Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I'd Like To Make A Speech...

The speech that copywriter Don Draper makes in the final episode of series one of Mad Men, is the best screen monologue I've heard since the rabbi's speech in the Charlie Kaufman film 'Synecdoche, New York'. Don pitches an idea for a Kodak slide projector ad and it turns into a speech about nostalgia, how we long for the past and the bittersweet pain we feel when we do. The performances are brilliant, Jon Hamm as Don Draper, the ultimate conflicted man, takes you to the edge of the abyss and you feel it's chilling emptiness but you can't look away. The writer and series creator, Matthew Weiner, is obviously a huge talent, but it's not just the writing and the performances, it's also the direction and the design, it all comes together to give you more than you used to get from television. It's not my favourite show ever (I'm still furious at Deadwood for not going to another series) but it's up there with the best of them. 

This is the era of series television, it's better than it's ever been, better than I ever thought the medium could be, and I hope it stays that way so I never have to be nostalgic for it. Mad Men is set in the time when television was the new kid on the block, now it has come of age and it wants to buy you a martini and look up your dress. In the spirit of speechmaking, I'd like to make a toast to great writing, now coming to you on television, and men wearing 50's suits. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What Did Tofu Ever Do To You?

Why does everyone always pick on tofu? Haters complain that it doesn't taste like anything, but no one ever accuses rice of not tasting like anything, or pasta! That's why these things come with sauce, to add the flavour. Tofu is also burdened with having to replace meat and that's really too much pressure on any food, better to think of it like Asian cheese, or eggs. Tofu is full of protein, it's good for you and it tastes like whatever you want, why is it so unloved?  

Friday, March 20, 2009

Only 20,000 Shopping Days Till Death!

In the interests of having a well rounded blog, I wanted to write a post about fashion. I'm not an expert, the way I decide if I should buy something is I ask the question, 'If Indiana Jones was a girl, would he wear this?' If the answer is yes, then I buy it. So I don't really know anything about fashion but I know I'm a victim of it because I have a pair of black skinny jeans. Skinny jeans used to be the old pair that you could only fit into on skinny days, now it means the pair you can hardly get your foot into on any day. When they came into fashion, I said out loud that I would never have a pair, 'It's all very well on Kate Moss, she can wear anything, but you'll never see that on me', I said. Cut to last year when I found myself trying on a pair. The sales assistant was encouraging me to go tighter, two inches smaller than I usually wear, and she asked me if I washed my jeans. I didn't know there was an option and I said that I wash them and then I put them in the dryer to make them tight again. She said that was all wrong, you should buy them too tight and then stretch them to fit you. You shouldn't wash them, you should air them and give them the occasional rinse. How could I not have known this? I tried on the smaller pair and of course she told me they looked great, but I couldn't do it, I bought a pair but they were in my usual size. 

The reason this concerns me is that last year I was in Europe and girls were wearing MC Hammer pants, I said I would never wear them, but now I'm scared, what if I weaken? Somebody kill me if I do, or take a photo and make me take a good hard look at myself. The thing to do is just to never try them on because they're probably ridiculously comfortable, why else would people wear them? So, I don't know anything about fashion but I do know something about shopping. I know that underwear/swimsuit shopping can make a girl suicidal faster than anything else ever invented by humans. How can people who own shops not know that the lighting in the dressing room is more important for your sales than the actual clothes? Is it that hard to get? Light it like a nightclub and you will sell more stuff!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Home Sick Home

Have stupid annoying cold, have hardly left the house for three days. Thank God humans invented television, and the internet. A few days ago I woke up with an eye infection, I looked in the mirror, it hurt but it didn't look as bad as it felt. I put some salty water in it, which is my cure for pretty much everything, and then I went out. Everyone I saw immediately said something like, 'Oh my God, what's wrong with your eye?' I had a closer look and saw that while it wasn't really puffy, the white part of my eye was a nice even shade of bubblegum pink. So apparently I have 'pink eye', that thing they always talk about on South Park (in fact they named an episode after it, the town is overrun with zombies and the doctor diagnoses it as pink eye). According to my extensive research, it's another name for conjunctivitis, which is common when you get a cold. Anyway, it's not a good look but it goes with my dripping nose and swollen tonsils. Worse than the pink eye, I have lost my sense of taste. That sounds like I don't know what to wear, but it means food has texture but no taste, and it immediately makes all food repulsive. We developed sophisticated palates so that we would better know when something was poisonous or rotten and the lack of any taste is confusing my brain. On the plus side, I can't taste my own mucous anymore which makes a nice change, and I'm thinking this could revolutionize the diet industry. Diet doctors could try temporarily shutting off the taste buds of the morbidly obese, they might die from eating toxic food but at least they'd be thin. Does that sound too cruel? It seems that being sick doesn't bring out my charitable side.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fantasy Vs Reality

"Photography is truth and cinema is truth, 24 frames a second."
Jean-Luc Godard

"The camera lies all the time. It lies 24 times a second."
Brian De Palma

They're both great film makers and I don't want to debate their individual merits, more to say that I think they're both right. When you watch a movie, a documentary, or a reality show, you are being lied to. The situation is contrived, the content is edited for maximum effect and you are looking at a world that doesn't really exist, but the camera did capture a moment in time and there's truth in that.

This is why I don't get people who say they don't like fantasy, they can't watch a show about demons or hobbits because 'it's not real', as if a show about cops or hospitals is somehow more real. They're still actors reading scripts, on a constructed set in front of a camera. The police procedural formula is so tired and yet it continues to be so popular, someone dies and you know that someone you meet in the next half an hour will be the killer and then at the end you find out who it was, it's the same show every week! Switch off CSINYPDSVU, suspend your disbelief and buy a ticket to Gotham City or the Hellmouth.

Live long and prosper and may the force be with you.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Evil, Sneaky, Poisonous Biznitches

Last year a friend lent me the DVD of a cable reality show she was obsessed with called 'Rock of Love'. I put it on top of the TV with all the other unwatched DVDs and never watched it. Yesterday I decided to make a start on doing my taxes and what better way to do something boring, than with the TV for company. I tried a few movies but they didn't grab me, so as a last resort, I put on 'Rock of Love'.  

Turns out it's one of those competitions involving one guy and a bunch of hot chicks, and it's reality gold. Twenty-five girls compete to prove their potential as the perfect 'Rock Star Girlfriend' for Bret Michaels, the singer from Poison and 'the star of Pamela Anderson's other sex tape'. Apparently the demands of life on the road have taken a toll on Bret's love life and now he wants to settle down. I was never a fan of Poison, or boys who wear make-up, but the girls are hilarious. There are a lot of blondes and a lot of boobs, so it's hard to tell them apart, but they say some brilliant things. One of the blondes has boobs as big as my ass and another blonde called her 'circus tits' behind her back and then to her face. Circus Tits took offense and said, 'My tits are beautiful', and the other one said, 'Yeah, in the meth world'. Genius.

They have great challenges like who can give the best phone-sex (apparently if you want to be a rock star's girlfriend, you have to be able to talk dirty on the phone because he's going to be away a lot on tour), but the most important thing the girls have to be good at, is not minding or complaining when Bret makes out with other girls, because that's what rock stars do. Circus Tits said it was fine if he had up to three other girlfriends, as long as she was number one. 

One contestant, Brandi, (who told everyone her nickname back home is 'Blow-Job Brandi') won a challenge and got a private date with Bret. As soon as she was gone the other girls started bitching about her and one of them asked the question, 'What guy would want a girlfriend with the word 'blow-job' in her name?' None of the girls gave the obvious answer, which is Bret Michaels, and every other guy. Probably the highlight of the whole show is a hair-pulling fight between Lacey, the animal liberationist, and another girl who said she hates animals and she only wants to eat them and wear them. Lacey is the most hated girl in the house, described by the other girls as 'a crazy, psychotic, cold-hearted bitch', and, 'a fucking, dirty, sneaky whore'. So much for the sisterhood. 

The girls might not like each other but Bret loves them all, my favourite quote from him is - 'There's nothing sexier than a beautiful girl, wearing a cowboy hat and riding a horse'. I only have three episodes left and I'm dying to find out which lucky, evil, sneaky bitch he's going to choose.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Porn in Public

A friend of mine has made a porn film and she's invited me to the cast and crew screening. My first dilemma was that she knows my dad, and I had this horrible feeling that she'd invite him and I'd wind up watching a porno and sitting next to my dad. Wrong in so many ways! I found out he's going to be away, so I rsvp'd for me plus one, which brings up a new problem. Who is the right person to take to a porno? A couple of years ago I went to a Christmas party for some fancy advertising company, it was in an old movie theatre and they were screening old silent movie porn. It was in black and white, there were no close-ups, no muscles and everyone was hairy, everywhere. It was almost the opposite of porn now. I watched for a while and it was funny and kind of fascinating, but the audience didn't seem exactly comfortable. There was a lot of nervous laughing and most people only stayed for a few minutes, and this was soft-core porn, so tame it would hardly even qualify as porn now (it had nothing on 'The L Word' for instance). 

So who do I take to my friend's movie, which apparently has one scene described as 'shocking' and 'gross'. I've seen the trailer and it's 'chick friendly', meaning the guys are not disgusting, but it is kind of weird seeing porn with Australian accents, like watching 'Home and Away' if they all started fucking, in close up.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Long Live the Undead

'Let the Right One In' is the best vampire movie I've ever seen. Nosferatu did my head in when I was a kid but I haven't seen a really scary one since. I love 'From Dusk Till Dawn' but the road movie part was scarier than the vampire part. I liked 'Lost Boys' in the 80s and I didn't hate the recent sequel (Corey Feldman returns as Edgar Frog, how could you not want to see that?). I'm a fan of the Jim Carrey movie, 'Once Bitten' and the George Hamilton movie, 'Love at First Bite'. The 'Daywatch' and 'Nightwatch' movies were great to look at but not even remotely scary and you wouldn't even know they were vampire movies if it didn't say so in the press. '30 Days of Night' had a great title but it was a big yawn, even with Danny Houston. The problem is usually the high level of emo/gothic content (Underworld/Interview/Bram Stoker's Drac), or they try to go modern and you have to watch Wesley Snipes running around in a full length leather jacket. I'm not going to bring Buffy/Angel into the conversation because it's TV (the movie isn't worth mentioning in any conversation).

So, this little Swedish movie, adapted from a book and soon to be remade as an American film, stands out as far as bloodsucking fiends on film go. It takes you to a cold, dark, Scandinavian place and the book goes even further over into the dark side. The author, John Ajvide Lindqvist, has a new book out, this time it's zombies not vampires and I want to eat its brains out. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Smoke This!

My morning routine is go out for coffee, read the paper and smoke a cigarette. This morning I go to a place around the corner, it's cold but I sit outside and start reading about the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team. Then it happens, five women and one man arrive with eight children, all in those huge four wheel drive pusher things. They block up the entire street and it takes them ten minutes to arrange themselves around the table next to mine. My coffee arrives, I light a cigarette and it only takes two puffs before the mothers send the only man in the group over. He asks in an extremely polite way, if I would mind moving to the table on the other side of them, downwind. I pick up my stuff but I don't say anything. I don't say, 'Sit outside and expect to be smoked on. If you don't want smoke near your children, take them inside. You people have driven us outside and now you want to follow us out here'. I also refrain from asking him if he had his balls removed when he joined the mother's group. 

I go and sit at the other table and now the unsolvable world conflicts seem easier to comprehend, people just don't get along. Pakistan and India, just can't get along. Israel and Palestine, just can't get along. Smokers and parents, you get the idea. Soon enough another lone smoker asks if he can join me, he's also been moved along by the baby nazis. We roll our eyes and blow smoke in their direction, maybe they'll take the kids somewhere else tomorrow. Or maybe they'll sit inside next time, leaving all the fresh air for us. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate children, I hate their parents.