Sunday, September 27, 2015


I'm posting this because it's a lovely photo and it's hilarious. In the background is my very special friend and surrogate kid sister Kat. In the foreground is a guy who thinks he is having his photo taken. The photographer is a professional. He's also Kat's partner and future husband. Hilarious, no?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Girls Night Out

This is how silly I am. This photo was taken recently at The Spiegeltent on Johnston Street in Collingwood. We had just seen Finucane & Smith's burlesque show, Glory Box.

I was there with The Dreaded One, we bumped into some friends. Someone asked The Dreaded One to take a photo. She took the photo.

I stupidly had no real idea that our friends were having a girls night out until this photo surfaced the next day. I probably should have taken the photo.

Barbaroi At Gasworks, 2015, Review


Reviewed by Lee Bemrose

Barbaroi is, apparently, an old Roman word meaning barbarian. Someone who is coarse, unrefined, uncivilsed. Certainly this circus is devoid traditional circus frills... no men in tights here. It's also devoid of other circus paraphernalia such us safety harnesses and safety nets, which was cause for the audience to move forward in its seat and clench its buttocks on more than one occasion.

A quick search has revealed little about who these particular Barbaroi are (no dialogue was spoken so we can't even hazard a guess at their nationalities – perhaps a mix of local and overseas performers?), so I'll just tell you a little about what they do. It's basically just showing off, but in the best possible ways.

There was a guy who did ridiculous things on a single piece of rope dangling from the ceiling, as well as another guy doing equally ridiculous things with two straps dangling from the ceiling. As someone who has been known to tie his shoelaces in knots late at night, I have no idea how someone can wrap straps around their forearms and manage to somersault themselves up to the ceiling. Once up there, most sensible people would be screaming for someone to get them down from there. But this guy –
this guy hung about for a bit before kind of unsomersaulting gracefully back down.

There were a couple of strapping guys who threw an incredibly flexible and trusting performer between them and swung her sometimes like a human skipping rope. At times she seemed frozen for a moment in mid air - above that unforgiving hard floor - only to be caught and flung again with astonishing precision. The team work was insanely good.

As was the... erm... lets call her an Upside Down Foot Juggler. She sashayed onto the stage with a knowing air about her, oozing the kind of confidence must of us have when it comes to brushing our teeth. Only this woman –
this woman – lay upside down on a purpose built bench, warmed up by juggling balls with her feet, then did a whole lot more showing off by doing seemingly impossible things with a wooden table. She flipped it, spun it and twirled it, her feet working with a furious dexterity, like little creatures with minds of their own. Later she performed a similar routine with a stack of suitcases. As someone who has brutally kicked the life out of a broken suitcase on the streets of Paris, I was quietly stunned with the clever and delicate things she was doing with her feet and some luggage. I don't doubt those toes would be capable of manipulating the combination locks. Amazing.

As was the guy who looked like one of the leads from television series Vikings. What this guy did with a huge blue hoop... lets just say you're probably never going to see such a mesmerisingly beautiful routine performed by a Viking and his big blue hoop. It was graceful and lovely and I didn't want him to stop.

I did want the juggler to stop. He was having a bad night, but to be fair, he was doing some crazy-clever juggling. That he also moved with the grace of a trained dancer and did a great job later on a single pole more than made up for a couple of dropped balls. Multi-talented show off.

I recently saw a still photo of a dancer walking along a row of upright glass bottles. Apparently it was a famous routine in some bygone era. The cynic in me, which is basically me, assumed the shot was somehow staged because how in the hell can anyone walk across a row of standing bottles? It just not humanly possible... and there before my eyes there was someone actually doing it. Co-performers slid bottles across the floor to form a path of stepping stone bottles – and she actually stepped from one to the next to another. I could regale you with many stories about bottles and balance and falling over; this is not one of them. And I certainly won't be attempting this at home.

There was a couple who danced and balanced on a tube and a board, with the female performer finishing of by balancing atop an impossibly high and wobbly tower of tubes criss-crossed on top of each other. My palms sweat at the mere memory.

What felt like the show's climax was not actually the last act. It was a springboard piece complete with high jumps into the air, tumbles and twirls and more of that uncanny teamwork and precision. Majestic, thrilling and fun.

The physical performances were complemented perfectly by a varied soundtrack which included some gutsy electro grunge, some Matt Corby indie-alt-folk-rock-pop (or whatever the music boffins call it), as well as a melange of ethnic styles served richly and crisply. It all sounded so good. The recurring theme of flirting/courtship throughout the show was also a fun touch.

I may not know who these Barbaroi were, but I really enjoyed seeing them strut their stuff in this intimate space at The Gasworks. Great night out.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Just You

Came a time when they were all gone. They just weren't there any more. The ones with the bright eyes and the warm hugs and the best of intentions and the wise thoughts you wanted to listen to forever. Came a time when they just weren't there any more. There was just you. Alone, stupid, inconsiderate you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

New Hawaiian Bar Opening Soon

Andrew McConnell, one of the country's leading restaurateurs, often comes into the cafe for a ham and cheese toasted sandwich. I recently asked him about the renovations he is having done to the space next to Cutler & Co. This is a conversation I've imagined having with him next time he comes in.

"Hello, Andrew. How's the Hawaiian Bar coming along?"

Long blank stare. "I beg your pardon?"

"What's it going to be like anyway? You going to have all the waiters dress in floral shirts like Magnum? Are the waitresses going to wear grass skirts and those coconut shells on their boobies? That would be awesome."

Even longer blank stare. "I said wine bar, not Hawaiian bar."

"Oh. I see. No coconut shells on boobies then. Erm... your toasty is ready."

Monday, September 21, 2015

Frances Ha

Just watched this. Hadn't heard of it before. Liked it a lot.

Last Order Of The Day

Late in a long, busy day in the cafe, the last of the customers have finally left and I'm in pack-down-clean-up-and-get-out mode. The door opens and a guys wants to know if we are still open. I tell him we are closed but I can still make him a takeaway coffee if he wants. I leave cleaning the coffee machine until the very end of the day for this very reason. The guy tells me a takeaway coffee would be great.

He then launches into a garbled story about his mother being in hospital and he doesn't have any money but here - I have this bag full of things so I can leave it here and come back with the money.

Awesome, I think - this is just a great way to end the day. He's a street person, clearly wired up wrong. I should have just said that we were closed and I know he would have left. Irritated, I find myself hurriedly making a coffee that I will never see payment for. I want to make it fast to get him out and so that I can get on with closing up.

He continues talking almost to himself, but he clearly thinks he is having a conversation, perhaps with me.

I feel guilty for being irritated, and I slow down. I decide to make him the best coffee I can, as though he is one of our paying customers, because in the big scheme of things, it's just a cup of coffee. And how good must a good, hot latte with two sugars taste when you're living rough?

He takes his coffee and his bag full of things and his muttered conversation, and he leaves the cafe, perhaps thinking he has pulled a swifty on me. I really don't care, I just hope he enjoys his coffee.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


Your eyes
Those eyes,
Those brilliant
And intelligent eyes,
Those fun playful eyes.
I like those eyes,
Even more
Than I like meat pies.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

3 Mad Rituals, Melbourne Fringe 2015, Review

3 Mad Rituals

Reviewed by Lee Bemrose

Disclosure: This reviewer isn't an improv aficionado. He's actually pretty clueless when it comes to the intricacies of this particular art form. He loves good comedy and has seen a couple of improv shows but had never heard of Del Close or his Harold before. He will now get on with the review speaking in the first person.

It's true. I really had never heard Del Close, even though, I now realise, he was the highly regarded mentor of many modern American comedians and a giant in the world of improv. If nothing else, that's one massive hole in my knowledge filled.

I know all about the structure of The Harold now, but prior to 3 Mad Rituals, didn't have a clue. As a result, when the show got underway I didn't really have any idea what was going on.

What was promised was a marathon (90 minutes) of three forms of improv, sparked by audience suggestion. After the cast of eight took to the stage in the intimate theatre, there was a brief introduction after which we were asked to offer a favourite line of poetry as the show's starting point. After a few seconds of internal head scratching (I was trying to think of songlines because what kind of nerd carries around lines of poetry in their head luggage?), someone from the back yelled out a couple of lines of obscure poetry. Oh that kind of nerd. And by obscure, it could well have been the most famous couple of lines of poetry known to humankind, if the gaps in my knowledge are anything to go by.

This single vocal ejaculation of poetry was seized upon immediately and that was that. There were no other suggestions and no invitations for alternative suggestions. Let's just say that the more cynical among us might have thought a bit of gardening had taken place.

The inspirational lines or line of poetry vanished into the night as activity commenced on the stage. I may be wrong, but I seem to recall an assurance that we should not worry if we were not familiar with these forms of improv because all will be explained. There was no explanation, resulting in 90 minutes of WTF for this reviewer. The Deconstruction was followed by The Movie which was followed by The Harold, all of which have their own rules and to some extent structure which I'm not going to explain to you here. Don't be lazy. Google it.

There was much chaos with a myriad of sketches and characters coming and going and sometimes coming back again. If some of the story lines had been carefully scripted and performed as comic theatre they would probably have seemed pretty stupid. But in the almost stand-up comedy format with inspiration of characters and lines and scenarios coming at random, stupid can reign supreme. I may not have known exactly WTF was going on, but I was constantly amused. There were loads of very funny lines, lots of wonderfully ridiculous characters and some truly absurd situations.

Part of the game seems to be to put your fellow players in difficult or overly complicated situations. This frequently had the effect of the performers struggling not to laugh, and again the cynic in me couldn't help wondering if occasionally this was genuine or merely a device to get the audience to laugh along. Regardless, there was much laughter for almost the entire hour and a half, with some in the audience literally falling about in hysterics.

So for this former improv ignoramus a show was enjoyed, a yawning gap in knowledge has been filled, and interest in another form of comedy has been piqued. Job well done.

At The Improv Conspiracy Theatre, 19 Meyers Place Melbourne. Part of The Melbourne Fringe until October 3. Check here for further details.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

They Saw A Thylacine, Malthouse, Review (may need tweeking because of late night and tired).

They Saw A Thylacine

Reviewed by Lee Bemrose

I don't know, but it seems to be drawing a long bow to call this piece a play. Doesn't a play usually have set design, props, acting, costumes, that sort of thing? Thylacine had literally none of these things. Well almost literally none of them. So was it even really a play?

Maybe, maybe not. I suspect it was more an hour of story-telling, rather than a play in which the story is played out. More about this later.

They Saw A Thylacine tells the story of the last days of the almost mythical Tasmanian Tiger, the last captive one dying in a Tasmanian zoo in 1936. There are two stories told in tandem, one told by Beatrice, a tracker hoping to find and capture what she considers a noble creature; and another told by Alison Reid, daughter of the zoo keeper of Beaumaris Zoo, where the tragically neglected Benjamin spent her dying days.

That's right – Ben the Tasmanian Tiger that you can still see prowling his cage on youtube is a she. They Saw A Thylacine is as much a commentary on our clumsy and insensitive mismanagement (in this case, complete ignorance) of environmental issues as it is on the ineptitude of the blinkered patriarchal way of thinking. The tracker, in the wilderness, encounters the brutality of man (and is a formidable opponent), and the zoo keeper's daughter, in “civilisation” encounters bureaucracy (Good Lord that's a hard word to spell late at night) at its most idiotic. She is also strong, but not strong enough to prevent the extinction of a species.

Back to the question of is this a stage play or is it something else... there is some subtle acting going on. The character of the hunter (Alfred Alfred?) is actually quietly very funny. It's all done by suggestion, but this weird and knowing old bastard grows on you. And Beatrice with her truncated syntax suggests something early Aboriginal, perhaps invoking the spirit of Truganini, generally considered the last Tasmanian Aborigine. Also female, like Ben the last Tasmanian Tiger. Both were horribly mistreated.

Is it theatre or is it a radio play on stage? Shouldn't a theatre-going audience expect more bang for their buck? Certainly the last couple of Malthouse productions (I Am A Miracle and Antigone) have been rich in staging, so it was kinda nice for this bum on a seat to see some pared-back performance that engaged with minimal everything except story. When you get down to it, you really don't need much more than a good story well told. And this delivered.

Malthouse Theatre until October 4th.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Vernon God Little, A Random Encounter That Isn't 'Orrible

I got slammed by one of the worst cases of hayfever I've ever had right before service today. Making coffee and welcoming customers through a fug of hayfever becomes a bit of a challenge. It came on suddenly and my current antihistamines just didn't work. Not a fun day.

However... Cool story time.

My new French side-kick (who accidentally called papadums badabooms) told me that yesterday after work she visited a music shop. She needed some tuning thingy for a guitar or something. We mostly understand each other but there are little gaps.

She has a band back home and she plays several stringed instruments. One is the violin. She got talking with the music shop owner and he let her play one of his violins. She started to play - first time in two months - and suddenly she started crying. Really sobbed it out because it made her miss playing and miss her band. "It was so beautiful," she told me, "but so 'orrible at the same time."

She told me this with her customary openness, and fuck me if it didn't make me tear up. I actually had to turn away and find something to do. I think tomorrow I'll tell her how much it affected me. I'm sure it was 'orrible for her at the time, but the story itself was, for me, just beautiful.

Then as she finished her shift today we chatted about what we were going to do with our respective evenings. I foresaw an evening of sneezing and miserableness but said something about the book I am reading. She asked what I was reading. I told her that it was a novel that she probably hadn't heard of, Vernon God Little. She didn't get the title at all, because of the language barrier. I told her about the awards it has won, uber impressive given that it was a first novel. She asked again about the title... she is genuinely interested in stuff. I explained that the character's name id Vernon Little, and that he seems to have put the God bit in there but I haven't gotten to the bit that explains why yet.

Suddenly her eyes widened.

"Eez it a red cover wiz a bus on ze cover?"

"Yes, that is what the cover looks like, I believe. It's in my bag. Let me get it out."

I took the book out and yes, this was the very same copy book she had found abandoned on the side of the road recently. She had picked it up and kept it, wondering if she should test her English by attempting to read it. Now, there was no question: she was definitely going to start reading it.

What are the odds, I wonder, of someone picking up a random book on the side of the road, and it being the very book your new employer/co-worker is reading? Of all the books ever published, of all the books discarded and recovered. A book published more than 10 years ago. And it's not a book that I once read, but am currently reading. What are the odds?

And that's my two nice stories of the day.

And I'm happy to say that the combination of behind the counter antihistamines, painkillers and icy vodka and orange have made the night turn out okay after all. Hayfever is ebbing. Tomorrow should be a good day.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Shortest Short Story I've Ever Written

I thought I had the beginning of a short story in this line that has been rattling around in my brain for a while now, but I actually think it is a full and complete short story; possibly the shortest one I've ever written:

"I really don't have any time for people who want to play mind games. But a word of advice - you'd better be fucking good if you're going to play with the best."

Monday, September 07, 2015


This is a story of two brothers. Bear with me.

A customer often comes into the cafe and calls me brother half a dozen times during each transaction. He's a friendly guy, maybe trying a little too hard to be cool or something. It makes me laugh inside for some reason. When he called me "Bruz" I almost snortled out loud.

We have a local fruit and veg shop that has also become our supplier for the cafe. It's run by a Muslim family.I often stop off on my walk home to buy some things (so stupid - we get their stuff delivered to the cafe every day and never think to bring stuff home from the cafe, so I stop off to pick up more stuff).

The main guy we deal with is a big guy always ready to smile. We usually chat about our respective days. His eyes widen as you talk; he's really interested in what you have to say. He looks like he laughs a lot.

After one such chat, he smiled and said, "Take care brother."

Far from being amused, far from snortling, I was actually quite moved by it. I'm often wary of religion and the divide it can create. And here's you with your culture and your God and your Holy book... and here's me without a God or a Holy book, or much culture. But you call me brother.

I left his shop thinking fuck it - you regard me as brother, I regard you as brother.

And that's my story about two brothers.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Watching The Clusterfuck That Is Humanity

That little boy on the beach, face down, cold and lifeless. His face should be raised to the shining sun, shining with innocent happiness. But life is not fair, and so he is face down in a foreign land, cold and lifeless.

I feel like I'm sitting somewhere distant watching so many horrors take place. This refugee crisis is immense and will likely bring about the downfall of the infrastructure and economies of so many established western countries. Infrastructure and economies and industries and cultures that have taken many centuries to evolve. Most Western countries can barely keep up with their own population growth; now they must cope with a sudden, massive and uncontrolled population explosion. There are too many humans. There are far too many humans.

What happens when all these millions of refugees manage to make it to their dream countries like The U.K and Germany? So many are stuck in wastelands in France and Hungary and Greece (former holiday destinations for the lucky ones)... stuck in makeshift tent villages... do they really think it's going to be so much better in The U.K or Germany? Awesome - you've arrived. And you keep on arriving and arriving and arriving and arriving... social welfare becomes an issue because presumably that's what you need to get by in your new home country. You have to be supported. Tax-payers income has to support you, and that's fine because the citizens, for now, can afford to support you and mostly they want to support you.

But you keep arriving and arriving and arriving in ever swelling numbers, and those previous arrivals set precedents and there are family members no that you have a right to join and you just keep arriving and arriving and arriving. There are too many of you arriving too quickly for the situation to be managed efficiently.

The situation is out of control. There are too many humans. Too many evil humans killing and raping and destroying. Too many humans fucked up on fundamentalist religion or fucked up on fucked up politics.

And there are too many innocent humans. Too many innocents who want to escape the tyranny of evil. Why shouldn't they have access to the comfort we have? Why shouldn't they at least have a sense of peace and security in their lives? Why shouldn't they feel secure that their family will be a happy and healthy and loved one with a home and with some purpose? Why shouldn't they enjoy simple pleasures like love and laughter and happiness?

I'm sitting somewhere distant, watching humanity's demise unfold, my own troubles nothing compared to the untold sorrows of those innocents fleeing despots and actual barbarians, the leaders of the world unable to deal with the myriad factors contributing to the current clusterfuck that is modern humanity. Politics. Greed. Race. Religion.

That little boy on the beach, face down, cold and lifeless; that is humanity. That is us.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

A Tweet In The Darkness

Me: That bird is a trouper. What a positive little guy he is.
Her: What bird?
Me: That one outside whistling and chirping so cheerily even though it's getting dark and it's raining. We could all learn a thing or two from the positive attitude that little bird is showing. It makes me really happy.
Her: I think that's just the washing machine squeaking.