Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Team Awesome 2016. Love

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Monday, December 12, 2016

I Don't Care

I don't care.
I don't care.
Valentine's Day,
I especially don't care.
Mother's Day,
I don't fucking care.
Father's Day,
Don't fucking care.
New Year's Eve?
Don't fucking care.
National pride celebration?
Don't care.

The lost souls,
I care.
The broken ones,
I care.
The ones withe their weirdness
Searching for love,
I care.
The ones who need love,
I love,
And I care.

To the jealous ones,
I feel no jealousy.
To the angry ones,
I feel no anger.
To those who need to manipulate and control,
I wish you freedom,
Be free and let others be free.

And if you are incapable of doing that,
I don't care.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Current Mood

And no one asked if he was okay.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Apart & Together

Apart & Together


They were suddenly at the same stall at that market, the one with the clothes and jewellery from far away places. They didn't know they were standing side-by-side. They didn't know they were together again, because they had wandered.

In silence, separately, they reached for the same thing. Green and black stone embedded in leather. A beautiful thing hand-made by someone they would never meet.

Their hands touched. They stopped and turned to each other. They smiled as they saw each other as though for the first time. They looked into each others eyes in that way people so rarely do. They saw each other.

Hey. It's you.

Hey. Yes, it's me. And it's you.

It's me and you again. How long has it been? 15 years?

Almost 20.

Wow. Almost 20 years.

They kissed and they hugged a 20 year hug.

They were suddenly at the same stall at that market, the one with the clothes and jewellery from far away places. They didn't know they were standing side-by-side. They didn't know they were together again, because they had wandered.

In silence, separately, they reached for the same thing. Green and black stone embedded in leather. A beautiful thing made by someone they would never meet.

Their hands touched. They stopped and turned to each other. They smiled as they saw each other as though for the first time. They looked into each others eyes in that way people so rarely do. They saw each other.

Hey. It's you.

Hey. Yes, it's me. And it's you.

It's me and you again. How long has it been? 15 years?

Almost 20.

Wow. Almost 20 years.

They kissed and they hugged a 20 year hug.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Random Turn

It was his solitary walk from his work to his home. He chose a different path each day. His random wandering at the end of his random but predictable day.

Some days this road, this random side street. Other days, another main road, another side street, a kink and a turn, old houses concealing their families and their histories, their joys and their sorrows.

This day, without thinking, he just took an old familiar route. He enjoyed the buzz of Brunswick Street, then the contrast of that random turn into quiet suburbia so close to the buzz of it all.

He saw her immediately in the distance, her unmistakable shape. The hoodie, her hands tucked cosily in the front pockets. It was her park, her corner of her park. It was their corner of their park and he was there with her.

Fuck, he thought, why this random turn on this random day? Why couldn't he have taken an earlier random turn? An earlier random turn and he would never have seen them. And they would never have seen him.

But he had seen them. And they had seen him. He felt sure they had seen him.

It was quiet. The street was long. This walk was going to be slow and long. It was too late for him to turn around and go back. They had seen him. He had seen them. He kept walking towards them, wondering why this was happening. A man walked by with a snuffling French Bulldog, the man's life apparently, beautifully, uncomplicated.

As the distance between them closed, she turned her back to him. Definitely. She had seen him.

As the distance between them closed, he focused on other things - these trees, this sky, those clouds, this life. He knew they both wished they had not seen each other.

The other one, he also pretended to not see.

So close now, in a normal situation, with normal people, greetings would be shared. Hey. Hey. How are you? Join us. It's good to see you.

But there was just this strange silence.

He kept walking, looking at the trees and the clouds and thinking about the weirdness of life. And they kept looking the other way, also looking at the trees and the clouds and thinking about life. There was a peaceful silence all around them.

Mercifully, the distance between them grew.

He didn't look back, just kept on walking, knowing that something had changed forever.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


Today in the cafe... It was hot today, so I wore a pair of my mega baggy, mega billowy, mega meshy doof pants to work. The Boys are very grateful for the freedom and the flowing breeze these pants give them. Honestly, they whoop it up down there, high five each other and are just generally really happy. Going commando - it's all about freedom.
At one point, I'm in the cool-room trying to sort out the milk crate situation. Situation almost sorted when I step backwards through the open cool-room door. My left foot catches the right leg of my mega baggy pants and totally pulls the whole pants scenario way down past my arse cheeks. I bend over to correct the wardrobe malfunction, and for several loooooong moments anyone in the kitchen would just see me mooning the kitchen from the cool room. Awesome, I think, I've just pantsed myself at work.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

John The Revelator, Early Morning Wake Up Song

Woke up with Nick Cave's version of John The Revelator being played at 11. Love that song. Found this version and like it even more. How weird that our sleeping heads find a song or piece of music to tune into so strongly while we are asleep.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Black Cat Memories

I am frequently deeply unhappy for a number of reasons, but here I am with friends and my beloved The Dreaded One. The fact that I am displaying teeth indicates that I am in a happy moment. All of the humans in this photo are good people. There is love and solid friendship in this photo. Xac (on my photo right) said after this catch-up "I don't know whether we are old souls or you are young at heart." I know what he means. When it's real, it's a cool thing.

Saturday, November 05, 2016


Dear Potential New Best Friends,

Sorry - forget it. Don't make friends with me. I don't like this friendship thing. It only leads to trouble. And if not trouble, sadness. Because you always leave.

I'd actually rather just sit here in the eternal darkness by myself than meet you again, and fall in love with you again, because there is peace in this darkness.

So don't meet me. Don't see me. Don't befriend me and don't love me.

Just leave me in peace.

But know that I might have loved you. And you might have loved me.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Today In The Cafe... The Anger Experiment

Today in the cafe... The friendship between Grumpy and Kafka Woman is quite a unique and unlikely thing, filled with unique and unlikely conversations and occurrences that sometimes perplex both of them as well as their co-workers and the cafe's customers. It's not uncommon for some random conversation to unfold into a practical joke or series of social experiments that leave customers scratching their head, smirking in bewilderment or simply laughing, even though they are not quite sure what exactly it is that they are laughing at.

Kafka Woman has now become the very masculine Diego Belafonte. Grumpy has become Diego's adorably feminine sister, Tallulah Belafonte. Under the circumstances, this is a perfectly normal development. Sometimes, things just are what they are and it's best not to question their nature. Sometimes, you just have to roll with the weirdness.

The identical twins Belafonte have had their fair share of arguments, of course, just like all siblings. Some intense shit has gone down, man, but things seem to have settled into a new and peaceful phase.

So peaceful, in fact, that this conversation took place:

So, erm, my rugged twin brother Diego...

Yes my adorably feminine twin sister Tallulah? What's on that delicate flowerbed of a mind of yours?

I was just thinking that I don't think I am capable of being angry with you any more.

Ohhhh... that's so adorably and perfectly in keeping with that sweet feminine Goddess nature of yours.

Thank you, you Viking of a man-brother you. The thing is, I think we should conduct an experiment.

Oh wow. You know how much I like a good experiment. Tell me about this experiment.

Well... I think to prove this hypothesis, you should try to make me angry with you.


Yes. Just do random things at unexpected moments that you think will make me angry with you.

I like the sound of this experiment. A lot. I mean – a LOT! I'll have to keep a diary of what I have done, how angry I think this thing will make you and how angry – if at all – it has actually made you.

Indeed. I love your attention to detail. And maybe how long the anger – if indeed there is any anger – lasts.

We've conducted quite a few fun experiments in the last eight months that we have been lifelong identical twins with different accents, but this is by far the most fun one. We should start right away.

Okay – ouch! Why did you just poke me in the eye?

How did that make you feel, my most girly of girly girls Tallulah?

Oh I see what you did there. Yeah, that hurt like fuck but nope, not angry.

That's amazing. What if I do this...

No – I think you should be more random and unexpected. And maybe less physically violent, although some physical violence should come into the experiment.

Okay. Fair enough. So dropping things, spilling things, getting customer orders wrong, that sort of thing?

Yeah, just all the things you normally do so well. Although, there is a problem.

Yes my sweetest Tallulah?

The fact that we both know we are conducting this experiment kind of ruins the experiment. You might accidentally do something that should make me angry and I might consciously recall that this experiment is being conducted and consciously not get angry with you. It's not reliably scientific. For it to be a reliably scientific experiment, I would have to be unaware that we were conducting an experiment.

Hmm. I see what you mean. But I think we should try this experiment anyway. Oops – so sorry Tallulah. Did that hurt? Did it make you angry? How angry did it make you? Do you think you will be angry for long? If so, how long?

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Whose Shoes Are The Rockingest Shoes?

I stopped several random people on Brunswick Street to ask whose shoes were the better shoes. The reactions were fun and funny.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Another Happy Story About Love And Suicide

Today in the cafe... I was in a reasonably good mood in the morning. This is actually a small miracle. I soaked it up. I back-swam leisurely through those usually grumpy A.M hours, kind of wondering what the hell was going on. What a luxury to be in good spirits first thing in the morning.

Then sometime during lunch service my mood took a hit and went into a tailspin. Oh Christ, I thought, here we go. This is more like it. This is what I'm used to. But fuck - such a horrible contrast to how I felt just such a short while ago. Just earlier I felt content and happy and lucky, whereas now is all gloom. Now I am acutely aware of The End Of All Things. Happiness ENDS. Friendship ENDS. Love ENDS. Life ENDS. Everything fucking ENDS.

If I sound jokey about it here, I did not feel jokey about it then. This bleakness is real and suffocating and I hate feeling it so much that I just want to curl up and go to sleep and never wake up, because never waking up means never feeling this way again, and that is a good thing. I just want to stop thinking. I just want to not be.

Thing is, I have felt this way frequently throughout my life. My default setting is not happiness. I write funny things and I write happy things, and I am actually an optimist, I'm just not a happy soul.

The funny thing about all of this is that people around me never know that these shifts in mood occur. Or rather, I think they see when I am happy; I just don't think appreciate the dark depths my mood frequently plummets to. I think they like my occasional smiles and my oh-so-rare LOLs, but they are used to my thoughtful quietness without realising just how quietly crazy I actually am on the inside. They would probably be shocked that I have often wanted to die.

But what the fuck do I know? Maybe all of us feel the exact same way.

I used to have a humour column in a cool music mag. That column saved me so often. I'd be in these moods, these desperately dark moods where death felt like a snuggly dooner, and I'd have these deadlines. Blackest mood be fucked, I have a deadline to write something funny, and I'd look around at the world filled with all you funny humans taking things too seriously, taking life too seriously, and I'd squint a little and see the funny. And I would write some funny.

I really can write funny. I love writing funny, because writing funny makes the pendulum swing. Suddenly, I'm laughing, as I write about some random shit I saw. If I'm laughing as I write, I know (and this is the real pay-off) that my friends and total strangers are going to be laughing as they read. My column had been going for 10 years, and over time I trusted this feeling. If I can just make myself laugh while writing, they will also be laughing when reading. So I've made myself feel better, and I've made other people feel better. That's a pretty cool thing.

So today I thought about all of this in that black fug I was going through, and I realised that even though I don't have the column any more, I can still set myself a deadline and just write something funny. This will be awesome. Squint a little to see the funny shit and write it.

I squinted like Clint Eastwood, and yeah, I came up with a story.

I'll say here that I also write some pretty dark stories. There's an e-book of mine on Amazon called 17 Stories Of Love & Crime, and there's some really dark stuff about love in there. When I come up with a story, I know if it's got the right stuff because I get waves of goosebumps. I well up with emotion. The story starts feeling real. Time kind of stops and I hear the narration and the dialogue and see the plot unfolding. It's a strange and unique feeling.

So looking for humour to climb out of this dark, dark hole I was in today, this is what I came up with:

There is a couple, happy in their coupledom. They have been together for quite a while. They reminisce about how they met. How did they meet? He saved her life. She initially fell in love with him because he saved her life, but they got to know each other and she loved him because of him, because of the kind of person he was. He got to know her, and he fell in love with her too. He has always been puzzled about the beginnings of her love for him. The act of his saving her life... it has always been a curious thing for him. She admits that yes, that's where it started.

You were a stranger. You were the only stranger who cared enough to stop me going through with it.

But another stranger might have come along.

No, it was you. It was you, it was meant to be... all these years might never have been... I love you and I thank you.

I love you and I thank you too.

(What makes the story work is this little thing he has never told her. Maybe he tells her now, after all these years).

I'm glad I was there to save you. I'm so very happy I talked you out of it. Who knows - maybe, you're right, maybe there wouldn't have been another stranger who cared enough... maybe you would have gone through with it and you would not be here now.

Oh God... too sad to think.

Yes, too sad to think.

There's a thing I never told you. This small detail.

Really? Tell me this small detail.

Okay. The night before we met... the morning before we met, actually. The morning before we met I woke up hungover with a plastic shopping bag in my bed. I was puzzled by this. I mean, of all the odd things to wake up with in bed, a plastic shopping bag?


I was drinking a lot at the time. I was alone. You know, I'm a solitary kind of man.

Yes. I know. But the plastic bag?

I remembered, eventually. I'd had enough. I'd had enough booze and I'd had enough of everything, and I decided to go to sleep forever. I went to bed with the plastic shopping bag with the intention of putting it over my head and never waking up.




And after lying there in the dark and thinking about everything for just that little bit too long, I missed my opportunity. I fell asleep. I passed out.

Ah. Wow. And if you hadn't passed out...


They looked at each other for a long time, really fell into each others eyes, and they hugged a long hug that might never have been.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Dragon Dreaming 2016

Wee Jasper. Dragon Dreaming. Such a beautiful festival. Love the people who organised this and I love the people I shared my time there with. I wasn't in a good head-space, but there were some really beautiful moments.


Friday, October 21, 2016

Spoons & Noodles On The Way To Dragon Dreaming

Currently in a cheap hotel room in Albury en route to a festival, eating takeaway Thai noodles with teaspoons because we forgot to grab takeaway cutlery and had for some reason unpacked our usual camping cutlery from the car. Also, I decided to check what clothing I had packed in the drunken fug that was last night... apparently I was obsessed with socks and scarves and fairy lights but not so interested in T-shirts. Not a single T-shirt. So I'm going to be semi-naked underneath my warm things and the fairy lights I intend to wear.

Lee is not a good Boy Scout.

Although he will probably have to fashion T-shirt like apparel out of fallen leaves and wombat poo.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Lee's Distracted Understanding Of The Equation Of Love

The Kind of thing I think about whilst being a monkey pulling levers and making coffee... No demands + no expectations + no judgement + complete acceptance = Love.

But they just see a monkey pulling levers.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Selfie, But Not Selfie

There is no reason for posting this photo, other than I think it is a nice photo of me. And I never see myself in profile.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Crutch Woman? Word Woman? Enthusiasm Woman?

Today in the cafe... A customer entered carrying crutches, her broken leg heavily bandaged. "I've been in rehab but I've had enough," she announced to the near empty, early morning cafe. "I had enough of rehab and nurses and the awful hospital food and the vile coffee, so I've escaped. They said I can't go because I'm a public liability, but to hell with them. I'm here and I'd love to have The Dreaded One's Breakfast and do you think you could make me a really nice cup of coffee? Thaaaanks, darlin'.
I nodded, wide-eyed and stunned, because she didn't stop talking. Where was it all coming from? Who was it aimed at? She got a couple of customers who were bemused or amused or just intrigued. One guy looked to be all three of these as he shared some time with her. The look on his face was priceless. He told her a story of his own injury and unbelievably, she stopped talking and listened. When he finished, she nodded and was off again, but she had really listened.
When I delivered her coffee she OMGéd several times very loudly because she was enjoying THE BEST COFFEE EVER! When her breakfast arrived (poached eggs with holandaise, wilted spinnach and mushrooms) I thought she was going to fall off her chair with the outrageous pleasure of it.
"Seriously... SERIOUSLY this is the best breakfast I have had in my ENTIRE life!"
She kept talking and talking and talking. I think she said more in that hour than I say on average in an entire month.
When she paid, she was so grateful. Everything was so beautiful. She took a business card to tell all her friends and she was going to come back and bother us again because she loves the place so much. She spotted my card with the link to my short story collection. She asked if I was the author. I nodded, rendered, as I was, practically speechless. It was her turn to be wide-eyed.
"Reeeeeally," she said in awe. "You're so clever. So talented and clever. I can't wait to read the stories. I can't wait to come back to this absolutely beautiful little cafe. It's been a real pleasure meeting you. You have a beautiful day. Have a really, really beautiful day."
Hands-down, my favourite customer of the day.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

An Esoteric Poem For Someone

An Esoteric Poem For Someone

Together, alone,
They said things,
And they said things,
And they said things,
Long into the night.

Jeff Goldblum,
Jeff Goldblum,
Fucking Jeff Goldblum.

No one else was there,
To hear these things they said,
No one else was there,
To witness the friendship that they shared.

Jeff Goldblum,
Jeff Goldblum,
Fucking Jeff Goldblum.

But everyone imagined things,
And so they said things,
And they thought things,
They believed all these things,
That were never said.

Jeff Goldblum,
Jeff Goldblum,
Fucking Jeff Goldblum.

But they made it through,
Not caring what others thought,
And they killed Jeff Goldblum,
Fucking Jeff Goldblum,
Jeff Goldblum,
They killed him until he was dead.

And their thing
Was a cool thing.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Pixel Review, Melbourne 2016


Reviewed by Lee Bemrose

My review request for Pixel went something like this:

“Hey Australian Stage – I'd really like to review this. It looks so trippy that I might not need to take any pre-show acid like I usually do.

Hahaha - joking. This show looks so trippy that it's SCREAMING for pre-show acid.

Joking again. My pre-show drug of choice is actually ecstasy.”

Although in reality my pre-show drug of choice is a glass of chardonnay, there were moments during the show that I felt like I had taken a delicious cocktail containing all of the above. There are many moments of wonderful trippiness.

First up though – the dance element of the show. Breakdance and body-popping are dance styles I've only ever been exposed to via short music clips. It's always seemed a novelty, a slightly freaky gimmick with a backdrop of jerky, thumping, shouty music.

But this is a full-blown, intricately choreographed dance performance showing these forms of dance in (for this writer) a whole new light. The dance in Pixel is real and pure dance; there is nothing gimicky about this performance. It's masculine, it's tricky, there is showmanship, there is strength and finesse... you've seen the head spins and the arm spins and the angular weirdness before, but not on this level. It's break-dancing, Jim, but not as we know it.

So what's different about it? Because the performance is longer than the music clips you might have been exposed to, you have the chance to appreciate the skill involved. Once you get used to it, you see it for having all the beauty of the best ballet.

You might see the word 'breakdance' and associate it with shitty 80s electro synth and drum pads, but here the music by Armand Amar is just dreamy. By turns orchestral, exciting, melancholic, whimsical... if there wasn't such magic going on up there onstage, you could easily close your eyes and drift of into the lushness of the music.

But the magic going on up there onstage... whoa.

Aside from the dance (I forgot to mention that there was the most amazing contortionist who at one stage did a duet with one of the break boys and it was one of the most wonderfully weird and playful modern dance sequences I have had the pleasure of seeing), there was the lighting trickery. This is where the trippiness comes into the thing. You will find yourself wondering what the hell is going on. Obviously it's all technology, but it may as well be magic. They somehow project light onto a... a sheet of magic and the performers interact with the light by... magic so that there's a kind of interactive dance between the dancers and the pixels of light. There are 3d effects that can only be described as... magic.

And it's all happening right there in real life in front of you.

I actually don't know how they achieved some of the visual effects that I saw. But I did love the marriage between technology (or magic, as I like to call it) and the raw and elegant physicality of the human body.

All performers had their moments to shine. Even the roller skate guy and the hoop guy, both of whom I also forgot to mention. Such masculine elegance.

Artistic director, choreographer and all round magician Mourad Merzouki and his collaborators have produced the kind of performance that makes you think, if shows like this are being made now, what are they going to be doing in a few years' time?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Woven Hand, Story And Pictures

This is a new favourite song of mine. It came on today as I was finishing up in my empty cafe. I turned it up loud (I suggest you do the same). It's dark and haunting and really fucking beautiful.

Sometimes at the end of the day in my empty cafe, I just want to stay there with my music and my solitude and I just want to howl at the world because nothing is going right and sometimes I think I'm going to lose my fucking mind. Your petty demands about the temperature of your hot drink... do you really think this is important enough for condescension? Have you seen how others are living in other parts of the world? Have you seen how others are living on your own street?

But it's my job and so I smile (sometimes) and do my job while my mind is actually racing a million miles an hour thinking about every detail of everything, all the shit going on in the world and all the shit going on in my life and all the shit going on in everyone else's life. I think about the people I love and the people I don't love enough and I think about the people who have it so much worse than I do... the customer who is always sick or the customer who is always over-worked or the customer who is worn down by the needs of her family or the many customers who for whatever fucked up reason are just odd misfits who will never know the hugs and the shared laughs and warm friendship the rest of us know.

All this thinking, all this seeing, it wears me down.

Sometimes in the afternoon in my empty cafe I want to howl because everything is wrong.

Othertimes, I listen to beautiful music like this, and I just wish I could drift away into forever.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Thing About Love

She looked at him, and he could see that she was broken. He had been unkind to her, which was the last thing in the world he wanted.

I'm sorry, he said. But the thing about love is that it doesn't die in one place just because it grows in another.

She looked into his eyes and forgave him his clumsiness.

He looked into her eyes and knew that he was the luckiest man alive.


I've lost. It's over. I'm lost. I'm too many things and not enough of one thing. I needed to be one thing. But I was never going to be one thing. I was never going to be good at just one thing. I was only ever going to be pretty good at many things, and I was always going to be distracted by other things. I'm a loser, baby.

This world is too crazy for me. I don't see a happy future for humanity. The greed, the murder, the destruction, the repression... I just don't fucking get it. I don't understand my role in this mess that is humanity, and I think oblivion is a far better option.

There is not enough love. Not enough caring. There is too much hate. Too much greed. Why don't we care more about each other?

Eternal sleep. Now that's a thing.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Proposal

You understand that this is it. We will never see each other again.

Yes, I understand the situation. We won't ever see each other again.

Hand held gently to cheek. Deep eye contact. Long embrace.

But hey, what about this. What do you think of us writing something?

Writing something?

Yeah, you and me, our words and our thoughts and our ideas. Yours and mine together.

Hey... yeah, we could totally do that. Your words and my words and our thoughts and our ideas.

Our story.

Even though we will be a world and a lifetime apart. We could totally do this.

Yeah. Let's do this. Let's make a beautiful, funny and weirdly broken story together.

Let's do that.


Okay then. And... Goodbye.

Goodbye. But we'll be in touch. To tell our story.

Yes. Yes, of course. We'll tell our story.

Kiitos. Love you, see you soon.

Yes, Kiitos. Love you, see you soon.

And that was the last time they saw each other.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Haiku Anarchy

When you left,
You took my happiness with you,
Actually -
Fuck syllables and structure.
Fuck Haiku.
Fuck everything.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

One Lucky Soul

Saw this on my walk home from the cafe today. The moon looked spectacular. I was feeling melancholy (oh that old friend is back and hanging around again), but kind of okay. I mean, when you think of the real treachery going on in the world, the innocents being bombed and gassed and raped by tyrants and pathetic deviants, the corruption, the hatred, the dying and the injustice... if you have the luxury of pausing on your walk home from your banged up little cafe to your cosy home to take a photo like this, you have to appreciate that you are one lucky soul.

I am one lucky, melancholy, grateful, soul.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Mutley Moment

Today in the cafe... I was telling my new helper a story and she actually spat an entire mouthful of coffee onto the wall with laughter. It didn't spray, just blurped out in a stream and splashed loudly against the wall. It was spectacular. It's had me sniggering like Mutley all day.

And yes, occasionally I actually do sound like Mutley when I laugh.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Grumpy & Kafka Woman

Me and Loredana coming off a massive laugh about a tiny but really really funny thing.


Friday, August 12, 2016

Shadowland, Review


Reviewed by Lee Bemrose

This is another performance I didn't really know much about before seeing it. I saw a sort promo clip somewhere and thought it looked like fun, the kind of thing my inner child might appreciate after being neglected for so long.

For some reason – something to do with it being a show about tricks with light, shapes and shadows, I expected it to be a collection of unrelated vignettes, which is why I took out my pen and notebook; narrative, I don't need to take notes, but a collection of short pieces... ergh, must scribble in the dark.

As the show got underway, though, I realised that this was actually a story, not many stories. And a gentle fantasy story at that.

The story appears to be of a young teen girl yearning for something... escape... the future... something. She either falls asleep or steps into another world. The mood is one of dark and whimsical fantasy. This world certainly is the stuff of dreams, of strange otherworldly creatures, of villains who chase you, of surreal landscapes and strange chance encounters. It's a quest story, with the heroin being given a burden and being forced to go on a journey and overcome many obstacles before reaching her goal.

As children, we've all been shown how to make the shadow of a dog's head or a cockatoo on the wall. Much of Shadowland is built from this simple trick of light and shadow, but taken to a whole other level, obviously. The things the Shadowland crew do with the shadows of the dancers' bodies is quite magical. You and your inner child will become besties again.

The dreamlike sequences of visual trickery are interspersed with the raw physicality and beauty of the dance troop under 'natural' theatre light. I haven't seen a dance performance for quite a while and I don't know why that is. Such grace, such strength, such impressive teamwork... it's a beautiful thing to behold. The balance of seeing the dancers (and their enjoyment of what they are doing) and the shadow and light trickery is deft. It breaks things up. Each serves to remind us of just how clever the whole thing is.

And usually I hate encores... seriously, you took several group bows – has the show finished or not?

Happy to say that this encore was a good one. Again, so fun. A nod to Pilobolus' roots with the stirring New York by Alicia Keys followed by a nod to their temporary host town of Melbourne to the wonderful lyrics and musicianship of Colin Hay's' Downunder (unfortunately, this song also fills with me with sadness given the repugnant activities of those soulless copyright parasites who now basically own the rights to a creative piece they had nothing to do with. Lawyers... worse than bad encores by a long way... but I digress).

So yes, it was a joyous encore. Look forward to Shadowland, Sydney and Brisbane. It's SO fun.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Kiitos, Kiitos, Kiitos, Kafka Woman

Kafka Woman and Grumpy, last day in the cafe. Sadness. Proper sadness. And proper happiness that it happened at all.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Mel On Tutu Tuesday

Today in the cafe... I was packing the outdoor furniture away and noticed a very cool woman across the road. Amazing dreads, amazing clothes. Wish she'd come into the cafe, I thought as I continued packing down. On my way back outside, Cool Doof Chick appeared in the doorway, carrying the small round outdoor table inside.

"Where do you want this?"

"Erm... there is fine... erm..."

"I'm Mel and I'm here about the job. Nice tutu, by the way. Tutu Tuesday?"

It was the interviewee I had lined up for today in my search for Kafka Woman's replacement. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but based on this first encounter and The Vibe, I think we have a winner.
Which is not to suggest that I am at all happy about losing Kafka Woman. Quietly gutted, would be a better description.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Spy Stories In The Little Cafe Of Awesome

Today in the cafe... there's a regular I've been curious about for a while. What does he do? He seems like a stay at home person but he wears good casual clothes. He seems casually successful. What does he do?

I suggested to Kafka Woman the idea that we somehow follow him back after he has collected his large latte with one sugar.

Mystery Large Latte With One Sugar enters. Kafka Woman's eyes widen as I start to make his coffee.

"Can I follow him? I've always wanted to be a spy. I think I'd make a good spy."

"A good spy needs a good disguise," I advise her sagely.

"Okay. Where's my disguise?"

I point to the curly little moustache stuck to the mirror, a remnant of Moustache Mondays (yes, we are that kind of cafe). Kafka Woman is onto it. She dons her disguise and her jacket and Grumpy is immediately all "whoa - where is Kafka Woman? Who is this person with the little curly moustache who I've never seen before?"

With that, Kafka Woman is in pursuit of our mystery guy.

Upon Kafka Woman's return, we debrief. Mystery guy went left down Gertrude, right into Fitzroy Street, then left down a little cul de sac. As Kafka Woman started to cross Fitzroy, Mystery Guy started walking back toward her, whereupon she drew upon all her spy skills and sneakily hid behind a tree, much to the bemusement of the people in the parked car next to the tree... why is that moustached woman in a fluffy jacket hiding spy-like behind that tree? Is she an actual spy? She sure looks like an actual spy. We think she must be an actual spy.

Kafka Woman took off her little curly moustache (Oh shit THERE you are, said Grumpy) and hung it back on the mirror.

"It was like he entered some kind of time-space portal... I lost him. But I am a professional. Trust me, Grumpy, I WILL get to the bottom of this."

I am happy to say that this is a true story with mostly actual dialogue. I laughed about this almost as much as I did about the weirdly broken thermometer... but that's a whole other story.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Weary Of This World


Tonight, I am broken.
I am broken by the struggle,
I am broken by the imbalance
And the injustice.

I am broken
By the ruthless ones
Who break the broken ones
For reasons I will never understand.

I am broken
Because a broken one
Crushed so many innocents
On Promenade des Anglais.

I am broken because today I saw
A broken boy tear the wings
Off the most beautiful butterfly,
I'm broken because I saw
Her beautiful heart, broken.

Right now, I'm broken,
But I've been broken before.
I'm broken,
But I'll mend.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Drinking From The Tips Glass

Today in the cafe... there's a customer who has a quietly, endearing theatricality about her communication. The previous time she visited I remember wondering if she was a TV personality I should recognise, but I think it's just her way.

She placed her lunch order today in her unique way, wide eyes and breathy enthusiasm. As she bustled away I asked her to remember the butterfly (her table identification creature). “Oh of course!” she replied in her Thespian way.

I took her order to The Dreaded One and hung about in the kitchen for a few minutes. When I returned to the cafe... two things absorbed in a nanosecond. The first was that the butterfly customer was standing at the counter with the fizzy orange juice drink she had purchased. The second was that Kafka Woman, in my left peripheral vision, was doubled over in fits of uncontrollable laughter, one hand on the counter to steady herself. Kafka Woman, for me, has the most infectious laughter I have ever encountered. I don't need to know what she is laughing at to start laughing, so I started laughing.

But I knew something was up so – being the professional I am – I focused on the customer and what might have gone wrong.

“I'm a bit put off,” she told me. I assume there must be something wrong with the drink. I look at the glass. There was something that is not fizzy orange drink in the bottom of the fizzy orange drink.

“Yes,” The customer goes on, looking a bit disturbed by the whole affair. “There are an awful lot of coins in the bottom of my glass...”

The pieces fall into place. She had picked up our tips glass, taken it all the way back to her table, somehow not noticing that the glass was quite heavy due to the coins it contained, and she had poured her orange fizzy drink into it and taken a sip or two before realising that for some reason, there are coins in her drink.

I couldn't help myself. I started to laugh more as I told her what she had done, wondering how someone could do such a thing. My increased laughter fuelled Kafka Woman's laughter and she doubled over and laughe even harder, if that is humanly possible.

If Kafka Woman had not been present when I first walked back outside, I might have been able to act concerned and empathetic and treat the situation with some kind of false sensitivity. The fact that KW was already wiping tears of laughter away meant I never stood a chance. Now, needless to say, we were both fucked. Absolutely fucked with laughter.

The customer was not fucked with laughter. She wanted a refund for the ruined orange fizzy drink and although it was entirely her fault for putting the drink in the tips glass, I gave her the refund because by now I was feeling a bit guilty about all the laughter.

Later, after more laughter in the kitchen, Kafka Woman went over to check that the rest of Butterfly Customer's lunch was all right. Everything, it seemed, was fine. Except...

When I asked about the murmured conversation between Kafka Woman and Butterfly Customer, Kafka Woman told me that Butterfly Customer didn't want to appear humourless, it's just that she is a clinical germaphobe. She opened her bag and showed Kafka Woman some of her medication.

“Fuck,” I said to Kafka Woman. “Why couldn't that have happened to a normal person?”

Saturday, July 02, 2016

The Silver Lining

Bad day in the cafe. Look at how many people are not there.

But Kafka Woman was there. This was a fun day in spite of things.

I am big hugs grateful.

If explanation is needed, this is a photo of Grumpy taking a photo of Kafka Woman dancing behind Lucky Cat with a Woo Hoo Cup balanced on its head, obviously. Many months ago Kafka Woman was a stranger who wandered into the cafe and sat in that blue chair on the left of your screen and read my short story Remembering Argos, and a connection was made. It was a very random encounter that like all such rare, random encounters has lead to beautiful things.

Friday, June 24, 2016


I saw your lie
You with your secret note
I saw that lie
I saw your deceit
And it crushed my heart.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Goodbye Beverley

This is a photo of a random human being. I might have lived the rest of my life not knowing her, but I didn't. She walked into the cafe one day looking for work. She worked with us and became a friend. One time in the cafe when we were closed, she played her banjo while I sang Solitary Man, first time I have sung with anyone.

In my previous post I said I wasn't feeling anything. Today I felt lots. I even cried a bit. And I'm okay with that.

Saturday, June 18, 2016


Something's not right
Something is wrong
It's just that I'm not feeling...
How to express this accurately...
No that's it
Expressed perfectly and accurately
I'm not feeling
I'm just not feeling.

But hey. Given the current state of the world
The hate
The killing
The pollution
The overpopulation
The rampant idiocy
Of religion
And our leading politicians
The brutality committed
Against innocent and gentle people
And gentle and innocent animals
The greed
The consumerist mentality
In which we wallow
The overpopulation that has grown again
Since I last mentioned the word

Given all of this
Please forgive me
For not feeling.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Today... Thoughts Of Hamlet's Melancholy

"I have of late—but wherefore I know not—lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises, and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air—look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire—why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me. No, nor woman neither."

Sometimes you're just barely hanging in there and no one knows it.

And you wonder why you bother. You may as well share your thoughts with the wolves and say goodnight.

If I don't write something funny soon, I'm fucked.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

The Art Of Kafka Woman

Today in the cafe... a little platter of half eaten morsels has been left in the dish-washing area. Grumpy looks at with a faint wince of distaste. "Who left this little mess here?" he asks, expecting the answer to be The Dreaded One's assistant because bloody typical.

"Kafka Woman," The Dreaded One replies.

"Kafka Woman left this here?" Grumpy asks, now looking and sounding like it's the most adorable art installation he's ever seen. "Oh that's all right then."

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Viola And Lee And The Magnificent Leaf

There is something about this photo that I like so much. Viola, she is lovely. That leaf... what a magnificent leaf.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

White Goth

I had a dream in which my hair was thick and grey.
I said to someone, I think I'll change the colour of my hair.
I think I'll make it white.
Death-white, because death is white.

And thinking about my white death,
I was okay,
Because we all die.
Enjoy the love,
Because 100 years from now
Everyone you know will be dead.

And then I had a dream,
in which I had no dreams.

Kaspar The Friendly Host

I'm an introvert who is fascinated by people and their stories. I've always considered myself an outsider, an observer, a solitary man. I feel lucky to have friends, such good friends. I am a quiet person who occasionally enjoys staggering levels of fun.

By Friday night, after dealing with the whole spectrum of humans all week, I've had enough and want to retreat to my cocoon, my sanctuary, my nest.

Yester-Friday, however, I invited some good people back to my sanctuary. Badaboom Beverley, Kafka Woman, another couple of friends Kate and Shannon. We had fondue and lovely and fun conversation.

I am Introvert Man, but I love having the right people over to thank them with hospitality. Thank you for being a friend. Thank you for being such a good co-worker. Thank you for being a memorable part of my life. Thank you.

We had fondue and good conversation, lots of laughs. I don't know what the others felt, but I felt it was quite a beautiful night. There has been some jokey conversation lately about my middle name, and Kafka Woman said something about Casper or Kaspar. This made me smile. I have some vague memory of having an early childhood thing about the cartoon character Casper The Friendly Ghost. It was a very unexpected name for Kafka Woman to put out there. I have a memory of my long-forgotten father painting Casper on some shitty piece of wood, and it was perfect.

Kafka Woman and I had had a weird day. It's complicated. I over-think things. Stuff that isn't real becomes real after I over-think everything. The day was quite awful for both of us. So it was good to end it as the friends I like to think we are. We drank. We laughed. We talked. We went around to a local music pub and danced for a while.

And I felt fortunate. I feel fortunate.

Thank you.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Dear Diary by Andi Snelling, Butterfly Club 2016 Review

Dear Diary

Reviewed by Lee Bemrose

Andi Snelling's one woman show Dear Diary has been doing well at various arts festivals since Melbourne Fringe last year, and seeing her opening night performance at The Butterfly Club, it's easy to understand why. Andi is a thoroughly engaging comic actor and story-teller with quite a superb singing voice. Yes, there are songs because this is kind of like a cabaret show, where The Person On Stage tells stories, sings and dances and does whatever fun stuff takes their fancy.

In Dear Diary, the schtick is that TPOS is telling the story of the last 24 years of her life via actual diary entries. Yep, she's kept a diary since she was, I think, nine years old. The child is there, the young teen is there, the blossoming older teen and the adult, they are all there.

From the outset, as Andi emerges from her suitcase, her physical performance is striking, slightly weird and comically quite superb. The audience is hooked long before she has uttered a word.

Hearing the personal thoughts of the performer at various ages is funny in that they are the universal voices of people of those stages of growth, but in the background there are more existential things to ponder; the nature of growth and aging and the idea that were are all basically living stories, but will anyone but our own selves ever know the complete story? The suitcases within suitcases put me in mind of those Russian dolls, and how we are in a way layers of ourselves through our whole lives. There was also a nice play on the tree falling in a forest idea that raised the very relevant question of why, exactly, diarists write diaries. Who are we writing for? If no one else reads these so very private musings, do they exist? Do we exist? Did we exist?

This is all stuff that is sparked during the show, but you don't really think about until after the show, because during the show there is much too much to be enjoyed on a lighter level. The list of birthday presents the young teen has scored, the snogs the older teen has scored on her adventures overseas, first sexual encounters... all authentic and funny and, yeah, nostalgic.

As well as an accomplished actor and voice-over professional, Andi is obviously a trained dance performer. I wasn't expecting so much physicality in such a show, but her physicality is simply a delight to watch.

There's a section called Guest Diary that may or may not involve a level of audience participation. I was both cynical and disappointed by this section. Once you realise what it's all about you will probably wish, like my group did, that it had been more fully utilised. If genuine, it could have been a longer segment of the show. As it was, this section with its lengthy introduction, seemed like filler.

One opinion that my plus one, The Dreaded One, had was that the show seemed a little self-indulgent. I dunno. Isn't cabaret, by definition, self-indulgent? Certainly a diary is self indulgent, so a cabaret-type show about a diary... well der The Dread One. Certainly this has obviously crossed the mind of The Person On Stage, because she took the wind out of those sails with a pretty damned funny re-working of the Carly Simon classic You're So Vain.

The very real, adult Andi Snelling appears to have much creative success. But a few Russian doll layers back, according to her diary, there was bad personal stuff going on. She shared this with us too. I had mixed feelings here too, coming away thinking that it was all just a showcase of her talent.

Which luckily for us, she has bucketloads of.

At The Butterfly Club, Carson Place Melbourne until June 5

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Ferris Wheel Of Emotions

I visited Sydney recently. I left with mixed emotions. The mixed emotions, like a Ferris wheel, go round and round.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Laughter In Grumpy & The Dreaded One's Little Cafe Of Awesome

Kafka Woman has become a reasonably important feature of my life at the moment. We work together every day now. She is great to work with. When she first came into my life I thought it was a one-off encounter. Both times she came to the cafe after that, I thought they were the last times I would see her. You might remember that I spoke of her peace and serenity.

I liked her instantly, even though I didn't know her. I didn't know then that I would be working with her.

What I really, really didn't know - probably not until quite some time into working with her - was how much of our time would be spent laughing. I tend to say that I am not a laugher. I'm going to have to stop saying that, because when I am with Kafka Woman (Loredana), I am quite the laugher. And it's a wonderful thing. Proper, uncontrollable laughter. The stuff that kids enjoy. The sound of their laugh is making you worse. Just don't look at them - not even in your peripheral vision - and you might just get this fit of laughter under control.

We talk about a lot of life stuff. We're like friends. Something on your mind? Want to talk about it? Or we just talk about what we got up to on the weekend or the night before. We talk about music and writing and great books we've read. The conversation is pretty well rounded. Whimsy features frequently.

We get interrupted a lot... A LOT... by customers. Kafka Woman suggested that we might need a sign to tell customers that they cannot enter because we are talking. The above sign came to me and I wrote it up intending to just show her for a laugh. We laughed. Then I put it up on the door. The reactions from the customers was a source of laughter for the rest of the day. That day (yesterday), I have never spent so much time on any job laughing.

She has a joyous, infectious laugh, does Kafka Woman. And that's the thing with laughter - it really is infectious. At one point both of us were useless with laughter. I was struggling to make one of the regulars their coffee. I kept trying to compose myself, but I'd hear Kafka Woman sqeak with repressed laughter, and I was fucked all over again.

I wiped a tear from my eye as I turned to give the customer her coffee and told her, "Man that was hard work." When I looked at her, she was chuckling. She had no idea what we were laughing about, but she was laughing. She thanked me and turned to leave, and she was still giggling to herself as she left the cafe.

I am still feeling residual happiness today. I've always known that laughter is good. It's why I like to write funny stuff. To actually indulge in it a lot though... man, it's better than drugs.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Ship Of Perfect Things

He had a dream
That he wasn't sure was a dream,
And in this possible dream
He saw a sunset,
The perfect sunset.

He saw a horizon,
And he saw some kind of boat,
A ship of perfect things,
It carried all of his memories
And all of his friends
And all of the places he had ever lived
And all of the places that he had ever seen.

And he watched this perfect collection
Of his favourite things
And his favourite people,
His favourite dreams and memories,
Drift away from him.

And it was beautiful
And perfect,
Because as unlikely as it was,
All of it had all happened.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Love Is Enough

And in the end
In the cosmic jangle
He realised that he knew love,
Realised he had always known love.
He loved her,
He loved them all,
And that  love,
That love was enough.

Friday, May 13, 2016

In The Cafe Today... Skateboard Girl

The skateboard is a low rumble roar along Gertrude Street as it approaches Deadman's Lane. I see her through the cafe's side window. She is a one second blur of cool. She's got long jet-black hair that trails in the wind, a long lacy skirt that does the same, dark patterned leggings beneath. She rumble-roars past the door, stops and kicks the back of her board, tips and catches. She does this just as I go through the door with a soy flat white for one of our regulars.

Heading back to the door, Skateboard Girl stops me and asks me if I am the manager. She asks me this in the accent of my favourite city.

Yes, I tell her, I am the manager.

I am looking for a job, she tells me, I am here from Barcelona and I am looking for a job.

I tell her we have nothing immediately. Kafka Woman has changed her plans and apparently I will be enjoying her company for a few more months. I can't express how grateful I am for this. I tell Skateboard Girl that I won't have anything for at least a couple of months. I tell her that Barcelona is my favourite city, and we chat briefly.

It was a cool little indie movie moment. It all happened in black and white, shot and directed by Jim Jarmusch.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

In Time, You And I Will Shine

Such a beautifully perfect love song. Absolute perfection.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Nanny Baird And His Nanny Burgers, Because His Nanny Lockout Laws Just Aren't Nanny Enough

After reading about the latest Nanny Baird government's exercise in over-regulation (ie: Nope To Medium Rare Hamburgers Due To Misinformation From Overseas Statistics), The Dreaded One and I had a bit of a discussion on the topic of this and the qualifications and experience of council inspectors. I imagined the next-door neighbours over-hearing our discussion and having a discussion of their own:

Bill: Ooh it sounds like Grumpy and The Dreaded One are having a pretty heavy domestic.

Murray: It certainly does. They are really shouting at each other.

Bill: And swearing! Fuck me what a pair of sweary motherfuckers. Really no need for that.

Murray: What's really weird is the argument seems to be about... hamburgers? Are they really arguing about the acceptable serving of hamburger patties?

Bill: Why yes, I do believe you are right, Murray.

Murray: And you know what's really weird, Bill?

Bill: No - what is really weird, Murray?

Murray: If you really listen... through all that shouting and screaming and swearing and things being hurled around the apartment in what is clearly uncontrollable rage... I think they are actually agreeing with each other.

Bill: Fuck me. Now that you mention it, Murray - I do believe you are right. They are actually just enjoying a kind of... orgy of anger at the abject stupidity of The Nanny Baird Government and over-regulation and the incompetence of clip-board muppets who are actually clueless as to how things really are. Those fucktard muppet health inspectors who drop into the kitchen dressed like they are going to an opera opening night instead of wearing regulation non-slip OH&S boots, overalls and high-vis vests... your eyes have kind of glazed over, Murray...

Murray: It was when you said orgy of anger... do you think we could, you know... have our own orgy of anger?

Bill: I don't see why not. Grumpy & The Dreaded One seem to have calmed down now. What do you want to get angry and shouty and orgy-ie about?

Murray: I don't know... how do you feel about Maitreya?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

It's Fruity... And it's Fun

In a new favourite restaurant on Brunswick Street recently... waiter asks us how the rousanne is. We tell him it's lovely. He nods and earnestly surveys Brunswick Street like it's a battlefield, and like he's Russell Crowe playing Maximus in Gladiator. But instead of saying, "At my signal, unleash hell," (but in the same ominous tones), he says, "Yes... it's fruity, and it's fun."

Monday, May 02, 2016


When I die, I choose to remember us like this. She is beautiful now later in life, but my God, look at her in this photo. Stunning. My favourite human.

Saturday, April 30, 2016


I've written three novel manuscripts, met with major publishers about all three, but all came to naught. This was a long time ago. I destroyed all three manuscripts. Hard drives are long dead. None of them exist.

But in going through all of our stuff in storage I found there was a paper version of one of the novels. It is called Falling. The opening goes like this...

"The thin chime pierced the silence. Heads or tails. Life or death.
The coin landed.
He shrugged.
It was death.

I might take a look at this survivor.

Great Expectations

Went down to our storage cage to find a book that has one of my short stories in it to give to my cafe helper (and friend) Loredana. Couldn't find the book; I must have given them all away.

But I did find millions of the books Ann and I have read (sooo many books) and all these long forgotten photos. Actual photos in albums. Strange to see who we were, what we were doing, who we were trying to be, compared to who we have become. This was me as an extra on the set of, I think, Great Expectations, this scene filmed in Balmain Court House.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Please Forgive Me

Today walking along Smith Street... I love this song. It's one of my favourite songs ever. And the video clip... so fucking beautiful. Today walking along Smith Street, this song started playing from some unknown place. I smiled, because I love this song so much. La laa laaa, please forgive me, I never meant to hurt yoooo... la la la laaa

I vaguely wondered where the music was coming from until it eventually stopped. Then I remembered that I like this song so much that it's my ring tone. The Dreaded One had been trying to phone me.

This is not the first time this has happened

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Gone Doofing Again: Yemaya 2016

Sign on the cafe door before going to Yemaya. Such a good festival with good friends old and new. This is just kind of a bookmark: went to the festival, didn't catch up with Loredana. I hope to fill in more details later. Beautiful weekend with friends, but the Loredana thing was a big disappointment. Really wanted to spend festival time with her. Alas...

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Evolution Of Friendship

And so Badaboom Beverley's orbit leaves my realm. She will zing past again in one month before heading off forever into the future. We caught up briefly in the cafe today. It was the relaxed comfort of catching up with a good friend. Love the evolution of friendship. Once a stranger, now a friend. It's a beautiful thing.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Private Lives By Noel Coward, Balloon Head Theatre, Review

Private Lives

Reviewed by Lee Bemrose

This debut production by Balloon Head Theatre of Noel Coward's classic romantic comedy was also my first experience of the play, and although I know that it is produced regularly to mostly glowing reviews, and although I am a sucker for a good romcom, I can't say I'm a fan of the play. I honestly don't know what all the fuss is about.

For the uninitiated, Elyot and Amanda used to be married. Then they divorced. Elyot recently married Sybil and Amanda recently married Victor. By coincidence, Elyot and Sybil have booked their honeymoon hotel room right next door to Amanda and Victor's honeymoon hotel room. You're either the kind of person who reacts with “Ha! How funny is that?”, or the kind of person who thinks, “You've got to be kidding me.”

Elyot and Amanda discover that they are neighbours and decide, due to their acrimonious past, that they all must leave. They do not tell their new partners who is staying next door, just rather insist that they must leave. The newly-weds quarrel over this, with Sybil and Victor refusing to leave, and storming out for the evening. Elyot and Amanda reluctantly share drinks and conversation on Eliot's balcony. They reminisce and in the blink of an eye decide they are in love again, so much so that they have to elope at once without telling their new spouses what is going on. (Again... seriously?). Back in Amanda's Paris apartment, Elyot and Amanda hole up, booze up and talk incessantly about how much they love each other. Soon, however, they suddenly hate each other again. Sybil and Victor turn up, more shouting and bickering and insults and the play ends.

I once read that using coincidence as a device in story-telling was a pretty bad idea, so I admit that I was off to a bad start here with the coincidence of these former spouses ending up in neighbouring hotel rooms. I also questioned Sybil and Victor's obsessions with their new spouse's former spouses on their honeymoon – wouldn't this kind of talk have happened in the early stages of their relationships? Would they really happen on the first night of their honeymoon?

Thing is, the dialogue is pretty good and I found myself lightening up. WTF. Just a romcom. Lots of witty banter in this act and some pretty decent acting too, particularly from the driving forces of the play; Oscar Shaw as Elyot did Aloof Upper-Class-Twat really well, and Seren Oroszvary did Volatile Upper-Class I-Love-You-I-Hate-You-Psycho really well. The characters of Sybil (Rachel Shrives) and Victor (Ben Symon) appeared to be written as lighter characters and the roles were played accordingly, perhaps self-consciously going for the comic relief angle. This was most obvious in the second act when the mood was less fluffy than in the first act.

The second act seemed a little long and not as pacey as the first. This was because this was the serious part of the story, where shit was going to go down. The spirit of Elyot and Amanda being cocooned from the world in a drunken delirium of love was beautifully done, then a little over-done. The comedy to drama ratio was kept up even though a tapering of the humour to let the serious stuff bubble through might have worked better (if I had been Noel Coward's dramaturg... oops... back to reviewing).

By the time Sybil and Victor arrived at the apartment, I had long stopped wondering how this was all going to pan out, because I didn't care for any of these characters. I really didn't care how it ended. If we liked at least one of the characters and wanted things to go their way there would have been some tension. But as it was, meh, I don't care if she ends up with him or he ends up with him or if they all kill each other with rusty spoons.

In saying how much I'm not a fan of the text (did you pick up on that at all?), I did think this was a pretty good debut production. Lots of friends and family in the audience on opening night and so naturally some of the laughs came from said family and friends seeing, erm, a family member or friend doing funny things on stage. But not all; many of the laughs were a result of some very good comic acting.

Set design was minimally evocative, which is all you need. Sound was a slight problem in the second act when the hotel walls were pushed back on the stage and the balconies became the apartments walls and music was played loud.

The French housemaid Louise (Camilla Eustance) was funny without doing much, as was the Kate Bush piece, which I suspect
probably wasn't in the original text. Both these segments were absolutely enjoyable but didn't seem to move the story forward in any way.

If you're a fan of this Noel Coward guy, I suspect you'll probably enjoy Balloon Head Theatre's production of Private Lives. Looking forward to seeing to what Balloon Head does next.

Friday, April 15, 2016

This Will Be My Biggest Life Regret

Two of my favourite people ever. The one in the middle gets married this weekend. I loathe weddings, but I would gladly swap all the weddings I've ever thought I had to attend to be at this one.

My love for Ann is simple and obvious.

My love for Kat is more complex. My kid sister. Happy to be her older brother. Kind of crushed I wasn't able to be there for her marriage. Cried in the cafe today because I couldn't be in San Francisco this weekend. Actually cried. The moment has gone. I fucked up. I wasn't there.

And life goes on.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Dear Universe... Please Be Kinder

Today in the cafe... life is so beautiful and so fucking horrible. I love the meaningful friendships that develop with our customers. You get to know their name, you get to know a little about their life. Sometimes they become friends, because their art is good or their sense of humour is good, or just damnit, they just seem good.

Have been blessed lately too with the most perfect co-workers. Life is beautiful.

And so fucking horrible.

Long time Team Awesome member M... her mother has been unwell for a long time. Proper unwell. M has also recently become properly unwell. It's shit that a kind and intelligent and caring 21 year old shouldn't have to go through. Good person with a heart of gold, she has had enough to contend with.

Then today she tells us that her 8 year old sister - who she adores - has some kind of aggressive brain tumour.

I really wish these people would get a break. They deserve a break. Give them a break, Universe, you fucking prick.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

That Laugh, That Day

That day... do you remember that day? That day in the cafe when we talked about the serious stuff of relationships and love and history and the present and how it's all so beautifully confusing. Remember how I told you that story? Remember how hard you laughed your musical laugh?

I will never forget that laugh. I will never forget that day.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Cirque Adrenaline, Melbourne 2016 Review

Cirque Adrenaline

Reviewed by Lee Bemrose

I really don't know why I bother going along to these circus things; the physical excellence on stage always leaves me feeling like an uncoordinated slob. A complete oaf. A kind of knuckle-dragging, sloping forehead, slack-jawed, monosyllabic-grunting primitive. They don't just leave me feeling like I've just emerged from the primordial soup, they make me feel like I AM the primordial soup. Thanks, guys, thanks a bunch.

On the upside, Cirque Adrenaline really does live up to its name. It's a great big shiny production and clearly no expense has been spared. The sound and lights are indeed sensational and aid in ramping up the excitement, but when you get down to it, its the skill of those humans tumbling, twirling, balancing or flying through the air (sometimes all at the same time) that really gets the heart racing. There are no safety harnesses or nets. There is the very real possibility that a stunt may not go according to plan. They may be freaks of strength or balance, but they are also human, flesh and bone.

The show starts with the entire ensemble of performers exploding onto the stage (figuratively speaking) to much fanfare. There is a palpable sense of camaraderie on show. We are then treated to some clowning from LA based Ross Steeves. I wasn't really feeling the love for this part of the show... it seemed aimed more at kids than adults. The kids lapped it up, and there were lots of kids present, probably because I was at the Sunday matinee – not the best move if you are allergic to over-excited chipmunk voices. The clown segments later in the show worked for me and I smiled out loud quite a lot.

After seeing some of contortionist Sabrina Aganier's floor work on Youtube, I was keen to see what the French Canadian was going to do with a hoop suspended in the air. OMG, as the kids say. So flexible... so incomprehensibly bendy... but so mesmerisingly graceful. You can read an interview elsewhere on this site in which the performer says she enjoys every moment of this performance, and after seeing her live there is no doubting this. Her relaxed fluidity almost distracts you from the freakish contortions she is performing. Stunning. I fell a little bit in love with Sabrina after seeing this performance.

Also stunning were aerialists Alex and Nastaya Mischchenko from the Ukraine, the intimacy of their performance enhanced by the fact that they are life partners. Exquisite stuff.

There was nothing exquisite about balancing guy Alex Mruz, also from the Ukraine. Such an ordinary looking bloke, he did an extraordinary piece involving an impossibly fragile stack of tubes and balls that left no margin for error. This act simply doesn't look possible, and it's guaranteed to get your palms sweating. It did mine, anyway – actual power sweating.

There is some impressive fire work, trapeze and trampoline work, but the big boys are the slightly cheesily named Wheel Of Death (ooh) and Sphere Of Fear (ah). Cheesy names, yes, but the thrills are very real. The Wheel Of Death is a big twirling thing with... like... there are two big tread-mill circles at each end of the axis and... if you can imagine a couple of extreme hamsters... not that I'm saying Jhonathon Reina and Diectter Pastran are hamsters, it's just that this is a difficult device to describe. These same guys perform in the Sphere Of Fear, in the end having three motorcycles riding around manically inside what can only be described as a sphere of fear. Totally nuts, but somehow they manage to do all this stuff with no one getting hurt.

As mentioned, the soundtrack was fantastic and covered a very wide range of styles including (unfortunately) a dubstep. Dubstep is Satan music. Even so, somehow Cirque Adrenaline even got away with this musical faux pas.

The costuming was fabulous enough to have this Viking of a writer gasping and using the word fabulous. I want to shop where they shop.

So what's to like about Cirque Adrenaline? Pretty much everything. It's not just fun, it's FUN! It's so fun and so exciting that it shut down those chipmunk voices and left the adults unable to manage anything more than “Wow” at the end of the show. (Many wows and at least one “OMG those costumes were fabulous!”). Go with kids by all means, but the real pleasure in shows like this is that they put you in touch with your own inner child. You will be thrilled. You will be amazed. Just strap yourself in and go along for the ride.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Tutu Tuesday In Grumpy & The Dreaded One's Little Cafe Of Awesome

In keeping with Moustache Monday, we had Tutu Tuesday. Big hit with the customers. Tomorrow is French Friday, because it's Badaboom Beverley's last day. I shall miss her, although there are still plans to work on our duet of Solitary Man.

Still can't believe I sang with a musician playing an instrument and that she wants to do it again.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Moustache Monday In Grumpy & The Dreaded One's Little Cafe Of Awesome

I don't know which of my boys is more handsome - Kafka Woman or Badaboom Beverley. (Love these two).

Tutu Tuesday tomorrow. Yes, Grumpy will be wearing a tutu.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Quietly Into The Night

Art by Xac Downes

Words by Lee Bemrose

Quietly Into The Night

Every now and then
Life breaks me
And quietly into the night,
I howl.

I howl at what we've become.
I howl at the cruelty.
I howl at the kindness
That is crushed,
I howl at the injustice,
Why them and not me?

I've sung to plucked strings
Have heard the harmony
In the voices of strangers
And I'm fortunate enough
To know true love.

But sometimes life breaks me,
And quietly into the night,
I howl.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Grumpy's Angels

I just love days like today. I am surrounded by gorgeous souls in this photo who all work so hard in the cafe. Viola, on my far left, is a friend who helps out in staff shortages. She is a great worker and lovely presence. She gave me an early morning guerilla hug this morning because of something I wrote about the person immediately to my right, who you might know as Kafka Woman. She likes to hug hello and goodbye if possible every day. I have no problem with this.

The person to my immediate left (yeah, she gets her own new paragraph), that's Badaboom Beverley. She's the one who suggested the Front-Of-House head design in the photo. Don't worry - revenge is already sorted. It's going to be so fun.

After work, Badaboom brought her banjo (she makes this creature sound so beautiful) back to the cafe after closing, and we kind of worked on a song. I have never sung in front of another person other than The Dreaded One. I am relaxed with Miss BB and even suggested the concept of a re-interpretation of this song. I was a chilled motherfucker until it came time to actually sing. I sang along to two versions of this song, a song I normally sing along to so well in the shower. But now, my hands shook a little, and I butchered the song. Twice! Go me!

Badaboom Beverley shrugged it off, we sat down and started tooling around with this song. We tried different ways of doing things. I realised singing quietly but in tune is more important than belting the vocals out. I learned I don't have a clue about music. I learned that there are things called chords. I realised that I don't know what do do with a chord or where the best place to put one is.

We also talked about this song. Why does he go faster here? Why is the chorus so upbeat when it's song about sadness? Is it in fact a song about sadness? It was so cool to try to get an understanding of a song, to really get to its heart and then to try to understand what we want out of our interpretation of it and how to go about executing that.

That Portuguese word saudade... I have always felt that about my creative partner... where are you? I have my perfect life partner, but in all my creative endeavours I have been a solitary man, always vaguely missing someone who isn't there. But here we were, two former strangers sitting in an empty cafe, sharing knowledge, playing with and discussing ideas and making notes about a text and a piece of music.

For me, this was a taste of this creative partnership thing, and it was quite beautiful.