Tuesday, March 30, 2010

SPG Flies Out

Certain of the women on the balconies above struck languorous poses, or stretched out a slender leg as if to straighten a stocking. One idly lifted her skirt as if to check that her underwear was all in order (alas, she appeared to have forgotten it altogether); another forced a breast to bulge out of its hiding and palped it thoughtfully. The Singapore Grip, J.G. Farrell (1978)

Another great book, immensely amusing and informative about the Singapore of old, set in the era of the fall of Singapore.


The lady on the balcony sans culottes is the first mention I'd heard of that great Singapore tradition, the Sarong Party Girl. Girl wears only a sarong, likes to party, geddit?

The latest incarnation, my flatmate for the past two years or so, is Isabella, Izzy, MissIzzy, or often Bella. She was blogging her sexual exploits (pretty tame actually, but outstandingly brazen for a then 17 year old Singaporean girl) under the SPG moniker back in 2004, maybe earlier. She was getting squizillions of hits during those 'grand old days of blogging' (four or five years ago). I once put up a photo showing her with mrbrown and a few other local bloggers and it was mentioned in a local forum and before you know it I had 2,500 hits for that one post (nearly 400 unique visitors for just one day!) My previous high was around 100.

For a while there Izzy was quite notorious, world famous in Singapore to coin a phrase, creating controversy over posting topless photos of herself (artistic ones, taken by her boyfriend), much to the horror of many other female bloggers, such as XiaXue and Singaporeans in general. She was on TV debating her mid-pacific accent, she was in the papers, she was temporarily writing the sex-column for FHM at 18, she was pretty much everywhere. Then it all died down. She was getting harassed by commentors on the PG site and decided enough was enough.

She started publishing in other blogs for a while, first the now defunct MissIzzy site, then most recently another blog for her semi-philosophical geekery or art related stuff but in the past few months she has needed publicity again in order to gain a new-generation of readers, and maybe some more paid writing stints. So she started blogging about her sex-life again in a new incarnation of the old SPG site.

Any blog-posts of hers that mention me are not sexual in nature BTW!


It was mid 2007, maybe closer to early 2008, while she was breaking up from her long-term relationship that she needed a place to crash for a while. Ex-blogger(joking) Indy actually suggested she give me a call, and in a trice she was at the door of my 1800sqft (including window-sills) palace pleading with those big eyes... This was not long after the photo below was taken at WalaWala in Holland Village, but I can't be sure.

What could I do? The Mouse (my maid) had left, so I did have TWO spare rooms. Couldn't say no, could I? That crash turned into quite a long while indeed. But there have been no regrets.

We've had some great times in those years, chatting on about nothing and everything from David Foster Wallace to religious history, atheism and political theory. This was usually best after Izzy's spaghetti or something I'd brewed up and a few glasses of nice red wine. That's when the opinions flow. That's when we'd laugh and get all serious, and she'd lean forward and say softly, "What?" She had trouble with my accent you see. And I'd repeat what I clearly enunciated previously. Then when she'd speak, I'd nod my head, smile and say to myself "What?" because I had trouble with her (infamous) accent as well, but I'd usually let her go on. (It's a habit I've developed over the years living in Asia, trying not to interrupt. Making people repeat themselves in a work situation eventually will generate some tension/resentment.) At home though, at the end I'd often say to Izzy, "I'm sorry but I have no idea what you just said."

Our social lives have been pretty much separate, though we've had lots of boozy nights with Indy and others of my friends and unsteady breakfasts ditto, either in (I taught her about Vegemite for hangovers!) or out, often at Epicirious on Robertson. Mostly she'd be pool-partying on KM8 on Sentosa, then carry on at some club with whatever 6-packed geek she could find, I'd be overseas. Watching FTV.


I think what she appreciated about me, and why we never even had a disagreement, let alone an argument, is that I never judged her or indeed made any indication that I was negative about what she was up to. None of my business. She was a big girl at the time she moved in, 21 or so. Heck, I was married with a kid by that age; don't you think I wish I could have let my hair down then instead of changing nappies, etc...? Whatever.

Live your life, have fun, have sex, just don't scare the animals and don't leave any indelible stains the Persian rug. And I'll call with a five minute warning when I am on the way home from the airport... (She didn't always pick-up in time.)

And of course, as readers would have gathered over the years, I couldn't be holding myself up as a paragon of traditional sexual values, so I knew I was in no position to judge. We talked about her history of escort services (she's mildly disguised in a chapter of Gerry Lim's Invisible Trade II - that's her on the cover), and I asked if she thought I should try it myself! She laughed and told me not to waste my money! She did try to get me onto OKcupid and start internet fucking dating. I think that like my old flat-mate in HK, she was worried about my not having a girlfriend or bringing girls home from some club or from OT (she only ever saw me not alone once - that was funny night) and wondered if I might have been gay. Probably also the fact I never hit on her, even for "rent-money"! Well, I'm not gay, not that there's anything, etc...

In a recent post about her imminent plan to go overseas, postponed until after a hastily planned trip to Thailand and new tattoo, she thanked me "for being the dad [she] never had." Awww. Father figures, young girls... hey, stop right there!

(Her family background is interesting. Best not to speak. At least I think that was dad's rule to himself. But let's not get all Freudian here!)


She'd come and go at all hours, and I'd come and go weeks at a time. Often as not she had the place to herself. Her family were supplementing her income while she was at Uni doing her design/animation courses (I was never clear on what Degree she finally obtained) and life seemed to be for the best in this best of all possible worlds.

But when her degree was finished the parental ATM seized up and for the last few months she has been looking around for a replacement to that income. Nothing really worthwhile seems to have come in that didn't involve sleazy but rich business travelers...

Naturally I was too nice a guy to kick her out... And no, still no "rent money".


So the day has arrived. Isabella has flown off to Holland. Her platonic (not gay either) buddy took her to the airport about 3 hours ago.

She has left Singapore, as all young Singaporeans should do, at least they should for a while. But she hopes to have left it for a seriously long time.

I wish her the best of times out of this, not quite the best of all possible countries.


She's Got The Clap!

Geraldine: 79 Fucking Explosives, Take 4.
Brad: Ha ha ha.
Quentin: Fucking Action!


It's one of the special features on the DVD/BlueRay.

(Blurfed somehow from


Too Much Information - Some Books and Quotes

Apart from my feet (which are slightly better thanks to new medication and new shoes) and my oesophagitis, my arse has been giving me grief. I have had fissures before, absolutely the worst pain ever, apart from my kidney stones, and I mentioned the horrible effects of a bladder infection a while ago as well. Now it is just this problematic stuff which has me in the dunny three of four times a day...

The reason I am telling you this extremely personal and disturbing information is that I came across the following line whilst reading Robert Coover's Pynchonesque (or is Pynchon Coover-esque? - I think Coover may be a better novelist actually!) novel Pinocchio In Venice and it had me laughing my problematic arse off:

- "El tempo, el culo e el siori / I fa quel che i vol lori" - Time, one's arse and the moneyed few / All just do what they want to do."

Oh so true... My arse is currently doing what it wants, that's for sure. Irritating Arse Syndrome.

This book by the way is an amazing pastiche of reborn cliches and verbal pyrotechnics, as the elderly Pinocchio falls into decline after a masterful academic career (two time Nobel Prize winner!), slowly turning back into wood in a nightmarish Venice winter of talking animals, puppets and statues. I had read "Pricksongs and Descants" 30 odd years ago, but was not ready for Coover at that time. I'm definitely chasing up more now, but he's hard to find in Singapore. I found this one in a second-hand store in Chiang Mai.


Changing the subject from my arse, another amusing quote is from the brilliant Patricia Dunker's first novel Hallucinating Foucalt from 1995. So far it's great, rather conventional compared to Coover, but what isn't? Duncker is obviously exceptionally smart, inventive (and well-read), in this book about biography and writers.

The narrator's girlfriend's gay father is wolfing down a huge and unhealthy meal:

- He was clearly fearless in the face of cholesterol.

Another great line! I was wolfing down those Portuguese custard tarts like there was no tomorrow myself - six over the course of the long weekend. When I lived in Hong Kong for six years and being aware of their dangers I doubt that I had eaten that many.

A serious quote I liked from this book is also a quote from Verdi's Don Carlos, I believe (bit of work to find this, but thanks Wikipedia), given by the girlfriend (a scholar of Schiller) in German (though the opera was originally in French!). Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa says to King Philip II:

- So geben sie gedankenfreiheit. (Give us freedom of thought.)

I'm thinking of sending the book (or the libretto of the opera) to a certain Singaporean Minister Mentor.


From the next writer I have been reading a bit of lately I have no quotes to hand, but if you love completely unreliable narrators weaving great plots you can't trust, from imaginary islands to a "what if" story (or two) of World War II (you'll hate Churchill even more than you currently do), then Christopher Priest is your only man.

I've read "The Prestige" (yes, the slightly disappointing [I read the book first] Christopher Nolan movie with Huge Ackman and Christian Bale), "The Separation" (the WWII one), and "The Affirmation" (which introduces his concept of The Dream Archipelago). Don't believe everything the narrators tell you in these books, but believe me, they are exceptionally good.

Priest is obviously one of the allegedly "Sci-Fi" writers whose speculative works border on the mainstream novel. They are often set in what seems like the real world but they have elements of dream-like imaginations and some unconventional or imaginary science in them. Like Anna Kavan's more experimental stuff, this would nicely fit into that Slipstream stuff which was proposed as a genre for books that transcend genres.


Monday, March 29, 2010

R7s (Reflux)

Spike has some terrific photos form the Quote Cathay Pacific/Credit Suisse Hong Kong Sevens Endquote. Or the Rugby7s as most people call them. E@L types them as R7s.

Here is Spike R7's entry where he talks about being a media photographer with a special pass (would do anything for one of those - another friend has one too, she writes about half the R7s stories in the South China Post), and here is his Flickr page.

No photo evidence of E@L as he doesn't have washboard abs like some of those girls! BTW, E@L failed to catch up with Spike on this visit (and a heap of other people!). Next time!


In fact he missed a lot of things. E@L missed Saturday at the stadium for example. Shame on him. After two nights out to 4~5am in a row, E@L crashed decided to have a little sleep-in until, mmm, 2pm on the Saturday afternoon.

A slow start ensued that day for EvilJ (the host for E@L's couch surfing weekend) and E@L as they imbibed some dim-sum and noodles as a late breakfast. E@L hadn't anything solid down his gullet except an Ebenezer's kebab on Thursday night (oh and Portuguese tarts at the Excelsior on Friday morning). After the food, as EvilJ doesn't do the R7s, they went down to the Maya bar in Lockhardt Doh to sample the new shiraz - by the glass. Four glasses each later E@L twigged it might have been cheaper to buy a bottle. Eh, whatever.

Evidence was bountiful that EvilJ knows EVERYONE in the business. Bar mangers, waitresses, bar staff, door staff and bouncers. As they sat there watching the world go by (before the carnage hits the streets as the R7's closes) EvilJ was getting waves and kisses and conversations almost continuously. His has a big boisterous greeting for people, always a laugh and often a hug, so no doubt he gets planted firmly in their memories. He is genuinely charming bloke, up the ears with jokes and stories, some of them involving E@L's Bruce's escapades, but enough of that...

So a quiet start for Saturday, followed by a quiet finish when E@L pulled the plug about 8pm, after EvilJ had dragged him to the Laguna pick-up bar. Not tonight. Instead he snatched some Japanese take-out and awoke refreshed to a glorious morning.

Despite the temptations in Laguna, EvilJ was a good boy too and came home alone. Reason? His 20 year old Indonesian girlfriend was due early next morning (Sunday - her day off).

E@L was also up early, getting ready for a Sunday at the R7s. Not going to miss the finals! After greeting the girlfriend, (stunning!) breakfast was back to the Excelsior for another coffee and Portuguese tarts (the flaky kind) at Illy's - best coffee in HK, which is not saying much. Why eat out? Because EvilJ has no VEGEMITE in his flat.

E@L headed to the stadium. Beers here, Bloody Mary's there, Pimm's and soda (don't ask) elsewhere, and so the day dragged on, gradually blurring, but thankfully not too much. Then to the post R7s Tent party, where E@L caught up with his flatmate from the old Hong Kong days and bopped in the mosh-pit with her for a while. She's a lovely person, really miss sharing with her.

Later he and other friends were chatting to a group of Village People (straight, from Durham - you meet the strangest people at the R7s) There was some squealing behind us and we turned around to see the Sailor from this bunch on stage at the Jagermeister booth with his trousers round his ankles. He was legless - well his dick nearly hit the ground anyway. One of the other VPs said that his buddy was a "shower not a grower"... But the girls were impressed. Police and Security guards were kind enough not to arrest him as we promised to get him out there and keep his dick in his pants, at least until we got to Wanchai.

We indeed took the VPs to Wancahi as the Tent had wound down. Discretion being the better part of not getting arrested in Wanchai, we instantly packed Sailor Dick into a cross-harbour taxi and off to his Kowloon hotel. The Durham lads had no experience of Wanchai, but this was not the best of nights to demonstrate its unique charms. Thousands of absolute idiots were staggering round the bars, smashing bottles (on purpose), pissing on the street, getting aggro... Ugly, ugly, ugly.

After a few minutes of trying to make sense of this we dropped the Village People into another buy-me-drink bar - what used to be Fenwicks (can't think of the new name at the moment) and E@L headed back to EvilJ's apartment (alone again) around maybe 2am, bit not without pausing for an Ebenezers kebab of course.


At the airport on Monday E@L's stomach was decidedly queasy from all the beer and all that coffee and very little food over the weekend.

He found a restaurant that served chicken-rice as he wanted to remember the HK version of this Hainanese dish and compare it to the Singapore version.

(From about 2:40)

The main difference is that in HK they give you a milder, rather sweet *green* ginger and spring-onion (small shallots) sauce which E@L hasn't seen in Singapore, where they use plain ginger. Also maybe the rice (at least at this place) isn't quite as strongly flavoured or as moist.

As E@L was finishing this delicious meal, washing it down with diet coke, he began to feel an unwelcome sensation. The food was not going down properly... oh no!

All of a sudden his oesophagus began to go into a reverse peristalsis...

He's had this before. It's an inflammation at the point where the gullet joins the stomach: it swells up after some acute-on-chronic reflux. He'd even had a gastroscope 12 years ago. It seems to come on after a binge week-end (or more) of excess beer and excess coffee. Got a bit of it in Phuket the other week...

E@L grabbed some napkins as his mouth inexorably filled up with frothy coke, chicken, garlic sauce and rice... Waaaah! (It is not vomit as such, because the food had never made it into his stomach. It surges up like a lava flow, not like an explosive stomach cramp...) Another wave of reflux hit him straight away and a chunk of the food overflowed past the napkin - he couldn't hold it all in - and it splattered onto the floor... Gross! But no-one was taking notice of his distress! Amazing! Or maybe not, this is HK after all! He grabbed the shoulder of a nearby waiter (facing the other way of course) who was serving someone else and he managed ask for directions to the toilet! "Down there..." he said, unperturbed by E@L holding the stained napkin to his mouth... E@L pointed to the mess, hunched his shoulders as if to say sorry and hurried away...

E@L grabbed some more napkins. He didn't make it to the toilet in time as more chicken rice came charging up but he got to a nearby rubbish bin just as his mouth overflowed! Some had splashed onto his shirt, as expected, a big stain down his front.

When he found the toilet he washed his face and hands, rinsed his mouth. He looked at himself in the mirror, what a sight! Red-faced, red-eyed, green and white food expulsed across his shirt. Luckily it was a dark shirt so with a few splashes and brushes the muck was pretty much gone. As he stood there with his hands on the wash-bench sighing at himself, he felt another surge rising. He just made it to the bowl, this time with something a real retch... Oh my god, kill me! It wasn't until 10 minutes later as he was walking to the gate for his flight that a good burp rose through the narrowing, telling him the lines of communication in his GI tract were now open and making him feel a little better. He skipped the plane meal.

In fact he hasn't eating anything since, except a few small sips to wash down a Nexium that he had grabbed in Phuket last time and his usual handful of neuropathy and BP medications. They stayed down but he still feels the burning of the reflux, it's like a punch in the diaphragm...

Uncomfortable... Sigh. E@L is falling apart.

No kopi and kaya toast on the way to work tomorrow either!


Sorry to leave you with this rather graphic story, but it was most distressing for him and he needed to share (making you all throw up in sympathy would be a good result.) If the inflammation doesn't resolve soon, another gastroscopy might be on the cards for


(p.s I enjoy putting in links to my old stuff as I think, in the cold light of hindsight, some of it was rather good...)

(also some punctuation maybe off a bit in this long post - I'll fix it tomorrow!)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Alive And Kicking (Carefully)

Sorry for not posting much of late.

The week before last I was in Austria, did I mention that? Stayed at the Hotel Immer Essen. Man those Austrians can eat.

Managed to go skiing, not brilliantly, considering my last effort was three years ago and I only did one day then before my recently arthroscoped knee gave out, but reasonably The main issue this year was what we might call a "pulled heart muscle": aka lack of nerve. The confidence was not high. Rather than being eager for the thrill of the slopes, all I could think of was the chance of inflicting hurt on myself. I even drew a graph, not reproduced here because I am on the Netbook with no drawing programs, similar to the supply demand intersecting curves. Age on the x-axis, curve for fun and curve for hurt intersecting at the current skill point. Was told I think too much. Not the first I've been accused of that!

So sitting by entrance to the hotel in my ski-boots waiting for T and Px, with butterflies and anxiety. It was a weird feeling, not pleasant. I'm not normally much of panicky person, but I'm thinking (again!) 'why the fuck would anyone throw themselves 1km down a freaking Austrian mountain, big mother-fuckers they are, all looming and grand and ice-covered'. Also making it tough was that fact that the development at this ski-field is a little bit underdone, with only a t-bar for the main trip up to 1100m. Burning thighs at the end of that, I swear. So rather than dwell on the risk, as two people walked past with wrist in plaster and another hobbling on crutches with his ankle in plaster, I pulled out the Sudoku game on the phone and played that. Great distraction, concentrating on something else. Before I knew it I was up on the slopes having a ball quite a good time.

I did have one relatively serious pringle when I collected a mogul - this guy was standing still in a narrow area and I had no choice but to explode into him. Can't have been that bad a hit because I was the only one to fall over. He and his buddy helped me up and get my skis back on, laughing.

Apart from the t-bar, one of the other limitation to Dientem am Hochkonig is that all the beer and sausage stops are at the bottom of the mountain so you can't rest and generate energy (and nerve) up at the top (and take in the view), you have to get down to get some grub. I guess that's motivational.


In perpetually buzzing Hong Kong right now for the Rugby 7's, staying at a mates place. Guest friendly. I think I have some old stories from Bruce about this town, I'll have to chase them up. But later. Something to do with Sushi-Adobo take-out, all in the one package.

Time for some Illy coffee at the Excelsior Hotel (just next block) and then off to the stadium...

No butterflies about that.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thank You For Dining With Us

If they charge you corkage for a screw-top wine bottle, is it called screwage?

(Hat-tip to Px)


Monday, March 22, 2010

Why I Don't Write Poetry

“Poetry is nobody’s business except the poet’s,” wrote Philip Larkin, “and everybody else can fuck off.”

Mmm. Harsh, but fair.


APEC Card = Get Out Of Jail Queues Free

The Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship (God bless their Aryan hearts) issues a Business Travel Card for the countries in the Asia-Pacific Economic Community (APEC). This gives a pre-approval of any visa requirements for a wide range of peri-Pacific countries. This means I don't have to apply for a visa for most of these places any more, I just rock up at the Immigration Control, choose the Diplomatic/APEC queue and skip the long lines.


If you're an Aussie expat a frequent traveller from an APEC country and are frequently visiting a lot of other APEC countries (you don't HAVE to be either an Aussie or an expat - my bad, thnx Laurence) and you don't have one of these cards, you're a bloody idiot. I use it when I go to Indonesia to play golf and ignore the $10 visa fee.

My current card expires in August, so at the moment I am filling in the forms for renewal. I just came to this question:

How do your activities, while travelling, relate to trade, investment or business development? If insufficient space, attach an additional page.

Mmm. My activities... Special massages, short-term girl-friends (singular and plural), VERY short-term girlfriends (singular and plural), pole-dancing in go-go bars whilst drunk at 4am, grievous offenses to most civilized sensibilities, generalized unethical and immoral debauchery involving nudity or not, with some nihilistic hedonism thrown in for good measure... Things you wouldn't, as a rule, do in your home country. Surely they know what expats get up to in the post-colonial (though you wouldn't realize the 'post-' part) tropics?

Additional page? I'd need to attach my novel!


Oh, oh, they mean what I do AT WORK while travelling! Phew, I thought I was going to have to own up to a range of misdeeds and maybe compromise my application, not to mention my reputation!


I Read This As "NKorean Bloggers"

NKorean Loggers in Russia Making Defection Bids:

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- The North Korean's note, scrawled in pen, was simple: 'I want to go to South Korea. Why? To find freedom. Freedom of religion, freedom of life.'

The ex-logger, on the run from North Korean authorities, handed the note over to a South Korean missionary in the Russian city of Vladivostok last week in hopes it would lead to political asylum.

Just before he was to meet Thursday with the International Organization for Migrants, a team of men grabbed him, slapped handcuffs on him and drove off, rights activists in Moscow said Friday. He was spirited away to the eastern port city of Nakhokda, where he is sure to be handed back over to North Korean officials and repatriated to his communist homeland, activists said in Seoul. ...

Full article: NYT


I was thinking, what the fuck, 40,000 North Korean Bloggers in Russia?? How many hits would THEIR shitty blogs get?

(misappropriated from Tim @ Cultural Snow)


Gotta Love Those Sexy Filipinas!


Sunday, March 07, 2010


I'm drowning in a sea of useless receipts. Everywhere I go, everything or every service (well, most) I pay for, they hand over another fucking useless scrap of paper. And I KNOW how much it cost, I just gave you the money, duckey. Is this scrap of faintly printed supposed to constitute proof of purchase should I be accused of shoplifting? Like a 52 year old man with too much disposable income shoplifts. And often in supermarkets they will hand over a bunch of tiny vouchers that allow you to buy your way towards ownership of yet another crappy dinner set or kitchen appliance. No, keep 'em. Give 'em to person behind me, they look like they need a $8 dollar saucepan that is touted as being worth $65. And no I don't need the receipt for parking validation reasons - I have been coming in here 12 times a week for the last 5 years and I have never once answered "Yes" to your question about parking validation, yet you keep asking me! Dude, I don't have car!

I buy a banana for lunch (diet again). Receipt. I buy a Coke Zero. Receipt. For these little purchases, why do they insist on giving me a freaking receipt? Like I'm gonna claim a banana and a coke on my expense account or something.

They're trying to cut back on shopping bags here in Singapore, which is a good thing, yet the shops continue to punch out about 50 million tons of rubbish in the form of useless receipts every 30 secs. Approx.

So today I went to M&S to purchase some thermal underwear for my upcoming ski-holiday in Austria (Dienten am Hochkönig - whereTF?). I found some under-troosers and a long sleeve super-warm vest and bought them.

Mockingly, I tossed the receipt away! Take your silly receipt, I cried, I'll never need it!


The LONG sleeve vest depicted on the package cover is NOT in the package. The SHORT sleeve vest NOT depicted on the package cover is in the package. Sigh.

M&S don't usually take accept returns unless you have the receipt. Ouch.


Dream Of The Devil

Wake In Fright is a 1971 quintessentially Australian fillum, despite being directed by Canadian Ted Kocheff, produced by an American and starring Englishmen Gary Bond and Donald Pleasance.

The plot tells of an English school-teacher who is trying to get to Sydney for his 6 week summer holidays but who gets lost in an inescapable Hell - outback Australia in the 1960s. Things are much better there now of course; they have air-con.

The DVD release of this movie has a great detective story behind it.

For many years, the only known print of Wake In Fright, found in Dublin, was deemed to be of insufficient quality to justify its transfer to DVD or video tape for commercial release. In response to this unsatisfactory situation, Wake in Fright’s editor, Anthony Buckley, began to search in 1994 for a better-preserved copy of the film in an uncut state. Ten years later, in Pittsburgh, Buckley found the negatives of Wake in Fright in a shipping container labelled: “For Destruction". He rescued the material, which formed the basis for the film's painstaking 2009 restoration. Wikipedia

More details on the extended search for and the eventual discovery of good film stock can be found on the fillum's website


Speaking of searches, I had been looking for the DVD each time I was back in Australia in the last six months or so, ever since I heard about the re-release. I had seen the movie on TV a few times in the 70's/80's and its blistering take on Aussie mateship and incessant beer consumption has always had a strong effect on me. I loved it, even more than Nichola Roeg's existential piece, Walkabout. I serendipitously found the DVD down on the bottom shelf of a store in the airport in Melbourne, just as I was despairing of getting myself a copy.

It is my favorite Australian fillum. We had studied Kenneth Cook's awesome and austere novel in high school and discussed it feverishly.

In those days it was fashionable to be critical of your home country. I wish there was more of that attitude around these days actually - all this flag-waving nationalism is the wedge in the door for many social and political evils IMHO, like war for one example.


So Indiana, GF, Izzy and I sat through Wake In Fright this evening.

From the initial 360deg pan which shows the absolutely flat, ochre-red landscape to the delicious detail of the hands-less clock on the Tiboonda railway siding which suggests both timelessness and eternity, and the "abandon hope" claustrophobia of this desolate, ancient landscape, we were all hooked.

It is a truly terrific and terrifying movie. It is set in an outback (the name for the movie's original overseas release) town called Bindanyabba that is based tightly loosely on Cook's stint as a journalist in Broken Hill, where the film's exteriors were shot.

Here in the 'Yabba, the honest, open, Aussie generosity ("Have a beer mate! Drink up!") of your new, best mate can turn him into your worst enemy when his camaraderie becomes threatening, aggressive, even homoerotic. Or, with an never-ending supply of that beer, your mate's persistence can turn *you* into your own worst enemy.

Here in the 'Yabba, you either succumb and join the beer-swilling louts in their mindless orgy in the ("shut the door, we're closed") after-hours pub and the Two-Up game which are simmering with a smiling violence, or you create your own mindlessness with a carefully aimed rifle bullet. Or both.

A sickening and surreal kangaroo hunt at night, a real dream of the devil, is the centre-piece. Even more surreal is that a real kangaroo cull was filmed and then inter-cut with views of the drunken 'hunters' chasing the poor animals through the dust in their recklessly speeding car...

A frightening wake up call for the Australian image of itself in the 60's; and remember, these people are still out there...

Have a beer mate! Oi, oi, oi.


"Dream of the Devil and you wake in fright," is the epigram that starts the novel.


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