Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Horror, The Horror...

My wife and I had dinner with a close friend last night. He was, as always, a wonderful host. Not only did he prepare a delicious lamb dinner and kept our wine topped up (very important), but he planned an evening of DVD entertainment as well.

We held our regular discussion on football and the current state of the AFL. This basically consisted of us both agreeing that Hardwick was a good choice of coach for Richmond and that the umpiring in the Essendon - Hawthorn game was extremely poor. We then returned to our oft repeated attempts to understand the wacky and zany plans Andrew Demetriou dreams up for our beloved game while hiding under his desk. Like adding new teams to an already crowded league (and thereby diluting our talent more), increasing the finals to include the top 10 teams (thereby rewarding mediocrity), ignoring the tanking that occurs (thereby being the only person in the country that can't see it happening), and pushing for a fixture that is only set until round 17, with games after that to be based on ladder positions. Yeah, that guy is really in touch with what the fans want.

Then we went through to the living room to watch an old Hammer vampire film.

My friend is a film buff. He especially loves his old horror films. At one point in the evening our topic of conversation turned to horror. Recently, I wrote a ghost story which my friend has read. I told him I was considering submitting it to a horror market. He seemed surprised by this as he hadn't considered it to be a 'horror' story. And I suppose by certain definitions of horror, it probably isn't.

I tried to ask someone in the writing world if it was a horror story, and they told me that if it contained ghosts then it's dark fantasy. Is that right? It's not particularly scary, but it does have death, it has a ghost and it has a haunting. It's a gentle ghost story.

Is it horror? Would a horror market accept it? I'll send it off and we'll see what happens. If it sells, then I guess it is. I'll keep you informed.

In the meantime keep an eye on what Demetriou attempts to do to football. That's a real horror story.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

And Now, Here They Are, The Beatles!

Only two weeks until the remastered Beatles CDs become available.

As a Beatle freak, (Yep, that's me sitting at the console in Studio 2 at Abbey Road) this is something I've waited a very long time for. The 1987 releases were awful - muddy, compressed and quite unlistenable. And, for some reason that's still unclear, the first four albums were only released in mono. At the time EMI made some excuse about how that's how they were released originally, but it didn't take much research to discover those discs were also released on stereo vinyl.

About 15 years ago in Tokyo, the good Doctor and I obtained CDs containing mono transfers of the White Album. I still recall the first time I heard those. Wow! Not only was the mix amazing, but the clarity and presence blew my mind. Sgt. Pepper was much the same. Of course George Martin and crew spent almost three weeks mixing the mono Pepper, and about two and a half days with the stereo mix.

Over the past few years, my official Beatles CDs have been relegated to the back cupboard while I've listened to Dr. Ebbett's vinyl transfers. Superior in every way.

While the Rolling Stones have continually updated and repackaged their discs (although I still prefer the Mickboy transfers), the Beatles have waited a long time to do this. And from all I've read, it looks like it has been done properly.

The Doctor is the coolest Beatles fan I know. He knows what's what, and we have incredibly similar tastes and interests. I only wish he lived closer so we could have a listening party together on the release date.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Stupid Alien Movie Alert!

I went to see District 9 on the weekend. I love a great science fiction film, and it's been a very very long time between drinks. Unfortunately this was one of the worst I've ever seen.

Not only was the plot full of holes, but there were storylines that didn't make sense, unbelievably stereotypical characters and an extreme overuse of hand-held cameras. Even the non-action scenes bobbed from side to sea-sick side. By the end of the film I actually felt a little nauseous.

It was presented as though it was a documentary, but that pretense fell apart when they included scenes of aliens conspiring in private. There was a protagonist I longed for the aliens to kill (slowly and painfully), supposedly intelligent aliens who could travel interstellar distances but couldn't organise their own homes or do much more than scamper through dumps (I felt no sympathy for their plight at all), and, unbelievably, alien 'petrol' that supposedly turned humans into fully biological aliens. Yeah, right. Move out of the 40s, guys.

And then, to top it all off, two thirds of the way through the film suddenly turned into Transformers.

So many unanswered questions - none of which made you think, just made you believe the production team was working from an early draft of an unfinished script.

I loved the idea, I hated the execution. Setting it in South Africa was extremely obvious but I could have coped with that if the supposed themes and messages (racism and apartheid) hadn't been shoved down our throats so forcibly by the director.

Give it a miss. As the sign says, Do Not Enter!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

To Sleep, Perchance To Sleep.

The Little Shop of Horrors has finished its week-long run. We did the final show, made the speeches and presentations, got rid of the cast and bumped out. The kids were all buzzing like they'd had nothing but caffeine drinks for a week - hmmm, now I think of it that's all I saw them drinking around the backstage area.

We waved goodbye to the last of the sets as they were loaded into a trailer and slowly disappeared into the darkness over the car park speed bumps - in stark contrast to the driver we saw the night before who bounced over the speed bumps while still accelerating. After thanking the staff at the community centre, the crew (or at least whoever was left standing) headed off to the director's house for a 'debrief'.

Although we were all worn out, we managed a few drinks, a bit of music, a lot of laughs and some verbal abuse - 'Shut Up' and 'Clown' seemed really funny at the time, believe me. I crawled into bed at

Last night, though, I slept for almost 12 hours - and I feel much better for it.

Thanks guys - we put on a great show and had a great time. Now, which musical are we going to present next time?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

On The Wall.

On the weekend, while travelling to Continuum, I spent some time looking at the ubiquitous tagging and graffiti that covers the train routes from and to the city. I searched for some piece of writing that was witty, intelligent or at least mildly amusing. Mostly I saw illegible scrawls, tags in letters 5 feet high but barely readable. Scribbles on top, and often another layer over that. And it's all about 'me'. My name, my tag, my identity.

I remember the same trip 25 to 30 years ago. Not as much graffiti, but what there was often included a good dose of social commentary. Or at least a laugh.

One that I recall enjoying (and seeing for many years afterwards) was around the time of the International Year of Peace. Someone had painted the peace symbol and written "International Year of the Steering Wheel" underneath.

The famous (or infamous) "Real Punks Can't Spell Cappuccino" has led to a number of imitators and varying claims of origin. I don't know if the Melbourne one was the first, but it was the one that I saw and laughed at. Years later I read a column by Mike Gibson where he wrote of a punk he'd seen with braces in her mouth, and how the reality didn't match the rebellious image.

"Yum, Yum, Worms for Tea" was a surreal moment for many years. I never quite understood it, I just enjoyed it.

But perhaps my favourite was the deliciously unintentional truth of the mis-punctuated "I'ts Only Rock 'N' Roll".

And that was exactly what Rock 'N' Roll was about before bands like Air Supply defanged it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Feed Me!

Because I'm a drama teacher, it's kind of ironic that I don't particularly like musicals. Apart from the occasional rock opera, and a little Gilbert and Sullivan, I find them incredibly boring.

So if you're going to produce a musical it might as well be one that has Sci-Fi elements, a good dose of murder, a sadistic dentist and some great rocking 60s style tunes.

Tonight was opening night of Little Shop of Horrors, our high school production for the year. As the producer, I got to walk around and pretend to be important while the director and crew actually did all the work.

And what a fantastic job they've done.

It was an absolute blast to be involved in and a joy to watch. The kids sang, danced and acted their hearts out, and very obviously had a wonderful time doing it.

Of course the dentist stole the show, but Audrey II, as pictured above, (and that's before she grew!) was wonderful too.

Now, if only I could select which students this man-eater deigned to chew upon.......

Only four more nights til I can get some sleep!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Galaxies By Gaslight.

Off to Continuum 5 tomorrow for the weekend. I'm really looking forward to it. Looks like some great panels and workshops, and it'll be great to catch up with a few people again. Sean Williams is a surprise late addition - he wasn't going to be coming along but this morning I noticed his name added to the program. It'll be good to see Felicity Dowker again, as well as hopefully meeting a few new people.

This year's theme is Steampunk. I've checked out the program, made a list of the sessions I'd like to attend, made a list of the stuff I need to bring with me, and made a list of the lists I've made.