Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Grumpy With Farts


I told the almighty Facebook that I had a Grumpy column due and that something funny had to happen to me very soon so that I would have something funny to write about. I wasn't sure what to expect, if anything. I simply put a wish to The Universe for something funny to happen, because as we all know, The Universe is an avid reader of Facebook.

The very next comment was from a charming and intelligent female friend. She commented simply, “I just farted.”

Fair enough, I thought. We all fart. I didn't need to know she just farted and I failed to see how I could possibly get an entire column out of this piece of information.

“I need way more info to get a column out of that,” I told her. “Like, where were you when this alleged fart took place? Situation is important. An elevator fart, for example, is a lot funnier than your garden variety toilet fart... although given the acoustics of the toilet bowl, toilet farts can be the Bill Bailey of farts...”

“The Bill Bailey of farts?” my friend enquired. “What kind of fart would be the Noel Fielding of farts? Or the David Mitchell of farts? I distinctly remember waking myself up to Dylan Moran on Saturday morning. The fart I mentioned yesterday was at my desk and in the privacy of my own home. No witnesses, no shame.”

No. The fart in question was strictly between my friend and I.

But it got me thinking, my friend's fart. I googled farting in elevators and was a bit shocked by the rich source of entertainment that unfolded before my eyes. Farting, it seems, is the single, most universally funny thing a human being can do. There are hours of footage out there of people fake farting in elevators (I assume they are fake farts), and the guaranteed reaction from every unsuspecting victim is laughter. A guy stalks his victims in a supermarket and squeezes one out and those around him double over laughing every single time. Two baseball-wearing kids are by equal measures disgusted and amused that someone in an elevator pops one out...

“Dude – you farted!

“It wasn't me!”

The adult playing the prank lets another one fly, struggling to keep a straight face.

The first kid is wise now. “Oh I know who did that now.”


“Yo momma.”

Giggles all round.

I recall a time when one of my grandmother's ancient Pekinese dogs farted while asleep. The fart astonished the dog into sudden wakefulness. It leapt to its feet, looked around for this phantom creation and ran away, astonished and mystified and baffled by just what was going on here. And it was without a doubt THE funniest thing this kid had EVER seen in his entire short life.

Then I think about famous giggler and funnyman Peter Sellers. From memory, he had to do a scene where a bunch of gangsters get into an elevator, and one of the tough guys lets out a tiny little fart. They are supposed to play it straight, just look a bit disgusted and look at each other, like who's the dirty bastard who did that? But Sellers loses it and this sets everyone off. Again and again. They keep re-shooting the scene but they keep cracking up at the sound of the fart.

Eventually they decide they won't do the sound of the fart, the assistant director will cue them with the word “Now” so that they can react and wonder who the dirty bastard is, inserting the audio-fart later in the editing room.

At their new unfarting cue, they lose it again, time after time, giggling like naughty school boys.

It's a curious thing, how after hundreds of thousands of years of evolution something as basic as a fart can be such a rock-solid thing of comedy gold.

As Oscar Wilde famously said, “Why bother with wit when there are whoopie cushions?”

Grumpy is freelance farter Lee Bemrose. He's at leebemrose@hotmail.com

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Skinhouse Review


Skinhouse is a two-woman performance from theatre director, playwright and performer Fleur Kilpatrick, and actor, singer and pianist Kristina Benton. It's a strange creation – not fiction and not fictionalised but a kind of factual revelation of a year these friends spent getting to know each other in their share-house. It's a movingly honest account of one friend trying to understand how this other friend deals with her life as a prostitute.

Perfectly suited to the intimate stage of La Mama, the audience feels very much like they are sitting in the living room eavesdropping on the conversation of these two friends...because that is precisely what we are doing. They are performers performing, sure, but everything about the script and performances is so very real.

And while a play about the sex industry has the potential for either shock value or glamorisation, Skinhouse deftly avoids both. There is honesty without going for shock, and there is humour without making light of the subject matter.

Creative couplings are often miracles of chance, and in the opening moments it's very clear that that's what we have in these two performers. They play off each other brilliantly and naturally. They chat away like girls, they tease, they argue, they discuss the reality of the sex industry to the sound of the clean linen and towels they fluff and fold in their nice home.

And they sing, beautiful harmonies, simple lyrics imbued with the honesty this play is all about. I for one am very happy that these two women met and have been brave enough to share their story, creating something quite beautiful out of a situation less than beautiful.

It's a short season on alternate nights so be quick. Oh and the CD is worth picking up too. All piano and vocals, it's reflective, sad, unsettling, strangely sweet. Like the play itself, a quiet little, unpretentious thing of beauty.


At La Mama Theatre, Carlton, until April 3

Monday, March 21, 2011

Juiced Up

Now that we have all of our stuff in our new home, I'm finding that I'm really getting into the juicer. Fresh watermelon juice (and vodka) is delicious. And I've always enjoyed carrot and ginger. But tomorrow I'm going to push the envelope and try something new: meat juice. Surely T-bone steak that you can drink has to be a good thing.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Neighbours... Everyone Needs Good Neighbours...

If you scroll down a few posts you'll find a Grumpy column in which I asked the universe to bless me with a few nice neighbours to play with in our nice new home. Well, I didn't get Cameron Diaz or Angelina Jolie or even Stewie from Family Guy.

The buzzer rang one day last week. It's one of those video jobs for extra security. On the little television screen was a man who appeared to be eating something from a paper bag.

"Hello?" I said.



"Hi. I live in 501 on the same floor as you and I've locked myself out. Would you mind buzzing me in?"

I don't think I had seen him before but he seemed genuine, slight sheepish tone in his voice, so I buzzed him in and went back to whatever it was I was doing. After a couple of minutes I wondered how much help that had been to him because you need your swip key to get up in the elevator. Poor bastard was still stuck downstairs in the lobby.

I went to let him up but heard rustling paper in the hallway. I took a look and sure enough he had somehow made it up to the 5th floor and was sitting outside 501 munching on a piece of chicken. He wasn't wearing any shoes. I asked if he wanted to wait inside our place until someone came home and he was very appreciative. He went to shake my hand but it was covered in chicken juice. He washed his hands, accepted the offer of a beer and explained that he had just wandered out for a piece of chicken and forgotten to take his keys, and his partner ("a punk nurse") wouldn't be home for another hour.

Three beers and two hours later - with an ammended note taped to his door explaining where he was - there was a knock at the door and his punk nurse partner came in and seemed a bit bemused by this way of getting to know the neighbours. Something about the way she reacted to him being here without his shoes made me think it's the sort of thing he might do rather often. She also pointed out that he had left his phone inside as well.

So far from Hollywood sex bombs, the universe has given me a stoner as my first neighbour. A very appreciative one who couldn't stop saying that he thought The Dreaded One and I were lovely people.

At least after the third beer was opened he gave up on his plan to climb around the balcony and make his way to his apartment.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Quick 2011

Fiction has just come back to me. My character, Quick... he's alive.

I'm three days into the second chapter and all good. One thousand words a day. Modest start, I know, and I will ramp it up (I think the published short story that is now the first chapter is 5,000 words). I wasn't sure I wanted to get back to this but I am really enjoying it. And I think it's good. I think I once did 5,000 words in one sitting, but I think 1,000 is a good minimum. Anything over that once I get rolling will be sweet.

Am enjoying the style. Not a style I've fully explored before. Stay tuned.

Friday, March 04, 2011

The Revengers' Comedy Review


Written by former Age theatre critic Leonard Radic and directed by Stefan Mrowinski, The Revengers' Comedy is interesting for a number reasons.

The the plot basically follows the breakdown of two middle-aged, middle class relationships. Max (Martin Mulvany) is bitter after being sacked from his job as a book publisher and is attracted to younger, former colleague Mallory (Jenita Spirtovic) in an unrequited way, all creating friction between he and his materialistic wife Helen (Lesley Harris). Meanwhile Robert (Steven Kennedy) has grown bored with his wife Jane (Renee Palmer) and is in the throes of leaving her for younger woman Polly (Beth Litson).

Billed as a black comedy, the story examines relationships without really coming up with anything new. These are pretty stock-standard characters caught up in all too familiar situations – which would be fine if the comedy was, well, a bit funnier. It has it's moments but also misfires a bit too often. Having said that, the title seems to allude to either Thomas Middleton's The Revengers' Tragedy or Alan Ayckbourn's The Revengers' Comedies, works I am not very familiar with so perhaps there are layers or references I didn't appreciate. The characters were uneven, often switching mood too suddenly and just not quite fitting together even in their fragmenting lives the way they need to to be fully convincing. It felt to me like a script that could benefit from a little more work.

As for the acting, sorry to say but two members of the cast appeared to be well beneath the task. It's early in the season so we can only hope they improve. They really need to because the other four actors are very good.

When Kennedy, Liston, Palmer and Spirtovic took to the stage there was real chemistry and energy. All had their moments to shine, all were clearly immersed in their roles and in lesser hands I'm not sure this play would have been as enjoyable as it ultimately was. I still found some facets of their characters sometimes a little unconvincing but by then was engaged enough by the overall dynamics of their relationships to let this slide and simply sit back and enjoy.

Set design was minimal, something that always puts the script and acting under a harsher light, and that being the case the script needs to sing and the cast needs to be rock solid. A good local production worth checking out, flaws and all.

At La Mama Courthouse, Carlton until 20 March


Thursday, March 03, 2011

Bek's Mum's Undies

This will possibly be the laziest (and earliest) Grumpy column ever. It's a copy & pasted conversation I had today on Facebook.

A friend is coming to visit and is bringing tutus made in Thailand for The Dreaded One. There have been jokes about the tutus really being for me. I simply posted a slightly whimsical, single line which turned into a bit of a crisis. Enjoy...

Lee Bemrose is lost but occasionally happy. Thinks it will be fine.

Bek You will be fine. I am bringing tutus and mum to melbs. xx

14 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Lee Bemrose Tutus and... why the hell did I just think 'no undies' when you said mum? Am I that perverted or was there a story about your mum and no undies... oh this is a horrible way to start the day.

10 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Bek It was indeed mentioned in my blog. Also, she is going to KILL ME if you mention this in her presence. And, I will make sure she is fully clothed at all times.

3 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Lee Bemrose Phew. Also - mention it? I don't even want to think it. That's gone and done it - I will think it in her presence and smirk and you will know what I'm smirking at and smirk and she will ask what all the smirking is about and I'll snortle which will make you snortle and... oh dear. We're in trouble now.

3 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Bek i think she will know already since she can see this in her feed.... ><>

2 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Lee Bemrose No. Really? Oh... can we delete something? Can we delete everything? Seriously - what does one do in a situation like this?

2 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Bek I don't know! I've never been in this situation before.

2 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Lee Bemrose Your previous comment required an exclamation mark or italics to fully convey the, erm, squirminess of the situation. If you come up with anything, let me know. Must think of what to do... what would Thor do in a situation like this?

2 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Lee Bemrose I just thought of something. We can pretend we forgot to sign out and someone else wrote all of this and the real Lee and Bek don't know what we're... what they're talking about. Will that work?

2 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Bek HEY, i didn't write this!! What the? How the? OH, I left myself signed into Facebook - someone must have written all that other stuff. Oh silly me!

2 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Lee Bemrose Whoa - me too! I forgot to sign out of Facebook and while I wasn't looking someone else came along and wrote all this stuff that I would NEVER write. That's the last time I forget to sign out of Facebook... (do you think it's working?)

2 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Bek not sure, I'll have to ask mum...

about an hour ago · LikeUnlike

Lee Bemrose Let me know how it goes. I personally don't think it's going to work. Will try to come up with a Plan B.

about an hour ago · LikeUnlike

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Grumpy With Time

New Grumpy column. I hadn't realised Amelia Earhart was so cute. Quite a woman.


Just when you think you have a grip on stuff and know how things work, it all goes to shit.

I wrote to a friend recently to wish her a happy birthday. Simple enough, except that the internet makes everything so instant, and given that she lives in another part of the world I wasn't sure if we were on the same day or not. So I looked it up and sure enough, I was in her future. I should have left it at that, but a favourite hobby of mine is to get distracted by stuff and things instead of, say, getting this column in before deadline.

So I wondered how this time thing works. Big mistake. How is it, I pondered, that I am in my friend's future? How is it that I lost a day when I flew back from another part of the world. How did the International Date Line come into being? Who put it there? And where, exactly, did they put it? Was it a straight line or a wiggly one? Apologies, my patient Ed, but my Grumpy column would have to wait because this required further investigation...

From Wikipedia: “Until 1867, Alaska began Russia's day, with the date line following the partially defined border between Russian Alaska and British North America, including the colony of British Columbia. The day before the purchase by the United States took effect, it was Friday, 6 October 1867, in the Julian calendar (used by Russia at the time), which would have been 18 October in the Gregorian calendar. The time in New Archangel would have been 12:00 when it was 12:02, Thursday, 17 October, at the future site of Whitehorse, Yukon, and 12:49, 17 October, at the future site of Vancouver, British Columbia. With the transfer of governance, the date line was shifted (moving Alaska back a day), and the calendar was changed (moving Alaska ahead 12 days), and being effective at midnight the calendar moved ahead one day as well, for a net change of 11 days. Friday, 6 October, was followed by Friday, 18 October (not Saturday, 7 October).”

Gee, thanks for clearing that up, Wikipedia. If my brain wasn't hurting from thinkiness before, it certainly was now. Who could have imagined that something as basic as time could be so complicated?

Also, if you've ever wondered what happened to Amelia Earhart (aviator who disappeared while flying around the world), she got gobbled up by time. No GPS nav bitch with a British accent to tell you where to go back then, so Amelia had to rely on her male navigator who apparently got confused about the day of the week (dude, I can sooo relate). He didn't take into account that they were crossing the International Date Line (which is very wiggly, fyi) and this put the plane way off target. Adding to the weirdness of their disappearance is the fact that they are recorded as still alive and flying for several hours on July 3 1937 after disappearing in July 2 1937.

There is more stuff and things I could hurt my brain with involving Magellan, The Pope, Zulu time, Umberto Ecco and Jules Verne, but I have a column to write before time runs out.

Grumpy is Lee Bemrose, freelance writer and Man From The Future. Contact him at leebemrose@hotmail.com