As you may recall Friday involved lunch with a departed work colleague and a bottle of a middling shiraz and a couple of mersyndol, which essentially blew a hole through any thought of staying back and toiling in any unpaid overtime this Friday, fer once.
Nope, I did the bolt and swaggered down the road as fast as my unsteady sea legs would carry me to ye olde 'we haven't cleaned the carpets since Star Wars, and I ain't talking Jar Jar Binks' joke of a multiplex (dividing two modest sized theatres into 8 partitions the size of a toilet cubicle ain't what I call comfortable, but I digress).
Yes, I was off to see Master & Commander. I'd been promised a viewing on Sunday but I wanted to see it first, sans folks who care not a jot for my fundamentalist zeal for the books making crass comments throughout or elbowing me in the ribs during inappropriate moments. Not they would ever do this, of course, perish the thought, but taking myself off to see it by myself proved both wise and prescient.
My first impression was that if that crass wrapper crinkling chip munching bastard behind me didn't stop I was going to leap over the rows of empty seats and throttle him with my bare hands. All through the allegedly atmospheric opening he persistantly munched and crinkled, so loud he could be distinctly heard over first volley of cannon fire.
Fortunately the fucker only thought to bring one bag of chips, and thus, as I sank blissfully into the film, he fell away, forgotten.
My second impression was one of relief. Relief that this was not The Love Boat piloted by Bruce Willis and Eddie Murphy. Thank you to the Australian talent for keeping it real. Full points for authenticity and slavish attention to detail. Extra points for not hiring an Abercromie & Finch crew. Gold stars for the casting of Preserved Killick - just perfect, and for me the film was going to turn on the authenticity of Killick.
My third impression was that Russell Crowe is Jack Aubrey. He swung onto the screen and he was Jack, or as near as damn close to Jack as I could ever dare to hope, and for that I will be eternally grateful.
Paul's Maturin less so. In this version they'd polished off all of Stephen's sharp and awkward angles. Only once was spying alluded to, and at no time was Stephen's part time career as a particularly ruthless agent described. Stephen's wifulness to go off exploring with or without Jack's consent was also toned down and this Stephen lacked all his pratfalls and his complete inability to wander about the ship without someone to watch that he doesn't fall overboard, which he does, quite often, in the books.
The story also seemed to be a patchwork of good bits, annoying for someone who found the original versions somewhat more amusing or stirring. I'm sure the scene of Stephen performing surgery on himself was originally the result of a duel over a somewhat treacherous women (as with all military fiction, most women are bad news). Comment has been made of Jack's feeble attempts of humour, thankfully included, but in the books it's made clear that poor Jack can never come at a joke and that the weevil pun is as good as he ever gets, and he trots it out with alarming frequency. Those sorts of details make me dote on Jack and all his foibles. Yes, a lot of the Carry On humour which is rife in the books has been removed from the film, because we're doing serious period drama here. Pity.
Nevertheless, ship and seafaring was excellent. Cinematography was excellent. Casting was excellent, especially the young middies (so rarely portrayed as the children they were). The battles were thunderously chaotic and bloody. The weather was an extra character too, when the ship was in the doldrums you felt the stifling heat, when it froze, you froze (or maybe it was just the shoddy air conditioning) and when it rained you actually felt it.
Triplej said it was all about man love (as if that was a bad thing). And yes it was, and I loved it. A buddy flick with cannons and swordfights. Ah, heaven.
Saturday involved a choice between staying home with a brace of Saint dvds, a cup of hot chocolate and clutching a hot water bottle, or taking my cramps and sprained ankle off to jump up and down in the squishy mud for hours in the Domain. Happily I still have my rock chick credentials cause I went to Homebake.
I'd meant to go with friends but they were all too busy, too poor or attending children's birthday parties. One friend always uses this excuse, which means they must attend more children's birthday parties than Michael Jackson. Now if they had kids of their own or even step kids I might believe them because then they'd be on the circuit, but they don't so hello to the creepy Michael Jackson vibes. Hopefully they're just lying because I'm too dim to take the hint from the unanswered emails and phonecalls.
So, Homebake. Got there in time for the end of Sleepy Jackson (yes, I was late getting my arse in gear and it was quite a run up the hill from George St). They were good. The John Butler Trio were much better, I thoroughly grooved and squelched away in the mud underfoot (so much for the new turf). Next up were Magic Dirt, also good, then I sort of wandered around the stalls for a bit, had a bit of a sit and caught the end of Pete Murray. There were The Superjesus and another band I like whose name escapes me - triplej never back announce so I had to wander past stages to suck it and see and figure out if I liked the band or not anyway, but that's why I go to these things, it's like a sampler, exposing me to bands I'd not normally see who often turn out to be far better than the band I'd actually come to see.
Speaking of which, The Church. The first offence was the endless farting around. Every other bad was on in five minutes and on time, but not these prima donnas. By the time they finally took the stage, a good 35 minutes late, half the audience had departed. Then they start into some dirgey wallpaper music off their later albumns which nobody likes or cares about. The crowd departs in droves, muttering, and I get right up the front. Why am I staying? Loyalty, duty, nostalgia, the misguided hope that somehow, by some miracle, there might be some flash of the old brilliance. You know, they way you kept watching Buffy long after it ceased to be good and quite a while after it started to smell really bad.
Mercy of mercies, my prayers were answered because suddenly, somehow, the tide just turned and the old fire welled up from nowhere as they launched into stuff like Milky Way (that I still consider to be the new stuff, such is my vintage and orthodoxy with this band) and by the time they hit Tantalized, well, I don't own a cigarette lighter, but you get the idea. The crowd surged back and it was magic and over all too soon (because they'd spent more time farting around off stage than on).
Oh yes, Marty has definitely sold Steve's soul to the devil, Dorian style. Heh. To think that Steve was once the most beautiful man. Smack is evil.
This of course meant that I was still right down the front when Beasts of Bourbon came on. I may never recover from the experience, and I don't think I want to. This was old school Beasts, old school rock and the sex rock god that is Tex. Lordy. Tex strutted, Tex posed, Tex screamed, Tex sweated, Tex bumped and ground and loped across the stage like a cat on heat. Tex did unspeakable things to the microphone. One was annoited with the sweat of the Tex and treated to some full on pelvis grinding while he screamed out old classics. At last, filthy, dirty, sexy, sleazy rock and or roll for grown ups. It was actually worth all the bruises I acquired from the drunks who barrelled up the front when things really went off. Brilliant.
Because the Church had everyone running late, grrr, I only caught the very end of the Vines, alas, because I'd wanted to see what all the fuss was about, but pretty much arrived just in time for the traditional hurling of the drumsticks into the audience - just about every band perpetrated this hilarious rock cliche.
They saved the best for last, or, as one bloke next to me remarked, it was worth the price of admission alone. Onto the stage he appeared, shaven of head and dressed like a banker. Then the stage went red and he launched into a gloriously full-bodied version of Red Right Hand and we knew Auld Nick was back. Fucking brilliant. Divine and down and dirty. Oh, I how I adore the Nick (one of my enduring disappointments was that upon discovering he was playing LA the day after I left that I didn't stay on to see him, especially as my US friends had no time for me, it would have been a highlight). Never mind, here he was, and I bloody loved it. Every moment dripped with gold.
I was especially bemused watching one father remove his two young daughters as Nick moved onto to a particularly salty song, frog marching them away with the very air of a German officer in charge of two POWs. What the hell was he thinking, anyway? Hello, this is Nick Cave here, fer fuck's sake, not Justin Timberlake. There will be adult content.
Happily my day was not Saint free, as my beloved Chris Bailey popped up, lurking about and actually taking the stage with Nick for a song. Classic, just classic. For those of you who don't know Chris Bailey from a bag of salt (and if not, why not) he was in that seminal band The Saints, and said band actually once appeared in an episode of The Return of The Saint. Leastways I saw it once late at night on my old tiny b/w telly, but being too poor to afford a vcr at the time I had no evidence and folks Scullyed me for decades until someone on triplej independently verified my sighting. Nevertheless, The Saints are one of my favourite bands, and some even whisper that they invented punk. Mercy.
Ah, glorious down and dirty rock for grown ups. Why is it that only Australia can manage that nowadays? Just as well. I had such an amazing time (the only sour point was when the drunken Drop Brits landed on me while I was having a quiet sit (and I thought out of the way) under the fence between bands to rest the poor ankle a bit. They just climbed in over the 2m fence and landed/fell on top of me, so drunk they never noticed.)
It was too bad I'd left my camera behind, because I've yet to meet a security guard who'll believe my poor ancient floppy disk powered camera ain't recording video, as if, but no, cameras were there in abundance, it was my bottled water he confiscated, hence the dehydration (I bought/mortaged a new one, but lost it in the mosh pit). Damn, because I could have taken the most wicked pics of Tex and Nick. Damn and blast.
So, I had twenty minutes to tear down Martin Place to the bus stop from the front of the stage to George St, which I did, and I had another unscheduled twenty minutes to wait. Made lots of new friends as everyone crammed onto the one, last bus of the evening (thankyou State Transit, not). I actually did meet new friends. It was fun.
some strangely homoerotic bonding
On Sunday some friends had promised to take me out for lunch and a viewing of Master and Commander. As per usual with friends o'mine they never showed and never phoned. Call me old fashioned but I find that rude and lacking in respect. Especially as I'd damn nearly given up going to Homebake, just so I wouldn't be wrecked the next day (hence my lateness in starting off on Saturday). Happily I didn't, otherwise I'd have been incandescent with rage. As it was I was just bloody relieved and sank back into bed with the sunday papers and water, green tea, black tea and coffee in quick sucession, trying to combat a severe headache. Other than that and a swollen ankle, I was fine. Yay me.
Oddly enough my orginal wish for Sunday was to spend it quiely decorating the tree with Lord of the Rings on the telly and Movie One provided, so that task was happily completed. After FOTR I was in the mood for more, so I popped on the extended version of TTT, which is excellent, btw. There's a whole new Merry and Pip subplot, ditto Legolas and Gimli and know I know why Legolas was so shirty in Helms Deep, as Eowyn is more up front in her Aragorn groupieness in the extended version. I always suspected it was a jealous snit, now I know that's exactly what it was (on a side note I can't for the life of me find an online transcription of the Daily Telegraph article that worries over "some strangely homoerotic bonding" in ROTK, which is a pity, because there was much cackling out loud when I read that). Oh, and there were Sean bits. Yay.
After several hours of manly men, girlie elves and strangely homoerotic hobbit love I discovered JP3 on tv. Oh, yippee. Gimme the Billy and Alan action. Pretty Alessandro, mmmmm (oh, and Sam, whom I'm still cross at).
I started jotting down some of the plot points I'd thought up through the week past during the boring bits between Sandro closeups when suddenly my luck ran out or the tv gods thought I wasn't paying enough attention because BINK! and hello darkness my old friend.
Yup, blacked out for over an hour (goodbye Sandro closeups). Fortunately I have a torch in my bag (for walking home late) and candles, but the flame kept guttering from lack of recent use, making it hard to write, so much of what I scrawled was rubbish. I glanced out and saw houses on other blocks still enjoying 19thC technology whereas I had been plunged back into the 18thC. Bugger.
After an hour the power came back on. By now we're halfway through Spiderman and I decide to give it my undivided attention, lest I offend the tv gods again at my peril, and I found it oddly enjoyable. The time I saw it in the cinema I hated it, but I was always prepared to allow for it being Broom Closet #5 and that dreadful child at the front sucking endlessly and noisely at nothing through a straw. Free of those disctractions, it's not a bad little film. As I read, it had a heart and character not overwhelmed by the seriously dodgy FX and it stayed very true to the source material, which pleased me. It was also fun to keep an eye out for the usual suspects: the Raimi Rep Players. Quite enjoyable.
Jotted a few more plot points during the end of Virtuosity and an ancient Hawaii 5-0 and then crashed.
Thus was my weekend. Friend free and yet strangely satisfying.
Oh, and the Herald just interviewed me about one of my ye olde pages. Keen.