Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Matthew Weiner on screenwriting

I sympathize with feminism the same way I identify with gay people and with people of color, because I know what it’s like to look over the side of the fence and then to climb over the fence and to feel like you don’t belong, or be reminded at the worst moment that you don’t belong ...

Of all of them, Peggy is my favorite. I identify with her struggle. She is so earnest and self-righteous and talented and smart, but dumb about personal things. She thinks she’s living the life of “we.” But she’s not. And every time she turns a corner, someone says, “You’re not part of ‘we.’ ” “But you all said ‘we’ the other day.” “Yes, we meant, ‘we white men.’ ”

Here's the full interview Mad Men fans: You're welcome.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Flashback Friday: The stunt cast

Why? Why would they? There's no surer sign that a TV show is about to hurl its ass Fonzie-style across shark-infested waters than the stunt-cast.

It's never good. It never works. The pop cultural graveyard is littered with the corpses of TV hacks who in their last gasps were heard to utter, "You know what Ugly Betty's been missing all these years? Post Spice!"

Whether it's Nancy Reagan warning Arnold and Willis to say no to drugs or Brad Pitt's wooden banter and woeful in-jokes on Friends (hahaha he hates Rachel ...) or Color Me Bad and Jeremy Jordan thrashing out early-90s R&B in the Peach Pit, stunt casting is just awkward and embarrassing.

Suddenly the characters in this neat little self-contained universe are turning to the cameras and giving us the big wink and nudge and asking us to revel in the hilarity of oh look, it's Mrs. Cunningham on Drew Carey!

 It's not clever, meta, postmodern, self-reflexive or any other dumb things you spouted in cinema studies tutes. It's just dumb. It's lame. And Jessica Alba and Jack Black belong nowhere near Dunder Mifflin. That is all.

(First published December 16 2008)

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Things achieved today due to getting 6.5 hours sleep in a row

Showered and blow-dried (BLOW-DRIED, I tellsya!) hair

Cleaned kitchen

Baked banana bread

Visited friend

Went to gym

Certified Quality Time with baby

And it's only 3.30pm.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Thank you for being a friend

Ok, so I am SO EXCITED that the Queen Mother was a fan of the Golden Girls. I mean really, can you imagine? Do you think she chuckled at Blanche's bawdy jokes? Did she and Liz and Phil guffaw as Dorothy did her withering middle-distance glare after yet another of Sophia's zingers? I like to think that the QM took respite from Fergie'e toe-sucking or Di's histrionics or Charles banging on about horticulture by pouring herself a tall glass of G&T and settling in for a re-run of the one where Dorothy, Blanche and Rose are mistaken for prostitutes and hauled off to jail. Really, this has made my day.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Reality bites

To say that watching the Real Housewives franchise is a guilty pleasure is not true. I feel no guilt about it at all. If these women want to expose their lives in this way, leaving themselves at the mercy of ruthless editors and the braying masses, so be it. And there is something weirdly compelling about the US Bravo franchise. Camille Paglia is a fan: "I love the frank display of emotion, the intricate interrelationships, and the sharp-elbows jockeying for power and visibility."  I'm with Camille. Is reality TV really all that different from your average episode of Australia Story, albeit with a hokier soundtrack and more downmarket demographic? We're all voyeurs and we all love the insight into other people's private lives, especially if they're rich and vain and fame-hungry and utterly, utterly shameless. 

But the local critics are right - Real Housewives of Melbourne is a horrible misfire. The women's behaviour is dreadful and the feminist cause dies a tiny death with every lame insult hurled. Can you really hang a whole series on a dispute over heels on a Peninsula tennis court? Please. Enough. Let's leave reality TV to the Americans and get back to doing what we do best - watching celebrities on a slip'n'slide.

See also: Real Housewives of Melbourne? Frankly, we deserve better (SMH)

The Real Housewives of Melbourne is awful, and I don't want to write about it any more (Mama Mia)

Monday, April 28, 2014


Back from holidays, avoided dengue fever and drunk Australian airline hijackers, now savouring the crisp Melbourne autumn air.

It's a sad day in my life-long quest to be "with it" when I've never seen nor heard of the Gold Logie winner. *Sobs into Lisa McCune commemorative hankie*

Alas I missed Australian TV's "night of nights" last night. I do love the Logies. I love the liquored-up guests and the bewildered overseas ring-ins; the off-key musical numbers and the seventeen-year-old soapie starlets convinced that Hollywood beckons rather than a career in real estate. I love Bert's double entendres, Kerry O'Brien's high spirits, Maria Venuti's bosoms. Don't ever change, Logies.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Melbourne vol. 2: Melbourne vs Sydney

Well of course Melbourne is on track to become Australia's biggest city. I conducted my own investigation into the Melbourne - Sydney divide many years ago when I packed my bags and moved north. Having grown up in Melbourne, I decided it was time for a change of scene. Sydney seemed so inviting - the glamorous harbour, the tranquil weather, the beautiful people with their tans and their little dogs and their weekender yachts.

Turns out Sydney is a lovely place is you're stinking rich but pretty tough if you're semi-broke, in your twenties and living in a share house. I lived in Newtown - described to me soon after I arrived as "the suburb you live in if you wish you lived in Melbourne." The tranquil weather turned out to be hot and humid and left me with a permanent sheen of sweat and a bad attitude. The public transport was great if you didn't mind endless delays and line breakdowns and getting on the train to Bondi only to end up in Bankstown. The pubs were full of pokies and the beers (sorry, midis) too pricey. I stuck it out for two years and then flocked back to the loving embrace of that grand old dame, Melbourne.

Sydney had its upsides: Glebebooks, Bill's, the Bondi to Bronte cliff side walk and Mardi Gras. I'll give it its beaches and its beauty. But give me the Merri Creek over the harbour, the roar of the MCG over the clamour of Coogee and the Palais Theatre over the Opera House. Sydney, you're beautiful but you drive me wild. Melbourne, be mine. x

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

MICF must see

So yes, we're off to the tropics and yes, it will be fabulous and will involve G&Ts and poolside massages and maybe a little sunburn and hopefully not a henna tattoo and/or an obnoxious conversion to yoga.

But missing Marty Sheargold and Tony Martin joining Glenn Robbins and Dave O'Neil at MICF on Thursday night is making my heart ache just a little.

Monday, April 07, 2014

If we took a holiday

I'm busy packing for a two week fiesta in the tropics where I'm not planning to do much besides read, sleep, drink gin and hand baby over to her adoring grandmother. Maybe I'll play a little Uno as well. So you'll have to excuse me, my three and a half readers, wherever you are, for the paucity of updates. Between buying mozzie repellant, cancelling mail, cleaning the house and buying enough baby food to feed a small island nation, I haven't had a lot of time. So here's The Onion: "Find the Thing You're Most Passionate About, Then Do It On Nights and Weekends for the Rest of Your Life."

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Night sounds

I used to be hooked on talk radio as a way of getting off to sleep. Something about Tony Delroy's The Quiz would quiet the mindchatter at the end of a long day (except those nights where you'd be screaming at Terry from Wodonga "Meryl Streep. THE ANSWER'S MERYL STREEP.")

Since the IPhone entered my life I've found a new nighttime companion: the podcast. Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington were the gateway drug and now it's a habit. Here are some of those who get me through the night:

WTF with Marc Maron
The godfather of podcasting. Maron started interviewing fellow stand-up comics in his garage a few years back and quickly became huge. His interview with ex-friend/rival/nemesis Louis CK is legendary. See also Maron's cable TV comedy, Maron, based on the podcast.

Here's the Thing with Alec Baldwin
Why, Alex, why? You had me with your erudite, thoughtful questions; your unabashed admiration for your subject matter; your cigar-and-whisky tones; your dash of wit served with a side of pathos. Your interviews with David Letterman, Chris Rock, Rosie O'Donnell, Thom Yorke and David Simon were compelling from beginning to end. You had your own cable talk show in development. You coulda been a contender! Then you had to go and get all sweary-homophobic-punchy-sanctimonious and ruin a good thing.

By the Way with Jeff Garlin
Larry David's sidekick brings the funny with this series of interviews recorded live at Largo in Los Angeles. Worth it just to hear Garlin flirting outrageously with Amy Poehler and Lena Dunham.

Monsters of Talk with Margaret Cho and Jim Short
Did you know Margaret Cho is a massive Crowded House fan? True fact - one I learned listening to her chat to Neil Finn.

Also worth checking out:

Hollywood Babble On with Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman

Can You Take this Photo Please? with Justin Hamilton

I Love Green Guide Letters with Steele Saunders

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Sleeping like a baby

She slept through.


I want to kiss strangers in the street, kick my heels in the air and doff my bowler hat to passers-by because SHE SLEPT THROUGH.

I want to lead a pride march of bedraggled, bleary-eyed parents who've done their time in the trenches and come out the other side. We'll wave our flags, we'll laugh and dance, we'll high-five our brothers and sisters in arms, we'll hoist on our shoulders the weak, the weary and the sleep deprived, and then we'll stumble home to lap up more of that sweet, sweet sleep.

No more falling out of bed at 10pm, 1am, 3am, 5, 6 and 7. No more blurry predawn breastfeeds. No more foggy mornings, wondering just how I'll maintain a semblance of sanity for another 12 hours.

No more accosting other parents with a deranged gleam in my eye, shaking their shoulders and demanding they tell me their babysleep secrets. No more pouring over Pantley, Weissbluth, Ferber, Tizzie and Gina. No more vulnerability to every two-bit shyster who promises to unlock the mysteries of infant slumber once I click to hand over 29.95.

I tell my Mum. I tell Facebook. I tell the guy at the grocery store. I consider sky writing.

Oceans may rise. Empires may fall. But I'm doing fine because SHE SLEPT THROUGH.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Flashback Friday: The Dance Off

One person required stitches and a mother and son were arrested after a brawl between two dance teams that began during an impromptu "dance off", police said.

It was a quiet night in the suburbs of Wichita. The ten-strong Dynamic Steppers had gathered for their regular drill sessions at the basketball court behind Mike’s Diner. The Regional Allstar Discoamerica Dance Championships were less than a month away. The Dynamics' shock defeat to the White Tigers at last year’s Regionals still gnawed away at their insides. This year, victory would be theirs.

Mikey Z, the young, charismatic leader of the Dynamics, threw his spangle-gloved fist in the air and coolly clicked his fingers four times, punctuating each click with a sensuous body roll. All eyes fell upon him, the crowd respectfully silent. Mikey kicked off with a slammin handglide before swiftly moving into a double backspin. Raucous cheers burst out from his teammates. Z-man was a hero to all of them. Nobody could do a two-legged applejack like Mikey. He caught his proud mama's eye from the sidelines. He was just about to hurl himself into the cannonball, when a cry rang out from across the court.


With that, Jazzy ‘Jazz-hands’ Jack jumped out of the shadows and propelled himself forward with a mid-air somersault, landing on his knees and thrusting his palms out with his fingers fluttering. It was his signature move, the very one that packed such an emotional punch in last year’s routine that the judges forgot all about Mikey’s ferocious running man and foisted the trophy upon the Tigers instead.

Seeing those lithe, supple wrists taunting him with their effortless quiver filled Mikey with a cold, murderous rage ...

(First published 22 September 2005)

Thursday, March 27, 2014


My idea of the perfect exercise class is this: The teacher gives us all a hug and goes, "You did it! You showed up! Let’s lie down." We all lie down and she’s like, "How is everybody feeling?" We’re like, "Great!" And the teacher’s like, "Great!" Then we all get to leave 20 minutes early.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Smells like middle age

You have not felt old until you've watched this clip of teens watching old Nirvana videos.

I still remember hearing Smells Like Teen Spirit for the first time and my heart lurching into the pit of my stomach. Hearing that Kurt had overdosed in Rome. My friend somehow wrangling a VHS copy of The Year that Punk Broke (the pre-You Tube era where living in Australia meant a level of cultural isolation OH KIDS TODAY YOU HAVE NO IDEA). Kurt on the cover of our zine after his death (Zines! Photocopies! Haha! Oh kids, let me tell you ...). Everyone having a friend of a friend who never let you forget he'd seen the Nirvana sideshow at The Palace in 92. Courtney Love doing an instore and signing CDs (CDs!) at Gaslight (record stores!). Country Road selling flannel shirts. Triple M sponsoring 'alt' music festivals. Middle class kids with unwashed hair and a met ticket.

Oh kids. Teenage angst has paid off well, now I'm bored and old.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Outrage over Vogue cover

AP - It's the bible of high fashion, but could its glory days be over?

     Anna Wintour has a major backlash on her hands after the US Vogue editor put a crumpled paper bag on the cover of this month's edition.

    The decision has taken Twitter by storm, with outraged fashionistas vowing to cancel their subscriptions.

   "What's this crumpled paper bag ever done to deserve the cover of Vogue?" @birkinbag tweeted. "She's just a piece of trash. #shamewintourshame".

    Wintour has denied succumbing to vigorous lobbying by the crumpled paper bag to put her on the cover.

     "This decision was mine and mine alone. The crumpled paper bag is a cultural phenomenon who stands at the apex of fame and aspiration in the 21st century. Vogue has always sought to reflect the times in which it lived. Love her or loathe her, you cannot ignore the crumpled paper bag or her place in the firmament of pop culture icons."

     The crumpled paper bag has not spoken publicly, but earlier tweeted "OMG VOGUE COVER. Dreamz come true!!!!! #sohotrightnow".

See also: Vogue Accused of Selling Out Over Kimye Cover

Monday, March 24, 2014

Melbourne vol. 1: The Prince Pat

The first venue I ever went to underage was the Prince Pat Hotel. Back in the 90s I wasn't there for the contraband vodka but the comedy. The late Dave Taranto hosted The Cheese Shop and it was there I saw a young Wil Anderson tell jokes about working for the Herald Sun ("translating the copy from its original German"), Dave Hughes do shtick about life on the dole and Fleety bundle the crowd out onto the footpath so he could drop-punt a frozen chicken across three lanes of traffic.

The Cheese Shop was the heart and soul of Melbourne's comedy scene. The crowd was well-versed in comedy - it knew the canon, Python and Carlin and Hicks and Partridge - and allowed newcomers the space to develop and veterans the chance to experiment. When Comedy Festival rolled around, international acts would appear unbilled - Franklin Ajaye, Rich Hall, Boothby Grafoe, Corky and the Juice Pigs. I remember Greg Fleet, Marty Sheargold and Matt King singing "Got No Mates"; Fred Rowan's ode to Jeff Kennett; Judith Lucy's one word take-down of a former colleague; Sue Ann Post and her hand-rolled smokes tucked behind her ear; Scared Weird Little Guys and Lano and Woodley sharing the stage at the annual Christmas show.

Taranto was a curator, a comic and a comedy nerd. Janet McLeod took your cash on the door and never asked for ID. The back walls were covered with illustrated pics of the D Gen. Anthony Morgan would hit up the pinball machine between sets. Cigarette smoke hung in the air. I loved the place.

These days the Pat is a gastropub, Taranto is gone and Rove is a multi-millionaire. I stopped seeing much comedy outside of the Festival. Wednesday nights lost their allure. But I rarely cross Victoria Parade without thinking of that chicken.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Beautiful words

In resentful moods, Tom saw his mind as an attic crammed with an incongruent 
jumbleGroping for treasure, he was just as likely to come up with a gimcrack 

Nevertheless, what had stuck was delight with words arranged well.

- Michelle de Kretser, "The Lost Dog".

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hair today

You hear a lot about the relationship between a woman and her hairdresser. Besides being the kind of womens-mag tripe that I hate - in which grooming habits equal womanhood, and where there's nothing a woman loves more than delving into her deepest secrets and debating the latest trends in shellac nailcare while her hairstylist works on her highlights - it's just not true for me. I hate going to the hairdresser. It's up there with the dentist and nuclear armageddon. Torture from the moment the black plastic sheet is draped around my neck to the moment I hand over my credit card for its ritual assault.

I've had a hair disaster, you see. What was meant to be "balayage" ended up looking like I'd been tipped over and half my head dunked in a vat of banana yellow paint. "Go back and demand they fix it up," my sister told me. Yeah right. Return to the scene of the crime? "Why hello there, thanks ever so much for that good beating you gave me, care to break my legs while you're at it?" Nope. So I found a new salon, beared the indignity of four hipsters gathering round to inspect in half-disgust, half-delight, got the whole thing fixed and handed over my credit card again because hey, why not live on lentils for the rest of the month?

Look. Most hairdressers are lovely people and very competent at their job. But I'm no good at the small talk and I don't want to about my relationship/renovations/My Kitchen Rules. I don't want to be tut-tutted for my regrowth/dry hair/frizzbomb and I don't want to be left for two hours with thirty foils in my hair and only two copies of some ridiculous art magazine for reading material. I don't want to lie with my head in the sink and develop the mother of all neckaches as you chat to your colleagues about last night's date. I don't want to have to thank you profusely and rave about how much I love it when you hold up a mirror to the back of my head for the "big reveal" (my praise usually in inverse proportion to my disappointment). And I definitely don't want to be talked into buying a 100ml bottle of hair serum infused with white truffle oil for $59.99.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The ubiquitous "insider"

Really? Cos I would have thought "those closest" to Mick Jagger would be comforting him in his hour of need rather than chatting to tabloid journos about his career prospects.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ethics shmethics

Would you customise your first-born child?

From Gizmodo: "Where exactly is the line between prenatal treatments and eugenic experiments? ... What's to stop us from adding more and more donors until we're simply picking the most desired traits at will and not so much making new life but literally constructing it?"

As I lie here listening to my first-born fight her afternoon nap, I'm thinking maybe this whole eugenics business has just got a bad rap. Imagine PerfectChild3000, complete with:

- ability to sleep 12 hours uninterrupted through the night, with long day-naps thrown in for good measure;

- self-cleaning bum;

- pre-programmed vocabulary of "Looking sharp, Mum" "More broccoli? Can I get a hell yeah?" and "no no, you lie back and read your novel, I'm just going to sit here quietly and work on my Euclidean Geometry."

Just saying.

Friday, March 14, 2014


This I love:

The Onion: Horrible Couple Really Wants Wedding To Reflect Their Personalities

Truth be told I love a good wedding, despite having zero inclination to have one of my own. I've seen every variation, from the bush doof (BYO tent, beard and dreadlocked toddler) to the Lebanese extravaganza (three hundred guests, most unknown to the bride and groom; copious amounts of spirits plonked on every table) to the bogan traditionalle (peach tulle bridesmaids, leery best man, bride caked in spray tan, bridal waltz to Coldplay). As long as there's cake, the chicken dance and a few cute waiters used to drunken flirtation / borderline harassment, I'm a happy guest.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Let's talk more about Lena Dunham's body

Lena Dunham: why she's over talking about her body.

So hey, let's make it our headline! Open up now to read Lena talking about the talk about her body which she's totally talking about! Cos we love to talk about the talk Lena hates and even her attempts to not-talk the talk just creates more talk for the body-talk industry on which our magazine thrives.

I've often thought that Hollywood women (or at least what I would do in their shoes, in my elaborate fantasy world where I also sing blues classics with Elmo on Sesame Street and stalk Amy Poehler into becoming besties) should take some joint industrial action and just refuse to answer any questions about weight/diet/exercise in interviews. Plead the fifth. Starve the beast. Imagine the reams of crap that wouldn't get written. Imagine the reprieve for impressionable girl minds. But here Lena Dunham has tried to do just that and talk about, oh I don't know, being one of the youngest writer/directors and one of the few women with her own show, and instead her refusal to wax lyrical about her caloric intake becomes the cover story. So let's talk more about her thighs and we'll all be much happier.

(And yes, it hasn't escaped me that it's only the cover story cos that's what's most likely to convince women to pick it up from the newsstand. Cos we suck, ladies.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Snippets of time

Having a kid gives you a whole new sense of time. I measure out my life in Avent bottles, rice cereal, nappy changes, Mem Fox and naps. And I wait for the next stolen moment - the snippet of time carved out from the day where I can have a coffee, scan the news, check emails, have a shower, watch YouTube, lay my head on the pillow. Nothing surprising there, I know.

Today there's tabloid media outrage over Kate and William spending a week on holiday without the kid. The Daily Mail manages to hang a whole article about the "public backlash" / "storm of protest" on its unassailable online sources "Frogwatcher42" and "louloutheshames". Who says journalism is a dying art? Thank God the Daily Mail's thinking of Prince George and his welfare in a country where one in six kids live in poverty.

I wouldn't turn my nose up at a week in the Maldives but for now I'll make the most of baby's afternoon nap by lying in bed and checking out Obama on Between Two Ferns.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Just like starting over

So it's seven years since this blog was last active and I've just taken a deep breath and deleted the archives. Looking back at the posts is kind of like reading your 12 year old journal - you're half-proud, half-embarrassed, but really it represents another lifetime. And I want to start writing again. I'm halfway through maternity leave (thanks to the arrival of a baby girl; six months old, part-ingenue, part-tyrant) and I'm starting to feel my brain turn to mush. I know I'm writing for an audience of one (and anyone unlikely enough to still have this blog in their near-decade old RSS feed) and that's fine by me. I just want the discipline of writing every day and giving myself half an hour away from the daily rituals of feed/play/sleep/collapse. Let's see how it goes.