Thursday, December 22, 2005

DId I just cut off your finger?

Last week (last week but one? it all starts to blur together after a while...) we saw Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, the directorial debut of accomplished screen writer Shane "Lethal Weapon and Long Kiss Goodnight, among others" Black and I gotta say I was damn impressed. The script (also by Black) was slick and polished, the direction was superb and the soundtrack was awesome. Also worthy of praise are Robert Downey Jr, Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan. Their acting was spot on and the chemistry between the three of them on screen was amazing.

The film - narrated by Robert Downey Jr - tells of Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr), small-time thief in New York who is running away from the police when he stumbles into a Hollywood audition. Next thing he knows he's in LA getting courted for a film and reuniting with his high school sweetheart (Monaghan). He's being prepped for his role by consultant and professional PI Perry (Kilmer) who, BTW just happens to be gay. Being a Shane Black film, murder and mayhem soon ensue, along with some of the most painful black humour I have seen on screen in years. And I don't mean painful as in "Mr Bean" or "Kath & Kim" painful, but painful as in the entire audience crying out and wincing in pain. Brilliant stuff.

Kilmer's portrayal of a gay man is excellent (no libel intended), without any of the effeminate gestures and OTT campness that many straight men would have given the character. Downey Jr. is pathetically likable as the born loser Lockhart who can't seem to get a break and ends up with several kinds of crap kicked, cut and electrocuted out of him. Monaghan is sexy and vulnerable as Harmony, Lockhart's one Great Love[TM] who is also a big ol' bag of damaged goods. Lockhart's attempts to be tough almost always meet with disaster and Perry has his hands full just trying to keep them both alive. Cracking good fun and totally harsh in almost equal measures, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a dark, bloody and hilarious film.

Four maths-impaired ex-cons out of five.

Now I am the Master...

That's right, people, I done graduated again! This time I got a funky blue hood with silver lining. The music was better than the last 2, but the speeches were decidedly average. The Graduant who had to give a small speech wasnae that bad, she was just very nervous and so spokewaytofastsoyoucouldbarelymakeoutherwords. And the main speaker was... well... crap.

She was supposed to be this big PR mucky-muck, but her speech was equal parts depressing - all you journalists will never get a job because the face of journlism is changing, all you PR and communications people will never get a job because what you studied is irrelevant - and just random. Imagine a speaker talking about subject A. Then subject G. Then subject 8. Then subject &. All without clear segues or even any apparent structure. Very disappointing. Still, I think that proves Carmen's theory that your first Grad is always your best.

Mine certainly was, with Julie McRossin (sp?) as our speaker. And Carmen had Justice Kirby as her speaker, so that just helps cement the theory.

So I'm glad I've got another piece of paper, but I sure hope my PhD has better speakers.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

And now all about me...

And just what the hell have I been doing this month and a bit? Apart from reading more books than I can remember (I am on 50 dammit! I just don't know WHY?)? Well, I've more or less settled into work at IP Australia and if you want proof that I'm actually doing work then go here, log in as a guest and search trademark number 1074895. There you will find proof that I have done at least 1 thing since I started working there. I've also had more Monte Carlo biscuits in 10 weeks than in the preceding 10 years and drunk my body weight in instant coffee (And for those who don't know me to look at me, we're talking a lot of coffee).

I've been to a few Public Service "events" since I started too, most notable amongst them being our End of Training lunch (what I organised and had a couple of free beers at 'cause the people at the Woden Pide House ROCK!!), and the IP Australia Christmas party.

The Christmas party was more fun than I thought it would be, though somewhat marred by the workman who fell out of the roof (before I arrived, but in time to be witnessed by about 50 IP staff) and hit the auditorium floor some 12 metres below. He is currently recovering from a broken femur, a dislocated shoulder, multiple arm fractures and "internal bruising". Ouch. Then again, and on the other (unbroken) hand, he fell 12 metres to a solid floor, so he's pretty lucky he ain't dead.

For me the highlight of the party was my victory in the Red Faces contest to the tune of $150. That's right, first place and $150 for telling a two minute joke. I gotta say, tho, that Public Service people can be a bit... prudish? One of my intake - a guy who's been in the APS for a while - was a little surprised I used the words "had sex with" in the joke. S'not like I said "they was fuckin'" or anythin', eh? Still, I was telling the joke to a crowd of around 400 hundred people, among them (in fact, one of the judges of the contest) the Head of the Department.

As well as mad parties and money-winning, I've also been performing in a play and seeing afew films, but I reckon I'll post those little bits on their own... : )

More gakking

Or snurching or whatever. Stole this'n from Gwyon_Bach.

If you read this, if your eyes are passing over this right now, (even if we don't speak often) please post a comment with a COMPLETELY MADE UP AND FICTIONAL memory of you and me. It can be anything you want - good or bad - BUT IT HAS TO BE FAKE.

When you're finished, post this little paragraph on your blog and be surprised (or mortified) about what people DON'T ACTUALLY remember about you.

Thought it'd be fun.

A lesson for the kids

If I'd written up my books when I read 'em, I'd be up to fifty by now. I've read at least one that has completely slipped my mind... damn it...

Book 49

WARNING: The Following Review Contains Frequent References To Giant Arachnids. Arachnophobes Should Skip This One And Trust Me That They Ain't Missing Much

"Funnelweb" by Richard Ryan.

Have ye ever watched a movie and yelled at the screen because the characters are so oblivious to the rules of their genre that they go downstairs in a blackout when there's a killer on the loose to investigate a strange noise? Now imagine that film is a book, and you have "Funnelweb". I've been trying to keep these short to facilitate catching up, but I have to give y'all the plot rundown on this one. There are spoilers in here, but I have to tell you what happens in this book. Please remember; I am making up or exagerrating none of what follows.

A US Nuclear Missile sub (a boomer) is sneaking close to the Australian Pacific shoreline and perving on a New Year's Eve Party when there's a wee accident and a little bit of evil radioactive material gets out into the water. Said material is eaten by a little fishy what dies and is in turn eaten by... funnelweb spiders.

The radioactive stuff makes the spiders really aggressive (and randy) and they kill a couple of partygoers before shagging themselves to death. Then their babies hatch (eating the mums from the inside out) and they're about four times normal size. There're more killings, more shagging spiders and so on until they're about two metres tall. And their venom eats away flesh like acid.

Then everything goes to custard.

The Army are called in and try to stem the tide of evil arachnids, but they have to leave the city (along with hundreds of thousands of refugees). Some bright spark decides the best way to deal with these giant, radioactive spiders is to detonate a neutron bomb over Hyde Park which kills all the spiders above ground but causes the ones below ground to mutate even further. Now they're as a big as a house and if enough of them spit venom on a tank, they can melt the armour.

Then is gets really silly.

While this was definitely a page-turner, it was more out of some sense of horrid fascination that I was reading the book. I just couldn't believe how over the top it was getting. Apparently I missed the point, because a couple of the reviews say it was an exploration of Australia's cultural identity or some such crap. Personally, I thought it was a novel about freakin' great spiders, but what do I know.

However, having said all of that, I did actually enjoy a lot of this book. Like I enjoy fatty food, getting nicely drunk or watching the Resident Evil movies (although that may be unfair to the Resident Evil movies). It was a guilty, brief pleasure that would've been ruined if the novel was even two notches better written. The steady, OTT tone of the prose helped imbue the ridiculous subject matter with a sense of Ed Wood-ish fun. HOLY CRAP! I just hit the nail on the head! This is the kind of book Ed Wood would write. Sincere in its amazing flagrancy and perhaps an object of some sympathy because of it. Like the genuinely upset "hopefuls" from Idol auditions that truly don't know how crap they are.

two and a half mind-snappingly immense spiders out of five, with two of them for the sheer fun of it all.

Book 48

"Past Mortem" by Ben Elton

The Man from Aunty's latest novel (that I've read) is not for the faint of heart. There are gruesome murders, kinky sex and generally fucked up people aplenty. There's also a cracking mystery, some serious thrills and the usual Elton sense of dark, dark humour. If I hadn't left it so long to write this one up (and if I hadn't lent the book to Tash at work), I'd be able to give you more of a run down on the plot. However, I can tell you that there's a brilliant but young and physically-unimpressive Detective Inspector from Scotland Yard who is assigned a series of grotesque serial killings that all seem to be linked - despite disparate MOs - by the fact that all the victims were bullies of one sort or another.

While not the page-turner that I found "This Other Eden" or "Stark" to be, I very much enjoyed "Past Mortem", although I think after reading some of the crime scene descriptions that Mr Elton might need a hug and a lie down.

A good yarn, but not for wussies.

Four unrequited longings out of five.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Book 47

"Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas" by Hunter S. Thompson

Sometimes my life seems to be one of coming at things from strange directions. When listening to a friends CD collection in the lat 90s I heard a couple of songs that I half-recognised. When the penny dropped I realised that I had heard them before as part of one of Weird "Al" Yankovic's polka medleys. With a couple of decades' worth of Flying High and Hot Shots-style movies under my pop-culture engorged belt I finally saw some of the classics, like Casablanca, The Magnificent Seven and Yojimbo. My point is that I usually read/watch/listen to the source material of a reference after I have seen/read/heard the reference itself. All of this rambling brings me not so smoothly to the works of Hunter S. Thompson.

It will, I'm sure, come as absolutely no shock to anyone who has read my blog that I am a huge fan of the graphic novel series "Transmetropolitan". I love it. It's clever, harsh, in places touching and very, very funny. I've started buying the trades, I will copy Nick and get "that" Spider Jerusalem T-shirt and I even managed to work it into my Masters. And for those of you who don't know (all three of you) the main character in "Transmetropolitan", a young bastard by the name of Spider Jerusalem, seems quite closely based on Hunter S. Thompson.

I won't go into a potted bio of the guy here, but suffice it to say that Hunter was kinda like Jared in his most GBU-ish with the dials turned up until they break off and a massive amount of drugs under his skin. And "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas" was one of is first major works. It's brash, crass, drug-fuelled and amazing. The prose style is smooth and jarring at the same time and nobody comes off sounding particularly nice, especially not the young master Thompson. It came about when Hunter agreed to cover a big desert race in Las Vegas and did so with a car full of drugs and his huge, Samoan Lawyer in tow.

"Fear and Loathing" is the initial prototype of what Hunter called Gonzo journalism, and while there are millions of people (A couple of whom read this blog) who probably have a much better idea as to what Gonzo is than I do, from what I gather (and in my words) it is journalism that accepts that objectivity is impossible in covering events (be it an election, a war or a desert race) because a human being can never be completely objective. Gonzo doesn't try to distance the writer from the reader, but rather grounds the events being covered in the context of the writer.

As an important work in the evolution of journalism in particular, and writing in general, the value of "Fear and Loathing" cannot be overlooked and it's also a damn fine read.

four and stoned reporters out of five.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Book 46

"The Hobbit" by JRR Tolkien

Yup, I finally came through on my "I really must read that now" promise. After three false starts when I was younger, I've actually finished the book and I gotta say I enjoyed it. It wasn't the most rivetting thing I have ever read, nor did it alter my perception of the genre (coming, as I do, a good forty years to late for that to happen), but it was an interest story with a wonderful use of language and without the dull, dull, dull digressions of the more "grown up" LoTR books.

It's the use of language that I think stood in the way of my reading this when I was younger and helped me enjoy it more now. With my studies, and the strange way my brain works, an interesting use of language can keep me reading long after a weak plot would've had me putting a book down and the qauint, "nice" use of words in this book had me, if not enchanted, then at least kept my interest alive.

I'll not go on a plot exploration (remember, I'm catching up on a month worth of postings here, I have to keep things short), but will wrap up by saying that I'm glad I read this one, if for no other reason than to fill that little wole in my knowledge of the geek canon.

Three arguing dwarves out of five.

Book 45

"The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish" by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean

And with another smaller book comes our return to whole numbers. Once more (like with "The Wolves In The Walls") Messrs Gaiman and McKean ave raised the bar for children's (juvenile?) books. The plot of this story is pretty much explained in the title and it is a beautiful book. Truly. The dialogue is awesome and believable, the story told with crystal clarity and McKean's artwork is nothing short of superb.

Again, buy this book!

Five photo-collages out of five

Book 44 1/2

"The Complete Bone" by Jeff Smith

Okay, I know I said I wouldn't include grapic novels in this list, but the Complete Bone is about 1300 frickin' pages long, so it counts! Right!? *ahem* Now we've got that sorted, let's move on to the review.

I loved, loved, loved this book!! The art was clear, simple and amazing. I'm not normally one to go for the drawn/animated ladies, but I hafta say that Smith's style makes it very clear that Thorn is a complete hotty! : )

The story lines (many and twisting) are written brilliantly, with much genuine humour and some very serious sections as well. There's a quality to the writing that puts it right up there with Winick, Miller, Ellis and Ennis. And, yes, I know that there's some chronological issues with the order of that list, but it's my review so bugger off.

As I'm trying to catch up from neglecting my blog for so long, I'm not going to go into much more detail than saying that if you get a chance to buy/read this collection, then do so. It's definitely on my "must have" list, and should be on yours too!

four and a half stupid rat creatures out of five.

Book 30

"Honour Among Thieves" by Jeffrey Archer

Time to cast my mind beck through the sands of time. Okay, so the basic plot of this one revolves around a plan to steal the American Declaration of Independence and publicly burn it. The origin of this plan? Iraq (boo-hiss) and Saddam (boo-hiss).

Apart from being quite dated, I do have to admit that I saw the "Archer Twist[TM]" in this one coming from about a third of the way through the book. That said (and don't I just love writing those two wrods, eh?), the book did move along at a cracking pace, with suitable excitement, intrigue and action to keep me turning the pages. Will this make me rush out and buy the rest of the Arcer canon? Maybe not, but if I'm stuck for reading in a B&B in Corfu and a previous guest as left a Jeffrey Archer book lying around, I may just pick it up and have me a wee read.

3 forged historical documents out of five.

Have ye missed me?

Finally I post. Finally I catch up. Finally Sams III and IV can stop bugging me. I've got about 6 books, a couple of films and a whole bunch of stuff to catch up on, and so I'm going to post them separetely so that there isn't a garaguntuan post taking up heaps of space and the links on the side of the blog will make navigating easier... Now if I could just rememeber the books I've read...