31 March, 2005

jesus goes to heaven and back, munkey plays on the ground

It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces. ~"Jones" bastardising Austen

If this is true, I am concerned. Things are looking sunny in munkeyland... unless perhaps this adage refers to the crumbling state of my finances, in regard to which I am quite happy to keep my head metaphorically buried in the sand, and literally buried in the gin.

On Thursday, at long last, I met Dr (Dave) Goo, who was taking a break from revolutionising the 7-Eleven corporation, to spend an evening with munkey boi. Perfectly punctual, he dropped in to my apartment with a broad smile and a vigorous shake of my hand, before we headed off in his very flashy Astra to Fitzroy. Mao's was booked out, so we dithered up Brunswick St for a while, before settling on Café Nova for a fine meal. After dinner, Melbourne's weather treated us to a sudden storm of freezing wind and stinging rain as we marched back up to Gertrude St to the Builders Arms, but we got there without looking too much like drowned rats. We were there early, so didn't have to queue in the elements to get in, and in fact by the time we had grabbed ourselves a beer, the weather had settled temporarily and we could sit outside. We had a great evening of chat, briefly running into Mr Gareth and Mr Nick V (again!) and also a few of Dr Goo's friends & acquaintances, but mostly just hogging our table and talking like it's going out of style. We left early owing to Dave's huge work committments, but that was kind of good, because things were just starting to get a bit too crowded and "scene"y. I'm glad we made a break for it before the queenie twinks on pills started swamping the joint. Oh and it turns out Dr Goo ALSO works within five minutes of me! Just like Adrian... I'm suspecting the producers of the Truman-Show-esque Reality TV Show that is 'The Life Of Munkey' have decided it will be interesting to plant all my online friends within absurdly coincidental proximity!
*suspicious-of-the-cameras-behind-the-mirrors munkey*

On Good Friday, I found my way to the city by tram for the first time... I live a 15 minute tram ride from Flinders Street Station! hurrah! There I was to meet Mr Adam M (far too many Adams about, and far too many of them have made me cry). But there are no tears on the horizon with this particular Adam. We wandered into Degraves St to cure his sleepiness with a very strong coffee, and eggs, bacon, toast etc (whoever thought of the all-day-breakfast deserves a Nobel Prize). We then scurried through the filthy laneways to the marvellous St Jeromes, my favourite haunt, where munkey and Adam spent far too much money on drinks... and chatted about everything and anything, including all the taboos: politics, religion and sex. Even astrophysics and molecular biology were on the menu... interesting, considering they're topics on which our knowledge is scant to say the least.

Saturday - while Jesus was out to it - was patermunkey's birthday! Hurrah and Happy Birthday to Daddy. Oli drove me to my auntie Ms Sheila's house where I caught up with Gradmas Ashton & Miller, Cousin Mark and his partner Annie (3 weeks to go!) and Cousin Glenn. Great to see them, and get drunk with them again *bingeing-at-the-expense-of-others munkey*. Goodness, if I ever think my friends are potty-mouthed, I only need to spend a few minutes with those lads. Patermunkey was upbeat and seemed to have a good day, which was great.

I stayed the night in Ms Cait's bed, while she slept on the floor in my old room... her choice, not mine - I would never force my sis out onto the floor! I was woken bright and early by her excitement at having been visited by the Easter Bunny during the night. Indeed Mister Myxamatosis had hidden many little eggs around the place which my enthusiastic sister and the sleepy, myopic Electroboy gathered up... and I took a few for myself as well, before crawling back into bed to nurse my hangover. I was awoken a few hours later by Ms Snazzles wandering into my house... apparently expected by my father, but not by me! Lucky she is used to seeing me dishevelled and semi-conscious, or it would have been rather embarassing. Oh and I'm not sure if I am supposed to make her position within the Aussie TV Pantheon publically known... but she's in the credits of Neighbours now! *cat-out-of-the-bag munkey* YAAAAAY!

On Monday, now an expert at this public transport deal, I played good samaritan / tour guide to a nice Taiwanese man on the tram, before catching up with Mr Jamie for lunch. Jamie is from Tasmania via Geelong, so it was left to munkey to decide on venues. So, predictable munkey led the way to my usual hang-outs... Degraves St for coffee, Hairy Canary for lunch... then we ambled up to unknown territory: QV. I'd never been in there before, but it's quite nice. The hot black waiter and a fellow-patron with Ethan Embry's smile certainly made for pleasant people-watching at the café where we stopped for a beer. But even greater perve-potential was yet to come... at "Brown Sugar" in Block Place. The waiter there is one of the finest specimens of young-manhood I have ever encountered ~ like River Phoenix walked again.

On Monday evening, I was joined by the irrepressible Ladies Of Glam, Ms Snazzles and Madame Mu for pizza, booze and X-Factor. I'd never seen it before, but since they both work at Grundy TV now, it's kind of expected that they know what's happening. So as a completely inexperienced viewer I have to say that I don't think the producers have the same definition of "X-Factor" that I do. Thom Yorke has X-Factor. Björk has X-Factor. Bowie, Ramone, Lennon and Dylan have X-Factor. The boy at "Brown Sugar" has X-Factor. A generic boyband, a bunch of atonal hippie-chicks etc etc do not. And flu or no flu, Janie is a skank. So there. *self-imortant-know-all munkey*

And on the general subject of charisma and attractiveness... with regard to Brown Sugar boy, it's all good to look and gaze and imagine while sipping a gin and tonic... but really - piercing blue-eyes, funky golden hair and a damn fit body can only hold your interest for so long. Give me a big heart, a lively mind and a warm smile... and who really cares what kind of body it's wrapped in? If it can breathe and be warm and cuddle me - and not rip out my heart and stomp it into the dust - I'll be a happy boi *unsuspectingly-developing-a-crush munkey*

On that thought, I shall leave you, lovers and dreamers. You can be assured I shall come sprinting verily from the plains of Marathon with any pertinent news. Remember to grasp every moment you have, and clutch it to your bosom like a tender, newborn babe.

Mr Disease-Ridden-Rodentine-Annual-Bringer-Of-Chocolate has X-Factor. Do you?


24 March, 2005

fresh from the cocoon, wings still damp, the creature examines its new form

Well, another week has passed into the past.

On Friday evening, Mr Ryan B very kindly took me to a play, being performed at Chapel Off Chapel. Of course it was wonderful to see him again, and the performance was extraordinary (see my review, below). It was also an evening for running into faces from the past. Mr Nick V from Uni was there (he seems to pop up everywhere!) filming the event, a new enterprise he has going. Then, who should sit next to me, but chemistry teacher cum school-play make-up artist extraordinaire, Mr Greg J. It took him a minute to recognise who I was, but once he mentally subtracted the glasses, the stubble and a few kilos, and added a blazer, tie and a few inches of pony-tail, he remembered the schoolboy I used to be. After the play, Mr Ryan B and I coffeed and chinwagged into the wee small hours, before Oli and I drove him home to Northcote *very-willing-chauffeur munkey*.

Saturday was the long-awaited housewarming of Ms Snazzles, Madame Mu, Ms Em and Mr Jez at their glorious new abode. Munkey trundled to my family home to help patermunkey bring his BBQ (the new residents don't have one) from the Hills of Endeavour, to the Hill of Clifton for the occasion. It was great to see all the friends and families-of-friends again, many of whom I've not caught up with for far too long... and to meet a few new people too. A good deal of booze was ingested, and a good deal of hilarity consequently ensued, before I split a cab home with one Ms Holly, who happens to live close by. O the joy of living a less-than-$15 taxi trip from my bestest friends! *taking-full-advantage-of-inner-suburbs-life munkey*

Sunday was a day of rest and recovery from my hangover, although I wasn't too unwell, thanks to the fool-proof 'Litre of water and two Panadols before bed' method. Then I made the best of my RDO on Monday (yay for RDOs!) doing the domesticky things such as washing, dishes, cleaning, etc which had been building up for some time. Mr Chris Mac dropped in for pizza and chat that evening, and seemed to heartily approve of my new domain. That night, I shed a quiet tear for my ability to sleep in, as i re-set my alarm clock. I lay me down to sleep, ready for a delightfully short working week, and a delightfully busy social week.

Mr Adrian popped in to check out the pad on Tuesday eve, before we headed off for a fine dinner at Grandma Funk's, and then to DT's for a fundraiser in aid of the Melbourne Rainbow Band. The MRB is a queer-friendly concert band, consisting mostly of gay and lesbian musicians, with whom Mr Adrian plays saxophone. It was great to meet all the people I've heard so much about... in particular Adrian's former student Dr Andrew: a 26 year-old, highly charismatic, tall, dark and dashing doctor (sorry gals, he's gay ~ sorry bois, he's spoken-for). The highlight of the evening was seeing Adrian and Andrew perform three duets for saxophone together... and of course, the shy, weedy, cute boy with glasses, whose name I think is David. Very easy on the eye. *look-but-don't-talk munkey*

Which brings us to Wednesday. After a false start on the weekend, I at last got to meet Mr Ryan Mac. Yes, another Ryan... but hey it's a lovely name, so who's complaining? We met at the Swan, and trundled down to Wild Oscar's, where Blair / Stuart from Big Brother / Neighbours was sitting with some other good-looking people, pretending to be ordinary. While I enjoyed a chicken focaccia, and Ryan a Caesar Salad (why is it that whenever I have a meal with someone, they eat Caesar Salad? Do I psychically attract Caesar Salad lovers, for some obscure reason?) I tried to keep my jaw from dropping at the tangled web of remarkable experiences which has made up Mr Ryan Mac's tender 20 years. *own-life-seeming-dull-by-comparison munkey* I don't know who has the rights to 'Ryan Mac: The Telemovie', but I want them!

We then braved the walk down Chapel St ("the asshole of Melbourne" as Mr Ryan so articulately put it) as he had double vouchers to Gold Class at the Jam Factory. So we lazed in our electronic recliners, gobbled Maltesers and watched Will Smith being improbably charming in Hitch. Now, we all know that munkey is a film-snob (Ryan had been duly warned) and we all know that romantic comedy is among my least favourite genres, but it wasn't too bad. It followed a pretty standard formula, had some very overdone physical "comedy" and had an extremely protracted third act (what's going on in Hollywood? doesn't anyone know how to do a snappy ending anymore?), but it had some strong characters, insightfully witty dialogue and a few genuinely romantic moments, so it wasn't too shabby.

Thus, munkey has been up late, and then awake again at 6am, for three nights running now... and it doesn't end there. Tonight I'm meeting Dr Goo and heading to Q & A at the Builders' Arms. Yes, lovers and dreamers, after not setting a toe inside a gay-themed place for several years, I am now going out on the "scene" twice in a week! Before you know it, I'll be popping pills, dancing like a dickhead, and screwing a different boy-with-no-personality every weekend. Well, perhaps not. If I make it through the next twelve hours without succumbing to exhaustion, I think I shall enjoy a nice relaxing Easter weekend. So don't fear, you won't be seeing me in a tight tee-shirt (or worse still: no shirt!) bopping along to Kylie at The Market any time soon. *slightly-disparaging-of-certain-segments-of-the-gay-community munkey*

Mr 13 update: As I was coming down the stairs to go out the other day, Mr 13 was standing just outside the front door, smoking either a self-rolled ciggy or a joint, with his eyes screwed shut and his hands pressed firmly over his ears. As I came past, he opened his eyes, smiled ever-so-slightly and said a meek, "gidday". Such a strange poppet.

Fare thee well, friends. I hope your grin is hanging from your ear-lobes, and all the world seems a ray of juicy sunshine.



munkey's eye view: THE LARAMIE PROJECT


Hate is not a Laramie virtue ~ Hate is a symptom of the World

In late 1998, 21 year-old gay college student Matthew Sheppard was brutally bashed and left to die, tied to a fence just outside the town of Laramie Wyoming in the southern USA. The media coverage and public response led the case to be one of the first high-profile "gay hate crimes". His attackers were two other young men from the same town - a community of just over 20,000 where everybody knows everybody. In the year following, members of a New York theatre troupe, led by Moises Kauffman, visited Laramie several times to witness the aftermath of Matthew's murder, conducting hundreds of interviews with people from all walks of life within the town. These interviews, along with diary entries by the actors and transcripts of real media statements, are woven together to create a varied, unbiased, highly emotional and deeply thought-provoking portrait of an everyday community in the wake of an eye-opening tragedy.

The original US production was performed by the actors who conducted the interviews, with costumes, sets etc adding to re-create the story with vividness and no-doubt deeply personal resonance. However, it's easy to see how a production from a company with no immediate connection to the town or the case, might fail to have the impact of the original. But this production at Chapel-Off-Chapel by Melbourne group The Act-O-Matic 3000, using just eight actors in multiple roles, simple skyscape backdrop, plain-clothes costume and eight chairs, brings the play to life with gripping authenticity and devastating immediacy.

The performers, with not a weak-link in sight, are nothing short of brilliant. Each portrays at least five characters without the need of costume or make-up, merely relying on subtlety of mannerism, voice and facial expression to create the broad spectrum of people within the community. The direction by Chris Baldock is understated yet captivating; it's not often you see a play that employs no scene changes, props or costumes, and yet is consistently visually and spacially dynamic. The use of music by american composer Thomas Newman - known for such scores as American Beauty and Six Feet Under - blends perfectly with the show's atmosphere, evoking the tragi-comic feeling of the hidden potential for harmony and beauty, which blossoms just beneath the surface of even the most horrific of human situations.

The Laramie Project's greatest strength comes in its resistance to "taking a stance". The play presents the full scope of opinions, views and reactions to the Sheppard murder, defying the cliché of the conservative redneck town, without falling into the opposite trap of over-sympathising or turning the crime into a random event isolated from the rest of the community. As town leaders pipe up against prejudice and encourage their locals to "show the world that Laramie is NOT like this!", a female Islamic college student - who herself has borne the brunt of ignorance and bigotry - cannot help but point out that the crime happened in Laramie; their town IS like this, because this happened here. And herein lies one of the play's many important lessons. To deny that bigotry, hate and violence exist in our world, or to loudly proclaim one's own tolerance, does not help the problem. It is only by acknowledging and addressing the prejudice that we can hope to combat it in any meaningful way.

The Act-O-Matic 3000's production of The Laramie Project actively examines the mechanics of hate - not just in Laramie Wyoming but in every society - including, of course, that in which it is performed. Although Melbourne may pride itself on being a multicultural, idealogically diverse and queer-friendly society, you need only listen to the conversation of an average working male after a few beers - or attend a suburban public high-school for a couple of years - to see that, while we may lack the Christian ultra-conservatism of the American South, prejudice in all its ugly forms is alive and thirving in our very midst.

In its analysis of the reactions by religious leaders (the local Catholic minister immediately held a vigil for the gay, HIV-positive Sheppard, while the local Baptist expressed his hopes that Matthew had time to repent and regret his lifestyle while lying in agony), the lack of action by political leaders (once the perpetrators had been sentenced, the issue disappeared and no hate-crime or anti-discrimination legislation has ever been passed in the State of Wyoming) and the shock and disgust of Matt's peers, the play shows that the issue of homophobia - or any kind of ingrained bigotry - is not a simple one.

Certainly more questions are asked than answered, more issues are raised than resolved. But - while never likely to hit the bright lights of Broadway - numerous college, school and amateur productions have made The Laramie Project the most performed play in the USA today. And that many people being exposed to its entertaining, engaging and above all non-didactic appraisal of such complicated social issues, can only lead to broader dialogue and more open thought... which is surely a very very positive thing.

(Unfortunately I saw The Laramie Project near the end of its run and it has now closed... but I believe the production is preparing a return season, due to the overwhelming public response to the show. Stay tuned.)

5 (out of 5)



17 March, 2005

make yourself at home... but kindly leave your magnifying glass at the door

Munkey-planet continues its slow, smooth revolution. I know I have settled into bachelor-pad life now, because my flat is an absolute disgrace. It was inevitable, and actually took longer than I was expecting *messymunkey*. However it will only take a half-hour of effort to get the place sparkiling and beautiful again. This is the constant cyle of my life. As per the second Law of thermodynamics, the chaos of my surroundings increases and increases exponentially, until I can't take it anymore. Then with a blood-curdling scream and an obsessive-compulsive shudder, I rally against the inevitable entropy of the universe, and break into a hypomanic state. My activity doesn't cease until my environment once again resembles a picture in a magazine. Sound like a healthy pattern of behaviour? I think so!

Last Thursday night, I enjoyed a dinner with Mr Kenny. He arrived at my gaff and took the 45 second tour, dubbing everything he spied in my home: "interesting". Then we mosied on down to the Public House on Church St where I enjoyed beer, fine food and great conversation, all provided by the generous heart of Mr Kenny. Since I went nuts, fully furnishing and decorating my house, and ending up extremely poor in the process, friends have been taking me to dinner and events in lieu of housewarming presents. *one-step-ahead-of-the-bread-line munkey* A rather fine deal if you ask me!

As we exited the Public House, my eyes wandered across the street and saw: a Pizza place that delivers! Flashback: the first night I moved in - Ms Snazzles and munkey are sitting in my new apartment, desperately trying to find a Pizza place that will deliver their wares to our slothful door. We go through the telephone book that was found on the shelf when I moved in. All the places we call have changed hands, closed down, been pillaged by the Huns, etc etc. This is an old, useless phone book. We walk to Red Rooster instead (ahh the bliss of having RR and KFC both within walking distance!). Flashforward: Standing on Church St, just five minutes' walk from my home - Munkey has found a Pizza place that delivers! We crossed the street to take a menu, and as we begin to cross back: a familiar face. That tall, skinny, slightly creepy man... he was walking up my driveway as Kenny and I left. He must live in the same building! Munkey smiles and nods in casual recognition/greeting. Creepy-man stares with what seems to be a mix of terror and loathing, nods very vaguely and scampers away... hmmmm.

Another friend-shouting-poverty-stricken-munkey event on Friday night, as Ms Snazzles - bless her heart - bought me dinner and took me to the movies. Hurrah! We saw 'Sideways'. It was very good, although I didn't think it was quite the masterpiece some critics would have one believe. Paul Giamatti is quite brilliant as always, and the Academy should all be dipped in hydrochloric acid for neglecting to nominate him for an Oscar. So there.

The newly-discovered Pizza place: Fruscolino! (which must be pronounced with an over-the-top, music-hall Italian accent) was sampled on Saturday night when Ms Snazzles and Madame Mu came round to watch more of 'Spaced' on DVD. What a marvellous series. Only one more episode and I will have seen it all. Are they making another series? O Snazzles, please tell your munkey they are making another series! The pizza from Fruscolino! is good: real Italian style with very thin base and tonnes of cheese. Munkey approves.

On Sunday, Ms Sheila & Mr Ian brought my beloved sibling Ms Cait round for a visit, as patermunkey was toiling away at the MCG (no, he's not a sportsman... he is one of the hoard of worker-ants who are busily swarming over Melbourne building things for the 2006 Commonwealth Games). Ms Cait made sure to inspect my cupboards and fridge, to see what I've been eating / doing... but regretted later that she had forgotten to go through my GARBAGE for more information! The future career opportunities for a girl with a mind like that are tantalising to consider.

Ms Andrea came for a visit on Monday afternoon, but unlike my sister did not feel compelled to inspect the house for evidence of my daily activities. Come to think of it, during his visit, Mr Kenny also took a look at the few dishes stacked in my kitchen and declared (correctly) that I had had toast for breakfast that morning. Why do people feel that detective work is necessary when visiting my new place? My life really isn't that interesting! If there were mirrors with white smears and razor blades lying on the tables, or passed-out hookers strewn among the furniture, I could understand the intrigue... but really! What's so intriguing about little old me? Nuthin.

On Tuesday I ventured back to my dear family home for a lovely roast dinner prepared by patermunkey. I would like to say the place is falling to pieces without me... that the very bricks are crumbling from the walls, the pets have given up eating, the garden has withered, the neighbours weep and beat their chests every time they return to the neighbourhood to find me absent. But alas, all seems well. Although my beloved father has seemingly managed to destroy the family computer by deleting what he believed to be something of mine, but in fact contained a whole bunch of essential config.sys files or something. Geek-Speak is all Greek to me *technophobe-ironically-employed-as-a-network-administrator munkey*... but the bottom line is, the thing is fucked and is now taking a trip to Mr Fix-It. Huzzah for my very own computer, onto which I copied everything of mine from the old family pc, before patermunkey got busy with the delete button.

As for the creepy man who lives in number 13 (13... spooky!) I have seen him at least 10 times... rather strange considering I've only seen any of the other tennants about twice if ever. Mr 13 doesn't seem to work or own a car, but he always happens to be arriving just as I leave, or vice versa, or we arrive at the same time and have to endure the awkward walk up the stairs together. Still I make my attempts at low-key friendliness, but he maintains his terrified-angry-rodent persona, smiling half-heartedly and nodding uncertainly before he scurries away. It's got to the point where I'm certain that one of us is stalking the other, but I'm honestly not sure which is the psycho and which is the terrified victim.

More news as it comes to hand, my friends.



08 March, 2005

the house of munkey & the wedding of the year

Greetings lovers and dreamers, and welcome to the first blog entry to be typed in The House Of Munkey. Yes, you read correctly, I have taken up residence in my marvellous new abode in Richmondia *official-tennant munkey*.

In usual munkey style, the calendar ticked over to Thursday eve - less than 48 hours before moving day - and I had yet to pack a single item. So I put my chubby little ass in gear and within two days, with a little help from my Dad and sister, had my entire life packed away in boxes. Saturday rolled by and the outlook was bleak: a typical Melbourne day was scheduled ~ mostly fine but scattered with frequent, random periods of torrential rain... and patermunkey has an open-top truck.

Not wanting to get my couch, bed etc soaked through with rain, we delayed and procrastinated much of the day, moving in all the boxes and small things, but still unable to shift the furniture due to the weather. At last, we bit the bullet and made a break for it, covering everything with a big blue tarp and hoping for the best. We made it with everything relatively dry, and were now faced with a new labour worthy of Hercules: getting a fridge, sofa bed, double bed, and two rather large bookshelves up a very narrow flight of stairs.

There are many very pleasant ways one can break out in a serious sweat. Many of them involve two people in a small area of space, grunting and groaning. However lifting furniture up to a first floor flat with your father is not a method I'd recommend.

At any rate, we managed. So as the sun lay itself down to sleep under the blanket of the horizon, I had a new home... a home containing countless boxes of stuff and one very frazzled munkey, but a home nonetheless. Thank goodness for Ms Snazzles and her DVD of "Spaced" with which she occupied my brain until I was ready to collapse into a pleasant 8 hour coma.

I dragged myself out of bed bright and early on Sunday, and had most of my belongings unpacked by the time I had to rush off (via my old home to iron a shirt - don't have an iron yet) to The Wedding Of The Year. Yes dear readers, after eight wonderful years together, Mother Gomati and Mr Mikey tied the knot. It was a lovely, relaxed and love-filled event brimming with friendly faces and fabulous food. The ceremony was romantic, understated and moving *wishing-John-Howard-didn't-hate-fags-so-i-could-have-a-wedding-just-like-it-someday munkey*. A huge congratulatory hug and kiss to Gomes and Mike. Here's cheers to many wonderful years to come.

The time since has been filled with munkey playing house. Consequently I have no money, my credit card is all but maxed out... and my flat looks gorgeous. I don't know if anyone else would agree, because my aesthetic tastes are eccentric, ecclectic and esoteric... but I love it and I'm the only one who has to live in it so ~ Nyah! I have throw cushions! I have a three-piece dining setting! I have a bright purple bean-bag that looks like someone killed and stuffed Grimace from McDonalds (and not before time). In short: payday is just round the corner, and since I refuse to stress-out about finances, everything's feeling rather peachy.

From my brand new computer, on my second-hand desk, in my rented apartment... Adieu!

We've seen this picture before, but let's just relish it one more time: THIS IS WHERE I LIVE! PIP PIP HUZZAH!



02 March, 2005

top-up your botox and polish your ego... it's the smoshkas!

Unless you've been living in the depths of a cave with sound-proofing and red velvet curtains, the 77th (and final!) Academy Awards were this week. So for all of us movie buffs, it was time for our annual night of speech-heckling, plastic-surgery-spotting and general celebrity bitching.
Unfortunately, this has been a pretty darn uninspiring year for movies. The magical three years of the Lord Of The Rings Era are now behind us and all-but-forgotten and we are, alas, left to trudge through the usual Hollywood fare of overinflated bio-pics, sanctimonious dramas and lame comedies, trying to find the very occasional more gritty, challenging character piece that makes American mainstream cinema worth noticing.

So the munkey-gang, flailing in the raging torrent of ennui, dispensed with our usual extravaganza. No costumes this year. No voting (we all abstained by reason of apathy). No prizes. Only an internet quiz - amusing but nowhere near as good as the usual Snazzlepops brain-busters. But there was still wonderful company and plenty of hilarity as always, so who's complaining? (Well, apart from Martin Scorcese.)

It seems Tinseltown itself had a bit of Oscar Ennui as well. Where was Jack Nicholson, grinning creepily through his sunglasses? Where was Our Nicole? Our Russell? Caught up in a three-way mudwrestle with Jocelyn Moorehouse on the set of Eucalyptus? And even apart from the lack of A-List celebs, let's be honest: they put on a pretty darn shabby show this year. Technical hitches abounded. Orchestra master Bill Conti was in particularly bad form (almost as appalling as his repeated slaughtering of one of Howard Shore's finest melodies last year). And the decision to present various segments from random places around the theatre was downright misjudged. Note to the producers: If we ever have to see the balcony again, it better contain Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets, and they better be abusing Tom Hanks.

Of course there were some highlights. Though not as entertaining as a Billy or a Whoopi, Chris Rock's presentation contained some sparklingly scathing, politically motivated humour. And of course you can only cheer Our Cate winning her long-deserved Oscar (Paltrows, Kidmans and Berrys of the world take note: THAT is how a genuinely classy dame accepts an award with effortless poise). However there were also a lot of lowlights. Nobody needs to see Beyonce perform THREE times in one evening. America is a country of 300 million people. We saw one extremely average performer sing three songs, at least two of which were completely inappropriate for her. Why?! Why?! For the love of god why?! Meanwhile Renee Zelwegger continues her triumphant quest to always look disgusting in real-life, and I'm not sure if Jamie Foxx's ego can fit comfortably in Los Angeles, but it is certainly much too big for the Kodak Theatre. There were also far too many very long speeches by very old men (I'm sure they are emminently deserving of my respect, but that doesn't mean I want to hear them talk for 15 minutes).

And what was with the presentation of Best Picture? Just how many valiums had Dustin Hoffman taken before the ceremony?! And I know it all started long before I was born, but I would really like to find out just who is responsible for making Barbra Streisand a celebrity, and I would like to personally punsih them VERY severely.

By the way, isn't it amusing that a man who has consistently been a right-wing soap-boxer, and even held office for the Republican Party, can now be accused of making a film with an aggresive, left-wing / liberal agenda? And then the ultra-conservative American Academy votes it Best Picture! Only in Hollywood.

So pack away your stilettos and sunglasses for another year, go-getters and glamour-pusses. Here's hoping that the next twelve months offer up some films that are actually worth getting excited about!

p.s. on a completely unrelated - but exciting - note, Krispy Kreme Donuts will be opening their first store in Melbourne by July this year. Now THAT's worth getting excited about!


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