“I am going to miss the Mars Landing” — Or “HOW I BINNED IT.”

I remember turning up the gas (I was on my bike pedalling as furiously as I could) and mashing into this corner I have done over and over before. It was early, and I’d done a thorough scan — there were no cars, there was no danger, so I chose a pretty aggressive line at a decent speed. I started to lean maybe halfway through the roundabout at Suncorp Stadium. The road dips down here and I was taking a line (because I was on a bike) that not many vehicles can use. Suddenly the bike just washed away and I was sideways, sliding and sliding. The road was so wet I wondered when I would stop.

When I eventually came to some equilibrium I took a breath knowing I wasn’t in any danger and laid down on the road just pondering what was next. If the lady with a takeaway coffee in her hand hadn’t suddenly been towering above me I might have stayed there a bit longer.

“Are you alright?” she said.

“No,” I said rather pathetically and embarrassingly. I instantly knew this was going to be bad. As I picked up my bike I could see the blood had already streamed all the way down my arm only stopping at my right glove. She had a look at my arm and was visibly and audibly horrified. She apparently could see tendons – maybe bone. (I refused to look). It was then I saw a bunch of other people there congregating around that “hole-in-the-wall” coffee place. She asked inside for something to stop the bleeding and he offered paper napkins – but she was like – I need something more substantial.

I sat down as she wrapped up my arm in a cloth tea towel and I considered what to do. I called Dee but she didn’t pick up. It was still very early in the morning. Maybe just after 6am.

I was only about 2km from home, but the blood just kept coming, so after a minute I thought the best course was to call an ambulance – have them check me out – then give them the option to get Dee to pick me up cause I was probably fine. Easy.

But the woman who came to my aid, named “Renae” I found out, started calling 000. So it was decided. Renae had to answer a billion questions – mainly about how to describe the bleeding (which she found very complicated).

By now I just laid down on the footpath as far out of the way and waited. A few other people came and sat with me. A doctor even stopped on her way to work but I said I was fine and an ambulance was on the way. “Do you want to look at the gash?” I said. “Not really,” she said. LOL. Another woman put a picnic blanket under my head.  Of course I accidentally managed to knock over Renae’s coffee just to be THE MOST WORST person to randomly rescue.

By then I had got through to Dee. In the confusion of waking her up she thought Dan Angus was the one in trouble through some breakdown in communication. She was soon there and after many thank-yous everyone else filtered off. Another tea towel had to be appropriated cause my blood had soaked up the first one.

The guy from the coffee shop was checking on me every so often and wondering if he could help so I asked him to take the front wheel off the bike. I was guiding him through the process on my back, looking backwards and was saying, “No, turn it counter-clockwise!” And he was like, “I am – you’re just upside down.” UGH – I am the WORST.

To add to the entire indignity of the situation it started to rain – so I put my sunglasses back on so at least the water wasn’t attacking my eyes.

AMBULANCE

A few minutes later there was a mysterious woman above me holding a massive golf umbrella. “Gday,” she said. I looked up and said “Hi!” well before I realised she was a paramedic. “Rescue at last,” I secretly thought. She asked if I could walk and I instinctively got up and I went and sat in one of the chairs at the back of the ambulance. The paramedic’s name was also randomly “Renae”. After we had a good chuckle about that, she took off those improvised bandages and had a decent look. She said the tissue had sort of rolled up. It was a pretty deep laceration and I would need stitches etc. And off we went to the RBWH.

At that point I lamented, “Dammit. I am going to miss the Mars rover landing.” My phone had disappeared and I could only hope Dee had it. (She did). So Renae got out her phone and dialled up the live feed just in time to see the shute successfully deploy. Then what seemed only seconds later the rover was confirmed to be safe on the surface and I got to see all of mission control getting excited, although there were no hugs and high fives. And everyone had masks and were naturally spaced apart.

I tried to make conversation saying my last trip in an ambulance wasn’t as interesting. (That time I was on the gurney in a neck brace looking straight up the whole time.) Now I could look out the window, see all the cool stuff they had, all the signs and important-looking medical equipment — AND — see a freaking landing on Mars for fucks sake. Wooshka!

At the RBWH I was checked in and they noted that the last time I was there was a “Bike vs Car” incident. Renae led me to “Fast Track” and even she got lost. The place was pretty quiet. It seemed like I was the only patient around. Renae was like, “You are lucky. It will get very busy soon.”

As I shuffled in, everyone kinda looked at me like that vibe you get in the doctor’s surgery waiting room — “what’s he here for?” I could literally hear them thinking that but I figured my bike-kit-lycra was a dead giveaway.

Once I was at a bed Renae had to say her goodbye and a doctor called Felix and a nurse whose name I didn’t catch was in charge of me. They asked if I needed pain relief and I was like, “Nah – I’m fine. I can’t feel a thing.” They were then a bit like YODA. “You will be….You will be.” So I got the vibe and took the drugs. Just panadol and nurofen. A bit later they gave me another pill which apparently was called “ENDO”.

Then I had to get out of my lycra and saw there was a massive goitre-like lump on my right thigh. To call it a “Lump” is a massive understatement. It was the size of a rockmelon and seemingly growing. It was covered in scratches and naturally inflamed.

Dee magically appeared wearing a “VISITOR” sticker. That was a massive relief because sans-phone I was wondering all the old-school ways of contacting her and letting her know where I was. Like a PA announcement or something!

Suddenly the pain started. It wasn’t in my arm. It was my leg. It was that pain that makes you shiver. Retrospectively I imagine it was the swelling meeting the road-rash and so this onslaught of STINGING ensued.

JUNK

Next was X-rays and here I was in a purple smock without the back tied up and I had to get in all sorts of different positions for the many, many X-Rays to work and I am utterly convinced that my pathetic bike-riding-shrivlled-up-junk was exposed. I am so sorry to the two radiographers who did their best not to notice. I really did expect someone to say, “Wow – maybe you need that looked at too.”

WARD and NITROUS

Back in the “Fast-Track Ward” there was a shift change and I got a new doctor. They were asking me about my last tetanus shot and I was like, “It’s cool. It was just the other day! It was when I got bitten by that dog!” But then Dee and I dug through my phone and worked out it was actually 6 years ago. So I go that shot. They also gave me some more ENDONE (which is what it’s actually called I have now worked out.)

Then that nurse came in with a big bottle and a funny tube. “Have you ever had Nitrous Oxide before?” She asked. “No!” I said, “ But I am looking forward to this!” It was very complicated getting the gas out (you have to really gulp) but it did the trick. My wound got thoroughly cleaned. (He could see bone so if I got an infection in that area it would be near-impossible to treat.)

FAINTING?

After the stitches where the doctor confirmed that gingers need more anaesthetic — look that up — we got to go home. The pain was pretty intense but I managed to get the clothes on Dee had brought me. Getting shoes on was impossible so I just walked out in socks. Dee had to run off and get the car from the car park so I just waited at the main entrance. But the pain and the shock was just crazy. I was dizzy and nauseous and I really thought I would faint. I tried leaning on a bollard but it wasn’t good enough. The seats were wet with rain. So I just laid down on the concrete where it was dry. Everyone just walked past me like it was natural. Some people practically brushed past me. I’m not complaining about that — but wow! I didn’t want to make a fuss but what if I was in real trouble? Eventually Dee was calling me saying I am here and I had to get up and I made it that last 30m. PHEW!

GORY PICS BELOW: (don’t look unless you want to).

(WARNING!)

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The new Twin Peaks

IMG_2564.JPGHere is a shot I took of “The Great Northern” back in 2010 

INTRODUCTION and INITIAL THOUGHTS

It was a slow, but very transfixing experience. (I remember warning Conan that it would be slow.)

Nothing was intensely bizarre, or frustratingly oblique — except for that scene in Space. And everything seemed to be flowing towards something. It had a narrative!

It also had plenty of nods to the fans and quite a few laughs. But I got the distinct impression these first episodes won’t have the beautiful re-watchability as the 90s TP had. But of course this wasn’t a reboot of Twin Peaks — it wasn’t a brand new soap opera or an “Invitation to Love.” This was a big, bad “What Happened Next.”

The credits were incredible. As much as drone-filmography have a bad rap, they really do get some amazing vistas and the shot over the falls was just incredible. Like what a poetic death-plunge would look like. Very symbolic. And yep – I was ready to dive right in.

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A 12PM, MONDAY PARTY

So I was due to watch this all at Bri and Tim’s place. Also coming were Conan, Susan and Ben (And Laura eventually). Just barely north of beer-o’clock.

I arrived super-early having tried to engage everyone I could about the momentousness of today: a) the guy in the boozer — no idea. b) The woman at the donut stand — completely oblivious. And the taxi driver tried his best as I piled into the cab with all my bits. But again, no hint of any idea what Twin Peaks was. Sigh.

As I came in Bri was putting the finishing touches on her cherry pie. But there was music in the air and soon Conan swaggered in with an equal sense of nervous expectation. Tim was doing exercise and the dog Arrow was so cute he had a way of getting onto the balcony by magic. (The dog door in another room was later revealed to me.)

Susan arrived with wine and then Ben with cigarettes. We watched the last episode of season 2 and then a little mashup before Bri suddenly announced it had dropped a few minutes early. I was so nervous it took me a while to relax enough to actually sit down. I noticed Susan spent the majority of the 4 hours of viewing on the edge of her spot on the couch, leaning as close as she could to the screen. (Bri and Tim have a projector so we got to see it almost cinematically).

There was silence in the room for the first 50 minutes. It was all business. The ground rules had been laid before. No chit-chat, but laughing and crying and gasping were acceptable. And there was all of that. Including the tears at Margaret — the Log Lady’s final scenes. (Heartbreaking). Bri lost it apparently. She had tubes going into her nose and we all know they were totally legit.

Then we had an accidental break at 50 mins and we could all grab some air, use the facilities, get some more refreshments and do a tiny debrief. It had been pretty intense up to that point. We all agreed it was compelling. But we needed more!

Steadily the party got looser and I got in trouble for talking (see below). Conan kept looking at me with that “eek!” look in his eye and any time there was a “Blue Rose” mention — Bri and I had a little nod at each other. (That was the name of our trivia team at GOMA and BLACK [BEAR] LODGE).

Conan gripped my thigh quite a few times at intense moments. I jgnored it and just kept sinking another beverage. I got quite wasted by the end and started talking about how the cosmic background radiation has a cold spot and that was evidence of another universe with just might be connected to the black lodge. Ugh.

Luckily it was time for episode 4 and I was forced to shut up.

SPOILERS NOW!

EPISODE 4

That’s where things really clicked. Apparently they (Showtime I imagine) were only going to “drop” the first 3 episodes on May 22, but it seemed they realised that would be a mistake and they needed a lighter, funnier, more traditional episode to keep us all keen.

By this stage the whole world was trying to hit this stream and Stan kept freezing or going low-res or pausing for buffering. It was almost imperceptible if it wasn’t for the spinning “loading icon” at the centre of the screen. We got used to it and decided to plough on.

What made this episode was it had a great deal of old characters. Heaps of Good Cooper just coming to sense with the real world. Then more Hawk and “Sheriff Truman.” (Is this the real Truman re-cast by Robert Forster or is it Truman’s brother?) In Ep1 one was “sick” and the other was “fishing” according to Lucy. And this one was the one “fishing”. I think Bobby calls him “Frank”. Just before he says: “I gotta take a leak so bad my back teeth are floating!”

So I think we have that issue sorted. LOL. Then we get Wally (Michael Cera) confirming that. Sick Truman was his godfather. Wally is paying his respects. But also saying goodbye. (I think he will be back.) He talks about Lewis and Clark. (Just like in the Secret History book by Mark Frost).

The biggest laugh of the afternoon came when Wally is trying so hard to be profound: “My shadow is always with me. Sometimes ahead, Sometimes behind. Sometimes to the left, sometimes to the right. Except on cloudy days…or at night.”

Then Sheriff Truman walks away and does a quick shake of the head.

Bobby says that Cooper was the last to see his dad Major Briggs. But of course this insinuates that Bad Cooper killed Major Briggs and covered it up in a fire.

And we get some Naomi Watts. Our Naomi Watts. Brilliant.

Oh god Lucy and Andy are just the same and it is bloody, bloody incredible. And Ched is a dick! Go have a word with your pine-cone douchecanoe.

Mike puts it down saying that Good Cooper was tricked and that now one of them must die. Battle lines are drawn. Good vs Evil.

Cooper looks at his reflection again and it seems like he is beginning to know he is real again. Cooper has a great thumbs up with “Sonny Jim.” Coffee can save him!

Tammy is going to be a real force in the next episodes.

I really suspect that the body (without a head) in the Ruth Davenport crime scene is actually Major Briggs. EEK.

And who is the woman that Rosenfield and Cole need to talk to to expose the fake Cooper? Cannot wait.

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THREADS

There were so many threads. Here are the few I can just about note down:

1) Dr Jacobi and his mission to paint several shovels in gold.

2) Ben and Jerry had a welcome joust early on. It seemed these eccentric characters had turned out in their old age (25 years later) just like they would have IRL.

3) Bad Cooper (And Darya + Ray + Jack’s conspiracy) [and Otis and clan]

3.1) Bad Cooper and his link to the death of Ruth Davenport (Obviously he had Bill Hasting’s wife [“Phyllis”] under his spell).

3.2) Bad Cooper’s plan about NOT getting pulled back into Black Lodge. (And what Gia Carides’ “Hannah” has to do with that). See pt 10.

3.3) Bad Cooper vs Agent Rosenfield and Gordon Cole. (And what role with Agent Tamara/Tammy [Chrysta Bell] play?)

4) Who is the “rest” of Ruth Davenport’s “body”? (And who is that “burnt man” in the jail cell next to Bill Hasting that promptly evaporates?)

5) Hawk and the clue that Margaret (Log Lady) left. Plus all the other stuff linked to the Sherrif’s office.

6) The clues the giant gave Cooper in scene 1: “4.3.0.”, “Linda and Richard”, “Two birds with one stone”

7) What’s the deal with the “Billionaire” with his glass box. And who/what was released just before that ripped Tracey and Sam to shreds. (In the credits it lists “Carel Struyckenn – ??????”)

8) Mr Todd (and Roger) in Las Vegas. Someone makes Mr Todd do bad things.

9) James! and his motorcycle accident. His link with Shelly? And then there’s Balthazar Getty (“Red”) and his connection. Also in that scene (according to the credits) is a new Renault: “Jean-Michel Renault” played by Walter Olkewicz who played “Jarques” back in 90s TP. More interesting than intriguing.

10) The THIRD “Cooper”? oh boy. His name is “Dougie Jones”. And he had the ring. It seems that Bad Cooper can’t be in the real world at the same time as Good Cooper. Someone had to go back to the Lodge so that the real Cooper could come back. (Was he the bad Cooper’s decoy? — this is Susan’s theory). Like the ring made him appear to be the Bad Cooper the Lodge wanted back. (Aside: Loved how Bad Cooper vomited cream corn.) ‘Something is wrong,” Mike says in the episode before. And then, “Someone manufactured you.” So I think there is no real third Cooper — just something Bad Cooper tricked the Black Lodge with. But then there is this gold ball that keeps coming up. We shall see. I think Susan is spot on perfectly right here. (Oh and what is the deal with the assassins trying to kill “Dougie” (Trick Cooper).

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And finally:

10) Good Cooper! Cooper was pretty much the only thing I really paid attention to in the original series. And although his storyline here is really frustrating — by episode 4 it seems he is getting somewhere. Someone who has spent 25 years in the Black Lodge is going to behave a little (I mean “LOT”) weird in the real world. I do need to mention that that bit in space with the woman whose eyes have grown over is silly! But maybe beautifully silly?

MUSIC

Loved how they had genuine bands playing at the Roadhouse at the end of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th episodes. (Au Revoir Simone!) But otherwise music is quite sparse. There appeared to be a Trent Reznor song during Bad Cooper’s drive through the woods to Otis’ house. But it took until over 7 minutes into episode two (apart from credits) for any of Angelo’s original score to get an airing. And even then it was painfully brief.

The Cactus Blossoms are the band in ep3.

LAURA PALMER

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I am thoroughly convinced that Laura is going to get out of the black lodge and kick ass in the real world. She says to Cooper, “I am dead. Yet I live”. Then she gets sucked into some vortex and disappears.

From what I knew at the time I was 15 talking to girls who were totally into TP, Laura’s story really affected them. She was almost an “everywoman” to certain people. A woman in trouble and everyone knew it — like Bobby screams at the funeral.

While I identified with Cooper, plenty of women saw Laura as just as much. She had insights into what it was like to be a girl. I read Laura’s diary and someone said to me she almost felt I shouldn’t be reading that because it contained secrets only girls should know. Laura hit nerves. I just saw her screams and how she could instil terror in me. But she was much more than that.

While we were watching EP2 when “contemporary” Laura (2017 Sheryl Lee) appeared I instinctively predicted what was about to be said I got a very firm, “Shut up!” from Susan. I imagine this scene, although pretty predictable to me, was truly important to her. And then Bri said after all 4 episodes were watched: “There needs to be more Laura.”

It’s a thing. Laura NEEDS to come back just for closure or just because it will make a supreme difference to many, many people. (Me included!)

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DID I LIKE IT?

Fuck yeah.

It was amazing and if everything goes to shit from here I will know that at the very least I had an amazing time on Monday with great mates and it was a total experience. Genuinely one of the best days of my life.

And upon the second viewing I am even more excited for what’s to come.

It won’t be as magical as the original, but it will have a different kind of magic.

OTHER RANDOM OBSERVATIONS

If “The man from another place” (the actor Michael) refuses to get on board, he can be replaced by a talking brain-tree with and some lightning effects. Genius.

A 30ish year old Kyle MacLachlan made up to look 20 years older (in 1990s TP) looks older than the nearing 60 Kyle in 2017 Twin Peaks. Just saying.

That was Ronette in the “Space Scene”. (Credited as “American Girl”)

Bobby Briggs is a police officer. God that was a perfect arc. Major Briggs was such a special character and Bobby was such an antithesis — but you just knew they were always on the same page. (Briggs had that dream he told Bobby about in ep8).

Chocolate Bunnies get a shout-out! (“It’s NOT about the bunny…Is it about the bunny? No, It’s not about the bunny,” Hawk says.

Michael Cera is just perfect. Bri had predicted this and it just makes so much sense. And it looks like he might be a Bookhouse Boy – or trying to be one. The look of supreme “proudness” on Andy and Lucy’s face is priceless.

The moose head gets a new day in the sun!

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A review of “ROGUE ONE”

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 2.36.29 pm.pngAnother scene that #Didn’t happen

MIDNIGHT

I didn’t expect to watch another 12:05 viewing of a movie — and not by myself — something I would have found so utterly pathetic when I was a 12 year old. Which is perhaps the average age of the initial target audience of this movie. (I realise the studio is also expecting a lot of coin from people like me).

But the excitement just overwhelmed me. It was a Wednesday night and I had nothing better to do, and I had arranged that Thursday off on the ‘morrow so I could watch it at a more respectable hour. (It turned out I had to go to work — but that is another story.)

So it was fun and exciting to get to have a nap at 8pm, then snap up an hour later in a daze and stumble for an hour over to Southbank and mix it up with my fellow nerds. They were an eclectic bunch — in nerd terms. There were coolsies that wouldn’t look out of place at a Laneway Fest. And then there were the gender-ambiguous overweight people in big black tent-like clothing — channeling the Comic-book-guy from the Simpsons.

It was mostly dudes.

Everyone was well behaved. Although a group of lads kept grappling randoms and saying, “Did you know Darth Vader is Luke’s father?” Like it was the funniest joke ever. Douchecanoes.

HERE’s WHAT TO EXPECT FROM BELOW:

a) A review
a.1) A note on “Mendo”
b) The Elephant
c) FAN-SERVICE — What I cringed about
d) FAN-SERVICE — What I thought worked
e) Why the TRAILERS are so different (or “What I thought the movie might have been )

a) A REVIEW

WARNING! MAJOR PLOT SPOILERS BELOW

First of all I want to say I enjoyed it. As a major Star Wars fan it is certainly entertaining — but it’s not as good as episodes 4, 5 (my fave), 6 or 7. (I don’t acknowledge the prequels.)

Secondly, it had a major feature which I found quite distracting — and something I thought was a dangerous precedent in film-making. (I’ll cover that later).

It’s a lush movie. Visually very diverse and all the settings are amazing. I recognised Iceland immediately. A cheap setting for an alien world without any set-dressing or CGI.

The characters don’t get developed much. I think Jyn was a little hard to truly care about. I found the droid K2-SO’s tragic end far more emotional. (He was obviously inspired by the robot in Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky.) Long arms and tiny head. Always looking downtrodden. Plus maybe the Paranoid Android in the Hitchhiker’s Guide.

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And the Baize and Chirru bromance was much more thematic. Cassian was almost interesting, but again a little unappealing.

Well before the movie came out, the nerds had guessed that the perfect-defect in the Death Star was purposely designed. And the trailers pretty much gave that plot point away with Galen Erso telling a baby Jyn that everything he did, he did to protect her. So that revelation was put down pretty early. There was no way the script writers could have avoided this obvious plot-gift. Someone on the inside was a Rebel at heart and had made this hideous planet-destroying-machine hopelessly weak.

Moving on.

a.1) A NOTE ON “MENDO”

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Ben Mendohlson. What a bloody legend. Deadset legend.

He’s like the David Boon of acting. Boony being the very first deadset legend.

He’s like an enigma, wrapped up in a dirty, dweeby, wrinkly paper bag.

He’s like an older brother, or a shitty cousin that is sometimes your bestie, but is so mercurial he becomes a crazy psycho with no warning.

Whenever me and Dee see Mendo in super-acting-genius — we call it “Classic Mendo”. Others have different terms. Tony Martin calls it, “How Mendo is that?”. And seeing Mendo in Bloodlines was incredibly sublime. He was so, so, so good in that series.

And when he was cast in Rogue One I instantly thought, “Wow! Mendo is going to rip shit up as a Star Wars villain.” Holy shit! I was so excited.

But although there was a bit of “Classic Mendo”, sadly I think he was always a bit comprimised. Apart from the beginning, he never really got to rise in darkness. He had his lisp thing — “Classic Mendo”. He had at least two moments when he got to say something so evil and maniacal. “Classic”. He gets a cool cape. (Though Dee thought it looked plasticy). And he gets to be annoyed most of the time — but I don’t think he ever got to be truly scary or about to snap and lose it.

I guess any character that gets force-choked by Vader can never be treated seriously as a villain. If Vader cuts off your airway it means, “you’re a dickhead. And you’re expendable — to the plot.”

And Mendo’s doom is ultimately kinda pathetic. When he says, “Who are you?” it’s not what a true villain would care about when they were pointing a gun at their defeated (and seemingly doomed) pugnator. It’s like a confession that he was always out-played. I suspect Mendo had a far sinister role in the original movie (before the reshoots). But more on that later.

b) THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: RESURRECTING PETER CUSHING

Apparently they announced over a year ago but I missed that memo. So they made a CGI version of Peter Cushing (who died over 20 years ago) rather than employ a real actor to play the role of Grand Moff Tarkin. Admittedly it was convincing so far as CGI goes. While watching I thought it might even fool someone who hadn’t seen Star Wars or hadn’t realised Cushing was long dead. It was definitely a grand achievement in the technology. Cool even.

But is it ethical?

How does a dead person get to control the appropriation of their likeness? (I know the character’s intellectual property belongs to someone else — and you can’t own your own image, be it a picture or a painting or a film of yourself.) [Although I think France has different laws about that.]

But what about the way you played that character? What about your voice or mannerisms — what you can uniquely bring to your performance? Isn’t that going to be forever connected with the original actor?

Another quite bizarre outcome is that “Rogue One” is now one of Peter Cushing’s films on his wikipedia page. Am I the only one who thinks this is weird? I haven’t dared to check IMDB. I don’t care if he was a big fan of the franchise. (Apparently he was). I don’t care that his family approved. (Apparently they gave it their blessing). I just wonder. I just wonder for the future.

And I am very, very nervous that they will do the same treatment to Sir Alec Guinness. I impurity certain he would turn in his grave if his likeness is used next. (Admittedly his voice is appropriated in The Force Awakens and I did not get up on my high-horse about that. I feel a bit conflicted about that.)

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SO WHAT IS NEXT?

I can just imagine in the next decade some douche will release a film with a recreation of James Dean or Marilyn Monroe or Elvis. If there’s money to be made — what’s stopping them?

They’ve done it to Audrey Hepburn. And in the 90s they did it Humphrey Bogart, Louis Armstrong and James Cagney for a fucking Coke commercial for fuck’s sake. Ugh. [Note: these were not CGI but real footage mixed into new scenes – but essentially their image in a very new context].

So I will say to the actors of today — make a stand if this means something to you. Can you let this precedent continue? My nephews saw that film and had no idea that was a CGI Princess Leia or Moff Tarkin. What happens to your likeness when you are long dead? What happens to your legacy if you get shoved into an absolute dud of a film and your character gets blamed? Actors — how do you feel as artists — how do you feel about people making money out of your likeness? What’s stopping the studios making new Indiana Jones movies with a fake “Harrison Ford” forever and ever?

ALSO OF NOTE!

All the scenes, out-takes or actual footage from A NEW HOPE that they re-purposed for this film in the final space-battle. Is that ethical? Should we care cause I for one found it so fucking obvious and gratuitous.

For details see below.

c) UNNECESSARY FAN-SERVICE DETAILS IN ORDER OF SHITNESS (apart from Grand Moff)

1) adding C3P0 and R2D2 — for months I vowed to throw something if they were included. But thankfully my civility prevailed. Instead I just cringed and shook my head. Don’t these people making these films have any shame? It’s literally getting to the point where anyone making a Star Wars movie just can’t help but chuck in these two “classic droids” like it was the Force controlling them. But it is just so redundant. So unnecessary. Except if you’re Anthony Daniels and you get a truckload of money each and every time.

2) The old footage of fighter pilots from A NEW HOPE (ANH) getting regurgitated. There were at least three pilots who got re-hashed and one had their sentence “I am starting my attack run on the…” re-purposed to say “shield gate” at the end while the vision tracked to that big shield gate thing.

3) The recreation of that exact scene from ANH with that cranky fuckwit with the deformed face (and his mate). Rehashing the exact dialogue from the cantina scene just before he gets his arm cut off. Embarrassing.

4) All the extra references to “Hope”. One is enough.

5) CGI Leia. We got it from the costume. There was no need to go further. And it was almost like a big, “Look at how impressive our CGI is” rather than a true addition to the film.

6) It’s a diverse cast — if you’ve got balls and a dick. Just cause you have a female lead doesn’t mean you are excused to make every other role — including robots — a male. I doubt it passed the Bechdel Test.

d) COOL FAN SERVICE

1) I think I spotted a Wilhelm Scream from the first stormtrooper that gets nailed in the Jeddah battle.

2) Donk droid. And maybe a couple of other droids from ANH

3) Referencing “A New Hope” was ok. (But see above)

4) Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) were inoffensive and kinda drove the plot. Although of course it was a bit excessive.

5) Mon Mothma was excellent — and she a great fit for that role.

e) THE TRAILERS WERE LIKE A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT MOVIE

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 2.27.09 pm.pngTie-Fighter confronting Jyn at the top of the communications mast #Didn’t happen

About 8 months ago the studio announced it was doing a big bunch of re-shoots. I took this to mean they were finessing the film. Getting it even more perfect. Taking pride in the job. Realising they didn’t need to rush things. I saw many fans appreciating the “quality over quantity” vibe. They were not disappointed.

But it seems the film was rather drastically changed if you go by the trailers. There’s the  redundant footage which is not a hanging offence. But then there’s the just plain wrong scenes. Scenes that don’t happen. Scenes where characters interact which makes no sense. And it wasn’t just the footage — the dialogue was also stupidly weird at times and inconsistent with what the finished film delivered. It was grossly unsettling.

I suspect the nerds would have already taken this to pieces. OK a quick google revealed this. It’s embarrassing really. (Another precedent this movie has delivered: How can we trust any trailers now?)

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 2.34.48 pm.pngSaw Gererra without hair lecturing Jyn about joining the fight #Didn’t happen

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 2.35.15 pm.pngCrennik getting his tails wet on the Skarriff beach #Didn’t happen

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 2.30.37 pm.pngIn the trailers they imply Vader is confronting Galen Erso in this scene

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 2.33.08 pm.pngJyn in shackles at the Rebel base #Didn’t happen

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 2.13.04 pm.pngRebel pilots in shackles, led by Stormtroopers, (presumably on Jedda) #Didn’t happen

So here is my stupid idea about why they changed the film — apart from the fact I suspect the director was a bit of a dud and the movie he delivered was shithouse.

It seemed the end of the movie was going to be a bit too much like Return of the Jedi (RTOJ). The final act in RTOJ has the rebels on Endor trying to get the shield generator while those up in space are waiting for that to happen so they can launch an attack. But the Emperor has set a trap. “It’s a trap!” Admiral Ackbar famously (or memes-worthy) says.

It already is very much like ROTJ in those last scenes, but from the trailers you get the impression that Krennic had set a trap just like the Emperor had done in ROTJ. Krennic is seen gracefully walking over the shallow water on Scarriff with his cape getting a tad damp. You see a tie-fighter jump up and confront Jyn when she’s up on the mast just below the satellite dish. And from the whispers in the spoiler’s community, there definitely was a scene shot and CGI’d where a group of AT-ATs emerge from under the ocean to gradually rise up and make the rebel troops shit their collective pants. (Which would have been so, so cool!)

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 2.36.00 pm.pngAnd Cassian and Jyn are in the above scene. #Didn’t happen #wtf?

Anyway. I think that movie might have featured a bunch more dramatic scenes, but not a more plausible plot. And plus, as I said before, so much like ROTJ. But in these “re-shoots” I honestly suspect they ruined the character of Krennic. Maybe I am just being a bit romantic about “Classic Mendo”. Or maybe not.

So I give the movie a pass. On a good day I’d give it a 7. The test will come if I choose to see it again and again.

HELSINKI – September 8-9

Had my entire backpack searched at the airport security in A’DAM. I was cool with that, but boy oh boy — they were thorough. I got in trouble because I didn’t realise I should have taken my camera and the iPhone charger out of my pack and put into one of the trays (just like the lappy). Look — I travel quite a bit and this was the first time I had encountered these regulations. Anyway I did my best to be polite and apologetic.

On the flight we tried one of Ben Law’s little tips. We deliberately booked a window seat (me) and an aisle seat (Dee) separated by an empty seat (some random who we could negotiate with later). It was genius. Thanks Ben! No one got booked into that middle seat and we had our row to ourselves. Pity it was only a 2 hour flight.

Over Helsinki we swapped seats and Dee got a decent look at all the lakes of her homeland. “It’s the land of a thousand lakes,” she said, quite authoritatively. And it looked true. They were everywhere down there. But as I learnt later — there are about 188 THOUSAND lakes in Finland. So Dee was basically lying. I am used to that.

Anyway I bloody dare you to look up Google maps and witness all that land vs puddle bullshit. It is bloody crazy. Wait. I can do that for you just cause I am a decent guy. Observe:

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We should establish at this outset that Dee is 1/4 Fnnish. Her mother’s maiden name is the unpronounceable “Veijalainen”. Phonetically you could get away with saying VAY-A-LINE-ANN.

A BIT ABOUT FINLAND FROM WHAT I COULD GATHER INITIALLY

Finland has a population of about 5.5 million people, so about a quarter that of Australia. It’s relatively flat — didn’t see any mountains or even that many hills. Lots of lakes and ocean coastline — as mentioned previously. Finland has been around as an autonomous state only about 100 years. Was part of Sweden for a bit (in Helsinki all road signs are in Finnish and Swedish), then Russia (further east you get the road signs begin in Finnish, then below is the Swedish, then below that is the Russian). Finland allied with the Nazis at the beginning of WWII and fought the “Winter War” with Russia and punched well above it’s weight. (But in the peace deal, possibly cause it killed a highly disproportionate amount of Ruskies (compared to Finns) — it lost quite a bit to Russia.) Mostly it has been pushing against Russia, rather than Sweden. Monuments and markers of the War(s) are everywhere here.

The language is like nothing I have ever heard before. Apparently it has more in common with central-eastern Europe than Scandinavia or even Russian. It is still a tiny bit high-pitched, but not sing-song like Norwegian. Everyone seemed to speak an incredible amount of English so you can truly get away with “Hei” (Hello) and “Kiitos” (Thank you).

Sauna is a big deal over here. You pronounce it “Sour-nah”. According to wikipedia there are over 3 million saunas in Finland. Than is over one sauna for every two inhabitants. Wiki: “Finns think of saunas not as a luxury, but as a necessity. Before the rise of public health care and nursery facilities, almost all Finnish mothers gave birth in saunas.” We got to experience this all first-hand. But more on that later!

FIRST DAY

We arrived by train from the airport and found our way to the hotel which was basically in the dead centre of town. We had missed lunch and it was now too late so Dee sent me on a mission to find snacks, a drink, fruit and a tinned coffee. But finding a convenience store was a super-challenge. I got the fruit (berries) just at a market-kart near the station but failed on most of the other criteria. Finland has that thing where you can only buy booze at State-run facilities. And these can be hard to find if you don’t know where to look.

Meanwhile my phone-card from the UK refused to work so on the agenda for that night’s activities was to get a cheap Finnish phone plan. We eventually found R-Kioski. Pretty much exactly like a 7-11 but it also had these massive gambling machines (like Pokies) in a corner. Very weird.

Later we scrambled around to the big sights like the Cathedrals and the big Square and the waterfront. Dinner was at this pub place around the corner.

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SUOMENLINNA

So in Finnish – “Linna” basically means fortress or castle. We got to see a few other “Linnas” around the place. The vibe in Finland is that it is a tiny country squished between superior nations but it will defend itself to the hilt. To the HILT. And “Suomen” is basically the word for Finland. So Suomenlinna is a bit of a big deal. And it isn’t just one island. It is six islands connected by bridges. There’s a bunch of people that live there permanently. There’s even a school. And just quietly — the Pokemon were going riot over there. I saw a bunch of kids who had obviously skipped school just to go nuts over there.

The place was huge and there were always tiny nooks and details of the fortifications to look at and explore unimpeded. Tunnels and ramparts and actual batteries. Plus cute houses and views over the sea towards Estonia. It made the our pathetic “fort” in Brisbane (Fort Lytton) look pretty ordinary.

Lunch was at a ramen place. Look — it is so much easier ordering food in the language it was invented in when you are in a place that is a billion miles away. So consequently there is cultural neutral-zone.You kinda appear quite knowledgeable, and be a deadshit tourist at the same time. It’s a level playing field. “Tonkotsu Ramen Kiitos.” And then you can proceed to know the condiments and use the chopsticks (and spoon) with super-dexterity. It is a revelation. (ASIDE: In London we would order Pho, but we would get the kudos by pronouncing it “Fir”.)

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BOMFUNK MC’s

Here’s the thing – I will not try to pretend this next bit wasn’t tragic. It is what it is. I have been the biggest fan of this song, and it’s film-clip. Like almost equally. It is just the perfect marriage of sound and vision (and dancing). One of the very first children’s shows on TV I watched was called “Words and pictures”. And that was what it was about. Perfect. Art or just lowly “entertainment” wasn’t necessarily confined to just one medium at the same time. You could be the best of both or all worlds at the very same time.

Anyway this film-clip was so amazing and I just had to go there. Luckily the wikipedia page had the very specifics so I could go there and KNOW I was in exactly the same place. Nothing was changed. I even attempted to play the song on my iPhone but accidentally sent the music LIVE to everyone on the train cause I hadn’t quite got my headphone jack connected. Dee was horrified, but I didn’t care.

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NEXT!

That night we had dinner in some brewery and prepared for the next day into the heart of Finland via Dee’s great-uncle — Marku. He was picking us up at 8am.

BONUS PICS

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IMG_0895.JPGSome art installation!

GUEST BLOG – Jess writes about the Redhead Festival

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My take on Redhead Days is a little different to Davey’s… While I fully sympathise with the plight of the downtrodden gingers, wept for the guy in the Being Ginger Netflix documentary, and would argue strongly that the lack of ginger emojis is a mild form of racism… I myself never endured any ginger torment as a child.

Sure, there were what Dee would call my “terminally ill years” between the age of ten and 15, before braces and eyebrow tinting, but even through those awkward teenage times, if I had a dollar for every time someone asked, “Is that your natural hair colour?” I’d have enough money to hit up every ginger festival in every country every year.

I know this makes me (even more of) a minority, and I consider myself lucky for never having been made to feel embarrassed about my hair colour. (Except maybe for the time I dated a guy who turned out to be obsessed with Annie, and I only found out when he introduced me to his grandmother, who said, “Oh, she does look like Annie!” That was awkward.) My ginger pride stems from my upbringing, and the strong female gingers I had as role models – my beautiful mum, who I watched being constantly adored by my dad, and my fiery aunty, a total knockout loved by everyone. I don’t even know if you could call it “ginger pride”… Our hair colour, while acknowledged and celebrated, was just a small part of who we are. It was a non-issue, so I never had to overthink it, and I just kinda liked my hair colour. Even appreciated that it made me a little different.

So for me, Redhead Days seemed like a bit of fun. Something that would make a cool story… “Yeah, so I’m traveling through Europe for six months, and my first stop is a little town in the Netherlands for a three-day celebration of gingers.” Why not?!

But then I arrived in Breda, and my little ginger bubble burst. For the first time in my life, I actually felt self-conscious about my hair colour. While there was a strong sense of solidarity amongst the gingers, it was the non-ginger ginger enthusiasts that really made me uneasy. All of a sudden I was on display, and I didn’t like it one bit.

Standing in the town square, men with cameras would swarm and take photos of me like I was an animal in the zoo. One guy got so close I had to give him an “I can see you” eyebrow raise so that he’d back off.

Probably the most unsettling encounter was with a (non-ginger) guy from Vienna who claimed to be a journalist. He approached Dee & me in the park one afternoon looking for a story, with a bottle of coke and pack of cigarettes his only tools of trade. Within five minutes of awkwardly sleazy chitchat, he was convinced he and I were “the perfect pair” and suggested we be Facebook friends. Feeling a little flirty (in hindsight, foolish!) from the wine, I said that if he could find me at the pub crawl later that night, we could make that happen. He did find me. Twice. At two different pubs, among hundreds of gingers. In the dark of night in a foreign town, he seemed even more creepy than during the day, forcing me to make a French exit and go home to bed.

The official group photo was the last straw. Being herded into the photo location space, and then separated by a barrier from the non-gingers while the photographers snapped at us from the top of a cherry picker, just felt a little too much.

So while Redhead Days was an interesting experience, I was relieved when the weekend came to an end, and I could just throw my hair up in a ponytail and move on. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d washed and blow dried my hair three days in a row. Because hey, if I’m going to be photographed unknowingly, I want to be looking my best. 💁 (Blonde emoji used for lack of a ginger one.)

And here’s Jess’s blog: The End of August

EUROPA TRIP (DAY 5-7) BRUSSELS/ANTWERP

From LONDON to BRUSSELS to ANTWERP

I’ve said it before and I will say it again — it is so, so civilised travelling by train. The seats are generous, the security and immigration is less intense, you can walk about anytime you want, watch the countryside (except for the tunnel parts) and you generally arrive right in the centre of town. I would even rate the chugging motion, the clickety-clack of the train over the tracks being quite therapeutic and conducive to sleep – if that’s what you need.

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IMG_0737.JPGEUROSTAR 2007 vs EUROSTAR 2016

In saying all that — our hotel was in the old part of Brussels so we had quite a walk up there on rather hot day, dragging Dee’s suitcase noisily over the cobbles. A good 20 minutes passed.

IMG_0739.JPGDee carried my backpack, while I looked after her suitcase and my smaller pack

Eventually we arrived and the place was pretty fancy. But we conversely — were quite dishevelled. We must have looked so awful they gave us a glass of home-made lemonade while we checked in. It emerged the hotel was an old Dominican monastery. It was the kinda place that had a personalised welcome message on your room’s TV and the kinda place you took a photo of before you messed it all up with your crap. In the public areas a loop of Gregorian chants was omnipresent. I am not sure if that was settling, or kinda weird. As we came and went here I am sure the staff thought of us as probably simple folk that have accidentally come into wealth — “nouveau-riche”. We wore pretty simple attire relative to the other guests and we didn’t have the breakfast and we were always coming and going. I guess it was all confirmed when we famously got the barman (right in this supremely palatial bar) to open — literally the cheapest bottle of wine in Brussels — because we didn’t have a bottle-opener.

IMG_0770.JPGDid some boxing in the hotel gym — was great!

BRUX

While Dee freshened up I hit the town exploring and found a bunch of places to show Dee later. Here Brussels had those tiny lanes and organic street layout. Brux had a charm. The flags draping over the lanes and the fact it was a tiny, but quite big city all at the same time. We were staying in the hyper-touristy section but you could still get a feel of the place despite the incessant “frites” signs and “chocolate” stuff.

That evening we spent 50 euro on two ramens for dinner. Why it was so expensive I do not know — maybe it is a delicacy here.

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FEET

Meanwhile my feet were a mess. I had developed a massive blister on the plane 4 days earlier and it was now a goiter-sized bubble on my left foot. The other foot was littered with blisters too. Jess Kearney and I did a comparison — I won. And the only relief I got was to get walking for about 15 minutes. Once you had got accustomed to the pain, once your feet were “warmed up” — then you could perambulate with some degree of dignity. The cobbles did not help.

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The next day I hobbled the 400 metres to the Museum of Comics which was super-interesting. The english translations were a bit dodgy, but it was so amazing realising cartoons go back to those monks back in the middle ages and their innovative illustrations to religious texts. And nowadays a lot of comics are done with super-sophisticated software on massive tablets. It’s almost cheating. There was a lot of Tintin/Hergé — he’s pretty-much a national hero in Belgium.

BOERKE

But also this comic about a guy called Boerke. Which I think loosely translates to English as a dude named “Dickie”. (Of course it does. LOL). There was this installation devoted to these comics and it was so subversive — but so incredibly hilarious too. (And beautifully illustrated too!) It’s the sort of thing you could only get away with in Europe. But we both thought it was the best. You be the judge:

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The town square looked postcard perfect the day we arrived, but then overnight all these trucks arrived and ugly bunting and pavilions were being set up for some gooby beer festival. All that old-world-chic was now ruined by 21st century logos and plastic and cordons and crowdedness. In all the airports in Europe, just after you get through security, or though immigration, they have this pad with 4 options on it. Colour coded and happy/sad face options. “How was your experience today?” it asks. But “Ugh” or “Sigh” was never an option. I think I would hit either of those buttons on this day if one of those bad-boys were available. But maybe mostly I was complaining cause any photo I wanted of the place was compromised and instantly dated.

That night we had a beer at this pub that Jon recommended which apparently had over a 1000 beers on tap. It was called Delerium and it was one of those places that was a bit of a warren. It had exotic and historic beer memorabilia plastered all over the place and all the tables were barrels. Outside (at the rear non-entrance) it had a gigantic beer bottle hanging off the facade and the words “BEER PLANET”. Ordering one of 10 beers available is intimidating. Ordering 1 of 1000 is just utter bullshit. But being the trooper I am — I somehow managed.

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ANTWERP

The next day I did an early morning trip to get breakfast at the local “Paul” — a popular boulangerie chain over there. According to the diary I wrote that day I was a bit scared about ordering something in a place not necessarily frequented by foreigners — especially at that hour. Despite practising, I managed a very bullshit “Deux croissants et un cafe au lait, sil vous plait.” But of course they answered in perfect English and I was all worked up about nothing. My “Merci!” was literally perfect it should be said.

We met Jess at the train station and then had a quick lunch in the tourist-trap restaurant section and then we headed up to our train. I checked another “FAIL” into our list when buying our tickets from the only FRENCH speaking vending machine. So I accidentally bought 3 return tickets — we were only going one-way. Oh well.

We arrived at the magnificent Antwerp(en) Centraal Station. Possibly *the* most amazing train stations I have ever been to. From where we arrived, at it’s deepest depth, we looked up towards the light and it seemed like a temple. We took all these successive escalators up and up towards the pinnacle, all the while more and more bathed in natural light and getting closer and closer to the original station building with its massive dome and incredible architecture.

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Our hotel was just across the road but it was a bit “basic”. Jess was sharing with us. Despite the fact it was blazingly hot there was no air-con, no fans and the layout of the rooms was weird. (Jess was basically sleeping in a windowless cupboard off the main bedroom). The shower was a bit awkward and there was no WIFI! UGH. Deal-breaker. But it was just for one night — right? Luckily the temperature dived once it got dark. We got composed and headed off towards the old part of town. The route was through a major commercial district. Malls and expensive shops everywhere.

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Then were were suddenly upon possibly the tallest church I have ever seen. And it was like 12th Century. Crazy. We stopped for a drink (I had a Duvel) in the courtyard ahead of the church then somehow arrived at a bar that had a “house dog”. A place called Billie’s Bier kafetaria.

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I had something that tasted truly awful but apparently was revered and had an incredibly complicated brewing process.

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Next we had the WORST dinner at a Chinese restaurant. I accidentally ordered basically a macaroni-cheese in a Chinese style. (The menu was in Dutch). It was more bland than disgusting. Like the kind of food you might appreciate if you were on a long-haul flight and you had slept through a meal-service.

OH YEAH — I GOT A HOLE IN MY THUMB NAIL

IMG_0636.JPG(more on this later — eek)

BONUS PICS

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EUROPE TRIP (Day 1-4)

IMG_0663.JPGDee was hoping to buy Albo’s new book at the airport — but instead just had to download it to the Kindle.IMG_0672.JPG

AN INTRODUCTION

This is the story of our 40 day trip to Europe. It was a “busy” trip. It made my head spin when the reality of it all hit the night before we left. I was a mess of nerves and I genuinely believe I was more anxious than I had been on the eve of our first time to Europe almost 10 years ago. This time we were jumping about Europe like iced-up-maniacs on pogo-sticks. By our standards it was an unprecedentedly hectic schedule. We weren’t stopping for very long in any one place — apart from the 6 days in a row at London right at the very end. (Which was essentially a reward for all our previous express-tourism). We had three separate car hires, one of which was that right-hand drive bullshit with a manual — meaning I not only had to get my shit together to drive on the opposite side of the road, but had to change gears with my right hand.

There were a bunch of intra-Europe flights on airline carriers we had never heard of and all the transfers that necessitated. There were a bunch of extremely early flights. And we were yet to book a bunch stuff — particularly in Ireland.

LONDON

The last time we arrived in London it was at 6am. (This was back in 2011). And thus we made it to our hotel in record time. Probably just before 9. Naturally the hotel room wasn’t ready so we were forced to wander around a bleak, grey city like zombies for hours and hours until we could check in at 3pm. Lesson-learnt, this time we booked an airport day room. It was so tiny and super hi-tech it was like living on the International Space Station. There were buttons everywhere for lights and the TV but crucially a button that would un-furl the bed. (It was like a massive robotic Jason-Recliner). That done the entire room was filled up. Once you were done napping you literally had to collapse the bed so you could move about the place again. We only got about 1.5 hours sleep but it was enough to feel a tiny bit fresh for the trip from Heathrow into the city proper.

We took the express train to Paddington, then got some brand new Oyster cards and planted 20 pounds on each. At Liverpool Station we took a quaint black cab and the (equally-quaint) driver was the most ENGLISH person you could imagine. I actually think he called me “Gov” or “Governor”.

So we were staying in Hackney. About halfway down Hackney Road in a spot I would describe as “authentic” London. On the “dodgy-scale” I would rate it at about 15%. Like there was perhaps a 15% chance anytime you ventured out there that something uncomfortable would occur. Within a stone’s throw there was a Chippy, three off-licenses, a Tesco and some weird proliferation of bag merchants.

ON THE BUSES

We soon learnt our road had three great services (the 26, 48 & 55) that would certainly get us moving in the general direction we needed to be — if not taking us almost exactly where we wanted to go. So we didn’t use much of the Tube. It is only a pound per journey on the bus — no matter how far you travel (as long as you stay on that particular bus). As opposed to the Tube which is almost 4 quid minimum a trip. It was now all about the buses. We would always ride up top to get the views and to be guaranteed a seat and jut for the novelty. Plenty of people also took dogs on the bus — Dee would rate that as another bonus.

FIRST NIGHT

Our date with Laura K and Laura Morrissey was in Shoreditch at the Owl and Pussycat. We walked over and, being inherently super-punctual — we got there early and I was faced with my first cultural malaise. I was ordering our drinks and I had been prepared for Dee’s wine but my beer proved a complication. I successfully ordered the wine, but as I looked down at the beer-taps I couldn’t recognise any brand — or any variety. As far as I could tell there was not even a Guinness or Kronenberg option. Whatever I stumbled into ordering was barely OK. I think I even ordered it again just cause I couldn’t bear the roulette of trying something else which might have been worse. It was a bit of a wake up call. I was now on the other side of the planet and I had to get my shit together.

It was so great to see the Lauras and epic good times were had. PizzaEast for dinner.

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I CAUSE AN INCIDENT

We were back at the hotel by 10 and we crashed into bed. Asleep almost immediately. But at about 3:30am we both woke up and I decided to use the facilities. The room was unfamiliar and completely dark and I was searching for the bathroom light. “Where the fuck is the bathroom light?, “ I said to Dee. I had completely forgotten that bathrooms in the UK have the light switch on the outside. It is absolute stupidity — but that is how they do things over there. I was stumbling around and Dee was giving me some suggestions. Eventually I found this cord and I think I said, “Hey maybe this cord is it.” Dee literally screamed, “NO DON’T!” But it was too late.

I yanked this cord and suddenly all these alarms went off. I literally thought I had set of the Hotel’s fire alarm. Dee sprung out of bed in a panic and was like, “That’s the panic cord.”

“WHAT?!!”

See we were in one of those “ambulent rooms”. Designed for people with disabilities. That panic-cord was super-effective. It not only made unspecified people in the hotel (or else) in panic-mode – but I too was now also quite a bit PANICKED. I dived upon the room’s telephone and was immediately in touch with someone in Reception. In hindsight I realised I had picked up the receiver just at that instant after Reception had dialled our room number to check on us.

“Oh My God, “ I said as calmly as I could muster. “I didn’t mean to do that.” She started telling me how to cancel/reset the alarm but her instructions weren’t quite specific enough. (I guess because all rooms are subtly different she was telling me to find this switch at a place it definitely was not.) Another panicked minute or two ensued before I found that cancel button — on the ceiling of all places. I leapt on a chair and the CRISIS was averted. But all that adrenaline was still swimming about our super-wired bodies and as we slumped back into bed it took us a bunch more time to get back to sleep. After that I started making a list of all the FAILS! we had done so far.

Examples:

1) I said “G’Day” at least twice within hours of arriving.
2) I said, “Can I chuck that on my card?” — which would have been equally a highly mystifying and creepy thing to say now I realise it.|
3) Dee accidentally locked her suitcase after accidentally spinning the combination locks.
4) (In Brussels) Buying the cheapest/dodgiest wine available but when we realised it required a corkscrew, we realised we were in such a super-expensive hotel and asking the concierge to uncork it. So much AWKWARD.

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IMG_0946.JPG(2007)

IMG_0392.JPG(And in 2016)

The next day, a Friday, we went into the city to get UK phone cards and have a wander around. Went to the British Museum and it was “Saturday” chaotic. So much more security since last we visited. Not much else to report about that day except the epic stairs at the Russell Square Tube station.

BRISBANE IN LDN

That night we caught the bus up to one of most favourite places in London — Stoke Newington — initially to meet Laura K. But then a bunch of other Brisbane ex-pats were on our agenda. Sonya and Brad, Mark and Katie. We all piled into this tiny backroom section of an awesome vegetarian Indian restaurant (RASA) and shared stories of living in London and me and Dee got excited. Then LK and Dee and me headed to Camden (EDIT: Actually Dalston — thanks LK) to see Susan’s band. Laura Morrissey was there too and then suddenly Mitch appeared. So many Brisbane friends! But jet-lag was creeping up and I was mostly to blame for us leaving just before midnight. Moments before I made the call I had accidentally gone to the women’s toilet and it was horrifying. “OMG! I am just a tourist! I am a Deadshit! I am so sorry!” That was literally what I said when I emerged from the cubicle and when the realisation punched me in the face. The two women there were luckily very understanding.

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SUNDAY

The weather had turned a little. It was periodically drizzly but our tiny umbrella seemed to keep us dry as we walked over to the Columbia Road Flower Market. It’s a thing in London to buy flowers. It’s a bland and dreary existence here (nature-wise) and I guess you don’t get to see much natural colour and so people go a bit nuts for flowers to spice up their apartments. It was super-crowded and we slow-mo’d our way through the throng to find a quaint bagel place and dove out to the back for a bit of peace and to scoff some rather excellent bagels down. Then Dee and LK went off while we made own ways independently towards the War Cabinet Rooms over near Westminster. I made it most of the way just walking only having to get a four stop/one change tube ride to meet the deadline. The tube service was advising that patrons should take water to stave off the heat down there. It was good advice. The tube was disgustingly hot. You’d think being so deep underground it would be sufficiently insulated — but the air is so blisteringly stuffy. The atmosphere seems to be enriched by human body heat and having just walked up top for an hour meant my core temperature was already elevated. There was a spot at the end of the carriage where you could stand next to a tiny open window which provided some relief — but only while the train was moving.

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The line-up for the War Rooms was epic, but after a quick stop at a Pret-a-Manger for a coffee we got hit by a sudden downpour. It was sufficiently severe to decimate the line-up and we made it down with only the briefest of waits. SCORE!

After learning quite a bit more about than I really needed to know about Churchill (but achingly little about his wife Clementine) we came up into the light again and realised we hadn’t seen a single window for hours. LK came back with us to our hotel room for drinks. Then collectively we did a poke-hunt in Haggerston Park and then at Bethnal Green we caught our first Mr. Mime — a Europe-only Pokemon. We were all so excited we did this big group hug. Embarrassing, but it felt good at the time.

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IMG_0436.JPG(August 2016)

IMG_6637.JPG(January 2008)

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MONDAY — BANK HOLIDAY

It was a slow start, but after wandering around the area we made it to a cafe attached to a recording studio called “The Premises”. It was one of those places with signed pictures in frames all over the walls. Jarvis Cocker, Little Boots, Lily Allen etc. A group of four fat Council workers had the table next to us and were so deplorably inappropriate they made Trump seem like an angel. The runt of the group was a guy called “Fat Paul” who copped most of the vile. And he wasn’t that fat. Poor bastard. Even the waitress was insulted — “You’re not as fat as Fat Paul,” one of them said. Literally.

Anyway. It was mostly a quiet day that ended with dinner in a section of Hackney that I can only describe as Little Vietnam. Tomorrow we had to negotiate THE CONTINENT. (More on that later.)

ASIDE: This was my favourite ad on UK TV. So good. (and the way the dog jumps up in the very last second is equal genius and magical.)

BONUS PICS:

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IMG_0710.JPG(Drinking in a park with a squirrel)

My Pokémon take

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So everyone knows I am utterly obsessed with Pokémon Go atm. I have done quite unnatural things. Nothing sinister or tragic, yet, but I have been caught in public quite a few times trying to snag one. And I hate looking conspicuous in public.*

I have had a few disparaging looks. I have had to stop suddenly while walking through the city. I have varied my route to work (and home) every day.

On Monday I said to a workmate who had joined team “Valor” or “red” as he called them — “Valor is the team Adolf Hitler would have joined.”

“How do you even know what the teams are even called?” he replied. And later he implied that I had committed some form of workplace harassment**.

On an all-day pokémon-expedition on Saturday Dee and I were so low on battery we had to source a free charger in the city and then we just sat around in this tragic food-court beside a BIG W for 30 minutes. (It seemed like 2 hours.) It was both pathetic and awesome at the same time.

A START

Like everyone else from Wednesday two weeks back we saw these random pokémon references in our socials. These pictures on instagram of a pokémon “in the wild”, so to speak. When I knew it was getting ridiculous was when I read an online story on the Friday imploring poké-hunters to get themselves a portable battery lest you retire from the hunt prematurely. That night Dee and I were getting toasty on the couch and had run out of things to watch on Netflix so I suggested we download the app and give it a go.

And I thought, “I like walking! This could be mildly amusing. Even just to see Dee get excited!”

As soon as I said it I realised there was something of an ambit claim in my thinking. To my absolute shock Dee said, “Why not.”

See Dee grew up with pokémon, but for me, it had come a bit too late. Still — I love all things Japan kawaii. And cartoons/anime especially.

HUNTING & TRAGEDY

Pretty soon we donned sensible footwear and clothing and headed out into the dark. Our street was pretty dark as far as pokémon were concerned, but down the road was something interesting. Soon we found our first gym. It was weird to see this tiny park was now a tiny centre of some virtual universe. Dee knew more about the rules than me. “We should head to the park,” she said. We smashed ahead, or stumbled it should be said. We searched all the parks within 3 kms from our house. We didn’t get one single pokémon. Despite running back and forth across Milton Road (one of the busiest in Brisbane).

Because the app was only installed on my phone we were constantly transferring that phone between us. And of course it got dropped onto the concrete footpath. I picked it up to see that the screen was horribly cracked — even in the gloom all around. I was pretty “zen” about it at the time, but pretty soon I thought — “I don’t want to be *those people* with the cracked screen.” NO!

To me a cracked screen is like an albatross around my neck. It implies stuff. I have prided myself on having four iPhones over seven or so years and not one got a cracked screen. I’ve never even had a case. I take care of my shit. Yet now I was suddenly clumsy, a drunkard, a douchecanoe, a Mr Magoo. I got that screen fixed the very next day.

[And that cracked iPhone screen cost $179) A screen which is seemingly so “cheap” it doesn’t work with polarised sunglasses. Like the screen is completely invisible.

So as you can imagine, this means I have to PARK those glasses. Ugh.]

By Sunday evening I was so hooked we now had separate pokémon accounts.

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THE CRAZY STUFF

1) I met this guy on Saturday who runs a venue in the Valley right under a poké-stop. He now reckons his business is booming and now has a LINE ITEM poké-coins to buy lures so his bar is constantly lit up for poké-hunters.

[I know the press have been complaining that poké-stops are at Arlington Cemetery and a Holocaust monument (eek) but I have this feeling that the real story will hit soon. The seemingly arbitrary allocation of poké-stops will lead to some consternation in the business community. All the cafes and restaurants and bars that are just outside the poké-stop — while their competitors are right under it — will feel deprived. If this phenomenon has some longevity — this could really be an issue.]

2) I have been at a poké-stop where a lure has just been set off and seen a car pull up where the occupants were just there obviously trawling the neighbourhood for lures to improve their chances of catching.

3) Personally Dee and I have only ate out over these past two weeks where the restaurant had a poké-stop directly on top so we could eat and either set off a lure, or take advantage of the current lures. Then catch them all!

4) Dee and I were in the Queen Street Mall last Saturday and stopped to catch something and the place was teeming so we were just nabbing them wholesale. There were so many poké-stops within range with lures going crazy. When we eventually ran out of prey we looked up and realised about 10 other people were doing exactly the same as us within spitting distance. We chatted to a bunch of them — one being this brother and sister. The brother had an arm in a sling. He had run into a parked car trying to catch a pokémon and got a wrist fracture — before he realised you could still snare a pokémon without getting right up in their grill. (I made that mistake too). The sister asked what team we were on and I said, “We’re both on Mystique and we both chose that team independently!” I said.

“It must be TRUE LOVE,” she replied — slightly lispy because of her braces.

5) After gushing about how hooked I was I asked my boss if his eldest kid was into it. (She’s 11). “No, I think she’s too old for it.” SNAP!

6) The Server Meltdown of Tuesday, July 12, meant a totally wasted walking-commute to work. I could have listened to music, or devoured a podcast or two. But instead I tried to log on to the server every 50 steps. I was LIVID. For the next few hours I could not get out of my head how many pokémon I had missed catching.

I was so depressed I wrote a song about it. Key of C minor of course.

You can listen to it here.

7) On that very Tuesday, (before I realised the server was fucked) I had bumped into our neighbour who has two kids aged about 8 and 11. I asked if they were into pokémon. She had no idea what I was talking about. “What? It’s all over the news. It’s changed the world,” I said — and I was only half-exaggerating.  The next day I get a call from the youngest asking to go get some pokémon. My neighbour had had her revenge. So I set off an incense and took them for a walk up and down the street until they had captured a few.

8) I have made so many new friends. It’s like how in Fight Club you know someone else is in Fight Club cause their face is super-beat-up. And you do this little nod at them saying, “I know, but I am not gonna say anything about it cause of that RULE #1”. And when iPods came out it was just like that because of the white ear-phones. But this time you can tell obviously someone is out chasing pokémon cause they are walking around with their phone held out in front of them desperately looking down hoping for stuff. And they are wandering around parks in the dark. Or they are sat as inconspicuously as possible at poké-stops or poké-gyms.

I have shared so many smiles, and nods, and hellos and even this. This woman was coming towards me, make 20 metres away, and I just held up my screen (which was a huge green halo in that dark) and she did the same. When we met in the middle we just chatted pokémon. “What have you found?” “What’s nearby?” And when she replied to the “What level are you up to?” I was so disgusted I said, “Oh — you are so dead to me.” I headed off and she laughed.

9) There are poké-masters out there who see it as a business opportunity. They are hoarding stardust and super-upgraded pokémon to sell once the fabled trading system gets released. I met one of these guys at the RE. He and some mates were just hanging around lures and using the pub’s powerpoint to charge their phones so they could go out hunting again. That guy told me so many tips I bought him a drink.

* As a kid I hating being in the city with my mum, cause we both had the same bright ginger hair and I assumed everyone was looking at us knowing definitively that we were mother and son. Ugh. I was so introverted it was appalling that a stranger could instantly know something so personal about me with just a glance. And so I made my mother walk a few steps ahead. TRUE STORY. Don’t worry — I have kinda got over that. 🙂

**mostly true.

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How someone took advantage of our missing pet

Today someone took advantage of me: and here is how. 

Today is the 9th day our chook “torrence” has been missing. Hopefully she is dead cause I really can’t imagine what suffering she must be going through if she still survives. Sometimes I imagine her out there and think she might be fine finding food – it’s just finding water that worries me. And dying of thirst…. 😢

Despite trying so hard not to, I grew to see her as a genuine pet. A friend even. She has her flaws – just like the puss – but I am quite attached. 

I did my best to find her. I’ve walked around, I’ve made a flyer and letterboxed twice and now all hope seems lost. Then today I got a call from a private number.

“Do you have chooks?” she said. Immediately I thought Torrence was found. Yes! I said, excited. But instead, this call was just to complain about our other two chooks. She was threatening to call the Council. I sunk again into that malaise.

They were digging up her yard every day, she whinged.

Ok, sorry, I said. Trying hard to disguise my disappointment. I told her I’ve built this fencing trying to keep them in. But, yeah – they have always found a way through. 

I will fix it, I said.

“When will that happen?” she bleated. “Because I will call the Council.” Repeating her increasingly nasty threats.

“If you feel you need to call the Council, then go ahead,” I said. 

Now everyone in my work-pod could hear. Sencing this conversation was going downhill I dived into an empty office. 

She demanded to know when I would fix the fence and I said i would do it on Saturday, but if she felt she needed to complain to the Council in the meantime she should do that.

The conversation ended and as I emerged everyone was wondering what that was all about.

“Chook drama”. Everyone calmed down – but I was still wired. 

Super upset. No one appreciates that chooks are meaningful – I get that, but it still shits me. I was also upset that I had upset a neighbour. I value my neighbours. But something else was niggling at me.

I asked my boss for some leave so I could go home and check it out and attempt to fix the problem.

Once home the two surviving chooks were indeed missing and I called and called but they didn’t return. I then went around to this neighbour’s house (she gave me her address on the phone) and said, “Hello, I’m here to bring the chooks home.” 

Even then, this woman was cold and obtuse. I stood well away from the front door and politely asked if I could find the chickens and take them home. She refused, highly implying I was untrustworthy, and went looking for them (she found one) and only then told me I could enter the property. 

The garden she was so precious about was pretty ordinary. A rusted old car without plates or full tyres in an asbestos shrouded shed (dangerously shattered it should be said) dominated the front. Out the back was a garden with no fence on one side. The garden was neat, but not cultured in any sense that a chook could comprimise. Indeed the bush turkeys do far more digging. Our chooks scrape – they do not dig holes.

So I grabbed the chooks and as I was leaving she casually asked me about the missing chook. “She’s gone,” I said as bluntly as possible and I kept walking. Not looking back.

Then I spent the next two hours fixing the fence. And all the while I remembered this woman had just taken advantage of my loss, via my flyer appealing for help looking for our missing chook. 

All she wanted was to complain. about nothing really. And she took my phone number from that plea for help, just to complain about a tiny agenda that really meant very little. 

I just cannot understand why people treat eachother like this.

I miss our chook and I hope this person feels bad about it too.