Wednesday, March 30, 2005

You turn my world upside down...

These guys have way too much time on their hands. But now I really want to do what they did!! (via Wacky Neighbour)

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Smiling as the shit comes down...

Paul Hester, drummer for Crowded House, took his own life over the weekend. There's not really much else to say except that I'm very saddened by this news, and that my thoughts go out to his family and friends.

It's a still life, Jim

I love me some Spock, and it's always good to see that the man who brought him to life is a) still alive and b) still doing some interesting work on film - albeit from behind the lens. I'm probably the last person to know this, but Leonard Nimoy has taken to black and white photography quite seriously in the last few years (releasing the book Shekhina in 2003).

Due to some comments he made about Fat Actress, I had a bit of a trawl around the internet(s) and found his photography site. Which, praise be, contains some examples of his work. And, you know, he's awfully good. His upcoming exhibition (in the US only, sigh) is Maximum Beauty, a series of photos of plus size women. Note that a lot of his work is nudes, which is not so much with the safe to view if you are at work, but there's a couple of series that are of objects, and are very beautiful.

Whilst I'm on the Original series roll, I might as well mention that I've had William Shatner's (or WFS, to WWdN readers) 'Has Been' on high rotation in my listening machines for the last couple of months, and I cannot say enough good things about it. Have a listen if you get a chance - the middle four songs are a bit m'eh, but there are some gems there. Not least the rocking cover of Pulp's 'Common People', and the wonderfully funny title track. The wonderful bods at Fametracker have done a Fame Audit on Mr Shatner, which I recommend you cast your collective eyes over...

Sunday, March 20, 2005

"Now is the age of the Queen..."

I have been incredibly fortunate in the kindness of my friends since I have gotten back from New Zealand. One of the many kindnesses I have received was a ticket to see Peter Jackson speak at the State Theatre last weekend (as an added bonus, interviewed by David Stratton).

As I've mentioned previously, I have been a great fan of Peter Jackson for many years. I can remember incredibly clearly how I found out about him. It was around 1992ish, and I had a strange fixation on Russ Meyer films. I had picked up a street press magazine because it had a retrospective article on Russ Meyer (titled, I recall, "Storm in a D Cup"). On the opposite page was an interview with some Kiwi bloke about the freaky zombie flick he'd just made. I read the article, captured as I was by a description of the gore effects. So far as I can remember, somewhere in the interview, Peter Jackson commented that he'd made the film because a friend had a whole lot of animal innards on hand, and he'd thought that the best way to use them was to make a movie about zombies. Just the idea that you would (and could!) make a film because you had some materials kicking about blew me away. I vowed to see the movie when I got a chance, and eventually managed to catch it (where, I can't remember).

I kept my eye out for Peter Jackson's movies after that, always falling in love with the worlds that he created. And when the news finally leaked out that he was making the Lord of the Rings trilogy, my first reaction was not "Yay!! Finally, Lord of the Rings movies!!" but "Yay!! Finally, Peter Jackson is getting the work and recognition he deserves!!" I was absolutely convinced he would create a complete world, an emotionally resonant world, and that I would once again fall in love with it. And I did.

So, as you can imagine, I was tremendously excited to see him in person, and he really did not disappoint. He looked tired and seemed a little spaced, but given that he's still in principal photography for King Kong, that's not surprising. I was also slightly taken aback by his physical change - not quite so hobbitish any more. It was wonderful of him to give his time to support the LotR exhibition that has been travelling the globe.

The question and answer session didn't really cover new ground, but the humour and emotion that he brought was really engaging. My favourite moment was definitely when he was asked the question "When did you first read LotR?" and the answer he gave wandered into how he made Bad Taste over 7 years, with no funding, with his friends as cast and crew. And then in the middle of an answer to a different question he stopped for a moment and said "I never did tell you when I read LotR, did I?"

He kindly brought his own dvd of outtakes to show a deeply deeply appreciative audience. As Neb said to me afterwards, "I don't want to see Aragorn or Gandalf in outtakes - but fuck it was funny!!" There was an element of "Noooo!! Aragorn and an Uzi, it's all shades of wrong!!" but mostly it was a wonderful example of the willingness of the cast and crew to not only produce such strong work, but to take the mick occasionally (and very funnily). And flub (and ad lib) their lines beautifully ;) "They've gone into Fangorn? What the fuck did they do that for?!"

It was a truly amazing, and probably once in a lifetime experience, to share in Peter Jackson's passion, humour and memories of his life thus far as a writer/director. The memory of those two hours, in the darkened State Theatre, surrounded on all sides by other Peter Jackson fans (whether for LotR alone or all of his films, it doesn't matter), is very precious for me, and I feel very lucky to have been there. And the standing ovation he received at the end of the lecture was the tribute and thanks that we all gave for the joy and wonder (and occasional grossness) that he has given us over the years.

Bring on King Kong!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Goody Goody Yum Yum

I had the inestimable pleasure and once in a lifetime opportunity to see the Goodies stage show last weekend. And not just once, but twice, which was very very cool.

The Goodies may have been just another comedy show in Britain, but in Australia they are part of our cultural landscape, part of our childhood. In Australia, generations grew up with the Goodies. The ABC, bless their cotton socks, decided to edit out "offensive" material, and present the tv show for kids. It was on before the nightly news, so every evening at 6 or 6.30, kids got to monopolise the telly watch an insane, inventive, and explosively funny comedy show. I'm pretty sure parents loved the show just as much.

And then as we all grew up, we would watch the repeats again and again and again. So much so, that I and most of my friends can quote entire episodes. (It also helps that I'm a complete geek). I would happily do "The Disco Heave" (from Saturday Night Grease) on those rare occasions that I was dragged out onto a dancefloor. And, of course, no moment of panic is complete without the classic recitation "I'm a teapot! I'm a teapot!"

The Goodies helped to launch me into a lifelong love affair with British comedy, and over time, I became quite an afficionado of the era out of which the Goodies sprang. It is wonderful to track the convoluted family tree that produced the Goodies and of course Monty Python, and to know that the branches are interwoven from Cambridge Circus to I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again to At Last the 1948 Show to Broaden Your Mind to How to Irritate People.

Thus it was a truly exciting experience during the live show to see Tim Brooke-Taylor don his smoking jacket as President of Cambridge Footlights and put Bill Oddie and Graeme Garden through their paces. I felt like I knew their secret history and now they were sharing it with the wider world and I was in on the joke. Many others in the audience greeted the mention of ISIRTA and Broaden Your Mind with rapturous applause, so I'm thinking I wasn't the only person feeling like that.

The Goodies - Alive on Stage was a tremendous experience. The three interspersed seemingly improvised banter and laughs with clips from the shows (to my lasting joy, they showed the bunfight at the OK Tea Rooms - brilliant!!) They also revealed what the ABC had deemed too naughty for telly - like this exchange from The End:

Tim "Don't mind him, he's pissed."
Graeme "Has he?"
Tim "Yes."

Much of the material they performed proved once again that Graeme Garden is the absolute king of comic timing. His "Pet Time" skit was beautifully timed and painfully funny.

The only part that felt slow was the radio sketch towards the end, but given that I had been laughing so hard that tears were streaming down my face, a bit of a break may have been what the audience needed. And the fellers seemed to be having such a laugh during the skit that the audience followed their joy.

I was worried that seeing the Goodies up close and personal would break my heart, because of the absolute fact that they have aged. I wasn't sure that I ever wanted to see Tim, Bill and Graeme being old. And I have to admit, Tim's crooked hands and Graeme's slight limp, combined with the general loss of hair and greyness in the hair that was there was sad to see. But the joy with which they attacked the material, the verve that they brought to the stage, dimmed and diminished the evidence of age, and I swear I could see them as I had always seen them - best expressed in their song The In-Betweenies (number 7 on the British charts in 1975!!): "Too old to be a teenage idol, too young to be a mother's pet."

If you want to get back in touch with your inner Goodies fan (and I know you want to!) go to the official Goodies fan site. It's comprehensive, fun and there are many many Aussies drifting around there.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Go softly into that good night...

On the way to writing a post, I stopped off at the Fametracker forums, as you do. Am now shattered to discover that they are closing down in just over a week.

So if you'll excuse me, there are some threads I really really need to read before they are taken away from me forever.

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