Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Last Rites

I was at the MCG yesterday: it certainly felt like the Last Rites on Australia’s era of cricket dominance.
Really, it ended a while ago, but Australian fans are finally accepting it now. Only England in Australia could truly bring that message home.And frankly, I for one am glad its over. At one point the dominance became positively tedious to watch.

I must say: the England fans, the Barmy Army, are an absolute joy to behold. Great, good-natured, imaginative chants, and hilarious piss-taking “eg God Save YOUR Queen. Long too-ooo reign over YOU!” LOL!! I almost wanted to join them (like most of the Kiwis at the match did, incidentally).

Meanwhile my compatriots were doing no better than “oi oi oi” or “[England player X] is a wanker!”. It was embarrassing to watch. Pick up yer damn act Australian fans!

I for one miss streaking and pitch invasions. That was Australian sport watching at its most irreverent and finest: a drunken nudist being chased by coppers. Surely that was what an Australian summer of cricket was really all about!

Now I fear we’re just dull minded, insular boors. Time for fans to take a good look at themselves too I’d say. Hopefully sporting failure will provoke some reflection. Doubt it though!

Good on you England – you won in the best of sporting spirits too. Remind us all how its done.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Capitão's log: The Horror

What's the best of the Horror genre in yer opinions? I've never been an expert, and frankly, since the scariest film you'll ever in your life see isn't even in the genre (Rowan Woods' The Boys 1998), its probably a moot point.

(Incidentally, the Australian Screen Online site has an good linked essay on Horror in Australian Cinema).

Anyway, against usual inclinations, and on recommendations I've watched some crackers lately. The Japanese flim Ring (1998) is highly recommended from O Capitão's deck, and has some great ideas (which Hollywood naturally ripped off shortly afterward in an English language remake). John Carpenter's remake of the The Thing (1982) wasn't bad either, though it all felt a touch dated to me, having not seen it at the time. I was reminded to revisit The Sixth Sense (1999) as well, which really is a stonker.

Et tu?

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Pas Malle!

You know, for someone pretending to be Portuguese, I really do watch a lot of French cinema. My latest film obsession aboard the Fortaleza do Mar is Louis Malle.

Malle studied beside the master,  Robert Bresson, and directed some of the most interesting French films of the 70s. Who else but Malle would direct Lacombe Lucien, an exploration of French collaboration during the occupation. More fine films include Murmur of the Heart; an absolutely hilarious and brilliant Bildungsroman tale.

I'm almost a bit scared to watch Damage, which currently looms of the port bow - I wonder how his work will translate to English language cinema.

Update: Woah! That was about as intense as watching a video gets.

Monday, 22 November 2010


Yes, as part of my new seaborne web diary series, I'll be coming up with a new lameass compound pun every week. Stay tuned for more dubious segues from early Portuguese colonialism in Asia to my new obsessions with contemporary vids and books.

So, as you may know, I left Fort Solor and, glimpsing our fort of Lifau off the port side, headed southward. What books are currently on O Capitão's shelf, I hear you cry? Well might you ask. Once I'm done with Goodbye to all that, the following are in store for me.

Comments, and suggestions for first tract off the rack welcome. And any I really shouldn't waste time on too.

* signals considerable anticipatory excitement from me, based on authors previous work

** signals added anticipatory excitement from me, based on authors previous work AND known connection with early Portuguese voyages to Asia.

  • Roberto Bolano: 2066*, Amulet, The Skating Rink
  • David Sedaris: When you are engulfed in flames
  • Alberto Moravia: Contempt
  • Augusten Burroughs: Dry
  • Irene Nemirovsky: David Golder
  • Boyd Oxlade: Death in Brunswick
  • Jose Saramago: The Elephant's Journey**
  • JD Salinger: Franny and Zooey*

Sunday, 14 November 2010

O Capitão's Cultural Caravel: All aboard!

You know, it hasn't been easy here at Fort Solor, in my self-imposed exile in the Torre de Keating, with only the annual dispatches from Lisbon, the nervy security forecasts of Lt Amilcar, and six utterly incomprehensible Mirandese foot soldiers for company. So bugger it, I'm setting sail, solo - south to Luca Antara, following the last known voyage of Eredia.

What will I find? Who knows, but I'm travelling with a shitload of ill-bootten gotty: DVDs and books mainly.

So, its ahoy and bemvindo to O Capitão's Caravel de Cultura. I've decided to turn this blog into a seaborne semi-diary of random cultural notes: primarily on books I'm reading, and films I've been watching. Partly because I tend to quickly forget films I've watched, I feel like I should start keeping records.

Beware, marinheiros, the seas ahead could be choppy, or dull and placid. I have no idea. Frankly, I can't promise we'll see land. But anyone who sails with me on BmL shall be my brother (and/or sister); be s/he ne'er so vile! etc...

Ill be back later with the first shipment.

Yeah, so, like, a few notes. Any thoughts, comments, logical next steps welcome, as I piece together Western civilization and modernity, artefact by artefact, in a ill-informed way.  

Lately, I has been mostly been.... putting a newborn to sleep, frankly. But in between:

Livros e Revistas:  Thought I'd revisit Robert Graves Goodbye to all That, which Ive not read since my teens. Erudition, and the compelling first hand accounts of WW1. Its a powerful combo. Recently I finished Matthew Condon's Brisbane, which would probably be more exciting if you weren't already a keen student of that city's history, like your humble Capitão. I read Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer for the first time recently, and while I sensed the genius, it was all a bit overtaken by the genre (he had no doubt created) subsequently becoming more respectable and commonplace. I found myself a bit whelmed - although there were quite a few passages of great genius, and I loved the character van Norden. I also resubscribed to London Review of Books after a long hiatus.

Filmes e DVDs: Its been Robert Bresson season round 'ere at Chez Caravel. Is there any director who knew better how to pace a story? A Man Escaped (aka Un condamné à mort s'est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut) must be the best prison escape drama ever; Pickpocket is impossible to turn way from, and his famous Joan of Arc (script based on the trial records) is also a cracker. Frankly, French 'old wave' was the go. This guy was a master.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

'Jobs v environment' myth goes down in flames

I was glad to see the coal-eating surrender monkeys failed to have California’s alternative energy targets delayed. Despite financial support from Texas oil companies fro Proposition 23, it seems Californians weren’t fooled by the idiot’s parable that ‘failing to act on climate change’ means ‘protecting jobs’. 61% were convinced these measures would in fact create employment. Even conservative counties voted it down
Hopefully its the beginning of the end for the 'jobs v environment' myth. Time to kill it off! 

Monday, 27 September 2010


Its Latin, for 'profound loss of interest in own blog'.

What to do when Autobloganhedonia strikes??

Reform, or revolution?

Quit, or rekit?

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Why the Citizen's Assembly on Climate Change is a dud

Here's my top six concerns about PM Julie Gillard's proposed "Citizen's Assembly" to investigate Climate Change. Feel free to disagree, or add others!
  1. Struth, how many mandates does the Oz public have to give the ALP?
  2. What if the assembly decides no action should be taken? This victory for 'deliberative democracy' won't alter the fact that measures needs to be introduced. This alone demonstrates what a complete farce the idea is.
  3. Is it just me, or is this a bit like asking the passengers on the Titanic for approve an iceberg report before further action is taken? Its simply delay dressed up as consultation.
  4. The other policies announced recently suggest a full retreat from climate change action. New coal-fired stations, wtf? That's soooo 1995. Even the new car rebate business is taken from solar money. The assembly has to be seen in the light of surrounding climate policies: its a distraction and a con.
  5. As the Republic issue in 1999 showed, the best way to kill an agenda which enjoys popular support, but which leaders don't want a bar of, is through exactly this sort of mechanism. Pick opposing factions, then you can claim “see, the public cant agree on an actual model” and you’re off the hook, despite the public clearly wanting it.
  6. Real leaders build consensus – or least majority support – around an agenda for change. They don't follow focus groups around.
Unimpressed, of Keating Towers.

    Monday, 12 July 2010

    Monday, 5 July 2010

    Oi oi oi...vey.

    I'm in New Zealand, having a holiday with the family, and frankly... I'm outraged.

    Everywhere I go, customary title over income-generating tourist sites appears not only to provide economic opportunity and employment for rural Maori, but also generates business opportunities for the general community through site lease arrangements.

    Stupid Kiwis: can't they see its better to oppose native title and then whinge interminably about indigenous people on welfare?

    Saturday, 19 June 2010

    Flags at half-mast

    This evening, it was my sad duty was to lower the fort flag.

    Jose Saramago, Nobel laureate - and for us here at BmL - the greatest author of the last thirty years, has died.
    Vale Saramago - para nós, o maior escritor dos ultimos 30 anos. 
    Nós voce saúdam.  

    Return to us in dreams, companheiro

    Thursday, 17 June 2010

    New Fort Design poll!

    Seems Lt Amilcar got on the beetle-nut while was I was out briefly (shoring up allegiances among the Topasses, and looking for Sandlewood). He's redesigned the entire fort.

    Check the starboard bow, Marineiros, its a new poll!

    Wednesday, 16 June 2010


    "Any advertisement in public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It belongs to you. It's yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. Asking for permission is like asking to keep the rock someone just threw at your head" - Banksy

    Check out more of Banksy's online catalogue here.

    West Bank Barrier, Palestine.

    Monday, 14 June 2010

    Ned Kelly: 'Nobody knows anything about my case except myself'

    Sidney Nolan (1945). In my ill-informed opinion, the most evocative of the Ned Kelly series.

    Sunday, 6 June 2010

    A Mãe de todas as Fortalezas - Torre de Belem

    As far as we here at BmL are concerned, this is a goddamn holy site. The mother ship. The mother lode.

    The mother of all fortalezas.

    All BmListas verdadeiras must - at least once - make the pilgrimage.

    This is Torre de Belem.

    In the pre-dawn gloom, Os Capitãos take early service in the Capella near Mosteiro dos Jerónimos - the final resting place of da Gama and Camões. They then pray to the Virgin of Safe Homecoming on the Torre that these are not their last steps on Portuguese soil, and board the thousand caravels of the great Age of Discovery.

    From 1515 on, they will all hoist sail here, by the Torre, on the Tagus, in Lisbon. This Manueline masterpiece was first fort, then prison under the Espanhois *spits*  (who call it "belem", when every true son knows its pronounced "blengggg") - customs house, barracks - but always, always a symbol of Os Navegados.

    Built 1515-1521, UNESCO listed in 1983. Take off your tricorn, Lt Amilcar, where do you think you're at?

    Saturday, 5 June 2010

    Welcome to the Jungle (2007)

    Well, I don't know about you, but I'd just about watch any film set in Fiji, PNG and West Papua. The fact that this proved to be an absolute cracker was just a bonus. Loosely inspired by the mystery surrounding the disappearance in PNG of Michael Rockefeller in 1961, this 2007 horror-thriller follows two US and two Australian backpackers through the wilds of New Guinea. In a Blair Witch project meets Deliverance style, they film their own progress as things get increasingly remote and freaky.

    I won't spoil the ending, though I will note that the encounter with Indonesian guards at the West Papuan border provided a few thrills in itself. I also found the dialogue between the characters - as their own relationships deteriorate - well above average quality, and genuinely amusing. Nice to see the South-West Pacific feature in commercial film at any rate - even if it is through the 'undiscovered tribe' trope. Know any others?

    Friday, 30 April 2010

    At the Home of all Fortalezas

    Os meus BmListas...

    Lisbon has called me home on urgent business, and I am currently encamped in Coimbra, reviewing my notes for a forthcoming text on Dutch shipping routes in the greater Solor/ Larantuka region.

    Any urgent matters can be raised via the fort-gate suggestions box, and please feed João the tiger-cat if you see him out front. He likes ship biscuits best.

    Oh, and tell Lt Amilcar I got him the 'O meu Capitão went to Torre de Belem, and all I got was this lousy camisa' he wanted.

    Ate logo!

    Thursday, 18 March 2010


    Its a beautiful place. Pray tell, punteros, why are we so ill-attuned to the Pacific in general? Particularly those among us - including your 'umble correspondent - who grew up in Quinceland? (I'm prepared to give Sandgropers a free pass on this one).

    Is it a generational (X) thing? Were our colonialist forebears more engaged with those imperial territories before the waves of independence in the 1970s? Will the young 'uns be more so than us, owing to the recent Australian interventions in the so-called "arc of responsibility"? Is it because people my age encountered an independent Pacific and lost interest? Or is it simply a case of "hang on, I'm still getting used to the whole Asia deal - slow down!". Or is it something more prosaic, like low rates of travel, and therefore higher airfares? The latter is certainly a dated view these days, what with the decline of QANTAS monopolies in the region.

    Anyway, I was there for work, but had one day touring the island of Efate; home to the capital, Port Vila. The bottom picture attests my nerdy interest in colonial history. As you may know, Vanuatu was formerly the New Hebrides and - unusually - under the control of the joint Anglo/ French Condominium (otherwise known as the 'Pandemonium').

    But that's easy. Quiz time is harder than that! Whoever correctly identifies the smaller flag below the Tricoleur (not you, World of Yentl) is this month's Capitão do Fortaleza at BmL! (Click for higher-res, if you want a closer squiz.)

    Monday, 8 March 2010

    Your call is important to us...

    BmL is currently somewhere in the region and can't take your call. Please hold while our dedicated service personnel struggles out of his hammock, or leave a message below.

    Saturday, 13 February 2010

    Ghosts of the Yeoman Dream: Lucky Country (2009)

    For this to me is what New Australia means, to the landless, the homeless . . . to those who long to be manly, to be true... Come together, in all unselfishness, to trust each other and to be free. To live simply, to work hardly, to win not the gold that poisons but that home life that saves....

    I really never thought I'd see an Australian film open with the words of William Lane, the 1890s utopian socialist and teetotaler who took 400 Australians to Paraguay in 1893. Somehow the movie Lucky Country (2009) passed me by without a trace last year. But its a cracker. Best Australian film I've seen in years. Where Lane imagined a collective settlement in the heart of South America, this film is set on a harsh, marginal individual selection somewhere in Australian scrub in 1902. Australian land reform movements of the late nineteenth century did lead to some marginal property being forced from squatters hands by colonial governments,  as a sop to the Yeoman dream: a vision of an agrarian society of smallholders, of a man and his family leading a stolid, moral life on the land, away from urban vice. Of course, in the land of the long white scam, most decent land actually went to the squatters' dummy bidders, and this sets the stage for the film: one Yeoman nightmare, shortly after federation.

    The swaggies don't pass by anymore, but three Boer war veterans returning in failure from prospecting do. The rest I'll leave, in case you want to see it.

    "Bet ya thought it was going to be all Henry bloody Lawson didn’t ya?".

    You can see a trailer here.

    Saturday, 6 February 2010

    Fort Temperança

    Here at BmL, we've taken the pledge. The Febfast pledge!

    Word from the Capitão is: absolutely no drinking vinho verde and hanging out over the fort walls, yelling abuse at the Holandês, and/or any rebellious Topasses laying siege to our sandalwood booty, for four whole weeks.

    Plan is not so much to raise funds for, um, whatever it raises funds for (haven't actually looked - but I will, and will totes donate some of the savings), but rather, to see if we can't erm, circumnavigate certain waist latitudes better after 4 weeks off the weekend boozing.

    I'm glad they picked Fevereiro anyway. Only 28 days of this merda.

    Tuesday, 26 January 2010

    Ostraya Day: view from the fort parapets

    You know, I remember the good old days when having the Oz flag publicly displayed was a sure sign of either being an extremist Larouchite, a gun owner, or mentally unwell. Now its like, Gen-Y chic or something. Certainly, its become nativist protest wear - reverently displayed on on the boardies, a towel, or the car.

    I'm starting to miss Australians' deep-rooted suspicion of jingosim - which as others have noted, dates back at least to the failed conscription referenda of WW1. I for one liked that Australia better - we support our volunteer soldiers, but you can take your compulsory imperial /militarist hoohaa and shove it, and the same goes for the ra-ra patriotism of the Yanks. Let's recall that the Australian people voted no to the imperial conscriptors twice; they stopped even asking us when Vietnam came along.  Basically, I think 'the kids are alright', but they need to know the history.

    And I'd really like to see an Australian politician say it: many Australians are wary of American-style showy patriotism and jingoism - but no less proud of the country for that. They wonder what someone wrapped in the flag is trying to flog them. I reckon it'd go down a treat. Knock this "nationalism-as-majority-ethnic-gang" bullshit on the head.

    And one doesn't like to over-dramatise, but I do feel Cronulla kinda changed it for everyone. I'm not sure anyone contemplating a harmless little flag wave can truly avoid the new semiotics. For example, it concerned me that several non-Anglo background colleagues were saying  "have a good Australia day!" yesterday as we left work - like that's necessary to say these days, or there'll be riots! There's something kinda fucked up about all this. And as another friend pointed out, it isn't so long ago that there was a general sense of ambivalence about the embarrassing Britishness of the flag. I don't know whats happened, but I miss the lack of popular resonance with our national symbols.

    So I'll come out and say it: I for one am still proudly embarrassed by the bastard Jack. And guess what: this is my country too. And aside from flag-totin' bogan gangs intimidating other citizens on the beaches - I mostly love it. So step off with your kiss-da-flag bullshit.

    John Birmingham's take is here.

    Postscript: An ex-ADF friend of mine noted today that the military has been in a fully fledged recruitment crisis throughout the entire Howard-and-beyond revival of jingoism, flag-waving, Gallipoli trips etc. Much as I support not signing up – I think it aptly highlights the bullshit factor of the whole thing.

    Wednesday, 20 January 2010

    Northcote Local History

    For all you inner-North Melbournites, check out this ace online Darebin Historical Encyclopedia.

    Its got pics, oral history, a WW1 database, and most interestingly of all, scans of the Northcote leader from 1888 onward.

    Mind you, local history is probably only really interesting when you have a deep-rooted sense of place. To that end, I wonder if there's a South Brisbane equivalent?

    Tuesday, 19 January 2010

    Lingo Quiz!

    As you may know, we here at BmL are shallow cosmopolitan types - rootless Jacobites all. Stoics, Cynics, and citoyens du monde. As such (and given the need to facilitate trade in the greater Solor/ Larantuka region), fort command is quite interested in your second and further language pursuits.

    So pray tell, what other languages can you speak, and how/where/why did you learn these? Also, which language do you wish you could speak, and why?

    I'll kick off in the comments box, to give the illusion of traffic.

    Et tu, liebe bloggers?

    Meanwhile, right on theme: Flight of the Conchords!

    Tuesday, 12 January 2010

    On China at Copenhagen

    I was reading this piece by Thomas Friedman on China and the Green Revolution. Basically, it illustrates the sheer size and scope of China's renewable energy expansion and investment in the last year. And its further plans for nuclear expansion as well.

    As Friedman notes, of course, China is doing all this for domestic reasons: energy security, and the fact that their cities are too polluted already to cope with the largest rural-urban migration in global history.

    Though Friedman doesn't speculate on this in the article, it got me thinking again about China's tactics and strategy at Copenhagen. How does it all add up? The Chinese scotching a deal, not only for the world (worried it might limit their growth) - but also scotching the advanced economies setting targets for themselves, that reportedly so angered Merkel and others?

    Now, I'm aware the US also played a deeply problematic role (by not playing ball on Kyoto) but it seems to me quite clear what is going on: China intends to sell us green technology down the line, not the other way around.

    They don't want any competition from more advanced economies. Their diplomatic game in Denmark supported this aim - a simple old-school, realist game aim of scotching the industrial competition. The failure of Copenhagen is a long term investment in their export-income generating, industrial future. Note also the only position they did strongly advance - that there should be no trade sanctions to enforce any international deal.

    I think they correctly assessed that key Western polities would - with the slightest encouragement- get stuck in a partisan cycle of inaction, and award China a big market niche by default. Influential players in the advanced economies would literally jump at the chance to come last in the green tech race, and all they needed was a bit of obstruction to fall over. China didn't even mind playing the villain - all the better, since falling over is so much easier when you aren't blamed for it. Cui bono?

    Friedman's article points out there are now so many solar operators in China now the price of solar has dropped 70%. They're weak on R&D though. They know the West has the advantage there, but they also know there are big players who didn't want to see change. So they were most helpful in encouraging the West to delay any serious moves.

    So, US, UK, EU and Australian mugs - you want China to get the leg-up on the 'Green Revolution'? Because that was quite probably their plan at Copenhagen.

    And you fell for it.

    Saturday, 9 January 2010

    'Brulliant rivolution: Two guys shitting themsulves un the bush'

    Haha! New Zealand, 1982.

    If those two concepts aren't exciting you already, make sure you see Sleeping Dogs (1982), starring Sam Neill.

    The premise is that a general strike occasions the rise of an authoritarian military government in New Zealand.

    Repression and general mayhem ensue.

    Sam Neill is your reluctant hero in the resistance. As it happens, its ekshually a great film, and the first NZ film ever screened in the US of Ay, Bro.