Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bah bloody humbug

Am frantically busy and have been neglecting the blogosphere. Work is taking up plenty o'time. Things with The Man are good but I had forgotten how much time dating takes up. The house is a mess, I still need to buy Christmas presents and instead of attending to either of those things I am stuck going to more damn Christmas parties.

Is it just me or does the Christmas season get more frantic and oppressive each year? I am so sick of drinking cheap wine and making small talk over stale cheese. I normally like the people I attend these parties with but this year I have had enough. I don't know how I will force out a smile when all I really want to do is have a nap. I think I need to have a pre-Christmas holiday somewhere where I don't have to be nice to anyone.

Will write more soon but need to put in a monster day at work to meet all my overdue deadlines. My test of when I am too busy is when I contemplate running down to a department store at lunch to buy undies because I haven't had enough time to do a wash. I am getting scarily close to that point in time. AAARRRGGHHH!!!

Hope you are surviving the silly season.

PS - Did not realise until after I posted that I may appear to have plagarised this post title from redcap. Pure coincidence although her post is far funnier and worth reading than my whinge above.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Egad - Don't do "Australia" Hugh

News in that Baz Luhrmann has found a title for his new epic which tells the story of an aristocrat who inherits a cattle station called Faraway Downs prior to World War II. It is apparently to be called .... wait for it... "Australia". It will star Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.

According to Lurhmann he is "taking the perspective of the rest of the world to this film how they might view 'Australia...When you say 'Casablanca' or 'Oklahoma!' it means big. It means vast... I'm not saying this film is Australia. It's a metaphor for a state of mind, for the faraway."

Actually of course I could point out to Baz that Casablanca is really quite a small film with only a few sets and where all the action takes place over 3-4 days. The characters are well developed due to excellent dialogue and subtle acting and the film has a slightly claustrophobic feel which is why it works so well. It wasn't designed to be a big film, and had it been it would probably have seemed hokey and ridiculous.

So, at the risk of sounding un-Austrayan, can I say that I loathed Moulin Rouge and I can't imagine how bad this film could be. It seems to me that since Strictly Ballroom our Baz has disappeared up his own sphincter. Mate, we get the cultural references and the big statements, we just don't need to have them slammed down our throat in technicolour. Calling a film "Australia" is a bit like calling it "Movie" or called a book "Novel".

I also can't imagine our Nicole looking like she belongs on a pre-WWII Western Australian cattle farm. Firstly, no one who lived there could look that pale. Secondly, as far as I know, Botox is yet to make it to Broome in 2006, let alone back in the 30's. The only fun part of the film is likely to be watching her try and fail to furrow her unknotted brow at the various setbacks that will befall her and Hugh.

The story is sure to feature some mystic Aboriginal subplot which will no doubt be resolved through a warm and loving friendship that forms with a small and non-threatening Aboriginal child or elder who will heal any rifts between white and black communities. Terra nullius won't be a problem, and everyone will live happily ever after in the way they still do in the Kimberley. Maybe we might get the homestead threatened by a bushfire, or a plague of locusts, or uncooperative shearers . Crops and animals will die like there is no tomorrow. There will be some racist and stupid local bureaucrats who will utter phrases like "Stone the crows mate, he won't last long at Faraway Downs, they never do". Through all of this Hugh will probably look resolute and sexy, while Nicole will look pale, seriously underfed and remarkably untroubled. A few glycerine tears will hint at her distress but Baz won't be able to stop there and will need to add some swelling music and closeups of her very blue contact lenses as part of his love affair with his ice queen. The costumes will look fabulous but completely impractical, and the dialogue will sound like it was written by Bill Collins. If we are really unlucky our Keith (who is actually a Kiwi) will contribute to the soundtrack.

Following the film's release we will have to endure an endless publicity campaign where Hugh and Nicole will sit grimacing next to Baz while he talks over them, raves about his vision and her blue eyes, and generally acts like someone who has forgotten to take their Ritalin. In interviews Hugh will be gracious and charming, and Nicole will seem forced talking about how she really got into the psyche of the character, and how much she just loves her home country.

You heard it hear first, Ms Batville predicts that "Australia" will be a turkey.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Judging a book by its index

Recently whilst browsing in a bookstore, I had reason to think about the index reference checks I have adopted over the years.

These are those items that I will search in the index of a book that purports to be encyclopedic in its area to see whether the book is worth buying. If the index doesn't contain the particular reference I am looking for then I conclude the book is a slap-dash effort. If my reference is there I will investigate further the text further.

As far as I can recall, here all the index checkers I use:
  • Any book listing significant Hollywood actors or actresses needs to have Rosalind Russell. After all she was nominated for four Academy Awards. I recently came across a book of "greatest stars of all time" that omitted her but had Kurt Russell! Likewise it should ideally also include Natalie Wood, Eve Arden, Irene Dunn, George Raft and James Cagney.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt needs to be included in any list of great historical figures or great women.
  • Any book on great musicians or jazz needs to include Django Reinhardt.
  • A book listing great songs or standards should list The Lady is a Tramp.
  • Any cocktail book needs to include recipes for a Negroni and for an original Daiquiri (ie with lime).
  • A general cookbook must contain a recipe for french onion soup.
  • Any list of significant historical events should include Hearst's alleged role in blowing up The Maine in Havana Harbour in 1898 and starting the Spanish-American war. As a fairly significant event in terms of press manipulation this one needs some commentary.
  • A book on great cities and travel experiences should list Melbourne.
  • A book of great quotes needs to include both Dolly Parton and Nelson Mandela.
  • A book of great speeches needs to includes Ted Kennedy's speech at the 1980 Democratic National Convention when he withdrew from the nomination for President. Even better if it contains Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman" speech from 1851.
  • Depending on the context I will check books on films for one or more of the following: The Women, Spellbound (the 1947 version), His Girl Friday, Barefoot in the Park, The Thin Man, Little Caesar, The Maltese Falcon, The Magnificent Ambersons and The Awful Truth.
  • A text on Australian history and events needs to record our (shameful) role in the 1975 invasion of East Timor.
  • A book on great political leaders or Presidents better devote some time to Harry Truman.
  • Gardening books need to explain how to care for gardenias when their leaves turn yellow (as mine do constantly).

I fear that this could be a Ms Batville only habit as it does smack a tad of Asperger's Syndrome. I think I need a catchier name than "index reference checks" for this but am running low on inspiration.