Ok so let me start this post by mentioning that I haven’t been eating a lot of dairy or gluten lately, I’ve pretty much cut it 90% out of my diet except for crumbed fetta on my salads, because otherwise why don’t I just kill myself, but last night I had a Monaco Bar to celebrate my friends’ buying a house, and I think that perfect storm of gluten AND dairy did something to my brain that my brain wasn’t prepared for, and this is going to be the context that leads me to tell you about my friend’s show.
Cyrus Bezyan Interrogates Inanimate Objects for About an Hour got a lot of early buzz, including a write-up in the North Shore Times where Cyrus stands awkwardly in a line of other comics in what I think is now his “comedy clothes”, and as a result of this or perhaps as a result of his cult following in local comedy circles, his show sold out almost straight away.
I was lucky enough to be given one of Cyrus’s “media comps” in return for “reviewing it on my blog” and so here we go. A review.
This is one of the weirdest and trippiest shows I think I have ever seen. I entered on a dairy and gluten buzz and I exited on a different sort of buzz. It didn’t matter that the air conditioning was freezing cold, and that the sound and light operation was opening-night-messy, and that Cyrus left a bunch of his props backstage or lost them under the dark table where he keeps them: this was some crazy shit, and I was down with it.
The basic premise is that Cyrus inserts himself into a dreamy Noir-style detective world, where a crime has occurred. In order to solve it, he interrogates a series of inanimate objects who may or may not have been involved in the crime. Hilarity ensues.
The smogasboard of surrounding laughs told me a lot about the show. There was one extremely loud breathy screech behind me, a lot of long mumbling guffaws, and a whole bunch of people with their heads in their hands, shaking silently.
It is hard to do justice to Bezyan’s stage presence, but let’s just call it a wonderful melange of intensity, likeability, awkwardness and wit.
It was a great show and it has changed the way I think about inanimate objects. I’m treating printers and scanners a lot differently now. With a quiet respect and a white-hot rage, respectively.
You can find out more about Cyrus’s show and his work generally at this website. The show has been extended, with one more show on 12 May, so follow Cyrus on Facebook til then. If you want.
Here is another post that will deal with the unique industry I work in, full of big personalities, big vats of alcohol and big sociopaths.
The theatre industry is one of those places where everyone acts big all the time. It’s a classic case of peacocking: in clothing, in accessories, in the book you’re carrying around, in the way your voice projects around a theatre when you stage-whisper “Kierkegaard” and in the way you enter a room.
The reasoning behind it seems to be something like this: if I enter this party, foyer or theatre with AMAZINGNESS, any stranger will be behoven to assume that, to match your amazing arrival, you yourself are amazing.
An easy way to enter with amazingness?
Have the hugest greetings in the world.
As a result, greetings in my industry are massive. The minimum greeting is a kiss on the cheek. But I have been greeted by many vibrant colours of the intense greeting rainbow, including:
- The combined kiss AND hug, where you kiss first, then hug, then start to separate, and then the other person, confused about the length of these things, is still holding onto you, so you come back in for a longer hug, but they’re already been burnt and are WITHDRAWING from you, and things get rough.
- The continental double-cheek-kiss where, again, if not warned, you might retreat back from the kiss, thinking “WE’VE ALREADY HAD OUR PATENTED CHEEK PECK AS FAR AS I AM AWARE” and the other person is leaning right back in for Smackeroonie Numero Duo, and you meet noses at a really awkward angle, physics-wise, and things get BLOODY.
- The hug-with-no-kiss that you thought would have been a hug-with-yes-kiss, so you find yourself murmuring a breathy bourgeois “MWWWWAAAAAA” into someone’s ear while they hug you silently with confused pursed lips.
All of this sounds a bit dodgy, right? A bit awkward and horrible and the sort of thing that might keep you in your room for every Wednesday night til eternity, only venturing out to see Tuesday matinees, or whenever you can be sure the “pretty people” won’t be there to scare you?
And to compound the awkwardness of it all, a lot of these people you are hugging and kissing and ear-breathing into are NOT ACTUALLY PEOPLE YOU WANT IN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO YOUR FACE.
(Thank you to the lovely Cathy for blowing my mind with this realisation today, which we talked about in a foyer, after a friendly and non-awkward greeting hug that we had obviously both practiced in our respective cars tonight before entering said foyer.)
Yes, a lot of these hugs are not “OH GOD IT’S SO GOOD TO SEE YOU” or “I WANT YOUR SKIN NEAR ME RIGHT NOW” hugs. They’re often “Oh. Hey Bob” hugs. Or even “OH THIS BITCH IS THE WORST” double-side kisses. Sometimes you hug someone hard while thinking “I WOULD NEVER TRUST YOU WITH MY ARTISTIC SOUL”. But you do it anyway. Hug right on home.
But you know what I like about this?
I like everything about this.
I like that on a regular Wednesday night you get to hug a WHOLE lot of people, 90% of whom are not douchebags. After a day of sitting in front of my computer writing To Do lists in tiny font so the tasks seem less overwhelming, this is a tangible way of remembering that other people exist.
People who have big voices, and big stories, and big jewellery. People who might have done something a little more interesting with their day than search for new ways to word the phrase “rip off the bread and dunk it in the soup” so it sounds most dramatic.
And they all want a piece of you.
Yes, with qualifications.
A lot of people have this image when they think of a freelance lifestyle:
They think it’s all weekdays brunches and writing on a sunny moor somewhere and quiet midday Woolies trips where you can have long conversations with your favourite checkout chick, Mildred, about her back pain and jerk grandchildren.
In a way they are right. But you know what they don’t know?
These perks are UTTER NECESSITIES IN ORDER TO STAY AFLOAT IN THE GREAT JAGGED TROUGH OF A FREELANCE WRITING LIFE.
This is a more realistic image of a freelance lifestyle, and yes that is pyjamas at 7.00pm:
Welcome to A Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer, And Now See If You Like It So Much:
7.30am: wake up. What a great time to wake up. Everyone’s at work and the day is MINE to write ALL THE THINGS!
I sure have a lot to write, because I don’t like saying no, and I have a lot of inspiring collaborators, and I would like to achieve many things before I die!
8:00am: Better do something outdoors before a day in front of my computer!
It’s time for joyful invigorating park-time, featuring dog-stalking, cardio fitness and my new patented “sit on a bench and do breathing exercises til calmness and The Muse descend like some sort of slow-flapping heron on the banks of Lake Innisfree”.
This is a great hour for the freelancer.
9:30am: is there a new episode of The Mindy Project to watch, while I eat some sort of high-protein leisurely breakfast?
This shit is great research for being a Sassy Comedy Lady in the Modern World and so I often rewind and note down importantly lines to sear them into my brain for future just-in-cases.
10:30am: OH GOD OH GOD I HAVE SO MUCH TO DO OH GOD WHY HAVE I LEFT IT SO LONG OH GOD TIME TO GET TO WORK.
1.30pm: Well! At least half that time at my computer was productive, and the other half was looking for backpacks on sale that I put in my Checkout Basket but never actually buy!
It’s time to go to my local shopping centre and make the important SUSHI vs FRESH VIETNAMESE SPRING ROLLS vs DO I JUST MAKE A SALAD decisions.
This takes a while and it is not to be taken lightly.
Luckily Mildred is there to advise on my purchasing decisions (“they make milk out of BEANS now!)
2.30pm: OH GOD OH GOD I HAVE SO MUCH TO DO AND I JUST SAID YES TO SOMETHING ELSE WORK BITCH WORK WORK WORK YOU COULD DIE TOMORROW YOU KNOW
4:00pm: You know what they say about the muse?
Sometimes the muse is a fucking bitch.
On any given day, the muse might desert you and the only way to work through your current creative roadblock is to:
a) go back to the park and stare at dogs while calm-breathing til a solution appears,
b) lie on your back for 2 hours until you either fall asleep and dream the answer (A DINING TABLE MADE OF SKELETONS), or it comes to you mid-slack-jawedceiling-stare.
5.15pm: My housemates start returning home.
We discuss our days. Theirs involve interactions with human beings.
Mine are things like “I realised I have one weird toenail” or “I swear that pitbull on Lord St laughed at me like a cruel, mocking human.”
6:00pm: EAT SOMETHING EAT ANYTHING EAT CARDBOARD JUST GET IT DOWN AND GET BACK TO WORK YOU FOOL
Continue until 10 or 11pm and then fall asleep.
And here’s what I’m really getting to, non-freelancers.
You know how you get home from work and go “woooo whata day, Jeff sure was a dickhead at the water-cooler, ooh strategies and human resources woo, time to flick on Real Housewives and see if Brandi Glanville is still her honest self despite the bastards trying to get her down”?
Your non-work time is YOUR TIME TO ENJOY because you are FAR AWAY FROM WORK. You might need to check some emails or return a call, but you are not needed until 9am tomorrow. You are free.
Freelancers have the constant knowledge that we still have heaps of work to do. Always, always heaps of work to do. And our desk with all the means to do that work is sitting right above our heads.
And the desk has a long bendy neck like Horatio Hornblower in that movie, and it cranes that neck out the window of our study and down the front of our houses and right into the window that our TV-watching-couch sits next to.
And every time we shift a little on the couch to LOL at a Housewifeism or eat another handful of Pringles from the Pringles that our housemate didn’t say we could eat, but we’re all friends here, right, we see that desk.
We eyeball each other all night. It shakes its long mahogany head at us.
We gulp, and we understand.
It might be 9-5 for everyone else, what a way to make a living, but not for us, Freelancers. Not for us at all.
So, Would Jess Like Freelance Lifestyles?
Yes, she would. I don’t have to squish onto trains, I can eat fucking huge lunches, and I get so much dog into my working day that it’s kind of a joke.
But is it a little more tiring, stressful and intellectually rigorous than it sounds? Is it hard to justify “nap time” as a creative endeavour? And will that Mr Fantastic desk of yours ever drop the motherfucking eye contact? No.
So, tread carefully my friends. And get back to work.
OK so chalk this up with the same topicality reading as the Kernot/Evans affair of 1903, but I just want to share with you guys that I hate the early naughties TV show, The Gilmore Girls.
I hate how the writers of this show are not okay with the idea of a teenybopper show being accessible and a bit sassy SOMETIMES, but overall something nice and light with a positive message for young ladies to have drilled into their ears. INSTEAD they’re all about the ironic self-referential characters who speak REALLY fast and have way too pithy things to say that don’t correlate with the emotional lives of their characters and it just makes me think: CHOOSE WHAT YOU WANT TO BE, GILMORE GIRLS.
If you WANT to be inventive in dialogue, you kinda need to be formally inventive in other facets as well, or your show just looks awkward and shit, like a falling down house with a really space-age Japanese bidet.
It’s like you’ve got a screenwriter who wants to prove s/he is “better than this” and should be writing Important TV Dramas Like The West Wing, to which I would like to say, “well you’re not, MATE, you’re writing The Gilmore Girls, and your viewers don’t want to hear what Rory thinks of the Bell Jar – they want to see her snog a hottie – so either embrace the fact that TRASH ALWAYS SELLS, and do something fucking crazy like this, or get out of my face and out of my life.”
And here ends: Jess’s Whinges of Late High School.
I just wanted you guys to know that I am taking part in Dry July this year, to raise money for the NSW Cancer Survivors Centre. This is a great charity that looks at the physical, emotional and logistical needs of people who have faced cancer and are now trying to get back home and continue their recovery.
My Dry July team-mate (and housemate) Edmund Iffland has started offering art-based incentives to donate to cancer treatment at Wollongong Hospital.
I guess I need to trump his offerings with something you want just as much or more than his stupid caricatures. (But jokes aside you should still pledge to Edmund because it’s for charity, dude).
HERE IS WHAT I PLEDGE.
A personalised celebrity fan fiction of your choice FOR ANY DONATION.
Just tell me which celebrity, the setting you desire, and any interesting object/prop/detailand I will write you a story to put on your Inspiration Pin-Board.
I’ll do this for any donation, but the bigger the donation, the better (and longer) the story.
Here’s some ideas to get you started:
YAY CREATIVITY! Donate here.
Hmm…I guess so.
So my friend David Finnigan and I, joined by local neighbourhood couple Tom and Skye, watched a movie called Hannah Montana tonight and decided to blog our responses – my version on my blog and Finig’s version on his blog (which is REALLY funny and it’s worth reading both), [update: Tom was so inspired by this night of important writing that he wrote a little tribute of his own] and in our heads we had the inner question mulling about as follows:
Is it worth it? Miley giving up whatever she gave up, to make this, whatever it is?
Let’s see what sort of answer we get below…starting NOW!
So. There are a few themes to this movie, which I can sum up as: Farming hijinx! Running around a lot! And WIGS WIGS WIGS!
I’m not sure yet if they’re “worth it” but let’s get to the end of this race before we decide.
Speaking of wigs: it starts with Billy Ray sitting in the backstage room of a concert, by himself. Billy is looking at wigs, all disappointed. We know this cos he sighs and quietly clucks and he doesn’t even have a hat on.
Cameras outside show us 5 billion screaming kiddie extras – and there are a BUNCH of extras in this film because Disney is NOT cheap – and they are so excited for the Hannah Montana concert, and the camera pans over a whole bunch of tweeny girls trying to get inside, and then suddenly the camera JOLTS RIGHT ON BACK, because HEYO, was that Miley’s face in the crowd? Oh yes it was! For some reason Miley lacks the professional nous to ensure that she gets to her concert in time to change into the elaborate disguise that helps her have 2 identities at once – global popstar, and Californian school girl. Guess what this elaborate guise is? Oh yeah a raggedy-arse blonde wig. Impenetrable.
Concert ticket lady is all friendly to the girls before Miley and her best friend Lesley (my friend Skye suggested that is the friend’s name, as per the lyrics of one of Miley’s excellent songs) but the woman turns on these girls all “Ha! You say you’re on the guest list? I disbelieve you SO intently that I won’t even glance cursorily down at the guest list in front of me, and FUCK YOU GIRLS OUTTA MY WAY” and I hope she gets fired later.
There is already SO much screaming.
And then there’s a heinous scene on a golf buggy where Miley gets backstage and THERE SHE IS, READY TO ROLL. And it says Hannah Montana on the dressing room door and then that word EXPLODES into bright blue neon fragments and we know this shit gonna be WHACK.
We can also see that Billy Ray is FED UP to the brim with his daughter’s flightiness and ego and she’s really lost her way – she’s even wearing a guitar picks dress – and as a graduate of a degree in playwriting, I can recognise that this is some pretty spesh foreshadowing by the writer we’ve discovered is called Dan Berendson, and this is only the FIRST of many more congratulations for Dan down the line.
So Miley bursts out onto stage and THEY LOVE HER, and then suddenly we see Miley’s latest film clip on a Hawaiian beach, and this shit flits between locations like it aint no thing, and we also see the same cute character “doowhatsy” that is going to plague us throughout the film, which is that Miley likes to bang her head on poles and on balls, and hah-hah-hah these jokes write themselves.
(Her brother, Nameless’s, doowhatsy is that he is somewhere on the Spectrum and he just KEEPS getting into fights with animals of prey, and pretending he goes to College).
We meet a dodgy motherfucker called Oswald trying to sneak rapily into Miley’s dressing room, and the “assassin of America’s most loved” name reference is not lost on any of us, and we also meet Miley’s publicist Vanessa Williams, who always always wears a headband, and Vanessa introduces Oswald all pursed-lip-bitchy as “Chief Sleaze at Bon Chic Magazine” which is the sort of job title most of us only dream of. His job is to spy on Miley and try find dirt on her, and BOY does he have an adventure ahead of him! Some might say that in Disneytopia, when you try to find dirt on Good Christian People, you only get dirt on yourself! You fall into mud pits and out of trees and get sexed by farm animals and shit! Oh this is going to be good!
We also meet Bon Chic’s ACTUAL Chief Sleaze Times Two Full Stop Infinity No Returns, but only through little vignettes of her high-powered CEO beauty regime, in like manicure sessions and massages and shit – and I feel there’s not enough exposition for the full wringing out she gets later, but let’s face it, the bit players in this movie could have been rags on a stick, and it still would have soared into the stratosphere like the veritable Miley-powered bird of prey that it is.
But as much as we know Miley is the lovable, relatable yet also well-toned trifecta of ideal Disney hero, she has some things to learn about GETTING YO SHIT TOGETHER, and not having such a big fat ego, and we see a few hiccups along the road, like totally ruining her BFFE’s birthday party, and having a fight over some soooo-2005 pump heels with Tyra Banks, and even fucking up some stupid cake that a little kid we only see once in the whole film baked for Lesley. BUMMER, Miley! You gotta learn RESPECT! If only you could be FORCED TO!
I have to say at this point my emotional engagement is pretty low. I am feeling this in my head, while at this stage of Camp Rock, we were already smack bang in the heart and spine region. But if anyone can pull me out of this, it’s Miley. So we keep trucking on.
And suddenly Miley’s on a private jet to “go to some gig in New York” except her Dad has already dropped SO many HINTS about how she needs to grow up, and how it’s Granmaw’s birthday and rah rah rah – which, OK Billy Ray, she might be a lil bitch, but SHE IS LIKE 14 YEARS OLD, aren’t all 14 year olds little bitches? Cut her some SLACK! And bring in the love interest already! And make him spunky for fucking once!
They get off the plane and Miley’s so sure she’s in New York but OH NO she is in Bumfuck Nowhere, and her big brother who was complaining 5 minutes ago about “I’m late to College” is there with her too, pretty much getting to third base with a Great Dane in the front seat of a pickup truck, and Miley is PISSED about everything.
Dad and Nameless Brother leave her by the side of the road with her ugly pink luggage to ride her horse Bluejeans home (YEP MOVING ON) and of course Miley doesn’t remember how to ride a horse – FOR SHAME – and Bluejeans is all “BITCH you is NOT gonna be learning on ME” and gallops off, and suddenly some Disney-version of a tween hottie (maybe I’m too old for this shit, but this boy is a DISAPPOINTMENT) rears out of nowhere and subdues the horse for Miley and they ride back to Grandmaw’s together.
Miley rides on the back of the horse with Hottie – who is named TRAVIS for future reference, and is cracking double-denim like he has no shame – with her arms clenched against her breasts, because Disney would explode in little tufts of lemon-flavoured smoke if we accidentally saw any jiggle action. Shit gets a bit close and flirty before boyo pisses on her face metaphorically, going “I used to have a crush on you…but not anymore” and poor Miley has to extinguish all her sexy 3am plans for frottage in the chicken shed and go check into Grandma’s house.
It’s fucking World War Hick in Nan’s house. Rascal Flatts is in her living room, there’s a hoe-down going on, Weird Cousin Derek is there with his pet ferret, and amongst all this, Nan gets given the final celebrity crooner commemorative plate for her wall of plates, and then Billy Ray gets all clumsy in front of a hot age-appropriate love interest, played by Jan from The Office, and he breaks ALL of Nan’s plates. What a MESS. Nan was hoping that, having filled the gap of the final plate on her display shelf, she could finally die this year, but I guess it wasn’t to be.
We can see that adjusting to country life is hard for Miley. She has a photo of her dead Mum who is also Brooke Shields, and a morbidly obese rabbit, and the photo comes to live and they all blink, and what the fuck? And then Nan passive-aggressively tells Miley to bone up again –poor bitch can’t catch a break right now – and whatever, I don’t really care. I’m still in the brain, and not heart, region right now.
It’s morning and all I can think of is “CRAZY DISNEY FISH OUT OF WATER MONTAGE” and yeah it happens and yeah it’s gross and let’s just say that if I wanted to see what a squashed-up half-cooked egg looks like, I’d just torch an IVF clinic rather than make Miley go through such indignity here. But, bygones.
And – I’m betting Nan is regretting asking the family to stay. A week’s worth of eggs crushed. Dumb Nameless brother getting his head stuck in her prize-winning squash. A whole Innovations catalogue worth of commemorative crooner plates smashed to pieces. AND THEN the completely uninteresting conflict that underpins the whole film, of “HRMMMMPH, developers tryna build a mega mall in MYYY backyard? Not in my Tennessewrptyyu!” oh sorry I fell asleep while typing that cos it is so boring and overdone a plot device.
So between EVIL DEVELOPERS and OSWALD TRYING TO GET A DIRTY MEDIA SCOOP ON MILEY, shit be tough. Lucky she’s building a friendship with Inoffensive Travis who says something so Disney to her that my whole living room voms into our snuggies, “Life’s a climb – but the view is great” – BLUUUUURGH.
Nameless Brother in the meantime has been ass-savaged by a crocodile and stole an egg from an Ostrich, all while declaring “I’m in College!”
No you’re not.
There’s some community fundraising night to raise money to STOP THE DEVELOPERS, because maybe getting a lump sum of cashola to burn in a big petrol fire while chanting Sarah McLachlan lyrics will stop the developers from building the evil mall? Or something? Because it’s not like these developers don’t eat, sleep and shit MONEY, and could buy this town 3 times over?
But who cares about these logistics. We are here to ENJOY the SHOW and WHAT A SHOW! I actually gasp with joy when Taylor Swift has her cameo, and Miley dances with Travis and he builds up her confidence to suggest a song, and she’s all like “I’m gonna add a bit of HIP HOP to the mix!”
AND SHIT GETS REAL! It is the hoe-down throw-down and OH MY GOD it is incredible. The whole room rolls effortlessly into this thing and it’s like magic is happening in front of our eyes, and every time I try to look away it’s like my soul yells “GIMME MORE” and I am now FULLY in the heart region, brain left behind. If all of their budget went into this scene, it was worth it. 500 out of 10.
And then it’s over, interrupted by the Bad Man Developer who pronounces the word “community” like he’s really saying “fuck you” and I hate him more than I hate Clive Palmer, or maybe equally, OK actually a bit less, but you know what Travis realises will get Bumfuck Town out of this mess?
An amazing charity concert featuring HANNAH MONTANA!
So it is organised. Jan from The Office makes it happen, and Lesley BFF plays ‘fake’ Hannah, and blah blah don’t care. The only bit that gets me is when Miley, in “Hannah” guise decides to suss out what Travis thinks of Miley, and Travis is like “I think about her all the time”. And the way he says the word “all”, it even smells of sex, so I hope this works out okay for him in the end.
Meanwhile we see Nan’s squashes up close, and shit, these things ARE prize-winning.
A bunch of stuff goes down in a really fast stomach-achy sort of way, where Miley is torn between a date with Travis (in her Miley identity,) and a posh lobster lunch with the Mayor of Bumfuck (in her Hannah Montana identity). And bitch is running between the two SO unsuccessfully, and she’s basically being horribly rude to EVERYONE involved, and the only acceptable excuse for any of this is “chronic diarrhoea” and yet she doesn’t pull it.
She finally fucks up the special lunch royally when the Mayor brings out a dish called ‘Tennessee Flambe’ – which used to be a lynching procedure, but now is some sort of firey dessert – and she sets the room on fire, and everyone freaks out, and she tears off her wig, and pretty much everyone she’s trying to dupe sees her for who she really is, except one little dopey kid with a picture book hanging out unsupervised on the steps of Town Hall, who’s just lightly disappointed by it all.
This reveal causes a rift between Billy Ray and Jan from The Office. It makes Travis REALLY mad at Miley even though, whatever. And everyone is PROPER BUMMED and I don’t mean in a “reframing sexual paradigms around the Disney Purity Ring” kinda way.
Miley and Billy Ray are suddenly hanging out in a pagoda watching the misty mountains of Tennessee, and his eyes are equally misty, cos his daughter is singing him a BEAUTIFUL song about how many sacrifices he made as a single father, and it is another TOUCHDOWN moment.
And all this suddenly reminds me of the amazing “Come Back to Twitter or I Will EAT MY CAT” controversy of 2009, which you can read about here.
SO we’re nearly at the end of this. It’s Hannah Montana concert time, and we can see Miley’s heart ain’t in it, even though the concert is PACKED with people, and she has a whole squad of poorly-dressed backup dancers. She stops the show, all “I CANNA DO THIS” and then goes into a long boring Disney apology riff, ending with “I’ve hurt a lot of people…but I didn’t mean to.”
I mean…is that good enough? “I didn’t mean to”. I killed your cat but I didn’t mean to. YOU STILL KILLED MY CAT. Like…what about tangible steps towards better decision making in the future? How about learning from your buddy Taylor? How about – actually you know what? If the town is ok with it, I am ok with it.
And then Miley sings The Climb and all is forgiven. As my housemate Skye swooned, “bitch knows how to sing”. And here’s where the patended Disney Spinal Rush of Instinctive, and Not Intellectual Joy comes in. Passing the brain and going right to the spinal cord. I feel it.f We all get leg goosebumps, even under the snuggies. You’ve done it again Disney. This is almost as good as Camp Rock. Fuck you.
And then everything sorts itself out. The town of Bumfuck decides to keep Miley’s secret from the rest of the world, because the little girl from the town hall steps suggests it really cutely. Oswald stops stalking Miley cos his little private school daughters show up all “OH BUT DADDY – DON’T” and Miley’s Dad and Jan from The Office have a pash, and the town makes the money they need to for their anti-development tantric love-in next weekend, and Miley chastely kisses Travis, and they are SO HAPPY, but just wait til she needs to start bringing him to industry events in Hollywood next month, and record executives are like “what’s your groove?” and he’s like “you need to climb a mountain to see the view” and “Oh, Bluejeans gets spooked by strangers”.
All I’m saying is, a bird and fish can get married, but where will they build their nest? In separate houses because I give these guys 2 weeks.
BUT IT’S DONE! A final happy song, some groovy costume changes, my new favourite line of “You know that crush I had on you? SO not over it” and YAY!
So was it worth it?
Look, sure. But ONLY because of the magical music numbers and NOT because of the conservatism, the wastage of groceries and chinaware, the annoying slapstick, or Creepy Cousin Derek.
Some of you might say, “but Jess! Think of all the things this movie cost Miley! A quiet teenagehood without paparazzi in her face! The ability to grow up and THEN choose your career! A healthy relationship with body image and food! Her innocence, Jess, her innocence!”
To which I say – innocence is fleeting.
But a hoe-down? Forever.
This is one of those ‘sneak up on you’ NOs, the kind that you insist is actually a YES, right up to the moment that you find yourself in foetal position, wrenching off what used to be your favourite pair of underpants, and vomming into a bile-soaked gutter.
Houses of horrors are deceptive. At first they seem innocuous and tacky and something you can ironically enjoy. “That vampire bride is wearing Crocs! Hah hah!” you openly mock, while also noting that the sign by the door, the one next to the ‘NO REFUNDS’ written in faux-blood, lets you know that this ride is suitable for children over the age of 10, but “as parents, you know your kid better than anyone else”, so you’d best determine for yourself whether this ride is going to make them shit themselves in the middle of the Royal Easter Show.
Well, I’m 26 now and that sign is WAY off. Either I’m not made of very stern stuff (which, let’s face it, is pretty likely) or these guys need to take a good hard look at the Australian National Trauma Guidelines and re-evaluate their shtick.
I will not soon forget this House o’Horrors, in the same way that the arm bruises it gave me will not fade. The whole thing was thematically based on the idea of old Hollywood horror films, the sorts of films that are all just concepts and not REAL in my head, cos the only sorts of movies I tend to watch are teeny rom coms and maybe the odd impressive indie film about people-smuggling or whatevs. So we line up to go to the house; it’s me and an anonymous friend that for the purposes of this story I will call…Nikita…and we’re scoffing and LOLing our way through the line, and the guy at the front with maybe fake acne scabs but maybe not fake acne scabs is like “Aaaaare you scaaaared?” and we LAUGH in his FACE and just kinda go “HUH” and he gives a little wry grin that we don’t read into just now, but we will later.
And then it’s ON. And here is what I’m really interested in talking about. The way that irony and detachment are pretty groovy and fashionable all the time from the vantage of your free trade cafe or vintage dog-wear boutique, until you find yourself in the GRIP of something BIGGER THAN YOU. When you are running, and screaming, and hiding, and wading through bodies, and little corpse brides are whispering in your ear, and two SEPARATE guys with chainsaws chase you, and there are strobe lights, and Nikita digs her nails into your arm until you have to yell “NIKITA STOP – I KNOW YOU’RE SCARED BUT YOU’RE HURTING ME” and then Nikita uses you as a human shield against the second chainsaw guy, and then you heave and scream your way back into the free air and you guys are so exhilarated and overwhelmed and FREAKING OUT that you bump heads against each other, and it’s lucky you both wear nerdy playwright glasses, or you’d be the one hurling in the gutter.
SO I guess what I’m saying is that, Houses of Horror teach me important lessons about the power of adrenaline, and about the unhelpfulness of detachment, and about how good Nikita is in an emergency vs how good Jess is in an emergency. Whilst I value all of those lessons, I’m also quite happy to never repeat them again. Ever again.
We did eat cheese on a stick beforehand, though, which for the record – is a YES.
This is going to be a long one, people. Buckle in.
OK so some people would say “don’t have high expectations for a Jessica Simpson film”, to which I say – maybe I won’t have high expectations if Joe Simpson, Producer and Hollywood Dad of Note, doesn’t call his daughter’s film “a great moment for America”, nor comment on the generous size of Jessica’s norks.
But getting into it. This film was a big success in the Ukraine. In the USA it only made about $2,000 and only in Texas. This was a movie I obviously had to see and decide for myself.
It starts with Jessica Simpson’s protagonist character. I don’t know what her name is. Let’s call her Ashlee, cos that’s the Simpson sister we’d all prefer to see on screen. Ashlee lives in a small town in bumfuck nowhere and works in her Uncle’s shop. Her Uncle is played by Willie Nelson and we can all see the panic in his eyes at being involved in this venture. Anyway it’s set up that Ashlee is a beautiful kind soul who does beautiful kind things for people – like when the hot guy (by country town standards, at least) asks her out, she suggests he slums it with the Ugly Girl. Cos she is a nice person, and also because she has a Hot’n'Sexy Boy Meat of her own to go home to.
Let’s call this guy Sir Jerkington. We know he’s going to be a grade-A jerk because they’re childhood sweethearts and he wants to be an actor and we know those guys are bad news, and also his eyeline is always way off in the distance when it’s time for intimate scenes with Jessica which we know is NOT good boyfriend material. A good boyfriend LOOKS INTO THOSE BEAUTIFUL EYES or at least sizes up the tit.
Anyway Sir Jerkington tells Ashlee he’s off to New York to try his hand at becoming a star. Ashlee decides to follow him, because it’s Valentines Day, so she gets a bus to New York and is overwhelmed by the BIG CITY LIGHTS and then gets a New York taxi and – har har har – the driver has a CRAZY foreign name and she can’t even pronounce it! We also learn one of Ashlee’s delightful “comedy quirks”, probably something specified in Robert McKee’s ‘Story’ because this shit is so formulaic it could be done underwater, and her comedy quirk is that she chews on toothbrushes when she’s nervous. Yes. That’s really what they came up with. Elia Kazan must be rolling in his grave.
So Ashlee sneaks into Jerkington’s apartment in New York to surprise him and OF COURSE he is in bed with some hot sexy supermodel type, even though we find out he’s just been working as a hand model this whole time. There’s a whole lot of disdain shown towards hand models in the next ten minutes which I’d prefer not to talk about because those people have beautiful manicured hands; as someone with mangled writers’ nails they give me something to strive for, so maybe Blonde Ambition should just LAY the fuck OFF. There’s a delightful moment when Ashlee gets into bed with him AND the supermodel, without realising there’s another girl in the bed, and then the girl’s hands start touching Ashlee, and we’re all like “YAWHAAA shit is getting INTERESTING” but of course they nip that whiff of a threesome right in the bud before there’s the chance of any interesting engagement with this movie.
So Ashlee is devo’d.
She loved Jerkington so much. How could he do this to her? She is so doe-eyed and pouty and hurt that I don’t know where to look. She decides to just fucking embrace New York as a hot sassy single lady who’s only ever had silent vanilla sex with the same man, and she starts SEXING SHIT UP! My television does this thing where it stretches out torsos, and so when Ashlee does the Marilyn Monroe air vent montage, shit gets REAL.
Ashlee finds her wonderful friend, Cliche, who is a proper indie actor who does things like hang out with no-hoper creative types who are into method acting and she works as a Courier in her spare time. Cliche calls Jerkington “a worthless d-bag” – yes, those words exactly – and then tells Ashlee she needs to cover her Courier shift tomorrow cos she has an important audition, for like a Martin Crimp play or maybe a Tampax commercial.
INSERT HILARIOUS FISH OUT OF WATER MONTAGE! This shit is so heinous I don’t even want to talk about it, except it’s meant to show us how big and scary the city is – particularly if you’re a gullible artless hick – and it introduces us to NEW LOVE INTEREST Luke Wilson! He pulls Ashlee out of the literal and non-metaphorical trench she falls into (don’t even ask) and then offers to give her a shiatsu massage because “I had a Japanese room mate once”.
Can I just say Ashlee is the worst courier I’ve ever seen. I’m a freelance playwright and I’d do a better job than her. But she somehow finds her way to her next drop-off point, which is in a reeeaaaally tall office building, and gets to the front desk of the receptionist, who we’ll call Racial Joke. Racial Joke is a large African American woman who for some reason is the butt of the following jokes: someone tells her to “take your paws off me”; she’s referred to as “Big Momma’s House”; she’s also called “guard dog Betty”. Basically the first non-white and non-svelte person in the film is called a dog and a fatso right off the bat. Nice work, Joe Simpson.
Anyway boring boring boring; the main plot of the movie develops which goes a bit like this: There’s a company! It has a boss! He has 2 employees who want to be the boss, and not him! Is this an adaptation of Julius Caesar, cos at least that story had some stabbing! The 2 employees see Ashlee being a blonde hick in their Reception and think – HEY, we should use this blonde hick to be our new Receptionist and we can twist her ear to make her do whatever we want her to, and she can bring down the company from the inside without even knowing, and that’ll cause the Board to fire our boss, and then WE WILL BE THE BOSSES AND TOUCH EACH OTHERS’ GONADS IN JOOOOOOYYYYY”
Good news is that I found out Jessica Simpson’s character name. It is Katie Gregersnitch.
In the meantime Ms Gregersnitch keeps bumping into Romantic Interest – first in that ditch, and now as a mailman in the office! (Oh cos she got the job and has a swish new New York wardrobe to match it). And she’s all “ARE YOU STALKING ME” and he’s secretly like “YES” but out loud is like “I WANK TO YOU EVERY NIGHT” but Katie doesn’t even notice this cos she’s still thinking about Sir Jerkington and sighing in a gross guttural way he never would have elicited from her in any of their previous bedroom encounters.
So the ‘boss sabotage’ plot continues to limp along. Katie organises a cowboy party for some new client, which the 2 evil employees fuck up by inviting a Stripper! Har har how CRAZY! Shall we also call this person a Dog and a Fatso? Oh no, he’s still white and thin, so he deserves our respect. Anyway the Stripper strides into the party dressed as a Cop and announces “you have the right to remain silent…and we have the right to take our clothes off!” And we all know Joe Simpson is weeing himself in hurrumphes even though if he’d actually announced “we have the right to remain sexy”, you woulda got a genuine giggle out of me.
So we’re about 45 minutes into the movie and I still have no idea what industry these people work in. They keep mentioning ‘contracts’ and ‘options’ and ‘filing’ a lot, and occasionally chucking in “The Marina Project” but I just wouldn’t have the foggiest what’s going on. All we know is Katie is getting more confident in her role – like she can file folders really well now, and she bakes her boss Pigs in a Blanket, and entertains some Norwegian Priests in a low cut dress (not even joking), so bitch works shit out.
And then suddenly Romantic Interest shows up at Katie’s door with New York pizza and beer, and they get all sexy about New York pizza, unbuttoning their bulging jeans and dancing with their pants baggy around their guts, and then they kiss and her lagoon of lipgloss stays in place, and she makes a dumb post-kiss fishface and then OH NO WILLIE NELSON IS HERE! He wants to check his next generation of Gregersnitch is OK! He wants to make sure she’s still in love with Sir Jerkington! She needs to pretend Romantic Interest is the Plumber! The only noise I can make to do this justice is: HOOOOOORRRRKKKK!
Anyway. Whatever. Next day back at work and BOSS HAS BEEN DEPOSED! This leaves Cassius and Brutus in charge – Brutus is played by Andy Dick in supreme campitude, and Cassius is played by some faceless blond lady who’s doing the best work she can with her material. Like, despite her awful lines, we get a lot of emotion from her face – we understand that while she might be a successful Dragon Lady in her career, she definitely sobs really guturally in the shower every single morning before work.
Blah blah blah work work work – Katie tries to use her powers to fix stuff at work – she fails – Willie Nelson suggests she goes back home with him – she considers it – then she doesn’t – her and Luke Wilson fight the system – they use Cliche and her band of Viewpoints-trained actors to play a fake group of investors – blah blah blah – there’s a whole stupid sub-plot about Cassius holding the title to Willie Nelson’s shop – no one cares – and then SHOWDOWN!
Cassius versus Katie versus Brutus versus Racial Joke. Brutus calls Racial Joke “a damned dirty ape” and no one’s even surprised any more. A whole series of flailing cat fights break out where Katie finally gathers enough courage to call Cassius the Word That is the Worst Word in the World:
And here’s my problem with this film. It relies on all the most ill-developed and stereotypical tropes to mine cheap laughs. It pits woman vs woman. Man vs woman. Black vs white. Gay vs black (yeah, what?). It suggests smart women are evil and want to bring other women down. It suggests the most a young girl should strive for is “sweetness” and help from a man hero. Everything about this movie is SO AWFUL SO SO AWFUL and there’s not even an Ashlee Simpson in there to redeem it.
My friend Olivia commented: “man, this is a white film”. My friend Edmund commented, “did Luke Wilson have an operation to pay for or something?” The only good thing about this film is that there are no Jessica Simpson songs in it until right at the end where, over the kiss scene so lacking in charisma that they need to photoshop in sparkles, some shitty dirge is vommed out of her glossed up head-anus.
Don’t see it. Don’t see it. Don’t see it.
Did you enjoy this special SHITTY SHITTY MOVIE edition of WJLI? If so, you might want to come to Canberra to check out this.
Oh man. Oh man oh man. Even just writing the word makes my teeth grit and my eyes crazy and my skin start to raise off my veins and muscles in little clots of fear, and that pricks up my adrenal glands and suddenly little beads are bursting out of my skin, and the back of my neck, and SWEAT IS HAPPENING and it’s just ironic and shit – it’s like the only cure for ‘fear of needles’ comes in a huge fat injection.
Ok let’s start from the beginning.
I hate sweating so much. At school we had a girl who was always MEGA sweaty and I vowed “I WILL NOT BE LIKE THAT” because I could see it, the shame of it, following her around like a ghost in an 80s film, all “You need to acknowledge me in order to move forward” and I thought “it’s so simple to prevent sweatiness, just a quick spritz or roll, and suddenly you’re socially acceptable and attractive and not disgusting to anyone, well at least not for the particular reasons outlined above.”
But you see, it’s not as easy as that. Sometimes sweat is just uncontrollable, despite all your best efforts to curb and avoid it, and I call this story “the time Jess went to the Northern Territory, in outback Australia.” (I am specifying the country here because my 2011 Blog Summary Stats just came in and turns out 3% of my readers are from Peru and another 5% from a country in Africa I’ve never even heard of, and so who am I to assume that they are down and familiar with all the states and territories of Australia?)
Anyway. Part of travelling around outback Australia, especially if you go in Summer like this dumb bitch, is eventually accepting the fact that you have sweat trickling down every single surface of your body. That the act of wiping it away will actually generate more sweat. So you get to a stage of such pathetic, helpless acceptance that you just sit back and slump into the indignity, you let those beats of salted bodily refuse crystallise on your skin, harden in moments of briefly snatched air conditioning, and it’s this state that we call DROWNING.
There are some people out there who go “pfft, sweat is just part of life” and “embrace all that dirty messy shit that’s part of being human” and to those people I say “obviously you have never bought what you thought was a 100% cotton shirt and it turned out to be poly-nylon and grey marle coloured, because you just have no idea” and “do you know what we call it when sweat trickles down your back and into your butt-crack? We call it SWAMP ARSE. We. Call. It. Swamp Arse.”
Sweat that one out. Just nowhere near me.