Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Observations from a Tito Puente tribute gig at the Charles Hotel.

- Jazz is great, but mambo is awesome.

- The barmaid is either new or used to a lower order of clientele. I order a gin & tonic, a vodka & tonic and a bourbon & Coke. All arrive in beer glasses.

- The band leader claps at the performers to spark them up into mambo mania, and a single old duffer in the audience takes this as a cue to clap along... completely and vigorously out of time.

- At the next table is a party of Jazz Jews, complete with retro clothing and yamulkes. When two of them get up to dance, they demonstrate all of the natural rythmn for which their race is famous*.

- It occurs to me that playing the congas is halfway between percussion and dancing. It's one of the few instruments that requires you to jump around while you're playing it.

- Both of the latin percussionists wear little smirks on their faces, as if to say, "Yes, I do realise that I am far cooler than every one of you bovine lumps. Also my girlfriend is hot, and uninhibited."

- In an effort, perhaps, to attract a hot uninhibited girlfriend, a pugnacious, possibly steroid-abusing old man over at the bar is pounding along on an empty stool as if it were a conga drum. And when I say pounding, I mean beating the crap out of it. The vibrations travel down the stool, across the floor, and up our stools. It is the most annoying thing since Fran Drescher.

- Seriously, is there any music better than mambo?

*ie none whatsoever.

Monday, October 25, 2010


I spent a lot of time over the weekend cleaning and tidying my house, and one of the jobs I undertook was to sort and put away all of my DVDs.

When normal people sort their DVDs, I suspect that they put them in similar catagories to those used by their local Blockbuster - Action, Comedy, Drama, Horror, etc. My collection, however, seems to fall more naturally into catagories like "AndressFest" and "Blaxploitation".

Not including my comprehensive library of MST3K episodes, which with duplications and special editions runs to around 180 discs, the collection breaks down as follows:

TV shows: 17

Blaxploitation: 10

AndressFest movies: 8

"Good" movies: 10

"Bad" movies: 247

So for every good movie in my collection, like 'Serenity' or 'The 39 Steps', there are twenty five awful ones, like 'Blood Orgy of the She Devils' or 'Oasis of the Zombies'... not including the awful ones starring Ursula Andress or Pam Grier.

I need help.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Everyone in Hollywood has their talents, whether they be actors, directors, stuntmen or trophy wives. However even A-list individuals can be strong in one area but fail miserably in others. The great Peter Fonda, for example, was an iconic actor who faltered when he got on the other side of the camera and churned out movies like 1973's 'Idaho Transfer'.

Parts of the movie were clever. Creating a time travel movie with absolutely no budget is a notable feat. It also had evocative sound and visual effects and a plot that teased out concepts obliquely. However it was marred by terrible dialogue, worse acting, confused editing and an ending so blazingly dunderheaded that it defies belief.

A team of research scientists has accidentally discovered time travel, and are able to insert themselves fifty six years into the future. One of the vagaries of the process is that nothing metal can go with them. This means that before "transferring", the travellers need to remove their jeans and any other item of clothing with metal fasteners. One could argue that it would be less troublesome and more logical if everyone just transferred in sweat pants, but then there wouldn't be any scenes of softcore sapphic nuzzling. Priorities, people.

The time machine, as designed by Russ Meyer.

Of course they keep this invention secret from the government agency that funds them, even after they discover that the future isn't looking too swell. In 1973 it was generally accepted that the government would use any scientific breakthrough to have more Vietnam Wars, ban Procol Haram or put valium in the water supply.

In the future something has gone horribly wrong. The world has been radically depopulated by some unknown disaster. There are only vague clues: sealed cars full of dust, a stalled freight train stacked with human remains wrapped in plastic, tiny pockets of survivors suffering massive mental and physical retardation with a life expectancy that barely covers their teens.

Someone from the future left a crappy rusted 70s car by the side of the road? Impossible!

You would imagine that the characters would immediately set about discovering what had happened. It would be relatively simple - find the nearest population centre, locate a gas station or a diner, and read the latest newspaper or news magazine that was lying around. Break into a police station or emergency services office and read whatever telexes and memos you could find. Find a hospital and check the most recent patient records.

But this is the 70s and they're teenagers, so the idea of methodical research and analysis never enters their solipsistic little heads. Of course they know what went wrong: it was The Man, the government, those Wall Street and Madison Avenue fatcats. They ruined everything, leaving only The Youth to save the future.

Unfortunately The Youth are annoying 70s hippies, who are more accustomed to sulking, histrionics and Olympic-level whining than going about recreating civilisation. And so, of course, they bully each other, complain, have tantrums, go crazy, and then die.

But apparently all is not lost. After ducking government agents, her homicidal colleagues and the vast weight of her own moaning, "heroine" Karen resets the transfer machine and sends herself many hundreds of years into the future. She staggers for days through a landscape even more denuded than it was before, eventually collapsing on a roadside, where a family in a futuristic car find her. The father picks her up and deposits her in a compartment in the rear of the vehicle, and as the door closes we hear her begin to scream.

The dialogue from the family, once they get underway again, implies that Karen is now "fuel" for their car. Their car runs on hippies? Or on whining? Either way, they can now drive to the moon and back if the mood takes them.

To be fair, whining hippies are a renewable resource.

And so another 70s movie ends with everyone dying and, more importantly, with everyone in the audience happy that they're gone. The 70s really was a very misanthropic decade.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Yet another reason why Steve Jobs is Evil:

Sufjan Stevens’ new album on iTunes - $17.99

Sufjan Stevens’ new album on his website - $8.40

In related news, Sufjan Stevens’ new album is weird but awesome!

Sunday, October 03, 2010


I had my hair cut on Saturday morning, and in the process I discovered that the staff at my local barber shop have been replaced by pod people.

Normally when I go in to get my hair cut, around once a month, I'm treated with bland, indifferent politeness. They sometimes have a vague recollection of how I like my hair, but I usually have to remind them of the details.

This time was different. A new girl, possibly the commander of the pod people, offered me a seat and threw an apron around me. A moment later the senior barber bustled up and cried, in a tone usually reserved for long-lost brothers, “Well g'day stranger! We haven't seen you in ages! How have you been?”

“Er... I've been fine... thanks,” I replied, completely thrown.

“What have you been up to? And who's been cutting your hair?”

“Um... I was in around three weeks ago."


"Maria's done my hair the last two times.”

"Oh, okay. Espresso?"


"Would you like an espresso?"

"Er... yes? Please?"

"I'll go get that for you. You just sit there and relax!"

And so a few minutes minutes later there I sat, sipping the first espresso I've ever been offered in all the years I've been going there, wondering exactly which beloved customer they'd mistaken me for. However they remembered the details of how I like my hair cut, so maybe they did actually know who I was.

I can therefore only conclude that they are pod people, perfect replicas of my barber and his staff but from an alien species unfamiliar with the human emotion of “disinterest”. Presumaby they have the twin aims of destroying all humans and achieving excellence in customer service.

Friday, October 01, 2010


I admit that Wednesday's "What if I'm pregnant?" picture was not in the best of taste. By way of compensation, please accept this picture of a tiny owl wearing a Jayne Cobb hat.

Warning: adorableness in these quantities can cause injury and death. Do not look at this cute litle fwuffle nutkins for more than three seconds at a time.