Thursday, 24 December 2009

Natal Feliz

Yes, it's that time of year when I offer BmL readers a hearfelt awkward blokey handshake/forced backslap/ "how about them [insert sports team]" combo.

Which is about as warm as it gets in the highly competitive and ever-so-slightly Aspergic Portuguese Forts in Asia scene.

As you know, we aim to make your blogging experience every bit as comfortable as meeting your new dad-in-law at the Cronulla RSL.

But seriously: Natal Feliz.

May all your forts be Luso-Asian.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Parting Glass: Vale Liam Clancy

Sad news from Ireland that Liam Clancy, of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, has died. They made Irish music roll like no-one before or since, and Liam was their mainstay. Bob Dylan was a huge fan, and said of Liam “I never heard a singer as good as him ever. He was just the best ballad singer I ever heard in my life, still is probably.” Those who saw the Scorcese doco on Dylan will have seen him recalling Liam Clancy's exhortation to the young singer, then starting out in Greenwich Village: "No fear, no malice, no envy".

Great advice. (Not that Bob followed it.)

In any case, my old man played the Clancy Brothers over and over through my childhood, and I grew to love their rollicking, twee-free, passionate sound - and also the native wit and literary sensibility of their stage humour between tracks on the live albums. And at the old man's funeral, at his oft-repeated request,were sung Shoals of Herring and Fields of Athenry. The Liam Clancy versions.

And so, a parting glass, to the magnificent Liam Clancy. Slán agus beannacht leat.

Oh, all the comrades e'er I had,
They're sorry for my going away,
And all the sweethearts e'er I had,
They'd wish me one more day to stay,
But since it falls unto my lot,
That I should rise and you should not,
I gently rise and softly call,
Good night and joy be with you all.


Monday, 7 December 2009

Sir Henry Casingbroke on Wake in Fright (1971)

Well, its Wake in Fright revival week here at BmL! Larvatus Prodeo regulars will no doubt be familiar with frequent contributor Sir Henry Casingbroke. His comment on my previous post was such an interesting reflection - not only on the film, but also on the outback 1960s/70s Australia it dissects - that I went ahead and got his ok to do it up as a guest post: the very first here at Chez Fortaleza! And if you're among (the happy few) to have been following recent posts on 70s Ozfilm, you'll already know Sir Henry had a minor speak role in an earlier film of Michael Thornhill's - director of The FJ Holden. Hat tip also to Sir H for linking to this marvellous review of Wake in Fright by Kate Jennings.

Sir Henry writes:

Wake in Fright is magic realism. Wake in Fright's central idea is that in certain parts of Australia (and surely elsewhere), away from cities, there can be a "magnetic" metaphysical anomaly that keeps people tethered in place is spite of a lot of good reasons why they should leave - inexplicably they can't, hence the nightmare.

The longer you stay there the more difficult it is to escape this gravitational pull, and soon, like Doc, you look back on a weirdly wasted lifetime. This becomes the in-joke of The Yabba where Wake in Fright takes place.

I spent 1969 in a mining camp just south of Darwin near Pine Creek and what happened to me was similar, including the spotlight shoot.

When I first arrived in the Top End people asked me how long I was staying - this was trick question - I said: until the Wet, it would be about 9 months; I was there to get a quick quid and get out. They looked at each other winked and laughed. Everyone arrived there just for a few months and end up staying 20 years.

The metaphysical reality layer superimposed on mundane reality (nothing is quite what it seems) brings with it the temptation to step away from normally accepted social mores.

In 1970 Australia was still rather Victorian in its outlook on the surface. But the more pissed you got, the wider the two realities moved apart. All sorts of things could be countenanced, including murder (if it was deserved), hence, out there another set of moral and legal rules kicked in. Hence the ambiguous and ambivalent character of the police sergeant played by Rafferty. Rafferty the actor no doubt perfectly well understood the metaphysical reality, as many Australians in the outback experienced it themselves as I did.

Films made around then dealt with that metaphysical duality were: Cars That Ate Paris, Homesdale, Picnic at Hanging Rock, and The Last Wave, probably others.

This other world is now much submerged and a lot of people do not understand what is being discussed in Wake in Fright. Therefore they waffle on, not being aware that it is a documentary. And not seeing why a lot of Australians found the film uncomfortable at the time - they knew what it revealed and they wished it was kept under wraps, especially to outsiders.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Wake in Fright (1971)


Since I was a kid I've had a recurring dream of being on a beach, in light so bright I can barely open my eyes to see. This newly released on DVD classic of Australian cinema somehow captures that feeling - everything is yellow, red, light disturbs the characters, scrutinising their dark, more brutal sides. I've waited years to see Ted Kotcheff's film, and finally tracked it down on DVD. No lesser figures than Peter Weir, Bruce Beresford and Fred Schepisi regard Wake in Fright as the film that sparked the 1970s reniassance in Australian film making. The Cannes Film Festival has only ever screened two films twice: Antonioni's L'Avventura, and Kotcheff's Wake in Fright.

Though a critical success, it was apparently met by ambivalent public acclaim in Australia, with some audiences taking it all too personally, and a general feeling of "this isn't us". It certainly shines a light on male-dominated frontier towns of rural Australia - where men outnumber women and the stranger creates a rip in the fabric.

The performances are outstanding: as one critic rightly put it, Chips Rafferty as the local cop - in his final screen role before his death in 1971 - "exudes an unnerving intensity with a deceptively menacing and disturbing performance that ranks among the best of his career." Donald Pleasance is brilliant as an alcoholic doctor - and also claims my "best Australian accent by a foreign actor" award. Jack Thompson, Gary Bond and John Meillon round out the Australian all-star cast. This one will stay with me for a while. Would love to see it on the big screen.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Australian Screen Online

You know, the Australian Screen Online site really is ace. Loads of great clips you can check - from all eras. And you can search via film type, decade, or by title. See the short hand-cranked Lumiere Cinematographe clips of Queen St Brisbane in 1899, or Kanakas working on the cane fields of North Qld, or the 1896 Melbourne Cup.

Or check the later clips of hard to find Australian cinema classics like Wake in Fright (1971). I could be lost in here for days. Send cheezels and jaffas!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Pure Shit (1975)

Well let's face it, who isn't a little curious to see this film - banned then abandoned for a generation - about Carlton junkies in the mid-70s? Raided by vice-squad at its own premiere, this little underground film stayed that way longer than Ramos-Horta lived in hotel rooms. Its got it all: gritty intravenous realism, chase scenes, chemist break-ins, and excellent pre-fame cameos from Greig Pickhaver and Max Gillies. For all that, the scene-stealer is actually Helen Garner's hilarious appearance as a speed-addict, with advanced psychosis of the obsessive cleaning variety. There's even a social commentary poke at the earliest manifestations of the methadone program.

Australian 70s cinema. When will it be matched, let alone topped? I'm not holding my breath.

See the DVD trailer here.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Carpe pm: seize the afternoon

Yes, if I can't sleep in, it ain't my revolution! etc. I don't know about you, but early's never been my scene. Indeed, I was just recalling the other day, when I was younger, in me carefree 20s with fewer responsibilities to other humans, my normal hours of sleep were 4am to 12pm.

Time and circumstance has modified all that, of course; now its 2am to 8.30am. Cutting back on sleep hasn't really led to any productivity gains though - I rarely have a sentient thought before 10am. My brain still gets 8 hours, though the body has learned sleep-dressing and transport management.

I can't really help it, and to be honest, I don't want to change. These hours of solitude and focus have been the most productive of my life. I reckon I wrote most of my PhD between 10pm and 1am. I guess I'd like to know there are others out there still staying up, despite careers and so on. Perhaps well into middle age!

For example, I suspect my men HET here, princes of Dutch 60s freakbeat, still kick it late*. Now that semester two is nearly done I'm hoping to be back here (at Fort Segue) more often. Check it out!


* Hat tip to my bro, aka
The World of Yentl, for putting me on to this ace track.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Blog Action Day: 350.org

So, I got an email this morning from 350.org saying its blog action day today. So this is the least I could do. (And never let it be said I didn't do the least I could do).

As you may know, BmL is a big supporter of the idea of direct citizen action on global warming. Leaving it all to governments is a dead-end street.

To that end, we here at BmL are sending a smoke signal to all coastal fortalezas in the greater Solor/ Larantuka region that October 24 is the International Day of Climate Action.

You can check local events in your area through this handy widget, which will hopefully embed below. There's a whole bunch of useful info here on why 350ppm is such an important goal.

Days Left
On October 24, join people all over the world to take a stand for a safe climate future.

Enter your City, Country, or Zip/Postal Code below to find an event near you.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Águas de Março

Yes, rockin' the fortaleza with Sealab's version of Jobim's classic Águas de Março. Hilarious clip! Great song too. In fact, it was once voted the best Brazilian song of all time by, like, Brazilians.
É pau, é pedra, é o fim do caminho...

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Municipal Solar?

Ok, now let me run this scheme up the commentary pole and see who cheers (or jeers...)!

I've argued over at LP for a while that councils should look at developing municipal solar energy. That is, use the greater scale of council buildings, vacant property (and rates) to generate larger-scale solar power and feed it in to the grid at local area level. This would offer clear economies of scale in greenhouse abatement - that households can't hope to achieve - and produce larger volumes of power per dollar. Equally (by reducing net consumption of non-renewable energy across the municipal area) it would financially benefit all (both ratepayer-owners and tenants) by reducing household power bills in the mid to long-term. Households would receive the generated power as 'pre-paid' solar, at no further cost.

Households with private solar would get a double benefit, the rest would benefit by the effective socialisation of solar at the council area level. Perhaps they also could cut deals with state governments for the use of vacant Crown land.

Essentially, its a variant on the old school municipal socialism idea: in Britain in the late 19th and early 20th century councils were in the front line of creating public ownership of tramways, gas, waterworks and other utilities, using their greater collective buying power.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Fathers & Daughters

So, I was chatting with my bro (in the normal, non-NZ sense) today, who is recently the father of a baby girl, and has a son a fair bit older. We were watching my daughter play, and I was talking about the relative lack of weight of expectation on father/ daughter relationships. When I'd raised the same theme at other times - prior to his daughters birth - it didn't seem to ring any bells for him - but today it did.

Of the four parent/ child combos, it really is the one least dwelt on by popular culture, psychology, home spun theory and general folk wisdom of the ages. And in my experience, that's been the great thing about it. Makes it a lot easier.

Of course, it's a relationship that can be majorly screwed up, like any other, sometimes in utterly horrific ways - but aside from those awful cases, there aren't a lot of negative stereotypes attached to it. 'Daddy's girl', for example, is fairly neutral where 'Mummy's boy' most certainly isn't. Then there's the inherent role-modelling pressure of of father-son, mother-daughter relationships; so frequently subject to the 'individualise-via-conflict' vibe, sooner or later. And no offence, Mums, but in my experience there's virtually no limit to the matters affecting a boy's life that his mother won't feel absolutely entitled to dip her oar in the water about. Even well into his 30s*. Bless 'em.

Whereas there's just no point even asking Dad about tricky girl-to-woman stuff. He won't have a clue. And most importantly: that's understood - by both parties.

Nothing to offer but love.

I hope no one gets offended by the above. But I write here in defence of father-daughter relationship. Against its broad cultural neglect. It rules.

* There is a some possibility the author generalises unduly from personal experience here.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Can't think of a new post...

...cos I blew all my good material on facebook. But in the most lame-ass of comedic traditions, let us now ask "so....what's with that??".

I guess its a bit like fast-food, or 20-20 cricket. An instant gratification pigout that leaves you belching, bloated, yet ultimately dissatisfied. Not that blogging is exactly the French slow-food movement - but I do find that ideas I might previously have turned into blog posts (and thus subjected to a more sustained reflection in blog comments) now get frittered away on a quick farcebook update.

Which incidentally, I now refer to as 'Slide Night'. My theory is that farcebook is - in effect - a high-tech socially acceptable version of boring your friends senseless with pics of what you did on yer holidays. Except that they don't HAVE to look at them. In that sense, it fits neatly with shallow neo-liberal consumerist notions of 'choice' and 'liberty': it's all complete rubbish, but you get to choose which sandwich de merde is pret-a-porter.

Or am I reading too much into it? I've never Twittered. I can only imagine that's worse.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

CO2 Counter

So, I added a CO2 counter to the sidebar, which measure parts per million. Just to depress myself on a daily basis. Apparently 350ppm is considered the upper level of sane by most scientists. Oh look, its already 386. Naturally, we in Ostraya are basing current policy settings on a putative global aim of restricting it to 450ppm, which is totally effing visionary etc, except that it more or less guarantees disastrous climate change.

I need some good news on climate folks. Give me hope!

Sunday, 30 August 2009

10 years after the referendum in East Timor

30 August is a good day for Australians to remember that the so-called 'realists' in Canberra got it wrong for 24 years. I'm pretty sure a whole lot of them still think 'well, our strategic priorities just changed pre and post 1999, the cold war was over, and who saw that the New Order regime would collapse?'. I'm pretty sure they also think 'teh Left' were just a bunch of unrealistic and idealist whingers who accidentally got something right for once.

Au contraire. Along with saying the occupation was wrong, and a human rights disaster, the East Timor solidarity movements were also pointing to a critical empirical factor: Indonesia was not likely to succeed. How could a forced integration - with no basis in international law, unrecognised by any other state, with no respect for human rights, and implacably opposed by a nation of people - succeed in the long run? Its like the inevitability of a Palestinian state. Power cannot operate without legitimacy forever. Foreign policy 'realism' does not equate to pragmatism, how ever much the back-slapping defence and security circle-jerkers might fancy it does.

The major parties in this country were frankly out of touch with reality. They appeared to believe that just because it suited our imagined strategic priorities, a military occupation that could not even establish a monopoly of force after 24 years was some stable 'fact on the ground', that we all just had to live with. Let history record that the Australian people saw through it all first, and the 'experts' in Canberra followed.

I hope the lesson is not lost. Justice matters in international affairs. Foreign policy 'realism' does not make you realistic.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Abigail's Party (1977)

Its no surprise to me that Mike Leigh's early film for TV Abigail's Party (1977) was rated 11th in the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes. I saw it recently, and it truly is a magnificent precursor to that excruciating but hilarious genre (self-important-type-makes-constant-arse-of-self-in-public) that later spawned classics like The Office.

I also think its a toss-up as to whether Prunella Scales of Fawlty Towers or Alison Steadman's potrayal of Beverly is the origin of that classic UK aspirational lower middle-class female character that ends every sentence on a patronising "okaayyyy?".

In any case, I can only agree with the Channel 4 reviewer who said that Abigail's Party "still ranks as the most painful hundred minutes in British comedy-drama." Its compelling, peek-through-your-fingers-while-you-cringe viewing. Also interesting are the class dynamics between the five characters, flung together by post-1960s suburbanism and Britain's rising lower middle class.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

100th Post Commemorative Yabber

You know, when first my Caravel navigated these bloggy waters, armed with nothing but an Astrolabe, orders from the Leal Senado in Macau, and a rough Portolan of the last known voyage of Eredia (handed me by a marooned Marineiro in Solor), it was impossible to tell what adventures might lay at the end of the cartographer's wind-rose.

So many forts in Asia, so many lattes, and so many forts in Asia later, and... sadly... os meus amigos, its time to hang up ye old blogging mouse, and sail into the unknown waters of Luca Antara.

Hoho, just kidding! What a classic blog cliche, the threatened departure! As if. You and I both know the Portuguese forts in Asia scene has never been hotter. And I didn't come this far to yield the parapets and hoist my lateen sail for Lisbon, just because of some pesky lack of widespread interest in my deliberately obscure blog. You didn't see the Forte São João Baptista administrators abandon their post, just because they controlled less than 100 sq foot of territory, and no one sent them a letter for 200 odd years, did you?

No, and likewise, we're made of sterner stuff here at BmL.

Instead, let's dwell briefly on life as a small blog. Here's some random stats, in lieu on any actual desire on my part to analyse it properly.

Days since first post: 588. That's a post every 6 days. So don't tell me I never get ya nuthin!
Number of visitors: 4279. That's a massive average 7.3 per day! Those stats don't include me either - only genuine vistors. Somebody call google ads, we've got a live one!
Number of comments: 460. Subtracting the 40% that are mine (which is how it tends to go) that's a monster 2.7 punter comments per post. Mother, hire a letter-opener!
Record number of post comments: 24. Twice! Renegotiate the 1856 border, Capitão, this enclave ain't big enough!
Number of CPLP Countries on my counter: 4 full members (Portugal, Brazil, Mozambique, East Timor); 1 associate member (Macau); and 1 associate observer (Senegal).

Aos novos fortalezas! Até a vitória sempre!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Man, 41, seeks new word for partner

I don't know about you, but I reckon its high time we thought of a better word for one's main squeeze, when you aren't the marrying kind.

Now, if you're married, no problemo. 'Husband' and 'wife' are fine old terms if you ask me. Stood the test of time.

But for those of us who aren't into marriage (and let's face it, that's now a bunch of us - possibly a working majority for all I know) the options are poor.

I'm sorry, but I find the contemporary frontrunner 'partner' so completely lameass, I cringe every time I even think of it.

'Howdy, partner! Soooo-eeee!'

'Defacto' tends to run in second, but that sounds like you're making do until something better and more formal comes along; presumably a de jure occupant of your bed.

Recently, I've gone back to 'girlfriend', after dropping it some time back in the early 90s. Its mainly for a laugh, in explicit rejection of you-know-what, but secretly, I quite like it. It makes me feel youthful as well, and has done wonders for my complexion.

But really, I can't keep trotting that out for the mother of my child.

....OR CAN I??!!!

Alternatives welcome.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Roger East's Final Communique from Dili, December 1975

I saw Robert Connolly's film Balibo last Monday at the Melbourne International Film Festival. Its a magnificent work of Australian cinema - the best I have seen in many years. Both historically sound (respected East Timor academic and justice campaigner Clinton Fernandes was the historical consultant) and dramatically set at perfect pitch. The treatment is neither overplayed nor overwrought, the dialogue remains tight and realistic throughout. As a result, the impact of the dramatic climax stays with you long after the film.

As readers of this blog might recall, I once visited Balibo, and its a beautiful, quiet town on a mountain, with a long view down to the border between Batugade and Indonesian Mota'ain. The Balibo House Trust - funded by the Victorian Government - now owns he Chinese house and runs it as a community learning centre. Also involved are the Australian Friendship Group, the Friends of Balibo.

I reproduce here Roger East's final communique from Dili in December 1975. He was murdered on the Pertamina Wharf in Dili - along with scores of East Timorese independence leaders and supporters, including Nicolau Lobato's wife - by invading Indonesian forces on December 7, 1975.

Australia's nearest neighbour, tiny East Timor, has cast the die. It's 'Independence or Death', a western cliche, but here a daily salutation - and the Timorese people mean it.

The mortar that binds the East Timorese is the thoughts of Independence after 400 years of colonial rule. They will settle for nothing less.

Fretilin's army is basically anti-colonial, strongly Catholic-tinted and, not surprisingly, has many vehement anti-Communists in its midst.

Djakarta has elected to win support from its nervous neighbours by attaching the Red label to Fretilin.

However, Fretilin's initial planning is a blending of socialistic and cooperative policies which would appear natural for a colony bereft of secondary industry and winning only a subsistence existence from the soil.

Membership of Fretilin by Australian standards would include thinkers from the centre to the extreme left - the latter in a fringe grouping in the Central Committee.

Secretary of the East Timor Department of Foreign Affairs, Jose Ramos Horta, admits the committee's views vary on many issues, the sole exception being independence.

"I expect to see a multi-party set up in East Timor after we cross the present hurdle.

"We are a tolerant people who have waited a long time for the democratic process. We'll share it when it comes."

Fretilin believes the Governor, Colonel Lemos Pires, now living on the Island of Atauro, the St Helens of his choice, aided and abetted the UDT to stage its ill-fated August coup.

Fretilin had been told of the coup plot and a request to the governor to disarm the plotters is said to have been turned down.

Fretilin was defenceless when the fighting started and its members hounded, jailed and some murdered. UDT lost when the Portuguese-trained soldiers defected in favour of Fretilin.

UDT's leadership is now split three ways. Some are languishing in Timorese jails and others in the more comfortable surrounds of Australian cities.

The remaining standard bearers are in Indonesia, hosted and promised a triumphant return, albeit in the wake of mortar bombs.

Their platform of independence, which over a year ago saw them in a political alliance with Fretilin, is now abandoned. They are opting for Indonesia after 450 years of Portuguese domination.

Apodeti, the party pressing for union with Indonesia, is a bad bar-room joke. Its political rallies could be staged in the proverbial ten by four room which includes a table.

Founder and President, Arnold Araujo, 62, a respected horse thief, is currently being detained at Fretilin's pleasure.

The Portuguese jailed him for nine years for war crimes committed against the Timorese during the Japanese occupation.

This leaves only Fretilin which wants to embrace an offer of a United Nations supervised plebiscite.

East Timor's problems grow daily. Its primary ricebowl in the Maliana Valley is now a battlefield. Other crops have been destroyed or neglected in the turmoil of the fighting. Hunger is a reality and starvation a growing threat.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Pijin blong Solomon

Here's a few pics of signs and ads in the national language of Solomon Islands Pijin. I must confess I didn't pick up very much after one week in Honiara - only Lukim yu (see you later) and Tanggio tumas (thanks very much). Oh, and Solomon Islanders say "set" a lot - to indicate that everything is good or fine.
























I'm told that Solomons Pijin, Tok Pisin of PNG and Bislama of Vanuatu are all mutually intelligible - effectively creating a pan-Melanesian lingua franca.















Oh, and mind where you chew your betelnut, tanggio tumas.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Back at Work

And can't be arsed!

I've had a great couple of weeks in the Asia-Pacific region on various work missions, followed by a short holiday in Rio de Brisbaneiro - which was just long enough to get the flu, basically.

Back at work now, and not doing a very good job of impersonating someone who cares about semester two, and its looming deadlines. Sniffle. Groan.

I guess I'll sleep my way out of this slump over the coming days. Any tips on how to appear engaged?


Anyway - check it out! On my spare day, I snorkeled on this wrecked WW2 Japanese landing craft at Ironbottom Sound near Honiara, Guadalcanal, in the Solomon Islands. Full of coral, rainbow fish, and the rusting detritus of Imperial visions.

Ironbottom Sound, as you may know, is so named after the sheer number of US, Japanese (and one Australian) vessels sunk there in the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942 - widely regarded a major turning point in the Pacific War, and the first major allied victory over the Japanese. There's an impressive US memorial on the hill above Honiara, which commemorates the major sea and land battle to capture Henderson airport and other Japanese-held areas of Guadalcanal.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Auto-reply: Out of Office

BmL is currently out of the office, and at large in the region. Any urgent matters can be raised via the fort-gate comments & suggestions box, below, and will be attended to by a special intergovernmental taskforce, in due season.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

New Favourite Blog!

Here at BmL, we're having a party! Inviting all our friend!
(We've only one, but she's a larf, she lets us all attend).

Namely, our new favourite blog: Strange Maps. Check out this marvellous specimen of Salazarist craziness, for starters.

And while you're at it, ooh, its the E-cyclopedia of Portuguese Expansion.

(Don't wait up honey, I may be some time.)

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Head waggling at Reis Magos



















Its been too long between forts, O meu Capitão! Hove the lateen sail and noon-point the sextant for the latitude of Reis Magos. First built in the late 1500s, this fort swathed in wild forest overlooks the Mandovi river and the lovely town of Panjim, former capital of the (rather ostentatiously named, given its size) Portuguese Estado da India - now capital of Goa state, India.

Reis Magos (the 'Three Wise Men' in Portuguese) is a small village across the river, consisting of a Church, a small village, and this very old fort which once guarded entry to the capital.

The main thing I recall about it - aside from the pearler of a view - was my arrival inside the walls, after climbing the steep, crumbling stairs. Two local guys were sunning themselves, half asleep, and we all surprised each other at awkwardly close proximity. The thought pattern at that instant was probably much like this:

Me: Shit - two men, isolated spot. Are we friendly?
Them: Shit - look at the size of that Gora. Is he friendly?

It was then that I recalled a favourite passage of Gregory David Roberts' Shantaram, which I was then reading. In it he explains that the classic Indian side to side 'head-waggle' (for want of a better term) is in fact a gesture of general affability and friendliness. So I tried it on. And blimey, it worked! They both relaxed visibly, and one said "hello - you seem nice!".



















Aside from the cross-cultural gesture awareness breakthroughs, it was a great fort too! Some classic cornice sentry boxes, as you'll see. If you're ever in the area, I'd recommend the semi-hidden Reis Magos over the larger and better known Fort Aguada nearby.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

'I gits a stretch fer stoushing Johns' - The Sentimental Bloke (1919)


I've just seen the DVD reprint (with soundtrack by Jen Anderson) of Raymond Longford's classic silent film The Sentimental Bloke. Normally bored and already squirming in my chair by the very idea of silent film, I was quite taken with it - it really is an engaging movie, capturing the wonderful vernacular of C.J. Dennis' verse novel.

C.J. himself (who had only published it 4 years earlier) appears at the start of the film. The main female lead (Lottie Lyell) was the de facto partner (and reputed co-director) of the credited director Raymond Longford, who you can see interviewed shortly before his death in 1959 on the extras. When a print of the film was rediscovered in the 1950s and re-released, he was found - then in his 80s - working as nightwatchman on the docks.

There's some great footage of Manly and Wolloomoolloo after the war, including a genuine digger in the background on the ferry as Bill and Doreen go on their first date. I really enjoyed it, and partly, if you'll allow the digression, because I once recorded an album at Jen Anderson's studio back in my musician days. A friend and I - both in other bands at the time - recorded a lowly independent CD there as a two-piece with some spare songs our respective outfits weren't using. He suggested Jen Anderson's studio - then in Northcote - where his band had recorded before. We both lived in Brisbane then, and it was a great week down here recording and louching around with muso friends and acquaintances.

Ten years later and I live a few streets away - though Jen herself has moved elsewhere in Melbourne. Suffice to say, she really was a great producer and sound technician - and I am truly blessed - as a part-timer then, and no longer in the game - to have Jen Anderson's violin solos on a song or two of my own. It really lifted the whole thing to another plane - and made it sound like I knew what I was doing. Which, by and large, I didn't.

Coming from Brisbane, I didn't realise then how BIG her band Weddings, Parties, Anything were in Melbourne. We went to a party and met them all - they were really great people. Top memories - thanks Jen! Whatever you're up to now. Anyway, the point is: I think the sound track is beautiful, and works seamlessly.

Oh yeah - and the title of my post. Watching Underbelly this last year, I got to wondering where this "Jacks" slang for coppers had come from, as I 'd never heard it. And lo! They appear as the "Johns" in C.J. Dennis. Mystery solved?

Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Origin of Tuesday

Miss LE (etymological warrior, of but 5 summers): Daddy, what does Friday mean?
LE: Its named after a God from the olden days, sweetheart. Freya's day, a Norse Goddess.
Miss LE: What's Norse?
LE: Norse means from Norway.
Miss LE: What about Wednesday?
LE: That's Woden's day. Another Norse God. All the days are named liked that, or after the sun or moon. I don't know what Tuesday is named after though.

[pause]

Miss LE: ...it sounds like Cheese.
LE: Ok
Miss LE: Yeah, there was a Cheese man in the olden days, daddy.
LE:
[LOL outbreak]
Miss LE: And he was a God. The Morse God of Cheese. OK?
LE: [pulling car over to recover] OK sweetheart.
Miss LE: .....Why are we stopping?

Monday, 25 May 2009

Best Screen Devil Ever?

Bedazzled: Drimble Wedge & The Vegetations (1967).

Monday, 18 May 2009

The House of Cassel














As I may have mentioned at other times, I love it when freaky Kismet-style shit comes across my desk, here at Keating Towers.

For some time Ive been a great fan of Jean-Pierre Cassel (above) - the roguish, charming French lead in such greats as Luis Buñuel's The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972), and Claude Chabrol's truly ace Hitchcockian classic La Rupture (1970). (Incidentally, both films also star my only genuine silver screen crush, the haute and magnificent Stéphane Audran). Cassel also played the classic dastardly Frenchman role as Pierre Dubois in Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines (1965).

Alors, well then... meet his son: none other than Vincent "La Haine" Cassel. Who knew? And there he is, playing the same sort of roles. Quality French gear like La Haine, and devilish Frenchmen in more schlocky Anglo-productions like Ocean's Twelve.

I love it when things make sense!

*rocks back and forth imperceptibly*

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Global Graffiti #1


Go to Spain/Abortion: Lisbon, 2007




'Rua Salazar' street sign, several regimes old, with local commentary - Liquica, Timor-Leste, 2009












No Nukes, Isle des Pins, New Caledonia, 2004.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

www.350.org

Well, this is more like it! In line with recent rants here at BmL, this looks like a good forum for direct global citizen action on climate change.

You can register new actions online. There even a map showing all the actions taking place around the world. A lot of big names are on board, include Monbiot and David Suzuki. Bill McKibben is currently on a speaking tour in Oz.

I must say, I don't see any power station blockades there (yet!!). But like I say, if Copenhagen can't get us to a scientific minimum - that's what's gotta be next! In any case, the 350 idea is good, and the program of mobilising citizens rather than states is exactly what's needed, IMHO.

Don’t leave it up to pollies and scientists!! Or nothing will happen!

Sunday, 3 May 2009

On state failure and responsible global citizenship (or, not another climate manifesto!)

As I was arguing (slash ranting!) recently over at Larvatus Prodeo, if our governments at Copenhagen fail to at least meet the scientific minima for a fighting chance of our grandchildren having normal lives - then we as global citizens ought to declare 'state failure' on the issue.

Namely:

1. That we declare we are ruled by failed states that no longer protect human life (let alone liberty and happiness) and that,


2. As our ‘representatives’ in fact appear to represent the passing, epheremal and irresponsible interest of damaging industrial elites, rather than their consitutencies, that we, as responsible global citizens, will take collective action to,


3. Obstruct key exemplars of the most polluting industries in each of our countries, in non-violent, globally co-ordinated acts of civil disobedience, such that,


4. Disruption of the most polluting industries becomes a constant inconvenient truth about unsustainable energy practies.

Honestly, I wonder whether our descendants will look at us as young Germans view their previous generations: what did you know, and what did you do then, Grandad? The scientific evidence very strongly suggests they wont have lucky, pleasant lives like ours - thanks to our failures. We’ll be cursed - some as criminals (major polluters, professional apologists like Howard and Bolt) and the rest silently questioned - what did you know, then?

I know we’re all hopelessly inadequate as individuals (well, I certainly know I am) but stuff it. Let’s get up them! Let us question - U.S. style - the fundaments of any alleged ‘right to govern’ while the most basic rights, truths we hold self-evident - are in constant breach.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

To the Women of Australia (1915)



James Henry Scott, 19, of Cloncurry, QLD, enlisted in August 1914, in the first few weeks of the war, and was drafted to the 9th Battalion. The 3rd Brigade of the 9th was the covering force for the ANZAC landing on 25 April 1915, and was the first ashore at around 4.30 am.

He did not live to see the sunrise.

When my grandmother died in 2005, I inherited this badge, 'To the Women of Australia'. My grandmother's writing is on the card. James was her uncle.

This badge possibly went first to his sister, my great-grandmother, as their mother is referred to as the 'late' Catherine Scott in military grave records. Or perhaps James' mother died, grief-stricken, between 1915 and the formal headstone finally being laid at Gallipoli. I don't know.

There's a lot of respect, a lot of ceremony, and a lot of remembrance of WW1 these days - but I'm not convinced any of that truly captures what must be been the real legacy in the decades that followed: the grief. This badge - and the 61,720 like it - is a small reminder of the unbearable personal sorrow that must have rent this country, town by town, street by street, room by childhood room.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Prime Ministerial Trivia

I've just been mucking around on the National Archive's Australian Prime Ministers site - and from there I bring you the following trivial notes about each of them, selected on the highly scientific basis of what interested me most within 10 seconds:

Edmund Barton : nicknamed 'Toby Tosspot' by the Bulletin.
Alfred Deakin: only PM to reject title 'Right Honorable'.
Chris Watson: First Labor PM in the world, established the solidarity rule by which he was expelled from the Labor Party. Youngest ever PM at 37.
George Reid: only Australian to serve in all three legislatures – colonial, Commonwealth, and British; first former Australian PM to die.
Andrew Fisher: first Prime Minister to hold a majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, in 1910.
Joseph Cook: initiated first double dissolution of Commonwealth parliament, dubbed ‘the most humourless’ of the prime ministers.
Billy Hughes: 51 years as an MHR – the longest serving Australian federal parliamentarian. This does not include his prior 7 years as a NSW MLA 1894-1901. Woah!
Stanley Bruce: we all know that along with John Howard, he is one of two Prime Ministers to lose their seats while in office - but did you know he was the only Prime Minister laid to rest in Canberra?
Jim Scullin: first Catholic Prime Minister, and (possibly not entirely unrelated to the first fact) the only red-headed PM.
Joseph Lyons: first PM to win three successive elections, and with Reid (NSW), one of two PMs to have been a State Premier (Tas). First to die in office.
Earl Page: one of the first Australians to own a car (in 1904), record for the shortest official stay in Britain – 1 day (1925).
Robert Menzies: one of three former Prime Ministers awarded Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun, First Class! The others are Edmund Barton and John McEwen.
Arthur Fadden: PM for 6 weeks, but longest serving acting PM (nearly 2 years) while Menzies was tarting around Britain between 1949 and 1958.
John Curtin: the only Prime Minister to have been in jail (as an anti-conscriptionist in 1916).
Francis Forde: shortest term in office at eight days. On 11 July this year, should he make it, Whitlam will beat Forde's record of 92 years as longest-lived former PM.
Ben Chifley: refused to wear ceremonial clothes and became a Privy Councillor in his own suit in 1945.
Harold Holt: was a federal parliamentarian for 32 years - the same duration as Robert Menzies.
John McEwen: record for longest service in parliament before becoming PM (33 years). Holt 2nd at 30 years. Naturally, Menzies is the origins of these complaints.
John Gorton: only PM sworn in while a Senator, for three weeks was PM without holding a seat in the House of Reps. Only PM to have a non-Australian wife (American).
William McMahon: despite being 2nd oldest to become PM at 63 (McEwen oldest at 67), fathered his youngest child while in office. 'Respek!', as Ali G would say.
Gough Whitlam: only Prime Minister to grow up in Canberra, though spent the earliest part of life in Melbourne. Will (hopefully) become the longest-lived Australian PM on July 11 this year. Go Gough! Its time!
Malcolm Fraser: in 1955 was then the youngest MP to ever enter parliament - 25 years old. Keating matched this in 1969. Came to office with greatest winning margin in federal history (1975), and lost office with (joint) largest ALP victory in 1983.
Bob Hawke: 1983 win roughly ties with Curtin's 1943 win for largest ALP winning margin ever.
Paul Keating: third longest serving federal treasurer, after Costello and Fadden. Consequently, 2nd longest serving treasurer to ever become an Australian PM. ;)
John Howard: only Liberal Party Prime Minister educated in government schools, campaigned for the Conservative Party in Britain’s 1964 election. Other rare distinctions include losing his seat while in office.
Kevin Rudd: info on site "under development". But here's one: he used to clean Laurie Oakes' house while a student at ANU. Ewww!

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Failed Federal Election Slogans 1951-2007

Election slogans tend to be left motherless at the best of times - even winning campaigns are generally sick to death of them by the end. And naturally, losing slogans are well and truly consigned to to the dustbins of history. So, I did of bit of scratching around, and found them in a journal article, cited below. A few initial comments and curios:
  • Check out 1969! It practically sounds like an invitation to an orgy - possibly at Don's Party.
  • The second slogan from 1998 ('Australia deserves better') was a recycle of the winning slogan from the winning 1993 campaign.
  • Curiously, Menzies won in 1949 with "It's time for a change" - which demonstrates that the most famous electoral slogan of all was not exactly an original.
I can't decide which is the lamest. I think it might be the utterly colourless "Go for Growth" - though hot contenders would also include the bizarre brain-fart that was "Incentivation", the ever-irritating "Ease the squeeze", and perhaps the rather pointless and weird "We're not waiting for the world" (huh?). Anyway, here they are, in all their glory!

Year - Losing Party - Slogan/s
1951 ALP - What Labor promises, Labor will do

1961 ALP - Labor puts people first

1963 ALP - Time for Action

1966 ALP - Vote ALP and End Conscription / What Price Freedom

1969 ALP - Labor: Where the action is / Join the swing to Labor

1972 LNP - Right today and Right for your future/ Not Yet

1974 LNP - Think again

1975 ALP - Shame Fraser Shame/ Advance Australia Fair

1977 ALP - Get Australia Working / Uranium: Play it safe

1980 ALP - Raise the Standard

1983 LNP - We're Not Waiting For The World

1984 LNP - Stand up for your family. Vote Liberal

1987 LNP - Get in front again/ Incentivation (and also 'Joh for PM')

1990 LNP - The answer is liberal

1993 LNP - We can do it…together / Labor’s got to go/ Fightback

1996 ALP - Leadership

1998 ALP - A Safe and Secure future for all Australians / Australia deserves better

2001 ALP - A Secure future for all Australians / That’s what I stand for

2004 ALP - Opportunity for All Australians/ Mark Latham and Labor: Taking the pressure off families/ Ease the squeeze

2007 LNP - Go for Growth

Source: Sally Young (2006), Australian Election Slogans, 1949-2004: Where Political Marketing Meets Political Rhetoric, Australian Journal of Communication, 33(1):pp 1-20

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Roadgames (1981)

I don't know how I managed to miss this film for the last 28 years (and as it happens, my first parent-less venture to the flicks was in 1981, at 13) but what a stonker this film is! Not only is it a great suspense/ thriller, but its also an hilarious script.

In fact, I seem to have managed to overlook director Richard Franklin completely. In order the rectify this omission, Ive got Patrick (1978) on the shelf for next viewing. Tarantino is a big fan, sez the DVD cover. Hmm.

Anyway, despite the slight element of cringe that might have come with having two US leads (Stacey Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis) in this otherwise very Australian film, it really worked for me at all levels. Ive always liked Keach - very underrated actor, and he's a laugh riot in this. Pure genius of a performance. Check the scene backdrops too - there's a weird bar scene on the Nullabor - and the walls of the pub have murals of an extremely eerie kind. Graffiti in a roadstop toilet too. Very pre-History Wars. Wont spoil it for you.

Five lattes, with a biscotti on the side. Even Ms LE liked it, which, like, totally never happens. In fact, she reckons my taste in film is a low point of our otherwise higher scoring, pike position with a double twist, difficulty 3.7 relationship. And frankly, thats why I talk to you, dear imaginary blog friends (oh look - zero comments) about film instead...

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

International Carbon Tax - Talk me out of this manifesto!

Ok, unless someone tells me why this is insane and can't possibly work, I'm going to start an anti-global warming campaign based on the following principles:
  • An international carbon tax will more effectively alter behavior than 'cap and trade' schemes - which as far as I can see, tend to be shot full of holes and free giveways to the biggest polluters, and are above all, highly complex.
  • The carbon tax need to be global, in order to prevent industries moving to non-signatory countries, which tends to discourage all action.
  • Therefore, to secure widest possible agreement, the carbon tax needs to be low to start off. Even US$10 per tonne to start with, if it secures agreement.
  • Countries only pay it after exceeding their per capita based allowance. This gives the large population developing countries like China and India an equalising advantage - which corrects for historical emissions, dominated by the developed countries. It also keeps genuinely low emission countries unburdened.
  • Funds administered by an international climate body (ICB) which spends it on carbon remission programs based on the sole criteria of where net global emissions can be best reduced.
  • All emission-saving technological advances are licenced under the ICB, and supplied free or at cost. Profits are instead paid to developers royalty-style, by the ICB, based on annual net emission reductions from the technology, and funded by the carbon tax. This retains incentive to develop new technologies, while keeping it affordable for installation.

Comments/ modifications/ jokes at my expense welcome.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

France plays Germany

Unlike the staff here at BmL -who possibly comprise the entire membership of the France Gall Appreciation Society (Bureau d'Australie) - you may not be aware that the wonderful France was also big in Germany. She had quite a few German language records, and a decent career east of the Maginot line.

Frankly, all the German period songs are crap - except this one. I quite like Computer Nummer Drei (1968), despite its naff premise of a computer dating future (pfft ... as if!).

Der Computer Nr. 3
sucht für mich den richtigen Boy,
und die Liebe ist garantiert für beide dabei.


But that's not why I'm showing it here. Frankly, this clip ist der Uber-LULZ!!1! (as they say on the German internets). Viz, check the audience going off at 0.45 and 2.05. Woooohah!


Sunday, 22 March 2009

Not drowning, walking

I'm just returned from a 40th birthday up in the Grampians. Check out today's surf at the Rocklands Reservoir, which supplies Horsham in north-west Victoria.

Locals say it was full 10 years ago.

You know, whatever happens with global warming, I have a feeling northern Victoria ain't going to make it. Even in the seven years I've lived in Victoria the regional lakes have basically all dried up.

The Castle's "we're going to Bonnydoon" song (1997) may yet prove something of a cultural requiem for lost water recreation zones of southern Australia.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Brisbane: Before the Saints & Go-Betweens

Growing up in Brisbane didn't always seem so great at the time. The big bands didn't drop through, pot was not only illegal but seriously draconian penalties attached, and demonstrations were essentially banned. I remember going with Mum to bail my old man in 1978 after after one of the endless - and illegal- civil liberties marches. Queensland, police state, demand the right to demonstrate. That's etched in my mind. Ten years later it was me at the demos, and everything was still the same. On the street and the state is not neutral. Chanting the same as my Dad had. Intoxicating... frightening. Then the inevitable blue shoulder charge, and we're running down the slope through Albert Park, someone's screaming. Its scarcely credible in retrospect.

What a hick town.

I'm so glad I was there.

The first gig I went to as an adult was at the Roxy (now the Arena) in early 1986 - I think it was the Huxton Creepers. I was 17 and the Valley by night was intoxicating. Its still had a serious air of danger then - and halfway through the gig I witnessed a classic pre-Fitzgerald Quinceland scene. To my left one of the walls in the Roxy literally opened up, and out strode Gerry Bellino, puffing on a fag. Behind him I could see an illegal casino, hidden in the walls. He didn't care, he spoke to some staff and casually sauntered back in. The door closed and the Creepers played on. Business as usual.

Anyway, among my Dad's records which were otherwise exclusively 50s jazz was a Brisbane band. Who knows upon which of the 1000 balmy, narcoleptic nights of adolescence in '80s Brisbane I first played it - but this magnificent track has always stuck in my mind. Before the Saints, and the Go-Betweens there was Carol Lloyd and Railroad Gin. Dad must have seen them live circa '75 and I suspect, been as blown away by this track as I was: Matter of Time.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Worldometer

Ever wanted to keep an eye on the world's daily population growth? Keep abreast of the tonnes of CO2 gas emitted today? The amount of water consumed, or renewable electricity produced? The number of days left to the 'end of oil'? Or quantity of bicycles produced? The number of undernourished, or obese people? The number of blog posts, or emails sent?

No? Well check out the Worldometer anyway. And watch it all click over, before your very eyes.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Haneke

Now, I'm not in the business of tarring entire nations here at BmL, but think its fair to say that Austria has enjoyed more than its fair share of sociopaths, high-profile xenophobes and general weirdos. To the casual observer, there might seem to be a disproportionate number of persons imprisoned in cellars for decades; an eerie succession of extreme Right leaders (who, it turns out, are secretly gay and having it off with each other); and perhaps a revisionist 'well it wasn't us' attitude which permits parties that would be considered extremist in Germany to be defined as 'centre-right' affairs.

So, what's going on in Mitte-Europa? One of my favourite directors, Michael Haneke, an Austrian himself (though born in Munich) clearly wants us to know just how weird shit can get when you're landlocked between Germans, Swiss, Italians, Magyars, Slovenes and Czechs. Oh, and Liechtensteinians.

I really liked Hidden (2005) so I started checking out his back catalogue. Aside from the well-known The Pianist (2002), there's some really intense and disturbing psycho-dramas such as the gripping Funny Games (Austrian version 1997, remade by Hollywood in 2008 - see the original is my call) , and the seriously screwed-up (and true) story of an Austrian middle class family's inexplicable group suicide: The Seventh Continent (1989). More cheery fare is offered in his examination of a mass killing at an Austrian bank 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance (1994) - the third movie in his self-titled "glaciation trilogy".

I guess it doesn't sound all that appealing now, now that read over the themes! But I must say I'm rarely so mesmerised by the small screen than when Haneke directs. Can't wait to see what he's up to next.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Is as an tAstráil mé

That's, "I am from Australia", in Irish. Pronounced more or less like this: iss ass on tass-troyl meh.

Personally, I like the Irish word for England: Sasana. You can practically hear it being spat from the lips, any time between 1169 and 1922.

If you liked that, why not go hardcore, and listen to the above in all three major dialects of Irish Gaelic? I know I did!

Sunday, 1 March 2009

The Slap

So, I fairly chewed through Christos Tsiolkas' The Slap - which in itself is a good sign. I don't know about you, but I tend to .... dawdle ... when I'm not enjoying a book.

Tsiolkas writes about modern Australia, kids, parenting, intern-generational misunderstandings, culture shifts, especially in migrant communities. Wow, that's like, relevant n' shit to my life, and I could relate. Its not rocket science really is it? I don't mean to belittle his achievements by saying that - but it has to be said that not every modern Australian author gets this wee marketing trick. Importantly, I feel, he doesn't take the the modern obsessions with work and parenting as some sort of given, but as a culture to be written about.

Plus, as its happens, I live in the suburb in which it is primarily set.

Anyway, I liked it. That said, I do believe the chapters are of varying quality, depending on how far the author is from the characters themselves. In my humble and ill-informed opinion, the three chapters on the Greek-Australian male characters are absolute masterpieces of contemporary Australian writing.

The chapter on the older character Manoli I found especially moving. Growing up as a lad in West End, Brisbane, my best friends were Greek-Aussie kids. I always found their parents utterly mystifying, actually. I could never get a slightest bead on where they were coming from, with anything really. Nor did I understand the deep political splits within Greek Australia either, until I was older, and worked out that the first-generation socialists and royalists truly hated each others guts - and that was why there were three Greek clubs in West End (one for each faction, and then the "Greek club" - where the rule was you couldn't talk politics). The Manoli chapter had me right back in the Kokoris household - with an inkling of what my friends' parents must have been thinking the whole time. Thanks for that, Christos T - it actually meant a lot to this Skip to revisit all that through your eyes.

That said, I have some minor quibbles. To be honest, I'm not sure the female character chapters work as well - and maybe that's about the author's distance from those characters. Secondly, I found the Hugo character a bit exaggerated. He's like the worst 10 behaviours you've ever seen from any 4 year old rolled into one 'strawboy' character. This has the unfortunate side-effect of prompting something of a "moral panic" style inquisition of modern parenting which is - frankly - hyperbolic. I might move in certain circles, etc, but I find modern parents far more reflexive, ironic, and plain disciplinarian than Tsiolkas allows for the purposes of this book. But what the hay - inflating the issue allows him to investigate a theme that is without doubt interesting and engaging. Good writers should be agents provocateurs, no?

Monday, 23 February 2009

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Deux Oiseaux

So, if you're up late preparing a course for Semester One, then we are deux oiseaux of a feather. I don't know if I've ever mentioned how much I love France Gall on the blog before [*cue game show buzzer sound*] but this is a tres happy song, which is a fine brain curative for those currently locked in a steamy tryst with a course guide, of no fixed endpoint.

And I'll tell you another thing, the French have got this much right: plurals are groovier when ending in "eaux".

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Oecussi



















Diak a lae, lattistas? I'm just back from my latest trip to Timor-Leste, and this time I managed a quick visit to the East Timorese enclave of Oecussi, hidden away in Indonesian west Timor province.

Its a beautiful little jewel, peaceful, enclosed by emerald mountains. Lifau is the site of the first landing of Portuguese traders in 1515, and fifty years later, of the first Catholic mission of the island of Timor (Dominicans). This was the capital of Portuguese Timor until local uprisings pushed them eastward to Dili in 1769.

Above, an old Portuguese foreshore mansion in Pante Macassar, burnt out in the 1999 violence, with the mountains behind; and below, a mid-twentieth century monument to the first landing of Portuguese spice traders, at Lifau. Behind this monument is a long canal ditch - built in the 1600s to allows boats to be protected within the walled fortification.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Chew My Chai #1

Yes, Chew My Chai! A new line in short, sharp reviews here at BmL. Two-lines max on DVDs, novels, music. Just how you like it: hot, and brief. And also just how I like it, cos I'm lazy. (PS If anyone can think of a better name for the series, I'll use it.)

Moofys
Fair Game: 1986 Ozploitation at its not-so-bad-really-est. Influenced Tarantino's Death Proof I hear. Main star married John Denver. Will keep you watching.

Slogan: Surprisingly good 1969 French film with Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. They met on set, so it all led to Charlotte, and is thus to be applauded. Ooh oui Je t'aime etc.

L'Enfer: From Chabrol, French master of intellectual thrillers, and also renowned Hitchcock scholar: a gripping peek at the wobbly line between jealousy and mental illness.

Buchs
His Illegal Self: Peter Carey's latest. Hmmm... Is it just me, or is this promising scenario involving 60s underground radicals in fact a disjointed tale, with uninteresting characters, that leads absolutely nowhere? Big fan. Disappointed.

Muzak
April March and Los Cincos: I know you were all wondering what April did after being in the Shitbirds. Well its this. I tink its noice.

PS Ta to Sam the Dog for the winning title!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Lusobeats #4: A minute's silence

For the master. Para O Mestre.

That's right: Keeping it highly real, here at BmL. All the choice cuts.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Thanks a Pantload...

...to the junkie loser who broke into Keating Towers today, stole my new Acer Aspire mini-laptop (mine for but 10 summer days), took my daughter’s piggy bank, and worst of all - made me miss the one-time-only Triffids reunion gig I was just about to go to with a friend, when Ms LE rang with the news.

However, the final victory of this long, blistering summer day is mine. My four year old made it all better with this line: "daddy, tomorrow I'll get out my magnifying glass, and we'll solve this mystery...".

HAHAHA! Take that junkie loser.

Oh and cheers to the phone guy at Ticketmaster for the full and immediate refund on the Triffids tix he organised, against their own general refund policy. Really wasn’t expecting that touch of humanity on a paint-peelingly torrid 43 degree day like this.

Adelante.

Clueless of Cronulla spams for 'Straya

A friend of mine got this email uninvited today. Listen to this hapless drivel:

Australia- The Right to Leave

IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT. Take It Or Leave It! I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali , we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians.

However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the 'politically correct' crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism was offending others. I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to Australia . However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand.

This idea of Australia being a multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. As Australians, we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle. This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom. We speak ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, Learn the language!

'In God We Trust' is our National Motto. This is not some Christian, right wing, political slogan. We adopted this motto because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.

If the Southern Cross offends you, or you don't like 'A Fair Go', then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet.We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, and we really don't care how you did things where you came from. This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this.

But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our National Motto, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom,'THE RIGHT TO LEAVE! If you aren't happy here then move on! We didn't force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted. Pretty easy really, when you think about it.


*****

Where do I start with you witless chumps? 'In God we trust' is not 'our national motto', Brainstrust - its the American national motto. And Florida's, for that matter. We haven't even had one since "Advance Australia" was taken from the coat of arms in the 1920s.

So listen up here, Daniel Boone, of Bondi: if you don't like our own, non-American, fair go culture: the door's over there mate. Cop ya later!

And if you want to rampage pissed on beaches, chuck rocks and attack defenceless passers-by minding their own business - you're not welcome in our democracy.

Oh, and when we've got the maturity to have our own flag and head of state, I'll start taking you so-called "nationalists" seriously. You just look like little BNP Bovver Boys to me; waving a Union Jack around. Only with surfboards.

Multicultural Australia: if you don't like it, vote to change it. I don't like your chances, but you're welcome to exercise that right. But don't ever forget this: you weren't 'here first' either ... were you now?

Update: Ah, its all a 2nd-rate cut and paste job from US crazies. Talk about undesirable aliens! Septic Patriotism is best left where it is, Straya.