We’re Closing Up Shop

So that’s it, I’m done here for the time being.

This is the last blog for a bit as I have the site revamped and get some projects ready for next year.  When I return I’ll have news about next year’s Melbourne Comedy Festival Show which is my most ambitious show yet, new features and tasty content.  This is a time of reinvention and when I return it will be a shinier world of crisp lines and hip content that will hotwire your brain for our circular times.

Who Reviews the Reviewers?

For the most part I cannot stand reviewers.

They’re usually smug and unflappable with what they perceive to be their infallible views.  They swathe their opinions with little regard for the potential outcome of their myopic and self-interested intent.  Invariably they can’t do what they claim to have vast knowledge of but this never stops them from striding across a person or persons work and laying waste to it with nary a thought on the destruction they leave behind.  To paraphrase Woody Allen:  “Those who can, do.  Those who can’t, review.”

The Tasty Byte: Election Edition

NEWSFLASH!  GILLARD KISSES BABIES, ABBOTT EATS BABIES.

In an embarrassing gaffe for the Liberal party Tony Abbott had to be restrained as he tucked into his third baby on the election trail when senior officials pointed out that he should be kissing the cute little tykes rather than eating them.  “But they’re so tasty,” Abbott whined as he poured béarnaise sauce over one unfortunate little boy’s head.  Barnaby Jones came to his leader’s defence by pointing out it was a simple mistake and besides, “Who hasn’t accidentally eaten a baby before?”  Well-played Barnaby.  We’ve always believed that babies are the new white meat; it’s about time the rest of the nation caught up.

BREAKING NEWS:  GILLARD SAYS WHAT SHE MEANS!

In a serious role reversal Julia Gillard has actually answered a question asked of her.  When asked about the Rudd fiasco Gillard told reporters, “Look, let’s cut the crap.  He’s a dweeb.  What this party needed was someone with large balls to lead it back to the forefront of the nation and I was the only person who could fill out the trunks up front, if you know what I mean?”  Not really Julia but who are we to argue?  Then to prove she was the man for the job she promptly stood up and wrote with wee on the ground, “Fuck yeah!”  Nice one Julia, you really are the shizzle!

NEWSFLASH!  TONY ABBOTT BROUGHT UNDONE BY GARLIC

In a surprising set of events Tony Abbott has been repelled by garlic from a meet and greet with students.  Appearing dressed as Edward at a midnight screening of “Twilight:  Eclipse” Abbott was brought undone by 13 year old Stephanie Mucous who was dressed head to toe in the repellent.  “I didn’t mean to scare the old dude, I was just proving my love for Team Jacob.  Werewolves are rad!”  Tony is said to have changed into the form of a bat and flown to safety.  We’ll have more from Abbott when he rises after the sun has set. 

MINERS FURY:  “HOW AM I MEANT TO WASH IN COINS IF YOU TAX US!”

The head of the miner’s union Jack Sauce has declared that if Australia wants to tax the industry out of the country then go ahead.  “How am I meant to keep my kids warm if I don’t have enough one hundred dollars bills?  I’m going to have to clothe my kids in fifties or even worst twenties.  When did we become Communists?”  Labor immediately backed down from its original taxation plans and said they will provide more breaks for this bullied industry.  The Liberal party responded with a press release that contained one word:  “Pussies!” and then reassured the mining industry that they would do exactly the same thing to keep them happy.  Whew!  Finally our leaders agreeing to do the right thing!

REFUGEES TOLD:  “WE HAVE NO SPACE SO FUCK OFF!”

Refugees arriving on our shores in northern Australia have been turned back due to the lack of space according to true blue Aussie Sheila Cornchip.  Armed with just a musket and a love of Australia Sheila managed to turn away three sinking ships with her true blue aim. When one refugee pointed out there was a huge desert behind her Sheila responded, “That’s Trevor’s place, he’s putting up a pool, don’t be so selfish to take up his backyard.”  You’re a winner Sheila!  All the refugees were turned back except for three sporty looking types.  “There was one who could swim so we’ve signed him to the Olympic team, one who could catch a ball so Kevin Sheedy has signed him to the new Sydney AFL side and one who could bowl an inswinger so he’s been drafted by the Australian Cricket Team,” stated Sheila.  “In fact ex Prime Minister John Howard was so overcome with excitement he came down and gave all three a very special Australian reach around to welcome them to our beautiful country.”  It sure is Sheila, but only if we let the right ones in!  Go little Johnny, go!

THE GREEN PARTY STATES:  “STOP BURNING COAL, BURN YANKS!”

Justin Hamilton

Over it

August 18th, 2010

Election Fatigue

 I had the opportunity of filming an episode of Good News Week on Saturday that is going to be aired tonight.  (Monday the 9th of August just in case you’re reading this after the fact)  I found it to be one of the more difficult episodes to engage with and it had nothing to do with the people I was surrounded by but more the state of Australian politics we had to discuss.  I am so alienated by this current election I am doing my best to disengage with the current affairs because it really seems that our choices are between Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey in “Dumb and Dumber”.

Recently on tour with the delightful “Smart Casual” the lads expressed their disbelief that Tony Abbott could be elected Prime Minister.  Unfortunately I could remember when we held such conversations about John Howard and look how that turned out.  The insincerity that oozes from Abbott’s pores brings bile to my throat every time I look at him.  He is everything I hate:  a devout Catholic who is anti abortion, anti climate change and anti everything I stand for.  The problem though is that he’s running a much smarter campaign than the Labor party and it looks like the title Prime Minister is his for the taking.  Do we have another 11 years of narrow-minded decisions and fear based policies taking us further into this newish millennium in front of us?  I cannot bear to think about it.  The problem is that everyone has underestimated Abbott.  He is an astute politician who is probably more in tune with his weaknesses than his opposition and that makes him dangerous.  No longer does it seem to be funny to pass him off with comments about staking him during the day while he sleeps, this vampire jogs in the sunlight and doesn’t care who knows.

Meanwhile the Labor party have taken the unlosable election and shat all of over it.  First the tragedy of Kevin Rudd.  You can’t talk about climate change being the biggest challenge of our era and then put it on the backburner.  Every Labor politician should be made to watch the movie Team America so they can learn why it is better to be a dick than a pussy or an asshole.  (If you don’t know what I’m talking about check out the clip here.)  Don’t get me wrong; the Greens are as much to blame for the ETS failure as the Labor party and that is one reason I will not vote for them.  Everyone with half a brain knows that politics is a game of compromise but with the way the Greens helped scuttle the deal I am convinced that while they may have half a brain the other half is quite clearly tofu.  Still Labor should have stuck to their guns but this was the first chink in the armour and it turns out Rudd wasn’t even wearing chainmail but at best a polystyrene shield that he would sometimes remember to use.

I have always thought highly of Julia Gillard but I wasn’t certain she was ready for this challenge just yet and it has been proven correct.  I take no solace in having fears realised and I will still vote for her but she is turning into our very own Aussie Barbie doll with the many different versions we are being presented with.  Turns out so far we have “Politician Julia”, “Footy Moll Julia” and “Real Julia”.  I just want one Julia that tells me plainly what she stands for.  I first lost faith in her when she appeared on the 7.30 Report and failed to answer a straightforward question from Kerry O’Brien on whether she used the phrase “moving forward” too often in her first speech of the election campaign.  Julia said many things in response to this but never answered the question.  If Kerry had picked up a large polo mallet and beaten himself to death in frustration I would have sadly applauded his actions.  How nice it would have been to have Julia ask how many times she used the term, be told and respond with a laugh, “Wow, that is way too many times.  I better cut back, don’t want to appear to be too eager, right?”  Julia has the sense of humour and the nous to do that so why doesn’t she bring out “Nike Julia” and just do it?

Then we have the sideshow attractions.  Mark Latham is a dog and should be put down, one in the back of the head and one in the face.  He is a horrific human being who is the real life answer to Gollum from “Lord of the Rings”.  Latham had his heart set on his precious and when it was taken from him he has allowed his dark soul and bitter heart to devour him.  Look at him and you can see how it has deformed him physically.  I would hate to meet him in person for I believe the stench of his rotting id would overwhelm me physically and emotionally.  From the moment he imposed himself on John Howard in a handshake during his election campaign I have had no respect for Latham because he essentially made me have empathy for Howard at that moment and I couldn’t forgive that one iota.  I hated Howard and all he stood for but Latham came across as a bully to an old man and bullies are the worst types of people no matter where they come from.  If Julia had produced a sword and decapitated Latham on the spot, holding his head triumphantly as a modern day Perseus wielding the Medusa’s head I would say her campaign would have swiftly regained momentum.

And finally today we have the news about Family First candidate Wendy Francis tweeting “Children in homosexual relationships are subject to emotional abuse. Legitimising gay marriage is like legalising child abuse."  Nice one Wendy.  I don’t think gays should be allowed to have children either.  We would have a generation of kids growing up loving the music of the Scissor Sisters and having an appreciation for the finer things in life and we can’t have that.  I would much rather kids lived in heterosexual relationships where the father abuses the wife or the Mum is a junkie than the possibility of being raised by two gays.  What if they exposed them to their secret gay agenda and they started quoting Oscar Wilde and Quentin Crisp?  Crisp once said, “I recommend limiting one's involvement in other people's lives to a pleasantly scant minimum.  What would our Wendy make of that?  By the way my Auntie (bless her socks) refers to a woman’s bathing suit area as a “Wendy”.  I always found it distasteful until today.  Funny that.

I don’t want to leave you with negative vibes so here are some possible positive outcomes:  Gillard still might right the ship and win.  If Abbott wins it will give me the final incentive to move overseas to live (I can already hear the Liberal voters cheering that one) and it will be a lovely boost to the comedy scene.  The Greens might get in and therefore it will become legal to marry a tree.  And Latham might be found having an affair with Wendy and hopefully when they try to outrun the paparazzi in their car they could fly off a cliff looking very much like our own “Thelma and Louise”.  I will leave it up to you to guess which one is which.  In the meantime while I will still vote for Gillard despite my misgivings I still think either Prez or Kerry O’Brien would make the perfect Prime Minister. 

Until then I will drink and you can tell me the outcome when I sober up in October.

Emus, Sport and Julia.

Yesterday while on the Comedy Festival Road Show we hit and critically maimed an Emu.

Our driver and techie Flash Bang (as is his nom de plume) did a great job in doing his best to avoid the poor animal but also not launching us in the air as if we were doing our best to emulate Bernard Fanning in the “My Kinda Scene” film clip.  Basically two Emus ran out of the bush while we were driving along in regional South Australia and decided to make a run for it.  One Emu turned back but unfortunately one kept going and this is the one we hit.  The thud was sickening and Flash Bang brought us to a careful halt alongside the road.

I was in the car with Ben from musical comedy duo Smart Casual and all three of us jumped out to find the poor animal desperately trying to get away with one broken leg.  It was incredibly distressing as the Emu looked like a Muppet being worked by a drunken puppeteer.  The only sensible thing to do was put the animal down but as we looked through the car we discovered we had nothing to use as a weapon.  So we decided to ring the local ranger but then found out we had no coverage.  It is the only time in my life that I have wished I was with Telstra.

Our tour manager Shosh pulled up in the other touring van and saw our dilemma.  She eventually had to drive back to the town we had just left to pick up some phone coverage so she could put in a call for a ranger to come and put this poor animal out of it’s misery.  We were told not to wait around and in the end there was no point.  Any time we made noise we scared the injured bird more, now trying to hide from us in the bush.  By the time we left it was with a feeling of hopelessness that we couldn’t do more.  To be honest I don’t know if I could have done anything.  Maybe if we’d had a gun knowing it was the right thing to do I could have pulled the trigger but I have my doubts.  I’m very much a city guy I think.  When my first thought is that I wish that I had Telstra coverage so I could ring an alpha male to fix this situation I think it comments with disdain on a certain aspect of my character.

Meanwhile in a world of alpha males in two footy codes we seem to have an outbreak of racism.  I know it still occurs intellectually but emotionally I find it all so shocking that people really think they can use the terms they have and be surprised at the outcome.  Even if you were born in a different generation that accepted this language surely you would know deep in your soul that these antiquated terms are no longer acceptable to the greater public.  And the argument that we shouldn’t overreact just because some people use terms that are out of fashion under the guise of “political correctness” is disingenuous in itself.  I’m sure Dipper wouldn’t have liked being referred to as a dumb wog if the tables were turned.  The indigenous culture of Australia has always received short thrift in the general public and sometimes the footy field has been the place where all men can be treated equal.  To bandy terms around with no sense of the damage they can cause is dull and speaks conclusively of someone’s true character.  Maybe they believe they’re not racist but that doesn’t mean they’re not.

The biggest injustice of it all is that Dipper now has to go and do a course with Michael Long educating him to what is correct and what isn’t when it comes to the Aboriginal people.  My argument?  What did Michael Long do wrong to have to spend time with Dipper?  Put him out to pasture, his time in the media is long past and it is time to stop confusing character with being stupidly outspoken.

Speaking of being put out to pasture Kevin Rudd has been dumped and we have our first female Prime Minister, the Fanta pants herself Julia Gillard.  I think she’ll be fantastic, a proven performer in deeds and rhetoric.  I look forward to her placing her stamp on the party I voted for and only hope that she takes full advantage of this to stake Tony Abbott while he sleeps in his coffin during the day.

I’m also hoping she sorts out this debacle with the mining industry.  Rudd’s look for a fight stank of Howard’s actions before elections and while the mining tax would be a good thing I don’t believe the way he went about it was conducive to selling it to the public.  I for one am sick of rich miners telling me they’ll take their bat and ball and go elsewhere if they don’t get their way.  The stance they made in WA made me sick.  I get my neck up when anyone with power and money tells me what is good for me or else so I’m hoping Gillard can do what needs to be done in a way that sees Australia receive the money it deserves while not pushing the prima donnas into a situation where they take it out on their thousands of employees.

A lesson is to be learned from Rudd though.  Don’t flip flop on your policy.  It is better to be liar who sticks to his guns than someone who sees both sides of the argument.  Howard was a proven liar about the children overboard debacle but people still voted for him because he was considered a strong leader.  Beazley bounced back and forth and was perceived as weak.  Election over.  Rudd turned his back on the ETS and suddenly he too was perceived as weak.  To say he lost the public over one case is to simplify the events that transpired to have him on the outer but this was definitely a major stumble.  I know a fair number of people who were going to vote Greens because of this.  That would be the equivalent of telling someone they’re an idiot while punching yourself in the head.  If there is one thing we can rely on it is small “l” liberals willing to take a stand that can sometimes really blow back in our collective faces.

If Rudd had to go for Labour to have any chance of winning the election then I’m glad it was done now, swiftly and decisively and with Gillard ready to take action.  She moved Rudd on with class and strength, exactly what we need in a leader to navigate us through these turbulent times.

In fact she did it so well I think next time I’ll call our Julia when I need to put down an injured animal.

Justin Hamilton

Mount Gambier

24th of June, 2010

Zit Code

I’m 37 and have a pimple on my face.

Not just a pimple, a Mount Vesuvius of hate and rage right on my cheek near my nose.

Surely this should have stopped happening now.  Surely the way I dealt with pimples when I was a youngster should have evened me out in some lovely karmic cycle that would reward me with the skin of an adult in my quite clearly adult years.  Back when I was fifteen I would be afflicted with the odd pimple here or there and I always accepted it as a part of growing up.  I was lucky enough not to suffer from acne; which was twice as lucky as I was an early shaver.  I had to start shaving in high school because it had gotten to the point where the moustache on my lip looked like a caterpillar had crawled there in my sleep and never woken up.  Thank god no one ever actually believed it was a caterpillar and yelled at my moustache in the off chance the poor thing did a little poo out of fright.  So not suffering from acne was definitely a bonus for the novice shaver.

Instead I would have one or two at most pop up on my chin, cheek or around my mouth.  Enough to be mildly embarrassing but not too bad that you ever thought it would not go away.  And as I said before I always just accepted them as a part of growing up.  A part of the transformation from ugly duckling into suave and sophisticated swan about town. 
Now I have this second head growing on my face.  Even BP would look at it and throw their hands in the air knowing there is no way they could cap this baby.  It is so big I can barely raise my head in the morning, needing a stick to get me to an upright position so I can breathe properly.  On the tram I am reduced to wearing a bag over my head as delightful children throw rotten fruit at me.  I’ve stumbled through the city declaring, “I am not an animal” but the upward inflection suggests otherwise.

The few times I’ve spoken to people I notice they don’t make eye contact with me.  My pal Lehmo couldn’t stop staring at it today over breakfast, fascinated and repulsed all at the same time.  I bet he wish he hadn’t ordered the eggs after he saw the one spreading over my face.

The irony is that it is has popped up at a time when I have been getting a fairly decent amount of exercise and eating quite well.  What a delicious treat it is to know that no matter how you look after yourself sometimes the universe just decides to strike you with the mark of Satan himself.  I can feel it on my face and fear that if it gets any bigger over night it might cut off my ability to breathe through my nose and gag me in my sleep.  Worst still I might roll over on to it with such force that it will take out my bedroom wall and leave my head exploding like Marvin’s in “Pulp Fiction”.  Either way it is disgusting and distressing all at the same time.

Good on my past for showing up again.  Maybe my fashion sense can go back there as well.  I’ll wake up wearing oversized shirts, jeans with rips all the way through them and the belief that Rick Astley will be making hit records forever.  That would surely make my pimple feel right at home and give me the look I’ve sub consciously longed to return to.

To top it off I have shooting tomorrow on my final day for the Librarians.  How nice to know I can have a future record of it to look back on when I am old and greyer.  Fingers crossed I’ll have one then too that I can compare.  Maybe I can even taunt it by saying, “Ha!  You think you’re something?  Check out this beast,” and with that I can switch on my episode of the Librarians and show the first piece of Australian TV in 3D…all because of my nasty, red friend.

Justin Hamilton

Fitzroy North

16th June, 2010

Cold Chisel Appreciation

My fifteen-year-old self would punch me in the mouth if he could read this. 

Back in high school everyone at my school loved Cold Chisel.  They dressed like Jimmy Barnes, they tried to sing like Jimmy and they drank like Barnsey.  I couldn’t stand them.  I was never an outsider on the outside but on the inside I was very much in my own world.  One of my core skills is my ability to blend in to every day society and look like I belong.  This skill allowed me to survive high school where I was popular but not interested in anything my friends were interested in.  I was listening to the Violent Femmes, They Might Be Giants, Elvis Costello and David Bowie.  I was discovering Lou Reed and Iggy Pop and the b-sides of Beatles singles.  I read comics, anything by Dennis Potter and played basketball.  Cold Chisel had no place in my world and remained shut out for many years.

In 1999 I was travelling overseas and found myself alone in Edinburgh when Australia made the World Cup Cricket final.  I decided to do something I would never do normally and that was to go to an Aussie Bar to watch the final with like-minded ex pats.  I sat with a bunch of Aussies cheering on our victory over Pakistan and nearly dislocated a hip trying to emulate Warney’s victory dance.  Then "Khe Sanh" came on over the p.a. and everyone joined in with a rousing sing along.  Except for me.  I had no idea what the lyrics were so I slinked off remembering that yet again, I was not meant to be there…wherever “there” is.

A few years later at the Hi Fi bar during the Melbourne Comedy Festival, I found myself drinking upstairs watching a lot of the comedians butcher songs at karaoke.  Finally two people who could sing hit the stage: Gatesy and Skod from musical comedy trio Tripod.  The song they sang together was fantastic and I had no idea what it was.  Afterwards I asked Gatesy and he told me that it was “Bow River”. 

What?  A Cold Chisel song and I liked it.  It made me feel funny inside; like I had done the dirty on all I hold dear.  I had to admit it was a pretty cool sounding song but maybe it was just because my friends had sung it well?  The fact of the matter was that I had never actually listened to a Cold Chisel song all the way through.  I just hated them for what I thought they represented which to me was bogans who liked drinking bourbon and coke and had no desire to achieve anything in life.  Looking back on this attitude I realised I was as bad as the people who wouldn’t give what I liked a go and decided to rectify this at once.  I discovered that Ian Moss was playing an acoustic set in Melbourne so I bought two tickets and head into the city to see him play live with my pal Tom.  It was a pretty cool night.  Moss’ playing was sublime; a night of blues and soul music, just a man and his guitar holding an audience captive.  His voice was rich and smooth.  When he performed “Bow River” I became excited like a fan that has been waiting all his life to hear this one song live.

The next day I bought a Cold Chisel greatest hits album.  I was blown away.  “Breakfast at Sweethearts”, “You Got Nothing I Want”, “Choir Girl” and yes, “Khe Sanh” were all great songs much to my surprise.  I had never realised how they could be sensitive one minute and then balls to the wall rocking the next.  The tiny tales told within each song appealed to the storyteller in me and Jimmy Barnes’ voice was much more soulful than I had ever given credit.  And like most of the population the song that stood out the most for me was “Flame Trees”; the lyrics were totally relatable on some melancholic level even if I was quite clearly not the person in the song.

So now I find myself listening to Cold Chisel on cool summer days, watching the night slowly descend and the sky a burnt orange before it fades away.  I have nothing else to add that hasn’t been said before.  It is just nice to know that sometimes when you’re wrong about something it doesn’t always have to end badly.  And to keep the fifteen-year-old me at bay I will confess I still don’t know the lyrics to Khe Sanh. 

Maybe one day…

Justin Hamilton

Coff’s Harbour

June 9th, 2010

Saying Goodbye to Fictional Friends

A buddy of mine last week was very confused.

“Why are so many people getting upset with these shows finishing?” He asked.  “They’re just TV shows, they’re not real.”

My friend doesn’t watch a lot of TV, spending (in my opinion) too much time in the real world raising children and making retarded amounts of money.  With all of that in mind I think he is missing out on the joys of well-written characters, specifically those that you find on TV.

Whether it was 24 or Lost last week; whether it was Buffy or MASH or The Sopranos or Six Feet Under in the past; people can feel devastated when the characters they have grown to love are taken away from them.  I know I am more likely to become teary while watching a fictional character deal with some sort of hardship than I am at a funeral.  This may seem emotionally retarded but there is a sound reasoning for this.  At a funeral I try to keep my emotions in check so as to keep across what is happening around me and therefore not be a burden on anyone else.  When I am watching a TV show I can have a blub because the only thing I will have to deal with is acute embarrassment in case anyone walks in on me.  I think this is totally logical and makes perfect sense.

Still it is interesting to grasp why fictional characters can have such an effect on people.  When a character is well written, we understand all of their nuances, we understand why they make the decisions they make and why their indecisions come back to haunt them.  When they do something on the screen that seems completely insane, the TV viewers that have been taking careful note will remark, “Oh, that’s because his father belittled him when he was a kid” and then will not only forgive the character his trespasses but also understand his motivations.  How glorious that would be in real life!  How many times have you had one of your best friends do something monumentally stupid that you have been left lamenting something along the lines of, “Wow, what possessed them to do that?”  If you could have watched your best friend’s life like a TV show you would be able to remark, “Oh, that’s because his father belittled him when he was a kid” and you would then forgive your friend.  Alas life does not work that way and even those we’re closest with are still a mystery in every day life.

A few years ago I wrote a trilogy of one man plays called “Three Colours Hammo” which followed the story of a young girl called Calliope.  A funny and likeable character, her journey was one that was cut short before she blossomed into womanhood and often left audience members shattered in her demise.  It was interesting to have people approach me afterwards needing to know if she was real or not, had they invested in something that was false or culled tragically from my life.  This took me by surprise.  I never made any statements that Calliope was an actual person.  That she took on a life of her own left me speechless wherever the shows toured.  Calliope may not have been an actual person but she consisted of real events in my life.  A melting pot of experiences made up the lovely Calliope and therefore was she any less real than the people you stand next to on the train?  The way I met Calliope was how I met comedian Terri Psiakis.  The game “Imaginary Scrabble” Calliope played was a conversation I had with comedian Claire Hooper about a game she played called “Imaginary Guess Who?”  Calliope’s death was an amalgamation of a long departed friend Alex Collins and the way she died was based on a young boy who died at my Primary School in exactly the same way.  The beats of the dying friendship were based on the beats of a dying relationship I had endured not long ago.  These are all real events and therefore holds more sway with the viewing public from afar than the real life events that are so difficult to focus on when they’re just in front of you in your real life.  When watched from a distance they can take your breath away and inform your world when you choose to return to it.

So that is why I feel fictional characters can take such a deep and enduring place in our hearts.  The well written character is laid out before us, we understand everything that makes them tick and therefore we’re engrossed in the ride because more often than not we see bits of ourselves in those on the screen.  And if they can overcome insurmountable odds to achieve triumph, then that suggests to us we too can rise above the relentlessness of every day life and grasp our tiny triumphs with two hands.

Justin Hamilton

Fitzroy North

June 1st, 2010

Boorish Journalist Can Get Lost

The Lost finale is about to air and I am pumped!

I understand that some people don’t like the show and that is their right.  I’m not one of those Nazis who feels a need to have everyone think the same way as I do but at this point I am not interested in a debate about it’s merits so this rant is just for the fans.  If you don’t like the show don’t bother reading this blog.  I’ll wait 15 seconds before you leave and then the rest of us can get onto what I want to talk about.

Wait a second…

And they’re gone.  Right.  As I said I am pumped.

I’ve loved this show from the moment Jack Shephard opened his eye in the very first scene and I’ve loved every mystery that has come my way since.  I even liked the first six episodes of season three and the episode where Jack’s tattoos were explained.  I liked the way Nikki and Paulo were introduced and I loved the way they were written out.  I’ve loved the flashbacks, the flash forwards and the parallel storyline.  I have trusted these writers and they have repaid me over and over.  I feel like I know how Catholics would feel if the rapture ever actually occurs:  a feeling of vindication.

That is why I feel I have to take this time to chat briefly about The Age’s Melinda Houston.  Now she may be a lovely person, I have never met her and what I am about to say has nothing to do with who she is in real life but her reviews of Lost have driven me mental.  Her constant harping on about a show that she quite clearly does not watch apart from the occasional episode or even attempt to understand makes her end up on my list of people that I consider to be quite clearly DULL.

Lets have a look at her latest column in which she “laments those long running shows that don’t know when to call it a day”.  Bam!  First mistake.  This is just incorrect.  Lost had the privilege of announcing it’s end date, a rarity in TV shows on free to air in the States.  From the moment it knew when it was ending it has been all systems go as we hurtled to this final episode.  Oh how the writers must lament they didn’t call it a day sooner, if only Melinda had been there to guide them to a speedy ending that would have made her happy.

She starts her report with a very funny “Hello…?  Hell-ooo?  Is anyone still out there?” clearly suggesting that no one watches the show anymore.  Bam!  Second mistake.  Millions of people around the world continue to watch it.  Is it the mainstream hit it was at the beginning of it’s run?  No, but it has retained a loyal following that numbers a lot more than say Masterchef.  Just because she quite clearly hangs out with people who would rather watch paint dry and then discuss it over a nice cuppa does not mean that no one in the world is still watching this fine show.  If Melinda doubts this check out websites…I’m sure she’s heard of them…and she would see that she is incorrect.  Again.

This is one of my favourite lines:  “Overwhelmed by its own success and the extent to which it could get an audience to repeatedly swallow the plainly ludicrous, the show ploughed on piling absurdity on absurdity until it’s addled viewers dropped from sheer exhaustion.  It just didn’t know when to quit.”  Nice one Melinda.  What a great call.  Do you watch Dr Who and exclaim with a knowing look, “There is no way the TARDIS could be that big on the inside”.  You must be fun at parties.  Of course the show is big with ideas, it is a sci fi show.  It was from the very start, when you admit the show was quite good.  Or do you think when a plane crashes that a lot of beautiful people would survive with no horrific injuries?  Do you think that it is quite normal to find a man living in a hatch pressing a button every 108 minutes to save the world?  If so your life must be just ace and I hope we can be friends so I can have some exciting drama like that.  Oh…and what about the monster?  Y’know, the one that is made of smoke?  That was there in the first season, that wasn’t ludicrous at all.  I know I see smoke do all sorts of wonderful things but that is usually when I visit my friends back in Adelaide and it definitely isn’t black.  Can you relate to that too, Melinda?

Quite clearly Melinda is one of those dull people that lacks ambition and resents others for having it.  Just last week she was extolling the virtues of that great show Poh’s Kitchen.  Yup, another cooking show.  That’s what we all need, something that tows the safe party line.  Another show in Australia where we take a runner up to a reality TV show, give them their own show based on them being attractive and make certain a woman is doing what she should be doing which is staying in the kitchen while the winner of Masterchef gets to write books because lets face it, she’s not as attractive as Poh.  Is this exactly how it works?  I have no idea but it is fun to express opinions on a show that I know nothing about, especially doing it with a condescending swing in my step.  I call it doing a Melissa Houston.

I love that a show that has delved into theoretical science as a backdrop for some of its stories is ludicrous.  But then again I bet that she thought that place where Blue Heelers was set was really that violent.  And remember this is not an HBO series; this is free to air TV.  To have some sort of ambition and not be a new CSI or Law and Order spin off seems to be some sort of detriment.  Maybe if it had been CSI Island Melinda wouldn’t have become so confused and felt the show had become ludicrous in it’s later seasons.

God there is so much to laugh at in her review.  When Melinda talks up Seachange as being a show to admire because it knew when to pull up stumps at three seasons I really begin to understand how dull she is.  Melinda claims Lost is ludicrous but then laments that a show like Eli Stone was cut before its time.  It must have been those George Michael appearances that got Melinda all fired up so please don’t tell her that he’s gay; it may ruin her dreams of life long love.

Bah!  Why do I read her columns on Lost if they make me so angry?  I guess because sometimes we’re attracted to things in reality that are just not good for you.  Maybe Melinda is my cocaine because she certainly gets my blood racing and I find it difficult to concentrate after reading her pious accounts of a show she doesn’t get.  I wonder if Melinda reads books the same way.  I’d love to have a conversation with her like this:

“Hey Mel, what did you think of Michael Chabon’s “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay?” I’d ask.

“Well I read chapters 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42 and let me tell you, it made no sense.  I hope the last page answers all the questions I need or otherwise he may have just finished it at chapter 15.”

Melinda laughs at the fact that Lost has moved to the lesser Channel 7 to air it’s last season as if this is an indictment on the quality of the show.  I guess if Melinda believes in free to air TV being the barometer of quality then she must hate The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Sex and the City, the Wire, the West Wing, the Shield and Homicide:  Life on the Street because all of those shows never finished in their original time slot or at all.  Yeah, they’re all pretty good examples of bad TV; thank goodness in Australia we have people with real nous who know when a show needs to go.

That’s enough on Melinda.  She’s probably very lovely in real life.  Saves kittens from trees.  Feeds the homeless.  Fights marauding gangs from hurting the weak and oppressed.  Good on her, I give her two thumbs up for that.

But when it comes to having any idea about what is quality TV then she can take her dull and antiquated views and just get lost.  I like ambition and Lost has been at the very least that, something that Melinda quite clearly lost a long time ago.  Do I have any facts to back that up?  No, I’m basing this all on her reviews of Lost.  Surely that’s enough ammunition for a person to act smug, right Melinda?

Namaste.

Justin Hamilton

This Island.

Somewhere between 1977 and 2004

Why the Doctor is Tops

I love the new Doctor Who for a number of reasons.

Firstly it is family entertainment, which means it has the potential to be seen by a broad spectrum of viewers.  There are so few shows we can watch with children, grandparents and other family members these days and most of them pander to the lowest common denominator neither challenging nor inspiring those who watch.  Dr Who is full of big ideas and break neck action that is thrilling, funny and scary all at the same time.  Check out the recent stone angels for (wait for it) rock solid proof!  Booyah!

Secondly I love that the Doctor forgoes weapons and does his best by out thinking his enemies.  In these modern times where irony is dripping from even the most basic of Generation Y and a society that equates dark with edgy it is a breath of fresh air to have a hero who is just smarter than everyone else.

Thirdly he loves the human race regardless of all our mistakes, real and imaginary.  He thrills to our potential and embraces our lust for life.  Unfashionable in most quarters but cool when expounded by a certain Time Lord.

Finally I love the new Doctor.  I think Matt Smith is a daring, aggressive, steampunk inspired choice and everything from his companions to his adventures has made me feel like a kid again.  This conversation from the latest episode sums up everything I adore about the Doctor.  (I am up to date with the UK, if you haven’t watched the latest episode then feel free to read this at a later date.)

So the bad guys are on their way.  We have no idea who they are but they’re coming up through the ground.  They’ve already kidnapped some other characters including the Doctor’s latest companion Amy.  (Boo!)  Of course the Doctor has a plan.  As he sets his plan into action a young boy approaches the Doctor.  His father has been taken and he’s uncertain about what is going to happen.  This is a part of their conversation that I just loved.

“Have you met monsters before?” asks the young boy.

“Yeah,” the Doctor answers.

“Are you scared of them?”

“No.  They’re scared of me.”

“Will you really get my Dad back?”

“No question.”

Every young child should know the Doctor.  He’s charming, funny, smart, erudite, slightly mad and scares away the monsters.

Justin Hamilton

Fitzroy North

23rd of May, 2010

In Aker We Trust?

Ah Akermanis, you are a joy.

With the sincerity of a good Aussie bloke he’s really let us know that hey, there’s nothing wrong with being gay, just keep it to yourself because no one in the AFL could cope.  Whew!  Thank you for speaking up, I would have hated to see a bunch of players come out of the woodwork and declare their homosexuality.  It would just ruin the game on so many levels.  Imagine having to put up with the snickers of commentators when they used terms like “holding the man” and “push in the back”?  Imagine if your favourite footballer came out one day and then the next day kicked a winning goal?  Would you still be able to cheer for him while knowing deep down you’re still a good old fashioned heterosexual or would barracking for that player force you to head straight to JB and buy up all of Kylie’s albums?  What a dilemma!

There is so much to laugh at in his column.

Firstly that it would be international news.  Yep, when I’ve been overseas the amount of news coverage that goes to the AFL is embarrassing.  I hear that the possibility of Ablett going to the Gold Coast is almost as important on where Lebron James may end up in the NBA.  This is a clear sign of the world that Aker lives in; one where the AFL is important all over the world.  Heck, it isn't even important in all of Australia, right NSW and Qld?

I love that locker room nudity is ok when you’re heterosexual but if you’re gay then whoa Nellie, get thee out of here.  It is the mistake of all homophobic men that they think if another man is gay they automatically want to have sex with them.  This is not the case and Aker should be quietly relieved that I do not know of one man who finds him attractive in anyway, gays and straights included.

How about his statement that AFL footy is not ready for it?  Brilliant.  I’m pretty certain there were a lot of racists that weren’t ready for Rosa Parks to sit at the front of the bus too.  We really should have kept their feelings in mind when we allowed the world to move forward. 

Aker’s comment that he played in the two’s with a gay player is brilliant as well.  (In the two’s!  Ha!)  Aker described him as a good guy but in the terms that you can describe another man without fear of being touched by a fairy wand.  And I love the implication of, “Hey, being gay is fine, some of my best friends are gay”.  It’s like we’ve travelled back in time and are trapped in a 90’s sitcom.

“What I should have done was sit down and talk with him in an attempt to understand his life,” Aker has said about his gay amigo.  Why?  Why do you need to understand him?  Can’t you just like him for who he is?  I’m sure no one is trying to sit down with Aker and talk to him to understand why he bleaches his hair and has a different colour goatee?  And don’t tell me they’re different things.  One is a man being able to love another man free of prejudice; the other is the ability to look like someone who really wishes he ran a saloon bar in Texas free of ridicule.  I’ll be honest, I’m more afraid of the potential saloon bar guy than I am of the homosexual but then again, in my defence, maybe I just don’t understand him?

Look it would be easy to go through all of Aker’s article and tear it apart because he really has painted a target on nearly every line.  And the argument that he was trying to open up the debate is ludicrous.  I guess that was what Nathan Bock was doing when he apologised for cracking his missus and being suspended for one game: just trying to open up the debate that hitting chicks is not cool.

What I have a problem with is why do we care what Akermanis has to say?  If the man had any other profession he would quite clearly be “Nigel No Friends”; the dickhead mate that you stay in touch with because you went to Primary School together.  Just because he is good at kicking a footy through four sticks does not mean we should care about anything he has to say.  The media and the footy loving public put too much stock in what these footballers think because they’re blinded by the glamour of the sport.  I watch some of my best friends faun around footballers and then pass off their transgressions as just one of those things.  How many times have we watched people on TV say things like “Aker is just being Aker,” or “Cousins is really nice when you get to know him” or “Carey is a top guy”?  If they didn’t play footy we would shun them for the tools they are and not give them columns and positions on radio to air their ill informed views.  What we should be doing is encouraging the public to want to read articles by educated people who can make a proper argument that is based on facts and fairness.  That way we would all benefit and possibly evolve as a society.

But then again I live in la la land and just have to accept that in this world, when shit gets real, the media will turn to Aker rather than someone with half a brain.

And for those people who think he shouldn’t be allowed to say what he wants to say then you should remember we live in a democracy so therefore if he has a column and wants to prove to the public that he is douche bag then that is his right.  I will support him on that 100% because some of my best friends are douche bags.

Justin Hamilton

Fitzroy North

May 20th, 2010

The Site is a Sight for Bored Eyes

To whom it may concern…man, woman or other,

When it came time to join the 21st Century and finally have a website that represented all my insane ramblings, counter culture time bombs and “wish I hadn’t written that when I was drunk” posts, I looked far and wide for a team of internet boffins that could make me look groovy to the young while pampering to my out of date old man skills.  I came across Blaster United one night as their leader (or at least the one who claimed to be their leader) hid amongst the flotsam jetsam of riff raff that fill the streets when no one is looking.  We talked about many things nerdy and cool; relevant and irrelevant; hip and gaudy.  Our conversation resembled an episode of “Home and Away” as directed by David Lynch and by the end of it I’d signed my life and site away with the blood of the dude sitting next to me at the bar.  (There is no way I would use my own blood…I’m afraid of needles and blood…a typical comedian in other words.)

Over the next couple of weeks the leader and his team of merry Blasters took my vague ideas and fantastical wishes; slowly transforming them into a site that not only made me look way cooler than I ever hoped to be but also gave it the steering capabilities even an idiot man child could handle.  In fact they proved to me how easy it was to navigate by time travelling a member of Homo Erectus from the past, let him (or her) play with it for a second and then subsequently wrote my first blog written for me without a second thought.  From there I felt positive that I could master this site from the future and have continued to use it without accidentally locking up the site anymore than twice. 

Blaster-United are the future of cool sites and manipulation of the time/space continuum often referred to as the Internet.  They make it easy for the uneducated and make it progressive for those who don’t deserve to be.  Imagine slapping some make up on Grandma and then thinking you wouldn’t mind having a crack.  That is the power of Blaster-United.

Lets hope they use their power for good.

Justin Hamilton

Fitzroy North

10th of May, 2010

Freedom of Twitter

This has really gotten out of hand.

Catherine Deveny has been fired from the Age due to her provocative Twitter messages throughout the Logies.  Now I don’t run a newspaper so I can’t comment on how the pressures of back room politics must play out on editors etc but it does seem disingenuous to sack her for being 100% Catherine Deveny when that is what they have encouraged over the last few years in her column. 

Now I will say that I didn’t find her Tweets to be funny or clever but I stand by her right to say what she wants.  This is the thing everyone is forgetting about Twitter:  no one is making you read her messages.  If you don’t like what she says, don’t read it.  Stop following her on Twitter and glaze over her column in the Age if that is your preference.  There are people out there who love her (hello to my pal Noreen!) and those who don’t.  Cath has always been provocative and has been lauded for that in the past.  Now she cops some controversy and the Age flail about like they can’t believe she was capable of something like this.

Here’s the thing:  did she say anything that incited physical violence?  Did she make any statements that caused particular harm to anyone?  I don’t think Bindi Irwin jokes are particularly funny but that is my take on them.  I think that girl has been through enough and that they’re easy jokes but if Cath wants to make them it’s her choice.  Comedians many moons ago made Nikki Webster and the fat kid from “Hey Dad” jokes.  Some of those comedians are very well respected now.  Are we going to throw them to the lions now in retrospect? 

Satire only works when the target is big.  That is why right wing comedy never works as it is only picking on the lower status.  It always comes across as bullying and therefore not funny.  That seems to be Cath’s big mistake but that is only my opinion.  She doesn’t deserve to lose her job over this.  In a land where we had people “blacking up” on “Hey, Hey It’s Saturday” and where Sam Newman could sexualise a respected Age journalist in Caroline Wilson, how does this even rate alongside those gaffes.  Isn’t it funny that they all still have their jobs and Cath is thrown to the wolves.  I could be wrong in thinking this but it does have the whiff of old school chauvinism, an opportunity to put a “little lady” back where she belongs.

I know and like Cath.  Sometimes I think she hits her topics cleanly and sometimes I don’t.  I’m sure she has seen me on stage and sometimes laughed and sometimes hasn’t.  But I support her right to say what she wants to say.  If she is to be the martyr for freedom of speech then so be it but surely we should have given her a real solid platform to fight from rather than some dull “we should be allowed to tweet what we want” angle.  As I said, the Age has been complicit in helping to create the myth of Deveny and when it doesn’t suit her they’ve panicked and thrown her to the wolves.

There are much better ways to tackle this situation.  Make her be interviewed by Bindi Irwin and Rove.  Lets see how she stands by her “Tweets” when face to face with her Twitter targets.  How about this?  Get her to host the Logies next year!  It is always easier to be critical from the dark, get her up there and see what she can do.  It might be a train wreck or it might be the greatest Logies we’ve ever seen but I will bet you that we’d all tune in!  Once again to have her lose her job is a travesty and now changes the debate to whether she is a martyr for the cause or just a very naughty girl.

I hope the Age comes to their senses and bring her back into the fold.  As noted before if you don’t like her don’t read her work.  Don’t subscribe to her Twitter account.  You can do that to anyone.  If you don’t like Wil Anderson don’t follow him.  If you don’t like me don’t read what I have to say.  That is your choice.  Turn off and tune out.

It’s your right as it is Catherine Deveny’s right to have her say.

Justin Hamilton

Fitzroy North

5th of May 2010