Tasmania, my spiritual homeland

Oh Tasmania — tomorrow I get to see you again.

I have this thing called a “spiritual homeland” and it comes from Twin Peaks where Special Agent Dale Cooper details his affinity with Tibet in such terms.

I first went to Tasmania almost exactly 10 years ago. I felt like kissing the tarmac as I stepped off the plane except I think the epic amount of hairy hilly-billy folks around carrying plastic bags (which seemed to contain all their possessions) and wearing dirty faded lumber-jackets kinda broke my resolve.

Anyway. I still loved it. And love it still. This time I am growing the biggest beard I have ever attempted — just for the occasion. Just to look the part, and in case I get lost on one of the epic walks I have planned and need it for survival.

And this is Dee’s first trip to Tassie too and although she is just as excited as me, she is obviously sans beard. So to compensate she lamented just moments before as she poured over her under-filled suitcase. “It is REALLY hard to pack clothes purposely ‘dressing down'”. TRUE STORY.

So here are some pics from back when I first visited my spiritual homeland. (And you are also warned that you should be prepared to be spammed a whole lot about Tassie when we get back.)

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ripple sand

rock and coles bay wineglass_waves

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What we do in the Shadows (and where I ponder whether David and Margaret have lost the plot)

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“Slow”, “Ugly to watch”, “Muddy and scruffy”. 

“Oh gosh…”

“So stupid and really boring”.

“I’m giving it one and a half stars.” (Margaret) “Oh that’s generous, I’m giving it one”. (David)

This is how Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton described Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement‘s new film, “What we do in the Shadows.”

I should say I have looked forward to this movie all year. And although my expectations were high, I am definitely not a sycophant. If the film truly did suck, I would accept that. But I could not help being a bit skeptical when I saw this review on the ABC TV series At The Movies this past week. It was a pretty brutal assessment. Especially since IMDB had the movie at 8.2 at that stage (I checked), and it had a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. (Just noting on both scales the movie has since increased those margins).

If they are gonna put that epic amount of shit down, well, they had better have good reason and be able to back it up. Just sayin.

So we went to see it last night and I thought it was great. If I was going to be a bit picky I would say it sagged a tiny bit in the last third. It wasn’t as amazing as “Boy” or as hilarious as the best “Flight of the Conchords” episodes, but it was truly solid. I thought it was actually pretty visually lush for a mockumentory or a vampire movie for that matter. And it was genuinely funny with the Rhys Darby scenes particularly fantastic. And I really loved how they embraced the New Zealand references. It was a perfect running gag and I would say it was a gag that wasn’t going to get them in the good books with a studio who wanted to market this movie in the States.

It had a simplicity, an element of crap, and that tiny-humour that I really appreciate. I actually think that sort of comedy is highly sophisticated, just because it is subtle, and homely (NZ-style), self-deprecating and relies on a peculiar type of characterisation (which is always refreshing).

WHAT’S FUNNY?

It’s really hard trying to describe why something is “funny”. I have a few jokes that I love to tell and I can really tell a lot about a person by their reaction to any of them. It’s not just whether they hate the joke or love it, it’s also about whether they actually like having a joke told to them, whether they have any jokes themselves and how they react to the increasingly alien conversational grenade of, “Can I tell you a joke?”

THE RELEVANCE OF DAVID AND MARGARET

Just finally I want to say I know being any critic you are going to get a big fat bunch of dipshits like me ranting at you when you diss something that attacks their (my) sickly-fandom world-view. It seems a bit pointless criticising a critic. But I would say in my defence that I’ve grown up with David and Margaret. They are the sort of celebrities that you just might want to have a beer with. Crucially — I’ve trusted them for so long.

So I guess I am really asking, what relevance do these two critics have anymore? It’s almost like they are just commentators, opinion writers for The Australian. They apparently cannot handle any base humour. They are getting so snotty and pretentious and nowadays I only really watch their show on iView so I can skip past any nonsense and head straight for the Movie Classic — which increasingly I think are the only movies they are actually qualified to have a say about. I am sorry to say, but senility is setting in.

Just sayin.

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Dear Diary

Monday, September 1

“Where I become a tourist in my own town”

Today is a special day for me. I’ve probably put this down already, but I have this overwhelming memory of a particular September 1, way back in the 80s. And I was riding my bike to the shops to get some milk for my weet-bix and I was absolutely ecstatic that it was finally September and my birthday was imminent. That feeling of bliss has stayed with me ever since and I think nowadays I might even view “September 1” as the most important day of the year.

So officially I don’t work on Mondays but naturally I had to stop into work to do something and then I went for a stroll in the city listening to some tunes. It was particularly sublime walking around the botanic gardens where I purposely transported myself back to my earliest memory of the place on an excursion in kindy when I was maybe just 4. (Back when kindy’s did that sort of thing.)

My next bit of nostalgia was to go over to City Hall, just initially determined to view the Museum of Brisbane. But then I saw everyone lining up for the clock tower tour (which was about to start) and I literally went up to the counter and said, “Are there any spaces left?” And there was just one. “Perfect timing,” she said. 

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As I headed toward that ancient elevator, led by our slightly over-friendly (and perhaps manic) tour-guide, I got a bit dizzy with fear and was tempted to turn back.

My fears included, but were not limited to:

1) I am not good with heights
2) I am not good with confined spaces
3) I have a history of vomiting under such circumstances
4) I am not really good at small chat

And things got worse when the guide said that virtually every other bit of technology in this tour had been replaced, except for the elevator. Which he labelled a “work elevator” and “historic” and in service since the 30s. I immediately felt something well up in my throat and almost choked a few times trying to swallow.

I was pleased to see that there was a bottle of water on the bench near the controls. At least if the lift got stuck we just might survive. But then the guide grabbed the bottle, said excuse me, and downed every last drop.

Thankfully then we were at the top and that was not exactly a relief. I took some shots, trying to disguise the fact I always had one arm at the ready to lunge at the handrail if necessary and listened to the many details about those massive bells above us, the delicate construction and other highly relevant stats – until suddenly there was awkward silence.

5) Awkward silences

So it seemed I was the only one on this tour who could speak English as a first language. And the dude had totally exhausted all his FACTS about the place and now invited questions, just a little too desperately. Despite my “absolute state” I miraculously conjured a question: “Do you need to wear ear protection up here when the bells off?” I said.

Obviously I knew the answer: no one would let any goobs up here when those bad boys were doing their shit. And he seemed entirely relieved, and sparked up again about facts and procedure to protect those on the tour etc etc.

He then asked if anyone would like their picture taken and after that I asked him about how long the Hall was the tallest building in Brisbane. I thought it would have been only until the 50s but to my surprise, at only about 90ms, it was supreme until 1967. 

So I learnt something and that seemed the cue for us to depart. On the way down I was feeling a bit more relaxed so I told him a story about how when I was in primary school we went to the city for an excursion and our teacher organised for us to go up the tallest building in town at the time: it turned out to be the MLC building. We got to go right to the roof and look out over the side. He loved that. 

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Saturday, August 30

“Releasing the Doves!”

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I don’t know where the tradition of these doves started. (Apparently Luke and Linda.) But somehow it ended up that anyone who got engaged (or married) — or maybe worse — got these bad-boys gifted. And re-gifted. And then gifted again.

And everyone who has had them signs their names in that flat plaster underneath.

Dee and I have had the doves since April last year and Saturday was our glorious chance to offload to Skye and Big Jim at their ENGAGEMENT PARTY at Hamilton. Apparently we could have gifted them to Pat and Jane earlier this year but we didn’t realise weddings were included until Saturday night so Pat and Jane dodged a massive bullet.

UBER

That night we also took our very first Uber ride. Felt very zeitgeist. Finger on the pulse. It went ok and to be honest: kinda exciting for a taxi ride. Manu was our driver. He gave us all a mint and it felt a bit more homely and less perfunctory. 

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Friday, 29 August

“Cheese Club!”

Ok. So I got to curate “cheese-club” on Friday. Cheese-club is just a Friday thing where someone buys a bunch of cheeses and some crackers and we all gorge on them at about 3pm. Sometimes earlier if we are just a bit too excited. This was my effort: (note the Wensleydale and the Dutch Smoked.)

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Thursday, 28 August.

“In which I see a movie by myself and where I caught up with a Little Lover”

Seeing as I had worked all Monday, when it was officially not a work day, I gave myself the afternoon off on Thursday. But as I had a date around 5 I decided to venture about 500m up the road to the Barracks to watch “Predestination” not just to fill the time, but because I had a feeling I would love this film.

It was the first time I had seen a movie by myself since Electric Boogaloo in 1985.

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To be honest this trip to the theatre on my lonesome was a breeze. Back in 1985 at Electric Boogaloo I felt like a leper and was determined never to do it again. Subsequently I would spy the odd person watching a movie on their own and think they were a bit crazy. But I can see sense in this.

Anyway the movie was great, quite a mind-fuck and full of really good performances.

And then I got to hang with Craig. This photo is from Elena (taken on Friday) because I was too busy gushing to think to document the moment.

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OH YEAH: SONG OF THE DAY IS (AS ALWAYS) “SEPTEMBER GURLS“!

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