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.