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Archive for the ‘australiana’ Category

During their first Melbourne Comedy Festival, Bruce and Fran, as part of their crash course in experiencing all things Aussie, were considering going to see Chris Franklin’s show. He’s the mulleted, VB-swilling uber-Bogan who’s been responsible for such musical delights as his ‘Bitch’ parody ‘Bloke’ and ‘Jack Off Australia’. It never happened and, following a trip to Adelaide at the weekend, now they needn’t bother.

In town for a mate’s 30th birthday festivities, the opening night rapidly descended from free drinks and nibbles accompanied by the odd speech into wild, debauched karaoke at La Sing. In the cab on the way there, Bruce thought he’d heard “La Scene” or “La Singh” and pictured somewhere with either a) a modicum of faux 70s chic or b) somewhere they’d be able to tuck into some late night curry if the singing became too unbearable. Instead, it was the sort of place you leave without hesitation: dirty, bordering on sleazy; splashes of fading neon; odd men in booths; smashed harpies overcome with a misplaced self-confidence. Oh, and two men were being thrown out by security as they walked in, an incident that led to the police arriving ten minutes later.

Still, it took approximately ten minutes and the first enthusiastic efforts of fellow party-goers for Bruce and Fran to realise they had La Sing wrong. In reality, it was a fantastic nightspot, easily the sort of place you could spend three hours, fight over pens for the chance to get up on stage and dance wholeheartedly to your friends’ efforts. That, or the free booze kicked in just in time.

Still, the woozy 5am finish was nothing compared to the sights that welcomed them to the following day’s birthday part II bbq. Walking into the kitchen to unload a slab of Coopers, Bruce and Fran were welcomed by the sight of Chris Franklin stumbling in the other direction. In his hand, a tumbler of Wild Turkey swung violently, sloshing over the rim and onto the cupboard walls.

“Who the fuck are you?” he asked. “I’m Chris. Is that your missus? She’s hot. If you wasn’t here I’d have a fair fucking crack a it.”

And they say chivalry is dead.

It transpired he’d flown down from Queensland for the previous evening, got too drunk and not made it, instead arriving at the bbq house many hours early, waking those who’d not been in bed long, and getting back onto the Wild Turkey. What followed was several hours of trying to get everyone to punch him, cooking a bbq with his cock out, falling off his chair repeatedly, wandering around with some form of pickaxe, getting his cock out, sticking his head in an oven, drinking more Wild Turkey with his cock out, singing a new song he’d written, then finally passing out with the axe in the host’s bed, although not before declaring:

“What’s wrong? It’s only a fucking cock.”

He returned soon afterwards, hit the whisky some more and started over. It was clear the stage persona was not a hard act for him to portray.

Several hours later, Bruce decided it was time to walk home and rejoin Fran at the motel. Franklin escorted him out.

“Come on. Hit me. Go on. As hard as you can,” he said.

“Only if you’ll fight back,” said Bruce.

“I’m not going to do that. I’ve been in prison, you know.”

“Well, I’m not going to smack you unless you fight back. May as well test myself.”

Suddenly, he turned serious, explaining that it really wasn’t a good idea. Awakening the following day and recalling that Franklin had slept with an axe and that Bruce’s martial experience was confined to various sporting fields (none of them involving any legal fighting) he was glad that he did. And that he and Fran no longer needed to fork out $20 a head to see his show; after all, what was left for him to reveal? Certainly not his cock.

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Two Months Off

Hmmm… not for as good reasons as Brandon Block in the story that inspired this track, but hey, still two months.

There have been many reasons to wish to restart, not least the abomination that the Grace Darling has become since its wanky takeover, but in the end it was this incredible piece of local Melbourne art that stepped up as muse:

RAEtothamuthafuckinD – we salute thee

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Never one to trouble himself with being up to date, on the ball, fingering pulses or any such thing, Bruce has fallen in love several aeons after the fact. Driving through town listening to the RRR signupathon yesterday, patiently waiting for the presenters to shut up and play some tunes, he was rewarded with a truly sublime track – a remix of Noiseworks “classic”* Reach Out (Touch Someone) by RRR presenter Faux Pas. Some follow up enquiries were in order and now Bruce awaits with baited breath the announcement of a live show or two.

Until then…

* Yes, those are fingers in the air speech marks

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Somebody. Please! Just... turn... it... off......

Somebody. Please! Just... turn... it... off......

As acknowledged weeks ago, Bruce and Fran held out little hope of Masterchef Australia replacing the hefty hole left by Biggest Loser. The main issue then was the levels of arrogance displayed by the three male hosts. In the ensuing weeks, the pain of watching them has been intensified by Channel Ten’s presentation – essentially an inability to allow a sentence to end without pausing for

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dramatic effect then foisting Real Stock ads on us.

It’s started to impinge on everyday life. Before adding milk to his coffee in the morning Bruce has to open the door of the fridge, look inside pensively, then grab one of the free ad rags stuffed into his picket fence and spend three minutes flicking through it before finally deciding that, yes, he will put the milk into his coffee. Fran, on the other hand, has started talking to herself. It begins with the morning alarm clock:

“Now Fran, it’s 6.15am, that was your first alarm call. It means that later on this morning you are going to have to get up and go to school,” she says, before depressing the snooze button and adding: “You now have five minutes to go. That’s five minutes to go.” At which point, Bruce has to restrain himself from turning over and smashing her annoying, bald little head with his fist.*

Sadly, the program has become to them what COPS was in the early 1990s to Bill Hicks: the sore tooth that you can’t stop touching. Every time Mini-Me appears with his snear and yells some inane encouragement (yesterday to declare that the reputation of Australia itself rested on their ability to make dim sum) or Jabba the Hutt does another impersonation of the over-indulged eight-year-old posh kid trying to please mummy before morphing into a lecherous version of the lizards in Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas‘ acid-tripping bar scene, Bruce begins yelling while Fran starts writhing uncomfortably on the sofa next to him like a smack addict convinced there’s something under her skin.

YET THEY WATCH IT EVERY BLOODY NIGHT!

At least Police Chief Wiggum appears to have settled into his role, revealing a pleasant, encouraging nature and a willingness to leave the scripted, excruciatingly pointless, tension-building links to his co-hosts.

According to a TV column by Debbie Schipp in yesterday’s Herald Sun the Twittersphere is awash with people commenting on the show. Who can blame the Twits? After all, if you’re full enough of your own self-importance to believe people need to know your every thought (says the blogger – oh the delicious irony…), then why not emit your shrieks of despair and anger in 140 characters or less: “GET YOUR FACE OUT OF THAT PLATE, YOU BALD SLOB!” perhaps or “WHEN’S PRESTON’S LIZARD TONGUE GOING TO FLICK OUT AND GRAB THAT SPARE SPRING ROLL?”, even “SOMEONE PLEASE COME AND PLUNGE A STEAK (sic) THROUGH MY HEART”.

But hold on – apparently that’s not what they’re saying. Oh no, there’s a group of people discussing Preston’s cravats; one columnist apparently would like to marry him. She should talk to Fran, who’s taken to watching it with a sick bowl close at hand for the moments when he attempts to smile and/or slurp up an extra piece of food.

That said, who didn’t smile when Simple Sam won last night’s dim sum challenge, hey? And, according to my watch it’s only 275 minutes until tonight’s eliminator. Gives me plenty of time to poke this sore tooth. Ow…

[* She’s not bald]

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So, in their first 15 months Down Under Bruce and Fran have done their best to assimilate into Aussie culture:

  • stung by jelly fish (Fran)
  • bitten by a white tail (Bruce – does anyone know when or if the hairs start growing back on the affected patch?)
  • lived in a weatherboard cottage (next door to famous Aussie musicians and across the road from an Aussie cult)
  • become Pies fans (and recently received a formal apology from a man who was instrumental in that decision)
  • embarked on a road trip to Broken Hill
  • played Keno
  • met Nick Cave
  • obsessed over footy tipping (and, in Bruce’s case, got angry at the TV when results went the wrong way)
  • bought a massive bbq and cooked mountains of snags
  • used words like snags
  • eaten vanilla slice in Ouyen
  • said: “It’s good – we need the rain”, something no Pom would ever imagine saying
  • begun referring to themselves as Poms

and so it goes. They’ve also tried to hurry along their citizenship, not least by catching a mugger and rescuing young drunks collapsed in the road and returning them home.

Fran St Kilda pier

Awaiting Paul's arrival?

Tonight’s a biggy, though: Paul Kelly in concert. At the Palais in St Kilda, too, which should add an extra whoop of delight from the crowd when St Kilda To King’s Cross starts up. (Hopefully the venue will prove more suitable for this gig than it did for the Arctic Monkeys).

Fran was the first to fall for his iconic Aussie charms. And boy did she fall. One afternoon she started crying while walking along Smith Street just thinking about How To Make Gravy. That’s right: thinking about it… When Bruce surprised her with tickets for the show it was like watching a five-year-old susceptible to sugar rushes being force fed half a kilo of Redskins washed down with a gallon of Coke and a couple of sherbert fountains then let loose on a bouncy castle. When she later got hold of Songs From The South vol. 2 and realised he penned Every Fucking City – the tune she rewrote into an Ancient Mariner-type odyssey with her road sisters while travelling the States in pre-Bruce days – it’s a miracle she didn’t shift a couple of tectonic plates.

Bruce, on the other hand, has been pretty 50/50 about the guy: Leaps and Bounds yes, Bradman (which reminds him of his attempt aged 10 to write a stat-heavy biography of Ian Botham) no. However, he just heard If I Could Start Again for the first time while listening to the hits collection on repeat shuffle and reading this fantastic Robert Forster article and found his emotions stirred and his anticipation for tonight growing.

Well, as some wise man whose name escapes me once wrote: “From little things, big things grow…”

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In the wake of Bruce’s announcement that he and Fran were pinning their flag to the Collingwood mast after attending the 14-goal smashing of Geelong last year, they were warned to expect a rollercoaster ride (and were met with equal levels of scorn and delight from non-Pie and Pie fans).

The following weeks seemed to bear it out: defeats when they were expected to win; a decent streak ended by North Melbourne in a game that they had led handsomely after half time; a comfortable finals victory away in Adelaide followed by a depressing defeat at the MCG to the Saints on which Bruce had splashed the cash to attend.

Still, this season started with hope. Admittedly, the cack-handed McGuire did himself and the team no favours by declaring the flag was there for the taking (followed almost instantly by the NAB Cup Final demolition at the hands of Geelong, as if the likely Premiers were saying: “What was that, Eddie, you bumbling buffoon?”).

Fran even delighted Bruce by presenting him with a Collingwood guernsey on his birthday, 24 years after he last owned a replica shirt:

Man Utd 1985 home shirt - memorable for the pointy white bits on the shoulders

Man Utd 1985 home shirt - memorable for the pointy white bits on the shoulders

Perhaps this in itself was a portent of things to come: after all the Man Utd of 1985 – Jesper Olsen, Remi Moses, Frank Stapleton, Arthur Albiston to name but a few Old Trafford legends… – was another team that consistently flattered to deceive; a club with a big past and a colourful, but rarely successful, present.

Round 7 of this year’s AFL season marked the one-year anniversary of Bruce and Fran’s Collingwood odyssey. Fittingly, it pitted them against St Kilda, the team they had originally decided to follow by virtue of living there when they first arrived from the UK, only to decide after attending some early matches that the Saints fans lacked even a modicum of passion and that they would look elsewhere.

Going against conventional wisdom (and reason), Bruce even tipped the Pies to finally bring the Saints’ winning run to an end, despite the knowledge that Stumpy (Didak) and Dead-Eye Dick (Anthony) would be missing and that Travis T (Cloke) would again be starting. Had he known that Davies and Medhurst would also be missing, well, who knows, but still, is it any wonder the promising start to his fledgling tipping campaign has becalmed in recent weeks?

On the subject of Cloke, despite constant assurances that he was a remarkably promising teenager and does have the natural goods, his performances since the aforementioned flag-to-mast nailing session bring to mind nothing more than this (just insert “Travis T Cloke” for “war poems”):

Sady, despite the 88-point drubbing, it appears Bruce has already been infiltrated by Pie-fan myopia – the affliction that Arsene Wenger suffers worse than most. As soon as the game had ended, he entered into text debate with a dismissive Crows fan insisting that, really, Collingwood weren’t as bad the the score suggested and, had they been able to score more goals in the first and third quarters instead of behinds (or more usually missing by 30 yards – looking at you, Rocca) while St Kilda pinged over everything from all angles then it would have been far more respectable.

Straws. At. Clutching. Rearrange.

Going back to the Man Utd shirt, however. The season after that particular shirt was replaced, Alex Ferguson joined from Aberdeen. He’s been pretty successful since. Could Buckley have a similar effect when (if?) he takes over in 2010? (And would it be too much to hope that McGuire goes the same was as another joke head honcho – Michael Knighton?)

And rollercoasters do have to go up as well as down, don’t they?

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Not since Robbie Coltrane first appeared on British screens as Fitz in Cracker has Bruce sat down to watch a television series in its entirety. Prior to that it was Twin Peaks. 24 has passed him by, as have The Sopranos, Desperate Housewives, Lost and all their ilk (although he did squeeze in four instalments of Australia’s Greatest Athlete).

Under much pressure and insistence from friends that the first series was awesome – and out of a mild interest in Australia’s criminal past – he made an effort with Underbelly – A Tale of Two Cities but after a promising start found interest waning quicker than that miscast blonde bint could get her wappers out.

Biggest Loser on the other hand had it all. Well, it had huge people getting semi-naked on a regular basis, constant reminders that Bruce wasn’t exactly a model of health, a couple of likeable characters, lots of unnecessary, tear-stained breakdowns and, best of all, regular reruns of the time Cameron fell off the running machine. While not an avid viewer by any means, Bruce did check in regularly for the weigh-ins and even took part in a final night party of sorts (involving, naturally, a mountain of pizza).

Throughout the final weeks, every ad break trailed the forthcoming Masterchef, which posed the question: “Could this fill the huge gulf left by Biggest Loser?”

Another contestant bites the dust

Another contestant bites the dust

Sadly, after checking in to this evening’s episode, in which the penultimate 50 was cut to 20, it would seem the answer is a resounding “NO”. Admittedly, it featured no cooking, only a parade of people waiting to be patronised by a panel who dared to chide more than one for arrogance. Pot. Kettle.

Perhaps some lovable rogue will present him or herself from the morass to distract from the presenters and redeem the show (although there is something undeniably hypnotic about the sway of Matt Preston’s amazing throat-gunt – perhaps an animated version could be sold as merchandise by Channel Ten to help send troublesome children to sleep). However, it seems there will be far less fun to be had watching the travails of a score of ambitious cooks trying to produce fantastic food than a group of people whose only ambition in life thitherto appearing on TV was to eat a fantastic amount of food.

EDIT: For more recent thoughts on the show, click here

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