Monday, June 18, 2007

The Diceman Readeth

I can't decide which novel to read so I have assembled six books that are either on my informal to-read pile or that I have been meaning to read for years. I have shuffled the books then laid them out in the following random order:

1. The Country Girls, Edna O'Brien
2. The Waterworks, E.L. Doctorow
3. The Pesthouse, Jim Crace
4. The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
5. The Private Wound, Nicholas Blake
6. Winterwood, Patrick McCabe

And now I take a dice and roll it...

ONE!

My fate has been sealed.

Gosh, I bet you wish you had my life.

Friday, June 15, 2007

"I Know I'm Crap": Oldfield Bones Self

This has got to be the most bizarre post-axing statement I've ever seen:

Lisa Oldfield has blamed herself for The Catch-Up's demise, issuing a public apology to say "I know I'm crap".

Describing herself as a "pompous" character with "no talent", Oldfield said it was mostly her fault the Nine Network decided to axe the show.

The Catch-Up finale will air today at 12pm (AEST).

"My only regret about doing it is that I dragged down three brilliant performers," she said of her co-hosts Libbi Gorr, Mary Moody and Zoe Sheridan. "I know I'm crap. I'm sorry that I've brought this upon them.

"I think Australia has had an absolute gutful of Lisa Oldfield — I know I've had an absolute gutful of Lisa Oldfield. I can't imagine me darkening anybody's TV screen again any time soon."

I have nothing to add, other than to say - who the fuck is Lisa Oldfield? In any event, her statement - and its prominence on the ninemsn homepage - is obviously an attempt by Nine's management to distance themselves from yet another dud show. Turns out it was all Lisa Oldfield's and Mia Freedman's fault.

The Herald Sun has more Oldfield self-flaggelation:
"I'm just the most irritating individual you'll ever meet. I'm a pompous snot and I brought them all down. But they went down fighting."

...

"I'm not surprised it was axed, because we all followed the ratings and it wasn't hitting the mark," she said.

"But we had fun and I learned so much from Libbi (Gorr) -- like how to be a complete bitch."

Cripes.

So now I'm curious. Does anybody want to own up to watching The Catch-Up? I once saw the opening credits - soulful Oprah-esque music, the hosts "dancing" - and switched immediately to Dr. Phil. Er, I mean the ABC midday news. Was The Catch-Up really that bad?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Big Brother Criticised For No-Brainer Stance

Channel Ten's reality programme Big Brother is embroiled in yet another controversy after the show’s producers declined to inform housemate Gavin Stubbs that his brain has died.

Stubb’s brain reportedly passed away late on Sunday, yet Stubbs remains unaware and continues to participate in household activities.

Big Brother spokesman Brian Shshmith told a media conference that the programme was acting according to Stubbs’s own wishes.

“Prior to entering the house Gavin informed us that brain death was a potential issue and he specifically requested not to be told should he suffer the loss of that organ while he remained a housemate. Gavin made it clear that he has never been particularly close to his brain and did not wish his Big Brother experience to be interupted were it suddenly to die.”

Media personality Andrew Bolt told Sterne that he found the producers' stance "inhumane".

“I think all right-thinking people would agree that Big Brother’s producers have an obligation to tell Gavin about his brain death. I speak from experience, because several years ago a good friend of mine took me aside and told me with great sensivity and respect that he thought my brain had died and dropped out of my bumhole. That was when I knew I was ready to be a News Ltd. columnist.”

The Inexplicable Nineties

Those who profess themselves unable to believe in the reality of human progress ought to cheer themselves up by a short study of the 1990s. The War on Terror, the Bush Administration, Osama bin Laden, the Frat Pack itself, will then seem a light price to pay for no longer being in the 1990s.*

Many of the things that sucked in the nineties were merely incarnations of the Platonic Form of suckiness. Others however were so specific to the period, so enmeshed in the cultural matrix, whatever that is, that they stand now as essentially nineties slices of suck and probably all but inexplicable to anyone who wasn't there.

The film Wayne's World is a good example. For those too young to remember - Sterne is big with the kids - Wayne’s World, like Citizen Kane, was based on a popular Saturday Night Live sketch. Mike Myers played heavy metal fan Wayne Campbell, host of “Wayne’s World”, an amateur tv show broadcast from his parents’ basement with the assistance of his dopey friend Garth (played by Dana Scully). Wayne’s age was difficult to determine - he was apparently either meant to be a teenager with progeria or a middle-aged man in a bad wig and a baseball cap. In fact Wayne was a teenager (the progeria angle went unexplored) who was merely being portrayed by a middle-aged man in a bad wig and a baseball cap. That, friends, is the magic of moofies.

Wayne’s World was released in February 1992 and was a huge success despite being so February 1991. The big hair, the lame catch-phrases (“Schwing!”; “Dude!”; er, "Dudette!"), the guest appearance by Alice Coooper – what freakin’ decade were we in? And check the soundtrack: it’s got “Dream Weaver” on it, fer feck’s sake.

Wayne’s World may be anachronistic but it remains a valuable document. For one thing, its cast is a veritable who’s who – or, to be precise, a who’s that? - of nineties mediocrities. Rob Lowe, Tia Carrere, Lara Flynn Boyle, Chris Farley and Ed O’Neill are just some of the credits that ring vaguely irritating bells. Wayne’s World also provides a disturbing insight into the collective funny bone circa 1992. Few in the noughties would see the humour in a scene depicting four men driving around in a small car headbanging to a twenty-year-old glam rock song but, as some old limey once said, the past is another country. Maybe we ought to nuke it.

* This paragraph is more or less stolen from Lucky Jim.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Laid Out

Yet more layout changes. Much more fun than actually writing content. It probably looks crap on IE; in fact it probably looks crap on anything.

If anyone cares the header picture is a still from René Clair's 1924 short film Entr'acte (available at Blockbuster - get it first time or it's free!) showing Erik Satie and Francis Picabia firing a cannon.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Carry Stress In The Jaw

Longtime readers may remember that about a year ago my mouth exploded. I dutifully staggered off to the dentist who charged me a large sum to do not much, then told me it would cost an even larger sum to fix my teeth. Since I didn't, and don't, possess a large sum, and since the dentist was a bit of a cow, and since my teeth have generally behaved themselves, I never made a return appointment.

So of course now whatever problems I had last year have gotten worse and I've spent the last week enduring a steadily increasing toothache, sore gums, etc. It's not completely foul like last year's bacteria attack - no pus, no ulcers - but it's become impossible to ignore so I've obtained an extension on my credit card limit in anticipation of a financially (and probably emotionally) crippling visit to the dentist.

The question is: which dentist? I'm not returning to the condescending bee-otch I saw last year, that's for sure and certain. So I'm open to suggestions from you, dear reader. Got a decent dentist, by which I mean a dentist who is not an obvious sadist, has pleasant-smelling breath, attractive assistants, and who doesn't actively seek out expensive stuff to do to your teeth? Oh yeah, and is located in Melbourne's eastern suburbs.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Stack

The idea here is to note down thoughts about some of what I've been listening to lately. (N.B.: this is completely different to Ben's posts where he notes down thoughts about some of what he's been listening to lately. For one thing, he has a pile of CDs whereas I quite clearly have a stack.) I plan to do this regularly, although it'll probably be superficial and sophomoric in the extreme. I should mention that the stack in the photo is several stack-generations old. Some stack members remain, others have been replaced, still others have joined separatist movements and have begun their own stacks elsewhere in the house.

Orpheus, The Lowdown by Peter Blegvad & Andy Partridge (2003) is actually a poor choice to start with as it is destined to remain aloof from the stack, packaged as it is in a kind of paperback-sized digipack. There's not a lot of conceptual packaging in the CD era, or the post-CD era, as I suppose we - if not specifically I - have now entered, and when it is attempted the results are usually pretty bad (see: Tool). Orpheus is an exception. There's a crispness and subtlety to the packaging - the elegant lyric booklet, the obliquely illustrative photograms - that perfectly complements the album's content.

Orpheus is a combination of spoken word and sound collages that occasionally threaten to turn into songs. It's detailed, deliberate music, and remarkably unified considering it was recorded over a thirteen year period; at the same time, each track is a discrete unit of intention and meaning, with little repetition of sounds or ideas. Overall, this is a sparse-feeling recording, Blegvad's deep voice enunciating over soundscapes that are occasionally bright but never colourful - the aural equivalent of a solarised image.