good times even though I managed to pull out the smiles and laughs. Feel like I'm through a storm, shaken but okay. No one suspected a thing.

Fun times ahead. I really can't express how much... two things save my head. Writing silly stuff and hearing good music. I watched the Kimbra clip with tears in my eyes because I love how much she is getting into it. It's an amazing thing.

Oh there other things that save my head. The friends I know will hug me at the next doof. The new friends in this new city who are actual friends. The observations of The Buddha. The sight at Flinders station of a group of total wreckheads with tattoos on their necks, trashed clothing and one girl with a black-eye... seeing them enjoy taking time out from the life of carnage I know they live to enjoy a simple pleasure like buying icecreams on a sunny day. I passed by and took in all the information and it was a sad and happy picture. The girl with the black eye, she probably wondered why it can't always be like this. The guy with the tattooed neck she was passing the icecream to, he probably wondered the same. No doubt it would all fall apart hours later, but seeing these wrecks enjoying this moment of innocent enjoyment and being nice to each other for a while, it was nice. If sad. Why can't it always be nice?

Things are okay here. We like Northcote. We like Melbourne.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Grumpy And The Doughnut Of Love

The new Grumpy column which will be out in the next issue of Tsunami mag. Unlike the mag version, you get to listen to a soundtrack as you read this tale of misguided romance.


Grumpy is freelance writer Lee Bemrose (leebemros@hotmail.com), and he has a problem, only it's not what he thinks it is.

Addiction can be a horrible thing. It makes you a slave. It makes a level-headed person change their habits and do things they wouldn't otherwise do. Addiction can ruin lives.

My name is Grumpy, and I'm a Bahn Mi-aholic. I love my Vietnamese pork roll. I love the crispy crust on the outside, the fluffy soft bread inside, the seismic crunch of cucumber and shallot and coriander stalk all so wonderfully juxtaposed with the cream-smooth pâté . I love the incendiary explosion of fresh chilli, the deft balance of salty soy with two-tone pork products. OMG, it's gotta be Bahn Mi for me.

Problem is, you start calling into the same place everyday to get your fix and strange things can happen.

It all started innocently enough. I saw that a local place in my new neighbourhood served Vietnamese pork rolls and remembered that I quite liked them. I'd had a bit of a thing for them before, so on a whim I decided I try these ones out. Ah yes, the memories came flooding back. So began my first steps on the road to ruin.

Soon the girl behind the counter started to recognise me as not just another random walk- in but as a regular customer deserving special treatment. Soon there were smiles and how are yous as our transaction got underway. Soon the thin spread of pâté seemed to become more generous – no mere scrape for this loyal customer; I, it seemed, was worthy of a luscious, thick spread that made my heart pound in anticipation. Likewise, the rest of this symphony for the mouth grew in quantity until surely I was getting the Mac Daddy of all Bahn Mi. I could feel the eyes of other Bahn Mi addicts on me, wondering why I was getting such royal treatment when they were receiving their pedestrian efforts.

I tried to restrict myself to one indulgence every second day but it was no good. I was hooked, and hooked good. Some days I almost made it past the bakery, only to be lured inside at the last moment. My Bahn Mistress' smile of greeting turned to a flirtatious giggle, her cheeks blushing as she set about professionally assembling my daily fix.

I knew things were spiralling out of control when one day, as we came to the dirty part of the deal, when I paid my $4 for her services, ever so softly, gently and I swear in slow motion, the tips of our fingers touched...And I don't know if you're an illusion, Don't know if I see it true, but you're something that I must believe in, and you're there when I reach out for you... Love is in the air, every sight and every sound...

But it got worse. How could it possibly get worse, you wonder? Like this: Lure, giggle, blush, Bahn Mi assemblage, payment, slow motion fingertip caress, cheesey 70s music followed by, “One moment. Something for you.”

Bahn Mistress has deposited a mystery item into a paper bag and slid it blushingly across the counter. I thank her and we smile blushingly and shyly, then I make my way through the thought balloons of the other customers (“Oh right – so not only does he get better pork rolls than us but now he gets mystery gifts as well.” “What's so good about him?” “What the hell is going on here?” “Where is that cheesy 70s music coming from?”).

Outside, curiosity piqued, I peek inside the bag: a doughnut. But given the circumstances, it's not just any doughnut but a Doughnut Of Love. And it might have been manageable if she had given me any other pastry (there were lamingtons and cookies and caramel slices and chocolate eclairs to choose from) but the symbolism of this Doughnut Of Love was unmistakable; she was clearly telling me she wanted to put a gold wedding ring on my finger.

This latest development happened just yesterday. I am due to be lured inside in a few short hours. I have no choice – I have to tell this Bahn Minx that I already have a Dreaded One. Perhaps I should let her down gently by making light of it and telling her that it's not her, it's Mi... no, that won't work. How oh how do we get ourselves into these things?

Monday, September 05, 2011

Daheen's Being Green Album Review

Being Green
REGEN Records

Being Green is the latest release from Sydney psytrance producer Daheen (aka Dave Le Breton). It's an album with an environmental message, for sure, but the music is as fun as the message is, well, green. The tracks – a motley collection of proven favourites from Daheen's live sets – as often exist simply to smile and dance to as they do to remind us of the precarious situation we have gotten ourselves into environmentally.

Tracks such as Pirates Ahoy, Horsin' Around, Pink Panther and Master Yoda use often hilarious samples to get you smiling while you stomp. Who would ever have guessed that the likes of Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore's classic comic duo Derek and Clive would make an appearance on a trance dancefloor?

The real beauty in this album though is the music from nature. The natural rhythm of a frog's ribbit and cricket's chirrup (are they the technical terms?) provide the perfect base for the wonderfully fat title track. And lest you get caught up in the dark coolness of this track, who should make an appearance but the green one himself, Kermit The Frog. The following track draws on the symphony of sounds the great grey beast the elephant communicates with; it's an intricate track of shimmering beauty, dancefloor friendly but equally one of those tracks to close your eyes and think beautiful things to.

Printed and packaged in eco friendly materials, the album comes with a short story connecting the variety of characters who make an appearance on the album as our frog hero Neehad (where did Daheen come up with such a name?) embarks on a voyage to get to the bottom of the mystery of the disturbing shrinking world frog population. Whimsical, silly and with a whole lot of heart, it's exactly the kind of thing you could read to your kids at bedtime... just fast forward through the Derek and Clive section.

Daheen may have a message, but he knows the dancefloor is for dancing. As the Hopi Indian saying goes, “To watch us dance is to hear our hearts sing.” Dance to Being Green and hear your heart sing.

The Melbourne launch of Being Green happened at The Mothership Part 4, My Aeon, Friday September 9.

Lee Bemrose

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Please Explain: AC/DC Wine


Grumpy is freelance wine-maker Lee Bemrose (leebemrose@hotmail.com). Grumpy's Grenache is a mighty fine drop.

In the local bottle shop the other day I was a bit bemused to see the newly released AC/DC range of fine wines. It's... I mean, I like AC/DC and I like wine, but they just don't have anything to do with each other. Seeing images of Angus Young in Dan Murphy's was as bizarre seeing Kim Kardashian at a Mensa meeting. Or the Murdochs at the International Meeting of People With Integrity. Or Adam Sandler in a funny movie.

“What's going on here, Brain?” I asked my brain.

“I don't know, Grumpy. It's just not computing. It's as bizarre as seeing Kim Kardashian at a Mensa meeting. Or the Murdochs at the International Meeting -”

“Hey – that's what I was just thinking.”

“Great minds...”

Nobody was going near the AC/DC point of sale area. I guess everyone was having bemused conversations with their bemused brains. But I guessed a lot of shoppers, like me, were taking surreptitious sideways glances at this oddity of merchandising. Think Oz rock, you think black T-shirts, tatts, muscle cars and shouting. Think Oz rock and booze and you think beer or Jack.

And yet there it was – Hells Bells Sauvignon Blanc.


“I know. I saw it too.”

There's also Back In Black Shiraz, You Shook Me All Night Long Moscato and getting away from the Back In Black album, even a Bon Scott reference in the Highway To Hell Cabernet Sauvignon.

“Erm – Brain?”

“Yes Grumpy? I probably know what you're going to say, but go ahead.”

“Didn't the original singer of AC/DC die from an alcohol induced incident?”

“He most certainly did.”

“So as well as pretty damned weird, it's not really in the best taste, is it.”

No. I agree. It's a bit like... a bit like...”

“Releasing a Jeff Buckley range of swimwear?”

“Exactly what I was thinking.”

But it's not really the bad taste aspect that has stayed with me (others have suggested a Marc Bolan model Mini-Cooper to celebrate the vehicle in which he died, or a Mama Cass chain of sandwich shops), it's just the weirdness of the whole thing. Who, exactly, is going to buy this stuff? Certainly not cardigan-clad and knowledgeable wine buffs. Certainly not me or my bon vivant brain. Are AC/DC fans really going to buy it?

And rather than go down the bad taste road of releasing a celebration of the thing that killed a loved rock star, I'm a far more practical thinker. “Isn't that right, Brain.”

“You said it, big feller.”

What I'm wondering is, what do I eat with my Hells Bells Sauvignon Blanc?

“I'm thinking,” Brain tells me, “a well-ripened cheese. Maybe the Led Zeppelin Black Dog brie.”

“Sensational. Accompanied by a Black Sabbath Paranoid quince paste.”


The Grumpy-Brain Advertising Corp next plans to release the Pauline Hanson range of Please Explain lingerie.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Maids Review

The Maids

Review by Lee Bemrose

(Photo by Joe Calleri)

This was one of the oddest plays I've seen in a while – not the least because I went in pretty blind as to what I was about to see. I don't really remember what initially interested me. It was on at La Mama. It looked like a bit of a dark comedy. The promo shots hinted at something a bit strange; might be worth checking out.

Basically, The Maids by Frenchman Jean Genet follows the story of a couple of maids playing naughty power games in their mistress' absence. They dress up in her clothes, wear her make-up, mimic and tease, both her and each other. Their game escalates until they dare themselves to murder her. She returns, almost discovers what the mice have been up to while the cat's away and... well I've already given away too much.

Although this is a one act play, it is constructed of three parts. There is the opening revelation of the curious nature of the maids followed by the return of the mistress, followed by what happens next when the mistress leaves again.

There is something strange about this production right from the start. The two maids, Solange and Claire, are played by male actors Matt Crosby and Ben Rogan. There's nothing wrong with seeing gender played by opposites, but in this case it was strange because... well because it was all very obvious. Matt and Ben are very masculine men playing very feminine roles, but in a very over-the-top way; women cast in these same roles would have played the parts very differently, I feel. There's a self-consciousness about it which adds to the feeling that all is not as it seems.

Looking around at the faces in the intimate space of La Mama, I did see a few staring on occasion into the middle distance rather than the actors on stage who frequently rubbed shoulders with the audience. There were jokes which occasionally raised quiet laughs, and there was this constant, unsettling feel about the thing. Why have male actors playing female roles? Why this campness? And what, exactly, was going on here?

In what is basically the second act, the limelight is stolen by Butoh and burlesque star Yumi Umiumare. This is also over-the-top camp, but somehow, suddenly, there is electricity. Yumi's Mistress is a loud Japanese pop-punk drama queen who struts, demands respect (the maids have become suddenly subservient in her presence after being so bold in her absence), and she also demands answers. What has been going on in her absence? Why these misplaced objects? Why traces of her make-up in unexpected places? Much of her barked sentences trail dismissively into Japanese, making her dominance even more comical.

The plot to undo the mistress is thwarted and as she leaves for what is basically the third act, the maids resume their power games, but with added edge.

Unfortunately, once Yumi left the stage, a bit of that middle-distance gazing came over again, and this third section felt a little too long. I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one present who thought okay, I've seen the fun bit, let's get this over and done with.

Discussion afterwards between plus one and myself was along the lines of the opening line of this review. It is an odd, unsettling play. It's a play from a bygone time. I don't think it's timeless or even relevant to our times. I do thinking acting from all three cast members was very good. I am curious to see another production of this play because I'm not sure why gender came into this... although it was certainly about power and dominance, both of which often dance with gender and the roles we have to play. (Note – in reading about The Maids after writing this review it seems the playwright himself wanted male actors, so this production is being true to the spirit of the thing).

Like I said, one of the oddest plays I've seen in a while. Not entirely a bad thing.

Season Over.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Grumpy, Captain Jack And The Peacock Juice


Grumpy is freelance pirate Jack Sparrow. He can be Shanghaied for writing at leebemrose@hotmail.com

The Dreaded One walks into the bathroom and asks where I left her eye-liner.

Back in the other room. Near where you were sitting.”

She leaves to look for her eye-liner, and I ponder what a strange exchange this was. First time we've ever had such a conversation; I am not in the habit of wearing my girlfriend's make-up. However, we are going to a fancy dress party and I am going as a pirate. Weirdly, I have managed to fashion an entire, impressively piratey outfit from found items in my wardrobe. I have a scarf (which has for some long-forgotten reason been referred to as my terrorist scarf) which, when folded correctly, makes a splendid bandanna. I have a white linen shirt with French cuffs which when left un-cuffed looks like one of those billowy jobs pirates wear. Throw a vest over that, a sash around my waist and my leather Swear boots on my feet and hey presto! I'm Jack Sparrow!

Only I need some eye-liner. A quick lesson on how to apply eye-liner and I look fabulous. I become Jack Sparrow. I sway and swagger like an inebriated feline as I make my way into the living room and say things to The Dreaded One like, “You need to find yourself a girl mate. Or perhaps the reason you practice three hours a day is that you already found one, and are otherwise incapable of wooing said strumpet. You're not a eunuch are you?”


I'm Jack Sparrow. Captain Jack Sparrow, at your service.” I may not look exactly like Johnny Depp, but the accent is totally spot on. I am the whole package of swashbuckling sexiness.

Somehow The Dreaded One rolls her eyes whilst staring levelly at me. “You don't have to be Jack Sparrow. You can just be a regular pirate.”

Will you please shut it?” I slur ever so slightly in the manor of Captain Jack Sparrow. “Listen to me. Yes, I lied to you. No, I don't love you. Of course it makes you look fat. I've never been to Brussels. It is pronounced "egregious". By the way, no, I've never met Pizzaro but I love his pies. And all of this pales to utter insignificance in light of the fact that my ship is once again gone. Savvy?”

Oh God. This isn't going to be a repeat of Turkey, is it?”

Ah. Turkey. Yes. A dance festival with a total solar eclipse in the middle of it. A party in the pine forest populated by people of all persuasions; no pirates. Everyone, it seemed, had an accent, and after someone put a drop of something on the back of my hand and the pine trees turned to peacock feathers, I developed an accent of my very own. It was the accent of a swarthy European, a seasoned world traveller who is deep of voice, thick of accent and wise of head. It may or may not have been inspired wholly or in part by Sasha Baron Coen's Borat.

And because of the stuff that turned the pine trees into peacock feathers, my accent would not go away.

Stop it please,”The Dreaded One kept asking.

But I cannot. I am veddy solly, but it has... how you Eengleesh say... it is part of me. It is simply the way I communicate in your Western... tongway? Tong? Tung! If I must communicate to you in you preferred langoo-wage, I must speak in, eh, these accent. You must forgeeve. Ooh – look at the peacock trees.”

It's a strong relationship that can survive three solid days of this. I simply could not shut it off.

And this was what The Dreaded One was getting at with this Jack Sparrow thing. I had taken to being Jack Sparrow perhaps a little too naturally.

No problem. I just have to stay away from people offering peacock juice and everything should be fine.

Monday, August 01, 2011

A Grumpy Love Song

This story will be familiar to some of you. I needed a Grumpy column and came across my one and only attemps at song-writing and the circumstances around it and thought I'd recycle a bit. It really is a coincidence that I've moved to this city and that I am currently working in this particular theatre.


Grumpy is freelance writer Lee Bemrose (leebemrose@hotmail.com) His new venture as a love balladeer extraordinaire may be shorter lived than he hoped.

When it comes to writing, I've tried most forms with varying degrees of success... or varying degrees of failure, depending on how you view these things. I've been lucky enough to win an award for a sad love story, have had sad and funny love stories published in a variety of mags and lit journals and even the odd crime story has found an audience. I just think what the hell, you have to give things a go.

Rummaging through old files recently I discovered that I have also tried a bit of song writing. It all came about after I reviewed an internationally famous cabaret diva and in my review (which, I guess, did turn into a bit of a declaration of love) I mentioned that by the end of her show I “was comatose with desire.”

Bugger me, I thought, wouldn't Comatose With Desire make a good song title. Sounded like something The Smiths would come up with. Next time I interviewed the internationally famous cabaret diva I told her about my idea for a song for her. Her response? “Stop stalking me.”

Encouraged by her enthusiasm, I set about writing my first love song:

Comatose With Desire

I would walk the desert sands for you,
Move mountains and part seas for you,
I would hold my breath and turn blue for you,
You make me comatose with desire.

Comatose with desire,
Comatose with desire,
You make me
Comatose with desire.

Your presence penetrates me,
It envelopes and smothers me,
You choke the very life out of me,
And make me comatose with desire.


Your beauty intoxicates,
It makes my pupils dilate,
And my heart fibrillate,
I’m so comatose with desire.


To know you is to know humility,
You degrade and humiliate me,
And leave me snivelly and whimpery,
And comatose with desire.


My unrequited lust for you,
Has crushed my heart, it’s true,
And another vital organ or two,
And left me comatose with desire.


I am a peaceful village,
That you rape and pillage,
My heart buuuurns for yoooo... because you set it on fire,
I am comatose with desire.


Your indifference to me
Has made me quite loony,
I am drugged...
And bound...
And dribbling...
In the... mental... asylum... of love...

(Chorus, with sad echoey effects and maybe one of those eerie theremin things).

I sent the song to my diva. Her response? “Really, darling, if you don't stop stalking me...” She also pointed out that the song made no sense because if she sang it, who was she singing it to? Who was the 'You' in the song. Me, I ventured? “I don't sing love songs to stalkers.”

I interviewed her for another mag twice after that (“Stop stalking me! Stop stalking me!”), but it's gone quiet between us since then.

By complete coincidence, the new city I've recently moved to is also the hometown of our internationally famous cabaret diva. And by an even bigger coincidence I've scored a job at the very same theatre she performs her new show at in a few short weeks.

It's going to be so lovely to catch up with her again.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Grumpy With Job Interviews


Grumpy is freelance writer Lee Bemrose (leebemrose@hotmail.com). He's not so good with job interviews.

Why do I do this? I wonder as I bumble through the panic of waking up feeling rough after a big night out, knowing that I am late and that this is typical behaviour and where are my pants and wouldn't it have been better to have laid all my clothes out the night before and in fact shouldn't I have stayed in for a quiet night instead of going out and getting wrecked? Wouldn't all of that have been the sensible thing to do? I mean, after all, this is A Very Important Job Interview.

I am not very happy with the sock situation. How is it that so many single socks have gone through the wash while their partners took the day off. Odd socks for A Very Important Job Interview is a well known bad omen. But I can I really pair one clean sock with an unclean matching one? More to the point – should I be spending so much time thinking about socks when I have to be at the place in a very short time? Stop being so superstitious and do something about the sock situation.

I move like The Flash. My mind sharpens and I prioritise. I grab stuff on the way past that I think I will need – phone, keys, wallet, stapler, it all goes into my (very fashionable) shoulder bag. I stop at the door because something doesn't feel right. I think at the speed of light. I turn around and run back to take the stapler out of my bag and stuff my resume into it. Oh I'm good.

I catch sight of myself in the hall mirror on the way past... fuckity fuck – haven't shaved. Seriously no time now so the electric shaver goes into the bag. I move fast because not only do I need this job, I want it so very badly because it's a very cool job.

I run for the bus. I'm one of those people you smirk at (from the comfort of your bus seat) who has lost all dignity, such is their desperation to make it to the bus before it pulls away. You smirk in justified superiority at me because YOU had a quiet night in and YOU laid your clothes out the night before and YOU have clean matching socks and... oh why don't you just fuck off.

Bus. Sorted. No seats. Standing room only. Still, all cool. So long as the traffic isn't broken and we don't get taken away by aliens, should be fine.

I fix myself up. I cool down by the end of the bus ride. I tell myself to stop asking me why I do this. I clear my mind. I think of the interview. This is a cool job. I must be cool. My outfit, it is very cool... so long as they don't look at my socks. My things, they are all very cool. My diary, my pen, my watch, my lovely lovely things will make an impression. Be calm. Relax, I tell myself, you have the questions you know they will want you to ask even though you know the answers... because you are a professional. A cool, professional cool person and their future employee.

I keep soothing myself like this all the way through the city streets, through the huge revolving door to this huge skyscraper. I whistle a little tune to myself as I look at the huge building directory, taking longer than I need to now because I even have a little time up my sleeve.

Elevator dings open. I step inside and press 34. I turn for one last look and – FUCK! Didn't shave. Right. Too late now. Just have to go for that so-cool-I-can-get-away-with-three-day-growth look. But can I? No, I cannot. I just don't have that kind of facial hair. I have gaps.

I also have my shaver. Because I plan ahead.

I lunge for the elevator buttons and press every one of them between current 7th floor and the 34th floor, my fingers tickling those buttons like I'm Mozart playing a very weird piano. The other occupants of the lift do not look overly impressed. I don't get the feeling that I'm very popular in that elevator, but if they knew the full story I'm sure they'd understand.

I rip into my fuzz with a satisfying buzz and we dawdle upward.

27th floor and I am totally going to make it. Feeling good? Hell Yeah.

We leave the 33rd floor and... the shaver dies with one half of my moustache to go.

Silence. Ding. 34th floor.