bIGMOUTHERY

bIGMOUTHERY

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

The Best of Music 2000-2009 (Part 1/2 - The Unknown Genre)

(A word before I begin. Relax. If you have time, stick on your headphones and lie back. If you're doing stuff on the computer, let the following tunes run in the background. You'll enjoy at least half of what I'm about to play....and if you don't, well...maybe this blog isn't for you. That's right. I'm one of those terrible music snobs.)

The title of this blog comes from an old Steven Wright gag. It's apt here because this collection, like most on this blog, does not follow the 'Five Best'-type formats of other sites. No-one's paying me to make it fit into a small box, so I don't bother trying. This is a list of songs, albums and artists who I've enjoyed in the first decade of the new millennium. I know the decade technically doesn't finish for another year, but we seem to have collectively spurned accuracy for round numbers, so what the hell.

If there's one style of music that's connected with me in the last decade, it's that curious little bird that has no real name. It's country, it's folk, it's pop, it's rock, it's punk, it's even jazz sometimes. It has never been adequately defined...but when you hear it, you know it.

I've never been ashamed to say I love country, which flies in the face of the trite and 'attempted cool' bullshit that people spout when they're asked what kind of music they like: "Oh I listen to anything, except country." One can only assume they've never heard Johnny Cash or Hank Williams Sr. The exponents of the 'new-old' form of country have been lumped in little sub-genres of so-called alternative country. Why I have no idea.

The people below are often accused of subverting the country form, but when you compare them to the current crop of Nashville 'hitmakers' it's obvious they pay much more mind and respect to their musical forebears, both in sentiment and sound. There's no self-important, flag-waving bombast and cheesy, puffy-chested production here. Merely sweet and reverent melody, with simple, spiritual ideas and instrumentation/arrangements that pay due fealty to origins.

Iron & Wine.

In late 2003 (the day Saddam was caught down a hole) I saw The Shins live on their first trip to Australia. Supporting them was a beardy Texan named Sam Beam aka Iron & Wine. It wasn't the first time I'd heard this kind of music, but it does mark the beginning of the love affair with the style. The more people I discovered, the better it became.




M. Ward.

In the mid-00s I was writing occasional album reviews for a local magazine. Their brief was primarily as a 'dance' publication, but luckily for me they did cover other music. Sometimes the editor would leave a CD out especially, but mostly I'd just go through a box of new releases and grab what looked interesting. It was during a forage in the box one day that I happened upon the amazement that is M. Ward.

The album was Transistor Radio and it was a revelation. Here was a guy who sounded as if he'd been transported from the 1920s via a Spector-studio. Of all the music I've listened to in the last ten years, it's M Ward's I find the most compelling and rewarding. That's why he gets two.






My Morning Jacket.

An old friend turned me on to these guys back in 2004. He turned up one day, thrust two CDs at me and said 'You have to listen to these'. I was immediately sceptical but he was insistent. I'm glad he was, for My Morning Jacket proved to be a great listening experience, especially live. They were lovely guys too, coming straight down after the show to have a beer and chat with anyone who hung around. Back then I described them as Southern-fried AC/DC with a sprinkle of Beach Boys and jammed through a big reverb machine. Their sound has undergone mutations since, but their core is the same. This is my favourite MMJ song.




The Decemberists.

I wouldn't put these guys in the same category as those above them. While there is the same reliance on folk, the traditon is more transatlantic. They still deserve a place here. They were another CD box 'accident'. The album in question? 'Her Majesty'. The Decemberists are all pirates and shanties and balladeers, with the occasional pop gem thrown in.




Bonnie 'Prince' Billy.

A legend in these circles, Will Oldham has been pumping along for years under various monikers. In the late 90s he assumed the pseudonym Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, which has been with him ever since. My first 'meeting' was in 2005 via 'Superwolf' a collaboration with guitarist Matt Sweeney. Oldham captures the deistic in this style of music, as well as a pervasive feeling that he may be messing with you. Whatever his intent, the results are often beautiful. (There are two songs below, I recommend scrolling to 5:50 to hear 'A Beast for Thee'.)




Fleet Foxes.

More of a pop/light gospel than country/folk feel to this, but beautiful nonetheless and worth of inclusion.





Great Lake Swimmers.


My most recent 'find', GLS are from Canada. They hold pretty close to traditional folk and country, but you can hear that familiar warmth of vocal production among the lo-fi production.



Part Two will be along shortly. It's a rag bag of rock and pop and, basically, everything else that pushed the ol' button these last few years (from what I can remember).

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Funny Subtitle.

Earlier today I watched movie Snatch and came across something funny. As Mickey (Brad Pitt), Turkish (Jason Statham) and Tommy (Stephen Graham) are making their appearance at the second fight, the Oasis instrumental 'Fucking in the Bushes' kicks off. This youtube clip is the fight overlaid with the Oasis song:



The rant you can hear at the beginning of the piece is courtesy of Isle of Wight Festival MC Rikki Farr, who in 1970 took the stage and berated the audience of over half a million: "We put this festival on, you bastards...with a lotta love, we worked for one year for you pigs...and you wanna break our walls down and you wanna destroy us? Well you go to hell!"

In the movie itself you can only hear one line from the Farr sample: 'We put this festival on, you bastards'. The lovely people who did the subtitles for Snatch must have thought this was part of the hubbub leading into the fight and captioned it:



Hehe. Funny thing is, if you look around online for that quote, people have included it as a line from the script.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Christmas, Happy.

This is the third year I've written a Christmas entry...or an entry at Christmas time, anyway. As I write, the local Baptists are moping up a storm with their dirges of praise. It's hot, humid, still, close and oppressive. nearly 40 years in this country and it's now clear that an aversion to this kind of weather is in my genetic make-up. I should have acclimatised by this time, surely. It's loathsome.

Hopefully that's the 'Bah, Humbug' out of the way, but don't bet on it. 2009 has, on a personal note, been one of the worst of my life. Having said that, it's also been one of the best years of my life. So let's concentrate on that. In March and April I was in a play called The Pillowman, which was transformational. I started to feel at home on stage again, after a year or so of feeling very much as if I'd been acting just under the skin of everything. It introduced me to some great and talented people and for that my gratitude knows no bounds, because they made me feel as ig it's all worthwhile. I got my passion back.

I also secured representation this year, probably in large measure to the aforementioned show. I'd been politely nagged for years to get off my butt and get an agent, and now I have one.

In September I was lucky enough to head off on tour again and enjoyed it immensely, especially Tasmania. It's a very special place and one I hope to return to next year, even if only for a few days. 2010 will also see a trip to Melbourne, hopefully in autumn. Like so many actors my friend Nick is moving there early in the new year. he's already locked in an agent so I have high hopes the move will bear early fruit for him. I have one project to take care of mid-year, and a shot at a meaty role a couple of months into 2010, so I'll hang back and see how things pan out. It's certainly on the cards though. I don't think I can do another summer here.

I have an idea for a personal 'creative' project next year. It's not a play or an acting gig per se, but it will possibly involve jumping onstage and sweating bullets. Not going to reveal too much there...just wait and see and if takes shape I'll share.

So...Happy Christmas. For 2010 I wish for all peace and calm and common sense and a measure of rational thought. And all the ice cream you can eat.

Friday, 11 December 2009

In the Dark With The Illuminati.



The other day I was watching Kevins Pollak & Spacey doing Christopher Walken impressions on Youtube. There are many Walken imitators. Plenty of people say Spacey is the best.

Unusually, I left a comment on one of the videos I watched. The next day I received an emailed reply. On the rare occasion I get a response it sounds like it’s coming from some semi-literate shut-in teenager who’s missing parental discipline, vitamin D and possibly a pineal gland. The comment I received may well have been from one of these unfortunates…or an unfortunate of an altogether different kind:

Monday, 7 December 2009

Funny People (Part Two).

Dear reader,

How are you? I hope you are well. I am fine. Considering the entry on Hobart leg of the tour fell by the wayside (much like the Pixies entry back in 2007, I decided to keep the memories mine), I've been tossing up what to write about lately. The last month has seen me appear unexpectedly in a show, A Christmas Carol. I came into the production a month into rehearsal so with only two weeks' prep the whole process from 'reading' to closing night left me sleep-deprived, stressed, disillusioned but ultimately, in a way, rewarded.

That's all that needs to be said about it really. In lieu of a blow-by-blow I've decided to continue the series of 'funny people' started back in July. Some you'll know, some you won't, but all are well worth exploring. Some will get a blurb, but others...well, I'll just let the bits speak for themselves. This first fella's recent unbiquity gives me hope for the species. He'll crop up more than once in this entry, with good reason...

David Mitchell

An average-looking and unassuming chap, David Mitchell has great comedic pedigree, coming as he does from Footlights and years of childhood TV study. Since 2003, when Peep Show premiered, he's been everywhere on British airwaves, from TV panel shows such as Would I Lie To You and the wonderful Stephen Fry-helmed QI to his own sketch show with partner Robert Webb, That Mitchell & Webb Look to radio, as host of BBC Radio 4's 'The Unbelievable Truth'.

Mitchell's comedy is often a massive creamy cake filled with razors. His soft, boyish face and apparent meekness are but a blind for one of the sharpest minds and tongues in comedy for many a long year. He may come across as a bit of a tightly wound loser, but when he cuts loose, whether it's scripted or on the fly, David Mitchell is scalpel sharp, yet one senses no real bitterness in him. On panel shows he's perfectly capable of appearing as if he's going to explode, but within seconds of an expertly-timed, ad hoc rant, he's laughing and smiling, his cherubic face glowing with seeming innocence. This has, on occasion, shown up alleged 'masters' like Paul Merton, who, while being a very funny man at times (those times being the 1980s and 90s) comes across as completely joyless. It's as if his brain is unable to produce dopamine. Mitchell has no such shortcoming. If he so chooses, David will be one of the greats.





Richard Pryor

We move from a potential great to an acknowledged legend. Richard Pryor is considered by many to be the most brilliant stand up comedian ever. He's definitely the most influential. I can't recall the last time I was reading about a comic's influences and the man was not mentioned. My first contact with Richard came via the movie Silver Streak when I was about seven. My brother Liam took us to the Dawn Theatre at Chermside. Here he is in his element though, on stage and in total control.





Joan Rivers

What really needs to be said? She's just wonderful.



Patrick Warburton

An extremely funny man, with the uncanny ability to make even the most innocent and straightforward line hilarious (for those of you who've never done comedy or read a script aloud, it much harder than it sounds). His sleepy, squinty take on a script is always worth watching, even in otherwise pretty boring sitcoms like...er...that one with David Spade (although Megyn Price is pretty good too). Here he is in his most famous role, as David Puddy in Seinfeld.



Maria Bamford

Maria Bamford has been floating around for years and like many comics before her, seems always to be nipping at the edges of great success without...well, success. Unlike many comics before her, she deserves it. There are those who think they are funny...and telegraph it, thereby automatically making them less funny (like Orny Adams) and then there are the self-deprecating types, like Bamford, whose ability to make a joke out of her own sadness is at a stroke joy-making and rare.




Ricky Gervais

No secret that I'm a fan of Gervais. The guy is so golden he didn't get into the business until his late 30s and it was only after success rained on him that he ventured into stand-up, with immediate success. He's not only golden, he's Mr. Backwards.







Louis C.K.

The abovementioned Gervais has been a great supporter of Louis C.K., with good reason. This bit should have you looking for more:



Dara O'Briain

Dara O'Briain was born in Wicklow, not very far away from where my family comes from in Kildare. Mind you, when you live in Australia nothing in Ireland seems 'very far away'. Fast-talking, faster-thinking, big, tall and pissfunny. My favourite moment here is 1:02-1:09.



Frankie Boyle

If there is one comedian going around today who erases the lines, it's Frankie Boyle.



David Mitchell (Again)



Friday, 6 November 2009

Stuff that happened in 1969.

With the fortieth anniversary of Sesame Street occurring this coming Tuesday, it recently struck me that a lot happened the year I was born. Here then is a selection of events from 1969 (in no particular order), in youtuberous glory.


Nixon becomes the 37th President of the United States (it didn't work out so well):



The Beatles played their last 'gig', on the roof at Abbey Road:




Robin Knox-Johnston becomes the first person to sail around the world solo, without stopping to go to the toilet or eat land flesh:





John & Yoko get married and do the 'bed-in' thing in Amsterdam & Montreal:


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The New York 'Stonewall Riots' mark the 'official' beginning of the 'gay rights movement':



The Football War breaks out between El Salvador and Honduras:



Neil & Buzz go for a walk, 200000 miles from home:



Battle of the Bogside (the week before I was born, not too far down the road):



Woodstock (just a few days before I was born, a chunk farther away):



The Internet's Daddy was born:



Mario Puzo's 'The Godfather' was published (so many to choose from but I went with the hospital scene):



Monty Python's Flying Circus premieres:

Friday, 30 October 2009

A break in play.

The last couple of weeks have seen some jagged turns in the road which have forestalled bloggery. The next few weeks will be extremely busy. This means that, for the tiny few who sometimes come here, there may be nothing new to see for the next little while save for a youtube vid or a short comment. For those of you wishing to hear more about the adventures in Tasmania, I may add another part in early December, but it's quite possible that, in the same manner as my Pixies experience in 2007, it's something I keep to myself. For a bigmouth, I can be awfully quiet, huh?

Two people whose lives and work have provided me with much enjoyment. Both left us on October 21, one in 1969, two months to the day after I was born, the other in 2003...the latter was born two weeks before me.




Friday, 16 October 2009

Amadeus Tour 2009 - 3 - Hobart (Part One)



Hobart.

It would be easy to say that time constraints have been responsible for the gap between Wollongong and Hobart entries. While I did have stuff to do this past couple of weeks there was still time to watch a few episodes of season six of The West Wing and eat m&ms like they were manna. It's not been laziness either, so shut up! Hobart was a very full week, and as it's taken so long to get this section of the tour up and running, I'm going to break it into a few parts.

Hobart was a revelation to those of us who'd never been and a kind of homecoming for those who had. Truth is, there have been very few places I've been where I've felt more at home...and I include home in that.

But first, as ever, we had to get there. There are some beautiful little jaunts to take on the eastern seaboard: the skip from Cairns to Port Douglas, the leisurely meander south of Coolangatta, an hour from Melbourne in just about any direction, but if you have been the coast road between Wollongong and Sydney you'll know why I include it. The views along the Lawrence Hargrave Drive are worth the detour. Unless you don't like the sea.

Before we left Shaun produced a perverse gem he'd picked up for a few bucks in Wollongong, a multi-CD collection of hits of the 90s. He gave us one of the discs to listen to. It was execrable. The first song was Meatloaf's ipecac substitute 'I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)'...not a good start. Sorry Meat, I can't do it either, that song is pure vomitus. I flicked quickly through five or six before realising that I'd had a very different musical 1990s to most people. No-one in the car minded when I turned it off and put the radio on. If the disc hadn't belonged to someone I liked, it might have ended up out the window.

The traffic built up as soon as we hit the Sydney fringes. I pity anyone in that town who fancies the idea of a meandering Sunday drive. It was pretty chunky all the way from Sutherland to the airport. Having put hearts back in mouths after nearly being sideswiped by a fuckknuckle in a 4WD, we dropped the cars off and went looking for the group check-in desk where I'd been told (via voice mail from Qantas) that they'd received my fax and we were all set. I'll spare you the details of finding a deserted group check-in area.

It was a hot clear day in Sydney and I enjoyed watching it disappear behind us at 300 mph. I took an illicit photo of the city as we flew over it but my bloody camera phone made it tiny:



Having had little sleep the night before I tried to catch a little disco kip but planes, sleep and I don't go, plus I really wanted to see us leave the mainland and cross the Tassie coast. This accomplished, I settled in for a nap, but turbulence jolted me awake after about 30 seconds.

Once on the ground, we grabbed our stuff and went outside to look for transport. Hobart's a small airport, reflected in the number of cabs that were waiting outside for passengers. A maxi-cab rocked up and a brusque sounding Greek man got out and said 'How many?' Without waiting for an actual response he bellowed something incomprehensible and then said 'I will take five!' Why did you ask, then? I thought. He had room for more, but as we were leaving he explained that the other cab drivers accused him of stealing all the fares. People waved at him as he drove out and once he slowed to swap loud pleasantries with a man on the kerb. By way of explanation for this, he turned to us and said, 'We brothers from different mothers.' He rabbited on most of the way into town but we couldn't hear him, and were all glued to the view outside. It was very Irish looking, but unmistakably Australian.

Like Canberra I'd expected Hobart to be much colder, but while the sky had a definite swirly, wintry quality it was mild. Mount Wellington, the great igneous rock in whose shadow Hobart rests, is normally flecked with snow, but our first view was of a bare-topped mountain.

Over the Tasman bridge, into the centre of town. We were given an explanation by the driver as to the roundabout way he'd got us to the hotel (The Old Woolstore) but the one-way streets kinda made it self-explanatory. As we hauled our luggage out, the cabbie thrust a couple of business cards at us and near bellowed 'You need ride back or things, you call Mister Yianni. Mister Yianni.' He was a very friendly and scary man.

Once settled, we all met up to discuss dinner plans. Most of the group were in twin rooms, but a few of us had two-bedroom apartments with kitchen and laundry facilities. A great relief. Cat suggested she cook a big spaghetti bolognaise. This was greeted with unanimous acceptance, for a couple of reasons. 1) Cat is Italian and knows how to cook up a storm and 2) everybody loves a home-cooked meal when they are on the road.. well, I do anyway. Off we tromped to find a grocery store. Our iPhone wielders told us there was a late-closing Woolies only ten minutes walk away, so in fading light we headed up Campbell Street to find it. Twenty minutes later we gave up. There was no sign of a supermarket, indeed after we turned back towards the city centre we found little sign of anything open in Hobart on a Sunday evening. It was a nice walk though, punctuated with little gasps as beautiful buildings including the theatre we were to play later that week.

We ate at a Hog's Breath across the street from the hotel. It's in a clutch of listed buildings including the old Hobart Gasworks. We were very happy to find a bottle shop right next door. We all loaded up on booze and I on cigarettes. The prices were very reasonable. I'd had it in my head that everything in Hobart was going to be quite a bit more expensive but it's really not.

It was during dinner that I first heard about the Pixies tour. I'd gone outside to have a quick ciggie and when I came back Emma and a waitress were talking about it. That lit me up. The only other notable thing about that meal was what was happening outside while we ate. We'd walked in from cool, calm early evening. We walked out into a gale and stinging sideways spits. This was more like it.

My memories of the first night are cloudy...drink might have been involved, but I can't be sure.

The next day was cold, clear and very much awake and open for business. The mountain showed small but definite signs of overnight snowfall. With Steven as our guide, we set out on what would be the first of many little love affairs with an enchanting part of the world.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Intermission.

The Hobart portion of the Amadeus Tour Diary is still 'under construction' due to time constraints. In the meantime, please enjoy this little slideshow of a day trip to Port Arthur and surrounds:

Monday, 28 September 2009

Amadeus Tour 2009 - 2 - Wollongong.

Wollongong.



And so, to the Gong. We left Canberra at around 9.00am. It was a beautiful day. Our redoubtable crew left on a truck before dawn. I hadn't bought too much in Canberra yet still found it hard to close my suitcase. We were split into two station wagons. Our car held Nick (the driver), Andrew, Steven, Bruce and me. To get to the Gong you head out on Federal Highway which merges with the Hume not too far past a town called Collector. Before that, though we were struck by the sight of the apparently dry Lake George (I didn't actually know it was Lake George until I got back to Brisbane) and the Capital Wind Farm.



An hour or so into the trip we stopped at a roadhouse for a pee and a refill for the pee. It's at this point I lost one of my gloves, dangit.

Cat had mentioned a more scenic route to Wollongong via the Illawarra Highway which would take us through the Southern Highlands. We were in no hurry so we decided to take it. I'd been around the Berrima/Belanglo area before but had never been through the Highlands. It was well worth it. Around this point I played a single round of 'HEY COW!' The rules are simple. As you're driving along, you keep and eye out for a straggle of cows potentially within earshot. As you pass them, one person screams out 'HEY COW!!!' You get a point for each bovine that responds to the call. I didn't count them, but Andrew reckons I must have got six or seven out of a possible eight or nine cows. Satisfied with this, I retired from HEY COW! the undefeated champion of the world.

The Highlands were sweetly pretty, just what a real girly should be. Ahem, sorry. I took a few photos on the drive but, as you can see from the Lake George photo, car window shots don't turn out too well, especially on my crappy phone camera. Still and all, I managed to capture the pride of the Highlands, The Big Potato in Robertson. Or as I like to call it (and I'm sure I'm not the first)...



..the Big Poo. What's sad about this photo is not the poo itself, it's that of all the beautiful things to see on the Illawarra Highway...Moss Vale, Sutton Forest, Macquarie Pass, this was the only spot I asked Nick to slow down so I could get a photo.

No photos down Mac Pass. The escarpment road has claimed its share of people over the years, especially motorcyclists. Nick needed to concentrate. Having a dick tailgate him most of the way to Albion Park Rail didn't help. This video will give you an idea of what Mac Pass is like.

We checked into the Rydges around lunchtime. As we'd arrived in separate groups we had to check ourselves in. This was not a problem, save for the fact that previous check-ins at Rydges tended to be a headache for the poor soul charged with undertaking the task. It was a relief therefore, to be greeted with a bright, smiling face and no hassle. Our rooms were ready & our hosts were chirpy.

(Let's pause here for an anti-commercial break. The Rydges Wollongong offers a $10 buffet breakfast. Sounds pretty good, huh? It is, if you like your scrambled eggs cubed and drinking the worst coffee I have ever tasted. No possibly or probably...the WORST coffee. It tasted like it had already been consumed a few times. And now back to the show.)

Nick and I were together again, in a twin. Nick had had a hard time sleeping in Canberra due to my inability to settle easily after a show. Unfortunately the poor blighter would get no decent rest until Hobart.

Wollongong is a very nice town and the people are lovely, but it has the sadness of a city in decline. It's a coal and steel town whose best days seem to be behind it, or at least that's the sense you get from its inhabitants. The industry shed about half its workforce in the 1980s. The signs are evident during the day in the number of indigent people in the streets asking for money and smokes. At night the malaise is displayed by the city's youth. More of that later.

I let Cat know we'd arrived in five handsome and stylish pieces of manhood and we scouted around looking for somewhere to eat. Thanks to a friendly local, we ended up at Diggers, the local RSL. RSLs can be a bit of a lottery, food-wise. Sure, the meals are usually inexpensive and the lure of a slap-up roast dinner can be great, but there have been times when roast pork, veges and gravy has looked and tasted more like boiled roadkill, rocks and ditchwater. Not so at Diggers. The meals were well-priced, generous and tasty. Steve, Andrew and I had the roast beef, Brucie and Nick the lamb shanks, which they reported to be excellent. That's high praise from Bruce, who is quite the gustatorial expert (he eats out a lot).

As we were finishing up, a clutch of mature-aged ladies gingerly approached our table trying to attract Andrew's eye. It took me a second to work out what they wanted, but Andrew's been in the Australian public's eye for so long he must half-expect it. He's one of the most gracious men I've ever met. He not only signs autographs for people on a regular basis, he's happy to chat and if their connection to him is through his many years on Play School, he'll spend extra time drawing a little picture of Big Ted or Jemima. I should've asked if he draws a picture of the Ambush if they're Patrol Boat fans or a plane for Flying Doctors.



One evening, the company met at 'Club N' i.e. Nick's and my room. We enjoyed a wee drinkie and Dash introduced us to game called Lunchbox, the rules of which I may share at a future time. Two things came from that evening: 1) a little extra for the cleaning staff the next day and 2) a salient lesson in actors' anality when it comes to game rules.

The Illawarra Performing Arts Centre (IPAC) is a smaller venue than the Canberra Playhouse and we played in the smaller of its two theatres, the 200-seat Gordon. This led to some major issues with staging. Changes were necessary. The fortepiano, which is normally placed smack bang in the centre of the stage from the start, had to be moved. The Gordon stage is so shallow that, if we'd left it in its original position, the piano's arse would have stuck out through the closed tab curtain. Added to this were some issues with limited wing space and a paucity of lights, which made the whole Gong tech experience a little fraught, to say the least. No-one wants to be in a position where adjustments have to be made, but they were done out of practical necessity. 'Needs must when the devil drives.' Thanks to our wonderful team of creatives/crew, Cat, Shaun, Emma & Matt we pushed through and delivered two solid shows to small but appreciative Wollongong audiences.

The second night in Wollongong was my worst show of the tour. My knee was quite sore and I was preoccupied with it, more concerned with safely moving around the stage and not falling over than hitting the right notes as the foppish Orsini-Rosenberg. A scalpel beckons, I fear.

That afternoon we went for a drive. Two cars loaded with beach and belly-hungry theatre types drove north to Towradgi, where we had been told there was a vast selection of beachside cafes and eaty-joints. It took us twenty minutes to find that we were terrible navigators or the whole Towradgi thing was a myth. On the way back to Wollongong we made up all sorts of rude names around Towradgi, not out of bitterness really, more out of hunger and boredom.

Redemption and full bellies came quickly in the shape of the Harbourfront Restaurant, a restaurant, as its name suggests...on the harbour front. If the staff wasn't prepared for an unreserved table for 12 in the middle of the Saturday lunch rush, it didn't show. Within a minute or two we were seated. Saucer-eyed, as we scanned the menu. With a harbour full of fishing boats and trawlers sitting just outside the gleaming windows, it was clear that saddle of mutton was not the catch of the day. It's a spoiled and happy meal indeed when you ask a waitress where the fish is from and she points to a boat 50 metres from where you're sat. Mirror Dory. Yum.




Sated, we all went our separate ways, some to wander the beaches, some to theatre for work and I to Woolies to buy shoe polish and hunt down an Internet cafe.

After the final Wollongong show I hightailed it back to the hotel as fast as my creaky legs could carry me. Earlier in the evening I'd written a group check-in fax to Qantas. The group booking procedure had been a bit of an oddity the whole tour. The day before we left Brisbane I went online to check some of us in. It makes such a big difference to the amount of time you may spend waiting in line. Unable to do it, I rang Qantas and asked why I wasn't being given the option. The guy said 'Y'just can't.' Riiight. 'But why?' 'Dunno, some bookings y'just can't.' Gee thanks.

When we got to the airport the next day the woman at the check-in desk was a lot more friendly and helpful (it probably didn't hurt that she recognised Andrew and he, as ever, obligingly signed an autograph - and drew a Big Ted, I think). She told me that Qantas only allows online group check-ins up to nine people. We were 13. Again, she didn't know why the max was nine, but I'd stopped caring. She was so efficient and friendly it didn't matter anymore. Plus she gave me the number of a group check-in line which offers the same early check-in facility, but via fax confirmation.

As I was writing the fax, the girl at reception, Kellie, asked what the company was doing after the show. I said we'd probably try for a drink at the hotel bar. We'd wanted to have a drink there the previous night but it was closed for a private function. I found out that we were lucky the bar had been off-limits: the private function was to celebrate a few jail releases. Police were called etc. But on this particular night there was nothing more threatening than a 21st, and they'd kindly left the bar open to the public. Kellie asked if she could join us. I said we'd be delighted. Nothing like speaking for the group without permission. Oh, and I'd bought a Vietnamese takeaway for dinner that I was planning to eat after the show and needed to smooth the path towards a microwave. Our room didn't have one.

I took the Crown Street route back to the hotel. The walk is a bit more surefooted, I needed cigarettes...and Burelli Street comes off as a bit dingy and off-putting at that time of night. On my way up the mall, I saw literally dozens of kids, some no older than 11 or 12, smashed out of their skulls on alcohol and accelerants. They weren't really causing any trouble. Too shambolic and wasted. About the only rebellion they appeared capable of was stomach-borne. The older ones were a little more scary.

It's not the first time I've walked angry amphetamine and alcohol-soaked streets. There were times I was full of piss and speed too, but I've never felt the same kind of unease as I did that night in Wollongong. Perhaps it was the unfamiliarity of the city or maybe it was because I felt incapable of running if I had to, but there was a vague yet definite malevolence in the air, a feeling of something bad about to happen. I was so discomfited by it I slipped my open Leatherman into my coat pocket and hobbled back to the hotel as quickly as I could.

Safely inside, I briefly met a few people who'd seen the show then met with m'colleagues in the bar. The 21st was still in full swing. The partiers were pretty much oblivious to our presence, so a few of us signed the birthday card. We had a competuition to see who could write the funniest message. Bruce won, but for the life of me I can't remember what he wrote. Hopefully Nick will read this and add a comment reminding me.

When I went up to the street for a cigarette, Kellie came out and told me to watch out for eggs being thrown from the apartments across the street. Apparently they don't like smokers. I had drunken conversations with a few people including a middle-aged woman who, on exiting the bar, made a point of coming over and telling me how much she'd always liked me and one young guy who spoke of the ease of acquiring cheap drugs are in the Gong. When I asked him what the locals preferred he said 'E's & speed.' No surprises there. I saw him later outside the hotel lobby and we chatted for a few minutes about the number of people he knows who have either taken out AVO's or have AVO's out against them. Jokingly I said, 'You make it sound like there are so many AVO's that no-one in this town should be allowed to go near anyone else.' He replied, 'They fuckin' shouldn't, eh. Fuckin' sucks.'



I took care of my room charges that night before retiring, thinking that I'd been a bit over the top in my fear. Yes, there was an uneasy 'atmosphere' in Wollongong late at night but I saw no fights, heard no screams and witnessed no wilful destruction of property. The 'wildest' thing that occurred that night (outside of some drunken admissions by near strangers) was a guy peeing on the street outside my window. When I woke the next morning however, there was evidence of pent up anger unleashed. The areas outside the hotel bar and lobby had been egged and a few large panes of hotel walkway glass had had the shit kicked out of them. Thankfully this was not my last memory of Wollongong, a city I liked very much and would happily visit again.

Finally checked out and bundled into cars, we swept out of town. I'd hooked a 'Mighty Dragons' flag to the car window. It came with Saturday's copy of the Illawarra Mercury. I don't follow the league anymore but as a kid and young adult the Dragons were my favourite Sydney team (for anyone interested, my local league team was Redcliffe, of course). Back then they were the St. George Dragons but a merger with the Illawarra Steelers means they are now beloved by Wollongong and Gongers show it at every opportunity.

We were only a few blocks away from the hotel when the thrum from the whipping flag was driving us loopy, so I tried to take it down when we pulled up at the lights, coiuncidentally outside WIN Stadium, second home of the Dragons. It fell to the street and Steven reached out of the car to pick it up. Across from the stadium a crowd of people were having a late breakfast (or hopefully, an early lunch) at the brand new 'Chicko's' fast food place. They were looking at Steve curiously. As he scooped the flag from the road, the lights turned green and Steven waved the flag vigorously and called to the gawkers in passionate voice 'Up the Mighty Dragons!' The crowd responded with smiles and laughter, as did the occupants of our car. That was my last memory of Wollongong...and possibly my favourite.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Amadeus Tour 2009 - Canberra.

Arrived home Sunday from Hobart via Sydney. Internet access was virtually impossible in Canberra and Wollongong, and Tasmania was too beautiful to ignore for any more than a few minutes at a time. I made a few notes along the way and hope they're coherent enough to incorporate here.

Canberra




It would be as easy to start the Amadeus diary with a straightforward summary of events from Brisbane to Canberra via Sydney, but that'd would be boring and I can sum it up quickly: Smooth flights, 50 metre bus ride (in two buses) from Sydney terminal to Canberra plane (a Dash 8) and a 38% sugar/55% carbs apple 'streusel'.

Expecting Canberra to be quite chilly, I'd taken my coat onto the plane but it was shirt sleeves weather. We were met by the show's publicist Coralie Wood, a perennial figure in the theatrical community in these parts. She is sometimes called 'The Queen of Canberra'. Our cab reeked of Saturday night vomit and the hotel had not finished preparing our rooms, so we couldn't check in. Luckily, Steven had an open invitation to visit with a friend (Charles) for a colourful Sunday lunch in a suburb called Downer, presumably named for the father of that sibilant popinjay Alexander. We dropped our suitcases in a wee side room of the hotel, picked up some wine and traipsed over to find much merriment and flamboyance. I had a couple of drinks and headed back to the hotel with Tash and Dash.

We stopped off in the barely beating heart of the city, the Canberra Centre. It's a huge mall covering many blocks. There were shops open, but no-one really seemed to be buying or selling. Most of the shops outside the centre were closed, even, to my astonishment, some of the fast food chains, like Subway. It felt as if Canberra was a model town and its inhabitants part of a massive re-enactment. It looked a bit like a city, but all the action taking place was rehearsed and for display only. Very Truman Show. The three of us wandered for a bit and then cut across park and car park to get back to our hotel, The Rydges. I've yet to see one person outside of our company take anything other than a loopy paved route. There are desire lines all over the place, but they must have been blazed by tourists.

It took only a day to feel as if Canberra was some kind of mildly bizarre world. The design was pretty but not conducive to human contact, the people didn't seem to like human contact and the locals' opinion of the town was often reflected in their attitude to others. Nick thinks I'm being a little harsh on the place and it's true that there were some lovely people, most notably our hosts on the Sunday afternoon, the woman who ran the public transport info centre, one of the waitresses at Tossolini's restaurant and the venue staff at the Playhouse, who were just great.


Maybe I am being a bit severe on Canberra. It's quite pretty, there are some lovely landmarks and even the 'ghetto' (as a cabbie described a block or two of flats just out of town) seemed quaint, with bikes neatly hung up on porches and lawns green and tended. It's just that hardly anyone in Canberra outside of politicians seems to want to be there. The staff of a grocery store near the theatre provided the best proof. The day of the first show, after struggling to find the entrance, I stopped in to buy cigarettes and noticed a nice array of rolls, baguettes and sandwiches at the deli counter. No-one was around, but there was a bell and a sign saying 'Please ring for service'. I did so. After a minute, a woman sheepishly appeared and I said something like 'Hiya'. She said 'Yep'. I countered with 'How's it going?' She replied, 'Yep...whaddya want?!' and gave me a look that suggested any further pleasantries would not be tolerated. At least the sandwich was nice.

Over the course of the time in Canberra this short shrift was given quite a few times, so I began to quiz the locals on what they thought of their city. At the same store the next day I asked a different staff member her opinions on Canberra. She said she hated it. When I asked why, she answered so quickly she sounded as if she'd been waiting for the follow-up: 'Because it's boring and there's no beach'.


One day I scouted around looking for somewhere to get my hair cut. The young hairdresser I found (let's call her Kacey, why not?) did a great job (I had this confirmed by some of my company mates at the time and most importantly, my loving partner - a hairdresser - when I arrived home). Kacey asked me if I was from out of town. I said yes and told her I was in a play called Amadeus. She didn't know it. I said, 'Have you heard of Mozart?' She said 'Huh?' 'Mozart...the composer?' Blank stare. A pause, then, 'Is that like some kind of band?' Now it was my turn to go blank. 'Um, no...Mozart was a guy who lived just over 200 years ago, the late 18th Century, he wrote some of the most famous music ever. We're doing a show that's sort of about him.' I thought this might trigger something. Nope. 'How about Beethoven?' By this point I was expecting a no, but what came forth stunned me. 'Beethoven...you mean like the dog?'

I had to take a moment to process this. 'The dog from the movie was named after the music guy. He's really famous too. Came along just after Mozart.' For the briefest second I considered blorting the opening of Beethoven's Fifth, but thought better of it. Kacey obviously thought I was mad enough already. In fact, I thought about letting the whole thing go. The last thing I wanted was for Kacey to feel so put upon that her only recourse was to shave an obscenity in the back of my head.

Gamely, or insanely, I pushed on. If two of the most famous musicians in history failed to register, maybe it was time to bring things forward a few years. 'Have you ever heard of Nirvana?' 'Nuh.' Now I knew it wasn't me. But the look on Kacey's face (and whatever odd expression on mine) suggested that I might be playing a cruel joke on her, because she stopped cutting and called out, 'Caitlin? Do you know who - what was his name...?' Quietly: 'Mozart.' '..who MOZART is?' Without a breath, an equally young voice replied, 'Yeah, course! Jeez, Kacey.' 'How about Nirvana?' Even quicker, 'Oh bloody hell, Kace.' Relief. The unseen presence of Caitlin the colleague helped me step sure-footed out of Bizarro World, back of my head unscathed. I should have let it rest there, but stupidly I asked Kacey what kind of music she listened to. She said 'Nickelback'. For those of you unfamiliar with my music snobbery, it's safe to say that when I am looking for the prime example of shit, Nickelback is invariably the first name to escape my lips. Without thinking, I borrowed a line from Mr Burns: 'You've just made yourself a powerful enemy, young lady.' Whatever ground I'd made thanks to Caitlin was now lost forever. I thanked Kacey, paid and left, spending the next few minutes feeling for cusswords in my newly cut hair.

As for the show, it went down a bomb in the capital. The houses were brilliant, due in large part to Coralie's fantastic publicity. It's very hard to plug a show that has a two-day run, but Coralie helped to give us 400+ audiences for both nights.

The Playhouse is a lovely venue and the staff, as I've already mentioned, were just great. The only real issue from the actors' point of view was the depth of the stage. Even though you normally rehearse in a smaller space than that which you end up playing, nothing had prepared us for the gaping maw of the Playhouse. It was huge. The smother (the black curtain that runs along the back of the stage) could have been moved forward, but our tour manager, the inestimable Cat, told us that to do so would have taken a four hour chunk out of an already snug bump-in time. Working in such a massive space often raises concerns about audibility and in our first rehearsal we were all belting to the back wall, but the acoustics at the Playhouse are brilliant so there were no worries that the audience would be subjected to two hours of Salieri, Mozart and the Hapsburg courtiers screaming at each other.

In short, the Canberra shows were great fun and the Canberra audiences were fantastic. In that sense, I have no right to be critical of them or their city.

I can't be harsh on their coffee-making skills either. Canberra was the only town on tour where a bunch of us ate breakfast at the same place each day and for me, it was mainly because the coffee was so damn good. The food was not too shabby either. Hail to the baristi at the ANI (As Nature Intended) Cafe on Marcus Clarke St. If I could I'd drink coffee there for the term of my natural life (F'nar F'nar!)

The main highlight away from the Playhouse stage was a visit to the Australian War Memorial. Nick and I spent a morning there as our time in Canberra came to a close. It's safe to say that, despite the fact we'd both been there before, we were profoundly affected by the experience. If you are visiting Canberra, ink it into your list of things to do.

Apart from one heavy burst of cold twilight rain, the weather in Canberra was lovely and brisk. Thge one time I had trouble with the cold was sitting outside the green room after a show with my knee iced after a little slip on some backstage carpet. The knee thing is going to have to be seen to sooner rather than later.

In all fairness, I did have a nice time in Canberra. It was just a bit bemusing sometimes. But then so is my hometown.

P.S. 'Kacey', this one's for you:

Pixies - The Beautiful Corpse Lives!



There is an Amadeus tour post on its way. Unfortunately most of the trip was Internet unfriendly. We stayed at Rydges hotels in Canberra & Wollongong and they charged 75 c/min for Internet. Wollongong's Internet cafes were closed when I visited and Canberra didn't appear to have any at all. I made some notes along the way but by the time we got to Hobart there was just too much to see. I've made a good start but it's a few days away yet. In the meantime, there is a certain amount of joy to be expressed at the return of my favourite band ever in the history of the universe and beyond, the Pixies.

I heard about the tour from a waitress at a Hog's Breath Cafe in Hobart on our first night there and was able to get pre-sale tickets the following Wednesday via my friend Robbie Motortown. Yay for Robbie!

I've been an unabashed Pixies fan since 1989. I remember hearing 'Gigantic' on TripleZed in 1988 and loving it, despite not knowing who the band was. Back in those days we had no Internet, kids (we had to entertain ourselves) so it wasn't until I heard 'Monkey Gone To Heaven' the following year that I fell in love with them. It would be nearly 20 years before I'd see them live, at the V Festival on April Fool's Day 2007. For my dearest friend Renae and myself, it would go down as a red letter day.

We'd kinda given up on them ever coming back, and satisified ourselves in the knowledge that at least we got to see 'em burn through 23 songs in front of 15000 people (I wonder how many people saw the Pet Shop Boys that day?). Vague hopes of a reprise were dashed last year when I saw an interview with Black Francis where he said that, despite the half-formed plans, notions and to-ing & fro-ing, the Pixies was, in effect, a 'beautiful corpse'.

Huzzah for resurrection! Even though I'd known for months that the band was going to do a little Euro Doolittle tour, I could only dream they'd be back...and I look forward to their arrival with the same fervour I've held since I was a callow, spotty 62kg numbskull.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

We're havin' a heatwaaave...

..a tropical heatwaaaave.




Since the alleged winter in this town became a 35°C/96°F sweatbath, my alleged friend and colleague Nick has been singing that line at every opportunity. He even sent it in a text. Grotty little man. He's right though. It's been bloody hot.

The last couple of weeks have been pretty busy. Rehearsals for Amadeus continue apace, and during the week I went down to Warner Bros for a TV audition. I am not comfortable doing them. I feel boxed in. Despite the fact that the chap who read opposite me was really helpful and giving, as ever in front of a camera, I locked up. Everything's out of context, I'm conscious of the tiniest twitch or blemish or half-step forward...and all attempts to relax and just do 'what I do' go out the window. It's probably time to invest in a class for this kinda stuff, but the best one is down the Coast. Still, I'm lucky to have had these sorts of auditions, seeing as I have no agent. As a freelancer, it's gratifying to have various people call out of the blue and ask me to read for things. But I need a bloody agent.

They're shooting the latest Narnia picture down there and the place is packed with trucks and gear and a giant blue screen. I had vain hopes of bumping into my friend Steve who's working on the picture, but of course...it was a vain hope.

A wave of virulent nastiness has infected the Amadeus company over the past week or so. Worst affected have been our SM and the powerhouse that is Ms K. Atkinson. I've been spared so far. I just hope that, if it does hit, it hits before we go.

On my way to Warner's, I was offered a small gig playing the first mayor of Brisbane for the Q150 celebrations. My state turns 150 this year and there is a commemoration of the first ever council meeting. Sounds interesting.

So that's that for now. I hope to keep a tour diary of sorts, but will seek permission from my colleagues re: posting of photos etc. Unless of course it's Nick.





I had the choice between Ethel Merman & Marilyn. Who would you rather look at?

Friday, 21 August 2009

Life - Part 2.

Just a short note to thank everyone for their love and best wishes yesterday on the advent of my middle age. The first half of this little life has been a mess of wonder, wonders and wonderings. As for the second half...more of the same, but longer and happier...I'm looking forward to finding out.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The Cult of Stupid and the Cult of Fucking Stupid.

There are two blog entries below, both covering the same topic, but with marked differences in tone. I began writing an out-and-out rant, a deliberate slab of invective aimed at those who have been annoying me in the last little while. After reading it aloud to a friend, he suggested that, due to the rather vitriolic nature of the piece, I should offer a second, rewritten in a more...couth form.

I do understand that perpetuating what one despises is not a particularly enlightened way to behave, so while I defend my right and desire to splat in an angry mess here, I accept that some of you may find the expurgated version a more cogent read. My own personal choice is the one full attack and swears, but feel free to choose your own adventure.

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Click here to read the sweet one.
Click here to read the rant.

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For those of you who are friends and/or regular readers, you'll know well my interest in America, its people and its politics. I'm besotted with it. Since the election of Barack Obama, however, it's become increasingly difficult to justify some of the behaviour I've witnessed while indulging my distant passion in all things American.

I don't wish to discuss the policies of Obama here. It's far too early to make an accurate, wide-ranging assessment of what the man is doing. In short, a return to multi-lateralism is good, but spending money you don't have might not work out so well.

What I do want to share is the 'cult of stupid' that exists in the United States. It existed before, but in the last few months it has gone stone cold crazy. I witness it every day online, in the rantings of ultra-right wing commentators, the almost unprocessed regurgitation of their online acolytes, the resurgent white supremacist movement and the doomsday bloggers.

It kinda started with infamous radio commentator Rush Limbaugh. Rush has been an outspoken apologist for the ultra-conservative movement for years. He's one of the standard-bearers of hatred. He's also a hypocrite. After years of telling people that drug users were the scum of the earth and should be sent to prison, he got busted doctor-shopping for scripts in an attempt to feed his oxycodone habit. And he bought his way out of jail time. Funnily enough, Rush doesn't talk about drugs nearly as much anymore. But I digress...

So, in the days before Obama was sworn in as 44, Limbaugh went on air and told his listeners that 'I hope (Obama) fails.' This is tantamount to saying he hopes his own country crashes and burns. What a patriot! This outburst marked the plummet into the arrant stupidity that has followed. It is now the prevailing mindset of any person that has a raging hatred for Obama. John McCain's failed campaign ran on a slogan of 'Country First'. These people don't care about America. They are only interested in the failed ideology of a failed party.

When a political party loses an election, the usual course of action is to assess the damage. Find out how it happened, why it happened and who was responsible. You do this by skulking off to a room, poring over data, looking at the successful strategies of the victor, comparing them to yours, going out into the electorate to listen to the people's voice...and then going back into the room and quietly culling the people who were responsible for the failure. Once you do that, you can start to rebuild, in the hopes that, at the very best, the new incumbent will shoot itself in the foot before the end of the term.

The appearance of a new ideology has to be forged, new faces exposed to the public, new dressings for the wounds. Most importantly, new figureheads have to emerge. It's all very well to lay the groundwork for a political comeback, but in America, if you can't pick a few people that can present the new and dynamic face of a wiser party, you are, quite simply, rudderless.

The Republicans are rudderless. For the first few months of the Obama admin, a talk radio shock jock was their most vociferous spokesperson. The official powerbrokers of the party, House Minority Leader Michael Steele and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell were strangely silent. Whether they were trying to do the right thing and re-focus the party is unknown. Possibly they were. But part of that task is to keep the ranks in line, and Rush was not kept in line. He's been quieter since, but he's been joined by his fellow commentators over at Fox News. Sean Hannity went on air and said that waterboarding wasn't torture. He even said that he'd submit to waterboarding for charity. Opposite number, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann offered to kick in a wadge of cash. In the days after Hannity announced this, a Chicago-based talk radio host by the name of Erich Mancow Muller, who'd basically said the same thing as Hannity, actually had the balls to do it. He lasted less than ten seconds before proclaiming the 'procedure' to be torture. Suddenly Hannity was silent on the issue.

Taking up the cudgels was Fox's Glenn Beck. Among the outright lies this guy has told include:

* Obama was the first President sworn in without a Bible (Lie - John Quincy Adams used a law book. Franklin Pierce didn't even swear. He affirmed. Teddy Roosevelt used no Bible. Several Presidents kissed a Bible but did not swear on one.)

* $1.4 million of stimulus money was allocated to fix some doors at an air force base (Well, some of the money did go to fix doors...aircraft hangar doors, and it was $246000 out of $1.4 mill to cover the entire base)

* Claiming the director of White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, "has proposed forcing abortions and putting sterilants in the drinking water to control population." (Lie - Beck and others quoted a book written three decades ago totally out of context. The authors outlined various methods of population control but went on to say they did not favour the method that Beck used to smear.)

* Claiming that Obama is setting up internment camps to keep dissenters locked up (Lie - Truth here

* Saying Obama had a 'deep-seated hatred for white people', then within two minutes said 'I'm not saying (Obama) doesn't like white people.

Glenn Beck has a radio show as well. Recently he screamed at a woman about healthcare. He abhors the Obama healthcare plan (more on this to follow) but last year, when he had surgery, he whined on and on about how the current healthcare system failed him to the point where he felt 'suicidal'.

And the final in this series of lies for Beck, birthright citizenship or jus soli. He didn't say 'Jus Soli', that's a dirty foreigner language and would have made his fans cry. To paraphrase an old politician, if English was good enough for Jebus, it's good enough for you. Bemoaning the fact that America gives automatic citizenship to people born on American soil, beck said that he 'checked' and NO other country in the world has the law of Jus Soli. Untrue.

Ahhhh, citizenship. At long last we come to the jewel in the crown of the cult of stupid. The 'Birfers'. The greatest argument against Obama's presidency so far has been as follows: Barack Hussein Obama II was not born in the United States. He was born in Kenya. Therefore, under the rules laid out in the United States Constitution, he is ineligible to be the President.

What? But surely they check these things! That couldn't have slipped by could it? I mean, this is the most powerful and important job in the world, and they're going to give it to a racist, homosexual, crack-smoking, Manchurian candidate, Muslim, radical Christian, Zionist, atheist, Marxist fascist without checking his birth certificate???

I'm afraid, my dear and gentle readers, that there are currently thousands of Americans, including Congressional members and media heads, who believe that Barack Obama is not a natural born citizen. Why? Because he hasn't provided a 'long form' birth certificate. Does he have to? No. Has he provided any kind of birth certificate? Yes. Here. Is there any corroborating evidence of his birth in America? Yes. Here and here.

Well, in light of the overwhelming evidence that shows Obama was born in the U.S., one would think that the 'birfers' would just slink into the shadows, knowing that they have been thoroughly discredited, right? Nope. They are screaming louder than ever. He's a Kenyan on top of everything else and he's setting up a totalitarian state, based on his fascist, Marxist, Fabian Socialist principles (for any of you who aren't aware, the American right-wingers' definition of socialism is 'when the government uses a nickel of your taxes to provide a public service').

The Queen of the Birfers is Orly Taitz. Orly is a lawyer, dentist and realtor. She's the woman who, only days ago, claimed she had Obama's Kenyan birth certificate. Within hours of its release, it had been debunked as a fraud. To accept it's authenticity, you'd have to believe that Mombasa was part of Kenya in 1961 and not Zanzibar, that Obama's family would travel 1000 miles from home for his birth and that Kenya was a republic before the end of 1964. Oh, and top top it off, a man from Adelaide was been contacted by the ABC and he confirmed it was a doctoring of his Australian birth cert. Orly's all cred. Orly tried to file the cert with the judge in California, but it was immediately thrown out.

On a side-note, there is a definite similarity between Orly's voice and the shrill, frock-wearing scream of Glenn Beck.

So, it's pretty clear I am moving toward a place where my dislike of neocons and media personalities is becoming detestation. But I save the bulk of my opprobrium for those who believe or pretend to believe all of the lies they tell, and have become adept at spreading it.

The people calling Obama the enemy, despite not having any evidence to show that he's anything other than a guy who's working his butt off to fix the cesspool left by his illiterate predecessor...are more of an enemy to America. As a result, they are more of an enemy to all of us, for whatever affects America has an attendant effect on the world. It's not that I am a devoted follower of the man. I do not trust politicians at all, Obama included. I think it should be the default position of anyone who lives in society. But by the same token, the lies need to be exposed. If Obama's gonna fail, let him fail on his own terms. There's no need to poison the well. In fact, the smears and lies only serve to suggest the smearers have nothing else.

I struggled for a little while to wrap my head around how these people could be so atrophied and venal. It's a blind. They don't care about citizenship. If the stated reasons are so obviously idiotic, the truth must lie in what they are hiding: 1) they value partisanship and being on the winning side more than they value the success of their nation and 2) because he's black.

For those of you who think this is a typical liberal thing to say, I have to tell you that during the campaign I did not buy into any of allegations of racism online, except when it so overt that it could not be ignored.

One of the websites I spent a good deal of time at leading up to the election, the Politics section of Yahoo! Answers, was a feisty, but reasonably compos0D
So, in the days before Ob rules by asking loaded partisan questions and parroting the latest campaign slogans, but it was fairly tame. After the election I left for five months. On my return I found it to be one step away from stormfront.org. Here's a sample of the what goes on there:

Is it possible Michelle Obama likes to defecate in bed as some sort of aphrodisiac?
Is President Obama a fascist or a socialist?
Do you think a Muslim, madrassa-educated Obama would harm the country worse than Bush?
Would it be fair to say a terrorist attack is coming now that Obama won?
Is Obama touring concentration camps to get a blueprint for the FEMA camps he is going to open in the US?
Since Obama supports infanticide, does he also support euthanizing the elderly and redistributing their wealth?
Did Obama almost accidentally say the N word when he said his professor buddy JIGGERED the lock?
Obama should have said Jimmied or Jiggled the lock but since this was a race issue I think he almost said nigger the lock or nigger was on his mind when he said Jiggered the lock
Why do people Support Obama when his old Church was/is Racist and teach Nazi believes?
What happens when it is revealed that Obama used to be a muslim?
Will obama be assinated or is he a spy from a dif country?
If Barack Hussein 0bama is a natural born citizen, what is he hiding?
Would it be a federal hate crime to burn 0bama in effigy?
Will 0bama find a way to put most US soldiers who fought in Afghanistan in jail?


Getting a picture of what I mean? There are half a million Obama questions on Y!A, double the amount containing the word 'Bush'...and that includes George H. W. Bush and those questions pertaining to horticulture.

This is a cancer. The lies have gotten so bad that yesterday the White House called for people to write in if they heard any 'disinformation' about the proposed Healthcare reform currently being hashed out on Capitol Hill. Opponents of Obama used this as an excuse to say that Obama wants people to spy on their neighbours and report them if they say anything bad about the healthcare bill.

OBAMA wants us to report disenters to the white/mitch-mcconnell-09081.jpg"
Why is Obama trying to get people to report each other?


That's how low they've sunk and how obvious their desperation is. They have made up lies about a website dedicated to uncovering lies.

I receive quite a bit of hate mail from these guys, but that's okay, I just send them a standard 'We appreciate the time it must have taken you to write' response and call them things like 'sweetness'.

A good article or blog entry should have a nice, tidy closer. But a rant...well, as you can see, y'just keep going until you are exhausted, then you fall asleep and wake tomorrow to another day's lunacy.

G'night.



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People are stupid. We all are. I am. You are. But I love you, so I let a lot of it slide. I even try to let a lot of my own stupidity slide, but that's a little harder to do. Please bear this love in mind as you read on, because what follows is neither loving or lovely. It's a purging, a venting, borne of frustration and anger at the sheer intellectual retardation I've witnessed in the last little while. There is bad language. Quite possibly I'll even go back and add more when I'm done. Those disinclined to read what is effectively a crass rant, I'd recommend stopping here.

For those of you who are friends and/or regular readers, you'll know well my interest in America, its people and its politics. I'm besotted with it. Since the election of Barack Obama, however, it's become increasingly difficult to justify some of the behaviour I've witnessed while indulging my distant passion in all things American.

I don't wish to discuss the policies of Obama here. It's far too early to make an accurate, wide-ranging assessment of what the man is doing. In short, a return to multi-lateralism is good, but spending money you don't have might not work out so well.

What I do want to share is the 'cult of stupid' that exists in the United States. It existed before, but in the last few months it has gone stone cold fucking crazy. I witness it every day online, in the rantings of ultra-right wing commentators, the almost unprocessed regurgitation of their online acolytes (oh, let's not be nice, they're not acolytes, they're braindead shit-lickers), the resurgent white supremacist movement and the doomsday bloggers.

It kinda started with infamous self-confessed neo-con opioid addict and alleged pederast, the fat and fatuous Rush Limbaugh. Rush has been furiously and impotently masturbating to right wing bullshit for years. He's one of the standard-bearers of hatred. He's also a class-A hypocrite. After years of telling people that drug users were the scum of the earth and should be sent to prison, he got busted doctor-shopping for scripts in an attempt to feed his oxycodone habit. And he bought his way out of jail time. Funnily enough, Rush doesn't talk about drugs nearly as much anymore. But I digress...

So, in the days before Obama was sworn in as 44, Limbaugh went on air and told his listeners (oh, what a joyous bunch!) that 'I hope (Obama) fails.' This is tantamount to saying he hopes his own country crashes and burns. What a patriot! This outburst marked the plummet into the arrant stupidity that has followed. It is now the prevailing mindset of any drooling retard that has a raging hatred for Obama. John McCain's failed campaign ran on a slogan of 'Country First'. These people don't give a red fuck about America. They are only interested in the failed ideology of a failed party.

When a political party loses an election, the usual course of action is to assess the damage. Find out how it happened, why it happened and who was responsible. You do this by skulking off to a room, poring over data, looking at the successful strategies of the victor, comparing them to yours, going out into the electorate to listen to the people's voice...and then going back into the room and quietly culling the people who fucked you. Once you do that, you can start to rebuild, in the hopes that, at the very best, the new incumbent will shoot itself in the foot before the end of the term.

The appearance of a new ideology has to be forged, new faces exposed to the public, new dressings for the wounds. Most importantly, new figureheads have to emerge. It's all very well to lay the groundwork for a political comeback, but in America, if you can't pick a few people that can present the new and dynamic face of a wiser party, you are, quite simply, rudderless. Or, in keeping with the tone of this blog entry, you're fucked.

The Republicans are rudderless. For the first few months of the Obama admin, a smug, ugly-souled talk radio cockholster was their most vociferous spokesperson. The official powerbrokers of the party, House Minority Leader Michael Steele and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell were strangely silent. Whether they were trying to do the right thing and re-focus the party is unknown. Possibly they were. But part of that task is to keep the shit-lickers in line, and Rush was not kept in line. He's been quieter since, but he's been joined by his fellow arse lozenges and dollar sluts over at Fox News. Sean Hannity (the Manatee) went on air and said that waterboarding wasn't torture. He even said that he'd submit to waterboarding for charity. Loudmouth opposite number, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann offered to kick in a wadge of cash. In the days after Manatee announced this, a Chicago-based talk radio penis by the name of Erich Mancow Muller, who'd basically said the same thing as Manatee, actually had the balls to do it (well, what's a penis without balls?). He lasted less than ten seconds before proclaiming the 'procedure' to be torture. Suddenly the fat Fox fuck was silent on the issue.

Taking up the cudgels was Fox's answer to the 'Stay Puft Marshmallow Man', Glenn Beck. Among the outright lies this guy has told include:

* Obama was the first President sworn in without a Bible (Lie - John Quincy Adams used a law book. Franklin Pierce didn't even swear. He affirmed. Teddy Roosevelt used no Bible. Several Presidents kissed a Bible but did not swear on one.)

* $1.4 million of stimulus money was allocated to fix some doors at an air force base (Well, some of the money did go to fix doors...fucking aircraft hangar doors, you scrote, and it was $246000 out of $1.4 mill to cover the entire base)

* Claiming the director of White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, "has proposed forcing abortions and putting sterilants in the drinking water to control population." (Lie - Beck and other neocon chewers quoted a book written three decades ago totally out of context. The authors outlined various methods of population control but went on to say they did not favour the method that Beck used to smear.)

* Claiming that Obama is setting up internment camps to keep dissenters locked up (Lie - would that it were true, I wouldn't mind a bit of a neocon 'time out room' in the desert for these fuck knuckles to think about their intellectual spasticity.)

* Saying Obama had a 'deep-seated hatred for white people', then within two minutes said 'I'm not saying (Obama) doesn't like white people...' (what the fuck?)

Glenn Beck has a radio show as well. Recently he screamed like a bedwetting Mary at a woman about healthcare. He abhors the Obama healthcare plan (more on this to follow) but last year, when he had surgery (it was either surgery to remove arse grapes, or the arse grapes had surgery to remove Beck, I'm not sure), he whined on and on about how the current healthcare system failed him to the point where he felt 'suicidal'. Not fucking suicidal enough.

And the final in this series of lies for StayPuft and his disappearing arse grapes, birthright citizenship or jus soli. He didn't say 'Jus Soli', that's a dirty foreigner language and would have made his fans cry. To paraphrase an old politician, if English was good enough for Jebus, it's good enough for you. Bemoaning the fact that America gives automatic citizenship to people born on American soil, beck said that he 'checked' and NO other country in the world has the law of Jus Soli. Bullshit.

Ahhhh, citizenship. At long last we come to the jewel in the crown of the cult of stupid. The 'Birfers'. The greatest argument against Obama's presidency so far has been as follows: Barack Hussein Obama II was not born in the United States. He was born in Kenya. Therefore, under the rules laid out in the United States Constitution, he is ineligible to be the President.

What? But surely they check these things! That couldn't have slipped by could it? I mean, this is the most powerful and important job in the world, and they're going to give it to a racist, homosexual, crack-smoking, Manchurian candidate, Muslim, radical Christian, Zionist, atheist, Marxist fascist without checking his birth certificate???

I'm afraid, my dear and gentle readers, that there are currently thousands of Americans, including Congressional members and media heads, who believe that Barack Obama is not a natural born citizen. Why? Because he hasn't provided a 'long form' birth certificate. Does he have to? No. Has he provided any kind of birth certificate? Yes. Here. Is there any corroborating evidence of his birth in America? Yes. Here and here.

Well, in light of the overwhelming evidence that shows Obama was born in the U.S., one would think that the 'birfers' would just slink into the shadows, knowing that they have been thoroughly discredited, right? Nope. They are screaming louder than ever. He's a Kenyan on top of all the other sewage they've shat into their fetid mix and he's setting up a totalitarian state, based on his fascist, Marxist, Fabian Socialist principles (for any of you who aren't aware, the American right-wingers' definition of socialism is 'when the government uses a nickel of your taxes to provide a public service...guhhh').

The Queen of the Birfers is Orly Taitz, or as I like to call her, Oily Tartz. This metaphasis was accepted by urban dictionary, by the way. I'm very proud. Oily is a lawsuit whore, dentist and realtor. She's the woman who, only days ago, claimed she had Obama's Kenyan birth certificate. Within hours of its release, it had been debunked as a fraud. To accept it's authenticity, you'd have to believe that Mombasa was part of Kenya in 1961 and not Zanzibar, that Obama's family would travel 1000 miles from home for his birth and that Kenya was a republic before the end of 1964. Oh, and top top it off, a man from Adelaide was been contacted by the ABC and he confirmed it was a doctoring of his Australian birth cert. Oily's all cred. Oily tried to file the cert with the judge in California, but it was immediately thrown out.

On a side-note, there is a definite similarity between Oily's voice and the shrill, frock-wearing scream of Glenn Beck.

So, it's pretty clear I am moving toward a place where my dislike of neocons and media whores is becoming detestation. But I save the bulk of my opprobrium for those who believe or pretend to believe all of the filth they spew, and have become adept at lapping it up and spitting back in our faces.

The people calling Obama the enemy, despite not having any evidence to show that he's anything other than a guy who's working his butt off to fix the cesspool left by his illiterate predecessor...are more of an enemy to America. As a result, they are more of an enemy to all of us, for whatever affects America has an attendant effect on the world. It's not that I am a devoted follower of the man. I do not trust politicians at all, Obama included. I think it should be the default position of anyone who lives in society. But by the same token, the lies need to be exposed. If Obama's gonna fuck up, let him fuck up on his own terms. There's no need to poison the well. In fact, the smears and lies only serve to suggest the smearers have nothing else.

I struggled for a little while to wrap my head around how these people could be so atrophied, so venal and so fucking stupid. It's a blind. They don't give a crap about citizenship. If the stated reasons are so obviously idiotic, the truth must lie in what they are hiding: 1) they value partisanship and being on the winning side more than they value the success of their nation and 2) because he's black.

For those of you who think this is a typical liberal thing to say, I have to tell you that during the campaign I did not buy into any of allegations of racism online, except when it so overt that it could not be ignored.

One of the websites I spent a good deal of time at leading up to the election, the Politics section of Yahoo! Answers, was a feisty, but reasonably composed place. People often broke the rules by asking loaded partisan questions and parroting the latest campaign slogans, but it was fairly tame. After the election I left for five months. On my return I found it to be one step away from stormfront.org. Here's a sample of the bullshit that goes on there:

Is it possible Michelle Obama likes to defecate in bed as some sort of aphrodisiac?
Is President Obama a fascist or a socialist?
Do you think a Muslim, madrassa-educated Obama would harm the country worse than Bush?
Would it be fair to say a terrorist attack is coming now that Obama won?
Is Obama touring concentration camps to get a blueprint for the FEMA camps he is going to open in the US?
Since Obama supports infanticide, does he also support euthanizing the elderly and redistributing their wealth?
Did Obama almost accidentally say the N word when he said his professor buddy JIGGERED the lock?
Obama should have said Jimmied or Jiggled the lock but since this was a race issue I think he almost said nigger the lock or nigger was on his mind when he said Jiggered the lock
Why do people Support Obama when his old Church was/is Racist and teach Nazi believes?
What happens when it is revealed that Obama used to be a muslim?
Will obama be assinated or is he a spy from a dif country?
If Barack Hussein 0bama is a natural born citizen, what is he hiding?
Would it be a federal hate crime to burn 0bama in effigy?
Will 0bama find a way to put most US soldiers who fought in Afghanistan in jail?


Getting a picture of what I mean? There are half a million Obama questions on Y!A, double the amount containing the word 'Bush'...and that includes Daddy Bush and those questions pertaining to horticulture.

This is a cancer. The lies have gotten so bad that yesterday the White House called for people to write in if they heard any 'disinformation' about the proposed Healthcare reform currently being hashed out on Capitol Hill. Opponents of Obama used this as an excuse to say that Obama wants people to spy on their neighbours and report them if they say anything bad about the healthcare bill. Total arse.

OBAMA wants us to report disenters to the whitehouse at flag@whitehouse.gov?
Why is Obama trying to get people to report each other?


That's how low they've sunk and how obvious their desperation is. They have made up lies about a website dedicated to uncovering lies.

I receive quite a bit of hate mail from these guys, but that's okay, I just send them a standard 'We appreciate the time it must have taken you to write' response and call them things like 'sweetness'.

A good article or blog entry should have a nice, tidy closer. But a rant...well, as you can see, y'just keep going until you are exhausted, then you fall asleep and wake tomorrow to another day's lunacy.

G'night.