Cold Revisited

At last I know who to blame. During it, as well as for a long time afterwards, for the life of me I couldn’t work it out. But Ms Lester has provided me with the answer. I only had to join the dots. I can now blame men in suits – specifically, American men in suits.

Now I’ve mused before, in recent times, on coldness. I’ve insisted I am less adverse to it, it being natural chill, these days than I have been in the past. But artificial cold is another matter – and having it blown on me, against my wishes, as my lovely lady knows only too well from my incessant whingeing during the summer months, is a pet peeve.

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I was looking so forward to our cruise to the tropics. In all fairness it did turn out to be a holiday that ticked all the boxes – almost. We’d cruised up the East Coast of Oz previously on P&O to the warmth without a skerrick of a problem, apart from a bit of wild water. We had a ball. Our trip to the South Pacific was almost as enjoyable. Tropical heat. That’s what I yearned for. The boat did deliver that on its island stops and out on deck. Unfortunately, as far as the inside public areas went, the temperature barely registered as cool. To be comfortable there I had to dispense with my shorts and tees and don long sleeved shirts and trousers. Chilled air was being blasted down on all and sundry. Until now I couldn’t figure out why that should be. The punters, I reckoned, could have stayed back in their cooler climates to get that. Inside, on a bright gorgeous day, it felt anything but tropical.

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It wasn’t till I read Amelia L’s musing on the wonder that is air-conditioning that I twigged. Of course, the cruise company’s home port was Miami and ‘…, Americans of all stripes love freezing fake air.’ Our ship had aligned its thinking about blowing out air to the preferences ‘…of a 40-year-old (American) man in a suit’.’ My mind can rest easy now that’s cleared up.

But next is the question as to why this type of thinking applies for cinema goers at home, all around the country, in mid-summer. Here I am, say, in Melbourne; the temperatures arcing up into the high-30s and I’m in long strides carrying a jacket or jumper. That’s right. I’m off to the cinema toting extra layers as I know from experience that if I dress for the weather I’d be covered in goosebumps as I endeavoured to enjoy the attraction that was up on the big screen. The same also applies to some of the shops, but at least I can leave those if I’m getting too frosticooled. Yep, I made that last word up – but it describes how I feel when this occurs to me. I hate near-freezing air being pumped in on me. I want to enjoy the heat. I get enough cold living in beautiful Tassie. And, yes, as I said last time – I know I’m soft.

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Please just let us enjoy what nature provides. Surely we’ve learnt enough about the negatives of trying to change and fiddle around with what comes to us naturally. And I also have a new hero, so thank you Amelia for introducing him to me. I’m signing up to Iolu Abil’s fan club.

Amelia Lester’s take on air-conditioning = https://www.smh.com.au/national/foreign-correspondence-all-hot-and-bothered-over-aircon-20190806-p52eex.html

Do yourself a favour with this duo

The flaw, as Callaghan states below, stands out like a sore thumb, but it’s the only blemish in this mesmerising series with one brilliant, but bad, bad bully at its core. The Australians were just too Australian and against the evidence, too limp. Wife Beth (Siena Miller) is prepared to forgive almost anything of her husband, Roger Ailes, with employees Gretchen Carlson and Laurie Luhn (Naomi Watts and Annabelle Wallis), in the end, prepared not to. But ‘The Loudest Voice’ is all about Russell Crowe as the eventually disgraced high-flyer. He’s barely recognisable with his fat suit and bonus prosthetics. On screen he is compulsively despicable in so much that he does. Roger is the kingmaker; King of Fox News and king misogynist. He’s repugnant with his fondling of and thrusting at the female staff. They live in fear of what he can do to their careers if they don’t give him what he demands as his his right. He’s horrible, as well, with his far right views, hatred of Obama and love of Trump. But for all this, you can’t take your eyes off him. Not since ‘The Good Guys’ have I ‘enjoyed’ a Crowe performance more. For me it’ll be one of the year’s highlights and I suggest it’s well worth trialing Stan for it alone.

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Jonathan Groff isn’t quite in the same league as Crowe with his CV, but has had prominent gigs in ‘Frozen’ and ‘Glee’. He is, though, a Tony Award nominated stage performer, so ‘Mindhunter’ is a change of course for him. In this Netflix series he plays the leader of a groundbreaking team as criminal profiler Holden Ford. His performance is outstanding. The self-centred, determined and socially inept FBI agent, as portrayed by Groff, changed the course of investigations into serial killers with his focus on similarities in their characters. Witnessing the development of his techniques are Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) and the icy Wendy (Australia’s Anna Torv). Hanna Gross is Holden’s tolerant girlfriend. Boy, does she have a bit to put up with. He and his team interview some of the nastiest, weirdest humans it is possible to imagine as they delve and prod to find the clues as to what makes a man (usually) a killer of multiple victims. It’s not pretty viewing at times, but it’s small screen tele at its best. Season one is on the platform now, with the second dropping any time now.

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Do yourself a favour and watch both.

Greg Callaghan’s take on ‘The Loudest Voice = https://www.smh.com.au/national/watch-how-fox-news-grew-from-upstart-to-conservative-super-player-20190806-p52efj.html

Trailer ‘The Loudest Voice’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYQXk-rzs_o

Trailer  ‘The Mindhunter’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFlKiTwhd38

Inge, the Llama and Marilyn

Sometimes, down a rabbit hole, cruising the Net, you do stumble on stuff you least expect, given your starting point. When I saw the llama, who’d have thought it would lead me all the way to Marilyn? And also to a great love story – not hers, but she’s a part of it.

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I hadn’t stumbled across it before, the image. It’s not unusual for me to find a commencement point for a scribbling with an image. Evidently this one, though, is quite iconic in its own right, but it was new to me and caused me to chortle when I saw her. I thought that some contemporary camera-snapper had struck it lucky, but on closer inspection I discovered it had been taken way back in 1957. I didn’t recognise the photographer’s name. Perhaps I should have, for she has since achieved some degree of fame. And it wasn’t a fortunate snap. Inge Morath had set it up as part of her assignment for ‘Life’ magazine.

Seems as though, back then (I can’t imagine that it would be allowed to happen today), there was a whole menage of exotic animals living in the brownstones of NYC. Biggish mammals, like Linda the Llama, were co-inhabiting New York apartments with their trainers. Together they would eke out a living hiring out the trained beasts to movies and television shows. Of course they had to be transported to the various sets around town. Linda’s human did that in the rear seat of his car, with her head poking out the window, taking in the view. ‘Life’ honchos had cottoned on that this unusual arrangement was occurring in the Big Apple; these animals with unusual lifestyles. They commissioned Magnum member Inge Morath to put together a photographic essay of their days in an urban environment. Thus this image caught my eye down the rabbit hole. The story does get juicier, but let’s spend some time with Inge first. How did she come from an Austrian upbringing to be standing in Times Square, with a camera, waiting for a llama?

Born in Graz in 1921, Morath moved to Berlin to study languages, becoming fluent in French and English. That ensured some of her early years were dominated by the Nazis. She saw many horrors that influenced so much she did in later life, being reflected in her product – both with pen and camera. In the immediate post-war years she encountered Ernst Haas, noted fellow countryperson, who was earning a crust with his photojournalism. He, too, as a Jew, suffered under Hitler’s regime. He used the young woman to write the essay accompaniment to his commissioned images. That in turn led to contact with Robert Capa and an invitation to join Magnum, in Paris, as an editor. One of her roles there was to assist Henri Cartier-Bresson as a researcher; he mentoring her growing fascination with the camera. Her writing, she felt, was being hampered by reactions to her German-speaking background. Behind the lens she felt no such hindrance. Initially she used a man’s name to market her product, assisted by the connections she had built up working with a stable of talented camera pointers. Eventually she gained enough confidence to stand up for her gender and market under her own name. So successful was she that, in 1955, she was handed the holy grail – full membership of Magnum. She was one of its first female image-makers. She continued to be in demand, particularly for the photo essay with which she excelled.

All this I found out because of my encounter with Linda the llama. But what came later for this pioneering photographer? A visit to her on-line site allowed me into her world and its many delights. It was liberally laced with haunting images of both Audrey H and Marilyn M. I marvelled at their intimacy. I was especially taken with one of the irreplaceable MM in bed. Further investigation as to its genesis took me to the set of ‘The Misfits’, a film, made in 1960, that promised so much but delivered seemingly only sadness. As well as the blonde superstar, Clark Gable, Eli Wallach and her mate, Montgomery Clift featured on the cast list. Little were the participants aware that it would be the last movie for two of the aforementioned. Clift, Marilyn’s buddy as well, was never the same after it. Marilyn described him as being in worse shape on set than she was – and she was struggling; handicapped by depression and filling her body with chemicals to cope.

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But she was still radiant. Morath describes her as being ‘…marvellous to look at: there was a shimmery, mother-of-pearl quality totally her own…’ Her friendship with with Clift and director John Houston gave her and Cartier-Bresson unfettered freedom on set – but Inge took that to the limit. She soon had Marilyn’s trust, thus the up close and personal snaps we see on-line. Also on set was the great Arthur Miller, writer of the screenplay for the production. Inge thought that the famous playwright would be, on the evidence of a number of his plays that she’d seen, forlorn, distant and austere. She found that he was more the opposite – ‘… a very funny figure.’ Marilyn, of course, was also married to him, but all was far from rosy with their love life. She would disappear for hours to have deep and meaningfuls with him. Inge photographed them doing so in a car on one occasion. The situation could not have been more fraught with Ms Monroe playing a seductive innocent, expected to engage in love scenes with several of her fellow actors.

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Rebecca Miller, Arthur’s daughter (and wife of Daniel Day Lewis), commented in an interview that Inge’s ‘…pictures are particularly empathetic and touching as she caught Marilyn’s anguish beneath her celebrity, the pain as well as the joy in her life.’

But was there even more going on behind the scenes on ‘The Misfits’? Did the images tell the whole story? It has to be asked for in 1962 Inge Morath married Arthur Miller, not long after he and MM divorced. She, Marilyn, died a few months later. Morath and Miller were together for, from what we can gather, forty largely happy years. She passed in 2002, he three years later. They had two children together, Rebecca and the mysterious Daniel. He had Down syndrome and Miller disowned the little fellow almost immediately, having nothing to do with him for the rest of his life. This placed a strain on the couple as Inge did her best for him. But that is another tale in itself. Apart form that, in their years together the couple had many adventures, either together or as a result of their separate talents.

miller and morath

And Linda led me to all that. Many know Arthur M mainly through Marilyn and certainly nobody could possibly outshine her – back then, even today. Inge was not her and so remains largely in the shadows, but hers is a story worth recounting. From her escape from the Nazis and her dalliances with the stars, she has been accorded a smattering of legendary status as her star ascends in recent times. Just track down the lovely YouTube montage (just enter the two names) of her breathtaking images of the screen goddess on the set of ‘The Misfits’ and you can see why. Thank you Linda, the llama that led to all this.

Inge’s website = http://ingemorath.org/

YouTube of Inge’s images of MM on ‘The Misfits’ set = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GG4uRQwIPuE

Mono or Bi – I’m comfortable both ways

Let me make this clear from the onset. I come from a bi-heritage, but mono suits me just fine as well.

So columnist Penny Flanagan has done a spot of house/dog sitting too. Only she, it seems, has had some startling reality checks on how some others manage, or mismanage, their households – those she has been invited access to to keep hound and home safe. And she saw fit to broadcast their shortcomings to all and sundry around the country. I did quietly wonder if she’d be welcomed back ‘…from Manly to Mossman to Coogee…’

I do the same within my orb. I love it. As much as I adore life with my beautiful lady on the fringes of Hobs, a dog/house mind gives me a change of scene and a few advantages I do not have at our little idyllic abode abutting the Derwent.

I have four regular gigs. As a plus two are situated in real ‘SeaChange’ (Will the new version be a semblance of its seminal predecessor?) locations, Bridport and Sisters Beach. It’d be a toss-up between the duo as to which I would prefer to spend the rest of my days in if, heaven forbid, I had to leave my present situation. In both there is a sense of serenity; a notion of escape. They are very special communities. Of course I also get to share time with some magnificent canines – Jasper, Sandy the Spoodle, Summer, Bronson, Memphis and Pat the Dog. It’s a pleasure, always, having their company as I do my best to follow owner’s instructions and not spoil them rotten. All four residences are close to beach or river so I can stroll to my heart’s content. I value the fact that, at all, I can walk to attain my daily needs, including the Age. At home, on the fringes of a capital city, I have to hop in the car for those requirements.

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I have the joy in each of a large screen television. There is nothing I relish more than sharing a movie or tele series with my Leigh, but our tastes do not always run parallel. Away, at these places, I can view the footy and cricket. I am able to binge on Netflix and/or Stan. With two I have the sheer bliss of wood-fired heating and all larders are well stocked, with the permission to graze. I can cook meals I usually would not have at home. I don’t, Ms Flanagan, have any problems with bath mats and each has a micro-wave. I’ve existed for decades without a dishwasher so that’s never an issue. In short, all four venues are welcoming, ultra-comfortable places to spend a week or two. There are no strange household ‘anomalies’ whatsoever. But now the rub

For the history of all this refer to Amelia Lester’s column, but the lovely homes to which I am gifted visits are not at all consistent in approach in one area – and for me this is no biggie whatsoever. I must admit I was bought up bi and my lovely Leigh is of the same inclination. I did suffer some discombobulation when, well before I embarked on house-sitting, I had my first encounter with the mono version. I recall being in a quandary. Did I let my lovely host know that he/she had forgotten something? Did I sneak off in the night to sort it out for myself and find the other half of the equation? Or did I simply go with the flow? I went with the latter and coped with the initial strangeness of it all. I soon discovered that, in the wider world, there are as many, perhaps even more, devotees of mono-ism as there are to being bi-orientated.

Now, of course, I take it all in my stride. If I’m welcomed into a mono-sheeted household I am perfectly at home as, according to Ms Lester’s statistics, they are close to, if not in the majority. I’ve adapted, just as I have to fitted bottom sheets – just as long as I’m not expected to fold the plurry things. Mono or bi, I’m content both ways.

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Amelia Lester’s column = https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/foreign-correspondence-britain-torn-as-great-top-sheet-debate-unfolds-20190723-p529r7.html

Penny Flanagan’s column = https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/house-sitting-for-mates-can-leave-you-wondering-who-are-these-people-20190715-p527bq.html

Can’t control? Then ban

I have to be careful these days with my views. I may be out of touch. I was last in the system in 2011, so I’m approaching a decade out. And in the later years of my career, it was all changing so quickly. Plus, I might add, I was teaching in the sticks; largely to wonderful country kids. I suspect that what I encountered there was not at all similar to fronting classes in the big city. My students were mostly eminently sensible and amenable. I loved being associated with them.

But even there and back then mobile phones were starting to cause issues for some staff. The banter was about; what to do about their negatives was occasionally raised at meetings.

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I’m reading in Ms Stewart’s take on the situation that the young people of today she’s in contact with are far more connected these than those I was familiar with; the concerns arising more critical. As I write, this is being bought into our lounge rooms by the timely SBS series ‘The Hunting’. It should make all parents of the age group sit up and take notice. Such a knotty problem, sexting. There’s on-line bullying through those devices to consider, plus the anxiety caused by the fear of missing out. I was amazed when the columnist cited that, on average, those hand-held marvels are checked 80 to 130 times a day by the age group. I’d be lucky to check mine a dozen. The corollary, of course, is the anxiety caused by being unable to refer so often, due to school policy.

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As a member of school management I always opposed any limitation to student use of their phones. If sanctioned by parents they had a right, I figured, to be in possession of them. It was my view that any practitioner worth their salt in the classroom could control their use, even put them to work for educational purposes. Most of the problems back then had their genesis out of school. When it spilled over we had to deal with it, but it didn’t seem in danger of being out of control back in the years leading up to my retirement. In the back of one’s mind, heaven forbid, was always the worst case scenario. We all know what has happened – still is happening – in American schools with that nation’s ludicrous gun laws. If any school has to go into lock down then, I would have thought, it would be essential for students to be in possession of their mobiles for all sorts of reasons. To me, it was/is a no-brainer. If the worst came to the worst, could schools be held accountable for taking the devices off their young people? I can’t see that’s changed.

On the basis of back then I would be more inclined to take Steve Sperling’s view on the matter, but I suspect it’s far more complicated and onerous now. Poor principals. As if they don’t have enough to contend with – if the SBS show is anything to go by.

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I have my doubts as to whether I’d be of the same opinion now. Sperling’s take should hold sway in the ideal world, but I’ve a sneaking suspicion that the Victorian ban will become nationwide. Like so much with change in the digital age – pity.

‘The Hunting’, SBSonDemand =https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/program/the-hunting

Sam Sperling’s column – https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/phone-ban-another-example-of-how-teachers-are-devalued-20190627-p521sw.html

Erin Stewart’s column =

Instead of focusing on what someone is saying, the book you’re reading, the event you’re at … you’re feeling twitchy. You know there’s nothing important on your social media apps, no new emails will have landed, but the pull to infinitely scroll through these things – refresh, check for updates – is still strong. In an effort to reduce this distracting urge among young people, as well as to redress cyberbullying, mobile phones will be banned in public primary and secondary schools throughout Victoria over the entire school day as of the start of the 2020 school year.

Seeing young people’s reticence and anxiety at merely being asked to switch there phone off, it’s clear this proposed phone ban will be good for them. I’ve worked with teenage students as an exam invigilator and it’s a constant challenge to get them to turn their phone off. Even in exams where students can be disqualified for having a phone on, even if I’ve told them countless times to turn it off, phones are still an issue. I’ve regularly had to track down the source of muffled beeping, or spotted the telltale rectangular pane of light coming from a phone held under a table.

I’ve never seen a student using their phone to cheat. Instead, they have WhatsApp or Facebook open, their phone is still left on because they can’t bear the idea of turning it off and being disconnected. They couldn’t get through a couple of quiet hours without feeling that pull towards their phone.

Constant phone use is a problem facing young people, but they’re not alone in it. Adults haven’t been great role models when it comes to moderating phone use. In 2017, Australia’s biggest smart phone survey found that we check our phones between 85 to 130 times a day, on average. Just under half of participants under the age of 65 said that they couldn’t live without their smartphone.

I’m not a relatively active smartphone user, and yet mine still has a pervasive place in my life. The first thing I do on waking up each morning is to check my phone. I find myself throughout the day coming up with pithy phrases and taking pictures I can share with my friends about what I’ve been up to. If I have a few minutes in front of me with nothing to do, I unlock my phone and check my apps.

This incessant phone use is a time-waster, an energy-drainer, an anxiety-inducer, and with our heads tilting forward so often, an ergonomic nightmare. One of the best things we could teach young people is how to survive without them, and to learn to value things in life other than being able to share an Instagram story.

At the start of the next school year, students are bound to feel anxious and uncomfortable while their phones stay in their lockers for stretches of six or more hours. What if someone wants to talk to you or something important is happening? What will your thumbs do if they can’t flick across a screen? But once the withdrawal period is over, hopefully a new generation will see that life doesn’t end when you switch your phone off. And then maybe they’ll be role models for the rest of us who need this lesson too.

Linda G – When She’s Good…

Linda Grant – ‘Upstairs at the Party’, ‘A Stranger City’

We Had It So Good’ was so good. It was my introduction to the writing of Linda Grant. It was a portrait of the lives of UK baby-boomers I read at the turn of the decade. The novel convinced me that I’d always be reading her through the following years. The next book she authored that I picked up, ‘Still There’, was, well, not so good. It was a struggle. I made it through, expecting to be rewarded in the end. I wasn’t. So, I was put off.

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When I spotted, a few years later, ‘Upstairs at the Party’ in a remainder bin for a couple of bucks, I thought I’d give her another shot. It sat on my ‘to read’ shelf for a few more years after purchase. Then there came the glowing review for her latest, ‘A Stranger City’. It seemed my cup of tea, but before I shelled out thirty plus dollars, remembering I had been burnt before, so to speak, I decided to tackle ‘Upstairs at the Party’, just to make sure. And you can probably guess the outcome of this little tale. It was excellent, so off I went to my favourite bookshop, duly bought the new one and settled in. It made a promising start. It seemed it had an interesting array of characters with the action, initially, zeroing in on those with a link to an unidentified body fished out of the Thames. How could nobody in the whole metropolis of London not miss this young woman who threw herself, it is suspected, off a bridge? The copper investigating the fatal incident had no leads and is troubled by that; a documentary film maker, who just happened to be producing a series on missing persons, included her story. Then there’s the nurse who was in the vicinity; she going on to disappear, as well, for a short time. She featured in the documentary as well, bringing her a modicum of fame. Yep, it seemed all set up for an engrossing read.

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But then the author does a right turn into the world of immigrants to her city. Then followed by an imaging of London in decay, just a short time down the track post-Brexit. It seems as though Boris hasn’t been too successful in extracting the UK from Europe. It’s not a future I’d want to be involved in. Finally we reunite with the original cast, but by then it was too late for me. It’s all tied together, but even so, again I really struggled to complete the novel. Reviewer Jake Arnott, writing in the Guardian, describes this homage to an ever-evolving city, as being ‘…fractured and uncertain…’ as the huge metropolis it portrays, although his is a favourable report. Too fractured and uncertain for me, I’m afraid.

On the other hand, ‘Upstairs at the Party’ was the real page-turner. I relished it and raced through to the conclusion. It, claims Ms Grant, is partly autobiographical – and proves that she is an author certainly worth reading, with this or ‘We Had It So Good’ obvious starting points. Both books observes our generation looking back. In this case its back to a twenty-first birthday party where, upstairs, away from the action, a terrible event occurred for one of the guests. This morphed into a happening that changed lives. I was rapt in this more, to my mind, cogent work as secrets of the past are unravelled to allow us to see how the fortunes of a golden, gifted group of people play out.

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But the quandary now is this. When the next Linda Grant comes out, will I chance her again?

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The author’s website = https://www.lindagrant.co.uk/ =

Mercedes the Argentine

On average Argentina produces around fifty feature films a year. It would hold a place in the Spanish speaking work for cinematic endeavour akin to ours in the English. The Latin American country’s movies have garnered two Academy Awards and globally are popular entries at film festivals. Many of its stars are instantly recognisable to Spaniards and Latinos across the planet. One of these is Ricardo Darin. I’d become familiar with the quality of his work through the nation’s hit movies ‘The Secret in Their Eyes’ and ‘Wild Tales’. Paul Byrnes, the Age critic, describes him to a tee in saying that he ‘…has built his considerable stardom on a demeanour of disbelief. His face is permanently sceptical, as if he has heard it all before and assumes everyone is lying.’ He is regarded with the same affection we hold for Hugh Grant or Bill Nighy. So when ‘An Unexpected Love’ was advertised at the State with him as lead, it immediately caught my eye.

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The Argentine and the film didn’t let me down. ‘An Unexpected Love’ has been applauded at every stop for its realistic portrayal of life for new empty nesters. Once the offspring depart, what is there left? Darin is assisted in exploring this quandary by another luminous star of that nation’s industry, Mercedes Morán. And as luck would have it, as I sat awaiting for the start of the movie, up came a trailer for another forthcoming feature from the South American country,Florianópolis Dream’. In the trailer this appeared to be a humorous take on the notion of a couple of a certain age enjoying a holiday in a nearby foreign country. I noted that Ms Moran featured as a lead as well in this other offering, so I marked it down for a future expedition.

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An Unexpected Love’ sees this particular couple wave off their last remaining child to an overseas journey. Now they feel suddenly bereft. It’s not that they don’t love each other, but their relationship lost its zest and zing long ago; a zing they now crave for their new orb without children. But how to get retrieve it? Much like the couple/couples in ‘Me, You, Her’ and ‘Easy’, two Netflix offerings, they decide to see what else the world can gift hem before its all too late. They go their own way, breaking out into the singles scene as the movie gently records what occurs. Will they find what they’re seeking? Do they truly know what that is? As Byrnes points out in his review of this, the action is about as far away from the Hollywood comic book hero dross as one can get. But it is real. It’s what happens in life. There’s no men (or women) in tights to save the day here.

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In Florianópolis Dream’ the marriage for this couple has well and truly collapsed, but the family is still together – sort of. As Lucrecia ( Morán) and Pedro (Gustavo Garzón), both psychologists – a recipe for disaster in any case, embark on a journey across a border to a holiday in a rather seedy-looking southern Brazilian resort of the story’s title, it all goes belly-up. They break down en route; their accommodation on arrival is a shit hole. To the rescue comes a local, Marco, who seems as dodgy as all get out and whose relationships with the opposite sex are fluid, to say the least. He soon draws Lucrecia into his web. Pedro falls for one of Marco’s exes.

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To me, despite its success, it’s the lesser Argentine product to the others mentioned. Sure, it’s interesting to see the interaction between Portuguese speaking Brazilians and the Argentinians, but both leads are muted, neither especially garnering our sympathy. The story itself asks more questions than it answers and as the twosome drive back to Buenos Aires at the end, one is none the wiser. But then I suppose life doesn’t always resolve – that’s one of the reasons we go to the movies. ‘An Unexpected Love’ delivers on that score, but the other saw me leaving the State disappointed.

Trailer for ‘An Unexpected Love’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtzqJgECq7Y

Trailer for ‘Florianópolis Dream’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcS78zvqzmw

Cold

Can we have the heating up Mr Lovell?’

No Jimmy, but I will allow you to go and get your school jumper.’

But I didn’t bring one!’

Tough.’

cold-boy

It’s been bloody cold in Hobart this past week. Most are rugged up in the Tassie tuxedo – ie, puffer jackets – as befits snow down to the lower levels on kunanyi. I don’t possess one. Does that make me un-Tasmanian? But I have multiple layers on today with, thankfully, the city providing comfy warmth at its indoor locations. But it’s not only brittle-frozen Canberra at this time of year that has them, Mr Glover. We have that species of humanity here in Hobs as well. Men usually, but an occasional member of the fairer gender, pretending there’s no icing in the mountain and it’s balmy mid-summer. They are dressed for the outback in shorts, tees and sometimes even thongs. They strut around, thinking all passers-by must be so in admiration of them for being so overwhelmingly Tassie-tough. What the normal sensible denizens really think about them is not fit for these pages. There are some, I know, who have a radically different tolerance to the cold than I. Some of my nearest and dearest can somehow withstand severe frostiness. Most I fear, though, are all show; the grown up versions of young Jimmy from my teaching days.

I watched those foolhardy lads, rarely girls, descend from their buses whilst on early morning duty with the frost on the ground. Their goosebumps were the size of Mt Myrtle overlooking my school. They were sort of holding themselves very tightly, as if that would provide some minor relief for the uber-cold they must be feeling. Attired, they were, in grey shorts topped only by short sleeve shirts over bare skin – no singlet. It was pointless asking where their jumpers were and no doubt, back home, they’d be just as stubborn against any parental entreaty to rug up. At door opening time you bet they’d be the first in, standing shivering under the classroom heaters as they revved up for the day. If the room had a thermostat it’d be up to the max by the time you made it to start your teaching day. Then the room would be like a Scandinavian sauna, causing you to dispense with a few of your own layers and even then be sweatily overheating until the room eventually cooled to tolerable levels.

sweat

So when Jimmy asked, I was unsympathetic. I wonder, as an adult, is he still parading around his home town in mid-winter dressed for high summer at Bondi? I ruminate as to whether his abode’s power bills are astronomical – or does he guiltily ram on the layers once he’s indoors, no longer feeling the urge to flaunt his Tassie he-manism to all and sundry.

Yep, I know I’m soft. I need to be coddled in warmth when the temperature drops to single digits. And don’t get me started on those naked maniacs who brave the Derwent come the solstice dawn. I bet, Mr Glover, your Canberra has nothing to match that nude madness.

solstice

Canberra’s winters by Richard Glover = https://www.smh.com.au/national/richard-glover-frozen-stiff-in-an-apparently-hot-land-20190702-p523c8.html

Fab and Pre-Fab

My goodness, was it really fifty years ago that I espied them on that magazine cover? The foursome were cavorting in striped Edwardian neck-to-knee bathers – or that’s how I remember it. It was on the cover of an edition of TV Week. Did I notice then the deliberate misspelling of the name? Did I make a make a mental note to watch out for them on our black and white tele? It should have been to listen out for them on my transistor radio. Did I buy the mag to read up on them? I doubt it, for I was still at school and pocket money was limited. After all, it was the first time they registered with me. It didn’t matter, in any case, for soon the world would be awash with them and their catchy musical product. They headed a revolution; headed the British Invasion. The Fab Four.

What came first? Was it ‘Last Train to Clarksville’ back in 1966, or their eponymous television show? Again I cannot recall, but excuse the French, even them I recognised the show was crap. But I watched it anyway for, at any moment, they might break out into a mimed rendition of one of their hits. Mimed? The rumour was they could hardly hold a note, let alone play their instruments. We know now that was a furphy for, individually, they were, or became, talented musicians. It is true, initially, they were bought together artificially – manufactured if you like. Prefabricated. The Pre-Fab Four.

monk01

Of course they weren’t a patch on the British stars, but had the advantage of being on our small screens once a week while the show ran (1966 -1968). And, as with the Liverpool quartet, their music has survived.

yes

Yesterday I went with my lovely lady to the cinema to relive the songs of the Beatles; the songs the planet was in thrall of when I was a mere slip of a lad. The film – you know the title – was a tad cheesy, the lead a bit too gormless to really believe in, its ‘wrinkle in time’ plot a clever notion of which more should have been made. In short, it lacked the substance to be a classic. Himesh Patel wasn’t anywhere near, well, Beatlesque. Lily James, the sort of love interest, was gorgeous on screen as always – but falling for him??? Give me a break. Ed Sheeren put in an appearance as himself. Would he be the superstar he is today without the Merseyside’s gift to the world? I wonder. But it was the music; the lyrics that are now embedded in our synapses that a premise of the planet rediscovering the Beatles all over again is possible. The result of Danny Boyle’s direction did not have the magic of ‘18s’ ‘A Star is Born’ or ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. ‘Wild Rose’, this year, in my opinion, leaves it for dead and ‘Rocketman’ was superior too. But I am glad I was there with Leigh yesterday because, for all of its flaws, it still had some of the magic that John, Paul, George and Ringo created way back when.

yes01

And of the Pre-Fab Four – Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith – their legacy remains as well. After the band’s demise in 1971 Mike, who was my favourite, kicked on and had a few hits under his own steam. As with the Beatles, they have lost two members along the way, but Mickey and Mike are, as I write, touring Oz as the Monkees. Paul still sells out arenas these days with Ringo making occasional forays back to the drum kit. ‘I’m a Believer’ and ‘Daydream Believer’ are classics, but the Beatles produced umpteen. Edgier bands followed in the Beatles’ wake – the Stones of course, the Who, Hollies and the list goes on. I loved the Kinks – still do.

monk

Watch any YouTube of McCartney playing his hits today. Look at his audience – old farts like yours truly down to the Millennials – all singing along with equal rapture to the tunes the will survive until the wrinkle in time for real comes along that puts an end to it all.

Trailer to Yesterday = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ry9honCV3qc

Columnist Barry Divola on the Monkees = https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/i-m-too-busy-singing-to-put-anybody-down-a-monkees-fan-stands-his-ground-20190611-p51wft.html

Remembering Hushx3

Bare-chested; leering, sneering and smirking at the boppers in the front rows, he was Bon Scott-lite. He could strut with the best of them and out lived them all – Bon, Freddie, Hutchence – and is now a granddad. Unlike those three, though, his flame passed quickly and these days he has a quiet existence in regional Victoria, developing board games and believe it or not, for an old rocker, running an embroidery business.

For a time he and his band were a mainstay on ‘Countdown’, also achieving some late recognition this millennium with revival tours. Linked with that iconic show, they reminded rock lovers of my age what we all were doing at six o’clock of a Sunday eve back in the day.

I was a young teacher then. You could be sure that, at any school social, his two signature hits, both covers, could be, along with ‘Nutbush’ and ‘The Time Warp’, assured of getting every kid in the room up and gyrating. ‘Boney Maroney’ and ‘Glad All Over’ rocked out of ‘Countdown’ as well and he even compered the show once or twice. He and the lads were the gaudiest glam-rock crew on the screen, but sadly they were mostly gimmick, little substance. They, though, intrigued me as his two guitarists were both of Asian appearance. One, Les Gock, went on to have a successful career producing in the music industry, as well as working in advertising. If you follow the NRL, he wrote the Canberra Raiders team song.

hush

But it was Keith Lamb who, as the smarmy vocalist, was the focus of the band Hush. Like many of the stars of the local industry during its formative years, his family were ten pound Poms, arriving in Oz in 1970. By mid decade he was riding high in the charts and Hush had the honour of appearing on the first Countdown of the colour era – and they certainly dressed for the occasion. For a while they toured the country frenetically, playing to audiences of a few dozen in country halls to thousands in the big city venues. Grinding out a playlist of sure things, they fired up the punters, getting them on their feet like my North Western Tassie youngsters. I wonder if they ever came our way? And of course, for a taste of the action these local versions of Slade produced, you can find them in all their now faded glory on YouTube. It brings back memories.

And on that internet platform you’ll also find another Aussie legend from almost a decade before, fronting ‘Somebody’s Image’. Just look at him – so baby-faced compared to the grizzled bluesman that he is, today, in the third incarnation of Russell Morris’ career. In those early years the band was taken under their wings by modern times’ national treasures Brian Cadd and Molly Meldrum; Cadd, playing in prominent band ‘The Groop’ and Molly, working for ‘Go-Set’ magazine. The latter lauded them in his columns, enabling them to garner a recording contract. Mr Meldrum famously later produced ‘The Real Thing’ and other hits for Russell during his second coming. I remember his earlier outfit performing their solitary chart success on national tele. They peaked too late for ‘The Go Show’, so it must have been on that Saturday morning institution, Ross De Wylie’s ‘Uptight’.

somebody's imagerussell_morris

Now originally this piece was going to be solely about an earlier musical hero of mine who, like Hush and Somebody’s Image, only had the briefest instant of fame in the spotlight, this time in the US. Recently I connected his link to Mr Morris’s first hit. This guy’s name was Joe South and he wrote said song – it’s name, ‘Hush’.

Joe_South

I had his Greatest Hits album, together with, I suspect, other releases by him. In reality he only had the one chart topper under his own steam, but maybe you’ll recall some of the other ditties he was responsible for, apart from ‘Hush’. Remember ‘Rose Garden’. It was a monster for Lynn Anderson. ‘Down in the Boondocks’ went global for Billy Joe Royal. Many, many, including Elvis, recorded ‘Walk a Mile in My Shoes’. Brook Benton charted with ‘Don’t it Want to Make You Want to Go Home’. The greats of the time all recorded Joe South songs – Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, James Taylor and dozens more. ‘Hush’ was also Deep Purple’s first charting song in America.

Now, cast your mind back to Tommy Roe’s single ‘Sheila’ if you can. It was South’s guitar you can hear on that, as well as on many of the tracks on His Bobness’ ‘Blonde on Blonde’. Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Sounds of Silence’ album also showcased his plucking. South was some guitar picker and that is how he got his start in the music business – as a studio sideman. And his solo hit? ‘The Games People Play’. With that he was popular on the touring circuit for a while, but it didn’t last. He could write for others, but nothing else connected with the public for himself. He did have the voice – I loved it. So what happened? He had come close, so close with that Grammy-winning hit, and then he faded away.

Joe-South-Introspect-Album-Cover

Turns out his brother Tommy’s suicide in 1971 hit him for six. Tommy was his constant companion and a member of his backing band. Joe became clinically depressed as a result, so he did what countless others did back in that era when the black dog came calling – turned to grog and pills. South started not turning up for gigs; many performances were shambolic. He was eventually spurned by promoters. For a while he escaped to Hawaii to try and bat away his woes. Eventually a good woman came into his life and got him going. He started writing songs again and made the occasional public appearance, but his time had passed. With his back catalogue and the royalties it produced he didn’t need to push himself. Joe passed in 2012, outliving his wife Jan by a decade or more. His only offspring, Craig, in turn recently produced a son, whom he named Joseph in memory. Nice touch.

I no longer have that Joe South vinyl album. Who knew those relics would make such a come back. The grooves on it would have been pretty worn out in any case. It was frequently on my turntable back in the 70s, but

Oh, the Games people play now

Every night and every day now

Never meaning what they say

Never saying what they mean

is as true today as it ever was. Hush.

Hush on Countdown = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izNjVAOnbdQ

Somebody’s image – ‘Hush’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HukWnEnigY

Joe South performing ‘The Games People Play’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WJmg9xCukM