Saturday, September 30, 2006

An important woman

There are some very important female figures in my life - my grandmother, some aunts, Lindsay and her tattoo - and each of them is very precious to me in their own way and for their own reasons.
But tonight I went to the 50th birthday party of a woman who is truly remarkable. She is truly remarkable to me for one particular reason: her consistent and unwavering life-long belief in me.
Glenys is married to my father's cousin. We're not even particularly close relations, in that sense. But when I was a child we spent a lot of time with Alex and Glenys and their boys. Even as a very young child she used to pay me extra attention. I mean this is a woman who loved me and I felt that love very strongly.
By the time I was probably in my early teens things had gone the way they so often did with my mother. They were suddenly and inexplicably out of favour. We didn't see them any more. As a child you just sort of accept it. It goes to the back of your mind. Such a long time ago now. Such a chequered family history. So much time lost and so many regrets.
A good five years ago now, though, things changed. Suddenly we were free to see whomsoever we wanted - and Alex and Glenys became a part of my life again. Not regularly. Not anywhere near often enough - but just enough to keep ourselves relatively up-to-date.
Every greeting has been warm, every question and enquiry has been genuine, every gesture has been kind and heart-felt. I get warm hugs off this woman. The hugs a mother gives a son. It's that kind of warmth. At every turn she tells me how proud she is of me, begs me to see her more often, and lets me know how special she believes I am.
After a gap in the middle of my life of perhaps a decade she picked right back up where she left off and said 'welcome home Dan, I love you, I've missed you'.
Maybe it's because she looks like my mother or is around the same age as her or reminds me of happier times when I was young (yes, I'm feel wistful, can't you tell?), but to have a woman of that age feel so maternal towards me, feel so unerringly proud of me... well it makes me choke up. I want to cry a little. Her belief in me seems absolute. And it makes me feel like I can actually go out and do the things she thinks I can.
But before you think it's all just good for the ego, can I say I nearly died tonight when she asked me to sign Outback House merchandise in front of a dozen of her guests.


So last night I went to see the Boy From Oz, starring that fantastic creature Hugh Jackman.
I cannot help but feel he perhaps gave something extra to the performance because he was back in beautiful Perth - the place where he trained at the WA Academy of Performing Arts.
It was, without a doubt, the best thing I have ever seen. I laughed, I cried, I sang along, and along with several thousand other people I gave a standing ovation.
Hugh was shamelessly having as good a time as the audience. He was feeding off our energy and the crowd were collectively begging for more. His segues between songs moved between those required by the script and Hugh-being-Peter-Allen-being-fabulous-and-Hugh-being-just-a-little-bit-Hugh. He was the consumate entertainer - singing brilliantly, dancing, acting, tap dancing.
I know a few mates are seeing it later this weekend so I won't give it all away but my favourite part was the very sensitively handled duet between Peter and Greg (not the Brady Bunch characters, you understand). The DOA was in tears beside me. I was so f**king touched that she would cry at a gay love story. Makes me realise how cool she is. (I mean I knew she was, but it's comforting to know someone you love so much can see love as love is... and not get caught up in it needing to be between a man and a woman).
I thought the whole thing was well-handled in any case.
Big-it-up for Chrissie Amphlett by the way, who was just insanely good as Judy Garland. God THAT VOICE! And whoever the girl was who played Liza Minelli... OMIGOD it was like Liza was really there on stage. Well, that's assuming Liza is exactly like her character in Cabaret. LOL.
The big numbers were every bit as brilliant as you would expect: I Still Call Australia Home, Tenterfield Saddler, I Go To Rio - all exceptional. It was great to see Colleen Hewitt on stage (Nigel you popped into my head as I watched another Australian great on stage).
I know tickets to this are stupidly expensive... but for crying out loud if there is anyway you can afford it for fucksake GO AND SEE THIS SHOW.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


...The powers that be make the right decision. That's all I'm saying. I love you Lindsay and I'm so bloody freakin proud of you. (Despite the tattoo). Take good care of it babe - you know how precious it is to me. x

Also, Sarah there is evidence of our disgraceful wigger bling-bling efforts from Saturday night on the Base homepage (photo duly stolen/credited). There is also (clearly) evidence of the nephew of your colleague... who's mother knows my father very well... and who's own father is not wholy unconnected with the media... or the union movement. (And those are only a few of the spooky spooky connections).

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Things I've learned this week...

1) ...The Perth media and political/union scene is incredibly small. Like, incredibly. Someone I've just met has ludicrous two-degree separations from me and several people in my life. Unnerving.

2) ...Tattoos are about the ugliest possible thing you can do to human flesh outside of a burns unit and not involving industrial strength acid. They make me want to vomit up my own stomach. (Not the contents of my stomach, I mean the actual stomach).

There are back stories to both. Best I tell you over beer.

3) ...Dad is doing great in Singapore. He managed to watch the Eagles trounce whoever it was in the thing that isn't quite the grand final but next week will be. I called him after the game. He was watching it in some Aussie bar along with some other Quarantine-types and half the HMAS Darwin. I'm not sure if revealing that much information has endangered all their lives. I'm sure ASIO will let me know. (F**k their file on me must be decent by now). Anyway, he's loving the work... and I'm loving having the house to myself.

4) ...It's possible to get quite excited about meeting someone you've never met before... and quite possible to enjoy lacing them with booze and party tickets for a long weekend in a city that is foreign to them. Bring it on Phil! This could be a truely deadly weekend.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Sensational... and it's not over til the fat lady sings!

So the opera was sensational. Fantastic. Brilliant. Amazing.
There aren't really enough epithets to drag out to describe such an occasion.
I loved it. Desperately.
Emma Fraser played Manon, the lead in the Massenet opera of the same name, which was being performed this weekend at the Australian Opera Studio in Midland. Fraser is going to be a star. I have no doubt in my mind. I should have hung around to get her autograph because mark these words it is going to be worth something some day. Her voice is rich, powerful, well-developed and smooth. It was like creamy liquor to the gullet. It was like a gentle siren-song to a sailor at sea. It was like a thousand nightingales had lent the sweetest voices to one beautiful songbird. I was in love with her. I could have listened to her for hours (actually, I did, come to think of it).
It was also great to see some familiar faces from the WAAPA classical voice class among the chorus, including the very talented young tenor Stuart Laing and bass-baritone Duncan Rock.
Anyway, Manon has me all excited about Tristan and Isolde which the WA Opera will be doing in a couple of months. Manon was like a three hour performance. I didn't think my passion for opera was developed enough to bite off an entire five-hour Wagnerian extravaganza like T&I, but now I'm sure I'm ready. I could have easily sat in that auditorium for another couple of hours. (Admittedly, Massenet isn't quite as brusk and violent as Wagner... that's the way the French tackle love as opposed to the Germans).
Also, around the same time as the WAAPA show the Opera Studio is doing it's season of recitals (and then The Magic Flute starring Emma Pearson after that!). So plenty more to see this year!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Red letter week

What a freakin amazing week. So much cool stuff is going on.
A couple of things happened that I can't talk about publically, but I can allude to.
Firstly, this little project I'm working on with Aunty... well I had some talent confirmed this week and let's just say I'm going to get to meet/interview one of my idols.
Secondly, this little day job I have... well there was an opportunity this week for a little, shall we say, upgrade?
Other things that I can talk about more openly:
Dad left for his month's secondment in Singapore this morning. I fell asleep at a mate's house and missed him leaving, which I feel very guilty about... but I doubt Dad was too worried as he shuffled out the door, diplomatic passport in hand. How fkn cool is that?!
His absence also means the dog has been seconded to my DOA's house (Dear Old Aunty, for the uninitiated). So I am rattling around in this enormous house all by myself. I've closed-off his wing of the chateau - I just have to remember to open it up for an airing once a week.
Also excited about my Big-Arts Weekend. Off to the opera in a couple of hours.
AND... very excited to mention... according to the silly counter map thing, in the last 24 hours I've clocked over the 1000 visitors mark for the blog. The map counter has me fascinated. I have no idea who the random Americans, Europeans and Asians are who have from time-to-time popped by for a read. What confounds me even more is the number of hits I get from Alice Springs. That has me stumped.
I'm also excited about getting my tickets to the media ball (THE social event of the year) and the Elton John concert (when I leave for the UK, I think I'll play his song "Daniel" at volume in the departure lounge. Of course, the lyrics would work better if my sister would actually talk to me... let alone wave goodbye to me. Although it has been a mercifully drama/stress-free 18 months and I'm happy enough to remain freezed-out. I'm rambling).
Also have tickets to see John Waters in a non-Playschool-non-costarring-with-Sigrid-Thornton role this coming week. Oh yeah, and some chick from a record label has given me tickets to see Evermore next weekend because I told her I've been a fan of the supporting act (The Hampdens) since day dot.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

My big-arts weekend

This weekend is my "big-arts" weekend: Ballet AND opera.
It started last night with the WA Ballet's production of Red Shoes.
Another offering of clumsy tripe from artistic director Simon Dow. He fills the stage with distraction and buffoonery and steers away from the grace and elegance that is meant to characterise this particular form of dance. I'm not a boring traditionalist when it comes to performing arts but for crying out loud I want to see grace, skill and poise, not boys acting drunk on stage.
That said there were some beautiful pas de deux - especially the blatantly homoerotic sequences during the "opening night" scene.
I am sure I am not the only person sighing heavy with relief that this was Dow's last production for the company. This was as disappointing as his Dangerous Liaisons, only with better costuming. I think his lack of ability/originality was betrayed most clearly by the Don Quixote/Midsummer Night's Dream double bill of a few months ago. His effort with Quixote was staid and dull. Chrissie Parrott's choreography for Midsummer, however, is still being raved about. For that production, as with this, the set by Joseph Mecurio and the costuming by Leon Krasenstein were spectacular and original.
Dow has also just hired a miss-match of seven new dancers, which helped greatly to make last night's show appear more like a high school production than a performance by our state's premier/only ballet company. No one seemed truly comfortable on stage together, let alone dancing together.
Still, Red Shoes offers Jacinta Ross a nice and deservedly juicy role for her last show before retirement. (Even if her pregnancy means the choreography is necessarily tame compared to Helpmann's famously spectacular sequences from the old film).
Red Shoes had about three dozen short segues between dance routines that involved clumsy acting and miming, rather than interpretation through dance. The clumsy acting I can handle (hey, I am an opera fan, remember), but the miming just looked ridiculous. Either give the words voice or don't attempt them at all. There is nothing more ridiculous than a boy in a lycra bodysuit pretending to shout at another boy in a lycra bodysuit and the only noise is the percussion section getting sweaty down in the pit.
The WA Symphony played brilliantly, by-the-by. I hate that I can't see them down in the pit when they play His Majesty's. Afterwards my friend Rachel actually asked me what I thought of the production and I pretty much said the above.
"But you're really only here to hear the orchestra anyway," she said. So insightful. At least with the ballet if the dancing leaves something to be desired, there is always the music. (And legs in tights, too. We can't under-sell that).
Tomorrow I am off to see Manon (Massenet's, not Puccini's) at the Australian Opera Studio. It's a fully staged opera with some great young singers but it's three hours with a piano filling-in for an entire orchestra. I'm not sure how that sits with me. I'll let you know.

Monday, September 11, 2006

How am I Who?

Bless them. I have two darling friends who I have held on to from my years in Albany.
One is Kerry - she of the green eyes and burnt incense who (quite rightly) once didn't talk to me for a month because I said she was high maintenance.
The other is Karen - she of the bagpipes and dancer's legs who's former hubby (quite wrongly) came to my place of work and punched me out for having an affair with his wife.
Apart from the fact they are dear friends of mine who I love absolutely and pay nowhere near enough attention, and the fact they live in Albany, they have one other thing in common: Dr Who.
Not just Dr Who, but their opinion of the new Dr Who, David Tennant, in relation to me.
A month or so back Kerry sent me a text message one Saturday night. "The new Dr Who reminds me of you xx", it said.
I figured that was okay. I probably do look a bit like him.

I thought not much more of it until Karen came to stay the weekend before last. We were mooching around an ABC Shop and there was a stand of Daleks and Doctors, etc.
"That new Dr Who reminds me a lot of you," she said?
"Now that's funny, Kerry said the same thing. What is it about him then? Do you think I look like him."
"No he's a wanker."
Dead set. That's what she said.
"The way he treats people and the things he says and the way he says them - he's you!"
I was dumbfounded, but I rang Kerry immediately.
"Darling, that text you sent which said the new Dr Who reminded you of me... why is that? Is it because I look like him?"
"No, not really. It's more his mannerisms and the way he speaks to people," she replied
"You mean he's a wanker. You think I'm a wanker."
"Oh well I wouldn't say it quite like that."
"But I'm a wanker?"
"Well sort of, yes."
(She never forgave me for that high maintenance comment - quite rightly).
My ego requires an occasional character assassination. I like to share them widely in the interests of humility (anyone who read a copy of the Bulletin from about 15 months ago knows what I mean) and it is in this spirit that I share the above.
Well, that and the vain hope that someone cute out there might think the new Dr Who is hot/intelligent/witty and might like to go out with me on the basis that I may actually BE David Tennant's incarnation of the Doctor.

Friday, September 08, 2006

They'll make good on this

I want to tell you about an incestuous little shire hamlet with a dull and colourless history.
Hugging a stretch of bitumen ribbon that ploughs its way through, across and around the Darling Range, are an oddment of service stations and rammed-earth buildings that serve as general stores, stock feeders and nurseries. This is the place I grew up. Or rather, it's the nearest bit of something that resembled civilisation when I was a child. The "village" was about five kilometres from the farm that was my world for the first 19 years of my life.
The only evidence I was ever there (apart from the long memories of the aged among the other long-established district families) is a bit of gold gilt on a primary school honourboard.
The place is Gidgegannup: A hitherto unremarkable centre of almost no interest set deep in the Perth hills on a goat-track of a road between the city and... (is there a name for the bit that isn't city?).
They no longer live on the farm (which sold last year for $1.5million or something site unseen from a buyer on the internet from the Eastern States and is nothing like the amount the olds got for it) but my grandparents are still up there. They're one of the rusted-on set up there. If it weren't for them I would never go to the place.
Gidgegannup is the sort of place where if people failed to get out before the trainline closed down, then they just stayed in-situ and began a breeding program.
Until now Gidgegannup has been fleetingly famous as:
a) the place Dan Hatch left
b) somewhere people drive through
c) somewhere to search for escaped prisoners from Wooroloo Prison
d) somewhere where the main tourist attraction is a slight (three foot) waterfall
e) being the only town in Australia where the local pub is located exactly 5km out of town (it's at the waterfall).
But today everything changed.
Today Australia's most famous touring car driver, Peter Brock, came to his untimely demise on one of the roads in the district.
This may sound callous, but the town will make good on this. And I'm not just talking feeding the media crews and mourners for the next few weeks.
They're just as likely to change the postcode to include an "05" and erect a bloody big sign saying "Brockie died here". They'd be tasteless enough to plant a tree in memoriam. Gidgegannup people are the kind of people to capitalise on this experience.
I know the road in question. I know the place where the rally was happening. So does everyone in the district. I can just here them down at the CWA.
"It's always been a dangerous corner, that one. It'd never happen to a local boy."
"I'd certainly never take that corner at speed. Trap for young players."
"That's nine we've lost on that stretch I can recall."
"Silly man, the camber or the road is out just there... tree roots as well. Honkynuts."
Me personally? This effects me on two levels. Firstly, Brockie was my Dad's absolute hero. He loved him. Idolised him for as long as I can remember. So that's very sad.
Secondly, it's great way to introduce my hometown into the documentary. At least people will think they've heard of the place. (See, I told you Gidge people were the kind to capitalise on it).

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I have a problem

And I know you're blowing three note trumps and having coronaries waiting to find out what my problem is, so I'll tell you.
I don't care any more.
It's my day job, you see. I just can't get passionate about it. I thought moving offices would inject a bit of spark into my life, and to some extent it did for a few months. But now I just don't care. I don't care about the people of Melville. I don't care about their bloody railway line and their bloody freeway sound-proofing. I don't care about their university or their foreshore or their amazingly talented children. I just don't care.
Today I did almost nothing. Anything I actually did do, I did under duress.
Melville is a huge paper and I pretty much write and hang it on my own. Even that doesn't test me any more. I leave all the work for the last two days and cram it in so I get that deadline rush. Our opposition paper almost doesn't exist, so there is no spirit of competition - which I really need. (How boring it must be to work for the West?).
All I care about is this film and this book. It consumes all the spare time I have. It's all I think about. (Well, that and the blog). I just don't want to write for the paper any more. I don't want to research for them, I don't want to break news for them. I feel like all that effort is effort I could be channeling into the book, and then the film, when the time comes. I LOVE my six hours at night tapping away at my keyboard. I hate the nearly eight hours a day i spend chained to the Melville Times phone-answering-and-typesetting-service.
I'm also now completely gagging to get to the UK and have a look around and chance my arm over there. But also those plans are as frozen as a snowman's balls while the film and the book happen.
How is it that I can have the paper, the film, the book, occasional casual days at Nova and my other little gigs the powers-that-be don't know about and STILL not feel satisfied?
I honestly wish I could quit work and spend all my time working on the book and the film.
The good news is, at least I know what direction my career now needs to head in. In fact, I've already put my head towards considering what my next project with Aunty might be. I'm also thrilled to finally realise I actually do have the dedication to sit down and write a book. I'm at 12,000 words at the moment. Which isn't a bookload, but it's a fair bit. I'm busy refining it because there are important people (in grey suits, I imagine) who are waiting to see a couple of good solid chapters.
In the meantime... everything moves too slowly for me. Everything.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Thanks 60 Minutes

Hello boys and girls.
Did we all watch 60 Minutes like good little lambs tonight?
Uncle Liam wasn't on tonight, he was too busy getting the stains out of his pants after his warzone debut. (Yeah, Liam... some gigs are tougher than demonising a man with depression as "unfit for office").
Did we all see the report on "why our kids are gay?".
Just so you know, this research about the number of older brothers determining the sexuality of younger brothers is not only 10 YEARS OLD, it has been discredited. The research and the means of gathering the core sample group were flawed. The advertisements only asked for gay people with older brothers in the first place. So there was no control group and the results were fundamentally swayed.
It also touched on crazy theories like handedness and homosexuality which, aside from sounding like a parody Jane Austen novel title, contributed little to the sum total of human knowledge.
The childhood gender non-conformity thing also contributed little to the debate. Every parent and pre-school teacher will be looking at children with new eyes tomorrow morning... separating the homosexuals from the heterosexuals and buying pop-guns for the homos and barbies for the dykes.
The report asked more questions than it answered. Mind you, at least the reporter asked them. But it was slightly irresponsible journalism that did nothing, really, to change the world.
Now if Liam gets shot on assignment, THAT could make the world a better place.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Jihad Jack

A blog acquaintance of mine (philbert83) has touched on this already this week, so I feel like I'm reporting on this a little late. Cest la vie. That doesn't stop me feeling passionately about the "Jihad Jack" decision.
Jack Thomas was the first man jailed under new anti-terror laws and was set free after Victoria’s appeal court quashed his convictions. The reason: interviews conducted by the AFP in Pakistan were inadmissible as evidence.
I nearly choked on my fucking dinner during a conversation with my father over this while watching the news. I have been completely APPALLED by the coverage and by the opinions expressed, not just by the talkback chronies, but the commentators.
The shit that has been said is amazing. People who's kids were killed in the Bali bombings have been wheeled out to express their hurt, grief and outrage. Shock-Jocks lambasted the court over the decision to let Jack free.
But this was my favourite (by Chris Merritt from the Weekend Oz, as rightly attacked by Mediawatch):
Some responsibility must rest with the judges. Why could they not find a reason to protect society from this man?
For fucksake you fucking fucktard! "Find a reason"? "FIND A REASON"???
Dude, seriously. The evidence against him was not gathered voluntarily. God knows what duress he may have been under. God knows what coercion. AND the jury didn't believe he supported Al Qaeda and that was INCLUDING the AFP evidence you fuckstick.
How dare - how DARE - you even consider arbitrarily deciding a man should be incarcerated, should be kept off the streets, should be deprived of his liberty, based on rumour, opinion, heresay and unsubstantiated evidence.
Why the hell would you think that is suitable? This is Australia you c**t and we don't do things that way here. (Well we can now more than we could before, cheers Mr Howard). Our entire legal system is predicated on being innocent until proven guilty. Oh yeah, and that trial by jury thing is kinda important to. Trial by media is seldom in the interests of justice Chris Merritt, et al. You bastards are the kind of rogue operators that give journalists a bad reputation.
Do you think you are providing insightful comment by appealing to the lowest common social opinion? You have an opportunity to lead, not follow, and you blew it. You should be going after the AFP you cockspanks, not demonising a man who has been found innocent.
Consider yourself suitably chastised. Dickwads.