Thursday, April 29, 2010

Justin Bieber - Really??

“Who the fuck is Justin Bieber?!”
- Russell

In case you didn’t know already, there is a 16 year-old kid from Stratford, Ontario, Canada (posing left) who goes by the name of Justin Bieber. He started out singing songs on YouTube when he was 12, which were uploaded with the help of his mum (just like all the great child-stars). These were spotted by some agent named Scooter (true story), who arranged for Bieber to be flown down to Atlanta to sing some tunes with Usher – all at the ripe old age of 13. Bieber is now 16, and is an international teen sensation, making teenage girls whet everywhere – he has even sung for Obama in the White House!

The reason I’m writing this is because up until pretty much yesterday, I had never heard of this guy. I slightly recall a few years ago hearing about some baby-faced Canadian singing on YouTube, and Usher and Justin Timberlake were jacking each other off to see who could sign him first, but who remembers something like that? Anyway, he was in Australia this week, and around 4,000 girls waited outside the Channel 7 building on Martin Place from 3am to catch a glimpse of this small human through a window while he sung on Sunrise.

I’m trying real hard to take myself back 7 years ago to when I was 16, but I can’t remember wanting to see someone that badly. Granted, I’m not a girl – but still I had posters of Jennifer Love-Hewitt (drool) and Sarah Michelle Gellar on my wall, fantasized over them… and nope, didn’t have the urge to wait on some chilly-ass concrete with thousands of other horny me’s hoping that she would marry me. Just like any douche-bag pop loser with no real talent except for a pretty voice and churchy niceness, this is only a fad let me assure you. I lol’d when I heard that Molly Meldrum compared him to Prince.

Maaayyyyybbee if this guy wrote songs like (wait, does he write songs?) like “All My Loving” I would completely understand this mania, but he obviously didn’t so why should I care?

Hey, if you like this kid, that’s awesome – I just don’t think we can be friends.

- Russell

P.S. - I feel bad for posting so soon after Eden's much more insightful and quality blog on Superstition below, so scroll down a touch and check it out.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


“I am a false prophet and God is a superstition” - Eli Sunday from There Will Be Blood

At Vienna Circus’ first gig in a week I am going to wear my favourite pair of underpants because a part of me believes that the new comfortable undies I got for Christmas are generally more lucky than the old red Bonds which will probably get their first holes in the next few months.

I think I am the sole cause of the Roosters losing whenever I go to watch them play. I am a curse. But then not long ago I watched them and they were losing. I was in the Sun and decided to take off my jersey to cool down. From that point on they started winning. Maybe it’s not me then…it must be my jersey!

I can’t help but think that when I am in a rush, my impatience and frustration is the thing that keeps turning every fucking green light orange just early enough to force me to stop.

But I’m not always superstitious. I don’t mind tempting fate. I don’t get sick. I will never crash my car or get caught by the police speeding. Speaking of cars though, Luke once asked me how my car was going. I said pretty good so far.

“Ooohh, you shouldn’t have said ‘so far’ man.”

I shrugged. I felt indifferent (one of my favourite emotions, I think) to the subject. I was pretty sure my words weren’t the defining factor in the fate of my car.

“It hasn’t broke down and I don’t worry about it. And if it does then I’ll worry about it.”

My mindset seemed reasonable enough until the next day when I saw smoke coming out of the bonnet and the temperature gauge climbing sheepishly upwards. Indifference couldn’t help me now. All I could think of was “Goddamn it, Luke! Did he jinx me or did he just point out that I jinxed myself?”

Maybe we just underestimate the probability of coincidence. The other night Lee and I joked about Luke’s ‘11 theory’ and how funny and frustrating it can be at the same time. Then I checked the time in mocking homage to the theory. It was 02:11…Neither us knew what to say. Maybe I’ll regret it when we all die and Luke is in 11th Heaven and Lee and I are in He11.

Or perhaps I could resort back to the Roosters for a second. Sam Perrett once had trouble under the high ball at fullback. He saw a sports psychologist who found that he would say to himself “Don’t drop it!” but all his mind heard was “Drop it!” He began saying to himself “Catch it!” and lo and behold he became the Roosters best player for the season.

Perhaps our superstitions are similar to a faith in religion, an idol, a discipline, oneself or others. A focused mind is the most potent yet we all need something to help us focus. Something solid, uncompromisable in integrity, that gives us confidence during the good times and the bad. My underpants give me the confidence of positivity. A fundamentalist Christian and a Douche bag Atheist are essentially the same thing, holding an unbreakable faith or an unbreakable lack of it. I am exponentially more creative when I meditate or do yoga regularly, yet when I stop I become a sloth, lazy and quick to disregard any criticisms or doubts over my weakened character.

If I just maintain my practice then nothing bad will ever happen to me…Touch wood.

- Eden (while listening to You In Reverse by Built To Spill)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Album of the Week: Get Wiser

Get Wiser
Soldiers of Jah Army

Get Wiser is the fourth studio album by the reggae band, Soldiers of Jah Army that was released in January 2006.


1. "Open My Eyes" - 5:08
2. "By My Side" - 4:12
3. "My Life Alone" - 4:02
4. "Faith Works" - 5:04
5. "What Would?" - 3:35
6. "Strong For Them" - 5:19
7. "Can't Tell Me" - 5:23
8. "Be Aware" - 4:10
9. "I've Got Time" - 5:09
10. "Sorry" - 4:51
11. "Bring Back Truth" - 7:08
12. "You Don't Know Me" - 4:25
13. "911" - 4:50
14. "Devils" - 8:58

Why I Chose This

Before I get into why I really like this album, I'll give you the story of how I came to first hear it. It was a Friday night about 2 months ago, and I walked from work on George St to Oxford St to meet up with a friend. After getting some delicious Indian food, we struck up a conversation with two middle-eastern men outside a pizza store, one of them was the owner. As he was telling us about his financial troubles (and with me standing on Oxford St getting people to come into his store), three of Anna's friends walked by with no plans of their own as well. Naturally, we bought a box of goon and drank it outside the pizza store. Cut to an hour later, and I was feeling the awesome effects from cheap cask wine. We strolled across the road to the Oxford Art Factory, and danced for a further two hours. Sitting on the curb at about 2:30 am having what we thought to be the last cigarette of the night, a small car pulled up next to us, inside were 4 Brazilians asking for a light. The night had just begun.

"Hey, you guys wanna come back to house in Bondi? - we have driiiinks and the smookes" - as soon as he mentioned that he had Jean-Claude Van Amsterdam my tiredness strangely disappeared, and before I knew it I was wedged in between two Brazilian dudes in a little hatch-back flying down Oxford St towards Bondi. We arrived at their house and greeted their many roommates. It was an awesome double story old house on Bondi Rd, with stuff everywhere as they were moving the next day. I followed Fuad (our driver, who I later found out had drank a bottle of whiskey before picking us up) into the living room - and continued to watch as he packed a large colourful apparatus  with whacky tobaccy. If you ever want a combination to make you really happy, drink lots of goon and breathe in lots of what this guy gave me. 

"Music!", Fuad requested as he fulfilled his own request by plugging in his ipod into large speakers that were standing on the floor. My ears were ready for a musical treat, and I was waiting in keen anticipation on what this dread-locked Brazilian would grace me with. The track "I've Got Time" begun, and I was instantly in love with this album. Fuad had Get Wiser on repeat the whole night, the perfect way of introducing me to reggae music. That night before I passed out on his mattress (with 3 other people next to me), I lent over and swiped a glance across the ipod screen, noticing that all the tracks were in Spanish (where's Eden when you need him!!) - luckily the artist was in English so I entered it into my phone so as not to forget.

Whenever I feel like chilling out, this is the perfect album. It has some serious soul power. After listening to it for about 7-8 times, I downloaded another reggae classic - Bob Marley & The Wailers' 1977 album Exodus. I could do a whole album of the week on that album alone because it is like God is cumming in my ears; it is a thing of beauty. Peace be with you all.

- Russell

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dr Hell

'Dr Hell' is Dean, Russell, Hamish, Eden, Luke, Lee. I've known these 5 guys for a long time, so I thought I'd get some bits and pieces down. Starting with D...

Dean: I’ve known this guy since I was 12 and in fact I remember the first time we met. We were sitting in class (Yr 7 Italian I believe), a guy called Scott said “hey Dean, your name backwards is Nee-ad, haha” to which Dean replied, “Your name backwards is Toss”. I suppose what Dean said was debatable, but whatever - that kid got pwned. I had witness a perfect Dean delivery… talk about first impressions. That Scott kid left at the end of Yr 7, perhaps Dean was the reason. I sat next to Dean in Yr 8 English sometimes and it was here we became good friends. I used to think that he and Brooke would end up going out because they used to talk so much. This guy has perfect comedic timing and delivery, he’s also muscular and handsome to boot. One thing that is quintessentially Dean is the way he talks. “Dean, did you like that movie?”, “Soright”… haha, perfect!

Russell: I don’t remember when I first met Russell, I know he existed because we went to school together but I can’t remember that first meeting. I guess he’s kinda like a headache – he was just there one day. However, I do remember why we became friends like we are today. It was hanging out at casa de Sullivan where Russell and I began having regular conversations. Russell is a guy who is surprising pimp, well dressed, and really easy to chat with. I get along really well with Russ… I should mention on thing that I do remember about Russell pre-2008. Roller-fag. I think everyone knows about this - Russ rode rollerblades long after they went out of fashion, perhaps because he didn’t catch on or perhaps out of pure efficiency. I like to think the later is true.

Eden: This guy has a gift, several in fact. One - he is unnaturally good at Super Smash Brother Melee. Two - he has brain powers even he can’t comprehend. And his cock is fucking massive. None of that is a joke, seriously none of it. Eden is the least animated of the bunch, so when he smiles and laughs it means more. And for a guy who seems to be quiet, he sure is adventurous. Spend time with Eden and you’ll see he’s willing to try anything, which is reflected in all that he’s done. He stopped being a dirty Catholic and went to South America, he learned to speak Mexican yet he’s the one who speaks the least. He’s humble, clever, funny and like Dean – quite sexy. Deans a little bigger though. I can’t recall meeting Eden, I just became friends with him because I we were both friends with Dean… I think anyway. See how quiet he is! I can’t remember a damn thing.

Luke: In Yr 3, I won the right to be allowed to select who I was going to sit next to because I’d behaved (or something like that, you know how primary school is), I chose Luke. I picked him because we were best friends for that year. I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever met a better story teller, Luke could tell me about how he had sex with my own mother and I’d probably be all like “Wow! Tell it again!” Luke couldn’t be more encouraging, whether it’s beat-boxing or playing Tekken, Luke will always hand out loads of praise. I love chilling out and having a smoke with this guy, he knows the score. And in sharp contrast to Eden, this guy is so animated its almost absurd - Luke can’t even sit still for 5 seconds. A small piece of advice for our many readers - if you’re having a party, you need Luke.

Lee: lol. I don’t remember the first time I met Lee, but apparently we were 12 or 13 and I teased him about masturbating. Just about every time Lee and I spoke throughout high school, we’d have great, passionate conversations and I remember one at Charlotte’s 17th birthday party. I told about how amazing Cryptopsy were (metal band, intense live performance), Lee told me about the Flaming Lips and how Wayne Coyne would walk over the crowd in a giant inflatable ball. Years later we’d end up seeing that very same thing together as the best of friends. I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone who does so many stupid voices that are all funny. Weeeell, maybe not all of them but on the whole they’re funny. I can tell Lee anything, without fear of judgement. That's a wonderful thing to have.

What an awesome group of friends, I'm so lucky...

- Hamish

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Dark Veil of Anonymity....

"The mind can never again fit back to its original proportions once it's been stretched by a new idea."

I was sitting on the internet not too long ago thinking to myself, 'Isn't it a fantastic thing that we have these blogs now?' I mean, what an amazing concept... Internet goers have been given the privilege - nay, the POWER to write what they want, when they want, to an audience of unfathomable proportions. This 'upgraded' feature to our online lives can be extremely entertaining and educative for all when used properly, much like it has been with Beatles on the Moon. But sometimes, more often than not, the amazing limitless power of internet blogging falls into the hands of the numbingly dumb Neanderthal scum, and this amazing limitless power is completely abused, turning blogging into one of the most potentially dangerous tools used on the net today.
For example:
My father is and has been a prominent lawyer in Papua New Guinea for 20 years. He has built up a glowing reputation through almost 20,000 cases for numerous politicians and national leaders. This has advanced him to the point of owning his own legal firm, with regular clientele coming back again and again to receive the same outstanding legal service they know they're going to get. But not 3 weeks ago, a blog was posted on the Crime and Corruption PNG website accusing him of conspiring with one of his clients to steal millions from the government of Papua New Guinea.
The accusation came from a twenty-something dead head living in the USA who was hiding behind an anonymous alter-ego, and believe it or not, after many impressionable minds had logged on to the website, this accusation was published in the country's daily newspaper.
As you can imagine, my Dad's reputation was shot to hell.
Knowing my Dad for quite some time (since birth to be precise), I can tell you he was completely innocent. The blogger had found two separate pages of unrelated legal documents, stuck them together and called it proof.
Greg Sheppard's reputation, which had taken him over 20 years of hard work to achieve, was tainted in seconds by a slimy little internet rat who didn't have any idea of what he was talking about. Not to mention the numerous death threats he received after hundreds of thousands of people read the damaging false information.
Now, I'm sure most of you people reading this are aware that defamation of character is a serious crime against someone's good nature. But even after my father had finally cleared his name with the Police and the rest of Papua New Guinea, he couldn't find the person responsible because the name he had been using on the blog was false.
So the question I pose to you is this:
Should anonymous internet blogging be a thing of the past? Do we now need to be putting our real names at every bottom of every page? It should never have to come to that, but as with all of the few TRUE liberties the public are given, one stupid idiot ruins it all.
I believe that what has happened to my father is a grave warning for what's to come as more and more of the idiotic population realise the power they can wield underneath their fingertips.

- George Sheppard

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Song Review: Break On Through (To The Other Side)

I often look to music as an inspiration for how I live my life. Many bands, albums, songs and lyrics have helped me get through tough times, inspired me to do something or guided me in my growth as a person.

Recently I have found myself quoting the title of this Doors song as it rings true to so many aspects of life. Whenever we set out for a goal in life, there is a certain level we wish to attain, a point in the possible future that is so desirable. However, to get there the work needed is often daunting and challenging, and often much too intimidating.

I remember the first few weeks and months that I started learning bass. I was exceedingly shit. It hurt my hands to stretch so far, my fingertips suffered through calluses and my mind was constantly at odds with itself balancing the perfect mix of desire and composure to improve my skills. The frustration of learning theoretically where my fingers need to go and then trying to get them to do it; then getting them to do it faster; then getting them to maintain consistent sound levels. All this while resisting the urge smash my bass to pieces.

To achieve my goal though I needed to just break on through to the other side. This lyric is so vivid in describing what it takes. Jim Morrison lets us know it will be tough, that what it takes. The lyric isn’t

Buy a ticket at the booth,
hop onto the train,
Take a nap,
Read the news,
Get off at The Other Side Station!
Get off at The Other Side Station!

It’s not that easy. You can’t just ask a barrier to move politely; you gotta break it. You can’t go around the obstacle; you gotta go through it. And 'The Other Side' sounds almost anonymous, an unkown qulaity and yet it appears more intriguing to name it such.

I feel the song deserves more than just a celebration of its title lyric as well. The verses can easily hold their own.

You know the day destroys the night,
night divides the day,
Tried to run,
Tried to hide
Break on Through to the Other Side!
Break on Through to the Other Side!

Vivid imagery that seems simple and complex at the same time. The lyric is sung which such force and passion, and the riff is so driving that the listener is given a belief in their own ability, a desire to break on through.

Whenever you feel like a task is becoming too much for you I recommend giving this song a listen allowing Morrison’s reckless passion to empower you.

- Eden (while listening to The Doors by The Doors)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Quest For Minimalism

I've been affected by Hamish's article. I've decided to not just read it and think how cool that would be, but actually take it to heart.

Since I discovered Buddhism, I've felt a connection to the idea of minimalism and have had many moments to think about how I would like to start getting a bit more serious with it. I guess an irony is that through minimalism, I don't want to take as many things seriously. Because when I go on Facebook and see that there is something in my inbox or there is a notifuckation, I have a feeling (albeit a light and over time a subconscious one) of happiness that people want to talk to me. And the opposite happens when my inbox is empty. To me, that is taking something unnecessarily seriously.

When I saw Into The Wild, I felt a connection to the movie and it's message. To me, that is a film about minimalism, among other things.

When I was a kid, I thought about how much I wanted to be an adult, as I'm sure most kids do. Part of that adulthood did not involve a life filled with something like the internet and it's power to pull me in. We all know what it's like to go on the internet to look at one thing and find yourself sitting for hours looking at mindless stuff. Actually, this is more a personal thing, because most people find that looking at sites is a good way to expand your general knowledge, and if that's you, then that's right for you and your personality. But I've always been one to just be interested in a few things passionately and I don't feel a need to know much more than that. Also, it's not that the internet is a bad thing, it's obviously a great thing. But it is the amount of hours I have spent on the internet and the reasons I am there that bother me.

It all comes down to this: my music, my friends, my family and the art I experience. This is all I want. Because less crap equals more goodness. Through meditation, I am becoming more focused in my day to day life, and it is showing through how well Vienna Circus is going. I am slowly employing minimalism into my life. YES!!

- Lee

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Helly's Film Take - Kick Ass

First of all let's address the supposed 'controversy' with this movie. Yes, it features an eleven year old girl swearing and being extremely violent, but does it break cinematic ground and more importantly is it funny? Hells yeah! Now I am not the biggest fan of the censorship world but in this case all you really have to do is look at the MA rating and know that it isn't suitable for children, so I have zero sympathy for all those dumb arse, ignorant parents who are saying that this movie is inappropriate. Even David Stratton from ABC's At The Movies has said that this movie disturbed him, to which Margaret replied 'Oh David what's wrong with you?! You're turning into this conservative person. Yes it's confronting, but I like being confronted in the cinema and I'm not moralistic about it' Side note- I want to be Margaret Pomeranz when I grow up!

I absolutely loved this movie, so much so that me and Lee applauded at the end of it and I left the cinema attempting to do round house kicks and quoting 'show's over mother fucker!' This film is definitely an enjoyable thrill ride but is not a simple case of style over substance. The writing is refreshing and sharp and all of the performances are outstanding. Aaron Johnson definitely has quite a career ahead of him. I had absolutely no idea that he was British until Lee looked it up on IMDB. I am now really looking forward to watching him portray a young John Lennon in the film Nowhere Boy (what an incredible range this guy has!)

I really liked the fact that the protagonist Dave, isn't a total social outcast he claims to be a kid who just 'gets by' in high school which I think is the case for most people. Most movie characters are usually at one of the extreme ends of the social scene (ie. really popular or unpopular), whereas realistically, most people fall somewhere in the middle.

This movie was also more successful  than last year's Watchmen  in creating a world in which everyday people can be superheroes. I know a lot of you were big fans of Watchmen and maybe you have to be familiar with the source material to appreciate it but I am strictly speaking about the film on its own.  Dave doesn't just decide to become a super hero and then starts busting out matrix style moves (a la watchmen) he has to really road test it and sometimes fail spectacularly. Although Hit Girl's moves are more stylised and polished, this is explained in the back story she has with Big Daddy. She wasn't born with these skills, she learnt them with the same rigor and discipline that most girls her age would be applying to their school work.

To summarise- this movie truly KICKS ASS and I really hope there is a sequel!


Friday, April 16, 2010


Last year I read a book called “The Consolations of Philosophy” by Alain de Botton, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was thought provoking at every page. But one chapter, about one philosopher – Michel de Montaigne, said something that really got me thinking:

"I am a man, nothing human is foreign to me."

What this fifteenth century Frenchman said is essential to being human – empathy. When I read it, that instant my life changed. I became a less judgmental person.

Unfortunately, the world is full of people who cast harsh judgement on others, without any thought of anothers life experience. While reading about the proposed tax hike on cigarettes, which may raise prices to $20 a pack, I read some truly ignorant comments from others readers. People calling all smokers “stupid” and “ignorant”, and my favourite “It is simple maths..........if you do not want to pay the tax, give up smoking. There is nothing difficult about stopping smoking if you really want to”. Have these people ever smoked? Have they ever considered that it might not be as easy as they believe it to be? Somehow, I doubt it. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have depression, but I wouldn’t say to someone who has to just 'smile and be happy'. Humans are not so simple.

Human understanding is marvelously enlightened by daily conversation with men, for we are, otherwise, compressed and heaped up in ourselves, and have our sight limited to the length of our own noses.

I used to think Islam was an archaic, uncivilised religion and its followers not much better. Then I realised – I live in a Christian dominated country, Christian dominated media, everything has a bias to it. I’m sure many Muslims feel the same way about Christianity. So, they’re people too. Upon realising this, that wall crumbled.

Everyone calls barbarity what he is not accustomed to.

Another topic that made me think harder about myself and the way I judged others was a story on Hungry Beast about paedophiles. People just see paedophiles as 1 dimensional characters – evil creatures with only thoughts of raping children on their minds. After seeing that report on the Beast, and reflecting on it, it must be a hard life and not one which would wish upon anyone.

Sometimes I catch myself judging people, other times I don’t – but when I do I always end up realising others are just like me. Human.

- Dogman

P.S. This probably doesn’t need to be said, but those three quotes are Michel de Montaigne.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Life Imagery

I think it must have been Lee who first brought the concept to my attention some 3 years ago at a rough guess. We were driving somewhere and had stopped at some traffic lights. Lee said that he had started using his spare time to focus his mind more.

“Even whilst waiting at traffic lights, instead of allowing your impatience to engulf you, your frustration to cloud your mind, your unattainable hypotheticals to fog your thought; just take a moment to breathe and relax. You can transform your negativity by envisioning the situation as a blessing; some extra time to help bring your wandering mind back to a place of peace and tranquillity.”

It was, of course, the wise words of a man who had had his life changed through the wonders of meditation and also those of a man in constant search for an outlet for his poetic tendencies. He learned this life lesson at the meditation camp he attended, the same camp I would attend some time later. It was not the only lesson he learnt.

“Eden, my friend, I acquired such wondrous pockets of understanding at a Vipassana meditation camp. One I implore you to undertake yourself, for this is hardly a single scratch on 10000 mosquito bites itching for knowledge”

I was dubious at first bu-

“Before you doubt my imploration, I encourage you to hear more of the wisdom passed on to me from Buddha himself. Another lesson learnt is that we should seek out metaphors of the truths of life and love that are ever present in the world around us.”

Despite the pompous attitude my memory assigned to Lee circa 2007, his last piece of advice has truly stuck with me since. I have often pondered the stars as a representation of infinity, a recently fallen flower as a symbol of the tragic beauty of life and death, and I have also sought to find outlets for my own inflated sense of poetry.

My favourite metaphor in life (or for life) is that of the cardiac monitor; the machine that sits beside a patient in a hospital, beeping each time the heart beats. To me it perfectly represents the way life needs to be lived to be enjoyed. The line shooting up and down is like the ebb and flow of everyday existence, the ups and downs we each experience when we take a chance at living.

It may be a little pessimistic to think that any high is followed by a comedown but perhaps it is encouraging to see an extreme low followed by an extreme high. No pain, no gain, right? In a more perfect world we would imagine a pulse that shoots up to the heights of happiness and remains there...but then variety is the spice of life. Perspective can be a handy tool to use. You don’t even need to consider the lows as negatives, just something different.

However, the true beauty I see in the metaphor is as follows: If I were willing to forego the sublime peaks of the highs for fear of what exists at the pits of the lows then the line wouldn’t deviate from its linear progression. It would simply flat line...without a pulse.

“No alarms and no surprises” – Radiohead

Eden – (while listening to Moving Pictures by Rush)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Helly's Film Take and Video View

Hey Guys! Welcome to my new weekly film segment. I won't technically be 'reviewing' films as that implies some sort of rating system and is usually urging you to see a film or not see it. I will simply be giving my opinion of a film and analysing it. Feel free to post your opinion also! The blog will always fall into one of these categories- 'Helly's Film Take' or 'Helly's Video View'. Film Take is where I will talk about a film currently playing in a cinema. Video View will be for movies I've recently watched on dvd (not necessarily current.) I tend to be fairly succinct in what I say, so I may sometimes just write a few paragraphs, not an entire essay. As this is the first edition it will be a double feature, I hope you enjoy!

How to Train Your Dragon

It definitely is no secret now that the realm of animation is not strictly for kids (despite what some of my pretentious actor friends might say.) Pixar seems to have dominated when it comes to animated film in the last few years but this picture shows that Dream Works are potentially becoming serious competition for Pixar.

I hadn't heard of Dragon until Lee suggested we see it the other week. I caught a glimpse of the poster on the way in and gave Lee a sceptical look. But I then sat back and was treated to two hours of viking verility! (Not sure if that really makes sense but I love alliteration he he.) What I like most about this film (as with last years Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs number 5 on my top 10 list for those of you playing at home), is the new transition that animated films making by employing the 'anti-hero'. A character who does not have the stereotypical qualities of a hero (eg. Good looks, bulging biceps,etc.) and who is often an outcast or underdog is the one who inevitably ends up saving the day. This not only makes them a more interesting hero, but enriches the plot overall and sends a much better message to children. It sounds a bit trite I know but I think that teaching kids about the value of individuality and difference is a good thing. This reminds me of a line that Glinda the good witch of the North says in The Wizard of Oz, when she informs Dorothy that '...only bad witches are ugly'. What kind of message is that sending?! But I digress...

All the characters were perfectly matched to the actors who voiced them including Jay Bucharel, Gerard Butler, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Kristin Wig to name a few. Having watched Jay Bucharel in Undeclared which was made ten years ago, it's great to see that his career is taking of as I particularly like his brand of awkward comedy.

The relationship between Hiccup and Toothless is reminiscent of relationships such as Elliot and E.T. and Hogart and the Iron Giant. A misunderstood creature is discovered by a child and a sweet, poignant friendship ensues. All in all a great movie and I know I said that the purpose of this blog wasn't to persuade you to see films but...SEE IT!

Mulholland Drive

This is a movie I have been hearing about for a while and because it was placed in lots of 'top 10 films of the decade' lists last year, I thought I should probably check it out.

Now I hate it when people use the the term 'over rated' when they're referring to a film (or any piece of art for that matter). As personally I believe that your opinion should be just that YOUR opinion and not based on what the general public thinks. So I won't say that Mulholland Drive is over rated but rather I feel that people think they will appear stupid or ignorant if they admit that they didn't really like it. An Emperor's new clothes kind of deal.

I don't want to just throw my hands up in the air and say 'I don't get it' but I honestly don't know if you can classify that footage as a movie in the conventional sense. In the beginning I thought it was a little strange but that everything would probably make more sense at the end (like Memento), but I had no such luck. Forty five minutes from the end the movie descended into total and utter madness. It may sound harsh to equate it to a student film, but that's exactly what it reminded me of. Just a collection of images and concepts, totally unrelated to each other, strung together in order to make people believe that they are viewing something profound. A car crash, Crying over you being sung in a creepy theatre in Spanish, a 1960's movie set and some lesbianism thrown in there for good measure.

A positive I will say about the film ( as I generally like to be a glass half full kind of gal) is that there is a scene in the movie which taught me a lot about acting. Naomi Watts' character is auditioning for a really badly written suspense/thriller movie. In an earlier scene she is rehearsing for the audition in the way that the script would suggest that the scene should be played and it's terrible. When she goes in for the audition, she is told to play the scene in a really close proximity to the other actor and this changes the entire context of the scene. The dialogue is still terrible, but the dynamics and subtext in the scene transform into something captivating. It was a perfect acting example of thinking outside the box and not going for the most obvious choice. So that is something that will definitely stay with me from this film.

I know that this film is beloved by many so please post your comments and tell me the reasons why I am totally wrong about this film!


Friday, April 9, 2010

My Quest for Minimalism

Of all the blogs I check every day, mnmlist is the one that I get the most from. As the name might suggest, minimlism is what mnmlist is about - it may sound boring or perhaps trite to some, but for me it is everything but.

For many months now I've been focusing on ridding myself of my possessions. After years of collecting 'stuff' that I considered to be important - stuff that I might need one day or stuff that is just sentimental, I needed change. All this stuff cluttered up my living space which in turn cluttered up my mind. I began by just throwing out a bunch of old shit that I hadn't used in years (old documents, strange trinkets, general crap), with only a few exception, like books, dvds and clothes I thought I might need.

I’m now at a point where what I do have left feels like clutter. So I'm planning on getting my clothes down to the bare essentials, eventually just one drawer. I'm planning on culling my dvd collection back to just the dvds that I actually watch on a regular basis (like my favourite documentaries etc). Eventually I'll have no books, if I need a book I'll borrow it from a library (or buy it then donate to a library).

Clearing my life of material clutter is the first step I've decided to take on the minimalist path, beyond this there are many other things I will do, what they are I'm not even entirely sure. I am sure that it will be never ending. Perhaps one day I’ll be like Gandhi.

To some people this might all sound a bit silly, but after I started to do this, I began to discover the essence behind it all - the truly important things in this world are not material at all.

I’d like to end by mentioning some people who have inspired me with their ways. Firstly, Jason only having 4 t-shirts. I still have about 10 or 12 shirts (down from about 40), Jason survives with only 4 shirts and he always looks pretty good to me. I hope to cut my collection down to single digits, only a select few shirts that I really like and actually wear regularly. Secondly, Lee being a vegetarian. This is something I will eventually get around to me thinks, and Lee doing it is cool because … he did it. And lastly, Eden. He is in general a frugal person. I take a lot from him and his ways, from his cold showering to his ability to not give into temptation as easily as me.

- Dogman

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Writer's Block

I got nothing

- Eden (while listening to The Bends by Radiohead)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My Story (god, that sounds so much more pretentious than I was intending)

Starting at the age of thirteen, I was caught up in some heavy mind-fucking shit. This continued almost every day until only a few years ago. The best way to describe it is a mix of an OCD mentality and an extreme existential crisis... having to be dealt with by a young teenager without the ability or life experience necessary to cope with such problems. My worries stemmed from the fragility of life and having to grasp everything that came with that realisation.

I was thirteen, living in America at the time, and in between the end of the American school year and the beginning of the Australian one, was on an extended four month school holidays before coming back home. I was always pretty fragile as a younger child, with a proclivity to say sorry more than the average kid. It sounds like a good quality, but when 'sorry' isn't necessary, you only worry yourself and bug others. So when I started worrying about things a little more at thirteen, I didn't really see the writing on the wall. But when I found myself needing to tap my fingers the same amount of times on each hand, I instantly knew something was wrong and I remember not liking it at all. And from there it grew, and fast. I was now spending more days by myself than ever before, and this is when I started to have a sense of guilt about some things. I was soon spending everyday, from the time I woke up to the time I went back to bed, studying every thought, even the thoughts of the thoughts. I didn't want this, but it was starting to become uncontrollable. I had impulses in the form of voices telling me to do something I didn't want to do, and in turn I would feel guilty for even thinking it. I did think for a while that it was the devil's voice. Having a conversation with my parents was unbearable for both parties, as I would end up not being able to listen or concentrate on things being said and when I did, I would feel irrationally guilty for whatever it is I said or thought. None of these conversations would ever end up being a shouting match or anything aggressive, but I do remember my dad getting justifiably frustrated often and wondering why his son was such a wimp. I remember a conversation with my mum in which she said that they might have to take me to a mental institution. We actually had a name for all this, 'The Guilty Feeling'. That term would be used all the time over the next year.

Towards the end of my time in America, I had a thought. Needless to say, it was a very convoluted one, but it can be summed up: If I can't feel what I felt in the past, then what was the point of doing it. And if what I'm doing right now will become the past, then why am I doing this.

This single thought is what drove me to depression. Let's call this thought 'The Thing'. Whenever I thought of 'The Thing', I saw everything around me as almost non-existent and pretty much life itself as a black hole. I learned pretty soon to avoid the thought when it arose.

On the plane back to Australia, I was excited. But when we arrived and flew over Sydney, I couldn't enjoy it. I looked out the window and heard a voice in my head that said, "what's so special about this place, it's just a piece of land attached to the other piece of land I was on a few hours ago." It's like I was determined to sabotage any happiness I could have...

Once I was back in school, I had enough distractions that I only thought about 'The Thing' a few times a day. And then once a day. And then once a week. Until finally, it would pop into my head once every few months, where I would literally clench my teeth and wait for it to leave.

I felt as if I knew a secret but I didn't want to tell anybody because if they knew, they would feel what I felt and I didn't wish that on anyone. I had a vivid image in my head of myself standing at a podium, telling a crowd of millions about 'The Thing', and I genuinely thought that if that if that were to happen, there would be chaos.

By year 12, 'The Guilty Feeling' and 'The Thing' had mostly eased up, but if you ever saw me drunk back then you could tell that something was under the surface and it didn't take much more than a few beers to get it out. The more often I got drunk, the more often I had to face the fact that I didn't really see much point in living. I knew as soon as I started thinking of suicide that it was the wrong idea, but just like only a few years earlier, I didn't really have much control over my mind.

People talk about being a born again Christian and the day that they were saved. Well, if Buddhism is a religion then I was saved by a man named Dr Barry Davie. He is our family doctor, but also a family friend and an amazing person. I sat in his office in July of 2006 and told him everything. He listened with understanding and told me about a place where you can go and meditate with Buddhists for ten days. Let me remind you this is a doctor telling me this! I walked in to his office prepared to be sent to a specialist that deals with depression, not to sit in a room for ten days and not talk to anyone. After hearing Dr Davie's reasons for why I should go, I said I would, and a month later I was practicing Vipassana meditation for ten days in the Blue Mountains. On day six, I was meditating in my room and had the key moment that changed me, and since then, I've had many more and I hope they never stop arriving. Those ten days definitely changed my life and my attitude towards it.

Since then I have lead a pretty awesome life, meeting Helly, reforming Vienna Circus, and finding some amazing friends. I also find humor in more things than I ever have, and that to me may be the most important thing to come out of this, as it affects everything and everyone else. I can have some downer days too, but they're few and far between. I don't have 'The Guilty Feeling' at all anymore and when it comes to 'The Thing', I can stare at it straight in the face without fear or pain. In fact, there's an irony there, because when I was at the meditation camp, one of the wonderful things I realised was that if I can't feel what I felt in the past, then what was the point of worrying about it. And if what I'm doing right now will become the past, then why am I worrying about this. Remind you of something?

Turns out the thing I was in a funk about was the same thing that got me out of it.

 - Lee

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Kenneth Anger

"It's time that Kenneth Anger's work became more available, because he is, without a doubt, one of our greatest artists" - Martin Scorsese

Saturday 5 August 2006 – it was a beautiful warm summer’s day in Santa Monica. I had just returned from a bicycle ride from Santa Monica Pier to Venice Beach and back, and was enjoying a cold beer at the hostel in which I was lodged. It was then that I met a guy from London (his name I cannot recall) - an event that would lead me to discover one of the most powerful and original film-makers of the 20th Century.

As we got past the usual get-to-know-you chit-chat, it was evident that we had similar interests. You see at the time, he was studying at Cambridge Film School, a fact that made me instantly interested in his affairs. Like me, he was travelling California by himself, and as I didn't have plans for the evening I inquired in his - "I'm going to UCLA to see a presentation of films by an Avant-Garde director called Kenneth Anger; and he'll be there in person to introduce the restored versions of a selection of his films over the past 50 years", he explained.

So after I invited myself to his adventure, we caught the bus over to UCLA, grabbed some burgers, and bought our tickets. The old theatre was buzzing with anticipation, not only because Anger was in attendance, but as my new-found-friend informed me, Anger's films had never before been widely available as they were in such poor condition for many decades. Therefore these restored versions were very-much sought after.

We saw around 4-5 short films, each introduced by Anger. The way that he described the themes and motifs within each film was intoxicating. The style was so new to me, I hadn't seen much independent cinema at that stage of my life and the images were giving my eyes an orgasmic experience. His use of pop-music and stylised shock sequences surely have influenced the modern-day music video. Furthermore, Anger's interest in the occult and homoerotic images makes the films so unique, so wonderful.

I left the theatre with a deep appreciation for Avant-Garde and experimentalist film-making, and a great desire to seek out more. David Lynch is a product and innovator in this respect, and since my Anger experience my love for his films has grown.

Around 6 months after that night, The Films of Kenneth Anger Vol. 1 were released on DVD, after the UCLA Film & Television Archive transferred Anger's Magick Lantern Cyle films (his key films) to digital. I immediately jumped on Amazon and made my purchase – and now own both Vols. 1 & 2, ready for my viewing pleasure whenever I so desire.

Embedded below is one of the films I saw that night. It is only 3 mins 26 secs long, as Anger did not finish. The images remind me of something the Coen's would make - such as the opening sequence of The Big Lebowski.

kustom kar kommandos (1965):

- Russell

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Music and Memory

Clair de lune, by Claude Debussy:

Claire de lune simply is a beautiful song, I adore it. It's impact is strengthened by the lifetime of association I have with it. My late Grandmother used to play it (she was an accomplished pianist and singer) and I used to hear it a lot in general, whether it was my Mum playing it on CD or just hearing on the radio. I heard the song a few months back for the first time in a year or so and was taken by how beautiful it is, then when I watched that video I was truly lost and fighting back tears. When I hear this song I think of my Grandmother and my Mother. Claire de lune is the most beautful song I've ever heard.

This leads me to music and how it can take you back to the past. When I listen to System of a Down I think about many things - HELD was in its adolesent prime, and Smash Bros Melee was all the rage, and apparently jew fros were too. SOAD doesn't just bring back one specific memory, but memories of a time, of a period of my life - and that is very powerful.

What songs take you back?

- Dogman