Travelling Light

Did you ever have that thing where you get some big news, but don’t have time to tell anyone? And that big news involves you moving to another city for six months in a week-and-a-half from the point at which you found out about it, so you spend all of your time tying up loose ends and getting ready, and still half of your family and friends don’t know?

I’m not actually asking you. That’s a pretty specific set of circumstances, and I’m only framing it as a rhetorical in order to segue gracefully into my own news. If such a thing has happened to you and you feel compelled to tell me about it, you may, if so compelled, post a comment below.

This coming Saturday I shall get into my car and drive from Melbourne to Sydney. Or, more accurately, drive from Melbourne to the NSW border, at which point my car will probably conk out on me.

Why am I going to Sydney? Well, I’m not actually 100% sure that I’m allowed to make the news public yet or not. (It’s not Bazura.) So I will play it safe and tell you simply that I’ve been offered a very cool gig that requires me to work in Sydney’s ABC building. (No, really, it’s not Bazura.) I’ll drip-feed you more info later, but for now I’ll just tell you that I’ll be working on a very popular and successful television program. (Told you it wasn’t Bazura.)

Apologies to all the people close to me who are finding out about this now on this blog. It’s very impersonal and distancing and an indictment on our current culture of blah blah blah, but I literally found out this time last week. I’ll be popping down every month to see if family, friends, my place, my stuff, and my fiancée are all still fine, and I’ll be back permanently around the end of November.

To people I don’t know but who read this anyway, well, you’re not going to be affected much at all. I’m told they have computers in Sydney, so this blog and my Twitter feed should continue to function without too much interference. Oh, except for the new job I have. Employment does tend to get in the way, doesn’t it?

See you all very, very soon… particularly those of you in the greater Sydney area with comfortable couches.

A Ranting Pilot

About a year-and-a-half ago, my Bazura Project co-person Shannon Marinko made a pilot for Channel Ten. The show was called Rant, and it was basically Shannon yelling at the audience about things that annoyed him. Like Media Watch if it was shoutier.

Shannon invited me to come on board and do something for it, which I did. Comedian and filmmaker Dan Ilic directed, and he brought in Tegan Higginbotham for a segment. (Tegan impressed us so, we invited her back to appear in The Bazura Project’s ABC2 incarnation.)

Whilst I’m not especially happy with my own contribution (a couple of my line deliveries grate with me intensely), I do dig everyone else’s work a lot. And now it’s been put online, you can enjoy it in all its ranty glory.

ABC picking up The Bazura Project immediately after the pilot was shot meant Rant was put on ice, but my fingers are crossed that it get made at some point in the future. After all, there’s so much pop culture, and so few people yelling at it.

Ten Things You Missed This Week #5

1. Even if you’re not a fan of the brilliant US sitcom Community, you have to be concerned about the willingness of NBC to basically fire its creator and head writer Dan Harmon. This is what’s happened ahead of Community’s fourth season return (and given its 13 episode order and bump to Friday night, it’s safe to call this the final season). Dan Harmon didn’t find out before the rest of us, by the way. A press release was issued whilst he was on a plane, and he landed in LA to a barrage of text messages and tweets. This is his response. (And if you get a moment, this memo NBC sent Community cast members about how they should respond to questions about the controversy in interviews doesn’t make NBC look much better.)

RT @mrbeaks Dan Harmon got bounced from COMMUNITY? Great news for fans of AIRPLANE 2!

2. Hugh Jackman is keen to be a teacher. This is his attempt. (via Australian Screen)

RT @maskedscheduler A board game, a pregnancy manual and a thirty year old soap opera….welcome to the wonderful world of motion pictures.

3. Are you a little confused about the chronology of the Marvel Studios films? When did they find the Tesseract from Captain America in that scene in Thor? At what point in the Iron Man chronology does Tony Stark meet with The Incredible Hulk’s General Ross? Marvel’s got you covered. (via Jon Favreau)

RT @ovandenberg 6 MONTHS AGO: (to mirror) “You did it buddy, you’re the star of two big summer movies. Things are finally lookin’ up for ol’ Taylor Kitsch.”

4. Star Wars fans can’t do anything without Star Trek fans responding in kind. Only a few weeks after this column pointed you to a study showing a Death Star would cost US$852 quadrillion, we now have a more practical and affordable option: build the USS Enterprise. At US$1 trillion, it’s a steal at twice the price. Here’s how we do it. (via Marc Fennell)

RT @Jamwa Liam Neeson’s cock is so big the opening credits of Dr Who were filmed inside his urethra.

5. With Mark Zuckerberg currently enjoying All The Wealth, and Facebook being floated on the stock exchange this past week, it’s hard to talk about the social networking site without bringing it back to money. And now you can find out how much you are personally worth to Facebook. (I clocked in at $71. Before Facebook’s stock went public, this figure was $3. Which is why I’ve been going around saying ‘Three dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? Seventy-one dollars.’) (via Chas Licciardello)

RT @paulbyrom Why is Facebook going public?Could they not figure out the privacy settings either?

 6. I like high concept ideas. The idea behind HBO’s Girls is ‘What if we made a version of Sex and the City that Lee actually liked?’. Girls, created, written by, mostly directed by, and starring Lena Dunham is honest, funny, dramatic and engaging in a way that I wasn’t expecting. This brilliant article in the New York Review of Books gives you a good idea why.

RT @AdrianMartin25 I found page of my notes from 1982: titled GIRLS, it reads: “faces – songs – plots – fashions – youth culture”. So see, I invented that show

7. There’s an art to everything, even opening a book. This diagram instructs you on how do it properly. I can only assume the same principle applies to Kindles and their ilk. (via Martyn Pedler)

RT @sexenheimer Weird how the Zodiac murders really tapered off after Neil Diamond got a soundproof home recording studio/kill room. Hashtag Just Saying.

8. These days it’s rare that we see the best example of a political leader: one who takes an unpopular moral stance on an issue, doing so simply because it’s the right thing to do. This is what happened when Barack Obama came out in support of gay marriage. What’s even more remarkable is that the expected backlash never really came. Republicans knew that fighting him on it would galvanise Obama’s base, but the public? Well, they seem to have had their minds changed. In six years, the number of American citizens supporting gay marriage went from 36% to 51%. Obama’s announcement may not have had any immediate legislative effect, but it’s undoubtedly a big step. (via Max Denton)

RT @beatrixcoles The FRIENDS theme would make more sense if it was “hasn’t been your year, your week, or even your day”. Days are the easiest to achieve.

9. Before Braille took off, the blind were catered for in very literal but fascinating ways. Have a look at this atlas designed for the sight-impared back in 1837. (via On The Media)

RT @scottEweinberg Why can’t we have a black Ian Fleming, anyway?

10. Remember that Apocalypse that was supposed to happen last year? May 21, 2011 was the date the world was going to end, and its proponents were adamant that it was a definite. One year on, how do they feel? (via Leigh Paatsch)

RT @dissolvedpet What I have learned from Twitter on #Cannes: folk have many diverse views & opinions, none of which tell me anything

If any of you Melburnians are in the city tomorrow (Saturday 25 May), feel free to swing by the Emerging Writers Festival (Look! I’m pulling a silly expression on the front page of the website!) to hear me speak unintelligibly about writing graphic novels. I’ll be talking with Mirranda Burton at 12:30pm at the Melbourne Town Hall, so come on by and heckle. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to listen to an 8-bit recording of Radiohead’s OK Computer.

Black Forest

In 1989’s blaxploitation throwback Black Forest, DeForest Kelley, in pale makeup and a large purple dress, gazes into his mirror and asks: “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s de forest one of all?”

The mirror defiantly shows him a picture of a young Forest Whitaker. Flying into a rage, DeForest commands a Woodsman to venture into the Black Forest to kill Black Forest. Due to the inevitable – though decidedly uncinematic – nomenclature confusion, the Woodsman fails.

Xanadu’s Robert Greenwald directs. Blacula’s Joan Torres and Raymond Koenig script. Horst Jankowski composes. Richard Roundtree cameos as a round tree, creating further confusion.

Ten Things You Missed This Week #4

1. As someone who is against film piracy, I find it baffling that movie studios – even with their perpetual misunderstanding of both technology and human nature – still do everything they can to encourage it. Their latest stroke of idiocy is unskippable piracy warnings on DVDs and Blu-rays. Unskippable. So, the only people this annoying practice will affect are the people who paid money for it. Is this correct? (My copy of Charlie Wilson’s War has, for some baffling reason, a four minute film that can’t be skipped or fast-forwarded with Gwyneth Paltrow talking about Africa. Four minutes. And that’s before you get to the piracy warnings and endless trailers. It may seem like a small deal, but nobody is working harder to drive people to piracy than the very people who claim they want to stop it.)

RT @TeganMH Researchers have found examples of 37,000yr old caveman porn, proving that just like modern day man, they too forgot to delete their history

2. George Lucas is a legend. I know that’s not the sort of phrase you expect to read in a post-Phantom Menace world, but my apathy towards the Star Wars prequels is nothing compared to my love for what he just did. When the residents of Marin County told Lucas that he couldn’t build a studio on his property because they wanted the area to remain exclusively residential, he took them at their word. (via Kess Broekman-Dattner)

RT @jevoislafemme Did you hear that Joss Whedon’s mum called to ask him how ‘The Adventures’ was going? I find this indescribably sweet.

3. Someone needs to make a film in which a laid-back Californian surfer dude (played by Owen Wilson) swaps bodies with an uptight London businessman (played by Tom Hiddleston), if only so we can get an entire film’s worth of Hiddleston’s hilariously-accurate impression of Wilson from their time together on the set of Midnight In Paris. (Also featured: equally-great impressions of his Avengers co-stars Chris Evans and Samuel L Jackson.)

RT @houx If Bill Clinton was the first black president and Obama is the first gay president, I wonder what the first actual gay president will be.

4. For those who don’t know, Siri is basically an electronic personal assistant designed to run on an iPhone. It performs numerous tasks and answers every question you have, even if that question is incredibly inconvenient for Apple. (via Rhett Bartlett)

RT @aliciasometimes Lose weight following this one weird tip: have kids make you breakfast in bed & watch on as they eat every last bite…

5. I have to admit to being unfamiliar with the late comedian Patrice O’Neal, but this piece about him in the New York Magazine is truly fascinating, and makes him sound like one of the most original, dangerous and tragic comedic voices of recent times. (via Leigh Paatsch)

RT @P_T_RYAN I don’t object to much on moral grounds, but people who name their kids Jaxon (or variants thereof) ought to be pelted with rotten eggs.

6. Gay marriage is a hot topic at the moment, and much of the anti-homosexual rhetoric is once again coming from an annoying minority of disproportionately-vocal Christians (despite the fact that gay marriage was originally a Christian thing). One woman in Nebraska recently went in front of her government to voice her opinions on why gay marriage should be banned. But I don’t link to this video because of her. I vaguely recall John Cleese once claimed that the reason Fawlty Towers worked was not because of Basil, but because of how everyone else reacted to him. With that in mind, I recommend you watch the guy sitting directly behind Jane Skrovota as he reacts to her frighteningly side-splitting and outlandish claims. (via Chas Licciardello)

RT @AlbertBrooks People laughed at me when I kept my drachmas.

7. If 51% of the US population is made up of women, then why do they only constitute 33% of movie characters? And why do female protagonists make up only a third of that figure? Those numbers (and others contained in this article) show we have further to go than we may have assumed. (via CHUD)

RT @meganamram WHY was Mario Kart not called “Mario Speedwagon”

8. Megan Amram, whose tweets are fast becoming a mainstay of this column, is concerned about America’s national debt, and has launched a Kickstarter campaign to put the country back in the black. Find out how you can help!

RT @RossFloate When the Queen takes a pace towards the person she’s awarding a knighthood, I guess technically that’s also a dubstep.

9. During a late night writing session that was going nowhere, I was searching for opportunities to procrastinate, and a sixteen-minute commencement speech given this week by writing god Aaron Sorkin at Syracuse University seemed like the perfect opportunity. (It actually got me so fired up, I finished the very script I’d been trying to procrastinate from. He’s a wizard!)

RT @davidehrlich tonight’s episode of Mad Men is called “Dark Shadows.” so… DARK SHADOWS won’t even be the best Dark Shadows of the weekend. #Rough

10. Fans of the Mad Men should be warned: the last page of the final ever episode has been leaked by Jason Woliner. And it’s truly shocking. (Fear not, spoilerphobes: there are no genuine spoilers in there. And it’s not so much “shocking” as it is “hysterical”.) (via Simon Miraudo)

RT @rilaws Really dreading next season’s Fat Daenerys plotline.

Finally, you should take the time to sign this important petition to help save Melbourne’s iconic Astor Theatre. This isn’t just obsessive film fans trying to hang on to a place they like: it is impossible to overstate the importance of The Astor’s place in Australian cinema culture. It is one of the last institutions preserving film prints, often playing classic films in both 35mm and 70mm formats. (Ironically, they also have the best digital projection I’ve ever seen, with its state-of-the-art 4K system. Their worst images are usually on par with other cinema’s best images.) In a few years when absolutely nobody else is playing genuine film prints, we’ll finally comprehend the importance of their preservation work. I just hope they’re still there when that happens.